The southern states have never been my favorite part of America even though my parents are from there. Maybe it’s because I was raised in Colorado that I’m not fond of the south with its flat low country and near tropical weather. Over the last year I have visited Charleston, SC and Fairhope, Alabama for short breaks from the northern cold. These two places are changing my mind about the south. Both towns have much to offer vacationers with a love of food and culture.
Charleston is a foodie paradise as long as you don’t get hung up on counting calories! This is food that will fill you up and warm you up.
Ordering the shrimp and grits with a biscuit on the side is a must to get the true southern experience. At Poogan’s Porch they serve up some of the best biscuits money can buy. They have a fried chicken breast biscuit sandwich on the breakfast/brunch menu that knocked my socks off. I didn’t order it but was glad my father-in-law did and shared it with us. It was crispy, juicy, spicy perfection served hot from the fryer between the top and bottom of a buttery biscuit. Dinner at Husk is not to be missed. They were named best restaurant in Bon Apetit in 2012, a lofty honor that they deserve.
The duck confit and chicken were great but the pecan pie should be enshrined in the Smithsonian American History Museum as an example of pecan pie perfection. Served with a scoop of ice cream this one dessert for one was ample for the four of us! A carriage ride through the historic streets of Charleston is a great way to hear about the history of the city while you ride comfortably spell bound by the clip clop of the horse’s hooves. I doubt I’d visit Charleston in the summer months but in January it was a great to get away from the chilly Baltimore winter.
Fairhope, Alabama is not your typical southern town. This hotbed of artistic creativity was founded in 1894 as a single tax colony by a group from Des Moines, Iowa. It didn’t work out as planned, but did transition into an artsy southern paradise on Mobile Bay. The small downtown area is well preserved and sports many cute shops long gone from most American downtown areas, victims of big box stores and online commerce. You can walk the entire downtown area in an hour or so, including popping into several shops. If you are a lover of books and bookstores the Page and Pallet will grab you and keep you for a while as you browse their local authors section and have a cup of coffee from the attached coffee shop, “LatteDa”. Some famous authors are seen at the Page and Palette; like Winston Groom of Forest Gump fame, or Fannie Flagg of Fried Green Tomatoes.
If wine is your thing just across the street from the Page and Palette is a wine bar and shop called Red or White wine & Gourmet. With small plates and a knowledgeable staff you are sure to find interesting wines there. Just half a block away is Pinzole’s restaurant and wine bar. Stop by for a glass of Italian white wine like an Orvieto and maybe a pizza too.
Fairhope has dozens of restaurant choices from Sweet Olive Bakery & Juice Bar for breakfast, or the Grand Hotel for a glimpse of Fairhope’s glorious past when people vacationed for a week or more in the big hotel on the bay. If you are lucky enough to be there on Sunday be sure and try the legendary brunch buffet at the Grand Hotel. The view of Mobile Bay and their down south dessert spread is enough to get me in the door, but the entrees and sides are of high quality too. After your meal stroll along the bay shore walkway or park your stuffed self into a bench under a Live Oak as the breeze animates the Spanish moss dangling low from its massive branches.
On my most recent trip to Fairhope I was able to attend a writer’s group meeting, and met two ladies from Colorado. Both were impressed enough to make it their home, one full time, the other part time. There aren’t many places in the south a Coloradan would move to, but Fairhope is so charming I can see the draw. It’s a free thinking, liberal community with a focus on art and good times in a beautiful southern setting. What’s not to love?
To be or not to be Gluten-Free?
I’m still not convinced that I need to go gluten-free. I did a test last summer and went four weeks virtually gluten-free and the only thing I noticed was the mild to moderate headaches I have had almost daily for the last thirty years went away about three weeks into my experiment.
When I added gluten back into my diet a bit at a time the headaches were still mostly absent so I couldn’t draw a line and say for sure what was going on. After all my research into gluten I do believe it is best to be cautious of wheat and all the man induced meddling it has endured over the last hundred years. Therefore I still eat wheat products but have cut back considerably on anything that contains it and gluten.
Cream of mushroom soup is one of my favorite comfort foods. It was probably one of the first things I cooked by myself when I was about twelve years old. Even though it was just canned Cambell’s cream of mushroom soup it was good stuff. Since moving to the Mid-Atlantic region and discovering the Mushroom Capital of the World just up the road in Kennett Square my appreciation for a great bowl of mushroom soup has blossomed.
In an effort to be cooking in the footsteps of the mushroom chefs up north I’ve come up with my own recipes including this new one I share with you today that happens to be gluten-free. I find that this new soup combines the savory flavor of mushrooms with the heartiness of a potato soup and will satisfy the pickiest mushroom soup fans. Please give it a try and share far and wide so others can enjoy this shroomy good bowl of soup.
Cream of Mushroom Potato Soup
2 pounds russet potatoes
1 pound mushrooms, maitake, crimini, or white
2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
2 teaspoons mushroom base, or beef base
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons chicken base
2 cups milk
3 cloves garlic, optional
Peel and cut potatoes into one inch cubes. Put in a covered pot with one teaspoon chicken base and water to cover. When it boils reduce and cook at a simmer until tender.
Cook minced onions, and garlic infused olive oil on medium low heat for three minutes in a sauté pan.
Chop mushrooms and add to sauté pan cooking at medium heat for about ten minutes and stirring every minute or so.
Add thyme and white pepper and cook for about two more minutes until most but not all of the liquid is gone from the mushrooms.*
Add cooked minced garlic from garlic infused olive oil if using.*
When potatoes are tender drain and reserve liquid. Mash potatoes and 1/2 cup of milk with a hand masher.
Add the mushroom mix to the potatoes.
Add milk, mushroom base, chicken base and one cup of the potato liquid and blend with an immersion blender.
Cook for another five minutes and add more potato liquid until desired thickness is achieved, about two cups should do.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
*Most of the time when sautéing mushrooms the liquid is cooked off, but it’s not necessary to cook off all the mushroom liquid with this recipe.
*If using my recipe for garlic infused olive oil you will have the cooked garlic cloves to use in this soup. If not just sauté minced fresh garlic when the mushrooms are added to the onions.
*For a different garnish try finely sliced celery leaves.
With a busy schedule that has me out of town one or more days for each the next five weeks I don’t want to spend any more time than needed in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong. I still love to come home from a trip and cook, but it has to be quick and healthy like this Portabella Pasta dish. When I’m on the road I get to eat at some great restaurants. Take for instance the Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Casino last week. The food was amazing and they have a bottomless glass of wine special too. When you order a glass of wine the waiter will ask, “Would you like our bottomless glass of wine for just $4 more?” to which I said, “Hell yeah!”. The catch is you have to get your wine drinking done within two hours. That is not a problem for most of us, certainly not me. After three tasty glasses of Prosecco I had enough food and wine for the day and was off to enjoy the sunshine.
Once I get home I look forward to cooking in my own kitchen again. I might have even picked up some ideas from dinning out on the road. This week I went up to Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square and picked up a load of portabellas, shitake and maitake mushrooms to use in my test kitchen. I had some ports leftover and decided to share this recipe that I wrote two years ago but had lingered on the back burner awaiting a final test. I learned this type of cooking while visiting Ostuni, Italy. That region of Italy is known for simple dishes made with just a few ingredients. Their thumbprint pasta called “ orecchiette” is found often and usually served with some sort of tomato product, and maybe some fresh herbs. We loved every dish we tasted with orecchiette in it and I have used it occasionally since that visit.
In your kitchen you can substitute orecchiette with bow tie pasta or a gluten-free pasta and I suspect it will still turn out quite well. Use the best canned or fresh tomatoes you can get your hands on for best taste. If you want to make it a meaty entree just add Italian sausage in it or on the side and you will have the full meal deal. Pair it with a nice Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner Italian style. It beats Spaghetti O’s any day! Please leave your comments so the world knows I have a gazillion readers/followers. Until next time, eat well and drink well my friends.
2 cup orecchiette pasta, or bow tie pasta
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
5-6 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil
1 portabella mushroom sliced in 3/8 inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped,optional
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat to boiling 8-10 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.
While water is heating sauté portabella slices in a sauté pan on medium heat until lightly browned. It may take two rounds as the portabella slices should not be touching. After browning set aside in a warm oven.
Cook pasta when water boils.
Use same sauté pan to heat tomatoes and herbs to a simmer.
When pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with tomatoes.
Add chopped parsley and arrange on individual plates.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Top with sautéed portabellas, and parmesan.
Serves 2 as an entree or four as a side dish, but easily doubles to serve more.
Once upon a time there was chili and chili was good. Back then chili was always made with beef or pork for the meat component, and it was good. For many years all the people in the land ate of the usual beef and pork chili and all was well. Then one cold day came strangers to the world of chili and proclaimed that there are other meats that are good in it. These strange people put ground turkey in their chili much to the surprise of the beef and pork chili eaters. As if that wasn’t enough strangeness they would also use bison instead of the age old method of beef and pork to make matters more unsettling. The “old school” beef and pork chili eaters were upset by this oddness and said, “woe is thee who eateth the turkey or bison chili” and they refused to eat it. This did not bother the “new school” turkey and bison chili eaters, and they blended in as best as they could in the world of the “old school” crowd.
Many years passed and the “old school” chili eaters had children who grew up alongside the children of the “new school” chili folk and in time they became friendly towards each other. It was bound to happen that one day the child of an old school chili eater was visiting his friend who’s parents were of the “new school”. It was cold and nasty outside and the “old school” child was invited to stay for dinner. Lo and behold the family served nothing for dinner but turkey chili. The “old school” child thought it was better to eat of the strange turkey chili than go hungry and upset his hosts so he bravely tried this new chili. What a surprise to his taste buds this milder flavored meat had! It was delicious in a most agreeable manner and he ate much of this warm and satisfying bowl of hot red goodness. He couldn’t wait to go home and tell his parents about what was once thought of as sacrilege amongst chili eaters, was indeed quite tasty. He asked his hosts for the recipe to take to his parents so they too could sample this new chili. When he arrived home with chili smeared on his happy little face he told his parents of the wondrous chili at the “new school” chili eater’s home. He presented them with the recipe and the parents tried it and liked it. Soon all the land was rejoicing in the bliss of two new chili recipes and all was well in the land.
Today I share with you that amazing turkey chili recipe that brought peace and harmony to the land of chili eaters. May it keep you warm and happy.
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of kidney beans
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a 6-8 quart pot add olive oil, onions and garlic, and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.
Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes stirring often.
Add ground turkey, turn heat up to med-hi and cook for 5 minutes stirring every 30 seconds until turkey is no longer pink.
Add rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Chili is ready to eat after 20 minutes, but improves if cooked for 45 minutes, the last 25 minutes should be with the cover off. Like most chili recipes this one improves the next day.
Soba Noodle Soup With Shitake Mushrooms
Japanese cuisine tends to be healthier than American food and has taught me much about eating right. That’s not to say the Japanese are without health issues, but overall they are slimmer and healthier than us Americans. Most of the foods they eat are lower in fat and sugar than American foods. According to a Business Insider article from February 19,2012 us Americans were consuming one hundred pounds of sugar per year each! The Japanese consume only about forty pounds each. Their fat consumption is less also and other than pork katsu or tempura vegetables and shrimp they don’t overdo it with fat as often as we do.
Even if you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier I want to share a Japanese inspired soup recipe I developed using soba noodles. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are used often in Japanese soups and served cold dipped in broth as well. I sometimes make soba noodle salad and hope to post a recipe for spring or summer this year. Soba can be a bit high on sodium so if you are concerned with sodium be sure and by the less-sodium version sold in most Asian grocery stores. Soba soup or salad is versatile and tastes great with broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, snow peas, or edamame. For meat additions try pork, chicken, beef, salmon or tofu if you are eating a vegetarian diet.
I love how fast a from-scratch soba soup recipe comes together, and how it incorporates super healthy shitake mushrooms. This recipe of mine can take as little as twelve minutes to make if your veggies are purchased cut-up and soup ready. It’s low-fat, easy to make and filling as well as delicious. There was a time you had to go to an Asian grocery store to buy soba noodles but I’m seeing them in many regular American grocery stores lately. If you can’t find them local try amazon.com where I found one of the brands I like, JFC Brand six pack for $17.36 plus shipping.
So please give it a try and leave comments on how you tweaked the recipe to include what you had on hand, and share on your favorite social media. Here’s to eating healthier in 2015!
Soba Noodle Soup with Shitake Mushrooms
1 quart water
2 teaspoons chicken base, or bullion cubes- see note
1 1/2 tubes of soba noodles
1 cup sliced shitake caps
2 cups chopped green or broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon soy sauce,optional
Bring water to a boil with bullion, or base.
Add mushrooms and noodles and cook on high for two minutes stirring often.
Add cabbage and carrots cooking for two more minutes.
Add soy sauce to taste, about 1-2 tablespoons.
If you are concerned with your sodium intake buy the “less sodium” soba or bullion.
To make this soup a main course add one of the following:
1-2 cups cubed tofu
1-2 cups of cooked shredded chicken, or sliced pork
Top with La-Yu hot sesame oil to kick it up!
Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas
Here we are in the first week of the New Year and I bet everyone is eating healthier thanks to resolutions made on New Year’s Day. If you are a little late to the health food party no worries as I have a delicious and easy recipe for you to try. I keep corn tortillas in the freezer most of the year because they are so versatile,quick and yummy. As long as you fry them in a healthy oil I think they are a great choice for eating better without much prep time. With the right ingredients you can make a full meal deal with them. I usually go vegetarian, but have been known to add a bit of leftover chicken on them if I have it on hand.
In this latest creation of tostada magic I had some feta cheese in the fridge and a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto just waiting to appear on the table. I figured spinach would be a great choice of greens to complete the circle and into the kitchen I went for lunch. It took all of about fifteen minutes to make these spinach and feta tostadas and was deee-lish! Three of these cheesy circles of mouthwatering joy, with a side of avocado, were enough to satisfy my hunger. I probably could have eaten another but after all the high calorie goodness I had during the holidays I was glad to show some restraint.
Give it a try and see if you think this is a worthy recipe for you family and friends. Why you could even serve them for NFL playoff snacks if you wanted to, and if your teams wins they will taste even better!
Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas
4 cups fresh spinach 2-3 corn tortillas
6 corn or flour tortillas
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto, or tomato salsa
2/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Fry the tortillas in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon oil on medium high for about 1 1/2 minutes each side then drain on paper towels. You don’t need to brown them much.
In the same sauté pan, or a bigger one wilt the spinach in 1 teaspoon oil stirring often for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.
Spread the sun-dried tomato pesto on the flour tortillas, about 1 1/2 teaspoon each.
Top with spinach, then feta cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes on a rack.
Serve with a side of sliced avocado and a bit of the pesto, or salsa.
Serves two but is easily doubled.
Are We There Yet?
Each year many of us find ourselves just about done with the feasting and drinking scene that dominates our American culture this time of year. Starting with Thanksgiving we pig out in the name of tradition and it is good! Then comes the Christmas parties, and family gatherings before Christmas where we indulge some more. When Christmas rolls around we get food gifts of hams and chocolate, scotch and champagne and who knows what else. The Christmas feast is a lovely affair of roast goose, baked ham, prime rib or some other very special food with all the trimmings we don’t eat often. Don’t forget the amazing dessert this time of year! Pecan pie is a favorite, as well as pumpkin pie. A side of whipped cream is a must with either of the aforementioned delicious desserts. Maybe just a taste of eggnog splashed with a spot of brandy wouldn’t hurt? You get the picture. We eat well in this country and outdo ourselves during the Thanksgiving to New Years Days stretch. With New Year’s Eve comes the big drinking fest for many of us. Finally we stretch out in front of the tv to rest on New Year’s Day now that we are at the end of the holiday splurge and feeling stuffed like a tick on a fat hound dog.
Come January second we need a break from all of this good stuff! Bring on the gym memberships and the New Year’s resolutions, Get off the couch and take the dog or kids for a walk to burn off some of the seasons excesses. It’s all for naught if you don’t eat healthy for a while, and that is where I come in. You need healthy, easy to prepare recipes that don’t interfere with all that exercise you are going to be engaged in for the rest of the year, according to your resolution.
To start, here is a tasty dish that should take you no more than twenty minutes to prepare using non-processed whole foods. To top it off if you email me with the types of foods you like and want recipes for I’ll send you five custom choices to get your New Year off to a good start. Let me know if you lean towards gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low fat or low sugar and I’ll send you a list of five original recipes to help you make healthy choices for the New Year free of charge for the first ten readers. Also let me know how many minutes of prep time and cook time you want to stay within and chances are I can find recipes that fit the bill from my database of almost two hundred FastandFuriousCook.com originals. After all, life is short enough. Why make it shorter by eating and drinking too much unhealthy food and drinks?
Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Sherry
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic sliced thin
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 skinless chicken breast
8 oz white mushrooms sliced
2 tablespoon sliced green onions
2 teaspoons Spike seasoning salt
8-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1- 2 tablespoons sherry
Cut the chicken breast across in thin slices and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in sauté pan and add garlic, bell peppers and yellow onion. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.
Add mushrooms and continue cooking until most of the moisture is cooked out of mushrooms, about 8-10 minutes stirring every minute or less. Set mushroom mix aside.
Add remaining olive oil to the sauté pan and cook the chicken breast on medium high heat for 2 minutes then flip each piece and cook for two more minutes.
Add mushroom mix, Spike, green onions and tomatoes cooking for 3 more minutes. Add sherry and serve.
Goes well with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed green beans.
Serves two, but is easily doubled.
Make sure the chicken is dried off with a paper towel to prevent splattering and sticking while sautéing.
Can be tossed with your favorite pasta too.
Cut olive oil to just two teaspoons if you want it low fat.
East Meets West
I love salmon rice bowls! On my most recent trip to Japan I paid extra attention to the food. From the restaurants, cafes, street foods, and even on the ANA Airline flight home I took mental notes of Japanese cuisine at its best. Japanese food is significantly healthier than American food overall. On the flight back from Tokyo to Chicago at lunch I noticed the calorie difference in our two choices of entree. The American style lunch featured braised beef with sides, and the Japanese style lunch featured grilled fish on rice with sides. The American lunch came in at about 1,250 calories while the Japanese lunch came in around 670.
I’ve been to Japan many times and have seen few fat people. They do have more incidences of stomach cancer, but overall their health is better than Americans. They eat less meat and fat than we do and get more exercise. I decided I would come up with some Japanese American fusion type recipes to share with those of you looking to eat lighter, or those who would like to explore Japanese foods.
In my first two or three trips to Japan I had a hard time eating the breakfast that typical locals ate. We usually stayed at hotels, hot springs resorts, and with my wife’s family there. The typical breakfast offered steamed rice, grilled or baked fish, steamed dumplings, shredded cabbage, several types of Japanese pickles, undercooked eggs(yuk!), miso soup, some sort of bread, and fruit.
I started taking granola on trips to Japan so I knew I’d have something I could eat for breakfast. On this trip something strange happened. We ate at restaurants or hotel buffets and I found I liked quite a few of the foods on the breakfast buffets unlike previous trips. Especially the fish and rice with strange vegetable side dishes. Remember the song “I think I’m turning Japanese”? I wondered after eating and liking so many of the dishes I usually wouldn’t have eaten at breakfast if I was. After eating fish on rice at three different places I decided to conjure up my own fish and rice bowl to share with you, my dear readers. This would be a lunch bowl, not breakfast. I’ve been cooking Asian dishes for over forty years. Some authentic, some blended East meets West style. Today I share with you my love of salmon, and brown rice. This simple, and very healthy dish takes no more than ten minutes to make, and uses ingredients that are easily found. If you have a rice maker get your rice cooking an hour or more before lunch time as this is one fast dish, but rice is not. Unless you do the microwave rice thing. Does anyone really buy that crap?
With the holidays upon us why not try this healthy salmon rice bowl before the new year resolution period? This salmon bowl is good hot or cold. If you have access to a good Asian grocery store, you can buy Bonito flakes, and rice sprinkles to enhance the flavor of the rice. If you can find unagi sauce(eel sauce) all the better. I tested it with Kikkoman BBQ Sauce brushed on, which worked well. I was figuring it is easy to find, but have used unagi sauce for years on salmon with better results. If you have the time you can even marinate the salmon in my recipe:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/teryaki-salmon-skewers-on-brown-rice/, for about forty-five minutes. This rice bowl goes well with a side of Asian style salad, or green salad with Asian sesame dressing. So here’s to eating better and healthier before and after the New Year.
Salmon Rice Bowl
1 pound salmon filet, preferably Alaska salmon
1/4 cup thin sliced green onion rings, the green part
1/4 cup unagi sauce or Kikkoman BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350
Sliced the salmon horizontally at an angle in 1/2 inch pieces
Rub with oil, or use a spray oil to prevent sticking
Place on rack near the top of oven and change heat to broil.
Cook for three minutes then remove from oven to brush topside with sauce.
Broil two to three more minutes.
Remove from oven and brush both sides.
Arrange salmon on top of rice and sprinkle with green onions.
I like to have soy sauce at the table ready to add as needed.
There are several type of rice toppings available in most grocery store Asian sections. I like several of them including bonito flakes, seaweed and sesame seed combinations, and Nori Komi Furikake.
Serve with an Asian salad like my Asian Broccoli and Bell Pepper Salad:
Of all the holidays Thanksgiving is my favorite. It not the only holiday that brings people together in a happy food filled day. Christmas and Fourth of July do that pretty well. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, not just food. It is a very healthy thing to celebrate gratitude all year long, not just one day a year. Sometimes Thanksgiving Day is there to help us realize that.
I have many things to be grateful for and I bet you do too. I have excellent health, a wonderful wife, amazing siblings, my father is still alive after ninety-one years of circling the sun, my dog Tucker entertains and protects us, our cat Boots is a champion purring machine, we live in a nice house, and I have the best friends a guy could ever want. There was a time I didn’t think much about gratitude, and I’m glad that is in my past. Since surviving two near death events in 1986, and remember traveling down the white kaleidoscope tunnel of no return that obviously I did return from I’ve been changed by that. Little things that used to set me off in anger aren’t triggers anymore. Smiles from a friend or stranger are more special now. A good walk in nature with friends or family can be priceless.
I am especially grateful for my ability to cook and share good food with friends and family. From the cooking classes and demos in Kennett Square to visiting Colorado I cook where ever I go whenever I can to share the love. At the table the outside world disappears and life slows. This special time allows us all to focus on the food and the pleasure being with each other. Thanksgiving is a time when we take that to a higher level. A super bowl of good eating is what it seems. We cook up the traditional foods and sometimes go with creative new ways to cook our turkey, potatoes, green beans, squash, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. If we are lucky we are given another shot at out doing ourselves again next year. This year when you are having your feast with friends and family try taking that gratitude into everyday of your life. It shouldn’t take a near death experience like I had to own that level of gratitude!
I’d like to share a recipe for turkey and butternut squash soup that you can make with the yummy turkey stock made from Thanksgiving leftovers. With turkey stock you can make a lovely seasonal soup in minutes for this cold weather that has come down from up north. Please feel free to share this with friends and family, or on social media of your choice.
Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup
1/2 pound diced turkey meat, about two cups
1/2 gallon turkey stock, see note
2 cups butternut squash cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup onion minced
3 ribs of celery sliced thin
12 oz package of frozen mixed vegetables,corn, green beans, carrots and peas
2 cups pasta, bow tie or shell pasta will do
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, optional
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh sage minced, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
Sauté onions and celery in one quarter inch of the stock on medium high heat in a 4-5 quart soup pot. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring often.
Add rest of stock and cook on high for 5 minutes.
Add butternut squash and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil add turkey and mixed vegetables.
Bring to a boil again and add pasta cooking on high heat and stirring often during the next two minutes to keep pasta from sticking together.
Cook until pasta is tender then add parsley and sage, cooking at a simmer for 2 more minutes.
If you don’t have turkey stock you can use chicken stock.
Even when I have turkey stock I put a little bit of Better Than Bouillon chicken base in it.
Last local broccoli of the year
Even though it is soup season there is still time to check out this Asian broccoli salad recipe. Since my Maryland gardening adventure began three years ago I’ve become much more knowledgeable about the growing seasons for vegetables. Before my gardening education I didn’t realize how well broccoli grew in the fall. It thrives in the cooler weather and lack of bugs. If the weather is cool enough, broccoli planted in August and September grows fast and full. Big thick crowns of this healthy vegetable flourish in cold weather and can even withstand a bit a frost without damage.
The weather forecasters are really loving this big winter storm coming down on the bulk of the US earlier than usual. Almost everyone has heard of winter storm Astro by now. It has dumped up to sixteen inches of snow in parts of Minnesota and is just getting started. While us lucky folks in Maryland won’t get that type of winter weather, it is going to bring a hard freeze. Therefore it is time to get out to your local veggie farms and buy the last of the fresh broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other fall vegetables before it turns into frozen veggies!
I went off to Wilbur’s Farm yesterday in Kingsville, MD, just up the road from my home to buy what was left of their fresh veggies. I bought great looking broccoli that was just cut, and a sack full of various peppers. Knowing that it will be many months before I can buy fresh locally grown vegetables I made it a priority to get what I could before the big freeze comes on Thursday and Friday nights.
With the broccoli and peppers safely back home in my kitchen I knew what I wanted to do with them. If you have not made a home made broccoli and bell pepper salad with an Asian vinaigrette you are missing out on one tasty salad. I usually make my own dressing but I had a bottle of Annie’s shitake vinaigrette salad dressing and put it to work. This is one of the easiest and healthiest salads out there. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to make, and can be eaten right away or chilled for 1-4 hours for optimum flavor. So before we get all the way into soup and hot foods season I hope you try this simple and delicious recipe. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already, and please share this with friends and family.
Asian Broccoli and Bell Pepper Salad
2 cups of broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper diced large, about the size of a nickel
1/3-1/2 cup Annies shitake vinaigrette salad dressing, see note
1/4 to 1/2 cup thin sliced red onion
1-3 jalapeños sliced thin, optional
Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Serve right away or chill up to four hours for best flavor. Roasted seaweed goes well with this as an edible garnish. Try the wasabi flavored seaweed for some added spice!
Serves six to eight
Try an Italian vinaigrette salad dressing for a nice variation and grate some parmesan cheese into it if you like.
Cauliflower goes well with this too. Try adding a cup of bite sized florets and reduce the broccoli to one cup.