Tasty Tuesday, November 11

The polar vortex got started early this year, winter weather and low temperatures over the nation and there’s a freeze warning for our area tonight. Time for soup!
Tonight’s soup is beef, I have some pantry staples that pretty much go in all soups. These are canned beans of a variety of kinds, Ro-tel tomatoes which are diced tomatoes and chili peppers with a choice of a variety of heat levels, canned corn which seems to keep its crispness better than frozen, and some kind of grain, usually rice but this time with barley to go with the beef. Frozen Lima beans and sweet peas and fresh carrots and new potatoes to finish it out.image

Start out by going through about a pound of stew meat and making sure most of the fat is trimmed off and it’s all cut into spoon-sized pieces. Brown it in a large stock pot with a little olive oil. Add about 4 cups of water.
Chop your potatoes and carrots into spoon-size pieces. If your potatoes are a bit tired and soft from being in the veggie drawer too long, you can let them sit in cold water a few minutes to crisp up. Just for fun, I used multicolored heirloom carrots in purple, white and yellow along with the usual orange. I use between a cup and a cup and half of each of these. I also used about half a cup of dried shiitake mushrooms chopped small.image
Then, time to get the can opener busy. To reduce sodium, I drain and rinse the beans and drain the corn. This time, I used a can of beef broth for extra flavor. Trader Joe’s has some little broth concentrate packets that add a nice bit of flavor but I only have chicken flavor in those.
Then for seasonings, I use a generous handful of dried onion flakes, a teaspoon or so garlic powder and this time some Weber roasted garlic and herb seasoning, and a couple of bay leaves and a few grinds of a sea salt grinder.
Stir, taste, and adjust the salt to your liking.
Add a cup or so of frozen Lima beans and half a cup of rinsed barley, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook until meat is tender and veggies cooked. Add a cup or so of frozen sweet peas, stir, and serve. Adding the peas now cools the soup a bit to eating temperature and keeps the peas from getting overcooked to mush.
Serve with your favorite crackers, garlic toast or cornbread.


Tasty Tuesday, November 4

My husband HATED. sweet potatoes. I mean absolutely thought they were the most disgusting things ever to go on a plate. He grew up with the traditional holiday dish called Sweet Potato Casserole. If you’re from the American South, you already know about this. You start with candied yams, add brown sugar and spices and top it off with mini marshmallows. Sometimes with some chopped pecans on there too. I loved it but you can see where someone who doesn’t like sweet things for dinner might not.
For years, I had to go without sweet potatoes, they’re also good baked like regular potatoes with lots of butter. They are also tasty cooked and mashed…with lots of butter.
Then one day, we visited a friend of mine who was working at Whole Foods Market. She was cooking some sweet potatoes like they had at work only a much smaller batch. They were Chipotle Roasted sweet potatoes. I made him eat a piece. Did I mention he loves hot and spicy things? He loved it. We had converted him. She and I compared notes and I adapted a recipe for roasted new potatoes and here it is. *

2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1 T olive oil
1 T chipotle sauce (you can use chipotles in adobo, chopped with some sauce, or a bottled sauce. I use B├╣falo brand chipotle. Don’t use another kind of hot sauce, you need the smokiness of the chipotle)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried or 1/2 tsp fresh oregano (Mexican oregano is easy to grow and very winter hardy)
1-2 T chopped cilantro, depends on how much you like cilantro.
A squeeze of fresh lime juice. (Maybe a teaspoon or so.)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop the sweet potatoes into 1 1/2 inch chunks, combine everything else in a bowl and toss the chunks until evenly coated. Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet or in a cast iron skillet. Bake for 20 minutes, take out of the oven and turn over and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until soft when poked with a knife.
I have a similar story about acorn squash, but that’ll wait for another Tuesday.
*These measurements are estimated, I usually just pour, chop and mix till it looks right.