Harvest Comfort Food

Harvest Comfort Food

Two yummy fall recipes: Apple Pumpkin Soup and Easy-Peasy Cheesy Garlic Biscuits.

Summer Strawberry Smoothie and Freezer Pops

These have been our favourite treat lately. If you don't freeze the mix, it makes a wonderfully refreshing and filling afternoon chiller, as well.

Fast Food Friday

Fast Food Friday

Penne Pasta in Juniper Rosa Sauce - For when you need a fast food supper, but without the fast food!

Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate

I couldn't resist posting one more recipe today, because hot chocolate and winter weather go so well together. The only problem is, I've discovered that if you look at the ingredients list on the cans of most pre-fab hot chocolate mixes, the first ingredient is usually--you guessed it--sugar! If it does not use sugar (because it is some version of "light"), the sweetener of choice is aspartame. Not to mention the chemically-altered "modified milk ingredients", and possibly some version of "high-fructose corn syrup."

So, although this is still a drink that should be consumed in moderation (thanks to the caffeine content--roughly 5 mg/8 oz., as opposed to 135 mg/8 oz for brewed coffee), this is my "Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate". Enjoy!

Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate

Makes 1 12-oz. mug

3 round tsp. cocoa (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tsp. raw honey
10 oz. hot water from electric kettle (approx.)

You could make this right in a mug, but I recommend a blender. I use my Magic Bullet with the small cup. (Blending it makes for perfectly smooth, frothy hot chocolate.)

Add your cocoa and cream into the cup. If you are not using a blender, mix these into a perfectly smooth paste. If your honey is a little on the hard side, use the hot water to melt it off the spoon as you pour it into the cup. Blend, pour into a mug, and enjoy!

I like this recipe, because I am often only making 1 mug at a time, and I like being able to drink it right away without scalding my mouth. If you would like to make a larger batch, or you like it hotter and don't mind a bit more fuss, here is a stove-top recipe that you can multiply by the number of people you would like to serve:

Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate (Stovetop Version)

1 heaping tbsp. cocoa
1 heaping tbsp. honey
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. filtered water

Blend cocoa and water in a blender. Add to saucepan with milk and honey. Heat gently until at desired temperature, being careful not to boil.

Tastes wonderful topped with real whipped cream. (Sweeten whipped cream with a touch of maple syrup.)

Curried Carrot Soup

I do not enjoy curry powders. I find the combination of spices that some non-partisan or inexperienced factory owner chose to be quite acrid and unpleasant. So, when I make something "curry," I combine spices to my own taste.

You may feel free to adjust percentages to your own taste as well. Also, raw cow's milk may be substituted for coconut milk if it is not available, but you must then be very careful to not let the soup boil while the carrots are cooking. This recipe is not spicy at all--very mild. For a spicier version, double or triple the chile powder, or add a 1/4 tsp. dried chile flakes to the onion mixture. (Warning: substituting cow's milk for coconut milk will make the spiciness much more noticable, so take that into account.)

Curried Carrot Soup

Makes about 6 cups.

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
½ tsp ginger powder (or 2” piece, pressed)
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp anise seed

Sauté in large saucepan until onions are soft and clear. Then add:

4 c. carrots, finely chopped (a coarser chop will just result in a longer cook time.)
2 c. coconut milk
2 c. homemade chicken stock

Heat over medium-low until carrots are soft—about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Run through the blender in batches & return to saucepan, or blend in pot with a hand-held blender. Add:

½ c. whipping cream
1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
¼ tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Heat through. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, if desired.

We had this for supper tonight, and it is always a hit in my house. Also, I usually double this recipe and freeze the leftovers.

You will want to make sure your carrots are peeled and chopped before starting the recipe, otherwise your onions will be charred little crisps in the bottom of your pan--and the idea is to contribute as few carcinogens as possible, not create them!

Tip for moms: If your little guy/gal has a hard time eating soup, blend it up and let them drink it through a straw. I was shocked the amount of soup my kids could consume this way!

This and That, plus Cream of Potato Soup

Today, I had Naomi and her youngest daughter, Mikayla, over for lunch. (Hi, Naomi!) Lots of fun. It was short, but it was nice to have someone to visit with, even for an hour. Now that Jason is working at DMI, it means that I am vehicle-less during the day again, and it is easy to feel house-bound. It hasn't been too bad, since it has been summer and we can still get outside to play and go for walks, etc., but come winter it could get interesting. Hopefully we will be able to either afford a second vehicle by then, or find someone for Jason to carpool with a few days a week.

I have also been busy getting class outlines together for the scrapbooking classes I will be teaching at Scrap Away this fall. Scrap Away is the weekend event the Baptist Church puts on, which I was able to attend this spring. They have decided to move it to the fall, and Amanda and I are teaching classes at it. I am really looking forward to it, although I was a bit stressed trying to get all my information in, since I thought I had more time than I actually did. However, it's done, it's in, and I can breathe easier now. The Scrap Away link is where Amanda and I will be posting our class information and projects, so if it's not working yet when you try it, try again a little later to see what we'll be up to.

Anyhoo, as a final bonus (before I go get to work on the Scrap Away site), I'd like to post the soup recipe I made at lunch today. This is a super-yummy soup that everyone I've served it to likes--even my vegetarian grandparents! (Although I'm not sure if it dampened their enjoyment or not when I told them it was made with chicken stock. Homemade stock is really key for great-tasting soups. I'll post a recipe for that another time.)

Cream of Potato Soup

Serves 8.

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 med. onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
8 med. potatoes, peeled and diced into small chunks
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1 tbsp. Celtic sea salt
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, sauté onions in butter and olive oil over medium-low heat until soft. Add garlic and cumin seeds and sauté for another minute or two, then add potatoes, carrots, stock, and sea salt. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and blend in pot using hand-held blender, or run through a blender in batches and return to pot. Add cream and pepper, and serve immediately.

Cream of Celery and Potato Soup

Cream of Celery and Potato Soup

Super-simple and way better than canned. You'll wonder why you never tried it before.