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Monday, April 11, 2016

Recipe Review from 4/4/2016

Not much to say about this week.  It snowed.  It melted.  It snowed and melted again.  Sun came out and it decided to get cold (9*F/-13*C).  Then it warmed up and the winds came. 

One of the Husband's chickens (a Priya) has gone broody.  He decided to just go with this and is going to see if she can hatch four eggs.  If this is unsuccessful, our 2016 chicken order arrives about the time the eggs "should" hatch, and he can give her a couple chicks from there to raise.

And I made a few new dishes...

The Meal Plan
Sun (L) leftovers    (S) Slow cooked brown sugar ham
Mon (yoga) Leftovers
Tues (Block)   Out
Wed - Veggie Burrito Bowl
Thurs (Yoga/Cities) leftovers
Fri (Block) leftovers
Sat (L) Out   (S) Salmon Noodle Bowl

Lunches - Slow cooked potato soup, fruit veggies,

Slow cooked brown sugar ham  (from The Magical Slow cooker via Pinterest)
A while back we purchased a quarter of a locally raised heritage pig.    I wanted something super simple for the ham, and found this recipe.  This recipe was most excellent!   Ham came out fall apart tender, I pulled out the liquid, brought it to a boil on the stove, then added a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken.  The sweet/smokey flavors worked so well together.   I served with a side of Broccoli Apple Cranberry salad that I reviewed in the previous week.   Recommended!

5-7 lb. picnic pork shoulder ham (this ham will say ready to eat)  (Mine was 4lbs, bone-in)
⅛ cup or so of mustard (just eye-ball it)
½ cup brown sugar
1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple - DO NOT DRAIN
  1. Add the ham in to the slow cooker, I put the part that looks sliced down. Squirt over the mustard. Pat over the brown sugar. Now pour over the pineapple, letting the jucies fall down the sides, spread the crushed pineapple over the brown sugar.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours. Don't open the lid while it cooks, so heat doesn't escape.
  3. Using a carving fork, turn the ham around so the sliced side is on the side. Carve the ham, it's ok the let the ham drop down into the juices, they are SO good.
  4. Serve and enjoy.

Slow Cooked Potato Soup (Gimme Some Oven via Pinterest)   vegetarian option*
The directions below make this look much more complicated than it really is.   First part of the recipe - cook the potatoes.  Second part - make a very thick roux and combine with potatoes.  Add cheese/sour cream, heat through.  Done!

I did skip the bacon because I don't care for soggy bacon in my dishes.   I did, however, saute the onion in a bit of bacon fat for some additional background flavor notes.  I didn't blend any of the potato mixture at the end, just served as-is.

I really liked this dish.  I was contemplating some cauliflower would have been a very tasty addition.   This was my lunches for the week, with a side of veggies.   Recommended! 

  • 6 slices cooked bacon*, diced
    Photo from Gimme Some Oven
  • 3 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes**, peeled (if desired) and diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or bacon grease)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream

  1. Add bacon, chicken stock, potatoes and onion to the bowl of a large slow cooker, and stir to combine.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through.
  2. Once the soup has slow cooked and is about ready to serve, cook the butter in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat until it has melted.  Whisk in the flour until it is completely combined, and then cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Gradually add in the evaporated milk while whisking it together with the flour mixture, and continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth.  Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then it should get really thick.
  3. Immediately pour the milk mixture into the slow cooker with the potatoes, and stir until combined.  Add in the cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), salt and pepper, and stir until combined.  If you would like the soup to be even thicker, you can use a potato masher or a large spoon to mash about half of the potatoes (while the soup is still in the slow cooker) to thicken the soup up.  Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve warm, garnished with desired toppings.  Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  (This recipe will not freeze well.)
Recipe Author (Gimme Some Oven) notes: 
*You can either fry the bacon, cook it in the microwave, or buy pre-cooked bacon.  If frying or microwaving, I recommend dicing the bacon before cooking it.  And if you are frying it, I highly recommend saving the bacon grease for later and then using it to make your roux (instead of butter).
**I highly recommend using Yukon gold potatoes, which have the perfect texture and buttery taste for this soup.  But Russet potatoes or red potatoes would also work just fine in this recipe.
***If you would like to make this recipe vegetarian, use vegetable stock, omit the bacon, and I would recommend adding in 2-3 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning for extra flavor.

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl  (  vegetarian, gluten free
For such a simple and tasty dish, this took about 45 minutes from start to table, which surprised me.   Perhaps it was because of the chopping and grating - I don't buy pre-grated cheese because I don't like the potato starch they use to prevent clumping.

I did one alteration, and that was to combine the corn with the beans and saute all together with the spices.

End result? Fresh, flavorful, and easy, with a nice zing from the cumin and chili powder. Reminiscent of what I get at Chipolte minus the meat (and glop).    I did miss my corn chips (forgot to get some), but not necessary.  Great for lunch, supper, or pack for a picnic!  Recommended.

2 tablespoons olive oil
Photo from
1 cup basmati rice (I used 2 bags of instant, which measured 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15.5-oz. cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
Sour cream, shredded Cheddar, cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, chopped pickled jalapeños, and tortilla chips, optional

1. Warm 1 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
2. Warm remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup water, beans, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season lightly with salt.
3. Combine avocados and lime juice in a medium bowl. Divide rice among 4 bowls. Top with bean mixture, corn, tomatoes and avocados. Serve with garnishes and chips on the side, if desired.

Salmon Noodle Bowl (  vegetarian
I have  been intrigued by one-pot and bowl meals lately.  In fact, the May issue of Cooking Light has an article on the healthy aspect bowl meals and about five corresponding recipes.  Many are assembled in one pot, many are not, but a layering of grains, veggies, sauce and a small portion of meat.  You'll be seeing some of these recipes over the coming months.

This recipe came from a link my friend sent me on all superfast bowl dishes.  I actually had everything but asparagus!  This came together so quickly I didn't even have time to start dishes.   I did use buckwheat noodles (pantry reduction! yay!) and I subbed red pepper for the cucumber.  Not a fan of cucumber.

This is supposed to be served at room temp or slightly cool.  Overall?  It was alright.  The lime dressing was a bit overpowering and that was cutting back even.  I would have liked a bit more sesame flavor, and should have sauted the fish in sesame oil as well.  If had had the ingredients on hand, I probably would make this again.
photo from

4 ounces soba buckwheat noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti
5 ounces asparagus, cut in thirds
Cooking spray
1 (6-oz) salmon fillet, skin off, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1-2 limes (3 TBSP juice)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
4 ounces cucumber, skin on, cut into medium pieces
I used 1/4 of a red peppers, jullienned
1/2 small avocado, cut into bite-size pieces 
1. Cook the noodles in boiling water until soft (about 6 minutes for soba, 8 for spaghetti, my notes - cook according to package directions). Transfer with tongs to a strainer. Add asparagus to same boiling water. Cook until al dente (about 2 minutes); rinse under cold water.

2. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Cook the salmon [and red pepper] until cooked through, turning pieces (about 2-3 minutes per side). Reserve.

3. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together sesame oil, lime zest and juice, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Combine the noodles, asparagus, and vinaigrette in a medium serving bowl.

4. Add the cucumber and avocado; toss to coat. Just before serving, add salmon. Serve warm or at room temperature, or make up to 4 hours ahead and keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

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