Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Quick Tomato Soup May 28, 2014

1. Saute yummy vegetables and spices together in olive oil.

1. Saute yummy vegetables and spices together in olive oil.

A few years ago, my sister and I were at the store and grabbed a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, thinking we’d have a quick dinner together.  When we heated the soup later, we were sadly disillusioned.  I hadn’t expected to be able to taste the high fructose corn syrup that Campbell’s had (inexplicably) added.

We tried seasoning it, but in the end we had to give up: the soup of our childhood did not taste anything like we remembered.

Giving up Campbell’s tomato soup was easy since it wasn’t even edible to me.  However, giving up tomato soup in general was impossible–it’s the best thing ever with grilled cheese.  So here’s a quick recipe that doesn’t involve long cooking times, roasting tomatoes or red peppers, or doing any other sort of elaborate cooking. I’m sure you can find more delicious recipes out there, but this is a good, basic, and fast way to have soup without having to buy the high-fructose-corn-syrup version.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 32 oz. can tomatoes (I like the diced ones)
a splash of broth (chicken or veggie)
Italian seasoning to taste
salt & pepper to taste

2.  Add the liquid ingredients to make the soup base.

2. Add the liquid ingredients to make the soup base.

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent (about 2-3 minutes).  Add in garlic, then tomatoes and Italian seasoning, and sauté another minute or so (sautéing your spices makes even dried spices far more flavorful, and it means you don’t have to later simmer the soup quite as long).
  2. Just before the veggies start to stick, dump in can of tomatoes.
  3. Add broth and salt/pepper.
  4. If you, like Campbell’s, feel the need to sweeten your soup, you can add about a teaspoon of sugar, but please don’t overdo it!  I don’t find I really miss the sugar, and it’s just extra calories that I don’t need.
  5. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the flavors mix together.
  6. Blend with a handheld blender (also called a stick blender or immersion blender–if there was one kitchen appliance I could take to a desert island, it would be my handheld blender).
  7. Serve with grilled cheese.
3. Simmer, blend with handheld blender, and serve with grilled cheese!

3. Simmer, blend with handheld blender, and serve with grilled cheese!

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Sarah: Final Week of Eat-In May!

MealPlan Week5I use Barbara Kingsolver’s recipe for Eggs in a Nest from her book/website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life.  Incidentally, it’s a great read if you like gardening, cooking, or really good non-fiction writing.

 

Sarah: Week 4 Planning May 20, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking — suburbanpioneers @ 3:21 am
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MealPlan Week4

 

Sarah: Egg Drop Soup May 18, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking,Soups,Veggies — suburbanpioneers @ 3:29 am
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Friday night dinner: rice wraps filled with chicken and veggies, rice, and egg drop soup.

Friday night dinner: rice wraps filled with chicken and veggies, rice, and egg drop soup.

 

One difficult thing for me about eating in all month is that, while I’m pretty good at cooking pastas, vegetable soups, and frittatas, I don’t know much about ethnic cooking, and I really miss going out for Thai or Chinese or Nepalese.

 

However, there is an exception: egg drop soup is so easy to make that even I can’t mess it up.  Keith went ahead and grilled some chicken with a little hoisin sauce, and, since I was waiting for him to finish the chicken and we had leftover veggies, I decided we should just go all out and have rice wraps with chicken and veggies to go with our soup.  It was a feast outside my usual repertoire, which was a welcome change for us all!

 

 

 

 

Easy Egg Drop Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (you could use veggie if you’re going vegetarian, but it won’t taste like restaurant egg drop soup)
4 eggs
1/4-1/2 tsp. sesame oil (to taste)
salt & pepper (to taste)
green onions (optional–I didn’t have any, so the soup went without)

Directions:

1.  Bring chicken broth to a boil; add in sesame oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

1. Bring chicken broth to a boil; add in sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

2.  Crack eggs and gently break up the yolks with a fork (no vigorous beating, folks).

2. Crack eggs and gently break up the yolks with a fork (no vigorous beating, folks).

3.  Turn down heat on the broth and slowly pour eggs into it, stirring in circles with a fork until the eggs are distributed in streamers through the soup.  Top with green onions if desired.

3. Turn down heat on the broth and slowly pour eggs into it, stirring in circles with a fork until the eggs are distributed in streamers through the soup. Top with green onions if desired.

In case you’re wondering about the rice wraps, these can be found at most major grocery stores (King Sooper’s or Kroger carries them) or at Asian markets.  They’re just sheets of dehydrated rice starch, but if you dip them in hot water and fill them with veggies or meat, they’re the perfect vehicle for a healthy and delicious meal!  We like to have hoisin sauce and plum sauce on hand (also easily found at major grocery stores) to add a little flavor.

Look for these--you can make spring rolls, or you can fill with meat, veggies, or tofu!

Look for these–you can make spring rolls, or you can fill with meat, veggies, or tofu!

Some of our favorite fillings: cilantro, peppers, avocado, spinach, steamed veggies, or chicken.

Some of our favorite fillings: cilantro, peppers, avocado, spinach, steamed veggies, or chicken.

Boil water in the kettle, pour into a bowl, and then dunk the rice sheets in--you don't need to leave them in.  Just a quick dip and then put it on your plate.

Boil water in the kettle, pour into a bowl, and then dunk the rice sheets in–you don’t need to leave them in. Just a quick dip and then put it on your plate.

Pile on the fillings and fold two sides over, then roll the rest.

Pile on the fillings and fold two sides over, then roll the rest.

Ta da! Don't forget to dip it in sauce!

Ta da! Don’t forget to dip it in sauce!

 

Lauren: How to Freeze Cookie Dough for Later May 16, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking,Snacks — lkcook20 @ 7:16 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve always felt a little leery of freezing things. I’m not sure why. I may have been traumatized as a child by eating bread that had been frozen; it just wasn’t the same, but frugal adults argued against my wise taste buds. But little by little, I’m overcoming my aversion to the freezer. (I even freeze my homemade bread now, but I always toast it, so I can’t taste the freezer taste. . .I know it’s there.)

Now I love having frozen cookie dough on hand. I make a double batch and hide the extra dough from my husband. He would eat it all. Seriously.

I cook one batch and freeze the other. Then I can pop a couple cookie dough balls in the oven whenever company stops by, when E. fills up a sticker chart, or on rainy days when I have two boys cooped up in the house. (The cookies are for me, not them. They don’t need any more energy.)

Not the prettiest cookie ever, but yummy

Not the prettiest cookies ever, but yummy

First, whip up a batch of your favorite cookies, scoop the cookie dough into an ice cube tray (one cookie per slot). Alternatively, you can place them on a cookie sheet and stick the whole thing in the freezer. My freezer is teeny tiny, so we use the ice cube tray method.

Cookiedough

 

Let them harden in there for 24 hours and then scoop them out into a ziploc bag or other freezer storage container. As a side-note, I don’t recommend leaving them in the ice cube trays for weeks. They might get freezer burn and never get over it. Just saying.

Then any time the kids whine too much, you have an impromptu date night on the couch, or you just need an afternoon pick-me-up, throw a few, five or six, or, heck, a whole dozen if it’s been one of those days into the oven. You don’t have to defrost them or anything. Follow the recipe directions for time and oven temperature, but add a couple minutes onto the original cook time.

DSCN2296

 

Last time I made these, I also rolled some into tiny balls to add into homemade ice cream sometime. I can’t wait to try it.

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren: Homemade Kettle Corn May 13, 2014

 

 

 

There’s one thing I can’t resist at the fair: kettle corn. You can have your caramel apple and your fried oreos, just give me the largest bag of kettle corn there is.

The reason I’m bringing up kettle corn is because I got ambushed by some the other day. I wasn’t at a fair, so it was quite unexpected. My four-year-old was running a race and there it was, calling to me with its sweet, sweet smell. I walked over “just to see” and then I remembered. It’s Eat-In May! Shootfire! as my friend Margaret would say. It would be eating out. So I didn’t buy any. Aren’t you proud? But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I just kept thinking that I had to have some. . . so I gave in and made my own. I’m happy to report that it’s delicious and totally satisfied my craving!

Ingredients:

1/4 c. oil (I used coconut)

1/2 c. popcorn kernels (try to find non-GMO)

1/3 c. sugar

salt to taste

Directions: 

1. Add 1/4 c.  oil to a medium-sized sauce pot.
DSCN2239

2. Add 3 kernels. Once they pop, you’ll know the oil is hot enough to add the rest. DSCN2240

3. Add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. And then add 1/3 cup sugar.

DSCN2250

 

4. Cover the pot with a lid. Don’t put it all the way down. Leave room for some steam to escape so the popcorn doesn’t become tough. And shake what your mama gave you. I mean, shake the pot so the popcorn on the bottom doesn’t burn. Continue until the popping slows down.

kettle corn

5. Transfer the popcorn onto a piece of parchment paper. Let it rest for a couple minutes so sugar will harden a bit and give the popcorn that delicious crunch.

DSCN2254

 

6. Enjoy! Try not to eat it all in one sitting. I dare you.

DSCN2260

 

 

 

Sarah: Week 3 Planning + Quick Veggie Chili May 12, 2014

MealPlan Week3

Here’s the plan for the week, everyone!  The goal is quick and healthy with as much variety as possible (because we do eat leftovers for lunches, and there’s only so many times a month you can revisit the same meal!).

As a bonus: here’s my quick chili recipe, vegetarian, and ready in less than an hour.  Also–this is a super-mild chili recipe because I wanted to be sure Little Bear would eat it (she did…with her fingers).  I would normally have added a jalapeño into the sauté or added another 1/2-1 Tbsp. chili powder.  Also…I kind of think sweet potato would be amazingly delicious in here, but I had neither sweet potatoes nor the time to peel them.

Note: sometimes frozen/canned veggies are more tasty and healthier than eating off-season veggies, so it’s nice to have some recipes for not-so-fresh vegetables before the garden starts producing!

Quick Vegetarian Chili

It snowed today, yes, in May, so chili was good comfort food!

It snowed today, yes, in May, so chili was good comfort food!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder (give or take)
1 large (32 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained/rinsed
1/2 package frozen corn
pinch of paprika
1/2-1 tsp. salt
a few squirts of ketchup, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil and sauté onion.  When translucent, add garlic and chili powder (sautéing spices gives them extra flavor).

2. Add in red pepper and sauté for another few minutes. At this point, I added about a cup of veggie broth because it was leftover in my fridge and would have gone bad this week and I just hate to waste things, don’t you?  But I don’t think the veggie broth was fully necessary, so you can omit as you see fit.

3. Pour in can of tomatoes (with all the juices), add the beans, and dump in the corn.

4. Put in the spices and a little ketchup, taste-testing as you go and adding more or less as needed.  Bring it to a boil and then turn down to simmer.

5.  The longer you simmer, the better the flavor, but I found that it took me less than 15 minutes to put it all together and that a 30-minute simmer was enough to make it decently good.  Also, serve with cheese on top, because everything’s better with cheese, right?

 

 
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