Heels on High

Smokey Loaded Potato Soup

loaded_potato_soup

This is most certainly the season for snow, considering there is snow on the ground with more forecasted for tomorrow afternoon – fun times!  However this means lots of time at home messing around in the kitchen – which is perfect considering the awesome blog event I’m taking part of starting Feb. 2nd!  As part of this I got lots of goodies, one of which I already mentioned, and a few more that I’ll be talking about over the next week or so.  One of the more interesting items that arrived was a container of mixed spices thanks to VooDoo Chef – I knew  that testing it would be a bit difficult as a single whiff indicated that this stuff was good and POTENT.   I had been toying with the idea of a loaded potato soup for a few days at this point, and decided that this package of Red goodness would be a great way to add a smokey taste to my potatoes – allowing me to skip the roasting step.

 

Heels on High

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, cut all the whites the flip and cut half-way down the green
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp Red Spice
  • 2 lbs butter potatoes, in large cubes (eights)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the white parts of the spring onions and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and Red Spice and stir well then continue cooking for 3 minutes before adding the potatoes. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the potatoes from burning but allowing them to brown.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree soup, or remove in portions to a stand blender. Blend in the greek yogurt, then begin adding the cheese - allowing it to melt before adding more.
  5. Season to taste with pepper and top with the green sections of the spring onions. Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

If you don't have Red Spice, most Creole spices will work - just make sure to go for a smokey one and/or add a bit of cayenne powder

For a Vegan version, replace the extra sharp cheddar with your favorite meltable vegan cheese - such as Daiya or Chao!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/heels-on-high.html

Perfection!  The spice had the perfect balance of smokey and cheesy without any one ingredient being too overpowering.  This soup also gave me an idea for another dish that I’ll be sharing next week during TripleSBites.  By the way, this blog challenge will also include my first (!!!) giveaway!  More details coming Monday February 2nd so be sure to check back!

Note:  I received VooDoo Chef’s Red Spices as part of the #TripleS blog challenge, which starts February 2nd.  I was not required to use the products, or post anything about them outside of acknowledging that I received them, so all opinions and experiences are my own.  

Stickin’ to

Offal Vinegar Veggies

sour_vegetables

There’s one thing for certain: /52weeksofcooking challenges certainly force me to think outside the box.  This week the challenge was “offal”, aka the parts of the animal that even the craziest of meat eaters tend to avoid.  While I have indulged in a few of them, mostly while overseas and always while a guest, I knew that I was going to have to be creative when it came time to find a way to vegetarianize this challenge.  Thankfully the mods are very flexible and open and extended the definition to includes parts of the vegetable that aren’t typically used.  While I generally save my scraps for vegetable soup, I had a lot of cabbage pieces and so decided to toss a bunch of scraps and peels in a pot with vinegar.  To make it a bit more substantial, I added some cannellini beans but these veggies would be fine sans beans along with some bbq tofu.

 

Stickin’ to

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 red onion, dced
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup beets, shredded
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cannellini beans, presoaked and well rinsed.

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook for 5 minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes and then stir in the vinegar. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes before stirring in the beans. Mix well and then cook for a final 3 minutes, or until the beans are warm.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/stickin-to.html

Certainly not your typical offal dish, but a great way for using up ingredients that might otherwise have been tossed.  It’s not often that we have leftover cabbage in the house but this was a great way to use those last few leafs – and the beets scraps turned everything a fantastic shade!

What it Wants

Red Curry Thai Soup

thai_green_curry

First Secret Recipe Club post of 2015!!!!  About a month ago, there was a request for someone to take over for a blogger in Group D that was no longer able to participate.  While it turns out she was partnered with me for the cookie exchange, I was able to adopt her “normal” blog: Life on Food.  I quickly identified three recipes that looked fantastic: Cream of Broccoli Soup, Skillet Lasagna, and Red Curry Soup.  In the end, the curry won out as it was so different than anything else I had tried out and with all the winter weather we’ve been having I needed something on the spicy side.  While Emily’s version features beef, I simply doubled all the other ingredients and used a thicker rice noodle.

 

What it Wants

Serves: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rice noodles
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp lemongrass
  • Basil

Instructions

  1. In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes and then add the sweet potatoes, cooking until just soft.
  2. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, coconut milk, red curry paste, and lemon grass to pan simmering until the sweet potato is tender, around 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and then stir in noodles and top with the fresh basil.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/what-it-wants.html

Emily was right on in saying that this is “a hot meal that warms you from the inside out” – and I’ve already made it again!  The trick with the noodles is to add them at the very last moment in order to keep them from soaking up all the broth.  However the broth is one that can’t be wasted so nothing really wrong with that happening.  Needless to say this was a fantastic dish and I can’t wait to pick up some more curry and make another batch.  The only hard part of this recipe was finding a curry paste that was free of shrimp – but in end was able to find some at Whole Foods.


Gives a Smile

4 Cheese Pasta Bake

mushroom_spinach_bake 

Nothing like a dairy challenge to get my husband involved with planning a meal – so thank you /52weekofcooking for that!  He tossed around lots of ideas, and at least one of them will be making an appearance in a few weeks, but for today I’m sticking with a super cheesy pasta dish that comes together in record time.  In fact, if you have some pre-made sauce in the freezer this delicious dish can be on the table well within an hour of getting home!  This was also my first time testing out some treats from Gourmet Garden, which I got as part of a blog challenge I’m participating in come February.   As for the cheeses, well I just grabbed whatever I thought would work – and then grabbed a few more!

Gives a Smile

Serves: Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta, precooked and set aside
  • 2 cups favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • 1 cup spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix the egg with the Parmesan cheese until smooth then stir in the two pastes along with the spinach, onion, and red pepper flakes. Set Aside
  3. Spread 2 tbsp of sauce along the inside of a 2qt casserole dish, to include the sides
  4. Spoon 1/3 of the pasta in the casserole dish, then top with half of the ricotta cheese, half of the mushrooms, half of the onion/egg mixture, and 1/4 cup of the provolone cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce. Repeat, switching the provolone with the mozzarella cheese. Top with the last of the pasta and cheeses before finishing with the remaining sauce (1 cup) and left over provolone and mozzarella cheeses.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese is brown on the edges and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before Serving!

Notes

If not using gourmet garden pastes, sub with three cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 tbsp dried Italian herb blend

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/gives-a-smile.html

Needless to say one must really enjoy cheese in order to enjoy this dish, so if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant this might be a good recipe to skip.  It can be easily adapted for gluten free by switching out the whole grain pasta for a gluten free variety, of which there are more and more available!  For even more vegetables, I love that there are more and more vegetable flavored pastas – tho it does keep me from making my own.   For a super healthy option, switch out the pasta entirely for spaghetti squash – just reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes to prevent the squash from becoming totally dried out.

I have to say, using the Gourmet Garden pastes really sped up the process – and the flavors were fantastic!  I only wish more of the pastes were vegan, with the collection I got only the ginger was whey free and while that isn’t a HUGE issue for me it would still be nice.  However the convenience of the products is insane and I love that the ingredients are all organic, plus it tells you right on the container how many fresh cloves, bunches, etc went in to the container.

 Note:  I received a bunch of Gourmet Garden pastes and herbs as part of the #TripleS blog challenge, which starts February 2nd.  I was not required to use the products, or post anything about them outside of acknowledging that I received them, so all opinions and experiences are my own.    

Wash Out

Butternut Squash Dressing

squash_stuffing

I’ve always found that it’s hardest to be a vegetarian around the holidays – so much of the celebration revolves around food and so much of that food involves meat.  From turkey to brisket to ham to venison, the traditional feasts revolve around a core protein of the animal variety.  When I first went vegetarian I had to accept that my holiday meal would consists of sides and for the first few years that was rather rough though there was always one exception: the dressing.  More often then not, the dressing would feature breadcrumbs of some form with vegetables and even tho it was normally on the dry side since no gravy – most of them were rather amazing.   For the past few years my contribution to the holidays have been my sweet potatoes but this year I wanted to try and completely veganize a stuffing that would be moist and amazing regardless of gravy.   So I set out to search the internet and various grocery stores to see what all was out there for me to mess with.  In the end I came up with this (in my opinion) awesome dressing that could work for more than just the BIG holiday meals.  In fact, I think it would be the perfect stuffing for an acorn squash!

 

Wash Out

Serves: Serves 8-10 as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • Bag of plain vegan stuffing (Wegmans brand, Pepperidge Farm, etc)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cranberries

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat, add spices and cook for 1 minute while stirring frequently. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 10 minutes, or until onion is golden.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Add the butternut squash and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes, stirring as needed.
  4. Once the squash is soft, add the stuffing mix along with the stock, water, and cranberries and mix well.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until stuffing is warm throughout.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/wash-out.html

 I was surprised how many stuffing mixes were vegan as I was expecting most of them to feature whey, eggs, and/or turkey.  Most of the “plain” and “original” varieties turned out to be vegan while most of the ones featuring spices or seasoning were generally vegetarian – featuring whey.  The stuffing was fantastic and moist tho most of us did enjoy it with some vegan mushroom gravy from Whole Foods (seriously, that stuff is insanely good).  All in all an awesome side dish that can be enjoyed by vegans and turkey-eaters alike!

As of now I’m not really that much of a fan on 2015 – the year has just started and so far it’s been rather annoying.  Our first attempt at DIVF was a bust, our FET has been put on hold, my car is on the verge of dying as is our oven, while my cell phone had an accident this morning so it’s basically busted.  I know that most of these things, okay all but the cell phone, are out of our control but at the same time – this is just insane!!!  I thought bad things happened in groups of three and so beyond three at this point.