Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tomato Soup

This tomato soup is a little different from the creamy variety that is most often associated with the name.  This stuff has smallish chunks of other veggies in it, and it's awesome.

This is another freezer meal, and it usually keeps us going throughout the winter.  This is great for those nights when you have zero time to make a meal, but don't want to resort to going out to dinner (or can't afford it!)  Plus, this is much healthier than fast food.

Ingredients: (Not pictures because I made this with my mother in law before I had this blog)
1/2 Bushel tomatoes
12 medium onions
8 green peppers
1 bunch celery
2 carrots
1/4 Tbsp ground pepper
1/4 c salt
1 1/2 - 2 c sugar

Wash tomatoes, then quarter them.  Place them in Victorio Food Strainer & Sauce Maker.  (These things are awesome, man!)  Throw away seeds & pulp (or use for mulch for your garden), place sauce in pot.  (Make it a really big pot-like the kind you use to do your canning).  Grate the onion, peppers, celery, and carrots in food processor, add to the pot.  Then add pepper, salt, and sugar, stir.  Bring to a boil (since it's in such a huge pot, you will probably want to do this on high heat), stirring occasionally.
Let cool, then separate into freezer bags or tupperware.  (How much will depend on how many servings you will need for your family.  Figure approximately 3/4 c per serving.  So if you have 6 family members, you'll want 4 1/2 c in each container).  Label, then freeze.

To thaw: reheat in the microwave or on stovetop.  
Optional:  Throw in a pound of meat, or a cup of rice, or cheese, or all three. (We usually throw in ground meat or sausage, but once we had it with cilantro lime shrimp.  It was amazing).
This soup is also delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Here's the thing.  This soup is a lot of work to make initally.  I recommend working with at least one other person, because clean up alone might make you want to cry.  I work with my mother in law, because she's awesome and this is her recipe.  But after your one day of hard work, you have at least a dozen nights of easy peasy guilt free dinners.  Low fat, high fiber, high antioxidant, and nutrient dense. (Hello vitamin A, vitamin C, and lutein!)

Also, one year, we added some spaghetti squash.  Because I grew some and we had it.  It was delicious- it added a sweetness to the soup that I really enjoyed.  With this soup, you can get your kids to devour vegetables that they wouldn't normally touch, because they can't see them!  (I love tomatoes- they hide so many things!)

My boys all love this soup.  I love this soup.  I know it's a bit late in the season this year, but next year, when you have tomatoes coming out your ears?  Make this soup. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Breakfast of Champions!

Now that it's getting colder, I'm going back to giving my boys oatmeal for breakfast.  There's an easy way to get a couple servings of fruit in for breakfast when you have oatmeal!

Here's the cast of characters: frozen blueberries, unsweetened applesauce, and original flavor oatmeal packets.
Wanna know why I use packets and not regular oats?  Vitamins.  The packets of original flavor oatmeal have way more vitamins.  This is one of the rare times where I actually prefer the additives to the food.
Prepare oatmeal according to package directions.  While oatmeal is setting up, microwave 1/4-1/2 c. blueberries for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  When oatmeal is set, add applesauce and blueberries, stir together.
 Then Enjoy!

It's ridiculously easy, and I prefer this to the flavored packets that are available.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce

I really do love spaghetti.  So do Elmer & Wiley.  They get excited whenever they see this on their plates!
You have to admit, this looks pretty good!  I'm sorry, I don't have a cast of characters this time around, but I really wanted to post this recipe.  Here's my secret: I add zucchini and carrots!  I got the idea for adding carrots from my mom, whose body is not a big fan of acidic foods.  She adds carrots to her spaghetti sauce to cut the acid. 
I got the idea for adding the zucchini when my zucchini plant started going nuts (as zucchini plants are wont to do!)

I do cheat a little bit- I use McCormick seasoning packets, although I have made my own sauce when no seasoning packets are to be found.  But things are busy and seasoning packets are easier.  But here is my recipe for spaghetti sauce.  I like to do a double batch so I can freeze some- I like to keep it on hand for making lasagna.  It makes life simpler.

1 lb ground turkey (I prefer the 90/10)

1 pkt thick and zesty spaghetti seasoning
1 pkt mushroom spaghetti seasoning
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
3 medium sized carrots
1/2 large zucchini, or 1 cup chopped frozen zucchini

In a large pan, brown the turkey.  Remove your pan from the heat and drain the grease.  (I like to dump the meat on a plate with paper towels.)  In your food processor or blender, chop your carrots and zucchini.  Return your pan to the heat, and add all ingredients to the pan.  Bring to a boil, and then allow to simmer for 20 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked through. 

Now since you've made a double batch (and stretched it even farther with the carrots and the zucchini)  You can put half the sauce in a gallon sized Ziploc baggie, label it (including the date) and use it the next time you need a meal in a flash.  Also, you may prefer to have more meat in your spaghetti and wish to use 2 lbs of ground meat.  We just do a little less around these parts.

I like to put romano or parmesan cheese on top of my spaghetti.  We served this over whole grain spaghetti noodles, which Mr. Wonderful and I both thought were a bit too thin.  We had garlic bread on the side, mainly because I thought it sounded good. 

I love how simple this is, and I love that there are multicolored veggies in there.  We've been told to serve up a rainbow, and this dish does it with green, orange and red.  But if your kids are finicky, the red hides the orange and green pretty well!  This meal is a powerhouse with protein, lycopene, and vitamins A, B, and C.  Enjoy!



When I was showing my husband the pumpkin puree I made, he said we as Americans are goofy, and I agree.  The reason we're so goofy is this: For example, in Brazil, where my husband served his lds mission, people grow pumpkins to eat them.
 Not many Americans grow their own pumpkins any more (how would we get the requisite picture of our children in a pumpkin patch?!?).  We prefer to spend too much money on them at the store.  Then we carve them up and throw them away.
Then we go to the store and buy cans of pumpkin so we can make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, etc.
Yup, we're goofy.
Lacking land for a garden, this year my pumpkins came from my sisters garden.  We carved our pumpkins Halloween morning so they didn't cave in and get all gooshy.  Then I was on Pioneer Woman's website, and I saw her post about roasting her own pumpkins to make pies from scratch.  I was sold.  So I cut my pumpkins up and roasted them in the oven for about 45 minutes...

Then I cut up the roasted pieces and put them in my food processor...

and pureed them.  My pumpkins were a little bit dry, so I added about 1/3 c of water to the puree to get it looking pretty, like this.
This is the part where, if I was cool, I would have put about 1 cup into 1 qt size ziploc freezer bags.  But I didn't have any of those, all my freezer bags are gallon size.  So I put 1 cup into fold over sandwich bags, and put those in a giant freezer bag.

Then I made pumpkin smoothies.  Forgive my terrible photography, my camera is not stellar.

But I highly recommend you make one of these.  It tastes like pumpkin pie in a milkshake.  However, it's low fat, and nutrient dense!

1 c apple juice (I prefer 100% juice, rather than something with high fructose corn syrup)
2 dollops vanilla chobani yogurt (Probably about 1/2-3/4 c)
1 frozen banana
1 c frozen pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash ginger
dash cinnamon
dash allspice

Place all ingredients in blender, puree til smooth.  I did discover that the huge chunk of pumpkin takes a lot of time, I ended up having to cut mine into smaller pieces.  In the future, I will probably freeze some pumpkin in ice cube trays, ala baby food style, to avoid this problem. 

My boys loved this smoothie.  So did my husband and I.  I also loved that it is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, protein, and potassium.  Make it, please.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My family

I love food.  I also love to cook.  There's a joy that comes with sitting down with my family, seeing that they are enjoying something I created.  But I always feel a little extra excited when the dinner I make has a few extra vegetables thrown in!

In the future, I'll be posting recipes where I have added extra vegetables in, as well as weekly meal planning and shopping tips.  For today, allow me to introduce myself and my family!

First, we have Wiley. (nope, not his real name). This boy loves just about any fruit aside from peaches and pineapple.  When there's a buffet at Christmas, he's just as likely to go for the fruit as the candy.

 Next up is Elmer.  (again, not his real name).  This boy loves trains .  Thomas is his favorite, but he also loves Polar Express and Chuggington.  This kid loves food a lot.  If he's eating something he likes, he can and will shove insane amounts of food in his mouth at one time.  We're working on that whole "pace yourself" idea.
Then we have littlest bit.  He's a precocious little 1 year old- He was walking at 9 months, and mastered the playground (including climbing up the stairs and the slide) at 10 months.  He doesn't hold still long enough to gain weight, so he's in the 2nd percentile for weight.  But still healthy and happy
 Next up is Mr. Wonderful.  I love this guy so much!  This picture was taken when I was pregnant- he grew out his beard for 9 months.  Guys, you know you're jealous.  Mr. Wonderful loves cheese, and will throw anything in a quesadilla.  He is not a huge fan of texture in his food, so pureed veggies are perfect for him! 
Last is me.  Mom to three boys 3 and under (hooray for twins!) and wife to Mr. Wonderful, cook, housekeeper (some days better than others). 
That's our family, thanks for stopping by!