Tag Archives: carrots

Mixed Winter Vegetables

 

Towards the end of February, it seems like nothing will ever grow again, and a juicy summer tomato is but a dream.  Most Americans just go to the supermarket and buy whatever exotic fruits or produce they are craving with no regards to whence it came, how many miles it has traveled, or how the nutrients have been degraded by early harvest and long travel time between dirt and plate.

I strongly encourage those yearning for the warmer days of spring where every corner bursts with greenery to make use of the oft-neglected seasonal produce.  Try searching Local Harvest for farmers markets near you.  Root crops store so well, while cold-tolerant crops are appearing in local markets.  If you are lucky you may even have farmers with greenhouses or cold hoops that grow tender baby greens and lettuces.

Many people cannot name 5 produce items that are in season any time of the year other than mid-summer, and maybe not even then.  During the coldest, bleakest times of winter it is especially hard to think of produce actually being able to withstand the harsh temperatures.  But in New England, there are tons of vegetables that you can find for mere pennies at the local markets, including: carrots, fingerling potatoes, beets (red and gold), rutabaga, squash, parsnips, turnips, radishes, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts, baby micro-greens, spinach, kale, collards, and mushrooms.

This recipe makes a large meal for one, or side dish for two.  Feel free to mix up the vegetable content based on what you have available right now and what you like.  But if you are wary of these produce types, just try one and see how you like it.  You never know when you may fall in love with the sweetness of a golden beet, the carrot-like texture of parsnips, or the nuances of various radish strains.

Ingredients:

  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onion
  • 1 small potato
  • 3-4 small beets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

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Step 1: Cut the tops and bottoms off of your produce, and dice into chunks or slices.  Add the olive oil & lemon to a frying pan, and add all the vegetables.  Cover tightly, and steam 5-10 minutes.  Stir up the veggies, cover, and steam another 10 minutes or so.  You want the heat low enough that it will slowly caramelize the sugars in the vegetables, not burn them.

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Step 2: Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.  Either serve alone or on the side with a meat and salad.  I enjoyed mine with some roasted chicken, baby greens, and homemade sauerkraut on top.  It is so simple, yet so wonderfully tasty!

 

 

Ham and White Bean Soup

 

As the days grow colder and shorter, sometimes there is nothing quite so amazing as a steaming bowl of soup.  Soup is wonderful for so many reasons.  You can easily sneak all kinds of healthy veggies and ingredients into soup.  Soups are generally very kind to the budget, with frugal ingredients like beans and grains, and the ability to save about-to-expire produce.  Soup feels good on a sore throat, and is mostly healthy (if broth based, not fatty/creamy).

And soup just tastes great.

This ham soup starts with a rich & nutritious broth made from the ham bones, but if you don’t have the time (or the bones) you can use pre-made stock as well.  You can also substitute in any type of veggie you prefer, though I recommend sticking to about 2 cups of some sort of leafy green, and 1 cup of another harder veg for contrast.

Ham and white bean soup simmering

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham bone + 6-8 oz meat
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 large can white beans, or 2 small cans
  • Optional: 2 tbsp chicken bouillon

Scoop of ham and white bean soup

Step 1: In a crock pot or stock pot, simmer the ham bone in enough water to cover for 8-12 hours, during the day or overnight.  Strain the liquid, pull any remaining meat off the bone and shred it, and return it to the pot.  Discard the bones.

Scoop of ham and white bean soup with veggies

Step 2: Bring the stock to a boil, and add the kale and carrots.  Drain and rinse the beans to get rid of excess sodium and add to the pot.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until carrots soften.

Ham and white bean soup in bowl

Step 3: If needed, add in the bouillon.  This soup seems simple, but the base is so flavorful from being stewed so long.

Ham and white bean soup with cheese and bread

I suggest serving this with thick, soft Italian or multi-grain bread, and you may or may not want to shred some cheese over top.  I added just a touch of Vermont white cheddar, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Even the fiancee, who just kind of tolerates soups, loved it and had seconds.  If you’d like your soup a little thicker, add less water and mash up one of the cans of beans before adding it.

 

Cinnamon Ginger Candied Carrots

 

Carrots are a fantastic powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including the one for which it is most famous, beta-carotene. This precursor to Vitamin A is what gives carrots their characteristic orange color. Along with other yellow, red, and green vegetables, carrots are a great dietary source of this vitamin which is critical for growth and development, a healthy immune system, and of course good vision.

The problem is that many people, including children and picky partners, do not enjoy carrots. Whether sliced, shaved, or cooked, some cannot handle carrots crunch or soft delicate flavor. One easy way to hide more in your usual cuisine is to puree into soups, chili, and sauces. But another way to ease loved ones into loving this healthy, humble root veg is to season and sweeten them into a soft, delightful side dish all will enjoy.

Candied carrots have always been a dish I am fond of, since childhood where three main veg sides reigned supreme: green beans, canned corn, and candied carrots.

This updated version has much less fat than the typical butter-smothered version, as well as less sugar. However, we amp up the overall flavor with the subtle spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, combined with just a touch of brown sugar and honey, to create the perfect accompaniment to whatever you put on the table tonight.

I guarantee kids and grown-ups alike will gobble them up, and maybe even ask for seconds!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp grated fresh)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey

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Step 1: Slice the carrots into thin rings. I simply wash my carrots, I do not peel them. However, you can peel them if you want.

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Step 2: Put the carrots in a pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft when poked with a fork.

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Step 3: If any water remains, drain all but a few tbsp. Add the spices, brown sugar, and honey. Continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until reduced to a thick, caramel-y sauce and carrots are tender.

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Serve your candied carrots alongside a lean meat like this spice-rubbed pork roast with other veggie sides, or with your favorite vegetarian or vegan salads or mains. See if they don’t disappear.

Butternut Squash Soup

I recently had a dinner party, and in the spirit of the season (fall) I decided to make butternut squash soup as one of my main dishes. Earlier I posted about butternut squash macaroni & cheese, if you have one and soup just isn’t your thing. No reason not to enjoy the bounties of fall, regardless of texture preferences.
So as per usual, I googled around and pulled from several recipes and what I had in the house to come up with this. It received universally positive reviews! I made a large amount since I was feeding 6, you can cut everything in half for a smaller number of people.
Ingredients:
2 squash, halved and seeded
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 small chunk peeled raw ginger (about 1 inch)
1 white onion
4 chicken bouillon cubes
5 cups water
1 package cream cheese
Cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander seasoning

Step 1: Place halved squash on a baking pan with a little water. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork.

Step 2: While the squash are baking, boil the carrots, celery, onion and ginger in chicken water until tender.

Step 3: Scoop the squash out of the skin and blend in a blender. There’s a surprisingly large amount of flesh in there, I had to do it in three batches. Add hot water from the pot to thin it out. Blend in the cream cheese, the vegetables and chicken stock as well, put it all back into a large stock pot.

Step 4: Add a healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or coriander, adjusting to your tastes. Bring to just a simmer, and enjoy.

This is a great taste of fall, good on its own or I’m sure you could pair it with any number of dishes. You could probably mix and match too, if you wanted to try pumpkin or acorn squash instead. You could add milk or half and half to make it creamier, or omit the cream cheese & chicken bouillon to make it vegan.

100th post: Pheasant is pleasant

 

I know I started this blog as a poor college kid. And trust me, I still enjoy mac-n-cheese, ramen noodles, and hot dogs. There will still be simple recipes with 3 ingredients or less. But as I’ve progressed through my Masters and am now in PhD school, my tastes have evolved and I like to expand my horizons. Thus I decided at least once a month I will try making something I’ve never had, slightly exotic dishes.

For June, as my 100th post, I give you, roasted whole pheasant! The ~3lb bird itself was $25, but the brine and the accompanying roasted veggies were less than $10, so it’s still not bad for a super cool and fancy meal for two plus leftovers. Also you then have forever bragging rights.

Brine:
8-10 cups water (enough to cover the bird)
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp whole cloves
3 cloves crushed garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Juice of 1 whole lime

Step 1: Add salt and maple syrup to water, bring to a boil so all salt and syrup dissolves.

Step 2: Let cool to room temp, add spices and juices. Place the whole pheasant in the brine. Mine was frozen so I thawed it in the fridge overnight, but you can put it in there frozen whole too. Let the bird soak a minimum of 4 hours up to overnight. The longer it soaks, the saltier and more flavorful it will get. Mine soaked overnight, about 20 hours total.

Step 3: Take the bird out of the brine and drip dry it. Rub it all over with butter, including loosening the skin and rubbing butter underneath, directly onto the flesh if you can. Optional: place spices from brine over the bird or add fresh.

Step 4: Place a quartered onion and/or halved apple inside the cavity of the bird. Place it in a buttered or sprayed oven-safe pan and tent tin foil over it.

Step 4: Roast the pheasant at 400 degrees for ~1 hour. Then lower the oven to 350, remove foil and roast an additional 30-50 minutes, until no longer pink and juices are clear. I’m sure there’s a temperature recommendation too but as I have no meat thermometer, I just looked and said, yup that looks done and delicious.

For vegetables:
1 yellow potato
1 normal russet
(I wanted one purple too but the grocery didn’t have them)
1 onion, sliced
1-2 cups baby carrots
Garlic salt

Add the cut veggies in a sprayed pan to the oven for the final 30-50 minutes of baking. Add some bringing liquid if you like for extra flavor. Sprinkle with garlic salt when done.

And so you see, you can make a magazine-looking-worthy meal with very little work. If a busy, poor PhD student can do it, you can too! And trust me, brining overnight is definitely worth it! The meat was salty and tender, not at all tough or dry or gamey. I would highly recommend trying this.

Asian tofu/cabbage soup

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This is a spin-off of a soup a friend of mine made that was fabulous. I had most of the ingredients and another friend wanted to go to the Asian specialty store where I could get the rest of the ingredients. It’s so simple, but it is delicious!
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Ingredients:
1/2 Napa cabbage
1 package tofu
1 package mushrooms
2 large carrots, diced
4 cups water/stock
Optional: 3-4 pounds chicken/duck/beef

Step 1: Dice the cabbage, mushrooms, tofu and carrots.

Step 2: Cook the veggies in order of hardness, carrots first, then cabbage, then mushrooms. Add the stock and any seasonings you like. I used veggie stock and put some extra chicken stock and black pepper in for spice.

The broth is simple but complex. You should try it first, then add salt or other spices to taste. The tofu adds a punch of protein, making this a perfect well-rounded meal for a vegetarian or vegan.

Easy side dish: Oven-Roasted Vegetables

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This is seriously one of the best side dishes ever! You can use literally any vegetable you have on hand, it takes only a few minutes, and it is super healthy AND tasty. I could eat oven-roasted veggies with every meal and not get tired of it.
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Ingredients:
1 baking potato, diced
1/2 onion, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
Nature’s Seasoning
Garlic salt
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Step 1: Dice up your veggies. This is the only work you have to do.
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Step 2: Coat your veggies in olive oil, put into an oven-safe pan.
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Step 3: Sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
You could use any kind of potato here, add broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, bok choi, kale, mushrooms, eggplant, the list goes on and on. Enjoy!


 

Crock Pot Veggie Stew

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I recently moved across America to the great state of Colorado! That explains my lack of posts for a while. However, since my new place has an oven, my repertoire has quadrupled, and thus I intend to make up for it!
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So this post was inspired by a trip to a local farmer’s market. There was so much delicious produce, to be had super cheaply! Then a few days later, I needed to do something with the veggies I hadn’t eaten yet. As many cooks know, fresh is best but it also spoils quickest.
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Another complication I will be dealing with this year is my first year of doctoral classes and research, so I will be gone the majority of the day, 6am – 6pm most days. So you will likely see a lot of make-ahead or Crock Pot meals!
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Ingredients:
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
3-4 stalks celery, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1/3 of a red, orange & yellow bell pepper (or 1 of any color) diced
2 small heads broccoli, cut into small florets
4-5 green onions, diced
3 cups chicken stock or 3 bouillon cubes + water
Turmeric, chipotle chili pepper, paprika, black pepper, garlic, salt
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I don’t add amounts for the spices because it depends on how hot you like it. I found out after the fact that I added a *bit* too much chipotle pepper, because man did this soup clear the sinuses! I need to make it again mid-winter…

Step 1: This is the only work-intensive step. Dice all the veggies and layer in the Crock Pot.

Step 2: Add spices and broth. If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable broth or plain water instead of the chicken stock.

Step 3: Cook on low at least 4 hours up to 12 hours. The longer it cooks the softer the vegetables will get, but the more flavors will come out and mingle.

You can add really any vegetable you have on hand that you need to use up. If you don’t want to take the time to dice everything, you can buy pre-cut from a salad bar or use frozen vegetables and just throw them in! Couldn’t be easier. Plus it makes quite a bit, so you have several meals for very cheap, and likely enough to freeze for later meals.


 

Moroccan Beef & Couscous

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So this is another one where I had some odds & ends, found a recipe that used most of the ingredients, then changed it to fit what I felt like making. Original recipe is from GoodHousekeeping.
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Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 can chickpeas
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
2 tbsp dried onion (I would have preferred a whole onion diced, but didn’t have one)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Cinnamon, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper
1 box wheat couscous
1 cup chicken stock

Step 1: Dice the vegetables and saute in a frying pan over medium heat.

Step 2: The recipe called for the beef to be cooked in the same pan, but if I were to do it again I’d cook the beef separately so I could drain the fat easier. Cook the beef until no longer pink.

 
Step 3: Add 2 tbsp of the cumin and paprika, and 1 tbsp of garlic and cinnamon.
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Step 4: Open and drain the chickpeas, add to the pan and heat through. Stir in the cranberries and cover 2 minutes.

Step 5: Cook the couscous as directed. I put it in a microwave-safe pan with a cover, added the stock and included spice packet and microwaved on high 5 minutes.

Step 6: Fluff the cooked couscous. Put about 1/4 cup in a bowl, and spoon 1/2 cup beef and veggie mix on top. Enjoy!

I was given the advice to add onion (which I definitely will next time) and pineapple to add a bit of sweet, which I totally agree with. I might try adding eggplant too. You could use any vegetable you like, and try different spices too. The beefy, soft veggie, sweetness combo is perfect over soft fluffy couscous.

Kohl-slaw!

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I work on a CSA farm (http://www.facebook.com/schoonerfarms) and this week we harvested a TON of radishes, red, pink, and French breakfast, plus I got a spare kohlrabi. I’ve never had kohlrabi before, so I googled recipes, and found this gem on the goodbowl.com which makes a coleslaw from kohlrabi, turnips, and radishes. I still had some turnips left from 2 weeks ago too. I decided while making it to make it a little more colorful, so I threw in some carrot and cucumber too!
Slaw:
1 cup shredded kohlrabi
1/2 cup shredded radish
1/2 cup shredded turnip
1/3 cucumber, shredded
1/2 large carrot, shredded
Dressing:
1/4 cup miracle whip
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
pinch black pepper

Shredding the kohlrabi was a bit difficult, I did not know how stringy the interior was. Maybe mine was too young or too old, or I should have cooked it first?

Step 1: Put all shredded vegetables in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix all ingredients of the dressing, and pour over veggies. Mix well. That’s it!

This makes about 4 small servings. Refrigerate before serving. The dressing is deliciously tangy, and it’s a good mix of textures. It only gets better as you let it sit. It would be a great side dish to take to a picnic or party, with fresh spring flavors. Very healthy, and vegetarian.

Bonus: My tomato plants that I’ve been growing in pots outside for months have produced their first tiny ripe tomatoes! They were amazing, and tasted like my childhood. =)