Tag Archives: onion

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.
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.

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.

Stuffed eggplant

So I’ve been reading lately about how healthy eggplant is for you. Then it went on sale at my favorite produce store, so I had to buy one. The only question was what to do with it. I had tried eggplant before and wasn’t particularly fond of it diced up in casserole-type dishes. So I decided to stuff it, because what isn’t made better by a meat mush and cheese baked inside?
1 eggplant
olive oil
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
Italian seasonings
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Step 1: Brown the ground turkey over medium heat and drain.

 Step 2: Dice the veggies and core the eggplant. Cook the veggies in the same pan as the turkey until tender, ~5 minutes.

 Step 3: Mix the cooked veggies, egg, turkey, and bread crumbs.

 Step 4: Divide the mix between the eggplant halves and stuff. Sprinkle italian seasonings over top and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, until nicely browned and eggplant is soft when poked with a fork.

 Also, to make it vegetarian you can just omit the ground turkey.


Quick & Easy App: Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of my favorite appetizers, but it always irritates me how expensive 2 little pieces of bread with the equivalent on 1 tomato on it is. Since I had some homemade bread in the freezer and some tomatoes that needed used, I decided to make my own for cheap!
1 long, thin loaf of homemade bread (or 1 loaf Italian or garlic bread)
2 roma tomatoes, diced small
1/4 onion, diced small
Italian seasonings
Garlic salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
Step 1: Slice the bread into small, thin pieces
Step2: Dice up tomatoes & onion very small. In a bowl, combine with seasonings and lemon juice.

Step 3: Sprinkle a healthy tablespoon of topping onto each piece.

Step 4: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until crispy on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve warm, and try to keep from eating the whole loaf at once!

Easy side dish: Oven-Roasted Vegetables

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.
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
Step 1: Dice up your veggies. This is the only work you have to do.
Step 2: Coat your veggies in olive oil, put into an oven-safe pan.
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!


Shepherd’s Pie my way

As you can see in a post prior to this, I had recently made a large amount of mashed potatoes & cauliflower. I had quite a bit left over, so I was browsing some of my favorite recipe web sites for ideas. I wanted to make pierogi (I am slovak & polish you know) but I was out of eggs (used my last one in my breakfast BELT recipe!) so I couldn’t make the dough.
Then I stumbled across this recipe for “Italian Irishman’s pie” on Allrecipes.com. It used sausage instead of beef in shepherd’s pie. Since I had a pack of Johnsonville Cheddarwurst Brats in the freezer, I figured this could work. So with what I had on hand, I pared it down to serve two (since a large amount of food almost always goes to waste) and gave it a try. It came out pretty tasty!
2 brats, sliced thin (reserve the drippings)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream or milk
Salt & pepper
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 – 2 cups mashed potatoes
Optional: 2 slices cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded cheese
Step 1: Cook the brats until they’re done, put into a loaf pan.

Step 2: To drippings, add flour & brown for 2 minutes. Add water, cream, salt & pepper to taste, whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened. Pour the gravy over the brats.

Step 3: In the same pan, add diced vegetable. Cook until tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash and onion to the loaf pan.

Step 4: Layer the mashed potatoes on top of everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Now you have layered your sausage, gravy, veggies and potatoes. You can brush the top with some melted butter or margarine if you like.

Step 5: Bake in the oven set to 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 6: The gravy and potatoes should be bubbly. I added 2 slices of colby cheese on top and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Step 7: Spoon a big helping onto a plate and enjoy! You can top with extra shredded cheese and salt/pepper if you like.

Delicious, filling and not as bad for you as you might think, assuming you used the potatoes/cauliflower mixture!

Mashed potato & cauliflower

I have read about mashed cauliflower several times and never had tried it. Since my grocery store had cauliflower on sale this week, I decided to give it a go. Cauliflower has far less calories than potatoes, and aren’t starchy. So you can eat more of this when you mix half and half, and not feel guilty!
3 small potatoes
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk
Optional: 2-3 green onions
Garlic salt
Large pot of water
Step 1: Put several cups of water on the stove to boil, adding salt to make it boil faster. Rinse and dice the potatoes (you can peel them if you don’t like the taste, but the peel is where most of the nutrients are so I left mine on.)  Cut up the cauliflower.
Step 2: Boil the potatoes and cauliflower together for 10-15 minutes, until both are easily smashed with a fork.
Step 3: Using a spoon or a mixer, mash the potatoes and cauliflower together. Level of smoothness vs. chunkiness is personal preference, I made mine pretty smooth. Mix in butter or margerine and milk. Add garlic salt to taste.
Step 4: Optional – slice green onions thinly and add for crunch and flavor.

These taste almost exactly like simple potatoes, so if you don’t tell I won’t! 😉



Crock Pot salsa chicken tacos

I have heard so many recipes raving about how easy and delicious Crock Pot salsa chicken is, it is on nearly every Crock Pot recipe list I’ve seen. So one day before leaving for school, I decided on a whim to try it. Turns out, all these people know what they’re talking about! It was amazing by itself over rice, and it is even better shredded on a taco!
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp refried beans
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
Step 1: Put the chicken and the salsa in the crock pot. Cook on low at least 6 up to 10 hours. The chicken will be slightly browned, lightly salsa flavored, and fall-apart tender. It tastes amazing on its own, serve with a vegetable and a starch side dish.

Step 2: Put a tiny amount of olive oil or stock in a frying pan, and fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the taco seasonings, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step 3: Smear refried beans on half the tortilla, heat in microwave 20 minutes. Add cheese so it melts, and about 3-4 oz of the chicken. Then pile on the veggies and smear the sour cream on the other half. Pour salsa on top, roll up and enjoy!

This is super filling, and all the flavors combine into a taste bud party in your mouth! Makes enough for several meals, probably 10 tacos depending on how much you stuff them. The meat could also be used for quesadillas or tamales.


Salsa & egg breakfast burrito

This is something I came up with when I realized I woke up 20 minutes earlier than I needed to for class. Since I had time to actually cook something, I decided on eggs. I looked in the fridge, and as I had been preparing for tacos this week, I had tortillas and salsa and a bag full of cut up bell peppers.
So I figured why wait for these awesome Mexican-inspired flavors! I could make a protein and veggie packed breakfast that could even be portable.
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 diced green onion
3-4 tbsp salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 flour tortilla (10″)
Step 1: Fry the peppers and onion in a skillet with a tiny bit of oil if needed.

Step 2: Whip the eggs in a small bowl or cup. You can add a splash of milk for a fluffier texture. Add to the pan and cook slowly over medium heat. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to continually push the egg around until it is all cooked through.

Step 3: Heat a tortilla in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add egg and veggie mixture, then a handful of shredded cheese to melt on top. Top with as much salsa as you prefer.

Step 4: Roll up and enjoy!

As always, the add-ins are optional, put whatever veggies you like in it. You could even add beans, potato, sausage, bacon or tofu if you have a big appetite in the morning. You could wrap these in plastic or aluminum foil and carry them with you for a healthy, filling breakfast on the go. Much better for you waist and wallet than a fast food drive through breakfast burrito!


The versatility of stir-fry

Especially during the summer, when fresh produce is cheap and plentiful, a veggie stir fry is always an awesome option. Cheap, easy, very filling and excellent for you. It is also very versatile, as my many meals from the stir-fry will show!
1/2 red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 large radish, diced
2 turnips, diced
1 med carrot, diced
1 can black beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup cous cous
Torn romaine lettuce, tomato chunks, sour cream, salsa, diced avocado

Step 1: Saute all the veggies in order of hardness, until all are tender. Add the black beans and heat until warmed through. Season if you want with garlic and other spices.

Meal 1: Add the stir fry and all extras into a flour or corn tortilla, eat as a burrito.

Meal 2: Put the hot stir-fry over some freshly cooked cous cous. You can top with hummus, salsa or a dressing if too dry.

Meal 3: Cover a large plate with torn romaine, add cooked cous cous, and veggies and extras on top, eat as a salad.

These meals were all eaten on different days, because the stir fry makes a ton and keeps well in the fridge. This is easy, cheap and very versatile. Add whatever veggies you like and have on hand. These 3 meal types will work well with any kind of stir fry, so go crazy!