Homemade, No Recipe, Soup-Making 101

Hi there!

How many of you have leftover turkey, ham, vegetables or other foods from your Thanksgiving meal?  What do you plan to do with those things?…Cause’ there’s only so many sandwiches you can make.  :). 

What about turning some of the leftovers into soup/stew?  And not some scripted recipe, but rather a bit of experimentation.  I don’t know about you, but when I make these kinds of meals  my family really enjoys them…its like they know I had to think about this meal a bit more and they seem to appreciate the effort. 

There is a basic structure that lets you make great soup/stew (or other dishes) out of things you already have in your house.  I learned this trick from my mom and grandmothers growing up (they didn’t waste food) and was reminded of this “waste not, want not” attitude when I stumbled across a great book called “An Everlasting Meal – Cooking with Economy and Grace”.  The basic premise of the book is learning to use what you have to make really, really good food.  The basic structure I mentioned earlier is

  1. A healthy oil (butter, olive oil, etc.) – Warm over medium heat
  2. Aromatics (onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, etc) – Sauté until soft
  3. Items of your choosing (meat, vegetables) – Season and cook until done (or until hot if what you using was pre-cooked) 
  4. Liquid (water, broth, milk, etc) – Add liquid until contents are 3/4 covered.  If adding milk in addition to water or broth to make your soup creamy wait until the last five minutes of your cooking time so that it doesn’t curdle.
  5. Seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley,thyme, etc.) – Add seasonings to taste

To make the bread twists from my photo above:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a cookie sheet
  2. Thaw your puff pastry acccording to the directions on the box
  3. Cut them in strips and twisted them
  4. Brush them with an egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
  5. Lightly sprinkle each twist with sea salt and parsley before baking.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the twists are nicely browned and puffed

You can jazz up the bread by adding in cheeses, changing the sea salt and parsley to butter and garlic, cinnamon and sugar, etc.  Go with your gut (literally) and you will probably be right.  🙂

I know the directions for the stew aren’t specific…that was on purpose.  I hope that you will take the general framework and try your hand at making your own version.  A few helpful tips though…if you want it more like stew add LESS liquid, but if you want it more like a soup add MORE liquid.  Remember that flavors get stronger the longer something cooks so be careful with the salt…you can always add more near the end, but it is really hard to “un-salt” a dish once it is cooked in.

If you decide to experiement please check back in and tell me how things went!  Also, if this post was helpful please like, post and share!


Brown Sugar Spiced Salmon

Well, my family has dubbed another recipe a keeper!  

My kids like most mild-tasting seafood, but have had a hard time adjusting to the stronger flavor of salmon.  After trying the brown sugar version they were hooked! They did ask me to make it a little less spicy next time, so you might want to reduce the amount of pepper if you have little ones (or if you don’t like it hot).

I served this dish with steamed asparagus and a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll.

You can click here to go to the recipe.  If you try it come back and let me know how it turned out!


A Smoky Twist on Meatloaf

Enter the classic american meal – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans.  Who doesn’t love the homey comfort this meal provides?  I know my family does.  They always ask “are you trying to knock us out (make us go to sleep) with this meal?”.  I always smile when they say it because it is their way of saying “thanks mom” for cooking one of our favorites.  

I used the McCormick meatloaf packet and recipe (clean eaters don’t kill me – I’m sure there is a recipe somewhere on pinterest for a homemade version).  I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and added in 1/2 cup of PictSweet seasoning blend – a mix of frozen onions, bell peppers, celery and parsley.  For the topping I mixed 1/4 cup ketchup with 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce (I used the new Heinz Memphis BBQ sauce) to give the meatloaf a nice smoky flavor instead of just the traditional ketchup topping.

If you try out this little twist let me know what you think!