Curried Sweet Potato Soup

I made this soup about a month ago and have been meaning to get a post up since then. I am so busy these days that I haven't had much time to blog. Things just seem to be getting busier, so I decided to just hunker down and get some recipes posted.

This soup was made in response to an overflowing bowl of sweet potatoes that sat on my counter for about two weeks. Those spuds just sat there almost taunting me "Make something new! Make something new!" Finally I gave in and this soup is the result. Enjoy.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup (serves 4 - 6)

3 small sweet potatoes (or 3 C cooked)
1 T flour
1 T butter
3 C homemade chicken stock
1 T dark agave nectar (or brown sugar)
1/4 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t salt
1 C milk

Heat over to 400. Slice sweet potatoes horizontally. Place on cookie sheet cut side down. Bake in hot oven about 30 minutes or until soft.

While the potatoes are cooling, melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is a light caramel color. Add broth and agave syrup and bring to a boil. Scoop the potato pulp into the stock mixture and add spice. Stir to combine and turn heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend soup in the stockpot until smooth (or use a blender and process in batches). Add milk and heat to desired temperature. Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.

Beautiful Baked Meatballs

I have been craving meatballs lately. I don't really want the spaghetti, but I really, REALLY want meatballs. Maybe it is the weather? Am I anemic? I don't know and I don't care because I just want meatballs.

Tonight I gave into my craving (full disclosure: I had some out last week but they were only fair) and made my beautiful baked meatballs. This recipe is my compromise between proper meatball technique (frying then simmering in sauce) and easy (baking then coating with sauce). It combines the ease of baking with the slow cooked flavor of fried. They are an excellent quick no-fuss meal and were so good. They were exactly what I have been craving.

Beautiful Baked Meatballs (makes 5-6 generous servings)

1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/3 C whole grain bread crumbs
2 T flax seeds (optional, but very good for you and you won't even notice they are there - promise!)
1/3 C milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 t crushed garlic
1 T Italian seasoning blend
1/2 t seasoned salt (or salt and pepper)
1/2 C Romano cheese (with additional to sprinkle on top of final dish)
2 C of your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 425. Spray baking dish with non stick coating spray and set aside.

Place both meats in a large bowl and set aside. Add breadcrumbs, flax seeds, milk, eggs, garlic, seasoning blend, seasoned salt and cheese to bowl. Stir to combine well. Combine the bread and the meat mixtures and mix well (but lightly) with your hands.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion you meat mixture into 15 good sized meatballs. Arrange meatballs in baking dish so that there is a small amount of space between each meatball.

My little meaty soldiers all in a row.

Pour the marinara over the meatballs to fully cover. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until firm and bubbling.

All dressed and ready for the oven.

Serve with a side of pasta (Dreamfields, of course!) and enjoy.

Waste Not Want Not Chicken Stock

When we started buying organic protein, I was overwhelmed at the price. $17 for a whole chicken? Really? After I got over the sticker shock, I realized that if I utilized the entire bird, $17 wasn't too bad after all. For that $17, I get one dinner (for 4), two lunches and 6-8 cups of chicken stock (which will turn into 2 family dinners worth of soup later). When I start to do the math on a per serving basis (in this example, $1.22 per serving) the price becomes a lot more palatable.

As I make a lot of soup during the fall and winter (I love making soup: dump in ingredients, stir, walk away), chicken stock made from the carcass was the logical thing to do. I used to purchase Trader Joe's Chicken Broth, which contains 600 mg of sodium per 1 cup serving. That is 25% of your daily sodium intake in one cup of soup! My stock has no added sodium, although I suspect there will be some small amount of sodium present due to residual seasoning. The broth is flavorful and colorful, the later from the addition of onion peel (yes, the peel). You can either strain off and use just the stock or you can pick the carcass and use the meat (I only do this when I am making chicken noodle soup but I leave the decision up to you).

Waste Not Want Not Chicken Stock (makes approximately 8 cups)

1 chicken carcass (from a roasted chicken)
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped
8 cups water

Add chicken carcass to large stock pot. You want to totally submerge the bird in water, so if you may need to break the carcass in pieces depending on the size of your pot. Add the carrots, onions and water. Set over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook at a low boil for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, strain the liquid from the pot into a large zip top bag. Label and freeze for later use.