Squash-Carrot Soup

Since moving down South a couple years ago, I really feel the lack of autumn around here. Instead of flaming maples and oaks with bright orange and red leaves, all we have here is palm trees. The few normal-looking trees we have are going to be green pretty much all year round, unless we get a frost, in which case the leaves with be a dead brown.

So to get into the autumn spirit, I decided I need to make an “autumn” meal. I made my first pumpkin pie the day before using pre-made pie crust, canned pumpkin pie filling, some allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It came out fairly ugly (but I was rushing, we were going to go out that night and had to leave by 6:00, my pie was done at 5:55. Eek!)

I decided to make a whole roast chicken and some squash soup. I went to the grocery store to pick out the ingredients I needed and what do you know, the store did not sell frozen pumpkin pieces or any other squash but “yellow.” So I decided to make do with what they had. They had frozen “yellow” (summer?) squash slices, and frozen crinkle-cut carrots. I purchased those instead. I wanted an orange-y soup and by God I was going to have it! It was awesome by the way 🙂

Serves 2-3

Here are the ingredients you will need:

1 whole onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small bag (I wish I had checked to see the amounts!) sliced frozen yellow squash

1 small bag crinkle-cut frozen carrots

1/2 box chicken broth

Hot sauce (if desired) – I used half a packet of Panda Express' Chili Sauce

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Dash of oregano

1 bay leaf

A few tablespoons of olive oil

1. In a large pot, add chopped whole onion, minced garlic, and oil. Saute until onions turn translucent.

2. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil. Add squash and carrots. Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes covered. Add herbs and hot sauce and stir.

3. When all vegetables are soft, remove pan from heat and remove bay leaf (they are not edible, they are only for flavor!). Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

4. Using a stick blender, blend until there are no more lumps. If you do not have a stick blender, use a regular blender or a food processor but be careful as soup is still hot.

5. Serve immediately into bowls, and if desired, add a dollop of sour cream, let melt slightly and swirl with a spoon.

I will write about how to roast a whole chicken another time but you could serve with ham, turkey, or even beef or lamb if you wanted. If you want a larger batch, just use bigger portions of ingredients! I definitely wish I had made a bigger amount, it was really good. It had a sweet flavor with a mildly spicy flavor as an aftertaste. My husband, of course, scraped the bowl and wanted more. I know you will, too!

Wicked Simple Beef Pot Pie

This meal is something you can make out of the leftovers from the pot roast recipe I posted the other day. If you aren’t starting it from pot roast leftovers, you should buy a decent cut of beef and brown it ahead of time in a skillet, and you should probably cook the harder vegetables like the carrots and potatoes as well, at least enough so they will be soft when the pie is done.

Just out of the oven pot pie

This recipe is not from scratch but you can easily convert it to a “from scratch” recipe by making your own pie crust (I haven’t learned to do that quite yet) and your own gravy. My way is good if you’re a busy mom or just don’t have time or the ingredients to make it that way.

Jacqui's Pot Pie

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 package refrigerated pie crusts (I used Pillsbury brand)
1 lb. or so of already cooked chuck roast
1 can of sliced potatoes (you can use the leftover potatoes from the pot roast if you made it instead)
1-2 chopped carrots
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 cans of beef gravy (or use your own)
Pinch of salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Take pie crusts out of the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter for 15 or so minutes to soften. Once softened, unroll one and place it in a 9″ glass pie dish. Using a paring knife, trim off any excess dough that hangs over the edge of the dish.
3. Using two forks, shred beef if you haven’t already, place in a large bowl.
4. Add potatoes (drain out liquid if from a can), peas, carrots and gravy. Stir until everything is coated with gravy.
5. Spoon mixture evenly into pie crust. Carefully lay top crust over the pie and trim excess dough from edges. Decorate the edges either by making a scalloped edge with your index finger and thumb or make designs by pressing a fork into the sides (see photo of finished pie.) Make some slits in the top of the pie with the paring knife and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes. (Tip: Put pie dish on top of a cookie sheet in the oven in case anything drips.)
6. When pie crust is golden and just slightly dark around the edges, take out and allow to cool several minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Flaky, beefy goodness

Yaki Soba

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 package ramen noodles
1 onion, finely sliced
1 1/3 cups bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
12 cooked shelled shrimp
1 tbsp oil (I used sesame oil)
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 can baby corn, chopped
8 snow pea pods
1/2 package regular mushrooms

1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, drain well and tip into a bowl.
2. Mix the onion, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, shrimp, baby corn, and pea pods together in a separate bowl. Stir evenly through the noodles.
3. Preheat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and heat until very hot. Add the noodle mixture and stir-fry for 4 minutes or until golden, then add the soy sauce and toss together.
4. Divide the mixture between 2 bowls and serve at once.

(Recipe altered slightly from Easy Stir-Fry)

Easy Pasta Salad

Serves 4-5

Note: You can change or add other ingredients to this recipe. I’ve found that small pieces of American cheese and cubed pieces of ham also go quite nicely with this pasta salad. This recipe can be easily adapted to serve more people. I’m one of those people that “eyeball” amounts because I mostly only cook for just me and my husband, it’s up to you how much you make.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb tri-color rotini
sm. can black olives
medium package frozen (or fresh) broccoli florets
sm. jar artichoke hearts
3/4 cup creamy Italian dressing (I used Marie’s brand)

1. Follow package directions for cooking pasta, drain and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Cook broccoli according to package directions, add to pasta.
3. Add black olives, artichoke hearts and creamy dressing. Toss or stir until everything is covered with the dressing.
4. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to chill and then serve. Enjoy!

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken.

Serves 2-3

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 jar Asian orange sauce, any brand you prefer
1 cup instant white rice
4 chilies, any kind you prefer (optional, for garnish)
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2/3 cup warm water

1. Coat chicken pieces in cornstarch (in a bowl or a food storage bag) until covered, heat oil in large non-stick skillet until oil shimmers. Carefully add chicken to hot oil.
2. Cook white rice according to package directions, should be done in about 20 minutes.
3. Cook chicken at medium-high heat until golden brown and there is no more pink. Lower heat to medium once chicken is fully cooked.
4. Carefully pour orange sauce into skillet, stirring to coat the chicken. Add chilies and the water to thin sauce. Heat for 2 minutes on medium heat until warm and chicken is coated.
5. Scoop rice onto plates and pat it down so it’s flat and spread out on the plate. Pour chicken and remaining sauce over the rice, add chilies for garnish or throw away. Enjoy!