Lentil soup

Dec. 1st, 2014 05:58 pm
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)
I use split red lentils to make this dish.  They cook very quickly and don't have to be soaked.  You should pick through them first, however, to check for stems or stones, then rinse them throughly with fresh water to clean off any remaining dirt or debris.  Lentils are loaded with fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, folic acid, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B6.  Red lentils will turn yellow as they cook, so don't be surprised when the soup isn't the same color as the raw lentils.

Start by making a soffritto, the Italian cousin of the mirepoix.  Chop 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of celery, 2 cups of onion, and about 5 or 6 cloves of garlic.  Saute in olive oil until soft.  Add 2 cups of lentils, 6 cups of chicken broth, 2 large bay leaves, a teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón ahumado), and some fresh black pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If you use brown or green lentils, it may take longer.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar.  You can puree the soup if you prefer it smoother, but I just serve it as is.

Serve garnished with croutons, fresh parsley and/or heavy cream, greek yogurt or sour cream.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)
I have always enjoyed cooking and my first cookbook was a copy of the 1975 edition of the Joy of Cooking given to me by my grandmother.  Over the years I've purchased the new editions as they've come out, and I've recently started buying the older editions as well.  I've finally managed to acquire one of each of the eight official editions that have been published.


Read more about the Joys of Cooking )
captpackrat: (Cooking - Kiwi)
If your Brussels sprouts came on a stalk, cut off the individual sprouts.  Most people discard the stalk as the outside is tough and woody, though the center is edible and supposedly tastes like broccoli, but that's another recipe.

Clean 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts by peeling off the outer leaves & rinsing under cold running water.  If the sprouts were purchased loose, also trim away the dirty part of the stem.  Slice the spouts in half from top to bottom; if they are particularly large, quarter them, making sure each piece has a bit of stem to hold it together.

Chop 1 large sweet onion into small pieces.

Cut 1 pound of bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Cook the bacon in a large skillet until the meat is brown and the fat has been rendered out.  Remove the meat to a bowl, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.  If there isn't enough fat remaining, add some butter or olive oil .  If you are watching your cholesterol, drain the bacon fat and use olive oil instead.

Add the onion and Brussels sprouts to the skillet and sauté until the spouts are tender.  The sprouts should remain bright green; if you overcook them they will turn greyish and develop a foul odor.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the bacon back into the pan and stir.

I like to serve this over buttered rice.

Brussels sprouts are extremely high in vitamins K (169% RDA in 3.5 ounces) and C (102%) and have moderate amounts of vitamins B1 (12%), B6 (17%) and folate (15%), as well as iron (11%), manganese (16%) and phosphorus (10%).  Brassicas such as Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, which may have anticancer properties.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)
I've been seeing lots of potatoes and leeks in Skyrim, so I thought about making a potato-leek soup.  I just modified my basic potato soup recipe.

1 stick of butter
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 medium sweet onions, diced
12 cups baking potatoes, peeled and diced (roughly 10-12 medium potatoes)
2 large leeks, diced
14 cups (112 oz) chicken broth or bouillon
1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter in a large pot, then add olive oil and saute the onions until translucent.  Add the potatoes, leeks and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the leeks and potatoes are soft.  Add the cream and stir until well mixed.

If you prefer a chunky soup, you can serve it as is, or for a creamy soup, let the soup cool then use a blender, food processor or stick blender to puree it (don't attempt this while the soup is hot, you'll burn yourself), then reheat the soup.
captpackrat: (Homer in the Land of Chocolate)
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My all-time favorite food since I was little is beef stroganoff over rice.  Or rather, a very specific recipe for stroganoff.  I'm not sure whether my mother got this recipe from my grandfather, or vice-versa; I got it from my grandfather.  The recipe probably originally called for cream of mushroom soup, which would be more traditional, but apparently someone along the line didn't like mushrooms and changed it to cream of chicken.  I prefer it that way.


Beef Stroganoff

1 lb hamburger 1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, chopped 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 stick butter 1 10-3/4 oz can condensed
2 tbs flour      cream of chicken soup
1 tsp salt 1 cup sour cream


Brown hamburger and onion in a skillet.  Drain fat and add butter.  Stir and add flour, salt, pepper and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken soup, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sour cream and heat until warm.  Serve over rice, noodles, or toast.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Good Eats - Waffleman)
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
olive oil
2 cups pearl couscous
2-1/4 cups chicken bouillon (heated to near boiling)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground cumin
ground pepper to taste

(My measurements of the spices are approximate, since I usually just measure stuff out in my hand.)

Saute the onion in olive oil until golden brown.  Add the couscous and saute until brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Add the chicken bouillon and spices and stir.  Simmer covered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve and enjoy!
captpackrat: (Cooking - Good Eats - Waffleman)
A couple days ago, I made brown rice using chicken bouillon and a generous dose of butter.  I was trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers, so I came up with this.

3 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
4 eggs
grapeseed oil
sesame oil
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, diced
2 cups Kirkland stir-fry vegetables, thawed
1/4 tsp MSG (optional)


Add a small amount of grapeseed oil to a wok or skillet.  Crack eggs into wok and scramble.  When cooked, set eggs aside.

Add a bit more grapeseed oil and a small amount of sesame oil to the wok.  Add chicken and stir-fry until completely cooked.  Add vegetables and cook for about 1 minute, then add the rice and cook for about 5 minutes.  If desired, sprinkle in MSG and stir during the cooking.

Add the egg back into the wok and stir until well combined.

Serve and enjoy!
captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)
Slice 1 pound of bacon into small pieces.  If you're watching your fat, you can trim the fatty bits off, but I think that's a waste of deliciousness.  A good smokey bacon works best, but avoid anything weird like maple-flavored.  Saute for several minutes, until you've rendered the fat out of the bacon.  Drain off the fat, then add 1/2 an onion, diced, and saute until the onion is translucent.  You're not trying to make the bacon crispy, it just needs to be cooked.  Add 3 cans of diced tomatoes, well drained, 1 Tblsp Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional).  Cook until the tomatoes form a sauce.

Serve over freshly cooked spaghetti and top with grated cheese.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)
Walmart sells one pound tubes of Pride of the Farm taco-seasoned ground turkey for about $1.18.  I like to take two of these tubes, thaw them out completely, then cook the meat in a large pot until it's thoroughly cooked and any water boiled off.  Then mix in a can of vegetarian refried beans, which you can generally get for around 75 cents to $1.  The refried beans make the meat smoother and creamier.  Vegetarian refried beans are healthier than traditional (which is made with lard) and taste better than fat-free.

Heat hard taco shells in the oven to make them crisp, or warm corn or flour tortillas in the microwave for soft tacos.  Spoon the meat into the shells, then add your favorite toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, etc)

This makes just shy of 3 pounds of meat, which is a hell of a lot of tacos.  Any leftover meat you can put in the fridge and reheat in the microwave for nachos later.  Or more tacos.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)
* Mainstays dishcloths, $5 for 4 at Walmart

My SO doesn't like using sponges to wash dishes because they harbor bacteria, so I picked up a package of dishcloths from Walmart.  One side is a regular cloth, the other has a rough polyester scrubbing mesh.  These cloths are very absorbent and hold plenty of soap.  I think they do a better job of cleaning than a regular kitchen sponge.  The scrubbing side is aggressive enough to remove most stuck-on food, but shouldn't damage non-stick pans or other delicate surfaces.  $1.25 a piece might sound like a lot, but a good kitchen sponge costs about that these days and unlike a sponge, these cloths are machine washable.  You can also wring them out and then spread them over a towel rack to dry faster, which will help inhibit bacterial growth. 

Walmart had a couple other brands, but this was the only one with a scrubbing surface.


* Cheap iced tea spoons, $2.30 per dozen at Hockenbergs Restaurant Supply

These spoons have long handles for reaching deep into a glass of iced tea, but they're also perfect for scooping stuff out of jars (mayo, peanut butter, etc).  They're dirt cheap and come a dozen to the pack.  They have a smooth handle which makes washing a breeze.  I like to use them for tasting while I'm cooking; since I have so many and they're so easy to clean, I can use a fresh spoon each time. 

Spoons like these should be available from any decent restaurant supply store.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)
Dice one medium onion and saute in a pot or Dutch oven along with a pound of ground beef.  Drain off any excess fat.

Chop about 4 cups total of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots into bite-size pieces.  You can use fresh or frozen.  Add to the pot along with 6 cups of water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp MSG (or another 1/4 tsp salt), 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 Tblsp dried parsley, 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper (optional) and both the pasta and seasoning packet from a box of Hamburger Helper cheeseburger macaroni.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the pasta is done.

Spoon into bowls and top with grated cheese.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)


In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tblsp olive oil. Add the following ingredients, all chopped: 1 large sweet onion, 4 or 5 green onions, 2 carrots and 2 celery ribs.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5-10 minutes.

Add 12 cups of water, 1 large potato cut into small pieces, 3 diced tomatoes, 1 Tblsp salt and a large pinch of saffron.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, mix 2 cups of fresh basil, 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and blend until it forms a paste.  Pour into a bowl and mix in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  This is a pistou, which differs from a pesto only in that it does not contain pine nuts.  Set this aside for later.

When the 30 minutes are up, add one drained can of great northern beans, white kidney beans (cannellini) or navy beans, 1 cup of frozen or fresh green beans (cut into bite-size if using fresh) and half a pound of your favorite pasta (broken into small pieces if using spaghetti or linguine).  Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the pasta is done (check the package, usually about 8-12 minutes).

Stir the pistou you made earlier into the soup and add 1 tsp of fresh ground pepper.

Serve immediately, or let it sit for a little while.  The flavor improves as the soup sits.  This soup is very light and is great for hot summer days.  It's also extremely good for you as it contains only a fairly small amount of salt and is lacto-vegetarian.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)
My SO had been craving stew, so when I saw stew meat on "manager's special" (i.e., old), I bought some along with the necessary veggies.

This recipe is perfect for a cold day (it was cooler than normal today, fortunately), but it takes a very long time to prepare, at least 3 hours.



Start with 1 to 2 pounds of stew meat, depending on how meaty you like your stew.  All the stew meat I've ever bought had been in huge chunks, so you'll probably need to cut them into bite-size pieces.

In a plastic container (with a tight sealing lid), mix together 1/2 cup of AP flour, 1 tsp of dried Italian herbs, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of black pepper and 1/2 tsp of MSG (optional).  Add the stew meat, seal the container, and shake to thoroughly coat the meat.

Add 2 tblsp of olive oil to a large, heavy pot or a Dutch oven and put on high heat.  Shake the excess flour off the meat and add to the pot.   You're not really trying to cook the meat at this point, you're just trying to brown the outside and develop some flavor.  If you have too much meat and not a big enough pot, cook the meat in batches.  When the meat is nice and brown on the outside, remove to a bowl.

Add some more olive oil until there are about 2 tblsp of fat in the pot.  Add 1 onion, chopped, 1-2 carrots, chopped and 1 stalk of celery, chopped (the ratio of ingredients should be 2 parts onion, 1 part carrots, 1 part celery).  Stir often until the onions are soft.

Add the meat back into the pot, then add three 14-ounce cans of beef broth (or 5 cups of water and 5 beef bouillon cubes).  Add 2-3 bay leaves, 1 tsp dried Italian herbs, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper and 1/2 tsp of MSG (optional).  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer for two hours.  The meat should be extremely tender.

Add in about 8 cups chopped baking potatoes (Russet, etc), 2 cups chopped carrots and 2 cups chopped celery.  Other veggies that would work well include peas, corn and pearl onions.  The amount of veggies should not go above the level of the liquid.  Bring back to a boil, then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for about 40 minutes until all the veggies are tender.  Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary, and fish out the bay leaves.

Knead together 2 tblsp of butter and 2 tblsp of AP flour until it forms a dough.  Split the butter dough into pieces and add to the stew.  Stir until they have dissolved completely and the stew thickened.

Serve with fresh bread (or even better, serve in a bread bowl).
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)


(No, those aren't tater tots, they're croutons that have been soaking just a bit too long.)

Sauteed some chicken in butter, then added tomatoes, carrots, corn, green beans, navy beans, garlic, parsley, fresh ground pepper (I forgot the Tabasco!), water and the flavor packets, brought it to a boil, then added the ramen bricks.  Garnished with croutons.
captpackrat: (Homer Mmmmmm...)
Having an assistant to add the ingredients really helps, otherwise you have to keep washing your hands as this is very messy.  Be sure to observe proper food safety precautions (don't let raw products touch cooked, don't use the same utensils on raw and cooked foods, don't put the cooked burgers on the same plate that held the raw patties, wash your hands after touching raw meat, etc).

Start out with a pound of ground beef.  Since you'll be adulterating the hell out of it, use whatever is cheapest, don't use the good stuff for this.  Flatten it out on a cutting board, then crack an egg over the top and knead it in.   Flatten the meat out again and sprinkle over the top some kosher salt, some MSG (optional, it's my secret ingredient!), some fresh ground black pepper, a wee bit of cayenne pepper or Tabasco and several hands full of Progresso Italian-style bread crumbs (or just plain bread crumbs and some dried Italian herbs).  Knead the meat with your hands until everything is completely mixed in.  Then add some crumbled, cooked bacon and plenty of grated cheese and knead again until everything is well mixed.

The meat should hold its shape.  If it's too wet, add more bread crumbs.  If it's too dry, add a TINY bit of melted butter or olive oil.

Spray a tiny bit of non-stick spray on a plate or platter.  Break the meat up into burger-sized chunks, then flatten them out in your hand.  Try to get them as flat as possible and still hold their shape; they will tend to balloon up on the grill.

Get the grill roaring hot.  It should be about 400°F (200°C).  Space the patties out near the middle of the grill then close the lid.  Open the lid as little as possible.  Turn just once during cooking and don't press them down, even if they start to balloon up.  Cook until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 160°F (70°C).  Try not to overcook the burgers or they will dry out.  (If your ingredients are fresh and purchased from a reliable source, you've stored and handled them properly and you're a healthy adult with no immune system issues, it's usually OK to slightly undercook them.  They'll be even juicier and tastier this way, but there's a slight risk of food poisoning.  Proceed at your own risk.)

This recipe should make about 5-6 "quarter pound" burgers.
captpackrat: (Professor Frink)
While making dinner tonight I got a small amount of turmeric on my hands.  The stuff stains like crazy and I started getting yellow all over the place, so I wiped my hands on a damp paper towel.  Since then, I've washed my hands two or three times.  Any visible trace of the turmeric is long gone.

I was screwing around with a UV flashlight when I noticed my hands were glowing.  I retrieved the paper towel from the trash, shined the flashlight on it and it lit up like a Christmas tree.

I didn't know that turmeric had fluorescent properties.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Homer Can't Cook)
I started out trying to make taco soup.  Alas, I couldn't find any taco seasoning, so I switched to making chili soup.  I reached for the cumin,  measured some out into my hand, and dumped it into the soup.  Then I realized it smelled funny.  Kind of sweet...  and cinnamony...   CRAP!

It's actually pretty good.  It's not sweet, and it's actually a bit hot.

Follow the basic taco soup recipe, but instead of taco seasoning, add 3 Tblsp of chili powder, 1 Tblsp of cumin, 1 Tblsp of cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne pepper (to taste).  I also used 3 cans of beans, one each of pinto, kidney and navy, rather than the usual 2 cans of pinto beans.
captpackrat: (Cooking - Good Eats - Waffleman)
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an ancient grain that originated in the Andes where it has been cultivated for at least 6,000 years.  Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  One cup of cooked quinoa contains 58% of your Daily Value of Manganese, 30%DV of Magnesium and 28% of Phosphorus and more than 10%DV of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, B6, Iron, Zinc and Copper.  One cup contains 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and no saturated fat.  Quinoa contains a coating called saponin which tastes rather bitter; it can be easily removed by placing the grains in a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth and rinsing under cold running water.  Most quinoa sold in the US already has the saponin coating removed.

Quinoa has been available at health food stores and Whole Foods for a long time, but now Costco has started carrying it.  It's an excellent (and healthier!) alternative to rice and cooks very similarly.  If you have a rice cooker, you can make quinoa in it.    When cooked, it has an unusual little curl to it.

I made way too much quinoa the other day so I put the leftovers in the fridge.  Tonight I decided to try making a salad with some of the leftovers.

2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
2 cups frozen mixed carrots, corn and green beans, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup broccoli, steamed and cooled
1 can diced tomatoes, drained or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
couple handfuls of toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tblsp lemon juice
large pinch salt
fresh ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of grated ginger

Mix the quinoa, veggies and nuts together in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Combine dressing with salad and toss.
captpackrat: (Scuzz the Rat)
2 heaping teaspoons instant coffee
small amount of hot water
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup milk
2-4 Tblsp sugar (to taste)
ice cubes (about 2-3 cups)
Aerosol can whipped cream (Reddi-Whip or the like, not Cool Whip or tub-style whipped cream)
Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or other sweet spices as garnish
      or
Chocolate syrup (or caramel syrup)

Dissolve the instant coffee in a small amount of hot water.  Add the coffee, cold water, milk, sugar and ice to a blender and blend until the ice is broken into very small piece.  If it's still a liquid consistency, add more ice and continue blending.

Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream.  Garnish with ground cinnamon or other spices or chocolate or caramel syrup.

Makes about 3 venti frappuccinos.

Taco soup!

May. 26th, 2010 06:09 pm
captpackrat: (Cooking - Soup Nazi)
1 pound ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cans pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 package ranch dressing mix
3 cups water
Corn or tortilla chips
Sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions, chopped jalapeno to garnish (optional)

1.  Brown ground beef and onion in a large pot.  Drain excess fat.

2.  Add beans, corn, tomatoes, taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered over low heat for at least 1 hour.

3.  To serve, place chips in each bowl and ladle soup on top.  Garnish as desired with sour cream, cheese, onions, and/or jalapenos.

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Captain Packrat

December 2015

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