Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup

"Summer Solstice" vegetable soup with garlic cheese bread

I’ve recently found out that onions are generally a bad idea for me.  If I don’t want to end up having certain health issues that I won’t discuss here, I need to generally avoid them like the plague.

To say the least, this has really put a cramp in my cooking-style.

Almost every recipe out there involves onions of some description or another. Sliced, diced, chopped, minced, pureed… somehow, it’s present in everything from soups and stews to burgers and meatloaf. What’s an onion-avoiding girl to do??

With the recent rainstorms and cooler summer weather, I’ve found myself craving a good, hearty, warming soup. Yes, soup in the summer — I’m not crazy, I promise! But again: soup = onions. Right? Well, not exactly. I’ve found  that I have no adverse effects from onion powder. There’s hope yet! Based on this and wanting to get something equally tasty and nutritious into me, I went out to buy some veggies I haven’t had in recent days: cabbage  and sweet potatoes.

Sure, I’ve got potatoes in my pantry but the  sweet potatoes are generally so much better for you and they just have a different taste. So, today, after I had gotten up from a short afternoon nap, I started chopping and slicing and  whipped up this yummy little number. I’ve dubbed it Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup because I created it on the Summer Solstice and the flavours are warming without being “spicy”. Feel free to play with the seasonings to make it more to your taste, but  I have to say that this turned out better than I originally imaged!

This also makes a huuuuuuuuuge pot of soup/stew, so feel free  to cut these measurements in half to make a dutch oven’s worth of soup. This one took my large stewing pot, just as a warning.  (See the end of this posting to see the “leftovers” after hubby and I both had two full bowlfuls!) Also, this was an instant hit with my hubby, though there was no meat in the soup. Woo! Here’s what I did…

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Low-carb adventures: A new spin on Shepherd’s Pie (sweet potato-style!)

A bowl full of Shepherd's Pie made with ground chicken and sweet potatoI come from an English-Irish upbringing. Shepherd’s Pie was a bit of a staple in our house when I was growing up. You know, that English-Irish-Scottish-whatever type of casserole designed to use up leftovers? I’m not talking about the traditional one that’s done with a lamb mince.

I’m talking about the kind that your mom would whip up with the leftover mashed potatoes and veggies from the night before with some seasoned ground beef because it was a) economical and b) the only way she’d get the kids (you) to eat leftovers. 😉

Needless to say, I love Shepherd’s Pie, or at least the North American version of it. The only problem is, I don’t make it too often because we try to limit how often we’re eating red meat (especially of the ground persuasion) and with the starchy potatoes, it’s not exactly the healthiest of dishes.

Not wanting to give it up entirely in my quest to eat healthy, I had a bit of an epiphany. I had some sweet potatoes in the cupboard and ground chicken in the fridge that needed to be cooked up; why not do some substitutions? I had no idea how it would turn out, but here’s what I did.

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Moroccan chicken tajine (stew) w/lime rice

A bowl of rich Moroccan chicken stew with lime rice.This recipe came out of a desire to cook something “different”, yet comforting and was a total, pleasant surprise. It was based on a recipe from Antony Worrall Thompson recipes (LifeStyle FOOD). I substituted what I had on hand. Next time, I would see about adding some root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes (omitting the rice) and/or some chickpeas (if I like them?) for some more substance. I’m not complaining! This was a really yummy dish. But I’d love to continue to play with it to see how I can make it better.

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Too hot to bake? Try microwaving! Apple-raisin-cinnamon nuked muffin.

A white rectangular plate holds an apple-cinnamon muffin which has been baked in a cup in the microwave.It’s been too hot to cook, too hot to bake, but I’ve had a craving for muffins. So of course, I went scouring through search after search, just making myself more and more hungry, until I stumbled across a recipe called “Blueberry Muffin for One”, which gave baking instructions for both the conventional oven, as well as the microwave!

I didn’t have all of the same ingredients, so I played around with it a bit and substituted some things out with what I actually had. Here are the results… Continue reading

Pasta with a “quick” bolognese sauce & homemade garlic toast

A small bowl contains whole wheat spiral pasta with a homemade red meat sauce (bolognese), with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and sliced green onion. Two square pieces of garlic bread rest on the rectangular, white plate beneath this. A fork with a rainbow-coloured handle sits in front of this display on a blue table cloth.I needed a break from all the Alfredo sauce I’ve had of late, as well as all the chicken! So tonight, I whipped up an old standby and a new dish for me.

Old standby: Pasta with a “quick” bolognese sauce.

New item: Homemade garlic-onion toast.

The garlic-onion toast was more out of necessity than anything: I had a French loaf that was going to go moldy if I didn’t make use of it tonight. So I cut it in half, slapped half of it in the freezer, then slathered this one with the fixin’s and broiled it. Here’s what I did for both… Continue reading