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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Comfort Food, Jazzed Up – Maple Bacon Meatloaf

A plate holds two slices of maple bacon meatloaf, two halves of a baked potato with butter, salt & pepper, and a pile of peas with a nob of butter on top.There was a bunch of ground beef in my fridge that needed to be cooked up or tossed into the freezer. It’s been kind of cold as of late, so comfort food was kind of  priority number one a week ago or so. I found out a few years ago that hubby loves meatloaf. It was something he never got as a child — his mother just never made it. I don’t know if she didn’t like it or maybe his dad didn’t like it, but hubby had just never experienced it. It was practically a staple food  in our home, when I was growing up.

So the first time I made it was an experiment. When he took his first bite, I held my breath because I really feel that meatloaf is one of those “love or hate” dishes. He loved it. So ever since then, I’ve been trying to find new and exciting ways to jazz up this comfort dish. This time around, I originally wanted to do something with beef and teriyaki, but realized I had no teriyaki sauce (I usually have a jar of it around). I had no eggs (they had just expired), so I was thinking that I could get moisture and binding from something sticky. I started hunting around for something else sweet and stumbled across the bottle of maple syrup. Here’s what I did with it…

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Tomato soup that doubles as sauce!

Tomato soup over egg noodles with a slice of brie cheese on top and some parsley, in a green earthenware bowl.Tonight, I had a hankering for tomato soup. Not that over-pureed gunk out of a can, but a nice, homemade soup with a bit of texture to it. Apologies to those who are fans of the stuff out of cans; I’m not a lover, I fear.

As soon as I got home, I started pulling ingredients out of cupboards and the fridge, seeing if I had all the ingredients.

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