Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012

Last week one of my sisters asked that I work on finding some new slow cooker keeper recipes.  Well, ask and ye shall receive (most of the time) - celery seed brisket turned out flavorful and moist!  Leaving the brisket whole while cooking definitely aided in keeping the meat from drying out.  I have gone through my basket and binders of recipes and have found other slow cooker recipes to experiment with in the upcoming weeks - hopefully a few others will be keepers as well.

Now that it is fall, we are back to our "soup once a week" routine.  We have been eating some of our favorites, but this week I tried a new one.  Ryan loves minestrone soup.  To be honest, I had never tried it before.  I decided to look up the recipe and found out that there isn't a standard recipe for this kind of soup.  In general, minestrone soup seems to be thick soup that contains primarily vegetables and beans and typically, though not always, has the addition of rice or pasta.  I found a couple that interested me and mixed and matched and came up with a soup that everyone loved and thought tasted terrific! Ryan, our household minestrone expert, didn't think it tasted like the minestrone he is used to, but he still really enjoyed it.  5 votes for keeper status on this one!  I didn't want the beans to overwhelm the soup; one recipe called for pureeing them.  Ryan and Owen love beans, so I pureed half and left the other half intact.  This allowed it to act as a slight thickener for the soup, and we got all the nutritional benefits of the beans!  Win-win in my book, and I will definitely make this soup again. 

My canning obsession continued this week - I made applesauce!  No real recipe for this one, but it was great!  Basically cook a mix of apples with just enough water so they don't stick together or to the pot - then puree.  Easy!!!  6 jars of applesauce made.  I would have made more, but I had to give back the pot I was borrowing! 

Friday night is pizza-movie night around here, and this week I tried a cauliflower rice crust pizza. Everyone else used our usual crust (so easy and fantastic), but I was branching out and looking for a pizza recipe that would fit the primal diet.  It was decent, but I think I need to make a few changes.  I will be trying it again, and hope to have it earn keeper status in the coming weeks! 

New Recipes
Minestrone Soup
Celery Seed Brisket

Celery Seed Brisket

* 1 beef brisket  (3-4 lbs)
* 28oz can crushed tomatoes
* 1 large red onion, chopped
* 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
* 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tbsp brown sugar
* 1 tsp celery seed
* 1 tsp pepper
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 4 tsp constarch
* 3 tbsp cold water

1. Place the brisket in your slow cooker.
2. Mix all the remaining ingredients (except the cornstarch and water) in a large bowl. Pour this over the meat. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
3. Remove meat to a serving platter and keep warm.  In a large saucepan, mix the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Gradually stir in 4 cups of cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for about 2 minutes until thickened.
4. Slice the brisket across the grain and serve with the gravy.

This had a great flavor! I think you could use about any cut of meat for this recipe, so see what is on sale and what sounds good to you.  It was the flavor of the sauce and subsequent gravy that made this recipe a keeper for our family.

Minestrone Soup

* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 1 cup carrots, chopped
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 1 small to medium zucchini, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tsp Italian seasoning
* 15oz can of beans, drained, rinsed and divided
* 3 cups chicken broth, divided
* 28oz can diced tomatoes
* 1 oz chunk of Parmesan cheese rind
* salt and pepper
* 1-2 cups dry pasta

1. Heat the oil over medium to medium high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic and Italian seasoning.  Cook until soft, about 12 minutes.
2. Puree one cup of the beans with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth.
3. Add the bean puree, remaining broth, tomatoes and cheese rind.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring this to a boil.
4. Once boiling, add the remaining beans and pasta.  Reduce the heat and cook until the pasta is done.  Serve and enjoy!

I combined ideas from 2 minestrone soup recipes to create this one.  The great thing about minestrone soup is that there is no official recipe - just some basics: vegetables, beans, broth.  All of us loved my version!  Pureeing some of the beans helped thicken the soup and little, and still gave us all the benefits of the beans in the soup without them overpowering each bowl.  The cheese rind added a nice flavor to the soup, and you can serve this soup with fresh grated Parmesan if you'd like!  We went a little heavier on the pasta (closer to 2 cups dry pasta) because I knew the kids were going to love that part of the soup.