Tag Archives: comfort food

Potato, Potato

Readers, the name of that post sounds cooler than it reads, I promise.

Recently, I was asked for ideas for eating greens. Unfortunately, my reader was apparently pretty green savvy. She was already sauteing them, cooking them in potato soup, braising them, and eating them with mussels. Whether or not I’ll eat them I have to give credit to a woman for getting creative with something that looks like…ugh I don’t even want to get into what mussels look like. Either way, kudos for knowing a lot of good ways to eat greens.

See, I think that’s so great, mostly because those, excluding the mussels of course, are all ways I eat my greens too. Mostly I saute them, though from time to time I’ll pop them into a salad, depending on my mood and what kind of green it is.

At nearly the same time I was also asked about comfort food. She wanted something healthy, but rich enough to be soothing. Nourishing, delicious, and savory. Sounded to me like potatoes were really the only answer to this conundrum. Potatoes have a horrible rap these days, and it’s just silly. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So long as you aren’t drowning them in butter, grease, or gravy, you’re making a good choice having one.

Potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens but NOT soup. Well poop, what’s a girl to do but combine them?

Red Skinned Green Potatoes
6 small red skinned potatoes
2 cups spinach or other green (if using a green OTHER than spinach, steam it very lightly until slightly tender)
1 tbs vegan margarine
1 tbs nutritional yeast (Omnivores, if you have to you can swap the yeast for Parmesan cheese, but the yeast is worth your time finding, since it’s just so ridiculously nutrient dense)
2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

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Clean the potatoes and stab them with a fork like they’re the jerk who stood you up at the prom. “Bake” them in your microwave for 10 minutes, or until a fork goes through one pretty easily.

When they’re cool enough to handle, cut them in half.

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Then scoop out the innards until they’re as empty as that useless shell of a prom date.

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In a food processor or really forgiving blender, throw the potato innards, greens, margarine, “milk,” and spices and let process until combined.

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Scoop the stuffing into the potato shells and place them on a baking sheet.

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Broil for five to seven minutes, until the tops are just a bit brown. Don’t tell anyone that you used the microwave earlier.

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That can be out secret. Promise. 🙂

Quick, easy, cheap, and yummy.

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Need to get rid of greens? Make a giant tray of these for a get together, or keep them in the fridge to nuke for a quick snack.

I used spinach because it’s what was in my fridge. If you have a farm share, trust me, you will have an abundance of spinach at some point. If, however, you find yourself with collards, chard, or turnip greens no worries. Just steam them for about five minutes before hand and they’ll be just as dreamy in your potatoes.

My family loved it, including Mr. “I don’t like spinach” and Ms. “Eww! It’s green!” They asked for seconds. I was out of spinach.

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Ok…I could always go get some more…

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Rain, Rain, Go Away, or at Least Let Me Make it to the Grocery Store

Readers, sorry I haven’t been back sooner. I try to make Wednesday posts most weeks, but to be honest, I was just too excited about the fabulous weather we’ve had. You see, it’s been in the 80’s all week long!

This is a far cry from last Saturday which was cold, wet, and disgusting. It was not even normal “gross” outside, it was Cat in the Hat bad. I felt bad for Olive because I had no idea what to do with our time the entire day. I felt even worse for Mike because he had to go teach in it. I felt relatively fine for me because we had plenty of coffee and tea in the house, but I wasn’t leaving for anything, not even to pick up groceries for our relatively understocked kitchen so I could make my miserable, freezing family something good for dinner. It was gross out there!

Hey guys, I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but I made soup, so shut up cuz’ it’s yummy. *

Note: A thank you must go out to my mother, without whom I would have no basis for how potato soup ought to taste.

Two Potato Soup
2 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 dash liquid smoke
3/4 cup almond milk

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots with broth and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are very soft.

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While the potatoes are boiling, heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Add the onions and celery and saute until the onions are translucent.

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Unfortunately, I was out of celery and nothing was going to make me run to the store to pick some up. NOTHING.

Add the garlic to the skillet, and saute for another minute. Set aside.

By this time, the potatoes will be soft, so turn the heat down to medium, and using a slotted spoon remove about 2 cups worth of the chunks. Some carrots and sweet potatoes will get mixed in, it’s not a big deal, so just go with it. Put them in a bowl, and mash the bajeezus out of them.

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Add it back to the pot along with the sauteed onions, celery, and garlic. Stir until the soup has thickened and the blob of mashed potatoes has disappeared (You can, of course, choose to mash a few more potatoes if you want the soup to be super thick, though we thought it was perfect as it was). Add the poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and almond milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the top (this is optional, but delicious).

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Hey, that was easy!

This soup is perfect for gross days because it is so wonderfully warming. It’s comfort food without butter, full of potassium and vitamins, and tons of protein. It is the very best way to eat potatoes, and I love potatoes, so I should know. While it is loosely based on my mother’s recipe (which involved a secret ingredient known as “instant potato flakes”–sorry for ruining the secret, Mom!) and has a similar creaminess, the sweet potato adds a pleasant change of pace to this thick, savory, soup. I really wish Mike hadn’t eaten four bowls of it, because I would have liked seconds.

Oh well, even when it’s gross outside and I don’t have many groceries, I do usually have potatoes.

So I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but soup can bring lots of good fun that is funny. *

*My apologies to Dr. Seuss.

Instant Gratification-role

Sometimes, you want to just give your family twenty bucks and send them to Pizza Hut. At the same time, you aren’t angry with your family…this time…and you still want them to eat well and avoid whatever monstrosity their poor judgement would lead them to. You just really don’t want to cook again. Today was one of those days.

Now, don’t get me wrong readers, I love cooking for my family. It’s not uncommon here to eat three hot meals a day, if I have the time. Food is a priority in my house, and I try my best to create the time necessary to make sure we get to eat a few special meals, even if it’s just me for the night. But damn it all to hell if I don’t live in that kitchen most days, and the idea of cooking AND washing dishes sounded awful.

This morning, I solved the problem with peanut butter toast and fruit.

Time spent in the kitchen: 5 minutes (including coffee)

For lunch Ollie and I had fruit, veggies, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Time spent in kitchen: 7 minutes. Peanut butter ingested: Probably too much.

Dinner was trickier. I knew my family wouldn’t go for any more peanut butter and I really wasn’t up for the drive to Loving Hut or Northstar. (Northstar is a local place, but you might have a Loving Hut nearby. It’s yummy, but I’m not going to lie, the owner might be a cult leader, we’re not sure.) At the same time, the idea of hanging out in my kitchen for an hour meticulously cooking god knows what just to give them a nutritious meal just sucked. I could not get behind getting behind my oven today. Call it late onset feminism.

Back in the old days, I’d have solved this problem by dumping some cream of mushroom soup on some rice and veggies, throwing in a cup of cheese, and calling it a day. We don’t do that any more, and you shouldn’t either. I needed an equally quick casserole that wasn’t going to cause us horrible pain upon leaving our bodies (cheese makes you constipated, it’s a poop joke), I needed some healthy Instant Gratification-role.

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Time in the kitchen: 20 minutes.

Before I tell you the recipe, let me just say this–I wrote this purposefully with the intention of you being able to change it. Want to use dairy cheese and milk? Go ahead, if you need to. Don’t have nutritional yeast? Swap if for Parmesan cheese or just skip it. Use whatever kind of beans you want OR use crumbled tempeh or tofu. Skip the zucchini and chop up some broccoli or peas. Seriously–add whatever you want. This is like a really, really awesome dress. You can pair it with whatever sweaters or jewelry you feel like wearing and it will always be great.

Anyway, enough stupid similes.

Instant Gratification-role
2 cups rice, cooked (use broth instead of water)
1 15 oz cans of black eyed peas
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup non dairy milk
1/2 cup non dairy cheddar style cheese (I used Daiya, but Vegan Gourmet is pretty good too. Buy whatever is cheap.)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Ok, pay close attention to all the instructions because this is going to get tricky. Put all of those ingredients in a bowl. Mix them. Put it in a casserole dish or individual ramekins (if you’re fancy). Bake for about 15 minutes.

Give it to the ingrates.
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And savor. You’ve earned it. After all, it took you a whole twenty minutes to make. 🙂
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It’s cheesy, it’s warm, it’s comforting and it’s simple. It’s everything a casserole should be and what’s more–it’s healthy! Hopefully this will get dinner on your plate sooner and your ass out of the kitchen.

Because damn, I spend too much time in there.

Tomato Soup, It’s Good For Your Soul

When I was a kid, I really, really, really liked playing in the snow. So much so, in fact, that it was often detrimental to my health. This post isn’t about the many, many times I came in soaking wet and half frozen to the point where it took twenty minutes and a blow dryer to get me back to normal, human temperatures. No, this post is about the most soul nourishing, warming, delightful soup in the world that my mom would feed me after lovingly drying me off over the heater vent.

When I was young this soup was typically consumed from a can. The can is probably copyrighted to high heaven, but you can see some lovely Warhol prints of it. My mom used to pop it open, add some water, and serve it with the yummiest, gooiest, most happy inducing grilled cheese sandwiches in the history of foodstuffs. Every time I dipped a delicious, golden triangle into my soup it was like dipping into a bowl of warm love. Of course I wanted to share this experience with Olive. There are only two problems: 1. It really isn’t snowing…at all. It may snow for a few hours, but then it stops, melts, and the tulips start to sprout. Lather, rinse, repeat. How am I supposed to teach Ollie the joy of getting yourself so cold you’re nearly dead, then warming up with a bowl of rich, hot, tomato-y goodness if it’s not going to stay cold? 2. The can, like many other things in life, has let me down, now that I’m an adult. The soup is highly, HIGHLY, processed and filled with such gems as high fructose corn syrup. I really can’t, in good conscience, feed that to my kid.

I can’t change the weather, but I can change the soup.

Better than Warhol Tomato Soup
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (soy or dairy are ok, too)
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 tsp thyme
1 piece of whole wheat bread
1 cup spinach
1 bay leaf
3 lbs love

In medium sauce pan heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden.
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Add tomatoes, seasonings, and almond milk.
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Yes, I fully understand how gross this looks. It will taste yummy soon, I promise.
Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, measure a cup of spinach and add to blender.This is going to up the vitamin content of your soup. It’s not necessary, but it doesn’t hurt anything and it adds loads of good for you things. Add heated tomato mix and pulse to blend. Then comes the special part. Enter–sliced bread:
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This seems weird, I know, but you are going to tear that bread into manageable chunks and add them to your blender. Why? Because that hunk of bread gives it this dreamy, creamy, perfect consistency. Blend until creamy and perfect. Pour back into your pan. Add the bay leaf and let simmer 15 (or more, if you want) minutes. Garnish with love.

Serve with whatever you like. For Olive and my lunch, the choice was very simple. We needed something nourishing, warming, and full of love. We needed the best winter lunch ever. We needed a sandwich. So we split one, and an apple.
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In my house, the bay leaf was special. We added it to every single tomato dish, from soups to pasta sauce. Whoever got the bay leaf in their meal got to make a wish. Well, I got the bay leaf this time, but I put it in Olive’s bowl before I served her.
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All and all it was a pretty perfect lunch.
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Enjoy!
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