Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

I came across a Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup in an email today, and since I had a zucchini in the fridge I decided I needed to make it for lunch.

So I did.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

I pinned it, and then printed the recipe. I made a few changes off the top, mostly to the sequence of events, and switched out the broth, the beans and the tomato products. My recipe—with the changes—is below.

I started with this deep cast iron skillet acquired at a garage sale. Paid a whopping $5 for the rusty old thing. The size is midway between a skillet and a Dutch Oven. I cleaned it up and this is my first time to use it.

Should have taken a “before” picture! It was a mess.

Iron Skillet, Flea Market Find

Ain’t it purty? Cleaned up right nice, din’t it?

Beautiful seasoning! This is what a well-seasoned iron skillet is supposed to look like! My plan was to resell it because it was so gross I didn’t know if I could get it all the way back. But I might be in love. Even though it’s a no-name skillet, it will do the job.

Celery and onion went in first.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I always chop the onion last, just in case it makes me cry. When the onions and celery are soft and smelling good, I add the garlic. Garlic will burn if you cook it too long or if the heat is too high so I wait to add it just before the next step.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I added the carrots here because I’m not a fan of soggy cooked carrots. Adding them now means they still have some crunch when the soup is done. If you like soft cooked carrots, you can put them in the pot at the beginning.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

This is where I added the dried oregano. I could have added it sooner, but I forgot. I like to stir it around and coat the veggies with it before adding the liquids.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I think the veggies take in more flavor when I do this instead of letting the herbs just swim around in the liquid later.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Now I add the broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Then the zucchini—I don’t like soggy zucchini either—and the rosemary. I intended to drop in a sprig of fresh rosemary, which is why I didn’t put it in with the oregano, but instead of taking the time to go outside and snip some, I used what I had in the cabinet.

While I waited for everything to come to a boil, I built a salad.

Salad on Larrupin

A couple of handfuls of spring mix; two slices of seasoned, crispy, oven-baked French bread croutons, broken into pieces; a sprinkle of sunflower seeds; and some slivers of Parmesan. I dressed it with homemade vinaigrette: olive oil, cranberry vinegar (homemade), brown and spicy mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, garlic granules, and sugar).

When the soup came to a boil…

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

… I added the pasta.

Then I ate my salad.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

When I finished the salad the pasta was done, and, as pasta does, it absorbed a lot of liquid. I added the beans with the liquid (again, I don’t like soggy, smushy beans) and filled the empty can with water to add to the soup. I didn’t want to dilute the flavor, so I sprinkled a teaspoon or so of chicken bouillon granules on top and stirred it into the mix.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Salt and pepper to taste. I only added a smidge of salt but I gave it several good cranks of the pepper mill. I add pepper to practically everything.

Then I spooned it into my salad bowl. I used a wooden stirring spoon so I didn’t get a lot of liquid. I gave it a good splash of Tabasco and  garnished with slivers of cheese. I used a potato peeler.

It was larrupin!

Italian Vegeable Soup on Larrupin

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

It was 1 hour and 4 minutes from the first picture to the last. The original recipe said 30 minutes, 10 for prep and 20 to cook, but I couldn’t do it that fast unless I had help chopping the vegetables.

This would make a yummy brown bag lunch with a salad, and it will freeze well for leftovers. Leftovers and freezing are two more reasons I don’t overcook the veggies.

1.

3 large stalks Chopped Celery In Dutch oven, sauté onion and celery in oil.

2.

1 medium/smallish Chopped Onion

3.

2–3 Tbsp Olive oil

4.

2–3 Garlic Cloves Minced garlic Add garlic to sauté.

5.

1–2 tsp Dried oregano Season with dried herbs, stir to coat veggies.

6.

2–3 carrots Chunky chopped carrots Add carrots.

7.

1 32 oz box Swanson’s Chicken Broth Pour in broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

8.

1 14.5 oz can Crushed tomatoes

9.

1 8 oz. Tomato sauce

10.

1–2  stems Fresh rosemary Add rosemary and zucchini. Bring to a boil.

11.

1 small zucchini Thick sliced zucchini

12.

2 cups Uncooked pasta Add pasta. Stir. Cook al dente.

Eat your salad while the pasta cooks.

13.

1× 15.5 oz can Great northern beans Add beans and liquid.

14.

1 15 oz. can Water Use the empty bean can to add water.

15.

1–2 tsp. Wyler’s Chicken Bouillon Granules Sprinkle on top. Stir.
To taste Salt & Pepper

Finish eating your salad and then ladle the soup into your salad bowl.

Garnish Parmesan Cheese
Optional Tabasco Sauce

 

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad, Soup | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Potato, Two Potato…

I love a good baked potato. Typically I wash the potatoes, prick the skin with a fork, slather with olive oil, wrap in foil, put them in a 400° oven… and wait for an hour until they’re cooked through and tender.

But a recently I had a booth at a local flea market and a couple came up and asked if I had any potato bags. I thought they wanted cotton bags for storing potatoes, but she wanted a bag for cooking potatoes in the microwave. She described it and then I went home and made one.

This is a great way to brown bag your lunch. You can cook the potato at home and warm it in the microwave. Or if you don’t have to share the kitchen you can cook it fresh when you’re ready to eat.

Baked Potato Bag

Who knew this simple cotton envelope could make such fluffy creamy baked potatoes?

And then I baked a couple of potatoes in it.

Baked Potato Bag With Potatoes

Scrub the potatoes and wrap them in a paper towel.

Scrub the potatoes and while they’re still wet wrap them in a paper towel and put them in the bag. You can wet the paper towel if you want, but I didn’t and my potatoes turned out fine. BTW, don’t prick the skin when you cook them like this. You want the skin to seal in the moisture while it cooks.

Baked Potatoes are done

I was surprised at how wet the bag was after the potatoes were done.

I’m not sure how long it took. My microwave is REALLY old… It was my grandmother’s and I think my she got one of the originals. It’s a Sharp Carousel… it has a turntable (thus the Carousel in the name). The timer is an old-fashioned turn dial.  I’m not sure of the accuracy. Suggested cooking times range from 4–6 minutes, up to 10–15 minutes. It all depends on the size and number of the potatoes and the actual wattage of your microwave.

And just like foil-wrapped oven-baked potatoes, you can press on the potatoes see when they’re done. They’ll give a little when they’re tender inside.

A Microbaked Potato

Be careful! The steam that makes the potato moist can also escape and burn when you open the bag.

No knives allowed when you get ready to eat. Just stab it with your fork and twist to break it apart.

Baked Potato

Now, it's ready to dress.

Top it with whatever suits your fancy. My dressings start with butter. Then it depends on what’s in the fridge: cheese, any kind; chives; sour cream…

Baked Potato with all the trimmings

Traditional oven-baked potato with traditional toppings.

I might top it with chili, Sloppy Joe meat, tuna, or grilled chicken or steak. Or… maybe I’ll build a salad on top and drizzle the whole thing in salad dressing. Avocados and crumbled bacon is good on top.

That spare potato that’s still in the bag?  It went into the fridge and made the best potato salad I’ve ever made! Details on that coming soon!

I’ll be selling these at the next flea market June 10, 11 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds here in Norman.  Instructions and recipes will be included.

Larrupin!

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Brown Bag, Potatoes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roast Chicken Salad with Feta

I roasted a chicken in the “cool” of the morning today and put this together for lunch.

Look yummy?

It was!

Chicken, avocado, tomato, feta, spinach, bacon and a few other odd and ends made up this healthy, tasty, warm summer salad. It was only warm because the chicken was less than an hour out of the oven, but it would be just as good if I’d pulled the chicken out of the fridge to build this.

Starting at the bottom of the bowl, here’s what’s in it.

  • 1 roast chicken thigh
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1 handful torn spinach
  • 1–2 T Athenos Feta
  • 1 slice crispy bacon, crumbled
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Here’s the meat from one cooked chicken thigh.
Add about a half a tomato, diced, and half an avocado, sliced and fanned out.
Next add slices of a green onion and a handful of torn spinach.
Feta and crispy bacon make up the next layer.
Sweet and spicy vinaigrette.

I made the dressing in a recycled pimiento jar. It’s the small jar, the two ounce size I think.

Pour fruit vinegar into small jar with tight fitting lid. I used homemade Cranapple Cider Vinegar. (The red layer in the middle.)
Add an equal amount of olive oil. (Top layer.)
Next add about a teaspoon (or so) of honey mustard, and about a tablespoon of honey. (The botttom layer.)
1/2 teaspoon your favorite herb/s, finely ground.

Tightly cap the jar and shake well. I used about 1/2 of it on this salad. The other half will go on another salad in a couple of days.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Salads, Baked Potatoes, Crackers and Cheese

Here’s what I’ve had for lunch the past few days.

Tuna on Salad

Tuna on Salad

Friday I put the leftover tuna salad on top of a bed of romaine and butter leaf lettuce topped with a few tomatoes, bread and butter pickles and honey mustard dressing.

I planned to get my lunches for the week organized over the weekend and have them read to go on Monday, but alas, I didn’t. I spent the weekend researching my family tree and editing a paper for my nephew so, nothing happened in the kitchen.

Baked Potato and Salad

Baked Potato and Salad

On Monday, I put together a pile of lettuce for a simple salad, grabbed an already baked potato, some sour cream, green onion, cheese and I was good to go. The salad was romaine, butter leaf lettuce, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, croutons, and honey mustard dressing. I cut the potato in half and zapped it in the microwave and then add butter, sour cream, green onion, and grated cheddar cheese.

The baked potato was planned, I just didn’t know when I would need it. One evening last week I baked about 5 potatoes. I doused them in olive oil and wrapped them in foil and put them in my toaster oven until they were tender. I ate one when they were done and turned a couple of small ones into hash browns sometime over the past few days and I had two left. I ate one Monday and had the last one today. Yesterday I had another salad and some crackers and cheese and tomato juice.

My desk is stocked with almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and dried apricots. I also have some crackers, cream cheese and Major Grey’s Chutney in the fridge at work in case of emergency. That has come in handy this week with my lack of preparation.

My crisper is running low, but I want to empty it before restock. If I buy too frequently I overlook something and end up having to toss it. With my slim budget I don’t need to be throwing food way.

I stopped by Target this evening for some dog food and got the very basics on my grocery list: milk, eggs, bananas, grapes, olive oil, yogurt… I think that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll make a banana drink for breakfast. For lunch I think I’ll pull a frozen sloppy Joe patty out of the freezer and that for lunch. We’ll see if that pans out in the morning. 😉

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, ready for the sandwich.

I know fish is good for your heart, and as hard as I try, I don’t get it into my diet as often as I should. But tuna is easy, so I add it to the menu when I think of it.

I make tuna salad with a recipe similar to most, but of course it depends on what I have in the fridge at the time.

One essential is celery, gotta have the crunch. This time I used bread and butter pickles, a few green onions, and mayonnaise. I had pickled peppers, tomatoes, a few almond slivers and lettuce on the side for building the sandwich.

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

I only used half the tuna today, so tomorrow I’ll make a green salad and add the tuna on top. One of my pet peeves is forgetting it’s in the fridge and having to throw it out, so I try to use it within a day or two.

What’s your favorite way to make tuna salad? Any favorite ingredients you can’t live without?

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Sandwich | , , , , | Leave a comment

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