African Yam Stew ~ Amazing, Spicy, Sweet Peanut Buttery YUM!

african-yam-stew

This is divine!  I made it two nights ago and was crazy over the depth of flavor it has.  The small amount of peanut butter truly added this whole level of yum, beyond the awesome spices it has.

I have to say the next time, I would half the recipe because it simply made too much for just the Mr. and myself.  The girls tried it and well… not so much mom!  Perhaps the flavors are just too grown up for them, yet.  Enjoy!

Two popular vegetarian soups of Central Africa were the inspiration for this stew. In this region, sweet potatoes, beans, chili peppers, onions, ginger, garlic and peanuts are common ingredients. The peanut butter makes this a creamy stew, but there is only a small amount per serving. To decrease the richness serve over a whole grain or use only ¼ cup of peanut butter. Feel free to kick up the heat by using jalapeno pepper or more red pepper flakes.

Forks Over Knives

http://www.forksoverknives.com/african-yam-stew/

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

• ½ cup water
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1-2 tablespoon(s) Anaheim or jalapeno pepper, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, ground
• 1 tablespoon garlic granules
• 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
• 2 teaspoons coriander, ground
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 6 yams, peeled and chopped
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 24 ounces tomatoes, chopped
• 14 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 14 ounces black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter, unsweetened natural
• 1½ cup corn
• 6 cups collards, chopped

Instructions:

In a large pot, sauté onion and pepper with water for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally

Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and red pepper.

Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Mix in yams, vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans and nut butter.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in corn and collards and cook for about 10 more minutes, until yams and greens are tender.

Serve over brown rice or other whole grain.

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Vietnamese Pork Pho Soup ~ Delicious, Healthy Love for Your Tummy!

Pork%20Pho%202

When the Mr. and I used to frequent Montreal for our weekend “adult” getaways, our favorite go~to hangover remedy, as with most other cultures was some sort of big, fresh vegetable, noodle and protein soup.

Thanks to many great reviews online from Montreal natives, we were lucky to find a lot of great restaurants that are “off the beaten path” of tourists, that have phenomenal cuisine at low prices!

So where is the best place to get pho?  A tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown, Cristal No. 1.

It was absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1548051/restaurant/Chinatown/Cristal-No-1-Montreal

The whole late night, post partying, healthy soup practice, seems to not have taken hold here in the U.S. as it has pretty much everywhere else.   That is, it’s probably unlikely that it will become popular, unless the Golden Arches start carrying it, anyway!

I’ve been making this soup at home for years in the chicken form.  Chicken stock and meat.   This past week I made pho with a lovely, tender pork loin and it was absolutely amazing.

Here is the recipe I used.  Feel free to add any variety of veggies on top that you have, the key is to add them AFTER the noodles, meat and broth.  The idea is to keep them fresh, vibrant and crispy.  The nice thing about this soup is it’s easily made ahead of time.  If you chop the veggies first and refrigerate till you’re ready, it’s only a matter of heating up the broth.  This means, healthy, quick dinner!

Here are some fresh / raw veggies I’ve seen on Pho:

Julienne carrots

Julienne cucumbers

Mushrooms

Cilantro

Sliced thin red peppers

Jalapeno thin sliced

Bean sprouts

Sliced thin read onion

Chopped mint

Chopped basil

Lime wedges

http://guiltykitchen.com/2009/10/14/daring-cooks-vietnamese-pork-pho/

And if you’re ever in Montreal, definitely check out Cristal No. 1.  It’s the best pho in Montreal!

Tomato, Orange and Jalapeno Soup

My husband makes this delicious soup when he’s feeling culinary~ish.  It’s super easy and super healthy and vegan too.

2 – 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (I use organic)

1 small can tomato paste (Organic)

1 large onion diced and sauteed in EVOO till translucent

2 cloves garlic minced and sauteed in EVOO with onions

1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil roughly chopped

2 cups of orange juice

Basically all you have to do is to sautee the onions and garlic in some EVOO in a large stock pot then add the remaining ingredients and heat through.  You can garnish with sour cream and Parmesan cheese.

 

Autumn Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple and Carrot Bisque

Autumn is my season, without a doubt.  It’s as if I come alive in autumn.  I want to cook, nest, make things.  I adore the sounds, the smells and the foods.  Ah, the vegetables of autumn,  especially if they are roasted.

While this recipe takes a bit longer to prepare than other recipes made entirely on a stove-top, the roasting really enhances the flavor of the winter vegetables and gives it far more depth than sauteing them.

This recipe will make a large batch.  Probably enough to feed a large group (maybe ten)  or to have leftovers to freeze. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes for squash bisque / soup call for sugar.  Don’t feel inclined to add it, as the carrots and apple will give you enough natural sweetness.

As always I recommend buying locally grown produce and organic whenever possible.  Remember buy local, we need our farmers!

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash ~ halved and seeded

3 large carrots ~ unpeeled and washed

1 small granny smith apple ~ peeled and diced

2 large onions ~ peeled and quartered

1 medium head garlic ~ skins on and wrapped in foil

6 cups good quality organic vegetable or chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup organic plain yogurt

Chopped fresh chive

Let’s Cook~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil

Throw all of your veggies and your foil wrapped garlic on the pan.  No oil is needed.   Bake for approx. 1 hour or until your squash is fork tender and the carrots can be easily cut into chunks. The roasting garlic and veggies are amazing to smell!

Let these hang out and cool for a bit.

When cool enough to handle, start adding these veggies and your garlic into the blender or food processor (or you can use an immersion blender if you’ve got one).  I did my blending in three batches, adding some of the broth to get it blending better.

**Oh by the way, if you’re using a blender take the button off the lid or you’ll be sorry.  Hot food will tend to explode in the blender and make a mess.  Just sayin’!

I like my soup pureed pretty well.  If you prefer yours to be chunkier, go for it.

I transferred my soup into a crock pot to finish heating.  Of course a stockpot would be fine as well.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the yogurt.  Stir that in before serving.

Finish with a nice dollop of sour cream and some fresh chives.

Gorgeous Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

One of the dishes I crave the most is a good hot and sour soup.  For some reason I thought it would be too difficult to make.  So wrong!

That is not to say that it’s not time consuming.  It kind of is.  However, so worth every bit of chopping and prep.  Once it’s done, it’s a breeze.

Hot and Sour soup is healthy, low calorie and great if you have a cold.  It’s filled with great fungi, tofu and lean meat.  What’s not to love about that?

After perusing the internet and finding a few recipes I put a few together and made my own with the ingredients I most love in the soups that I’ve had over the years.  Since we live in a pretty rural area and do not have a decent Asian market sadly, finding the mushrooms that most of the recipes require was impossible.  So I opted to just use the fresh that I did have at my local grocery store.  For authenticity I’ve included in the ones that I see in most recipes and have given instructions as to how to prepare it… that being said, I found that following the general directions for the broth and using fresh mushrooms was just as tasty.

I even went so far as to fry up a batch of crab rangoon (recipe to follow later) and made some extra fried wonton strips to top the soup off with.  Yes, it was a good night at our house! I’m pretty sure I ate myself silly that night, between my favorite soup and those cheesy, crab pockets of love!

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 dried tiger lily buds
  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin – sliced into thin strips
  • 1 sm. can bamboo shoots- sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cups hot water (omit if using fresh mushrooms)
  • 1/3 ounce bamboo fungus
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (reduce to 1 tablespoon if using fresh mushrooms and not dried)
  • 1 (8 ounce) container firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (I’ve used chicken broth too, it will come out more of a creamy golden color instead of light brown)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili oil (extra if you like your soup HOT, HOT)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, sliced

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, place wood mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and lily buds in 1 1/2 cups hot water. Soak 20 minutes, until re-hydrated. Drain, reserving liquid. Trim stems from the mushrooms, and cut into thin strips. Cut the lily buds in half.
  2. In a separate small bowl, soak bamboo fungus in 1/4 cup lightly salted hot water. Soak about 20 minutes, until re-hydrated. Drain, and mince. Or if these are unavailable to you, try to find some exotic mushrooms at your grocer.  I used shiitake and some other Asian mushrooms (fresh) and they tasted lovely.  Remember when using mushrooms how much they shrink after cooking.  Buy extra, you won’t regret it!
  3. In a third small bowl, blend soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  4. In a medium saucepan, mix the reserved mushroom and lily bud liquid with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and stir in the wood mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms,  lily buds and bamboo shoots. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Season with red pepper, black pepper, and white pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, mix remaining cornstarch and remaining water (again, this is only used if you have used dried mushrooms and not fresh). Stir into the broth mixture until thickened.  Add more cornstarch blended with water if you want your soup to be thicker.
  6. Mix soy sauce mixture and  tofu cubes into the saucepan. Return to boil, and stir in the bamboo fungus, add pork and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the broth comes to a boil again.   Add chili oil, and sesame oil.  Just before serving, turn off the heat. Stir the egg in gradually.  Garnish with green onion to serve.

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