Warm and Hearty Minestrone Soup

This started out as Pasta Fagioli, but there was no ground meat or sausage on sale this week. So, it was turned into Minestrone.  I guess if you wanted to, you could just start this same recipe with browning the meat and you have yourself a completely different soup!

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I was able to put 2 quart jars of this soup in the fridge for lunches this week and 4 pints in the freezer for a later date.  Most of the items I even had on hand in my pantry.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Warm and Hearty Minestrone Soup

1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs of celery, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz can of tomatoes (crushed, whole, diced, sauce)
2 quarts stock (can sub water but it wont be as flavorful)
2 cans of undrained beans (kidney, navy, northern white)
2 cups of small dry pasta (elbows, ditalinni, shells)
1 handful of greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard)
salt, pepper and garlic to taste (italian seasoning would be good too)

1. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a soup pot, add onion, carrots and celery, cook over medium until soft
2. Once soft, add bay leaf, tomatoes and stock, bring to a simmer, simmer for at least 30 minutes
3. When the veggies are soft, add the beans, pasta and greens, cook for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente
4. Season to taste, remove the bay leaf and serve, or store in the fridge for 5 days or the freezer for 4 months

Are you a Pasta Fagioli or Minestrone fan?

Sweet and Tangy Hawaiian Chicken

It is always challenging finding a new dish to add to the meal rotation that your family will all enjoy.  I was on Pinterest and came across a Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken recipe and thought it looked great but there was no way just dumping 3 ingredients into your crockpot would turn out the same as the picture.  I called BS on that.  The picture reminded me of General Tso Chicken, and that gave me an idea.  What if I combined the method for General Tso with the Hawaiian flavors?  We were all very surprised when my creation turned out GREAT! A keeper for sure.

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Sweet and Tangy Hawaiian Chicken

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast cut into cubes
1 cup of flour
spices to season flour (example: salt, pepper, garlic and turmeric)
oil for frying
16 oz pineapple juice (or flesh of 1 pineapple blended and strained)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
squirt of hot sauce (your choice)
preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Add flour and spices to a ziplock bag and mix
2. Toss the cubed chicken into the ziplock with the flour, zip and shake
3. Heat a decent amount of oil in a cast iron or heavy bottom pan, about 1/2 inch
4. Shake an excess flour off of the chicken and fry in pan when oil is hot, making sure not to crowd the pan
5. Cook chicken until fully cooked and golden brown, drain on a paper towel or screen lined pan or plate
6. While chicken is cooking, add pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and hot sauce to a small pan and bring to a simmer
7. When chicken is all done, toss the chicken in the sauce and place on a parchment, foil or silpat lines sheet pan
8. If there is any extra sauce in the pot, return it to a simmer and let it thicken, use as a dipping sauce later
9. Bake chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and the sauce is thick and brown
10. Serve over rice with extra sauce drizzled on top

Does your family have a similar chicken dish they love?

Warm and Filling Basic Potato Soup Base

Lunches at home are, more often then not, reheated leftovers from dinner the night before.  But what happens when there are no leftovers?  PB and J or tuna salad anyone? Not any more!  This is a great budget friendly staple to have during the winter months, Basic Potato Soup Base.

Why not just call it Potato Soup? Because, the possibilities are endless.

1. Wash, peel and dice 5 cups of potatoes.  I used Yukon Gold but Russet or really any kind will do.

2. Place in a pot with 6 cups of stock or water.  Today, I only had 2 cups of stock, so I used that with 4 cups of water.  Really any stock will do, don’t have stock, use all water. Really its very flexible.

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3. Boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily mashed.

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4. Using an emersion blender, standard blender, food processor or a freaking fork, puree the soap completely until smooth and silky.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Store your quart (and a little more) of soup in the fridge for 4 days or freezer for 6 months, or even just enjoy right then and there.

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Now, this is just the base, yes you can eat it plain, I did and it was super tasty.  You could also add whatever you are in the mood for; cheddar cheese, any cheese, bacon, ham, chicken, turkey, cooked veggies, raw veggies, tortilla chips, fried onions, hot sauce, croutons, more potatoes, sour cream, pesto, tomato sauce, beans, noodles, so on and so forth.

Really you can throw in whatever you have on hand and have an even hardier filling soup.

Imagine doing this with sweet potatoes? YUM! What is your favorite winter soup?

Quick and Easy Oatmeal in a Jar To Go

Now that we are settled into our new home, our family has been able to fall into a nice routine.  In the morning while the hubs gets ready for work, I make the little guy some breakfast and pack the big guy a lunch and a breakfast to take to work.

Lunches are easy, actually, and mostly consist of leftovers from dinner the night before.  But breakfast is a little more challenging.  I started with breakfast burritos, and he quickly became tired of those.  Then moved onto bagels with an assortment of condiments, tho most of the time it was cream cheese and jelly.  Just recently I discovered a great idea for quick and easy Oatmeal in a Jar!

This is not really a recipe, per say, but more of a guide.  So here is what you do:’

First, gather your ingredients; oats (any kind really), fruit, sweetener, nuts, whatever you like in your oatmeal.  We like dried cranberries and brown sugar, John likes to add apples.

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For a single serving fill a pint jar to the 100ml line.  You can use any size jar really, you just need to put equal parts oats to water.

Boil your water, we use the tea kettle, and fill the jar with the oats up with water to the 200ml line, quickly add the toppings and screw on the lid tightly.  Turn it up and down a few times to mix.  Let sit for about 15 min until it is the desired consistency you like.

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Enjoy immediately with your favorite beverage, or throw it in your bag for a meal on the go.

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It really is yummy!  The proof is in the bottom of the jar!

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How do you like your oatmeal? Besides oats, do you like any other hot cereal for breakfast?

Cast Iron Cooking: Seasoning

I was finally able to unpack a few more kitchen boxes from storage today and found our brand new set of Lodge brand cast iron cookware! We came across an amazing deal a few months ago and just couldn’t pass it up.  A round griddle, small and large skillet and a dutch oven, all for only $65! Amazing. Alas, it is still on sale but not THAT good of a sale. Check it out.

Lodge preseasons all of their cast iron before shipping but it was highly recommended by others to season again before using. I took their advice, and if you have never done so before, here is a step by step on how to season cast iron cookware.

1. Preheat your oven yo 400 degrees.  Unpack your beautiful pieces and marvel at their appearance. Then rinse them in hot water and towel dry.

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2. Choose your oil, Lodge recommends vegetable oil, but you can you ANY oil you wish.  Many people have recently used coconut oil and highly recommend it.

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3. Rub a smooth, even, coating of oil on the pans.

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4. Lay tin foil on the bottom rack of your oven to catch any oil drips.  Place your oiled pans upside down on the middle rack.

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5. Heat for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pans cool completely in the oven, DO NOT remove them until the pans and the oven are completely cool.  Your iron might crack if this is not done properly.

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6. Now you can use your pan! You may have to season multiple times if you are finding your food is still sticking.

Have you used cast iron before? Have a successful seasoning method?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Sweet Reads for the Homesteader or Foodie in Your Life

My iPad is chalk full of ebook, literally hundreds.  I have read countless fiction titles that I delete after reading, but I really like to save the cookbooks and informational books.  Although, storing all of your ebooks on a tablet or computer is super easy and convenient, nothing compares to holding an actual hardcover work of art.  These are the books that writers mark their careers on, pour sweat and blood into and have gorgeous vivid pictures you want to look at for hours.

I compiled a top 5 list of said works of art that any Homesteader or Foodie would love to have and to hold.

1. Sean Brock- Heritage

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Heritage, the first cookbook by Sean Brock, chef at the extraordinary restaurant Husk, in Charleston, South Carolina, is equal parts chronicle of Husk’s best dishes and survey of the local agricultural landscape.” —Saveur

I cannot wait to dive into this book, just the preview pictures alone are breath taking.  Mixing agriculture with recpies is right up my alley.

2. Jennifer McGurther- The Nourished Kitchen

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“What an inspirational book! Jennifer McGruther takes us from the local community and the garden to the kitchen and the table with a collection of delicious, nutritious, traditionally prepared recipes. The Nourished Kitchen deserves a place of honor on your kitchen counter.” —Sally Fallon Morell, president, the Weston A. Price Foundation

It’s WAY back to basics with this one.  Traditional wholesome foods with gorgeous photography, what more can you ask for?

3. Shaye Elliot- From Scratch

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“If your looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured.” From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared, Whole-Food Dishes

Ok so I am a year late with this one, and Shaye is already working on her second book.  But I still have not read the first! Hopefully this will be accomplished before the next one is available.

4. Corky, Lori, Dana, and Tracy Pollan- The Pollan Family Table

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“This wonderful book shows how good food, simply and seasonally prepared, has the power to bring the family back to the table—and keep them there! Fast food culture has disconnected us from something so basic to human nature, but when we encounter real and tasty food again, it’s like coming home.” -Alice Waters

So we all know Michael Pollan and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but did you know the ladies in his life just put out a cook book? A cookbook at Alice Waters herself LOVES! Crazy I know, and I cannot wait to read it. Oh, and Tracy Pollan is married to Michael J. Fox, yup truth.

5. Yotam Ottolenghi- Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking

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“Its this approachability that is the books greatest strength; it gives inspiration, as well as just great recipes, and it’s not just for vegetarians.” -Time Out

Who said vegetables weren’t sexy? Because this book and these pictures say otherwise.  I like bacon as much as the next girl, but these veggies are truly stunning.

Do you currently own any of these titles?  Any of these on your book wish list?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

From Scratch: Sweet and Tart Cranberry Pie

We have been so wrapped up in the Homestead Renovation, that I have completely neglected to post any recipes lately.

This a cranberry walnut pie that came across my newsfeed on FaceBook, I changed it up a bit and it was a huge hit with everyone!

Here is the original recipe.  I totally forgot to add the walnuts, oops!  But honestly, I think I like it without them.  I also did not have just raspberries, so I added frozen mixed berries.  I am not a fan of pastry pie crust, so this oatmeal cookie type crust, that doubles as the crumb topping, is EXACTLY what I was looking for as a crust alternative.

Give it a try! I am sure even your picky eaters will enjoy it.

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Are you a crust fan? What is your crust preference?

Putting Up the Garden; Pepper Jelly, Tomato Sauce and Homemade Vicks

Our garden seems to be coming to a close for the season.  We are processing the last of the tomatoes, peppers and watermelon.  Although we did not grow any hot peppers, I still wanted to make pepper jelly, so I used a variety of sweet peppers.  It took all summer to find a pectin I actually liked the taste of an was easy to work with.  I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  It is great because it is activated by calcium, not sugar, so you are free to add as a little or as much sweetener as you would like.  Also, you do not have to cook it for hours ont he stove, just a few minutes and its done.

I just followed the directions ont he box to make this sweet pepper jelly.

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Tomato sauce was my next adventure.  I felt uneasy about water bath canning my fresh tomato sauce, so I decided to freeze the jars instead.  I made a basic recipe of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flake, peeled and seeded tomatos, basil and seasoning.  It should last 4 months in the f freezer

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Lil man has caught a cold and is all congested.  I went ahead and made him a homemade Vicks rub so help loosen some of that junk.  Simply melt a big scoop of coconut oil and add essential oil.  I used peppermint and rosemary essential oils and stored it in a small ball jar in the fridge.

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What are you putting up?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything thats recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Homestead Renovation: Larder Layout

The floors are gone!
I will be posting updated pictures soon, but there honestly it's not much to see; studs, wires and plywood. This weekend the hubs is spray foam insulating, then the sheetrock can go up.

The basement has also been demoed and now we have to decide what we want to actually do with the space. A small corner is for the washer dryer, and another for the utilities. The majority of the remaining space is going to house our hydroponic vegetable garden (exciting right! more on this to come). But, I would love to also claim a space for our larder. Below is drawing I did for a possible layout. What do you think?
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And ideas or suggestions for our larder layout!

Canning Simple Tomato Salsa

Our tomatoes have finally started to turn red and now we need to use them up.  What better way then sauce and salsa!  Because I do not own a pressure canner, I had to find a highly acidic salsa recipe to water bath can.  This is a pretty simple tomato salsa recipe from Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars. It is far more tart then I am used to due to the cider vinegar, but I am sure after sitting awhile the flavors will come together and it will be just as enjoyable as any other salsa.

If you do not own this book, here is a pretty comparable recipe for free on the internet 😉


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Do you prefer a canned salsa or a fresh pico de gallo?

[Disclosure:  Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything thats recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]