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?

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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!]

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?

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!]

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles

We planted 4 small cucumber plants in our garden this year.  Those 4 plants sure did produce a whole lot of cucumbers.  We had dozens and dozens of the those crunchy green guys.  What we couldn’t eat or give away we decided to preserve.  Since refrigerator pickles only last a month, and there are only so many pickles we can eat in a month, canning bread and butter pickles as well as relish was our best bet.

I used both the sweet pickle relish and bread and butter pickle recipes from Liana Krissoff’s Book Canning for a New Generation. I highly recommend this book if you really want to do some yummy canning, as well as Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars.  If you do not have either of these books, I found some pretty comparable recipes for free on the internet: Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles.

I cannot wait the 4-6 weeks they take to cure to try them!

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Do you have a favorite pickle or relish recipe to share?

[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!]

Preserving the Summer Squash and Zucchini Harvest

Our summer squash harvest was UNBELIEVABLE this year.  We had an over abundance of the green and yellow squash cluttering our countertop for weeks, and still do. We also received a ton in our CSA.  This seems to be the norm.  Even if you do not have your own garden, I am sure family, friends and neighbors are practically begging you to take some off their hands.

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So, what to do with all this fresh and nutritious produce?  You can simply eat it now; sauté with olive oil and garlic, roast in the oven with other squash, make into pasta and toss with pesto or shred and use in muffins and breads.  Speaking of muffins, here are our favorite! YUM!

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Besides eating all your zucchini and yellow squash right away, you can also preserve it for use later in the year when squash is not in season or available.  We chose to preserve a lot of our harvest by freezing and dehydrating.  You can also can it if you like, we have not tried this method yet.

We make a really great stuffed squash with rice and ground turkey, but it is hot and time consuming to make in the summer.  So we made, blanched and froze the boats to stuff when the weather gets cooler. Also, we sliced and blanched squash coins to freeze.  With these you can just deforest and sauté for a quick side dish. Make sure you blanch your squash before freezing, this will insure it doesn’t get frost bit or go soggy before using.

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Utilize the dehydrator as well for preservation.  This is one of my favorite methods, it doesn’t take up room in your freezer and the dehydrated product last for a very long time.  We shredded and then dehydrated our zucchini.  Find the how-to here.  Later, we can rehydrate the squash with a little water and use in breads, muffins, sauces and sautés.  So many possibilities with this.

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How was your summer squash harvest this year?  How are you eating or preserving it?

[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!]

How to Start Meal Planning

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Do you plan your weekly meals?  If not, you should!  Here are some benefits of taking the time to Meal Plan; saves money, less stress, fewer trips to the store, creates opportunity for healthier eating, eliminates the great family dinner debate, and is an easy place to start organizing your entire life.  Step by step, here is how we tackle this:

1. Create a Shopping List-
To get set up, first make a list of everything the family normally purchases at the grocery store, add to that other things you might cook with now and then.  Next, set up your list according to the aisles in the store and group the items accordingly.  Make sure to leave some blank spaces in each section to add items that may not be on your original list. Your best bet is to type this up and print out copies to use each week.  When our garden is producing we will be able to eliminate the produce section of this list and save even more $$.

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2. Create a Weekly Menu-
Use a simple spread sheet or get creative! Here is a basic sample you can type up and print out: Weekly Menu. You can also use a chalk board, magnetic board, your refrigerator, or any of the thousands of ideas floating around Pinterest.

3. Choose a Day to Plan and a Day to Shop-
For us, it works best to plan leisurely on Friday when we get a few seconds then do the actual shopping on Saturday mornings.  You can also plan and shop on the same day, whatever works best with your schedule. Also, you may choose to plan for the entire month all in one day then just shop each week accordingly.

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4. Read your Local Sale Flyers-
When you are ready to sit down and plan, grab your local stores sale flyer(s). Take a look at their major sales and any other items you may need to purchase that week.  We try to coordinate whats on sale with what your menu looks like. For example, if ground turkey meat is on sale we might make chili, meatballs or minestrone soup.  After consulting the flyer and taking into account the weather, family activities, whats growing in your garden, special events, whats fresh this time of year and holidays, it is time to make the menu.

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5. Making your Weekly Menu-
Making your menu might seem daunting but its only 7 days, right? You can do it! For our family we use pretty much the same formula each week, with a few variations here and there: a soup, a pasta dish, breakfast for dinner, take-out, a major protein, vegetarian and something new.  We did not intend to do this, it is just how the process evolved and it works for us. We really just plug in the recipes for each items and give it a day and its done. Easy.

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6. Check off your Shopping List:
Now, go through all of your recipes and highlight all the ingredients you need to purchase on your shopping list. Then check your pantry and refrigerator for every day items you need to replenish and mark those off as well. For example; we know every week that we need to purchase milk, eggs and bread, it is not on the weekly menu but we know our family needs it. You may also wish to go online and print any coupons for items your purchasing to save some extra cash.

7. Do your Shopping and Stick to the Menu:
All that is left is shop and cook.  Make sure to stick to your menu during the week because then all your hard work is for naught.

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