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?

DIY Fleece Tie Blanket

Yesterday we were snowed in up here in the hills, so while little man played trains, I made the hubs a super soft fleece tie blanket.  I have made many of these and given them as gifts and kept some in our home.  They are always loved and enjoyed!  There are so many DIY step by steps out there in cyberspace, but here is mine.  I hope my tips learned from many trials and errors save you some headaches!

List of Materials:
1.5 yards of solid fleece (2 yards for adults)
1.5 yards of pattern fleece (2 yards for adults)
Fabric scissors (make sure they are VERY sharp)
Small piece of cardboard

1. I usually cut a template out of cardboard, 6 inches long on each side and a 1 inch wide guide for the strips.

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2. Lay the pieces of fabric just how you want them, evenly one on top of the other.

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3. Next, your going to want to trim the sides.  Make sure they are straight and even.

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4. Then, using your 6 inch square cardboard guide, cut a 6 inch square from each corner.  I like to use these nice squares of fabric for rice bags.  Makes wonderful hand warmers and Jamberry Nail applicator tools.  (P.S. I know a great Jamberry consultant if your interested in non-toxic nail wraps!)

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5. Now you want to cut your 1 inch strips, using your 1 inch guide. All the way across one side of the blanket.  I cut and tie an entire side before moving onto the next.

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6. There are multiple ways to tie your knots. I like this simple clean loop knot.  Over under thru the bunny hole kinda style.

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7. Cut and tie all four sides.  I also like to wash the blanket before giving it away, so it is clean, smells nice and I feel like it binds the knots together tightly. Thats it!

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Have you made a fleece tie blanket before? any tips 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!]

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?

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!]

Super Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Crazy rainy nights and sunny 90 degree days have awarded us with a ton of cucumbers in the garden.  Before I decided to take the plunge and go all out with my first pickle canning adventure, I figured I would get my toes wet with a very easy refrigerator pickle recipe instead.  There are thousands of recipes and how-to’s floating around the internet for refrigerator pickles, but I chose the this one from Kansas City Mamas because I had all the ingredients on hand.

You pretty much just wash the jars, wash and cut the cucumbers, place them in the jars with the spices, mix the brined, pour that over everything and place the jars in the fridge. Thats it! Really!

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These are just a basic garlic, however, you can play around with the flavors all you like. What is your favorite pickle flavor?

[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!]