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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Pumpkin soup

Soup is wonderful. A bowl full of soup on a winter’s day is a fantastic way to have a tasty meal and provide yourself with a bit of warming comfort food.

While it isn’t winter here by any stretch of the imagination, I had a pumpkin in the refrigerator (butternut pumpkin or butternut squash for those who have different names for these things) and there is no soup that I love more than pumpkin soup.

Normally I eat my pumpkin soup with a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt in the middle but the last time I made it I opened the refrigerator and it was gone! Horror! My daughter had eaten the last of the yoghurt in one of her midnight refrigerator raids (dagger eyes her way) so it was necessary to make another plan. I was somewhat at a loss but after staring at the refrigerator contents for a good long while I decided to try chopped and fried bacon. Not bad. So that is what you see in the photograph here.
I will still reach straight for the yoghurt next time but the bacon idea was pretty darn good as an alternative.

Pumpkin Soup

1 butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 Tbls butter
Dehydrated vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot.
Add onion and cook until transparent.
Add pumpkin and cook, stirring, for 5 mins.
Cover with water and boil until pumpkin is soft.
Add vegetable stock to taste (2-3 teaspoons)
Blend the soup in the pot with a stab blender.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt, chopped and fried bacon or whatever your personal favourite additive is.


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Leftover inspired Soup

Chinese Pork, the day after…
So what do you do when you have a good chunk of Chinese Pork leftover in the fridge? Of course you make an Asian inspired soup from it and anything else you have lying around that seems to fit.

So, as this was completely made up as I went along there is no real recipe to share. However I will do my best to remember what I did.

I had two chicken carcasses, with stuffing intact from shop bought BBQ chickens in the freezer, so those went into a big pot of water. After boiling for a good long time I strained all the solids out of the broth and put the broth back on the stove.

A packet of dried Chinese mushrooms was lurking in a box at the top of the pantry so they went in also. A good bunch of silver beet from the garden was washed, chopped roughly and added. The Chinese roast pork was sliced thinly and added also.

Once the mushrooms were tender I added a block of frozen udon noodles to the pot and tasted the results. A blob of oyster sauce, a splash of fish sauce and things seemed to taste just right.

Served up in a nice deep bowl with all the utensils needed (I use a fork and a spoon, I am hopeless at chop sticks) plonked on the couch with an episode of Bizarre Foods to entertain me while I ate. Best leftovers ever!


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Bread Bun Chicken Pies

Here is a mushroom heavy work of art. Okay it may not be art (that is subjective) but it’s amazing all the same, cute presentation and fun to eat if you like that kind of thing. I do like that kind of thing, because I don’t do it every day so it’s good to get up close and personal with my food once in a while.

You could substitute any powdered soup mix you like or leave it out entirely and just add some powdered stock for flavour. I had a packet of cream of mushroom left over in the cupboard so that is what I used.

We used the bread excavated from the rolls to dip and soak up the mushroom gravy in the rolls and then enjoyed eating the crunchy roll itself with the inside soaked in gravy and tasty chicken pieces. This was a great meal with only a small amount of preparation and it ended up both tasting and looking really good.

Bread Bun Chicken Pies
Serves 4

4 medium, round bread rolls
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, thickly sliced
350g chicken thigh fillets, finely diced
45g packet cream of chicken soup mix
300mls light thickened cream
½ cup milk
½ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped – optional

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Slice the top off the bread rolls. Set aside.
Using a teaspoon or fingers, gently remove bread from the inside of the rolls, leaving a 2cm thick crust on base and sides.
Brush inside of rolls and underside of tops with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Place on prepared baking tray. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until crisp.
Heat remaining oil in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat.
Add onion and button mushrooms cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft.
Add chicken. Stir until well combined.
Cook for 4 minutes or until just cooked.
Sprinkle packet of soup mix over chicken and stir until well combined. Remove pan from heat.
Slowly add cream and milk, stirring constantly.
Return to heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Stir through parsley if using.
Spoon chicken mixture into prepared bread rolls.
Bake for 5 minutes or until heated through.



Crockpot cooking

I have dragged the crockpot out this week. I am not generally a huge fan of the slow cooker but we have a houseful of people this week and lots to do so I find it takes the stress out of making sure dinner is prepared on time if I do it at breakfast time. The meals are hearty and I am learning how to make them flavourful (my biggest beef with the slow cooker is that the recipes I had tried in the past didn’t suit my palate and seemed very tasteless) and with the addition of rice or pasta they fill everyone up nicely.
Last nights meal was Creamy Parmesan Chicken. It wasn’t bad. Of course I used cream of chicken soup to replace the cream of mushroom (husband is back home, sometimes I’ll be sneaky and use the mushroom anyway but I was feeling kind) and I didn’t have any celery salt so I omitted that.

I’ll be trying out a few more crockpot/slow cooker recipes this week. I’ll keep you posted, at least I will if they are any good…

Creamy Parmesan Chicken in the crockpot

4 Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, chopped (I had 6 for 5 people)
1 Can 300g Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup  (I used cream of chicken)
1 Can 300g Condensed Cream of Celery Soup
1/2 Cup Sherry
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, (with extra set aside for garnish)
2-1/2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1 Tbs Paprika
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp Onion Powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp Pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp Celery Salt  (didn’t have)

Arrange chicken in crock-pot.  In mixing bowl, combine soups, sherry, seasonings and cheese; mix well.  Pour over chicken.
Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours. Serve with rice or noodles with extra Parmesan Cheese for garnish, if desired.
This would go great with mashed potatoes, too.