Mum’s Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

This is the recipe for my Mum’s pumpkin soup, and it’s pretty easy to make. The hardest part is cutting all the skin off the pumpkin!
It’s a great winter warmer (for those of you who are heading into winter, like me), but is also light enough to eat year-round.

The amounts of everything in this soup are pretty rough – if you have slightly more or slightly less of an ingredient, it will not be the end of the world.

Serves 8 (approximately)

Ingredients

  • 2kg pumpkin, in 1-inch cubes – I prefer jap pumpkins, because they’re cheap and not stringy when they cook up. Butternut is also good, but they are more expensive.
  • 4 large brown onions, sliced
  • 40g butter
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes (or the amount of stock powder you’d use to make 1.5L of stock)
  • 1L of water
  • 1 square of a curry block (I use this one, which I can get from my local supermarket. Any curry powder/seasoning will do, adjust amount to your taste preferences)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream

Method

  1. Heat butter in a stock pot (I use a 5L one) over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent and beginning to caramelise.
  2. Add curry, stock cubes, pumpkin, and water to pot and stir. The water will not cover all the pumpkin to start with, but you don’t need to add more.
  3. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 20mins or until pumpkin cubes are soft and cooked through. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. Remove lid and cook for a further 10mins uncovered (if you like watery soup, skip this step. It helps thicken the soup).
  5. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for approx 20mins before pureeing. I use a stick blender and do this in the pot, but if you only have a bench-top blender, ensure there are even amounts of solids and liquid in each load through the blender.
  6. Return pureed soup to pot (if you took it out) and bring to boil over high heat. Taste soup at this point and add any extra seasonings. Stir through sour cream and serve.

Variations

  • Thai pumpkin soup – use red curry paste and swap out the sour cream for 1/2 cup coconut cream. Garnish with coriander.
  • Budget variation – if pumpkin is expensive where you live, swap out half the pumpkin for potatoes/sweet potatoes. You can hardly tell the difference! You can also extend the recipe using the same theory – double the ingredients, and make up the additional 2kg of vegetables with potatoes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes help preserve the orange colour of the soup, which can get a bit watered down if you just use white potatoes.
  • +Protein variation – pre-soak 1 cup of red lentils and drain. Add to soup with the pumpkin and continue as normal. Pre-soaking means you will not need extra liquid in the recipe. Red lentils work best as they are the same colour as pumpkin when cooked, don’t have skins, and cook down to mush very quickly.
  • Slow cooker – very easy to make in the slow cooker. Caramelise the onions on the stove first, then add all ingredients to the pot. You will want to reduce the liquid by about 1/3, but DO NOT reduce the number of stock cubes. Cook on Low for approx 6hrs – more is fine. If you are cooking for less than 6hrs, cook on High. Skip the “cook uncovered” step.

This recipe freezes well. It may separate a little when defrosting, just mix it all up again.

~K

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

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I set this awesome soup going while I was out on Monday, and it’s turned out SO GOOD. It doesn’t have the Hubby seal of approval (because it is soup and he isn’t a fan of soup, so he hasn’t even tried it yet) but I reckon it’s fantastic. It has officially risen to the position of “Go-To Chicken Soup Recipe” in my collection.

The recipe came out of an old recipe book that I got from an op shop. I suspect the book is from the early 80s or something, some of the recipes are a *little* bit scary… (There’s a recipe for one of those savoury jelly salad cake things. It contains calamari. UGH!)

This recipe has a GF variation (see end of recipe).

Serves: 6-8 (ish) – could serve up to 10, depends on how much water you add and how hungry you are.

Ingredients:

  • 2L chicken stock
  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped (or 4 thighs)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 2 carrots, small dice
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic (as always, I used about twice as much garlic)
  • 2 tsp vege stock powder (or 1 cube – whatever amount makes 500ml stock)
  • 410g can creamed corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 375g packet egg pasta, broken up
  • 500g chinese cabbage, shredded

Method:

  1. Saute onion, leek, garlic and celery until beginning to soften. I did this in my slow cooker itself, as I have a saute function. This saute step was not included in the original recipe, so you could probably skip it if you don’t want to dirty a separate pan and you can’t saute in your slow cooker.
  2. Put all ingredients EXCEPT frozen veg, pasta and cabbage into the pot. Add a little more water if required (I didn’t need to). Cook on LOW for 6-8hrs.
  3. At the last 30mins of cooking time, add cabbage, frozen veg and pasta.
  4. Serve and enjoy 🙂

Disclaimer – there is no cabbage in the photo, because I forgot to add it! I’d chopped the cabbage up when I prepped everything at the start, and then put it back in the fridge… so I sort of forgot about it when I put the pasta and frozen veg in (because I didn’t check the recipe again). By the time I realised, it was far too late. I would have killed the pasta if I’d cooked it for another 30mins when I realised I’d forgotten.

Variations: If you’re gluten free, you could easily make this GF by just skipping on the pasta. Cabbage (if you chop it the right way) is an EXCELLENT pasta analogue in soups.
You could also add whatever veges you happen to have around the house if you wanted to, but make sure you add hard veg (potatoes, carrot, swede, etc) at the start of cooking, and soft veges (cabbage, zucchini, spinach) in that last 30mins.

~K

Omurice

Right, so instead of the regular “Foodie Friday” post, this week I decided to share this video with you.

I made this for lunch for myself this week, and it is SO YUMMY. But mine ended up looking like chunky fried rice (I epically failed at the whole “getting stuff onto the omelette” part) so I thought the original video with an amusing Ryosuke would be better (both for the recipe, the amusement, and what the food is actually supposed to look like).

NB – I halved the recipe, because I was only making it for me.

Enjoy!

~K

Yellow Chicken Curry (Mild)

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The other week, I went out for Thai with my Mum. We had this FANTASTIC yellow curry, and while I was shopping this week I saw that the yellow curry paste was on special so I decided to grab it and have a go at making it myself.

SUCCESS!

I know that’s not a very pretty picture, but it’s the only one I remembered to take.

Serves: 6 (ish)

Ingredients:

  • 250g chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 5 small potatoes, in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup bok choy, chopped
  • 2 tbsp yellow curry paste
  • 300ml can coconut milk (or cream if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube

Method:

  1. Preheat a wok with a dash of oil and just brown the chicken, then put aside.
  2. Cook onion until just beginning to go translucent, then add carrot and potato.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the curry paste and stir through.
  4. Cook for a few minutes, until veges are coated and curry paste is fragrant.
  5. Add the bok choy and stir through, then add coconut milk, chicken and stock cube.
  6. Stir so everything is covered, lightly pat down any bits that are sticking up above the liquid and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 25mins, or until the potato is cooked through.

Serve over rice.

Hubby even gave this a good mark, so it’s not an overly hot curry. If you like your curries very hot, you might want to add some chilli or whatever.

~K

Rainbow Steak

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If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this earlier in the week when I originally made it.

It was a roaring success – it tasted EXACTLY like the version we get from our favourite takeaway place, but without all the deep-fried-ness (they deep-fry the steak). Rainbow Steak is Hubby’s favourite takeaway dish, and this passed muster – he gave it 5 stars 🙂

Don’t be scared off by the ingredient list – it looks long and involved, but this is actually really easy to make. The original recipe came from here, but I adjusted it a bit. I used half the amount of meat, but heaps of veges. I also halved the amount of sugar in the sauce.
Also to note – the 1/2 capsicums didn’t go to waste, I used the rest a few days later in another stir fry. You can just use one colour of capsicum if you want, but it won’t look as pretty and colourful. I got a 3-pack of different coloured ones on special at the vege shop 🙂

Serves: 6 (with rice)

Ingredients:

  • 300g steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks (about the same size as capsicum slices)
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Marinade for steak

  • 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Sauce

  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar

Method:

  1. Slice steak and mix together the marinade ingredients. Marinate the meat for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat wok over high heat with a little oil, and cook steak in batches until just browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Cook carrots until beginning to soften, then add capsicum and onion. Cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
  5. Return meat to wok, add sauce and simmer for a few minutes (until heated through and slightly thickened).

Like just about everything I make, this freezes well.

Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole

You can’t really see the casserole too well – you can just spy it at the top of the bowl, near the fork.

This is really easy to make, and freezes well, so you can have it ready in the freezer for whenever you have a taco craving!

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 cup dried beans, soaked and precooked (use whatever beans you like. I used half black beans and half black-eyed beans)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 tbsp chunky salsa + extra for topping
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Whatever toppings you want! (I used cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, and some extra salsa)

Method:

  1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat with a little oil of your choice (my personal preference is rice bran oil). Cook mince until mostly browned, then add onions and cook until they are translucent.
  2. Reduce heat to med-low. Add tinned tomatoes, stock, taco seasoning, salsa, beans and corn. Stir and bring to boil.
  3. Add rice and bring to boil again, then reduce heat to low. Cook (covered) for 30mins (or until rice is cooked through), stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Rice dries out the older it gets, so if you’ve had your rice for a while (i.e. 6mths+) it will likely take longer than the 30mins.
  4. Serve with whatever toppings you like.

NB: Freezes well

After I made this, we ate it 3 times in the same week! It passed the “Hubby test”, and he gave it 5 stars 🙂 I will be making this again very soon, and I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the finished product before I put toppings on.

Budget Tip!
If meat is too expensive (or you’re vegetarian) you can replace the beef mince with an additional cup of dried beans without losing much in the way of flavour.
Vegetarian note – I use Massel brand stock cubes, which are gluten & dairy free as well as being vegan. They are “beef style” and “chicken style”, but do not contain any animal products – the taste and colour of the different stocks is created using herbs and vegetable extracts.

~K

Shoyu Ramen

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I’ve adapted my recipe for this ramen from Just One Cookbook’s “Spicy Shoyu Ramen” recipe.

Their recipe makes a 2 person serve, and uses some ingredients that I have had some trouble getting for a reasonable cost. I’ve adapted it to use ingredients that I pretty much always have in the pantry, and to use cheap ingredients.

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 chicken stock cube (or 2 cups premade dashi stock)
  • This dry ramen – the packet contains 3x 90g “serves”, I use 1/2 of a “serve” for 1 person
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas & corn
  • 2 rashers bacon, cut into large pieces (sometimes I’m lazy and just tear it up to save on cleaning)
  • Chopped green/spring onions (whatever you want to call them)
  • Some nori squares
  • whatever other toppings you want – enoki, chicken,spinach, a soft-boiled egg, whatever you’d like!

Method:

  1. Put a little oil into a small saucepan (I generally use my little 1L pan for this) and cook garlic & ginger until fragrant.
  2. Add sake, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and stock cube to pan along with 2 cups of cold water. Bring to boil.
    *NOTE – if you are using premade dashi instead of the chicken stock cube, leave out the water. If you are using dashi granules, just replace the stock cube with the appropriate amount of granules*
  3. Once boiling, add ramen and cook for 2mins then add peas & corn and bacon. Cook for a further 2 mins, or until ramen is cooked. Add chopped green onions about 30 seconds before you take the pot off the heat, to allow them to flavour the
  4. Transfer to a large bowl, top with nori and serve immediately.

How it is different from the original

  • I can’t get the chilli paste easily or cheaply, so instead of the chilli paste and sugar in the original recipe, I use the sweet chilli sauce
  • I’m still working on sourcing affordable dashi stock granules that don’t contain flavour enhancers, and I don’t always have time to make dashi stock from scratch during semester, so I tend to generally just use chicken stock. Dashi tastes better, but chicken is definitely my second favourite
  • I don’t strain the soup after boiling it because I’m all about minimal dishes and minimal effort – and I don’t mind having the bits of ginger and garlic in the finished product

I would usually have a soft-boiled egg with this too, but I hadn’t made any when I decided I wanted ramen for lunch. I’ll share the recipe I use for the ramen soft-boiled eggs a bit later when I make them again 🙂

It’s easy enough to make this recipe vegetarian – use a vege stock cube instead of chicken, or use “vegetarian dashi” (dashi made with konbu and shiitake mushrooms instead of bonito flakes) and use some firm tofu in place of the bacon and/or eggs (depending on whether you’re vegetarian or vegan I guess).

I’ve never made this for Hubby, as he’s not really a fan of soup or noodles, and I’d rather not go to a heap of effort when I know he isn’t even going to drink the soup (he’d just eat the noodles and bacon and be done with it. What a waste!).

~K

Breakfast Burritos

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These are a great, high-protein breakfast. You make them and freeze them, then reheat in the microwave in the morning.

If you don’t like the look of my recipe, or you want some other ideas, just google “breakfast burritos”. You’ll seriously come up with a million different ideas, these things seem to be very popular.

I’m still working out the best way to wrap them so that they’re easy to reheat – I’ve heard of microwave-safe plastic wrap from American cooking blogs, but I can’t find the stuff over hear in Australia, so I’m still playing around. I’ve found that using baking paper is great for microwaving, but I’ve had trouble with freezer burn because it doesn’t seal quite so well. Alfoil and plastic wrap are easy at the packaging end, but a bit of a pain at the reheating end of things. If anyone has a suggestion, I’d be happy to hear it!

The amounts in this recipe will make 6 burritos

Ingredients:

Standard Ingredients (for me):

  • 1 cup taco mince
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (cooked – this is about 1/4 cup dry ones. Just make sure you cook them correctly)
  • 1/4 cup chunky tomato salsa
  • 6 eggs (1 per tortilla)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • 6 tortillas (depending on how many you will be making)

Other stuff:

Add anything else you would like! Often I add a couple of cubes of frozen spinach to the pan and defrost them before I add the eggs, but I didn’t have any left this time. You can LITERALLY put anything into these. Some of my common additions:

  • sausages – I boil them then dice them up, and cook them in the pan so they get a bit toasty on the outside
  • spinach – a couple of cubes of frozen spinach goes really well with the eggs
  • any “mexican-style” filling can replace the taco mince – mine are generally taco or chicken enchilada mix, because that’s what I make a lot of
  • avocado – haven’t tried this when freezing them (only when making fresh, or putting them in the fridge for the next day), but it does taste very good
  • refried beans
  • rice
  • roasted potatoes (make them small cubes before roasting for best results)
  • roasted sweet potato (see above)
  • capsicum (I think Americans call them “peppers”)
  • BACON

The list could go on. That’s just the things I’ve personally put in mine before.

Method:

  1. Sort out your mince/meat mixture: Put the taco mince, tomatoes, beans & salsa in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Next, the eggs: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk (you’re making scrambled eggs essentially). Season to taste. Heat a pan over medium heat, and cook your eggs until they’re just cooked. You don’t want to let them get dry, or they’ll be chewy when you reheat your burrito. Remove egg pan from heat once they’re cooked, and stir through cheese.
  3. Spoon all your fillings into your tortillas, then wrap and freeze.

PS the wrapping takes a bit of a knack, don’t worry if they don’t look as pretty as the ones you see on Pinterest – they’re not going to be that way for long anyway, you’re going to be eating it before anyone gets to see it in the “pretty” state.

There are 2 ways that I generally heat these up – either in the microwave or the sandwich toaster. If you’re using the microwave, just make sure whatever wrapping you use is microwave-safe (or just unwrap it). Ditto the sandwich toaster, but if your burrito is still frozen it may not heat through properly without burning on the outside.

~K

Easy Stewed Apples

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This is the recipe for stewed apples that my Nan makes to put in apple pie, so I learned how to make this when I was about 4 years old.

I’ve never made stewed apples any other way, and it’s sooooo yummy 🙂

I got 2kg of “ugly apples” at the shops this week for quite cheap – they were not so nice for eating normally, so I decided to cook them up instead.

Makes: a lot – 2kg is usually enough to fill 2 family-sized apple pies.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 kg of apples (any sort)
  • 1L water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • cinnamon (as much as you like)

Method:

  1. Peel, core, & dice all the apples. You want the pieces to be approx 2cm square (1/2 inch). This will take a while, put on a tv show or something while you do it. A good thing to do is to have 2 large bowls in front of you, 1 for the diced apples and 1 for the rubbish.
  2. Once you’ve diced your apples, put them in a large-ish pot. I usually use a 2.5L pot for 1.5kg of apples (If I have more apples, I’ll use my big 5L soup pot). Add the water, sugar & cinnamon to pot, and stir gently. The water will not cover the apples completely, it doesn’t need to.
  3. Cover pot and bring to boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft enough for your liking. I usually cook mine until they’re about the texture of tinned pears.
  4. Take pot off heat and allow to cool for about 15mins, then drain off the water. Apples can now be used for whatever you like!

This recipe freezes well, I like to freeze the apples in muffin trays (see this post for instructions) so that I’ve got convenient 1/3 cup serves of the apples to add to porridge or whatever. They’re also great to eat on their own like you would with normal tinned fruit.

I’ve successfully used these in recipes that call for “tinned pie apples” – just use the amount stated in the recipe.

One of my favourite desserts is some the apples, heated up, with a little bit of vanilla ice-cream – tastes like apple pie, but without all the fuss 🙂

If you want to use the apples for pie/crumble, cook them a little less so they keep their shape and texture once baked.
If you are wanting to make this into apple sauce, leave out the cinnamon and sugar and blend/mash up the apples once you’ve drained them.

~K

Chicken Paella

This is not my photo – I keep forgetting to take a photo when I make this. God I’m slack!

The recipe is from the Super Food Ideas magazine from several years ago, and this is another one of Hubby’s favourite meals.

This is the recipe, but as per usual I make a few changes:

  • I use SIGNIFICANTLY more paprika. Like, 2 tbsp. We really like the smoked paprika in our house.
  • I tend to use chicken breasts rather than thighs, and I slice the meat up (rather than leaving them whole like the picture). I find this makes it easier for portioning out, because the amount from this recipe will usually make about 6 serves for us.
  • I also use only about 500g of chicken (not 800g), because meat is expensive. You really don’t notice the lesser amount, particularly if you are chopping it up.
  • I use plain tinned tomatoes, and add about a tbsp of additional tomato paste – those fancy ones with “tomato paste and capsicum” that the recipe asks for are EXPENSIVE! ($3.50 a can rather than $1 or less – I’ll take the cheaper cans thanks).
  • I don’t know whether it is just my stove, or what, but I often need to add a little more water, as all the water absorbs and the rice is not cooked properly. I add about 1/2 cup at a time and let it absorb, then repeat until the rice is properly cooked through
  • If you do not turn the heat down far enough, or if you have an electric stove with crappy elements, be very very careful to stir it well and often, otherwise the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot.

And apologies for this “Foodie Friday” not ACTUALLY being on a Friday – I sort of lost track of my days and forgot to finish this post in time *oops*

~K