One of my favorite things about the cool weather that arrives with fall is the addition of soups to our dinner menus. Sure, you can make soup during the summer, but it’s just not the same when it’s hot outside, right? There’s something really comforting about a warm bowl of soup on a chilly day! Here’s a look at some of our favorite soup recipes:
Would you believe I’ve never tried to make fajitas before last weekend? I wanted to try something new, though, so I made chicken and steak varieties, and messed around with the recipe a bit until I got the spices right. Everyone loved them, so I think it was a success!
6-8 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
4 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
3 tsp. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
3 tsp. dried oregano
4 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or flank steak, cut into thin strips
3 bell peppers, thinly sliced (I like to use a variety of colors)
1 white onion, thinly sliced
Make marinade: In large bowl, combine 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, lemon or lime juice, 3 tsp. kosher salt, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Toss with chicken or steak and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
In large skillet, saute peppers and onions with remaining oil and salt to taste on medium heat until tender. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
In same skillet, saute chicken or steak for five to six minutes until cooked through (do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pan). Discard remaining marinade. Add peppers and onions to pan with meat and heat through.
Serve on tortillas with favorite toppings such as rice, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and avocado.
Oktoberfest is one of my favorite times of year! My children have come to expect me to tell the story of why Oktoberfest starts in September and to make all their favorite Oktoberfest treats. Here are the recipes I’ve shared over the years…pretty much just sides and desserts for some reason, but those are the most delicious kinds of recipes, right?
Homemade Pretzels–This is one of favorite recipes, not just for Oktoberfest, but in general, because everyone gets involved in helping shape the pretzels…we’ve had a lot of fun coming up with unique shapes over the years!
Cheddar and Beer Fondue–If you’re looking for a dip for pretzels (or brats, crusty bread, and baby gherkins), this is the recipe you want.
Spaetzle–I can make over a dozen batches of this recipe in a single week, because it’s one that everybody loves, and it goes with pretty much anything.
Apple Strudel–Technically, this is an Austrian recipe, but it’s still an Oktoberfest favorite around here!
Black Forest Cherry Torte–This is one of our all-time favorite cakes…I’ve made it not just for Oktoberfest, but for birthday, too!
It’s already been two weeks since Harry Potter’s (and J.K. Rowling’s) birthday! To celebrate that occasion, we tried out some more recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. I can’t recommend it enough…we’ve loved the recipes we’ve tried so far, and it’s so much fun to have themed dinners!
This time around, we tried Gillywater (a drink made from honeydew melon and mint), hot rolls, Brussel sprouts with béchamel sauce, Chiddingly hotpot (a fantastic stew with many sour notes from two kinds of vinegar and green olives!), and Sirius Black’s coconut cake for dessert (yes, I got Hogwarts paper plates from Walmart!):
No, not all of these recipes appear in the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling never explains what Gillywater is, so the author of the cookbook just went with something green and refreshing (which it was!). The coconut cake is also a creation from the author’s imagination, based on the fact that Sirius Black was hiding out in a tropical location, so she decided that when he sent Harry a birthday cake, it would have a tropical flavor. I really appreciate not only the known recipes from the books, but also the author’s interpretation of some of the more vague culinary mentions!
When I was planning our special meals to celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I realized that the Lunar New Year was going to fall right in the middle of the festivities. China is probably the first country that comes to mind when you think of Lunar New Year celebrations, but Korea, Vietnam, and several other Asian countries also observe this holiday. I also discovered that while it no longer is, it also used to be on Japan’s calendar, too. With that information in mind, I decided to make not just a Korean meal, but a whole “Taste of Asia!”
I did most of the cooking from scratch. I made shrimp egg rolls (which I’ve done once before) and Japanese pork gyoza, as well as more of the Korean fried tofu we enjoyed last week, and some light Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls. We also bought a package of frozen pork buns from the Asian market, and I used my bamboo steamer for the first time to prepare those. And Ryan went out and bought some crab rangoon from our favorite Chinese restaurant…they make them so well, there was no way I was going to bother trying to replicate them at home!
It was a nice selection of foods, from a good variety of Asian countries!
I even tried some Japanese sake for the first time:
I confess…I didn’t make any of the dessert from scratch. But we found two varieties of mochi (red bean and green tea) at the Asian market, and I bought a bag of fortune cookies, as well:
This was another fun meal, and gave us all the opportunity to try some new things. I’m planning one more big Korean dinner before the end of the Olympics, so stay tuned!
For Christmas, I bought Ryan a Japanese cookbook, with the promise I would cook the things he found interesting. My first chance came tonight, for his early birthday celebration.
Some of the ingredients were familiar to me, but there was also a whole lot of new stuff in the dinner prep!
For his birthday dinner, Ryan picked pork gyoza with a spicy dipping sauce plus pork tonkatsu sandwiches, served with shredded cabbage, Bulldog sauce, and Kewpie mayo. We also found Japanese Sapporo beer to go with the meal:
There is definitely a learning curve to both the cooking and the timing of the dishes (not to mention the clean-up, which was super fun with our dishwasher out of commission!), but everything tasted great, so I think it was a pretty successful first attempt!
The apple dessert contest on Sunday had me thinking…how many apple recipes have I shared over the years? There are actually more than I remembered, and they’re not all desserts…I even have a main course on the list!
I love tacos, and I love salmon, but for some reason, I’ve never thought of putting the two together! I happened to watch Ina Garten make salmon tacos on the Food Network earlier this summer, and I knew I’d have to try the recipe. I made some changes to the recipe after the first time we tried them, and I think they’re now one of my favorite dinners…and I finally found a way to prepare salmon that even Bunny and Ladybug enjoy!
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
At least an hour before you plan to serve the tacos, prepare slaw. Toss the cabbage, cucumber, vinegar, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cabbage to marinate.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in it. Mix the chile powder, lime zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and sprinkle with the chipotle seasoning mixture. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the salmon is just cooked through.
Wrap the tortillas in 2 foil packets and place them in the oven with the salmon. While the salmon is baking, roughly mash the avocados with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, the Sriracha, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the avocado smash on one side of each tortilla, then some large chunks of salmon, and finally, some of the slaw. Fold the tortillas in half over the filling (they will be messy!) and serve warm.
Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink it till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot. Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying. “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Whenever possible, I try to include a special meal as part of our summer school. Some years, that’s easier than others. Coming up with a pioneer-themed meal wasn’t too difficult, but I can’t vouch for the authenticity of our dinner. I was more interested in having a meal of foods pioneers might have enjoyed, rather than cooking them the way pioneers would have needed to. So tonight’s dinner included bean soup and homemade cornbread, ginger-water (a last-minute addition!), and a pieplant (rhubarb) pie for dessert. It was a very delicious meal, and I think I’ve found some new things to add to the recipe file!
“‘That’s the way I like it,’ he said. ‘If there is no sugar in the pie, then every fellow can sweeten his own as much as he likes without hurting the cook’s feelings.'” “The First Four Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This year, I made our family’s favorite fish tacos for our Cinco de Mayo feast. I also made Horchata for the first time (which the children really liked, even though I was afraid they’d think it was too different), and a chocoflan for dessert. Of course, there were also margaritas for those of us old enough to drink!