Pheasant Vegetable Soup

A good cook knows how to make use of what’s on hand. And if he or she has a fertile imagination, the possibilities are endless. That’s especially true when making soup.

soupphezThat’s the situation I found myself in after returning from a pheasant hunting trip a couple of days ago. No only did I have some nice pheasants — actually it was the meat from the backbones of about a dozen birds — the last of my garden beans, some tomatoes that had been ripening after they were picked about a week ago and some freshly dug carrots made my endeavor quite easy.

I decided on a little pearled barley as well as some egg noodles to thicken the soup. The result was a little more than 2 quarts of soup, which will make a nice lunch for three or four days.

Pheasant Vegetable Soup
2 cups cooked pheasant, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans
½ cup pearled barley
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 tomatoes, skins removed or 1 14½-ounce can
4 cups chicken or pheasant broth
1 cup egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in stock pot and cook until vegetables are done
Note: I cooked the backbones in a pot of water, using the broth and the meat for the soup. You also could use chicken and canned broth.

Shrimp in Cream Sauce

There are some foods that lend themselves to many types of cuisine. Shrimp and tomatoes are two such foods.

tastyshrimpWith an abundance of tomatoes from our garden and a hankering for some shrimp, I came up with the following recipe that was perfect for a late-summer supper. Served with some three-bean salad, it was a filling yet rather healthy meal.

Shrimp in Cream Sauce
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 or 3 medium tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground all spice
|1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup sour cream
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea sal
In a large heavy bottom skillet or a wok, combine diced tomatoes and garlic with olive oil. Simmer uncovered over medium heat until tomatoes are soft and release their juices. Remove tomatoes and set aside.
In the same skillet over medium-high heat, caramelize diced onions and sliced mushrooms. Then add the tomato mixture back into the same pan.
Add sea salt, sour cream, all spice, cloves, vinegar, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add chicken broth and stir to combine.
Bring sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat and add shrimp. Turn the shrimp a couple of times. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through. Don’t overcook shrimp or they will turn rubbery.
Let the sauce cool to thicken. (Add a little cornstarch if sauce isn’t thick enough.) Serve over pasta.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

There’s nothing like some nice hot days and a timely shower or two to make a gardener happy. Especially those who grow tomatoes because that’s what make them large and juicy.

homemadesalsaWhile several people I know says their tomato crop is disappointing this summer, the same can’t be said for mine. I’ve had loads of tomatoes from my 20 or so plants thus far. And we’ve had a couple of meals that featured BLTs (bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwiches as well as putting up more almost two dozen pints of whole tomatoes for use once the weather turns colder and fresh tomatoes no longer are an option.

But there’s another tomato dish that Therese and I been sampling to our hearts content. It’s homemade salsa. The recipe I use is from Mary Urbanski, assistant director of residential dining services at UND. It’s very easy to make as well as being mighty tasty. And the nicest thing about it is that it can be on the table in less than a half hour, although it’s much better if it’s allowed to sit for several hours.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
1 pound, 13 ounces tomatoes, diced, 2¼ ounces green onions, sliced
5½ ounces red onions, diced
2¼ ounces jalapeno peppers, diced (see note)
1¾ teaspoons fresh cilantro, diced
1¾ teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons and 1¼ teaspoons
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
2½ cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons and 1¼ teaspoons lemon juice
Place all prepared vegetables in large bowl. Stir to incorporate. Add garlic, seasoning salt, tomato juice and lemon juice to mixture.
Mix thoroughly.
Note: Wear gloves when handling jalapenos, and do not touch face with hands.
Salsa is best when refrigerated 24 hours to blend flavors.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. A lot of people simply don’t like cabbage because of the way it smells up the house when it’s cooked. Others find that its commonality with beans unappealing.

cabbageWell, neither of those reasons, nor any others, can deter my love for the leafy green vegetable. No matter how it’s cooked, cabbage is a favorite of mine.

Here’s a recipe I recently came across that looks like it’s right up my alley. It’s for unstuffed cabbage rolls. I’ve always liked cabbage rolls, but sometimes the effort and the time it takes to make them is impractical. This easy and healthy recipe can be prepared in one pot, in a short time, making it perfect for those who are crunched for time.

And to top it off, cabbage is a superfood with lots of nutrients. Among its many other health benefits, it is known for healing stomach ulcers and preventing cancer.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
1½ to 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small cabbage, chopped
2 14½-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, stirring, until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is tender.
Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Hearty Winter Soup

There’s not much argument that vegetables are good for you. Most are rich in vitamins and minerals and have benefits that go well beyond nutrition. The cruciferous ones, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, are considered “superfoods” because they have been shown to fight cancer and other diseases.

rootsoupAnd root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, parsnips and rutabagas deserve special mention, too. They are among the most concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals available to us. They also are starchy vegetables, which means they will fill you up quite well if you eat enough of them.  Yet they are far easier to digest than starches such as breads.

That’s why most soups that I make are loaded with crucifers and roots, such as the one I made the other night. It contained carrots, cabbage, rutabagas and turnips as well as tomatoes, onion and celery. Cooked in a nice pheasant broth, the soup was the perfect supper on a night when an Alberta Clipper was zooming through the Red River Valley.

Hearty Winter Soup
2 cups cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 pint whole tomatoes
1 small rutabaga, cubed
2 turnips, cubed
4 carrots, sliced thinly
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until vegetables are cooked through. Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Pheasant Stew

There’s no doubt that stew is a cool-weather dish. And the changing of the seasons from early to late fall is the perfect time to fix this age-old comfort food.

stewJust recently back from a pheasant hunting trip, I dug the remainder of our home-grown carrots. A half-dozen of these, combined with some nicely cooked leftover pheasant and some other veggies including potatoes, celery, tomatoes and green beans, and I had the makings for a tasty stew, the recipe for which follows.

Pheasant Stew
2 cups cooked pheasant, cut into small pieces (can substitute chicken or turkey)
6 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 pint whole tomatoes
1 14½-ounce can green beans
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 potatoes, diced
Place all ingredients into stock pot and cook for 2 hours. Serve.
Note:To thicken, add some cornstarch dissolved in warm water.

Italian Style Goulash

The type of goulash that originated in Eastern European countries such as Hungary bear little resemblance to the kind a person would find in American kitchens. About the only similarities are that they both contain paprika and beef.

greatgoulashAmerican goulash is more like a casserole or hotdish, while versions that originated in Hungary are more like a stew or soup.

I’ve tried my hand at a Hungarian goulash a few times. My favorite recipe is one that former co-worker Brad Schlossman shared with me several years ago. He said it was his Grandman Jennie Nartnik’s recipe and was one of his favorites. (Jennie was of Slovenian descent.)

Here’s another goulash recipe I came across recently that appears to have its roots in Italy. It contains tomatoes, garlic, Parmesan cheese and other things that one might find in a hearty pasta dish from the country located on the Mediterranean.

Italian Style Goulash
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked pasta of your choice
1 6-ounce can mushrooms, drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 large onions
2 green peppers, cut up
1½ pounds ground beef or 1½ pounds turkey
¼ cup bacon
Fry bacon and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Brown ground beef/turkey, onions, and green peppers in a large skillet. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, mushrooms, Italian Seasoning, and garlic. Cover and cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir in bacon and cooked macaroni. Place in lightly greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Skillet Vegetable Medley

Skillet meals are quick and easy and are perfect for on-the-go families. And fresh garden vegetables can’t be beat for this type of dish.

vegskilletRatatouille comes to mind when many people think of something like this. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but like other vegetable skillet dish also may be served as a meal on its own, accompanied by pasta, rice or bread.

We recently had a tasty meal of fresh veggies from the garden that I prepared in our large cast-iron skillet. It contained tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, zucchini and okra as well as a couple of slices of side pork, a little garlic and some Mediterranean seasoning salt.

The meal, which came together in less than a half-hour, was delicious.

Skillet Vegetable Medley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices side pork, diced
12 small tomatoes, skinned removed
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
6 to 8 small okra, sliced
½ cup cabbage, chopped
2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cup spinach, chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 tablespoon Mediterranean seasoning salt
Pepper to taste
Saute side pork with onion, garlic and celery. Add remaining ingredients and simmer to ½ to 1 hour.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4.

Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich

Fresh produce from the garden such as tomatoes and basil offer endless possibilities for snacking as well as the dinner table. Some are elaborate, some simple.

capresesandMost people might think of a marinara sauce when these two ingredients are mentioned, but if you are looking for something easy to make that will be on the table in just minutes, consider a Caprese sandwich.

The Caprese, which many people like in the salad form, features both tomatoes and basil as well as mozzarella cheese.Therese suggested a version of the sandwich as a light supper the other night. The sourdough bread that we had on hand was perfect. And a splash of balsamic vinegar that provided the finishing touch was a stroke of genius.

Open-Faced Caprese Sandwich
4 slices thick sourdough bread
8 ounces mozzarella cheese,shredded or sliced
1 large tomato
8 fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Preheat broiler. Place cheese on top of bread. Place under broiler until cheese melts. Place tomatoes atop bread followed by basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Yield: Serves 2.

Homemade Chili Sauce

Chili sauce is a great condiment. It can be used for dipping (i.e. shrimp, fish, chicken strips), marinades (chicken, steak), spicy stir-fries (pork or beef), salad dressings (Thousand Island), or as it’s name suggests, in sauces (meatloaf, meatballs with grape jelly).

8027458770_4cdd7e9745The chili sauce most people are familiar with is the kind you can buy at the supermarket. But if you’e like me, there are some things that lend themselves to being homemade.

I decided to try my hand at making my own chili sauce after coming across a recipe my mom gave me years ago. It was from her Aunt Harriet Brown, a classy woman who hailed from St. Louis and whom we dearly loved.

Aunt Harriet had been married to my grandmother’s cousin, Lyle Brown, who was a doctor in my hometown of Crookston, Minn., where they lived during the 1930s and ’40s. Lyle was like a brother to my grandmother, Vella, hence he was called Uncle Lyle by my mom. After Uncle Lyle died, Aunt Harriet stayed in Crookston and remained close to our family. And, I guess, she passed along the following recipe to my mom or grandmother.

I decided to try the recipe, which is a large one. If it suits my fancy, I’m going to can some this fall. At this time, I have a pot of it cooking on the stove, thickening along the way. And from the smell and the taste of the sauce, I can’t wait to try it with shrimp or on some pork or chicken.

Aunt Harriet’s Chili Sauce
½ bushel ripe tomatoes
4 sweet green bell peppers, diced
2 quarts onions, diced
3 bunches celery, diced
2 pounds brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ginger
6 tablespoons salt
4 teaspoons nutmeg
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper
1½ quarts cider vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Cook your chili sauce down until you have the desired consistency. You have to keep the heat very low and stir often. Place sauce into pints with canning lids and canning rings. Place in a pressure canner and process or 35 minutes.
Yield: About 16 pints.