Hamburger Soup & Roasted Garlic Buns

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For lunch a couple of days ago, I pulled this soup out of my freezer for a quickie meal with a girlfriend who was dropping by, just in case she needed some sustenance on her Errand-Running Day. But it ended up being LunchFor1, and I had a blessed bowl of comfort after a busy, and somewhat stressful, morning. This recipe makes a nice, hearty soup that is perfect for enjoying with a big group, or to make ahead and freeze for future use. This was my #1 Choice as the go-to soup that my husband and I made a couple months ago in the days following my surgery. And it froze so wonderfully!

It’s been such a chilly week here in the middle of Canada, but it’s supposed to warm up for the weekend – YEAH!

A Spoonful of Comfort – Hearty Hamburger Soup

I REMEMBER…

I first had this soup about 30 years ago, and you’d think because I can remember exactly who made, when, and why, that I would have been making it every Winter for the past 30 years – NOPE. I only recently tracked it down again thanks to an old friend of mine (Thanks Shelley). And now that I’ve adapted it, I would like to share it with you, because it’s also inspiring my newly created blog – LunchFor1.com. Follow me on Twitter @LunchFor1 for easy meals that are good eats any time of the day!

But, back to the story…

There I was a 10-year old figure skater on test day, both nervous and hungry, and in need of a little, quick comfort. The nice lady at the rink’s canteen, Eleanor, had made a batch of Homemade Hamburger Soup for all of the hungry, little tikes to eat while we waited our turn before the judges.

All these years later, I still remember the heartiness and the smoothness of this soup, as well as the yummy chewiness of the barley. The key to this soup is spending the time to cut the veggies up into a fairly small pieces – 1/4″ to 1/2″ dice. The soup was a like a hug, and it’s stuck with my taste buds for these past three decades!

And for a great side-dish to this meal…

It’s a smart idea, at this or any time of the year, to keep a few Roasted Garlic heads in your fridge for these “lunch emergencies”. It was super easy for me to pull out the pre-roasted garlic head from the fridge, pop the cloves out, and quickly mash them up in order to dress up my lunch selection with an upscale spread.

Better than butter is this Roasted Garlic Spread made from mashed roasted garlic cloves - much healthier too!

This Roasted Garlic Spread is better than butter, and much healthier too!

From time-to-time, when you’ve got the oven roasting something, simply take a whole head of garlic, chop off the top portion, and place it on a piece of tin foil. Then I pour 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil on the garlic, add a pinch of sea salt, and grind some fresh pepper over it. Then I wrap it up in the tin-foil, and set it in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes. Then let it cool and slide it (tin foil and all) into a storage baggie, and place it at the back of your fridge for future use.

Or, for creating a big-batch of Roasted Garlic check out my Stove-Top Roasted Garlic post from March 2012.

But back to the star of this post – the soup… here’s the recipe…

Anna’s Hearty Hamburger Soup

1 1/2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef
(or 700g of any ground meat of your choice)
1 Yellow Onion, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1  can Diced Tomatoes (28 oz./840mL)
2 cups Hot Water
3 cans Beef Consomme or Broth (30 oz./ 900mL)
1 can Tomato Soup (10 oz./ 300mL)
4 Carrots, 1/4″ dice
1 Bay Leaf
3 stalks Celery, diced
2 tbsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Pot Barley

1. Boil water in a small pot. Add 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 cup Pot Barley. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain and add to soup.

TIP: I prefer to cook my barley separate from my soups so that my soups
do not get overly thick from the barley’s starch.

2. Dice all the vegetables.

TIP: However, I like to mince my onions and garlic in my food processor so that
it becomes very fine – it’s much faster and easier that way.

3. Brown the beef, onions and garlic in large stock pot.

4. Add the liquids and tomatoes, and bring it all to boil.

5. Add all of the vegetables, and spices.

6. Cook for another 1/2 hour (or more), and serve with Mashed Roasted Garlic Spread and fresh buns.

It’s SOOOO good that you should probably plan to make a double batch,
and freeze some for an easy lunch on another chilly day!

What is your favourite soup to use for comfort on a cold day? Please feel free to share your comments below.

Taking an old favourite 'upscale' with a fancied-up dinner roll.

Taking an old favourite ‘upscale’ with a fancied-up dinner roll.

This soup isn’t your ‘cup of tea’?
Check out the other soup ideas that I’ve Pinned on Pinterest.

Watch for my next post on Homemade Chevre Cheese!

It takes SO little to make your own Chevre cheese at home.
An expensive indulgence for much less than you would think!
STAY TUNED THIS WEEKEND!

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The Easier Way to Roast Garlic Using Your Stove-top

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The Easier Way to Roast Garlic Using Your Stove-top

About a month ago I was watching another cooking show (so addicted) when I came across what appeared to be a solution to all my garlic-roasting problems. It was mentioned as an aside, and therefore not demonstrated, nor was there a true recipe provided… but I just knew that I had to give it a try!

As I’m such a huge garlic fan (but an impatient garlic-roaster), I was immediately intrigued by this alternative method to roasting garlic on my stove-top! In less than an hour, you too can have amazing, yummy roasted garlic – and its’ very useful by-product roasted garlic oil.

In 1998 I remember attempting a recipe for 40 Cloves of Garlic and a Mickey of Brandy Chicken from the Girls Who Dish cookbook for a dinner party. (Alas, I no longer have the cookbook, nor the recipe, but the link will take you to some reasonable facsimiles). That was the last time I shucked THAT many cloves of garlic in one sitting! The chicken was amazing, and you were left with 40 yummy cloves of roasted garlic to slather on bread with your meal. Delicious – do try!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had some success in trying to roast garlic using a variety of standard oven methods – in foil vs. uncovered, in cupcake tins with oil, separated cloves vs. whole heads of garlic… but the results are the same… eventually you have to squeeze all those roasted garlic cloves out of their protective coverings… so why not do the peeling first?

Also, if you’re a ‘Curious George’ like me, then roasting garlic in the oven when it’s all wrapped up in tin foil makes it difficult to watch for your desired level of carmelization. But, I found this stove-top method a much easier way to view how things are going all the way through the roasting process.

Finally what clinched the deal for me was… on a recent trip to my local grocer I noticed that they were now supplying ‘pre-shucked’ garlic cloves, and I just knew that the time was right to give this alternative method a try – ergo Stove-Top Roasted Garlic!

If you're lucky enough to find a grocery produce department that does this critical first step for you... snap up everything that they have!

Place peeled garlic in sauce pan and cover with olive oil, heat until the oil is bubbling lightly (not boiling)

You'll need to watch your pot carefully to avoid over-roasting your garlic - this batch was too crispy to use. Aim for a very light golden colour.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the cloves to a plate and gently mash them with a fork.

In this batch I mashed all the cloves, but you could also save them whole for future use.

Transfer to sealed container and store in your fridge for up to 30 days.

All the oil left in the pot can now be used to flavour future dished too - a truly delicious by-product of this process.

Now there isn’t really a true recipe for this process, and I’ll warn you… it WILL take a bit of babysitting at the stove and regular checks on individual cloves to test for desired consistency (mash-ability).

Here are some more hints to help you along…

* Use double (or triple) the amount of garlic cloves that you think you need. I used about 300g, but subsequently went back for another 500g to create the volume shown in the Ziploc container and cooked this in 3 batches (don’t forget I toasted and not roasted the 2nd batch)

* Be dedicated to checking your garlic as it “roasts” on the stove-top every 5-10 minutes, set a timer to remind you

* When you first start roasting don’t be afraid to turn the oil up to High on your stove, but once it starts bubbling reduce the heat to low or medium-low depending on your burner’s temperature

* The cloves should be bubbling just slightly through the majority of the process, which will probably take 30-45 minutes

* Crispy garlic can still be used to flavour soups and stews, but taste it before you save it to ensure that it doesn’t taste burnt. I chopped my “toasted” batch in my food processor, and placed it in a sealed container in the fridge for future use. Waste not – want not! This could actually be a fun, new snack for the super garlic lover in your life!

* Next time I think that I’ll try it in my deep fryer and make a really big batch for our summer entertaining use at the cottage!!

Now what can you use this yummy roasted garlic for??? These are some of my own uses so far this past week…

1. Add a heaping tablespoon into sauteed mushrooms towards the end when making sides for your steak – YUM!

2. Add to vegetable base for beef stroganoff for a deeper and sweeter garlic flavour.

3. Add a 1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of sour cream + 1/2 cup mayo + 2 chopped green onions for a great baby potato or baked potato topper (let sit in fridge for a couple of hours before serving).

4. Of course it’s also a great condiment for any sandwich, hot dog or burger.

5. Plus it’s a super addition to any appetizer tray with cheese and crackers.

“No one is indifferent to garlic. People either love it or hate it,
and most good cooks seem to belong in the first group.” – Faye Levy
(for more great garlic quotes click here)


How will YOU use your new, easy-to-make Roasted Garlic?

Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.

Spicy Marinated Mushrooms – A Great Holiday Appetizers

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At this time of year it’s a great idea to have a few last-minute appetizers to pull out of your fridge to wow unexpected guests. These marinated mushrooms are super easy to make, and hold well for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, or can try canning them for a longer-lasting product.

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Tender, spicy mushrooms for the fungi-fan in your family

Spicy Marinated Mushrooms

1/2 bag White Button Mushrooms, small
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
5 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce, Low-Sodium
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or more)

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1. Boil a large pot of salted water.

2. Place the mushrooms whole into the boiling water for 7 minutes.
I do not recommend washing your mushrooms until just before you are going to cook them – a light washing is fine. I scrub mine 4 at a time in my hands under running water.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sririacha.

3. Once the mushrooms are done boiling, drain them, and place them into a large resealable container.

4. Pour the liquid over the mushrooms, stir together, and cover with the lid.

5. Let your container sit on your kitchen counter to cool.
Allow the mushrooms to begin their marinading process at room temperature for a couple of hours.

6. Then you can refrigerate your mushrooms, and use as needed.

7. Create an Antipasto Platter by adding Roasted Red Peppers and Roasted Garlic. Serve the mushrooms with on a platter with room-temperature cheeses, deli meats and crackers or baguette.

TIP: The spicy taste is great!!! For a more intense flavour, pull the mushroom stems out of the caps before boiling which will allow the marinade to permeate into the mushroom from the inside.

These little, succulent snacks go well with any appetizer spread

These little, succulent snacks will go well with any appetizer spread you can dream up this Holiday season

Other Uses…

* Diced the marinated mushrooms up and use as a condiment on burgers or beef dip sandwiches.
* Mince them up to use as a mushroom tapenade on french bread.
* Pop off the stems, and pipe in some soft cheese like Boursin for a fancier appetizer.
* They’d be a great accompaniment to any steak.
* Excellent choice for use in any salad, especially to dress up a Caesar salad with fresh tomatoes.

What do YOU like to have with these mushrooms?
Please feel free to share your uses below in the Comments section.

Mini Hoisin-Soaked Turkey Meatballs

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Mini Hoisin-Soaked Turkey Meatballs

Thanks to much inspiration from some of my fellow Foodies in Winnipeg I am finally entering the food-blogging world… so here goes my first post!

The Dedication:
I dedicate this Blog to three very special women in my life. My mother Clarice, and my aunt Ardella, who were both amazing cooks, but who are both unfortunately no longer with us. Thank you both for still inspiring me in the kitchen.

AND… my big sister Debra Godin who’s birthday is tomorrow (March 21st) – Happy Birthday Sis! Here’s to another ‘you-know-how-many’ years – CHEERS! Enjoy this healthy recipe for your collection, and for sharing with our family back in Regina.

Why Did I Choose This Recipe?
I had originally thought to start off my blog with something simple that everyone seems to love… Roasted Garlic and new way to prepare it. But after making this meatball recipe today it’s won my First Place Ribbon for today, and THIS is what’s for dinner tonight!

Enjoy, and please feel free to leave your comments below.

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Great for supper or as a snazzy Asian appetizer!

Hoisin Soaked Turkey Mini Meatballs
are quick and easy to make.

Easy-to-find Ingredients

Making bite-sized meatballs is so much quicker with my
OXO Good Grips gelato scoop!

Using a Silpat makes cleanup super simple, and this recipe makes 48 mini meatballs.

They come out just perfect! Now time for a lil' swim in the glaze...

Wishing I had bought those fancy bamboo toothpicks now for this appie shot...

Mini Hoisin-Soaked Turkey Meatballs
Yields: 48 Mini-Meatballs |  Prep: 10-20 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes

Base:
2 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Fill:
2 green onions (scallions), minced
1/2 cup water chestnuts drained & finely chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 cup corn flakes, fine crumbs
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

Glaze:
1/4 cup purchased Hoisin Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Garnish:
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds,
4 green onions (scallions), bias cut

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with a Silpat liners or parchment paper.
  3. Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, red chili flakes and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until smooth.
  4. Stir in two minced green onions, cilantro and water chestnuts. Stir in turkey and corn flake crumbs until completely combined.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to allow ingredients to marinade.
  6. Using a 1″ gelato scoop (or two teaspoons) drop turkey balls on to your baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Test one for doneness by slicing it in half.
  7. Stir Hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, cilantro and lime juice in a large bowl and leave over oven vent or heat slightly in a small pot so that it is warmed when you glaze the meatballs.
  8. Add the cooked meatballs to the glaze mixture, and gently stir to coat.
  9. Sprinkle with the bias-cut scallions and sesame seeds and serve hot.

Finally I’d like to send out some Big Thank-You’s to…

Firstly, my super-great husband who eats everything I make, even when my recipes don’t quite turn out as I wished. Jeff, your hungry tummy is my greatest inspiration – I love surprising you by trying new meal ideas. Thank you for sharing all these great meals with me over the past 11+ years both at home, at some of our great local restaurants – here and in our travels.

Secondly, thank you to my very best friend, Debbie Bradley – who I love spoiling with food. Thanks for the laughs, and for believing in me. Maybe one day you and I WILL open a special restaurant where we can spoil others! Then again… maybe not… but perhaps I could be talked into running a Gourmet Food Truck – one day.

Thirdly, I would also like to thank a new friend and fellow chocoholic – Chocolatier Constance Popp for her words of encouragement. Especially for thinking that I could actually open my own Culinary School. I love dreaming big with you!

Lastly, thanks to the members of the Manitoba Food Bloggers Facebook Group for your inspiration, support and guidance to launch this food blog today. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your blogs over the past few months, and I am humbled today to officially join your ranks of great local Foodies.

Fresh out of the oven is the best way to enjoy these lil yummy bundles of goodness!