Video Demo: Carrot Soup with Ginger, Chile, and Fish Sauce

Another simple fall/winter soup recipe demo video. Carrots are relatively cheap so this is an approachable low budget option. Fish sauce is one of those ingredients that makes a dish stand out but is hard for people to identify. I like to use it as my secret ingredient. I have garnished with sour cream and zhug. You can add something with texture if you want, or some fresh cilantro.

  • Carrots, 10 ea, small dice
  • Coconut oil, 2 tbl
  • Red Onion, 1 ea, julienne or small dice
  • Garlic, 6 cloves, minced
  • Ginger, 1-inch piece, peeled, and grated
  • Red Chile, 1 ea, minced
  • Curry Powder, 1 heaping tbl
  • Chicken Stock, about 5 cups
  • Coconut Cream, 16 oz
  • Fish Sauce, 1tbl+

Start by heating coconut oil on medium high heat, and saute carrots until browning begins. Add red onion, sweat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red chile. Saute for another 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock, then coconut cream. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes to ensure everything is tender. Next, puree the soup in batches if using a standing blender, or with an immersion blender. Season with salt as needed, as well as with more chicken stock if the soup is too thick. You can add additional fish sauce as a seasoning agent to add even more flavor.

Recipe: Starbucks Pumpkin Cream

This cream is a great fall sweetener for your cold brew as well as hot brewed coffee. Starbucks charges over $5 for their pumpkin cold brew, and while it is delicious, that’s too much for me! So, I figured it couldn’t be that difficult to make my own pumpkin cream, and my own coffee and do it at a fraction of the price. This is a simple recipe and you wont need too much.

Pumpkin Spice Cream:

  • 16 oz Half and half
  • 1 tbl pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbl maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Place a small saucepan on medium heat. Add all ingredients and heat to a very low simmer, do not boil. Take off the burner and puree briefly with a blender, about 10 seconds. Cool and store for up to 5 days.

Cooking on a budget: Oven roasted potatoes.

potatoes/bellpeppers/onions/garlic/olives

Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods you can cook. There are hundreds of applications you can apply for texture, or flavor. The best part of cooking with potatoes is that they are extremely cheap so they’re a great option if you’re looking for some low budget meal prep. The other benefit to roasting potatoes is that you can do them in large batches and make enough for the week. For this batch I used:

  • About 30 small redskin potatoes, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell peppers, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 medium sized onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 olives, pitted and halved
  • Salt, Olive oil

Begin by preheating your oven to 400F. Grab an oven safe baking sheet or roasting pan, and place your cut up potatoes into the pan. Toss them with a good amount of olive oil and season with salt. Toss them to distribute evenly, to ensure an even roast, and throw the potatoes in your preheated oven. I like a hotter oven not only because the potatoes cook a little more quickly, but they also brown a bit better over time. Cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, until about half cooked.

Next, add your cut onions and bell peppers on top, and toss them with the par cooked potatoes. Add a little more salt. You’ll want to ensure they’re well coated in oil so they begin cooking right away and continue to cook. Put back in the oven for about 20 more minutes, and leave in the oven until the peppers and onions are soft and slightly brown or caramelized. After this, add your minced garlic, and leave in the oven for a few more minutes. At this point, if your oven has a broiler, I’d suggest turning it on to high, to quickly caramelize everything. But keep a close eye because it can easily burn things if you’re not paying close attention.

Throw the olives on top and mix in well. Wait to cool until you throw into meal prep containers and you’re good to go!

Quick Camping Trip Meal Prep

Foods prepared ahead of time for my camping trip

Here on the left is a braised chicken dish I’ve made with an organic chicken. Dark meats braise better than white meats, but I shredded everything so either way it is all the same to me. I had put it into the pint containers and frozen it. This will fit better into the cooler and act as ice with the other food I need to keep cold. This was great with small tortillas and guac.

This lentil salad was a last minute decision. Because I cook for myself regularly, I have a lot of different types of ingredients on hand at any given moment so things like this are easy. This was surprisingly delicious for the amount of prep time it required. I’ll have the recipe in a future blog post but the bulk of it consists of kale, lentils, tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice.

Over time I have found that it is very easy to over eat or eat poorly, or a combination of the two, while camping. In an effort to counteract these temptations, this salad acts as an inbetween meal with a lighter caloric load, and some fresh veggies and high quality protein from pasture raised hard boiled eggs.

Braised Beef Stew with Red Wine Sauce

To begin, purchase a high quality chuck roast from your local supermarket. I get mine from whole foods. Sure, it is more expensive, but the quality is much much better. They way I justify this is if I can get 5 or 6 meals out of this recipe, my food cost is quite low in fact, for a preparation like this.

Unwrap your meat and prepare your pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, making sure the pan is big enough to fit the roast comfortable with room on the sides. If it is too small for the pan, it will start to steam the meat instead of caramelize, and this will compromise flavor. There are several trains of thought on seasoning. I don’t season my meat before I sear as the salt pulls moisture out, thus preventing a better sear.

Seared roast

After searing the meat, turn your heat to medium high, and saute your mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion) and mushrooms to the pan. You’ll want to cook these for about 5-7 minutes, until they get nice and brown.

After your vegetables caramelize, season them with salt, and pepper if you like. With heat on medium/high, add garlic, and saute for another two minutes. Then, tomato paste, for two more minutes. Add your all purpose flour, then cook for at least two minutes. The flour is going to thicken the stew, but you don’t want any sort of raw flour flavor in you finished product, so cooking it before you add your liquid is very important.

Add your wine. Bring this mixture up to a fast simmer to cook out some of that harsh alcohol, and reduce the wine a little bit. I’m using a Cabernet Sauvignon, which stands up nicely to red meat. I’d use a heavier dry red if you are able.

Don’t worry too much if you can smell some alcohol evaporating, as this dish is going to simmer for a long time and this will eventually cook out during that process.

Now, add your three cups of stock. I’m using a chicken broth that is very tasty, beef broth will be just as good. I have also added a 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes. You can add whole chopped tomatoes if you have some nice ripe ones. With the stock, it is important to purchase no or low sodium versions. While the pot simmers, the liquid will get saltier and saltier and if it is perfectly seasoned before the meat if finished simmering, you’re going to have a salty sauce, and that would be a big letdown, especially after all of this work.

Now that everything is added, low and slow!

Now that you have added everything, bring the mixture up to a boil, and then very low heat. You’re looking for a slow bubble. You will want this to braise for at least three hours. Anything less than that and you won’t get a tender piece of meat. If it cook long enough it should almost fall apart with a fork. If you wanted to add potatoes, add them about 30 minutes before you’re going to pull the meat off the heat so they don’t overcook. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning. With my roast weighing a little over 2-1/2 lb and having added a couple of potatoes, I have gotten at least six meals out of this recipe. Although it cost me a little extra to purchase high quality meat, it is no problem for me with that in mind. Garnish with parsley, if ya like.