Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

Evidently, Mother Nature didn't get the memo about it being the end of April, cause it's been rather chilly here in Nebraska. And with a steady drizzle reinforcing the chill, I thought soup would be a great way to help keep us warm.

Plus, I've got a big ol' ham from Easter to use up. Don't have any ham on hand? No problem. Skip the ham and make a vegetarian version. Or another good option would be to fry up some bacon and sprinkle it on top of each serving.

Mmmmmm, bacon.

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
Source: MSPI Mama

4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 stalk celery, including the leaves, diced
½ medium onion, diced
2 14-oz. cans MSPI-friendly chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup flour
2 cups rice milk
1-2 cups diced cooked ham
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion and broth in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

In a separate saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring the roux constantly until thick and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in the rice milk, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Add ham to the stockpot. Stir the rice milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tip: Like a thicker soup? Mash some of the potatoes in the soup.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

A good salad needs three components to make it fabulous in my book: fresh veggies (or fruit), a tasty dressing and something crunchy to top it off. This salad has all those components, and it just smacks of spring.

This recipe is from Your Homebased Mom. Check out her post to see some great pictures on how to make the sugared almonds. The almonds are so good! You might want to make a double batch, so you can snack on them!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Source: Your Homebased Mom

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1-1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 pkg. baby spinach
1/2 cup red onion, sliced into strips
1 16-oz. pkg. srawberries, sliced

To make sugared nuts, combine nuts and 1/4 cup sugar in a small frying pan. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat for several minutes. The sugar will begin to clump up around the nuts and begin to melt. Continue to cook and stir until sugar has browned and coated the nuts. (Be very careful, the sugar can go from ooey-gooey deliciousness to burned in a matter of seconds!) Immediately remove from heat and pour onto a plate coated with cooking spray. Spread the nuts in a single layer and allow to completely cool and dry out. Once cool, the nuts can be broken into pieces.

To make dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar, seeds, Worcestershire and paprika. Set aside for a few minutes, in order to let the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved, whisk the dressing again before tossing with the spinach in a large bowl. Top the spinach with the strawberries, onion and cooled sugared nuts and lightly toss together. Serve immediately.

Tip: Only make as much salad as you know will be eaten at once. The dressing breaks down the spinach, making it impossible to save leftovers. Adjust the amounts of spinach, strawberries and onion to your personal taste.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Muffins

Do you struggle (like I do) with what snacks to give your kids? If they want something sweet, I offer fruit. They would much prefer a cookie or piece of candy. If they want something crunchy, I offer crackers and hummus. They would much prefer chips, minus the hummus. And we go back and forth until someone finally gives in, and unfortunately, I give in way more than I should.

That's why I like this muffin recipe. It's sweet enough to make the kids happy, but the peanut butter helps keep them full until supper. It makes a great afternoon snack but would be great any time of day, especially for breakfast or brunch. And if you make the mini muffins, they're small enough to ward off hunger pains without completely ruining your kids' appetites for dinner.

Peanut Butter Muffins
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup rice milk
2/3 cup MSPI-friendly peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat with a hand mixer the egg, rice milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined miniature or regular-sized muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes for the miniature muffins or 22-25 minutes for the regular muffins or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks. Serve warm.

Tip: To make this a little healthier, try substituting whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour.