Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ketchup Soup (aka Grandma's Beef Soup)

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Bet ya thought I'd given up on the ol' cookin' blog didn't ya?  Nah...I was just taking a bit of a break...trying to get my life sorted back out again.  And well, trying to maintain a weeks worth of recipes was just getting to be a bit too much...so, from now on...it'll just be randomness.  (yeah, I like that)

So, to start us back off I'm pulling out an ancient recipe.  (shhh...don't tell my grandma I called it that!) Okay, so maybe its not exactly ancient, but this recipe is what memories are made of...you know, memories of being at your grandmas with this incredible smell coming from her cooktop.  And then, to find out that your mom can whip up a batch too!  
Here's the funny thing...when I was living with my grandma this past summer, we made this recipe...but it wasn't what I remembered my mom making.  So...I assumed it was something different (and devoured it anyway).  When my dad asked me the other day for the recipe for a soup my mom used to make him (my parents are long divorced), I was like...YES!  that soup that she made that we all loved!  Called up mom who said she was going to wait for my grandma to arrive from Ohio so she could get the recipe first hand.

So, there we are on the phone and Grandma is rattling off the recipe to mom who is in turn relaying it to me.  Okay, first off....Grandma doesn't measure...at all.  Me?  I'm obsessed with making things perfect so this eyeball stuff just doesn't fly with me.  I kept pestering for more accurate amounts...well, I didn't get it...and neither will you in this recipe...so there.  
With the recipe typed up (sort of), I still didn't think that it was the same mom used to make...but then, revelation....mom fessed up to deviating from Grandma's directions!!!!  (heaven forbid!)  See, when Grandma makes it, she takes all the veggies and meat out and lays them on a platter.  The broth remains in the pot and the noodles in a side bowl.  Then you kinda just build your bowl'o soup.  Well, mom just left it all in the pot, ladled it over noodles and served it up.  (Grandma is not happy about that...not one bit)  BUT!  that's how I remember it too....so, I'm sticking with my mom and that's how we dished it out in my family.  :)  (and devoured it as well)
Now for the name...Grandma of course never called it that.  Somewhere along the way a cousin of mine started referring to (and requesting often) Grandma's soup as Ketchup Soup.  (well obviously because of the ketchup in it) and the name just stuck.  No longer referred to as beef soup, stew, whatever....nope...its Ketchup Soup.  And every single grandkid knows it and begs for it.  We tease each other and post pix on Facebook if someone makes it and no one else is around to share.  (yeah, that's the kind of family we are...isn't it awesome??)  :D

This is a soup that you will make again and again and again...and you will have a hell of a time just eating one bowl.  (its super addicting...trust me)  And you'll look at the ingredient list and go...huh?  That's it?  Yep, that's it.  And it's perfect.  Our family loves the vinegar taste of the ketchup, but if you aren't a big fan...ease back.  Mom (and Grandma) always say to start with half the bottle and add as you need.  (not me, I dump the whole thing in...plus a little water rinse inside the bottle to get any remaining ketchup out)  This also makes ALOT of soup.  I forgot to ask mom if you can freeze it, I'm sure you can since Grandma freezes everything, but I usually just keep eating the leftovers for lunch...for about a week straight.  :)  I'm telling you....this is one of those soups that you put together on a cold fall/winter weekend and just let the smell fill your house...then fill your belly with yummy goodness.  Follow with a nice glass of wine and a fire and you're good to go!  :D  



And now...for the recipe.  
(again, this is as detailed as we could get out of Grandma)


1 boneless chuck roast 3-4lbs  (make sure its a roast and not a round cut)
1 onion 
1 head of celery with leafy tops
3-4 medium sized carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 head cabbage (or 1 small) sliced
3-4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (or 6-8 small whole-unpeeled baby reds)
1/2 bunch parsley chopped
1 bottle of ketchup (I like Trader Joes Organic brand)
1 bag of egg noodles
salt, pepper, garlic powder


1. Fill a large pot with water about 3/4 of the way and bring to a boil (make sure its boiling before you add the meat!!)  *note: don't add too much water...you can always add more if you need it, but you want to make sure you don't overflow when you add the veggies)
2. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3. Add the meat, whole onion (peeled and halved), and 2-3 stalks of celery (whole with leafy tops)
4. Simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender (test with a fork, but don't break up the meat)
5. When meat is tender, take out onion and celery
6. Add carrots, cabbage, and 2-3 stalks more of celery with leafy tops....simmer for 1/2 hour.
7. Add potatoes and parsley and simmer until potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.
8. Next, add half the bottle of ketchup.  Stir and taste.  (we usually end up using the whole bottle, so add as much as you want to your taste) and gently simmer. (I also fill the bottle with a bit of water...shake it up to get the last bits of ketchup and dump that in too)
9. While soup is simmering, cook noodles according to package directions


And that's it!  Serve in bowls with noodles and scoops of soup....and then serve a second and third helping.  :)  Happy cooking!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spring Roll Salad

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Working full time again has made it hard for me to keep up with my blogs!!  I feel so behind...but teaching again has really kept me busy and here in Saudi, that's such a good thing.  I must admit, I am amazed at how difficult it is to be a mom, wife and full time teacher.  Talk about trying to find balance in your life!  I'm so thankful I have a husband who is supportive and helps out...a lot.  
Of course, it's also taken a toll on my cooking style.  Thankfully, another lady who recently moved sold me her crock-pot.  What a lifesaver!!! (they don't exist here in Saudi...trust me, I've looked and looked!)  I've been scouring the web for amazing slow cooker recipes. 
In the meantime, I will try and get caught up with past recipes that I've been making.  

Another fab find from Pinterest.  It's my go-to cookbook now.  :)  
This was a great salad.  I made it to take to a pot luck and there wasn't nothing left at the end.  (which made me kind of sad because I was hoping for leftovers)
I had to alter the recipe based on what I could actually find here, but the end result was still delish.  

By the way....what's your favorite slow cooker recipe?



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup

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My Pinterest addiction is leading me to so many new recipes!  I love spending hours (I mean a few minutes...shhhh...don't tell the hubby!)  browsing all the different recipes floating around the net.  
This is one I'm SO happy I found.  Thanks to Closet Cooking, this recipe will now be part of my monthly menu MUST cook list.  (oh, perhaps I should mention that it's STILL in the mid 90's here with about 80% humidity)  Yeah, that's when we just crank up the AC (thank goodness the hubby's company pays that bill) and pretend its winter time here.
This soup tastes rich, but the only fat is coming from the cheese.  (I used fat-free milk)  The girls had three bowls each and requested some for lunch the next day.  I'd say that counts as a hit in this house!

You could totally make a few variations to this dish...try different types of cheese, add bacon (oh how I miss thee), spike it with some hot sauce...have fun!

Looking forward to making this again....may add some beef bacon (so not the same...but what can you do?) next time!  

What are some of your favorite Go-To soups?  Do you have some fall faves?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wild Rice w/Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

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My mom had brought us some bags of rice when she met up with me in Italy.  (because all we have here is Basmati and Arborio- and without wine, Arborio just isn't the same)  Anyway, I thought the rice she brought me was black rice (I mean it looked black to me!)  So, I googled recipes for black rice.
Let me just say, there aren't many choices out there.  Guessing black rice is hard to find.  But, still, thinking I had black rice, I chose to make this dish.
I just happened to have purchased a pomegranate a few days before and then all I needed was the squash.  The recipe is from Cooking Light and the reviews were a bit mixed.  But, it was the best recipe I could find, so I went with it.
Turns out my rice was just wild rice (really good wild rice, though, from Trader Joes)  I had no idea what this was going to taste like...and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  The kids kinda liked it, they weren't jumping up and down or anything.  But the hubby gave the dish two thumbs up.  I kept with what a review said and served the dish warm.  Great weeknight meal that didn't take long to prepare.  Not to mention, extremely healthy and vegan!  :D



  • Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup black rice*
  • 1 pound butternut squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika*
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

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Yesterday my darling Bug was home from preschool and begging me to help her cook something.  I had found this awesome recipe for "pupcakes" (this is what she calls them and I refuse to correct her)
Anyway..get this..two ingredients.  You read that right...2.  Now THAT is my kind of baking!  So simple you could probably let your kid make it themselves (just help with the oven of course)

Lets just say that I was totally skeptical about how these would taste.  I read through many of the reviews and added a bit more pumpkin spice so the pumpkin flavor would stand out a bit.  Also, good luck finding apple cider here, so I had to use regular apple juice and it made the icing a bit sweeter than I think it was meant to be.  Nevertheless, these are moist delicious pupcakes!  Beyond simple to make and no added fat from oil or eggs.  

So, what are you waiting for??  Get baking already!  :)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Burgers

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Hi, my name is Staci.  I'm addicted to Pinterest.

There, I said it.  No denying it now, it's out there for the world to see.  Sigh...I wish I could say that it's a horrible addiction, but its totally not.  I love the things I've found on that website.  Everything from food to teaching ideas.  And thankfully, I found this awesome recipe on there as well.

We are trying to detox our bodies of the mass amount of carbs we ate while in Italy, therefore, this "burger" is missing it's bun.  But, I didn't miss eating it.  These little burgers are fabulous and you get to enjoy the crunch of the panko and raw onion without some silly bread getting in the way.  (well, that's what I told myself)  

I altered the original recipe a bit (one was leaving out the bun) and created something the entire family loved.  The sweet potatoes we get here are not the bright orange kind...so I didn't get the deep color I was hoping for, didn't effect the taste though!  
We had leftovers and the next day I just threw a bit of oil in a skillet and browned them up a bit more, then popped them in the microwave to heat them all the way through.  They still had a nice, crispy outside.  
I've never been a big fan of raw onion, but somehow it tasted amazing on these burgers.  Nice thick slices of avocado and a drizzle of a sweet & spicy chili sauce topped it off perfectly.  We served them with a side of oven roasted cauliflower.  Filling, healthy, vegan....killer dinner.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Mini Meatballs

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It's kind of funny...I couldn't wait to get to Italy and cook all these great dishes that I haven't been able to cook in Saudi, but I come to find that I can't get everything I want in Italy either!  I couldn't wait to eat kale...but couldn't find it anywhere, no matter how hard I searched.  Broccoli too...seems to have just disappeared from the Como area! 
And just a little note about Lake Como....I'm in love.  Just in love.  We stayed in a town called Menaggio...in my opinion, the best one on the lake...and it's just a short ferry ride to Bellagio and Varenna.  Menaggio (pronounced Men-A-jo) has a beautiful piazza and then you walk (uphill) all the way to our house.  We stayed where the old castle used to be in a 500 year old house.  It was so lovely and we made friends with the neighbors.  I was even lucky enough to be invited over for dinner!  It was great fun trying to talk Italian with them.  The food was wonderful.  (and yes, they even had the traditional Italian red and white table cloth)  :)

So, the next night I had to cook for myself and the girls.  No broccoli to be found, but at least they had cauliflower.  We'd already feasted on different tomato based sauces, so I wanted something different.  And keeping with the fact that I wanted to enjoy pork as much as possible, I figured some yummy meatballs would do the trick topped with a nice pesto sauce.  Had I been in my regular kitchen I would have made my own pesto, but with the serious lack of kitchen staples in my rented house, I went with the jarred kind.  Turned out wonderful and the girls really liked it as well.  Score one for mom!

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