Salsa Soup

Soup and a sandwich is a classic meal.

But who really wants to take all that time to make soup? And soup from a can is always a little iffy – many of them are full of sugar (seriously?) or are weirdly oily when you open them.

Enter the magic of salsa soup.

Yup, that’s pretty much the entire recipe right there. A couple of spoonfuls of good salsa, any leftovers you want, and some water. (Jacques Pepin calls water “Chateau Faucet” in his great French accent which makes it sound so much more upscale!

Salsa, water and leftovers combine to make a quick, super tasty soup

Microwave until really hot, top with crushed tortilla chips and cheese if you like, and serve with a half sandwich of your choosing.  It might not be pretty, but it is super (soup-er?) tasty.

This also travels really well for lunch. Put all the ingredients except the water into a microwave safe bowl that has a tight fitting cover. Refrigerate until lunch time, and then add water and stir just before microwaving. Every time I make this at work at least one person comments on how good it smells.

 

Salsa Soup

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 3 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Chunky Salsa
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup leftover veggies of your choice.
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • Dash of Trader Joe’s 21 Salute (or seasoning blend of your choice)
  • Dash of Red Chili Flake (optional
  • Crushed Tortilla chips and shredded cheese for topping if desired

Directions

  1. In a medium microwave safe bowl bowl combine salsa, veggies and spices
  2. Add water. More water makes a thinner soup. Less makes it thicker
  3. Stir together.
  4. Microwave until nearly boiling. Adjust microwave cooking time if using frozen vegetables
  5. Top with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips if desired.

Couch Mix

Our version of the snack mix known as “Chex Mix”

I’ve previously admitted to my weakness for onion chip dip. The quick review – I love that stuff so much I have to put it on lock down and only eat it from Thanksgiving through New Year’s (with two exceptions  – Super Bowl and Daytona 500 weekends).

I have a similar control issue with the snack mix that is universally called Chex Mix, whether or not it actually uses the brand name cereals.

Last year, we took a look at what we were actually eating in that mix, and changed up the recipe. I can’t realistically call it healthier, but I’d be willing to call it “betterfied.” And because it now packs more nutrition and way more fiber than most snacks, I’ve removed it from the quarantine calendar system.

Continue reading “Couch Mix”

One pot peanut noodles

A quick meal from just a few ingredients

For this dish I like to use veggie pasta (not spiralized veggie noodles – I do love those but here I’m referring to a dry pasta that contains vegetables in the ingredients. I can’t find the exact  brand, but this spaghetti is close).

I boil a two-serving size amount of the noodles. We actually use a scale and match the nutrition information on the back of the package for this. Pasta, even with veggies in it, is high in carbs and that is a number with work diligently around for meals since we are a Type 2 Diabetes family. I’ve learned that if I make a whole box of spaghetti, we will eat a whole box of spaghetti, no matter what the suggested serving size is.

When the noodles are close to being done, I add in about a half package of frozen mixed vegetables to the pot and cook until they are tender (usually doesn’t take very long).

I use a measuring cup to remove about a cup of pasta water and then drain the rest of the water from the pasta and veggies, and return the pot to the stove. Turn the burner off – we are just using the residiual heat here (if you somehow have a stove that is instantaneously cool to the touch after turning it off, you might need low heat).

I add about 1/3 cup of good peanut butter to the noodle and vegetable mixture. By “good” I mean not full of sugar. By “about” I mean measuring peanut butter is ridiculously messy, so I just use a knife and carve out a blob that appears to be around 1/3 cup. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce (we use low sodium) and half that amount of cider vinegar. Stir pretty vigorously to get the peanut butter melting and then add in that reserved pasta water to create a sauce. I like to add a good dash of red chili flake at this point because we like it spicy.

Keep stirring until the sauce is the correct consistency. If it’s too thick, you can add a little more water. If it’s too thin, you might consider being OK with it as the pasta will absorb some sauce as it sits. And it’s slurpy good fun to eat with a thin sauce, and next time you’ll be able to guess better on how much water to put back in.

I dish this out into bowls and add a sprinkle of peanuts on top before serving.

This dish is best served fresh – it kind of keeps, but the noodles nearly completely absorb the sauce so it will be dry if served as leftovers.

One Pot Peanut Sauce Noodles

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Veggie Spaghetti – two servings according to package directions
  • Half bag (8 oz) mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • dash dried red chili flakes (optional)
  • dry roasted peanuts for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Add frozen vegetables to boiling pasta when pasta is nearly cooked.
  3. Continuing cooking pasta until veggies are cooked through.
  4. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and veggies.
  5. Return pasta and veggies to pot, add peanut butter, soy sauce, cider vinegar. Stir to combine.
  6. Add reserved pasta water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency

This post contains affiliate links.

Open face egg sandwich

Make a quick weekend breakfast

This is a quick, light breakfast we like to make on weekends, especially when eggs are on sale.

For two servings:

Split a whole wheat muffin in half and toast. I’d say “English Muffin” but our favorite is the Whole Wheat British Muffin at Trader Joe’s.

While that’s toasting, I scramble two eggs in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. To stretch the eggs without adding calories/carbs, I add in water. You already know from reading my previous recipes that I’m an eye-ball cook. I’d guess it’s somewhere in the ¼ to 1/3 cup range. Mix this water in really, really, really well with a fork so that it won’t separate when cooked.

Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring between each one until the eggs are scrambled to the consistency you like. I do not like runny eggs, so I cook mine fairly dry. Don’t be tempted to just turn the microwave on for 2 minutes straight, as this will cause the eggs to explode across the top of the microwave oven.

Ask me how I know 🙂

The toaster usually pops before the eggs are done – I sprinkle shredded cheese onto each muffin immediately so it gets a little melty from the muffin heat.

When the eggs are done I distribute them somewhat evenly between the two muffins. Their heat will further melt the cheese. Top with a spoonful of really good salsa.

We eat these with forks and knives, usually with some fruit on the side. And coffee. Definitely coffee.

Teeny Tiny Tip: Lunch

Batch cook to fill the freezer with ready to go meals

Cook ahead and freeze lunch meals so have a healthy, tasty and economical choice available.

Quick, tasty lunches for work used to be a challenge.

I’d look for the best prices on frozen entrees, but they tended to either be good but expensive or cheap and disapppointing. And almost all of them seemed high in carbs and sodium.

Those cups of instant mac ‘n cheese seem tempting, but they also fall into the expensive and high sodium camp.

My solution is to do a batch cook on Sunday afternoon of one type of meal. Once it cools, part it out into 5 or 6 lunch-serving sized zip bags into the freezer. If you do this every other Sunday, and vary the meals you make, you end up with a variety of freezer entrees to choose from on days when dinner doesn’t yield nice leftovers. It’s also good in a pinch on a weeknight when you are starving and just don’t feel like cooking.

I don’t have a big deep-freeze. I just pack the bags flat to take up less room. And it isn’t really very time consuming – I have a couple of easy meals I make that don’t require much hands-on time, so I can craft while they cook.

And the math ends up as amazing – this box of maccaroni and cheese was 29 cents. To make it a more interesting meal I added lentils to the water as it was boiling before adding the noodles and then added a bit of a low-sodium taco season packet when I made the cheese sauce. With the addition of the lentils, this made six lunches.

 

Coonhound Caviar

A dump and mix recipe using black beans and diced tomatoes with green chiles

A good bit of my kitchen repertoire is based on dump and run recipes. You know the technique – a couple of cans of easy to acquire ingredients, combined with a few fresh ones, some time in the fridge or on the stove, and voila!

This one is extremely loosely based on a dish a co-worker brought to a potluck. Known as Texas Caviar or Cowboy Caviar, there are literally hundreds of recipes out there.  It’s usually presented as a side salad or a dip for Fritos or those bowl shaped Tostitos.

The problem with all of them is they are loaded with a lot of fat, salt and high carb items. A few years ago, we radically changed our food plan because we were dealing with the carb counting challenge that a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis brings. (BIG DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. Consult one or both for best management of a major health condition).

Continue reading “Coonhound Caviar”

Roasted Chickpeas

A quick, spicy dish

Roasted chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are another one of those recipes that is more of technique than an actual list of steps and measurements.

And it’s been posted in some form or another all over the food blogs.

But I’m going to put it here at SuzerSpace, too, because it’s a staple in our house.

It ticks all the boxes – super simple to make, inexpensive, tasty and good for you.

Continue reading “Roasted Chickpeas”

Super easy hummus

An easy dip from a few basic ingredients

Hummus is a bit of a head scratcher.

It’s been around forever, but suddenly a few years ago became the new “IT” food.

At the grocery store, a small container starts at $3.99 and goes up considerably if it has other high fashion ingredients (use the words artisan and roasted and you can add at least another dollar).

Food bloggers and their commenters have gone crazy as well, posting recipes with multiple steps and heated arguments about whether a Vitamix is better than a food processor. Don’t even get me started on the remove-the-skins vs. leave-the-skins debates. (Honestly, I fell for it, and used to skin them, but at least for me, the difference isn’t worth the work).

Continue reading “Super easy hummus”

Baked Tofu

Tofu isn’t scary. Really.

Tofu is kind of like the opposite of Fight Club.

EVERYONE talks about tofu. I read so much about making tofu that it scared me.

I will confess it took me a few tries to nail down a solid system. My general cooking technique for most food involves skipping any steps I don’t want to do or don’t have a gadget to do it with.

Continue reading “Baked Tofu”

Teeny Tiny Tip: Freeze White Rice

A quick trick that doesn’t require a full 500-word essay

At our house, those containers of white rice that you always get when you order Chinese food don’t always get eaten right away. They get shoved to the back of the fridge, and then discovered again on trash day.

Which is a shame, because a little white rice can turn leftovers into a great lunch. Or a plain broth into more of a meal. Rice isn’t exactly difficult to make, but it does require planning ahead.

Free take-out rice for future meals
Freeze take out rice in a thin layer for use in later meals

The easy way to make use of that rice is to freeze it. Plop that container of rice into a big freezer bag. Press it into a pretty thin layer that fills the bag, pushing the air out as you go. It can be frozen flat, so it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer. And that thin layer means even when frozen, you can snap off a little bit here and there to suit your needs.