Carrot Ginger Soup: Vitamix Recipe

I was recently given the keys to a new car.  Or at least that is what it feels like.  I’m working with Vitamix to spread the word about the power and versatility of it’s newest model, the Ascent Series.

vitamix ascent

I got a one on one lesson from the manager at their Solon retail store about all the cool things this new mega blender can do.  What was most eye opening for me was to see this machine as much more than just a blender, it’s a food processor too.  And I’m really looking forward to experimenting with all the different capabilities of Vitamix’s newly launched product.

The first thing I wanted to do was crank out a batch of my Carrot Ginger Soup.  It’s something my kids and I both crave.  It’s bright, bold and nutrient-rich.  And now, it takes me half the time.

Vitamix settings

Instead of chopping the carrots up and cooking them in a sauce pan along with onion, garlic and ginger, then adding the remaining ingredients for the remainder of the cook time, I just added everything at once, then simply pressed the “soups” setting, which is a 6 and a half minute program designed to heat raw ingredients to a steaming hot soup by using the friction of the blades (which spin at more than 200 mph!).  People, it was that simple.  No pots and pans to clean up.  No hot cook top come the warmer months.  Boom, done.

carrot ginger soup in vitamix

The other programs available on the Ascent Series Vitamix are Smoothies, Frozen Desserts, Dips and Spreads and Self-Cleaning.  Yes, it cleans itself!  And it’s dishwasher safe if you’re so inclined.  The programs are more of a guideline than an “autopilot.”  Think of it like the “popcorn” setting on your microwave.  It’s very useful, but not a fail safe option.  This model also has a bigger blade than the classic Legacy Series blender, which allows for better access into the well to get more product out of the container (wasting less).  In the coming months you can expect additional products for use with the Ascent, like a 20 oz smoothie container and a 8 ounce small batch/chopping container.

Want to make my carrot ginger soup yourself?  Here’s my recipe:

carrot ginger soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

2 cups chicken stock

1/3 of a medium onion

1/2 pinch of ginger, peeled

1 large clove of garlic

3 cups peeled carrots, roughly cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

Generous pinch of turmeric, (or cayenne if you like it spicy)

1/4 c. heavy cream

Add all the above ingredients except the heavy cream, in the order in which they are listed, into your Vitamix.  (For a vegan version, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock and use coconut milk instead of heavy cream.)  Press the “soups” setting of your Vitamix.  When the program is complete your soup should be completely blended, smooth and piping hot.  Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.  Add the heavy cream and pulse, or blend for another 30 seconds.  Serve while it’s hot! Make it ahead for later in the week, or freeze it for another time.

I’ll be attending a Vitamix class in early May to learn to make 10 other recipes with my new machine.  And you can bet I’ll be trying it out with other recipes in my own kitchen. I see gazpacho, almond butter, and hollandaise sauce in my future.  Buy the Ascent before Mother’s Day and save up to $90.

Disclosure: I was gifted a Vitamix Ascent Series Blender, and invited to a complimentary Vitamix class at their retail store as part of an arrangement I made with the Vitamix team. 

 

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Pot Roast Dumplings

I was recently given a “Cheftovers Challenge” by a friend of mine: Do something interesting with leftover pot roast.  Challenge accepted.  She said most of the time she just breaks it up and loads it on a pile of egg noodles with the rest of the gravy for “round two.”  I call that unimaginative, and unexciting.  Gotta do better for your family and your guests. And I was ready to be adventurous and try something out of my comfort zone, Asian cuisine.  I was going to make dumplings with this!

leftover pot roast

This past week I made what was likely the most tender and flavorful pot roast I’ve ever prepared.  (Let me know if you want the recipe for that too)  It was very juicy and much too much for our family.  I blame it on the BOGO deal at the grocery story (only large ones left).  There was plenty left, that I tore apart easily with a pair of forks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t ALWAYS have EVERYTHING I need to execute the ideas I have for my leftovers.  In the same way it “takes money to make money” sometimes it takes food to make food, so to speak.  I finally ventured into to the Asian Food Mart just a couple blocks from my house to get what I needed to make my dumplings, won ton wrappers.  They were $1.99 for a frozen block of them.

leek filling

Next, I surveyed the fridge for more things that would complete the filling for my Pot Roast Dumplings.  I uncovered some sauteed organic leeks I had remaining from the Sunday morning quiche I made.  Hate to have any organic produce go to waste.  I added those to a small food processor and slowly poured in some heavy cream until it became the thick (slightly sticky) and creamy consistency I was going for.

green onions

Then, for variety, I grabbed the beautiful green and purple organic green onions I also had, beckoning to be utilized in an Asian dish.  For this filling, I thought I’d try cream cheese, and I had some chive and green onion…perfect!  I used the same food processor to blend those ingredients until it was enough to bind to the leftover pot roast.

green onion filling

Now it was assembly time.  I did refer to a couple of other dumpling recipes to see if I was on the right track on portion size, filling and assembly/cooking instructions.  I placed a half dozen won ton wrappers on a large cutting board and put about a tablespoon of one of the fillings, then an equal amount of the shredded pot roast.  I had enough to make about two dozen dumplings.

filling pot roast dumplings

Then, I moistened the wrappers around the filling with water and a small pastry brush, gathered the edges and pinched them together.

assembling pot roast dumplings

I put about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and placed the dumplings in batches in the hot oil to fry until the bottoms were brown.  Then I carefully added about 1/4-1/2 cup water in the frying pan and covered it until the dumplings were steamed and cooked through.

frying pot roast dumplings

For the dipping sauce, I first read through a handful of recipes, and worked on a soy ginger version, something that was hot and sweet.  I sauteed some garlic and ginger in a little vegetable oil.  Then I added soy sauce, brown sugar and a pinch of red pepper flakes until it thickened up.Now I was on to something!

beef pot roast dumplings

Challenge completed.  I’d taken some tasty pot roast, a few kitchen staples, some special organic produce, and a single “new buy” to make what was easily the best heavy appetizer/light dinner I’d made in a while.  My guests gobbled them up.  So, now that I’ve tackled pot roast, whatdayahave for me?  I’m ready for what you throw at me.  

“Freezer Games”

I’ve been given a challenge, a culinary challenge actually.  And I plan on tackling it with the tenacity and focus of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss in “The Hunger Games.”  

In an effort to curb the grocery bill, my husband (responsibly) asked that I try to shop a little smarter.  You see, leftovers aren’t my only game.  I have a weakness for cookbooks, and each week I try to make a couple of new recipes outside of my normal comfort zone.  But that often means buying up ingredients I don’t usually keep in my kitchen.  And that adds quite a bit to my final tally at the check-out line.  So, I’m going to hunker down and take a good hard look at the collection in my fridge, see what’s buried in the back of my freezer, and examine the odds and ends in my pantry.

There are still plenty of proteins in the house, thanks to a couple of BOGO deals at the grocery store and the remnants of my parents’ freezer (See previous post “Snowbird Special”).  I’ve got several chicken breasts, plus thighs and tenderloins, a couple of pork chops, a can of black beans, and Slovenian sausage.  So that’s a great start.

Other things in the freezer that will come in handy in my “frugal gourmet” campaign: home made pesto, pasta sauce and meatballs that I make ahead and freeze, frozen peas and snap peas, almonds, lots of frozen berries, pasta,  and cauliflower puree (which I sneak into recipes to boost the veggie-value of things like mac n cheese)

A collection of things catch my eye in the fridge…some savory chutney I have leftover from a pork tenderloin recipe I made, whole grain mustard, salsa verde, a pair of sweet white wines that were gifted to me (and I’ll never drink) caperberries, cocktail onions, and whole jar of jalapeno slices.

In the pantry there are plenty of things I should make use of, if not for the sake of my mission, then for the sake of making space in there.

bread crumbs

Before I even begin to tackle a dish, I remove the two bags of hot dog buns from freezer and make a batch of home made bread crumbs.  (See previous post “Quick Flips”)  I know those will come in handy, likely on Super Bowl Sunday…something will surely need to be breaded and fried on that junk food holiday.

Plum vida

Among the seemingly disjointed things I found, was a box of Plum Vida pouches.  They’re organic fruit/veggies blends.  I bought them thinking my girls would suck them down as quickly as they do the apple sauce “squeezies” they go through like water.  They did not.  But I took a look at the label and saw they contained cherries, berries, beets and ginger (Bonus: 3g of fiber, 1/2 c. fruits and veggies, and only 80 calories in each pouch)  Seemed like the perfect sweet/savory base for a sauce that would pair perfectly with the pork that I was defrosting.

shallots

So I started experimenting.  I chopped up some shallots (about a tablespoon), and added them to a saute pan with some hot olive oil.  Once those softened, I poured in about a half a cup of chicken stock, and a heaping tablespoon of apple balsamic vinegar.  (I’ve been wondering where and when I’d use that gift! Apple is another fruity flavor that goes great with pork)

apple balsamic vinegar

I let that reduce for a few minutes then emptied the contents of one 5 oz. Plum Vida pouch.  I left that at medium heat and let that bubble up, thicken, and reduce for a few minutes.  Then I tasted my concoction.  Wow.  I’d eat that!

Plum sauce

Last step was incorporating the pork.  Easy.  I just seasoned the pork chops with salt and pepper and seared them in a hot pan with oil.  Once those were browned on both sides, I added them to the pan with the sauce (an emptied the bits in the pan) and let them hang out together for a while.  Just a few minutes, covered, and they were ready to go.

Now, what to do with the rest of my inventory...Guess you’ll have to stay tuned.  And please, take a second look at what I’ve listed above and tell me what strikes you.  Based on what I have in the house, what direction should I go next? (instead of back to the grocery store!)