Friday, March 4, 2011

Worth It or Not? (II)

Read the first Worth It or Not? post here.  These posts include my impressions of online recipes I've tried.  I include flops and successes alike.

I have three recipes to present to you this week and all three are keepers.  Here we go....

First off, I'll tell you about Pioneer Woman's Mexican Lasagna which is actually a recipe from her friend, Pastor Ryan.  This recipe makes A TON of food.  As I was making it, I kept thinking to myself that this was never going to fit into the 9x13" pan I had laid out.  The recipe said to use a "large casserole or baking dish".  I ended up using both a 9x13 and an 8x8" pan- and they were full to the brim even though I ended up using half of the beef, tortillas, cheese, corn, and green salsa the recipe called for.  I'm too thrifty, I guess.  Even with those cut backs, my pans were full.  The other change I made was that I used brown rice instead of Basmati.

Okay, so while I'm cooking up this mammoth of a meal, I kept wondering if it was really going to be all that good.  There were several different flavors going on- taco seasoning (I opted for the spice combo he suggested if you don't have a packet on hand), green salsa, and enchilada sauce.  I mean, it all went together, but I wasn't sure.

I still wasn't sure after the first bite, but I think it was my skepticism, because every bite after I enjoyed and Jamey raved throughout the entire meal.  Sam even ate it and he hates rice, beans and meat.  So, there.

Will I make it again?  Yes.  Especially if company is coming.  It makes a lot and the 8x8 bonus that's in my freezer will be perfect for some Sunday lunch.

PW's Mexican Lasagna:  Worth It.

Next, I want to tell you about Zoë's (from Whole Eats & Whole Treats) Asian Noodles.  I am a huge fan of savory peanut dishes and I've seen lots of peanuty-noodle recipes out there but none grabbed my attention like Zoë's.  This dish was delicious.  I even ate it cold out of the fridge the next day for a mid-morning snack.  I really did.  The one suggestion I would make would be to increase the amount of pasta by 1/4 pound.  There was plenty of delicious sauce, so I felt it could go just a little further.  Honestly?  Maybe I just wanted there to be more.  Sadie wished there was more, too.  As did Jamey.  And Miriam.  Sam, unfortunately, is not fond of pasta, the poor boy.

Zoë's Asian Noodles:  SO Worth It.

Last, but not least, is Deb's Black Bean Pumpkin Soup from over at Smitten Kitchen.  The idea of using some of my pureed pumpkin from the freezer is what drew me to this recipe.  The addition of ham intrigued me.

So, my first attempt at making this soup failed from the get-go because I forgot to thaw and cook the ham.   Minor detail.  The second day, my plans were foiled again because I know NOTHING (so it seems) about preparing meat and I cooked up pork chops expecting them to turn into the diced, cooked ham the recipe called for.

So.  The cooked pork-chop-looking-things went into the fridge and I commenced with the recipe hoping it would still be good.  I ended up altering it in several other ways as well, so I'll just give you my version below.

This soup was fabulous!!  You may not believe me, but I'm going to tell you something.  My 20 month old pushed her empty bowl to me and said, "More soup."  My eight year old, forever-a-skeptic at meal times, liked it.  My five year old liked it.  Jamey LOVED it.  And, I did too.  Also, a keeper.  We served it with toasted and buttered Oatmeal Rolls.

Deb's Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup:  Worth It, Worth It, Worth It!

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup (Adapted from Deb's recipe which came from Gourmet Magazine, November 1996)   
Yields: about 9 cups.  Just a note- you can't taste the pumpkin in this recipe, but it helps bulk and thicken the soup and adds additional nutrients (as well as alleviates the frozen purred pumpkin content of your freezer).

3 (15 1/2 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint stewed/canned tomatoes, with juice
3 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin (I used butternut squash puree)
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. lime juice (bottled or fresh)

In a food processor, coarsely puree beans and tomatoes.  Set aside.

In a large cooking pot, saute onion and garlic in butter until soft.  Add the cumin, salt, and pepper and continue to cook until onions begin to brown. Stir in the tomato and bean puree. Stir in broth and pumpkin.  Bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and lime juice.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

At this point, you can leave it a tad chunky or you can puree it further with your hand blender like I did.  I thought the kids might like it better this way- and they did! Pin It


  1. Why thank you for featuring my recipe...I'm glad it was worth it :) And it's funny that you think there should be more pasta...we thought there should be less! I wonder if it makes a difference that you used penne and I used spaghetti?

    I really want to try that black bean and pumpkin soup. Sounds tasty.

  2. How did you know I have all that pumpkin puree in my freezer!

  3. I like this little series you're doing. Fun fun!

  4. I appreciate you doing all of the work for me - will put some of these on my "to try" list!


  5. I use a similar recipe for the Mexican rice and stuff the mixture into bell peppers... top with cheese and bake... delish!

  6. I'm excited to try the pumpkin soup recipe. I have all the ingredients and it might just be what we have for supper tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I wish I had a blog because I don't know how to spread the word when I come across a good recipe!

  7. I was WONDERING what to do with the random pumpkin in my freezer! Thanks for the recommendations. It's also nice to have inspiration this time of year. . .

  8. oh man look at all of that! however, the last time i got food poisoning (from a fast food place) was the same day i had some peanuty noodles... and i havent been able to eat them since. i curse that stupid fast food place because the noodles were one of my favorite things!

  9. So I made the soup for supper last night and both of my children turned up their noses. I was rather disappointed because they aren't usually picky. I served it over polenta and I'm going to try it again with out that and see how it goes. The others at the meal thought it was delicious; part of me would rather keep all the leftovers for myself! Crystal

  10. Excellent! The soup sounds great! I was wondering what to do with all the pumpkin in my freezer, and since Shelby's doing the South Beach diet, it's tricky to find recipes that don't use carbs. This one will be made as soon as I get some beans cooked. (And it's perfect soup weather, isn't it?) Thanks for posting.

  11. Tried those Asian Noodles- very yummy!


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