Beetlejuice, beetlejuice, beetlejuice! – Purple cabbage and tofu soup

Make no mistake, this is not my soup. This belongs to the lovely Kath/KERF (and you can find the recipe there, too).

Some of the ingredients, I don’t even like, much less together in a soup. I’m curiously drawn in by the pictures, though, and the name makes my head spin with ideas that would make this even more kid-friendly.

The idea of beetle juice might gross some little ones out, but if you have any boys obsessed with worms and dirt and all things gory….or anyone who loves the movie, oh boy, have fun with this one! And well, if not, don’t call the dish beetlejuice, but definitely introduce them to this gorgeous purple soup. Call it “pretty princess soup” or something more dainty.

Freezer beef stew in a bag

I love beef stew, but don’t always feel like making it from scratch. Actually, more often than not, beef stew ends up being the result of me making a roast with potatoes, and the following day, if there are any leftovers (there usually aren’t), then I’ll toss them in a pan, add some gravy and broth, and maybe toss in some frozen veggies.

For Christmas, though, I had a friend of the family on my gift list who always buys whatever he wants and would be upset if we bought him anything anyway. He’s not in the best of health, though, and one of the main reasons is that he doesn’t cook any more and has no one to cook for him, so he eats out. A lot.

When my mom saw him starting to make some efforts in the right direction, though, she had a brilliant idea and asked me to execute it. She wanted a freezer basket full of several homemade, slightly healthier versions of foods he already enjoys, that he could just heat up at home whenever.

“Beef stew in a bag” or “freezer beef stew” is something that I’d wanted to do for myself anyway and hadn’t gotten around to, so it was one of the first things I was sure to add to my list.

That’s the original picture I saw associated with the recipe on Once A Month Mom. It’s Real Mom Kithen’s post on her site that has the instructions and quantities, so after a bit of searching, I finally found it (yay for moving sites and redirecting….boo for all the links being broken, though).

Check out this link for the original. I didn’t follow it exactly, so here’s the best I can guess is my modified version below. I mostly just eyed it and tossed in more or less veggies, depending on what I had chopped and in front of me. This is definitely best done by chopping everything at once and then splitting amongst bags.

Freezer Beef Stew in a Bag

2 small chopped onions
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes
1.5 cups chopped green beans (I used frozen in two bags and fresh in another)
1.5 cups diced celery
Whatever other veggies you might like in your stew
2 lbs preferred beef, chopped into large chunks (I had a 7ish lb roast that I split between 3 bags)
3.5 cups beef stock
3 tsp. worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. pepper
¼. tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
4 T. flour
1 tsp. garlic
3 tsp. tomato paste

Layer all the meat and veggies into a gallon-size ziploc freezer bag. The prettier, the better, hehe. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Mix spices, broth, and paste into a bowl and taste test before dumping into the bag as well…adjust according to your tastes. Be sure to label your bags with the date and cooking instructions.

To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and cook in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. You can also do it on the stove on low for about 35-40 minutes, according to Real Mom Kitchen. Just cook until the stew is thick and the veggies are cooked thoroughly. If you like your stew thicker, mix a bit of cornstarch and cold water together, then add to the pot and keep simmering.

I considered browning and seasoning the meat first or even including it in a small ziploc bag by itself, included within the large one, so that he (or I, when I pull out mine) could brown it in hot oil before it being tossed in with the rest of the stew. Ultimately, though, it was for convenience’s sake, so it all went into the bag and is ready to all be tossed in a crockpot all day as well. Easy peasy. Except without peas.

Chinese eggroll nachos

Chinese egg rolls

Quite often, it seems, I’ll plan on making one dish and it ends up morphing into another. Maybe I realize I’m out of an ingredient or a recipe isn’t going right at all or sometimes, I run out of time and need a dish ready to prepare *now,* not half an hour from now.

These nachos ended up being a result of all three. I had spent quite a bit of time preparing the filling for pseudo-eggrolls and was already running out of time to roll them. About three eggroll wrapper attempts in, I discovered that it just wasn’t happening. My wrappers were cracking and tearing from being in the fridge too long.

egg roll nachos

I didn’t have time to create something completely new for supper and instead, tossed in the extra ground pork I had, left out the carrots I hadn’t mixed in yet, and dumped it over tortilla chips with a dollop of sour cream.

I stuffed some into a part of a package of wonton wrappers, but gave up there, too, and ended up frying the rest of the wontons and eggroll wrappers (cut into quarters) into “chips.” I don’t seem to have a picture of that, but wonton chips rock anyway and seemed even more fitting for these “nachos.”

bowls of chinese egg roll nachos

(^ I took that picture by request of one of the little ones ’cause she said it looked pretty. It was just a snapshot to please her or I probably would’ve cleaned up the stray meat scattered on the table next to the bowls. Oops.)