Sunday, March 24, 2013

Potato Parmesan Soup.

Even though it's the end of March, we are under a "Winter Storm Warning" here in Illinois. It was about 55 degrees and sunny 20 hours ago, but you know. And honestly, it doesn't look so bad out there. It's mostly just really, really cold.

So of course, for lunch today, I made a great comforter for these cold days. Some delicious potato parmesan soup. My grandma has always made this for us when we come to visit during Christmas. I naturally have altered the recipe a little, mostly with some added spices. It may not be the healthiest soup out there, but it sure is delicious! Also, this recipe makes quite a bit. We like to save it and have some leftovers. If that isn't your intent, I would suggest halving the recipe. Enjoy!

You will need:

4 cups diced potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
4 cups water
2 cups milk
4 tbs margerine
4 tbs flour (I have experimented with whole wheat flour; it didn't go so well)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
optional: 1/2 tsp paprika and 1 bay leaf


Chop the vegetables and boil/simmer them in the water for about 45 minutes. Basically until the potatoes and carrots seems edible. At this point, in a small sauce pan, begin making your sauce. I start with the butter and flour and "cook" it in the saucepan. Then I add the milk. This takes some patience, but I stir it and whisk it until it seems somewhat thick. Next, add it to the vegetables, which should still have water surrounding them. Now, add the parmesan cheese, and let it simmer just a little longer to thicken up. Stay warm while enjoying this soup!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The latest.

I've been pretty busy lately. By pretty busy, I mean to say that this has been the busiest year of my life thus far, and it's only March 23rd. Despite lots of school, work, concerts, etc., I have had some time to explore further into something that really interests me: herbal and natural ways of doing things.

Here are some of my latest findings:

 Echinacea tea. I get sick pretty often. It's part of music major culture. If it's a concert week, I'm going to get a cold, unfortunately. I am a firm believer in Vitamin C, and now Echinacea tea, as well. Combine these forces, and I'm feeling much less sniffly by the weekend--concert time, I mean.

Deodorant. Alright. Confession time. I get really bad cases of folliculitis in my underarms. Embarrassing, I know. As a preventative measure, I've been experimenting with my deodorant choices. I'd like to think I don't sweat too much under there, so baking soda was doing the trick for a while. However, since the weather is (hopefully) going to get warm soon, I thought I'd invest in  some of this For Pits Sake Lavender Deodorant. It smells awesome, and so far, it really seems to be working. It was about eight bucks at our health food store here in town. I may search for cheaper options.

(Sorry, no pictures for the next one.)

Vinegar. I've never been too into the smell, but I've been into cleaning with it for some time now. Lately, I've experimented with different infusions, and my favorite has been lavender. Basically, you boil some vinegar, pour it in a mason jar with some lavender (I only used about a tablespoon of dried lavender per 2 cups of vinegar, because I wanted to be sparing). I let it sit for two weeks, strained it, and ta-da! Water it down, and use it to clean. Awesome results.

So there you go. This is just some of what I've been up to lately.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I need a new name.

The more I think about it, I am realizing how badly my blog needs a new name. Watercolor Problems is pretty clever, of course, but it doesn't exactly reflect my blog's content.

I'd like a name that is pretty clever, kind of catchy, not too cheesy, and that pertains to my blogging intentions. Which are, by the way, primarily recipes (vegetarian, of course), projects, and inspiration.

So, when I change the name, I'm nervous because all of people's repins on Pinterest will lead to bad links, right? Or will it automatically correct to the new url? Things to consider.

Anyway, be looking forward to a new name for this blog!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sweet Pepper Risotto.

I'm tired of seeing risotto recipes with chicken broth, you know? Sure, I can easily substitute vegetable broth. But it's like people are saying risotto is only good when it's made with chicken broth. Forget that! Here's some very simple risotto with bell peppers and onions! Yum!

Risotto is so easy to make. Really. You just have to have a little patience. Here's what you need:

1 cup chopped bell peppers (I used red and orange)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs margarine
1 tsp turmeric
black pepper and parmesan cheese to taste

What to do:

Start by sauteing the onions and bell peppers in the olive oil. After a couple minutes, add the rice, making sure it gets coated with oil. Add about 3/4 cup of vegetable broth. I like to water down my broth, because it tends to be too salty for my liking if I don't. This is up to you, of course!
Now, be patient. Wait for the rice to absorb the broth, then add more. You'll repeat this three or four times. Taste test the risotto to see if it's cooked. It will take at least 25 minutes. Now, add the turmeric, margarine, and parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper. Enjoy this savory dish!

Blueberry Pie.

My favorite fruit? Blueberries. Unquestionably. I love blueberry everything. It should come as no surprise, then, that my favorite kind of pie is blueberry. Maybe it screams summer to some, but I will gladly eat it any time. In fact, I made it for my family last Christmas. As usual, it was delicious. Here is my recipe. I've experimented with several recipes to find what really works for me. I got my original recipe from Fine Cooking magazine, so I'll go ahead and say this is loosely based on their recipe.

(Sorry this isn't the most glorious picture. I promise it tastes delicious.)

You'll need:

- 2 pie crusts (Go ahead and admit it, you'd rather buy pie crusts than make them)
- 4.5 cups of blueberries (honestly, I just use frozen ones half the time and thaw them out slightly)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg white, for the crust


I make my pies by combining all the filling (so, everything but the egg white) in a sealable container, then shaking it up. Some people just kind of layer it in the pie. I have no experience with that, so I can only speak for my own way, which I do because Mom has always done it this way! With that in mind, assemble your filling and dump it into the bottom crust, which should of course be lining the pie dish. Next, I "paint" around the edge of the crust with the egg white. I prefer lattice crusts, and I'd like to think it really is quite simple to do. Basically, I just cut the other crust into strips using a pizza cutter, and I weave them in and out. After this is done, I "paint" the entire lattice with the egg white, and sprinkle sugar on it. This part is completely optional. I just think it's tasty. Bake it at 375 degrees, checking every thirty minutes or so. In the end, for about an hour and thirty minutes. Now, I like to wrap the edges of my crust with foil after about the first twenty minutes to keep them from burning. Let me know if anyone has any better solutions!

Enjoy your pie!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Potatoes O'Brien with Sriracha

I'll admit it. I love starchy foods. And I absolutely love potatoes, cooked in every way possible. This morning for breakfast, I thought I'd cook up some Potatoes O'Brien with Sriracha. If heat isn't your thing, you can always omit the Sriracha, replace it with ketchup, whatever you fancy.

Here's what you do...

You need:
1 tbs coconut oil (or whatever oil you prefer)
1 cup diced potatoes. If you're lazy, just use those frozen hash browns that come in a bag.
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup peppers (I used bell peppers and poblano)
1 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Dash of cayenne papper
Sriracha to taste

On medium-high heat, saute the peppers and onions in the coconut oil for a couple minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium, and add the potatoes. Cook this mixture up for a while Ten minutes or so, stirring often. Turn the heat down to low-medium, add seasoning, and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Serve, and artistically add the Sriracha on top. Enjoy!