Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

vegetable beef soup
Slow cooker, can you hurry it up??? We’re hungry!

One of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food. Of course she baked whatever birthday dinner and cake we asked for. When I was younger, she always made spaghetti for my birthday, with her own special twist — she added a package of chili seasoning and made it spicy and Mexicany. For many years, I thought that was how spaghetti was supposed to taste!

And she always makes me a chocolate cake — from scratch, not from a boxed mix.

Love you, Mom!

Mom practicing her supermodel pose. (Coalinga, Calif., June 2006)

She’s older now and doesn’t cook as much since Dad died, and I don’t eat so much pasta, so we haven’t done the birthday spaghetti in a while. Also, my day falls on or near Thanksgiving, so my birthday dinner is likely to include turkey leftovers and apple or pecan pie. (I can totally deal with a pecan pie as a chocolate cake replacement!)

Let me just give you the bottom line: Everything my mom cooks is delicious.

Probably because the main ingredient is love. (Sorry, I’m not trying to be corny; it’s just true. She’s my mom!)

And because she doesn’t cook as often as she used to, when she does it’s something special.

Recently I got a hankerin’ for her vegetable soup, and her version is always better than mine. So, what did she do? She made a big ol’ pot of it for me. (Yes, for Bruce, too. I shared.)

Until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t realized that the reason I like her version so much is that she uses tomato juice as the liquid base, whereas I’ve always used broth (chicken, beef or veggie). Also, when I shop for the ingredients, I buy generic tomato juice with as little added sugar as I can find. Not mom. She insists on Campbell’s (no, I’m not paid to say that).

“I’m telling you, it’s the best tomato juice,” Mom says. 🙂

She may insist on a particular brand of tomato juice, but the vegetables are adaptable to your preferences and what’s in season. The last time she made it, Mom used all fresh veggies (from our local farmers market) except for the frozen corn. She often uses the frozen mix that has broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, but not this time. She also forgot to buy potatoes, so the most recent pot didn’t include them. We decided we like it just fine without those, though. In fact, I think this was the best pot of veggie soup she’s ever made.

Play with the ingredients until you and your family like it, or, if you crave variety, make it a different way every time! If you’re vegetarian, I suppose you could use beans or tofu instead of the beef, but we’ve never made it that way. (Sorry, we’re carnivores.)

Some notes:

  • This isn’t seasoned a lot (just salt, garlic powder and a bit of black pepper), so if you’re expecting something exotic (like Mexican spaghetti), you won’t get it here. This is plain ol’ comfort food, and it’s delicious just the way it is. Bonus: It’s nutritious!
  • Amounts are approximate. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is an ingredient list.
  • My mom’s name is Dorothy, and her nickname is Dort. Hence the recipe’s name.
  • I’m trying a new recipe plugin that gives you a printer-friendly option. Please let me know how you like it or if you’d like to see more info; I’m not using all its features here.

All right, your mouth must be watering by now, so let’s get this recipe rolling.

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

This recipe will feed a bunch of hungry people. If you live alone or have a small family and don't like a lot of leftovers, it's perfect for freezing for another day when you don't feel like cooking.

Ingredients

  • • 2 pounds ground round
  • • 1 large onion, chopped
  • • 1½ quarts tomato juice
  • • 3-4 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • • ½ pound okra, sliced
  • • 16-ounce bag frozen whole-kernel corn
  • • 1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • • Garlic powder, to taste
  • • Salt, to taste
  • • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:
  • • Red potatoes, cubed
  • • Frozen vegetable medley (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
  • • Green beans

Instructions

  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot, and add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

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Reflection and direction

MessyCloset071815
This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)

Today I want to share a couple of neat things that have been happening and a couple of teasers about things to come, all mooshed in together.

I almost called this the Weekly Wrap-up, but I don’t think it would be fair to you because the info is mostly about what I’m going to do coming up.

Here are the highlights:

LET’S GET ORGANIZED

As I wrote last week on my other blog, To Well With You, I read an awesome book that’s the kick in the fanny I’ve been needing to get to work in earnest, with laser focus, on the clutter in my house. It was one of those “10 things you need to know about me” revelations that I don’t like to admit. I’ll write a book review this weekend — I promise — that will include before-and-after pictures, but the one above is a teaser. It’s my pitiful closet exactly seven days ago. By the end of that day, my closet was awesome and I’ll share that photo with you when I review the book.

In the spirit of reflection and direction, though, I’ll say that the book has caused me to think about why I can’t seem to get rid of stuff, and it has sent me on the path to permanent change in that area — a very positive direction that’s long overdue.

But why am I telling you this now? I have to save some of it for the book review, right?

Besides, it’s time to go tackle my dresser and the two bookcases that flank it. They are piled with stuff, mostly books and magazines. That’s today’s laser-focus project.

FARMERS MARKET SERIES

The farmers market series I put on hold seems to be back on.

It turns out, through a miscommunication, the Batesville-area farmers never received my questionnaire, and thus I didn’t have enough information to write about each of them. But now we’re getting the momentum back; next Saturday you’ll get to meet Garden Girl, and we’ll go from there.

A RECIPE YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS

I’m going to share my mom’s totally awesome vegetable soup, which she cooks up for us occasionally, but first I want to shop for a good blog plug-in that will allow for printer-friendly recipes. I tend not to print anything I don’t have to (saving trees and ink), but I do like to save online recipes in a printer-friendly format so that they’re easy to follow from my laptop or iPad.

I’ll keep you posted. You won’t want to miss this recipe; the ingredients can be adapted to your particular tastes and whatever veggies are seasonal. (But the most delicious ingredient? My mom makes it for me whenever I ask, just because she loves me. 🙂 )

Until next time, here’s hoping you have an awesome weekend!

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10 things you need to know about me, Part 1

This is the first in a 10-part series of things you need to know about me. Also, I’m reserving the logo for other series on ‘10 things you need to know’ about other stuff. (This could get fun!)

10 ThingsLogoI follow a weird guy named James Althucher on some social media channels. I read his blog and sometimes listen to his podcasts; he pops up in my Twitter feed occasionally.

James definitely thinks outside the box, and he’s an odd combination of brave and vulnerable. I think that’s why his work resonates with me.

Here’s one of his “33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer”:

Don’t be afraid of what people think. For each single person you worry about, deduct 1% in quality from your writing. Everyone has deductions. I have to deduct about 10% right off the top. Maybe there’s 10 people I’m worried about. Some of them are evil people. Some of them are people I just don’t want to offend. So my writing is only about 90% of what it could be. But I think most people write at about 20% of what it could be. Believe it or not, clients, customers, friends, family, will love you more if you are honest with them. So we all have our boundaries. But try this: for the next ten things you write, tell people something that nobody knows about you.

I tend to be pretty honest; I calls it how I sees it. That doesn’t mean I open my mouth at every opportunity to express an opinion; sometimes I remain silent. But it means that, when I do open my mouth, it takes a lot of work not to blurt out what I see, how I feel.

I hold back a lot, especially in public forums such as social media, for a few reasons: 1) I don’t have the energy to fight a losing battle, 2) fighting on social media is usually a losing battle; it’s just not the place to have a decent, intelligent, mutually respectful conversation and 3) I realize that I’m not always right. (Shocking, I know.)

So I hold back.

But one of my goals is to be brave, and I feel a lot safer doing that on my two blogs.

Here (and here), I can express my opinions, take my time in explaining (or not), and not fear being interrupted by blowhards.

So here, today, I’m taking up James Altucher’s challenge to “tell people something that nobody knows about [me]” (although the people really, really close to me won’t be surprised):

If I had my way, I would be a happy homemaker, a domestic diva, instead of working in a bank. I’d bake pies, cakes and cookies, make quilts, can vegetables that I’ve grown in my garden, plant flowers all over the yard and have people over for swim parties all the time (if we had a pool). I would be the Martha Stewart of the South. You wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the crafts I would make; all my friends would have homemade totes and sock monkeys for Christmas and so many crocheted scarves they’d hate to see me coming (if I could crochet), and we’d all be fat from all the sugar and butter in the Christmas desserts and birthday cakes and “just because” goodies.

I’d spend my spare time (!) volunteering for all the causes I’ve neglected since I had to quit full-time freelancing and get a “real job.” I’d wear bluejeans and shorts and running shirts and flip-flops.

I’d go on mission trips to Guatemala and Kenya and Haiti and anywhere else I could go, all because my time would be more flexible than it is now.

Of course I’d have to be independently wealthy to do this.

Which means I’ll have to keep at the writing.

Good thing I love it.

What about you? Tell us one thing nobody knows about you. We’ll keep this going for 9 more rounds, so be thinking about what you want to share. Be brave, my friend. We can keep a secret.

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A step outside my comfort zone

NietscheQuoteAs a member of the Arkansas Women Bloggers, I get opportunities to do things I’m not always comfortable with. I actually seek out opportunities to step outside my comfort zone, because I think it’s the only way to grow.

Staying comfortable and lazy is the easy way out, my friends.

Today, we women were given the opportunity to share our opinions with a marketing group that hires some of our bloggers, and the topic was flowers (specifically, buying from big retailers).

On the last page of the survey was an opportunity to leave an audio or video clip of our opinions. Well, I wasn’t wearing makeup, and I will go only so far outside of my “zone” on a Saturday morning with only one cup of coffee, so I opted for audio only.

I was awkward and rambly, and the first take had a lot of “um’s,” so I recorded it again without so many um’s (I think). My goal is to be able to do these things without 10 “takes.” (Recovering perfectionist, remember?)

Here it is, my friends, followed by a request and a challenge:

  1. Tell me what you think. Is there hope for me as an internationally renowned speaker? (Just kidding, but I do want your critique. KEEP IN MIND: This is not a professional gig; I was not trying to be “perfect”; I was trying to be real.)
  2. Do something today that takes you outside your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be huge; just do something.

Also, have I got a deal on some nandinas! If you’re interested (I have several), leave a comment here or call, text or email me. Keep in mind: At this price (free), you’ll have to help me dig them up. 🙂

Next up for me: Download the Periscope app, which those blogger chicks have been talking about lately but I’ve been reluctant to try. (We’re even having a workshop on it at Arkansas Women Bloggers University next month!). Another step outside the “zone.”

When today is over, report back. What did you do that stretched you even just a weensy bit?

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Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie

 When we lived in North Little Rock, I used to indulge occasionally in a delicious coffee drink from a tiny little smoothie hut less than a mile from my house.

CoffeeQuoteLetterman

The first time I drove up to the window, I looked at the overwhelmingly large menu and asked for a recommendation. The clerk said his favorite was Java the Nut.

Clever name, so I asked him to elaborate.

Coffee, frozen yogurt, banana, peanut butter and (wait for it) nonfat milk.

Well, there you go. Can’t be all bad if it contains nonfat milk, right?

Let’s talk about fat for a moment. I’ve been doing research for about 18 months on fat (the good kinds) and sugar (pretty bad).

The right kind of fat is actually good for us — our bodies need it. Sugar, in every instance I can think of, is bad. Sugar = inflammation, blood-sugar spikes, cravings, carb addiction, conversion to body fat, weight gain … not good.

I could give you a list of books and other resources, but I’ll save that for later, except for this post from one of my faves, Dietitian Cassie. (And, yes, I put butter in my coffee.)

Today’s post is not about winning you over to fat or getting you to eliminate sugar from your diet … except that if I could get you to start thinking about all the processed foods with added sugar — and just maybe get you to make a few small changes (natural peanut butter, for instance) — I would consider that a small victory for today.

For right now, I’m going to give you a recipe that I’ve modified from one at The Lean Green Bean, which offers a version with regular milk or even a nondairy beverage.

Their version contains three ingredients: coffee, milk and protein powder.

Here’s my variation, which I made up after my run this morning. (Did you know that eating protein within 30 minutes of exercise is good for your muscles?)

I’m giving it to you straight — the way I prepared mine this morning (with a nod to Tropical Smoothie’s Java the Nut) — but you can vary it to your tastes and comfort level with fat. 🙂

Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie

(Click here for a printable version.)

  • 5-10 ounces brewed coffee, cold (or 5-10 coffee ice cubes)
  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream or full-fat milk
  • 1 scoop of high-quality whey protein powder*
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tablespoon natural, organic peanut butter (no sugar added)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. I used my Magic Bullet and whizzed the liquids and the protein powder first, then I tasted it before adding the banana and the peanut butter. (I kept having to add more coffee so it would actually taste like a coffee drink.)
  2. Once the protein powder was well incorporated, I sliced the banana into the container, added the peanut butter and processed until smooth, probably about 30 seconds.
NOTES:

The Lean Green Bean version, referred to as a “shake,” calls for coffee ice cubes, but I keep my brewed coffee in the fridge (I hate to waste), so I simply used my ice-cold coffee rather than going to the trouble to make (and wait for) ice cubes.

I used Dr. Mercola’s Pure Whey Protein in vanilla, but it also comes in chocoate, banana and strawberry. Wouldn’t it be extra-yummy if you used chocolate?

So … make it and tell me what you think!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Please share in the comments.

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