5.04.2015

Pressure Cooker Potato Leek Soup

In our house, we have potato leek soup a couple of times a month.  The facts that potatoes keep on the shelf so well, are often the last produce around before grocery shopping day, and cook relatively quickly have made this soup one of our main staples.

When I first became a Nutritarian, I really missed the creaminess of thick soups and sauces, so potato leek soup was one of my first favorites because it gives you that creaminess without any cow cream.  To make a similar recipe, but on the stovetop, refer to Katie's Creamy Potato Soup recipe here.  This was a recipe I adapted from my sister-in-law that I love love!

Now-a-days, I make my potato leek soup a bit differently, and in "my precious" pressure cooker.  Quite literally, I called it "my precious" in our move last weekend while a coworker of Kevin's was packing it.  Yep...  I went full-on LOTR Gollum with an appliance, but if you have one, you will know what I mean.

In the recipe I am about to share with you, I like to add lots of veggies besides potatoes and leeks.  I often throw in whatever sounds good in my fridge that needs to be used up, but this is my general recipe.  In the pressure cooker, this takes only 6 minutes at pressure with a quick release at the end!

Pressure Cooker Potato Leek Soup
Time: 10 minute prep, 6 minutes high pressure, quick release
Servings: 8-10 servings


Ingredients:
        2 lbs mixed white, red, golden potatoes - peeled if not organic and cut into 2 inch cubes
        2 leeks trimmed, washed well, and sliced including most of the green portion
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
        3 medium celery stalks, diced
        1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped, any variety
        1 Tbsp dried herb mix - see note below
        8 cups of water (boiling when added, if desired to reach high pressure faster)
        1-2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (optional)

Instructions:
1.)  On the saute function, saute the chopped leeks and minced garlic for 3-5 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent burning.
2.)  Add in the remainder of the ingredients EXCEPT for the plant-based milk.  Lock the pressure cooker lid in place and cook at high pressure for 5-7 minutes.
3.)  After the allotted time, do a manual quick release of the pressure, or allow the pressure to come down naturally.
4.)  With an immersion blender or high-powered blender, blend the soup to your desired thickness, being cautious not to overprocess.  Potatoes can get a bit gummy if they are blended too much.
5.)  Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm topped with fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, and/or green onion.


Amy's Notes:

Sometimes I substitute one leek with one yellow onion or two bunches of green onions, depending on the price of leeks during the year and my pantry stock of onions.  I find the flavor to be just as nice, and save me a bit of money as well.

For the dried herbs, I like to mix it up from batch to batch, but I generally add at least 1 Tbsp total of dried herbs.  My favorite lately is Herbs de Provence, but you could also do a mixture of thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, basil, oregano, parsley, marjoram, sage, etc.



Health and Happiness,

Amy


4.27.2015

Moving Weekend

This was a very exciting weekend!  We were able to move into our first house!

A few weeks ago, I gave you guys a sneak peek of some of the pictures I had of our house... and that garden with a "Cabana"!  I've spent many a nights leading up to our move cherishing these photos and trying to imagine how our stuff will look in them.  What pictures I'll hang on the wall (actually using levels for once to get everything just right).  How I will organize all of the kitchen cabinets (and teaching Kevin where everything goes this time so he has no excuses to not put away the washed dishes).  What colors I want to paint the walls (I actually have a few paint swatches hanging out in my purse that I pull out and admire in different lighting from day to day).  I know... I'm a big nerd.

I'll tell you right now.  I am not a good mover.  I grew up in the same house my whole life until I moved for college and then when Kevin and I were first married.  In total, I've moved about seven times in my whole life.  Kevin, on the other hand has moved nearly 20 times.  He moved many times as a kid in California because his dad was a real estate agent and was able to find them really cheap rent until certain houses sold.  His mom and him made it a game, so Kevin thoroughly enjoys moving.

I do not.  I hate the feeling of all my things in boxes not ready for me to grab when I need them.  I don't like the uncertainty of when those boxes will be unpacked someday.  I hate the anxiety of feeling temporarily homeless because a place doesn't feel like home until I unpack.

This move, however, felt a bit different.  I did get anxious from all of the chaos, but not nearly to the extent I have in the past.  I think the peace of mind of knowing that this is the last move for a long while made me more calm.


On Saturday, we finished packing up the apartment and cleaning a few things.  Then on Sunday, Kevin had several of his coworkers come (with trucks, yay!) to load up.  We ended up making it in two trips with four trucks and two cars.  We worked loading and unloading from 11 to 4, but we got it done!  We spent the rest of the evening unpacking (the kitchen for me, the tv room for Kevin), and were able to set up our bed in the spare room to sleep in (we are getting a new master bed set soon).


It was exhausting and exciting all rolled into one.  I ended up hitting my step count goal around 1 (10,000) and the majority of that was stairs since our apartment was on the 3rd floor.  After a long weekend, we are in and so excited to be home owners.  Hopefully (!) very soon I'll be able to start bringing you some new recipes from my own kitchen!


Health and Happiness,

Amy


4.20.2015

Hike at Carbon River in Mt. Rainier National Park

This weekend was GORGEOUS!  We spent the majority of our Saturday hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park.  Did you know that Saturday started National Park Week?  We didn't either, but were able to park and hike for free this weekend.

For us, we had sunny weather in the upper 60's, lower 70's for most of the weekend.  Here are a few pictures from our great 11.5 mile hike.

The one-lane bridge we had to go over to get to the Carbon River Ranger Station. 

At the Carbon River Ranger Station before our hike.  This station is 2.5 miles from the parking area and trailhead.

Kevin at the Mt. Rainier sign near the trailheads.

A few miles into our hike, we just can't believe how big some of the trees are.  The entire hike is through old growth forests.

We hike 0.3 mile uphill hike from the main trail to check out an old mine.

Another hike 1 mile uphill and off the mail trail is Ranger Falls.  The picture really doesn't do it justice.  This thing was pretty tall!

Again, this picture makes it look not as grand as it was.  It looks like it is right behind us, but it is a good 50 yards away.

We continue along the trail that brought us to the Ranger Falls and along the way we cross a stream on this little bridge.

Along this path we also saw some old trees that had fallen over the years.  I'm touching the root system of one and the root system alone was about 2.5 times my height.

At the end of our hike we make it to Green Lake.  Across the water is snow.  Actually, some of the only snow we've seen in person this year.  The lake indeed has a green tint to it, but from the furthest log we could climb to, you can see down over 60 feet deep.  We were the only ones at the time on the lake, so it felt pretty cool to have it all to ourselves.  Too bad it wasn't swimming weather!

Green Lake


A view into the lake.  So clear and green.  No fish to be seen or aquatic birds, but plenty of water bugs.

We were pretty tired the rest of our hike back.  With only fruit for breakfast that morning and a large apple each for lunch, we were in need of some serious fuel!  This was the cross-section of a fallen tree, which was my arm span (I'm about 5'5").  Wish I could have stayed to count the rings!

After our hike we pass back through the small historic town of Wilkeson.  The old buildings on the main drag made it seem like an old western town.

After a stop for a beer at the local historic saloon, we were on our way to grab some food in town and go home... for an amazing night's sleep.
Health and Happiness,

Amy