12.12.2008

Mom's Cookie Press Butter Cookies

in case you're like me and have lost then found, then lost, then found this recipe card a few times, i'm posting it here. i just made these today and oh, the good memories came rushing back!


slight changes and tips:
• make sure butter and egg are room temp.
• add 1/2 tsp salt to dry ingredients.
• cream butter and sugar for a nice long time (2-3 minutes).
• substitute 2 tsp additional vanilla if you don't have almond extract.
• the cookies don't expand much at all so you can pack them in rather close on the cookie sheet.
• rotate between two or three cookie sheets if you have them, scrapping off and letting cool outside between baking (make use of that frigid weather).

11.06.2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

these cookies are great! they have a nice light consistency. not greasy, flat, or overly-moist like a lot of pumpkin cookies.

1 cup canned pumpkin*
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted and slightly cooled butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash cloves
2 cups chocolate chips

1. preheat oven to 350°. combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg in a medium bowl. dissolve baking soda in milk and combine, along with vanilla, to the pumpkin mixture.
2. in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. combine dry and wet ingredients until just incorporated. fold in chocolate chips.
3. drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly-greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. cool on wire racks. store in airtight container and/or in the refrigerator.

*you can also use freshly baked, pureed pumpkin.

Easy Poached Salmon

so simple it's almost ridiculous.

salmon fillets (6 oz per person)
1 carrot, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices lemon
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white cooking wine
juice of half a lemon

1. in a sauce pan place the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, lemon slices and bay leaf.
2. rinse off salmon in cool water and place on top of veggies. add cold water until fish is barely covered. salt and pepper to taste.
3. add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil uncovered.
4. adjust heat to simmer and let fish cook for 5 minutes.
5. remove from heat and leave fish undisturbed for 10 minutes. remove carefully to plates, garnishing with a few veggies and a lemon slice on top.

serve with salad, veggies, rice (pilaf), potatoes, anything!

9.30.2008

Maple Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Makes 4 servings.

1 3 1/2- 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I used thawed frozen chicken breasts... works just fine)
1 yellow onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 T olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 T maple syrup
6 sprigs of fresh thyme


Heat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Arrange the chicken, onion, and sweet potatoes in a 9X13 baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with the sprigs of thyme. Roast, stirring the vegetables once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Even when made with cheaper ingredients (I mean, I don't have kosher salt or even a whole chicken lying around) this dish is delicious and impressive. Thyme is expensive but Seasonal Savory works as well. I used the extra thyme I purchased for the lime and thyme potato salad (posted previously) and served it all with fresh green beans a la bellz. You'll love it. Great for fall.

9.29.2008

GRANDMA’S SOUR CREAM COOKIES

Bake: 350 Makes: 36

½ c. butter
1 ½ c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ c flour
½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
½ pint sour cream

Cream butter, sugar eggs and vanilla- alternately add sour cream and dry ingredients. Hand stir to gently fold in sour cream until smooth. Drop T. dough on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool on rack and frost with vanilla butter cream frosting.

*Something funny about this recipe, when grandma wrote it for me, she wrote down different instructions (which have been modified to fit modern ovens). Because of her little oven, she has the cookies baking at 425 for 10 minutes. You’re welcome to give it a try, especially if you have a 50+ year old oven. These were my favorite cookies of ALL TIME when I was young and they continue to be my favorite still! Grandma was the best dessert maker in the world!

9.24.2008

Lemon Zucchini Cookies

oven: 350, yields: 40 small cookies

3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. lemon zest
1 c. zucchini shredded
1/2 c. walnuts chopped (optional, very optional)
Lemon Drizzle Frosting
1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 T. lemon juice

In large bowl blend butter and sugar together, add egg and mix until well blended. Stir in flour slowly and gradually until it is mixed all the way in. Add lemon zest, zucchini (and nuts if you have to). Drop by rounded teaspoons on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 F for 10 - 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned. While still warm drizzle with Lemon Frosting (mix powdered sugar and lemon juice together). Cool on rack.

This is a good little recipe to have when the zucchini season is ripe (and you already made some zucchini bread).

9.18.2008

Better Banana Bread

three ingredients make this banana bread better than any other i've tasted: brown sugar, butter, and yogurt.

2 cups flour (whole wheat is best but all-purpose is fine)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe, soft, brown-speckled large bananas (or 4 medium)
6 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips (optional)

1. preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan. whisk flour, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. if you're making the bread with nuts or chocolate chips whisk them into the dry mixture as well. set aside.
2. cut the butter into several pieces and melt, then let slightly cool.
3. in a medium bowl, mash the bananas very well. add the butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla mixing with the whisk after each added ingredient.
4. gently fold wet mixture into dry mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula just until incorporated. scrape batter into greased loaf pan. bake for 50-55 minutes or until an instered toothpick comes out clean.
5. remove bread from pan and allow it to cool on a rack or cloth. enjoy!

9.15.2008

Pumpkin Doughnuts - Long Live Autumn!

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Spiced sugar
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Doughnuts
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
Canola oil (for deep-frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
Whipping cream

Preparation
For spiced sugar:Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend.

For doughnuts:Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (mixture will be grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin in 4 additions. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.
Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.
Using 1-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.
Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

For powdered sugar glaze:Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

9.14.2008

Lime & Thyme Potato Salad

4 c. red potato cubes
1/3 c. mayo
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 t. lime zest
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. fresh thyme
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Potatoes can be peeled, or left unpeeled- imagine that! Cube potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes. Test for softness & sound. Take off heat & run cold water into pan until cooler & let sit for a couple of minutes. In separate bowl, while potatoes cook, mix everything else together. Add potatoes, coat. Keep in fridge. If salad seems too stiff after chilling, stir in a splash of milk. Enjoy and smell up the goodness!

Em's Mac & Cheese

1 - 1 1/2 lb. shell noodles
2 c. cream
2 c. sharp cheddar shredded
2c. monterey jack shredded
3 T. butter
bread crumbs

Put cream in saucepan over low heat (you'll be fine Ash, the cream won't burn). After the cream has warmed up a bit, add cheese, stir with a wisk until melted. At the same time cook noodles. Take cheese off off heat while draining noodles. Stir in butter after draining. Mix cheese & noodles in 9x13 baking pan. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake for 40 minutes at 350. Enjoy for days after!! Add a little milk and breadcrumbs when warming up.

Lemon Green Beans

Good Side Dish for (above posted) Mac & Cheese:
1 lb. green beans
Juice on 1/2 lemon
Lemon zest 1/2 lemon 2 T.
Olive oil
2 t. salt

Cook beans for 5 -6 minutes. Shock cool in ice water. In serving bowl, mix juice, zest, oil & salt together. Add green beans. Fridge at least 20 minutes. Add salt right before serving.

9.13.2008

Corn Cilantro Salad

1 bag frozen corn (thawed but not cooked)
1 large crisp tomato (diced)
1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
1/3 bottle Italian dressing

Let frozen corn thaw. Add tomato and cilantro. Mix in Italian dressing. Eat and enjoy!

9.08.2008

Brownies

A boxed mix may be convenient, but these brownies from scratch are quick and superb (not to mention, real).

1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 (glass) pan.

2. Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl, set aside.

3. Cut each stick of butter into six pieces and melt in a medium bowl. Stir in brown sugar until combined and heat an additional 30 seconds to further dissolve the sugar.

4. Blend cocoa powder into melted butter and sugar with electric mixer until completely incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla and blend very well, then add flour mixture and blend until a thick, smooth batter forms.

5. Spread into greased pan pan and bake 28 - 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and after 5 minutes loosen edges with a butter knife; this helps prevent brownies from sinking in the center as they cool. Let brownies cool at least an hour, completely if possible.

6. Frost with a thin layer of chocolate frosting (use the recipe on the back on the Hershey’s Baking Cocoa but cut recipe by 3/4) or peppermint frosting, if desired.

Variations
Mix in 2 cups of chocolate or white chocolate chips or marshmallows after most of the flour is incorporated.

8.10.2008

real fake grape Gatorade

you like Gatorade? me too, but this is better. it tastes better, it’s cheaper and, unlike a lot of the Gatorade varieties out there, it doesn’t have brominated vegetable oil and stuff. (and then there’s all those empty plastic bottles to haul out to the curb every Thursday.)
it’s pretty simple:

1 can of juice concentrate
(I think grape is best but try orange, lemonade, fancy daiquiri, etc.)

1 tsp. salt

tap water


first, get your big pitcher and mix the juice concentrate with double the recommended amount of water: 6 cans instead of 3. now drop one teaspoon of salt in and mix it all up. the idea is to get a solution of electrolytes similar to that of your own physiology. this solution is pretty isotonic so it shouldn’t burst or wrinkle any of your membranes.

all this done, put it in the fridge to cool a while and then taste it. you can tweak the ratios a little if you find one kind of juice concentrate more or less sweet than others. and you can apply the same principles using lemon juice concentrate or to make an isotonic iced tea, etc. see, so easy. I even feel kind of ridiculous calling it a recipe: “dilute some juice and spoon some salt in.” enjoy.

posted by English

7.28.2008

Basil Pesto

there are few better flavors than basil pesto. great on pasta, pizzas, bruschetta, as a dip, in soups, etc. oh, and it freezes great in small air-tight containers.

1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, left whole
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4/ cup fresh, grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (i put just slightly less)
1 tsp salt

1. put basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan in a food processor or blender and process until well mixed.
2. add oil and salt and process until it makes a thick paste. done.
(3). stir into drained, hot pasta.

this size batch is perfect for a one pound box of pasta. i recommend penne rigate because of its pesto-clinging ridges.

7.22.2008

Honey Mustard Chicken


This recipe comes from our sister-in-law, Jen, and is delicious, healthy, and light making it perfect for the summer season. It is an easy meal to make but looks great on a plate which makes it ideal for entertaining.

Serve atop brown or white rice with a fresh fruit or vegetable salad.

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, and frozen)
1 teaspoon paprika
8 lemon slices
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard or Dijon
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Line a 10x9 baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray (I just use a glass Pyrex dish and forgo the foil and just spray with olive oil non-stick spray).

3. Remove protective ice glaze from frozen chicken breasts by holding under running water for 1-2 minutes. Arrange frozen chicken breasts in single layer in prepared pan. Sprinkle chicken, breasts with paprika then place 2 lemon slices on each breast. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in a small microwave bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir to mix in well. Microwave sauce on high for 2 minutes. Stir.

5. After chicken has baked for 30 minutes, drain and discard juices. Spoon sauce over chicken in pan. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until done.


hint for rice:
Add a little olive oil (a recent tip from kel) and chicken bullion (about 1 cube or to taste) and a small bit of garlic to the water before it begins to boil. This will make the rice have a little flavor to add to the dish.

"Quick Like A Bunny Rabbit" Cinnamon Rolls

because the dough doesn't have to rise, these cinnamon rolls are super fast and easy... and oh, so delicious!

2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chilled butter plus 3 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1 Granny Smith apple (optional)

1. preheat oven to 375. in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. cut the 1/4 cup chilled butter into 1/4-inch pieces. with your fingers rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. pour the milk in all at once and stir just until combined. refrigerate until cool - about 15 minutes.
2. meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter in the bottom of an 8" x 8" square or 9" round cake pan. melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a small bowl, set aside.
3. in another small bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, set aside. if you choose to add the apple, peel, core and slice it as thinly as possible.
4. turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. knead about 15 times, adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking. with a floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a 12-inch square. brush with melted butter enough to cover the whole surface. sprinkle most of the sugar/spice mixture over the surface. add nuts, raisins and apple.
5. working from the bottom, roll up the dough, squeezing as you go; pinch the edge to seal. cut the roll crosswise into 9 slices. sprinke the remaining sugar/spice mix on the bottom of the pan. lay slices flat in the pan.
6. bake until rolls are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. let cool for about 15 minutes. ice with an ever-so-light icing of milk, powdered sugar and vanilla if desired. serve warm.

Zucchini Soup

summer is here, now here come the zukes. whether you're growing them yourself or being bombarded by neighbors just giving them away, this soup will help you make good use of them.

1 large onion, copped
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium zucchinis or 2 large, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 cup half and half

1. sauté onion in oil over medium heat until tender - about 8 minutes. add zucchini, salt and pepper, and stir in with onion. add broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. transfer to a blender and puree just until chunky. stir in half and half.
3. garnish with shredded cheese if desired.

you can also add a little crumbled bacon for extra protein and flavor.

7.16.2008

Huevos Rancheros

This recipe can be found in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book on page 232, (a great recipe book by the way with many good recipes and it reminds me of home). However I have made a few changes.

Recommended serving size is 4, but I find that I have been able to serve almost twice that amount.

2 tablespoons oil (olive works great, you may use less if you desire)
5 6-inch Corn Tortillas
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 4-oz. can diced green chile peppers, drained
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice

For Salsa
1. Using a frying pan, cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.

2. Stir in drained tomatoes, chile peppers, cilantro, and cumin. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

3. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Tear 1 corn tortilla into pieces; add to blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until a coarse puree results. Keep warm.

For Eggs
basically all you need to do is poach the eggs. I know we all know how to do this well. But in case you need some direction, here is what the cook book suggests.

1. In the skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Carefully break eggs into skillet. When whites are set and edges turn white add 1 tablespoon water.

2. Cover skillet and cook eggs to desired doneness (2 to4 minutes for soft-set yolks, 4-5 minutes for firm-set yolks).

To Serve
The cook book suggests dipping the corn tortillas in hot oil and then keeping them warm in the oven, I tried this and it did not work very well and it was quite oily. So here is what I suggest.

1. When eggs are finished, drain water from the pan and any excess egg. Place corn tortillas in the hot frying pan and heat until warm. Flip them over and heat for another few minutes.

2. Place a warm tortilla on each of four dinner plates. Top each with a fried egg. Spoon some of the warm salsa over each egg. Sprinkle with cheese.


This is a really easy, light, colorful, and delicious meal.

I also apologize for the scanned image from the recipe book (I know it does not hold up to the excellent standards of the Agreeable Recipe Book...).

5.02.2008

Chicken and Rice

1.5 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 chicken breasts (can use only 2 or 3 if living on the cheap)
3 cups boiling water with 3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of chicken soup

In a 9x13 pan, place the rice, spring half cup cheese. Top with chicken. Boil water and bouillon and pour over chicken. Sprinkle onion soup mix over it. Spread chicken soup over that. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Sprinkle rest of cheese and back half an hour longer.

Recipe note: yes, this is a recipe for a casserole and yes, it does use cream of chicken soup. But it is good. Eat with a fresh salad or some steamed broccoli for a convenient but quality meal to enjoy on a Sunday evening or busy day.

3.18.2008

Sugar Cookies with Frosting

These are my favorite sugar cookies and I can’t resist making them. It helps to get the butter out the night before or a few hours before so it is room temperature. I get a thrill out of mixing by hand, but a mixer will work as well if you’re not going for the arm workout. I'll stick a photo on later.

SUGAR COOKIES
1 c. Butter at room temp.
1 1/2 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 t. Vanilla
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 c. Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt

In a glass bowl- mix butter, sugar eggs and vanilla together (I like to do it by hand) until smooth. Add flour, powder and salt. Blend together and add flour gradually until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (hence why it can vary from 2 - 3 cups of flour). CHILL for 1 hour. Yes, this is very important and you'll think, nah...but do it, it makes them taste better. Remember to put saran wrap over the bowl so it doesn't take-on the leftover's flavor...ooo gross:)

Divide dough in ½ put other ½ in fridge and roll out on floured surface. Cut 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick with cookie cutters. Slide gently onto a nice cookie sheet that is NOT greased and bake at 375 for 4-6 minutes (just so the edges on the bottom of the cookie are maybe-barely golden). Take off cookie sheet and cool on cooling racks. Frost when cooled. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

FROSTING
1/4 c. (1/2 a stick of butter)
some powdered sugar
some vanilla (about 1 t.)
some milk
pinch salt

Blend butter and powdered sugar together with salt. Add vanilla and whip as best as possible. Add, by capfuls, the milk and stir after each addition. Taste often to see if the consistency is good and if it tastes good. Keep adding more powdered sugar and milk until it tastes and looks like frosting. Whip it up! Hint: If it falls off a knife it is too runny. If it peaks sharp like and doesn't even look like it'll bend over, it is too stiff.

3.02.2008

Spanikopita

this is a super simple authentic crowd pleaser - great for potluck parties or dinner at home.

1 roll of phillo dough* (it comes in a box with 2 in the frozen pastry section)
1/2 cup melted butter or olive oil
16 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
16 oz feta
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
basil or oregano to taste
salt to taste

*if the phillo dough is frozen, get it out to thaw an hour or two ahead of time.

1. preheat oven to 350°. in a large bowl, beat eggs, garlic, spices and salt together with a whisk or large fork. using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in spinach then feta, set aside.
2. melt butter - or pour olive oil into a small dish. place 2 pieces of phillo dough in the bottom of a large (glass) casserole dish. brush the top with butter or olive oil. add 2 more pieces, brush with oil. do this 2 more times (should be 1⁄3 the roll of phillo).
3. spoon half of the spinach mixture on top of the phillo. cover with another 1⁄3 the roll of phillo, layering 2 pieces at a time and brushing with oil. spoon on the remaining spinach mixture and continue layering and oiling the rest of the phillo dough.
4. bake for 45 -55 minutes until the phillo dough is golden brown.

great as a main dish served with Greek salad and lemon rice (as shown in the photo) or as a side dish.

2.29.2008

Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of the best soups I have ever tasted and is great in the fall (or any season really).

What you'll need:

1 butternut squash (medium to large, about 3 1/2 lbs.)
3 Tbsp butter
2 large leeks (0r 3/4 onion)
4 tsp peeled minced ginger
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
11/2 tsp salt

1. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and bake squash on lightly oiled cookie sheet (or non-oiled silpat) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit cut-side down until easy to pierce. About 1 hour.
2. Let it cool. Scrape out insides from skin and set aside.
3. In a soup pot over medium low heat melt butter.
4. Add leeks and minced ginger.
5. After leeches are tender add 4 cups of stock and squash.
6. Bring to a simmer
7. Let simmer for about 20 minutes and break up squash with a spoon.
8. Puree this mix.
9. Put the pureed mix back into original pot and bring to a simmer.
10. Add last 2 cups of stock and salt.

you may serve with toasted squash seeds

p.s. please do not try to make this soup with "leeches" as previously directed... the post-er does not know how to spell...

2.26.2008

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Soup

this unassuming soup is savory and full of flavor.

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 15 oz cans cannellini or white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 oz smoked ham or bacon, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried, ground
salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. combine the olive oil and garlic in a medium sauce pan and sauté over medium-low heat until golden brown.
2. empty two cans of drained, rinsed beans plus garlic and oil into a blender or food processor and pureé until smooth (depending on how good your blender is, you may need to add a half cup of the chicken broth to make things thinner).
3. warm and slightly brown the ham in the sauce pan while pureéing the bean mixture.
4. return pureé to sauce pan. add 2 cups of the broth (unless you've already added a half cup - then it would be 1 1/2 cups broth), remaining can of beans, tomatoes, and rosemary. add 1/2 cup water if soup is too thick. stir pureé and broth until completely incorporated. bring mixture to a low boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. remove rosemary springs (if used), season with salt and pepper.
5. serve in bowls with a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and good toasted bread.

2.03.2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

i know there's already a chocolate chip cookie recipe on this blog but i've tweaked this one to near perfection and the more the merrier, eh? plus, this one is made with more brown than white sugar, and a little more than half whole wheat flour, which pushes it in the Great Harvest direction.

1 cup butter, softened but still cool
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
11/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 (+1/4) cup white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 bag chocolate chips
chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Beat butter until light and fluffy - this is key.
2. Add sugars, blend well (2-3 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla, blend until creamy.
3. Combine wheat flour and 1 cup white flour, soda and salt in another bowl. Add a little more than half to the creamy mix and combine. Add the rest of the flour mix and combine. Add remaining 1/4 cup white flour if needed.
4. Add chocolate chips, combine. Form rough balls, place on cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

The dough refrigerates and freezes great when formed into a cylinder, wrapped in some wax paper and sealed in a ziploc bag.

2.02.2008

Cheesesteaks

1 lb thinly sliced beef (either raw or deli roast)
1/2 lb sliced cheese (provolone and/or mozzarella)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
4 hoagie rolls
olive oil
salt and pepper
hot pickled peppers (optional)

1. in a skillet, sauté the onion in oil over medium-high heat until tender. add mushrooms - season with salt and pepper - and continue to sauté until browned. set aside in a bowl.
2. slightly toast hoagie rolls in a toaster oven or on the skillet.
3. cook and/or brown beef in the skillet. add a few slices of cheese to the meat and mix in. separate as much of the beef you would like for one of the sandwiches and place a slice of cheese on top. let it melt. do this for however many cheesesteaks you want to make (they're just as good the next day - so leftovers are great).
4. when the cheese on top is melted lift the meat and cheese onto the toasted roll. top with mushrooms and onions (and peppers). enjoy!

1.24.2008

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4-6 chicken breasts
2-3 slices of ham
4-6 slices Swiss or provolone cheese
4-6 toothpicks
1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped

Place chicken on a flat surface and bound a bit flat. Arrange 1/2 slice of ham and 1 slice cheese on each. Roll tightly and secure with a toothpick. Place in pan.

In a bowl mix:
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Pour mixture over chicken. Back at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Top with green onions.

I made this dish as a Freeze Ahead Meal. I'm not a fan of thawing (I always forget), so the rule of thumb with baking frozen poultry is to take the cooking time for the thawed food, decrease the number of degrees by 25 and double the time to cook.

1.23.2008

Whole Wheat Bread By Hand

Nothing smells or tastes better than a loaf of fresh baked homemade bread! And despite what you may think, you can make it by hand. If you have a heavy-duty mixer (like a Bosch or Kitchen Aid), and would like to make a 4-loaf batch, see the Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe.

sponge
3 1/2 cups warm water (about 110º)
3 Tbsp instant yeast
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
----------
5-6 cups whole wheat flour

1. Mix the water, yeast, honey, salt, 1/2 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon in a large bowl until incorporated. Let sponge proof 5-7 minutes or until frothy-bubbly.

2. Add 3 cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon until almost incorporated. Add another 2 cups flour and beat until incorporated to make a moist, thick, sticky dough.

3. Turn the dough - scraping out the bowl - onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some flour. Knead, adding only as much flour as necessary (up to one cup)* to form a soft elastic and still quite sticky dough, about 5 minutes... your hands should be tired.
*less flour is better, otherwise the bread will be dry.

4. Form the dough into a rough ball and place back in the large bowl; cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in volume, about 20 - 40 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 375º. Liberally grease four 8.5" x 4" loaf pans. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into four equal pieces with a bench knife or large knife. Gently knead about ten times and shape dough into loaf shapes and place in pans. NOTE: For a more rustic look, gently rub the tops of the loaves with flour before putting them in the pans. Let loaves rise until almost doubled in volume, about 15-30 minutes, or until the sides of the loaf are 1/4" from the rim of the pan.

6. Score the tops on an angle with a sharp serrated knife. NOTE: To avoid deflating the risen loaves, use a fairly quick motion when doing this. Bake for 38-40 minutes. Transfer the bread immediately from the baking pans to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely (about 3 hours) before wrapping in plastic bags.

You can add sunflower, flax, millet and a variety of other seeds, raisins, cinnamon, cinnamon chips, dried fruit, nuts, cheese, etc. to make different kinds of bread. For an entire batch, add these ingredients at the end of step three. Or for one or two loaves, add these ingredients during the second kneading (by hand). You can also do a mix of whole wheat and white flours to make a light wheat or white batch.

1.15.2008

Stuffed Peppers

if you can splurge for red or orange bell peppers, do. their flavor is much more sweet and less bitter than green ones.

2 bell peppers
2 cups cooked rice
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 Italian sausages
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup slivered almonds
dash(es) garlic salt
1/2 cup cheese (parmesan or cheddar)
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

1. in a medium sauce pan cook rice according its directions, adding the oil and salt at the beginning.
2. while rice is cooking take sausages out of the casings, break up into small pieces and brown in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. continue breaking the sausage up even more as it cooks.
3. once the sausage is browned, scoop it into a large bowl leaving the grease in the skillet. add onion to the sausage grease and sauté until tender. add mushrooms and sauté until tender and slightly browned, adding a generous dash or two of garlic salt along the way. add almonds just before onions and mushrooms are done. transfer into bowl with sausage.
4. add cooked rice to the meat mixture. add cheese and Worcestershire and mix well. add salt and pepper to taste.
5. heat oven to 375º F. cut out the tops of the peppers and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. rinse with water to get the peppers completely cleaned out. fill peppers with meat/rice mixture.
6. place stuffed peppers in a bread/loaf pan - or what ever pan the peppers fit in well. bake at 375º F for 15 minutes. serve immediately with any of the extra meat/rice mixture around the sides of the peppers.

you'll probably want to have serrated knives to cut the peppers as you eat them.

these can be made just as well with ground beef or without meat. if you make them with out, just sauté the onion and pepper in olive oil.

1.03.2008

Country Potato Soup

This is the potato soup that you've been waiting for!

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 lbs Yukon Gold or other yellow-flesh potatoes, chopped
6 - 8 oz cream cheese (depending on how creamy you like it)
dash cayenne pepper
salt and ground pepper to taste

1. heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat until hot. saute onion and garlic until soft and slightly brown.
2. add potatoes and broth and boil potaoes until tender, 8 - 12 minutes.
3. transfer most of the potatoes and onions and all of the liquid into a blender, add cream cheese and process until chunky-smooth.
4. pour mix back into sauce pan, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and heat through until hot - do not boil. if it's too thick, thin with a little water or milk.
5. garnish with shredded sharp cheddar.

For extra goodness add sweet corn (heat frozen corn in microwave first) and/or cooked bacon crumbled up.