Sunday, October 9, 2016

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

This is an approximate recipe...but soup is easy to make by tasting and adjusting along the way!

¼ C olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, rough chopped
50-60 oz canned, diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 C chicken broth
¼ C sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
12-15 large, fresh basil leaves
1-2 C cream
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; heat until fragrant. Add chopped onions, cooking until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, oregano and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes (more is fine, let those flavors blend). Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth.* Add cream as you purée, return to boil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serving suggestions: Serve with cheese lace (pictured), topped with shredded parmesan, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh basil leaf...

* If you don't have an immersion blender, simply work in batches to purée soup in a standard blender.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apple Bacon Muffins

Apple + bacon = delicious! The bacon in this recipe wasn't particularly prominent.Maybe it just needs a little more. I added a some crumble topping, and maybe I should have put some bacon in it to boost the flavor. They were definitely good enough to try again, and fiddle with the recipe a little.

½ C brown sugar
¼ C butter, softened
2 eggs
2/3 C milk
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 T cinnamon
¾ C apple, finely chopped
½ C cooked, drained, chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray muffin tin cups or line with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine dry ingredients, then add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Fold in apple and bacon just until blended.

Fill muffin cups full. [Optional - top with crumble topping.] Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Bars

Generally I bake these in a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a 1" lip) and cut them into bars, though they're more cake-like in texture than like a bar cookie. I'd love a good pumpkin cookie recipe, but I've yet to find a good recipe that really has a cookie-like texture. Most of them are more cake or muffin like in texture. I baked some of these up like mini cupcakes recently (pictured), and that worked just find too. 

11/3 C sugar
4 eggs
½ C oil
½ C applesauce
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a jelly roll pan or line with parchment.

Blend first 5 ingredients until smooth. Combine dry ingredients, including spices; add to pumpkin mixture. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing and spreading as needed to an even depth.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until center is dry (the 'clean toothpick' test works here).

Top with sweetened whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple powdered sugar icing.
Or do like I did: I didn't use a recipe for the topping...just blended cream cheese with some maple syrup, a little cinnamon, folded in some whipped cream...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Apple Tart

This isn't the best apple tart I've ever had, but it IS quick and easy. It's from 'The Pioneer Woman'.  Recipe  It's not fall yet (though the leaves across the vacant lot that is currently my main view are turning yellow), so I'm NOT reaching for the pumpkin and spice just yet. is overcast and rainy -- well, showers -- and an apple tart just sounded delicious today.

I dusted mine with a little powdered sugar, but I like her idea of drizzling it with some caramel. I'll try that next time...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stuffed Cabbage (Polish - gołąbki)

Maybe not a recipe that will especially entice a lot of people, but...I had 1/2 a cabbage leftover from another recipe, and I'm always interested in trying something new (especially something that combines more vegetables with the meat), I figured I'd give it a shot. After perusing a variety of recipes and noting consistently common ingredients in all, this is an amalgamation of two different recipes, choosing the ingredients based on flavors I know I like personally. I really don't know how 'traditional' it may be.

Sauce Ingredients
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 C mire poix (1/2 C onion, 1/4 C carrot, 1/4 C celery - all finely diced*)
½ C brown sugar
¼ C red wine vinegar
¼ C lemon juice
2 T cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ C water

* I'm not a fan of celery, so I tend to go light on the celery and throw in a little extra onion and/or carrot.

Stuffed Cabbage Ingredients
½ large (or 1 small) head cabbage
1 lb ground beef (or combination beef & pork)
1½ C cooked rice (cook in chicken stock for extra flavor; I used a whole grain, wild rice blend)
2 eggs
½ C bread crumbs
½ C caramelized onions
¼ C brown sugar
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp each salt & pepper

Prepare cabbage...  Use a pairing knife to remove core. For the most tender leaves, freeze the cabbage the day ahead. With or without freezing, bring a large pot of water to boil; boil cabbage until leaves are tender and pull apart easily (approx. 5 minutes, or slightly more if not frozen). If ribs are still too tough, trim thickest parts.

Mix sauce...  In saute pan, cook mire poix with a little oil until onions are translucent and carrots have softened. Dissolve cornstarch in water; combine mire poix, cornstarch and remaining ingredients in saucepan, bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour.

Prepare filling... stir together ground beef, cooked rice, bread crumbs, caramelized onions, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, salt & pepper. (Add a little extra bread crumbs or a little of the sauce if mixture is too soggy or too dry...should be a relatively firm meatloaf consistency.)

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
Pour a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Place generous ½ cup of meat filling near the rib end of a cabbage leaf; roll toward the outer leaf, tucking in sides as you go. Place seam side down in baking dish. Continue until all meat mixture is rolled in leaves and placed in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. To retain moisture during cooking, spread remaining cabbage leaves over top of rolls. Cook 1 hour. 

Stuffed Cabbage rolls -- and the extra sauce -- can be served with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roasted Figs

8-10 fresh, ripe figs
3 oz (+/-) chevre or ricotta
¼ C honey
1-2 T balsamic glaze
flakey salt

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Slice figs in half, lengthwise; place in baking dish, cut side up. Top each fig with a teaspoon or more of chevre. (To really dress up these figs, wrap the m with prosciutto before baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes, until figs are very soft.

While figs are roasting...
In a small bowl, mix honey and balsamic.

Cool figs slightly; drizzle with honey-balsamic mixture, sprinkle lightly with salt.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sausage & Mushroom stuffed Mini-Peppers

Using up leftovers...

1 lb sausage (actually a little more than a pound)
8 oz mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
½ medium onion
1 tsp minced garlic
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp dried basil
s & p to taste
¼ cup bread crumbs
15-18 sweet, mini-peppers

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.

Finely dice mushrooms, bell pepper and onion. In skillet, brown sausage. Add mushrooms to brown (or brown separately first). Add onion, diced bell pepper and garlic; cook until softened. Reduce heat; add cream cheese and dried basil, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat. Salt & pepper to taste.

Halve mini-peppers, removing ribs and seeds. Place halved side up in baking dish drizzled very lightly with oil. Spoon sausage & mushroom mixture into each pepper half. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 25 minutes.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bacon Jam

1 lb bacon, diced
1 lg onion, diced
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl maple syrup
¼ C apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Crisp the bacon in a skillet; remove onto paper towel to drain, reserving as much as possible of the drippings in the skillet. Add onion to skillet and drippings (adding a little extra canola oil if needed); cook to soften and caramelize onions (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Return bacon to skillet along with brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and thyme. Cook over low heat to full dissolve brown sugar and thoroughly heat all ingredients.

Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. If desired, pulse in food processor to desired, spreadable consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.

Great on burgers (full bacon flavor in every bite without fighting strips of bacon sliding off your burger). Probably would be delicious on a BLT too. I'm curious to try it on my Peanut Butter Apple & Bacon Sandwich. :)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Lime & Sesame Vinaigrette

After the relatively recent miso-orange vinaigrette, I wanted to try for another (better) Asian-inspired vinaigrette...

1 lg shallot, finely chopped
1 C fresh lime juice
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
½ C toasted sesame oil
½ C vegetable oil
¼ C soy sauce
3 T honey or maple syrup

Combine shallot and lime juice in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 10 minutes. Add sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce and honey/syrup. Whisk to combine. Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste.

This was good on a salad of fresh greens (cabbage, slivered scallions, and shredded carrots play nicely with the Asian flavors) along with mandarin orange wedges topped with crunchy chow mein noodles or peanuts -- sprinkled with sesame seeds, garnished with finely chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro leaves...  Some grilled, diced chicken or pork makes for a heartier salad. Add more or less of anything to suit your tastes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corn & Bacon Bucatini

Serves 4

2 lg ears corn on the cob
8 oz bucatini
½ C half-and-half
1 egg yolk
1 tsp each kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4-5 oz bacon shredded parmesan, divided
1 T minced garlic
½ C shredded parmesan, divided

Cook corn in a large pot of lightly salted water -- about 5 min. Remove corn to cool slightly; add bucatini to water and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

Cut corn from cobs. Whisk together half and half, egg yolk, salt and pepper.

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove from skillet -- reserving bacon drippings. Chop or crumble bacon. Add garlic to hot skillet, cooking and stirring briefly (1 min). Reduce heat, then add cream mixture, corn, and crumbled bacon; bring to boiling. Add pasta and ¼ C parmesan. Bring pasta back to temperature, adding pasta water to desired consistency.

Serve topped with remaining shredded parmesan.

I didn't have bucatini and just used spaghetti, and if I was making this for company I'd go with yellow corn instead of white (which is what I had on hand) just for more colorful presentation...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb crisp (or pie, or rhubarb anything) wasn't something I ever had growing up. My mom didn't make it, and I don't remember either of my grandmothers making it either -- though it sounds like something they would likely have made, especially my Grandma Margaret who was also an avid gardener. Anyway, my brother-in-law recently mentioned how much he liked rhubarb dishes (and rarely gets them -- likely because they're no more in my sister's baking repertoire than mine!), so I thought I'd give it a go...

Serves 8-10

Fruit Filling Ingredients
4 C rhubarb, large diced (1")
4 C strawberries, large diced
1 C sugar
zest and juice of one orange (about ½ C juice, and close to 2 tsp zest)
1 T cornstarch

Crumble Topping Ingredients
¾ C flour
1 C rolled oats
¼ C sugar
½ C brown sugar
½  tsp salt
¾ C butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and zest. Dissolve cornstarch in orange juice; add to rhubarb-strawberry mixture and gently stir to combine. Spoon or pour mixture into 9x13 (or even slightly larger) baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients of crumble topping to evenly distribute. Cut in butter and continue mixing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over fruit in baking dish. Bake 1 hour, until fruit is bubbling and crumble topping is golden brown.

Best served warm, with ice cream or whipped cream.

#1   I think this recipe makes a generous amount of crumble topping! I've never had complaints along those lines, but you could probably do with less, or save some for another recipe.

#2   Since the fruit may very well bubble over the edge of the dish, it's not a bad idea to put a large baking sheet under the 9x13 pan, or on the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips or spills. Line it with foil or parchment to make clean-up even easier.

Photo -- not exactly a 'glamour shot' as it's simply still in the baking dish...but it's going to my brother-in-law whole, tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tomato Butter

½ C butter
2 plum tomatoes
2 t olive oil
1 t fresh thyme leaves
½ t salt
1 clove garlic

Seed and quarter tomatoes. Toss tomatoes and garlic with oil, thyme and salt. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 375˚ about 35-40 minutes -- until tomatoes are soft and garlic is golden. Let cool. Puree with butter. Serve on bread, corn on the cob, chicken, steak...

If you're short on time, you can make a similar compound butter using jarred, sun-dried tomatoes, which are typically already seasoned with garlic and herbs/spices.