Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Slice of Sunny Spain

 Pablo, with Vanilla











  



    Earlier this month,  Allison invited her friend Pablo,an exchange student from Spain to stay with us for a few days.  The semester was over and Pablo's plane ticket wasn't until the next Monday, so Allison thought he might enjoy seeing what average American family life was like.  Of course we were all charmed by him and even Vanilla gave Pablo his heart!  It was so interesting to hear from him about Spanish eating habits.  We learned that breakfast in Spain was almost nothing - just a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of toast at most.  Lunch, the main meal, is no earlier than 1:30.  Dinner is served at 9:00, but can often be even later.  Pablo, however, was very gracious and fit right into our three square meals a day schedule.  While he was staying with us, I didn't attempt to serve him anything "Spanish" - I knew I would fall far short of the real thing! Although after he left, I couldn't resist cooking up some "Spanish" dishes our family has enjoyed in the past.  The olive recipe is fabulous as part of a tapas spread and just delicious with some warm, crusty bread to soak up the olive marinade sauce.  The salad is a bright and light side dish that would compliment any meat, but goes especially well with the chicken recipe given below.
 
Marinated Olives - Refrigerated, this will keep for a week - serve at room temperature
Mix all the ingredients together - very yummy!
1 can whole pitted black olives, drained and rinsed
1 small jar Spanish style green olives, drained
2 cloves of garlic, put through a press
2 teaspoons dried rosemary                                                                        
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup olive oil

             Sunny Salad                                                                              
Peel and slice the oranges
2 to 3 oranges

2 avocados
2 to 3 tomatoes
½ cup whole pitted black olives, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, sliced
Seed and chop tomatoes, avocados
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons
 olive oil

Mix everything together - Yum!
Chicken with Paprika and Peppers
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Spanish style paprika
2 cloves garlic, put through a press
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper


Combine the paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper to make a paste and rub it onto both sides of the chicken breasts.  Put the chicken breasts in an oven safe pan and arrange the pieces of the sweet red peppers around them.  Shake a little bit of paprika, salt, and pepper over the red peppers.  Sprinkle the lemon juice over the chicken and peppers and drizzle a bit of olive oil over it as well.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Serve by putting some of the baked red peppers over each chicken breast.  It is really good with a dollop of Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream on the side.
Never Boring at Our House!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sangria (and Fauxgria) & Sweets




Jenn With Her Fellow Cookie Artists!
  I love the month of December since the girls come home and bring all their friends over for cookie decorating, dinners, and edible gift making.  It is also a great time to get together with my teacher buddies and other special aquaintances.  From past experience, I know my educator friends enjoy a glass of wine or two when they get together, so when several were coming over to my house for a pitch in, I thought sangria might be fun to serve.  I googled sangria recipes and found tons and tons of variations.  All had some type of red wine as the base, and then the variations were endless.  Some had white sugar, some had brown, some had orange juice, and some had ruby port.  I knew I wanted peaches as part of the fruit, so I opted to include a peach juice blend as an alternative to the ingredients I saw in the other recipes.  The ladies all seemed to enjoy the recipe noted here. However, our family's speed is more like fake sangria, which we call"fauxgria" and the recipe for that is here as well.  Also included in this post are some delicious holiday treats - White Chocolate Party Mix and Rolo Pretzel "Turtles".

Great Gifts!


Super Easy Sangria

2 cheap bottles of red wine like “Two Buck Chuck” Cabernet

1 can frozen condensed peach blend juice such as Dole’s Orange Peach Mango

A mixture of 4 to 6 fruits such as apples, peaches, or oranges, sliced if citrus or cut up in chunks


Mix all ingredients together in a glass pitcher.  Pour sangria into glasses, spoon some of the fruit in, and toss in some ice cubes.  Enjoy!

 

 

Fauxgria

6 cans of Fresca

½ can frozen condensed grape juice

½ can frozen condensed peach blend juice such as Dole’s Orange Peach Mango

 A mixture of 4 to 6 fruits such as apples, peaches, or oranges, sliced if citrus or cut up in chunks

Mix all ingredients together in a glass pitcher; the fizz in the carbonated drink will cause “foam”, so it’s best not to add it all at once.  Pour fauxgria into glasses, spoon some of the fruit in, and toss in some ice cubes.  Enjoy!


White Chocolate Party Mix

1 1/2 pounds white chocolate                                                
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cherrios
2 cups thin pretzel sticks
2 cups peanuts
1 (12 oz.) package of M&Ms

Put the white chocolate in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring each time until smooth.  Pour melted white chocolate over the other ingredients and gently stir until all is evenly coated.  Spread the mixture on foil until cool.  The mixture will naturally break apart into pieces as it is placed into containers.


Rolo Pretzel "Turtles"

1 package of Rolo candies (chocolate covered caramel candies)
1 small bag of mini pretzel twists
1 package of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with foil and place a Rolo on top of each pretzel you place on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 3 minutes.  Upon taking out of the oven, immediately press a pecan on top of each Rolo covered pretzel.  Allow the "turtles" to cool before storing in a covered container.




Sunday, December 4, 2011

Food for Fun Times



Walnut Yogurt Spread                                                                     
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 tablespoons finely diced purple onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix ingredients together and serve with warm pita bread that has been cut into wedges.


Mexican Egg Rolls
2 (10 oz.) pkg of frozen spinach
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed                                          
1 (15 oz.) can of whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed                         
1 onion, finely diced
12 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 pound package egg roll wrappers (there are 20 in a package)
Cook the spinach on high in the microwave for 6 minutes and drain the water off. Mix with everything else except the wrappers. Put 3 tablespoons of the filling in each wrapper and roll according to the wrapper package directions as shown in the pictures below. Either fry in oil until each side is brown or spray with Pam or brush with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cut on the diagonal and serve with ranch dressing and salsa.

Place wrapper on the diagonal and spread the filling lengthwise across the middle



Pull the wrapper up and tuck the bottom corner into the filling

Moisten the sides with a little water and fold them in

Flip the bottom up

Moisten the top corner and fold it down
Avocado Egg Rolls
 ( The dipping sauce is really good! To the recipe given below, I add 1/4 teaspoon each of coriander and cardamom to this - also I use tamarind concentrate but lemon juice could be substitued.  I leave out the sugar and never mess with the beaten egg.)
Avocado Eggrolls Recipe from http://www.recipesecrets.net/blog/recipes/copycat-cheesecake-factorys-avocado-eggrolls/
"These are incredibly delicious!! Just like the ones at Cheesecake Factory! For a low fat version, drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil and bake them in a 400 degree oven".

2-4 servings

Egg Rolls

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onions
1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 dash salt
4 egg roll wraps (can also use won ton wraps)
1 egg, beaten
Oil for deep-frying

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp
1/2 cup honey (I use slightly less)
1 pinch turmeric
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Egg Rolls
Stir together avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and salt.
Distribute filling evenly on the center of each egg roll wrapper.
Fold one corner up, 1/4 of the way over the filling.
Brush the remaining corners and edges with beaten egg, roll up the left and right side, then fold top corner over all and press to seal.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
Deep-fry the egg rolls in 375 degree oil for 3-4 minutes, or until browned.
Drain on paper towels.
Slice egg rolls diagonally in half and serve with the prepared dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce
Combine vinegars, honey, tamarind in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until tamarind is dissolved completely.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Using a blender, Puree tamarind mixture, cashews, cilantro, garlic, onions, sugar, pepper, and cumin.
Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in oil.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use


 Any Kind of Bean Dip!
1 (15 oz.) can of beans (garbanzo, great northern, black

 - what ever you have on hand)                                                               
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (depends on how lemony you like it)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Mix all the ingredients up in a food processor (or mash them with the bottom of a glass). Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of something red like paprika or chili powder. Serve with warm pita bread cut into wedges.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving




For my girls - our family recipes...




 

Grandpa Kane's Stuffing

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick, not the unsalted kind)
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup diced celery

8 cups of bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I like to use half whole wheat/half white)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

 1 pound sausage, cooked and drained

 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried of thyme or sage

 (You could also add sauted mushrooms, nuts, dried fruit, etc.)


Saute the onion and celery in the butter over low heat until they are very soft. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and pour the onion and celery mixture over them. Add the seasonings, sprinkle with the chicken broth, and gently toss the bread cubes along with the sausage.
Right before putting the turkey in the oven, stuff it. (Do not stuff ahead of time) Or, put the stuffing into a buttered baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven about 30 minutes.









Vegetable Trio With Zippy Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

2 hard boiled eggs chopped (optional)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I use Dijon)

1/4 teaspoon bottled hot sauce (I use Frank's)

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

10 ounces each frozen peas, green beans, and lima beans

Cook the three different vegetables and drain them. While they are cooking mix all the sauce ingredients together and slowly heat until just hot. Pour over the cooked vegetables.























.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

   (Adding 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken  makes this a main dish) 

10 oz. frozen broccoli

 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Mix broccoli, 1 cup of the cheese and soup together.  Put in an oven safe dish. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Then top with the remaining one cup of cheese and bake another 10 minutes.




 

Basic Cranberries

1 (12 oz.) package of cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

 Rinse and drain the cranberries.  Put in a pan along with the sugar and water.  Bring to a boil, slightly reduce the heat and cook for ten minutes, stirring every so often. The berries will pop open.  Pour into the serving dish and let the cranberries cool a bit before you place it in the refrigerator. They will keep for one week.


Kane Sweet Potatoes

4 to 6 regular sized sweet potatoes

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup minature marshmallows

 Peel and cut up the sweet potatoes into quarters.  Put them in a large pan with enough water to cover them. Bring them to a boil and turn down the heat to cook them until a fork can go into them. Drain the water and mash the sweet potatoes up. ( You should yield about 4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes). Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with 1/4 cup of margarine, 1/4 cup of orange juice, and 1/4 cup of the minature marshmallows. (In recent years I have actually used 1/4 cup of Splenda instead of the marshmallows).  Place an oven safe dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.Top with additional minature marshmallow and put back into the oven until the marshmallows are lightly browned.

Aunt Claire's Chocolate Chip Pie

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup (2-sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups chopped walnuts, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) pie plates; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, and mix until fully combined. Fold in the 3 cups chocolate chips and, if desired, the walnuts. Divide the dough between the prepared pie plates and smooth the tops with a spatula.

Bake about 30 minutes or until pies are golden and slightly firm to the touch but still soft. If the pies begin to darken too much before they are baked through, cover with foil and continue baking. Let pies cool completely on a wire rack.


                                                                                                                   
                                                   






      

Ashley's Disgustingly Rich Brownies

4 eggs

3/4 cup of cocoa

2 sticks of butter

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Smear inside of a 8 or 9 inch pan with shortening. Melt butter over low heat. Watch it to make sure it doesn't burn. In a mixing bowl, stir cocoa and sugar together.  Stir in melted butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir again. Add the flour and the salt. Mix until smooth. If you're adding walnuts, add them in now. Spread mixture in the greased pan  and smooth out until evenly distributed.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Let cool before cutting.

.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three Simple Ideas for a Chicken Breast


Spinach Artichoke Chicken
    On Monday, we flew into our "home" airport right at dinner time. Jenn lives just a half hour away so we had planned ahead of time to go over to her place after we landed.  She had some stuff she wanted us to help her hang, but she also had a wonderful dinner waiting for us!  What a treat - we had a delicious chicken fajita feast and got to catch up on all kinds of interesting news in her world.  While we were eating her yummy dinner, she remarked that she needed some easy but different ways to deal with a chicken breast. Well, Jenn - here you go - I hope this helps!

Spinach Artichoke Chicken
    
 Split the chicken breasts and spread 1/4 cup of spinach artichoke dip (recipe below) on each one. If you want a stuffed look, "close" the split breast. Bake at 350 for about 50 - 55 minutes.

John Purdue Room Spinach and Artichoke Dip - Caroline got this recipe from the HTM program at Purdue when she worked in the John Purdue Room.  It is the best Spinach Artichoke dip I have ever had!
8 Cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1 (15oz.) can of artichoke hearts
12 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. (I use the bottom of a glass to help work the cream cheese in)  If using as a dip, put in oven safe dish and top with some extra parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes until brown on top and heated through out. (You can use light mayo, reduced fat cream cheese, reduced fat sour cream. I have even used plain nonfat yougurt in place of the sour cream.)

Aunt Betsy's Feta and Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken

For each chicken breast you will use, gently combine 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dried tomatoes, 1/8 of a teaspoon of dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Place the mixture on top of a split chicken breast. If desired, close and secure with a tooth pick or two. Pour 2 tablespoons of some kind of oil and vinegar mixture over the top of each breast. You could use Greek salad dressing, the marinade from the Zesty Chicken Oregano post, or just the basic vinegar and oil in the Salad Dressing 101 post. Bake the chicken at 350 for about 50 - 55 minutes.


Chicken with a Buttery Crunch


The bare bones version:
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of store bought herbed stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is nice because it contains whole wheat bread) over each chicken breast. Drizzle each breast with a teaspoon of melted butter (or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter). Bake at 350 for about 50 - 55 minutes.
The jazzed up version:  Before you put the stuffing and melted butter on the chicken breast, place a slice of cheese and some cream of chicken soup that has been thinned out with some white wine. ( Or just do the soup, etc.)
Or:  Add nuts, dried cranberries, chopped apricots to the dried stuffing

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Soup 201: Five Fall First-courses
















 Last week I had to drop something off at Jenn's apartment which is in a little town about a half hour west from where I teach.  It was such a gorgeous day that we decided to drive to a little farmer's market we had passed before, but never took the time to stop at.  The little old couple that worked there were so cute; they told us about the produce they had just received and what farms it had all come from.  I couldn't resist buying a box load of their wares - some I decorated my house with and the rest got made into yummy fall soup!  All five of these soups are super easy.  They call for very few ingredients because sometimes a simple soup made out of a vegetable  is just delicious without a whole lot of extras. The tomato/pepper soup was inspired by a recipe passed onto me by Aunt Gayla.  It called for white bread, ground almonds, and arrow root. Since it sounded like too much work, I pared it down to the directions below.  I found the pumpkin soup in a Libby's advertisement.  Yes, it involves the canned vegetable, but its a whole lot easier than stewing a big old pumpkin on the stove! The broccoli soup came from an old friend who used to live in the hills of Brown County.  When I gave up potatoes for a low carb diet, I hit upon replacing them in everything with cauliflower - including the soup below, and the black bean soup was something I threw together one day that was always a favorite with Caroline.


Red Tomato/Yellow Pepper Soup                                       
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic, put through press
2 large yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 large red tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
salt
pepper
Take two separate pans and put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in each one. Saute 1/2 of the diced onion in each pan until soft. Add one clove of the pressed garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the yellow pepper to one pan and the tomato to the other one. Put 2 cups of chicken broth into each pan. Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 a teaspoon of pepper to each pan. To the tomatoes add the thyme and the basil. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Then, puree each mixture separately with a blender or food processor. Put each mixture into a pitcher. Serve soup in bowls by slowly pouring the tomatoe mixture from one side and the pepper mixture from the other. Garnish with chopped green onion.


Curried Pumpkin Soup 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, put through press
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken broth
1 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (16 oz. can)
1/2 cup skim milk
Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add curry powder, coriander, pepper flakes, salt, and garlic and saute one minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and skim milk and simmer 5 minutes. Pour into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Pour into bowls and garnish with sour cream and sliced green onion.


Broccoli Soup 
1 head of broccoli
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups of skim milk
Cut the broccoli flowerets into bite sized pieces. Place the broccoli and olive oil in a large pan, cover, and keep on medium heat (stirring occassionally) until the broccoli is soft, but not mushy. Then sprinkle the flour, salt, and pepper over the broccol and gently mix it until the flour is not dry. Over medium heat while stirring, alternate adding the cheese and the milk until both are mixed in. (Don't let mixture boil or it will curdle)


"Loaded" Cauliflower Soup 
1 head of cauliflower
1 15oz. can of chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
sliced green onion
Core and cut the cauliflower into pieces. Place cauliflower in a pan along with water and cook it until it is very soft. Drain the water and using a blender or food processor, puree it. Add the chicken broth, salt, and pepper and simmer 5 minutes. Pour into bowls and serve with the cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, and sliced green onion on top.

Black Bean Soup 
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, put through a press
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 15 oz. cans of beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
pepper jack cheese, monterey jack cheese, sour cream for garnish
Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the garnishes. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with the garnishes. (This soup can also be pureed)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Soup 101

Almost Like St. Elmo's Bean Soup

     

     The last time Roy and I ate at St. Elmo's the weather was chilly. So, when the waiter asked us if we wanted soup, it seemed like a good idea. I asked him what kind it was. He said it was sort of like Campbell's Bean with Bacon.  Later, he confided that up until 1996, the soup they served actually was Campbell's Bean with Bacon!  Only in recent years has it been "homemade" - actually made by some guy that supplies soup to restaurants.  Making soup isn't hard at all, especially if canned beans are used and the steps below are followed. This post includes my copy cat version of St. Elmo's soup and some easy recipes to get anyone started.


If you can open a can of broth, you can make yummy soup!

The Formula for Easy Soup:


Step 1: First Saute the vegetables in two tablespoons of olive oil.

Step 2: Add canned broth (chicken, beef, vegetable) or tomato sauce.

Step 3: Add precooked meat and/or rinsed & drained canned beans.
Step 4: Add vegetables and/or precooked pasta
Step 5: Add spices


 Almost Like St. Elmo’s Navy Bean Soup

2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 (15 oz.) cans of chicken broth
2 (15 oz.) cans of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
One 8 oz. package of diced ham
2 generous tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
1/8 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes


Sauté the carrots, celery, and onion in the olive oil on medium low heat until the tender.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer about 10 minutes.
Not necessary but nice to do: Take two cups of the soup (beans and all) out of the pot and puree it in a food processor or blender, and then return it to the pot.


Minestrone

 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Two 15 oz. cans of broth (vegetable, chicken, beef)
1 cup of cooked chicken or beef (optional)
                                  1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes                                 
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1/4 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans (white Kidney)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried basil


Sauté the carrots, celery, and onion in the olive oil on medium low heat until the tender.  Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.
* Click HERE for a pesto sauce recipe - great to stir in just before serving. 


Tex Mex Chicken Soup



2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (15 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 cups cooked and diced chicken
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can corn, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For serving: mall bunch of fresh cilantro and ripe avocado

Saute the carrots, celery, and onion   in the olive oil over medium low heat until they are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and chopped avocado.



Click HERE to read an article I wrote about making Red Bean & Ham Soup.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jewels in a Jar -So Easy Refrigerator "Pickles"


Add some of the "pickles"
to lettuce, splash on some
"pickle juice", drizzle some
olive oil over it - yummy salad!
                                                                                                                  
 Several months ago, I picked up a cookbook, Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee, at a Borders going out of business sale.  They had a whole chapter on "fresh" pickles and sang their praises about how fabulous they are to put out as an appetizer or to serve as a side dish. They had some pretty interesting combos such as grapes with rosemary and cucumbers with lemon.  A few weeks later, I took the girls up to little town about an hour north of us where an old school friend of Jenn's, Brittany, was in beauty school.  She needed to get some "practicum" hours on real human heads and the price was right, so away we went.  While I was waiting, I thumbed through a bunch of magazines.  In one, decorators sounded off on how they entertain.  Fruit and vegetable pickles were mentioned as a way to adorn tables like "jewels in jar".  I decided to give it a try.  I had always wanted to make giardiniera, Italian style pickled vegetables, but all the recipes I ever looked at involved boiling the ingredients first and sealing them in jars. Too much work!  I decided to try to make it Lee brother style, and the results were great!  It lasts in the refrigerator forever (even after three weeks, the vegetables were crisp and crunchy) and it is so much cheaper to make it rather than buy it at the store in a jar.  I have used it as part of a tapas spread, in an antipasto platter, in New Orleans muffuletta sandwiches, and it really kicks it up as part of an Italian salad.  But what is really great is how quick and easy it is to make!  The recipe follows the pictures below.
                           
                                Steps to make quick and easy refrigerator "pickles"

1. Slice or cut up your choice of vegetables into bite size pieces


2.  Heat up vinegar and spices

3.  Place the cut up vegetables in a jar, or leave them in the bowl.

4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables


     My Favorite Vegetable Pickles
1/4 head of cauliflower
1 small white onion
2 large carrots
1 large red pepper
1 large cucumber
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small bit of "heat" - a small seeded jalapeno, dried hot red, or red flakes of pepper
Cut the cauliflower in bite size pieces. Peel carrots, slice in half lengthwise, then half lengthwise again, and cut each piece into thirds. Core and seed the red pepper and cut it into large square like pieces. Cut the cucumber lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again. Scoop out the seeds and cut each piece into thirds. Peel the onion and cut it into eighths.
Place the vegetables in a bowl and gently mix them up. Either leave them in the bowl or put the vegetable mixture into glass jars.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat to a boil.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables a bit at a time, let them cool a few minutes, and them store them in the refrigerator.
Great in an antipasta salad!