Monday, November 30, 2009

Apple Pie

I use the William Sonoma double pie crust posted a couple days ago. This filling also appeared in my apple pie pocket recipe earlier this year.

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Double pie crust
6 medium apples (a mix of tart and sweet)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (2 T)
1/2 c granulated sugar
1.4 c brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 T flour
1 T butter
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the dough and roll 1/2 into a large disk that just hangs over the rim of the pie pan.

Peel and slice the apples about 1/2 inch thick. Dunk them in water and lemon juice as you chop..this stem hinders oxidation which isn't important when baking a pie, but I always do this whenever I cut apples.

Toss apples with sugars, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Pour into pie and dot with butter.

Roll the other 1/2 of the pie dough and make a lattice or top with a couple of slices for steam to escape. Brush with egg wash.

Bake for 45 minutes until mixture is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Serves 8.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Caramelized Onion-Balsamic Gravy

I've used this recipe since I first started doing Thanksgiving dinner in 2002 or 2003. The recipe appears in a November 1998 Bon Apetit, but since I didn't subscribe to that mag in 2002, I don't think I got it there. I absolutely love this recipe because of the richness the balsamic vinegar provides.

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I was running out the door with the turkey this year, and completely forgot to take a picture of the gravy in all its glory. Maybe next year.

5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups onions, halved, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Combine turkey neck and giblets, 5 1/2 cups broth, quartered onion and bay leaf in saucepan. Simmer until reduced to 3 cups liquid, skimming occasionally, about 1 hour. Strain turkey stock.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions; sauté 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon rosemary and 1 tablespoon sage and sauté until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in turkey stock. Boil until gravy thickens, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon each rosemary and sage.

Transfer turkey to platter. Tent with foil. Pour juices from pan into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat. Add juices to gravy. Add vinegar to roasting pan. Bring vinegar to simmer over medium heat, scraping up browned bits. Pour mixture into heavy small saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes; add to gravy. Rewarm gravy; thin with more chicken broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

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In the left-hand corner, there's my gravy all packed up and ready to go. Note the rich dark color. Yum!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Leftovers and Black Bean Chili

This recipe is an adaptation of my other turkey chili recipe, only using leftovers.
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Printable Version

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
1/4 c chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
15 oz black beans
28 oz diced plum tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c corn
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat till tender. Add in garlic and cook another minute. Add chopped turkey, chili powder and cumin, and cook for 2 minutes (while you open the canned goods).

Stir in black beans, tomatoes, tomatoe sauce. Heat to simmer; cover and cook 20 min.

Add corn, bell pepper. Cook till heated through and veggies are tender, about 8 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheeses, about 6-8 servings.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Herb-buttered turkey

I was extraordinarily pleased at how well this turned out, even though there was a bit of a thermometer mishap. I would definitely do the brine thing again.

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Printable Version

Brine mixture of your choosing (I used a William-Sonoma packaged version)
1 Tbs minced herbs(chose as many as you like e.g. thyme, rosemary, italian parsley, sage, marjoram)
8 Tbs butter, softened
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt

Prepare brine according to directions. Brine bird 12-24 hrs prior to roasting.

Preheat oven to 400.

Drain bring and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine herbs, garlic, butter, and salt and pepper. Chill butter until firm but still malleable. Rub under skin in breast and drumstick area. Coat bird with butter mixture.

If not stuffing, season cavity with salt, pepper, a few crushed garlic cloves and a handful of fresh herbs.

Cover with tin foil. Cook for 30 min at 400 degrees, then lower oven to 325 degrees.

Baste each hour with 2-4 cups chicken stock and then pan juices.

Bird is done when an instant read thermometer reaches 165-170 in the thickest part of the thigh. (My 17 lb bird took around 4 hrs.)In 2008, the USDA reduced the required internal done temp from 180 to 165 degrees. At 180, the breast is definitely not as juicy as it should be.

Remove foil in last 30 minutes of roasting to brown skin.

Allow to sit for 30 minutes covered after removing from oven before carving.

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Yes, that's my fantabulous carmelized onion and balsamic gravy in containers to the left. Recipe to come.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blueberry Pie

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Dough for a double pie crust
32 oz frozen or 4 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1⁄2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg beaten with 1 T of water


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Allow dough to come to room temperature before rolling out--dough should be rolled at least 2 inches larger than the size of your pie pan.

3. Toss blueberries with lemon juice, zest, sugar, salt, corn starch, and cinnamon. Dot with butter.

4. Pour blueberry mixture into one layer of the pie dough. Top with reserved pie dough, formed into a lattice or whole with several slices in the middle to allow steam to escape.

5. Brush crust with egg mixture.

6. Bake for 45 minutes up to an hour until golden brown and bubbly.

Serves 8.
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Wednesday Night before Thanksgiving Piemaking

Let's just say that my making 4 pies the night before Thanksgiving sounded like a good idea, but turned out not to be my best plan. Granted, I did this last year without a hitch--same 3 pies, in fact. However, the sum of one new recipe for pecan pie + an unfamiliar kitchen/oven + someone else making the pie dough amounted to 6 hours of pie-making fun when it should have taken me a mere 2-3 hours.

Let's start with the pecan pie recipe. I thought it would be neat to try a bourbon pecan pie/tart recipe. Basically, it was my regular pecan pie recipe + 2 T of bourbon in a tart pan. How complicated could that be? Well, for starters I don't usually prebake the crust. Thus, the fact that my favorite dough shrinks a bit isn't usually a big problem unless I've majorly over-worked the dough. However, when prebaking in a tart pan, if you cut it to size and only put weights on the bottom, you get a dough disc. 30 minutes down the drain, plus the time I spent working the dough.

Next comes the unfamiliar kitchen problem. Not really a problem, but baking in my husband's kitchen for the first time presented some challenges. First of all, I had never used the oven before. While I had a thermometer to see what temp it was heating to vs what temp I had set it, I had no way of knowing if the heat distribution was even or not or what other kinks it might have. The biggest thing turned out to be that the oven racks were in upside down and backwards. I knew there was something not right about them, so I flipped them only to discover that the door didn't close tightly that way. It wasn't until I had removed pie no 4 that I realized that the damn things were BACKWARDS. There was nothing special about these racks and I have removed the racks from my own oven, but for some reason I just didn't see the problem until the end.

Finally, the dough problem. It was a big problem. I had collaborated with someone else to make the pie dough prior to my arrival today. It's a sturdy dough and keeps for several days in the fridge. I have made nearly a dozen pies with this dough and love it. Somehow, of the 4 batches that were made for me, only one was perfect. The others weren't anywhere near close. They were dry and mealy--clearly the dough had not been mixed thoroughly enough when it was made to realize that it would never stick together. I have no idea what happened, especially since that one batch was so perfect, but the rest were disasters. While I had plenty of butter and all night, I did not have enough flour to remake all the dough I needed. Thus, I did the best I could to rework the dough. I worry that all my crusts will be tough tomorrow, but at least the damn pies held their shape.

On the upside, while I might be a little sleep-deprived heading towards Thanksgiving, (a) that's nothing new and (b) it might all me to be more mellow when presented with all the people tomorrow.

Here's the pies all together in the order that they came out of the oven. Look for the recipe for each later this week.

PhotobucketBourbon Pecan Pie

Photobucket Blueberry Pie

Photobucket First Apple Pie

2nd apple pie Second Apple Pie (he had some trouble with his crust)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Double Pie Crust

Updated 10/31/2015 - I recently used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour and loved the results!

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This recipe has been adapted from a William Sonoma double pie crust recipe. It has become my go-to crust recipe over the years as it's super easy, especially when you make it in a food processor, and comes out nice and flakey. Yes, this recipe requires a lot of butter but not as much as others. Moreover, there's no lard or shortening which are big turn offs for me. I always use salted butter instead of unsalted in baking because I like my salt but go easy on the added salt if your preferences are different. This makes a 9" pie.

Double Pie Crust

2.25 c all purpose flour (or try whole wheat pastry!)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c butter
8 Tbs ice water
Egg wash (1 egg + a splash of water)

1. Combine salt and flour. Using pastry cutter, hands, mixer, or food processor, add butter in small pieces until you have the consistency of coarse sand.

2. Add in ice water, on tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Do not over-knead as that will result in a tough crust.

3. Form two disks and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several days.***

4. Allow dough to come to room temperature before rolling out--dough should be rolled at least 2 inches larger than the size of your pie pan.

5. Brush with egg wash before baking.

***Something new I tried recently was to roll the dough to the width of my pie dish before chilling it for about 10-20 minutes. If the theory is that chilling causes the butter to solidify and solid butter makes the flakey crust, this would see to be a good idea since you'd melt the butter a bit when you handle it for rolling. However, be cautious of putting a too-cold pie dish into a hot oven. I let the pie dish rest out of the fridge while I prepared the filling.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tomato Soup with Broccolini

This recipe has been adapted from one that appeared in a recent Rachel Ray magazine.

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2 small carrots, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
28 oz diced tomatoes
14 oz fire-roasted tomatoes (do NOT use the TJ variety with chiles)
3 cups chicken stock
2 bunches broccolini, about 2 cups, cut into 2 in pieces
salt and pepper
Gruyère or Parmesan cheese to serve

In a medium pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook carrots, celery, and onion with oregano until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, about 20 minutes until the veggies are tender.

In a separate pot, bring 2 inches of salted water to a boil. Cook broccolini and cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (At this step I added another cup of chicken stock as the Rachel Ray recipe only called for 2 cups originally.)Season with additional salt and pepper. Stir in broccoli.

Serve with grated Gruyère or Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This recipe was slightly adapted from a recipe found at Marthastewart.com.
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Dough
1 1/3 c warm water (100 degrees)
2/3 c skim milk
2/5 tsp active dry yeast
5 3/4 c bread flour
4 tsp sugar
1 T salt
3 T butter, melted
2 c raisins

Filling
1/2 c sugar
5 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
4 T butter, melted

Directions

1. In stand mixer bowl, combine 1/4 c warm water and yeast. Let sit 10 minutes.

2. Add flour, sugar, salt, 3 tablespoons melted butter, milk and remaining water. Mix, using the paddle attachment, on low speed for 1 minute. Change to dough hook, and mix on medium-low speed for 7 minutes. Add raisins, and mix on medium-low speed until dough is firm but not dry, 3 minutes.

3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand into a ball. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Spray two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon, and set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and cut in half.

5. Roll 1/2 if the dough into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush with half of the beaten egg, sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar, and drizzle with half the melted butter. Roll up dough tightly, shaping into cylinder. Place in a loaf pan. Repeat with other half of the dough.

6. Let loaves rise in a warm place for an hour. Thirty minutes before this final rise is completed, place a baking stone, if using, in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

7. Brush tops of loaves with egg white. Bake 15 minutes; lower oven to 400 degrees, and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Makes two loaves

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Belgian Whole Wheat Waffles

My wonderful husband got me just want I wanted for my birthday last year--a belgian waffle maker!
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1.25 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 c skim milk
1 egg, 2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c melted butter

Preheat waffle iron according to its directions. My iron is ready when the light goes off.

Whisk dry ingredients in a medium mixing. Make a well in the center and add eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix together slowly adding in just enough milk to get consistency desired.

Pour about 1/2 c of the mixture into the center of your waffle iron; spread around. Again, this may vary depending upon the size of your iron.

Cook until golden brown, flipping after 2 minutes if your waffle maker flips. Mine took about 3 minutes per waffle. When done, the waffle will be beautiful and drop away from the iron.

Serve with slice bananas, chopped pecans, and real maple syrup. Makes 4-6 depending upon the size of your iron.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Diagonal Throw Pillow

Needing to jazz up some old throw pillows, instead of working on my Christmas presents, I crocheted this pillow case.
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It used a whole skein of Lion Brand Homespun and maybe a little more. Used a K hook. The pattern was fairly simple and went something like:

Chain 3. 2 hdc in 2nd chain from hook, hdc in last.

Turn and ch 2. 2 hdc, hdc, 2 hdc in last.

Turn and repeat increase on either end until you've reached the the desired maximum diagonal for your pillow. Then decrease hdc on either side until you reach the other corner.

For the back, I did simple rows of hdc to close up the pillow. It also created the nice visual of diagonal stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other.

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Guest Post: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This retro-classic cake was made by my auntie last weekend. Doesn't it look gorgeous? She dressed up a recipe by the same name at Simplyrecipes.com.
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Topping
1 c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c unsalted butter
7 pineapple rings (it looks like they're about 1/2 an inch thick) - a 20 oz can of slices will do
7 maraschino cherries

Cake
1.5 c all purpose flour
6 T cake flour
6 T ground almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.75 c sugar
1 c unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sour cream

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 c butter and brown sugar and melt until sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbly. Pour into a 10 inch cake pan (at least 2 inches deep). Arrange pineapple slices on top of the caramel and place a cherry in each ring.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients (except for sugar) in a bowl, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using electric mixer beat sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla. Add dry ingredients, alternating with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter over pineapples in pan.

3. Bake about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cook cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12-14 servings. (Sounds rich and nummy!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Butternut Squash Gratin

This recipe has been adapted from one found in this month's BBC's Good Food.

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1.5-2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and sliced thinly (about 5 mm)
2 cups, skim milk
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small pot, heat milk and garlic to a near boil.

In a baking dish spritzed with cooking spray, layer butternut squash, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Pour heated milk over squash. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook 20 additional minutes until golden brown and squash is tender.

Rest for 10-15 minutes to allow liquids to be absorbed.

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Serves 4-6.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chocolate-Chili Steak

I've used a similar rub for prime rib, but for some reason it never occurred to me to try it on steak. Great result, although the steak should have been a little thicker. I served frozen spinach cooked in the same pan, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of garlic powder.
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1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 inch steak, cut of choice (I used rib-eye)

Let meat rest out of the fridge for about 10 minutes to remove the chill.

Heat a medium pan to screaming hot, coat with olive oil and look for slight smoke.

Rub steak on both sides with seasoning.

Cook steak for 4 minutes on each side for medium. Remove from pan.

Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting to allow the juices to settle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey-Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

I don't want to write this recipe using the 50s-style of "1 can of X" but I'm honestly not sure of the measurements of the ingredients I used and of course I tossed all the packing. Thus, all measurements are approximate. However, that's the beauty of lasagna--whatever fits in the pan is usually the proper amount.

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Ingredients
9 no-boil lasagna sheets (or enough for 3 layers in a 9 x 13' pan)
12 oz ground turkey
16 oz frozen spinach
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic, pressed
10-12 oz mushrooms, sliced
16 oz prepared pasta sauce (I used a garlic marinara from Trader Joes)
1 egg
12 oz ricotta cheese
2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, cheese
1-2 oz grated parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.

Saute mushrooms in olive oil over medium-high heat until they have lost some of their moisture and are just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and continue cooking until the onions are soft and mushrooms are brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Steam frozen spinach for a few minutes in the microwave. Drain some of the excess moisture. Mix onion-mushroom mixture with the spinach in a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey in the same skillet used for the onions and mushrooms, using additional olive oil if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and basil.

Mix egg with the ricotta cheese.

Spread about 1/2 - 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a greased 9 x 13' pan. Spread about 3 T on the bottom layer of lasagna sheets and place cheese-up in the pan. Put 1/2 of the spinach mixture, followed by 1/2 of the ground turkey on top of the lasagna sheet. Dribble a few tablespoonfuls of sauce on top of the mixture and sprinkle with parmesan. Repeat for another layer.

Coat the top layer with the remaining ricotta cheese and place face down on top of the second spinach-turkey layer. Spread remaining sauce on top and cover with the mozzarella cheese and any remaining parmesan.

Spray foil with nonstick spray. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until well browned for another 20 minutes.

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Serves 6-8


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carrot-Apple Muffins w/Raisins and Pecans

This recipe has been slimmed down from one found at Epicurious.com, credited to Groumet 1998.
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2/3 c all purpose flour
2/3 c whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp cinnimon
1.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
1/2 + 1/3 c sugar
3 medium carrots or 4 small, about 1/4 a pound, shredded
1/2 c pecans, chopped
1/2 c raisins
1 egg + 2 egg whites
1/2 c apple sauce
1/2 c corn oil
1.5 tsp vanilla
3/4 large Granny Smith apple, shredded (about 1/2 - 2/3 c)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk. Add in carrots and apples. Whisk in eggs, oil, apple sauce, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in pecans and raisins.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tester comes out clean.

Makes 1 dozen.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Soup

This recipe was modified from a Food Network recipe by the same name.
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1 oz dried mushrooms (I used porcini and a mixed pkg from World Market)
1 3/4 c hot water
12-16 oz fresh mushrooms, button
6 c chicken broth
4 T butter, 1 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
7 T all purpose flour
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 c half and half
splash of sherry or Madeira, if desired.

Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, reserving liquid.

Saute all mushrooms in olive oil and butter over medium high heat until soft and somewhat dry, about 6 minutes. Add in onions and shallots, cook covered until soft, about 5 more minutes. Add in garlic, and cook for another minute.

Add flour, cook for another minute. Whisk in reserved liquid from mushrooms. Use a strainer to remove any sediment. Whisk in chicken stock. Bring to a near boil.

Add spices and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and fresh herb stems, if used.

Using an immersion blender (or carefully using a regular blender in batches) puree mixture until smooth. Whisk in half and half, as well as any wine desired. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

Serves 6-8

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm still on a soup kick

This weekend, I made another batch of the butternut squash and leek soup. Unfortunately, I was cup short on the chicken stock and had to use water. Thus, it wasn't quite as tasty with just the basic four ingredients. To compensate, I added about a 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, as well as more salt and pepper, and a splash of milk. Not a bad result, but not quite as happy as the original.
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Tomorrow I'll post the Cream of Mushroom Soup, which turned out quite well. Later in the week, look for a turkey-spinach lasagna and carrot muffins!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Potato Cheddar Soup

This recipe was adapted from a Cooking.com recipe.
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1 large onion, chopped
3 large baking potatoes (about 2-3 lbs), peeled and cute into 1 inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12-16 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Saute the onion in olive oil until tender. Stir in the potatoes, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender. About 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until you reach the desired consistency.

With the heat still on low, or removed from heat, stir in the cheese until melted. (The original recipe called for a mere six ounces of cheese, but I kept adding more cheese until I was please with the taste). Mix in the milk and cook a couple more minutes until warm. Adjust salt and pepper, as needed.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

Adapted from a recipe by the same name at Cooking.com. I reduced it.
Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

1-2 lb butternut squash
3 T butter
1 large leek, white and tender parts, chopped
4 thyme sprigs
3 c chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice butternut squash in half, remove seeds, and place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove skin.

In a medium dutch oven, saute leeks and thyme in butter over low heat until carmelized. This will take nearly as long as the butternut squash. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Add the squash and stock to the cooked leeks. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. For a creamer soup, add a splash of milk (up to 1/2 cup) at this point. This is also a very thick soup, so if thinner consistency is desired, add up to 1/2 cup more stock.

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

4 servings

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Swiss Mac and Cheese with Swiss Chard

Swiss Mac and Cheese with Swiss Chard

This recipe stemmed from me really wanting mac and cheese, but not having the ingredients for the traditional deal. I basically made this up as I went along.

6 oz grated swiss cheese
2 oz grated parmesan cheese
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups skim milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups swiss chard, cooked until just wilted (you can do this in boiling water/stock or in a saute pan with a little bit of olive oil.)
1/2 c bread crumbs, seasoned (use a 1/2 tsp of any combination of basil, oregano, and/or parsley and salt and pepper)
3 cups of cooked shells or pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Create a roux by melting butter and then stirring in flour. Cook for a minute or two. Then whisk in milk and cook until bubbly and slightly thickened. Add in garlic powder and season with salt and pepper. Mix in cheeses and cook until completely melted. Adjust seasonings, if needed.

In an 8 inch square baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray, mix sauce with pasta and swiss chard. Top with bread crumbs and spring with additional parmesan, if desired. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top browns.

4-6 servings

Monday, November 2, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This recipe was adapted from a Cooking Light recipe. I fattened it up a bit.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
16 oz broccoli florets (I used two large heads)
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
16 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and broccoli. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Use an immersion blender and process until desired consistency results. Return to heat and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

4-6 servings

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spinach, tomato, and bean soup

This recipe was derived from a crockpot recipe that was an absolute disaster. I kept the basic idea--spinach, tomatoes, and beans, but got rid of the rice and made it on the stovetop.
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45 oz chicken stock
15 oz white beans, such as Great Northern
15 oz black beans
15 oz diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato puree or tomato sauce (which is puree with seasonings)
8-12 oz frozen spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin (most recipes combine spinach with nutmeg, but I hate nutmeg)
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
sugar to taste

In medium dutch oven or pot, saute onion until tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add dried basil and give a good stir.

Stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper. Add in beans and chicken stock. Bring to a near boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium and add in cumin and spinach. I bought a 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach and added a little more than half the bag. Avoid allowing the soup to boil. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Adjust seasoning to taste. I also added 4 tsp of sugar at this stage, but that is unnecessary if your tomatoes are sweet.

Serves 6-8.

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Sorry for the lapse

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted. Among the excuses include that my husband returned from Iraq which took lots of preparation on my part to get him squared away upon his return and the fact that we've been on trial for 3 weeks. Anyway, that's not really an excuse since I cooked a ton while in Hawaii with him--we actually only ate out twice during the entire week I was there and I've been back for a week, so these recipes are long over due. I've been on a major soup kick, so most of the follow recipes are for soups.