Taste and see …

Tomato soup November 20, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 12:47 PM
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It’s been getting cooler here, and at times it’s actually been cold enough for soup.  I had been looking through my thoroughly unorganized collection of recipes for ideas, and found a recipe for ‘Fresh tomato soup’ that I had pulled out of an old Paula Deen magazine.  I’m not generally a fan of the canned version – I think maybe it’s too sweet for me? but I thought I’d give home-made tomato soup a try.  I think I added too much onion (I decided I didn’t actually need to measure out the 3/4 cup, but threw an entire medium onion in instead…), but otherwise it was pretty good – especially with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Fresh tomato soup

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups finely chopped tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half and half

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add tomatoes; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in flour, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until thickened.

Pour soup into an electric blender or food processor (I imagine an emulsion blender would also be just fine :)).  Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Return soup to saucepan; stir in half and half.  Cook over low heat 5 to 6 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

 

a few recipes – but no pictures… April 21, 2010

Filed under: Cakes,Crock pot,Desserts,Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 8:57 PM

Wow – it’s been a while.  I’ve actually cooked (and baked) a decent amount, just haven’t bothered telling y’all about it for whatever reason.  I know I got side-tracked with Easter (which was awesome, btw!!) and then just got lazy.  Oops.  So what have I been cooking over the last month?? Stuff… that usually involved veggies and cheese, among other things.  I actually went through all my cooking magazines that I’ve collected over the last several years and pulled out just the recipes that sounded good, and threw the rest out.  My living room looks, well, about the same, actually.  But instead of a large stack of magazines, I’ve got a much smaller stack of magazine pages.  I’m going to have to organize those at some point.  Anyway, I decided to share a couple of my favorite recipes from the last month, and presumably next week sometime I’ll be back to one recipe per post, or at least more frequent postings than once a month.

Recipe #1

“BLT” Pasta

from Kraft Food magazine (available here as well)

  • 3 cups (8 oz.) penne pasta, uncooked
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut up
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, cook cream cheese, milk and Parmesan cheese in a large skillet on medium-high heat for 3 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.  Add remaining ingredients; cook and stir 5 min. or until heated through.

Drain pasta; return to pan.  Add sauce; toss to coat.

I love this recipe – it’s got bacon, cheese and pasta – yummy! (and I use an extra slice or two of bacon – just FYI)  However, it’s not as yummy as leftover lunch the next day.  It tastes fine, it’s just not as good.  Maybe it’s just me.

Recipe #2

Jane’s potato soup

(From Cooking with Paula Deen)

  • 1 30 oz. bag frozen hash-brown potatoes
  • 3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
  • 1 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

In a 6-quart crock pot, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper.  Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours.  Stir in cream cheese; cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined.  Garnish with green onions, if desired.

I was in a hurry when I made this – I got home later than I was planning and didn’t want to wait the 5 1/2 hours it would have taken to cook, so I cooked it on high for 2 1/2 hours or so instead.  It tasted just fine, but the onions were still a little crunchy… I think the faster cook time didn’t cook them all the way?  I’ve only used my crock pot a couple of times, so I just sort of assumed that putting the heat on high instead of low would just cook everything twice as fast.  Oh well…

And of course there has to be a dessert in here…

Recipe #3

Lemon Pound Cake

(from Cook’s Country)

Cake

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Syrup

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

*3 lemons gives you more than enough zest and juice for the whole recipe

For the cake:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl.  Stir sour cream and lemon juice together in a second bowl.

Using fingers, toss lemon zest and sugar together in large bowl until clumps are gone.  Add butter and beat with electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add beaten eggs in three additions, mixing until smooth and scraping down bowl after each addition (mixture will begin to look curdled).  With mixer on low, add one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl.  Repeat, ending with flour mixture.  Scrape down bowl, then mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Use rubber spatula to give batter final stir.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 55 to 70 minutes.

For the syrup:

While cake bakes, stir sugar and lemon juice together in saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.  Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside.

Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack.  Brush top and sides of still-warm cake with syrup and cool completely, about 2 hours.

For the glaze:

Whisk confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in bowl until smooth.  Spread glaze over cake, allowing some to drip down sides.  Let glaze set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Funny story about this pound cake… I initially made it on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that I would have enough time before Bible study to get through the syrup step.  However, I had taken a nap and didn’t realize that the cake took an hour just to bake until after I had already put it in the oven.  So I turned the temperature up, thinking I would just see what happened – I needed to leave by a certain time.  Now, I don’t think I have a 9×5 pan, I think I have the next size down, because when I poured the batter in, it came pretty close to the top of the pan.  But I didn’t know until after this experience that I don’t have a 9×5 – I thought I did – so I just put the pan in the oven with all the batter in it!  Not a good idea… it overflowed a bit.  I was going to put a cookie tray under it once I realized there was batter all over the bottom of my oven, but then I realized I had to leave in like, a half hour, and the batter on the floor of the oven was starting to burn, and yeah, it was just not good.  I ended up just pulling the pan out of the oven and throwing out my partially done cake – it was pretty messy!!  And my oven is still burning off the batter, I think, because every time I’ve used it since I can smell it burning.  mmm!! 😛  At any rate, I still really wanted to make this, so I gave it another shot another day when I actually had the time to bake it properly.  And I also made myself a little mini-loaf with the extra batter so I didn’t overflow again – it was wicked good!! 🙂

 

Cauliflower, potato, and cheese soup March 30, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 6:42 PM
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I try to plan my menus around what the weather’s going to be for the week – more so in cooler weather, probably because I tend to want comfort food more when it’s grey and gloomy, or just cold.  It was cold and rainy (again!) for several days, so I decided to try a new recipe from the book, New England Soup Factory Cookbook, by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein.  It came through the office at some point, and I thoroughly enjoyed looking through it, so I bought it.  The majority of the recipes make a huge amount and since I’m only one person (and I don’t think I own a pot that’s large enough their full recipes) I haven’t made any of them ’til now.  I halved the ingredients for this recipe, and it still made a ton!  I posted my halved recipe, so if you want to make the full batch, just double everything! 🙂

Cauliflower, potato, and cheese soup

adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook

  • 1 Tb. salted butter
  • 1 whole clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (*I just used 2 – I’m not sure what I’d do with half of a potato… but the orig. recipe calls for 3)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onions, celery, cauliflower florets, and potatoes.  Sauté for 10 minutes.  Add enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add the cheese, cream, nutmeg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper.  Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth.

Of course, I goofed a bit when making this.  I forgot to get celery at the store, so that’s not in my soup.  But it still tasted fine!  And I also didn’t think until I was eating the soup that it would be good with a nice piece of bread – something soft and chewy inside, but crusty.  Next time ’round…

Since the halved recipe still made way more than I want to eat in the course of a week, I froze a little to test it and see how it thawed.  It seemed all right, although I know generally cheese soups shouldn’t be frozen… I have seen some sites that say you can, you just have to gradually bring the temperature of the soup down (room temp. to fridge to freezer) and then do the same when reheating it.  I guess I’ll find out if that works when I reheat the batch that’s in my freezer!!

 

Chicken!! February 21, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 7:20 PM
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When we got hit with those blizzards a couple weeks ago, I had already planned on taking the time to roast my first whole chicken, turn it into stock, and then into soup.  And the weather was obliging enough to keep me inside all weekend (and a couple of days in the middle of the week too…) so I took advantage of being stuck inside to do all this.  I was also initially going to start my blog that weekend, but that didn’t happen, as I got stuck on coming up with a good name.  However, since I am wicked proud of the fact that I did all of this (and that it all tasted good!), I’m making it my ‘real’ first post anyway. 🙂

Having never done any of this before, I went searching online for a good roast chicken recipe, and finally settled on Julia Child’s recipe. I got my shopping list together and found everything I needed, fortunately. I have to say, I was a little concerned about the 1/2 cup of celery leaves – but I just pulled all of the leaves that I could out of the whole celery bunch and it seemed to work out okay. I prepared the chicken the way Julia said to, and a couple of hours later pulled it out of the oven.

I also made Crash Hot Orange Potatoes to go along with the roast chicken – they were soo! good…

After the chicken had cooled, I pulled it all off of the bones, and put the bones into a bag until the next day.  When I woke up, I got myself all ready for a day of busy work while I let the stock simmer on the stove.  I had already looked through various recipes for chicken stock, and decided that I didn’t really need to follow a specific one.  They all seemed to have the basic ingredients of: carrots, onions, and celery (or ‘mirepoix’), so I put the bones in my biggest pot (which was just big enough) along with the mirepoix and a couple of bay leaves.  And of course salt and pepper.  My house smelled so good all day!!  And after letting the stock simmer for several hours (I think most recipes said 4 hours or so?  I might have let it go for closer to 5) it looked ready to be strained and put aside for chicken soup.

So I strained it – several times, because there always seemed to be sediment or whatever left in the broth.  After the 4th time, I decided that was good enough,

and put it back into the pot so I could let it cool off overnight.  Church had been canceled that afternoon, so I had all day Sunday to make my soup (which I actually forgot to take pictures of… oops!  next time…).  Once again, I just winged it – I had also been looking at a few recipes for chicken noodle soup, and it’s one of those things you’ve generally had enough times that you know what goes into it.  So I skimmed the fat off of the stock (yum!), threw the stock into my Crock-Pot along with more mirepoix (sorry – I like that word :)), the chicken, and water, and let it simmer on ‘low’ all day.  Once again, it smelled soo! good in my house.  I think that’s a large part of why I like cooking – it just tends to smell wicked good!!  I made my noodles separately because in my experience, the noodles always absorb too much broth and then you have to add more, which is a pain.  Plus I knew I was freezing most of the soup, and I really didn’t want mushy noodles.  Ick.  But the soup was yummy.  And I have now successfully roasted a chicken, made stock, and home-made chicken noodle soup – woo!! 🙂