Sweet Potato Soup

February 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Recipes are not something I memorize. They’re typically used once or twice or just not often enough for my brain to make space for.  I simply have to look it up or thumb through my stack when I want to re-make something. This soup is an exception.

I found it one afternoon when I had an extra sweet potato on hand and wanted a smooth, flavorful soup. Since then I have made it multiple times; for company, to have leftovers for work or when I have a craving for a delicious soup. It’s committed to memory.

It’s also a pretty forgiving recipe. Don’t have vegetable broth? Use chicken. Don’t have chicken? Use turkey. Have some extra spices you’d like to add, sure. Want to mix it up and stir in some cream at the very end, by all means, that is delicious.

We start with the best of all, bacon. Fry up three or four pieces in a large soup pot. (I use my dutch over). Take out, let cool, then chop into little pieces (BACON BITS!). Leaving all that beautiful bacon grease in the bottom (or taking some out depending on how you feel about it). Put your chopped onions in the bottom, sautéing until soft, making sure to scrape up the brown bits. Finally, add in the sweet potatoes, spices and broth. Boil until soft, puree and you are in business.

This soup also begs for garnish. I often use bacon bits, chives, cheese. I think a little chopped thyme or freshly cracker pepper would be great too. Add a grilled cheese and salad and you have my favorite meal of ALL time.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large, yellow onion
  • 4 pieces of thick bacon
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper, seasoning (I like 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joes)
  • Garnish – chives, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs

To Make

1) Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Dice the onion. Set these aside.

2) In large soup pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon until medium-crispy. Set aside, when cool, cut into small pieces and save for garnish.

3) In the same pot, fry the onion until soft and translucent. Once ready, add in broth and sweet potato and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove bay leaf and puree using an immersion blender until soup is smooth.

4) Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls and garnish to your heart’s content. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

For many, January is all about health food and vegetables and juicing. I bought a juice at my local Whole Foods and could not get over the fact that my juice tasted like BEETS. Beets are delicious but not when I’m drinking them. Maybe next time.

Lets be honest, its cold and rainy out and and we just want comfort food. We’re now going to combine vegetables and comfort. Introducing: pumpkin mac and cheese. (I’m aware I’m not really “introducing” this as it’s been around for awhile, but I just hopped on the train)

I’ve said, this year I’m only featuring really good recipes. This is one of those. I’ve made it twice now and really love it. It’s just the right combination of cheese, pumpkin, bread crumb topping and pasta. Best part about this is it’s adaptable. I’ve made it with different kinds of cheese, whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, canned and freshly pureed pumpkin and love it every time. And the leftovers taste delicious.

To start we make make our pasta. Or rather, make our pasta while we also make the cheese/pumpkin sauce. We melt butter, add flour, S&P, then add milk and cream until slightly thickened. Then we add pumpkin, cheese and herbs and it gets melty, creamy and is now SO GOOD. I may sneak some spoonfuls. Combine pasta, sauce pour in the pan; top with breadcrumbs and we are so close to being in business. Bake while you stare in the oven because you’re very hungry. Then enjoy.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaronia
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp S&P
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1, 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp fresh herbs like thyme or sage
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

To make

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2 qt casserole dish with non-stick spray.
2) In large pot, boil water for pasta. Cook according to package and drain. Set aside.
3) While pasta is being made, make the sauce. In medium saucepan, melt butter in a pan. Stir in flour and s&p. Add cream and milk. Heat over low until warm and slightly thickened. Next, add 1 cup of parmesan cheese, pumpkin and herbs. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy. Remove from heat.
4) Stir pasta into cheese. Pour into baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and 1/2 cup cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Corn Bake

November 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Corn bake is my ultimate Thanksgiving Side Dish. One year we forgot it and it was the worst Thanksgiving ever. All drama aside, I think you should add this to your repertoire.

Most recipes, including the one my family has used for years, use a box of Jiffy corn bread mix. This year I found one from scratch that is just as tasty. It’s moist, has the amazing crispy edges and is the ultimate compliment to turkey, potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie.

Also, if you happen to forget the cream style corn when you walk to the grocery store and back, you can make your own using regular corn, half and half and cornstarch. My recommendation is just don’t forget the cream style corn because it’s easier.

Corn Bake

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1, 15 oz can corn kernels
  • 1, 15 oz can cream-style corn

To Make

1) Grease casserole dish, or 7×11 baking dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

2) In a small sauce pan melt 8 oz (1 stick) of the butter over low heat. Turn off heat once completely melted. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Drain the regular corn, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Stir together eggs, melted butter, regular corn, the reserved liquid and cream style corn.

3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add this to the other ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!

Acorn Squash Salad

November 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

I don’t like 75% of salads. I love everything in salads except the lettuce/spinach/arugula. Basically that means I love the vegetables and other stuff in them so I’d prefer to just eat that. The other 25% of salads I’m obsessed with. This squash salad came together with a friend and our random ingredients. Since then I’ve re-made it four times. Might be a record for me. It combines the best of fall (acorn squash and apples) AND goat cheese! WIN. Make this for lunch or dinner. And I’ll be thinking of you while I eat another one.

Acorn Squash Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/4 acorn squash
  • 1-2 cups spinach, washed
  • 1/2 an apple
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • For dressing: 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, S&P

To Make:

1) Roast acorn squash in oven first. Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds. Spread a little olive oil and salt and pepper on squash, place on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until fork pierces easily. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2) To make salad, cut acorn squash and apple into bite sized pieces. Place spinach on plate, top with squash, apple and goat cheese.
3) In a small jar, mix apple cider vinegar, olive oil and mustard. And salt and pepper to taste. Pour onto salad. Enjoy!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

October 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes Fridays call for a long leisurely lunch reading a book and picking melted cheese off your plate. I wish that was every Friday, but reality says its not. Work, errands, meetings, kids all prevent that from happening. But that’s okay and I hope you have time this weekend to do it instead.

When you’re making a grilled cheese I think a good bread is important. If you’ve got some time or are going to make the sandwich this weekend make this no-knead bread tonight. Or just use whatever you have. I’m feeling very easy-going today, can you tell?

Next, add what you have. My recommendations? Spinach, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded parmesan, prosciutto, granny smith apples and some mayo and mustard. Stack it all together, spread butter on the outside of the sandwich and throw it on a pan. Cook it low and slow. Let it get that nice brown crunchyness on the outside and let the cheese get all oogey gooey. Then you’re ready to go. Enjoy!

Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 slices thick, crusty bread
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1/8 cup shredded parmesan
  • sliced sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 pieces of prosciutto
  • thinly sliced granny smith apple
  • mayo & mustard
  • butter

To make

1) Spread mayonnaise and mustard on both sides of the bread. Layer on ingredients starting with parmesan cheese, spinach, prosciuitto, apple and cheddar cheese. Put on top slice of bread.
2) Spread butter on outside pieces of bread. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and bread is browned. Turn once when first side is done. Remove from heat and eat while still warm. Enjoy!

Quinoa Caprese Bake

October 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

 I’m just going to cut to the chase. This is delicious. Creamy, tomatoey, filling, tasty. Great right out of the oven or reheated for leftovers. Get on it. Start with your quinoa. Cook it just like the package tells you too. I had red quinoa in my pantry but you can use whatever variety you feel like. Bonus, it’s gluten free and vegetarian!

Lets get the good stuff too. I had some leftover marinara sauce in the freezer, mozzarella, parmesan and CREAM. While your quinoa is cooking you can prep your ingredients and make the sauce. My favorite part of this is the sauce after you mix in the cream, cheese and flavorings. It is amazing in a straight-off-a-spoon way. Sometimes I forget how good cream makes things! I’m tempted to make just the sauce to use with regular pasta or chicken. Once you’ve got that you mix (almost) everything together, pour it in a pan, top with more cheese and tomatoes. Just another 20 minutes in the oven and resting and you’ve got a great meal.

Quinoa Caprese Bake
from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 cup favorite marinara sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bunch basil, torn into pieces
  • S&P

To Make

1) Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.  Prep your ingredients. Half of the mozzarella can be shredded or torn into small pieces; the other half sliced into rounds or shredded (depending on if using fresh or not).
2) In a large saucepan, heat tomato sauce and tomato paste just until warm. Turn off heat, stir in cream, half of the mozzarella (the shredded portion), parmesan cheese, S&P. Once combined, stir in quinoa. Finally, fold in basil and most of the tomatoes, reserving a few for the top.
3) Pour quinoa mix into the greased pan. Top with mozzarella rounds (or the last half of shredded cheese) and the last of the tomatoes. Bake 10-15 minutes, then broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, top with fresh basil. Let sit for 5 minutes then enjoy!

Tzatziki

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Oh Greece, I miss your yogurt ice cream, your history, your islands. If you missed the recaps of my trip, you can check them out here, here and here. My favorite meal on the trip was in the Plaka (old town area of Athens). We sat in an alley way at a small table for two, sipped sangria and noshed on Greek salad, meat pie and tzatziki. Perfection. Tzatziki is typically served with gyros, as a sauce for other meats, with soups or with a loaf with bread at the beginning of a meal. I like it with veggies.

Making food from a trip is a quick way to transport me back to that place. This tzatziki was a simple way to do that. We ate ours with homemade baked falafels and salad, which is a clash of ethnic food. It was still delicious.

Ina’s original recipe I used says to use plain Greek yogurt strained through a sieve with either cheesecloth or paper towel. I did that but nothing ended up straining so I think using plain Greek yogurt is the best option.  And using fresh dill, garlic and lemon will punch up these flavors.  

Tzatziki
from Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 1 lb plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp freshly chopped dill
  • pinch pepper

To Make

1) Cut the hot house cucumber in half and remove the seeds using a spoon. Leave unpeeled and grate. Mix with 1 tbsp salt. Place in a fine mesh sieve, put over a bowl and let drain in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
2) Squeeze as much liquid out of the cucumber as you can after the hours in the refrigerator, place in large bowl. Add in the greek yogurt, sour cream, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, dill and garlic. Stir to combine. Taste and add pepper and salt as needed.
3) Serve immediately, or let it sit in the fridge for another several hours to allow flavors to combine. Enjoy!

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