Friday, December 21, 2012

Twice Baked Potatoes

The Christmas countdown is winding down. Christmas presents are wrapped and menus are planned. In fact, I’ve just completed my grocery list for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Even with all of that done, I’m not sure I’m ready!

I wish we could have done more entertaining this season, but we did manage to have a small dinner party last weekend. Having a Christmas party whether big or small always helps me get more into the mood of the season.

I tried something different with my table this year, using red and brown as the main colors. I liked how the colors worked together to create a old-fashioned feeling table.

I kept the menu simple for this get together. I made Cranberry Salsa to snack on before dinner, and I made a delicious braised brisket, some roasted asparagus and these Twice Baked Potatoes. The Twice Baked potatoes were delicious on their own, but they were really good with the sauce from the brisket!

Twice Baked Potatoes
From HaveRecipes-WillCook
Printable Recipe
12 russet potatoes, washed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sour cream
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped green onions
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the potatoes with the oil and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for one hour or until baked completely through.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Scrape out the inside of the potatoes into a large bowl. Leave a thin rim of the potato intact, so the skins can provide some structure for the filling. Place the potato skins on two rimmed baking sheets.

Add the butter, sour cream, cheese, green onions and salt and pepper to the large bowl with the potato scrapings. Mix the ingredients together until well combined. Fill the potato skins with a heaping amount of the filling, and place filled potatoes on two rimmed baking sheets. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Caramel Heavenlies

Christmas is only five days away! It usually rushes up on me, but this year it seems to have come entirely too quickly!

My daughter came home on Friday from college in Montana, and I’m loving that she’s home.  I usually try not to worry about things I can’t control, but with my daughter flying by herself for the first time, and with a really short layover to her connecting flight, I was a basket case all day Friday. And, the news coming out of Connecticut didn’t help my anxiety. As I was listening in stunned horror to the news, I just wanted to have my children at home where I could hold them. Never mind my oldest is technically an adult now! Having both my children at home has helped my mental state, but I’m still terribly saddened by the loss of all of those beautiful children, and the adults who taught them and tried to protect them. My thoughts and prayers are with their families now.

It almost seems wrong to go about blogging with everything going on, and to be truthful; I’m not enjoying the holidays like I usually do. Missing my dad has a lot to do with my holiday blahs as well, I’m sure.

I’m trying to get into the spirit, so I accepted an invitation to a cookie exchange party. My friend Conny has been hosting this party for years, and I always enjoy myself. This year I’m going with an easy cookie recipe. I saw the recipe for Caramel Heavenlies on Midwest Living’s website. They are similar to Chocolate Toffee Bark, and they are just as easy. They taste a bit like layer cookies without the chocolate. I served the Caramel Heavenlies at a dinner party I had last weekend, and they were very popular. I hope they go over as well at the cookie exchange.

Caramel Heavenlies 
adapted from Midwest Living
Printable Recipe
12 graham cracker rectangles
2 cups mini marshmallows
¾ cup butter, cut up
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cups flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch pan with parchment paper. Line the prepared baking sheet with the graham crackers breaking the crackers as necessary to cover the baking sheet completely. Sprinkle the graham crackers with mini marshmallows.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon and vanilla. Spoon the caramel mixture over the graham crackers, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with almonds and coconut.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Cool on wire rack. Using the parchment paper, lift the bars from the pan. Cut into 3-inch squares, and then cut each square diagonally. Store in an airtight container. Makes 30 cookies.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pumpkin Bread

What do you give to your friends and coworkers for the holidays? Do you buy something or make something? Me? I usually make something to give. I’ve made dozens of cookies, spiced nuts, double-decker fudge and I even gave plum liqueur one year when I had access to a bunch of backyard plums, but this Pumpkin Bread has been a staple of my Christmas giving for at least 20 years. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been making this bread for so long.  The pumpkin bread is just that good. This quick bread is moist, tender and very flavorful, and it disappears quickly.

The recipe originally calls for baking the pumpkin bread in two 9 x 5 loaf pans, but I like baking them in the mini pans, so I have more to give away.  You can easily double the batch for 10 mini loaves, but be careful because the batter come to nearly the top of my Kitchen Aid mixing bowl.

Pumpkin Bread 
Adapted from Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook
Printable Recipe
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
1 14.5 can pumpkin puree
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour five 5¾x3¼ mini loaf pans.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and cloves.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the sugar, cream cheese and butter and mix at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Mix in the pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Fold in the nuts. Pour into the prepared mini loaf pans. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the pans. Serve warm, or cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container or wrap in cellophane to give as gifts.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Poached Pear and Tapenade Sandwiches

We are now one week past Thanksgiving. All of my leftovers have been consumed (or never will be), and I’m happy to have them gone. As much as I love the Thanksgiving meal, I don’t usually want to eat any leftovers past the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. By Sunday, I’m ready for something completely different. I want something light and fresh. This Poached Pear and Tapenade Sandwich satisfied my craving for something different.

I had a similar sandwich when I attended a meeting up in San Francisco, except the sandwich there had fresh figs in it. By the time I went to recreate the sandwich, there were no fresh figs in the market. I wasn’t going to let a missing ingredient stop me, so I substituted poached pears for the figs, and I’m glad I did. I actually liked the poached pears better than the figs.

The sandwich is the perfect combination of salty and sweet with the fresh mozzarella adding a delicious creaminess. The arugula was my addition. I added it not only for color, but also for its peppery depth.

To make this sandwich for a crowd, you can slice the baguette open and fill it up, or you can cut the baguette into slices and layer the toppings on the bread for a great appetizer.

Poached Pear and Tapenade Sandwiches
Printable Recipe
1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
Tapenade (recipe follows)
Poached pears (recipe follows)
16 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 ½ cups arugula

To assemble the sandwiches, spread a generous amount of the tapenade on the bottom half of the sliced baguette. Add the sliced mozzarella, poached pears and arugula. Place the top of the baguette over the sandwich filling and slice crosswise into single serving sized sandwiches.

2 cups kalamata olives, pitted
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, add the olives, thyme, garlic and process until the olives are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until smooth.

Poached Pears
adapted from
4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced ½ thick
1 ½ cups red wine
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, bring the wine, sugar, honey, lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon to a boil, add the pears and cook until softened, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m going to have to wish you a happy Thanksgiving quickly this year.  I’m actually hosting Thanksgiving. I think this will be only the second time I have ever hosted Thanksgiving. Lynn likes to host, and I like being a guest for this particular holiday, so it’s always worked out. We are struggling with a couple empty chairs this year, so we decided to change things up a bit. My daughter is having Thanksgiving in Montana with a lovely family. I’m sure she is going to enjoy herself, but I’m going to miss her! And, we will all miss having my dad at the table.

Lynn will be over in a couple of hours, and I’m going to put the turkey in the oven shortly. Last night, while I was doing some prep work, I wanted to bake something (part of my baking therapy I'm sure).  Lynn is bringing a couple of pies, so I didn’t want to add another dessert. Les suggested I bake something for breakfast.

I decided to bake this Pumpkin-Pecan Coffee Cake. I love the original coffee cake recipe, but I wanted experiment with adding pumpkin to it. I love this Pumpkin-Pecan Coffee Cake even more than the original. The coffee cake is sweet, moist and flavorful! I especially like the crumb crust this coffee cake has. Happy Thanksgiving!  

Pumpkin-Pecan Coffee Cake 
Adapted from Southern Living’s Our Best-Ever Cakes & Pies
Printable Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
¾ cup butter, cubed
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup sour cream
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9x13-baking pan with cooking spray.

Stir together the flour, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is crumbly. Remove 2 ¼ cups of the butter and flour mixture, and press it evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin, sour cream, egg and baking soda. Add pumpkin mixture to the remaining crumb mixture and stir until just moistened. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crumb crust in the baking pan.

Stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture and pecans on top of the pumpkin mixture.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cherry-Lime Cream Mini Scones


I read an article about scones in Slate’s You’re Doing It Wrong column. How are we doing it wrong you ask? I think it’s, as always with food, a matter of taste. English scones, the article says, are more like a baking powder biscuit, while our Americanized version of scones are much too sweet and full of excesses (my wording). The scones I’ve had in English teahouses are light and flakey, and I think they are delicious (though I’m really more fond of cucumber sandwiches). I’m not sure I’m ready to weigh in as to which is better, but I found the article interesting since I had just made a couple batches of these Cherry-Lime Scones.

The only thing these Cherry-Lime Scones have in common with traditional English scones (besides the name) is the texture. These scones are light and fluffy and remind me of the English scones I’ve had in the past, but once you get past the texture everything changes. Cherry-Lime Cream Scones are very flavorful with the sweet dried cherries, tart lime zest and lime glaze. You won’t need jam or clotted cream with these scones, since they are tasty in their own right. So, sit down, grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a couple of these Cherry-Lime Cream Mini Scones.  

Cherry-Lime Cream Mini Scones
Printable Recipe
Adapted from Baking At Home from The Culinary Institute of America
½ cup granulated sugar
3 ¾ cups bread flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons grated lime zest, separated
1 ½ cups dried cherries, chopped
2 ½ cups chilled heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons
1 large egg
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of lime zest and the cherries, and blend until combined. Mix in the 2 ½ cups of cream at medium speed until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Divide the mixture into two equal portions and pat out on a lightly floured surface into two 10x4 inch rectangles. Cut the dough rectangle in half lengthwise, and then cut the dough crosswise into four equal portions. Cut each of the eight rectangles diagonally into triangles. Repeat with other portion of dough. You should have 32 mini scones

Place the dough rectangles on a baking sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Once solid, scones can be place in a freezer bag, and can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the frozen scones on a baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.

Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and brush the mixture on the frozen scones. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Let the scones cool completely, about 1 hour. Mix powder sugar, 1 tablespoon of lime zest and limejuice. Dip the top of the scones in the glaze and place back on the wire rack. Let the glaze set and serve.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mushroom Casserole

I’m in denial that it’s November already. My daughter has been sending me snow pictures from Montana, so I’m having a hard time staying in my happy place where it is still summer, my daughter is home, and we are swimming and eating outside. And, to make matters worse for my state of denial, we set our clocks back last week. A sure sign of the changing season.
I’ve always had a hard time when we change the clocks back. While I do like the extra light in the mornings, I don’t like it getting dark so early, and I really don’t like feeling I’m late for everything. My body clock must be really tuned into the sun.

To counteract the panic I always feel trying to get dinner on the table the first week of the time change, I decided to make a couple of meals on Sunday (when I had an extra hour) to get a jump start on the weeknights ahead.

One of the dinner’s I made on Sunday was adapted from Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day. I’ve made other recipes from her show, and they were successful with my family. I saw Rachel make this mushroom casserole while I was visiting my daughter in Montana. It looked so delicious; I wanted to try it when I got home.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe, but the main change was to take out the milk from the polenta. I like this polenta recipe, and if you want to make the casserole vegan, you can easily do it by omitting the cheese.

Les and I loved this casserole. My son ate it, but it wasn’t his favorite. The mushrooms were rich and meaty, and with the polenta and cheese topping it, the casserole was a filling and satisfying meal. Mushroom Casserole would be a good dish to make during the holidays for your vegetarian friends.

Mushroom Casserole
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day
Printable Recipe
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 package dried porcini mushrooms, about 2/3 cup
24 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup Marsala wine
1 cup stone ground whole grain polenta (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup parmesan cheese, optional
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella, optional

In a small pot, add the porcini mushrooms and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to reconstitute the mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the mushrooms and water aside.

While the dried mushrooms are cooking, heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the crimini mushrooms, and cook until browned and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, carrots and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the Marsala to deglaze the pan. Add the reconstituted dried mushroom and the mushroom cooking liquid, making sure not to pour in the grit from the bottom of the pot. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a 10-12 inch casserole dish.

While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk the polenta into 2 cups of water in a small bowl. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the soaked polenta whisking to combine, and add 1½ teaspoons of salt. Stir the polenta often, and cook until the polenta is thickened, smooth and fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add warm water if the polenta thickens too quickly. Stir in the olive oil, parmesan cheese (if using) and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Spoon the polenta over the mushrooms in the casserole dish. Top with the smoked mozzarella (if using). Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is brown and the casserole is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Black Bean and Corn Tacos

As you know, back in February, my family gave up meat and dairy during Lent. And, for the most part, we did well. Okay, I’m not counting the trip my daughter and I took to Montana for a college visit. We had a difficult time staying vegan (we could manage vegetarian, but vegan was hard).

It felt good going without meat and dairy. I had more energy and I lost weight! My family rose to the vegan challenge. We tried new food, ate more fruits and vegetable and opened ourselves up to a new way of eating, and I’m glad we did it!

We did not remain vegan after Lent, but going without meat and dairy for six weeks allowed us to lose our cravings for meat. We are still eating vegetarian 60 to 75 percent of the time.  We have had a harder time giving up dairy.

Black Bean and Corn Tacos are one of the holdouts from our vegan days, and my family loves them. You can serve these tacos with typical taco toppings, or you can keep them vegan by serving them with thinly sliced cabbage, cilantro, sliced avocado and a wedge of lime. Try these tacos next time you want a meatless meal.  

Black Bean and Corn Tacos
Printable Recipe
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced (2/3 cup)
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
2 14 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
Juice from one lime

Corn or flour tortillas
thinly sliced cabbage
chopped cilantro
sliced avocado
sliced jalapenos

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Add the onion, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and then add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne pepper and kosher salt and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, black beans and corn and cook until thickened 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the limejuice and serve in tortillas with assorted toppings.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Sauce and Cream Cheese Icing

As I mentioned in my last post, I visited my daughter in Montana for Parent’s weekend. In order to squeeze as much time together as possible, I insisted my daughter get up “early” on Sunday, so she could have breakfast with Lynn and me before we left. She didn’t protest since there was going be more shopping involved as well. We didn’t have time to research breakfast places (when we travel, we like eat at places where we can’t eat at home), and since Lynn and I had to get to the airport before noon, we decided to eat at Ihop.

Lynn and I had some delicious pumpkin pancakes, and my daughter got the French toast Cinnastacks. We shared bites of our breakfast, and my daughter let me dip my pumpkin pancakes in her Cinnastack sauce. Her French toast was delicious with topped with the cinnamon sauce, but the pumpkin pancakes were amazing dredged in the sauce! They tasted like pumpkin cinnamon buns. I knew I needed to recreate the sauce.

There are a few sauce recipes out there, and I don’t know where the recipe for this sauce originated since it was in so many places. After trying this sauce, I think it is a good match for Ihop’s sauce. Serving the cream cheese icing on the pumpkin pancakes along with the cinnamon sauce is absolutely gilding the lily, but my husband insisted it was worth the effort.

Pumpkin Pancakes
Printable Recipe
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of clove
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1½ cup milk

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove in a large bowl or 8 cup measuring cup. In a small bowl, mix together butter, pumpkin, eggs and milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Stir together until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
Heat a non-stick griddle on medium-high heat. Add the batter to the pan for desired-sized pancakes. Cook until bubbles no longer flow to the surface of the batter, then flip. Serve with Cinnamon Syrup and Cream Cheese Icing or maple syrup.

Cinnamon Syrup
¼ cup butter (salted)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons half & half
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of cloves
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Heat butter, brown sugar, half & half, cinnamon, salt and cloves until bubbly and smooth. Add the flour and cook another minute or until thickened. Serve warm.

Cream Cheese Icing
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and beat for another few seconds or until the glaze is smooth and creamy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Country Salad with Barley

Change and loss are the two words best describing my last few months. August saw us packing up my daughter and moving her across a couple western states to drop her off in Montana for college. Then, three weeks after leaving my daughter in Montana, my dear father passed away. His death was not unexpected, but it was very sudden, and it broke my heart.

One thing that has kept me going in my season of loss and change (besides the support of my family and friends of course) has been cooking. When I first got back from Montana, I jumped into what I described as my "therapy" baking. I made some amazing sweet treats like Southern Living’s Mississippi Mud Cake, Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake, and German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.

All of these sweet treats were delicious, and the precise measuring, stirring and timing baking requires, soothed me. But, there were only so many baked goods my family or co-workers could consume, so I had to move on to more savory fare.

I have recently been fascinated by Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day show on Food Network. I loved the idea of devoting a whole day to making food for the rest of the week, so a couple of weeks ago, I organized myself and tried her method. I woke up early on Sunday and made Split Pea Soup with Lemon, Andouille Sausage and Butternut Squash Gumbo, Green Pastitsio, and a big batch of this Country Salad with Barley.

Country Salad with Barley is my own take on a Trader Joe’s salad Les and I both love. I worked on the recipe until the salad tasted like the Trader Joe’s Salad, and I have it on good authority that I “nailed it.”

The original salad has a base of cabbage the grain salad rests on. I chopped the cabbage and mixed it into the salad. I also used barley rather than bulgur because I like the texture of barley better than bulgur, but be sure not to overcook the barley as it becomes gummy. The dill and cumin mix with the balsamic vinegar to create a deliciously unique salad with a nice chew from the barley and a crunch from the cabbage. I make a big batch of this salad so we can have it for lunch during the week, and it keeps really well.

I spent the weekend in Montana with my daughter and Lynn (my late dad's wife), and we had a great visit. I think with time and a lot of cooking I will start to feel less raw, and I'll feel even better when my daughter comes home for Christmas break (she will love this salad)!

Country Salad with Barley
Printable Recipe
4 to 6 cups of cooked barley (I use this technique for cooking the barley)
6 cups chopped cabbage (from one medium head)
1 cup of chopped cucumber
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 14oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together the barley, cabbage, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red pepper and garbanzo beans in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, cumin dill and salt. Pour the dressing over barley mixture and stir to combine. Chill the salad for at least one hour to let the flavors combine. Serve.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ginger Cake with Fruit Sauce

Hello!  I’m back!  Wow, I can’t believe how long I’ve been unplugged.  No one ever told me how all encompassing the end of senior year in high school is for parents!  My parents were nowhere near as busy with my graduation as Les and I were for our daughter’s! 

Between college visits, senior prom, senior dinner dance (which was prom with parents and really fun!), the last choir concert, baccalaureate mass, graduation and graduation party, we were pretty busy this spring.  My son also had a birthday week extravaganza, which included a camping trip during the same time.  Add in a database change at work, I didn’t even open my laptop for days on end.  Yeah, I know…blah, blah, blah.

I did continue to cook, and I have a couple vegan recipes to share, but I knew I needed something special to get me back to blogging.  I made this cake years ago for a barbeque Les and I hosted for our dear friends Tom and Paula.  Les was trying some baby back ribs on his new smoker, and I made a potato salad and this Ginger Cake with Fruit Sauce.  We pulled the ribs out of the smoker and served dinner.  The smell of dinner brought back memories of how my house smelled in high school.  Unfortunately, my memories weren’t from delicious smells coming from the kitchen.  No, my memories were from my mother chain smoking!

Dinner should never be reminiscent of a chain smoker’s ashtray!  The ribs were too smoky, so needless to say we dined on potato salad and this delicious Ginger Cake with Fruit Sauce.  Tom, being the sweet man he is, said the cake reminded him of a cake he had when he was younger.  A cake he remembered fondly.

I love the flavors of this cake.  Usually, ginger bread  reminds me of fall, but when paired with a peachy orange sauce, ginger cake is all about summer!

Now, I normally like to bake cakes from scratch, and I had thoughts of using a scratch cake for this, but sometimes a doctored cake mix is exactly what is needed, so I have left the recipe as I made it 20 years ago.

This is a great cake for potlucks.  It can easily be baked in a 9X13 pan and cut into squares to serve (skipping the cream cheese).  I’m thinking about adding this dessert to my 4th of July menu.

Ginger Cake with Fruit Sauce
Adapted from Treasury of Barbeque Recipes
2 packages (14.5 ounces each) Gingerbread cake mix
1 ½ cups water
6 fresh peaches, chopped (4 cups)
4 ounces light (Neufchatel) cream cheese, softened
Fruit Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease two 9-inch rounds pans.  In a medium bowl, mix together the water and the gingerbread mixes until well blended (about 2 minutes).  Stir in peaches.  Pour batter equally into prepared pans.  Bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pans.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  Once the cakes are cooled, spread on cake layer with cheese.  Place second cake layer on top of the first layer, slice and serve topped with fruit sauce.

Fruit Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3 fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
3 fresh nectarines, chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and orange juice, and then add the honey.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.   Remove from heat, and add the butter and orange zest.  Mix until the butter has melted, and add the fruit.  Serve warm over Ginger Cake.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Fajitas

Last year for Lent, my daughter wanted to give up all meat, dairy and other animal products.  She decided to become vegan for Lent; unfortunately, she decided this on Ash Wednesday.  I flailed around trying to come up with something she could eat, but I was ill-equipped and ill-prepared for her to become vegan with such short notice. I think she starved for a couple of days before I convinced her to give up something else.  I promised I would do some research, so she could be vegan for this year’s Lent.

True to my word, I have been adding vegan recipes (or recipes easily made vegan) to my arsenal, like Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Black Bean ChiliWinter Vegetable Stew with Moroccan Flavors, and Barley Kale Salad.  I’ve been doing research and testing recipes, and about a month ago, I was testing a recipe for red lentil burgers.  I gave one to my daughter, and she said she liked the burger, but she wanted a “real” hamburger.  I explained I was trying out recipes for her vegan Lent this year.  She looked at me and said, “Oh yeah, about that, I’ve decided to give up soda this year instead.”

I walked away stunned.  Really?  Really!?! I had to regroup after her declaration, but when I came out of my shocked disbelief, I realized all my work could still be used.  Les and I would cut out meat and dairy for Lent!  Les was on board, so I continued with my plans.  And, with her dad and me as good role models (yeah, right!), our daughter has decided to join us in our Lenten sacrifice (our son is another story).  So, for the next 40 days, I will be posting mostly vegetarian/vegan recipes.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

I tested these Portabella Mushroom Fajitas last weekend, and I will be making these quick and easy fajitas again.  The fajitas are moist, flavorful and have nice meaty bite.  I might add a little non-dairy sour cream or guacamole to the fajitas next time I make them.  Yum!

Portabella Mushroom Fajitas
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of two limes
1 tablespoon tequila
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 small Serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 large portabella mushroom caps, washed, stemmed.
½ yellow onion, sliced
1 sweet bell pepper, sliced (I used ½ green and ½ red bell pepper)

Corn tortillas, warmed

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil, lime juice, tequila, cumin, coriander and salt.  Stir in the Serrano pepper and cilantro, and set aside.

Gently remove the gills from the portabella mushroom with a spoon.  Slice the mushroom into ½ inch slices.  In a large bowl, add the mushrooms, onions and bell pepper.  Pour marinade over the mixture, and stir gently.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the marinade.

Heat a scant teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven, and add the mushrooms, onions and peppers in batches, so you don’t crowd the pan.  Cook until the mushrooms are browned and the onions and peppers are soft.  Pour any remaining marinade over the hot mushrooms and peppers.  Serve in warmed tortillas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yeah, I know. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like Barley Kale Salad! I did have visions of posting cookies, cupcakes or something else sweet and gooey, but after thinking about Valentine’s Day as the day to celebrate love, instead of a day to gorge on sweets, I decided to take a different path. The love of my life, the one I’ve been married to for almost 20 years, has been battling high cholesterol for most of his adult life. I’ve made changes in what we eat to help with his cholesterol, so we are now eating more fish, whole grains and good fats, and less meat, white flour and saturated fats. Some weeks are better than others, but on the whole we have been making progress, and his numbers have been looking good!

So, with my Valentine in mind, I decided to share my friend Beth’s Barley and Kale salad. Beth served this salad to go with my beans, and barbequed tri-tip for a camping trip last June (We eat really well on our camping trips!). I made her salad this Sunday, so Les and I could bring it for lunch during week. I packed Les some for his lunch Monday, and as I was sitting down to eat my bowl, I received a text from him saying he really liked the salad, and he hoped there was more for Tuesday. Awh, how sweet! I’m glad he liked it!

Barley and Kale salad is low fat, tasty and filling. The dressing adds a tartness that blends nicely with the kale, the edamame adds a nice amount of protein, and the cranberries are just plain yummy. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Barley Kale Salad
Printable Recipe
1 10-ounce bunch Lacinato (dinosaur kale), washed, leaves trimmed from stem and chopped
½ cup chopped parsley, one bunch
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
Juice of two lemons
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked barley
2 cups frozen edamame, cooked and cooled
½ cup dried cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the chopped kale, parsley and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Add the vinegar mixture to the kale and toss together. Stir the barley, edamame and cranberries into the kale mixture. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate for 1 hour to let the flavors combine. Serve.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Surfer Soup

We are having a beautiful, mild winter here in Northern California.  I would enjoy the weather more if the specter of drought wasn’t hanging over our heads, but we have had beautiful days to hike, bike and enjoy the outdoors.  January and February are usually gray and drippy, so we don’t plan many camping trips or outdoor activities.  The weather in October is a different story. 

Northern California beaches are best in the fall.  The summer fog is gone, and the ocean water is a little warmer than in the spring, although less cold is probably a better description.  With the good weather of fall in mind, Sandy and Brian plan a beach camping trip for the beginning of October every year.   My son loves this trip!  We head to the beach campground on Friday, set up our tents, and hike down the cliff to enjoy the sand, water and a beautiful sunset before heading back up to our campground.  The kids go up without complaint because they know they will be spending all day Saturday in the water.

Then on Saturday, while I’m sitting on the beach under my umbrella, our friends Janet and Tony are usually decked out in wetsuits riding the waves on boogie boards with the kids.  This year, though, they roared into camp with surfboards strapped to the roof of their Yukon.  This raised their cool factor enormously. I’m sure my son wishes he had parents like Janet and Tony!  Never mind we never actually saw Janet and Tony surf.  They used the excuse that the waves were better at another beach, blah, blah, blah, but they allegedly surf.

Janet was in charge of dinner on Friday night, and she brought—you guessed it—Surfer Soup!  Janet’s soup was perfect for camping.  She calls the soup Surfer Soup because she makes the soup in the morning before they head to the beach.  When Janet’s family returns from surfing, they have a delicious dinner to help warm them up after a day in the ocean.

I made a double batch of the soup a couple months ago, so I stashed the leftovers in the freezer. I pulled the soup out for a quick dinner last night.  The soup tasted just as good, and maybe a little better out of the freezer than it did the night I made it.

Surfer Soup is a hearty, healthy, low fat soup perfect for when you’ve spent the day surfing the waves, or if you’ve only spent the day surfing the net. 

Surfer Soup 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
½  yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 15-ounce can petite cut diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 6-ounce bag of baby spinach, chopped
Parmesan cheese
Tabasco sauce

In a large saucepot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook until the onion is soft.  Add the turkey to the onions, and cook until the turkey is no longer pink.  Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.  Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, cannellini beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer, and simmer the soup for 15 minutes.  Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and Tabasco sauce.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mediterranean Layer Dip

What are you doing for Super Bowl?  I know I’ve mentioned I love going to Super Bowl parties.  The parties combine some of my favorite things: socializing, eating, watching football and talking about food (talking about food might be unique to my group of friends, I don’t know).  We were invited to two different Super Bowl parties this year.  We are heading over to Joanne and Todd’s so, I’m not going to compete in Tammy and Tom’s pizza cook-off this year.  I am excited to hear what Sandy and Brian come up with, since they usually win.

I’m not competing in a food competition, but I know we will be eating well!  Joanne and Todd are great hosts, so no one goes home hungry, and I’m excited to bring Mediterranean Layer Dip with me to share.

I made Mediterranean Layer Dip to enjoy while watching the Pro Bowl last weekend.  I have to admit that the Pro Bowl, though meaningless, is a fun to watch.  The players are having such a good time, and their joy in being there is a blast to see.  This layer dip was great to nosh on while we watched the game.

I have a soft, comfortable spot in my heart for traditional layer dip.  I love the salty chips and the creamy dip, so when I saw this creative take on layer dip in Bean by Bean a Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon, I had to try it.  I’m glad I did.  The flavors are fresh and lively, and the combination is unique.  I made the hummus from scratch, but you can easily use store bought hummus for this layer dip.  I do have to admit the homemade hummus really shines in this layer dip, and is so easy, I have to ask myself why I don’t make hummus from scratch all the time.  Les and the kids liked the layer dip too.  We ate about half of it Sunday, and we were all happy to polish it off Monday before dinner.

Mediterranean Layer dip tastes lighter than traditional layer dip, so it is perfect to serve when there are plenty of other heavier appetizers around.  If you are looking for something light and unique to bring to your Super Bowl party, try Mediterranean Layer Dip.

Mediterranean Layer Dip
Adapted from Bean by Bean a Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
6 to 8 radishes, tops and tails removed, well washed and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bunches green onions, white and light green portions only, chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
2 ½ cups hummus (recipe follows)
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped

Pita chips

In a medium colander with a bowl underneath, stir together the cucumber, radishes, jalapeno, lemon juice and salt.  Let the cucumber mixture drain for at least 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the green onions, parsley, and dill.  Set aside.

Spread the hummus on the bottom of a glass pie plate.  Sprinkled drained cucumber mixture over the hummus, and add the green onion mixture on top of the cucumber mixture.  Add the feta cheese, and top with the sour cream.  Sprinkle the sour cream with the tomatoes and the kalamata olives.  Serve immediately with pita chips.

Adapted from Bean by Bean a Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon
2 15-ounce cans reduced sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, liquid reserved
3 tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, or more to taste
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Combine the garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of the reserved bean liquid, tahini, olive oil, garlic and the juice of one lemon in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until very smooth.  Add more bean liquid and lemon juice until the hummus is the consistency of sour cream or a little thinner.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the flavors combine.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

In celebration of my 3-year blog anniversary, I am sharing a cake recipe with you.  I’m not much of a cake lover (you know, cake with thick frosting and flowers), so I haven’t spent much time perfecting my cake making techniques.  Though, while I was flipping through cake recipes for inspiration the layer cakes intrigued me.  I have to admit layer cakes have intrigued me since I saw Pollyanna eat a 3-layer mile-high slice of cake at the town fair (Do you remember that scene in the movie with Hayley Mills?).  I’m still searching for a layer cake to love like the one Pollyanna ate.  The Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes looked like a layer cake I could love, but her description of the frosting as, “…tricky to apply, requiring the patience of a craftsperson.” frankly, scared me.

The cover recipe of Southern Living’s September issue has called to me for months.  Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt cake is right up my alley.  I like more homey rustic cakes, and this cake is amazing!  I wanted to eat the praline frosting straight out of the saucepan, and if I wasn't worried about how much frosting the recipe made, I would have eaten more.  From the look of the cake in Southern Living, it had at least a double recipe of frosting.  Next time I will triple the frosting, so I can eat more out of the saucepan, and still have frosting dripping all the way down the sides of the cake.

I wanted to have a beautiful layer cake to celebrate my blog’s anniversary, and though Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake isn’t beautiful, it is a homey, moist spice cake that tastes like fall, but is perfect in January too.  I hope I’m invited to dinner somewhere soon.  I’ll bring dessert!

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
Adapted from Southern Living
Printable Recipe
Cream Cheese Filling
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apple Cake Batter
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
3 large eggs lightly beaten
¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples

Praline Frosting
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ butter
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Prepare the Cream Cheese Filling:  Beat the cream cheese, butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until blended and smooth.  Add egg, flour and vanilla, and beat just until blended. Set aside.

Prepare the Apple Cake Batter: Preheat the oven to 350F°.   Bake pecans in a shallow pan until toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and allspice.  Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, oil, applesauce, and vanilla.  Stir just until all ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the apples and pecans.

Grease and flour a 14-cup Bundt pan.  Spoon half the batter into the pan.  Make a trough in the apple cake batter, and spoon the cream cheese mixture into the trough.  Swirl the filling through the apple cake batter using a paring knife.  Spoon the remaining apple cake batter over the cream cheese filling.  Bake at 350F° for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack until cooled completely (about 2 hours).

Prepare the Frosting:  Bring ½ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup butter and 3 Tablespoons milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk constantly.  Boil mixture of 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.  Stir the mixture gently for 3 to 5 minutes, or until frosting begins to cool and thickens slightly.  Pour frosting immediately over cooled cake.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Game Day Chili Con Carne

I laughed when I realized I inadvertently chose a red bowl with a red and gold napkin for the picture of my Chili Con Carne.  When I chose the bowl, I knew the 49ers (red and gold) were in the playoffs, but I didn’t think they would go very far.  I couldn’t believe the 49ers won their nail-biting game last week!  And, I can’t believe they will be playing this weekend for a place in the Super Bowl!  The 49ers haven’t been in the playoffs for nine years, and they haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1994.  You have to understand, when I moved to northern California, the 49ers were in the middle of a winning streak earning playoff spots in 14 of the 17 years between 1986 and 2002.  Don’t tell anyone, but I believe in the sports motto of, “If you can't be with the team you love, love the team your with.”  And it was easy to do when I moved to a place with a winning team!  But, the last few years have been hard on die hard 49er fans.

Me?  I chose to ignore the fact my team wasn’t winning by immersing myself in planning and executing the perfect Super Bowl party food.  I was, also, happy not to have to cheer against my team in order to win the football pool.  You know, “Come on 49ers! Just take a safety, and I could win 100 bucks!”  It just seems wrong to cheer that way.  I’m better off concentrating on the food.

I have brought countless snacks and appetizers to Super Bowl parties in the last 10 years.  And, last year my chili even won second place in a chili cook off!  I don’t know what I’ll make this year, but if we are invited to another chili cook-off, this recipe for Chili Con Carne might win 1st place!  This chili is spicy and meaty, and I really like what the fresh poblano and jalapeno do to the flavor.

I’m not sure how the 49ers will do in their game on Sunday, but I know I’ll be in the kitchen with the food, trying not to hope for a safety in order to win the football pool!

Chili Con Carne
Adapted from Fine Cooking’s One Pot Meals
2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 Tablespoons canola oil, separated
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ground ancho chile
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground chipolte chile
1 ½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
Kosher salt
1 14½ ounce can petite diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, separated
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Shredded cheddar cheese
Cubed avocado
Diced red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro

Season the cubed meat with ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add half the meat, and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total.  Remove the meat to a plate.  Repeat with another two teaspoons of oil and the other half of the meat.  Transfer the second batch of meat to the plate, and set aside.  Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the Dutch oven, and add the onion, poblano and jalapeno, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the ancho chile, cumin, coriander, chipolte chile, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Return the beef to the Dutch oven with any juices, and add 2½ cups of water, the tomatoes and their juices, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 1½ hours.  Uncover and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.  Stir in the beans, and raise the heat to medium high.  Cook until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and season to taste with salt.

Top with cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion and cilantro, and serve.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Sour Cream

I’ve been on a butternut squash kick lately.  Les and my daughter loved the Winter Vegetable Stew with Moroccan Spices, and I made some butternut squash soup with the leftover squash. Then I bought another butternut squash from the store a few weeks ago.  I had intentions of making something new with it, but as sometimes happens, I didn’t get around to using the squash that week.  It sat forgotten and ignored on my counter waiting for me to use it.

I hate to throw out food, so I was glad when my boss told me about some butternut squash soup with chipotle peppers she’d had.  I was inspired!  I could use my sad and lonely squash, and I had everything else I needed in the pantry.  I could make dinner without going to the store.  I love when I don’t have to go to the store!

I made the butternut squash soup last Saturday night for dinner, and I don’t recommend the following technique (at least the part my husband helped with), but it's how I tested the soup.  I started the soup a little late Saturday afternoon, and after the step where I boiled the vegetables until they were tender, I took the soup off the heat, and and set it aside.  My son and I rushed off to mass where he was was altar serving that evening.  Les came home from work while we were at church, and I guess he was hungry, because when we got home he confessed he’d had a bowl of the soup that was on the stove.  Really!?!  The soup wasn’t finished.  It was really chunky, and it wasn't seasoned correctly.  Les said he liked the soup the way it was.  I completed the soup with his portion missing from the pot.  The soup was delicious despite the change.

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Sour Cream is silky smooth with rich flavor from the chicken broth and chipotle peppers.  I made the soup as written with chicken broth (it’s what I had on hand), but I think it would be delicious with vegetable broth too.  Les said he liked his extra chunky soup, but I know he liked the smooth, and properly seasoned soup better.

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Sour Cream
Adapted from
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium butternut squash, washed, halved lengthwise and seeded
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth, divided
2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo

Chipotle Sour Cream
1 teaspoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo
1/2 cup sour cream
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Arrange the squash cut side up on a baking sheet.  Brush the cut side of the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast squash until browned and very tender, about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat add the remaining olive oil, onion, celery and carrot.  Season the mixture with a pinch of salt.  Cook the vegetables until they start to soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Using a spoon, scoop the flesh of the butternut squash away from the skin, and add it to the softened vegetables.  Add 4 cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat and blend it with an immersion blender until it is completely blended and smooth.  Add the remaining chicken broth to achieve the desired consistency.  Mix in 2 teaspoons of the chipotle pepper and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of chipotle pepper and the sour cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve the soup with a dollop of chipotle sour cream on top.


Related Posts with Thumbnails