Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Fresh Chives

176. There has been a brisk change in the weather from warm 78 degree sunny days to rainy, cool, breezy days of 58 degrees. So soup was on the menu tonight. We had a plethora of potatoes so the search for a soup with potatoes was the theme. This recipe for Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup is delicious, AND, the ingredient of fresh chopped chives from my herb garden was a plus.

My honey found this yummy recipe on Cooks.com. We followed it but tweaked it a little.
Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Fresh Chives

1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut the uncooked bacon in small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
12 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp kosher salt
ground pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Using a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute the bacon pieces till they are crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 Tablespoons bacon grease Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook till transparent. Then add chopped potatoes to the pot. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then add chicken stock and kosher salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes till potatoes are tender.
Once potatoes are tender, take a potato masher and mash the potatoes here and there, leaving chunks. Add the cheese all at once and stir till cheese is incorporated.
Serve with crispy bacon and chopped, fresh chives. Also, with warm crusty bread.
On the Cooks.com recipe, there was a wonderful potato "tip" that was very helpful: "Boiling potatoes have less starch than baking, or Idaho, potatoes and consequentially hold together better when boiled. This is why they're often used in soups and for potato salads. Not in this soup, though. Since we want some of the potato to break down into smaller pieces and thicken the soup, baking potatoes are the perfect choice.
The herbs in my herb boxes are still growing beautifully. I trimmed off about 15 stems to use to garnish the soup. A tip I've learned, with chopping chives, is to hold them together and trim with kitchen scissors. The chives stay crisp and you can cut them as small or as large as you desire.
The soup was smooth and so warming. Very hearty and filling as well. Like a loaded baked potato in soup form!
We found the more you mashed the potato the thicker the soup became.

This soup was wonderfully delicious. And was a perfect warm up to the weather outside.

"How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?"
~ Paul Sweeney

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harvest Sweet Bread

175. With summer coming to a close and baskets full of garden fresh produce available. I decided to use my last cucuzza squash in a Harvest Sweet Bread recipe. If you don't know what a cucuzzi squash is, you need to check out my post on Cucuzza Squash here.
I grated the squash and measured it out to accompany my Zucchini Bread Recipe and substitute the cucuzza in place of zucchini. The cucuzza worked beautifully. I love this bread, it's the taste of harvest time.
Harvest Sweet Bread

2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 cups grated zucchini or cucuzza squash
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans
cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle over bread

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 regular loaf pans by spraying with oil.

Place all ingredients, in order, into a large mixing bowl. Blend together with a wooden spoon till smooth, glossy and bubbly. Divide batter between two prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over batter before baking.
Bake 60 minutes until done and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
This recipe is delicious and makes wonderful small muffin cakes as well.

"Bread deals with living things, with giving life,
with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures.
Its not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life."
~Lionel Poilne

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spicy Meat Pockets

174. Recently Food Network chose a new Food Network Star, Aarti Sequeira. I was hooked each week, happy when certain contestants went home but disappointed when others continued in the competition. Aarti was one of my favorites from the beginning. And the final three were my picks from show one.

The other day I caught "Aarti Party", Aarti's new show on Food Network of Indian Cooking. She was making yummy Baked Samosas, check out the recipe here. Aarti uses store bought puff pastry dough and her recipe looked so delicious! It inspired me, so I sent my honey to the store for puff pastry dough and what came home was phyllo dough instead...when you end up with lemons...make lemonade.
I brushed the phyllo with oil and stacked three sheets for each Spicy Meat Pocket.
I used the filling for a typical taco...pound of ground meat with taco mix but I added about a cup of shredded cheese. (If you don't have taco mix then to the browned and drained meat, add small chopped onion, 1 clove crushed garlic, pinch of cumin, 1 tsp of chili powder, dash of oregano, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped pepper. Add about 1/2 cup water or beef stock. Cook the meat till liquid has evaporated and the meat is tender). Then, just dolloped a tablespoon of meat on one corner...
folded the dough lengthwise over the meat...
then began to fold the top corner down to begin a triangular shape. I made sure to keep the dough brushed with oil.
Continue to fold
till you reach the end of the dough and seal with oil.
You have a beautiful triangular shaped pillow of dough.
To add an additional touch, I placed a small sprig of cilantro under the top crust of each pocket.
I baked them at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. The meat filling stayed in tact and they baked beautifully. They were lightly browned, crispy and were delicious!
I paired them with mexican rice, freshly made guacamole and salsa.

Aarti also has her own blog called Aarti Paarti. What a sweetheart she is..you will have to check it out. Congratulations Aarti...you were my Food Network Star from day one!!!

"I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is two weeks."
~Totie Fields

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pasta with Shrimp

173. For dinner tonight, Maggie wanted shrimp and pasta to celebrate her birthday.
I steamed fresh green beans to go along with the pasta and it put a smile on her face.

Fusilli and Shrimp in Garlic Cream Sauce

1 box fusilli pasta, boil and drain just prior to the sauce being finished.
3 Tblspoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic crushed or chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound fresh shrimp, cleaned, deveined, leaving on tails
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

In a large skillet over high heat, saute garlic in oil. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Place raw shrimp into broth and saute' the shrimp turning once, for approximately 4 minutes or until shrimp is a light pink color. Slowly add the cream and grated Romano cheese. Season for taste and pour over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle fresh basil over the pasta, sprinkle with Romano and serve.

This meal was so delicious.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
~Federico Fellini

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peanut y Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

172. Peanut Butter is a weakness for me in any form. Creamy, crunchy...candy or fudge. I will always choose the peanut butter item before the chocolate.
Here is a Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe that will win your heart and taste buds!
A few chocolate chips were added for the chocolate lovers in my house.
Peanut y Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup salted peanuts, whole
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
glass of cold water
granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sift flour and soda together onto parchment paper and set aside. Cream butter till light. Add peanut butter and sugars and blend till smooth. Next, add vanilla and eggs. Slowly pour in the flour mixture while the paddle is mixing. Last, add the peanuts and chocolate chips and incorporate into the dough.

Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop large dollops of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Dip a fork into a glass of water and impress the tines, in two directions making an "X" or hash mark on each cookie. Sprinkle granulated sugar on each cookie. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Less time for a softer cookie, longer for a crunchy cookie.
Perfection!!! Soft in the center and firm around the edges.
You know you want to make these cookies! Actually...I need to make another batch, ours are all gone.

Why do peanut butter cookies have hash marks on them? You'll be interested to read these possibilities at "Stumblerz".

"It's like peanut butter and chocolate. Each is great,

but they're better together."

~ Richard Whitehead

"Peanut Butter (is) the pâté of childhood."

~Florence Fabricant


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