Monthly Archives: September 2014

Soups on – Yummy Tomato Soup from my garden

I have had a garden every year for the last 25+ years.  Every year there is a crop or two that just does not do well; my tomatoes have never been one of them.  Though they seem to all come at the same time which is not ideal as who could possibly eat 30+ tomatoes before they go bad. I do give some away; I also freeze several bags. I tried making spaghetti sauce and canning it, it wasn’t my favorite and was quite time consuming.  This year I finally purchased a food mill; what a great invention; should have bought one years ago.

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The weather lately has been very cold and that screams a hot pot of soup.  I used my new purchase and made some pretty damn yummy tomato soup. Add some chives, thyme, basil or dill, sour cream, cheddar cheese, or goat cheese whatever your taste buds fancy.  Make some grilled cheese sandwiches and you have a wonderful meal.

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Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

3 cups lower-salt chicken broth

5-6 large tomatoes peeled and seeded – a food mill accomplishes this best

Or use a 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, pureed include the juice

1 ½ tsp. sugar

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion a cook till soft, add garlic cook another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic.

Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring, making sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer 40 minutes.  If using sprig of thyme, remove.  Let it cool slightly and then puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the pot and return the soup; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Garnish as desired.

If you ever wondered what to do with the rind of your parmesan reggiano save them up in a plastic baggy in the fridge and you can add them to your soup while it is simmering. Remove before you puree.

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Problem sweet bread – make bread pudding

For as many zucchini breads I make I messed up a batch a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe it was karma for me forgetting an ingredient on my initial post and a friend’s bread did not work out for him. SF sorry this post is too late for your sugarless bread. My error was I forgot to add baking soda; it is edible but pretty dense. I being a true frugal New Englander can’t just throw out the bad loaves but I can transform them into something pretty yummy!

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I will admit I have never made bread pudding before; I did have the most amazing one for dessert at my favorite local restaurant a couple of years ago. They made banana bread pudding that was just incredible; in talking with our waitress she said they made it a pudding because of a failed attempt at banana bread. I have always wanted to try making one but just never pulled the trigger till this morning.

I took a couple of the smaller loaves out of the freezer chopped them up and made my first bread pudding.  I am calling them a success.  It definitely transformed the dense bread into something warm and yummy.  I think I will try to make the same with my next loaves of banana bread. I will try not to mess up the banana bread recipe so I HAVE to make pudding but I feel pretty confident if I do mess it up I can transform it into something pretty good.

You could have it with your morning Tea or Joe or dress it up with some homemade whipped cream or even Vanilla Ice Cream.  My mouth is watering!

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Pudding

3-4 eggs

1 cup of milk – or similar volume to the eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp sugar – you can omit it your bread is already to sweet OR add a little more if it is not sweet enough

Zucchini or similar bread chopped into cubes – dry bread works best – if you need to you can grill or pop the bread into the oven for a couple of minutes to dry out.

Greased/spray whatever vessel you are using, add cubed bread, mix first 4 ingredients, pour over bread set aside while the oven is pre-heating to 350’. Once pre-heated bake bread for 30+ minutes. My ramekins took about 35 minutes in my oven.

Whipped Cream

Carton whipping cream or heavy cream

Tsp vanilla

2 Tbs sugar

You can do this by hand; if you are looking for a workout but I add all ingredients to my Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment.  I do place a kitchen towel over my mixer because it can be messy when it first starts out.  Start out on 2 and then increase to 3 for about 2 minutes.  lift the towel to not over whisk, you want stiff peaks.

Soup Season is here – Chicken Tortilla Soup

I am a huge lover of soup; it surprises me when I hear some people are not. I think of soup/chowder and stew as a warm hug in a bowl. There are endless possibilities you can combine to make a yummy pot of soup, you can add milk and/or cream for chowder, clear broth to make a light soup or combine cream and broth to make your light soup a little creamy like creamy tomato soup. I think I will make that today with the tomatoes from my garden.

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After a long day of Christmas shopping on Friday – Yup I said it; it was only for the “typical” PJ’s, socks etc. (I am going to try and spread out the money pain over a few months) items for the fam. While eating my grilled chicken sandwich I overheard the person sitting next to me ordering Chicken Tortilla Soup – So for the rest of the day all I wanted was a bowl Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Guess what I did when I got home; of course after hiding all the loot! It was a huge hit; my guys and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It comes together pretty quick and tastes great straight away; you know how some things taste better the next day; this one is d’lish now and if you happen to have some leftover for the next day I am sure it tastes just a great; we wouldn’t know!

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2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 Tbs minced garlic

2-4 Jalapeno’s (depending on how spicy you want it) seeded and finely diced

6 cups chicken broth (homemade if you have it)

1 28 oz. can San Marzano peeled tomatoes–while pouring out the tomatoes squeeze them into the pot to help break them up.

1-2 cans black beans – rinsed and drained

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 limes juiced

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Cilantro leaves

1 flour tortilla grilled and cut into strips or use tortilla chips crumbled

1 avocado, pitted, sliced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Dollop of sour cream

In a large saucepan heat the oil till warm, add the onions until they softened; about 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos cook for another minute. Add broth, tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add the chicken breast. Cook the chicken for about 20-25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from the pot. When cool enough to handle; shred it and set aside. Add lime juice and the cilantro to the pot.  In a bowl add a mound of chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and with tortilla strips, avocado slices, cheese and sour cream. YUP hug in a bowl!!!

Corned Beef and Cabbage / Roasted Chicken and Veggies

So when I woke up today I thought it might be a relaxing Sunday; it was beautiful out; I had done a few things on my list yesterday.  A quick trip to my garden and the day changed dramatically. I do love my garden but it seems everything comes at once and today’s harvest told me what I was going to be doing for the day. I pickled all my cucumbers, the plants are still producing but they will be eaten as is. We picked a large head of cabbage, a few carrots and my husband harvested his potatoes. I also had a couple of HUGE zucchini’s so those I turned into bread for the freezer.  

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Kind of quick story about the zucchini bread recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago.  A good friend of mine was making it; he texted me with a question.  I tried calling him back since I was driving and ended up face timing, new phone and I hit the wrong button.  No I did not face time and drive my husband dealt with it. Though his question was if he had to add the milk to the recipe for the pudding mix; the answer is no.  He did show us his mixture and it looked OK or so I thought. I do know from my experience hand mixing vs my Kitchen Aid does make a difference in the batter; the Kitchen Aid does a much better job. That wasn’t the issue either. Nor was the fact that he used chocolate pudding vs. vanilla. It was totally my fault I forgot to write 2 cups of sugar! I tried to make it up to him; I made him a loaf with chocolate pudding – it works if you want to vary it a bit. 

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by our garden.  I made corned beef and cabbage using veggies from my garden.  It also cooked on top of the stove which helped since my oven was baking bread all afternoon.  It was delicious! I am pretty sure most everyone knows how to make it but I will share anyways.

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Corned beef

Potatoes

Carrots

Cabbage

Onions (optional)

Turnip (optional)

Place the beef in a stockpot big enough to submerge it in water.  Cover it with cold water, I added some pepper, onion, a couple of bay leafs and garlic to the water.  Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 3-4 hours.  I let it sit a bit and once my veggies are peeled and chopped, I remove the beef to a bowl.  Add all the veggies minus the cabbage and boil till done, around 30 minutes; during the last 10 minutes I add the cabbage and the last 5 I add the beef back.  Transfer to a platter or wide bowl and serve warm. 

Fall is in the air so another one pot dish that I LOVE is roasted veggie and roaster chicken.  

Roaster Chicken 5-6 lbs

Potatoes

Carrots

Turnip or butternut squash work well

Onions

Peel and cut up the veggies; add them all to either a roasting pan or a large skillet which is what I use. Salt and pepper and add a little olive oil – OK to add some of your favorite herbs as well. Sage, thyme rosemary is great together or alone here. Mix them so the salt, pepper and oil and herbs get on all the veggies. Take your roaster salt and pepper the inside and out. Place on top of the veggies. Bake uncovered at 425 for 1 ½ hours; remove to a platter and cover loosely with foil for about 20 minutes YUM!