Friday, February 25, 2011

I can stop anytime...

...I just can't help myself when it comes to soup.  I love soup.  Soup...its a warm hug from the inside out...its what your mother gave you in order to feel better...its what you wished for walking home in the cold, uphill, both ways...glorious soup!!!

This soup caught my eye the other day when I was at my sister's house; it was in one of her soup magazines (you can find the original recipe here:  I did make a change or two and will note them by using an asterisk.
Country Cabbage Soup
For printable recipe, please click here  
2 lbs  Ground Beef
2 Cans (28oz ea)  Diced Tomatoes*  (calls for stewed)
1 Med Head of Cabbage, shredded
1 Tbs Olive Oil* 
5 Cloves Garlic*
2 Lrg Onions, chopped
6 Celery Ribs
16oz+ Chicken Stock*
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep/chop the celery, onion and garlic (I used a garlic press on the garlic).
In a dutch oven brown the ground beef adding salt and pepper.  
In a stock pot, add the olive oil, celery, onion and garlic, sweat the onion, garlic and celery for approx 5 to 10 min.*
Add the browned ground beef, tomatoes and cabbage to the stock pot w/ the celery, onions and garlic.
Add chicken stock to get soup consistency, about 16oz.. or more if needed.  Let come to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer for 25 min. or until cabbage it tender.  
Serve warm with bread.
This is truly a good soup and so much can be done with it...adding different spices, using different meats, adding veggies, adding grains.  I left it very simple and it made for a very fresh tasting soup.  After looking at the pics, I think I am going to make some more of this was GOOD!  

Enjoy the foods of your labor.  :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's one of those weeks...

I am having one of those weeks where nothing seems to be turning out.  All week I have meant to post my cheddar cracker recipe...hasn't happened.  Then I was working on another soup blog entry...its still incomplete.  Then I forgot to take pictures of my virgin vodka sauce I made a few nights ago (turned into a vodka sauce after I tasted it and said to myself or to the cat, "This tastes like a vodka sauce, without the vodka..." the cat was speechless, since I am pretty sure she had drank all the vodka earlier; Chablis is a mean drunk).  Did I mention I forgot to write down the virgin vodka sauce recipe and my fingers still smell like garlic 2 days later...*sigh*

Since I am missing pics and have incomplete entries and recipes in my head that I have forgotten to write down; I am going to talk about one of my favorite things in the whisks.

My Beautiful Whisks

What you see above are my four favorite whisks at the ready to beat, mix, whip, stir, etc. etc.  I would say that they are all used at least once a week if not more.  The power of these untensils is amazing.  With the larger whisks I no longer worry about recipes that tell me to sift ingredients together...I whisk them together.  I no longer worry about my rues becoming lumpy and flat whisk comes to the rescue.  All my whisks were chosen to serve multiple purposes in my kitchen life.  I know for a fact that I can beat whipping cream by hand to soft peaks after a few minutes (ok...more than that, but I can still do it).  

I think out of all of my whisks, my flat whisk is my favorite...its the best in a sauce pan, in a skillet or stirring milk so it won't burn when you are trying to make hot chocolate.

Do you have a favorite whisk?  Leave a comment :-)

In the mean time, I am looking forward to whisking up breakfast tomorrow.
Enjoy for the foods of your labor  :-)

So you can put a face with a name...this is Chablis

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tomato Soup for the Soul

When tragedy strikes, I am not one to send flowers or cards...I usually have no idea what to do.  My first inclination is that there has to be a way to fix it, but you can't "fix" everything.  A friend of mine lost his dog recently (an awesome pitty that will be greatly missed)...I felt awful, what can I do to show that I am thinking about him in this time of grief?  So, I made him soup and crackers.

One of my favorite comfort soups is tomato soup.  Tomato Soup and Cheese Crackers may not cure all, but at least it tastes good.

For printable recipe, please click here
2 Tbs  Olive Oil
26 oz  Jar Marinara Sauce (I used Trader Joes Tomato Basil Marinara)
16 oz  Chicken Stock
¼ to ½ C  Sour Cream
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flake

Using a stock pot or dutch over, over medium heat, heat up the olive oil and stir in marinara sauce.  Let simmer.  Add the chicken stock and the sour cream, whisk together in order to get the sour cream to melt thoroughly.  Add the spices to get the desired taste ( I am a bit heavy in my onion, garlic and oregano...everyone likes it differently). Let simmer.  Once heated through its is ready to serve.

 *** RIP Copper, you were an awesome puppy...we will miss you  :-(

For printable recipe, please click the provided link: Tomato Soup

Friday, February 4, 2011

Comfort in a bowl...

If I haven't mentioned...I'll mention it again...its FREEZING here.  Its not as bad as some places in the country, but gosh darn it...its cold for us (our winters are mild from the mid 30s to the 50s in temp).  So in order to keep warm I find I am cooking more...not sure if its the need to have the stove and oven going at all times or the need to eat something hot and melty.  The best of both worlds can be found in making chili and corn bread.  

In trying to figure out what to do for Sunday dinner I became convinced that something with a dumpling had to be made.   Chicken stew with biscuit dumplings on top??? No...there is no cheese in this.  Do I just make chili??? No...there is no dumpling in this...unless...wheels in head are turning, head is starting to hurt, idea forming...I could top it with a cornbread dumpling...genius had just occurred.  Then like divine intervention, an episode of Nigella Feasts  came on and she was making Chili con Carne w/ Cornbread (its like she was reading my mind).  I now had an idea of what to top my chili with...I will top it with cornbread and cheese, Nigella is a genius.  
I set about looking for the ingredients in the kitchen; I unfortunately was missing the proper amount of corn meal for her recipe in regards to I improvised.  Using a Trader Joe's cornbread mix and substituting milk for buttermilk, I prepared the mix as indicated and spread over the top of the chili I had prepared.

For printable recipe, please click here

2 lbs  Ground beef (85/15 is preferable)
2-4+ Tbs  Red Chili Powder (season to taste)
2+ tsp  Onion Powder  (season to taste)
2+ tsp  Garlic Powder (season to taste)
Salt (season to taste)
1+ tsp  Red Chili Flake  (season to taste)
3+ tsp  Cumin (season to taste)
About 1 Tbs  Flour
About 2+ cups Water 

Using a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, brown the ground beef.  Season with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, red chili powder and red chili flake  Once the meet is browned, add the flour to the meat, stir the meat around to be sure the flour is coating it (***be careful with the flour, use to much and it will taste pasty, use to little and the chili won't be thick).  Add the water and continue to heat through adding spices as you need them.  Serve warm with desired condiments (cheese, sour cream, cornbread, fritos, etc. etc. etc.).
***NOTE:  The seasonings are not an exact science, this is only a guideline to start from.  Chili powder varies greatly in heat and in taste.  I use the hot stuff that comes in a bag that is usually down the Mexican food isle of your grocery store (here, its not an isle...its a whole store...another reason I LOVE NM).  My mother uses Eagle Brand Chili powder.  I have used McCormick chili powder in the past (its what I could get at the time); it tends to be too bitter for my taste.   You can add oregano to the chili if you like;  I don't for my own, but my mother and sister do add copious amounts of oregano to theirs.  I tend to be heavier handed with my cumin...but that's again up to what you like.  Keep tasting it til its good for you.  This recipe is just a guideline for you to create something great for yourself, cook responsibly.   

After getting the chili stirred up, topped with cornbread batter and that topped with cheese; I popped the dutch oven in the oven on 400° for 25 min.  What came out of the oven was perfect cornbread topped chili as you can see below.  It warmed up the evening perfectly.

Enjoy the foods of your labor.  :-)

Chili before cornbread

Chili with Cornbread and Cheese
Getting ready to eat...I topped this off with a dollop of sour cream

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby its cold outside...

With the weather taking a turn for the worse in NM (...yes NM gets cold and yes NM gets snow, occasionally) I decided that I should make a warm tasty treat last night to help ward off the chill of the evening.

Spiced Hot Chocolate
For printable recipe, please click here
3 ½ c Whole Milk
1 c Heavy Cream
1+ c Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Cinnamon 
A Pinch of Salt
1 to 1 ½ tsp  Orange Zest

Heat milk and heavy cream in a saucepan just below the simmering point.  Remove the pan from the heat, adding the chocolate chips;  whisk until melted.  Place on low heat;  whisk in cinnamon, orange zest, pinch of salt and reheat gently.  Serve immediately.

I would recommend serving the hot chocolate in a bowl, like you see above.  Using a chocolate bowl, you keep your hands warm while they are wrapped around this sweet drink...seriously what can be better than that?

Enjoy the foods of your labor.  :-) 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cheesecake sauce flight....

So the sauces have been made and the table was set...

Brown Butter Bourbon Sauce
For printable recipe, please click here
2 C  Heavy Cream
½  stick of salted butter, cut into 4ths
½ to ¾ C  Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Bourbon
½  tsp kosher salt

In a medium sauce pan whisk all ingredients together.   Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk occasionally.  Reduce heat, continue to cook for 15 more minutes.  Turn off heat, let set for 10 minutes before serving.   Serve warm.  Refrigerate leftovers. 

Blackberry Reduction
For printable recipe, please click here
2 - 3 C Blackberries (fresh or frozen)
½  stick of salted butter, cut into 4ths
½ to 1 C Sugar
½ to 1 tsp  Balsamic Vinegar

In a medium sauce pan, on medium heat, add blackberries and butter.  The butter will completely melt and the blackberries will start to become very juicy.  Let simmer for about 5 min. after butter has melted.  Stir in desired amount of sugar.  Sugar should melt pretty quickly and the berry juice should start to thicken up.  Splash with desired amount of balsamic vinegar.   Pour berries into a strainer over a bowl in order to sift out seeds.  Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftovers. 

Chocolate Orange Ganache
For printable recipe, please click here
2+ C  Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 to 1½ C  Heavy Cream
1 Tbs  Salted Butter
2 - 4 Tbs  Sugar
½  to 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Orange Zest
Pinch of Kosher Salt

In a medium sauce pan, over medium high heat, whisk together: cream, butter and sugar.  Let this come to a boil, whisking occasionally (DO NOT LET IT BURN ON THE BOTTOM).   Take it off the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips; whisk until they are completely melted.  Put it back on the burner, low heat, whisk in vanilla, salt and orange zest.  Serve warm.  Refrigerate leftovers.   

 All went well with making the sauces.  They went much faster than the cheesecake baking the night before (25 min per pan x 8 pans is a lot of baking time).  I was done with all 3 sauces with kitchen clean up in less than 2 hours.  I put the sauces in plastic squeeze bottles for easier transport/serving (you can microwave in the bottles as long as you don't over do the time...20 sec per bottle w/ stirring in between the 20 sec. intervals).

They were tasty and a perfect complement to the cheesecake.  I hope everyone enjoyed the sauce flight at work.

Enjoy the foods of your labor.  :-)