Looking for something to feed the kids? Need a great dessert to take to a gathering?
In the mood for a delicious soup, salad or whatever? Look no further.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup

Is it to late to post another soup recipe? I think since I can see snow out my window I am going to say no. I know a few of you may have this recipe already. I thought I would still post it any way because it really is a great tasting simple soup. I love that it uses simple and inexpensive ingredients, is easy to prepare and is loved by all in my family. Lately, have tried a few different variations to change the soup up just a bit. I have included those variations at the end of the recipe. I highly recommend this soup with the french bread I posted a few days earlier.

2 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. whipping cream or half & half (I have tried substituting milk and it is just not the same)
1 Tbsp. butter (this helps to cut the acidic taste of the tomatoes)

In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 10 min. Add sugar and basil. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and butter.

Variation #1- Just before serving add 1 9oz. package of cooked cheese tortellini.

Variation #2- Stir a spoonful of pesto to your individual bowl just before eating. The great thing about this one is only the people who want the pesto can add it to thier bowl. I tried this the other night and it was really good.

Variation #3- You could get really crazy and combine variation #1 and #2.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mexican Chowder and A Passionate Product Endorsement

I don't know if this sort of thing is allowed, Neisha, feel free to delete it.

Some of you have heard me bear testimony of my favorite vegetable broth. My friend told me about broth from the Asian market and how it would change my life, and it has. I don't use any other stock any more.

The ingredients are: kale, cabbage, carrot, radish, turnip, broccoli, and salt--no msg, hydrolyzed soy protein, or anything like that. It has fantastic flavor and no hint of chemical taste.

Unfortunately, the market I got it from no longer sells it, neither do the two other Asia markets I checked. It has been a difficult search since I don't know how to Google in Chinese and Asian market proprietors don't speak much English. Anyway, I finally found it online here. I am going to order a bunch tomorrow (Thursday). If anyone is totally pumped by my endorsement and wants a bottle let me know. (It's $4.50 for 35 oz concentrate, you use 1 tsp to 1 cup water).

P.S. I make no money off the sale of this product.

And since, apparently, it is still soup weather:

Mexican (Chicken) Chowder

1 can cream of chicken soup (I usually use the powdered milk make-a-mix version)
2 C. broth (made from by beloved vegetable broth) or chicken broth
1 C. water
1 40z. can diced green chiles
2 T fresh cilantro
2 T taco seasoning
2 C. corn
2 C. chopped chicken (or 2 cans white beans)

1 C. sour cream

In large pan combine all ingredients except sour cream (unless you are using beans, add those after you have simmered). Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in 1 cup hot mixture with the sour cream; return to sauce pan and heat through.

(I also added a cup or so of cooked brown rice to bulk it up a bit when I made it with beans)

Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

French Bread

I know I am probably stating the obvious, but I love cooking blogs. I love that at my fingertips I have countless recipes with mouthwatering pictures, tempting descriptions and helpful reviews. Since discovering all of these cooking blogs, I think the thing that I am most pleased about is my increased level of confidence in the kitchen. I am no longer intimidated to try new recipes, cook a turkey, bake bread, cook from scratch or invite people over for dinner (cooking food for other people used to give me major anxiety). I have now realized how easy and cheap baking bread can be. I have a few no fail recipes that I rely on so I am no longer paying over $2.50 for a package of dinner rolls or french bread. This bread usually makes an appearance when ever I make soup. So even if you don't bake bread a lot, try this recipe and I know you will love it.

1 Tbsp. yeast
2 c. warm water
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
4 1/2 c. to 5 c. flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead for about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into 12 in. long loaves.

Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Brush entire loaf with egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water mix together in bowl). Bake at 450 for 15-20 min. (I have never had to bake mine longer that 15 min.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spanish Rice

This is a great alternative to the boxed stuff.  I found it on allrecipes.  I took some of the reviewers suggestions and doubled it since we really like Spanish rice, and some people make a whole meal out of it when they don't like the other stuff we're having. If you have a smaller family or don't want a lot of leftovers, I'd half this recipe, but I will add that I think this is actually better the second day.

3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 c. long grain rice
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I only had red pepper, which worked fine)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14 oz can) diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1  tsp. dried parsley

Heat oil in deep skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion, garlic and pepper for a couple of minutes.  Add rice and brown well.  Stir in broth and tomatoes.  Add chili powder, cumin salt and parsley.  Cover and simmer until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

I want to try making it in my rice cooker, and I think some fresh cilantro stirred in before serving would be wonderful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THE Soft Ginger Cookies of my Dreams

I LOVE soft ginger cookies, but the "snap" variety...not so much.  I have been looking for the perfect soft ginger cookie recipe for almost ten years.  I would even call it a quest.  I have tried more recipes than I can count.  They have never been "just right"- you know, soft enough, gingery enough, thick enough, etc.,.  Then I stumbled upon this little number. They are just what I have been looking for all these years.  Dunk them in some cold milk and you're in heaven. 

Plus, this recipe makes about five dozen cookies!  We were able to share with neighbors and have a couple dozen left.  That is until Holly somehow got the container off the table and ate ALL of them.  Who knew a Basset Hound could do that?  I guess they really are THAT good.

From The Sisters' Cafe

2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1/2 c. molasses
4 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white flour)
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. white chocolate chips (optional-I opted against them)

Mix first four ingredients well, then add the remaining ingredients.  Roll into balls and roll in sugar.  Crystal or raw sugar is the prettiest.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes.  I think they stay softer if you stay closer to 11 minutes.

The shortening is a drawback for me, but I think it may be the key to these cookies.  I'm going to try them with butter, but I fear the butter flavor might interfere with their greatness.  I think if you want to try butter, it would be best to chill the dough for awhile so they don't spread out too much.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Grown-Up Lunch: Brie Paninis

I am always on the lookout for a delicious lunch that I can make in the same amount of time as it takes to grill up my boys' cheese sandwich. Mel's Kitchen Cafe posted this Smoked Turkey, Brie, and Apple Panini and I had to run out and get me some brie. It was divine, and so much more exciting than cheddar on wheat. You can click on the link for more specific instructions, but basically it is sliced apples, sliced brie, caramelized red onions, and turkey lunch meat on a grilled sandwich.

Personally, I'm not a turkey breast person and I left the turkey off my second panini and still loved it, so when I saw this version on Paninihappy.com with pecans instead of turkey I knew it was even more up my alley.

My hybrid version is like this:

French bread
Caramelized Onions
Sliced Brie
Sliced apples
French bread

Alas, today I had brie and french bread, but no apples. But, never fear, inspired by this pizza, I made this panini, and I think I might even like it more than the apple version.

French bread
Sliced Brie (Costco has it far better priced than anywhere in Heber)
Fig preserves (The Store in Midway sells it under the Barefoot Contessa Brand)
French bread

Next time maybe I'll add the onions and pecans.

And that is my rather long explanation for a pretty simple lunch.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lemon Berry Trifle

I made this Lemon Berry Trifle for dessert on Easter.  It was delicious and beautiful.  It looked so impressive, and it wasn't really that hard to make. I'm just posting the link to it because this lady, a friend of a friend, deserves 100% of the credit. 

Like Emilia, I also used frozen berries.  I was too cheap to pay more than $5 for a pound cake at the store, so I used this Lemon Pound Cake recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.  For those of you on the Wasatch Back, you can find Lemon Curd with the jam and peanut butter at Day's.  Lemon Curd, which I thought was something dairy, is an English jam made with lemon juice, butter and eggs.  Butter...need I say more?

Really, this trifle is so good I am trying to think of an occasion to make it again.  

I didn't take a picture before it was destroyed, because I guess I am a little superstitious, and didn't want to jinx it.  I know, it doesn't make any sense, but that's how I roll.

Also, thanks Liz for letting me borrow your trifle bowl!