Thai Butternut Bisque

This recipe can be doubled for a crowd and just gets better with time. Make it a day or two ahead of your next party. Can be made vegan by substituting vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

  • ~4 lb. butternut squash (weight in store not after prep)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion – chopped
  • 1 can (13.5 oz coconut milk)*
  • 2 t. Minced garlic
  • 4 heaping T. creamy peanut butter (Adam’s all natural is full flavored)
  • 4 cups chicken stock (= one 32 oz. carton at the store)
  • 2 t. Salt
  • 1 t. Ground cumin
  • 1 t. Ginger powder
  • 1 t. Ground coriander
  • 1 t. Smoked paprika
  • ¼ t. Ground cloves

Directions

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  • Turn face-down into a 9″ x 13” baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour, 15 minutes until a fork easily pierces the skin. While squash bakes, you can make proceed with step 3.
  • Heat olive oil in large stock pot and add chopped onions, then caramelize the onions on low-medium for 15 minutes (keep covered and stir occasionally).
  • During the last 2 minutes, stir in the garlic and spices with the onions.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Remove squash from oven and allow to cool 1 hour or until you can handle it comfortably.
  • Working in batches, scoop squash from the skin with a spoon and transfer it to a blender.
  • Fill blender halfway and pour stock over squash to cover and then blend until smooth.
  • Keep repeating this process and add the onions and garlic mixture to blender as well.
  • Pour the blended squash back into the stock pot and add the can of coconut milk. If your blender needs a little more liquid, you can mix the coconut milk in with the squash as you’re blending to keep the mixture moving (it will be pretty thick!)
  • Reheat blended soup on medium and stir in the peanut butter until smooth and incorporated.
  • Serve soup with crusty artisan bread like a harvest loaf or your favorite kind.
  • Optional: garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro

* You’ll want the rich kind of coconut milk (not lite version) with the thick coconut cream on top.
I like the one from Trader Joe’s. Chaokoh brand is also excellent. Enjoy ?

German Hot Potato Salad with plenty of bacon…

German potato salad with a few additions
German potato salad with a few additions. My brother had 4th’s…

This recipe is a combination of one found in Luchow’s German Cookbook, aka Speck Salat, and suggestions from my dear mother from her own recipe. The version in Luchow’s is a bit on the extreme/ridiculous side of things as when scaling up for more than 2 servings (to say enough to feed my family, ie. 5 lbs.) it would require 30 pieces of bacon.

One thing to keep in mind is that this dish is most impressive when served fresh and hot with all the ingredients mixed together at the last minute. That having been said it stores and reheats well.

*read entire recipe including notes before beginning.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. red skinned potatoes (russets won’t retain their firmness)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1-1/2 lb. bacon ends and pieces
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups beef stock made from bouillon
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cup green onions, sliced along length into tiny rings
  • 1/2 parsley

Steps:

  1. Boil potatoes keeping a close eye on them so that they don’t get too soft. The skins splitting is a sign that they need to be checked but I start checking after 20 minutes with a fork just to keep a handle on things. When the potatoes are done drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle the skins will slide off when squeezed with a small amount of clean up here and there with a paring knife.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking render off the bacon draining it periodically to save the bacon grease for future use. Once the bacon is nice and crisp and brown set it aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Cook off the onions in the bacon grease until they are clear.
  4. Add the vinegar, beef bouillon
  5. Add back bacon grease to get a nice balance between the vinegar, sugar and bacon flavors
  6. Add salt, pepper to taste
  7. All ingredients in the dressing should be done to taste! You’ll want to experiment!
  8. Right before serving mix firs the dressing mixture and lastly the green onions and parsley to the salad and serve.

***NOTE: we ended up with a sizable amount of the dressing left. If we used it all the it would be too much liquid versus the amount of potatoes. We used it for a hot bacon dressing on spinach salad!

Luchow's German Cookbook - © 1952
Luchow’s German Cookbook – © 1952

Cranberry Orange Lemon Cookies

Orange cranberry lemon cookies
Orange cranberry lemon cookies

This is a variation on a recipe that used to appear on the Sunmade Currants box. I found a similar recipe and updated it with what I had on hand, ie. oranges and dried, sweetened cranberries. They came out very good.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used salted and they were fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (cut them up small!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream and egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until they are well combined. Stir in cranberries, orange zest,  and lemon juice.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are puffed and golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Update: I did a modified version of this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. of cloves and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Very favorable addition. Next time I will try adding crushed pecan pieces.

Sweet & Sour Potato and Green Bean Salad

Sweet & Sour Green Beans and Potato salad
Sweet & Sour Green Beans and Potato salad

This recipe is still in the refinement phase which means that I may come back and adjust the amounts slightly in order to “perfect” it. Please check back as I like to try things out multiple times before calling them done.

  • 2 lb. red skinned potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise  and the cut across to make wedges. Don’t over cook, keep them al dente!
  • 2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, steamed
  • 3 good sized shallots, minced fine
  • 1 lb. bacon (I just tried this new California bacon with no nitrites and was very happy with the flavor and quality)
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I cook the bacon, potatoes and green beans ahead. I have them in a large shallow baking dish in the oven to keep them warm while I prepare the dressing. The shallots go in the pan with the olive oil. Once the shallots are cooked clear on a medium heat add the vinegar then sugar. Pull the pan out of the oven add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Cut the bacon into good sized chunks so it retains its flavor next to the dressing and only add it just before serving, same with the parsley.

Garlic Bread

Simple, fast, delicious. Goes great with soups, stews and Italian food.

  • Crusty sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. heaping) fresh chopped parsley

Either let the butter sit out to soften or cut it up with a knife and cream it with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix. Spread on crusty sourdough and toast in the toaster oven. Looks and tastes amazing. For a treat add some fresh garlic as well.

Turkey Bone Broth Soup

turkey-both-broth-soup-2016_picmonkeyedThis batch of soup actually contains bones from chickens and turkeys that I collected over the recent months. I have about two freezer bags full of both bones and vegetable trimmings like celery and carrot ends, green onion ends and parsley stems. I try to squeeze the air out every time I reseal the bag to keep the ice buildup down as the air at the beach is moist.

I put them in a stock pot and cover them with water added very little salt and pepper and cook them for 24 hours. The next step is to pour off the broth through a colander and into a bowl so that all of the bone and vegetable mass is strained out. I do set aside the bone/vegetable leftovers taking out all of the large pieces and picking through the remaining meat to return to the stock.

I bring the stock back up to a boil and add the following chopped vegetables one and 1/2 onions, one bag of carrots, one entire head celery 1/3 of a bunch of parsley, choppped salt and pepper thyme and chicken bouillon to taste. On the side I cook four cups of brown jasmine rice separately and I only added 3 of the cups of cooked rice that at the very end before serving. Careful, the rice will soak up some liquid.

The turkey meat was very lean and there was not much fat so I added a small amount of olive oil. In addition I included 1/4 cup of malt vinegar to extend the flavor pallet. You always have to be careful with the amount of vinegar that you add to recipes, go slowly and taste frequently as you can’t take it back out once its added.

You had better be prepared to either store a large amount of soup , give it away to friends and family, or have a large party.

  • 1-1/2 large yellow onions chopped
  • 1 bag carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1 head celery, sliced thin to cook quickly
  • 3 cups brown jasmine rice, fully cooked
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 5 tbsp. (heaping) of Knorr chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsely
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar (could be apple cider vinegar as well)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Healthy Rice Krispies® Treats

Healthy Rice Krispies Treats (pictured with Fall Spices added)

This one was a chance discovery because we had a bag of marshmallows that stuck together because of the humidity in the air by the beach where I live. We tried roasting them, it was a messy joke, so this idea came to me. The recipe is really tasty.

  • 5 cups rice krispies
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) butter
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil (heaping?!?)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup flax seed meal
  • 2/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds

What was already hard to stop eating just became IMPOSSIBLE… You might never go back to the original recipe.

The version pictured has additional ingredients added to the butter as it melts:

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Sauteed Spinach

Sauteed spinach along side shrimp scampi
Sauteed spinach along side shrimp scampi

Simple, tasty recipe and a great way to prepare spinach or kale.

  • One bag frozen spinach
  • One yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • if you have it – 1 tsp. bacon grease

Put half the olive oil in a sautee pan on medium low (and bacon grease if you have it) and cook the onions until clear, soft and sweet. Add the bag of frozen spinach and turn heat up to medium high to melt it. Once the spinach is no longer frozen add the remaining olive oil and turn heat down to just medium. Clear a place in the center of the pan, add the vinegar and then mix it all together along with the nutmeg and crushed red pepper. Salt and black pepper to taste.

Notes:

  1. Olive oil can be increased by using your judgement. What I go for is just a hint of a sheen and a rich, savory taste.
  2. Crushed red pepper: careful with this one, it can be over done, especially if you’re cooking for children.
  3. If you wanted to get really daring you could use more bacon grease, especially with kale.

Vegetarian Southwestern Breakfast Pie

Vegetarian Southwestern Breakfast Pie with soyrizo
Vegetarian Southwestern Breakfast Pie with soyrizo

This is delicious and reheats in the microwave for a super-fast, very healthy breakfast, it’s vegetarian!

  • 4 medium potatoes, boiled and sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 large onion diced
  • one package soyrizo
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano (finely ground)
  • 12  eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 heaping tbsp. chunky salsa (as spicy as you like)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. package of Mexican cheese blend

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sautee onion in olive oil until clear then add soyrizo, cumin and oregano and brown, set aside. In a bowl crack 12 eggs and whisk in baking powder, flour, milk and salsa.

Place potatoes evenly spread out in your shallow baking dish. Add chorizo and onion mix evenly across this. Put in 4 oz. of the cheese then add the egg mixture and top with the final 4 oz. of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

 

 

Potatoes Au Gratin

I believe I got this recipe from my sister Janeen.
Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. potatoes peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 tblsp. butter
  • 2 tblsp. flour
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Rosemary
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 cup Gruyere divided into 2 portions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 cup beef stock

Pre-heat oven to 350. In sauce pan on stove melt butter, add flour, garlic, shallots, rosemary, pepper, stock, salt, cream but do NOT boil. Add the first half of the cheese. Layer potatoes in a greased baking dish. Pour mixture over the potatoes, sprinkle second portion of Gruyere on top. Bake for an hour and 30 minutes or until golden brown in places and the potatoes are done when tested with a fork.