Chicken Tortelini Soup

Just a quick post tonight. This soup is so easy to make. Saute onions, celery and carrots in a little oil. Add chicken broth and some cut up cooked chicken, I used a rotisserie chicken. Add some salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and thyme. I had Buitoni Chicken and Prosciutto Tortellini which I cooked in a separate pot and then added it to the broth. Wow. Imagine it with homemade broth... Maybe next time.

Zucchini, Onion and Tomato Pizza

I have not idea why but I felt like making a pizza that looked like the Italian flag.
I used the dough recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread cookbook. I love his recipe because it makes enough dough for 2 13x9 inch pies, which means I can freeze half of the recipe!
For the green I used sliced zucchini, white was onions and for the red I used tomatoes that I had froze a couple of weeks ago. Some olive oil, oregano and mozzarella cheese were sprinkled on top. It baked in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.

This was my favorite part.

Today was the first Sunday in 13 years that Kramer was not in the kitchen while I was cooking. I do most of my cooking on Sundays for the rest of the week. But as I was cooking I noticed that Archie had taken Kramer's spot, sitting just outside the kitchen.

Archie, the kitchen cat.

Dinner?

Kind of sad day here at the homestead. Kramer, The Cat, passed on today. He had a health issue that was bigger than he could handle. Believe me he was able to handle a lot. He will be missed by Chris and I and by Archie. So for obvious reasons I really did not want to make dinner. But as I had not eaten all day it was a necessary thing to do.

Chicken tenders cut into small cubes. Sauteed in olive oil and butter. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Added sliced zucchini and added some crushed red pepper, thyme and rosemary.
It was good dinner. Just missed scolding Kramer to get off the table.

On another note I would like to congratulate all the contestants moving on to the next challenge in the Project Food Blog. Unfortunately I was not among the chosen but it was fun to participate in the first round. And I would like to send out a special thank you to all of you who voted for me. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures here.

Rest in peace Kramer. I love you.

Quick and Easy White Bean Soup Provencal


It's Fall. Well almost. So let's have some soup and homemade bread. The soup recipe is from Saveur.com. Quick and Easy White Bean Soup Provencal. It was quick and easy and so delicious. The eggplant was from my dad's garden. I may try this soup again and add potatoes or pasta (pasta goes with everything right?).

The soup needed a sandwich to go with it. The sandwich was your basic Grilled Cheese with Tomato (from Dad's garden). The bread was from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. Wow what a wonderful sandwich!

Pasta with White Sausage and Greens

But first... Did you vote in the Project Food Blog contest? The button is over there on the right. Yeah that's it. Just click, register at FoodBuzz, the most amazing site for anyone who enjoys food, and vote. You have until September 23. Tick, Tick, Tick...
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post...

Mark Bittman again! Tonight's recipe is being submitted for the I Heart Cooking Clubs Potluck dinner. I found this recipe with the How To Cook Anything app. I had watched a podcast last week and Mr. Bittman made Escarole and Rice. I was going to make that but I thought I'd try this recipe first. Like most of his recipes this was pretty easy to prepare. And both Chris and I enjoyed this dinner. Pasta and escarole... that's Italian!

Ingredients
salt
2 tbsp. butter
8 oz. sweet sausage, removed from the casing
1 lb escarole
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ziti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Once the pot of water comes to a boil put the washed escarole into the water and blanch for no longer than a minute. Fish out the escarole with a slotted spoon and strain and immediately plunge into the bowl of ice water. When it is cooled squeeze dry and roughly chop.
Put the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. As it melts, crumble the sausage meat into it, making the bits quite small, 1/2 inch or less. Add the chopped escarole and 1/4 cup water and adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently, adding a little more water if necessary, until the sausage is cooked through and tender, about 5 minutes. (You can make the sauce in advance this point; cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Reheat gently.)
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then toss with the Parmesan and serve.

Forgot to post this... I took this photo yesterday at Bauer Park!

Quinoa with Ground Meat and Soy Sauce


So Mark Bittman is one of my favorite sources for recipes. Unfortunately this recipe was not one of our favorites. It didn't suck but it just wasn't something I would not rush to make it again. Not sure what it was but well... it wasn't Italian. It was outside my comfort zone. We like Quinoa a lot. But was it the meat? Was it the Sesame Oil. Not sure but next Sunday I think I will make Pizza!

This was a variation on the recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Corn - Ground Meat and Soy Sauce.

Ingredients
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
1/2 lb ground meat
3/4 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained very well
1 1/2 cup beef broth
few slices of fresh ginger
Soy Sauce
1/2 cup sliced scallions

Steps
Put the oil in a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the meat is well browned; drain excess fat.
Add the quinoa and stir; when the grains start popping and toasting, a couple of minutes later, add the stock and the ginger root and bring to a boil. Stir one last time, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Uncover and test the quinoa for doneness. If the kernels are still sort of hard, make sure there's enough liquid to keep the bottom of the pan moist, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes of so. When ready, taste, adjust the seasoning, adding soy sauce and garnish with sliced scallions.

Also made my first loaf of bread for the fall season... is it fall yet?
Rye Bread from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. Nice!

Jalapeno Popper Dip followed by Sole Meuniere

Tonight we started with cocktails, well I started with a cocktail and Jalapeno Popper Dip from Closet Cooking blog. I got some fresh Jalapenos from someone at work and then happened upon this recipe! The chips we used were very good. EatSmart Naturals Multi Grain Tortilla Chips. Actually they were quite good.

Dover Sole was on sale at Shop Rite this week and I found a recipe for Sole Meuniere on the Food Network site. A simple meal to prepare.

For side dishes I made Roasted Potatoes which was a dish my mom use to make all the time. Just cut the potatoes in quarters and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary, or any spice you prefer and roast for 45 minutes, tossing them occasionally.

I made a Mark Bittman recipe to go as a vegetable side. Pan Roasted Corn with Cherry Tomatoes.

And then I made Roasted Romanesco, it looks like broccoli & cauliflower. It was my impluse buy at the grocery store. Only $1.49! But I forgot to put it on the table! Sigh. Not a problem because it will now be my snack for tomorrow! As always cauliflower roasted no matter what color it is one of my favorite things.

I made those Chocolate Chip Cookies. I added mini M & M's and I put them in a sheet pan so they would take less hands on time to make.

Challenge #1: Ready, Set, Blog!

Drum Roll Please... In case you have not noticed at the side of my blog there is a banner for a contest, Project Food Blog. Yes I am throwing my hat in the ring, or should I say my apron in the ring! I must answer the question, Do I have what it takes to be the next Food Blog Star? I think I do. And here is why-

Kitchens and cooking are in my blood, so it was natural for me to become interested in food blogs. Initially amazed and awed by them, I began wondering if creating my own food blog was something I could do. Late one spring evening after a long day of baking Easter pies, I sat down with a glass of wine, a feeling of exhausted satisfaction, and a wish that I could share my day of preparing family recipes with my mom. We had a good relationship and I spoke with her every day. One of the first things she would ask was, "So, what are you making for dinner?" Even when Alzheimer's started to rob her of her memory, she was still able to hold onto her enjoyment of discussing food. It may have been Easter, but it was my Epiphany. I can share what I'm making for dinner with other lovers of food.

I started taking pictures of what I had prepared for dinner--appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. My husband, Chris, was curious, but I kept my idea to myself for awhile. I was nervous about "going public."

I finally overcame my fears of possible criticism and typos and started the blog. The blog title was easy and remains my inspiration. I shared what I was doing with a couple of friends and I am very excited that of the 53 people signed up to follow my blog, two are actually from Italy.

I don't know most of the people following my blog but they are people who are interested in what I am making for dinner. Just like my mom was.

So there you have it. That is why I am a food blogger. And do I have what it takes to be the next food blog star... yes because I know someone out there wants to know what I made for dinner.

Voting opens 6:00 am (Pacific Time) September 20th and closes 6:00 pm (Pacific Time) September 23rd.

And it just seemed appropriate that tonight I made my mom's Baked Macaroni. The first time I put this recipe in the blog I mentioned that it was a basic recipe that you could add on to. Well tonight's version has Chick Peas in it.

The recipe -
Boil 1/2 pound elbow macaroni.
Mix drained can of Chick Peas with the macaroni.
Grease Pyrex loaf pan.
Alternate layers of macaroni and American cheese starting with the macaroni.
Break 3 eggs and pour over macaroni. Fill baking dish with milk to almost cover macaroni.
Top with bread crumbs, and parsley. Bake 350 degrees until set, usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

It was delicious as always!

Another sign of Fall - Chicken Pot Pie


The crust looked so puffy right out of the oven.

But not for long!

One of the cool things about having a blog is when I need to find a recipe. Tonight we Chicken Pot Pie. The chicken was from a rotisserie chicken that my dad picked up at Stop & Shop. I just added the onions, carrots and mixed vegetables. The crust was made with puff pastry so it seemed like a very light meal!

This recipe is adapted from RealSimple.com

Ingredients

1 pound Rotisserie chicken, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth

2 cups 1 percent milk
1 10-ounce package frozen peas

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 sheet of Puff Pastry, thawed if frozen

Directions
Heat oven to 400° F.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the chicken broth and milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.
Lay the puff pastry on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Black Bean Soup and Steak & Pepper Paninis

I love walking in the door and having dinner almost ready! Chris had the panini grill heated up and the sandwiches ready to go. We had a lot of steak leftover from Saturday night and there were those peppers I roasted with my dad. Add some beautiful sliced tomato and rye and pumpernickel bread and we have a very good sandwich.

First soup of the season is... Black Bean! It is so easy to make that it is ridiculous. I found the recipe as part of an ad for Bush's Black Beans which dates back to 2005.

Black Bean Soup (Adapted from Bush's Best Black Bean Soup)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cans (15 oz.) Bush's Black Bean (drain liquid from 1 can)
Black pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in hot oil for five minutes.
Stir in cumin, chili powder and oregano. Puree one can of beans (the can that was not drained) add to pot. Add remaining can of beans, the can that was drained. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add black pepper to taste. Garnish with salsa, shredded cheese or fresh herbs on top.

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions and Sausage

Another Mark Bittman recipe tonight... Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions. Again I was able to use my Mark Bittman App for the recipe. With the addition of some Chicken Sausage with Roasted Red Pepper and Asiago everybody was happy. What a fantastic meal. The lentils and cumin were not overpowering. It was delicious!

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions
(I made half this recipe, wish I made more so I'd have leftovers!)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, plus 1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups lentils (one 16 ounce bag), washed and picked over
About 6 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, warmed
1 cup long or short grained rice (I used Jasmati Rice)

Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep saucepan and turn heat to medium. A minute later, add the chopped onion and cook until it begins to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes more. Add the lentils, stir, and add about 4 cups of liquid.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Add enough of the remaining liquid so that lentils are covered by about an inch of liquid. Stir in the rice. Cover and turn heat to low.
Meanwhile, place the remaining oil in a medium skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the onion slices, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes. Scoop out onions and let them drain on paper towels while you finish cooking the lentils and rice.
Check the rice and lentils after 20 minutes. When both are tender and the liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready. If lentils and rice are not tender, add more liquid, cover and cook for a few more minutes. If, on the other hand, the rice and lentils are soft and there is a lot of liquid remaining, raise the heat a bit and cook, uncovered, until it evaporates.
Serve the rice and lentils garnished with the caramelized onion.

Anyone ready for some football?

Roasting Peppers with Dad and a Visit to Whole Foods

Morning Glory's at the side of the neighbor's house

The Master Gardener!

Today started with me calling my dad and asking him what he was doing. Red peppers were on sale at Stop and Shop and he had to buy quite few. He was debating about frying them. I suggested roasting them in the oven. So off I went to see my dad. The peppers came out beautifully and they were so flavorful. They made a perfect sandwich for lunch.

Roasted Pepper Sandwich with the Fried Eggplant made by my dad.

While I was over his house we picked raspberries and figs and eggplant and the cutest little peppers.

Now on to dinner. I ran over to Whole Foods and picked up to steaks that were so big and so tender. There are leftovers which have been suggested that they reappear in a Caesar Salad.
We had grilled zucchini and yellow squash which I picked up at our local farmer stand, Jake's. Today was his last day for this season. I do have enough of his corn in the freezer so we will survive the winter.

To go with the steaks I found an interesting recipe, Bean Griddlecakes, from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything App which I have on my iTouch. Just last week I joined up with a blog entitled I Heart Cooking Clubs. Every week they give a category and you have to make a recipe or adapted a recipe for the chef that is being featured. Mark Bittman is the featured chef for the rest of this month. This week's title is "Damn That's Sexy." Okay here I go... Beans, not so sexy, but Bean Griddlecakes... now we are talking. Chris liked them. Enough said. I added fresh parsley and Parmesan Cheese to the recipe. It was a lovely addition to tonight's meal. Or should I say a sexy addition to tonight's meal.

Bean Griddlecakes (adapted from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything)
(I made half of this recipe)

2 cups canned Chickpeas, drained
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. plus more for cooking the griddle cakes
1 cup all purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beans in a large bowl and mash them roughly with a fork. Use the fork to stir in the milk and egg, and the olive oil. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add the flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper (keeping in mind how well seasoned the beans were to begin with). Stir with the fork just enough to fold in the flour, adding more milk if necessary to produce the consistence of a thick pancake batter.
Put a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Work in batches, use a little more butter or oil to grease the cooking surface. Spoon on the batter to form 3- or 4-inch pancakes. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, then turn and cook the other side until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

While I was at my dad's I picked some figs! A couple of weeks ago my sister made these incredible stuffed figs. So I had to try them myself. I found a great recipe at TasteFoodBlog.com.
Wow they were good! The figs were perfect and the flavor from the rosemary and the sweetness of the honey was wonderful.

Potato Gnocchi with Tomato and Pancetta Sauce

First a little background. I have this cat. Kramer, aka the world's best cat. He has been for over 3 weeks now, waking me up at around 3:45 to 4am. He taps at my nose and meows. He does this at 5 minute intervals. Granted I love waking up to see his cute little face but not at that hour. He has a few health issues so needless to say he is spoiled rotten... but he is so cute.

Okay so today I am tired. Luckily I am working from home. I have no idea what I am making for dinner but all I know is that I do not want to run to the store for anything. I look and see that I have potatoes which means I can make gnocchi! I have pancetta and tomatoes and basil which could be the sauce. At lunch I popped the potatoes in the oven to bake. I was finished work by 5:30 and by 7pm we were enjoying a wonderful meal. Chris helped with the sauce, he is better at seasoning things than I am.

So I was looking through La Cucina and all the gnocchi recipes have you boil the potatoes. The recipe I use says to bake them. So that is what I did, it also required less hands on time. The recipe I used is from "From Biba's Italian Kitchen." Biba use to be on the local PBS station and my mom and I use to watch her. My mom gave me her cookbook and actually I think it was the last cookbook she gave me... hmmm. Anyway it is a great cookbook to have in your collection. The recipe is so easy.

Basic Potato Gnocchi

4 large boiling potatoes
1 tbsp salt
1 large egg, beaten in a small bowl
1 1/2 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. With a knife, make a long, deep incision in the potatoes. Put the potatoes in the oven and bake until they are tender, about 1 hour.
When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and put them through a potato ricer or mash them with a fork. Put potatoes into a large bowl and season with salt. Add the egg and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix the potatoes, egg and the flour together with your hands until the dough begins to stick together.
Transfer the mixture to a wooden board and knead lightly, gradually adding the remaining flour if the dough sticks heavily to the board and to your hands. Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes until it is smooth and pliable and just a bit sticky. Divide the dough into several equal pieces. Flour your hands lightly, using both hands, roll out each piece of dough with a light back and forth motion into a roll about the thickness of your index finger. Cut each roll into 1-inch pieces.
Hold fork with its tines against a work board, the curved part of the fork facing away from you. Starting from the curved outside bottom of the fork, press each piece of dough with your index finger firmly upward along the length of the tines. Let the gnocchi fall back onto the work surface. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough until all the gnocchi have been formed. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured platter or cookie sheet. they can be cooked immediately or stored in the refrigerator, uncovered, for several hours.


The sauce was made by heating up some olive oil and adding diced onions and pancetta. Those were browned and then we added a knob of butter, black pepper, tomatoes and basil. The cooked Gnocchi were added to the pan and dinner was served!


Taco Pacifico




Kind of a big game tonight, Saints vs Viking... Go Saints!
Anyway I wanted something that would involve as few dishes as possible. There is food truck in Madison that was recently written about in the New York Times, Taco Pacifico. I picked up a Tacos and a Beef Burrito. Excellent choice. The burrito was pretty big. Everything is made fresh and salsa was a good as Mike Casey's! Unfortunately they ran out of guacamole. I picked up some Mexican beer to go with dinner. The beer was good but next time I'll get Corona.