Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Littlest Soup has the Croup

...Well, we thought it was the croup earlier this week. Diagnoses has changed to bronchitis. Poor baby!

Recipe File

I'll be adding the following recipes in the next few days:

- Bacon and Spinach Quiche
- Broccoli and Bow tie Salad
- BBQ Chicken Thighs over Spinach Salad
- The Perfect Steak

There are a few others noodling around in my brain....But needed this to remind myself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Soup of the week - Julia Child's Split Pea

Totally a labor of love - totally worth it:

The Ham Stock
2 well-washed and scrubbed split ham hocks
3 quarts water
1 cup chopped carrot (coarse is fine)
1 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
5 whole cloves or allspice berries

The Soup
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup diced celery
2/3 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts ham stock, heated
1 1/2 cups split peas or yellow split peas

For the stock, put the ham hocks in a kettle with water to cover by 2 inches.
Make an herb bouquet with washed cheesecloth, using the bay leaves, thyme and cloves or allspice.
Put this in the pot, along with the carrots, onions and celery.
Simmer 3 to 4 hours with the kettle cover slightly open.
Or, simmer in crockpot for 8 hours on low.
Skim occasionally.
Strain and degrease.
Easiest way to degrease is to make ahead and chill, remove fat when cold.
Freeze if you want.
To make the soup, set a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter.
Saute the vegetables, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Blend in the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool briefly, blend in the hot ham stock and the split peas.
Bring to a simmer, stirring.
Cover and cook about 45 minutes until peas are tender.
Salt and pepper to taste after 1/2 hour of simmering.
When cooked, mash or puree the soup depending on the consistency you want.
Garnish with homemade croutons or sauteed ham bits if desired.

Leftover Soup

I have a fridge full of left overs and have decided it is time to make leftover soup!

I've got chicken from two different dinners, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, green beans, peas, and some pasta. There is also some cabbage, but don't think that will go well in this soup!

I'm also going to throw in a couple of bay leaves and some pepper corns and just let it simmer away on the stove all morning. Should be a great lunch!

Little Miss Soup is ONE today!!

Oh My, Little Miss Soup is ONE today! I need to figure out a special birthday dinner. We're having her actual party on Sunday - but I cannot let today go by with out some sort of special celebration.
I'm thinking panko crusted fish with peas and smashed potatoes or sweet potatoe fries.
Isn't she CUTE? She needs a cupcake! With a CANDLE!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pepperoncini Beef - A Solution!!!

Watching Paula Deen yesterday - I realized I had a solution for the leftovers of the pepperoncini beef in my freezer - something sure to be a HUGE HIT! Empanadas!!!

Here's what I'm going to do:

3 cups chopped, cooked beef
1 (8-ounce) package shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the beef and next 7 ingredients. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of beef mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and beef mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

If it's Friday - It Must Be Pizza Night

We are in the nicest rut on Friday's. We have pizza. I make the dough and Mr Soup does the rest. Some times it is a simple red sauce and cheese pizza. Sometimes it is fancy - like an onion rosemary pizza. The great thing is - it can be whatever we're in the mood for and STILL be pizza.

Barefoot Contessa Pizza Dough

1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Mrs Soup's Variation: I let the dough rise for about an hour. I punch it down and divide it into two to make two “pan pizzas”. This dough freezes really well – just take it out the morning you plan to use it and let it hang out all day.

To cook: preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Roll dough out and put it on your pan. Top with whatever makes you happy. 10-12 minutes – until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted.

Mr Soup's Variation: When it comes time to bake, he does it in two steps to make sure the final crust is extra crispy. He rolls it out and puts it on the pan, drizzles with a little olive oil and prebakes for about 5 minutes. He then does his toppings and pops back in the oven for 7-10 minutes.

Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Yield: 4 cups

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Test Kitchen Challenge

Is there some recipe or food item you'd love to make but are too intimidated to try? Let me be your test kitchen! I'll shop for the ingredients so you know what it will cost; I'll cook it and make detailed notes on the process; finally the Soups will taste test and let you know if it is worth the effort to actually try. I'll also make alternate recipe suggestions that might enhance the dish.

Post your idea in comments and I'll get cooking!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Soup of the week - Lentil with Sausage

I've got a pot of this simmering on the stove now - mmm..mmm..mmm! The cumin and thyme smell amazing! Now, if only I had my head on yesterday, I would have started a boule to go with. We'll just have to enjoy the soup on it's own! Oh, and this one is from Barefoot in Paris. Seriously, I've become a stalker...

1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mr Soup Makes Cheese

Mr Soup made homemade ricotta cheese yesterday. His last foray into cheese making was a wee bit of a disaster. So much so, it has been about a year since his last attempt. I think he has spent all those days weeks and months reflecting on the whole concept. It was worth it.

2 Quarts Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
3 TBS white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Heat the milk and cream together until foamy and steaming - 185 degrees on your instant read thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. You will see curds start to form immediately. Keep stirring for 30 seconds, then add the salt. Stir for another 30 seconds. Then, place a clean kitchen towel over the pot and let it sit for 2 hours. Strain using many layers of cheesecloth. You'll need to let it rest and squeeze it occasionally.

The end result was so sweet and yummy. Mr Soup used in in his penne pasta with sausage and ricotta recipe. I need to get him to post that. Because it ROCKED.

Update to the Beeftacular Failure

Yea. Good on paper. Does NOT deserve the cult like following...Did make a somewhat tasty sandwich. Now, I have about 6 cups of it left in my freezer. Hopefully, it will catch freezer burn and I can throw it away without feeling guilty. There are starving children in Africa.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pepperoncini Beef

Pepperoncini beef seems to have a cult like following on the world wide interwebz. I decided to give in and try making it today.

One large roast beef, one packet of Italian seasoning and on large jar of pepperoncini. Into the crock pot - set on low for 8 hours.

Apparently you shred the beef and make sandwiches out of it. Think spicy french dip. I got the good Cuban rolls.

Will report back later with the results.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Menu Planning - Little Miss Soup's First Birthday

Little Miss Soup is turning 1! Where did the year go? Her party is still a few weeks away - but I'm already worrying about the menu. Current thoughts:

  • Bacon & Spinach Quiche - Paula Deen kick recipe - very delicious and great at room temp
  • Some sort of salad
  • Uncle GG is in charge of the pink poodle cake

The Soups have the Sadz

The Darling Mr Sunday's Soup is apparently NOT a fan of making due.

The other morning, in the usual chaos of getting the Soup's breakfasted and lunches packed and out the door there was a conversation of sorts. Well, of sorts because two people were talking, but apparently not to each other. Listening wasn't part of the deal at all...The result: a make due dinner since nothing was defrosted.

Grumpy Mr Soup used derogatory terms. Huffed and Puffed. Kicked Mrs Soup OUT of the kitchen and took over.

The end result: not worth posting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Soup of the week - Ribollita

I made a huge vat of Ribollita this weekend with the intention that it would be the perfect lunch. And it is!

There are all sorts of variations on this Tuscan bean and veggie soup. I made the Barefoot Contessa's version. Yes, I have a girl crush on Ina. But, her stuff is really good and this soup is no exception!

1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
Kosher salt
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
1/4 pound large diced pancetta or smoked bacon
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
3 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage, optional
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the pancetta and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, if using, the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.


Charming Little Mister is still working on the talking thing. He has loads of words now, and is even making some sentences. However, there are times where we still need a UN Interpreter to help us out.

One of his favorite foods is Doup. Not to be confused with soup. He likes soup, but he loves doup. What is doup you say?? It is several cups of chicken stock with a few hand fulls of pasta. You boil it all together until the pasta is decidedly un-al-dente. Mush. He loves it. I have been known to throw in a few of Little Miss' veggie cubes straight from the freeze just to cool the whole thing down. Wow, doup and veggies. He loves it. YEA DOUP!

Monday Night

We have a standing dinner party every Monday night. Dear friends open their house and their hearts to a varied group of friends - never less than 12 as many as 30+ (when all the kids are home from college). It is a great time. An email goes out on Monday morning - everyone responds with what and who they are bringing. Then magic happens. Last night's menu was simple yet delicious.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Brown Rice with Almonds
Tossed Salad

The recipe worth sharing is the Brown Rice with Almonds - This was courtesy of Paul. He thinly sliced a couple of onions and smashed up a bit of garlic. He caramelized in some butter and olive oil. The then tossed in a lot of chopped almonds. Paul is a cheater and used boil-in-the-bag brown rice which takes about 10 minutes. He then tossed the whole thing together. It was just so fantastic. RAVE REVIEW FROM ALL THE SOUPS! Little Miss and Little Mister both ate and enjoyed it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chicken with Curry, Rice and Mushrooms

This is one of our family favorite basic recipes that is easy to spice up any way you like.

Brown whichever cut of chicken you like in a large skillet or small dutch oven with a little butter and olive oil. Remove the chicken, then toss in onions and mushrooms. Saute gently. Add in whatever seasoning floats your boat - this past weekend I put about 2 tablespoons of curry in. Then, deglaze the pan with about 1/2c of white wine. Put the chicken back in. Toss in 1c rice and 2c chicken stock or water and put it into the oven for 25 minutes (or until the rice is tender and liquid has been aborbed). Alway a crowd pleaser!

I've been validated by the NY TIMES!

There was a great article in the Times today about how to feed babies...YEA! Give 'em what you're eating! Here's the link to Hey Momma, I'll have some of what you're having!