Friday, December 24, 2010

Turkey Soup

The first year my husband and I were dating, I went to visit his family a few days after Christmas.  I made it to the house in time to have my first bowl of turkey soup.  I'm sure that I made a pig out of myself and ate way too much soup, but this stuff is really good!  Shortly after my husband and I got married, I decided to try and make this.  It just didn't turn out right, so I tried a few more times and it still wasn't the same as his mom's soup! When my daughter was born, we asked my mother-in-law to make us a pot of the soup (we used chicken that time) and I watched her carefully.  When you have a two week old in the house, that is not a good time to try and remember a recipe.  This year, I sent my mother in law an email and asked her how she made her soup.  It turns out I'd been waiting too long to add the kielbasa to the soup.  It made a big difference!  My four year old ate a ton of the soup this year.  We aren't having turkey for Christmas this year, but I have some turkey in the freezer so that we can have some turkey soup very soon!

Turkey Soup
1 bag of Lysander's Bean Bag Soup
6 1/2 cups of water
1/2 pound kielbasa, chopped
2 cups turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup chunky vegetable tomato sauce

1) Rinse the beans. Combine water and beans in a large dutch oven.
2) Bring the beans to a boil and let them boil for one minute. Turn the heat off and let the beans sit, covered, for one hour. 
3) If you are using broth, drain the beans after one hour.  Return to a pot with 6 cups of broth. If you don't use broth, leave the water in the pot with the beans.
4) Add the turkey and kielbasa, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  When beans are done, add onion, carrots, celery, lemon juice, tomato sauce, and seasoning packet that came with beans.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

I've always wanted to make truffles, but they always seemed like something with way too many "rules" about time, temperature, consistency, type of chocolate, etc.  This past year, I've learned that it really is OK to break the "rules" when I cook at home.  If something doesn't turn out the way a celebrity chef makes it, that is OK! 
I found a recipe on the Food Network site that looked relatively easy.  I used one of Alton Brown's recipes and made a few small modifications. The truffles  were still more work than I thought they would be, but I can honestly say they were worth the work.  They taste great and I can't wait to serve them to my family this year. 

Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Alton Brown
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup amaretto
1/2 cup processed cocoa, finely chopped almonds, and toasted coconut for coating truffles
8 ounces Ghiradelli melting chocolate, chopped

1) Place the 10 ounces of chopped chocolate and the butter in a medium sized glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process one more time. Set aside.
2) Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in  a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering.  Remove from the heat and pour into the chocolate mixture. Stir gently using a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Gently stir in the amaretto.
3) Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
4) Using a melon baller or small scoop, scoop the chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with wax paper and return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
5) Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls (they don't need to be perfect).
6) Melt the chocolate in the microwave, according to package directions.
7) Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.
8) Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kale-Stuffed Potatoes

Thanks to the unusually cool weather, I have quite a bit of kale in the garden right now.  I decided to add it to some twice-baked potatoes the other day.  They tasted great and were very filling.  Right now I have an obsession with Kerrygold cheese and butter, so I had to use them in the potatoes.  If you don't have access to Kerrygold, you can use butter with herbs and garlic and sharp cheddar cheese.

Kale-Stuffed Potatoes
2 large baking potatoes
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons Kerrygold butter with herbs and garlic
1/4 cup shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

1) Scrub potatoes and prick with a fork.  Bake at 400 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven when done and allow to cool. 
2) When the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut them in half and scoop the inside of the potato into a large bowl. Leave about 1/4 inch of potatoes inside the shell.
3) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
4) Add garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes.
5) Add kale and saute until wilted (3 - 5 minutes).
6) Add kale mixture to potatoes then add milk, Kerrygold butter and sour cream.  You may want to add a little bit of salt at this point. Mix well with an electric mixer or potato masher.
7) Spoon the potato mixture back into the shells.  Top with cheese.
8) Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

The Last Eggplant?

Last weekend I harvested this beautiful eggplant...

Two days later, we had an early freeze.  I was able to cover the eggplants and tomatoes, but some of the tomatoes died anyway.  So far the eggplants are doing OK.  The black beauty lost some leaves, but the rossa bianca (pictured) didn't seem to suffer at all.  Tonight we are under a hard freeze warning.  Everything that is still alive has been covered.  I'm praying that my eggplants survive!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Breakfast Casserole

I enjoy searching for recipes online and reading cooking blogs. One of the blogs I've discovered in the last year is the Pioneer Woman.  She posted a recipe for SuperSonic Breakfast Burritos a few months ago and I had to try them.  I made these less than a week after she posted the recipe and they were a hit.  I am part of group for mothers of young children at my church and we take turns bringing breakfast.  I really wanted to take the burritos, but there just wasn't a good way to do it...then I realized that the recipe could easily be turned into a breakfast casserole.  I make this in an 8 x 8 pan for my family.  If you wanted to make it in a
9 x 13, increase the eggs to 12, use one pound of sausage, and double the cheese, hot sauce, and milk.
You can also mix this up the day before and bake it the next morning.  Make sure you let the pan sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature before you put it in the oven.

Breakfast Casserole
Mini Tater Tots, thawed (you will need enough to cover the bottom of the dish
1/2 pound Jimmy Dean sage sausage, browned and drained
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 eggs
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
2 dashes hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
sour cream
jalapeno peppers

1) Grease the bottom of an 8 x 8 glass pan.  Place the tater tots on the bottom and add salt and pepper, if desired.
2) Add the sausage and cheese on top of the tater tots.
3) In a blender, combine the eggs, hot sauce, and milk, puree until well blended.  Pour over the tater tots, sausage, and cheese.
4) Bake at 375 for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the center is set.
5) Top with salsa, sour cream, and jalapenos before serving.

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Raisin cinnamon bread is one of our favorite breakfasts.  I realized that it was something that I could easily make, so I started searching for a recipe.  While I was searching, I came across a recipe for apple cinnamon bread.  It was pretty easy to make and tasted great. The leftovers made great french toasts.  The recipe came from the King Arthur Flour website.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kale Chips

If you know me personally, then you know about kale chips.  I bought my first kale plant about a year ago.  Since I had no idea what to do with kale, I asked my friends on Facebook what I should do with it.  A friend of mine from college suggested I try kale chips and gave me the recipe.  These have turned into one of my favorite snacks.  If you are trying to get more kale in your diet, these are a great way to start!  I've used two different varieties of kale in this and they both turned out great.

They aren't very pretty, but they are yummy!

Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, cut into large chip-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
garlic powder (optional)
parmesan cheese (optional)

Wash the kale, remove the stems, and cut into large pieces.  The kale will shrink, so don't make the pieces too small.  Mix the kale with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 250 for 30 minutes.  If you are using parmesan cheese, add during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Serve warm.