Spring Broccoli Salad

DSC_0316Spring Broccoli Salad

Years ago I had this recipe for an Asian broccoli salad that was made with a spice packet from the Top Ramen package.  My husband calls Top Ramen, “Top Ramone”.  It’s pretty rare that we have Ramone, but I use the noodles for the Thai soup that is in this blog.  Anyway, I just loved that broccoli salad.  It was a go-to salad that showed up everywhere.  Usually when that happens you get tired of it and vow to never make it again.   As I was menu planning at the eleventh hour this Easter, it came to mind.  With the refrigerator hanging wide open and me staring at the vegetable bin for quite some time, it suddenly hit me.  Here is my seemingly bi-polar thought process:

“I’ll make that broccoli salad! Yeah…. OK!  It looks like I have some of the ingredients.  Not sure that I have enough to feed six people…Hmm.   OH!  I can use these radishes here and this cucumber and hey, I have celery…whoa…do I have a lot of celery.  I’m  soo not going to put the roasted Ramone noodles in it because that just sounds gross (visual image of people with grimaces sitting around the dining room table, staring blankly and chomping slowly on crunchy uncooked Ramone noodles like they are trying to figure out what it is and if it is supposed to sound like that while the lord has risen lyrics are sang gently on Pandora in the background), so (going to the pantry) here’s some sliced almonds and oh brother since Im in such a damn rush, the Top Ramone package…I better use the packet for the dressing.” 

Don’t judge me.  We’ve all been there.  And if you are short on your ingredients like I was, here is the new and improved Asian Broccoli Salad that I renamed Spring Broccoli Salad now tricking myself into making it more often because it isn’t the former!  Plus the apple, almonds, celery and radish make it crunchy and delicious.

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Spring Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

2 C. broccoli florets (cleaned, bite-sized and ready to go)

1 small english cucumber (peeled to be striped and cut into medium dice)

2 green onions (chopped)

5 or 6 radishes sliced thin, then halved

2 ribs of celery, cleaned, sliced lengthwise, then chopped on the bias into bite size pieces

1 small apple, cored, skin removed and diced into bite size pieces

1/2 C. roasted almonds

Ingredients for Dressing

3 T. rice wine vinegar

1 Top Ramone spice packet

2 T. mayonnaise

1 t black pepper

Directions

In a mixing bowl, add broccoli to almonds from the list above and mix well.

Special note:  To roast sliced almonds, place them in a skillet on medium heat and stir them around, flipping them occasionally until they are golden brown.  Quickly remove from heat and lay them on a paper towel to cool.  You will want to cool them before you add them to a cold salad and certainly before you add them to anything that has mayonnaise in it!

Prepare the dressing and pour over the top and gently mix in.  You can serve immediately, but it’s better sitting in the fridge for about 2 or 3 hours ahead of time.  You guests will be pleasantly surprised by your creation and pairing of some really awesome spring vegetables.

Here was the Easter Egg Hunt 2013 which was the first Easter ever that we could have an egg hunt outside.  It was a beautiful morning!

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Enjoy!

Corned Beef Shepard’s Pie

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Combine traditional corned beef brisket with the simple yet savory of all pies, a shepards pie says “St. Patrick’s Day Dinner” like none other.  Doesn’t that look great?  Situate this entree on the table along side a pitcher of your favorite beer and dive in.  This pie has nice texture and great flavor.  After assembled, you can bake it off immediately or you can  refrigerate for up to 2 days until you need it.

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I stopped by the store to pick up a corned beef brisket and upon approaching the meat case I noticed a gentleman filling his basket with corned beef.  He paused after taking four of them and pawed around in the case looking for more.  I waited patiently and watched his mind work.  When I see shopper’s in the store buying certain items that I’m also after, I often wonder what they are making with all of it.  On this day, there was no sale.  Maybe it just thrills me to think about all the wonderful brisket possibilities.  I wonder what he was going to do with all that brisket.   I was very curious and wanted to find out.  He walked away and so did my urge to ask.  Perhaps one day, I will buy that much at once, but for this recipe, you only need one.

The size of your brisket will depend on the number of people at your house for dinner and the dish you are planning to serve it in.

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Ingredients

1 beef brisket with flavor packet

2 C. beef broth

1 C. chopped onions

1 C. chopped carrots

4 large russett potatoes, peeled

3/4 C. milk

2 pats butter

1 T. flour

1 – 14 oz. can tomato puree

4 oz. of tomato paste

3/4 C. frozen peas

1/4 C. finely chopped, fresh parsley

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Directions

In the morning, place the beef brisket, flavor packet, beef broth, onions, and carrots in a crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours.

Add skinned and chopped russet potatoes to a large pot of salted, boiling water.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  Remove the potatoes to a bowl.  Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash until smooth.  If you over-mash, your potatoes will develop gluten and become rubbery.  You can use a ricer if you have one which results in smooth mashed potatoes.  (*My husband says that when I cook, I try to dirty every dish in the kitchen.  While that might be true, at least I’m using my kitchen gadgets and Im not convinced he could say the same for the tools in his shop!”)

Remove vegetables to a separate dish.  Place the beef brisket on a cutting board and using forks, pull apart the meat until it is shredded.  Discard the excess fat.  In a large pot, add the vegetables and beef.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir.  Turn heat on high and add 1 cup of the left over beef broth from the crock pot, tomato puree and tomato paste and gently stir until combined.  Cook until thickened.  Turn down heat to low and stir in peas.

Spray the dish your shepards pie will be going in.  Place the meat and vegetable mixture in the dish and using a heat-safe rubber spatula, spread out to all sides.  Sprinkle the top with fresh finely chopped parsley and cover immediately with mashed potatoes.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  It may take longer if you just took it from the fridge to the oven.  The potatoes should be golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

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Champagne Cocktail – Love Potion No. 9

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My girlfriend turned 39 and I had some friends over for a birthday celebration dinner.  I made a signature birthday champagne cocktail for everyone to start and toast her to another wonderful year ahead.  She loves raspberries which is the base of the cocktail.  Who doesn’t like raspberries and champagne?

Love Potion No. 9

Ingredients

1 1/2 C. raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 C. sugar

1 oz ginger beer

1 oz rasperry liquor

3 oz Prosecco or sweet champagne

Whole fresh raspberries for garnish

Directions

In a small saucepan, put in the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 C. water.  Turn on medium high and slowly cook until bubbly and the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Pour raspberry mixture through a sieve to separate the liquid from the raspberry meat.  Toss raspberry meat.  Let syrup cool.

In a martini shaker with ice, add the cooled raspberry syrup, raspberry liquor, ginger beer and champagne.  Pour out into a beautiful glass, garnish with a raspberry and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

Dinner Club – February 2013

SBE 065February 2013 Dinner Club

Our February dinner club was held at Tiffany’s.  Her theme of choice was romance movies.  She asked all the participants to taylor their portion of the meal around their favorite romance movie.  If you haven’t read my blog about Dinner Club and how it works, check it out.  Since Tiffany was hosting, she had the entree.  Her movie was “Love Actually” and she chose to do penne in a red vodka cream sauce.  It goes without saying that the menu was amazing so keep reading.

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Dinner Club Romance Media

Dinner Club Themes, Menu and Media

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Tiffany – “Love Actually” – Entree – You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce

Tracy – “Gidget Goes to Rome” – Appetizer –  Three Way Bruchetta

Kelly – “Mama Mia” – Side – Mediterranean Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette

Jeni – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Beverage – Champagne Bar

Stephanie – “Four Weddings and a Funeral” – Salad – Winterfruit Salad

Trisha – “Downton Abbey” – Dessert – Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

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Yes, I’m fully aware that Downton Abbey is not a movie, but a television miniseries on PBS.  I was reminded over and over again that evening by multiple people, but in my defense, I love it as if it were a movie and I don’t always run with the pack, therefore making it perfectly acceptable and after all, it’s Dinner Club, so all is forgiven.

Bruchetta Three Ways

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What’s better than having bruchetta three ways?  When your lover makes fresh french rolls the morning of Dinner Club day and you get to spoil all the girls with it!  Who needs store bought with that kind of man at home!

Ingredients

1 french baggette, preferably made by your lover, cut into half inch slices on the bias

1 T Olive Oil

1 clove garlic halved

Directions:  preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Place baggette slices on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and rub with halved garlic.  Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes watching closely so they don’t burn.  Remove from oven and arrange on a tray.  Serve with three sauces.  You can make these as you see them below or come up with  your own.  Personally, the tomato and the goat cheese are my favorite and they are really great together.

Tomato Topping:

2 diced roma tomatoes, seeds discarded

1 bunch fresh basil leaf, chiffonade

1 t. balsamic vinegar

freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

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Goat Cheese and Onion Topping:

1 8oz pkg of goat cheese

1/4 C. of thick sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. finely chopped chives

1/2 t. garlic powder

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until blended and smooth.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

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Drunken Fig Jam courtesy Epicurious.com

2 lemons

4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)

4 cups sugar

3/4 cup brandy or Cognac

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).

Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce adapted by Food Network

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

1 cup vodka

1 cup chicken stock

1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)

Coarse salt and pepper

16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate

1/2 cup heavy cream

20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Crusty bread, for passing

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Directions

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

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While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

1 pound orzo

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice

6 t finely chopped fresh marjoram

4 t Dijon mustard

1 t grated lemon peel

1/2 C. olive oil

1 1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 C. pitted Kalamata olives, quartered

24 oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved

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Directions

Cook orzo in a pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occassionally.  Drain.  Rinse pasta under cold water until cool.  Drain well.  Transfer pasta to larger bowl.

Whisk lemon juice, 5 t. marjoram, mustard and lemon peel in a small bowl.  Whisk in olive oil.  Set aside 2 T. vinaigrette.  Add remaining vinaigrette, cheese, onions and olives to orzo; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and let stand 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.  Toss tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette.  Toss into salad and add remaining marjoram.  Serve cold.

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

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Ingredients

1/2 C. white sugar

1/2 C. lemon juice

2 t. diced onion

1 t. Dijon-style prepared mustard

1/2 t. salt

2/3 C. vegetable oil

1 t. poppy seeds

1 head butter leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

1 C. cashews

1/4 C. dried cranberries

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced

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Directions

In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.

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In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Champagne Bar

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This is such a wonderful idea.  If you have a number of guests over, grab a few bottles of your favorite champagne, mixers and your gorgeous glassware and have a ball mixing up your favorite champagne cocktails.  Don’t forget the must have cute napkins and drink stirrers.  With a champagne bar, everyone makes their own special version!

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Ingredients

1 1/2 oz. orange vodka

1 1/2 oz. lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. orange juice

2 bar spoons Apricot preserves

Champagne

Directions

Combine ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and serve chilled in your favorite glassware!  Too many of these and we would have really had breakfast at Tiffany’s!

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As you can see, our champagne bar had the following ingredients, but you can use virtually anything.  Be creative and taylor your bar to a specific holiday or celebration.  Here are some other ingredients you may wish to use to stock your champagne bar:

Peach puree

Mango puree

Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

sugar cubes

Bitters

Triple Sec

Simple syrup

Raspberry puree

Strawberries, raspberries, cut pineapple and marischino cherries for garnish

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Downton Abbey Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

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Makes 18 to 20

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 x 13 glass Pyrex.

Crust:

2 C. all-purpose flour

½ C. powdered sugar

1 C. butter (you can mix ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening as an alternative to all butter)

1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon peel

Dash salt

Mix ingredients together with your hands until crumbly and press into the greased 9×13 Pyrex dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool before adding filling.

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Filling:

4 eggs

1 C. all-purpose flour

1 ¼ C. granulated sugar

1 t. baking powder

Dash salt

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 t. lemon peel

1 t. lemon extract (optional)

Add all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until combined.  Pour into 9×13 over cooled cookie base and put in oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until center is cooked through.  Remove from oven and cool on counter.

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Icing:

1 C. powdered sugar

8 oz. cream cheese softened

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Add lemon juice until desired consistency.  Pour over lemon bar cake.  Let icing set for about an hour before cutting lemon bars.    When you cut, they will look a bit rustic.

Serving Tip:  Serve inside large white paper muffin cups or on top of sweet little decorative doilies covering a cake stand.

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Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Personally, I would put chorizo, beef, chicken or pork in this recipe, but sometimes you want a cheesey dip that is a little lighter than the traditional.  I like this one.  It’s hot, melty and very tasty.  Try it with your favorite beer and chips.

Ingredients

2 T. olive oil

1 small white onion, diced small

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced small

1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 C. tequila

1 clove garlic, minced

2 C. mexican cheeses or monterey jack

Directions

Prepare heavy pot with olive oil and turn stove onto medium high heat.  Saute’ diced onions and jalapenos for about four minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and minced garlic and cook 2 minutes more.   Deglaze with tequila.  Be careful here because alcohol is flammable.  Stir together until combined.  Stir in cheese and mix thoroughly.  Pour into a heat proof dish and serve with chips!

Winter Meat Pies

Winter Meat Pies

My family asked me to make meat pies for Christmas dinner.  These are a bit time consuming to make but they assemble quickly and there is enough to make additional pies of any size and freeze for an easy and delicious winter weeknight meal.  These can either be made as a hand-pie, in ramekins, or in cute shorty mason jars.  They will come out of the oven piping hot so be careful.  The meatpies I made were in ramekins and I used a biscuit cutter to make them round and a baby tree cookie cutter to make them festive.  Using a heart cookie cutter would be adorable for Valentine’s day or shamrock for St. Patrick’s day…you get the picture.  There’s no end to your creativity, so go for it.  😉

First off, I enlisted the help of my beloved sister.  I love it when she comes to cook with me as you can see from my blog, we cook together a lot.  Cooking with her thrills me.  I simply can’t get enough time with her in the kitchen.

If you want to have this entree for dinner, you will need to start the night before.  If you were having a dinner party, you could actually make these ahead of time and freeze them until you were going to use them.  They look impressive and you won’t have a dirty kitchen when your guests show up!

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Ingredients

2 lb. chuck roast

1 white onion, sliced

4 carrots, rough chop

1 C. mushrooms, rough chop

1 C. dry red wine

2 C. beef broth

salt & pepper

Slurry: 1 t. cornstarch, 2 T. broth

1 sleeve of crushed Saltine crackers

2 T worchesterchire sauce

1 t. ground rosemary herb

1 t. ground onion

3 T. chopped fresh italian parsley

1 pkg. ready made pie crust

1 egg, whisked

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Directions

Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil to a heavy pot and turn the stovetop on medium high.  When the pan is hot, sear the beef on all sides in a heavy pot.  Add the beef through salt and pepper above to a crock pot, cover and cook on low overnight.

In the morning, use a slotted spoon and remove the meat and vegetables to a bowl and set aside.  Pour the broth into a stock pot, place on the stove on medium high until it comes to a boil, turn down to low and simmer until the broth reduces to about a cup and a half.  This will take quite some time.  Later, you will add a slurry to the reduced broth (a slurry is a mixture of 1 tsp cornstarch and 2 T broth).  This will thicken your broth so it will now be a gravy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I also add a pat of butter to make the sauce a little richer but this step is optional.  Stir until thickened or until it coats the back of a spoon and then turn off the heat.

When your meat and vegetables have cooled, place them on a cutting board and chop them into small pieces.  You can even use a food processor if you are in a hurry, but be careful not to grind it into a paste which can happen quickly.  The goal is for the pieces to be bitesize, about a half inch in size.

Add the chopped meat and vegetables to a very large mixing bowl and add ingredents from Saltine crackers to parsley above.  Add the gravy you made above.  Using a large spoon, mix meat filling gently until combined.  Set aside.

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Preheat oven to 350.  Butter inside of ramekins or a casserole dish.  Using a spoon, place meat filling in dishes.  You can fill close to the top edge of the ramekins, and about 3/4 the way up if using a casserole dish.

Roll out your refridgerated, ready-made pie crust on the counter using flour so it doesn’t stick.  Roll to desired thickness and cut out circles for ramekins.  Place the circle on the ramekins to cover meat filling.  Use a festive cookie cutter as described above and gently press into the top of the pie crust.  Its up to you whether you want to remove the cut out piece or not.  I liked the look of them left in.

Assemble your eggwash mixture:  1 egg and 2 T water.  Mix with a fork until blended.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the pies with the eggwash.  Place pies on a foil covered cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Remember:  Freeze them (for up to two months)!  You and your sweetie or your family can have them all over again.  If you are making them for Valentine’s Day and you have extra, use shamrock cookie cutters on the rest and take them out for St. Patrick’s day!  Serve with green beer and look how amazing you are!

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Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Oatmeal Muffins - Seasons Best Eats

My husband picked some apples this week.  I came home one day and there they were, a whole box of them in the garage.  We were later sitting together that night and he says, “Hey, how about making some apple muffins with those apples out there?”  The shared thought of warm apple muffins coming out of the oven, smelling of cinnamon and brown sugar hung in the air between us.   Sometimes moments like that make for the best recipes.

Ingredients

1 1/2 C. flour

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground allspice

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 C. brown sugar

1 stick of butter, melted  OR  3/4 C. apple sauce

3/4 C. rolled oats

4 large apples or 6 small apples, seeded, skinned and shredded small

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients in order as you see them above.  Work batter together using a rubber spatula.

Lightly spray your muffin tins with spray cooking oil.  Using an icecream scoop, scoop batter into muffin tin until they are only half way full.  They will rise and be beautiful when they come out of the oven.

Put them in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.  When they are done, remove them from the oven to the counter to cool slightly.  Using a spoon, gently work them free and place them on a cooling rack.  Enjoy them warm or cool.

For the baby muffin tins, you should only bake them for 12 minutes.

Halloween Popcorn Balls

Halloween Popcorn Balls

It’s Halloween.  The season for crisp, bright sunny afternoons, apple cider, harvest moons, costumes, jack 0’lanterns and candy!  Making popcorn balls is no mystery.  They are quick and easy to make and kids love them.

Ingredients

1/4 C. butter

3/4 C. Corn Syrup

3 C. Marshmallows

15 caramels

1/4 t. salt

1 C. Fall Holiday M&Ms

1 C. fresh candy corn

1 C. white chocolate chips

Directions

This recipe make approximately 12 good size popcorn balls.

Unless you have an enourmous bowl, you will need to use a few mixing bowls.  Pop popcorn.  Split popcorn between bowls.  Split the candy between the bowls, combined with popcorn.  Set aside.

Heat the butter, syrup, marshmallows, caramels and salt in a sauce pan over medium high heat stirring often until melted.

Pour caramel sauce over the popcorn.  Working quickly, use a rubber heat safe spatula and work in caramel sauce.  When it’s cool enough, grease your hands with a little olive oil and take a handful of the popcorn and candy and work into balls.  Set on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper to cool.  Wrap in halloween treat bags and tie with a festive ribbon.

Sweet Potato Soup with Rosemary

This delicious soup is really Giada’s recipe with some slight variation.  Thanks Giada!

I recently visited my sister for the weekend which was essential to shed the stress and mayhem of trying to be all things to everyone.  I arrived on Friday night and she greeted me at the door wearing an adorable Halloween apron.  At that instant, I could feel the healing begin.  There is something about being with family to make you feel whole again.

She had prepared to make a creamy sweet potato soup infused with rosemary, and panninis made with ham, fontina and green apple.  It was absolutely delicious.  (The kids had teriyaki!)

In the picture above, this soup looks a little yellow which occured during photoshop. The soup was actually a beautiful orange color.  Whatever color, yellow or orange, you want your soup to be will depend on the color of the sweet potatoes.  Since they come in various colors, choose one that is best for your setting.

Since our theme was Halloween, she used dark reddish orange.

Ingredients

3 T. butter

3 T. olive oil

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and white pepper

3 sweet potatoes, peeled trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 or 3 stems of fresh rosemary

6 C. chicken broth

1/2 C. marscarpone or cream cheese

1 1/2 T. maple syrup

Directions

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and oil together over medium high heat.  When hot, add the shallots and garlic and stir together cooking for about 4 minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary and chicken stock.  Cover pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes until the sween potatoes are very tender. Turn off heat.  Remove rosemary stems.  Add the marscarpone or cream cheese. Using a hand held immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a blender, but you will have to wait until the soup is cool before blending.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve in little bowls and garnish with little sprigs of rosemary.

Garden Vegetable Soup

Just when the garden goes bizerk, you now have a go-to recipe to use up the ingredients that start piling up in your fridge.  Don’t I know it.

I have made this soup a few times now.  My brother in law’s wife was out of town and he recently  came for dinner for a few evenings in a row.  I made this soup and heated it, then reheated it, then added more veggies and heated it again.  Grinning between spoonfuls (and seconds or thirds) night after night, he gave me the advice that it just keeps getting better and better.  My advice to you is use what is in your garden, in your fridge, the stuff you get for good deals at farmstands and that which your co-workers bestow on you, usually in form of zuchinni.  Use it all and use it here.  You won’t be disappointed AND, it’s great for Fall.  Freeze it for those late, cool evenings when you really don’t have the energy to make anything for dinner.   Serve it with bread that makes you happy and a great wine or hard cider.

Ingredients

There is a ton of stuff I pulled from my personal garden;  potatoes, broccoli, green and purple beans, tomatoes, rutabagas, onions, garlic, carrots, red peppers, peas, yellow crookneck squash and need-I-say-abundant zuchinni.  I also added sliced crimini mushrooms and corn cut from the cob that I received from my neighbor.  To complete your soup, you will also need:

Olive oil

5 C. water

3 T. beef consumme or beef broth

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 8 oz. can tomato paste

1 bay leaf

2 t. dried oregano

2 t. dried basil

1 T. salt

1 T. black pepper

*Optional – you can also add a pound of cooked ground beef to make Garden Vegetable Beef Soup which is amazing too.

Directions

Slice up all your veggies first.  Chop the onion small.  Mince the garlic, dice the red pepper.  Slice your carrots on the bias, quarter your potatoes, rutabagas, beans, zuchinni and squash into bite size pieces, etc.

Get out a huge pot and place it on your stove.  Turn the heat to medium high.  Add a few swirls of olive oil, then add the onion and saute for about three minutes.  Add the carrots, red pepper, mushrooms and broccoli and saute for two more minutes.  Add the minced garlic and stir gently while cooking.  At this point, put your salt and pepper in and continue to cook vegetables until soft.  Add the water and beef consumme, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir gently.  Add the remaining vegetables (potatoes, rutabagas, beans, zuchinni, squash etc.) except peas which go in last, and bring soup to a boil.  *If you are adding beef, add it here.  Once your soup is boiling, turn heat to low to simmer.  Add bay leaf, oregano and basil.  Test soup for salt content and add more if necessary.  Remember, the longer your soup sits, the saltier it will become because your vegetables absord the liquid, so go sparingly.  Simmer soup for about 20 minutes until potatoes are done cooking.  Turn off the heat. Now you can add the peas!  You can either serve it now or wait until the next day when it’s really great!

I have served this in soup bowls along side a salad or in ramekins along side a larger meal.  I have taken it to work and put it in the freezer.  It’s a very good soup to add veggies to night after night.  If you do this, remember to add more water, consumme, salt and pepper to taste.  Please let me know how much you enjoy it.  I just love it!