Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rosemary White Bean Soup

I made this soup last year and I loved it. I couldn't wait for it to get cooler here so I could make it again. It was just as good this time as it was before. And, it smelled so good cooking. I wish I could have bottled it up. This soup is pretty simple, with not many ingredients. And, it has a great flavor. The best thing is that, start to finish, it is ready in an hour (aside from soaking the beans overnight.) The recipe calls for 2 quarts of chicken broth and I think that is way too much. I think it would be best to only put in 1 quart while the beans cook and add more if it needs it. I ended up ladling some out because the soup was too thin. I also had to let the soup simmer longer than the recipe called for so that it would reduce some of the broth and thicken the soup. I garnished the soup with Romano cheese and crumbled bacon. It was delish! Jeff said it reminded him of Campbell's White Bean and Bacon soup. I'm not really sure what to make of that.

Rosemary White Bean Soup
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

1 lb. dried white cannellini beans
4 cups sliced yellow onions (I just used 1 yellow onion, chopped)
1/4 c. good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 or 7 inches)
2 quarts chicken stock (again, I think just 1 quart and then adding more if necessary)
1 bay leaf
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1 inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 1o to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf.

Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. (I used an immersion blender.) Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Bon Appetit!

Pumpkin Puree

I really try to stay away from anything canned like The Plague. I usually try to use unprocessed food anytime I can. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't ever use processed food. I just prefer not to if possible. So, I thought I would make fresh pumpkin puree to make some pumpkins muffins. I make my own baby food, so I figured this wouldn't be too different. Hmm... think again. Who knew that cutting, gutting and cleaning a couple of tiny pumpkins would take so long? Certainly not me. It took forever. Before I was done the 3-year-old must have said the word "mama" about 200 times and the 9-month-old was trying to pull up on my legs. They both needed a lot of attention this morning. But it sure does make for some delicious baked goods. And, bonus, babies love it too!

Pumpkin Puree

2 Sugar Pie Pumpkins

This yields about 4.5 cups of puree. Freeze anything that is not used immediately.

To make pumpkin puree, use the pumpkins that are designated as "pie pumpkins" because they are sweeter than the really big ones. I'm sure the big ones would also work, but I have not tried it. Preheat oven to 400°. Clean out the pumpkin like you would a cantaloupe — cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and slimeyness. (I actually did it like a jack-o-lantern, cutting a hole in the top and scooping from above. That may have been what took so long.) Cut the pumpkin halves into quarters and place them skin side down on a baking sheet. Roast them for 45 minutes to an hour. The skin on the bottom should be bubbly and should peel away from the pumpkin meat easily. Once the pumpkins have been peeled place them in small batches in a food processor (or other mashing device.)

Puree the pumpkin until it is smooth. Add water slowly while the motor is running if it seems dry.

And there you have it. Just like the stuff out the can. Sort of.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Italian Sausage, Green Olive and Mushroom Pizza

I have said before that I love cheese. It really could be one of the best foods on earth. I love it. And so it only makes sense that I love anything that has cheese as a main ingredient. I decided to make pizza a couple of Saturdays ago to watch the Texas game. And boy, was it good. I didn't make the dough, I guess I am just not quite that crafty. Really, I am just scared of making a bread product. For some reason I have this strange fear of yeast. Maybe some day... But for now I will continue to buy the frozen pizza dough at the store*. It's just so easy.

To the Texans out there: Central Market has great frozen dough that they make there at the store. I think it is $0.99.

Italian Sausage, Green Olive, and Mushroom Pizza

1- 1lb. ball of frozen pizza dough
marinara sauce
3/4 lb. bulk Italian sausage, browned
1/2 c. sliced green olives
1 container of sliced white button mushrooms
Italian 4 cheese blend

I let the dough defrost in the refrigerator. 30 minutes before baking I set it on the kitchen counter to warm up to room temperature. I then stretch and roll out the dough and put it on a metal pizza pan. Brush the dough with olive oil. I bake the dough for 15-20 minutes at 425° before topping it. Once the dough is baked, I put a bit of marinara sauce on it. Then I top it with sausage, green olives, mushrooms and enough cheese to cover the top. Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes or until bubbly. And there you have it. Easy peasy.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beef Bourguignon

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is the ultimate comfort food. I know, I know... You thought that Tyler had the market cornered on the ultimate dish. Well, he must not know about this, otherwise I think this would be his ultimate beef dish. This particular recipe is even better than others because it is made in the slow cooker. You just throw everything in and let it go for about 8 hours and voila! you have an authentic (at least I think) french boeuf bourguignon. This dish kind of reminds me of a sophisticated pot roast, definitely not your grandma's pot roast. Unless your grandma is french, or Ina Garten. You can taste the red wine, but it is not as heavy as I thought it would be.

I got this recipe from Aggie's Kitchen, so if you would like it just mosey on over here and try it yourself! I made my beef bourguignon just like Aggie did. The only thing I did differently was using large-cut carrots instead of baby carrots, and I used beef broth instead of water. I also served my beef over the mashed potatoes and I highly recommend it.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CEiMB: Chop Suey

This week's Craving Ellie In My Belly recipe was for Chicken Chop Suey. This is a recipe that if I had come across it myself it wouldn't have jumped out at me as something that I have to make. But, I made it anyway. It looked pretty good when I was making it, I must admit. Then we sat down for dinner and Jeff took a bite he said, "This is good. It tastes like it's from a restaurant. A good restaurant." He is a bit biased and is never short on compliments (which is sweet,) but I had to taste for myself. I tasted it and after adding some extra soy sauce and some Sriracha I thought it was just as good as he said it was. I love that I can make at home something as good as takeout from a Chinese restaurant!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Salmon With Lemon-Cilantro Viniagrette

Ah that's better. This picture looks much more appetizing than the pictures I've been taking of food lately. Geez, a cooking slump and a picture slump. Let's hope that's over! I saw this salmon recipe in Real Simple this month and, based on the name, it sounded great. And the picture looked great. So, I made my list for the week to include this recipe and went to the store. When I got home and actually read the recipe, it didn't sound quite as good. So, I changed it up quite a bit. Even with the changes this meal was pretty lackluster, but the salmon was great. I think the couscous just needed a little something extra.

I really love salmon cooked on a cedar plank on the grill (probably more than any other way I have had it), but we have had to take a break from that because we used to have it all the time. After taking a hiatus from the cedar plank, I'm happy to report that it has made it's return.

Salmon With Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette
adapted from Real Simple

1 cedar plank
1 lb. piece of salmon fillet
extra virgin olive oil
zest of one lemon
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 c. whole wheat couscous, cooked according to the box
2 T lemon juice
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. cilantro
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Soak the cedar plank for at least 30 minutes before cooking with it on the grill. Once soaked, place the salmon fillet on the plank and season. Brush the salmon with olive oil. Then top with garlic, lemon zest, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the cedar plank on the grill and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 150°.

While the fish cooks, make the couscous according to the directions on the box.

While the couscous is cooking, make the lemon-cilantro vinaigrette. In a bowl, mix together the cilantro, green onions, olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the couscous is finished cooking mix in the vinaigrette. I served the salmon over the couscous with steamed broccoli on the side.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegetable Soup with Italian Sausage

No picture again. I can't seem to make the pictures of soup look good. Anyone have any tips for making soup look appetizing? They all look like a bowl of really gross slop. And who would want to make slop for dinner? Certainly not me. This soup was good and it made a ton. I think we ate it for 4 days. I guess I could have frozen some for a later meal, but I just couldn't part with it.

Vegetable Soup with Italian Sausage

1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small to medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 lb. of red fingerling potatoes
2 squash, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 32-oz. boxes of chicken broth
1 26-oz. box of chopped tomatoes

In a large stock pot, brown sausage in the olive oil. Once browned, remove the sausage from the pot. Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in the sausage drippings. Next, add potatoes, squash, zucchini, chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours. Serve hot with a crusty whole grain bread.
Note: This soup is much better the next day.

Bon Appetit!