Parmesan Potato Soup with Bacon

DSC_9465 (1600x1060)This turned out pretty well.  The bacon made that a foregone conclusion but the Parmesan was an experiment gone good.  I simmered potato pieces in chicken broth until they were soft and then pureed everything in the pot with an immersion blender.  The bacon crisped up in a separate pan and was added after the blender did its job – save a little for garnishing at the table.  There’s some milk in there to thin it, lots of grated Parmesan and some cheddar I had leftover from burritos.  Seasonings include dried thyme, oregano, fresh ground black pepper and salt.  I used the same microplane grater I grated the Parm with on a little bit of carrot that you can see in the photo if you look hard.DSC_9462 (1600x1060)Since I am  lunatic I took the chance to add a little color to the plate with a healthy slug of my hot sauce.  It was good but I wouldn’t let the lack of it dissuade me from demolishing a future bowl of this soup.

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Breakfast Pr0n – Burrito

DSC_9461 (1600x1060)I’ve loved these things ever since my first introduction at a jobsite where they were being sold out of a cooler by a fellow helping out a girlfriend.  This one is beef and bean with a cheese omelet all rolled up together.  I’m really liking my hot sauce, I’ll be making more of this stuff.  The cayennes I used didn’t heat it nearly so much as I thought they might.  I believe a few habaneros will go into the next batch.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Preparing for Thanksgiving

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Cornbread Stuffing Photo by JeffreyW

Bixby and I are hitting the road for the holiday, as long as the weather stays nice. I’m planning on arriving early so I can help with prep, because I like love to cook. Bixby is growing fast and you can see his latest photo here, along with a quick update. I hope he does as well in the car as he did last trip.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I compiled some favorite recipes for tonight’s recipe exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing,  part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

I think I’m going to volunteer for mashed potato duty this year so I can make these again, a lost recipe found, Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, link here. I made them years ago and then completely forgot about the recipe.

And this recipe is the reason I think I get invited to many holiday gatherings, my Cranberry Upside Down Cake, click here.

Since my brother is cooking again this year, we’ll probably have deep fried turkey, which is ok by me, as long as I’m not cooking it. I have a real fear of deep frying anything, which is why all the deep fried recipes on the blog are from JeffreyW. I will still cook a turkey, though, because, leftovers. This year I’m going to try the braising method from America’s Test Kitchen’s Braised Turkey technique, link here, minus the brining.

Not sure how you want to cook your turkey this year? I’ve listed some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles of recipes for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara

cropped-thanksgiving.jpg

Bixby Update: Growing Up Fast

Bixby 11 20 14 final

Bixby is busy doing Bixby things, important things, like rolling on the floor chewing on his favorite stuffed dog and chasing playing with cats, so I thought I’d give you a quick update. First I went looking for photos for the week and realized I didn’t have any. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how difficult it is to get photos of a very rambunctious puppy. Especially when I have the camera, he always wants to ‘see’ what I’m doing and the best I can get is a photo of his left nostril.

No one wants to see that.

So I convinced him to sit up on the couch and be still for all of 5 seconds (treats may have been involved), so I could get this shot. That’s right, you’re looking at a photo taken just moments ago. And I’m fairly certain that he’s grown about  a 1/4 inch since I snapped it.

At five months, he’s just so very smart and so very easy to train. We are working on more complex problems right now, like not being in the kitchen while I’m cooking, asking to be on the couch, understanding that while I’m working, I cannot also be petting, playing or otherwise entertaining him. He’s a quick a study. He also has a stubborn streak and will give me a look and then do exactly what I just said he couldn’t do. Because, well because he’s Bixby.

Some video from two weeks and 10 lbs ago:

The video isn’t much, but I’ve been trying to get video of him flying off the deck (stairs, who needs stairs?) like super-dog. I was not completely successful, but I’ll keep trying. And the play stance of him, butt up, tail wagging is one of my favorites, it really reflects his whole view on life right now. Happy, fun, tail wagging. He reminds me everyday to stop taking it all so seriously.

I’m trying Bixby, I’m trying.

Paw print

 

Thanksgiving Files: Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes.  Ever.  But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes.  I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.

A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them.  Well, I decided to try it for real this time.  I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered.  I must have remembered pretty well.  They turned out great.

This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table.  And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)

4-qt saucepan

Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes).  Add to liquid and turn heat to high.  Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half.  There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well.  And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water.  When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.

Originally posted November 2011

Shrimp Creole

DSC_9457I needed a good place to give my homemade hot sauce a good test.  Flying colors, man!  Flying colors!

Recipe from NOLA Cuisine.  Give his place a look, y’all.

Tidbits

DSC01045 (1600x1200)This pretty girl has been at the shelter for a while now.  She was a surrender – the owner became unable to care for her due to infirmity.  Mrs J hoped to promote her adoption prospects by placing her prominently in the shelter’s Facebook page but no luck so far despite going home with a prospect for a visit, and some inquiries.  DSC_9454 (1600x1060)The last batch of cayennes I picked went into my fermenting jar, the same rig that works so well for counter top sauerkraut.  It’s pretty easy to make your own hot sauces and you can tailor the recipe to your own tastes by using different peppers or liquids.  Not that I have any great expertise since this is my first batch.  I forget exactly which recipe I used but this one seems very close to it. The ratio of salt to peppers is the same, I used a white wine to cover them in the jar.  Cayennes aren’t the hottest peppers out there but they do have some heat.  I don’t remember now how long these spent in the jar but going on two months seems close.  I didn’t use any whey or starter to hurry the fermenting.DSC00977 - Copy (1600x1200)This is Jack, a bashful sort.  He has since been adopted.DSC_9433 (1600x1060)It’s been a long time since we’ve had pork chops for dinner.  These simmered in mushroom cream for a good hour.  The potatoes were mashed with garlic and sour cream, the broccoli were steamed and treated to a lemon butter sauce made with white wine and thickened a little with cornstarch to help it cling to the veggies.DSC00982 (1600x1200)This is Toby, a terrier mix.  Mrs J thinks he’s gone on to a new home.DSC_9442 (1600x1060)I’ll close this out with a stir fry, this one is chicken and various veggies in a brown sauce with a batch of fried rice.  “Brown sauce” is a generic term and there are tons of recipes out there.  I generally use a little of this and a little of that in mine – IIRC this one has soy sauce, black vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, chicken broth, sesame oil, Hoisin sauce, garlic chili paste, cornstarch, and a dash of Maggi branded seasoning sauce.  The chicken marinated for an hour in similarly seasoned marinade – heavier on the cornstarch.

Thanksgiving Files: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

This is by far the most requested dessert I make.  This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers  this week.  Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation.  If you’re looking to wow, try this one.  From 2009:

Cranberries are on sale!  Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up.  I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take.  It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner.  You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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Sammich Pr0n – French Dip Roast Beef

DSC_9443 (1600x1060)I spent the morning slicing and vacuum sealing a ham, a beef roast, and a corned beef.  I kept out enough of the sliced roast beef to make a couple of these.  They are the next thing to an Italian beef, lacking only the particular seasonings.  I’m calling it a roast beef although it was slow cooked in a big crockpot.  I added beef broth, red wine, lots of garlic, sliced onions, and bay leaves.  If I had added basil and oregano, and maybe rosemary I would consider it full on Italian beef.  It was cooked to 150 internal temperature, not quite well done but pretty close.  It spent a day in the fridge before slicing.

Friday Dinner Music: Jeremy Jordan, Losing My Mind

Sometimes people lead me to the best things:

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