Blog Archives

Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

DSC_0785 (1600x1060)I wish I’d gone with the white bowl for this, I really thought there would be more contrast.  This is a copycat recipe, as far as I know, nowhere does it indicate it’s an actual Panera recipe.  I stayed right with the recipe as written except I added an extra handful of shredded Parmesan I had out for the garlic toast.  I can say that it’s a damn good soup, we both gave it two thumbs up.DSC_0788 (1600x1060)I couldn’t resist making a sammich out of the leftovers.

Tidbits

DSC_0734 (1600x1060)I’ve been on a fruit salad kick.  Lots of fresh fruit at the market this time of year.  Grapes are a mainstay, I use both red and green grapes and I like to cut them in half unless they are really tiny.  Seedless grapes are easier but I have spent a lot of time scraping seeds away when those aren’t available.  Also in this one are pears, peaches, kiwis, pineapple, oranges, and bananas.DSC02695 (1600x1200)

Kitteh!  Here’s a 3 month old male.  Mrs J says they named him Diti but she will not swear to the spelling.  D. T.?  DeeTee? Ditty?DSC_0723 (1600x1060)Mmm… cheeseburger.  This one has Swiss cheese and a pile of pickled peppers.DSC_0718 (1600x1060)More of those roasted rosemary Parmesan potatoes.  These are Yukon Golds and they are plated with sesame green beans and a piece of roasted chicken.DSC02699 (1600x1200)Moar Kitteh!  This is Kaitlyn, an 8 week old female with interesting coloration, a tabby/calico look.IMG_20150806_113021225 (1600x1200)That’s Kaitlyn there – right up against the blue watchband on this kitten house staffer.  They call that staffer “the cat whisperer” because she can really get a feral cat calmed down and purring.DSC_0728 (1600x1060)Country ribs and fries.  I have my best luck with these pork “logs” when I braise them, covered, in a low oven, say 225 to 250.  I use broth as the braising liquid, adding bbq sauce at the end and uncovering them to help reduce the sauce.  These were finished on the outside grill but they can be done under a broiler – watch them close so they don’t char.DSC_0653 [1600x1060]Here’s another cheeseburger, this one is garnished with some of those refrigerator pickles.  On the side is one of my favorite summer salads of tomatoes and cucumbers with onions in a vinaigrette.  It’s better the next day but isn’t bad when freshly made like this one.

Rosemary Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

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I saw these potatoes on a new food show on TV and they were pretty good looking, better than these.  He used a deep fryer to finish his off and I went with the oven for mine.  Start by boiling/steaming  large Russet potatoes – put them in a pot and add enough water to half cover them, bring to a simmer on the stove, then cover the pot and finish them in a 400 oven for about an hour.  When they cool a little break them up into pieces, add salt, and douse them with olive oil on a baking tray.  Toss on a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and roast them in the hot oven until they brown sufficiently.  Toss the roasted potatoes with grated Parmesan and serve .DSC_0700 (1600x1060)I’ve been seeing people using basil butter here and there for a while now so I decided to give it a try.  I used a good handful of basil leaves, a couple cloves of garlic, a squirt of lemon juice and the zest of a lemon along with a little sugar.  Chop those up and run them in a food processor until they are are a fine paste, then add butter and spin that until everything combines.  Roll the soft butter mixture into a tube in some plastic wrap and then refrigerate to make handling it easier.  It’s pretty good on steak.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

DSC_0666 (1600x1060)I look forward to making this dish every year when the little tomatoes come in strong.  We have grape tomatoes this year instead of the cherry variety but they are much the same thing.  I saw this recipe where the tomatoes were roasted in the oven before they were mixed with the usual herbs and garlic and went with that method today.  I think it worked very well.

Pizza Pr0n – Margherita

DSC_0658 (1600x1060)I let my bread machine do the dough for this one while we were making a quick store run.  I knew I wanted a thin crust so I made a half recipe from here.  They were out of the mozzarella pearls I wanted so I made do with slices.  The tomatoes are a grape variety that I halved and cored with a spoon to leave just the shell.  I’m a big fan of what they would term “meat lover’s pizza” – several different meat toppings and mushrooms and olives and onions and on and on, but these minimalist types are really very good.DSC_0655 (1600x1060)I usually add the fresh basil after these come out of the oven so that it doesn’t turn black and crispy but I’ve seen them made that way, pretty sure there isn’t a rule about it.

Shrimp Mornay with Broccoli and Garlic Butter Fettuccine

20150616_170819 (1600x1060)This is another of our favorites, I know I’ve done this here before but that’s never stopped me.  This one is made with Swiss cheese and Parmesan.  I lightly steamed the broccoli and the shrimp and layered them in a casserole with the cheese sauce poured on and a mixture of Parmesan, olive oil, chopped parsley, and bread crumbs spread on top of it all.  If you combine everything while it’s still hot you can finish it under a broiler but you can make it ahead of time and then reheat in a 375 oven until the bread crumbs are toasted.  Today we went with fettuccine in garlic butter but rice or mashed potatoes would work well.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Revisiting Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Things are not slowing down here. I put a bid in on a cute little Victorian house, only to face 15 other bids this past week. I did not realize house hunting was going to turn into a full-time job that feels like an episode of the Bachelor, where I go home without the rose each week. Between that and raising a rambunctious 10-month old Great Dane, the weeks are slipping by. Speaking of the Beast, I had to clean out the freezer to make room for his frozen apples halves (apples were on sale, so I stocked up) and his giant beef bones (again, on sale, so I stocked up and boiled a good two week supply). Deep in the freezer, behind the pumpkin, cranberries and leftovers, was a pint of ricotta.

Decided I needed to use it up, so I dug into the archives looking for my vegetarian meatball recipe. That became tonight’s featured recipe, and I pulled up the previous recipe exchange where it was featured and said, “hey, that looks good.” In other words, tonight is a repeat. Next week, though, I’m planning on sharing some fun recipes I’ve been playing with this week.

To start tonight, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has made it and if you click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe and photos here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here).

A quick Skillet Lasagna (recipe here) is great for weeknights and a breeze to make.

And a yummy dessert from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above and found here.

Finally, for the pet lovers, a Bixby update from the pup himself. If you click here, be prepared, he’s a Beast, standing at his full height on his hind legs.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Anyone else house hunting? Have you started your gardens in earnest yet?

Now on to the featured recipe. These are very simple to make and are delicious. It’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. My second round of these, I added a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

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  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Breaded Meatballs

DSC_0159 (1600x1060)Mrs J drove into town to do her part at the shelter so I fiddled about in the kitchen.  I knew breaded meatballs were a thing but I’ve never tried any until today.  The meatballs were basic Italian sausage with lots of Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, an egg, a splash of milk and salt and pepper.  I knew the breading would burn if they had to cook for a long time so I made mine fairly small – about an inch or so.  Smaller than golf balls, anyway.  I tried one rolled in just the breadcrumbs and it did OK, but the rest of them were floured, dredged in egg, and then rolled in the breadcrumbs.DSC_0156 (1600x1060)I used olive oil and watched the heat, keeping it medium low, and tried to roll the meatballs to keep any one side from getting too brown.  You pretty much need to stand over the pan the whole time.  This skillet is pretty full because it’s the last batch and my legs were tiring.DSC_0162 (1600x1060)This is the photo the whole effort was leading up to.  I buttered both halves of one of my buns and toasted them before adding the meatballs and spooning on sauce.  After grating Parmesan over it all they went back into the toaster oven for a minute or two.DSC_0164 (1600x1060)

Pasta Pr0n – Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Spaghetti and Broccoli

DSC_0120 (1600x1060)Pasta and veggie tossed in a lemon garlic butter sauce with Parmesan.  Chicken was floured, then dredged in beaten egg and breaded with my famous garlic breadcrumbs.DSC_0123 (1600x1060)

Friday Recipe Exchange: Feed a Cold

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I have been fighting a cold this week and all I want is orange juice and homemade soup. So, of course, that’s the theme for tonight’s recipe exchange. Soups. And there are plenty on the blog, because both JeffreyW and I love soup. Just search on soups and you’ll come up with almost 300 entries.

Here are few selections:

Cream of Chicken Soup, click here.

From Joshua D (Yutsano), Cauliflower Beer Cheese Soup, click here.

From JeffreyW, three soups:

     Vegetable Beef Soup, picture above and recipe here

     Moroccan Spicy Lamb Soup, recipe here

     Parmesan Potato Soup, with Bacon, click here

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen this weekend? What must have recipe gets you through cold season?

Hands

Tonight’s featured recipe takes very little effort, so you can have quick and easy homemade soup for a weeknight dinner or when feeling under the weather.

Tortellini Soup

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, rough chopped
  • 20 oz pkg frozen tortellini
  • 4 oz grated Parmesan

large saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan, except spinach, tortellini & Parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & let simmer for 15 minutes. Add tortellini and bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer 10 minutes, add spinach and let simmer additional 5 minutes, until tortellini is tender. Serve with Parmesan garnish.

That’s it for this week. I’ll try and have a Bixby update later…he’s been sleeping a lot the last two days, so I’m thinking, growth spurt.  – TaMara

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