What a week we’ve had here. I retreated to the kitchen often, cooking truly reduces my stress and helps me refocus. And since everyone needs to eat, I have a perfect excuse to retreat and regroup.
Cool weather blew in today, signalling the start of soup season, a great time of year. I have quite a few soup recipes and I began the season with one of my favorites, Tomato-Spinach, pictured above and recipe here.
Next up, Pumpkin Bars, because I needed something to share with friends and this recipe makes a lot. Click here for recipe and photos.
JeffreyW went to the Farmer’s Market and made Refrigerator Pickles, there are plenty of great photos and the pickle recipe here. He went on to use the beans he purchased to make Three Bean Salad, here.
And finally, for the pet lovers, some Bixby pictures and a bit of an update.
It’s the last official weekend of summer, how will you usher it out? What’s on your plate for the weekend? We are going to head up to the mountains to take in some color, which is predicted to be a short show this year.
For tonight’s featured recipe, I decided to experiment with flavors I would have never thought of on my own. Facebook and blog friend Michael F, shared a recipe on Facebook from Italy, in Italian no less, and the photo intrigued me. I let google translate the recipe (which was a hoot) and went about putting my touches into it.
It was so unusual, my most reliable recipe testers politely declined my dinner invite. Totally understandable. But I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out. If you like pork and apples, this has a similar flavor palate. It was also quick and easy to prepare. I’m glad I decided to experiment.
All right, if you’re up for something new and different, here you go, tonight’s featured recipe.
Sausage and Grapes
- 8 links Italian sausage (I used spicy, but you could use any style sausage you favor)
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cup green seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- salt and pepper to taste (I used none, didn’t need it)
- angel hair pasta
- freshly grated Parmesan
Slice sausage links into four pieces each, add to skillet and fry on medium high for about 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel seeds, cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add grapes, stir until well mixed, cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes while pasta cooks.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.
You can toss with the sausage mixture, or serve separately. Serve with Parmesan.
The pasta was my addition. When I asked Michael what would be a good side, he suggested eggplant or roasted potatoes. Roasted zucchini spears would probably work well, too.
That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara
It’s been a rough week – mostly for people around me. I found myself retreating to the kitchen often to cook. Definitely helps clear my head and regroup. Soup season is in full swing as Autumn is fast approaching. We may actually blow off work tomorrow and head up to the mountains to see the colors.
Today I decided to make a big batch of one of my favorite soups. It did not disappoint. I ‘beefed’ it up because I had some ground beef that I needed to use up. I’ll do that again. Yum.
- 1 lb ground beef (or 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
- 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
- 24 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, cleaned
- 8 oz sliced carrots (I use frozen)
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup water, as needed
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for garnish
- spinach chiffonade for garnish
In saucepan, brown ground beef and onions. In a blender, blend together spinach and tomatoes, until smooth*. Add to beef mixture, along with vegetables and spices. Bring to low boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan and spinach chiffonade. Makes 4 generous servings.
*Blending the spinach, tomatoes together gives you a nice hearty tomato base for the soup. You can add some additional spinach leaves at the end if you like, letting them get limp but not overcooked.
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.I couldn’t resist making a sammich out of the leftovers.
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.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.
Homer has been an outside kitty lately because of his ongoing battle with Toby. He does come in everyday to spend time but gets ousted if he acts up. I think he may be mellowing a bit – the cuddle on the sofa with Bitsy was rare enough that I thought a photo was warranted.I picked all the remaining jalapenos so Mrs J could take the pot away and dump the old potting soil. I sliced and froze these.A couple of tacos with guac and sour cream and a few of the last peppers. I think these were ground beef cooked in a mole made from dried ancho peppers. More of that sauce is on top, covering the lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar.Here are those pups from the other day that were smiling for the camera. Mrs J says they are terrier poodle crosses.They are really rocking their little doggie sweaters.I think she said they were eight weeks old and would be released for adoption pretty soon. I bet they go fast.Here’s a sammich I made the other day. I had a chunk of hot coppa in the freezer that I thawed and sliced thin. It also has traditional ham, a slice of roast pork, provolone, and various veggies in a vinaigrette made with dijon and balsamic vinegar.This looks like spaghetti and meatballs but the meat is just sliced link Italian sausage. The sauce was from this year’s tomatoes and has a lot of Parmesan in it. Good stuff.It’s been ages since I made bread in my machine. This loaf really puffed up when it baked, I thought it might raise the lid before it quit growing. The soup is a basic chicken noodle made with wide egg noodles and various veggies. I always add too many noodles to the pot.
Just a reminder: You can make a burrito out of nearly anything you can wrap a tortilla around. We had chicken chili with white beans a few days ago and the little dab of leftovers worked great with the addition of Monterey jack.I call this a “cuddle” of puppies. I like how the little guy with the white on his muzzle is framed in this picture.Mrs J likes banana bread so much that she buys bananas and lets them ripen just so she can make it. The one has raisins and pecans. I found a jar of apple butter on the pantry shelf, applesauce works well as an accompaniment but apple butter just goes it one better.Notice the subtle segue from apples to snakes? LOL Here’s your random wildlife, a small snake in the grass beside the walk this morning. I’m not sure what species it is but I would guess it’s a juvenile black rat snake. The mottled look fades over time.We made the last batch of tomatoes into soup and canned 7 quarts. I amazed myself with a practical application of arithmetic – I knew my canner would hold seven quart jars so I figured how many inches of juice I needed and let the tomatoes reduce at a simmer until it measured the correct depth. I won’t burden you with the formula lest I make a foolish error but if I remember correctly 7 US quarts is a tad over 5 inches in my 10″ pot, I think I went five and a quarter-ish, making a mark on a wooden spoon.I never said there wouldn’t be math! I did say there would be kittehs, though. They named this one Brock and he was adopted the next day after Mrs J posted this picture on the shelter’s facebook page.I’ll close out with a couple of sammiches, here’s a loaded chicken tenders sammy with some potato salad from the local Kroger deli.More sauerkraut than pastrami on this reuben. There wasn’t much pastrami left so I compensated a tad.
A cool front came through and dropped the temps from the 90s yesterday into the 70s today. When I saw the forecast yesterday I knew that soup would work great for the menus today. I soaked these large lima beans overnight and started them simmering in a big pot this morning. I sifted through the results on a quick search and settled on this recipe to work with. Turned out pretty good! I departed from the recipe only slightly, using water and chicken seasoning paste instead of stock. The teaspoon of Creole seasoning wasn’t something that I would have thought of for this dish but it worked nicely in there. I went with a bacon and jalapeno corn bread using the recipe off the corn meal box and preheated the cast iron skillet to get that nice crust. It spent 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
We roasted a boneless leg of lamb for Easter dinner and had a lot leftover. I remembered looking at recipes for lamb and thought they sounded pretty good so I did a search and ran across this recipe. I used it as an ingredient guide for the proper amounts of the spices and kept with the spirit of the recipe although I made some additions and subtractions. I did have some canned chickpeas, but no lentils of any sort so I left them out, as I did with the cilantro.
I used a can of San Marino tomatoes with their juices, roughly chopped, and added some garlic, orange and lemon zest, and a half teaspoon of Madras curry powder that has been lonely in the cupboard. I dithered a bit on the pasta, thinking ditalini, but went with the pearl couscous. I’m not a huge fan of the tri-color pastas but that’s all I had in the larger sized couscous. It was very good. We don’t often get out of the familiar spice “comfort zone” but I think we will try something like this again.