Blog Archives

Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese

DSC_2006 (1024X768)

Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

It’s been a busy week. Today I spent six hours helping clean out and organize one of my client’s offices that had two feet of water in it three days ago. Not much of the paperwork was salvageable, but they got the computers and other equipment up and out in time. The office will need to sanitized and repainted before anything can go back. It will get better with time…for everyone. The one thing that does not surprise me is how everyone has pitched in to help, even complete strangers. There are so many stories of good deeds. The sun comes out and we’re all reminded of the beauty that is Colorado, both the view and the people.

When the rain continued on last week and the floods hit, I suddenly needed to cook. Normalcy and comfort. I made a couple of batches of soup. Easy Chicken Tortilla and this tomato soup. I knew I wanted to post this as the full dinner menu this week, but it took me a while to get to it. I apologize for the delay.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009

===============================================

About these ads

Frozen Treats: Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Creams

Strawberry Ice Cream

Friends are letting me test drive their Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and it inspired a whole week of frozen treats, which will conclude with the Friday Recipe Exchange.

I thought it would be good to start with the basics. The first recipe is for a cream only ice cream and I’ll link to a JeffreyW post that has an egg custard ice cream. Then I’ll add strawberries to it.  These recipes all make 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.

Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 2 cups half-and-halfP12738915
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 3 tsp high quality vanilla extract)

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp – if you’re using extract, DO NOT add yet) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to barely simmering, about 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – remove the hull of the vanilla bean or add extract at this point, stirring in completely. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. It will reach a soft serve consistency. Then spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Strawberry Ice Cream (or really Any Berry Ice Cream)

  • Make the vanilla base (above), cooled overnight
  • 2 cups of chopped frozen strawberries (or any quality frozen berry of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp vodka

ice cream maker

Toss strawberries with vodka, stir into the cold vanilla cream mixture. Add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to unit’s instructions. Again it will be a soft serve consistency when done, remove to an airtight container and freeze for 1 hour before serving.

As promised:

For an egg custard ice cream, go to JeffreyW’s post here.

JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too

JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too

===============================

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies

nom nom nom

First off, I am still in denial that Thanksgiving is next week. I’ve done a test turkey and JeffreyW has done a test duck. I may use his orange glaze recipe for my next turkey, which I’ll stuff with sliced oranges and spices. And that reminds me, there will be no recipe exchange next Thursday. I did make some excellent turkey soup from my test turkey leftovers, I’ll try and post that recipe sometime next week so you’ll have it if you’re looking for something to do with your leftovers.

For tonight, we’re going to chocolate heaven. I’ve had these on my list to try for months and finally decided it was time. They did not disappoint and were very easy and quite addictive. The original recipe (here: François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies) was suggested to me by fellow blogger Glutenvygirl ages ago. I looked over the original recipe and a couple of similar recipes and then tweaked this one just enough to suit my own tastes.

Fair warning, this recipe is a little messy. Or maybe it’s just me. Cocoa powder and powdered sugar are preternaturally attracted to me. By the time I was done cooking, my Laura Petrie inspired black-kick-around-the-house-outfit looked like there’d been an assassination attempt on it by a snowman and his cooler ninja brother. Although, I should have known better after that disastrous visit to Café De Monde in New Orleans while wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans. C’est la vie.

Next time I try this recipe there will be an apron.

Now I have a challenge for you. Because of various recipes, I have egg yolks and about 14 oz of pumpkin puree leftover in my refrigerator that I need to use up before they go bad. Anyone have any good ideas that aren’t pumpkin pie? Heck, I’d even take a pumpkin pie recipe if it is out of the ordinary.

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner this year? Staying home or going to grandma’s house (or equivalent)? Anyone trying something new and daring?

Okay, tonight’s featured recipe, which by the way is gluten-free:

Notes: To separate eggs, the easiest way I’ve found is the Nigella Lawson method of using your hand. It is quick and easy. The original recipe called for regular cocoa and 3 cups of powdered sugar, that sounded much too sweet, so I reduced that first thing and since I love dark chocolate I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 regular cocoa. Next time I think I would go full dark chocolate. It was still very sweet, but I’d be afraid of reducing the sugar more because I think you need the volume. That doesn’t mean I won’t give it try sometime. You need to let them cool completely otherwise they stick to the parchment. They were still warm when I pulled the first one off, and it left crumbs and wasn’t as structurally sound as the completely cooled ones ended up being. You’ll need parchment paper for this recipe or a silpat.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

  • 2 cups walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Bowl, baking sheet, parchment, wire cooking rack

Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, cool and rough chop. Reduce oven temperature to 320 degrees.

While walnuts are cooling, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well mixed. Add walnuts and mix well. Add vanilla and then egg whites one at a time. Whisk to combine, but do not over mix. You want the batter to be about brownie mixture consistency. A bit moister than regular cookie dough, but not too moist, like cake batter (is that helpful?). Three egg whites might be the perfect, or may need to add one more. Drop mixture by the spoonful on parchment paper and bake at 320 degrees for 14 minutes. Move PARCHMENT paper AND cookies to a wire rack to cool. Do not remove until cooled completely. Makes 2 doz.

H is for Harper and Hawaiian Aloha Bread

I have a boatload of cousins. If I counted, I would bet I’m easily up to near 40. I love them all, they are all great people. Really, can’t even come up with one that I don’t adore. As happens, they grew up, married (equally wonderful people) and started having really cute kids. I swear to you the only reason I even have a Facebook account is so I can see all the pictures of all these cute kids. Because as is life, we all see too little of each other.

So a week or so ago, I was very happy to see my cousin Eric’s post about helping his daughter bake some treats for a class project, it sounded very tasty, so of course I was happy to share.

From Eric:

Harper and I made Hawaiian Aloha Bread for her first letter in her name potluck tomorrow

Hawaiian Aloha Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts(i used pecans)
  • 1/2 crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350. Cook time 1 hr

Mix sugar, butter and eggs in a bowl. Using the mixer on low, add in the banana, milk, orange zest, and extracts. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the creamy mix and stir until moist. Fold in the coconut, nuts and pineapple. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for.an hour. :)

Each year Eric’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge participates in the Shop with a Cop program, taking kids who might not otherwise have Christmas, shopping. There’s a raffle to raise money and they use that money for the shopping trips. I love when the photos start to pop up on Facebook of the event. It really is a wonderful thing the department does. For more information on the program and the raffle, click here.

My cousins  - and brothers – Bret (left) and Eric (right)

I told you my cousins were awesome.

Oatmeal Flax Cookies

Having a good weekend, getting lots done. I even got two excellent rides in before it became too hot. It’s been cooling off enough in the evening that baking cookies seemed possible. I’ve been craving these for a while. Flax is just an amazing addition to cookies, sweet and nutty. Almonds don’t hurt either. If you ignore the sugar, these are almost healthy. I said “almost”.

Oatmeal Flax Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • milk as needed
  • 1/2 cup almond pieces

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, mixing well. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder until moistened. Add oats, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well. Add flax and fully incorporate. If batter is too dry, add a touch of milk to moisten, then mix in almonds. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet, baking at 375 degrees (f) until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing to baking rack or plate. Keep dough refrigerated between batches. Makes 2 doz.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Strawberries

Photo by JeffreyW

Strawberries won out as our ingredient this week. They looked too good to pass up when I was shopping. And just when did cream get so expensive? I practically had to take out a loan to get a quart. I do love this time of year as the farmer’s market and grocery stores fill up with local fresh vegetables and fruits. With fresh fruit, my first choice it to just eat them. I mean why spoil a perfect fruit? But then it’s time to have some fun with them – cakes, ice cream, cobblers. Tonight’s recipes are all about the strawberries.

Strawberry Bread (recipe found here) became a recipe when I did what I always seem to do during fresh strawberry season, buy too many strawberries. Before I can finish them, they are overripe. The bread is much like banana bread, it does best with very overripe fruit and wow, does it pack a powerful strawberry flavor. And it’s not too sweet because I don’t like to overwhelm the tart goodness of the strawberries.

Tonight’s other treat is a variation on the recipe JeffreyW used in the picture above. I made it yesterday and thought it was the best shortcake I’ve ever made – really light and fluffy.

I’ll be honest, I prefer pre-made sour cream angel food cake with my strawberries. My local grocery bakery has them on sale this time of year, and I can’t make it better. Oh, let’s face it, I’ve never made a successful angel food cake, ever. Sigh. But for a homemade dessert, this shortcake would be my choice. Couldn’t be easier to make and tastes wonderful.

The cake is not terribly sweet which I prefer and I cut down the sugar on the strawberries by 1 tablespoon, because I prefer them tart. I can’t omit the sugar completely because you need sugar to bring the juices out of the berries, essential for strawberry shortcake. So you may want to adjust the sugar up or down according to your preference. Additional sugar in the cake will not affect how it bakes up.

What’s your favorite way to serve strawberries? Has anyone made a real Parisian strawberry tart? And more importantly, what are you weekend food plans?

Strawberry Shortcake

  • 2 pints of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 5 to 7 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream (you can substitute 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup butter)
  • Whipped Cream (recipe below)

2 Mixing bowls

8×8 glass baking dish or baking sheet

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar (I only used 2 tbsp, see note above) and set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (if you want sweeter, add an addition 1 to 2 tbsp sugar), and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. You do not want to over mix this, just until all ingredients are combined, that’s why it’s important to whisk or sift together the dry ingredients. This is going to be a little moister than cookie dough – it does not look at all like cake batter, since it’s more of a biscuit mix. Spoon mixture into an ungreased 8-x8 square pan and pat down either by hand or use a spatula. I used a baking sheet and dropped spoonfuls onto the sheet to make 6 individual cakes. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes for cake pan, 10-12 minutes for baking sheet.

Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

I made the whipped cream ahead of time and let it refrigerate so it was nice and cold when served:

Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled (I chill the cream in a glass mixing bowl, along with the beaters)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest*

Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Fold in sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest*.

*some people really like this, me not so much, I thought it overwhelmed the cream. I’ll omit it next time.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

Time for cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be specific. JeffreyW cleaned out his pantry one day and came up with the ingredients for his Awesome Cookies w/Coconut.

JeffreyW’s Awesome Cookies w/Coconut

When I’m in the mood for a double dose of chocolate I make Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies. You just can’t go wrong with chocolate chips.

There are a few recipes I get requests for often. My dark chocolate chip cookie recipe is hands-down the recipe that I get requests for the most. And instead of wanting a copy of the recipe, most people want me to make them, convinced they couldn’t get them to turn out as good. I disagree. There are a couple of simple tricks that make these foolproof. One is to melt the butter before mixing with the sugars. This gives you a crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside cookie. Another is to let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or more, this brings out the toffee flavors in the dough. And finally, pull them from the oven just before they’re done and let them finish on the baking sheet for the last minute or so, this gives you a perfectly browned cookie and lets them set up just enough to transfer to a…PLATE. I’ve tried a baking rack and they are too gooey and get stuck on the rack. You can put parchment paper on it first, which I’ve done, but a plate works just fine.

Now, what’s your favorite type of cookie? Chocolate, fruit, sugar, peanut butter? I’m always on the look out for the perfect peanut butter cookie. I’m still looking…

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugarcacao chips
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp dash of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 12 oz 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips
  • 1-1/2 cups walnut halves, roughly chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together salt, soda, and 2 1/4 cups flour, then add to butter mixture, blending well. Add more flour as needed. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer.  Keep remainder refrigerated while baking each batch.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Remove just before done and let finish cooking on the baking sheet. Cool on plate or baking rack covered with parchment.

Melting the butter gives you a chewier, crispier cookie.  Letting it rest in the refrigerator enhances the toffee flavor from the brown sugar.  Big cookie bakeries let theirs rest overnight before baking.  I don’t have that kind of patience, I want cookie!  Though I’ve been known to double or quadruple this recipe and refrigerate in an airtight container for a week and make a fresh dozen each day.

You can also freeze the dough balls on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet and then store the balls in an airtight container for quick baking later.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

Mmm… nice night for hot chocolate

Perfectly Crispy and Chewy Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s another cold day here in the Rocky Mountain State.  Snow again tomorrow.  This calls for baking.

We’ve been here before, but I’ve updated a few techniques I’ve learned for chewier cookies with a deep toffee, chocolate taste.  Changes are in purple.

 I love my little cookie scoop.  Good for perfect cookies and filling muffin tins.

Let cool slightly before moving to baking rack.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

(this is a half-batch)

  • 1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup + 1 to 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips
  • 1 cup walnut halves

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together salt, soda, and flour, then add to butter mixture, blending well. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer.  Keep remainder refrigerated while baking each batch.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.

Melting the butter gives you a chewier, crispier cookie.  Letting it rest in the refrigerator enhances the toffee flavor from the brown sugar.  Big cookie bakeries let theirs rest over night before baking.  I don’t have that kind of patience.  Though I’ve been known to double or quadruple this recipe and refrigerate for a week and make a fresh dozen each day.

You can also freeze the dough balls on parchment paper on a baking sheet and then store in an airtight container for quick baking later.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers