Monthly Archives: September 2010

Thursday Night Menu: Oranges, Raspberries, Blueberries – Oh, My!

Homer is Home

It’s been in the 90’s all week, but nights are cool enough for me to start thinking of fall menus. I’ve promised to fulfill some squash soups requests, which I’ll post over the next few weeks, but to get you started, there are a couple of Sweet Potato Soups here. If you have other fall menu requests, let me know. I’m happy to look for something new to try. One O/T note: Homer is now officially a member of the JeffW household. Yeah, I know, we’re all surprised by that now, aren’t we?  Tonight’s menu is a diverse group of flavors with no discernible theme that I can see.  Lots of light fall fruit notes, though, so it has that going for it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Roasted Salmon in Orange-Ginger Soy Sauce
  2. Fresh Spinach Salad
  3. Herbed Potatoes
  4. Blueberry Crisp

Roasted Salmon in Orange-Ginger Soy Sauce

  • 4 salmon fillets (approx 6 oz. ea.)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 4 oz ginger soy marinade
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 2 tsp. crushed garlic

Large oven-safe skillet and medium sauce pan

Preheat oven to 400°

Salt & pepper salmon. In large skillet heat oil, add salmon. Sear for 2 minutes, turn, sear for 2 minutes. Place pan in the oven and roast for 14-16 minutes. Sauce: Add all ingredients into saucepan and bring to a low boil for 2 minutes.  Serve over salmon.

Fresh Spinach Salad

  • 9 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 large tomatoes (or equivalent) ,
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • raspberry dressing

Arrange vegetables and walnuts in a large salad bowl and toss with dressing.

Herbed Potatoes

  • 1 lb small new potatoes (or 4 red potatoes-quartered)
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ tsp crushed dried basil
  • ¼ tsp each, crushed oregano & rosemary

Saucepan, steamer

Steam potatoes until tender, mix butter and spices, then toss with potatoes.

Blueberry Crisp

  • 10 oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

8×8 glass baking dish and small mixing bowl

Place blueberries, lemon juice and ¼ cup granulated sugar in baking dish, mix well. In mixing bowl, mix butter and sugar, add flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the blueberry mixture.  Melting the butter creates a crisper, more even topping.

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes until top is golden brown. Let cool.

Shopping List:

  • 4 salmon fillets (approx 6 oz. ea.)
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 4 oz ginger soy marinade
  • cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • 9 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 large tomatoes (or equivalent)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • raspberry dressing
  • 1 lb new potatoes (or 4 large red potatoes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks of butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 10 oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Also: salt, pepper, olive oil, orange zest, lemon zest, crushed garlic, lemon juice, basil, oregano, rosemary, flour


Breaking in the New Wok

Found a 14″ stainless All Clad brand wok on eBay the other day, showroom sample with some minor scratches-otherwise new. Tried it out today for the first time.  Yup, it works fine…

I really didn’t have a recipe in mind when I started this, had a vague notion of boiling some quick ramen noodles and adding fried ground pork in some kind of sauce.  Started the water for the noodles and heated the wok while I sliced a banana pepper and some green onions.  I tossed about a 1/4 pound of pork into the hot pan and drizzled in some hot chili oil to help it along, and tossed the onions and pepper rings in for good measure.  Added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and was wishing I had kept back one of those pretty red jalapenos from this morning.  Dug out some black bean and garlic paste, added a spoonful, a splash of dark soy, a little regular soy, a touch of Chinese cooking wine.  OK, the noodles are done, drain those and add them to the pot.  Stir it all around.  Add a squirt of sriracha.  All the colors are blended into a uniform-ish brown.  Slice some more rings, add a few green onion bits for color and plate it up.  Gobble gobble.  Next time I’ll plate the noodles, then pour the sauce and meat over it at the table.

Cooking for myself this time, Mrs J had a pizza earlier, I wasn’t quite ready to eat then.

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Fun So Far, but the Day is Yet Young

Visited the pond site, the boys are hard at it again today, the thing is shaping up nicely.  Talked to them yesterday about seeding and mulching, also discussed some technical points on the overflow and outlet pipe elevations, the contour of the finished dam top, back slope, and etc.  Took the dog boys with me again, and a great time was had by us all.  Toured down to the creek to finish the doggie run, and hauled a couple of rocks back for Mrs J’s garden.

Discovered a bunch of jalapenos that I didn’t know I had, Mrs J mentioned she uprooted the pepper bushes, she didn’t say until today that there were still peppers on them.  She figured we had plenty already.  Nonsense.  Decided to go with a no boil canning method, sterilized the jars and lids, boiled vinegar and water with salt for the packing medium, and then sliced the peppers.  Packed those into jars and poured in the vinegar brine, then capped the jars with the dome lids and rings but didn’t do the boiling water bath.  Put up six pints that way, then experimented a bit with some whole peppers left over.  Had some of the vinegar brine left so I poked holes in the peppers and tossed them into the brine to simmer a little, added some oregano and garlic, a few tablespoons of olive oil.  These went into a sterilized quart jar.  All the jars sealed.  The recipe said a 2 week wait for full flavor to develop.  These should retain more “crunch” than those that get the boiling water bath treatment.

And…the usual kitty things, Homer playing with a bit of fluff.  A big green worm on one of Mrs J’s container plants caught her eye and she summoned me to take its picture.  Nearly time for lunch!  Where does the time go…

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Moar Homer

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Shrimp and Andouille in a Creole Mustard Sauce

This was tasty and quick.  Not sure the mustard I came up with is the proper creole recipe from New Orleans but I bet it was close enough.  Not sure how I stumbled across this recipe, but it sure sounded good.  The Cajun spice I used I made from this recipe. Check out the whole NoLa site!  Great stuff over there.

You betcha there are pics!

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Pond Fun

When Mrs J and I bought ground and a house out here in the country and moved from town 25 years ago we settled in fairly fast.  As we got to know the immediate neighborhood we found an old, abandoned house just north of us on ground that was owned at that time by a minerals extraction corporation.  Poking around further we came upon an old pond behind the old house a ways.  It was drained, the dam had a big gap right in the middle.  There was a mud puddle in the former pond basin that was wet after a rain or dried and cracked in the summer time.  Cattails and brush had taken over, a few larger trees had taken root and grown.

A few years later the owners decided to raze the old house and fill in the basement.  Not long after that they decided to sell the land they had bought up in the area, several thousand acres just within a few miles of us.  The 50 acre parcel we bought as a result of that sale abutted our line on the north and we became proud owners of the old broken pond site.  Last year we decided to fix it back, better, stronger, faster…wait, wrong tag line.  LOL


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Tomato Salsas

I may lose my membership card in the cool food blogger’s club when I say this, but I feel like I need to get it out there.  I like tomato salsas from a jar better than fresh made salsas.

There, that’s quite a load off.  There are so many brands of salsas out there that you’ll never be able to sample more than a few within the genres.  Green ones, fruit salsas, bean salsas etc etc.  I’m restricting my comment to the various tomato salsas.  I bought a small jar of  Newman’s tomato salsa the other day, I forget the exact name, “Bandito Salsa” or the like.  I thought it was pretty tasty and went online to see if there was a copycat recipe that would come close to reproducing it.  Not much luck finding that particular recipe, but there were plenty of others-Googling “canned tomato salsa recipe” garnered 95K hits.

So…I rummage through the cupboard for canned tomatoes.  I usually have a can or two of diced tomatoes with green chilies but found only a can with chipotle. I dumped those into a bowl and started sorting through  other stuff that might go well in there, some garlic cloves, pickled jalapenos, oregano, fresh parsley (don’t get me started on cilanto), chili powder, garlic powder, some red onion.  Had a fun time mixing and tasting.  Took a spoonful to Mrs J to taste along with a nacho chip or two.  She gave me the “you gave me hot stuff on purpose look and I hate you” look.  Ok, back to the cupboard, open a can of plain diced bits, dump that in.  Hmm…some cumin seeds, toss some of those in there.  More chili powder?  Yeah just a bit.  Back out to Mrs J with another sample.  Better, she’s eating it!  She’s eating it!

OK.  It’s been in the fridge for a couple of days now, about a quart.  I’m not going to eat all that anytime soon.  Well, let me just fire up the water bath and I’ll can that stuff right up!  Yay for mason jars!


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By popular demand!  Hi Mom!

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Baked Fish, Roasted Asparagus

This was pretty easy.  Nothing much easier than baking fish except maybe roasting the asparagus.  Both done at the same time in a 400 oven.  The asparagus was drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with salt.  I brushed some of the butter sauce on the fish before it really was a butter sauce.  Finished  adding the butter to the white wine/lemon juice reduction when the fish and veggies went into the oven.

The rice was a mix I picked up at the Amish run country store the other day.  They labeled it “exotic rice mix”.  Looks like brown rice, wild rice, and a red hued grain that looked just like the wild rice save for the color.  It badly needed a good seasoning packet, I’ll see what I can put together the next time I cook some.  I was hoping that the beurre blanc sauce would flavor it well enough but it just didn’t work.

And speaking of the beurre blanc sauce–no big deal.  Finely mince a bit of shallot or onion (I used the white part of a few green onions), about a tablespoon.  In a small sauce pan reduce 1/3 cup of white wine, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and the onions by about half or so.  You can leave it there while you do other stuff.  Once you start whisking in the pats of butter you are at the plating and serving stage of the meal.  It’ll be the last thing you do as your assistant plates the dinner and sets the table.  Don’t let it get too hot, and keep whisking.  You can play with the ingredients some, I minced a clove of garlic for this one.  Some recipes call for vinegar.  It’s all good.


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Sweet Potato Soups

As promised here are two recipes, one sweet and one a sweet and spicy mix, for Sweet Potato Soup.

Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes*
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a  saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt butter, add flour,  stirring constantly until roux achieves a light caramel color. Add the broth and brown sugar, bring to a quick boil, again, stirring constantly, then lower to a simmer. Stir in the sweet potatoes and spices, bring to a simmer again, and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return to saucepan. Add the milk/cream, and reheat soup. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.

*I slice mine in half, lengthwise, and steam (using the steaming tray and just enough water to cover the tray) in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes and they’re done.  Let cool and slip off skins.

The next one is one I’m definitely going to give a whirl.  It sounds really good, so I’m passing it on before I test it.  Once I do, I’ll update you with any adaptations I make.  It is from a blog creatively named Homesick Texan:

…you don’t really need a special occasion to eat it. I find that I love it best on those cool, quiet evenings when I’m seeking something simple and satisfying. And this chipotle sweet potato soup always does the trick.

Chipotle sweet potato soup
2 pounds of sweet potatoes (about two large or three skinny ones), peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2-4 chipotles in adobo (depending on your heat tolerance) chopped
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Sour cream
Cinnamon-chipotle pecans (recipe to follow)

Heat the olive oil on medium low in a large soup pot, and cook the onions, celery and carrot for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the sweet potatoes, broth, chipotles, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Let the soup cool, and then in batches, puree it in the blender. If you prefer, you can use an immersion blender in the pot instead.

Once the soup has been pureed, stir in the lime juice and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and some of the chopped cinnamon-chipotle pecans.

Serves 8

Click on over for her Cinnamon chipotle pecans recipe to complete your soup.

Just a note from me, because I’m basically a lazy cook, but since the veggies are going to be pureed, you can leave everything in fairly large pieces, it shouldn’t affect cooking time much, maybe an extra 5-10 minutes to cook the larger pieces.

She has some really good recipes and I’m going to be trying more of them.  The Chipolte Mac’n Cheese looks to die for.

EDIT:  Oh great, now I want Frito Pie.