Cheesy Potato Soup

20160313_173534[1] (1600x1060)This was a last minute thing that was thrown together quickly because I lost track of the time today.  I thought that grated potato in stock would be faster than a slow simmer of potato chunks, especially with a stick blender to hasten it along.  It was OK but it tasted rushed.  I added the cream and the cheese too soon.  It does photograph well, so there’s that.  Bonus:  I used up the rest of those biscuits!

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Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s Cookin’ This Week

Chicken Biscuit Pie_Snapseed1

I thought this week I would again just review what I had cookin’ in my kitchen. And tonight’s feature recipe was inspired by a photo request mid-week. We get requests from time to time to use our photos. No surprise they are almost always JeffreyW’s. I believe there is even a Wikipedia entry that features one of his photos. This week it was a request to use his Enchilada Pie photo, seen below.

First up this week was Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pie, pictured above and recipe here.

Next was Cream of Potato Cheese Soup, (full dinner menu, recipes and shopping list are here).

Bixby has been out of homemade treats since just before Christmas, so I decided it was time to make a batch of Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cookies, recipe here. I had forgotten how much he liked them – he barely let me finish making them – bugged me the entire time. Speaking of cookies, the next night it was Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe here). I baked a dozen and then froze the rest as individual cookie dough balls to be baked later.

Speaking of Bixby, here is an update for the pet lovers, with bonus video.

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You can see why there was a request to use Jeffreyw’s photo above. Here is his recipe for Enchilada Montadas. For tonight’s featured recipes, a variation on enchiladas and black beans that is quick and easy to put together:

Enchilada Pie

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled

Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°

Black Bean Confetti

  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of limejuice

saucepans & large serving bowl or platter

In saucepan, add ingredients (except limejuice) and heat on medium. Toss with limejuice and serve.

That’s it for this week. There seems to be a pretty big game this weekend – I was asked who I was cheering for, since I have family and friends in New England and of course live in Colorado – my response: unless it’s the Red Sox, I am Switzerland. So good to everyone. And to those in the path of the big storm, stay safe and warm. – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Cranberry Grilled Chicken

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Continuing  my week of highlighting recipes that have low salt content. This homemade sauce is tangy and sweet, plenty of flavor without added salt. To reduce salt even more, use low-sodium ketchup (or homemade ketchup) and a dash of red wine vinegar. Hoping to get a Bixby update later today.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cranberry Chicken
  2. Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower
  3. Steamed Rice (I like Jasmine with this menu)
  4. Ice Cream Sundaes

Cranberry Chicken

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*

9×9 glass baking dish, greased and skillet

Heat butter in skillet, sauté onions until golden brown. Arrange breasts in one layer in baking dish. Mix together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, mustard & onions. In a blender, coarsely chop cranberries and add to sauce mixture. Spoon over chicken. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, until chicken is 180° in center.

*As anyone who reads the blog knows,  I keep cranberries in the freezer, having stocked up during the holidays. If you can’t find whole cranberries, use whole, canned and omit the brown sugar.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp curry
  • 1 tsp salt- or substitute 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon, quartered

saucepan

Add cauliflower, 1 inch of water and ¼ cup lemon juice in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is just tender. Drain. In saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter, sauté onion until golden, then add flour, stirring until smooth. Add milk, seasonings & cheese, stir until well mixed and smooth. Add cauliflower, stir well. Reduce heat and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Serve with lemon.   The lemon in this really brightens the flavor.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*
  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 oz milk
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon
  • rice
  • 1 quart favorite ice cream
  • Sundae toppings

Also: butter, flour, curry, salt, red wine vinegar

Holiday Gift Ideas: Flavored Popcorn

I’m repeating the holiday gift series this week. We’ll start with flavored popcorn:

One of my favorite things is the mixed can of flavored popcorn.   Unfortunately they can vary in quality and price.  And if you’re paying a premium, well let’s face it, it all hype, because popcorn is cheap, as are most of the ingredients that go in flavored popcorn.  So  I thought I’d pull a few recipes together this week so you could make your own variety tin of flavored popcorn.  I actually have a tower of gift boxes that I’m thinking of filling with different flavors.  You can use decorative plastic and ribbon, or holiday tins, or zip-lock bags placed in pretty gift bags.

For the first recipes, I thought something cheesy.

White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

  • 8 cups popped corn
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • dash of cayenne
  • salt to taste

It might be easiest to do this in two batches.  In a large bag, toss popcorn thoroughly with butter to coat completely.  Mix together cheese and spices, toss with popcorn in the bag until everything is well coated.   Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging (this keeps it from becoming soggy).

Chili-Cheese Popcorn

  • 8 cups popped corn
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • dash of garlic
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan (I’d use the Kraft style for ease)
  • salt to taste (the Parmesan may make it salty enough)

Again, you may want to make this in batches.  Mix together butter and spices and toss with popcorn in a large bag.  Add cheese and toss again until well coated.  Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging.

Additional flavor ideas:

White cheddar cheese powder and taco seasoning.   Parmesan and dry packaged  buttermilk ranch dressing seasoning.

 

Originally posted Dec 2011

Dinner Menu: Enchilada Pie and Black Bean Confetti

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We are expecting snow tonight, I’m hoping it be a quick, brief storm and spring will soon be in full swing and the green up will begin. I’m tired of brown everywhere. I should go out and grab some forsythia branches and force them indoors. If you’ve never done it, it can be a treat and it’s very easy. You cut a few branches, bring them indoors, submerge them in warm water. Under water, cut about an inch off the stems and they’ll bloom in a day or two. It helps if you cut the stems once or twice more, under water, to keep them soaking up the water. Now you’ll have a little bit of spring in your house. You can do this will pussy willows, too.

For this week’s dinner menu, this is one of my recipes from my kid-friendly series. It’s quick, easy and full of flavor. And I finish it off with banana sundaes, one of my favorite things, it takes hot fudge sundaes up a notch when you add sliced bananas.

On the board tonight:

  1. Enchilada Pie
  2. Vegetable Tray
  3. Black Bean Confetti
  4. Banana Sundaes

Enchilada Pie

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled

Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°

Black Bean Confetti

  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of limejuice

saucepans & large serving bowl or platter

In saucepan, add ingredients (except limejuice) and heat on medium. Toss with limejuice and serve.

Banana Sundaes

  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream (opt, and if you’re going to do it, it’s most fun using the spray can cream)

4 dessert bowls

Scoop ice cream into bowls. Peel and cut bananas in half, then quarter each half, lengthwise. Place four slices around the sides of the bowl, tucking down into the ice cream to help them stand. Pour a generous amount of chocolate on the ice cream and top with walnuts and whip cream.

Shopping List:

  • Vegetable tray fixins
  • Vegetable dips & dressings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 stalk celery
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • 8 oz Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream

Dinner Menu: Cranberry Chicken and Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

A little fall at Golden Ponds this weekend

A little fall at Golden Ponds this weekend

We saw Gravity yesterday in IMAX 3D, which was my first IMAX 3D experience. It was quite the ride. I’m not a fan of 3D (I find it distracting) but i think in this case, it was a must. Also went out to explore the recently reopened trails around the city. There are only a few open and there is lots of damage still, I’ll post photos later.  The rest of the city is getting back to normal and I hope it’s the same for the other towns that were hit even harder than we were.

Fall is in the air and now I want pumpkin and cranberry, so I thought it was time to bring out the roasted cranberry chicken recipe. I love chicken and cranberry together and this recipe creates a tangy cranberry barbecue sauce.  I’m not a big fan of cauliflower, but this version can get me to eat it and it makes a perfect side to the chicken. And to finish it up, a nice treat, ice cream sundaes. If you really want to complete the fall theme, try some pumpkin ice cream, or maybe go with some vanilla served over hot apple crisp.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cranberry Chicken
  2. Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower
  3. Ice Cream Sundaes

Cranberry Chicken 3_Snapseed2

Cranberry Chicken

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*

9×9 glass baking dish, greased and skillet

Heat butter in skillet, sauté onions until golden brown. Arrange breasts in one layer in baking dish. Mix together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, mustard & onions. In a blender, coarsely chop cranberries and add to sauce mixture. Spoon over chicken. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, until chicken is 180° in center.

*As anyone who reads the blog knows,  I keep cranberries in the freezer, having stocked up during the holidays. If you can’t find whole cranberries, use whole, canned and cut the sugar.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp curry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon, quartered

saucepan

Add cauliflower, 1 inch of water and ¼ cup lemon juice in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is just tender. Drain. In saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter, sauté onion until golden, then add flour, stirring until smooth. Add milk, seasonings & cheese, stir until well mixed and smooth. Add cauliflower, stir well. Reduce heat and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Serve with lemon.   The lemon in this really brightens the flavor.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*
  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 onion
  • 4 oz milk
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 quart favorite ice cream
  • Sundae toppings

Also: butter, flour, curry, salt, red wine vinegar

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pet Treats

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product.

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product. Photo by JeffreyW

While I was debating between two topic requests for this week’s recipe exchange, a commenter at Balloon-Juice sparked a whole new idea. Pet Treats. So I asked for some ideas and those became tonight’s post. Thanks to ButchF, MattR, WereBear and JeffreyW for the ideas.

First from JefferyW – Cheddar Cheese Biscuits  (recipe here)

And MattR gave us the recipe he uses for Peanut Butter Treats (recipe here)

Then I decided cat lovers needed equal time, so I contacted WereBear of Way of Cats, and asked for her advice on cat treats. Here’s what she told me:

Aw, so sweet of you to think of me and the kitties. Now that’s parity!

However, while dogs are gourmands, cats are fussy gourmets. So I can’t guarantee happy consumption. In fact, [here is] Why Cats Are Fussy  (read here) …. because not all cats are going to like all things.

That said, here is my recipe for Chicken Liver Pate for Kitties:

  • 1 cup chicken livers
  • 2 tbsp butter or bacon fat
  • sprinkle of catnip (or parsley, sage, or basil, if cat likes the smell)

Classically, pate includes onions, but these (and all bulbs!) are toxic to cats.

Melt fat in pan, and saute livers JUST until ALMOST done. Do not overcook or the pate will lose its silky texture. Then sprinkle the herbs of choice. (Test them via smell on our kitty, or kitties. A sharpening of attention is a good sign; aversion will be quite evident.)

Now cool a bit (livers will finish cooking here) and scrape all contents onto a cutting board (if chopping by hand) or into a blender or food processor. If our cat likes chunky, hand mincing is easy and quick; if our cat likes smoothness, we can blend.

Be sure it has cooled to being only warm before offering it to our cat. Part of the fun is making a fuss over how good it smells. Get them worked up! This is Dinner Theatre.

Leftovers can be dabbed onto a sheet of waxed paper or into ice cube trays and put in the freezer for an hour or so. Then they can be put into a freezer bag for easy treats next time.

So good, and so good for them!

Now I have to figure out how to explain to my cats that garlic is not good for them, because they go after anything I have that is extra garliky. Silly felines, garlic is for everyone else.

How about it? Do you make your own pet treats? Have any favorite recipes you want to share? But what I really want are lots of pet stories, because I know you have them! Hit the comments.

Now on to the featured recipe. This all started because ButchF  said he makes dog biscuits every week for his dogs and they won’t accept anything else. I, of course, asked him to share the recipe.

Just a few notes from me – all my dogs have been allergic to corn – we’d get bad digestive issues. So if that’s the case for your furry critters, go ahead and substitute brown rice flour or oat flour for the corn meal in this recipe. It may very well change the texture, so experiment with the amount of substitution, just remember as ButchF notes, you want to be able to roll it out. As long as you can roll it out, it should be fine once you bake it. These are dog treats people, not gourmet crackers you are serving to company. Dogs will eat just about anything including cat droppings, horse apples and light bulbs. As long as the final product does not crumble onto your floor before they can wolf it down, you’re probably good.

On to the recipe.  From ButchF:

Dog Biscuits

This recipe has been modified pretty extensively from the original, which I found in an old cookbook. First, the original included boiled, pureed liver, which not only made the cookies perishable but meant handling boiled, pureed liver. Second, the original used so much water that the dough looked like pancake batter, and couldn’t be rolled out or cut.

There is a disadvantage to these treats. A while ago I got busy and bought some commercial milk bones because I didn’t have time to make the treats. The dogs would take them each to their designated snack spot, drop them on the floor, and stare forlornly at this strange foreign object they had been given.

Some optional additions to the recipe include ¼ cup or so wheat germ, ½ cup brewer’s yeast, or some grated cheese. Do not, unless you feel like cleaning the carpet, add bacon grease or leftover gravy.

  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon or so honey (I don’t measure)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons bullion (powdered; the cubes won’t dissolve in the dough)(optional; also can use flavor packet from Ramen noodles)
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1¾ cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups corn meal (see TaMara’s note above)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (don’t substitute rye flour, because it behaves differently than wheat flours)
  • At least 3½ cups white flour.

Adding water and eggs first to the bowl first, combine all ingredients except white flour in a bowl, and then add white flour a cup at a time and mix well (best using a heavy-duty stand mixer). More than 3 1/2 cups of white flour may be needed. The goal is a smooth, cohesive dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and can be handled fairly easily, but don’t get it too dry or it becomes impossible to roll out.

Remove from bowl and let rest, covered, about a half hour; the goal is to let the gluten relax more than it is to allow the dough to rise. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll out each on a well-floured surface into a large rectangle to about pie crust thickness.

Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets and cut into rectangles to whatever size using a wheel pizza cutter. (I use four cookie sheets to bake; two are big enough that they take up most of an oven rack, and two are small enough that they will fit together on one rack, so that all three racks in the oven can be used.)

Bake at 300 degrees for about 55 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back at least once during baking; remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheets. Don’t cover until they’re thoroughly cool.

These cookies are at least a weekly chore with my four big dogs, so I don’t try to make shapes other than rectangles. If you do want to make shapes, transfer the rolled dough to the cookie sheets and then cut out the shapes, because otherwise the dough tends to stretch.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to tonight’s recipe exchange. And just a brief public service note from me. If your dog or cat has digestive issues, hot spots, chews or scratches incessantly, loses an excessive amount of hair, or their hair has a bad texture (too dry or too oily) these can all be signs of a corn allergy. Especially with breed dogs it can be bad. I learned this the hard way, with Great Danes and Greyhounds, all very big dogs to have to deal with these issues. (shudders from the memory)

This was before it was easy to find pet foods without corn, so I made my own. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but it solved all of their issues. Thank goodness you can find good quality food without corn now. My cats are on a corn-free diet, too and the shedding and fur balls are down to a minimum.  So if your favorite furry critter is suffering from any of those issues, my (not meant to be a substitute for a veterinarian)  advice it so start by getting rid of corn and corn meal. Maybe even go to a very basic lamb/brown rice food to see if helps. Some dogs (not naming names, Miss Shelby) can even be allergic to all grains. And grass. Some flowers. Possibly my ex-husband. So it may take some experimenting.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: A Plateful of Burgers

Photo by JeffreyW who has so many photos of burgers I had a hard time choosing.

Friends and I were out shopping last week and decided it was lunch time. We drove by a place with an intriguing name and decided to try it. To our surprise, we were their first-ever customers. They were having a soft launch and we were the first through the door. I had my reservations, but we were feeling adventurous and the experience was a success. If we’re in that neighborhood, I believe we would lunch there again.

The menu was full of tasty things, including African Ghost Spice Fries, which were perfectly spiced. I’m sorry I didn’t ask them to elaborate on what the heck “African Ghost Spice” was, because it was not something I could identify but would love to use myself. Several items had it as a feature, most tantalizing was the African Spiced Grilled Chicken. The other item on the menu that caught my eye was bison. Almost all their beef items offered a bison option instead. I was tempted, because I like bison meat, but I felt we were already in unknown territory and bison is tricky to cook properly. We all settled on various beef burgers, each very good – moist and well flavored, served on ciabatta bread.

That brought me to my idea for a two-part recipe exchange. I have a variety of burgers I make because by mid-summer grilling the same burger recipe, while tasty, lacks challenge. I thought I’d start with four tonight and conclude with several more next week.

First up: My basic burger recipe that has never failed to produce moist, flavorful burgers. I sprung it on my parents at the age of 10 and my family has used it ever since. Recipe here.

Next up: Black Bean Cheddar Burgers (recipe here) which I love, but find the frozen ones often lack, well, everything – flavor, texture, freshness. So I went hunting for a decent recipe.

Tonight’s featured recipes are Bleu Cheese Burgers and Bison Burgers.

Are you burger fan? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? If you’re vegetarian, do you have a favorite substitute? I’m always looking for something beyond black bean burgers for meatless nights. Next week there will be flavors from around the globe to continue the theme.

Bison Burgers

You can substitute bison in almost any burger recipe, but it’s very lean, so you may want to add ground beef to it, or cheeses or additional olive oil, in order to cook a moist burger.  This recipe uses tomato sauce to keep the burgers moist.

  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs or 1 slice fresh bread, crust removed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp ea: thyme, rosemary, marjoram
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground bison
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

large deep skillet w/lid

Mix all ingredients, except oil, until well combined. Divide into 4 patties.

Heat oil in skillet, add patties. Sear for 2 minutes, each side, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Bison is a very lean meat, so you want to cook it slowly and avoid over cooking it. You can grill them, but you’ll want to do in on a very low heat on a well oiled surface and you might want to go 50/50 with lean hamburger.

Bleu Cheese Burgers

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp hot wing sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 oz blue cheese, divided into 1 oz crumbles

bowl

In bowl, combine all ingredients, except bleu cheese and mix well. Form into 8 thin patties, place 1 oz of cheese between two burgers, seal edges and gently flatten, so burger surrounds cheese. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve on onion rolls or focaccia bread.

Burger week continues…