Jan 2, 2014

Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup

Just tried this hearty soup recipe from one of my favorite online sources--Mel's Kitchen Cafe--as my first new recipe of the new year, and this is a winner! I love the combo of sausage, veggies, beans, and pasta. Lots of flavor plus a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to finish it off. Adapted slightly from the original source.

1 pound ground Italian sausage (you can substitute a lean sausage as a more healthy alternative)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked small shell pasta
9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. If your sausage is lean, you may need to use a teaspoon or so of oil so it doesn't stick to the pan. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes. If there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn't sticking. Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Serve with sprinkled Parmesan cheese. Serves 8.

Dec 16, 2013

Baked Eggs

This is a Nigella Lawson-inspired dish that couldn't be simpler, but it's also creamy and delicious. A quick and easy breakfast. Comfort food.

6 eggs
6 tablespoons cream
Salt (a pinch of each for each ramekin)
Dill weed (a pinch for each ramekin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put a kettle or pan of water on the stove to boil. Brush six ramekins with butter. Crack one egg into each ramekin. Then add a tablespoon of cream and a pinch of salt and dill weed to each egg. Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill the baking dish with boiling water so that it reaches about halfway up the side of the ramekins. Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After baking, carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish. Serve warm with buttered toast.

Nov 24, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

While visiting a friend the other day, I noticed that she had made homemade marshmallows to be used as part of a hot chocolate bar for a wedding reception. She let me taste one, and it was yummy! So much better than what you buy in the store. Ever since that time, I haven't been able to get marshmallows off my mind. So I made them today, and it was easy, though I've always liked marshmallows. I used vanilla the first time, just to familiarize myself with the process. But in the coming days, I'm going to try different flavorings, like mint, chocolate, lemon, cinnamon, etc., plus some complementary colors. And I'm going to experiment with coatings such as chocolate, crushed cookies, crushed candy, etc. I see some potential Christmas gifts in this process. :-)

This recipe comes from Ina Garten and the Food Network.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

Sep 28, 2013

Applesauce Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

This delicious muffin recipe comes from my friend Angie, who got it from Key Ingredient, which was submitted by Foodiewife F., who got it and adapted it from a friend's recipe blog. Sounds like a biblical genealogy of sorts. In any case, this recipe is a winner.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash salt
2 eggs, beaten well
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all topping ingredients together by rubbing with fingers, set aside. In a large bowl, mix your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together your eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture, stir till wet. With an ice cream scoop, fill each each muffin well about 2/3 full. (You an also bake as a cake, or as smaller muffins). Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake at 350 F. for approximately 25 minutes.

Aug 25, 2013

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

This is an easy and delicious side dish. And the color is great.

12 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, then lay green beans (make sure they are dry) out on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss to evenly coat. Spread out on the sheet so that all the beans lay flat and place the pan in the lower third section of oven. After baking the beans for about 10 minutes, remove the pan from oven and shake it briefly to turn the beans, then return the pan to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.