Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup

I love Tomato Soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. It is my favorite comfort food, however, now that I make my own I cannot stomach the stuff out of the can.

Sorry Campbells!

I have been making it the last few years and constantly tweaking the recipe. I think this is the final keeper. I adapted it from one of my favorite chef's, The Barefoot Contessa! I think roasting the tomatoes is the key!

•3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise (I used ripe Roma's)
•1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
•1 tablespoon kosher salt
•1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
•2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
•6 garlic cloves, minced
•2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
•1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
•4 cups fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffanade (I used only 2 cups)
•1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
•1 quart chicken stock or water (use stock)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, or do what I did and use your immersion blender.

Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies with a TWIST

I purchased some Butterscotch chips the other day and wondered what I could do with them. My husband loves Oatmeal cookies, and I found a recipe for Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies on the Nestle website. While putting the recipe together I pondered what would it taste like if I added Craisins?

I did, and may I tell you it was a terrific decision! The sweet/tang of the Craisins takes these cookies over the TOP! Try it, you wont be sorry!

We served in a dessert dish with Vanilla Ice Cream! YUM!

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp each ground cinnamon and salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 pkg Butterscotch Morsels
1 cup Craisins

PREHEAT oven to 375 °F

COMBINE flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl until smooth.

Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels and Craisins.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies.

Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Semi-Homemade Barbequeue Sauce

My husband smoked a Pork Shoulder on his Traeger Smoker this weekend, and I decided I would make two different sauces for the smokey, rich and delicious meat!

They are both delicious as hell and very different. I tried to remember every ingredient, but don't blame me if I missed something! My husbands favorite is the Piquant and mine is the Strawberry Root Beer Sauce.

Piquant Barbecue Sauce Top Photo, Root Beer Sauce the second one

Piquant Barbecue Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup yellow mustard (measure this, I was dumb and didn't)
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 cloves garlic minced well
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbl Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (you may add more to taste after it cooks awhile)
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Tabasco Sauce to taste (I put a fair amount in)
1/2 cup catsup
4 tbl molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste

Place all ingredients into a saucepan and let cook for an hour or more on low. Stir often.

Taste often and adjust to your own tastes. I will last a long time in the fridge due to the acid content.

The second sauce I absolutely pulled out of my ass. I had an idea and ran with it. I knew I wanted a sweeter sauce with fruit. I also cheated a bit and added some smokey barbecue sauce at the end to thicken it up. This one is my favorite of the two and is a beautiful color. The root beer gives it a nice and bright flavor.

Strawberry Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

1 12oz bottle of regular root beer (get a good quality one)
1.5 cup strawberries, cored and chopped medium
1/4 cup onion, diced small
1/4 balsamic vinegar
4 tbl Molasses
1/4 cup catsup
1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

Pour your bottle of root beer into a non stick sauce pan on low, and let reduce by half, it will take a good 30 minutes

Add the strawberries, onion, balsamic, catsup and molasses

Let cook together for 15 minutes or so

Add a 1/2 to 1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce, mix well and let continue to cook for another few minutes

Taste and add seasoning/ingredients as needed

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Healthy Banana Nut Muffins for my Guy!

My husband is not a sweets eating guy, but if I make it healthy he will eat what I bake!

I decided I wanted to come up with a really healthy and hearty muffin. I added all sorts of good stuff and used yogurt instead of butter or oil. I have to say these muffins are really tasty, and good for you too! Give it a whirl for your guy!

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 very ripe bananas
1 cup Sugar Twin brown sugar replacement
1/2 stick of butter melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 vanilla yogurts (I used Activia)
1/8 cup Flax Seeds or more
1/8 cup Oat Bran
1/2 cup toasted Walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter muffin tins or use the paper muffin cups, and use pan spray on the inside (the muffins are sticky)

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside

Mash two of the bananas with a fork

Using a kitchen aide or an electric mixer with a wire whisk, whip the other two bananas and sugar substitute for at least three minutes

Add the melted butter, eggs, yogurts, vanilla and almond extract and beat well

Mix in the dry ingredients including flax seeds and oat bran till just incorporated

Fold in the nuts and and the mashed bananas

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins about half way

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 18 o 22 minutes

Let cool and slather with butter

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

I bought some pencil thin Asparagus at the Farmers Market and wanted to make something special. I remembered seeing a Tart on Closet Cookings website and it looked amazing.

I used plain Dijon Mustard rather than Honey Dijon, the sweet element did not appeal to me. It was quite easy, beautiful and tasty!

Notes for next time: If using larger Asparagus, par cook them first, cook at a lower temp for a few minutes longer, add more seasoning of some kind; Balsamic Vinegar would be excellent dribbled on top right out of the oven.

1 sheet puff pastry (thawed according to the packages directions)
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups Gruyere (grated)
1 pound asparagus (cleaned and trimmed)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Roll the puff pastry out to a 16x10 inch rectangle.
2. Score a line around the puff pastry 1 inch from the edge.
3. Brush the mustard around the inside of the cut.
4. Sprinkle the cheese over the mustard.
5. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over the cheese. (I also brushed the Asparagus with a bit of Olive Oil so it would not dry out)
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Brush the outside inch of the pastry with the oil.
8. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the asparagus is tender and the pastry is golden brown, about 15-25 minutes

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Curried Butternut and Apple Soup

I have been wanting to use up a huge Butternut Squash I got a great deal on. I looked up soup recipes, but nothing really fit the bill. I wanted it all, Butternut, Curry and Apple. I also wanted to roast the Butternut Squash as I think that really brings out the flavor.

I finally decided to just DO IT! and figure it out as I went along. I love doing that! Not so much when it does not come out, but that rarely happens anymore! I have to say this is one of the best soups I have ever made, I love it.

So here's the deal!

1 large butternut squash, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 large leek, ends cut, sliced and soaked/rinsed well
1 tbl butter
3 cans chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup apple juice
1 granny smith apple or other tart apple (peeled, cored, chunked)
curry powder to taste (I like curry so I used about 1.5 tbl of a spicy curry powder)
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 tsp Cayenne (optional)
1 tsp Ginger powder
2 tbl olive oil

Mix the squash, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, stirring and flipping the squash several times. Remove and set aside.

Add the 1 tbl butter to a large stockpot, melt and then add the leeks, apples and curry powder. Cook on medium stirring often until the onion is translucent, maybe 10 minutes
Add the cooked squash, remaining spices, broth, apple juice, salt and pepper to taste

Cook for an additional 15 minutes or so until the squash and apples are fork tender

Using a blender, immersion blender or whatever you have on hand, whir the soup until well combined and smooth

Serve with diced apples and cream fraiche or a dab of sour cream on top

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chattanooga Tomato Pie

One of my friends gave me this recipe, and it is a wonderful way to use up those yummy tomatoes this summer! Tina is a fabulous artist, as well as a great cook, check her artwork out here.

I, being the queen of tweaking recipes, had to add my own spin to it. It was juicy and delicious, reminded me a bit of a pizza, but much more flavorful!

Here is the original recipe, thanks Tina!

1 c. Bisquick
1/3 c. milk
Thickly sliced tomatoes
Sweet basil
Lemon pepper
1/4 c. mayonnaise
5/8 c. sour cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. finely chopped onion
Garlic powder to taste
*I added about 1/2 tsp onion powder
*I added 1/2 tsp red onion flakes

Combine Bisquick with milk (I added salt, pepper and garlic powder) and, with floured fingers, pat into bottom of greased 10-inch pie pan or quiche dish. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Top with layer of thickly sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with basil and pepper.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream and Parmesan, onion and garlic, then spread over tomatoes. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes (I baked for 40 minutes then browned using the broiler)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Better Than Sex Cake

I received this recipe from one of my many Ex-Sister In Law's, years and years ago, and it has been languishing in my recipe box ever since. I made it a few months ago and again today for a friends birthday.

I have only had a few bites of this cake as it is very sweet, so I cannot tell you if it is really better than sex or not, although in my book there are not too many things better than sex!

It is easy to make, super yummy (or so I hear) and very decadent. Give it a try and then you tell ME is it really better than sex?

I make a double batch using a 9 X 13 pan.

2 boxes of your favorite cake mix (Chocolate is preferred)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat Free)
1 jar of Caramel
1 tub of Cool Whip
3-4 Heath Bars crushed

Make the cake mix according to the mix directions and place in the greased pan, you will have to cook it much longer (and lower in my opinion) than the box indicates, if you do the double batch.

When the toothpick comes out clean, remove and poke holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon or something of similar size .

Pour the condensed milk all over the cake, trying to get it into the holes (this works best when the cake is still warm from the oven)

Pour on the Caramel sauce next, saturating the cake

Let cool and frost with the cool whip and top with the crushed Heath Bars

**I imagine that you could use just about any combination of cake/and toppings.

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