Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Potato-Leek Soup

“The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.” - John Steinbeck

There's something so comforting about soup. We associate its warmth and nourishment with cold winters and being home sick from school: a one-pot miracle meal that warms and fills the belly. 

But I love a good bowl of soup year-round. 

Yesterday as I ran through Publix to grab a few essentials, a beautiful leek caught my eye and became irresistibly essential. I could practically taste the rich, creamy broth of potato-leek soup! The preparation of it today gave me another excuse to use my new pressure cooker, too, so  ...

Potato-Leek Soup

6 medium potatoes
1 leek
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 cup half and half

Trim the ends of the leek and halve it. Thinly slice and place in a bowl of cold water. Swish the leeks around and give the grit a moment to settle in the bottom of the bowl. Meanwhile, heat the pressure cooker on the "saute" setting. When hot, add the butter. Scoop the leeks out of the water and dry briefly. Saute the leeks, garlic, salt and pepper in the pressure cooker for 3-4 minutes, until softened. While those cook down, peel the potatoes and quarter them. Pour the stock into the pot along with the thyme, potatoes and more salt and pepper. Place lid on pot and pressure cook for 12 minutes. Carefully use quick release. Whisk in the half and half, breaking down the potatoes and leaving some bite-size pieces as you do so. Yield: 4-6 servings

I like to serve mine topped with swiss cheese and sliced green onion, but diced ham, chopped bacon, sour cream, cheddar, or fresh parsley would all be great options.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli is one of the few vegetables I like, and so I am always trying to incorporate it into my diet. One version of it I have never liked, though, is broccoli soup. I've attempted to eat it, and I've seen other people eat it, but frankly I just haven't able to get past the smell! So gross.

But today. Today I had no plans for lunch and it's cold outside and soup just sounded like the right thing to make! I decided it was time to conquer a classic and make some broccoli soup I would actually eat. This recipe is super simple and comes together fast - easily ready from start to finish in under 20 minutes! It was very filling and satisfied my craving for a warm, tasty, non-stinky, creamy broccoli soup.

(If you're following a paleo/keto/gluten-free/etc. diet, you can omit the flour altogether for a slightly thinner consistency, or simply replace the flour with a compliant thickener.)

 Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 head broccoli, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cream or half-and-half
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the broccoli and onion in butter until beginning to soften, 4-5 minutes. (Season with salt and pepper while cooking.) Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for one more minute. Sprinkle in flour; stir and cook for one more minute. Pour in chicken stock and milk. Continue cooking for 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly and the broccoli is tender. Using an immersion blender (or transferring to a blender pitcher) blend the soup to your desired consistency. Return to pot if using a standard blender. Stir in cream and cheeses. Heat through and serve! Yield: 2 meal portions, or 4 smaller portions.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sloppy Joe Skillet Supper

I love meals that are basically all-in-one dishes like casseroles (which are baked) or skillet meals like this variation on sloppy joes. They make for a pretty quick weeknight meal, and are perfect for kids. Sloppy Joe Skillet Supper in particular is easy to adapt to a low-carb or gluten-free meal if you prefer.

1) Swap out the regular pasta for your favorite alternative pasta.

2) Use "Zoodles" (spiralized zucchini) or spiralized sweet potatoes

3) Instead of shredding the carrots and zucchini, dice two of each vegetable and saute them for the appropriate length of time before setting them aside to brown the turkey. Add them back in after the sauce is combined.

Sloppy Joe Skillet Supper

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon cooking oil (olive, coconut, canola, whatever)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 small carrot, shredded
1 small green pepper, diced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (12 ounce) bottle chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

10 ounces dry macaroni pasta, cooked al dente - according to package directions.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, zucchini, carrot and green pepper for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften and the onions start becoming translucent. Add in the turkey, breaking it up and stirring it all together until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the vinegar, chili powder, nutmeg and pepper. Add in the chili sauce, ketchup and broth. Stir in the cooked pasta. Allow to simmer for about five more minutes. I sometimes serve this topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Perfectly Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are one of those things that seem simple, yet they are easy to get completely wrong! Years ago I read about how to cook them perfectly and ever since I never have any trouble with them. Then I use our family's time-proven method to peel them so I can turn them into one of my favorite treats - deviled eggs!

To hard-boil eggs:

Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover and turn off heat; let sit for 10-12 minutes.
In a bowl, combine a few handfuls of ice with just enough water to cover.
Drain eggs and plop them into the ice water.
Let sit for 10 minutes, until thoroughly cool.

Now they are ready to peel! All you need are your hands and a spoon.

Side Note: Why, oh, why, Manufacturer of This Plate, did you make it for 15 deviled eggs? Why not an even number? Did you know I will inevitably break one of the whites? Or did you decide to give me an excuse to eat one so they would fit the exact number? It's spooky how well you understood me before we ever met. But seriously, FIFTEEN?

Moving On.
Crack the large end. Water usually collects there and you want to use that to your advantage.
Turn the egg upright, so that any water inside drains down between the shell and the egg white. Use your fingers to make an opening.
Gently work a small spoon under the shell, curving around the white.
Angle the spoon up, pushing the shell away.
Most of the shell should simply shear away, usually in no more than 3-4 pieces.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

Recently, I decided to adapt one of my favorite muffin recipes, Lemon Blueberry Muffins, to make it work with strawberry. I loved the results! The only problem is that the recipe only makes one dozen. This batch didn't last out the day!

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 cup whole milk

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, or use cupcake liners. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the sugar and orange zest until well combined. Add in butter and blend until light and fluffy.  
Add eggs, one at a time,blending well. Add in vanilla, orange juice, and milk. Mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.

Divide about half of the batter into the muffin cups. Top with a teaspoon each of the cream cheese mixture and the strawberry jam. Divide the remaining batter between the muffin cups, covering the filling. 

Bake at 350° for 23-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, but these are especially tasty served warm!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

April Menu!

Thank you so much to everyone for their March Menu orders! Among those who benefitted from meals were:

  • A mama to two preschoolers.
  • A grandmother undergoing chemotherapy.
  • A busy grandmother who teaches middle school.
  • A mom, with three young boys at home, who underwent knee surgery. 
  • A family who recently moved.

In April, let me help you or even help you help a friend! These are tasty, home-cooked, made from scratch meals delivered to you. Save it for tomorrow in the fridge, for a later time in the freezer, or pop it in the oven for a fast dinner that night!

I'll be "barefoot in the kitchen" so you don't have to be!

April Menu 

Menu 1 - April 14 Orders due by noon on April 12.

Shepherd's Pie - Flaky, from-scratch pie crust filled with beef, peas and carrots in gravy, topped with fluffy mashed potatoes.

Lemon Chicken - Tender chicken and snappy green beans folded into a creamy lemon-Parmesan sauce, with angel hair pasta. (gluten-free option available)

Desserts: Lemon Bars (1 dozen) and Chocolate Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Menu 2 - April 28 Orders due by noon on April 26.

Beef and Bean Chili - Full of tomatoes, peppers, onion, beef and beans and the perfect level of spice. (gluten-free. vegetarian option available)

Chicken Parmesan - Shaped pasta tossed with chicken, homemade marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Topped with a Parmesan-bread crumb mixture.

Desserts: Pound Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd and Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars (1 dozen)

Meals are $25 each, desserts are $15 each.

*** To place your order, send me an email here or use the link in the right sidebar. Your order will be confirmed when payment is received via PayPal. If you prefer to pay with a check or cash, let me know in your email and I will give you the mailing address. ***

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Meal Delivery and March Menu!

**Updated Pricing!**

Hey, friends! I am offering something new to my local readers:

Fully cooked, from scratch, meal-in-one casseroles for delivery! 

Twice each month, on the first and third Friday, I will offer a menu of two different choices for meals and for desserts. The options will be a la carte, so you can order just one meal or any combination you like. I'll be "barefoot in the kitchen" so you don't have to be!

Meals will serve 4-6 people for just $25. As delivered they'll contain fully cooked ingredients in a covered foil container, ready for the oven or the freezer.

The desserts are $15 and will be ready to serve.

These meals are perfect for you if you  ...

... want delicious family-pleasing meals without spending so much time in the kitchen.

... want to have a back-up meal in the freezer for a busy night.

... know a family who could use the gift of a meal - due to health issues, a new baby, they've recently moved into a new home, or just because you want to bless them!

With each menu, my goal is to include two homestyle, family-favorite recipes, one of which will be easily adapted to accomodate dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian or gluten-free). The desserts will be generally decadent and I can make no promises for their health benefits! Except for a mental health boost, of course!

*** To place your order, send me an email here or use the link in the right sidebar. Your order will be confirmed when payment is received via PayPal. If you prefer to pay with a check or cash, let me know in your email and I will give you the mailing address. ***

March Menu

Week 1 - March 3 Orders due by noon on March 1

Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas : Corn tortillas filled with a spicy beef/black bean mixture and pepper jack cheese. Topped with homemade enchilada sauce (peppers, tomato, garlic and spices) and served over brown rice. (Gluten-free, vegetarian option with black bean/sweet potato) Bake or Freeze.

Chicken Ranch Casserole : Shredded chicken, pasta and carrots folded into a from-scratch creamy, cheesy sauce, seasoned with Ranch-style herbs. Buttery bread crumb topping. Bake or Freeze.

Desserts : Snickerdoodles - Soft cinnamon-sugar cookies. (2 dozen)
                  Caramel Banana Pudding - Homemade vanilla pudding layered with fresh bananas,                                                               vanilla wafers and caramel sauce. Topped with whipped cream.

Week 2 - March 17 Orders due by noon on March 15

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole : Homemade marinara (pureed tomato, zucchini, carrots, garlic, onion), diced green peppers, brown rice, ground beef and cheddar. Garlic-herb bread crumb topping. (gluten-free and vegetarian options available) Bake or Freeze.

Chicken Pot Pie : From-scratch flaky, buttery pie crust surrounds a creamy filling of chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots. Bake.

Desserts : Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies (2 dozen)
                 Fudgy Mint Brownies (1 dozen)