Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuscan Bean Soup

When we did finally get back to our house, the temperature had dropped significantly. We left KC with 85 degree weather & came back to about 50 degrees. Soup was in the forecast.

Last year, about this time actually, I posted a Tuscan Bean Soup I had made with a mix from my fave winery, Viansa. The Hubs and I loved this soup. It was hearty and so good for you-full of beans & veggies. Well we cancelled our monthly delivery of wine from Viansa, so I didn't have the prepared mix to make it again. And rather than wait for it to come, I figured I could wing it.

Tuscan Bean Soup
By Jules
1 package of White Bean Provencial Soup (these are dried beans)
6 links Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 1 /2 cups sliced celery
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 can kidney beans, drained
olive oil

1. Coat a large stockpot with olive oil, about 2 Tbsp. Heat over medium high. Add onions, carrots, celery & garlic. Cook until tender.
2. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, bean mixture & spices, & sausage. You can either cut the sausage now or add the links whole & cut them later.
3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer for about 3 1/2 hours. (perfect to do before a football game b/c they usually take 3 hours)
4. Add the paste & the kidney beans & cook for another 45 minutes. By now the beans should be tender. Salt to taste.

When I serve this, I top it with a little grated Parmesan. This made about 8-10 servings, so put some in the freezer for a later date.
This was pretty darn close to what we had last year and so filling. Warms you to the bone.

I promise to blog for the rest of the year

This is my vow to all of you! I have gotten in a slump, went on vacation, refused to go to the grocery store, found out I was pregnant, etc... I could come up with a million reasons on why I haven't been blogging but in reality, who cares. However, my vow to blog I shall keep! My cooking passion has been re-ignited, 14 days of eating out will do that to a chef at heart. Plus, I love this time of year. Comforting casseroles, soups, Thanksgiving. I don't mind turning the oven on to bake & heat up the house. I have a million things I want to make, so I am sure this blog will be busy!!!

First off I will start with something that we made before we went on vacation. Actually, the Hubs made it. This was when I was on the no grocery store kick. This was super easy & super fast. I found it in my Pillsbury Best of 2007 recipes.

Cheesy Tomato Chicken Skillet
2 cups of pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
3/4 lbs chicken, cut into pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used the Healthy Request)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (here I used some frozen diced tomatoes from our garden. I thawed them & drained them)
1 1/2 cup of milk
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Cook the pasta as directed
2. Heat 10 in skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken & cook thoroughly. Reduce heat to medium; stir in soup, tomatoes, milk & basil.
3. Stir in cooked pasta. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until bubbly & heated through. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat, cover & let stand about 5 minutes.

So this took all of like 20 minutes to make. It wasn't all that bad for you, but it wasn't healthy. Be on the lookout for more healthy recipes in the future.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Apple Parade Part Two

The second baked goodie I made with the apples didn't quite turn out the way the recipe intended. Let's just say it was supposed to be an apple cake, that turned into apple bars. I'll explain how this happened a little later.

Again, this recipe came from the BHG cookbook. I only had to turn about 20 pages to find it. Destiny I tell you!

Apple Cake/Bars
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground all spice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup veggie oil
2 beaten eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups chopped apples (I used 2 1/2 cups of apples)
1 cup chopped pecans (I used 1 cup of raisins)

1) Grease & flour your bundt pan or whatever pan you chose to you. You may very well have to do this on three separate pans if you mess up like I did.
2) Stir together the first 5 ingredients and 1/4 tsp of salt. Set aside.
3) Mix the sugars, oil, eggs & vanilla on speed 2 if you are using a KitchenAid. Add dry mixture, ALL AT ONCE. Don't add it a 1/4 of a cup at a time, like you do for cookies or brownies. If you don't add it all at once, your mixture will become too tough and you will have bars.
4) Fold in apples & pecans or raisins
5) Bake in an oven at 350 for about an hour.

I was told by my husband's team members that the bars were awesome, better than the spiced bars I made last week. I didn't get a chance to try them b/c I was eating the cinnamon rolls. I think they would taste really good if you added some oats to it too.

An Apple Parade

I feel like maybe I should create a link on my blog for "apples". I have quite the abundance, but they did freeze well. I needed to make some kind of breakfast food for the hubs & I for the week & cinnamon rolls sounded awesome. I thought I'd add some apples and make it a little more healthy for us. So I defrosted a bag & realized I had way too many apples for the amount of cinnamon rolls I planned to make. So I made 2 apple treats, one to keep at home, one for the guys on my husband's team.

First we will start with the cinnamon rolls. I used a recipe I had used long ago. In fact, its the same one I used to use when I would bake rolls with my mom. I distinctly remember using a really thick thread to cut the rolls up. Well, now I have a really sharp knife, so much easier!

The recipe comes from my Better Homes & Gardens CookBook.
4 to 4 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Powdered Sugar Icing (recipe follows)

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and the yeast. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat & stir milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of butter and salt until warm and butter just melts. Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with the eggs. Beat on low for 30 seconds, change to high for 3 minutes. (On my kitchenaid I did the stir setting for 30 secs & 2 or 3 for the 3 minutes, I also using the paddle) Stir in remaining flour until it becomes elastic.
2) Turn dough on floured surface and knead until it is smooth & elastic. (At this time I changed to the hook and let it knead the dough for me) Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
3) Punch dough down. Turn onto lightly floured surface & divide dough in half. Cover & let rest about 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 9" round pans.
4) roll each portion of the dough into a rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Combine the cinnamon & sugar & sprinkle over the butter (this is where I added the diced apples) Roll up, jelly style, starting from the long side. Slice each roll into about 12 pieces. Place in prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
5) Bake in a 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until browned. Cool slightly. Drizzle with the powdered sugar icing.

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 tsp of vanilla
1) Mix in a bowl, once blended, add additional milk 1 Tbsp at a time until you have the consistency you like.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple Crisp

A few years ago, I received a cookbook called Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook. Everything I have made from this cookbook is phenomenal. I like that it also gives you additional notes, tips, stories.

From this recipe, I learned why some baked apple goods stay crisp & others are mushy. No matter how long you cook an apple pie, if you don't have the right apple, its going to stay crispy. While that is good for some people, my husband likes his apple pie, and other apple goods, nice a mushy. So Nordstrom informed me that Cortland & McIntosh collapse readily creating a soft filling. Golden Delicious and Rome hold their shape & texture for a longer time. Granny Smith falls right in the middle.

As I mentioned before, my mother-in-law gave us a 5 gallon bucket of apples & this was the first thing my husband requested that I make.

Apple Crisp
1/2 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch grated nutmeg
7 Tbsp all purpose flour
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup ice cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

5 large apples, peeled, cored & cut into wedges (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter an 8 or 9 in round or square baking pan.

To make the topping, in a bowl, stir together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour & salt. Add the butter & oats. Using fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until the ingredients are well blended but not over mixed.

To assemble the crisp, spread the apples in an even layer & sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle the water over the apples & spread the topping over the fruit.

Bake the crisp until the topping is brown & crunchy and the apples are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Karft Food & Family

I receive the Kraft Food & Family magazine quarterly. I love getting it b/c it does give me some good ideas, but a lot of the recipes call for pre-packaged foods. Something I am not a fan of. But since I refuse to go the grocery store, pre-packaged foods have been my friend.

The latest F&F creation was the "Easy Layered Taco Bake". I really don't see what makes it "layered". When I think of layers I think of 6 layers of lasagna, or a 3 layer cake. Not meat on the bottom, mac N cheese on top. But, to each their own.

1 pkg. (7-1/4 oz.) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Mild Salsa (We used our homemade salsa)
HEAT oven to 400ºF. Prepare Dinner as directed on package. Cook meat with taco seasoning.

LAYER seasoned meat, Dinner and salsa in 8-inch sq. baking dish.

BAKE 20 min

I ended up not being able to make dinner the night we ate this, so the Hubs cooked it up. He was pretty proud of himself & to be quite honest, it was pretty tasty. Not healthy, but quite tasty.