Thursday, September 30, 2010

cream of soups

I've mentioned before that I hate the word casserole-- I hate cream of soups, too. Cream of chicken, cream of mushroom...blech. If a recipe calls for a can of cream of, I won't make it.

And yet, I made Better Homes and Garden's Cream of Pumpkin Soup* for dinner on Tuesday. It's actually a recipe that has lots of variations, and the official name is Cream of Vegetable Soup. It's quick and easy: make a roux of flower and butter, add milk, then pureed vegetables and chicken broth and seasonings. I didn't take any during photes, because you have to stir constantly to avoid lumps.
We loved this soup. It was warm and satisfying and not heavy at all, and I renamed it pumpkin bisque to make myself feel better. Served with a nice big salad of roasted vegetables, this was a perfect Tuesday night dinner.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Better Homes and Gardens. New Cook Book. 11th ed. Cream of Vegetable Soup. p. 1020.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

pumpkin pasta

I really should work on making more recipes that look appetizing. Our friends Sara and Jonathon visited this weekend, and I made pumpkin sausage pasta* Saturday night. A few things about pumpkin sausage pasta:

It sounds kindof gross.

It looks really gross.

It tastes absolutely not gross.

Think of a basic meaty pasta sauce. You brown the sausage-- in this case turkey sausage. You saute the onion and garlic. Now replace the tomatoes with pureed pumpkin. Add some nutmeg and sage instead of oregano and basil. Let those flavors mingle. Stir in some milk to thicken. Add whole wheat pasta. Delicious.

I won't wax poetic on what this dish looks like. Just know that if you serve it with an autumn salad of spinach, pears, feta, almonds and pomegranate vinaigrette you'll be happy. Your guests will be happy. And no one will mind that the pasta looks the way it does.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Lind, Mary Beth and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Simply in Season. "Pumpkin Sausage Pasta." p. 212.

Monday, September 27, 2010

green chili. yes green.

The weather is finally catching up to my cooking, and I'm thrilled. I made Sara Foster's Green Chili* for dinner Friday night. It was 85 in Asheville that day, but I perservered with my comforting warm soupy meal anyway.

I have been eyeing this recipe since my cousins gave us Fresh Every Day as a wedding gift, because instead of tomatoes it has tomatillos. I'm a big big fan of salsa verde and all things tomatillo, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to find canned tomatillos. You can use fresh, but then you have to roast them and it seemed like it'd be expensive to buy all those fresh tomatillos. Imagine my delight when I found a 28 ounce can of whole tomatillos in the Hispanic section at Ingles! And for like $3!
Mashing the tomatillos was fun, and I liked that the recipe uses white beans-- garbanzo and navy-- instead of the traditional red or black beans of tomato chili. There's green pepper, onion, green chilis, jalepeƱos and celery, too.
The recipe calls for 4 cups shredded white meat (turkey, chicken, pork) and I used some chicken breasts I had in the fridge. I boiled 2 large ones earlier in the day, thinking that it'd be enough meat, but when I actually pulled out the measuring cup I realized I only had about 3 cups. I surged ahead with the recipe, but I think it really does need 4 cups of meat (or more beans). EDW's main critique was that he wished there had been more chicken, and I agree.
I think this chili may smell better than it tastes. It tastes good, and I'm perfectly satisfied, but it smelled absolutely incredible. The smokey undertones of the peppers and tomatillos just didn't come through as much as I hoped they would, even though we could definitely smell them. I might make this again, but as of now my favorite chili is still Sara Foster's Beef and Bean.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Green Chili." p 55.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the muffin chronicles, part XV

I know it still feels like summer, but I have jumped on the fall food train and I'm loving it. What with the curried lentils from Tuesday and the chili I'm making this weekend, all I need is a spiced latte and a turtleneck and I'll be happy. I made pumpkin muffins yesterday afternoon in honor of fall's arrival.

I made a few changes, based on the muffin's reviews and my own tastes. Instead of using all white flour, I used 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 all purpose. I doubled the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons, and I added 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground ginger. I also added 2 dashes of nutmeg to my dry mixture.
I used unsweetened applesauce instead of oil, which made my batter sweeter than it would have been otherwise.
I got 12 muffins and 2 mini loaves from the batter, with plenty leftover to lick from the bowl.
I had a piece of mini loaf with my afternoon tea, and yum. These muffins are moist and soft and pumpkiny and they taste like fall. (And they look like muffins!)
I hope you like it. I made it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

curried and unpretty

I made curried lentils and sweet potatoes last night for dinner, and while it's one of the ugliest things I have ever made, it's one of the most delicious meals I've cooked.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, because it includes two of my most favorite foods: lentils and sweet potatoes. I couldn't make it, though, because it calls for garam masala, and we all know I couldn't find garam masala in Cherokee County. But at the local Earthfare in Asheville? Oh yes. Garam masala. Holla.
I used spinach instead of chard, because I already had it in my fridge and I didn't feel like going out again. I served my pile of sloppy heaven with brown rice, and EDW and I gobbled it up.
I was going to put the scallions on for garnish, but I got on a roll cleaning while the lentils cooked and I cleaned my cutting board and knife before I had time to chop, and then I didn't feel like dirtying them up again just for a garnish.

Seriously, this is so so good. I know it looks disgusting, but if you like curried foods and sweet potatoes and lentils, please just have some.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

chickpeas and maters

This is going to be a lame post, with no actual recipe link and poor photos of the food.

I made a Splendid Table newsletter recipe on Friday, but I can't link to it. Email me if you want the recipe. It's really easy and delicious: summer pasta with chickpeas and tomatoes. It's a raw tomato sauce, and I used tomatoes from the Asheville farmer's market. I love how easy it was to throw together: just mix tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, garlic and salt and pepper and let that mixture sit. Then add rinsed canned chickpeas and pasta, top that with feta and serve.
I served mine over spinach because I couldn't be bothered to make an actual salad to go with the meal. EDW and I liked this a lot, and I'm sad tomato season is just about over.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

pretend vegan

Edwin's parents came over for dinner last night. I made Betty Crocker's Italian Chicken-Lentil Soup, which seemed neither Italian nor soupy to me. It was delicious, and easy (hello, Crock-pot, I love you), but tasted like a vegetable chicken stew. What is the difference between soup and stew, anyway?
For dessert, I made vegan peach berry crumbles. Yes, vegan. Yes, delicious. And yes, adorable, because they're baked in ramekins and everyone gets their own crumble. I used fresh peaches and frozen raspberries and blueberries. I loved only using maple syrup as the sweetener-- it seemed so unexpected.
These are fantastic. You won't miss the butter, I promise. I missed vanilla ice cream, but we didn't have any, so we just had ours plain. I'm thinking of having another one for breakfast. It's fruit and grains-- how is that not good for me?
I hope you like it. I made it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

gransee mcmuffins

One of my favorite lines in Juno is when Paulie Bleaker's mom is trying to get him to come down for dinner, when all Paulie really wants to do is sigh and smell Juno's underpants. Mrs. Bleaker knocks on the door and practically begs him to eat, entreating him with, "But it's breakfast for dinner. Your favorite!"

We had breakfast for dinner last night. I made fancy gransee mcmuffins, and all I can say is wowza.

I used these toppings: green bell pepper, hot pepper, tomato, red onion, and spinach. I toasted whole wheat English muffins and spread them with laughing cow wedges, queso fresco & chipotle flavor.
I piled it all on and added scrambled eggs. I poured some pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on top of mine. (Sidenote: Sara Foster taught me what to do with the rest of the little can once you've opened it for a recipe. Puree the rest in a blender for an immediate salsa and topping! And I did. And I was happy.)
The sandwich was amazing. You could do it as a breakfast burrito, too, and I could probably eat one of these every day and not get tired of it.

I also made baked apples. I just followed the method for breakfast apple granola crisp, halved and without the granola topping. I covered my pyrex with aluminum foil and baked 45 minutes. 45 minutes was too long, if you ask me, but I like my apples to have a little bite to them.
The flavor was spot on, though, and it was nice paired with the smokey spicy savory egg sandwich. EDW and I ate the entire dish of apples, and we both loved everything about this meal. I bet Paulie would come downstairs for it.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

supposed to be calzones

In honor of Edwin's first day at his new job, I told him I'd make whatever he wanted for dinner last night. He requested calzones, and I decided to use the whole wheat pizza dough recipe I've made several times. I have always done it in the food processor, but I didn't feel like dirtying up the Cuisinart. Surely, I thought, I could just hand mix and hand knead to achieve the same results.

I thought wrong.The dough didn't rise at all. It was shaggier than usual, and I was concerned by its definite unrisen state after I let it rest. Determined to perservere, I tried to divide the dough in two to shape my calzones. The dough was so thin, though, that I ended up mushing it all back together and working really hard to get it to even out for a pizza.
I used the filling I'd already prepared: spinach, hot peppers, red onion, garlic, kalamata olives, tomatoes, feta and mozzarella and hoped it would work out.
This dough, while usually pretty thick and chewy, came out like a flatbread. It tasted good, but it was super thin. I personally prefer thin crust pizza, but EDW loves a thick crust and I felt bad that his congrats-on-your-first-day meal went the way it did. Edwin commented that the thin crust made it seem healthier, but I reminded him that I'd made this exact crust last week for a barbeque chicken pizza, and he couldn't believe it.

I guess I'll be using the food processor for this recipe from now on.
The pizza was delicious, even if it was supposed to be calzones. (and even if I did burn it, just a little)
I hope you like it. I made it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

chipotles and squash-- what could go wrong?

I made chipotle-squash soup* last night. I used dried rosemary instead of fresh, and I skipped the pumpkin seeds altogether.

I liked roasting my butternut squash on a baking sheet-- I'd never tried this method. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and put it on a baking sheet with sides. Add one cup water and 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast at 400 for 45 minutes. After the squash has cooled, scrape the flesh out and discard the skin.
This is not a quick soup, as you have to roast the squash and slowly saute the onions, red pepper, carrots and garlic, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in flavor.
I loved this soup. I was lazy and didn't seed my chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, so it had a considerable kick. The kick was too much for EDW, even after we added a dollop of sour cream, so he passed on it. I froze half the batch and will be in charge of finishing the rest this week, which I'll happily do. The rosemary and squash really complement each other, and I love the chipotle flavors.
I'll make this again-- and I'll seed my peppers so Edwin can eat it too. That Sara Foster never fails to impress me.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara.
Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Chipotle-Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds." p 40.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

the muffin chronicles, part XIV

Carla and Claude came to Asheville last night for a quick visit, and I made oat bran muffins in their honor (plus I still have a glorious amount of apples in the fridge, even with the drying and apple crisping and general eating).

This is sort of a labor intensive muffin recipe, especially if you're like me and don't buy pre-shredded carrots. Have you ever shredded 2 cups worth of baby carrots? I love that the muffins have so many wholesome ingredients (whole wheat flour, flax seed, oat bran, apples, raisins, carrots) so the effort was well worth it.
The wet mixture was really interesting. I combined the egg whites, milk, vanilla, oil and a minneola-- it's the best I could do with the thin-skinned orange order-- in my food processor, and you won't believe how good the frothy mixture smelled. I really wanted to drink it with a straw.
The batter was super thick and tasty, and I got 24 muffins out of it.
EDW sampled his muffin before I had time to take a phote, but there were 24.
I love these muffins. They're reminiscent of health muffins, but sweeter, moister, and all around better. I will make them again, possibly using dried figs for the raisins. I froze half the muffins, and I plan on defrosting them individually and reheating in the microwave whenever I need a muffin fix. Anybody in blog land know the best way to do this? It seems like everyone freezes and then individually thaws and reheats-- but how? Or can I pop a frozen muffin right into the microwave to warm? Please advise.I hope you like it. I made it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

apples and a tour

Here's our new kitchen.

When you walk in the door, the kitchen is to your left. We have a kitchen eating area and a dining area, and I have to say I like having a casual breakfast nook. Atticus is almost never on the kitchen floor, and yet here he is, looking rather large and in charge.
Here's our oven and stove. I like that it's not glass top, but a previous tenant burned something on the range. Any ideas on how to get this off? My landlord says it can't be done, but surely she's wrong. Products you recommend, blog friends?
White fridge. It does the job, but I miss my stainless side-by-side from the Murph.
We have this nice big opening into the rest of the condo. Our dining area is just on the other side, and then that's our living room you're seeing at the end.
Here's the kitch looking in from the dining area. Cozy, yes?
Overall, the kitchen really is working for me. There's enough counter space for me to spread out and I like that I have a (not featured) pantry.

I've been busy with apples this week, so I don't have a new recipe to report. I finally pulled out my birthday dehydrator. I made two batches of dried apples this week, along with an experimental dried banana. The banana didn't make it to storage-- can you say delicious?-- but we have a good stockpile of dried apples in the fridge right now. They are amazing and I can't stop grabbing a few every time I walk by (or near) the kitchen.
I hope you like it. I made it.