Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ground Beef Soup with Garlic Bread

Back in April I fixed this soup with Chorizo Sausage.  I am in my mom's kitchen helping out and thought it might be nice to make soup for dinner.  Full of lots of great vegetables and is a hearty soup.  I thought I would try this with ground beef and I thought it came out really nice.

Ground Beef Soup
1 package of ground beef (about 3/4 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of chicken broth
1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 can each of chickpeas and kidney beans, drained and rinsed, mix together
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
A small amount of crushed red pepper (depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1-1/2 cups pasta (I used chiocciole shaped pasta - looks like a large macaroni)
1 - 6 ounce bag baby spinach
Parmesan Cheese

Add ground beef to a (medium heat) 6 quart dutch oven that has the olive oil added.  Cook, stirring often breaking meat into bite sized chunks (don't make them too small, you want to get those bites of meat as you eat the soup.  Cook until brown.  It there is a lot of fat, spoon some of it out.  Add carrots, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onion is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add herbs and stir until fragrant.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes (with juice), add about 3/4 of the bean mixture and bring to a boil (you can add more of the beans but you want to make sure that you have enough liquid to cook the pasta in).  Bring soup to a boil, add pasta, cover and cook for 10 minutes until pasta is tender.  Stir in spinach (a little at a time) until wilted.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Also, if you want more place some more crushed red pepper at the table.

Garlic Bread
1/2 loaf sourdough boule bread, sliced
2 sticks of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Place butter and garlic into a saucepan.  Let the butter melt and simmer.  Do not let the butter over cook and turn brown.  Place bread slices onto a baking pan and place into an oven that has been turned to broil.  Keep an eye on the bread, you want it to brown but not burn.  Flip bread over and do the same for the other side.  Take a spoon and spoon butter mixture over bread slices and place the pan back into the oven to brown.  Be careful, it can over brown very quickly.

I also served this meal with a side salad, consisting of lettuce and tomato.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Walnut, Raisin, Cranberry French Toast

I bought a loaf of bread at the bakery on Wednesday.  I thought that this bread (walnut, raisin, cranberry) sounded really good so I bought a loaf.

Decided that french toast made with this bread would be really good this morning.

Walnut Raisin Cranberry French Toast
Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices.  In a small dish add 2 eggs, add some milk and whisk.  Add a splash of vanilla and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Add enough milk to make a the egg mixture smooth.  Preheat a pan to medium, add a little bit of oil if needed (I used coconut oil).  Add one slice of bread to the egg milk mixture, coat each side and place in pan.  Cook on each side until golden brown.  Remove from pan and place on a plate covered in foil until all bread is done.  Make more egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon mixture as needed.  Serve with fresh sliced banana and maple syrup.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

I hope that as you read this that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yourself.  We had a nice day as well.  Below is everything I made with the recipes.  Hope you enjoy!

Our turkey has come from Auburnlea Farms in Gladys, Virginia.  The turkey is pasture raised and all natural.  The turkey is 17-1/2 pounds.

This year I decided to brine my turkey.  I borrowed a recipe from a friend.

Turkey Brine
2 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Place all ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until the sugar and salt dissolves.  Place brine into a large bowl and add 2 quarts of ice cold water.  Let it cool.  Once cool, place turkey (that has been rinsed off and gizzard bag from inside removed)  into brining bag, add brine and place in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours or overnight.  I left mine in the brine overnight.  Once brined and ready to be cooked.  Remove turkey from brine and bag, rinse off and pat dry.

Roast Turkey
3 carrots (rinsed and top end cut off), cut into large chunks
1 large onion, peeled and chopped into chunks
Small bunch of fresh parsley
Small bunch of fresh tarragon
Small bunch of fresh sage
Butter, softened
Place some of the onion, carrots and some fresh herbs into the cavity of the bird.  Pull the skin away from the breasts by taking a dull butter knife and carefully separate the skin from the breast.  Be careful not to poke the knife through.  Place some of the fresh herbs into this part of the turkey as well as some butter.  Place turkey into a large roasting pan.  Add some onions and carrots to the roasting pan around the turkey.  Rub the turkey with butter, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.  Add about 1 cup of water around the pan (don't pour the water over the turkey).  Place turkey into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.   To reach the internal temperature of 165 degree Fahrenheit it took about 3-1/2 hours to cook.  I basted this turkey about every hour or so.  I added to the basting liquid 1 full bottle of chardonnay during the basting time.  Remove turkey from oven, place on large cutting board or platter, cover with foil and let rest.  Cut up turkey when you are ready.

While the turkey is cooking, take gizzards and add them to a saucepan add water and let simmer on the back of the stove.  Add more water as needed.  Once the turkey comes out of the oven, strain the carrots and onions from the juices from the pan and then add them back to the roasting pan.  Place roaster onto the stove top and bring liquid to a boil.  I added a quart of chicken broth (that I had in the freezer). To thicken it I use Arrowroot.

Corn Pudding
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
6 cups frozen corn (I am using the corn that we froze during the summer)

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together eggs, cream and butter.  Gradually add sugar mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn.  Pour into a lightly greased oblong baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Stick a knife blade into the middle and it will be done when it comes out pretty clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Pecan Pie
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pecans
1 - 8 inch unbaked pie shell
Cream butter, sugar and eggs.  Add molasses, flour, vanilla, and salt.  Stir in water and pecans.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes; then at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts 
This is a Jamie Deen Recipe that I got off the Food Network
1 strip of bacon, sliced into thin strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
6 ounces Brussels sprouts (2 big handfuls)
Pinch brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.  While the bacon is cooking, cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts.  Then chop the Brussels sprouts in half.  Lay them cut-side-down and finely chop until they are all shredded.  Add the garlic and shallots to the skillet and saute until fragrant and the shallots are soft, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the Brussels sprouts and saute until tender crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add a pinch of brown sugar.  Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice.  Saute for 1 minute more.  Toss with the chopped parsley and bacon.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons butter
Coconut milk
Place chunks of sweet potatoes into a pan, add water and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender.  Drain, add cooked sweet potatoes back to the pan and place back on stove, add butter and mash.  Add a small amount of coconut milk until you reach the correct consistency. Add a little bit of salt and pepper.

The finished dish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sore Throat Remedy

I was doing a little searching online and came across a remedy that you can make ahead for a sore throat.  Once I read something about this I did some more searching and decided to make some of my own.

Sore Throat Remedy
1 lemon
Raw Honey (unpasteurized, unprocessed)
Slice a lemon in half and then each half again.  Thinly slice each section of lemon and place into a small mason jar.  Remove seeds as you go along.  You probably will not be able to use all the lemon, really depends on the size of your jar.  Add honey until lemon slices are coated.  Place in refrigerator. When needed, remove from refrigerator and place 1 heaping tablespoon into a cup of boiling water and drink, like you are making tea.  It is supposed to relieve a sore throat.  I have tried it, minus the sore throat, and it tasted really good.

I also saw a few people who had added fresh peeled and chopped ginger.  I may make another jar with ginger so that I have a choice when I need it. Also, I read that as you use it you can continue to top it off with more honey and lemon slices.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Burgers on the Grill

We were really hungry for burgers so we decided to have them for dinner tonight.  We got this meat from EcoFriendly Foods, who were at our local farmers market.  The meat is called bacon burger.  It is a mix of ground beef with bacon added to it.  The meat had a super wonderful smokiness to it.  It really tasted like you had bacon on the burger. We bought it and patted the meat into 4 burgers and grilled them to a perfect medium.  Served the meal with baked beans, tater tots, salad and all the fixin's for the burger.  

The burgers were cooked on a grill for 4 minutes per side at 500 degree Fahrenheit.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bratwurst Sausage Pepper Sandwiches

I haven't made this in a while and this made for a simple and easy dinner.

The Bratwurst is made by Niman Ranch.  I picked it up at the local store.

I bought this really cute bag of mixed colored bell peppers (yellow, orange and red) that contained small little peppers (peppers that didn't get big but had gotten their color).  I will never buy a bag like this again unless I decide to make some kind of pickled peppers.  They took forever to slice and remove the seeds.  To the sliced peppers I added a thinly sliced onion.  Place onions and peppers into a preheated skillet with a little bit of butter and olive oil.  Cook onions and peppers until tender.   Remove cooked peppers and then add the bratwurst to the pan and cook until done.

Add pepper mixture and bratwurst to a sub bun.  Serve.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pecan Waffles

This recipe comes from a cookbook that was published in 1959 called the Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking.  The book has some really great recipes in it.

Pecan Waffles
2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1-1/4 cups milk
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans
Sift dry ingredients.  Beat egg yolks.  Add milk and melted shortening.  Beat thoroughly.  Add to dry ingredients.  Combine quickly by using a whisk.  Gently fold in eggs whites, beaten stiff but not dry.  Add chopped pecans.  Bake in a waffle maker for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Serve with a pat of butter and heated maple syrup.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grilled Tuna with Rice and Salad

I apologize for being away for so long.  I have not been home and in my kitchen.  Tonight was the first time in a long time we actually had a chance to sit down at the dining room table and eat dinner, which made it very relaxing.

Marinated Grilled Tuna
The following measurements are approximate
1/4 cup tamari
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Mix all ingredients together and place into a plastic bag.  Add tuna steaks.  Let marinate for about 20 minutes.  Place tuna on a preheated 600 degree Fahrenheit grill.  Grill for 3 minutes per side.  This was a little too long as we like our tuna a little more on the rare side.  The tuna we purchased from which always has the best seafood.

I bought this rice that is called Organic Volcano Rice.  It is made by Lotus Foods.  This particular rice is described as A colorful blend of prized traditional brown and red rice grown on West Java's mineral rich volcanic soil.  I can say one thing about this rice, it was really good.  I cooked the rice per the package instructions.

A side salad was served along with this meal which consisted of lettuce, tomato, carrots, green peppers with oil and vinegar for a salad dressing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Greek Avgolemono Soup

I made this soup tonight for a pot luck dinner. I just doubled the recipe to take tonight. I put the soup in my crock pot and carry it that way, it helps to keep it warm.

Avgolemono Soup
Avgolemono is a Greek word for egg - lemon.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, white parts finely chopped (4 cups) - save the larger green parts of the leek, freeze them to make broth with later
1 small onion, finally chopped (1 cup)
2 small carrots, peeled and diced (3/4 cup)
6 cups homemade chicken broth 
1/2 cup orzo pasta
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Lemon Wedges, for garnish

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leaks, onion, carrots, and pinch of salt; cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are softened, stirring often.  Stir in broth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.  Add orzo and cook 11 minutes more, or until orzo is tender.   Remove from heat.  Whisk together eggs and lemon juice in bowl.  Add 3 ladles soup broth to egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Whisk egg mixture back into soup, and cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until soup is thickened but without letting it come to a boil.  Serve sprinkled with parsley, mint, and oregano, and garnished with lemon wedges.

**Note:  When reheating this soup, warm it over low heat without bringing it to a boil, to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Feel free to decide how finely chopped you want the vegetables.  I have done it many different ways.