bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

I was looking for some kind of crock-pot recipe to take to a potluck.  Since I just cooked a turkey, I wanted something with turkey, but didn't really have anything else in mind.  This recipe came up, not because it's a crock-pot recipe, but because someone had made a note that she made this and threw it in the crock-pot on low until dinner time.  And that's pretty much what I need - something I can make on a Friday and then take on Sabbath and just warm up with the crock-pot.


So, I made it Friday, had some for lunch, and threw the rest in the crock-pot to warm up for the potluck.  Good thing I had some for lunch, because there was none leftover to bring home after the potluck.  The recipe says it's "a healthier twist on a classic creamy turkey and wild rice soup" but since I've never made any kind of creamy turkey and rice soup, I don't really know about that. I do know that it's a simple soup to make with a really good flavor, and with plenty of veggies in it, there's no reason why it wouldn't be healthy.


Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
adapted from Delish

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. uncooked wild rice or wild rice blend (I used a wild rice and brown basmati blend)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms, about 4 ounces
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 c. chopped celery
  • 3/4 c. chopped carrots
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 4 c. turkey broth
  • 2 c. cooked turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
Directions:
  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, pepper, and parsley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in turkey, sour cream, and rice and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.  Taste and season with additional salt & pepper if needed

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, which I did not have, so I substituted dried parsley.  If you use fresh, add it at the end with the turkey, rice, and sour cream.


Time-saving tips:
  • The rice will take 45-50 minutes to cook; cook it early in the day or the day before and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Slice mushrooms and chop the rest of the vegetables; store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli

We've always loved Olive Garden's Paste e Fagioli Soup, and it was a happy day when my friend Peggy found a copycat recipe that tastes almost exactly like Olive Garden's. I have modified it slightly by only using 1/2 lb. ground beef, cutting the pasta way down, and adding a bit more liquid.



Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from Top Secret Recipes

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 12-oz. can V-8 juice (OR 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce and 1 can vegetable broth)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1 cup water (use it to rinse tomato and tomato sauce cans and then add to pot)
  • 1/2 cup ditali pasta
Directions:
  1. Begin browning ground beef in 6-quart pan over medium heat. 
  2. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and continue cooking until beef is browned. Drain fat if necessary.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except pasta; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cook pasta in boiling water over high heat, just until it is al dente.  Drain.
  5. Add pasta to soup pot; simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve

In the past I have used the V8 that the recipe calls for, but V8 is not something that I usually buy or have on hand.   So, this last time I made it I substituted a can of vegetable broth and an additional 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, and it turned out great.  I also didn't have the exact pasta so I used Creamette Rings instead.


I warmed this up several times - yay for leftovers! - and added a bit of water each time, just to keep the consistency right.  Some soups I love as they get thicker and thicker each time they're reheated, but I'd rather not let this one thicken up too much.  This is also a good reason not to use too much pasta.  The original recipe called for 8 oz. of pasta, and that is fine the first day, but as the soup sits the pasta soaks up the liquid, and pretty soon you have something more like goulash.

If you like the Paste e Fagioli Soup from Olive Garden, you'll definitely want to give this recipe a try.  So yummy!  Sprinkle with some Parmesan, serve with some crusty bread, and enjoy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tuna & Broccoli Pie

I was looking for some kind of tuna rice casserole recipe when I ran across this Broccoli and Tuna Rice Pie, and it looked so good I just had to try it.  It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it reminded me of the eggs my dad always made when I was growing up.  His didn't include rice or broccoli, just eggs, tuna, and cheese baked in a cast iron skillet.  So good!  (Why don't I make that once in a while?)

Anyway, we had this the other night for dinner, and it was really good.  The leftovers tonight were even better!


Tuna & Broccoli Pie

Ingredients:
  •  1 to 2 T butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 T dried chives
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 8 oz. broccoli florets (if frozen, run under water to thaw)
  • 1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Melt 1 T butter over medium heat.  Add onion and saute with basil and chives until onion is translucent.  Add more butter if needed as onion is cooking.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in rice, tuna, and broccoli; add cheese.  Spoon mixture into greased deep dish pie pan.
  4. Whisk together eggs and milk; season with salt and pepper.  Pour over rice mixture. Shake dish to settle eggs and remove any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. If necessary, cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much.   Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes; Cut into wedges and serve.
Serves 4

I baked this in my cast iron skillet, because I used it to saute the onion and I figured it could go in the oven, so why dirty another dish.  And because my dad always baked his eggs in a skillet.  BUT, I won't be doing that again.  The cleanup was harder than I expected.  Maybe my skillet just isn't seasoned properly... but usually I can just scrub it out with a bit of salt and this time I had to do some soaking and a lot more scrubbing.  So, next time I'm using a pie pan.


Since there are only two of us, we ate half of this for dinner one night and then I heated it up again for dinner tonight.  For the leftovers, I heated it at 350° for 15 minutes covered and then I removed the cover and heated for an additional 15 minutes.  And then I added just a touch more cheese to the top and left it in the oven just long enough to melt it.  I'm not sure what the reheating did, but this was even better the second time.  The bottom and edges of the already cut wedges crisped up a bit, and the flavors had blended better.  We really enjoyed it.  Oh, and a little hot sauce on top is good, too.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Pasta Skillet

I had half a butternut squash and a bunch of spinach that really needed used before we went away for several days in December.  I really don't like throwing away food that I spent good money on, and, while the butternut would be fine, I didn't think the spinach would be any good by the time we got back.  So, I went searching for a recipe to use it and found this one.


We loved it!  My husband says we should have this on a regular basis, and my son liked it so much he wanted the recipe so he could make it for himself.  I'd say that's a success.  Even better, it's really simple and all cooks together in one skillet.

Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Pasta Skillet
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound chicken or turkey sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, combine the onion, garlic, sausage, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces, and cooking until the sausage is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Scrape the mixture onto a plate and return the skillet back to the heat.
  2. Add the broth and pasta to the skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the squash and simmer 8-10 minutes longer, or until the squash and pasta are both tender. As the squash breaks down, it will help bring a creaminess to the sauce and pasta. If the mixture begins to seem too dry, you can add more liquid as needed.
  3. Stir in the spinach and sage and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Add the sausage mixture back to the skillet and stir in the Mozzarella cheese.  Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Remove skillet from heat, cover and let the pasta sit for 5-10 minutes. Give it a good stir and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

So good! I adjusted the recipe slightly since I didn't have as much butternut as the original recipe called for. (I used the other half of the squash in this yummy Butternut and Potato Bake)  I just used a bit less sausage, broth, and pasta, but I used my whole bunch of spinach.  I used 3 homemade sausage patties which were actually part beef and part chicken and already cooked.  I just thawed them, cut them up and browned them with the onion and garlic. I didn't really weigh them to see how much sausage I was actually using, but the balance was pretty good.  I think you can use anywhere between 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. depending on your preference and what you have on hand.


Be sure to dice the butternut small so that it cooks quickly, in the time it takes the pasta to cook.  You want it to get nice and soft, and then it thickens the sauce nicely.  I did not think this needed any additional salt and pepper at the end, but that may depend on the sausage and/or broth you use, so just taste and judge for yourself.  I did put a little fresh ground pepper on mine along with some Parmesan, and that was perfect.

Now I need to buy some more butternut squash and spinach!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easy Balsamic Salmon

I usually cook salmon the same way - seasoned with Rosemary Garlic Seasoning and baked in a hot cast iron skillet with a little olive oil.  It's really good that way, but when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be nice to try something different.


Easy Balsamic Salmon
from Eating Bird Food

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 T olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 2 wild caught salmon fillets (about 3-4 oz each)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 T honey
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Add salmon to skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, whisk together honey, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add vinegar mixture to skillet and simmer until fish is fork-tender and liquid reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes. For a thicker, reduced sauce, simmer for 5 to 10 additional minutes. Just make sure you don't overcook the salmon.

This is really simple to make and a delicious change.  The flavors are really good, and I will definitely be making this again!  I may cut the red pepper flakes down a bit - I already cut them down from 1 tsp. to 1/2 because, even though I like spicy food, my husband really doesn't, and this still had a bit of a kick to it. I liked it, but it may have been a bit much for him.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Make Ahead Bread

I received a free digital copy of the new cookbook Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie through NetGalley.


I have been baking bread for as long as I can remember, but I never get tired of looking at and trying new recipes, which is why I was happy to take a look at this book.  Just flipping through it and looking at the gorgeous pictures makes me want to try every single one of the recipes.

The book begins with a chapter on the basics of bread-making, including ingredients and equipment.  Even though I've been baking bread for ages, I learned a thing or two.

I love the premise of the book - breaking up the process of baking bread  into multiple parts, meaning that the bulk of the actual work - the mixing, kneading and forming - can be done whenever the baker has time.  It means that, no matter how busy your schedule may be, you can still make and enjoy homemade bread.  Mixing, kneading, and the first rise are done on the first day - Prep Day.  Then the magical step in the process is refrigeration - the dough is kept in the refrigerator for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, or longer - which improves both the flavor and the texture of the bread.  As well as allowing the baker to bake the bread on his or her own schedule.  Baking Day is usually pretty simple - remove the bread from the refrigerator and bake it.  And then enjoy, of course!

I bake sourdough most of the time anymore, which requires a longer rise time than breads made with active dry yeast, so I know that extra time does something special to the bread.  The author does include a few sourdough recipes and a very thorough explanation of starting your own sourdough starter.  There are also a few gluten free recipes included.

Once I started paging through the book, I could hardly make myself stop.  Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:
  • Page 30 - Fresh Corn and Cheddar Loaf
  • Page 32 - Sauerkraut Rye
  • Page 38 - Stuffing Bread with Dried Cranberries - because cranberries are definitely my thing.
  • Page 80 - Cheesy Breadstick Twists
  • Page 94 - Sourdough English Muffins
  • Page 99 - Oatmeal and Orange Buns with Toasted Coconut
I'm sure I will be making some variation of several of these!

I also enjoyed all the pictures throughout this book.  While I can picture a lot of recipes just by reading through them, having gorgeous full-color pictures in a cookbook definitely take it to the next level.  I do wish there was a picture for every recipe and that the pictures were better labeled, (sometimes the picture is on the page before the recipe; sometimes on the page after) but it wasn't too hard to figure out which picture was for which recipe. 

It also would have been nice to see the book start with the most basic loaf - something for people who have never really baked bread to ease into it with - and for the recipes to be somehow labeled for difficulty, so those same people could easily pick some simpler recipes.  I don't think any of the recipes look terribly hard, and Currie does a good job of breaking them into manageable pieces and sharing handy information and tips for success, but I would hate for someone to be turned off of bread making because the recipe that was a bit harder than they were ready for.  For those of us who have been baking bread for a while or those who would bake bread if only they had the time, this book is an excellent resource.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pink Grapefruit Margarita

I found this recipe on Pinterest - whatever did we do before Pinterest?  I have made it multiple times.  This may be my favorite drink of all time.  Or at least for now, or when I'm not drinking a Hot Toddy with Jack Daniels.  Those are pretty good, too.
 


Anyway, back to the Grapefruit Margarita. It's perfectly sour and delightfully tasty, and has to be good for me since it's mostly fresh juice, right?  (I just don't drink it at breakfast time)

Pink Grapefruit Margarita
from Cookin' Canuck

Ingredients:
  • 1 Pink Grapefruit
  • 1 Lime
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 2 oz. Tequila (I used Jose Gold)
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1 T Simple Syrup
  • Ice
Directions:
  1. Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit and half of the lime.
  2. Cut a wedge from the other lime half and rub the rim of a glass.  Put a small amount of Himalayan salt on a dish and dip the glass in it to coat the rim with salt.
  3. Place juice, tequila, triple sec, simple syrup, and ice in blender and blend until desired consistency.  Pour into prepared glass, garnish with lime wedge, and enjoy.
Makes 1 margarita

I like my margaritas frozen, but you could also just stir everything together or shake it in a cocktail shaker and serve over ice.  If you don't have Himalayan Salt, you can use regular sea salt or margarita salt.  I've also seen people put sugar on their grapefruit, so I bet a sugared rim would be good with this, too.  I'm kinda partial to the salt - it might be my favorite part of any margarita, or maybe it just goes so perfectly with the tequila - so if you do try this with the sugar, please let me know how it turned out.

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