Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carrot Ginger Soup

A couple weeks ago my parents went to spend a week with my grandparents in Arizona.  They hadn't had a vacation by themselves like that for a long time and they had a nice time visiting and taking time off their regular lives.  When they got back I was saying at family dinner that I had about 4-5 bags of carrots in my fridge which we'd accumulated over a couple of weeks from our Bountiful Basket pick up each week. (The basket is different each week but for those two weeks I happened to get about 3 bags of carrots each.)  Dad said to me that Grandma had made a carrot ginger soup recipe while they were visiting and he said it was fantastic.  Grandma served it cold to them one night and Dad said he doesn't usually like cold soups but he really liked this one.   Of course that night, I sent an email to Grandma to get the recipe so I could try something new and use up all of the carrots I had waiting in the fridge.

She sent it to me a couple days later and a few days ago I got the rest of the ingredients I needed and here we are, I made it tonight.  I doubled it, as I thought it might be good for dinner tonight as well as cold tomorrow for lunch possibly. It used 2 bags of carrots, and it was pretty delicious. I hope you like it as much as my family did.  It's a very pretty color and the ginger gives it a nice punch.

Carrot Ginger Soup

3 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
8 carrots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish, optional

In a large pot, heat olive oil, and add onion and ginger, and saute til onions are tender.  Add vegetable or chicken stock and carrots, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add salt and pepper. Blend in your blender, or with your immersion blender, or in a food processor.  Serve warm, or chill and serve later with sour cream and cilantro.

**This recipe comes from ChowLocally.com originally**

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blueberry Pie

Okay so I've made pie and posted it on here before, but apparently not blueberry pie. It's very similar to other fruit pies I've done, with just a few tweaks to accentuate the blueberry flavor (as opposed to apple pie with cinnamon, or peach pie with almond flavoring, this one has lemon juice and some white sugar).

I like to use sweet fruit to start with so I don't have to add a lot of sugar, and that way I just add some cornstarch, flour, or tapioca to thicken the fruit juices.  This one is a favorite of my husband, and I enjoy it too.  It's a great fresh summery flavor, and perfect for when blueberries are cheap and in season.

Blueberry Pie

1 recipe 9" basic double crust pie crust (follow link for recipe and tutorial)
5 c blueberries, rinsed and picked over (get rid of the squished ones, make sure there aren't stray stems or flowers on your berries)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp quick tapioca or cornstarch (or flour, if you don't have the other two...the benefit of cornstarch or tapioca is that they are flavorless)
1/3 c sugar (or other sweetener equivalent)
1/8 tsp salt

Follow the tutorial in the link above to make your crust and then put it in the fridge (or freezer if you are short on time like I was tonight).  You'll want it cold when you roll it out, makes it easier to handle. If you put it in the fridge it will take about an hour or two to chill, if the freezer, about 20 minutes.

Combine blueberries, lemon juice, sugar or sweetener, cornstarch or tapioca, and salt in a medium bowl and stir well. Set aside for 15 minutes.  Set your oven to 425 degrees.

By the time your oven is set, your berries should be ready and it's time to roll out the dough.  The easiest way I've found to do this is to flour a pastry mat or board well, and then place the dough on top, and then dust the top of the disc of dough with a bit more flour, then cover with plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap just keeps your rolling pin from sticking to the dough, and makes it easier to peel your dough off the mat so you can place it in your pie pan.  Roll your dough out into a circle about 9" in diameter, and then place the first crust in the bottom of your pan.  Make sure you press it down a bit so it gets into the edges of the pan.  Fill the bottom crust with your berries, and then repeat the process with the top crust.  You'll want to take the top and bottom crusts and tuck them under around the edges of the pan and crimp the edges to seal everything in, and then cut some slits in the top crust for venting (if you want to be cute about it, you can use a cookie cutter or cut a design.  I'm never fussy about that.)

Bake for 30 minutes at 425, and then reduce temp to 350 and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes. The first half is to bake the crust, and the second to cook the filling.   Let cool for about 20 minutes at least before serving.  

This one is good at room temp too, but I love it warm with some vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rainbow Chard Pasta

Lately my husband and I have been ordering Bountiful Baskets every week to make sure we always have a steady supply of produce and we aren't paying an arm and a leg for it.   If you haven't done it before, it's really a great option to save some money and make sure you are getting your fruits and veggies.  $15 for about 30 lbs of produce.  It's half veggies and half fruit, and always good stuff.  They try to get stuff as local as possible, so you know it's not been sitting in a truck forever.

One of the things about Bountiful Baskets is that it's always different.  Every week you go pick it up and you never know what is going to be inside. Sometimes you get stuff you've never seen before, and sometimes it's stuff you've used your whole life.  I like the adventure it brings because it forces me to try new recipes and eat new things. This time we got some Rainbow Swiss Chard, and it was one of those things I have rarely, if ever, used. I didn't really know what I was going to do with it, even though I know there are lots of options, and I was kind of pondering things before I decided to cook with it.

Yesterday Bountiful Baskets had a post on Facebook asking people to share what they made for dinner last night. I happened to find a comment from someone saying that they sauteed it and pureed it and made a pasta sauce with it.  I thought..."hmm...that sounds like an interesting idea I could try out that I could probably get my husband to try out...." and here we are! I promise it turned out really delicious and you will be surprised at how much you'll like it.  Even my 12 month old ate it up.  It was tasty.

Rainbow Chard Pasta (with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes)

2 bunches rainbow or red swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic, or 2 cloves chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 c water

1 can evaporated milk
1 can chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 c parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

2 chicken breasts
1 clam shell grape tomatoes
1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat penne, but you can use any short cut pasta you like.  I don't recommend spaghetti though)

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add onions and garlic.  Saute til they become tender, and then add chopped chard. Continue to saute until it becomes soft and tender and the chard reduces by half its size.  Add salt and pepper, and stir again.  Dump entire contents into your blender. Add the water, and blend until mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

Turn the broiler on in your oven.  Season chicken with granulated garlic and salt and pepper, and broil for 35-40 minutes.   While this is going, bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta.

In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and the butter until butter melts, and then add flour.  Whisk until combined and cook for about a minute.  Whisk in chicken broth and then evaporated milk and simmer for 5 minutes, and then add garlic, and poultry seasoning.  Let this simmer for a few minutes and then add the cheese and stir in until completely incorporated into the sauce.  Add the chard puree to the sauce, and stir until completely incorporated.

**this sauce makes a lot, so you may want to use the other half for a different recipe.  I plan to use the second half for something for dinner tomorrow.**

Cook pasta according to pkg directions in the boiling water, and then drain.  Place in a large serving bowl and add grape tomatoes and sauce while still hot.   Cut broiled chicken into bite sized strips and toss with pasta and sauce and tomatoes.  Serve hot with more parmesan cheese on top.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Buttermilk Pancakes

The last few days have been tough around our house because our little guy has been cutting 3 teeth at once.  Today the husband came home to a cranky baby, an unshowered wife, and a messy house.   He immediately took over by putting the baby in the chair to eat, letting me shower, and doing dishes.  He also decided tonight was a good night for pancakes... being that a) we needed to use up some buttermilk we had in the fridge, and b) we needed something simple and fast.

So I went on a hunt for a recipe (being that I usually cheat and use Bisquick (though I sometimes doctor it) for pancakes/waffles/biscuits/shortcake/etc). I found one on AllRecipes, which is a great resource for loads of different ingredients and ideas.  I love that you can do an ingredient search there and find all kinds of different recipes.

This recipe turned out very well, but made a BOATLOAD of pancakes.  So unless you have a family of 6 or 8 people, I would half it.  I think this single batch made about 16 pancakes.  They were, however, very delicious and I think they will be good leftover by reheating them in the toaster oven.

Buttermilk Pancakes

3 c all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (I left this out, they turned out fine without it)
3 tsp baking powder (very important...makes them fluffy)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 c buttermilk
1/2 c milk
3 eggs
1/3 c melted butter (I bet vegetable oil would work fine, I didn't mess with it this time but after eating them I don't think it would make a big difference and will probably swap it next time)
Optional: blueberries or strawberries or other fruits you like in your pancakes

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt).  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together milk, buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs.

Heat a large electric griddle (or cast iron one/or skillet on the stove), to roughly 300 degrees.  Should be hot enough that a drop of water will skip on the top of the pan.

When griddle is good and hot, combine wet ingredients with the dry, and mix until blended (will be slightly lumpy, that's okay).  Grease the skillet or griddle and using a ladle or measuring cup pour batter onto griddle in 1/2 c amount.  (If you decided to add fruit, put it in each pancake after pouring onto griddle)

When bubbles around the edges stop filling up and bubbling again (creating little holes or craters around the edges), flip over and cook the other side.

Serve hot with your favorite pancake toppings. My husband likes peanut butter and sugar free syrup, I enjoy syrup and sometimes butter, or fruit, or sometimes thinned down jam. Whatever you like.  Enjoy!