Yum Peaceful Cooking: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tuscan Bean and Tomato Soup

The other day when I made my Reuben Style Roll, I told you I'd share with you all, what I served with it...and here it is!

An Irish soup....full of flavor and nutrients and lots of goodness. And....it's vegetarian.

I found this recipe in the Food Section of the L.A. Times: Bewley's Tuscan bean and tomato soup. It's kinda cool...there's a section called 'Culinary SOS' where readers write in looking for a specific recipe. For this soup, a couple had gone to Ireland and loved the soup that was served at a place called Bewley's. They wrote to the Times looking for the recipe and this was the result. How fun is that?!

Now...the only thing I'd do differently next time is to cook the last of the veggies and the beans a bit longer. I like mine more tender (a lot more tender) and the recipe didn't have them cook long enough to achieve that...at least not on my stove. Of course, I suggest that you test it....taste it....analyze it...and when the texture is to your liking....then it's done.

One last note....I cut this recipe in half!! It makes a ton...feeds 10 - 16 people. And well, I didn't want to make that much. Especially since I didn't know that it would taste so good...and with only 4 of us...(and one Sir Sportsalot not being a big soup fan)...half was plenty. I am going to post the full recipe though. Do with it what you want.

Tuscan Bean and Tomato Soup
Printable Version

1/4 cup butter
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1 leek, diced
3 onions, diced and divided
8 stalks of celery, diced and divided
1 28oz can of tomatoes
1 lb plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon brown sugar or more to taste
1 TB dried oregano
1 TB dried basil
2 quarts vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 carrots, diced
2 bulbs fennel, diced
2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained


In a large, heavy bottom pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the potatoes, leek and all but 2 cups each of the onion and celery. Cook until just tender and the onion begin to color, stirring often. This should take about 15 minutes or less.

Stir in both the canned and plum tomatoes along with the brown sugar....crushing the tomatoes as best you can.

Add in the oregano, basil and vegetable broth, scraping up any bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan loosely....and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the veggies are very tender and the soup begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and with an immersion blender, puree the contents. If you don't have an immersion blender, use your regular blender, in smallish batches....being careful not to over fill the blender which would allow it to "explode" from the heat (not a good thing). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the remaining onions and celery along with the carrots and fennel. Simmer gently until the veggies are nice and tender (to your liking). About 20 - 30 minutes...more if you desire of course.

Add the beans and continue cooking until heated through. If you want the beans to be softer....by all means, simmer some more.

Adjust seasoning to your liking (salt, pepper, brown sugar....whatever).

And there you have a fabulous, hearty, tasty Irish soup.

This is my submission to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop this week


I hope you take a moment to hop around and see what everyone else made  :)  I'm sure you'll find something that touches your soul and warms your hearth.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reuben Style Roll

I've had more than my fair share of bad food days lately. Homemade pasta (sore arms and all) that ended up in the trash, stir fried beef and broccoli that tasted bitter (most've burned something), and a really weird chocolate cake thing that I had to bake for a photography contest that's just...I dunno...I'm afraid to taste it. All this has been extremely frustrating to say the least.

Thank God this one was worth eating. Actually, more than that....according to my daughter's friend...it was bomb. (not a bomb....but the bomb!)

The last assignment from HBin5 was to make Whole Grain Rye Bread.

Not only did I add the caraway seed as instructed, but I did add some dill and parsley. YUM!!! It's a fantastic dough which makes a fabulous loaf

Of course I had enough dough to make more loaves. And what did I do? I made a Reuben Style Roll!

Talk about delicious! And I'm not a sauerkraut fan at all. But I found a way to ease that issue. I took an onion, sliced it and sauteed it in some oil. I took a bag of sauerkraut and rinsed it really well under cold water and then added it to the onion along with a teaspoon of paprika, some pepper and a tablespoon of sugar....continued sauteing for 20 minutes.

HUGE difference...and way awesome

Now...I had some hesitations about using Thousand Island dressing in this recipe. Don't get me wrong...I really like Thousand Island. Before Ranch came around (yes, there was a time in my lifetime when Ranch Dressing had not yet been invented or well known), Thousand Island was my dressing of choice. Anyways....the idea of baking the dressing kinda grossed me out a little. But...a sandwich without a condiment just aint right. And now for my other food issue...I'm not a mustard fan. There are only 2 things that I will eat mustard on....corn dogs and pastrami sandwiches. But, believe it or not, I really like honey mustard.

And that's what I used....2 parts mustard to 1 part honey

Good stuff. 

Now that all my issues were under control....the fun began. I took a wad (about 1 pound) of my rye dough and rolled it into a rectangular shape. I spread the mustard over it, leaving about 1 inch along the edge "clean". I put a layer of thinly sliced corned beef, topped with Baby Swiss Cheese

Last but not least....the sauerkraut

Don't try and pile on the goods too much. It's a little tricky to roll up and as you go, the goods move ahead and you end up with more on the end than you began. And besides....it gets heavy. And then you need tools (ie: spatula) to help you safely place the roll in the bread pan.

Sooo, yes you roll it up like a log, starting on one of the short ends. You pinch the seam and the ends (folding the ends under) and you gently place it in a bread pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover it and let it rise for 90 minutes (hey...they say food is safe for 2 hours, right? and remember all those years we packed a lunch without ice packs? Oooh...am I aging myself again? Anyways....90 minutes is cool)

Bake in a 350' F oven for about 50 - 60 minutes.

Aaaaaaaaaan Voila!!

Ya...it cracked along the edge...and it sagged like an old nag. But what actually happened was that my log was longer than the bread pan....and the ends got squished and well...this was the result. Let's just say it has personality

And great taste!

Hot meat, melty cheese....sweet and sour sauerkraut with every inch of it surrounded with fresh homemade Rye Bread!

My next post? I'll show you what I served this with. (I'll give you a hint....I made it in a big old pot).

Btw...in case you're wondering....I don't have the bread recipe on here because when I 'signed up' to be part of the HBin5 group, I agreed not to publish the recipes because we are baking our way through the entire book and it really would not be cool to basically re-publish it all here. But, if you have the book, the dough recipe can be found on page 113. Now I did make a small change, which is typical for me...I always use white whole wheat for its more mild flavor. I also half the amount of whole wheat flour that's called for and increase the all purpose flour by that amount. It cuts down on the whole earthiness...which isn't really my thing.

I'm really excited about the next assignment Michelle over at BigBlackDogs.net (Michelle is the one who has organized and runs the whole HBin5 show) has us doing....Pumpernickle!! How fun will THAT be?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Garlic Pepper Chicken

If you love garlic, raise your hand
If you love heat, raise your hand
If you love quick, raise your hand
If you love easy, raise your hand

I'd imagine just about everyone's hands are raised for one reason or another.

Was it the garlic? Because this recipe has a crud load of garlic in it. And it's one of the few times I purposely use powdered garlic.

Was it the heat? Or did the heat scare you? There's 3 different kinds of pepper on that chicken. If the heat is too much, by all mean, reduce the peppers. I'd start by reducing the cayenne. If you like it hotter, than I'm sure you know better than I do, what to do. Now, this is spicy....but it doesn't make you sweat or cough or make your nose run or anything....it's just......good.

And I know everyone loves quick and easy! You'll spend more time slicing the chicken than anything else. Oh speaking of....

Helpful Hint: Chicken is much easier to slice when it's partially frozen

I came up with this recipe years and years ago. The girls are sick of it....I can't get enough of it. Sir Sportsalot just cleans his plate and keeps his mouth shut. Oh wait...that's probably cuz he's watching the Lakers or something. Anyways, I did post this recipe back in the beginning when I first started blogging. I think I had 2 comments (one being me LOL). But I think it's worth reposting. I hope you do too

Garlic Pepper Chicken
Printable Version

1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 - chicken boneless skinless breast halves, or 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs thinly sliced (about the size of your little finger)
1 or 2 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup chicken broth

I prefer to use chicken thighs for this recipe. Only because the meat is more tender. If you're a white meat kind of person....then by all means, do the breast. Which ever cut you choose, cut it up into thin strips. This will be the most difficult part of the recipe. Yes....its THAT easy!

Mix your seasonings together

Pour the seasonings over your sliced chicken and stir to combine

Now, I use a cast iron skillet. I don't even own a non-stick skillet. I always mess em up with scratches and everything....so I stick with the sturdy. Plus....it browns the meat so nicely. Whatever large skittle you have....heat it up the oil and melt the butter cuz the meats going in. You want it on a pretty high heat...about medium - high so you can get a good sear on them. Let em brown then flip em and let em brown some more

Once that's done, pour in the chicken broth. Scrape the crunchies off the bottom then bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until the broth has reduced by half.

And then....POOF! You. Are. Done. Dinner is ready.

Serve with your favorite rice. Place a nice scoop of chicken on top of the rice and spoon lots of that broth over the top....which is now full of all those lovely, spicy flavors. And my favorite part? Is when the rise absorbs the broth...that's a guarantee for yumminess in every bite.

 If you want to time this all out real  nicely....start cooking your rice before you even think about slicing up that chicken. And while the sauce is reducing....throw together a little green salad.

Btw...I'm still begging for votes for my Pom-Berry Kiss Cupcake recipe that I entered in the PomWonderful contest. At the top of this page...on the right side, you'll see a cupcake badge....just click on that...then select "Vote". You're allowed to vote multiple times....once every 24 hours or so. It'll only take a moment and you don't have to sign up for anything.

Thank you <3

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buttermilk Bread

Things are not always as they seem.

Don't judge a book by it's cover.

Not just another pretty face....

Yes, these are some of the cliche's that come to mind when I see this particular loaf of bread.

Not everything comes out the way you plan. Sometimes things beyond your imagination occur. I like to think of them as food bloopers. Some are disastrous. Not even edible (those are the worst).

Some are just ugly. But the flavor isn't affected. That happens to be the case with this loaf of bread.

Yes, I know. Other than the instant read thermometer hole, this appears to be a lovely loaf of bread. But I guarantee that if it were in the window of a bakery. It would not sell. Based on looks alone. But first...let me give you the recipe. Tell you how it's made. And hopefully when you make it yourself, you're results will be a whole heck of a lot prettier than mine.

Buttermilk Bread
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Printable Version

6 1/2 cups a.p. flour
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk

In a large container, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Do not knead.

Did I mention that this is a no-knead bread?

Cover the container loosely, and allow to rest on the counter for about 2 hours. If you go over 2 hours...don't worry. It's not going to ruin anything.

Place in the fridge for a bit. Over night would be good. Up to 7 days is fine. The dough is easier to handle once it's been chilled.

Lightly dust the top of the dough and grab a big handful, about 1 pound, and shape it into a nice tight ball by rotating the dough in your hands and 'pulling' the dough down and under. This should only take a few seconds.

Dust a pizza peel with corn meal or flour, or use a sheet of parchment paper and set the ball of dough on it and let it rise, covered loosely with a piece of plastic wrap.

The rise time is dependent upon the temperature of the surroundings. The book says 1 hour and 40 minutes. But if it's a bit on the cool side in your kitchen, it may take a bit longer. What I try to do is test the dough. I poke it with two fingers. If it springs back instantly...I know it's not done resting. The yeast hasn't completed its job. If the indent stays and bounces back very slowly....it's a good guess that it's ready to bake.

After about an hour or so of rising time....preheat the oven to 350' F for about 30 minutes if you're using a baking stone. If you're going to bake the bread on a cookie sheet (with the parchment paper), it only needs to preheat for about 10 minutes.

Once the dough is done rising, dust the surface with a bit of flour and slice it about 1/4 deep a couple of times. Bake for 45 minutes or until the inside temperature reads about 205' F (that's where the instant read thermometer comes in handy). If you're using parchment paper, remove the paper after about 15 - 20 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.

I knoooooow. It smells so good! You just want a nice warm slice with melting butter on it. But trust me. YOU HAVE TO WAIT!!

Why? (I could soooo be mom right now and just say "because I said so") The reason is....the needs to cool so that it won't be (for lack of a better word) doughy inside. You want a nice dry crumb, right?

Ok...so I did all this. As usual. But I might not have allowed my dough to fully rise. I'm not sure. Maybe there was a time issue on my part and I got impatient (bad girl). But let me know how it went....

It looks beautiful from this view, don't you think?

Then you rotate the bread 45' and you see this.....

What???? Good lord....

So you turn it around another 45' to get a full view of what's going on.....(if you are not into horror of any sort, you may want to close your eyes)

OMG!! It's giving BIRTH!!!! To a whooole nother loaf of bread!!!

WHAT have I created? I feel like Dr. Frankenstein! "It's ALIVE!!!"

But being the true foodie that I am....I had to slice it. Taste it....get an grasp the full experience of this...this....creature...

And it was GOOD! Even though the exterior was not for the faint of heart....the essence spoke for itself. A delicious loaf of homemade bread totally worth eating.

And now....If I may....I have a favor to ask for you. Now that I've bared my soul and (near failure)...If you could take a moment of your time and vote.

I have entered the Pom Wonderful Cupcake Contest with a delightful little cupcake that I've named Pom-Berry Kiss that looks like this...

It's a Pomegranate Raspberry cupcake with a milk chocolate flavored icing. Talk about moist! You can also find the recipe when you vote :). (please disregard the christmas cupcake liner...it was all I had and time was of the essence with no time to run to the store just for liners).

There's a badge at the top of my blog that will also lead you to the voting area.

Thank you!!!
  This is my entry for the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tandori Spiced Chicken

Take a look at that chicken! Full of flavor and it's healthy and light and way good for you.

About a week or so ago for some reason that was totally not my norm, I bought a healthy cookbook. The driving factor in the background of my mind was the awareness of a need. To reduce. On so many levels. We'll leave it at that. But...the book I bought was Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. I've never joined Weight Watchers in my life. Not sure if I ever will. To be honest...I've never been on a diet in my entire life. Once upon a time, there was no need to even think about it. But I'm not sure, even though it's needed at this point in my life, that I "believe" in diets. What I am is a firm believer in eating habits. And I think mine need to be adjusted.

So....with that said....here I sit with this new cookbook. This is the second recipe I've made from it and have been please with them both. The first one I made was very tasty but did not product a pretty picture. Maybe someday I'll share it with you and make you suffer through the photo. It was called Chicken Mushroom Hash Casserole.

This chicken was packed with flavor, only using a few ingredients and was tender and juicy. Weight Watchers has it listed as a 8 in the Points Plus Value area with 298 calories, grams of fat and 369 mg of sodium, just to name a few nutritional facts. In case you're interested.

Tandori Spiced Chicken 
4 servings

Printable Version

1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt (I have found that Greek yogurt has the best flavor)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cooked basmati rice (hot)

I just love the rich colors from the spices used! Don't they just scream exotic flavors?

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, paprika, turmeric, curry and cinnamon. Place in a large zip lock baggy along with the chicken.

This marinade is so thick you can't even see the chicken through the baggy!

Refrigerate, turning the bag occasionally for about 4 hours, minimum. If you can do it over night, that would be even better.

Preheat the oven to 450' F. Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan, on a rack that has been spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

 Now that is one thick marinade!!

Bake for about 25 minutes or until done.

Server over 1/2 cup of rice

A while back, about a year or more...I use to post Salubrious Sunday meals. My oldest daughter has requested that I go back to making healthy meals on Sundays. I'm considering it. If any of you would like to join me, maybe I'll include a linky thingy. Of course it wouldn't have to be a meal that was cooked on Sunday...I'd just post it on Sunday. What do you all think? Anyone else wanna play?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shrooms and Weed

I fed it to my children. As well as the children of others. Without guilt. Or fear. Any trepidations were from the unknown of whether it would taste good or turn out right. As is with most if not all new recipes.

As it turns out, shrooms and weed is a very pleasant combination. I shall make a point of thanking my suppliers....Ralph and Kirk. In some circles, they're known as Kroger and Costco. 

Yes...I'm talking about mushrooms and dill weed. What else would it be? 

(Disclaimer: I would like to take a moment to stress that I am in NO way shape or form, recommending or endorsing the use of narcotics or anything that is illegal or dangerous to the health of others)

I'm going to share the recipe for the meatballs. Not only were they very basic, but they were extremely tasty....much to my surprise and delight. I'll also share the recipe for the mushroom sauce. Although in my opinion....as much as I like mushrooms, I think there were too many.

The pasta....I won't share the recipe. I didn't like the dough at all. It was really crumbly and horrible to work with. But if you're curious, you can find the recipe here ----> Fresh Dill Noodles.

I really had to work the dough, more so than I have had to with other recipes. Although the results eventually were passable as pasta...

I didn't like the texture from the all purpose flour. You see....I was watching Melting Pot on The Cooking Channel that morning and was loving the idea of the dill. I decided to make the whole meal. But I was hesitant on using the all purpose flour for the pasta. Later that same day, I saw Giada making pasta and she too used all purpose flour. So I figured, 'what the hell! It must work'....and went with it.

Not a good idea. It was...for lack of a better word....mooshy? Without being soggy. Doughy? Looking...but not too doughy texture wise. If the noodles were thicker, I imagine they would be really weird. All in all....it was just not the same.

I will tell you that whatever pasta recipe you do like to work with, give yourself a treat and add about 4 tablespoons of chopped, fresh dill for every 2 cups of flour (semolina is what I recommend). The flavor is nice and mild and I think it enhances the dish without even the slightest hint of overpowering.

The meatballs and mushroom sauce is called Hungarian Style Swedish Meatballs

So, lets talk about these shrooms. I found this wonderful tub of mixed gourmet dried mushrooms at Costco...

Oh how much fun I'm going to have with this bunch of shrooms!! There are so many kinds in there...Porcini, Morels, Brazilian, Ivory Portabellas, Shitake and Oyster! And it all cost about $10.00! BINGO!!

Now, lets see what we can do with these babies.

Hungarian Style Swedish Meatballs

1 oz dried mushrooms (recipe says porcini....I used my new found gourmet mix)
3 cups beef broth
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
4 slices white bread (thin cut), cut into 1/4" cubes
Salt and Pepper
12 oz crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream (diet conscious peeps, use milk)
1 tablespoon paprika (Hungarian paprika if you have it)
1 cup sour cream (once again, diet conscious peeps, use plain yogurt)

Simmer the dried mushrooms in the beef broth for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

While that is going on, start on your meatballs. Combine the ground beef, onion, bread cubes, and salt and pepper to taste

Get your hands in there and mix it all up. Form into 1" balls (don't over work the meat. You don't want dense balls). Brown them in a large skillet. You will have to work in batches. Try not to overcrowd them....you want them browned, not tan from steaming.

No mater how hard I try....and how round they are when they hit the pan....they always flatten in some way. I usually end up with a 3 dimensional triangle. Go figure.

Set them aside while we start on the sauce and the shrooms.

(Somewhere along the line here, you're going to want to boil what ever pasta you're going serve this all on. Now might be a good time to get that started)

Drain and rinse the soaked mushrooms, reserving the beef broth.

Squeeze out any excess liquid, then dice em up. And set them aside along with the broth.

Toss the fresh crimi mushrooms in flour. If they're large....cut them in half or into quarters first. Saute them in the same pan you cooked the meatball in.

Here's a peak at my work station as I'm gearing up for the final steps....

I've got it all there....meatballs, sour cream, paprika, chopped dried mushrooms, cream, the broth is in that black sauce pan. Oh yes...and I have two very important items on hand.....Can you guess what they are?

Ok, let's get this dish completed....

Add the soaked, chopped gourmet mushrooms along with the reserved beef broth and the cream. Cook for about 3 minutes or so.

Just before serving, add the paprika and sour cream and serve over pasta and meatballs.  Garnish with more sour cream if desired. I didn't think of this until just now...but I bet a nice little sprinkle of chopped dill would be rather pleasant as well.

And there you have it. When I make this again, I will no doubt reduce the amount of mushrooms. And I will slice the crimini mushrooms instead of leaving them so big. In my opinion, they competed with the meatballs.

It was a fun and easy recipe to make. The flavors are simple yet rich. All in all, I'd say this was a satisfying meal. With a little adjustment here and there....it's going to a winner in my house.