Thursday, June 18, 2009

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I'm not big on surprises. I like things planned. Surprises make me feel out of control. People coming by with only a little notice drives me crazy. I want my house in order and food planned. Don't call me and tell me you're coming by at a meal time with only a couple of hours notice. I want to be able to plan a wonderful meal for you. Let me know the day before and you will get gastronomical delights. Let me know a couple of hours before and you're likely to get a PB&J sandwich.

But there are some surprises I do like. The other day I thought I was only going to have my grandbaby for a couple hours and, because of a miscommunication, I had 6 hours with him. Delightful surprise!

And this soup turned out to be another delightful surprise! I will reveal the surprise in my notes.

This soup is creamy without being thick. It would be a great starter dish, fairly light and yet has just a hint of richness. I may be late coming to the table, but I had never really thought of cauliflower as being a main ingredient for a soup. But it works very nicely. Try it for yourself.


1 medium head cauliflower broken into flowerets (2 1/2 cups)
2 cups water
1 TBS. butter
1 TBS. olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped
2 TBS. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup half and half
2 cups packed grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a 3 quart saucepan over high heat bring cauliflower and water to a boil. Cover and simmer 4 minutes or until cauliflower is tender-crisp. Drain cauliflower, reserving 1 cup liquid.

In same saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter and oil. Cook onion about 10 minutes until very tender. Add peppers and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually stir in chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce and stir until thickened. Reduce heat. Stir in cauliflower, cheese and salt and pepper. If it is too thick use reserved liquid to thin to desired thickness. Cook until heated through. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika.

Notes: Ok, for the surprise. I wasn't that enamored of this soup when I first made it. It sat in the fridge for a couple of days before I reminded my hubby to take some in his lunch. He loved it! He raved about how flavorful it was without being thick. So, I heated up some to give it a second try. Surprise! It's better the second and third days. Aging serves it well. So, if you want this soup when you come to my house, give me a day's surprises. Enjoy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chocolate Molasses Cookies

My hubby has had a life long love affair with sugar. I swear if he were given the choice of a beautifully grilled steak or pie a la mode, he would choice the pie every time. We come from diametrically opposed eating worlds. When we go out to dinner, we have to alternate...appetizers or dessert. (We try to not to be over indulgent and have both.) I am the stuffed mushrooms; he is the mud pie. I am the artichoke/spinach dip; he is the fudge brownie sundae. I am the jalapeno poppers; he is the fried ice cream. The one time I will make an exception and choose dessert over appetizer is if creme brulee is on the menu. And hubby bakes a killer cherry pie (my favorite!) that I will choose over everything.

And this all works out nicely for us since I don't really like to bake. Too much precision is required. Hubby prefers not to cook other than grill, but he loves to bake. Match made in heaven. So when he is craving something sweet (which seems to be daily), I just tell him he knows what to do about it. So this recipe is his doing. Lucky for him, in my quest for old Farm Journal cookbooks, I found the Farm Journal Cookies cookbook. Now he makes a little piece of his heaven whenever he chooses. This cookie is his maiden voyage into the cookbook. Happy travels, babe!


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Heat butter and molasses. Add brown sugar; sti
r over low heat until sugar is melted. Cool. Beat egg until light. Add to cooled molasses mixture. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add with chocolate pieces to molasses mixture. Mix well. Spread in greased 13 X 9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. When cool dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Notes: I am not big on overly sweet treats. These are perfect. The molasses/chocolate combination is lovely. And, I say, any time you can make cookies in one pan and and only have the oven on for 20 minutes, great! But you may want to make 2 pans of these yummies. Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pasta and Bean Soup

When I was first contemplating on what to title this blog, I didn't realize the economy was going to tank as it did. Luckily, I haven't noticed a mass opening of soup kitchens in the recent months as they did during the great depression...thank goodness. I really entitled this KB's Soup Kitchen because, guess what, I love soup. I love everything about it. I love creating it. I love the aromas wafting through the house on a chilly dismal day. I love making a meal in one pot. I love parking my body on the couch in front of the TV with a big hot mug of fresh made soup. And, let's face it, it's a great way to stretch a buck.

Wednesday was a dark and drizzly day...perfect for soup. So I pulled out one of my Farm Journal cookbooks and started looking for soup recipes. This particular one reminded me of a country version of Pasta Y Fagioli. I made a few tweaks and these are the results. Let's just say it was all gone by the end of the day.


6 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic minced, grated, or pressed
1 cup baby carrots sliced or chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 1 lb. cans white beans undrained
1 1 lb. can diced tomatoes undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
more chicken broth as needed
1 cup small pasta

Cut the bacon into very small pieces. Fry it up in a large pot (I like to use my Dutch oven for this). Remove to paper towel.

Add the onion, celery, and garlic to the bacon renderings. Saute over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the carrots to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Deglaze the pot with the wine. You can also use chicken broth if you prefer. Add the 1 cup of chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Heat to boiling, cover, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove about 2 cups of the soup and puree. Add back to the soup.

Add as much chicken broth as is necessary to cook the pasta. Add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Notes: My hubby said this was the best soup I had ever made. My daughter who was here that day hit the pot 3 times. Next time I will double this. And you can certainly use dry beans for this...1 cup for this recipe. If I do say so myself, this was pretty darn good. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lists! Lists! Lists!

My hubby is big on lists. He always has some sort of "to do" list going. And always, as he completes a task, crosses it off. And always, as he completes one list he begins another. It is ongoing, consistent, predictable, and endearing. And he completes almost everything he sets out to complete.

Then there's me. I am a huge disappointment in the list area. I've tried. I really have. But, alas, I am a dismal failure in the land of the least "to do" lists. I get things done, honest...just in my own time and when I think about it. And where my hubby does things in a linear fashion, I attack life from many directions. Some days I finish many things. Other days I finish none. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be slightly ADD. But it's OK. I think it suits me.

In saying all that, there are lists I do make and do like. I make grocery lists, wish lists, lists of goals for my students, guest lists, and so on. So, on occasion I will blog lists. These kinds of lists are fun, and get my puny little brain just a little more organized.

My inaugural list is a list of the 10 ingredients I always have in my kitchen. Having these items in the pantry makes it possible to always be able to throw together a main dish. These are just basic things, nothing fancy or expensive. But to me, essential.

The order in which the items appear does not denote any level of importance. Essential means just that...and I don't think you can quantify how essential something is. It either is essential or it's not.

My 10 Essential Ingredients for Cooking

1. Stocks

2. Canned tomato products

3. Onion

4. Garlic

5. Parsley

6. Pastas

7. Rice

8. Beans

9. Red Bell Peppers

10. Cheeses

These are very simple, but with them on hand, I feel like I am ready for anything. What's on your list?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Chicken with Peas

As I contemplate the start of another week, I reflect on what Sundays used to be. In my youth, Sundays were a day of some faiths that meant church twice on Sundays...and a big Sunday dinner, where the family gathered around the dining table and enjoyed a wonderful meal, good company, and a day free from work (unless you were a dairy farmer). It was a day about family. I don't know about the rest of you, but my Sundays are just as crazy as the rest of the week. Trying to gather my grown family to my house on Sundays is pretty much an impossibility. Naturally, the son who lives 3 1/2 hours from here can't make it. And the other three, well their lives are very full and busy. It is even a struggle for everyone to coordinate their schedules during holidays. I miss those big noisy Sunday dinners. Now a days, it's hubby, my mom, and me. At least they still enjoy the big Sunday dinner.

In honor of the big Sunday dinner I am posting a recipe that is the model of a "Sunday come to dinner" dish. This is a time consuming dish to make, but good things come to those who wait. I have discovered that those dishes that the Farm Journal test kitchens deemed the best found their way into several of the cookbooks. Such is the case with this one. And it does deserve that honor. Round up the family for Sunday dinner and this dish, and I promise they will love you and the chicken.


1 broiler-fryer cut up
1 lb. new potatoes or medium red potatoes
6 TBS. butter
fresh ground pepper
2 TBS. lemon juice
3 green onions sliced
1 lb. fresh peas, shelled (1cup) or 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp.pepper

Scrub potatoes. If using new potatoes peel a strip around the center; if using medium red potatoes, quarter into uniform sized pieces. Brown chicken and protatoes slowly on all sides in melted butter in large skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with lemon juice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Add green onions to butter in bottom of skillet. Sprinkle peas and parsley over chicken and potatoes; cover again and simmer 10 more minutes or until

Remove chicken and vegetables to platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Remove skillet from heat. Pour off excess fat, Add sour cream, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Stir to loosen pan drippings. Heat over low heat. Pour over chicken.

Notes: First, I have to apologize for the photo. With the sauce poured over the platter, it is difficult to tell the chicken from the potatoes. But, let me tell you, it makes no difference in the flavor. My hubby sort of swooned when he ate his first forkful. The one thing I will do the next time is precook the peas slightly. They were a bit al dente for my tastes. I also substituted plain yogurt for the sour cream. Either works well. As I said, this a great dish for Sunday or any family dinner. It will now be a staple recipe in our home. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Deviled Eggs

Summer is just about here. We have had an incredibly warm several weeks in the Pacific Northwest. But the Rose Parade is fast approaching, so I am reasonably sure the heat and sunshine are about to end for awhile. No matter, we PNWers picnic in the liquid sunshine. We're hearty that way. And what picnic, or bar-b-que for that matter, would be complete without the time honored staple of deviled eggs. Everyone loves deviled eggs, don't they? I honestly haven't met anyone who didn't. Kids especially seem to enjoy them. One time we had a family get together...a bar-b-que with all the trimmings....including 3 dozen of my deviled eggs. Should be plenty, I thought. That was until one little 5 year old egg addict discovered the plate! That little thing downed 6 egg halves faster than you can say "Jack Robinson"! We knew from that point on we would need to have more on hand than expected if the little minx was coming. 

I have always made the standard deviled egg with little veering from the family recipe. Then, as I was going through my Farm Journal cookbooks, I found a couple of different recipes with many variations offered. The following is what I ended up with....and I have to say,"Wow!" Let me know if you agree.


6 hard boiled eggs
2 slices crisp bacon
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup plain yogurt

I like to use the food processor for making the deviled part of the eggs. Put the bacon into the bowl of the processor and pulse a few times until the bacon is in small bits. Slice the eggs in half, lengthwise, remove yolks, and add to the processor.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency. I like mine fairly fluffy. Heap into the bowls of the eggs. If you really want to be "uptown" you can pipe the filling in with a pastry bag. And I like to sprinkle with paprika as a final touch.

Notes:Oh My Gosh! These were heavenly! This may be the only way I make them ever again. The bacon added an unexpected crunch. And there were so many layers of flavor. Yum, yum, yum. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Banana Walnut Bread

Over the last few days I have been reading through foodie blogs. What I have noticed about the majority of the ones I have stumbled across is that they don't deal with ordinary home cooking...the kind of cooking that brings family to the table. I'm not saying all of them. Anyone who follows foodie blogs is familiar with The Pioneer Woman. Now, that is home cooking, the type of stuff most of us can afford and make without a great deal of difficulty. And I like Simply Recipes. For the most part Elise has pretty doable and yummy recipes. (I have posted links on the side of this blog.) It's this type of cooking I want my blog to address.

At this moment in history, when money is tight, we need less expensive, healthy meals that feed a family. That's what I'm all about. Just like millions of other people, we're struggling a bit financially...not because of job lay-offs or loss of investments (what are investments?), but due to illness. Since September my hubby has been off work quite a few times due to hospitalizations, without sick-pay benefits (we do have insurance). It's been tight, but we've handled it. And we've done it without suffering foodwise. Gotta keep our spirits up somehow.

Delicious food is not dependent on fancy ingredients. I use EVOO, but I get it at Costco. I use bacon, not pancetta...personally, I like the flavor better. When whole chickens are on sale, I buy several, cut them up myself and save the backs and wings to make my own stock. I use cheese I can get at Walmart. I try to keep the cupboards stocked w
ith the type of ingredients that can be called into service at a moments notice. I've attempted using fresh herbs, but they end up rotted and slimy in my veggie drawer. Don't suggest I grow my own....been there done that and am a dismal failure. So I have an overstocked spice cabinet. Works for me. And we are so fortunate to have a produce market in the community where I can get fresh quality produce at a reasonable price. It is possible to eat well for less....been doing it for years. Not fancy, buy yummy and wholesome.

So, in that vein, we had some bananas that had seen better days. No throwing those puppies out around here. They screamed banana bread!!! In keeping with my Farm Journal project I pulled out my Country Fair Cookbook from Farm Journal and m
ashed away.


1 3/4 cup sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP. flour

Sift together flour (yes, it will be double sifted...just do it), baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients with bananas, beating after each addition. Combine walnuts and 1 TBSP. flour; stir into butter. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until bread tests done. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on rack. Makes one loaf.
Notes:This is not your typical sweet cakelike banana bread. If you like sweeter, by all means add a little more sugar. The notes in the recipe suggest the bread sit for 24 hours before being sliced. I concur. This has a texture a bit more like a yeast bread than a quick bread, and doubles easily (as I did). Just smear some butter on a slice and smile a bit. Enjoy!