Butternut Squash Soup

October 9, 2017 by andrea | Comments Off on Butternut Squash Soup | Filed in Autumn, Soup/Stew, Thanksgiving, Winter

October here in Portland can be a mixed bag of weather changes. One day the sun is out and we’re blessed with Indian summer warmth. The next day may bring overcast skies and rain showers. Some days we even get to experience a potpourri of all that: sun, clouds, rain, fog. Yes, the weather here is fickle…some might even say it’s goofy.

When the days are cool and crisp, I crave soups and stews like this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. Not only is it healthy, but it’s easy to make and delicious. Some butternut squash soups add ingredients like apple or pear, and tend to be on the sweet side. This one, however, is savory. It would be a great first course for Thanksgiving or other Fall and Winter entertaining (you could make it a day ahead and reheat before serving).

Remember to let the hot soup cool a bit before processing it in a blender. Also hold the lid down firmly with a towel when pureeing the soup so it doesn’t explode all over you and your kitchen. I’ve done that before and it’s not fun. An immersion blender simplifies this process, but may not get the puree as smooth.

We like to garnish the hot butternut squash soup with homemade croutons or freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup
-recipe from Food Network

Yield: 6 (1-cup) servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium canned plum tomatoes
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded, and diced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, sage, 1 teaspoon of the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes break up and the onions brown slightly, about 7 minutes. Add the squash and the remaining teaspoon salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 12 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, or with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot and reheat over medium heat. Stir in the vinegar. Serve the soup in warm bowls with a touch of parmesan cheese if desired.

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Chocolate Zucchini & Raspberry Muffins

September 29, 2017 by andrea | Comments Off on Chocolate Zucchini & Raspberry Muffins | Filed in Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Cakes, Chocolate, Dessert, Kid-friendly, Muffins, Recipes, Snack, Summer

Choc-Zuke-Muffin-2718!

It’s not every day that you find a recipe that combines fruit, a veggie AND two kinds of chocolate into a delicious breakfast treat. Did I mention two kinds of chocolate? These muffins are super moist, chocolatey, not overly sweet, and pretty as a picture. I made them for a friend for her birthday breakfast gathering. Consequently, one friend liked them so much she ate three of them!

I thought the texture of the muffins was best the day they were baked, although they were still very good the day after (the muffin tops were just softer).

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Zucchini and Raspberry Muffins
-recipe from Fresh From The Farm by Susie Middleton

At last — the perfect place for that one zucchini you can’t get rid of. It’s a bit sneaky, I know, hiding it in a chocolate muffin, but why not? Add fresh raspberries, too, and you have a seasonal snack that doubles as dessert or the perfect picnic take along. The flavor of these moist muffins improves overnight, so make them ahead, wrap in plastic, and store at room temp or freeze.

Makes 12 muffins.

Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan (or baking spray or muffin cups)
1 2/3 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (about 1 ounce total), sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup finely grated zucchini (ends trimmed, unpeeled, about 1 medium 6- to 7-ounce zucchini)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces fresh raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin. (Or use baking spray or muffin cup liners.)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), beat the eggs and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, lightened, and somewhat increased in volume, about 1 minute. Add the reconstituted espresso, the vanilla, oil, and sour cream and mix again for 1 minute. With the mixer running on very low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer when necessary. Add the zucchini and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries. Pour or spoon the batter (a 1/3-cup measure works well) into the muffin cups. (They will be quite full.)

Bake until the muffins are fully risen in the middle and a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar if desired (and only if serving right away). Wrap any extras in plastic and store at room temperature or in the freezer.

 

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Blackberry Moscow Mule

August 30, 2017 by andrea | Comments Off on Blackberry Moscow Mule | Filed in Beverages, Cocktails, Recipes, Summer

A few days ago I decided to meander down the nature trail behind our house to pick some blackberries to add to a Moscow Mule, a cocktail made with vodka, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer. My blackberry search, however, was almost a bust. Being vertically challenged (I’m almost 5’2″), most of the purple-y ripe fruit was out of my reach so I was only able to forage about one cup of ripe berries — just enough for one really great cocktail and a few berries for eating on the way home! The Blackberry Moscow Mule was summery, tangy, and very refreshing!

The cocktail starts by muddling blackberries. It sounds sort of violent but really it’s just smashing blackberries in a glass. If you don’t have a muddler (the tool used for muddling), just use a long fork or spoon to do said smashing.

We like Ketel One Vodka. Use the brand you like.

There are lots of ginger beer brands out there, but we like the Cock’n Bull brand. Ginger beer is different than ginger ale, so be sure to specifically buy ginger beer. It has a stronger, more gingery kick than ginger ale.

I also like to add a splash of triple sec to my Moscow Mule. Husband likes his more lime-y so he usually skips the triple sec. Go by what tastes good to you. If you want your mule sweeter, add more ginger beer or triple sec. More tangy? Add more lime and/or less ginger beer. You can also use less vodka if you prefer. The quantities are really just a starting point to figure out what you like.

While the copper mug is the traditional way of serving a Moscow Mule AND helps keep the drink ice-cold AND looks like you take your mule making seriously, the cocktail can also be served in a highball glass (yawn). You can freeze your copper mug or glass until frosty but we usually don’t bother with that. Serve the mule over ice and garnish with a lime wedge, mint, blackberries and those little sippy cocktail straws. Enjoy!

Blackberry Moscow Mule

1/3 cup of fresh blackberries, plus a few for garnish
4 to 6 ounces of ginger beer (not ginger ale)
2 ounces of vodka
1 to 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
Splash of triple sec (optional)
Sprig of mint and lime wedge for garnish

Muddle the blackberries in your copper mug or glass. Add the ginger beer, vodka and lime juice, and stir gently. Fill mug or glass with ice cubes and garnish with more blackberries, mint sprig and lime wedge. Makes 1 cocktail.

 

 

 

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Secret Aardvark Drunken Jerk Sauce

August 6, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Secret Aardvark Drunken Jerk Sauce | Filed in Local Goodness, Products I Love

Aardvark Jerk Sauce2332

I like trying new sauces and condiments, and I have a fridge full of them to prove it. I especially like supporting local Oregon businesses, such as Secret Aardvark Trading Company. I love Secret Aardvark’s Habenero Hot Sauce so I thought I’d give their Drunken Jerk Sauce a try: tropical Jamaican flavors made in not-so-tropical Portland, Oregon. Are you intrigued?

Drunken Jerk Sauce is made with habanero peppers, warm spices, a splash of dark rum, and a short list of other ingredients. Yes, it’s spicy but it adds delicious Caribbean flavor to grilled chicken and pork. And it’s really good drizzled over Coconut Rice.

Secret Aardvark Trading Company sauces can be found all over Portland at various retail locations, or you can buy it online on the Secret Aardvark Trading Company website or at Amazon.com.

P.S. I’m not getting paid anything for this post. I just like their products and love supporting local Oregon businesses.

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Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing

March 21, 2015 by andrea | 2 Comments | Filed in Grilling/BBQ, Life in Oregon, Main Dish, Recipes, Seafood

Cedar-Salmon-Honey-Lime

I recently bought a beautiful fillet of sockeye salmon at the grocery store. Not knowing exactly what other ingredients I’d use with it, I knew that I’d at least be grilling it that evening. As soon as I got home I did a quick search through my grilling cookbooks and landed on this recipe for Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing. I keep my pantry stocked with cedar planks  — it’s my favorite way of cooking salmon — so I was in luck! The sweet, tangy lime dressing was perfect with the slightly smoky salmon. DELICIOUS!

This recipe is super easy but does take a bit of planning since the cedar plank needs an hour or so to soak in water so that it doesn’t catch fire while on the grill. The plank will blacken and burn slightly on the bottom and edges even after being soaked but that’s what creates the amazing smokey flavor in the fish. Believe me, your neighbors will be jealous when they smell this cooking on the grill!!

I had everything on hand for the honey-lime dressing except the chives so I substituted a few green onion tops (the green part only). Don’t be afraid of the cayenne pepper because it adds just a slight bit of warmth to the dressing. My kids ate the salmon and loved it!

Cedar planks can be found in the meat or outdoor departments of your grocery/home improvement store, or various kitchen stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma. Also, Costco usually carries them as a seasonal item.

Serve the salmon with Basmati Rice with Sweet Onions and Summer Herbs and a big green salad tossed with Southwestern Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing
-recipe from Weber’s Real Grilling™ by Jamie Purviance

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large salmon fillet, with skin, 2 ½ to 3 pounds, about 16″ long and 3/4″ thick
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 untreated cedar plank, about 16 inches by 8 inches, submerged in water for at least 1 hour

Preparation

In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Mix until well blended. With the blender still running, slowly pour in the oil to make a smooth dressing.

Place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet. Using needle nose pliers remove and discard any pin bones from the salmon. Season the flesh side of the salmon with the salt and pepper. Pour about half of the dressing over the flesh and use a brush to distribute it evenly.

Place the soaked plank over Direct High heat until the edges start to smoke and char, 5 to 10 minutes. Move the plank over Indirect High heat and place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank. Grill until the salmon is just opaque in the thickest part and brown on the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the plank and salmon to a heatproof surface. Serve warm with the remaining dressing.

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It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie

February 28, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie | Filed in Beverages, Breakfast, Recipes, Snack

EasyBeingGreenSmoothie

Smoothies are a great way to increase your daily fruit and vegetable intake. This recipe is loaded with vitamins and is naturally sweet from the fruit…no juice needed. Any blender will make a smoothie but not every blender will give you an ultra-smooth smoothie (like the ones at Jamba Juice or other fancy smoothie stores). I absolutely love my Vitamix 5200 and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a top-quality blender. Yes, it’s spendy but I use it almost as much as my stove/oven so it’s gotten a ton of use in my kitchen.

As far as smoothies go, sometimes I skip the ice and use about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water (enough to get a drinkable consistency). I also use a combo of spinach and kale when I have both on hand. Enjoy!

It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie
-recipe from Vitamix

Yield: 2 3/4 cups (660 ml)

1/2 cup green grapes
1 medium orange, peeled, halved
1/2 medium banana, peeled
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 1/2 cups ice cubes

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.

Select Variable 1.

Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. If necessary, use the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve.

Note: This recipe has been written for the Vitamix 5200 with Standard 64-ounce container. If you are using a different Vitamix machine or container size, you may need to make adjustments to the Variable Speed, processing time, and/or ingredient quantities.

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Cat Head Biscuits

February 26, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Cat Head Biscuits | Filed in Baking, Bread, Comfort Food, Quick Cooking, Recipes

CatHeadBiscuit

I was instantly intrigued by this recipe because of it’s name and because my family loves biscuits. This Cat Head version is super easy to make (no rolling pin required), and they bake up tender, fluffy and delicious! They don’t have the flaky texture that a rolled out biscuit has but they are tasty all the same…and perfect when slathered with butter and your favorite jam.

You should be able to get 6-8 biscuits depending on the size of muffin scoop you use (I got 8). Enjoy!

Cat Head Biscuits
-recipe from The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook

As big as a cat’s head, golden brown on the outside, but soft and fluffy as a dinner roll on the inside, these regional biscuits deserve national recognition. Serves 6.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make clabbered milk by whisking 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 1/4 cups milk and letting it stand until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. The recipe will also work with 3 cups White Lily flour in place of both the all-purpose and cake flours.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

MIX DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Rub butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk until combined.

PORTION BISCUITS: Following the instructions at left, use greased 1/2-cup measure or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan, placing 5 around pan’s perimeter and 1 in center.

BAKE BISCUITS: Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve. (Biscuits can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

NOTES ON FORMING CAT HEAD BISCUITS: Many biscuits are kneaded, rolled, stamped out, and then baked on sheet pans. For Cat Head Biscuits, we instead scoop the sticky, shaggy dough and nestle the biscuits in a cake pan. (A spring-loaded ice cream scoop does the job neatly and quickly.) All snuggled together, they’re forced to grow up, rather than out, and the sides stay soft and white.

FLOUR MIXOLOGY: Southern bakers swear by White Lily all-purpose flour. They say it makes biscuits soft and downy, exactly the texture we sought for our Cat Head Biscuits. But what if you don’t live in the South and can’t easily get your hands on a bag? We found we could replicate it by combining equal amounts of ordinary all-purpose flour (made from a mix of high- and low-gluten wheats) and cake flour (a soft-fine-textured flour).

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Turkey Poblano Chili

February 2, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Turkey Poblano Chili | Filed in Chili, Main Dish, Quick Cooking, Recipes, Soup/Stew, Southwestern, Turkey

turkey-poblano-chili!
Chili is one of those perfect dishes for casual entertaining because it can be made a day ahead of time and you can easily double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd. This recipe features ground turkey and poblano  peppers, a type of chili pepper used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Poblanos range in heat from mild to medium-hot (they are the peppers used to make those delicious, cheese-filled chili rellenos).

In addition to the chili powder called for in the recipe, I also added a teaspoon or two of cumin, and used 1 can of pinto and 1 can of kidney beans. Towards the end of cooking, I added chopped zucchini and some corn. Enjoy!

Turkey Poblano Chili
-recipe from Williams-Sonoma.com

Some specialty stores sell chili powders made from specific chili varieties such as ancho or chipotle. Experiment with different powders to find one that you prefer. When seasoning with the more common chili powder, a rich blend of dried red chilies and spices, use sparingly as the heat level may vary. Serves 4 to 6.

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 poblano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 lb. ground turkey
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbs. chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes
2 cans (each 15 oz.) kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Brown the vegetables and turkey
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chilies and onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat begins to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.

Finish the chili
Add the garlic and chili powder, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chili into bowls, garnish with the sour cream and serve immediately.

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Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

January 2, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad | Filed in Recipes, Salad, Vegetable, Vegetarian

kale-brussel-salad

This hearty salad is packed with good-for-you greens, lightly toasted nuts, and a lemony vinaigrette…delicious! Don’t be frightened off by the brussels sprouts here — they’re raw so you don’t get the stinky, cabbage smell. In fact, just pretend the brussels are little cabbages (which they are) and that you’re making a slaw. Although Tuscan kale (also known as Dinosaur kale, Lacinto kale or Italian kale) is considered a sweeter variety, it still has a slightly bitter flavor than curly kale.

I used the food processor to shred the trimmed brussels sprouts which made that portion of prep super quick; I sliced the kale by hand (remember to cut out the tough center stems). Once the kale & sprouts are shredded, you will have an enormous amount of greens in the bowl. After tossing with the dressing, the greens will wilt a bit and reduce a bit in volume.

If the dressing is a little too tangy for your tastes then add a pinch of sugar. Enjoy!

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
-recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine

A bright alternative to heavy sides, this salad features Tuscan kale. Makes 8 to 10 servings

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD:Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

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Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce

November 26, 2014 by andrea | Comments Off on Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce | Filed in Autumn, Christmas, Condiment, Holidays, Life in Oregon, Local Goodness, Quick Cooking, Recipes, Side Dish, Winter

1978!

I love trying new ways to make cranberry sauce. You can easily have several different types of cranberry sauces, relishes or chutneys at a holiday feast because they’re so easy to make. This recipe for Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce is flavored with a hint of cinnamon, cloves and a double hit of orange (Grand Marnier and freshly-grated orange zest), and can be made several days ahead. Serve with roast turkey, chicken or pork, and use leftovers to make a vinaigrette or coffee cake.

Since cranberries are an Oregon crop — grown in Bandon — I always try to buy them from a local company. Enjoy your feast!

Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
-recipe from Inspired2cook.com

12-oz. bag of cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Grated zest of 1 orange
pinch of salt

Combine the cranberries, sugar, Grand Marnier, water, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until most of the berries pop, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the orange zest. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Can be made several days ahead.

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