tasty

Cozy Up to Some Comfort Soup Recipes

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As much as I love all the fresh summer produce, I am craving cooler days and hearty recipes by the end of September. Ready for that change…and to be able to bake and cook without sweltering heat! So, as soon as things cool off, my belly is ready for comfort soups and freshly made bread for dipping.  Here are three of my tried-and-true comfort soup recipes that you can tuck into and will hopefully warm you up during these cool days. And how nice is it that soup tastes even better when it’s had time to sit and marry flavors…a great make-ahead meal.  Enjoy!

 

Pasta and Bean Soup: Pasta e Fagioli

(My mom’s adaptation of a Tuscan soup by Mario Batali)

Ingredients

1 pound Italian sausage (casings removed)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried basil, and dried parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium Spanish or Vidalia onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 small (6 oz.) can tomato paste

1 16 oz. can petite diced tomatoes

2 quarts chicken/vegetable stock

2 cups beans, drained and rinsed (combination of cannellini, red kidney and garbanzo…or any combo you like!)

1 pound fresh tortellini or mini-ravioli (or you can serve with bread on the side instead of pasta in the soup…or do both!)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

Directions

In a Dutch oven, sauté the sausage in olive oil until no longer pink.  Gently break apart into small pieces with a wooden spoon while browning.  Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and drain on a dinner plate covered with paper towels.  Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the Dutch oven.  Discard the rest of the drippings.  Into the Dutch oven, add the diced carrots, chopped onions and all the herbs (except the garlic).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium-high heat until they are browned and soft, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and minced garlic, and cook over low-medium heat about 8-10 minutes.  (This really intensifies the flavor!)  Add the stock, beans and petite diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Add the sausage back to the pot in the last 10 minutes to warm through.  Meanwhile, cook the tortellini according to package directions.  Remove the soup from heat and allow to rest covered for 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings, if needed.  Divide the tortellini among 6 serving bowls and pour soup on top.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese or any grated cheese of your choice.  If desired, garnish with chiffonade (thin slivers) of fresh basil leaves.  Keeps well in refrigerator but free without pasta added.

Italian Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
8 cans vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon ground pepper or more to taste
1 cup chopped carrots
1 vidalia/Spanish onion, chopped
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
½ cup fine barley or rice (not instant)
Salt and Pepper

Saute the chopped onion and carrots in a little olive oil and 1 Tbl. butter in a 6-quart stock pot. Add the herbs (except bay leaf) and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, broth, lentils, barley or rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Remove bay leaves and check seasonings. We usually add some salt to boost flavor.

 

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup
(from Simply Recipes; you can find a newer version)

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 ½ pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1” pieces (about 5 cups)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups half and half
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Directions
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes, stock, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot.
Add half and half and maple syrup and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool soup slightly. Cover and refrigerate soup. Bring soup to simmer before continuing.) Ladle into bowls. Serves 6 to 8.

I truly hope you enjoy cooking and eating these delicious comfort soups! Cheers to a cozy mealtime!

 

Summer = Pie

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I love to bake and have had lots of great teachers in my mom, sister-in-law, friends and my TV obsessions…Great British Baking Show and the America’s Test Kitchen.  But, living in the south, means hot summers and no one wants to stand over a hot oven, so I turn to quick baking or, no-bake-at-all, pies!

It’s become my gifting tradition in my family to bake whatever the birthday person wishes for and this June my mom chose coconut pie.  It turned to the Test Kitchen for a recipe and used my mom’s old pie plate to truly make it special. It was delicious!

 

Coconut Cream Pie

(From the Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook)

Their notes: Don’t use low-fat coconut milk here because it doesn’t have enough flavor. Also, don’t confuse coconut milk with cream of coconut. The filling should be warm–neither piping hot nor room temperature–when poured into the cooled pie crust. To toast the coconut, place it in a small skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. It burns quite easily, so keep a close eye on it.

FILLING
1 (14oz.) can coconut milk (see note)
1 cup whole milk
½ cup (1 ¼oz) unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup (4 2/3oz.) sugar
¼ tsp. table salt
5 large egg yolks
¼ cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust, baked and cooled (below)

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1” pieces
5 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tbl. sugar
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Process the graham cracker pieces in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the butter and sugar over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate.
2. Sprinkle the mixture into a 9” pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, 13-18 minutes.

TOPPING
1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1 ½ Tbl. sugar
1 ½ tsp. dark rum (optional)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbl. unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see note)

1. For the filling: bring the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. As the milk mixture begins to simmer, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the egg yolks, and cornstarch together in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the simmering coconut milk mixture into the yolk mixture to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolks back into the simmering saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until the mixture is thickened and a few bubbles burst on the surface, about 30 seconds.
3. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture until just warm, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
4. Pour the warm filling into the baked and cooled pie crust. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set, about 4 hours.
5. For the topping: Before serving, whip the cream, sugar, rum (if using), and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip until the cream forms soft peaks, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream attractively over the top of the pie and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

A very good friend of mine introduced me to buttermilk pie and it was love at first sight! It’s one of those pies that goes great with fresh summery fruits like peaches and berries.  I’ve had it with strawberries and even cranberries. It’s so versatile and easy and I think I may need to bake one asap! I’m a huge fan of Joy Wilson, of Joy the Baker, and was given my first cookbook of hers while pregnant with my son, and I think that’s where he and I both became obsessed with Joy and baking in general! Here’s a recipe for her Buttermilk Pie with Blackberry Sauce. Go get you some!

Pies don’t have to be all about fruit…chocolate and pie go hand-in-hand! One of my favorite recipes is from Real Simple Magazine’s November 2004 issue.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

(Real Simple Magazine, November 2004)

PIECRUST
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. sugar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 ½ Tbl cold water
½ tsp. vanilla

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Add the water and vanilla. Pulse until the dough just comes together. Form into a disk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 15 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a 12” circle. Fit the dough into a 9” pie plate. Refrigerate until needed.

FILLING
1 ¼ cups light corn syrup
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
3 tsp. dark rum (optional)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1 ¾ cups pecan halves
¾ cup chocolate chips
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Stir in the pecans. Scatter the chocolate over the prepared piecrust and cover with the filling. Bake until the center is set, 45-50 minutes. Let cool completely. Serve with the cream, if desired.

There are SO many amazing pie recipes out there! I hope you enjoy these three and feel free to point me in the direction of your favorite pie recipe! If you’ll excuse me…I’ve got some butter to cut!

salmon two ways

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every where you turn someone else is telling me how amazing salmon is for you…i get it folks. i just can never remember which kind is the right one, wild, farm-raised, pacific, atlantic, etc. and then when I get that part down I cry an omega-3 tear at the price. but alas, this past saturday we were able to eat our salmon thanks to the fresh market’s half off deal. new tradition in the making…salmon saturdays! this slab gave us enough for two delicious recipes. time to eat like (bear) kings!

salmon

Maple Salmon (via All Recipes)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper. Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.

Salmon Cakes (via Melissa d’ Arabian on Food Network)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chopped onion (can sub onion flakes)
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 lemon, zested
1-2 salmon filets
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit.  Mix the onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and mixing gently after each addition. Form the mixture into small patties. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Coat the patties in the bread crumb topping. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.  Extra tasty with a squeeze of lemon right before you take your first bite!

Ps. If you’re using leftovers from the Maple Salmon recipe or a different recipe, make sure you get as little of the marinade when using the salmon for the cakes…I couldn’t form patties the second time I did this recipe because there was too much liquid.

october

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What a nice month it’s been so far…minus the occasional monsoons and 80 degree days, it’s really starting to feel like autumn! I finally got out my mom’s old ceramic jack-o-lantern that’s broken from it’s base but still lights up and Olive will be spending her early-release afternoon tomorrow making a pumpkin garland with me and eating “Ghostbuster” donuts!

Here’s a little taste of what’s been happening in Posy-land this week:

Sarah Foster’s Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips (hearty little buggers that will keep you feeling full thanks to the oats!).  Ps. If you don’t have buttermilk, but do have a lemon, put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a measuring cup, top it with a cup of milk, and let sit a few minutes. Give it a stir and use as a substitute.  

Oatmeal banana muffins

Oak leaf ornaments getting prepped for Deco’s handmade holiday: 

Oak leaf ornaments

Mixing up blues and metallics for the latest round of Posy napkin sets! 

Blue napkins

Ps. One of Posy’s “happy day” embroidered hoops made it into Deco’s ad for the next issue of Walter Magazine! I’ve got 17 tea towels washed, ironed, hemmed and ready to go for their holiday-themed embroidery to come. Speaking of 17, that must be the magic number of late, as I spent this past weekend knocking out 17 bright and festive Christmas stockings ready to be divvied out to ELF Fair, Deco and Simply Serendipity in North Wilkesboro.  It’s so nice looking back at a week…especially when it’s not done…as it helps me see how productive it’s been as a whole, even if there were chunks where I wasn’t getting more done than changing diapers!

Hope the rest of the week is good to you friends!

subscription

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I’m totally digging this new trend of subscription boxes and gift ideas. I already gifted a couple of Batch sets to my sis and brother-in-law for birthdays. (Sidebar: totally in love with Batch! Another brother-in-law will be gifted by them soon!).  Who wouldn’t love a box centered around breakfast foods or southern treats like biscuits and waffles?!  I love giving a gift I know the person will use and won’t just sit around collecting dust…or even worse, be something that they keep around just because it was a gift. Life’s too short…and our drawers too full…for more stuff. What’s even better is that a lot of these subscription services support local businesses or maybe folks you wouldn’t normally hear about. You don’t have to actually do a subscription…it can be a one-time purchase if you’d prefer.  And my last plug for this idea is that you can tailor it to the person you’re shopping for…tech, food, alcohol, beauty, craft, etc. So cool!

Here are a few I’ve recently learned about and will be using this coming holiday season:

Batch is focused on celebrating locally made (Nashville, Charleston, Memphis) items. (They recently partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank for a line of exclusive gifts that will help their cause!)

subscriptions_1

 

Quarterly has a fun selection of “curators you care about” picking out items like this one from Pharrell Williams (Grace Bonney from Design Sponge just got invited to be a curator!): 

subscriptions_2

Kiwi Crate allows you to “give the gift of hands-on fun and learning” monthly: 

subscriptions_3

Birchbox ships out 4-5 deluxe beauty product samples, some of them tailored to you: 

subscriptions_4

Umba Box introduces handmade goods to you monthly:

subscriptions_5

pork

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To say that Carter and I are obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country would be an understatement. There was an afternoon when Mun was a baby, passed out in the car, and me stuck with him in our driveway because it may be the only sleep we get that day. I had to go to the bathroom like mad, but what was really bugging me, was that I was missing an episode of Cook’s Country. Carter, watching inside, kept texting me with updates…”they’re making tater tots!” We’re giving serious thought to celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary in 2016 up in Vermont, with host Chris Kimball and a taping of the show.

With my mom’s generous help, we’ve acquired two of their cookbooks/ cooking bibles. Every recipe we’ve made has been incredible. Sometimes we complain that something is “so America’s Test Kitchen” because the recipe will be riddled with details and steps, but they work. I love that they start out with the usual pitfalls about recipes for this dish and how they’ve corrected them. I like knowing that it’s been thought out…no surprises for my Wednesday night.  They give you pictures of the steps as well as the final product, which is always helpful for a visual learner like myself. Best yet, for someone on a budget, I love that their recipes don’t involve a lot of crazy, one-hit wonder ingredients we’ll never use again.

So, enough drooling over their cooking prowess, and time for drooling over some delicious pork chops! Here are two ways to cook up the “other white meat.” Fork salute!

(Since I can’t save a picture off the “Cook’s Country” site and I don’t want to use stand-ins for the deliciousness this recipe creates, I present to you my own little ham. Thanks for the pic Carter!)

 

ham

Pan-Fried Pork Chops (Serves 4)

**This is my slightly altered version of the recipe. I use boneless chops instead of bone-in and I skip a step where they cook bacon in the pan first to season it. They don’t actually use the bacon for the recipe…it’s just for flavoring the pan.**

1. BBQ Pan-Fried Pork Chops

Combine 3 Tbl. light brown sugar, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. chili powder (I’m a spicy wimp, so I use a 1/4 tsp.), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard. 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I leave this out.).

2. Herbed Pan-Fried Pork Chops

Combine 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. dried basil, 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary crumbled, 1/4 tsp. dried sage (I leave this out as I don’t have sage on hand.), pinch ground fennel (ditto the omission), and 1/2 tsp. salt

Place 1 cup all-purpose flour in a shallow dish. Pat chops dry with a paper towel. Cut 2 slits about 2″ apart through fat and connective tissue on edge of each chop (helps it to lay flat instead of buckling).  Season both sides of chops with spice mixture, then dredge chops lightly in flour (do not discard flour).  Transfer to plate and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup vegetable oil to pan and heat over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Return chops to flour dish and turn to coat chops again.  Cook chops until well browned on each side, 4-8 minutes (depending on thickness).  Serve.