Thursday, December 17, 2009

Potato Cheese Soup 11/14/09

Last winter my fall back for our Saturday soup was potato soup.  There were several variations, but the best one by far was a simple version made with the stock I made from the Christmas ham.  The simple substitution of the ham stock instead of my usual chicken stock.

With all the plans we had for today, I wasn't sure if we would have soup tonight, but the snow storm this morning changes our plans and you get another soup recipe.

I don't have any ham stock in my freezer, but I did have a ham hock so I tried a quick one.

Ham Stock
1 ham hock
handful of baby carrots (worked out to be about 5)
about 6 small stocks of celery (I needed about 5 for tomorrow's dinner so I just pulled out the little ones on the inside)
3 bay leaves

Fill a soup pot with water, add all the ingredients - no need to chop the carrots and celery as you will just pull them out later.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Drop the temperature to a low/med and let simmer for several hours.  Pull out the hamhock and bay leaves.  Pull the meat off the hamhock and return to pot.

I waited too long to finish this so now I don't remember what I did.  I probably cut up some potatoes, let them simmer in the ham stock.  Blended the mix and then added cheese.  I used velveeta in this one, it melts very nicely.  Add salt, pepper to taste and finish with a bit a cream or half/half.

The real point of this potato soup recipe was to try the quick ham stock option - well not so quick, but still good.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peanut Curry Bisque 11/7/09

I found this recipe on under the name "Lightly Curried Peanut Bisque".  According to Wikipedia a Bisque is a seafood soup or smooth soup.  I did look into possibly adding shrimp, but I can only afford shrimp when it is a really good deal.  And good deals on shrimp doesn't happen very often in my land locked state.  I changed the name, because I always tend to change the recipe.  And while it might look like a lot of ingredients you could very easily just use 2 1/2 tsp of curry powder in the soup, plus salt and pepper.

My changes come from laziness in measuring (Rachel Ray doesn't measure!), needing to use something up or after a taste or a good smell I think, "hmmm this would be good with this and I have some."  The nice thing about soup is that it is very flexible :-).

A note about curry: Curry is a blend of spices.  Each company has their own version.  If you don't like one, try a different brand.  We discovered a spice store when we lived in Torrance, Penzeys.  They had bottles of each of the spices that you could smell.  I loved going there, but my sniffer would stop working about half way around the store.  We happen to have 3 of their 9 curry blends, and I used a little of each one - Sweet curry and Hot curry on the chicken; and Sweet curry and Maharajah in the soup.

This one turned out incredible!!!!! It doesn't look like it would be a full meal, but it was very filling.

2-3 Chicken breasts
Curry powder
2-3 Tbl butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots (I did a handful of the baby carrots), chopped
3-4 stalks of celery (my celery was on the small side), chopped
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 box chicken broth
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 salt

Cover chicken breasts liberally with curry powder.  Bake chicken (350° for about 1 hour), chop into bite size pieces.

Saute onion, celery and carrots in the butter.  Add the curry spices let cook for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the peanut butter until fairly blended.  Add the chicken broth, stirring to blend.  Let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the sweet potato and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Blend the soup (hand mixer or food processor).  Stir in the cream, salt and the chicken, heat the soup gently on simmer.

Next time I think I will use coconut milk with the cream, maybe 3/4 c. coconut milk and 1/4 c. cream.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Ginger Soup 10/31/2009

Another week, another Saturday soup.  And what else to make on Halloween but Pumpkin Soup.  I have a recipe for a Curry Pumpkin Soup, but I wanted to try something a bit different and I wanted to use a real pumpkin instead of the canned puree.  So here goes with this week's recipe.

2 Tbls butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 medium pumpkin or 6 c. pumpkin puree
1 box of chicken broth
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cloves and add more nutmeg)
Fresh nutmeg, several passes on the grater
1 c. cream or half and half

Cut pumpkin in half, remove the stem and seeds.  Place skin side down in a roasting pan, put in 1-2 inches of water, cover with foil bake at 300 until tender.

Saute onion, red pepper in butter.  Add garlic and ginger after the onions and red pepper have softened. Let the whole mixture saute to bring out the flavors.  Add salt and pepper, just under 1/2 tsp each.

Add pumpkin and chicken broth.  Let simmer about 30 minutes.  (I tend to let the soup simmer while I finish other things on my list, sometimes it is 30 minutes, other times it is up to 1 hour).

Puree the soup with a hand blender or in batches with a food processor or blender.

Add the pumpkin pie spice, freshly grated nutmeg and more salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the cream, heat until the cream gets warmed up.

We served the soup with some sun dried tomato and chicken sausage, just a little spicy, but good.

This one turned out well.  Patrick suggests serving next time with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cream of Chile Soup - 10/24/2009

Last year we started a tradition of having soup every Saturday during winter. We tried a variety of soups last year and have been collecting recipes in anticipation of the cold weather for our new winter of soups to begin.

Today it is Cream of Chile Soup. Mostly because we bought too many pasillo peppers last week. I usually start with a recipe and then adjust as I go. I tend to do things like chop up the whole onion rather than stopping at exactly 2 cups. I use the last nub of butter instead of cutting off exactly 2 tbls. Since it is soup, it doesn't matter as much.

So here is the recipe - my way.

2-3 Chicken breasts
2 tbls butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (frozen from our garden)
7-9 pasilla or poblano peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
3-5 potatoes
1 box chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 can of corn
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Tortilla chips
Cilantro - optional

Bake the chicken with some oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.

Saute butter, red pepper, onion, pasilla peppers, jalapeño, garlic, oregano, bay leaves. (I turn the pan on med-high, put the butter in and start chopping, adding the ingredients as I finish chopping each one and adding the spices at the end).

While still sauteing, peel and chop 3-5 potatoes.

Move the saute mixture to a large pot, add the potatoes, chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper. Let simmer until the potatoes fall apart. (Yes you could just put all the saute mixture into the large pot from the beginning, but I find I get a better flavor when I use my saute pan.)

When the potatoes are easily smashed with a spoon, remove the bay leaves.  Puree about 1/3 of the soup in food processor with the cream.  (If I had a hand blender I would just use it in the pot, still leaving some of the bits whole and chunky.) Add the puree mixture and the can of corn back to the pot.

Shred the chicken, add to the pot.  Heat until warmed all the way through.

Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips and cilantro (if using).

Turned out well - this one is a keeper!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it Spring yet?

I was hoping this morning that the precipitation today would lean more to the rain than the snow, but no. This is southeast Idaho and for some reason the clouds send us snow. Our little seedlings that we planted inside are doing well. Of course, we did buy the heating pad that goes under the seedling starter box to keep the roots warm. It seems to be working. Although we have not seen any sign of the rosemary. We have at least one plant of everything else we started. We will see how they do when we transplant them.

This picture is a week ago, but we have the beginnings or tomatoes, basil, cilantro, chives, sweet peppers, poblano peppers, brussel sprouts, lavender and hopefully some rosemary. They should be ready to be outside in May.

Another recent change is my hair. Here is the before picture. One of the few times you'll hear me say "please take a picture of my derriere".

The hairdresser braided my hair very nicely and then asked how much to cut. The minimum donation that Locks of Love wants is 10 inches. I had her cut 12 inches and then she still cut more off to give me my nice new haircut.

Here it is with the ruler, just to prove...12 inches. I hope that some child will benefit from my hair.

I still have the oddball picture for people to guess what it is. It will be coming soon. I hope Spring has happened in your neck of the woods. I'll keep watching and hoping for our little corner of Idaho.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cue the music.....

The adventures continue as we search each corner and uncover each of the oddities of.....the house. While many of the previous episodes reveal the mix of old and new, professional and not so professional, this episode reveals a part - mostly unknown until now......

The coal room. Stuck in the corner of the basement, under the portion of the kitchen that is at a slight downward slant. One of the portions of the house we believe was an add on. Between the mold, the cover up paneling, the peg board and the variety of not so professional shelves, the interior of the coal room remained mostly a mystery.

With the light bulbs replaced in various odd light fixtures in the basement and the halogen work lights in from the shed, Patrick armed himself to enter...the coal room.

Behind the door, at first glance it just appears to be left overs from the previous owners. And yet behind each corner more of our house revealed its uniqueness.

A view to the left shows us that the base of the foundation was laid with huge rocks - similar in size to the ones Patrick likes to bring home from rockhounding trips. What's that green barrel you ask - an old water storage container. These vestiges are not from the previous owner, she was only in the house for 4 years. These must be left overs from an even older owner.

To the right of the door is a shelf of miscellany. Can you find...the candle, the molding, the coat rack, the cannon ball, the iron hook-thing, the electrical cable, the buffer wheel, the insulation?

Further to the left is a box labeled electrical. Without further investigation we are uncertain as to which decade these components belong. The halogens could not reach this far in. These curiosities will need closer investigation under the lights and away from possible spiders.

A few of the things that were excavated from the debris...the cannon ball. Not sure if this is true ordinance, but what else would you call a solid ball of iron-like metal?

A slow motion (only two pictures) shot of Patrick experimenting with the iron hook-thing. With a fairly easy turn of the back handle opens the two pronged hooks.

Opened...closed...abierto...cerrado...ouvert...fermé...geopend...gesloten...opened...closed...geschlossenes ...geöffnet...ανοιγμένος...κλειστός...閉鎖した開けられる...chiuso...aperto... I was lucky to get a picture of both and he tested the weapon possibilities.

Here is the coat rack - or at least part of it emerging from the coal room. Not one of those modern things - this one, while appears to be pieces that screw together, is still pretty solid wood.

Here is the collection of long pokey things that emerged from the room. Guesses anyone on the metal tools? Patrick's guess on just about anything of this nature almost always turns to...instruments of destruction.

And so ends today's adventure with Patrick off on another to do some home teaching.

Stay tuned for the next episode of the House Adventures - when we display some of the curiosities discovered in the house. There will be a prize for the person who knows what the last item is. So come back and perhaps you'll win!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just another day in Idaho

I thought I should update. This week we got word back that the mold is gone. They came and demolished and cleaned last week, but it took a week to get the results of the clearance test. The ducts, furnace and AC units have all been cleaned - man were they dirty. We didn't like running the systems because we knew it was dirty and didn't want to distribute the mold spores all over.

The house seemed to sigh with us as all these things have finally been taken care of. We still lots to do. The most important at the moment is fixing the foundation. Nothing major - but lots of cement repairwork to be done. Things are slowly being moved out of the front room, now that we can put some stuff downstairs. Another big sigh to more room and less feeling like we just moved in.

We've had a visitor with us the past month. Madi's class is doing Flat Stanley - a creative way to encourage kids to read and write. It is based on a book about a kid who gets flattened and realizes he can travel to his friends through the mail. We have "Flat Lisa" staying with us. So far she hasn't been to anything too exciting. I'll get some pictures up to share. My computer seems to not want to go look for pictures.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Belated Christmas Present :-)

Due to a variety of things, my Christmas/Anniversary present arrived with the Kings - a few days later.

My once empty cupboard is now very full.

Here is my present all tucked away nicely.

The cupboard is a bit small, I do have to lift it up to get it out on the shelf - but it is very easy. And it has a place to hide away and not take up space on the counter!

THANK YOU!!! to my dear husband. Now on to baking and whipping!