Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This winter, Randy and I had what we called “Downton Abbey Dinner Date”.  We would record DA and I would cook a soup which we would have while we watched the latest installment, usually Wednesday evenings.  It was a lot of fun and  great to have warming soups during our coldest months. While I made a few standbys, I tried some new recipes including this one. Margaux had pinned this recipe a while back and while searching for something to cook it caught my eye. I thought it looked really good and that it would be a really quick weeknight meal. We made a number of adaptations to up the deliciousness, but still keeping fast and easy in mind.  How quickly you can make this is determined by how much you cook from scratch (chickpeas, e.g.) or how much you use canned/frozen ingredients.

Margaux says . . .

I don’t remember pinning this recipe, but I’m really glad Aunt Suzy brought it to my attention! I just made it last night and it was a hit with the whole family. My son loved that it was spicy, too…he’s very proud that he has a taste for spicy food. If you have someone in your family that is sensitive to spicy things, I would cut the red pepper flakes back to 1/4 tsp. I used fresh chard because I couldn’t find frozen in my grocery store, but I think using frozen is a great idea as a time saver, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for frozen for the next time I make this.

Ingredients

5 1/2-6 cups cooked chickpeas (four 14-oz cans or 2 cups dried, cooked)

6-7 cups chicken stock, homemade or boxed (or Better than Bouillon no chicken broth for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, small dice

1 celery rib, small dice

Swiss chard stems, diced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bay leaf

Small Parmesan rind, optional

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and  leaves cut into 1-inch pieces or 1-2 bags frozen chopped Swiss chard (see above note about stems)

Salt & pepper

Cooked small pasta – elbows, fusilli or shells, optional (we like whole wheat shells)

Directions

If using dried chickpeas, cook according to directions. 2 cups dried will produce the amount  of cooked called for in this recipe. If using canned, drain and rinse.

Combine 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup chicken stock. Using a hand or regular blender, process until the texture is like oatmeal. Set aside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chard stems, if using, and rosemary. Saute over medium heat for 5 or so minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the pepper flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the pureed chickpea mixture, the remaining chicken stock, cooked chickpeas, bay leaf and the Parmesan rind, if using.  The amount of stock you will use depends on whether you like your soups on the thick or thin side. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves before serving.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions until al dente.

To serve, place a little pasta in the bottom of the soup bowls and ladle the soup into the bowl. Serve with baguette if desired.

Snickerdoodles

March 3, 2015

Snickerdoodles

Margaux says..

It’s really difficult for me to get requests for foods or treats out of my husband, except for when it comes to cookies. He loves cookies. If I baked cookies once a week, he would be a happy man. And his taste is simple: chocolate chip is his favorite, and any other simple cookie like unfrosted sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles remind me of my childhood…both my aunt and my grandma made them on a regular basis. The flavor is like cinnamon toast, all buttery and cinnamony, a perfect treat on a dreary winter day.

Snickerdoodle dough

I love the texture of snickerdoodles…chewy in the center, slightly crispy on the edges. This recipe gives you that perfect texture. I’ve tried tons of different recipes for them, and sometimes they turn out a little too cakey, and sometimes a little too crispy. The Martha Stewart recipe is a winner. And they require very few ingredients, which most people have on hand, so they are the perfect spontaneous baking project!

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into twenty 1 3/4-inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Italian Chicken Casserole

February 28, 2015

Italian Chicken Casserole

Margaux says…

Back in the relaxing days of only having one small child, I used to watch a lot of daytime TV. My son would only nap for long stretches when he was laying on me…if I tried to lay him down in his own bed, on our bed, or on the couch, he would wake up within 10 minutes. And then would be crabby for the rest of the day. Luckily he was my first born, and got lots of snuggles on the couch, every day, for the first 2.5 years of his life. It got frustrating: dirty dishes would sit in the sink, phone calls would go unanswered, laundry would sit in the dryer, dinner would go un-prepped. I had no smartphone, so no emails, Facebook, or Words with Friends. So, I watched A LOT of television. And after I had marathoned Doctor Who, Firefly and Veronica Mars on Netflix (thank goodness we had Netflix), I turned to daytime TV. And a whole bunch of Food Network. And I’m actually glad for it, because I learned a bunch of really great cooking tips from Ina, and quick meal ideas from Rachel and Giada. This was one of them, and I make it on a pretty regular basis. I remember it was on an episode when Giada was cooking with a child, so it’s meant to be a good recipe for a kid to help with. Which is true, my son has helped me make it many times. It can be prepared in about 30 minutes. A great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken Casserole

 

Italian Chicken Casserole

This makes enough for 4 people, in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. I like to double the recipe and bake in a 13×9″ dish so we have plenty of leftovers.

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Note: This can also be made with already cooked chicken. Just saute the onion and garlic on their own, and add the chicken to the bowl with everything and toss.

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

February 5, 2015

 

 

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . .

It’s early February and that means cold where we live – perfect weather for soup. This week, I felt I might be coming down with a cold, so I thought a soup with ginger in it would really hit the spot. I recently filed away this recipe from Bon Appetit, so when I searched for something to make it was at the top of the pile. Randy and I both agreed that we would make this again. Once the ingredients were assembled, it came together in about 45 minutes. Who can ask for more on a cold weeknight?!

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons

1/2 to 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 quarts chicken stock or broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 cups baby spinach

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooked small pasta, optional

Lime wedges (for serving)

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip really doesn’t adequately describe these cookies. It’s more like: Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Browned Butter Almond and Craisin Cookies. But that’s too hard to remember. These cookies are jam packed with yummy goodies, and I LOVE cookies with everything but the kitchen sink in them. These are exceptional, and I think it’s the coconut. So, if you’re like me, and love coconut and chocolate together, you should give these a try. My Aunt Cindy emailed me this recipe last spring, and I have made them several times.

Browned Butter

The original recipe didn’t call for browned butter, but after making cookies with browned butter in them, I’m always willing to go the extra mile. It really enhances the flavor! These cookies have so much in them, that I don’t feel bad grabbing one for breakfast even. Protein, fiber, carbs, vitamin C…it has it all. Right? ;)

cookie dough

oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packaged finely shredded unsweetened coconut (see note below)*
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
3/4 cup almonds with skins (4 oz), toasted, cooled, and chopped
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Brown the butter: In a large saucepan (preferably light in color so that you can see when the butter browns so that it doesn’t burn), melt one and a half sticks of the butter on high heat. When it’s just melted, start swirling the pan around on the burner, until you see the butter starting to brown on the bottom of the pan (it will appear as little brown bits on the bottom). Remove from the heat, and put the remaining half stick of butter in the pan and swirl around until completely melted. Set aside to allow to cool slightly.

Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium
speed (or beat by hand with a wire whisk). Add eggs and beat until just blended, about 30 seconds. Let sit for one minute, then beat for 30 more seconds. Then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended (or carefully stir in by hand with a wooden spoon). Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased) (about 8 cookies per sheet). Pat down cookie dough slightly so that it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position and rotating pans halfway through baking, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes total (it should still look just slightly underdone in the center).

Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies in same manner.

Cook’s notes: I have made these without the browned butter step, also, and they are still great. Just use room temperature butter, and beat it on high speed with the sugars until light in color and texture. I have also used pecans instead of almonds, and left out the craisins altogether, although I like the tartness of the craisins paired with the sweetness of the chocolate.

My Aunt Cindy just reminded me that these also can be made subbing half the butter for coconut oil! It gives a more intense coconut flavor. If you still want the browned butter, just brown one stick of butter, and then swirl in the coconut oil once the butter is browned.

*note on coconut: I have used both unsweetened shredded and sweetened (the regular Baker’s shredded coconut found in the baking aisle). The unsweetened is preferable, but in a pinch you can use sweetened. It makes the cookies MUCH more sweet, and I feel like the coconut flavor is lost a little because of that. So maybe decrease the sugar a bit and use only a tablespoon or two of the granulated.

I love these warm, and highly recommend microwaving them for 20 seconds or so before eating them (or just eating them right off the pan!).

Roasted Tomato Salsa

September 10, 2014

Grilled Tomato Salsa

 

Margaux says…

I don’t know why it took me so long to make salsa.  I make so many other things from scratch, like salad dressing, hummus, granola, sometimes peanut or almond butter…why wouldn’t I make my own salsa, too?  So this summer I’ve been making salsa as often as I make hummus, like, weekly!  It’s so much better than store bought.  I’m posting this recipe because it’s the easiest, quickest, and most fresh tasting for all your garden tomatoes you’re harvesting (and I’m pining after!).

The original recipe called for grilling the tomatoes, but I tried that once and found that it just dried them out too much, and the salsa ended up really thick.  If you have exceptionally juicy romas, it might work better, and then you would get that nice fire-roasted charcoal flavor, but I recommend sticking to the oven method if not.  I got the idea of broiling them in the oven from a Martha Stewart chili recipe that we also love.  The oven method still chars them, and really brings out the flavor of the tomato (we also love oven roasted tomatoes around here…if you haven’t tried that yet, I highly recommend it).

Roasted Tomato Salsa

This makes a pretty small batch…just a little more than a jar of salsa that you would buy at the store.

4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half

1-2 jalapenos, sliced in half and seeded  (*note on spiciness below)

1/4 red onion

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro

juice from 1/2 lime

salt and pepper

Preheat your broiler on high, and place the rack 3″ from the heat source.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place vegetables on sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, until they start to char.  Take jalapeno and onion off and place in a food processor or blender.  Turn tomatoes over, and broil for another few minutes until they start to char on the other side.  Remove from oven, take skins off of tomatoes, and place in the food processor or blender.  Pulse a couple times, then add cilantro, lime, salt and pepper.  I add about 1/4 tsp salt, and then pulse a few times until it’s the desired consistency.  Pour into a bowl, taste, and stir in more salt and pepper if needed.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.

*Note on spicy.  We like our salsa really spicy, and our son likes it kind of spicy, and our daughter likes it mild.  Ha.  So it all depends on the jalapeno seeds.  If you don’t take out any seeds, you’re gonna have pretty spicy salsa.  If it’s a good jalapeno, it’s gonna be really spicy.  For medium spicy, I take out all but a tiny bit of the seeds.  For mild salsa, I take out every trace of seeds from the jalapeno.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I learned how to make this Creole okra stew from friend Cliff Domio many years ago . . . let’s just say decades! But I haven’t made it in several years, and I’m not sure why it fell off my rotation. Maybe the difficulty finding okra here in the upper Midwest of the U.S. When I first moved here in the 90’s I almost never saw it at the farmer’s markets or grocery stores.  Or maybe it was because not many people here were familiar with okra or avoided it because of its slimy reputation. So I had sort of forgotten about this dish.

All of a sudden this year it seems that many of the farmers at the market have oodles of okra, especially the Hmong. (They are a great study in adapting to market demands and I wonder if the recent immigration from countries where okra is a staple has prompted them to grow it.) On a recent trip to the big farmers’ market downtown, I thought the okra looked really good so I decided to revisit a favorite. Serve this over rice for a satisfying meal. You might also consider a side of cornbread or a baguette to round things out.

Ingredients

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 medium green pepper small dice
3-5 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
1-2 links smoked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch rounds (I like andouille)
3-4 cups okra, cut in 3/4-inch pieces
4-5 cups diced fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small can tomato sauce, optional (I rarely use)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
10-12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup dry rice, cooked according to directions (we used brown)

Directions

Saute the onion and green pepper in olive oil on medium high heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and the smoked sausage and saute for another minute or two. Add the okra and saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Note that if the heat is maintained, it won’t get slimy. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, if using, and crushed red pepper and stir to combine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 min or so till okra is done but not massacred.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Add the shrimp and simmer for another 5-8 minutes till shrimp is just cooked through. Serve over rice – we used brown rice. Enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 149 other followers