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.

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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.

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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.

Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

September 1, 2014

Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This weekend I signed up to bring dessert to a get-together with friends. I wanted to make peach pie, but couldn’t find ripe peaches. I remembered it’s the height of blueberry season and one of our farmers grows “everbearing” strawberries, so both were in the market at the same time. I searched the web for some ideas and came across an unusual approach I’d never tried – cooking some of the fruit into a compote and serving the shortcakes with a combination of cooked and fresh fruit. I had some trepidation about this, but thought what the heck! It was declared delicious by all, both with and without whipped cream! (I think this could be made with just blueberries, just strawberries, or a combo of blueberries and peaches as well.)

 The Shortcake

We recommend one of two recipes for the shortcake base. One uses butter and cream and one is the Joy of Cooking’s classic cream scones which I like to use when in a hurry – only 4 ingredients, plus heavy cream! Or use your favorite shortcake, biscuit or pound cake.

The Fruit

6 cups total fruit, mixed blueberries and strawberries

4 tablespoons total sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

Make the compote: Place 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups strawberries, sliced in half) in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the lime juice. Stirring constantly, bring to a low bubble over medium heat, then simmer for 3-4 minutes until fruit is a little soft and juice is slightly thickened. Take off the heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Prepare the fresh fruit: Place 2 cups fruit (I used 1 cup each blueberries and sliced strawberries) in a bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit at least 30 minutes to macerate.

Final Assembly

Make whipped cream by beating 3/4 cup heavy cream with a mixer on high speed. Just before it’s completely whipped (soft peaks) add 1 tablespoon sugar and whip to moderately stiff peaks. Don’t forget you’re not making butter! Or buy your favorite pre-made whipped cream if you’d like. We won’t tell :-).

Split the shortcakes horizontally. Spoon compote on top of the bottom, top with fresh fruit and then with whipped cream. Place top half of the shortcake on to of the prepared shortcake at an angle. I’m looking at our photo – we were in too big of a hurry to eat this to arrange it all per instructions!

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs

August 28, 2014

Greek Chicken Kebabs - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

We recently got a new gas grill, which replaced an ancient double hand-me-down (it was handed down to us from someone who had it handed down to them).  Our new one is also a hand-me-down, but much much newer, with no rust and *GASP!* it actually evenly cooks the food.  The other bonus to the new one is I can use it!  The old one had all these quirks, and it wasn’t easy to get started.  I could do it, but not very easily, and definitely not on a weeknight with two crazy kids hanging on me.  This new one is easier to use than the stove!  So I’ve been grilling every other night…no pan to clean up, and the kitchen stays nice and cool.  This is one of my favorite grilling recipes, an adaptation from the recipe magazine I use all summer long.  It’s not as quick as some of them, and doesn’t take 30 minutes like the magazine says, but it’s still quick enough that I can do it on a weeknight.  Plus, I kind of make it more complicated by doing veggie skewers for my vegetarian son along with it.  The recipe calls for serving it along with grilled pita, but I usually also serve with grilled veggie skewers and a green salad.

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs with Grilled Flatbread

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced

1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp juice from 1 lemon

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (about 1 1/2 lbs)

2 red onions, cut into 1″ chunks

4 pita bread rounds

1. Whisk yogurt, 2 tbsp oil, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in bowl.  Toss oregano, cayenne, and chicken with half of yogurt mixture.

2. Thread four 12-inch skewers with chicken and onions.  Grill over hot fire, turning skewers every 2 minutes, until onions and chicken are cooked through, about 12 minutes.  Transfer skewers to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.  Brush both sides of pita rounds with remaining oil and grill until lightly charred and warm, about 1 minute.  Transfer to platter with chicken.

3. Toss cucumbers with remaining yogurt mixture.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with chicken and pita.

Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I grew up in a big salad-eating family.  We ate a salad with every meal, and I loved it. Of course, it was iceberg lettuce, with shredded carrot and red cabbage on top, but I thought it was soooooo good.  At my grandparent’s house I loved it because it was drenched in this dressing, which we called “Grandpa’s French.”  I never knew where he got the recipe, or if he came up with it himself, and I had no idea what was in it other than oil, vinegar, paprika and a clove of garlic.  So I was never able to recreate it.  For years we ate salads with just plain oil and vinegar, or with Newman’s Italian (for a store-bought dressing, it’s pretty good).  Then, right after I had Desmond, my Aunt Judy and mom somehow found this recipe in my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook.  If I remember this correctly (I was in the “new mom haze’), we all agreed that it sounded just like Grandpa’s French!  So we made it.  Lo and behold, it tasted like Grandpa’s French!  Could it be?  He got the recipe from a cookbook??  I always imagined that it was some culinary genius that he came up with on his own.  But of course, it’s from Betty Crocker.  That was my grandma’s cookbook.  She was a “Betty Crocker” loyalist (vs. my Granny, who was in the “Better Homes and Gardens” camp).

Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

I’ve been making this dressing for us ever since.  We haven’t bought dressing in YEARS…once you know the formula for a good vinaigrette, there’s really no point in buying dressing.  It’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or citrus juice, like lemon or lime), and spices.  Every once in awhile, I’ll make some other kind, but for the most part, we always have this in the cabinet (and yes, we keep it in the cabinet and not the fridge, just like my grandparents did).  This dressing is always a hit with everyone that tries it…I’m constantly getting asked for the recipe.  So I thought I should probably post it.  I wish I had a photo of my son drinking it out of the bowl after he finishes his salad…he likes it THAT MUCH.

Grandpa Major’s French Dressing

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (Grandpa used regular, but I like the flavor of smoked)
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, whole*

Place all ingredients in a jar or dressing bottle, place lid on it and shake until completely combined. It’s best to make it at least a few hours before using, even better the day before, so the flavors have a chance to infuse.

*I prefer putting a whole garlic clove in, rather than mincing it.  My aunt minces it before putting it in.  It’s your call…but, Grandpa put it in whole, for what it’s worth.  🙂

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

Margaux says…

I love making frittatas for dinner in the summer.  It’s a great way to use up random produce sitting in the fridge, it’s quick and easy, and it is best served at room temperature, which is great in summer.  I got the idea for this one from Skinnytaste.com, except this isn’t the skinny version.

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

We don’t have tons of tomatoes and zucchinis like some people, because we unfortunately don’t have a garden.  But I know that when you do grow those things, they are plentiful, so this is a great way to use it up.  And the Asiago adds so much delicious flavor to this dish!

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

2 medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

8 large eggs

3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1/4 cup chopped basil

salt and pepper

2 small garden tomatoes, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together eggs with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and Asiago cheese.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 10″ non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and turn up heat to medium-high.  Saute until zucchini is soft, about 2 more minutes.  Add egg mixture and let sit for a minute, then tilt the pan and loosen the edges with a spatula, letting uncooked egg slide underneath.  Cook until the underside is golden but the top is still liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the top of the frittata, sprinkle a little salt on them, and transfer to a center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake until the top is set, about 5 minutes.  If the top doesn’t set in that amount of time, turn the broiler on high, move the rack to the top position, and broil until the top sets, about 1-2 minutes.  Don’t overcook!  Remove pan from oven and let cool to warm.  Remove frittata from pan onto a large serving plate, or cut right in the pan and serve.  I like to serve it at room temperature, but it’s also good warm.

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I bought this recipe magazine on a whim 4 years ago while waiting in line at the supermarket, and it quickly became my most-used recipe book in the summer and fall. Every recipe I have made (and I have used almost all of them) have been fantastic. And they are super quick and easy. So, since I use this blog as my virtual recipe box and menu planner (along with Pinterest, of course), I thought I would post some of my favorites from the magazine, just in case someday it catches on fire from being too close to a burner, or accidentally gets dropped in the dishwater. Plus, you should try out these recipes, too! They’re great for a quick, easy and flavorful weeknight meal.
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I’m starting with the steak and zucchini tostadas. I don’t make these as often because we really don’t eat steak all that much (small business owner budget), but I have made this substituting lentil taco filling for the steak and it is also pretty good. My favorite lentil taco filling recipe is sort of a mash-up of my own taco seasoning and the lentil taco recipe from Budget Bytes.  Actually, I keep the lentil taco filling on hand in the freezer for whenever we have tacos, so I have it ready for my vegetarian son on taco nights.  But I digress….try these tostadas on your next taco night, you won’t be sorry.  Zucchini and steak is a great combo!

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

**To make this even quicker, you can buy already made tostada shells at the grocery store if your store carries them.  Here in Chicago there are a couple of different local brands that make them, and you can find them in the “Mexican” aisle.

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

salt and pepper

1 small flank steak (or about 1 lb strip steak…I used that once because it’s what I had on hand)

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

1 recipe pico de gallo, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush both sides of tortillas with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay tortillas in single layer on 2 baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating baking sheets and flipping tortillas halfway through, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat additional 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook beef until well browned and it registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 4 to 6 minutes per side.  Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.

3. Add remaining oil and zucchini to skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

4. Cut beef in half lengthwise, then very thinly slice beef crosswise against grain.  Divide beef and zucchini equally among tostadas.  Top with feta and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges and pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

3 cored, seeded and diced plum tomatoes

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalepenos, seeded and minced (leave more of the seeds for more heat)

juice from 2 limes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.