Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pot luck soup

I'm making soup on this snowy evening, out of left-overs and things I have on hand. I want to pass along to my children and grandchilden the craft of making-do.  You'll have to use your own left-overs and imagination to create your own pot luck potage, but maybe this will give you some ideas.

Using a splash of olive oil. I sauteed some chopped onions left over from last week's book release party (originally chopped up as a topping for chili, and the left-overs stored in the refrigerator in a baggie.)

Added some crushed garlic.

Had a handful of baby carrots in the vegetable drawer.  Chopped these up in the food processor and added them to the pot. 

Added a can of pumpkin

Salt and pepper

Had half a can of chicken broth in the refrigerator,  so I added it in the pot.

I didn't want to open a new can of broth, so I just added some water, not too much.  Can use a bit of cream or half & half for richness, but not necessary.

Next, I'll fry up some bacon, and crumble it for a topping. 

Top with grated parmesan and/or gruyere cheese.

We'll eat this tonight with a salad and left-over pizza. 

What are YOU having for dinner tongight?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Twinkie Minions

Halloween fun with those squishy, creamy, airy, extremely versatile carb bombs you know and love...

Thank God Twinkies are back -- saved from near-death to live on in the minds, hearts, and cavities of kids everywhere!  (Although I was always a Tastykake girl -- Butterscotch Krimpets being my favorites -- with the peanut butter Kandykakes a close runner-up.)  Tastykake has even copied the Twinkie in a product called a "Dreamie" -- which looks exactly like a Twinkie.   

Anyway, where was I going with this?  Oh yeah.  Making minions from Twinkies, which is what Mindy and I did this weekend, with the boys.  Minions (in case you've just dropped in from another century) are the cute little torpedo-headed side-kicks in the 3D computer-animated comedic Despicable Me movies.

And what better time to make edible minions than at Halloween?

Here's what you need:
1.Twinkies, cut in half.  Each twinkie will make 2 minions.
2.Cupcakes, iced.  Here, you see one of our master chefs icing a cupcake.  (Be sure to save extra icing for "glue.")
3.Smarties (those little round colored candies that look like pharmaceuticals.)     4.Decorator icing in a tube.  We used dark brown.
5.Cake sprinkles.  Again, we used brown.
6.A couple of ninja chefs to assemble the minions.

Using a dab of icing, glue the Smartie eyes in place on the Twinkie. (Some minions only have one eye). Make a pupil in the center with a dot of icing from the tube.

With another dab of icing on top of the rounded part of the twinkie (the minion's head) stick on cake sprinkles for hair.

Squeezing the decorator icing out of the tube, make the rest of your minion's face.  Then stick the Twinkie in the middle of the iced cupcake.  Voila!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Celebrity Chefs!

Sometimes, when it's snowing outside and I'm writing furiously on my novel, I cheat.  Tonight, it's Stouffer's meatloaf in gravy; I had it in the freezer.

Bobo Leonard occasionally used Aunt Stouffer's frozen meals; a trusted brand in our family.

And to go with the meatloaf, Bob Evans mashed potatoes!!  How good is that?! 

   Now, to find a vegetable.. I always have carrots on hand.  They never go bad, have you ever known a carrot to go bad?  They might shrivel up and look anemic, but they don't go bad.  So I parboiled the rest of the carrots, sauted them in butter and dill, opened a bottle of wine -- and dinner is served!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Easy peasy pumpkin soup -- and a throw-together spinach salad to die for.

This is what I call a kick-ass autumn supper! It all starts with PUMPKIN -- and the right music to cook by.  Tonight I chose Tim McGraw's, "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it" for obvious reasons.  (Actually, I like to cook to country music because if the pan is sizzling and the exhaust vent is roaring, it doesn't matter if I miss a few words or chords, I can still sing along and make up whatever rhymes.)  And yes, that's fine Corelle china we're eating off of.

The wine I chose to swill while cooking was the bottle in the 'fridge we didn't finish last night.  (Sad, I know.  But that happens as you get older.  Or, hopefully it does...)  Palazzo Della Torre, 2009.  Although I must say, Calvados makes a great aperatif for this meal...  Now, as I'm writing this, I'm sipping Calvados as a digestif.  (If you don't know the difference, google it.) 

I LOVE pumpkin soup and have made numerous variations of it, over the years.  Also squash and carrot soup.  Actually, anything orange.  Orange and green are good colors to eat.  This recipe for pumpkin soup is one of the easiest EVER.    I improvised on it just a little, but it's from the Food Network Magazine, Oct. 2013. 

You can make it after work really quickly -- or you can start it in the morning in the crock pot on LOW.

Simmer one 15- oz can pumpkin, 2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 tsp pumkin pie spice and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. 
Next, I put this in a small crock pot (1.5 qt. size.) 
A few minutes before serving, add 1/2 c. cream.  If you aren't doing it in the slow cookier, just mix everything together from the get-go. 
Fry up some bacon (and save the grease in a can.  You all DO save your bacon grease in a can, don't you?)
 Chop up a nice tart apple and fry in butter until soft. 

Now, you can either dish up the soup, sprinkle some white cheese of your liking on top, then add the apples and crumbled bacon -- or you can use individual bread boules (you know, those round shaped loaves) and scoop out the middle, heat it in the oven, then fill it with the soup, sprinkle the cheese, then the apples, then the bacon on top and go for it! 

This recipe serves approximately 4. 

For a side dish, I saw I had some nice baby spinach in the crisper.  I got rid of most of the bacon grease (poured it into the grease can -- NOT down the drain), except for a couple of tablespoons.  Into this nice bacon grease I put half an onion, chopped, and a couple handsful of sliced mushrooms.  Sauteed these, then added a splash of apple cider vinegar and a splash of the wine I was drinking. Stirred some more, scraping the good stuff on the bottom of the pan.  Then I added the spinach, right into the cast iron skillet, stirring as it wilted nicely.  After which I added a few slivered sun dried tomatoes, for the color.  (And because I love sundried tomatoes.)  I tossed it all around and dished it up in a Corelle bowl that matches those classic blue and white plates.

Do you know this dinner contains five servings of vegetables -- six, if you count mushrooms?

Singing, "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!" 

With pumpkin for dinner, who needs dessert?

Today's Pot Luck Lunch

For today’s pot luck lunch I raided the refrigerator and used up stuff to make huevos rancheros:
Ezekiel sprouted wheat tortillas (My friend Deb Welzel turned me on to these) 
half a can of Fritos bean dip
green onions
shredded Mexican cheese blend
half a jar of 505 Southwest green chili sauce
2 eggs 
a sprig of cilantro (only a little past its prime...) 
I smeared a bunch of bean dip on two tortillas, then sprinkled a few cut up green onions over.  These I microwaved, one at a time, each on their own plate, until the cheese melted.  Meanwhile, I fried up the eggs, over easy.  Heated up the remaining green chili sauce, adding just a touch of water, and poured it over the cheesy bean tortilla.  Topped it with an egg, and there you have it: a hearty lunch for two.

I learned my pot luck skills from my mother, my aunts, and my grandmothers, who could make delicious meals out of thin air.  While I don' think I ever had huevos rancheros growing up in Maryland, in the 1950's and '60s, I learned to be creative with what was on hand. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin deviled eggs?

Growing up, my mom made deviled eggs fairly regularly.  Deviled eggs were what she took to picnics and potlucks, and what she served at Easter, as I recall.  My grandmothers both made deviled eggs too.  I don't think they ever put a pureed vegetable in a deviled egg, but tonight Bob did, creating a balanced meal, all in one bite! 

How to make pumpkin deviled eggs.  (They don't taste as weird as they sound!)

First you need a pumpkin

Then you hardboil a dozen eggs.  Bob made this recipe so it was all very scientifically precise, whereas I would have just put the eggs in a pot of water, brought it to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat off and let it sit until it cooled.
Peel and half the eggs.  Mash the yolks with 1/3 cup each, pumpkin and mayonnaise, 1 tsp. dijon mustard and 1/2 tsp. each of ground coriander and salt.  Fill the egg halves and sprinkle with paprika.
We had these for appetizers, but served with salad, they could be a meal.   
The recipe comes from October's Food Network Magazine.  I insisted Bob add paprika on top, because who ever heard of a deviled egg without it?

It's pumpkin time!

 Get ready for the pumpkin recipes!  Starting tonight...  Stay tuned...