Parfait! Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Soup

This is one of those recipes you want to keep in the back of your mind for when you have folk you want to impress, but not a lot of time.

Or, when you just want a fine bowl of tomato soup, without a lot of fuss and bother.

Thanks to Sandra Lee and her inspired take on turning every day canned goods into something special. BTW, go ahead and add fresh basil to the soup at the end. It is wicked worth it!

INGREDIENTS
•1 can condensed tomato soup
•1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
•3 cups spicy vegetable juice (V8)
•2 tsp hot sauce
•1 tsp dried basil
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: spicy or not, I use the reduced sodium V8 juice.

Prep is dead simple; combine all of the ingredients together in a pot or a slow cooker and cook over low heat until warmed though.

Just before serving, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to stir in a bit of decent sherry, and mebbe a bit of freshly chopped basil, too.

Best thing ever with grilled cheese sammiches!

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Fruit Salad With Cucumber

???

Yep, you read that headline correctly; I was looking at a surfeit of fruit and cucumbers that I was wonder what, exactly, to do with.

But then, I was meeting friends for lunch and conversation and mebbe some wine.

No, seriously, there is always wine, this time a nice, dry rosé.

Barb and Mira are pretty open about foods, so I guessed they would not object to a test.

And I was correct. They loved it.

I loved it.

Heck, my husband even pretty much loved it when I made another batch for us later in the week!

You think fruit and cucumber and are pretty sure it won’t work; but it does!

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb strawberries, quartered
•1 pint blueberries
•2 oranges, peeled and sliced
•1 cup pitted cherries
•1/2 English cucumber, sliced
•1/4 cup Cointreau
•1 tbsp sugar

Note: use whatever fruit you particularly like and/or have on hand. A bit of banana might could’ve been nice in this combo.

Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and cucumber in a large bowl, then drizzle with the Cointreau.

Toss well to distribute the sugar and Cointreau all around the fruit and cucumber.

Cover tightly and stash in the fridge for for hours or, even better, overnight before serving.

I packed mine in a travel bowl to bring to the lunch, and put a batch of the barefoot contessa’s lemon curd yogurt sauce, which the ladies totally loved on this salad, but…

I thought it better all on its own.

Here’s the lemon curd sauce recipe, try it and see which way you prefer this fine fruit and cucumber salad.

Sauce:
•7 oz Greek yogurt
•1/3 cup lemon curd
•1 tbsp honey
•1/4 tsp vanilla

Whisk together in a bowl, then cover and stash in the fridge until needed. Tasty!

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Orange Sherry Peppers Pork Tenderloin

Incredibly tender, wonderfully moist, and oh! so tasty – this pork tenderloin may just become my ‘go-to’ method for prepping pork in the future.

That shaved Brussels sprouts salad wasn’t too, too bad, either; but that is a post for another day.

What made this so very good?

Well, I believe it was the overnight marinade that allowed the pork to soak up all that spicy sweet goodness; and a quick sear before roasting on a rack.

But first, let us address the elephant in the room; the Sherry Peppers Sauce.

I really do put at least a tablespoon of this in almost everything I make, and find myself making and canning a dozen or so half-pint jars three or four times a year.

But…

if you don’t care to make batches of this tasty tamarind, sherry, and peppers sauce, feel free to use your own fave marinade, or, perhaps try adding some decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff from the market shelves) and a bit of hot sauce into the orange juice for the marinade.

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 cup Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1/2 cup orange juice
•1 pork tenderloin
•2 tbsp cooking oil
•Barbecue or other basting sauce

Whisk the orange juice together with the Sherry Peppers Sauce (or whatever you’re using), then pour it over a pork tenderloin in a gallon sized zipper bag.

Seal the bag, place on a rimmed plate (in case of leaks) and stash in the fridge overnight, flipping the bag whenever you think to.

When ready to cook, heat your oven to 400º and remove the tenderloin from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

Warm the oil over medium high heat in a skillet, then remove the pork from the marinade and brown on all sides.

Apply cooking spray to a rack placed in a baking pan, arrange the tenderloin on top.

Bake for ten minutes, then brush some sauce over the top and sides of the tenderloin.

Return to the oven for another ten minutes, then check the temperature in the thickest part of the tenderloin. If your thermometer  reads 145º, you’re good to go. If not, back into the oven – mebbe checking the temp every five minutes.

Once you’ve reached the magic number, remove from the oven, lightly cover with foil, and set aside to rest for ten minutes before slicing.

Perfectly tender, moist, and juicy, what’s not to love about this tenderloin?

Serve as a main course, as did I, or mebbe slice the tenderloin a bit thinner and serve as sliders on Hawaiian rolls.

Yeh. I might just have to try that, next time.

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Hot Sautéed Slaw

I have a fair number of coleslaw recipes on this site, this is one of my faves, and for those who don’t care for a traditional slaw, there’s this version made with mustard.

Then…

there is this  tasty version; made with broccoli slaw, onion, and carrots that have been sautéed, then tossed with a mustard vinaigrette and served warm.

Thanks to the nice folk at Redbook Magazine, who published the original recipe.

Note: the original recipe called for cabbage slaw and Dijon mustard. I was looking for a healthier alternative to the mayo and cheese laden broccoli salad everyone’s mom makes, and I am quite happy with the way this turned out.

INGREDIENTS
Dressing:
•3 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp Pineapple Mustard*
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•1/2 tsp salt

Salad:
•1/2 large sweet onion, diced
•4 cloves garlic
•1 package broccoli slaw with carrot
•1 tbsp bacon fat

*Go ahead and use your favorite Dijon mustard, if you don’t want to make the pineapple mustard, though I should note that it, too, is quite tasty.

Whisk the olive oil together with the mustard, lemon juice, and salt until blended, set aside.

Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for seven minutes, until they are both tender.

Add the broccoli slaw, toss with the onion and garlic, and continue to cook for another seven minutes, until the broccoli and carrots are crisp tender.

Note: if you choose to make this with cabbage, sauté it for five minutes, or just until the cabbage wilts.

Remove from the heat and drizzle with the dressing.

Toss to coat well and serve warm.

We totally loved it with barbecued corned beef for dinner, and the chilled leftover slaw worked a treat as a stand-in for the more usual slaw on a Reuben sammich for lunch the next day.

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Parfait! Cherry Barbecue Sauce

I make my own barbecue sauce and, if I do say so myself, it is really very good.

But…

there are times that I like to mix things up a bit – like mebbe add some cherry jam and a bottle of soda; could be Cherry Coke (or Pepsi) – both work, just do not try this with diet or “zero” sodas – but for this small batch of zippy cherry barbecue sauce goodness, I went with a bottle of vintage (all sugar, no corn sweeteners added) Dr. Pepper – available at most markets.

And you know what?

Dr. Pepper is pretty darned good for more than just making a cake or three.

INGREDIENTS
•1 cup barbecue sauce or ketchup
•12 oz Dr Pepper (or cherry cola)
•1/4 cup cherry jam
•1/2 cup brown sugar
•1 tsp mustard powder
•2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce*

*Or your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small (two quart) pot or medium heat.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened nicely.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before transferring to a jar.

This will make about one pint of very nice barbecue sauce, which just so happens to work as well on corned beef as it does on salmon, so mebbe you should keep a jar on hand, no?

 

 

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Garlic Potato Salad

So, this here’s a kindofa riff on German potato salad, in that it has bacon (well, pancetta), and is tossed in a garlicky dressing while warm.

Then, things get interesting, by which I mean mayonnaise gets added, along with some other, more usual potato salad add-ins (scallions, pickle relish, stuff like that).

And it is all served warm, or at room temperature.

Thanks to Ranch Maven at allrecipes.com for the original recipe.

INGREDIENTS
•24 oz small red potatoes
•1 pkg Italian salad dressing mix*
•1/4 cup sherry vinegar
•1/4 cup water
•3/4 cup olive oil
•1/4 cup canola oil
•2 oz chopped pancetta, cooked
•1/2 cup chopped scallions
•1/2 cup chopped carrots
•1/4 cup dill relish
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•Chopped fresh parsley

*I use this locally made all-natural dressing mix, which can be bought on line here.

Cook the pancetta until browned and crispy, then drain and set aside.

In the same pot, add the potatoes and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, just until they are tender.

Drain the potatoes and set aside to rest.

Whisk the dressing mix together with the sherry vinegar, water, and oils until well blended.

Transfer the hot potatoes to a large bowl and cut them into rough chunks with a knife.

Pour the dressing over the hot potatoes and toss to coat evenly.

Set aside to cool to room temperature, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to blend well.

Serve.

I have to admit that I was a bit concerned about the combination of oil and vinegar and mayonnaise, but it all really worked together well.

Note: If you have any leftovers and stash ’em in the fridge, the olive oil will solidify, so you’ll need to allow the salad to come to room temperature and toss again before serving. Small price to pay, really, for a nicely different potato salad.

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Butter Grilled Bone-In Chicken

Rich found a deal on bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks at our market and thought he’d like to grill them.

“How do you want them prepped?” I asked.

“I think just butter.” he replied.

“Hmmm. An interesting choice.”

So, quicklikeabunny, I went to the interwebs, where I found several intriguing options of chicken bits and butter on the grill.

Sooo, I read and considered and then went my own way with it all.

And, you know what?

This is darned good chicken!

INGREDIENTS
•Bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks*
•1 stick butter, softened
•1 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp onion powder
•1 tsp paprika
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp Cayenne
•1/2 tsp cornstarch

*We had three thighs and four drumsticks.

Stir the brown sugar, cornstarch, and seasonings into the softened butter in a bowl until well combined.

Arrange the chicken pieces on a piece of waxed paper on a platter (skin side up, for the thighs) and spread the butter on one side of each piece.

Cover the chicken with another piece of waxed paper and set aside to rest at room temperature for about one hour.

Heat your grill, then place the chicken pieces, skin (and butter) side up over indirect heat.

Close the grill cover and cook the chicken for 15 or 20 minutes.

Turn the chicken over, brush with the remaining seasoned butter, close the grill, and cook for another 15 minutes, until the pieces are nicely browned and cooked through.

Note: at the end of the grilling time, we added just a bit of Honey Dijon Diana Sauce, and it was lovely. Unfortunately, I think the Diana Sauce is only available in Canada, so go ahead and try a bit of your favorite barbecue or chicken sauce. Mebbe a bit of zippy pineapple mustard?

Remove the cooked chicken from the grill and allow to rest for about ten minutes, loosely covered, on a platter.

Serve.

I was really kinda amazed at how very good this wicked simple preparation turned out.

Try it yourself and see if you don’t agree.

BTW: we prefer bone-in cuts because we believe they have better flavor, and thighs because they cook up juicier. Use your preferred pieces, but adjust your grill times accordingly.

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Parfait! Best! Carrot Cake

I’m not certain what the issue is. I’ve had the copy and images for this post ready for over a month, but every time a Friday has come around, I’ve avoided posting it.

And, the thing is, I absolutely LOVE this cake! It is also one of Rich’s favorites, which is a big reason we normally have it around about his birthday.

The recipe, based on Bobby Flay’s carrot cake is really pretty straightforward for a ‘from scratch’ cake, aside from the part where Bobby makes his own Marshmallow Fluff. I did that too. Once.

No, thank you! The nice folk at Fluff make a fine product that I don’t feel the need to try to recreate at home ever again.

I have made a few adjustments to the recipe; adding additional seasonings (trust me, the black pepper works here), and, for this cake, I tried using cake flour for the first time.

And you know what? I think it made an already good cake just that much better!

So. All that said, let’s make us a carrot cake!

INGREDIENTS
Pan Treatment:
•1 tbsp shortening
•1 tbsp canola oil
•1 tbsp flour

Cake:
Wet Ingredients:
•3 large eggs
•1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
•1/2 cup canola oil
•2 tsp vanilla
•1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
•1 lb carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 cups, lightly packed)
•2 tsp freshly grated ginger

Dry Ingredients:
•2 cups flour
•1-1/2 cup sugar
•1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
•2 tsp baking soda
•1 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/2 tsp ground cloves
•1/2 tsp ground ginger
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
•1 tsp salt

Add Ins (Optional):
•1/3 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
•3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Frosting:
•8 oz cream cheese, softened
•1 stick unsalted butter, softened
•4 cups confectioners’ sugar
•2 cups Fluff
•1 tsp vanilla

First things first, make the cake pan treatment by stirring the flour together with the oil and shortening in a small bowl, then brush this on your cake pan(s). Works a treat, and no unsightly white flour splotches on the cake.

Note: I also lined the bottom of my cake pans with waxed paper.

Heat your oven to 350º.

If using crystallized ginger, pulse in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely chopped, then remove.

Add the drained crushed pineapple to the processor and pulse until smooth.

Using a wire whisk, combine the flour with the sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices until nicely mixed.

Beat the eggs in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 15 seconds, then add the oil, cooled melted butter, vanilla, carrots, pineapple, and grated fresh ginger and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until it is all well combined.

Fold in the crystallized ginger and pecans, if you are using them. I skipped the nuts in the cake, but I do love the extra bit of ginger hit adding the crystallized pieces.

Divide the batter between your prepared cake pans and bake for 40 to 55 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Remove the cakes to a rack to cool completely, then invert the pans and turn out the baked cakes.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, make the frosting.

A note about this frosting: it is extremely ‘loose’ and will slide off and around the cake. Keeping in the fridge will help, but I don’t really care for a cold cake, so just be prepared for a bit of messiness.

Fit the whisk attachment to your mixer, then beat the cream cheese with the butter until light and fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined.

Increase the speed and whip until light and fluffy.

Add about 2 cups of Fluff and the vanilla and whip until combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if too soft to use as frosting.

Frost your cake. I topped mine with chopped pecans, then stash in the fridge until about an hour before you plan on serving it.

This is a gloriously messy cake, but it is also just so very tasty no one will really mind the mess.

Ermmm, yeh, the top layer will more than likely slide off of the bottom (hazard of the frosting, really) but, it is still good!

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Peach Cosmopolitan

“What’s this?” you ask.

“A Cosmo?”

Surely not, why, where’s the martini glass and lime wedge?

Thing is, this is a Cosmo, a Peach Cosmo, and it’s kinda meant to be served over ice with a macerated strawberry and mebbe a splash of club soda.

So very refreshing!

INGREDIENTS
•2 parts vodka*
•2 parts cranberry juice*
•1 part peach cchnapps*
•Club soda
•Strawberry slices

*Use these proportions when making a single drink or a pitcherful.

Combine the vodka, cranberry juice, and peach schnapps together and pour over ice in a glass.

Add a splash or two of club soda and a strawberry (or cherry).

Settle back and enjoy your summer afternoon.

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Macerated Peaches

Yesterday, I posted a really nice (and gluten free!) recipe for a baked cheese blintz casserole.

Today, we’re gonna prep some fruit to scatter over the top of your blintz slices.

How about peaches?

The market had some nice white peaches, and I thought they’d work a treat with the blintz. As an added bonus, the recipe itself couldn’t be easier.

INGREDIENTS
•Fresh peaches, sliced
•Sugar
•Brandy

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with some sugar.

Drizzle a bit of brandy over the top, then toss until all of the slices are coated with the sugared brandy. Stash in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

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