Monday, January 20, 2014

Goat Cheese Crostini with a warm Honey Drizzle


I love three day weekends.  I think it would be fair to say that I live for time off work.  I needed this one in a really bad way.  (Refer to my chicken salad post about being burnt out on winter)  It's refreshing to not have to set an alarm three days in a row.  I can take time to do whatever I want, which today will include grilled cheese sandwiches, cleaning my floors and possibly going to purchase a treadmill if I can bring myself to put on real pants.  I'm not one to wear pajama pants in public.  

I'll probably spend a little time perusing Pinterest today as well.  Has anyone else had the update where pins are now categorized according to the items that you pin?  I am not a fan.  I miss being able to click on home decor or food and drinks.  Just because I pinned a recipe for quinoa once or twice doesn't really mean that I want to see an entire page of quinoa pins.  I need variety.  It is the spice of life after all, right?  There's my rant for the day.  I'm done now.

Yesterday after church I was so tired that I took a two hour nap.  That's not something I normally do on Sundays.  I guess the excitement of Milford, Ohio on Saturday really took it out of me.  My parents and I headed north to celebrate my nephew's 10th birthday.  I'm not sure how ten years has passed since this precious, sweet, loving boy entered my life but apparently it has.  We were able to go to his basketball game and his team won!  This kid is a defensive beast.  Always sticks with his man and that makes Aunt Aimee proud.  I was a bit of a defensive genius during my days of elementary, intramural basketball too.  

Anyway,  after I woke up, I was craving something sweet but I didn't want to get out fifty different ingredients to make cookies or brownies.  Little known fact about me:  I only like cookies straight out of the oven.  I won't eat them the next day.   That's strange, right?  Because of that, I don't really make them.  I guess I could make up the batter and freeze them and just bake a couple at a time.  Hmmm…  Don't mind me folks, I'm just thinking out loud.  

So,  I did that whole, open the fridge, stare, close the door, repeat routine a couple of times.  That's when I spotted the goat cheese and was reminded of a simple dish that a friend had made while on vacation in Florida.   That was actually my first interaction with goat cheese.  I was a goner.  So creamy and tangy and delicious.   The texture of crunchy, creamy and gooey really is one for the record books. 

Not only is this ridiculously delicious (sometimes I dream about it), it's ridiculously easy.  It would be a great addition to any get together, like this football game coming up in a couple weeks.  I'm just going to give you this easy recipe before I talk myself into making more!

Goat Cheese Crostini with a  warm Honey Drizzle                              Printer Friendly

Ingredients

Crostini
Goat Cheese
Honey

Warm honey in a sauce pan over low heat.

Spread your desired amount of goat cheese on the crostini.

Drizzle with honey.

Let the "ooh's", "aah's" and "woah, this is interesting's" begin.  Seriously, could it be any easier?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chicken Salad




It's that time of year again.  The time when I no longer care about anything.  Seriously.  Nothing.

I know it sounds terrible but it happens every year.  Every.  Single.  Year.  I blame it on my undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It IS sad.  The days are short.  The weather is cold.   The skin is dry.  The motivation is missing.  Obviously I should become a snowbird and fly south to sunshine and warmer climates immediately after the holidays.

I'm trying very hard to combat this disorder.  Trust me.  I've been eating more vegetables, trying to get more sleep and this morning I juiced!  A delicious concoction of kale, lemon, apple, carrots, ginger, romaine lettuce and italian parsley.  It really was good and as far as I'm concerned it tasted just like lemonade.  Remember, I'm a little out of it though.  I actually do love juicing.  I can't imagine a better way to squeeze in all your fruits and veggies.

When I get in one of these moods I find that the best medicine happens to be foods of summer.  You remember summer, right?  That time of the year where the grass is green, the trees have leaves, the flowers are in bloom and a refreshing glass of sweet tea is the only thing that will quench your thirst.  Ahh, summer.  How I miss you.  Side note:  You will NEVER hear me complain about being hot.  I'm smarter than that.

Wait, foods of summer.  I can get a little side tracked when thinking of my favorite season.  One of the quintessential dishes of summer to me is homemade chicken salad.  It reminds me of lunch on my parents' beautifully landscaped patio.   She serves it on hawaiian rolls because hawaiian rolls make everything better.  Even things that are delicious on their own.  Like this chicken salad.

It's a simple and traditional recipe.  That's how I prefer it.  You'll always find that I have shredded chicken in my fridge.  It's one of my time saver tricks.  I buy split chicken breasts when they're on sale, cook them all up in the crockpot, shred and freeze them.  That way you're never too far off from a delicious meal!  That's my tip for the day.  Use it.  Trust me.

Chicken Salad                                                                          Printer Friendly
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
3/4 cups grapes, halved
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix mayo, sour cream, celery salt and a pinch of pepper.  Add chicken and grapes.  Combine until well coated.

Serve on lettuce, slices of tomato or on your favorite bread or roll.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Roasted Jalapeño and Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich


I'm just gonna say it.  I think 2014 will be the year of the sandwich.  You heard it here first.  I think sandwiches have gotten a bad reputation since the day Dr. Atkins introduced his diet.  It's unfair and I'm calling for a comeback.  I do think there are ways that we could be smarter about sandwiches though, such as carefully choosing the type of bread and the ingredients placed on said bread.  This, however, is not one of those healthy sandwiches.  

I have strong opinions about diets.  My bad, "lifestyle eating habits".  Stop.  Seriously.  No one is perfect 100% of the time and frankly I don't want to live a lifestyle that doesn't allow me a sandwich or real freaking ice cream (you can't put a banana in a food processor, freeze it and trick me into thinking it's ice cream.  It's pureed frozen banana.  Call it what it is), or the occasional sweet.   

Ok.  Back to the sandwich!  A while back I shared my Pimento Cheese recipe.  I've kicked it up a notch by adding roasted jalapeño and grilling the bread.  Hence my campaign to bring sandwiches back into the American kitchen.  It's one of the easiest things to make aside from grating cheese which, if you have a food processor is a snap.  Also, I'm jealous.  I used my blender to make hummus last night and by the time all was said and done it was making some excruciating noises.

Roasted Jalapeño and Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich              Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 (8 ounce) block of mild cheddar cheese, grated
1 (4 ounce) jar of pimentos
2 heaping tablespoons mayonaise
2-3 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
2 roasted jalapeño 
Olive OIl
Bread
Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rub jalapeño lightly with olive oil.  Roast in a shallow baking dish for one hour or until skin is charred.  Once cooled,  de-stem, de-seed and finely dice the jalapeño.

In a medium bowl mix the grated cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise, pickle juice and jalapeño.

For the sandwich:

Heat skillet over medium heat.  Brush one side of one slice of bread with butter.  Spread Pimento Cheese on the other side.  Place butter side down into skillet.  Butter one side of another piece of bread.  Place onto the sandwich, butter side facing out.   Flip the sandwich so both pieces of bread brown evenly.  Remove from pan and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pineapple Jalapeño Guacamole


I've come to the conclusion that I will never sleep in again.  My body has been on this schedule for too long and my internal alarm clock doesn't have an off switch.  I'm pretty torn up about this news as sleeping is my second favorite thing to do.  Eating is number one, of course.  

I should just be thankful for the extra awake time during the weekends.  Think of how productive I can be waking up before the sun.  Sadly, knowing myself like I do, I know this extra time will be spent laying in bed with coffee, Pinterest and the Food Network.   I enjoy my lazy Saturday mornings.  Don't judge me. 

I don't know if I've said this before, but my favorite food group is appetizers.  What?  That's not a food group?  Well, it is to me.  And it's my favorite.  I could go to a restaurant and just order starters.  I love them that much.  In fact, I ate some sort of dip that I threw together for dinner last night.  Don't try to tell me that you don't fill up on chips and salsa at Mexican restaurants.  See?  You like it too!

There is something about bite sized food or foods that you can spread onto a cracker or a chip and just pop into your mouth.  It's just easy and casual and maybe that's why I like it.  Casual is how I roll.  Sweat pants are considered casual, right?  

Anyway,  I made this particular guacamole for New Years Eve and ended up eating the rest of it for breakfast.  I must have dreamt about it. Told you I love appetizers.  It was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and don't forget creamy.  It will be a great addition to that big football game coming up in a couple of weeks.  I don't know that I'll be watching.  I was expecting my team to be there.  They just can't get past the first round of the playoffs.  They're obviously cursed.  Man, I love avocados.  I wish I had one right now.   I think my lack of sleep is affecting my common sense right now so I'm just going to post this recipe.

Pineapple Jalapeño Guacamole                                            Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 large avocados
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, de-seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup pineapple, diced (I used canned)
1 lime, juiced
Salt and Pepper

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together all of the ingredients.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

It doesn't get much easer than that! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Claudia Sanders Tomato Soup with Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese



Yesterday my BFF (am I too old to say that?) sent me a picture of a grilled cheese sandwich made with garlic bread and followed it with the words, "Wouldn't that be delicious with tomato soup?".   I followed that up with complete silence while I wiped the drool off my face.  Then I immediately called my mom for the recipe she uses for tomato soup.  I then spent the next day and a half completely consumed with thoughts of gooey grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup.  

What goes together better than grilled cheese and tomato soup, I ask?  The answer: nothing.   Forget that stuff in a can.  It has nothing on this soup.  

Right about now you're probably wondering who in the heck Claudia Sanders is.  Well, she just happened to be married to a guy who went by the name Colonel Sanders.  Ringing any bells yet?  That's right.  The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Claudia has some of her own delicious recipes that haven't become as famous as her other half, except maybe in some parts of Kentucky.  She has a restaurant named after her in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  (Of course the website is under going some maintenance but here is the link anyway)

I'm not sure what prompted my mother to make this one day but I'm sure glad she did.  It is by far my favorite tomato soup.  Whenever I'm sick, this is my first request.  It will fix what ails you.  Trust me.  Now, in true Patsy fashion, she adds more sugar than most of you may want but since it's what she does, I do it too.  You can't leave the sugar out all together though because it cuts the acidity of the tomato juice.  She has tweaked the recipe from Mrs. Sanders cookbook recipe.  I'm sure if you search for it you can find it though.  

With this soup sitting on the kitchen counter I'm way too distracted to be talking to y'all.  I'm just going to give you the recipe and get back to thawing out with my soup!

Claudia Sander's Tomato Soup                                        Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 (46 ounce) can tomato juice
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk

In a dutch oven or soup pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter.  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.  Mix in the salt and flour and cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Stir in sugar, white pepper and baking soda.

Slowly whisk in the tomato juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add milk and cook for 5 more minutes.  

Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese

4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
Bread
Cheese (I prefer mozzarella for this particular sandwich)

Melt the butter.  Add the garlic and parsley.  Cook for low heat for about 10 minutes.  

Brush 1 side of the bread with butter.  Place butter side down in pan.  Cover with cheese and another piece of bread, butter side out.  Cook until bread has turned a golden brown.  

Enjoy by dipping in some delicious tomato soup!!




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Loaded Potato Soup


I'm sure by now everyone has either experienced this "Polar Vortex" that has taken over what feels like a majority of the country, or at least heard of it.  If you aren't experiencing it, consider yourself lucky.  Also, where do you live?  I would like to come visit.  I never truly understood the words "bitter cold" until the last couple of days.  I don't consider 6 degrees a high temperature.  Someone remind me to book a flight out of here the next time someone forecasts temps below zero.  Not my idea of fun.  At all.

The last two days it has taken a lot of imagination with my wardrobe.  I don't have negative temperature clothes.  Today I wore three pairs of socks, a pair of thermal leggings under my pants, two scarves, three long sleeve shirts, a sweater and a partridge in a pear tree.  That last part wasn't true.  You probably already figured that out.  The kicker was once I got to work, someone had forgotten to turn the heat up.  I ended up wearing my coat and a pair of gloves for a majority of the day.  Epic fail on someones part. 

I told you all that so that the fact that I've been obsessed with soup wouldn't sound completely strange.  When I say obsessed, I mean it.  I've dreamt about it at night and the thought of a hot soup warming my body from the inside out has captivated my every waking thought.   

Is there a soup that could warm the soul more than potato soup?  I think not.  Especially since I got a 5 pound bag of potatoes for 50 cents at Meijer on Sunday.  Obviously, it was just meant to be.

I have scoured the internet for the perfect potato soup recipe.  I couldn't find just one that would suit me so I combined a few recipes and made up my own.  It has bacon in it so how could it be bad? Also, it's gluten free!  Every single recipe I saw had flour in it and I felt that was one ingredient that could be sacrificed.  It is a little involved but I promise when you have warm soup belly, it will all be worth it. Feel free to follow this recipe or put your own spin on it.  The kitchen is your oyster.  Or something like that.

Loaded Potato Soup                                                       Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2.5 pounds of potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices bacon
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups heavy cream
2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Green onions for garnish
Water

In a dutch oven,  cook the bacon until browned and crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Over medium low heat, add the onion to the dutch oven.  Cook in the bacon grease for 2-3 minutes or until onion has softened.  Add the potato, stirring often to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes. Generously season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Stir in the garlic and the chicken broth.  If the chicken broth does not cover the potatoes, add water.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  

Add 2 ladles of the potato soup to a blender.  Cover the top of the blender with a towel to prevent splattering.  Puree until smooth.  Pour back into the dutch oven and mix into the rest of the soup.  (If you prefer chunks of potato in your soup, skip this step)

Slowly whisk in the heavy cream.  Simmer over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste to adjust seasoning.   Mix in the cheddar cheese until well combined.  Finally, add the sour cream.  Stir and allow to simmer for 5 more minutes.  

Ladle into bowls and top with crumbled bacon and green onion.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blackberry Pancakes


Is there anything better than pancakes for breakfast?  Ok.  Maybe biscuits and gravy.   I honestly don't know anyone that doesn't like pancakes.  Go ahead.  Prove me wrong.

One way, and probably the biggest way,  that I save money on food is by shopping the weekly ads.  I plan my menu around the sale items.  That's just one way to survive when you're a single chick food blogger.  Anyway, my primary shopping joint constantly has unadvertised specials.  I walked in last Saturday and blackberries were 2/$1.  I had to rub my eyes a couple of times to make sure I was reading the sign right.  Shoppers were walking away with flats of these things.  

Once I got them home I decided to search recipes for blackberries.  I found a savory dip which I made for New Years.  I don't know what I was expecting, but disappointment was what I ended up with.  I'll find a way to salvage it.  One thing I did know was that pancakes would definitely be a use for some of the blackberries.

I think everyone has a "go-to" recipe for pancakes.  I have a couple.  Some with ricotta, some with bananas but my basic recipe came from good old Martha, er Ms. Stewart.  One day I would like to bake with her.  Of course I'd also like to cook with Ina and Marcella.  Did anyone watch the premiere of "The Kitchen" on Food Network?  I very much enjoyed it.  Wait.  Pancakes.  

Ok.  I've taken a long enough break from Netflixing.  Enjoy these pancakes on a weekend morning or they are the perfect treat for a snow day.  Did I mention that it's -1 degree as I write this post?  I'm not used to this….AT ALL.  And it can stop now.  

Blackberry Pancakes                                                             Printer Friendly

Ingredients

6 ounces blackberries, roughly chopped
1 1/3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted plus additional for griddle or skillet
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a small bowl,  macerate the berries with 1 tablespoon sugar and the juice of half a lemon.  Mix well and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix the milk, melted butter (cooled) and egg.  Next add 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, salt and finally flour.  Gently mix until just combined.  Fold in the berries and juice.  Cook over medium heat, flipping after the sides start to bubble.  

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

12 Bean Crockpot Soup


Happy New Year!!!  What's that you say?  It's January 4th?  Yeah, well about that.  You see, I had things planned and then poof!  This glorious email appeared from Netflix saying seasons 5-8 of Dexter was now showing.  Any and all plans I had went out the window and I have planted myself on my couch immediately after walking in the door to watch hours and hours of this show.  I know.  It's bad.  I'm lazy.  In my defense he's the most adorable serial killer ever.   He's only after the bad guys so that makes it ok, right?

Now that I've gotten my lame excuse out of the way, let's get on with 2014.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good year.  Of course we all say that don't we?  There's something so liberating about the fresh start that a new year brings.  Personally, I don't set resolutions.  Honestly they would have all been broken the second that email showed up.  I do like to set some goals of small things I would like to accomplish.  I always seem to have excuses for those too.  For example, I would love to start taking Dolce on long, daily walks.  Well, it's snowy and about 5 degrees outside.  Seriously.  Perhaps I'll do that when it starts to get warmer.  See?  Excuses.  I'm full of them!

Rest easy though, guys.  It's barely 8am here and I've already cleaned my kitchen and started some laundry.  Now I'm sitting here talking to you with a cup of coffee.  It's possible that I'm doing this under a few layers of blankets with my dog keeping my feet warm.  I do have big plans for today.  I started a master bedroom closet project and I'm hoping to finish a good portion of it today.  What I left out of that sentence is that I started it in August.  Since then, all of my clothes have been spread throughout three different closets in my house.  It was a rash decision to tear out the horrible wire shelving unit that was housing my clothes but it was one of those with the separators in it and I couldn't slide my clothes around on the rack like I wanted to.  Tomorrow it's very likely that I will tell you I'm nowhere closer to having a functioning closet.  Anyway, food.

Last year I made this 12 Bean Crockpot Soup on New Years Day and it brought me some luck in 2013 so I figured, what the heck, let's try it again.  It can't hurt!  

I love beans.  I haven't always been able to say that but something about my not very exquisite palette has changed.  They are such a rustic, soul warming food when served with crusty bread or my favorite, cornbread.  Not to mention the fiber and protein they contain. 

I think the secret to delicious bean soup is the ham hock that it's slow cooked with.  I'm fortunate enough to live in a state where country ham is readily available.  It's salt cured in delicious spices.  Consider it the prosciutto of the south.  If you can't find a country ham hock, any smoked or salt cured hock will work.  Just make sure to taste the soup before serving to adjust the salt.  You'll notice there is no salt in this recipe because the country ham adds just the right amount!   So, without further adieu, I give you my favorite bean soup recipe!

12 Bean Crockpot Soup                                                         Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 (16 ounce bag) mixed beans
1 country ham hock
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Black pepper
Water to cover

Place beans in a large bowl with water covering about 2 inches above the beans.  Soak overnight

Drain the beans.  Add to the crockpot.  Add the diced red onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and black pepper to taste.  Stir.  Place the ham hock in the beans.   Pour in water to just cover the beans.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.  30 minutes before serving, stir in the canned tomatoes.  

Serve with corn bread or a loaf of crusty bead.

Serves 6