Thursday, December 29, 2011

Split Pea Soup

Not to brag, but, I think I make the best Split Pea Soup I have ever tasted.  I like a velvety-smooth soup with hearty vegetables and a warmth and flavor that just make it seam like everything will be okay.  Split peas are extremely inexpensive and have enough fiber and protean to make a nutritionist proud to recommend them.  Since everything else I put in this soup is good for you as well, the end product is a rich, warm, delicious, stick-to-your-ribs soup that is really good for your body.  

Serve this soup in a bread bowl, or with a roll.  If you need more, consider adding a salad.  This soup is best in the winter, but it is one that I make for my family all year long.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Split Pea Soup
Total Time: 2.5 Hours     Serves: 6
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Ham Steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cans Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 pound (or 2 1/2 cups) Split Peas
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves
  • Pepper and Salt, to taste
  • 7 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 Potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

In large pot over high heat add ham and cook until some of the fat has been rendered. 

Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock, water, peas, bay leaves and pepper; stir to combine.

Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the peas are very soft and become smooth in the broth when stired.

Bring soup to a boil and add carrots and potatoes. Boil for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Check seasonings adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Crepes

Crepes have been a part of my families Christmas tradition since I was old enough to make them myself.  Every Christmas Eve' we get together, I make the crepes, and everyone fills his or hers with the things that sound good to them.  We like hot fudge, raspberry pie filling, lemon curd, or for my husband and brother-in-law, lemon juice and powdered sugar.

When you make these, bear in mind that the first crepe of the batch almost always needs to be thrown away.  Call it a test crepe and don't feel bad about it. Other than that, crepes can be easy, fancy, and yummy.  I hope you enjoy making these as much as you do eating them.

Prep Time: 1 hour    Makes: 12

2 Eggs
1/2 cup Water
3/4 cup Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 cup Flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

In a blender combine: eggs, water, milk butter, flour, sugar vanilla.  Blend until just mixed, about 10 seconds.

Rest batter in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

To make crepes place 1/4 cup of batter into a nonstick skillet or crepe pan, over medium heat, liberally greased with butter.

Cook for about 30 seconds on the first side and about 10 seconds on the second side.

Fill with toppings of choice.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies are a part of many families' traditions.  These are two of the cookies that my family makes every year.  The Spritz cookies keep well in a closed tin and we always color them to make them extra Christmasy.  The meringue cookies are light and sweet.   They are best the same day they are made, but can also be kept in an air-tight container for a few days.  

My family has so many Christmas food traditions, but this one has always been a favorite of mine.  Be sure to involve the whole family when making Christmas cookies, it is fun, and it will be a tradition that sticks around.

Spritz Cookies
Total Time: 1 hour     Makes: 36 Cookies
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • Colored Sugar (optional)

Combine egg yolks, butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat until combined with a hand mixer.

Gradually add flour while mixing and mix until combined.

Place dough into a cookie press and press cookies onto a cookie sheet.

If desired, top cookies with colored sugar sprinkles.

Bake at 400 for 7-10 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
Prep Time: 20 min     Makes: 24 Cookies
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips
In bowel of a stand mixer* add egg whites and cream of tartar, and beat just until soft peaks form.

Add sugar and beat until sugar is incorporated and soft peaks form.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon meringue onto a greased cookie sheet (NOT and air-bake cookie sheet).

Place into an oven preheated to 400 and immediately turn oven off.  Leave cookies for 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

*These cookies can be easily made using a hand mixer.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Farfalle with Vodka Sauce

There are two reasons I really like this sauce: first, it is easy to make without a trip to the store.  My house is always stocked with onion, garlic, and canned tomatoes.  By the way, did you know that canned tomatoes are usually the best tomatoes you can get for your family?  Tomatoes are a distinctly summer crop.  What you buy in the spring or winter is grown under conditions that just do not make for good food.  Now, summer is the time to make my capellini pomodoro, but, in the winter, when you cannot get decent tomatoes no matter how much you want to spend, don't turn your nose up at some canned tomatoes.  They were picked at the peak of freshness and canned the same day they were picked. Frankly, they are the freshest tomato you will buy outside of a farmers' market, but, I digress.  The second thing I like about this sauce is that it is really different from other pasta sauces.  If your family is like mine, you eat a lot of pasta and it is nice to have something different once in a while.   Well, the alcohol in this sauce takes flavors that are in tomatoes already and dissolves them so that you can taste them.  This makes for a previously undiscovered tomato taste!  I hope your family enjoys this taste experience.

Farfalle with Vodka Sauce
Total Time: 30 minutes     Serves: 4

  • 1 pound Farfalle Pasta, cooked
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 can (28 oz) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 cup Cream
  • Pepper, to taste

In pan melt butter then add olive oil and onion, cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, tomatoes, vodka and red pepper flakes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

To sauce add pepper and cream stir to combine and toss with pasta.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pot Roast

This recipe for pot roast closely follows one from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but a lot of the fuss is taken out to make it easier.  As I reviewed the video to write the recipe I noticed that there are a few pieces of information missing, however they are all clarified in the recipe below.

Pot Roast has such a rich, deep, beefy flavor, there is nothing quite like it.  The only real work left in this recipe is the searing of the roast before turning it over to the oven.  Don't skip this step, it is more than worth the extra effort.  Finally, when you take the roast out of the oven it will be so tender that it will probably fall apart on you.  A decent butcher will tie the roast up for you, but, if you are like me you won't mind it falling apart.  Before you serve the roast, do your best to cut it against the grain.  Many people think that because the meat falls apart it will be tender, but the long grains of the meat are still not as pleasant to chew as they are if the meat is sliced against the grain.  This too is more than worth the effort required.

With these tips, your pot roast is sure to be easy, and guaranteed to be a hit with anyone who likes beef.

Pot Roast
Total Time: 5 hours     Serves: 6 to 8
  • 3-4 pound Chuck Roast
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 can Chicken Broth
  • 1 can Beef Broth
  • 2 pounds Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Season roast with salt and pepper on both sides. 

To a very hot pot add oil, and sear roast on all sides.  Once seared remove roast from pot and set aside.

Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, sugar, thyme, chicken broth and beef broth to the pot, stir to combine.

Place roast back in pot, cover and cook at 300 for 3.5 hours.

Add potatoes and carrots to pot and cook for 1 hour.