Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simple Side bursting with color ~ 1.31.10

(I'll be adding in my food recipes from She's a Crafty Pumpkin throughout the month of February- it's about time I got them over here!)

this was outrageously delicious.

You will need 3 main ingredients:
corn (I had frozen),
grape tomatoes (sliced in half),
baby spinach (as much as your little heart desires).

heat up some extra virgin olive oil, throw in the corn, then the spinach, toss it all around as the spinach wilts, maybe some more spinach. sprinkle some kosher salt on top of that happy little frying pan. add in the toms and a twist of freshly ground pepper and....




recipe from Pgh Post Gazette sometime ago ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Basil Tomato Soup ~ 1.22.10

I am a tomato lover- come summertime, you rarely find this house without tomatoes lined up along the counter waiting to be sliced for sandwiches, stacked with buffalo mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar or added to salad. I heart tomatoes.

And in the winter, I love a bowl of homemade tomato soup. It's been a few years now that I stopped buying the high fructose corn syrup laden red and white can of Campbell's. I just cannot stomach that stuff. Sorry if you like it- not my cup of soup, so to speak.

So I've been on a quest of sorts to find a soup that:
a) I love and
b) the rest of the family loves, too.

I think I found it.

I've been making this one for quite some time, but I just couldn't stop thinking about how much it tasted like something I should be eating on pasta. I wanted more from my tomato soup. I'm always wanting more in life.

Well, I had this little number sitting in my "files" waiting for the perfect moment to give it a whirl. I think I didn't try it earlier b/c it involved a few more ingredients- ones that I didn't often buy: half and half and green bell peppers. I am NOT a big green pepper fan, but this soup has changed my feelings about that vegetable. I'll definitely be making this one all year long.

I love that it's chock full of veggies - the intense basil flavor helps, too. I'm a professed basil-lover as well.

Basil Tomato Soup
about 8 servings

One tip to making this in a jiffy- save your bacon grease. I keep mine in a little heat proof container, stored in the fridge. Bacon grease is our adds flavor to so many foods that you're preparing and just trust me, you'll thank me that you saved it.

(my notes in italics)

onto the soup...

5 strips of bacon- just used bacon grease from the fridge
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and diced
6 fresh basil leaves-chopped, divided- since it's winter, I used cubes of Trader Joe's frozen basil and added it in with the tomatoes
1 tsp minced garlic
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 Tbs chicken base or 2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 cup half and half - heavy cream works GREAT, too. I bet this would be just fine without either though
3 jumbo pitted ripe olives, sliced - I omitted this entirely

Cook bacon in stockpot- or if you've got it, just use a Tbs of bacon grease. Drain all but 1-2 Tbs of drippings. Add celery, onion and carrot and cook 2 minutes or until carrot is softened up. Add peppers, half of the basil, and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer over medium heat, breaking them up as they cook, about 5 minutes. Add chicken base and stir to dissolve. I also added a bit of water to my pot to increase the volume of soup, it did not affect the flavor at all, still very tomatoey and intense! Transfer to a blender and puree in batches (always be very CAREFUL when pureeing HOT foods in a blender- fill less than half full and whiz). Return to stockpot. Add half and half, olives and remaining basil. Simmer over medium heat, 45 minutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Auntie Leila's Better Buttermilk Baking Mix ~ 1.7.10

For a Christmas gift for Max's Godparents, we presented them with a big Breakfast basket- because who doesn't love breakfast?!? It was filled with 3 homemade goodies, a bottle of real maple syrup, a pancake pen and a cookbook.

Too bad I didn't take a photo of it, b/c it was lovely all wrapped up with a big bow! I love making baskets- it's something I certainly have a knack for and it may very well be genetic- my mother is an amazing basket builder and my Godmother had an incredible gift for filling a basket with all sorts of fun and useful trinkets.

The homemade gifts were easy and fun to whip up. I gave a jar of our favorite Best Ever Hot Cocoa Mix, a batch of Auntie Leila's Granola- which I've named Toasted Almond Granola (since that is how I flavored it), and a bag of Auntie Leila's Better Buttermilk Baking Mix (which I have printed out and the ingredients to make for way too long).

(by the way, Auntie Leila is not my aunt, but I wish she were- she has a lovely blog called Like Mother, Like Daughter. You'll glean so much from reading it)

The best part of making the better baking mix was that it makes a TON of MIX! Some to keep and some to give! Those are the best kind of recipes, you know.

Once you've mixed up your batch of Better Buttermilk Baking mix, you can make a whole host of delicious things to eat: Waffles, Scones, Biscuits, Pancakes... just to name the ones on the list!

I think to really appreciate this recipe, you should first go hear and read for yourself why making this will change your life. Okay, maybe that is a bit too dramatic, but it will help you save a step at breakfast time which in turn, will make you happier and less stressful and therefore, would change your life, right?

After you've read that post and you're convinced, gather your ingredients and maybe some friends and mix this up and have a pancake party! But don't forget the real maple syrup- you'll thank me for that. Yes, it's pricier but it's better, it's natural and it's oh so good. You can even buy it at Target! See how easy they make it for you?

Here are the ingredients you'll need:


10 cups unbleached flour (may use up to 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or just add another cup of white flour, making 11 cups)
1 cup oat flour (whiz regular oatmeal in food processor) or ½ cup oat bran
½ cup bran
¼ cup wheat germ (I've found this cheapest at Walmart or Target- it's almost $1.50 more at my grocery store!)
½ cup flax meal
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (that is not a TYPO)
1 tablespoon sugar (this helps with browning, but you can leave it out)
2 tablespoons baking soda
6 tablespoons baking powder
3 sticks (12 oz) butter - I recommend unsalted

(my notes are italicized)
but you'll need to go to the link for the Better Buttermilk Baking Mix to see what to do with it all and for the whole sheet of goodies that you can make with it, PLUS the granola recipe... PLUS so much more! You will not be disappointed. Leila does NOT disappoint! And don't be sad that I'm not posting it all here, Auntie Leila has done all the hard work already, so you should visit her google doc to get it for yourself.

You'll never buy that Bisquick again. I haven't for years...