What a busy fall!

Let me begin by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE!!!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZA!!! My beautiful niece and beautiful ‘adopted’ daughter share this birthday. It’s the big 21 for Liza….I wish you both love and joy!!

This has been an amazingly busy month and it’s not over yet. Two weeks ago our younger daughter was home for the weekend. Last weekend number one child was here. We had a visit from Liza, and there is more to come. This weekend a childhood friend is coming to visit. Phew!

Of course this means there was a lot of food prep and consumption! For our Moose there was an amazing Harvest Minestrone soup. The recipe is from MindBodyGreen and is amazing.

I made a six quart pot of it….. And then for my carnivorous hubby, I took out two quarts, added 16 oz of beef stock and mini meatballs. Everyone was happy.

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I made kisir with both Moose and Liza. The recipe can be found in my previous post “Food is love…… A totally fun afternoon…..”. Both girls enjoyed it and will hopefully make it themselves.

With Tammy there was a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So much fun! And a leisurely dinner at Aroma Thyme. where we enjoyed great food and lovely company. The festival was a hoot too.

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All of the usual suspects continued in my day to day planning….. Meatloaf, quinoa, chicken…..ooooh!!! So for Sunday dinner with Tammy here, I made a YUMMY pasta dinner….
Pasta
Pesto
Sundried tomatoes
Chicken medallions
OH MY MY HOW DELISH!!! And super simple.

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This morning I prepared the fruit and nuts in sherry for the first fruit cake cookies of the season. Thanks Ina Garten!

What have you been cooking up?

The flavors of fall are the best. Get cooking people! And enjoy!!!!

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Sweet corn and a two soup day

So yesterday I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen. I call it puttering. Among my other kitchen accomplishments I froze two bags of corn for the holidays. Freezing corn is so simple. I read a number of sites and suggestions and went with what seemed simple and sensible.

Here goes…. Shuck the ears of corn. Get all of the silk. No one wants to eat corn off the cob and get silk in their teeth! Put it in your best corn pot, cover with water, and boil for 3-7 minutes. I chose 5! After it is boiled, you have to shock it in ice water for the same number of minutes as you boiled it. Longer is fine, but no less. You can prepare a big bowl of water and ice, and at first I did. Then I thought, if I take the pot to the sink, run cold water in the pot until it cools and throw ice in there, it is easier. And I am always looking for easier. LOL

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Now I will give you another trick that I saw a number of chefs do and it works like a charm. To cut the kernels off the cob, and not make a huge mess, put a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl….

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Now use the small bowl to steady the ear and cut the kernels off as close as you can to get all of the deliciousness, but not so close to get hard pieces of cob….

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When you are done, take the small bowl out and break the kernels apart….

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Put the corn into freezer bags. Mark them with the contents and date.

Everything I read says that without blanching (boiling and shocking) the corn should stay fresh for 6 months. With blanching you can go 8-10. Frankly, I have frozen about a dozen bags of corn, and we have already eaten two, and I pulled one out today to use in soup…. So if I still have some left for the holidays I will be happy. And that is only three months away.

Phew! Now go freeze some corn and stop buying processed stuff!!! LOL

I made not one, but two pots of soup today. What better way to usher in the fall!? I made a yummy 15 bean soup and beef vegetable. Barry had the bean soup for dinner. He had seconds, so it’s a keeper.

I don’t think there are many soups he won’t eat, but he LOVES beans…all kinds. So bean soup is always a hit for him.

So we will talk more about soups, but I am tired. My kitchen is cleaned up, the soups cooled and put away, and lunch made for tomorrow. Time to put my feet up and ….. Enjoy!

Happy Fall!

I had a busy summer. Our Moose moved from Chicago to Silver Spring MD to finish her degree in DC. In between she spent a few weeks with us. It was a good visit as we got the chance to know our daughter as a blossoming woman.

Moose turned 25 while home and we celebrated by taking her on a wine tour….something she had dreamed about for years but never had the chance to do. The best part was that we didn’t tell her a thing. The surprise was worth it. The trip was fabulous!

Having not posted for awhile, I put up some food pictures on my Facebook page and one of my nieces, Katie, asked me where my “fancy blog” went. I responded that I had been grumpy and writing while grumpy was bad….I was encouraged to do so. Art thought it would be amusing.

So call me the Grumpy Gourmet.

Summer is gone and today is the first day of fall. Seemed like a good day to write again. I am already in full fall food mode and I have started my Christmas planning and shopping. Our Moose and her significant other split up, but remained friends. Having only three kids to buy for, Boyfriend declared that the extra buying power should be thrown in his direction…. After all, he had catching up to do on Tammy and Moose. Well, all had trouble not laughing and agreeing.

So Katie girl….. I am back. And I am ramping up the soup season. I have also been to the farms and gotten so much deliciousness. Corn this summer has been AMAZING so I have been buying a lot and freezing it. I will show you how in the days that follow.

With Tammy in a new job, Boyfriend excelling in his masters while still working full time, and Moose incredibly happy in DC, it is hard to be grumpy about my continued unemployment. Almost.

I have realized something odd though. Happiness is a full pantry. With uncertainty comes trepidation. In these times I find comfort in a full pantry and fresh food on my counter.

We will talk some more this week. I thought I would take a few moments this morning over my Sunday morning coffee time to say…..

THE GRUMPY GOURMET IS BACK!!!!

Back to my coffee and to……..enjoy!

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Food is Love ~ Making soup

Barry loves all things soup. He could eat soup every day! He loves everything about it. And add some warm bread and he is in heaven! ❤

I made a super simple minestrone soup today and he is going to love it. Now don’t freak out, but I added beef to it. Sorry. Barry loves the minestrone, but he loves meat in his soup. Beef minestrone it is.

BEEF MINESTRONE SOUP

So into the dutch oven:

  • 3 cups broth ~ I used veggie today because I had a box open from the other day when I made quinoa
  • 1 28 or 35 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans (navy beans) – oh, and I used 2 cans because Barry LOVES beans
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots ~ diced or chopped to desired size ~ I grated a large one into the pot so the pieces would cook down
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • beef cubes ~ browned and seasoned (optional really)

Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and allow to cook. Really. No kidding. If you used a Dutch oven, you can put it in the oven on 225 or on top on low. I made this at 2:00 and we will eat at 5:00. This is also perfect for the slow cooker! Low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 if you use the slow cooker.

Minestrone

About 30 minutes before you want to eat it, add ditalini – 2 cups cooked. I will add less because I doubled the beans and Barry prefers that. You can also add zucchini (which Barry detests, so I won’t LOL). And you can also add a box of frozen chopped spinach.

When you are ready to eat, take out the bay leaves!!! And then taste a little, see if it needs anything and add a little more…

To serve you can garnish with grated parmesan and torn basil.

Ok, so while I was in the kitchen I whipped up lunch…chicken salad and avocado slices! Mmmmm…. try the soup. You’ll like it. Time for me to go have lunch and enjoy!

LUNCH!

 

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ When planning is your best friend… and why.

Today I woke up and thought…GUH! I don’t feel well. Pfft. I got my first cup of coffee and while it was in the microwave (yup, I nuke the empty cup 30 seconds, then nuke the cup of coffee the same…perfection) I pulled out the soup pot and put chicken stock and 2 bay leaves in it… and I left the beginnings of chicken soup to simmer while I woke up and had that all important first cup. 😀

When I went in for cup number two I chopped 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery (super small, as we like it!) and added that. I prepare my veggies when I come home from the market so they were cleaned and ready for chopping. Good planning, huh!? So now I have the beginnings of easy and delicious chicken soup. Perfect not only for a cold week, but for a funky day when it feels like I am fighting a cold.

I ran to the store for a few needed items. I certainly didn’t feel like fussing, so it was one of those rare times I snuck into the store in sweat clothes and big sunglasses… LOL. I got what I needed and am home again bundled up in a very warm homemade quilt, one my mother made when she was still alive. It offers warmth and comfort.
Momma's blanketMom’s Masterpiece

The soup stock is slowly simmering, and it will for hours. Later, I will cut up some chicken from yesterday’s Dutch oven chicken, another great plan. And of course, there will be small pasta, perhaps a ditalini. In the meantime, I made Moose Quinoa Fiesta Salad from the quinoa I made yesterday. By adding black beans, frozen corn, diced tomato, and chopped colorful sweet peppers, my quinoa becomes a most delicious treat. Feeling funky, though, I wanted warm. So, I warmed the quinoa salad 30 seconds, then added crumbled feta, and warmed again for 1 minute. YUMMO!!

So good planning has me in a good space, even with having an off day. There will be chicken soup for dinner (minimal effort), and there are three slices of last night’s pizza left. Barry will enjoy soup and pizza, while I have a cup of soup and maybe some more quinoa salad. I hope it is only an off day, but should I feel poorly in the coming few days, I will have chicken soup and there are also planned leftovers in the freezer. I made Barry beef lentil soup and there are two helpings frozen.

Here is the wonderful thing. As a person who works hard to eat well and eat fresh, it seems like I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I do. The better I think ahead, the better I plan, the better Barry and I eat ~ and the healthier! There were way too many times in the past when poor planning lead to poor eating. With a busy schedule and a stressful job, there was very little energy put into what I ate. Careless eating was bad for my waistline and my health.

Those days are gone. I enjoy planning ahead. I enjoy planning, shopping, and cooking good food. How about you!? Think about the things you eat. Plan ahead. You will find that it makes life easier, and more delicious!

I am going to go make a hot cup ot tea now. Please go do some planning. Consider it an investment in your future! As always, folks, enjoy! 😉

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Beef lentil soup

Finally, Barry will get that lentil soup he is “hankerin” for! I tried – unsuccessfully – to convince him that lentils and ham are a better match, but he would not be dissuaded. So here we go….

soup!

For this recipe you need:

  • beef – your choice ground or cubed, I used cubed beef
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

I began with the beef. Brown it in oil and season with salt and pepper. I also used some garlic powder for flavor, but that is optional. Remove the beef and drain on a paper towel. Remove the drippings from the pot in this case.

Now, this is the simple and amazing thing…. add the beef back to the pot and then add the can of crushed tomatoes, the water, dried lentils, carrots, celery, onion, diced peppers, salt, pepper, and the 2 bay leaves. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Check the vegetables, and check for flavor.

Seriously.

So there are certainly a bazillion variations. You might add thyme. Or beef bouillion. I saw recipes with frozen chopped spinach. I also saw cabbage. None of these options would please Barry’s palate. You will make soup to please yours. So taste a little, then if you wish, add a little more!

Barry wanted potatoes in this too. Lentils and beef are hearty enough so I will likely disappoint him in that. But there will be toasty bread to dip and that will make him happy.

Next venture is the cauliflower pizza crust…. what is going on in your kitchen!?!??! Whatever it is…. enjoy!

 

***Author’s note: If you decide to expand the pot of soup by adding liquid, make sure to taste and add flavor too…so if you decide to add water, consider beef bouillion as well. Remember to taste!! 😉
ENJOY!!!

Flavors on the Go ~ A simple and delicious meal that travels well

So the Big Feast day gets closer. Tomorrow is travel day to Rochester. That makes today cooking day! I bought the supplies I need to take, and I am preparing dishes to take as well. I will be bringing dinner for the 6 of us tomorrow. Today I will prepare the food and make it portable. With my plan for soup, salad, and bread, I am preparing the food to finish when we arrive. Dinner should be ready to eat in 10 – 15 minutes after we get there.

The meal I am bringing is Lemon Chicken Soup, Tarragon Salad, and bread. I went to my local market yesterday for my last supplies. They have a bakery in the deli department so I ordered two fresh loaves. They will be ready for pick up tomorrow. I bought one more from a local bakery and put that in the freezer.

So the plan looks like this:

  • Make the soup stock. Bring the chicken and the orzo pasta. When I get there, put the pot on to boil, add the orzo, lower the heat, and add diced chicken.
  • I will wash and chop the lettuce ahead. And I will take the apples, walnuts, and cheese. I usually make dressing fresh but one day ahead is still fresh. So the dressing will be made ahead and carried in a container.
  • The bread: I bought two because I am bringing a cheesy spinach dip to put into one.

After bringing the pieces, the plan there becomes:

  • Put the soup on to boil.
  • Put the spinach dip in a saucepan to warm or a microwave safe dish to warm that way.
  • Prepare the salad: toss the lettuce in a bowl, dice the apples, toss in the cheese. I would toss in the nuts next, but Boyfriend doesn’t like nuts, so I will toss everything but the nuts together and take some out for him. (A less than perfect salad! LOL) Then toss the rest with the walnuts.
  • Add the chicken and orzo to the soup. Lower the heat to cook the orzo.
  • Prepare the bread bowl.
  • Come eat!!!

Ah, but you remember I ordered two loaves. I ordered both round loaves. One will be for the dip, with the cut out part as the dipping goodness. The other is to slice and dip in the soup or to just butter and eat.

I am going to talk through all of the recipes; all are so very easy.

Cheesy Spinach Dip 

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
  • 1 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 c grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 tbsp onion powder ~ here you could grate 1 tbsp of onion in if you are already cutting an onion for something else…
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 dashes hot sauce 

There is really no fancy preparation. Put the cheeses, sour cream, onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir often, until everything melts together. Add in the spinach. Stir it all together and taste a little. If you need to, add a little of whatever flavor you think is missing.

I will cool this and put it away in a container to warm and eat with the soup and salad when we get there.

Tarragon Salad 

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • apples ~ or you can use pears! 
  • walnuts halves
  • goat cheese
  • Homemade tarragon dressing: Tarragon Vinegar, mustard, tarragon and olive oil

Again, so simple and luscious. In the summer, Barry and I often eat this salad as a meal with some steamed edamame!

Clean and chop the lettuce. I learned awhile back that the reason my husband hardly ever ate salad was that he hated fighting the big greens and having to cut it. So every salad in our house is a chop salad. I adhere to the belief that the preparation of a salad should allow you to grab a fork and enjoy bite sized pieces. So the pieces are small and the dressing is on it when it is served.

So now you have perfectly prepared lettuce bites, dice up an apple or two, crumble or chop up some goat cheese, and throw on walnut pieces (whatever size you like).  Cook’s note: Pears are also delicious in this salad. I am going fall/apple here as per Tammy’s request. Toss with dressing.

For the dressing, whisk a tablespoon or so of tarragon vinegar (If I can find this in my little town, you can find it anywhere!), a teaspoon of mustard, and a small palmful of dried tarragon. Stream in olive oil as you continue to whisk. Taste a little. I have added too much vinegar at times and will put a little clear agave (you could use sugar) in to take the sharp vinegar edge off.  We do not like a lot of vinegar, so once more… Make it your own. It is your meal, make it delicious for you!

With a salad I am loathe to give you amounts. Make the salad the size you want or need. This time, for six of us, I have six hearts of Romaine ~ one per person. I will dice up 2 apples. I have a bag of walnuts at the ready. I will likely use less than a cup for the 5 of us. And I have an 8 oz. log of goat cheese. Now this I might use 4 or 5 oz. because we are all cheese lovers. Tailor your salad to your family. Always tailor to your own taste.

Lemon Chicken Soup

  • 6 – 8cupschicken broth ~ I use low sodium so I can control the salt
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice ~ about 2 lemons
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (2 in) Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 carrots ~ diced small
  • 1 cup orzo ~ you can use any small pasta you like
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast meat ~ rotisserie is really best here
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt to taste

In a large stockpot, bring the chicken broth, lemon juice, bay leaf and Parmesan cheese rind to a boil. Add the carrots and continue to simmer until they are softened, 8 – 10 minutes for me. We like soft carrots; we are not into crunchy soup! 😉

Add the orzo and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken and heat through, a few more minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and the rind and discard them. Stir in half of the Romano if you wish, or keep all of it for serving. Add the parsley last if you are using fresh. (If you use dried, use much less, maybe a tablespoon. If you use dried, you can even add this in the beginning.) Warm another minute to incorporate.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle cheese on top. Sorry no photo… you know I taking this to go so I am not finishing it today!

This will be a lovely meal. It travels well, and is easy to throw together when we arrive. My thought is to have Boyfriend reheat the spinach dip and ask Tammy to cut out the bread bowl. Once the soup is on, I can toss the salad. Planning!

There is a simple elegance to this meal. The flavors are bright and though it seems light, it will be plenty filling. The night before a Big Feast you don’t want a heavy meal.

I hope you are planning. Time for me to go get into the kitchen. I have stuffing and cranberry sauce to ready also.

Enjoy!