Saturday, February 26, 2011

Potato Soup

This is by far one of my favorite comfort foods in the entire world. Except for Macaroni and Cheese which can never ever be replaced. Ever. I can't even talk about it... I'm getting all verklempt.

But this ranks in a close second. It's one of those recipes my Mom used to make on cold rainy days for dinner and it always warmed me up.

My Mom grew up in a really (really really really) small town. We're talking small here. Small as in there aren't any stop lights in the entire town. Small as in they recently got a 3 way stop at the busiest intersection and it was kind of a big deal. Small. This is one of the recipes from the local Catholic church's collection of recipes. These small town cookbooks are treasure troves of delicious home-style recipes. You won't find gourmet truffle risotto in there, but you'll find some of the best casserole and soup recipes ever.

Potato Soup

5 large potatoes, diced (peeled or unpeeled, I do it both ways depending on my motivation level)
3 large onions, diced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp celery seed
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

In a large pot, cook onions, potatoes, celery salt and celery seed in just enough water to cover them. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk together to make the roux. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to burn. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking milk mixture over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add sour cream and cheese, stir until combined and cheese is melted. Pour the cheese sauce into the pot of boiling vegetables (do not drain the vegetables). Stir until completely combined and cook for a few minutes. If the soup is too thick, add a little water. If the soup is too thin, cook longer until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve with crusty bread and a small side salad.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Nifflies, otherwise known Spaetzle, are German-style egg noodle dumplings. And they're awesome. If you're not into the whole pork-roast-sauerkraut thing, these are delicious with a pat of butter on top.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the nifflies, because frankly, they're not that photogenic. Especially when most of your serving ware is white. And also when you have a husband who you have to hold back from this meal using forks so that you can take a few pictures. If you look really closely, under the mound of sauerkraut John spooned onto his plate, you can see the delicious nifflies sticking out. 

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
small amount of water

In a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add in the eggs and combine. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a wet, sticky dough forms. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. One the water is boiling, start cutting the dough in. Using a small spoon, scrape a small amount of the dough (about 1/2 tbsp) from the bowl into the boiling water. To make it easy for the dough to fall off the spoon, quickly dip the spoon with the dough into the water. Repeat until the bottom of the pot is roughly dotted with nifflies. Using a slotted spoon, carefully stir the nifflies off the bottom of the pot, just to get them off the pan. Wait until they float to the top, and then let them cook for a few more minutes (2-3). Use the slotted spoon and remove them from the water. Place into a large serving dish. Cover while you cook the rest. Continue cooking until the dough is gone (I usually have to do about 4 batches). Serve hot with pork roast and sauerkraut.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Pork Roast and Sauerkraut

This is hands down John's favorite meal. I make this for him every year for his birthday and he eats more than any human person should consume in the span of 30 minutes. We had this for dinner last week on his birthday and he was in German-style dinner heaven. So, for all the German pork roast lovers out there, this one's for you!

Pork Roast and Sauerkraut

As you can see, the ingredient list for this dinner is pretty small, which is awesome. It also means that the type of sauerkraut and quality of pork you use has a dramatic impact on this meal. This time I used Vlasic Classic sauerkraut and good quality pork tenderloin from a local butcher. John said it was the best one I've made!

1 28-32oz jar sauerkraut
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
olive oil
salt pepper

Preheat oven to 350º. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a medium sized oven-proof dish. Spoon sauerkraut into dish. Place pork roast in the middle of the sauerkraut. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 1-1½ hours, or until a meat thermometer in the pork registers 160º. Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for about 10 minutes.


Psst! You should serve pork roast and sauerkraut with Spaetzle (or as we call them Nifflies). Coming on Wednesday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Almond Cranberry Granola

 I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you yet... especially considering I make it about once every two weeks. I guess it's so ingrained into my standard cooking repertoire that it doesn't stand out to me as something special and the fact that I eat it practically every day makes it seem that anyone else would find this completely non-interesting. But then the other day I was eating breakfast and I thought, "someone else might want this... I should share it!" So, here it is friends.

This is honestly one of the easiest things I make. I know I say that a lot around here and John is always telling me that my definition of easy and simple is radically different from that of the general population, but trust me. This will literally take about 7 minutes to throw together. And it's absolutely perfect on top of yogurt for breakfast or ice cream for dessert. Or by itself by the spoonful from the jar... not that I would know or anything. It's crunchy, sweet, and it will actually keep you full until lunch. It's also so simple that you can easily memorize it or customize it however you want! Dried apple slices would be awesome or sunflower seeds for a salty-sweet treat.

Almond Cranberry Granola 

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 cups regular oats (not instant)
1 cup slivered almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Makes about 5 cups of granola.

Preheat the oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the water and brown sugar in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt into the syrup and set aside.

Mix oats, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Pour the syrup over the oats and stir until the syrup evenly coats the oats and they  start clumping together. Dump the oats onto the baking sheet and spread out into an even layet. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown.

Using the parchment paper to help, pour the granola into a large bowl, breaking up the pieces as you go. Stir in the cranberries. Once it has cooled completely, transfer to a large airtight container to save.

Serve with plain yogurt and blueberries on top. Perfect!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

Oh risotto, how I love you so. Creamy, squashy delicious risotto.

I posted a streamlined version of a risotto recipe back in January, which is one of my go-to recipes when that risotto craving hits. Which, to be perfectly honest, is pretty often.

Like the Portuguese Chicken (which if you seriously haven't tried by now, I'm demanding that you get to it), this was once again from my new Bon Appétit magazine that John got me a subscription to for Christmas. I'm not completely sure that that wasn't a slightly self-serving gift since he and his stomach will be reaping the benefits for all the new and awesome recipes that come out if it (just kidding). But, I love it. It's my new favorite cooking magazine. Cook's Illustrated is always an awesome source of recipes, but Bon Appétit has more recipes... and more deliciousness.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from Bon Appétit February, 2011

I changed the recipe a little bit, mostly to accommodate what I had on hand. I also tried to streamline the recipe a bit, combining the steps a bit so that this wouldn't take so long to make.

1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 onions
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup sherry
3/4 cup toasted almonds
Parmesan cheese

In a small skillet, toast almonds over low heat until lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and cook over low heat until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add sage. Cook until soft, about 6 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add 3 1/2 cups water and vegetable broth to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Once the onions have caramelized, add the rice to the skillet and coo, stirring constantly until slightly translucent. Add the sherry and cook until it is fully absorbed by the rice. Slowly add the warm broth 1 cup at a time to the rice, stirring constantly until absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until all the broth has been added to the rice and the rice is creamy. Season with salt and pepper and add toasted almonds. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over risotto to serve.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Portuguese Braised Chicken

OK. We need to talk, people. If you're a meat eater, you must must must make this dish. This weekend. I'm not even kidding. I'm posting this recipe today so you'll have ample time to go to the grocery and get everything you need to make this. Because really, this is amazing.

I'm been on a big roasted chicken kick lately, but this braised chicken from the most recent edition of Bon Appétit was out of this world! They claim that winter is for braising, and if that lets me eat stuff like this for the next several months, then I'm down with winter cooking. (Even if I keep flirting with the idea of firing up the grill...)

Lucky for me (and my house guests for the weekend), I'm making this again Saturday night! Just thinking about this makes me want to make it right now...

Portuguese Braised Chicken
Source: Bon Appétit February, 2011

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus ¼ tsp paprika
1 3½ lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
4 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
12 pearl onions, peeled
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, cut into ¾ inch strips
6 large garlic cloves, smashed
4 large springs Italian parsley
4 bay leaves
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup sherry
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix four and 1 tbsp paprika with 1½ tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Coat chicken in flour and set aside. In a large heavy bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in oil, 3-6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a large heavy pot. Add tomatoes, bacon, onions, red peppers, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves.

In the same skillet that the chicken was browned in, add wine and sherry. Bring to a boil and deglaze the pan by scraping all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add mustard and tomato paste and whisk until combined. Pour sauce over the chicken. Cover the chicken and transfer to the oven.

Cook chicken until tender, about 1½ hours. Remove the bay leaves and parsley. Transfer chicken to a platter and using a slotted spoon scoop out the tomatoes, peppers and onions. Return the pot with the sauce in it to the stove and heat over medium high heat. In a small bowl, stir butter and flour into a paste. Add the butter paste to the sauce and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook sauce until desired thickness.

Serve chicken with the delicious, thick sauce, crusty bread and rice.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mushroom Bourguignon

I'm continuing with the warm stick to your ribs cuisine until the 12 inches of snow on my front lawn melts. I thought about retaliating against all things winter and making fruit salad and unearthing the grill from the mountains of snow, but I figured that wouldn't do a whole lot to keep the chill away. Unless I huddled by the grill on the fire for a while... which would only really melt the snow on my porch... which would then refreeze as soon as I realized staying warm by a grill fire when the temperature is in the single digits is completely insane and the melted snow would then turn to ice and make the back porch an ice rink... which would be pretty hilarious when the dogs come sliding in from the backyard... which might end up in an emergency trip to the vet... which is never a fun experience for anyone involved... which means it might be a bad idea. Therefore, for the sake of my dogs well being, my sanity and the relative peace and quiet of the local vet office, I should just stick to soups and stews for the next few months. Obviously.

Mushroom Bourguignon
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 lbs Portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 small carrot
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
salt and pepper
egg noodles

Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium dutch oven over high heat. Cook mushrooms until they just start to release liquid, about 4 minutes. Remove to a bowl. In the same pot, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook onion, carrot, thyme, a few pinches of salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until onions begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Add wine and cook, scraping all of the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine by about half and add vegetable broth and tomato paste. Add the mushrooms and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the pearl onions and cook for 5 minutes more. 

Add flour to the remaining tbsp butter and mix until a paste forms. Add the paste to the stew to thicken. Simmer for another 10 minutes, or until stew reaches desired consistency.

Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Spoon stew over noodles to serve.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tortellini Soup

I have seriously woken up every day this week wishing for summer. Every day. I'm so sick of cold and snow and sleet and snirt, which I learned the other morning when I was snowed in is a term New Yorkers coined for a combination of snow and dirt. Snirt. Gross.

I'm sick of it all. I want it to go away. I want to go outside and plant my garden and play in the yard with my dogs without my hands freezing off. OK, I'm done.

To get me out of this I wish winter would just hurry up and leave funk, I made soup. Like any normal person does, right?

This recipe was featured a few weeks ago on the Tasty Kitchen Blog. Have you been there yet? It's an awesome place for all kinds of recipes.I've found a few recipes on there, but the Mattar Tofu is one I've posted about.

This was unbelievably easy. I threw it all together in about 15 minutes and had a warm winter blues relieving soup on the table in a flash. And it' helped! (A little)

Tortellini Soup
Adapted from The Well-Fed Newlyweds on Tasty Kitchen

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
1 tsp dried oregano
5 cups vegetable broth
1 14.5oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 19oz package cheese tortellini
4 cups fresh spinach
Parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the oregano, broth and tomatoes to the pot. Break up the tomatoes with the back of your spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package directions. When the tortellini has about 1 minute left to cook, stir in the spinach. To serve, ladel into large bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Galette

Ohhh I love finding new delicious vegetarian recipes. They always seem so creative to me instead of meals that are centered around a certain piece of meat. Not that I don't like meat. I do. Really, give me a cheeseburger and I am one happy lady. But, honestly, I usually find vegetarian recipes a lot more interesting. Unless it's a recipe for a cheeseburger...

The picture may look weird (bad lighting in my kitchen at 8pm...) but this was delicious. I mean, how can an open-faced pie type thing with butternut squash and caramelized onions be bad? In my book, it absolutely cannot be anything but awesome, which it was.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The ingredients I changed in this recipe were mostly a result of me being unprepared creative or unwilling to buy tons of new ingredients for a recipe thrifty. Oops. For example, I realized I only had 1/8 cup of sour cream when the recipe called for 1/4. Greek yogurt to the rescue! Honestly, you could use either and it would be fine. Also, I had enough leftover Swiss and Parmesan cheese from another recipe and I didn't want to buy a whole new package of Fontina just to make this. And couldn't find a smaller sized squash at the store and I didn't want the rest of the massive one I bought to go to waste. I just threw the whole thing in the galette and it worked out well. If you want to do things the proper way, please see the link above. If you're hungry and impatient like me, please see below.

1 medium butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup ice water

To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a small bowl. Using a pastery cutter, cut in the butter until it resembles course meal. In another bowl, mix the sour cream, yogurt and water. Add to the flour mixture and combine by rubbing the dough between your fingers. Mix until the dough is combined, but do not overwork. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375 and peal and chop the squash into half-inch pieces. Toss the pieces with olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Spread evenly onto a baking dish and bake until tender, about 20-30 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, carmelize the onions. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Turn the heat to low and add the onions. Cook, stirring occaisionally, until onions are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Once the squash is cooked, turn the oven up to 400. On a lightly floured surface, assemble the galette. Roll the dough into a 12 inch round. Transfer to a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine onions, squash, Swiss, and Parmesan. Pour filling into the middle of the dough, leaving 1 inch around the edge. Fold the edge over the filling, pleating as you go. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.Transfer to a platter and serve in wedges.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard Fare

In case you haven't turned on the news in the past 48 hours, you might have missed the fact that there was a gigantic blizzard that covered half of the country. In case you're in the middle of said blizzard and are looking for some yummy food to make while you're snowed in, here a few of my favorite cold weather recipes.

 Fall Lentils - Hearty, simple, healthy.

Potato Leek Soup - Serve with crusty bread. Yummm.

 Vegetarian Chili - Filling and full of delicious veggies.

Butternut Squash Soup - Perfect with a small green salad.

Stay warm out there!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cheesy Baked Pasta

Ever look in your refrigerator and wonder what you can throw together from the random ingredients that are lurking behind milk that might have expired a few days ago and roasted chicken that you're not too excited about eating anymore? This was one of those meals on one of those nights where I wanted to clean out the fridge, but I was sick of leftovers and wanted something a little different. When I combined my scouring efforts between the pantry and the fridge, I had found a half of a box of pasta, leftover pizza sauce and lots and lots of cheese. First, I thought of just whipping up spaghetti, which sounded too boring for me that night. But cheese sounded good, which isn't exactly a stretch considering no one has ever had to force me to eat mass quantities of cheese. So some sort of cheesy pasta dish was in the works.

And then I remembered that John got me these super cute individual sized baking dishes for Christmas that I've been wanting to try out. Thus, cheesy baked pasta was born. And it was good.

Cheesy Baked Pasta
6 oz bowtie pasta (or any leftover pasta you have lying around)
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the sauce in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the simmering sauce. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce then pour it evenly into two small oven proof dishes. Top each with half of the shredded mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle with Parmesan. Turn on the broiler and place both dishes on the top rack of the oven, leaving a few inches between the broiler and the top of the pasta. After about 5 minutes, or when the cheese is starting to brown, flip the dishes so that they are both evenly browned on all sides. Broil for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and starting to turn golden brown. Carefully remove the dishes from the oven and serve with crusty bread and salad.