Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bean and Ham Soup

So if you have some leftover ham from the holiday, here is a good soup you can make out of it.

In your soup pot, melt a Tbs. butter and saute 1/2 onion, chopped fine.

After the onions get a little brown and sticky, add:
2 cans white beans
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 c. chopped ham
1-2 carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
a dash of garlic powder
Fresh cracked pepper

Put the lid on the pot and simmer on med. low for and hour or two, till carrots are tender and beans are falling apart. If you want to thicken the soup at this point, you can take some out, (excluding the ham chunks), and puree in a blender, then add it back in. (If you have an immersion blender, which is really such a handy tool to have in your kitchen, just stick it in the pot and blend it up a little.) This will give you a thicker soup. If you want a creamier soup, stir in a little sour cream or cream before serving. Enjoy with a hot loaf of crusty peasant bread, of course!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bacon Onion Quiche

Ok, I meant to post all these great holiday recipes but the holiday went by so fast and, as usual, I only got a few of the things done that I imagined I would. But here is a great recipe I made this month that I have been meaning to post- my friend Heather brought this to our Christmas party last year and it was so delicious that I made her e-mail me the recipe. 
Now the actual name of the recipe is "Vidalia Onion Pie", but I renamed it because there is a story in the Parnell family about this terrible onion pie they had to eat as kids that they apparently have never forgotten. (I think they would have liked this one, however.) 
Personally, I think onions are a little misunderstood. People sometimes think of onions as they are when they're raw- strong smell and flavor. But when you cook onions to the point of being soft and carmelized, like you do in this recipe, what you get is just a richness of flavor. It's like when you eat a really good French Onion soup- it doesn't even taste onion-y, it just has this wonderful taste. If you ate this pie without knowing it's the onions that give it the flavor, you might guess that it was some expensive cheese that was added or something- but it's just the magical combination of bacon, onions, and eggs. Oh and also a little cream. The taste is truly terrific, and Mark seemed to forget all about his previous experience with onion pie as he gobbled up a big piece of this one.  So anyway, let's get on with it! Here is the recipe as Heather sent it:

Vidalia Onion Pie (Or, Bacon Onion Quiche)

This recipe comes from "America's Best Lost Recipes" which is a collection of heirloom recipes found by the America's Test Kitchen people. (They have a great website with more recipes.)

Serves 6 to 8

1  recipe Single Crust Pie Dough, fully baked and cooled (recipe follows)
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium Vidalia onions, sliced thin (about 3 cups)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup 
sour cream
1/2 cup 
heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over med. heat until crisp, about 8 min. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside. cook the onions in the bacon fat until browned, about 12 min. Transfer to a med bowl. Whisk the eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and 1 teasp. chives in  large bowl, then add the bacon and onions.
2. Pour into the prepared pie shell and bake until the filling is puffed and cracked around the edges and the center barely jiggles when the pie is shaken, 25 to 30 min. Let cool for 10 min. and sprinkle with the remaining chives.

Single-Crust Pie Dough
Makes enough for one 9-inch pie

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 in pieces and chilled
4 tablespoons unsalted ( I use regular salted cause I'm lazy) butter, cut into 1/4 pieces and chilled
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Pie crust- just process the ingredients, dump in a bowl and sprinkle the water. Knead a few times to pull it all together. Roll out, and place in pie pan.

Cook the crust in a 9in pie plate at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 min (line crust and edges with double layer of foil and fill with pie weights or pennies) After baking remove foil and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 min.

Hailey's Note: When I made this I figured chopping/cooking bacon and onions was enough work for one dinner, so I cheated and used a frozen Marie Calendar's pie crust from the store. I have to say it was every bit as good with the store-bought crust, so I say save yourself an extra mess and put it on your shopping list! It was as good as any pie crust I've ever made! Also, I used "Mayan Sweets" onions I got from Costco, and they worked great.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

German Wedding Cookie (aka Pecan Balls)

This cookie is a Christmas tradition at my house. They are so easy, and SO GOOD!!!
Preheat oven to 250*
1/4lb. butter
2 T white sugar
1 t vanilla
1 C grated pecans. ( I pulse mine a couple of times in the food processor)
1 C flour

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Then add pecans and flour. Mix well.

Use hands to make small balls out of dough. Bake on a cookie sheet for 30-40 min.

Let cool and then roll in powdered sugar.

Cookie Request

Here's a cookie challenge for you: Do you have a yummy cookie recipe that DOESN'T include brown sugar OR shortening? I can't find either ingredient here. Will you share it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Caramels

These melt-in-your-mouth caramels taste like a little piece of heaven. Mmmmm, add them to your Christmas goodies this year!

1 cup butter
1 16 oz. pkg. brown sugar (2 1/4 cups, packed)
2 cups light cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 9 x 13 pan.

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan melt butter, add brown sugar, cream and corn syrup. Mix well.  Stir with a wooden spoon over med-high heat to boiling. Stir every few minutes, and clip a candy thermometer to the side. Boil over med heat till it reaches 248º, firm-ball stage. Start testing the temp after it looks like the mixture has thickened and is boiling lower in the pot.
Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, pour into prepared pan. Let cool completely. (I let mine set over night.) Cut into 1 in. pieces and wrap in wax paper squares. Makes about 2 pounds.
 If you want to add nuts, sprinkle the bottom of the pan with chopped nuts before you pour in the caramel.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fudge, sooooo good!

4C sugar
12 oz evaporated milk
1 C butter
3 C chocolate chips (2 11 oz bags - I use Guittard: one semi-sweet and one milk)
1 bag walnuts

1. Mix together sugar and milk in a large, heavy saucepan (the sugar/milk will double in volume).

2. Put on just-below-medium heat. You don't want to bring to a boil too quickly, or you will scorch the sugar/milk and get grainy fudge. And DON'T STIR!!

3. Once the sugar/milk begins a rolling boil (in my hands, this happens at 216ºF), continue to boil for exactly 11 minutes (in my hands, the temperature rises to about 225ºF). DON'T STIR!!

4. Take off heat and add the butter and chocolate chips, and mix vigorously (it's a bit of a workout). If you did the heating part right, the mixture will be really shiny. If you scorched the sugar/milk, or stirred while heating, it will be grainy. Some people say to keep mixing until you get a satin sheen. I've done this or not, with little difference in the result.

5. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

6. Put in a buttered 9X13 pan.

7. Let set overnight.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Mom's Rice Pudding

2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup raisins (naturally we leave this out, since Nate doesn't like raisins)
sprinkle of nutmeg

Combine eggs, sugar and salt. Add to milk. Add rice and vanilla and raisins. Grease casserole dish lightly. Place in shallow pan of hot water. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours.

*** Elizabeth and I made this once when we were in college. When we took it out of the oven, we could tell that something was wrong. It was like a crispy rice pancake. Then we realized that we have forgotten milk. We thought it was pretty funny.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

I've had this soup three times this season and I can't get enough of it! My friend even made a similar version of it using butternut squash and it was delicious. I don't have any pictures, but soup looks like soup, so just imagine that. And watch yourself when you puree, it can get messy.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

1/2 c. butter (I use a little less)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 shallots, minced (I use a large onion or 1 1/2 onions if I don't have shallots)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 cups chicken broth (I tried veg broth once to make it vegetarian and it isn't as good)
1/2 c. water (sometimes I just add the rest of the broth can instead of the water)
1 29 oz. can plain pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste (use plenty of salt)

In a large pot, melt butter and saute onion until just translucent but not browned. Add garlic and shallots and stir frequently, being careful not to let garlic burn. Lower heat if needed. Sprinkle brown sugar over onion mixture in pan and continue to saute until onion, garlic, and shallot are tender and caramelized.

Add broth and water to mixture in pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add pumpkin puree and evaporated milk to simmering broth. Stir until well combined. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from heat.

Using a blender, process soup until smooth.

Looking for a Recipe...

Does anyone have a good recipe for rice pudding?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cranberry Almond Granola

This lasts about a week at our house. If I am lucky.

*1 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
*1/2 cup honey
*1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate
*2 Tbsp canola oil
*3 tsp almond extract
*6 cups old-fashioned oats
*1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
*1 cup slivered almonds

In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, milk powder, honey, apple juice concentrate and oil. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved; stir in extract. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cranberries and almonds. Drizzle with sugar mixture and mix well.

Spread in a thin layer in two 15x10x1" baking pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Serve with yogurt or milk. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 quarts.