Old Favorites (& A Few New Old Favorites!)

Fall Flowers

I’ve been thankful for my blog these last few weeks as it has served as a nice reminder of some of our favorite recipes and we have have been revisiting those lately. With the cold weather moving on in, we’ve already made several soups from previous posts- Lima Bean Soup With Bacon & Lemon, Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, and Cabbage Soup. There are also these soups from last year that we conjure back up from time to time.

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

And here is this year’s version of my Roasted Pumpkin Soup. I say “this year” because I make it once a year but usually forget to write it down and then have to reinvent it every year.

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with a bowl of freshly chopped herbs ready to go it and a dish of roasted beets for the accompanying salad.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 Sugar Pumpkin, roasted
¾ cup Cashews
½ cup Water
4 cup Vegetable Stock
1 ½ White or Yellow Onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Herbs (Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika

Cut pumpkin in half. Scrape out and discard the seeds the stringy bits. (Or roast the pumpkin seeds!) Place each half face down in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about an inch of water and place in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. Remove the halves from the dish and let cool. Once cool enough to touch, scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Blend cashews with water. Sautee the onions in the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add garlic. Blend the pumpkin with the stock and onions and, along with the cashew milk, add back to the soup pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the smoked paprika. Reduce to a simmer. Add herbs. Salt & pepper as needed. Simmer for 20 minutes.

I came up with this tasty baked pasta and squash dish that I think would make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

Squash & Sage

Baked Butternut Squash & Sage Pasta
8 oz Pasta (I used Conchiglie, Montebello brand, but any penne or macaroni would do.)
1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small cubes
1 ½ cup Stock (veggie or chicken)
1 cup Whole Milk
1 tsp Dry Mustard
½ tsp Cayenne
¼ tsp Nutmeg
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
2 cups Prairie Breeze Cheese, grated (Prairie Breeze from Milton Creamery is the best and can be found most days at The Bloomy Rind in Nashville. You could also use Beechers Flagship, a sharp cheddar, a Gruyere or a blend of your favorites.)
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Sage
1 cup Bella Sourdough Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Butter + a little to butter the baking dish

Squash-1

Squash-2

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash cubes in a pan with the stock. Cook on medium high heat until the squash forks done. Turn the stove to low. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and then drain. Chop the bread into small cubes. In an iron skillet, add 2 Tbsp butter and place on medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the bread and the chopped sage. Stir the bread crumbs several times as they crisp and lightly brown. Remove the bread crumbs from the stove and set aside. With a fork or potato masher, mash the squash in the broth. Add the milk and mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir together and then stir in the 1 1/2 cup cheese, reserving ½ cup for the top. Butter a baking dish and then add the pasta. Pour the squash mixture over the pasta and then top with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs. Cover the baking dish with a piece of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes.

Squash Pasta & Beans

I’ve been revisiting lots of old favorite music, as well, and discovering old music that is new to me. That’s the beauty of music, it is timeless, and just out there in the world waiting for you to discover and connect with it. Thanks to one Luke Bell who is the only local musician I have known to cover Randy Travis- he does it so well and I have realized it takes a special voice to do so- I have been listening to lots of old Randy Travis classics like this one…

And, holy cow, have y’all ever seen this video for He Walked On Water? It is very sweet.

Speaking of sweets, I don’t have any sweet treat recipes to post this time but Lord, have I been baking and eating sweets. I was asked to assist my sweet (no pun intended) friend Melissa Corbin as she competed in the great World Food Championships in Las Vegas. We spent hours baking and experimenting together.

Sweets in LV

You can read all about it and get her delicious recipe for Triple Dickel Apple and Chèvre Galette here.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

Advertisements

Lazy Spring Cooking & New Music

I have to admit, I’ve been a little lazy in the cooking department lately. Not sure why and luckily, Grant has been on a cooking tare. I’m preparing to post some more of his Korean inspired recipes real soon but in the mean time, I have two more soups to post that I made in the last cold weeks before spring finally broke through.

dogwood

Both of these two soups were tasty and super easy to make. This first soup was inspired by our dear friend Catherine Oliva. Catherine is one of the first friends we made when we moved to Nashville. She has a perfect combination of southern (North Carolina) charm and modern day business sense. She always says the right thing and handles herself with grace. I have occasionally found myself in a social situation where I have thought, “What would Catherine Oliva do?” Thank God for friends like that, who you can channel to help you in times of need. Several times she has made us this wonderful Italian sausage soup with garbonzo beans and zucchini. I was craving it lately and made up this version of my own. It wasn’t nearly as yummy as hers but it was good and easy. I used spicy Italian sausage from our neighborhood local butcher and it was delicious. You can vary it, too, depending on what you have on hand. You can add peppers or tomatoes. Her’s doesn’t have kale but I wanted a one-pot meal with some greens and it turned out great. It went something like this…

Italian Soup-1

Italian Sausage Garbanzo Soup
Serves 6

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 medium Zucchini, cut in rounds and then each round, halved
  • 1 25oz can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 bunch Lacanato Kale, washed and cut in small strips
  • ½ lb Ground Sausage
  • Fresh Parsley (I use lots but not everyone loves it as much as we do. I also added in some dried Italian herbs.)
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock

Italian Soup-2

Saute the onion in olive oil. Add the loose sausage (or if you have links, squeeze the sausage out of the casings and into the pan) and stir to break it up. Add the zucchini and stir. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and herbs. Cook for a few minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about half an hour or so. Salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Italian Soup-3

Last summer I had a devil of a time finding any organic fresh corn (and I was trying so hard to avoid any of that Monsanto corn that is taking over the world) but I kept craving corn because it was summer so I bought a few bags of frozen organic corn and apparently we didn’t eat them all because I realized we had a couple still in the freezer. I wanted to make a chicken corn chowder but didn’t want it to be too rich or heavy. Here’s what I came up with. Being lazy, I bought a rotisserie chicken from our neighborhood natural foods store but you can easily use any leftover roast chicken you have or even boil up a breast or two and then shred them.

Corn Chowder

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
Makes 6 large servings

  • 1 Tbsp Butter or Ghee
  • 1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cups frozen organic Corn (I used 1 cup white shoepeg and 3 cups yellow sweet.)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped (I used the seeds, too, to make it spicy!)
  • 2 cups Chicken (Roasted or Rotisserie), chopped
  • 1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
  • Sliced Avocado and Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Chowder

Saute the onion in the ghee until it gets nice and soft. Remove it from the stovetop. In a blender, blend 1 cup of the corn with the onion and 1 cup of the broth. This makes a nice creamy broth. Set aside. Saute the peppers and then add the remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes to combine all the flavors and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the blended onion and corn broth which gives the soup a nice creamy texture. Cook for 15 or so more minutes. Top with avocado and cilantro and enjoy!

And speaking of lazy… because I was being so lazy, I figured out I could make homemade granola in less than 30 minutes and I never even turned the oven on. I made it in an iron skillet, just as I’ve been making my spiced nuts.

Granola-3

Simply mix these ingredients together in a medium bowl (too lazy to measure any of the ingredients but just mix together whatever you have and enough to fill whatever size iron skillet you have without crowding it too much)- roughly chopped raw nuts, raw seeds, raw oats, chopped dried apricots, and currants.

Granola-4

Pour the mix into your iron skillet (dry- no oil necessary). Stir them periodically and watch closely so they don’t get too toasty. Once they begin to brown very slightly and you can start to smell the nuts, add 2-3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like your granola) and a sprinkle of salt (optional). Keep stirring until lightly toasty. Remove from heat. Pour back into the bowl to cool. We enjoyed ours with some plain Greek yogurt.

Granola-1

While kicking back and relaxing with all that extra time I had from being so lazy in the kitchen, I have been enjoying some new music. Our friend Robby Hecht is a wonderful songwriter and he has a beautiful new album out. I have been listening to it all week.

Robby-1

This is Robby’s third album and is simply titled, Robby Hecht. You can purchase it here (along with other awesome Robby Hecht merch) and he has a new video for the song, Soon I Was Sleeping, which was brilliantly made by Ryan Newman and features the lovely voice of Canadian songbird, Rose Cousins.

Happy Spring, Y’all!

 

Colorful Winter

Lulu the hound dog in one of her favorite snuggling spots.

Lulu the hound dog in one of her favorite snuggling spots.

Look at all these colors- colorful snuggling, colorful cooking! I love colorful meals and we’ve been lucky to find so many colorful veggies lately. It makes me really happy.

2- Colorful

I had someone ask me recently, “You have a soup blog, right?” Guilty. It seems last summer I had an herb blog and now, a soup blog. I do like my soups. They are so super easy to make, loaded with nourishing veggies, and so easy to eat. A big pot means we can have it for dinner and leftovers for lunches throughout the week. Plus, they are delicious. I got obsessed this week thinking about roasted vegetable soups. The roasted flavor creates an added layer. I made a batch of Banana Bread this week and had some coconut milk left over. That was the inspiration for this soup- one cup of coconut milk that I didn’t want to waste. It had a slight Indian spice to it but mostly, it was just delicious.

3-SwtPotSoup

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
4-6 servings

  • 1 Yellow Onion, cut in half and then quartered
  • 2 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 medium sized Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • ½ Red Pepper, cut into 1” pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • 5 cloves Garlic, with skin on
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 4 cups Stock (I used chicken stock but vegetable would be good as well.)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 small bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 400. In a large baking dish, add the onion, potatoes, and red pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Mix together. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir. Add the garlic and place a little more olive oil on the garlic. Roast for 20-30 more minutes. Meanwhile, heat a soup pot on the stove at medium heat. Add the stock, paprika, curry, cilantro, and parsley. Remove the vegetables from the oven and blend with 1 cup of coconut milk. Whisk the blended veggies together with the broth and cook for a few more minutes.

This next dinner came about because I wanted to make Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup but realized I didn’t have all the ingredients. I made it anyway and then it wasn’t quite right. I thought about what I could do to it to make it better for a day and then Grant and I decided to turn it into a sauce with meatballs. I know people who make great Italian meatballs are vehemently opposed to using ground turkey but we chose to use it here to keep the recipe leaner. It turned out really well. Here’s the final recipe.

4-turkey meatballs

Turkey Meatballs in a Vegetable Nut Ragu
Serves 4

  • ½ cup blend of- raw Cashews, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Ghee
  • ½ small Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 big Carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Diced Canned Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs (I used an Italian herb blend from Frontier that I love but any would work- basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc…)
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Toast the nuts and seeds. Cool. Blend in a blender with water. Set aside. Heat a soup pot on medium and add oil or ghee. Add onions. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or so. Add garlic and carrots. Cook for another few minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Add tomato paste, herbs and seasonings. In small batches, blend the tomato mixture in the blender with the nut milk and then return to the pot to heat through a few more minutes.

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground Turkey
  • 1 large Shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 -2 Tbsp Olive Oil

In a medium size bowl, mix the ground turkey with the shallots, garlic, and seasonings. Once it is evenly mixed, form into small meatballs (we like ours about an inch in diameter). Heat a large skillet on medium high and add the oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and cook on both sides until lightly brown and cooked through. Add the sauce to the skillet, on top of the meatballs. Cook for a few more minutes. Serve the sauce with meatballs over cooked pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano. We served a simple salad on the side and washed it all down with a glass of red wine.

I haven’t been posting many sweet recipes lately. I still make pies from time to time for others but we have sort of lost our sweet teeth. And once you don’t eat much sugar, you don’t really ever crave it. When I do want sweets, it is usually in the form of a cookie or a little piece of good chocolate. I found these great Theo chocolate bars (one of my favorite chocolate companies whose chocolate factory just so happens to be on the street I lived on years ago in Seattle!) on sale at several grocery stores this month. The Salted Almond chocolate bars are so good. Luckily, I had a couple stowed away in the cupboard when it came time to figure out a cookie recipe to make for a dear friend’s birthday last week. Here’s what I came up with.

5-chocolate bar

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s, “Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies.” It is our new favorite! There is nothing better than a perfect cookie.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

  • ½ cup Cane Sugar
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raw Almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1 Theo Salted Chocolate Almond Bar, chopped
  • Parchment Paper (for storing and baking)

Preheat to 300. Beat the sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Add the flour and salt and mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate and the almonds. I like to divide the batter into 3-4 balls and, on a piece of parchment paper, form each ball into a log about 1” in diameter. I then wrap each cookie dough log up in the parchment and place in a plastic bag. You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze them for months. When you are ready to bake some, simply slice them off and place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

6-cookies

It seems many of our friends and neighbors are all working on new albums. There are many in the works and I can’t wait! For now, keeping with the colorful theme- in name and sound- I have been listening to a local band I became aware of last Spring, Great Peacock.

Great Peacock at a neighborhood gathering one Saturday in June, 2013.

Great Peacock at a neighborhood gathering one Saturday in June, 2013.

Great Peacock’s Blount Floyd and Andrew Nelson combine a bold harmony-driven sound, nicely crafted songs inspired by their upbringing in the South- Alabama and Mississippi respectfully, lots of energy, and a love of old country music to create some really fun songs. I’ll close with this video they put out in December, of their single, Tennessee.

Comfort in a Bowl of Soup & New Music

icy

It’s still so so cold here. Frosty car windows have been my main inspiration it seems, at least photographically speaking. We’ve found comfort and warmth in more new soup recipes and some new music.

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop so it seems to be quite easy to find on the produce stands at most markets throughout the winter. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and helps support good heart health and good digestion. So eat up! We found this soup helped make it real easy to fall in love with cauliflower.

Soup ingred

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Smoky Blue Cheese
(4-6 servings)

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil 1 couple sprigs of fresh Rosemary, removed from stem
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock (or veggie)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Ghee or Butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped Shallots
  • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • Blue Cheese (I used Rogue River Smoky Blue, a little less than ¼ lb)
  • Salt & Pepper (again)

Preheat oven to 400. Place cauliflower in a baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper. Place in the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. Remove from oven and let cool. (By the way, this is a yummy side dish or snack just as it is.) Once the cauliflower has cooled (you could even roast the day before and use the leftovers to make a soup), place it in a blender with enough stock to blend the cauliflower until smooth. Meanwhile, heat a soup pan and add ghee. Add the garlic and shallots. Stir. Add the cauliflower mixture. Add the remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add the milk and stir. Add the blue cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

cauliflower soup-2

As I type this, I am listening to the new EP by our friend Andrew Hunt‘s band, Johnny Appleseed. We first met Andrew at Grant’s Sunday night gig with the Ice Cold Pickers, the house band at Santa’s Pub every Sunday evening in Nashville.

Santa's Pub

It’s a wonderful group of musicians- some in their twenties, some nearly fifty; some just starting out, some with quite a resume. The common denominator, it seems, is all are very talented and super nice. The band has a revolving cast of singers who all sing a variety of classic country songs but who, I’ve discovered, all have their own sound and their own albums. They seem to be supportive of one another, it is a great group of musicians. I can’t wait to tell you about all of them but for now, since we just went to their cd release and their music fills the room, I present… Johnny Appleseed.

Santas

Santa’s is a smoke filled double-wide with an eclectic mix of music lovers of all ages. The ceiling hangs low and Andrew is so tall, the top of his head nearly touches the ceiling. His voice is so familiar and reminiscent of a time long past. He brings to mind early Johnny Paycheck, Webb Pierce, and Lefty Frizzell and he can sing those classics so well but holy cow, listen to his originals!

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed- the 5 Spot 2/04/14 with twin fiddles, Mark Sloan on guitar, John Estes on bass, & Smoking Brett Resnick on pedal steel guitar (sorry, you can only see his arm- more about him soon!). And that’s Gentleman Joe Giotta’s drum set peeking out behind Andrew.

Andrew has put together a supportive backing band with great guitar licks from Mark Sloan, really fun pedal steel guitar work from Brett Resnick, and even features twin fiddles on some songs. Their song, Harper’s Ferry, is one of my new favorites. I already look forward to hearing more. You can buy the new EP here. And look out for Johnny Appleseed if they come rolling through your town! I’ll close with this video for their song, Double Barrel Boogie.