Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday - 5 Things

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

This evening we had a Thanksgiving feast too :-)  

It is a tradition to get together at our friends' place each year for a turkey dinner.  We each contribute a side dish while the lovely hosts, Anthony, Tara, and Chris make the staples.  


(1) Today I am thankful for an amazing group of friends that have been like family to me for about half of my life. 

(2) Today I am also thankful for blogger's recipes.  I have never found better recipes than the ones I find on blogs.  The cupcakes below are a perfect example.  They are 100% the best cupcakes I have ever had.  You can find the recipe here.  I made them for my colleagues last week and they were a big hit.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Butter Cream.
(3) Today I am thankful that a week from today I will be done all my grad classes! I have 4 papers left to write, and I have already started to feel lighter, happier, and free.  December is going to be a great month.

(4) Today I am thankful that the hubby and I booked another trip to New York!  This spring we will be back in our favourite city for a third time. 

(5) Today I am thankful that the snow is melting and the weekend's forecast is unseasonable warm.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Depression Potato Soup and Biscuits

My great grandmother lived until 101.  She was an extraordinary woman, healthy right until the end.  She lived through the depression and other times of having very little, making meals out of what could be found in the garden.  Meals had to be simple, using very few ingredients.

She passed on her potato soup recipe to my grandma, who made it for me when I was growing up.  My grandma passed this recipe to my mom, who also made this for me as a kid, serving it with baking powder biscuits.  Now, I have my mom's recipe, and occasionally make potato soup, every time thinking of my mom, grandma and great grandma, each making this soup to feed their families.

You start by peeling some potatoes.  There are no magic numbers for ingredients with this recipe.  It was pretty much always made from memory and never measured.

Chop the peeled potatoes and throw them into a pot.   
Cover the potatoes with water, and cook until tender.

Meanwhile, chop an onion and saute it in butter until translucent.

Once the onion is translucent, dump it into the pot. 
Add some salt and parsley and cook for about half an hour.

Put a bunch of butter into the pot. If you think you added enough, add more.

Then comes the fun part!  Make the dough balls.  Put 1 1/2 cups of flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl.  Add 1 beaten egg, 1 t oil, and about 1/4 cup water (or more if needed) until you have a dough.


After about a half an hour of cooking the soup, and stirring occasionally, it should start to get creamier looking.  If not, cook a little longer.  Add more butter - it makes the soup!  Add more salt as needed.

Once you think the soup is about 5 minutes away from being done, take some of the dough onto a fork and dip it into the soup.  Keep doing this until all the dough is gone.  Warning - the dough grows, so take small amounts.

This will create little "dough balls" or dumplings in the soup.

As a kid, these were by far my favourite part.  
I would always have my grandma make me one HUGE one.

Then, for good measure ... add more butter.

This soup is best served with baking powder biscuits, and I have the BEST recipe.

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup veg. or canola oil
3/4 cup milk

Mix above.  Knead for 30 seconds.  Roll out and cut into rounds (with a small glass).  Put on an ungreased pan and bake at 400 for 12 minutes.  Serve right out of the oven with butter or whatever.

Potato Soup Recipe

Peel and cube some potatoes and put in a pot with water to cover (or a little higher).
Cook until almost done.
Add 1 tsp salt (or more).
Meanwhile, cook 1 chopped onion in butter until translucent, then add to pot.
Cook for another 1/2 hour or so.
Add butter, parsley, salt - LOTS!

To make the dough balls, put 1 1/2 cups flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl.  Add 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp oil, and 1/4 water or more, until you have a dough.  Use a fork to pick up some dough and dip it into the soup in the last few minutes of cooking.

Serve with more butter, because butter makes everything better.

Are there any recipes that have been passed down many generations in your family? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dinner Party Recipes

Don't worry ... I wouldn't leave you hanging.  Below are all the best recipes from my dinner party on Friday.  The main course of fish and veggies was excellent, but I don't have much to share. Just roasted veggies, and baked fish - I didn't doctor them up too much.

Baked Fontina (click here for recipe)

Stout Bread (click here for recipe)

Oatmeal Bread (click here for recipe) - this stuff is amazing.

Cauliflower Soup (click here for recipe)

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Spiced Butter Cream (click here for recipe)

Orange Creme Brulee

6 lg egg yolks
7 T sugar
2 1/4 cup whipping cream
2 T Grand Marnier
2 t vanilla
1 t grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325.  Whisk yolks and sugar until pale yellow.  Bring cream to a simmer.  Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Don't over mix.  Divide among 6 ramekins.  Arrange in a 9x13 pan, and pour boiling water in the pan up to half way up the ramekins.  Bake until gently set - about 25 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Cover lightly with sugar and torch before serving.

This dinner party was definitely the highlight of my weekend.  I needed some therapeutic cooking, and got just that.  A whole days worth! Now back to the books for a couple more weeks.  

What was the highlight of your weekend? 
Is cooking therapeutic for you?  Do you ever spend the day cooking?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dinner Party - Celebrating Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Last night we had some friends over for dinner.  We tried cooking some things for the first time, and also made some of our old favourites.

We started with crostini and dips, baked fontina, white wine steamed mussels, escargot stuffed mushroom caps, bread and prosecco.  The prosecco was followed with red wine.


This was followed by cauliflower soup and laughter.


The main course was steel head trout, roasted beets and carrots, and Brussels sprouts.  We served this with two types of homemade bread - oatmeal bread and stout bread.


Dessert included an orange creme brulee and pumpkin gingerbread with spiced butter cream.

All in all it was a fantastic evening with friends, and I cannot wait to do it again!!

I realized last night, after my first time cooking mussels, that I am NOT a fan of them. I wanted to try something different, because I am often intimidated to cook seafood.  I have never made lobster or crab, and I am too scared to try!

Do you like mussels?  Have you ever cooked them?
Are you intimidated to make any types of seafood?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Numbers

This is my last month of classes for my master's degree, and the countdown is on! 

3 weeks left of classes.
4 more papers.
1 presentation.
1 major project.

It will feel so good to be done all this and be able to focus solely on finishing my thesis ... and Christmas shopping of course!  BTW - 46 days until Christmas.

I have one Christmas party to attend in November.
I love when the festivities start early.

This week has started out great and has not been too busy.  I had some time to cook, which was nice.  I made some vegetarian enchiladas on Monday.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

6 large wraps (or 10 smaller ones)
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled
1 19oz can black beans
1 small can green chilis
1 small white onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
1 jar/can red enchilada sauce

Toppings: I used Cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream and cilantro

Directions:  Boil and mash the sweet potatoes.  Stir in the black beans, chilis, and spices.  Meanwhile, caramelize the onion with the garlic. Add this to the sweet potato mixture.  Fill the wraps generously and wrap tightly.  Place in a 9x13 pan that has been spread with some enchilada sauce.  Top with cheese and more enchilada sauce, or pico de gallo.  Bake for 30 minutes @ 350.



My plate 
(My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I gave up halfway through):

After work today I whipped up some of my hippie sauce We enjoyed it in a brown rice bowl with tofu and loads of veggies.

Mmmmmmmm!  It tastes best when eaten with chopsticks.  I think all things do :-)

This time of year especially, veggies are a big priority for me.  I swear they help me fend off invading germs.  I am planning on polishing off an entire giant bag of Costco spinach this week.  Mostly in the form of Green Monsters.

Lately I have been loving this recipe for my monsters:

- Approx. 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (vanilla, regular, or chocolate)
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 3 giant handfuls of spinach
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 T unsweetened cocoa

Mix it to smithereens and get your glow on!

How has your November been so far?  
What are some of your November numbers?