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Archive for September, 2010

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Homestyle Potato Soup

Although I am not a big soup chef, I want to be. On the lookout for new recipes this week, I came across Home-style Potato Soup in Betty Crocker’s Cooking Basics, the first cookbook ever given to me. It is everything I like in a recipe: few ingredients, familiar ingredients, and straightforward instructions. It’s 85 degrees out today, which makes me wonder where autumn went, but it’s still a good potato soup day. Leftover soup will be not too bad chilled, I think.

Homestyle Potato Soup
makes 5 servings

3 medium potatoes (about 1 lb)
1 14 1/2-oz. can of chicken broth
2 (or more) medium green onions, with tops*
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves**

*I used 4 green onions. I love them and they were in the fridge, leftover from quesadillas I made the other night.
**I thought I had dried thyme in the spice rack – doesn’t everyone? – but I couldn’t find it while I was cooking. I used dried tarragon instead and I am actually quite happy with the end result.

Peel the potatoes and cut in to large cubes.

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan with the cubed potatoes over high heat, stirring occasionally with a fork to make sure potatoes do not stick to the pan. Once boiling, reduce heat to a gentle bubbling, cover and cook about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice green onions.

When the potatoes are done, remove saucepan from heat but do not drain. Break the potatoes into smaller pieces with a fork, but the mixture should still be lumpy. Stir in the milk, salt, pepper, thyme, and onions in to the potato mixture. Return to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and steaming, but do not let it come to a boil.

To make this fully vegetarian, you could substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Otherwise, you could add some cubed ham for flavor and texture and to make a slightly more filling meal, although just the way it is I think it would make an excellent meal with a green salad.

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The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Posting Date: September 14, 2010

This challenge does not require a lot of skill — just patience and courage! Core and peel apples, cook apples, mash apples, season apple mash, cook down, down down…none of this requires the least lick of actual skill. I did have to stop at the end of the cooking-down process to run out and get a big 12-quart pot for canning in, because our only large soup pot just wasn’t deep enough to can in. I don’t think the results suffered in the least bit by this delay.

Out of about 5 pounds of peeled, cored, and eighthed Granny Smith apples, I got about 4 and a half 1-cup jars of apple butter. The half jar was promptly tossed in the fridge without being preserved, and smeared on English muffins it was gone in two days.

This was such an exciting challenge to see appear in the forums! Especially after last month’s pierogi disaster. I’ve been wanting to learn to home-can for ages, especially now that I’ve got the whole cottage to ourselves to fill with cans and cans and cans of preserved goodies. But I’ve been too chicken. WELL — Daring Cooks to the rescue! So I threw myself at it with gusto. I dedicate this post to Shirley and Sarah Cash, two little old ladies I knew at my family’s church in South Dakota, who kept the whole congregation in homemade apple butters and local-fruit jellies each and every year. Black Hills grape jelly FTW.

1. Cut apples in to eighths, core, and peel. (About 4 to 5 lbs of the variety you prefer.)
2. Boil in an 8 quart saucepan with 1 cup of apple cider (20-30 minutes, until very soft and mushy).
3. Put through a strainer or food mill or just mash the hell out your apples. If you peeled them already, you can mash them in the pot by hand with very little trouble.
4. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves to pulp. Return to heat and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.

The apple butter is done when a spoonful, mounded on a clean, room temperature dinner plate, does not separate in to liquid and pulp. Pour apple butter in to desired storage container or multiple containers. Refrigerate up to two weeks, freeze up to a year, or can with boiling water to maintain shelf stability for one year.

I chose boiling water canning.

You can find the instructions here.

Below, a photo collage.




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Maple Egg Biscuit Bake

I took a gamble and made this for Sunday morning breakfast when my in-laws were visiting. They usually like a good hearty, filling breakfast, especially on vacation, but with us living out at the furthest reach of the the furthest peninsula in town, any place serving breakfast is at least a fifteen to twenty minute drive — and I’m just not human at that point in the morning. So I thought that this easy brunch recipe would be a good substitute, with coffee and orange juice.

Maple Egg Biscuit Bake
serves 8

1 can ready to bake biscuits (10 biscuits)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled*
8 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

*I used ready to eat, precooked bacon, which means about 10 strips of bacon. Microwave it for a minute to crisp it up, then crumble.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 2 or 3 quart baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with canned biscuits, evenly spaced. Cover biscuits with crumbled bacon.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt until eggs are thoroughly scrambled.

Pour egg mixture over the biscuits and bacon and bake 30-35 minutes, or until edges are browned and the center is set up. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

I loved the sweet, maple-enhanced scrambled eggs, and the crumbled bacon added a nice texture and savor, but I have to admit that I was not over the moon about the biscuits. I would definitely scramble the maple eggs for a breakfast, or, if I had the talent for it, excellent breakfast omelettes.

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I’ve been wanting to make this for a while now, and somehow I felt that the onset of a hurricane would be a good opportunity. The zucchini is a summer vegetable, but with the sausage and stuffing this dish is redolent of autumn just around the corner. Jim & I decided that this would make an excellent side dish at a Thanksgiving feast. We also call it “hurricane food.”

Zucchini-Sausage Casserole
serves 8

1 lb. bulk pork sausage
4 medium zucchini
1 10 3/4 oz. can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz. carton of sour cream
4 c. chicken stuffing mix
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted

In a stovetop skillet, cook sausage until browned. Drain off fat. Return sausage to skillet.

Meanwhile, quarter each zucchini lengthwise and cut each quarter crosswise in to half-inch slices. Add zucchini to the sausage in the skillet.

In a small bowl, combine soup and sour cream. Add to the sausage and zucchini. In a separate large bowl, combine stuffing mix and melted butter.

Lightly coat a 3-quart (I actually used a 2.5 qt dish and thought it was perfect) baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon half the stuffing in to the bottom of the dish; layer the zucchini-sausage mixture evenly over the top; spoon the rest of the stuffing over the top. Bake, covered, in a 350-degree oven about 30 minutes or until heated through.

The next time I make this I think I am going to try turkey sausage; to me the sausage flavor was very strong and salty, and I think a non-pork sausage will help mitigate this. This is definitely an excellent dish to throw together in an oncoming late summer storm: warm, savory, with the crunch of vegetables and the crisped, crumbly stuffing mix. It even reheats well, and the stuffing didn’t get overly soggy in keeping.

for 4 servings
8 oz. bulk sausage
2 medium zucchini
1/2 10 3/4 ounce can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. sour cream
2 c. stuffing mix
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

Prepare as above in a 2-quart square baking dish.

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Slow cook barbeque pork

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