Thursday, December 8, 2016

Another First....Broccoli Cheese Soup

For the first time this year, I made the after school kids broccoli cheese soup.  I assume that most kids love this stuff.  To my surprise, most of the kids had never had this before and a lot of them were very skeptical  about trying something with broccoli in it.  They loved it!  They were actually shocked by how much they loved it.  You can find the recipe by clicking here:
 I also made them their favorite cranberry cornmeal cakes. It took no coaxing whatsoever  to get them to eat it.

And I made trays of rolls to dip in the soup.

Very happy kids!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Writing's on the Wall

Recognize the guy in the middle?  The town put photos of the people who are making a difference in the community on the side of a building on main street.  Way to go Blog Tech!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Polish Nut Roll

In my area of the world, these rolls are served at every holiday.  When I was a little girl, my mother made this recipe and I always loved it.  I made 8 of these a few days ago and sent them off to friends and sent a bunch to the after school kids.  Interestingly, they had never heard of them before.  Another eye opener for me.  That's like saying you live in Philadelphia and never heard of a cheese steak or you live in Maine and never ate a blueberry.  I was shocked but then I thought about it and you know, walnuts are very expensive. Maybe they've never had them because of how expensive they are to make. They know what they are now!
 First you make the nut mixture.  This recipe makes 2 rolls.

2 lbs. ground walnuts
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 T. butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix this in a heavy pot and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Cool before using.

 I sit mine by a slightly opened window to cool while the dough rises.

 For the dough:

2-1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
1-1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup softened butter
2 eggs well beaten
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour

Pour milk, eggs, yeast, butter and sugar in your mixer bowl. Gradually add the flour and salt and knead it until you have a smooth dough.  This dough is sticky and does not rise much.  Place it in a buttered bowl, cover it and let it rise for about 1 hour.

 Divide it in 2 pieces and roll each one out to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Brush it with melted butter.

 Spread it with half of the nut mixture.

 Roll it into a log.
 Place it seam side down on a parchment covered cookie sheet, cover it and let it rise another 30 minutes.

 Bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes until it registers 190 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove from the oven, brush with butter and let it cool on a rack.

 These rolls are huge so you can really cut them in half if you are giving them away.

 My first batch came out pretty dark.

 So, I covered the next batch half way through with foil and they came out much lighter.

You can freeze these easily.  Also, wrap them in plastic and keep them in the fridge.  The flavor actually gets better after a day or so.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Tree is Up

 My tree is finally up and almost finished being decorated.

 It's funny how you slow down as you get older.  There were years where I put up a tree in every room in my house including the kitchen and bedrooms.  That was a dozen trees and we cut them all down too.

 Now I put up one and this year it was almost 2 weeks later than usual.

 The startling thing is that my kids put their trees up before I did!  This is the first time that ever happened.

 Of course, I'm still cleaning up from Thanksgiving and cooking for the after school kids takes up lots of time.  It seems like when I'm not cooking, I am grocery shopping.

But at least this one is up and the mantle is done.  Maybe when I get some grandkids, I'll get my Xmas mojo back.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Salmon Potato and Fennel Chowder

I made this for my family the other day and they really enjoyed it. This is a very hearty soup and is a meal in itself.
Saute' several stalks of diced celery and 1 bulb of thinly sliced fennel in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

 Add salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. of smoked paprika.

 Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes.

 Add 4 cups of seafood stock.  I added 2 seafood bouillon cubes too.

Cube 10 yellow potatoes and add them to the pot and bring it to a boil then turn it down to simmer for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
 Add 2 pounds of cubed salmon and several fronds of diced dill.  Cook for about 10 minutes until salmon is cooked through.

Stir in 1 cup of cream just before serving.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I am so behind this holiday season. I'm not sure if it's because of getting trumpfucked or the warm weather but I'm not feeling very christmasy this year. I finally got my tree but as you can see, it is still keeping Santa company outside.  Hopefully today I will get it up.

 I've lived here for almost 30 years and I have never seen the leaves stay on the trees this long into Fall.

 It looks more like October here.

 Usually, these leaves would be long gone.

 There's still quite a bit of color in my gardens.

The Weeping Beech is still holding on to her leaves.
 December 3......amazing.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pork Bolognese Pasta

I couldn't figure out what to make for the after school kids today so I rooted through my freezer for inspiration.  I found some chorizo, some Italian sausage and some ground pork.  This is the recipe I came up with and much to my surprise, it might be better than my classic bolognese.
 I started by sauteing diced onion in olive oil along with about 4 anchovies.

 I added diced celery, carrots, peppers and garlic.  Then I added all of the meat and cooked it until it was browned.

 Then I came up with an idea for something I never did before.  I cooked the tomato paste in a cast iron pan until it became a dark red and had a very rich flavor.

I added oregano, rosemary and thyme to it along with salt and pepper.  Then I whisked in red wine and cooked it until it thickened.  The flavor was sensational.  My husband is sampling some as I type and he described it as bowl licking good.  He asked if he could have more and I told him no, it's for the kids.
 I warmed up frozen sauce from last summer. I added some beef bouillon for extra flavor.

 Here is the paste with the wine and herbs added.

 Here it is when I added it to the vegetables and meat.  What a wonderful color.  I am doing this with my pasta sauces from now on.

 Mixed it in ...
 Then added the warmed tomato sauce and braised it in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.

 I made a gremolata of diced parsley, lemon rind and parmesan cheese.

 After 2 hours, the sauce is nice and rich. Oh, for the last 30 minutes of cooking, I threw a cinnamon stick in the pot.  Remove it when you take the sauce out of the oven.

 Stir in the gremolata.

 I served it over buttered bowtie pasta.

I can't wait to hear how the kids like it.