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Slightly cold weather calls for split pea soup

15 Nov

You know, I’ve been waiting for it to get a little colder here, so I can feel nice and cozy in the kitchen with some cornbread in the oven. I make cornbread at least once a week when it’s cold. We missed it over the summer. I’m trying to hone my biscuit making skills as well, so we can add those to the weekly menu.

We found this kids cookbook by Tina Davis at Half Price Books a couple of years ago, in Ohio. The split pea soup is one of my favorites, and it’s easy to add some ham. I’ve been cooking for about 5 1/2 years now, and just starting to figure out what the husband really likes. He’s into meat. I can’t blame him. I am finding that it is pretty easy to add stew meat to most any soup recipe. We didn’t add meat to the soup today, but it was totally good anyway.

I start craving chocolate and pudding when the weather gets colder, as well. I like my pudding warm, so maybe that’s why. I usually follow a recipe on Simply Recipes for chocolate pudding, but tried this one in Tina Davis’ book today. It’s totally good, and faster as it doesn’t call for tempering the eggs. Faster equals better in my book these days, so there you go! I used almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and I do like using more cocoa rather than chocolate chips, so I wrote in the amounts from the other recipe. I am thinking it would also be super tasty with a chopped up Valrhona chocolate bar in place of the chocolate chips.

Today was also my first time making conchee, and although I think this is a fairly Americanized version, it was yum. I chopped up an acorn squash and the onion in the morning and let it cook while I took Sue to the dentist, so I could have some for lunch when I got home. Of course I had to look up some other conchee recipes, and I know I’ll be making more in the near future.

Another good cold-day meal.

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African Sweet Potato Soup with Black Eyed Peas

20 Mar

I love this recipe! I don’t know much about African food (it’s a continent remember, so that’s a LOT of different, regional food we’re talking about there), but I do know that I really like this soup. I ate a meal with African refugees at one point in time, but it did not include either sweet potatoes, beans, or chilis. It was simple, with chicken and spaghetti noodles. One did not use utensils. We did use utensils for our meal last night however, and it was good. I made this soup for a friend recently, she was pregnant at the time, with no jalapeno. I also made a double batch of this soup for our pre-Thanksgiving Day potluck, but something happened with the peanut butter, and it was more like peanut butter soup… not good actually. People said they liked it, but maybe they just really like peanut butter. This soup has a lot going for it, it doubles well (if you watch the PB ratio), it freezes really well, tastes good as leftovers, it can be made as spicy as you like, or not, and it can easily be made as a stew, by using less broth, which is what I generally do.  You can also use any combination of beans and peppers that you like. What makes this soup special is the PB, sweet potatoes, broth, and curry, so don’t leave any of those out.

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This recipe is adapted from Gluten Free Goddess– you should def check her website out, her recipes are great.

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoon coconut oil (any oil will do, or butter).

1 tablespoon red or green curry paste- hot or mild, to taste

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 medium red onion, peeled, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 medium sweet potatos or yams, peeled, diced

1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced

1 jalapeño or other hot chile pepper, seeded, diced fine

1 14-oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained

1 14-oz. can white beans, rinsed, drained

1 14-oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 quart broth (2 1/2 cups for a stew)

1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter melted in a half cup of boiled hot water (for one cup total)

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, or more, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Juice from 1 big lime

2-3 teaspoons organic brown sugar or raw agave nectar, to taste

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For garnish:

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

 

Instructions:

Heat oil in large soup pot. Add the curry paste and cinnamon; stir for a minute to infuse the oil with spice. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow pepper and jalapeño. Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

Add beans, broth, melted peanut butter, red pepper flakes and cilantro. Bring the soup to a high simmer, cover, and lower the heat; keep the soup on simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and sugar. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Warm through and taste for seasoning adjustments.

Serves 4-6.

 

 

Homemade Chocolate Bar(k)

22 Sep

I found myself making chocolate tonight. Not chocolate cake, not chocolate sauce, but like, a chocolate bar. Making your own chocolate bar just means you get cocoa butter, some cocoa powder, some sweetener, a flavor of choice, and then you mix it all together and, well, there’s your chocolate bar. I was not sure if this would be worth the time and effort. I mean, what’s the point of making your own chocolate bar when it’s pretty darn easy to go buy a tasty, affordable one? Well, like with most things we make at home, the point of making your own chocolate bar is that you get to control the ingredients. It’s all about control isn’t it? So this way, there is no GMO-soy lecithin in your choco bar, if you care about stuff like that, which I occasionally pretend to do.

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But I found a recipe for it, thought it was novel, and decided to try it. I made this (incredibly easy) concoction while I was finishing up dinner.  I mean, my family wanted dinner again tonight (what the?!), and as I am trying to spend less time in the kitchen. I fit it in. I allot about two hours every evening for cooking dinner and if I have other stuffs I want to make I’ve realized, well, there’s usually time in there to do it.

After having all the ingredients (all four of them) collected, and sitting in my kitchen for a long time, I finally made this recipe and, I have to say, it was totally worth it. IT TASTES REALLY DELICIOUS. I got this recipe from Wellness Mama.

Here is what I did:

Homemade Chocolate

1 cup cocoa butter

1 cup cocoa powder

1/4 raw honey (for the bittersweet version), or 1/2 cup, or to taste.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or flavor of your choice such as, orange or mint)

Melt cocoa butter in a double boiler on medium heat. Once melted, take off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients. I sifted my cocoa powder as it had some chunks, and used a whisk. Pour into silicone molds, or in a glass pan, or on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Let cool for several hours then eat it. Or place in the refrigerator for faster cool down time. You may get more of a chocolate bark if you do what I did, which was pour it in a glass pan.

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Now that I know I’ll be making this recipe again, I will def be getting some cool, chocolate bar silicone molds for next time; OR DINOSAURS.

German Chocolate Birthday Cake

25 Aug

We had a birthday around these here parts. Ross is now one year older. I made a brunch of omelets and fresh bacon with green beans.

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It was actually lunch by the time I finished.

Then I got back in that kitchen and made cake! Everybody has had German Chocolate cake. It’s a popular cake staple in many restaurants. I got the recipe from my mom, the recipe that she, my grandma, and great-grandma have used over the years.

Let me tell you, this is a serious cake. IMG_2477

I think it took me a bit over two hours to make it. I was doing some multi-tasking though, as my kitchen was fairly full of unpacked groceries and used dishes, so that added some time. The icing is cooked, there is separating of many eggs, and beating of egg whites too, so you can imagine… I love making some cake though, so it was fun to try my hand at this classic.

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And it was worth it too. We had a birthday cake party last night and everybody loved it! We don’t have leftover cake which is a good thing. SO MUCH sugar and butter, y’all. Here’s the recipe so you can make it too.

Baker’s German Chocolate Cake

1 package (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate    (I used the unsweetened version of this brand.)

1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour   (I only had bread flour, I realized too late, but it turned out fine, as this is a heavier cake anyway.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk   (You can easily make your own with 1 Tablespoon of vinegar in 1 cup of regular milk, let sit for 10 minutes.)

Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 slightly beaten egg yolks*

3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks butter)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flaked coconut   (I used unsweetened.)

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

Cake: Melt chocolate in water; cool. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in egg yolks. Stir in vanilla and chocolate. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into large bowl, alternating with buttermilk. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (roughly 8 minutes). Fold egg whites into batter. Pour batter into 9-inch layer pans, lined on the bottom with greased parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F, for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack. Frost cake. At this point, you can refrigerate the cake if you are not eating it right away. If you are making it the day before, I recommend wrapping the layers in plastic wrap, and waiting until the day of, to make the frosting and to frost.

Frosting: Combine first five ingredients (except coconut and pecans) in medium saucepan. Cook and stir, continually, over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in coconut and pecans. Cool until thick enough to spread.

*After cooling and sitting in the fridge for 1/2 an hour, my frosting was still too runny to use. I consulted my mom, and then I put it back on the heat, added two more egg yolks, and about a tablespoon of flour. This worked great and made it thick enough. I guess the icing can be tricky, whether it’s because it’s a big batch (you will have some icing left over), or due to weather, we don’t really know.

Turmeric Chicken Stir Fry

19 Jul

This is my first stir fry, in my new wok, that I have actually owned for over one year. Stir fry is so easy y’all, why have I not made them before? I don’t know!

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I got this recipe from Saucy Little Dish, a Brooklyn cooking blog that I have not made a meal from until now. Why have I not cooked a meal from their recipes yet? I don’t know! I will go ahead and post the recipe here, straight from Erin’s post, with some changes I made, but you should certainly visit the blog and have a look for yourself.

“1-2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (I used coconut oil)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, sliced into 1 inch pieces (I am pretty certain cubed tofu would work great too. My chicken had skin on it, and it was no big deal)

1 yellow onion, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

Shake or two of cayenne pepper

1 heaping tablespoon (or 2) of turmeric

1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (or you can use 1 teaspoon dried ginger)

2 tablespoons butter (I skipped this ingredient)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead)

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1 head of broccolini or broccoli florets

1 cup of mushrooms, sliced thin

Heat oil in a wok or sauté pan. When hot add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until the pink fades. (I have never stir fried, but just so you know, you want it the heat to be med/high.)

Add the onion and garlic, stir or shake the pan to coat everything in the oil and cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Make a well in the center and add the ginger.

Add the cayenne and turmeric, and again stir to coat everything in the spices.  The pan will immediately turn an amazing, bright yellow color.

Stir again to coat then add the soy sauce, butter, and chicken stock. Then add the broccoli and mushrooms and allow everything to simmer for just shy of 5 minutes.

Serve over rice.”

This was pretty easy, fast, and delicious. You should certainly try it. I will be making more stir fry soon. If you have ever made it, you know that all the work is in the prep. After you have chopped and cubed and cut your veggies and meat, you’ve done all the work. This prep can easily be done the evening before, if you have a long day coming up and need a quick meal.

Also, I have never cooked with turmeric, but have had some in my pantry for over two years. Does turmeric normally have a faintly dusty smell? Or is mine just old? I don’t know.

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