Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuscan Rosemary Soup

Tuscan Rosemary Soup
 My friend Holly Johnson gave me a version of this soup years ago.  It is one of our family favorites!  It’s unbelievably fast and utterly simple, yet so flavorful.  And it's a 'one pot' soup!  The entire family loves it, however it may be a little spicy for kids 7 and under if you use the full amount of crushed red pepper.  The Italian and hot sausage is a MUST for the best flavor. Hope you have a rosemary bush in your garden!  If not plant one as soon as you get the will use it all the time!  They make a beautiful perennial addition to your garden.  You can also plant it in a pot for your table or porch.  They also make beautiful topiaries!  You will LOVE using fresh rosemary in your recipes.
12 cups chicken or vegetable broth
(I often use 12 cups water and 12 cubes chicken or vegetable bullion)
1 cup cream
2-4 unpeeled russet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
4 cups kale, ribs removed and chopped
1 lb. ground Italian or hot sausage
½ teaspoon coarse salt

1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

 In large pot over medium heat, sauté sausage and fresh rosemary until browned.   Add chicken or vegetable broth and cream. Add potato, kale and spices. Simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.  Garnish with small sprigs of rosemary. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sea Bass with Fall Vegetables

Sea Bass with Fall Vegetables

My husband and son caught some amazing sea bass on a recent fishing trip out on the ocean.  They brought home a huge catch which has fed the family several meals already.   You can easily use halibut, cod or tilapia or try any other favorite fish.  I adore this dish, it is so flavorful!  The colorful vegetables accompanying the white fish make a beautiful late Summer and Fall meal, while the broth is so delicious you’ll need some crusty bread to sop up all the flavors. I love making the Herbed Country Bread with to serve with this entrée. 

1-2 lbs. sea bass, halibut, cod or tilapia
                                                  1  red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 bell pepper, any color, thinly sliced

4 red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
4 cups fresh corn (from 4 cobs)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 zucchini into ½ inch pieces
1 small eggplant
Handful fresh thyme, sage, basil, parsley rosemary chopped
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lemon, juiced
 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss vegetables on one or two baking sheets with olive oil, salt, pepper.  Roast vegetables in a single layer for 25-30 minutes. Rinse fish and pat dry lightly season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.  In large nonstick skillet over high heat melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2  tablespoons olive oil.  Add fish and cook until it is lightly browned on bottom and releases easily from pan, about 3 minutes.  Cook another 2 minutes on the other side.  Simmer vegetables and drippings with broth and herbs in a large sauté pan for 5 minutes.  Adjust seasonings. Place vegetables and broth in a large serving platter that will hold the broth and add the fish.  Drizzle lemon juice over fish, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Soft Breadsticks

Soft Breadsticks
            Grandma Carroll makes these breadsticks to go alongside her Best Chili.  They are so soft and delicious, my kids love them!  This recipe is so easy and quick you can have homemade breadsticks for dinner any time.  Simply mix, roll out and let rise 30 minutes and bake!  For a heartier flavor I like to  add some whole wheat flour in place of some of the white. The large recipe makes two 11x17 inch rimmed baking sheets full, perfect for serving a large group of family or friends. The small recipe makes 6-12 breadsticks on a rimmed baking sheet, which is often the perfect amount on a week night!  

                                      Small Batch
(fills on one 11X17 rimmed baking sheet)

2 ¼ teaspoons or 1 pkg. active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola oil or olive oil
2 –2 ¼ cups all- purpose flour                                              

                          Large Batch
(fills two 11x17 inch rimmed baking sheets)

2 ¼ teaspoons or 1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
¾ cup canola oil or olive oil
6-6 ¾ cups all- purpose flour

 For the large batch prepare TWO 11 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheets, for small batch prepare ONE 11x17 inch rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Fit electric mixer with dough hook.  In bowl of electric mixer mix yeast with warm water and whisk by hand to dissolve.  Add sugar, salt, oil and 1 cup of flour and whisk by hand until smooth, scraping sides to incorporate flour.   Add remaining flour and mix in electric mixer with dough hook for 5 minutes. Let dough stand in mixer for 5 minutes. Break off pieces of dough and roll into a rope (about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.)  You shouldn't need to flour the countertop, but if your dough is too sticky, you may need to flour the surface.   Make the rope as long as your baking sheet is wide (about 11 inches long if your baking in a jelly roll pan.)  Place breadsticks about an inch apart on prepared pans.  Allow breadsticks to rise for 20-30 minutes.  Mix 1 egg with 1 TBS. water in a small bowl and brush egg over breadsticks.  Sprinkle with coarse salt , garlic salt, fresh or dried herbs, sesame seeds or poppy seeds and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush tops of breadsticks with melted butter and serve.

Homemade Halloween Marshmallows

Homemade Halloween Marshmallows
My first attempt at making homemade marshmallows a few years ago was a disaster!  But I was ready to make a new attempt.  After all, everyone needs a cute marshmallow to go in their hot cocoa on Halloween night!  Right?   You'll want to keep your eye out for the smallest cookie cutters you can find for cutting homemade marshmallows...(that way they fit in the mug better.) These marshmallows came out perfect and as my 11 year old said, "Mom these are amazing!  They are 10 times better than Jet-Puffed!"  So don't take my word for it!  You've got kid-tested proof...homemade marshmallows rule!       

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups water, divided
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil.  Line the dish with aluminum foil and oil foil with vegetable oil.  In the bowl of electric mixer, add gelatin and 3/4 cup water.  In small pot stir together sugar, corn syrup, 3/4 cup water and salt.  Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the syrup reaches 234 to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Using the whisk on the electric mixer at full speed, pour the hot syrup into gelatin mixture and whip for 15 minutes.  Pour out into prepared dish and smooth the top of marshmallow with an oiled spatula.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 hours uncovered.  Using a sieve sprinkle powdered sugar onto  countertop or cutting board.  Turn out marshmallows onto powdered sugar.  Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of marshmallow block and rub in with hands to prevent marshmallows from sticking.  Cut marshmallows with oiled cookie cutters and roll in powdered sugar. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

White Bean Chili

White Bean Chili

You just can't beat a great bowl of chili this time of year!   And a chili that the kids LOVE just as much as the adults is a definite favorite!  Another added bonus...this is a 'one pot' soup!   Serve this soup with some homemade bread, bread sticks, or rolls, add a great salad and your family will love you!  The Bergun  Family made a version of this chili for my husband and sons after a day of fishing in Utah.  They loved it so much they came home with the recipe!  (...and I only made a few changes. )  If you want to kick the heat up a notch, add 1/8 teaspoon (or more if desired) red pepper flakes to the chicken broth. 

1 lb. ground turkey or 4 chicken breasts, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seed
18 ounces frozen or canned corn, drained
8 ounces canned green chilies
30 ounces canned white beans, like Great Northern or cannellini
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons lime juice
Blue Corn Chips
2 avocados

In a large pot add olive oil and sauté onion and garlic with the ground turkey or chopped chicken until meat is cooked through.  Add chicken broth, lemon pepper, cumin seed and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.  Add beans, corn, cumin and lime juice and simmer 5 minutes, top each serving with blue corn chips and chopped avocado.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Greens with Blackberries, Blueberries, Sugared Walnuts and Feta

Greens with Blackberries, Blueberries, Sugared Walnuts and Feta and Pink Poppy Seed Dressing
The summer my husband and I were married, we worked for the Forest Service in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, up near Sun Valley.  I worked a second job at The Rocky Mountain Ranch, a rustic hotel/lodge nearby.  The chef at the restaurant served a lot of wonderful salads, which were topped with gorgeous berries, fragrant cheeses, sugared nuts and homemade dressings.   I was in heaven!  (And took lots of notes!)  I was totally inspired and came away with a whole new approach to salad!  "Say goodbye to tomatoes and carrots and say hello to berries!"  To this day berries, fruits, nuts and cheeses are the first thing I think of throwing on a salad.  If you have children who hate salads...forget the tomatoes and cucumbers and add some favorite seasonal berries, and the Poppy Seed Dressing!  It works every time! We enjoyed this salad at the Harvest Party.
Wash and dry an assortments of lettuces and place on a platter
8 ounces blueberries
8 ounces blackberries
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup walnuts (see recipe below)
Poppy Seed Dressing (see recipe below)

                        Sugared Walnuts

            My friend Dena Duncan shared her recipe for these sugared walnuts.  I double the recipe so I have plenty on hand to toss on last minute salads.  These are fabulous on salads but be sure to make plenty of them because people can’t resist snacking on them too!

2 cups walnut halves
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons canola oil

In small pot bring 4 cups of water to boil. Stir in nuts.  Remove from heat. Let sit 3 minutes. Drain and dry with paper towel.  Mix sugar and salt in a bowl and toss with hot nuts. Add oil to nuts and stir. Spread on baking sheet in a single layer.  Allow to dry for one hour.  Bake at 350 until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Remove from oven and toss nuts on baking sheet with spatula to loosen nuts from pan. Cool.  When cool and dry toss on top of your salad just before serving.  Store remaining nuts in an air- tight container.                       

 Pink Poppy Seed Dressing
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Harvest Party and Roasted Lemon Chicken

To kick off our blogs my dear friend Tracy Laverty and I threw a Harvest Party for our families.

Everyone helped set the table.

Delicious food  and good laughs.

Roasted Lemon Chicken

I love serving this chicken alongside Fresh Beans with Bacon and Potatoes and Sage.  It’s just so down to earth delicious.

4 bone in and skin on chicken breasts halves
1 lb. small red or yellow new potatoes quartered
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 handful fresh chopped herb sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley 
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs

Arrange chicken skin side down in a baking dish.  In small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and let stand 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast chicken for 30 minutes.   Turn pieces skin side up.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the chicken and roast until browned, and juices run clear. Another 30-45 minutes.  Transfer chicken to serving platter and cover loosely with foil and keep warm until serving.  If pan juices have mostly dried up, pour some chicken broth, water or cream into pan.  Add a little olive oil.  With whisk loosen browned bits and stir into sauce.  Pour juices over chicken and serve.


When I found my grandma’s baguette pans and recipe several years ago I decided I’d make a go at making them.   After all who doesn’t love a hot baguette right out of the oven?   My husband has many fond memories of buying fresh, hot baguettes for lunch in France and devouring it while riding home on his bike.   Baguettes are made with basic ingredients and go alongside just about everything. You can freeze what you don’t eat and reheat for another meal.  You can bake this bread on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) or use a round casserole dish (with ¼ inch of corn meal on bottom) or in baguette pans found at any baking store.  
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast or 1 package
2 ½ cups warm water
6 –7 cups flour
In large bowl stir sugar, salt, yeast and water until dissolved.  Stir in 5 cups flour, until more or less mixed. Add one more cup of flour and mix. Dough will be a sticky, gooey dough. Pour out onto floured surface. Take last cup of flour and knead into dough over the next ten minutes. After 10 minutes of kneading you will have a beautiful dough. Grease the bowl with shortening and place dough ball in bowl and roll around to cover with shortening, to prevent dough from drying out.  Cover bowl with wet dish cloth and let rise 1 ½ hours, or until almost doubled in bulk. Punch down and grease bread pans well with shortening. Pour dough out onto clean surface, no flour needed, with knife slice off 4 equal pieces of dough.  Roll dough into long equal ropes, 1 inch shorter than length of bread pan. Lay in bread pans or on greased baking sheets sprinkled with corn meal. ( You can also bake the dough in two round covered casserole dishes, greased and dusted with a ¼ inch layer of corn meal on the bottom of dish.)  Make three slashes across tops of bread.  Lightly beat 1 egg white and brush dough with egg white over entire surface.  Allow to rise until doubled in a cooler location.  Make three 1/8 inch slashes across bread and bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until browned.  Remove from pans and allow to cool.  Freeze any uneaten bread in foil. Reheat bread still wrapped in foil in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. 

Baguette pans

Pumpkin and Ghost Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin and Ghost Sugar Cookies

I have to admit, thick, soft, frosted sugar cookies are just about my favorite cookie in the whole entire world.  The trick for making awesome sugar cookies is to start with a delicious recipe and then to chill and roll the dough out properly, between two pieces of lightly floured plastic wrap.   I know sugar cookies can be intimidating, but this recipe will make you look like a pro.  These cookies will look and  taste amazing! This is my friend Andrea Hamilton's recipe for THE BEST sugar cookies. Ever.  I love how they taste even better when eaten the next day after cookie and frosting have had a chance to set.  So go ahead and make them a day before your Halloween'll be so glad you did! 

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sour cream

 In large bowl, sift flour, soda and salt together and set aside.  In electric mixer cream sugar, butter and eggs.  Add vanilla and beat.  Add sour cream and beat.  Add flour mixture and blend well.   Place mixed dough in a gallon sized freezer bag and compact dough in side of bag.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on counter top.  Lightly flour it.  Cut chilled dough into quarters.  Try to cut dough in a flatter shape as opposed to a round shape of dough (which will make it easier to roll out flat). Place dough on plastic wrap and turn over to flour both sides of dough.  Roll dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters to desired shapes.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet to bake.  Bake at 325 degrees for 8 -11 minutes, remove from oven when tops of cookies form tiny cracks.  Be careful not to over bake.  You don’t want them to get brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to bakers rack and cool completely.  Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheets, decorate with Butter Cream Frosting and allow cookies let stand overnight, if possible.  Don’t cover the cookies for the first night or cookies will be too soft.  Place on serving platters or baskets the next day.  Store remaining cookies in airtight container.

                                         Butter Cream Frosting
My grandmother taught foods at Skyline High for many years.  This is her recipe and it is definitely my go-to buttercream frosting.  It is luscious, soft, and fluffy and decorates or spreads easily.  It makes enough to cover a large batch of sugar cookies in no time.

       6 cups powdered sugar

¾ cup butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring, orange and green

 In electric mixer, cream together butter, powdered sugar and milk.  Add vanilla and almond extract and cream mixture again.  Add desired food coloring or divide frosting in half and color each half separately.  Place frosting in decorators bag fitted with a star tip and fill in top of sugar cookies with tightly packed stars.  If possible, allow to set over night.  These frosted cookies taste even better the next day.  Don’t cover frosted cookies, as this will makes them too soft.  Allow to set uncovered in cool location overnight.  The next day they will be perfect to arrange on trays or baskets and they will taste amazing!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Herb Country Bread

Herb Country Bread
This bread is SO delicious and SO easy!  Even if you have never made homemade bread before!  ESPECIALLY if you have never made homemade bread before!  Be creative and roll the top of the dough in a garnish that will give your bread a special touch. You can roll the top of the dough in poppy seeds, sesame seeds, a variety of grated cheese, chopped olives, you get the idea.    
2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast or 1 package

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

2 handfuls of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley or other favorite garden herbs, chopped

Oil two 9 inch round cake pans or one large baking sheet.  Dust with corn meal and set aside.  In a large bowl mix, yeast, sugar, and salt with warm water and stir until dissolved.  Add flour and stir until blended.  Do not knead.  Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled.  Chop herbs and spread out on counter top.  Flour hands and divide dough into two equal portions.  Roll top of dough in herbs and place on prepared baking sheet or in cake pan.    Cut four slices in a square shape on top of dough.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Let rise 1 hour or until doubled.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with butter. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Beet and Avocado Salad with Gorgonzola

Beet and Avocado Salad with Gorgonzola
One of my very favorite restaurants is Lugano, in Salt Lake City.  They serve this amazing beet and avocado salad.  I loved the flavors so much I set out to recreate it at home. The flavors are just incredible together. You can always add a homemade crouton if you have the time.  I like to roast the beets in the morning or even the day before, since the process takes an hour.  That way the beets will be ready to toss on a salad that evening.  (The salad in this photograph has two varieties of beets, hence the variation of beet colors.)

1 lb. spinach, washed and stems removed

1 head romaine, washed and cut into bite sized pieces

4 fresh beets, roasted until tender. ( Roast Beets: rub beets with olive oil season with salt and pepper, wrap in foil and roast at 450 degrees for 1 hour.) Cool, peel and slice into wedges.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

1 cup Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese

2 ripe avocados

¼ jicama, peeled, use hand peeler to cut into curly strips  (optional)

In large salad bowl toss greens.  Before serving, place beets, avocados and Gorgonzola over greens garnish with jicama.  Drizzle dressing over the top and serve with plenty of crusty bread.

                                                     Balsamic Vinaigrette

My grandmother shared her recipe for Balsamic Vinaigrette.  This is a favorite go-to dressing for a lot of different salads.  It is just that versatile!  I like to keep a bottle on hand in the refrigerator for a last minute salads. 

1 cup olive oil

½ cup balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

a couple grinds of fresh pepper

1 tomato, chopped (optional)

 Whisk all ingredients together by hand and refrigerate.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Puree of Carrot Soup with Ginger Croutons

Puree of Carrot Soup with Ginger Croutons
I recently had a bowl of carrot soup at Brian Voltaggio's restaurant, Family Meal, in Frederick, Maryland.  It was my first carrot soup and I definitely loved it!  I recognized a hint of apple that paired deliciously with the natural sweetness of the carrots.  His soup was topped off with crunchy ginger and a drop of sour cream for a gourmet flavor.   I loved it so much I came home and wanted to make something similar!  This one is topped off with a simple crouton...homemade or purchased.  I know you are probably thinking... "carrot soup?" but I am telling you it's delicious, healthy, gourmet and economical!  What more can you ask for?  Plus, that color is wonderful!

4 tablespoons butter

3 cups carrots, chopped

1 apple, peeled and chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

In large pot melt butter and sauté carrots, apple, celery and onion.  Cover and simmer 10  minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Puree with a stick blender or by filling a blender 1/4 of the way full.  If blender is filled too high, hot soup may burst out through the lid.  Pour pureed soup into another soup pot and finish pureeing the remainder of the soup.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Make homemade Ginger Croutons or you can use a regular 'Texas Toast' crouton for convenience.

                                                                 Ginger Croutons:

5 cups bread cubes, crusts removed

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sesame oil or olive oil

1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

I like to pull out my homemade baguettes from the freezer for these homemade croutons.  Sauté bread cubes and ginger in butter and oil until crispy.  Sprinkle over soup if desired.
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