Monthly Archives: December 2011

Chicken Endive Spears

Chicken Endive Spears

I just love easy appetizers.  These Chicken Endive Spears are crazy simple to make and with all store bought ingredients.  I made a platter of these to share at a birthday party earlier today.  All you need is some store bought chicken salad (from the deli section of your favorite store), fresh endive spears, minced green onion and a jar of your favorite caviar.

Begin by washing and trimming the endive spears.  Scoop on the chicken salad.  Garnish with minced green onion and caviar.  That’s it.  See? I told you that was easy!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Black Bean Soup

 

Black Bean Soup

I’ve spent the morning digging around my lap top’s hard drive looking at some old photos.  I happened to find this photo of a bowl of my Black Bean Soup. I really liked the photo and back then, my family thought that my soup was pretty good.  I took this shot a few months back when I was first learning how to use my camera.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s been over a year and I still don’t know how to completely use my camera!  My camera is an Olympus E420 DSLR type camera that my husband gave to me as a gift.  He bought it with the intent that I just might use the camera for family photos and that I just might take pictures of vacations and special events.  Little did he know that he would help create a food blog monster…

Anyways, if you get the chance, make my Black Bean Soup.  It’s tasty, hearty and perfect for a cold winter day.  It has black beans, ham, vegetables and has a wonderful southwestern inspired flavor.  Any leftovers can be frozen and used at a later date.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried black beans (soaked overnight or about 8 hours)
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 pound ham, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 2 -3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. dark chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • sour cream, chives and paprika for garnish

Put your black beans in a bowl and pick over.  Picking over means checking for small rocks or foreign material.  I know that it sounds weird but if you want to chip a tooth or lose a filling then omit this step…  Add water and let soak for about 8 hours or overnight.  Rinse and drain.  In a pot with a tight fitting lid add the beans, ham and 2 quarts chicken broth and cook on low until beans are tender or about 2 hours.  Buzz with your hand blender for about 30 seconds or until smooth (optional).

In a pan sauté the chopped onion, pepper, celery and carrots in olive oil until the onions turn light golden brown.  Add the vegetables to the pot.  Now add your garlic paste, cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano, and black pepper.  Put the lid on mixture and cook on low, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour.  Taste and correct the salt level if needed.  Add a bit of water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Garnish with sour cream and fresh chopped chives.  Makes about 3 1/2 quarts of soup.

Creamy Split Pea Soup

Creamy Split Pea Soup

I love the holiday season and but this year has been one crazy busy year.  For the past month I have not been able to spend much time in my kitchen.  We attended holiday parties, hosted parties, wrapped gifts, decorated our home and we are all  so tired.  We really had a wonderful spending time with family and friends this holiday season.  However, the holidays are almost over and I am now looking forward to my normal routine.

Today was a lazy day.  I needed to take it easy and unwind before going back to work tomorrow.  We have no plans, no shopping, no going out, no nothing, nada…  As a result, I decided to make an easy pot of Creamy Split Pea Soup.  My recipe for Creamy Split Pea Soup is easy to make, delightfully creamy and is really good for you.  It has onions, celery, parsnips, coriander, cumin and a hint of smoked salt.  I even re-purposed a leftover veggie tray from a party last night and made some awesome homemade vegetable stock to use in my soup.  My creamy split pea soup is  perfect with a loaf of crusty french bread or a big chunk of homemade corn bread.  If there are any leftovers, I like to freeze it for a later date.  Enjoy! -  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried green split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (approximate)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped parsnips
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Begin by washing and picking over your split peas.  Add all the ingredients to a medium to large pot.  Cook on low for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the stove top or until the split peas are cooked.  You can also cook this in a slow cooker for 8 hours on the low setting or about 4 hours on high.  When the split peas are done remove the bay leaf and blend with a hand blender until smooth and creamy.  Taste your soup, correct your seasonings and dish up.  Garnish with chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika.  Makes about 2 quarts of creamy split pea soup.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs…  No holiday party at my home would be complete without them.  I guess it’s because both my sister and I just love them.  Whenever my sister sees them out on the counter in the midst of all the appetizers, she says “Oooh! deviled eggs!”.  On the other hand, my husband Bruce says “Eeyooo!, deviled eggs!…”  I gotta laugh at Bruce for the poor man does not know what he is missing.  I look at it this way.  Fine with me!  More deviled eggs for my sister and I.

I purchase my eggs from a family who has a farm a few miles from my home.  Their chickens are what many purists would consider “free range organic”.  In other words, the chickens run around their back yard, eat what they want, and are not given a bunch of antibiotics or other medications to help make them stay healthy.  The only worries these chickens have are what kitchen scraps they are going to get that evening or watching out for the little grey foxes that live in the nearby apricot orchard.

My deviled eggs are easy to make, taste great and fit nicely at any occasion.  They are creamy with a green onion, mustard, relish and a hint of Madras curry powder.  Makes 2 dozen deviled egg appetizers.  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen hard cooked eggs
  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbls. minced green onion
  • 1 Tbls. yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbls. sweet relish
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. hot madras curry powder
  • a big pinch of white pepper
  • a pinch of sugar
  • paprika for garnish

Begin by making your hard cooked eggs.  Let cool.  Peel eggs slowly under cold running water.  Slice each egg in half lengthwise.  Remove the yolks and place in a medium sized bowl.  Place egg whites on a plate.  Use a fork to smash the egg yolks into very fine pieces.  Add remainder of ingredients with the exception of the paprika.  Use a hand mixer and whip together the yolk mixture until light and fluffy.

Take egg yolk mixture and either spoon it into the the egg whites or do as I do and pipe it into the eggs.  If you like the piping effect and you don’t have a pastry bag and tip, simply put the egg yolk mixture in a plastic bag and snip a corner off the bag.  Then pipe…  It’s easy.  When you are done, garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Makes 24 deviled egg appetizers.

Roasted Sunchoke Bisque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Sunchoke Bisque

It’s not too often when I walk through the produce section of my favorite market and find something that I have never seen before…  Sunchokes.  If you could have heard me when I saw them for the first time…  “What in the heck are those things?!”  Knowing how I operate, I went ahead and bought a little more than a pound of the sunchokes not knowing how to prepare them or if I was going to even like them.  They were new, different and I really wanted to try them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Sunchokes

As soon as I got home with my prize, I started some research.  According to Wikipedia, it is the tuber portion of a specie of sunflower that is native to the North American continent.  Seriously?  I am thinking to myself why is it that nobody told me about this?  The sunchoke tubers look similar to knobby little potatoes or ginger roots.  From what I read, they can be prepared a variety of ways including raw in salads, steamed, or baked.  I decided to oven roast my sunchokes and make a creamy Roasted Sunchoke Bisque.  My Roasted Sunchoke Bisque has a hint of sage and a wonderful earthy flavor.  It’s a creamy hearty soup well suited for a cold winter afternoon.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole sunchokes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • a few pinches salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbls. flour
  • 2 Tbls. canola oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock (or good quality vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Begin by scrubbing the sunchokes under cold water with a stiff brush.   Slice into 1/4 inch slices.  Peel and cut onion into quarters.  Grab an oven proof dish and add the sunchokes and onion. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Place in oven and cook for about an hour or until fork tender.  In a medium sized sauce pan make a roux with the flour and canola oil.  Cook the flour in the oil on low heat until a very light golden color.  Add the stock, the roasted sunchokes and onion, sage, white pepper and salt.  Take an immersion blender and puree until smooth.  Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Add stock if needed.  Makes about  6 servings.