Monthly Archives: April 2012

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Yellow Split Pea Soup

It’s Sunday morning and in a few hours Bruce and I are having guests over for brunch again.  Bruce wanted me to make Quiche Lorraine and I wanted to make Broccoli Havarti Quiche.  So, to make things fair, I went ahead and made both.  While the quiches are baking away in the oven, I decided to make a pot of Yellow Split Pea Soup.  In my opinion quiches and soup go together like peas and carrots.  They are perfect for each other!

My Yellow Split Pea Soup is easy to make, healthy for you and it’s vegan too!  It’s made with dried yellow split peas, organic vegetable stock, onion, celery, coriander, cumin, bay leaf and turmeric.  If there are any leftovers from our brunch, I will be sure to pack a container full of soup in my lunch bag for the following work week.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • fresh snipped chives and pinches of paprika for garnish (optional)

Add all ingredients (except salt and garnishes) to large pot with lid.  Cook on medium low, stirring occasionally for about an hour or until the split peas are tender.  Remove bay leaf from soup and blend soup with a hand-blender until smooth.  Taste and correct your salt level.  Ladle up and garnish with fresh snipped chives and paprika.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

Rosemary Parmesan Corn Muffins

Rosemary Parmesan Corn Muffins

I promised Bruce yesterday evening that I would watch him run a 5K race up at Lost Creek Lake early this morning.  Frankly, I was not too thrilled about getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning but I knew that I had an opportunity to get out of the house, get some fresh mountain air and spend a little bit of time walking around the lake.

It was still early and the air was cool…  Not many people were out on the lake.  I saw only one sailboat and maybe just a couple of fisherman.  While Bruce was warming up for his race, I took an opportunity to walk around and take in the gorgeous scenery.

Mid morning at the lake.

A pair of Canada Geese were nervously watching me as I walked by…  I could hear them lightly honking to each other as I got closer.

As I walked along the lake shore, another goose flew by.  His mate was not far behind…

Bruce at the race.  He did really well!  He earned a third place ribbon!

After the race was over and we were walking back to the truck, Bruce asked me if we had any plans for the rest of the day and if I thought about dinner.  What? Dinner? Seriously? It’s still morning!  I had to remember that he just ran a 5k and the man was hungry!  I needed to think fast and then I told him that I was going to barbecue some chicken, make a fresh picked green salad and bake some Rosemary Parmesan Corn Muffins with snipped rosemary from our garden.  Lucky for me (or him… depending on how you look at it), he liked that idea :).

As soon as we got home I started to assemble the muffins.  My Rosemary Parmesan Corn Muffins are super easy to make and taste fabulous warm with fresh cream butter.  Serve the Rosemary Parmesan Corn Muffins with homemade chili, stew or at your next backyard barbecue.  Makes about a dozen muffins.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shaved)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary (chopped)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium sized mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix well.  In a separate bowl whisk together the canola oil, milk, egg and fresh rosemary.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix lightly until there are no lumps left in the batter.  Spray muffin pans with nonstick spray.  Put batter into muffin pans and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the muffins are a light golden brown.  Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.  Serve with sweet cream butter.

Cauliflower Bisque

Cauliflower Bisque

There are times when I just want a bowl of soup.  Just soup…  No sandwich, no salad, not even crackers.  Just a bowl of something warm and soul soothing.  My easy to make cauliflower bisque was just the ticket.  It’s made with fresh picked cauliflower, onions, garlic, coriander and a bit of cream to give it a velvety texture.

While my cauliflower was cooking away on the stove, I grabbed my camera and headed outside.  I had only a few minutes before I needed to get back to my dish.  As soon as I opened my back door and stepped out on the patio, the smell of lilacs caught my attention…

Lilacs are some of my all time favorite flowers.  I love the light purple color and the sweet scent.  They are lovely in a vase.

Petunias in a hanging basket.  The gold color reminds me of sunshine…

My mother gave me this Dogwood tree a few years back…  Notice that the flower has only four petals?  I think that it is simply gorgeous…

I had only a few minutes to spare before my cauliflower was done so I stopped by my pot of fresh chives.  They are almost ready to bloom!  I snipped a few after I took this photo for garnish on my soup.  Now back to the kitchen…

My Cauliflower Bisque takes about a half an hour to make and is just delicious.  Garnish with fresh snipped chives and grated cheddar cheese.  Wrap your hands around a warm creamy bowl of my Cauliflower Bisque and enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pound cauliflower (chopped)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped white onions
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste
  • shredded cheddar cheese and fresh snipped chives for garnish (optional)

Begin by tossing all ingredients except for heavy cream, salt and garnishes in a covered saucepan.  Cook on medium low for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  Take a hand blender and blend until smooth.  Add cream and salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and fresh snipped chives.  Makes about 4 servings.

Strawberry Barbecue Chicken

Strawberry Barbecue Chicken

I have a bad habit…  Whenever Bruce and I have guests at our home, I tend to put out too much food.  Our guests always go home happy and with their bellies full but, dealing with party leftovers can be a pain.  Just like what happened over the past weekend.  We had a pound of leftover strawberries sitting in a bowl on the counter after our brunch and there’s only two of us living in the home.  Ugh!  I can’t believe I thought it and even worse, I can’t even believe that I said it out loud.  I bought way too many strawberries…

Strawberry Barbecue Sauce

I have learned over the years that sometimes you just need to get creative to use up the ingredients you have on hand.  I personally like to use ingredients and flavor combinations in ways that most people would never think or even dream of.  A great example is my sweet and tangy homemade Strawberry Barbecue Sauce with spicy ancho chili, sweet and sticky Indonesian soy sauce and my favorite soda, Dr Pepper.  The flavor of my Strawberry Barbecue sauce is smoky, sweet and complex but on the other hand, it’s really easy to make.

Strawberry Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 pound of strawberries (cleaned, hulled and quartered)
  • 1 can Dr Pepper
  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (use more for a spicy kick)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste

Add all ingredients to saucepan. Cook on medium low, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes.  Blend with hand blender to make the barbecue sauce smooth.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Makes about 3 cups.  Any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  Brush it on barbecue beef, chicken, or pork..

Now that the sauce is done… Let’s fire up the Q!

Strawberry Barbecue Chicken

  • 6 pounds chicken (I like to use legs or thighs)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 cups Strawberry Barbecue Sauce (or to taste)

Fire up your barbecue or grill pan.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Grill on medium high heat until juices run clear or about 15 minutes.  Brush with sauce and cook a few minutes more…  Serve chicken with sauce on the side.   Makes about 12 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Looks delish!

Asparagus Leek Quiche

 

Asparagus Leek Quiche

My son came home to visit for the weekend and before he went back up to school late this afternoon we hosted a Sunday morning brunch at our home.  I baked some quiches, made my “famous” biscuits and gravy, served eggs cooked to order, set out a big bowl of fresh picked strawberries and a dished up a variety of fresh salads.  We even had fresh squeezed orange juice and mimosas.  Delish!

Quiches are one of my favorite dishes to make.  First of all, they are very versatile because you can put so some many different types of ingredients in them.  Second, they are super easy to make.  And three, you can get away with serving quiche for any meal of the day.

I work full time during the week and have been known to make quiche on the weekend just to have slices available for my breakfast or lunch while I am at the office.  I simply warm it up in the microwave in the break room for a few seconds, grab a fork and my meal is done.  Simple, no muss, no fuss.  And, I am back to work at my desk in no time at all.

My Asparagus Leek Quiche is baked with local free range organic eggs, fresh picked asparagus, organic leeks, and shredded creamy Havarti cheese in a flaky golden pie crust.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 9″ refrigerated pie crust (unfold and roll to fit pie or tart pan)
  • 1 cup leeks (washed and thinly sliced)
  • 2 cups asparagus (chopped)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces Havarti cheese (shredded)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Begin by rolling out the pie crust and placing it in a 9″ pie pan or 10″ tart pan.  I used a tart pan.  Heat a saute pan on the stove, add the canola oil, asparagus, leeks and salt.  Saute for a few minutes until asparagus are tender.  Don’t over cook.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, half and half, white pepper, salt and nutmeg.  Add asparagus, leeks and Havarti cheese.  Mix well and pour into pie crust.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn down heat and bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes or until crust is golden.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Slice into wedges.  Makes 1 quiche.

Asparagus and Champagne Mango Salad

Asparagus and Champagne Mango Salad

If you have not noticed already, I really like asparagus.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and when it is fresh and in season I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Early this morning before anyone in my family decided to crawl out of their beds, I was already out of the house driving my little car along the back roads of Southern Oregon looking for wild asparagus.  Asparagus can be found in mid spring along roadsides and in orchards under the blooming pear trees.  I was hoping to find some this morning but, it appears to be a bit early in the season.  Maybe I’ll find some next week….

Pear orchards and vineyards near my home

If you ever have the opportunity to hunt for wild asparagus, there are two very important rules to remember.  First of all, find a place where the asparagus is not sprayed with herbicides.  If you see asparagus poking through the ground and there are no weeds or grasses around it, don’t pick it.  Ever.  Don’t even think about it.  It’s not safe to eat.  Second, always ask the property owner before taking off into an orchard looking for asparagus.  You really don’t want to be dealing with the owner’s big mean watch dog or the owner himself.  It’s always best to ask first.

Before I go on about the Asparagus and Champagne Mango Salad, I want to thank Weng at ApronandSneakers.com for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.  If you get a chance, stop by her site and check out her work.  Weng’s photography is amazing and her recipes are outstanding.

The Liebster Blog Award is sort of a chain letter among bloggers meant to showcase exceptional up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  It is a recognition that a fellow blogger has noticed and appreciated your work.  Liebster is German for dearest, favorite, or beloved.

Here are my five nominations for the Liebster Blog Award:

A Taste for Change

Beti at Beti Vanilla

Purabi at Cosmopolitan Currymania

Tia at IamSimplyTia

Tobias at TandTeacake

Rules for the Liebster Blog Award:

Thank the Liebster Blog Award Presenter on your blog
Link back to the blogger who nominated you
Copy and paste the award on your blog
Reveal 5 blogs of your choice
Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog

Now back to asparagus… My Asparagus and Champagne Mango Salad is made with fresh picked asparagus, sweet champagne mangoes, crunchy red peppers, purple onions and a wonderful maple red wine vinaigrette.  It’s easy to make and is perfect to serve on a warm spring day.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups asparagus
  • 1 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 2 champagne (yellow) mangoes peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or to taste
  • ¼ tsp salt or to taste

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Add 1 tsp. salt to the water (salt helps keep the bright green color in the asparagus).  Wash, trim and cut the woody tips off the asparagus.  Toss the woody tips in your compost bin.  Cut your asparagus into 1″ pieces on the diagonal.  Put asparagus in boiling water.  Cook asparagus for about 3 minutes.  Quickly remove asparagus and immediately put into cold ice water.  Wait a few minutes until the asparagus has cooled and then drain.  Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables and mango and set aside.  Grab a large mixing bowl and whisk together the red wine vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, black pepper and salt.  Add asparagus, mango, onion, red bell pepper and parsley.  Toss to coat.  Serve cold.  Makes about 4 servings.

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

My two favorite days of the week are Saturdays and Sundays.  I cherish my weekends.  This morning I made Pasta Salad with fresh herbs from my garden and by early afternoon I was out enjoying the warm spring weather in my yard. I saw some beautiful flowers out my kitchen window so I grabbed my camera as I was heading out the door… Weeds were pulled, plants watered and organic fertilizer was spread around my vegetable garden.

While I was working, I would stop and snap an occasional picture of whatever caught my eye.

Bees were busy pollinating my cherry tree that is now beginning to bloom.  Do you see all the specks of pollen on the honey bee?

My rosemary bush is blooming too!  The little blue flowers are lovely and the plant is amazingly fragrant.

Grape Hyacinths are little perennial bulbs that are only a few inches tall.  I had to get down on my stomach to get this shot.  I did not mind getting a bit dirty for I think this photo was totally worth it…

A few of our koi fish were swimming by the edge of our pond.  The weather is now warm enough to start feeding them again.  The koi are now eight years old and up to about a foot and a half long.  My friends tease me and tell me that they are finally sushi grade.  It’s hard for me to imagine that for I believe each of my fish has its own personality.  Not to mention, when they see me step out the back door, the koi swim to the edge of the pond, mouths open and begging for a handful of food.

Back to the Pasta Salad….  My Pasta Salad is an easy to make dish that is perfect to serve at a backyard barbeque with chicken and ribs.  It’s made with a variety of organic pastas, my red wine vinaigrette, fresh cherry tomatoes, salty little capers, black olives and fresh parsley.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese if you like.  The recipe can be doubled or even tripled.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed dried pasta (such as shells, bow ties and spirals)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 cup slice black olives
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs for garnish

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes or al dente.  Don’t overcook.  Drain and rinse pasta in cold water.  In a medium size bowl add all ingredients except for the garnish, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  When ready to serve, mix well, taste the pasta and add more red wine vinaigrette if desired.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.  Garnish with fresh herbs or Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 servings.

Guava Chicken

 

Guava Chicken

My son called me the other day just to gently point out to me that I did not live up to my promise to post easy recipes that he could make in his slow cooker while he studying at the university.   During our conversation he asked me to come up with something Asian inspired that he can toss together quickly and serve with jasmine rice.  My slow cooker Guava Chicken is just the ticket.  It’s easy to make, tender and flavorful.  Not to mention, I assembled the ingredients in about 10 minutes.

My slow cooked Guava Chicken is made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, guava jelly, Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, garlic and rice vinegar.  It’s sweet, tangy and has just the right amount of spice.  Next time you find some guava jelly at your favorite grocery store, buy some and make this.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup guava jelly
  • 1/4 cup Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chives

In a slow cooker, add the chicken.  In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the garnishes.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for about 4-6 hours or until fork tender.  Taste your seasonings, correct and serve with fluffy jasmine rice.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chives.  Serves about 4.

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Technically it’s spring here in Southern Oregon. The operative word is “technically”…  It did not feel like spring because today was just gray and rainy.  To add to the annoyance, Bruce and I were out of town over the weekend and when we came home late Monday, we were low on groceries.  We were out of milk, bread, and other basic necessities.  Missing key ingredients in my kitchen makes it tough to make a decent dinner for a busy weeknight.

Fortunately, I always keep lentils, yellow onions, chicken stock and fresh celery on hand.  I also had a half pound of fully cooked asiago cheese red pepper chicken sausages in my freezer.  Before I left for work early this morning, I snagged my little slow cooker from the cupboard, plugged it in, tossed in my ingredients, and turned it on low.  All in all, I spent about 10 minutes assembling dinner.  When I got home from work, I grabbed a couple of bowls, fished out the bay leaf and garnished the soup with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  It was simply delicious! It was ridiculously easy to make and I got two thumbs up from Bruce. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils (picked over and rinsed)
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage links (chopped)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt or to taste
  • water if necessary
  • garnish with grated Parmesan cheese

Grab a slow cooker.  Add all ingredients except for seasoning salt, water and garnishes.  Cook on low covered for 6 – 8 hours.  Add water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Add seasoning salt.  Taste your soup and correct your seasonings.  Ladle up and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 servings.

Red Quinoa Salad

Red Quinoa Salad

I love it when I make a dish that my husband Bruce has never tasted or even seen before in his life.  My Red Quinoa Salad is one of those dishes… Last night when I put a bowl of my Red Quinoa Salad next to the grilled chicken that I made him for dinner, he stopped what he was doing, looked down, looked at me and said in a stern voice “Okay, what is this Tess? And, wait, are those zucchinis?  You know I hate zucchini!”.   I looked at him with a big smirk and said, “No, it’s not zucchini silly, it’s cucumber, and before you ask any more questions, the salad is red quinoa with kalamata olives and feta.  You’ve had quinoa before, it’s good for you and I think you will like the salad”.  He looked back at me in silence….  As my sister would say, all you could hear was “crickets”.  And I gotta tell you that I was right.  Bruce liked it!  He ate the whole bowl and then he wanted more…

For those who do not know, quinoa is a type of edible seed that originated in the Andes of South America.  Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah” and not “key-nowah” like I first thought…  It comes in a couple of varieties including red and black.  I enjoy making quinoa because it is so quick to prepare, easy and versatile.  You can serve it hot or cold and it can be ready in a matter of about 20 – 25 minutes.  Next time you see quinoa at the market, snag some.  I think you’ll like it.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed well in cold water and drained)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cucumber (diced)
  • 1 cup red tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (make mine, you will love it!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup crumbed feta cheese for garnish (optional)
  • parsley sprig for garnish

Begin by cooking the quinoa in a covered saucepan on medium heat until it boils.  Turn on low and let cook another 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile chop all your vegetables and make the Red Wine Vinaigrette.  When quinoa is cool add all ingredients except feta cheese to a mixing bowl and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  When ready to serve, sprinkle top of salad with “optional” feta cheese and garnish with parsley.  Serves 4.