Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Month: September 2017

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

There is something wonderful about the foods of autumn. Flavors are rich and deep, the scent of fruits, nuts and spices subtly waft about. The tastes of the season can be found in many delicious things and apples are most certainly on that list.

We know how fabulous pies made with apples can be but if you’ve never considered baking a cake with these fall fruits, you’re in for a delightful treat. My Grandmother made this delectable apple cake loaded with fresh apples and toasted pecans then topped it with a luscious brown sugar glaze.

There are a variety of apples recommended for baking, including Jonagolds, Jonathans, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Braeburn and Gala. These all hold their shape well when cooked and don’t become “mealy”. Don’t be afraid to mix different types of apples in a pie or a cake. This apple cake is easy to pull together and great for dessert or for brunch.

It makes a beautiful addition to any meal!

 

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

3 extra large eggs, room temperature

2 cups sugar

1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups chopped apples

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

In a large bowl beat the eggs on medium speed until light. Add the sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla; continue beating until creamy and well blended, about 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, kosher salt and cinnamon.

Gradually beat into the egg mixture on low speed, about a cup at a time. Blend until the flour is just mixed into the egg mixture.

Add the chopped apples and toasted pecans, then stir in on low speed.

Pour the batter into a Bundt pan, which has been coated with a cooking spray or greased and dusted with flour. Spread the batter evenly into the pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out onto a platter. Drizzle the top of the warm cake with a portion of the brown sugar glaze. Serve with additional warm glaze if desired. Refrigerate any leftover cake and glaze. Serve the cake warm, cold or at room temperature.

 

Brown Sugar Glaze

1-1/4 cup brown sugar

½ cup butter

1/3 cup half and half

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the glaze to a boil and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes or until it comes together and thickens. Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from scorching.

The taste of fall in every bite!

Pesto Sauce Times Two

Pesto Sauce Times Two

When Emily was little I decided to plant a garden. Having been raised around gardens I had some idea what I was doing. We tilled up a portion of our yard and ended up with a garden a bit larger than expected. But it was glorious, with flowers, vegetables and herbs. One thing I hadn’t planned was the bounty that would follow. The freezer was packed with vegetables, peppers were turned into jellies. By the end of the summer the herbs were prolific!

I had tons of basil and parsley that led me down the path of making fresh pesto. Traditional pesto starts with basil and toasted pine nuts.

But what to do with all that parsley. So it was pesto times two. The pesto I made with the parsley created a bright and wonderful peppery flavor. And instead of pine nuts I tossed in toasted walnuts.

There are only a handful of key ingredients in pesto so be sure to use a high quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese. (If you have that stuff in the green can, put it down!)

Pesto is a great topping on so many kinds of soup or as a spread for sandwiches. It makes a wonderful “no-cook” sauce for hot pasta. Add it straight to the pasta or stir it into an Alfredo or cream sauce. Super simple to pull together, a batch makes enough to toss with about 12 ounces of pasta and keeps refrigerated for two weeks. And no matter which herb you have on hand, pesto is also a surprising addition to dress up vegetables.

Very easy and very versatile!

Basil Pesto

1-1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed when measuring

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Toss the basil leaves, the chopped garlic, kosher salt and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor.

Process for about 10-15 seconds or until the leaves are finely chopped. With the processor running, pour the olive oil through the top opening and process for about 10 seconds. Add the toasted pine nuts, pulse about 10-12 times or until the nuts are finely chopped and blended into the pesto.

Spoon the pesto into a small mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.

Toss the fresh pesto with hot basil fettuccine and you’ve got dinner in less than 20 minutes!

Parsley Pesto

1-1/2 cups fresh parsley, stems removed and packed when measuring

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans

Toss the parsley, the chopped garlic, kosher salt and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 10-15 seconds or until the parsley is finely chopped. With the processor running, pour the olive oil through the top opening and process for about 10 seconds. Add the toasted walnuts or pecans, pulse about 10-12 times or until the nuts are finely chopped and blended into the pesto.

Spoon the pesto into a small mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of pesto into frozen peas to elevate their flavor!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Most people are familiar with Tiramisu as it’s frequently listed on the dessert menu of many Italian restaurants. The 90s took a toll on this luscious Italian trifle-like dessert. During that decade it was like a one-hit wonder, overplayed so often we all dreaded to hear it again. And there were so many bad renditions that the reputation of Tiramisu was tarnished. But thankfully in recent years it has been redeemed.

It is said that Tiramisu was created in Italy in the 1960s. Over time the recipe has seen various versions emerge and I’ve tried a number of them. All of the first Tiramisu recipes I made used raw egg yolks, which were whisked into sugar to create the creamy custard layers. With so much concern over serving raw eggs I went in search of a recipe where the eggs were cooked. This version originated from a recipe written by Tyler Florence and is by far my favorite. (Tyler Florence is another great chef who has written some fabulous cookbooks.)

The custard is actually a sabayon or zabaglione, a beautiful dessert sauce rich with egg yolks and mascarpone, with a layer of intense flavor from Marsala, a fruity and smoky wine. The “cake” portion of this dessert comes from ladyfingers, which are dipped into a blend of espresso, bittersweet chocolate, pure vanilla and dark rum.

Tiramisu is not difficult to make. The most time consuming piece is making the sabayon sauce and though not complicated it needs your attention while it cooks to prevent the eggs from “scrambling”. Cooking the sauce in the top of a double boiler and whisking while the sabayon thickens are keys to perfection. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water.

There are two different types of ladyfingers, one more of a cake, the other considered a cookie. I use the latter, a cookie made by Alessi, available in the gourmet cookie section of your market or online. If you don’t have access to espresso you can use instant espresso or a dark roast coffee in a pinch. For Tiramisu to be at its peak, it needs to be well chilled. It’s best to refrigerate overnight making it a great dessert for planning ahead.

Beautiful and elegant, Tiramisu is a fabulous dessert for family and friends!

Tiramisu

7 extra large egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup sweet Marsala wine

8 ounces mascarpone, room temperature

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 cup espresso

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, plus extra for garnish

¼ cup dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

36-40 ladyfingers

In the top of a double boiler combine the egg yolks with the granulated sugar and whisk together.

Add the Marsala wine, whisk into the eggs and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Continue cooking until the egg mixture doubles in volume and becomes thick. Gently whisk in the mascarpone.

Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool. Whip the cream along with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled sabayon.

Combine the espresso, bittersweet chocolate and rum in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat just until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Dip each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture, turning a couple of times so that the cookie absorbs the liquid. Place the ladyfingers in a serving bowl or dish in a single layer.

If you’re using a round serving dish, you can cut the ladyfingers to fit.

Spread a layer of the sabayon across the ladyfingers. Continue layering the ladyfingers and sabayon, ending with the sabayon. A quick note for proportions-The number of layers will vary depending upon the size of your dish. The serving dish I use is 8″ in diameter, with three layers of ladyfingers and four layers of sabayon. If you use a 13″ x 9″ dish, you’ll have two layers of ladyfingers between three layers of sabayon.

Cover and chill overnight. Prior to serving grate additional bittersweet chocolate over the top.

Layers of wonderful textures and flavors!

Pecan Crusted Baked French Toast

Pecan Crusted Baked French Toast

I have a number of wonderful breakfast casseroles and many make great use of staples I keep on hand for unexpected weekend guests. The best part, most can be pulled together the night before and popped in an oven before brunch allowing me time to catch up with my company. This recipe is a family favorite and a culmination of several versions of baked French toast.

If you’ve made our Orange-Scented French Toast you know starting with great bread is key for flavor and texture. My preferred bread for French toast or bread pudding is Challah. It’s a luscious egg bread which is now commonly available in most bakery sections of food markets and also available online. Challah bread freezes beautifully so I try to keep at least one loaf in my freezer. If you are in a pinch, you can use French or Italian bread with a soft crust, both are normally found in the bread aisle.

As with any great French toast, the bread is soaked in a rich egg custard base. Currants are added to the custard along with some cinnamon, brown sugar, pure vanilla extract and real maple syrup. Before baking drizzle on some extra decadence with a blend of butter, brown sugar, toasted pecans and a bit more of that real maple syrup!

And since this weekend marks the arrival of fall, let’s add some warm apples sautéed in a bit of butter, a dash of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg gently sweetened with rich maple syrup.

Pecan Crusted Baked French Toast

For the base:

1 large loaf Challah bread, cut into slices about 1” thick

6 extra large eggs

1-1/2 cups half and half

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cups currants

For the topping:

½ stick butter

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

½ c dark brown sugar

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

In a large bowl combine the eggs, half and half, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and currants, whisk together until well blended.

Pour about 1/3 of the egg mixture in the bottom of a 13” x 9” baking dish, which has been lightly coated with a cooking spray. Dip each slice of bread in the egg custard then layer the bread slices in the baking dish. Pour the remaining custard over the bread.

Wrap and refrigerate overnight. About 45 minutes before baking remove the dish from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. If most of the egg custard has not been absorbed by the bread, spoon the extra back over the top of the bread. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat along with the brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Stir in the toasted pecans.

Spoon the sauce over the bread, spreading the toasted pecans evenly across the top.

Bake at 350-degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until the custard is baked through. If the edges of the bread start to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Spiced Sautéed Apples

4 apples, such as Fuji, Braeburn or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced thin

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 freshly grated nutmeg

6 tablespoons real maple syrup

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook until the apples start to soften. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup. Continue cooking until the apples are soft and cooked through.

Brunch is served!
Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

One of our favorite fall vegetables has to be acorn squash. These gorgeous squash are frequently used as an autumn centerpiece along with other ornamental squash. But to leave them there would be a shame! Simple to prepare, they are also a feast for your eyes and taste buds!

If you’ve never tackled these autumn beauties, the first go can be a bit daunting. Getting into them is actually not as hard as you would think. A large, sharp but sturdy cook’s knife is your key to unlocking the goodness inside.

Acorn squash are the perfect side to pair with most any meat, from pork to chicken and even a hearty beef tenderloin. Top these squash with the spice of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg, add a bit of butter and some brown sugar. Don’t be afraid to get creative… Toss in chopped apples, currants or raisins and toasted nuts. This recipe is per squash, count on one squash for two people.

Roasted Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon butter

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1/8 freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

1/8 ground cinnamon

1/8 freshly ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon toasted chopped pecans

Rinse the squash and pat dry. Using a large, sharp knife insert the tip in the middle of the squash between one of the ridges, pointing the knife towards the end and away from you. Gently cut through the squash until it is almost cut into, but don’t worry about cutting through the stem. Remove the knife and pull the squash apart into two separate pieces.

Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the center of the squash. (Discard the seeds; don’t toss these down your disposal!)

In a baking dish, bunch up a piece aluminum foil for each half to create a “nest”; this will keep them from rolling around in the pan. Using the tip of a sharp knife gently prick each squash around the edges and center taking care not to pierce through the skin. In each half, add ½ tablespoon butter in the center then sprinkle the kosher salt, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg around the edges and in the center. Place 1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon toasted pecans in the center of each squash.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the squash are very tender. Before serving, use a fork and carefully pull the flesh away from the skin, mixing the melted butter and brown sugar into the squash.

The acorn squash can be prepared in advance and reheated, covered at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Perfect when you need to plan ahead!

 

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cashews

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cashews

We love to entertain and frequently have guests over for dinner. I don’t typically load folks up on appetizers beforehand but always like to have something to nibble on with a beverage while I get dinner on the table.

My Dad loved to snack on nuts and loved cashews, as does my Engineer. I’ve got a number of recipes for spiced nuts and sweetened nuts – this recipe brings all those wonderful things together. Start with raw cashews, which you can typically find at Farmer’s Markets or in the bulk food section of most markets. Roast the nuts until they are golden and crisp then toss with fresh rosemary, cayenne pepper, dark brown sugar and kosher salt all bound together in a bit of melted butter.

This is a takeoff on a recipe by Ina Garten, who writes and creates some of the most beautiful cookbooks. We do tend to like things a bit spicier and a tad sweeter in the South, so this turns up those flavors a notch or two. Feel free to adjust the sweet and spice to fit your palate.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cashews

2 pounds raw cashews

4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1-1/2 heaping teaspoons cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

4-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Spread the cashews out in a single layer onto rimmed baking sheets.

Roast for 12-14 minutes in a 375-degree oven, stirring after about five minutes. The last few minutes, stir every minute or so as they begin to brown.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the rosemary, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, kosher salt and melted butter.

While cashews are still hot begin adding them in batches to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue stirring to coat the cashews.

Add additional seasoning if needed and stir occasionally as nuts cool.

Something special for your guests!
Stuffed Shells on Tomato Concasse with Tomato and Parmesan Cream Sauce

Stuffed Shells on Tomato Concasse with Tomato and Parmesan Cream Sauce

There are so many fabulous recipes for stuffed shells. Many are filled with a simple blend of luscious cheese. This recipe takes creamy ricotta, a nutty Fontina, Parmesan and surrounds the cheese with a blend of spicy Italian sausage and savory vegetables. And just for fun, the shells are baked on a bed of tomato concasse – ripe Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. Finally pour a beautiful tomato sauce over the shells and bake. Then, before serving let’s add a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce.

This dish takes a number of steps and a bit of time to prepare this dish, but don’t be put off by that! The good news, both sauces and the tomato concasse can be made a couple of days ahead and all are very easy to make. Then the day you want to serve, pull together the stuffing, cook the pastas, assemble and bake.

The tomato concasse is a basic rough chop of tomatoes that have been blanched, peeled and seeded, tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and seasoning. Peeling Roma tomatoes is not difficult, takes a few minutes and a great way to use these gorgeous tomatoes. If you’re crunched for time grab canned Roma tomatoes which are already peeled. If you want to know an easy way to peel and seed the tomatoes I’ve included the steps at the bottom of this recipe.

Both the tomato sauce and the Parmesan cream sauce are wonderful sauces with many uses and tomato concasse is also great tossed with hot pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan. One more thing you might need, a good bottle of Chianti. There’s no wine in the recipe, but it will keep you company while you cook!

Stuffed Shells on Tomato Concasse with Tomato and Parmesan Cream Sauce

For the tomato concasse:

6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 large can Roma tomatoes, 28 ounces, drained* and diced (*you can add the juice to the tomato sauce)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

In a medium bowl toss the chopped tomatoes together with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh basil, kosher salt, black pepper and sugar.

Tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

28 ounces tomato puree

 

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

In a deep skillet or saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the garlic for a 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, fresh basil and kosher salt. Simmer over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes.

For the Parmesan cream sauce:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup butter

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter into the cream.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, kosher salt and pepper.

Keep warm over low heat while the shells bake.

For the stuffing and the shells:

1 pound Italian sausage, mild or spicy to suit your taste

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 scallions, chopped

8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded and divided

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup finely ground breadcrumbs

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

18+ large pasta shells

Cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling water, heavily salted. I add a handful of kosher salt to the water; you want the water to taste salty. Cook about 9 minutes or until they are al dente.

Remove the pasta shells from the water, set on a rimmed baking sheet to drain. Note: You’ll have enough stuffing for 17-18 shells. I usually drop in a few extra in the event one or two of the shells tear.

To make the stuffing:

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Crumble the Italian sausage, breaking it up in the skillet along with the chopped sweet onion. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is tender.

Add the scallions, the spinach, garlic, kosher salt and pepper. Cook an additional 3 -4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine the cooled sausage mixture with 1-1/2 cups of the Fontina cheese, the Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, nutmeg and ricotta cheese. Add additional seasoning if needed.

And now we assemble:

Spread the tomato concasse across the bottom of a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Spoon the sausage stuffing into each pasta shell and nestle them into the bed of tomatoes. Ladle the tomato sauce across the tops of the pasta shells and in between them; top the shells with the remaining Fontina cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. To serve, ladle the Parmesan cream sauce in the bottom of the dish and a little across the tops of the shells. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

If you want to use fresh tomatoes, here’s an easy way to peel them:

Cut an “X” through the skin at the base of the tomato.

Drop them in boiling water for about 1-1/2 minutes.

Remove the tomatoes and place them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to cool and stop them from continuing to cook.

The skin should peel off the tomato easily.

To seed the tomatoes, cut across the width of the tomato and gently squeeze or scoop to remove the seeds.

Don’t worry about getting every little seed out!

Rosé Wine Jelly

Rosé Wine Jelly

As the days shorten and the evenings cool we tend to shift to more robust red wines and many folks start consuming the last of their Rosé Wines. But rules are loosening a bit and Rosé wine with its crisp, fruity flavor is often served through the holidays.

This was a recipe that evolved from a Burgundy Wine Jelly. Mom had a number of bottles of Rosé wine left over from a party. Trying to decide what to do with them we opted to make jelly. It was fall and the addition of spice seemed to come naturally.

The aroma of the cinnamon and cloves immersed in this fabulous wine is intoxicating as it gently simmers on the stove. The color is as lovely and delicate as the flavor. Perfect on a spice muffin or toasted crumpet.

If you’re a novice to the world of making jams and jellies, don’t be afraid to tackle this recipe.

Rosé Wine Jelly

2 cups Rosé wine

3 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

6 ounces liquid pectin

In a heavy pan stir together the wine, the sugar, the cinnamon and cloves.

Place over medium-low heat, and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the liquid pectin into the wine mixture and stir until well blended.

Cut open the packets of liquid pectin and “stand” them up in a large cup so they’re ready to use.

Continue cooking over medium-low and cook for one additional minute. Ladle the jelly into sterilized jars.

This funnel is one of my cherished possessions. It was my Grandmother’s and has been in service for many years!

This recipe makes 4-5  half pint size jars of wine jelly, with some leftover for you to enjoy now! Refrigerate or process in a water bath.

If you need some tips on canning using the water bath method, check out Ball Canning. https://www.freshpreserving.com/

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Roasted Chicken

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Roasted Chicken

Nothing is quite as warming to the soul as a bowl of hot soup and this one doesn’t disappoint. Growing up, it wasn’t unusual for a large pot of beans to be simmering on the stove. This soup takes me back to those roots but with layers of added flavor.

Whenever I make mashed potatoes I tend to have leftovers, which is how this soup took a turn. I had often made a white bean soup, but something always seemed to be missing. It needed something to smooth it, to bind it together. I tried mashing some of the beans, adding half-and-half, even straight cream. Then once, on a whim, I stirred in some leftover mashed potatoes. That was it; the mashed potatoes were the creaminess it needed.

The soup starts with white beans as the base, supported by a background of onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Then I add luscious mashed potatoes, and finish with the earthiness of rosemary and chunks of savory roasted chicken.

Here’s a few tips.

*I usually do a “quick soak” method when cooking beans (directions are listed below) but you can soak the beans overnight.

*My Mom always said to wait until the beans were mostly tender before adding salt. Southern wisdom said salt would keep the beans from becoming tender.

*If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, you can cook the potatoes then mash them to a smooth consistency. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

*To make life a bit easier, grab a roasted chicken at the market!

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Roasted Chicken

1 pound white beans, Great Northern or Navy, rinsed and sorted

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 sweet onions, chopped

3 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 3 cloves

8 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

3 cups mashed potatoes, preferably Yukon gold or new potatoes (About 1-1/2 pounds)

2 cups roasted chicken breast, shredded or chopped

Pesto and grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Quick soak beans:

Place the beans in a large stockpot, cover the beans with plenty of water, about 2” over.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat, cover and let stand in the hot water for an hour. Drain, and set aside.

In the same stockpot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery, cooking until the vegetables are slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper, cook for another minute.

Return the beans to the stockpot along with the stock and dried rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook for about an hour or until the beans are mostly tender. Add the kosher salt and continue to cook for another 30 minutes until the beans are cooked through.

Add the mashed potatoes, stirring to blend into the soup.

Toss in the shredded chicken and cook until heated through.

Garnish with pesto and Parmesan cheese. And our Cornbread Muffins would also be great!
Cinnamon Scented Waffles

Cinnamon Scented Waffles

Most mornings we’re running opposite directions and I’ll admit breakfast typically consists of coffee. But on the weekends, we try to slow things down a bit. These crisp, golden waffles with warm maple syrup, fresh berries and a dusting of powdered sugar are a perfect way to savor the time.

Waffles have long been a brunch favorite in our family, but not the “out of the freezer, pop it in the toaster” kind of waffle. Making waffles from scratch is not difficult and the taste and aroma are amazing. The ingredients are similar to a basic pancake batter, but through the years we’ve tried many recipes and most seemed to be a bit bland. The addition of pure vanilla extract and cinnamon turn up the warmth on this classic breakfast quick bread.

The same tricks for success with pancakes need to be heeded when making waffles. A light hand with the batter will prevent the waffles from becoming tough, so be sure not to overstir. Letting the batter rest for 10-15 minutes before pouring it onto your waffle make creates a light waffle with that crisp exterior.

Quick to make and a wonderful addition to your weekend!

Cinnamon Scented Waffles

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 extra large eggs

1-1/2 cup milk

1 cup half and half

¾ cup vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, kosher salt, sugar and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, half-and-half and vegetable oil, blending until combined.

Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk just until mixed together. It’s okay if there are a few lumps remaining. Let the waffle batter rest for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a waffle iron on medium heat; brush very lightly with vegetable oil if it is not non-stick. Ladle about ¼ cup batter into each section.

Cook the waffles for about 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Most waffle irons have a preset timer so the “chirp” will let you know they’re ready to eat!

Serve hot with butter (or peanut butter which is also quite good!) and warm maple syrup!