Split Pea Soup with Sherry

splitpeasoupCold weather and hot soup – perfect combination.  We enjoy a number of different soups, but this split pea soup is one of my favorites. It is a hearty soup, nutritious, and easy on the budget. If you have leftover ham, this is a great way to use it.  Bits of bacon work great too. We like to add a splash of dry sherry at serving time.This is is good served with crusty French bread.

Split Pea  Soup with Sherry

1 lb. dried split peas (2 1/3 cups)

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups chopped ham

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced carrots

1 Bay leaf

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Dry sherry, optional

Rinse dried split peas and add to large soup pot. Add ham and chicken broth.  Bring to simmer, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until it reaches the texture you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming hot with a splash of sherry stirred in.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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Nora is learning to make cookies but she has a distinct preference for chocolate! A recipe found in a cookbook written by my cousin Jane Purtle was just what Nora ordered!  In Food from the Hills, the author recorded family recipes from her family, which happens to be our family, too.  My grandmother, Clyde Curley Terrell, and Jane Purtlle’s father, Russell Hill, were half-siblings.  My great-grandmother Ernestine Augier Hill Curley was married to Jane’s grandfather, James Hill.  After he died, she married my Great Grandfather Curley. These chocolate oatmeal cookies were a favorite in the Hill family.

But there is more to this cookie story.  The original oatmeal cookie (without chocolate) recipe was one found in the Home Economics class cookbook from Bullard High School in Bullard, Texas where Jane Purtle’s mother Ruby and my mother, Opal attended.  So I am certain Nora’s great-grandmother Opal also made these cookies. Nora’s middle name is Opal.  I had fun thinking about all these connections while we made these cookies.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup oatmeal  ( recipe says Quick, but regular works great and makes a chewier cookie)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (Please note:  I substituted 6 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder  plus 2 Tablespoons oil for the melted baking chocolate)

Break egg in mixing bowl and beat in sugar.  Add oil to sugar and eggs. Add milk and oatmeal. Sift flour with salt, baking powder and soda into the first mixture.  Add chocolate and beat well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until firm around edges but soft in center.

If desired, omit chocolate and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack.

 

 

 

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Mini Almond Croissants

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One of our favorite treats is almond croissants from the bakery at Le Madeleine.  These little croissants come close to the taste without the trip into town to purchase the flaky bakery product. I usually have crescent roll dough and sliced almonds in the refrigerator because I use both often. Recently I had a tube of almond paste bought for a different recipe and changed my mind.  These tasty minature croissants are the result of “shopping from the frig and pantry” – which I try to do often.

1 can of refrigerated crescent roll dough

almond paste

sliced almonds

Preheat oven according to instructions on the crescent roll package.  Unwrap and separate dough into triangles, placing several inches apart on a baking sheet.  On each dough triangle, squeeze a generous amount of almond paste.  Roll, starting with large end of triangle.  Press ends together to avoid losing filling during baking.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

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Our church Thanksgiving dinner is tonight. Turkeys and pans of dressing are volunteered for and prepared ahead of time, but those attending (it is one of our congregations favorite functions all year) bring salads, vegetables, and desserts.  I am bringing 2 salads.  One is Caprese in a bowl using the last of the season’s basil leaves along with c herry tomatoes and tiny mozarella balls. The other salad is a hot salad, one of our favorite dishes this time of year.  I first found a similar recipe in a church cookbook given to us by friends from that church many years ago.  It can be found with many variations online, but this is my old, tried and true way to make it.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

21/2 c.whole washed cranberries
3 c. chopped apples, no need to peel
1 c. sugar
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
In an 8X10 inch baking pan,.mix together apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture of oats, brown sugar, and nuts over top. Cut pats of butter to dot over all. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Serve warm.

 

Halibut with Lemons, Olives, and Rosemary

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We have enjoyed halibut and salmon from the fishing trip that Joe and our sons took to Alaska in May.  I am still experimenting with different ways of serving the halibut, but all of them have been delicious. This is my favorite, a variation on a recipe I found from cooking.nytimes.com. The time my family spent living in Indonesia created for us a fondness for Southeast Asian food and I love using a spice blend from Penzey’s called Singapore Seasoning. This is aromatic mixture that contains lemon peel, garlic, turmeric, cumin, fennel, ginger, and cayenne pepper among other spices that are perfect for fish and chicken.

Roasted Halibut with Lemons, Olives, and Rosemary

Halibut Filets (I used only one large filet for 2 of us)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt

2 teaspoons Singapore Spice Blend from Penzey’s

Fresh rosemary

1 lemon, sliced thinly

1/4 cup sliced, pitted Kalamata olives

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Lay the fish in pan, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Singapore spice blend. Top with twigs of rosemary and slices of lemon. Sprinkle olives and remaining olive oil over all and bake 15 minutes or more, depending on thickness of filets.  Lemons will brown and fish will flake when pulled with fork.  I like to make this with roasted fresh green beans and red potatoes, baked in the same oven.

Opal’s Mexican Cornbread with Ground Beef

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It is Mother’s Day weekend.  I have had both smiles and tears on my face as I cherished memories of the birth of each of my sons and thought about sweet times with them.  They are all fathers themselves now and are wonderful, caring husbands. They still show me they love me too!  Also,  I have thought often of my own mother this week, so I thought I would share one of her recipes with you.  This one, as others that I cherish which are written down in her beautiful handwriting, is written in pencil on a half sheet of what she would have called “scrap paper.”  She didn’t start making this until after I was married, but it was one of her favorites, always delicious.  It is still, after many years and many variations, one of our favorite ways to fancy up cornbread. I have presented it as much as possible in the same format as her writing.

Opal’s Mexican Cornbread with ground beef

from Patsy Hopkins (mother’s across the street neighbor)

Mix together:  1 cup cornmeal (she always used yellow)

1 #303 can cream style corn   (#303 can contains 16-17 ounces)

Add:              3/4 cup sweet milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon soda and salt

 this recipe originated from the days when there was butter milk or sweet milk!

Mix above & set aside. Brown 1# ground meat & drain. Prepare spearately 1/2 lb. American cheese grated,  2 Jalepeno  peppers, 1 large chopped onion. (I add some chopped celery) – her note.

Grease a big iron skillet,sprinkle a little meal & let slightly brown. Pour half of batter.Sprinkle cheese, there (the?) meat onions, peppers. Pour rest of batter. Bake 45 min. or less or until brown.

Posted in honor of Opal Terrell Teal, 1913- 2006.

I will make this soon. Thank You, Mother!

Red Pepper and Gruyere Quiche

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Quiche is a perfect dish for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner! It is also a true mix and match recipe, combining eggs, milk, cheese, vegetables, or meat of your choice plus infinite possibilities of seasonings. Add to that ease of preparation when you use an already prepared pastry crust, and you can’t ask for anything that is more worth adding to your list of go-to recipes. This is one of my favorite combinations:  Gruyere cheese and sliced red peppers from our garden.

Red Pepper and Gruyere Quiche

1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

1 cup (packed) grated Gruyere cheese

3  large eggs

1 cup milk or half and half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

nutmeg for sprinkling on top if desired

1 prepared pie crust (I use Pillsbury refrigerated rolls of pie crust)

Bring pie crust to room temperature (about 15 minutes) and place in 9 inch Pyrex pie dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put pie crust in dish on cookie sheet. Place red bell pepper rings on bottom of pie crust, sprinkle Gruyere on top. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, adding milk, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over peppers and cheese and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired. Place on middle shelf in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the egg mixture is set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve this with a mixed green salad or fruit. Heat leftover Quiche in the oven or serve at room temperature.

 

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Cheese Broccoli Soup

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Cheese Broccoli Soup

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

2/3 cup thinly sliced carrot

2/3 cup thinly sliced celery

2/3 cup chopped fresh broccoli

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 quart chicken broth

1 quart milk

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preparation
Sauté onion, carrot, broccoli and celery in butter in a large Dutch oven over low heat 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Combine flour and cornstarch. Add to vegetables; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Combine broth and milk; gradually add to vegetable mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add cheese, soda, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Ladle soup into individual bowls, and serve immediately.

Sauteed Kale and Apples

009Kale is touted as a superfood and is featured in so many good recipes that it is hard to pick what I want try next. That is probably the reason I skipped the recipes, pulled out my faithful iron skillet, and made this simple, delicious, and very nutritious dish.  It can be used as a side for any grilled, baked, or roasted meat,  is good with a rotisserie chicken for a quick supper, and looks wonderful on the plate with baked fish.

Sauteed Kale and Apples

Kale, gathered from the garden or 1 bunch purchased

1 large apple (my favorite variety is Pink Lady)

a swirl of olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Balsamic vinegar

.Wash and slice apple.  I leave the peeling on. Wash the kale, pat it dry, and strip stems.  Lay the leaves down, stacking several to shred or julienne.  Heat a generous swirl of olive oil in an iron skillet, add the kale and sautee just until wilted.  Toss in apple slices and heat briefly.  Season with salt and pepper.

Wash and slice apple.  I leave the peeling on. Wash the kale, pat it dry, and strip stems.  Lay the leaves down, stacking several to shred or julienne.  Heat a generous swirl of olive oil in an iron skillet, add the kale and sautee just until wilted.  Toss in apple slices and heat briefly.  Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  For a variation of flavor, substitute balsamic vinegar with a Tablespoon of maple syrup.  Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Pecan Pie

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Our Thanksgiving dinner this year included both old and new recipes.  Pecan Pie has long been a family favorite, and we have made it in many ways and in different places. My mother’s and grandmother’s pecan pie usually involved the labor of love  called cracking and picking out pecans by hand, making the pies an even more special treat.  Many years ago, my mother-in-law had a large pecan tree in her back yard and would once in a while mail us a shoebox full of shelled pieces that she had picked up and picked out for us.  In recent years, I have bought them for use for holiday baking.  But this year, in keeping with our efforts to buy local produce, we bought our pecans through a school fund raiser that obtained them from a Fort Bend county producer.  They are fresh, delicious, and the Buttermilk Pecan Pies featured them well.

Our family’s old-time recipes usually involved using dark corn syrup and lots of pecans, resulting in a very sticky and sweet pie slice, but I have always liked the fillings made with eggs and milk that give a more custard filling.  The use of buttermilk in this recipe makes this pie delicious, and quintessentially Southern.  I adapted this recipe from one found in Texas the Beautiful  Cookbook,  edited by Elizabeth Germaine, with contributions by Ann Criswell, Food editor of the Houston Chronicle.  It is reprinted from the Corpus Christi Junior League cookbook, Fiesta.  Buttermilk pecan pie was a family recipe often prepared ba a career U.S. Navy chef for many dignitaries. during his military career, the chef refused to share the recipe, but when he retired he allowed it to be printed in a Navy newspaper.

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup chopped pecans

pecan halves for decoration

1 (9 inch) pie crust

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, adding sugar gradually. Blend in vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Combine flour and salt and add to this mixture gradually. Add buttermilk and mix.

Sprinkle chopped pecans in the bottom of unbaked pie crust and pour filling over them. Bake pie in preheated oven at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  When pie has baked for about 30 minutes, lay pecan halves in simple design on top, pressing slightly, then resume baking. Serve at room temperature.

010I am thankful for all the good help I had baking Buttermilk Pecan Pie!