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.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

cranberryricottasconesIn 1991 while traveling in Scotland, we stopped at a Tea Room. The rustic crispiness of these scones reminds me of  200 year old Shore Cottage Tearoom in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Lily McNaught, her daughters, and granddaughters baked sweets and treats. Thanks to online information, I see that Shore Cottage is still there but not as a “Tea Room” – the ladies moved the business to The Robins Nest on Main Street, Taynuilt and guess what – the Lunch, the Teas, the Cakes, everything is just as it was. This is not one of their recipes, but my granddaughter Maddie and I baked them together. Surely Miss Lily approves.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter,  cut into tiny pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (Whole Milk) Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 cup cranberries, fresh, roughly chopped

 

Whisk the following together to brush over scones before baking

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon milk or water

extra sugar to sprinkle over top.

 

Orange Glaze

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes then, using two forks or a pastry cutter, quickly work it into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and milk. Add to flour and butter mixture and use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  5. Add in the chopped cranberries and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer them to the prepared sheet. Leave an inch or so between each scone as they do spread a little.
  7. Lightly brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool scones on the pan for 10 minutes, then top with glaze and serve warm.
  9. For the glaze:
  10. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, zest, salt, and confectioners sugar. Drizzle over warm scones and serve at once.

Wilted Garden Greens

wilted-greens

I remember my mother, Opal Teal, making wilted lettuce with iceberg lettuce cooked long enough to “wilt” in bacon grease and sprinkled with vinegar!  I thought it sounded awful and did not share her love for the dish!  All these years later, I think it might have been tastier than it looked!  We love using a few leaves of different greens to make this dish. Our winter garden contains a few thriving plants of Chard, Mustard, Kale, Bok Choy and Cabbage. A mixture of any of those can be delicious, but I usually limit my choices to include only 2 or 3.  The greens in the photo are Mustard and Bok Choy. Balsamic vinegar splashed on before serving makes this a dish Mother would have loved herself!

Wilted Garden Greens

4-5 large leaves of Mustard Greens

4-5 large leaves of Bok Choy

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Wash and pat the greens dry. Strip the center stem from each leaf. Stack several leaves and roll them up before slicing thinly with a sharp knife.

Heat olive oil in iron skillet.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Then add shredded greens, tossing with tongs until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper and add balsamic vinegar before serving.

Smothered Chicken

smothered-chicken

Smothered Chicken is an old Southern favorite, often served with rice.  The tender chicken and smooth sauce is also a wonderful with mashed or baked potatoes.  Add some wilted greens or green peas and a salad for a hearty meal.  We had this a few days ago on a cold, wet night – perfect for warming body and spirit!  Sprinkle sauce with your favorite dried herbs for seasoning if you like, but be sure to brown the chicken first. I brown the chicken in an iron skillet, lift it into a baking dish, and make the gravy or sauce in the same skillet.

Smothered Chicken

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 2 thighs per person.

Flour

Salt and Pepper

Cooking oil for a level of about 1/2 inch in the frying pan.

2 cups of sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken and dust with flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in hot oil in a heavy skillet until lightly browned on both sides.  Remove and place in baking pan.  Pour sauce over the chicken, cover, and bake for 1 hour, or until chicken is tender.

Sauce or Gravy for Smothered Chicken

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Apple Spice Cake with Praline Frosting

caramelapplecake

Many of the flavors of Autumn I love most are combined in this apple cake. The cake looks like the cover of my recent Southern Living magazine, but the recipe omits the layer of cream cheese batter that cake features.  The kitchen smells like a cup of chai tea, and we can hardly wait to slice and taste!  Great for dessert, as a treat with coffee, or toasted for breakfast!

Apple Spice Cake
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups flour
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Praline Frosting
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (about 5 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring brown sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium, stirring constantly; boil,stirring constantly, 1 minute.

2. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Gently stir until mixture begins to cool and thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, sprinkling top with toasted pecans if desired.

Blackberry Crisp

blackberrycrumbleUse blackberries, dewberries, raspberries, or blueberries (or a combination) in this old-fashioned crisp .A crisp is like a cobbler and depending on the fruit used can sometimes be called by names that make us smile –  pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, , croustade, bird’s nest pudding or crow’s nest pudding.  They are all simple variations of cobblers, and they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries, in other words, whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand.  They are all homemade and simple to make and rely more on taste than fancy pastry preparation.

Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they brought their recipes with them, such as English steamed puddings.  When they could not find their favorite ingredients, they used what was available. That is how these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names.

I made this one for a Saturday breakfast, but Joe can eat berry cobbler anytime!  It is tastiest when right out of the oven, and any leftovers never last long.

Blackberry Crisp

6 cups fresh Blackberries

1-2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

For Topping:

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

6 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a deep baking dish. Combine berries, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl and pour into baking dish. In another bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Add the butter bits and mix with hands until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of berry mixture and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

cookiebaker

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.

cookbook

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.

 

 

 

cookies

 

chocolateoatmealcookies

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce

BalsamicHoneyPulledPork

Pulled pork has become a standby dish for our kitchen.  I like to use the slow cooker for easy preparation, and this is one of the easiest recipes since you only need the pork, some seasoning, and water in the crockpot to begin.  The sauce can be made ahead and preheated before serving, but I like to make it just before table time.  There is alot of balsamic vinegar in the sauce, and as it cooks down and begins to thicken, the fragrant aroma makes your mouth water!  This is my version of a recipe I saw featured on FaceBook. This makes a large batch and freezes well.

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce

2 Pork Tenderloins, 2.5 – 3 lbs. total

1 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

(For Balsamic Honey Sauce)

1 cup Balsamic Vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup catsup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

BalsamicHoneySauce

 

Place pork in the bottom of  slow cooker which has been coated with cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together water, seasoned salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pork.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 4-5).

In the last 30 minutes of cooking the pork, combine minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and Worcestershire sauce in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove pork from slow cooker to large platter and shred with 2 forks. Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic sauce over pulled pork and toss to combine.

Serve on regular size or slider buns. Pass extra sauce!

BalsamicHoneyPulledPorkSandwich

Blackberry Scones

BlackberryScones

Blackberries are best when you can pick them yourself (without chiggers) and eat them at their freshest. But I am very happy when I find them in season at good prices and begin to think of all the ways we will use them.  Favorite choices have always been a bowl of fresh berries, gleaming and popping with juice or baked in a crusty cobbler. Berry pies are not far behind, and we even toss them in salads. Until I made these easy drop scones, I had never mixed them into a heavy batter like this.  But this recipe is a keeper. It produced a baking sheet with a dozen big puffy scones, which disappeared very quickly!

Blackberry  Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

grated zest of one large lemon 

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk, or the amount necessary to make 1 cup after one large egg has been added to measuring cup.

a big handful of berries

extra sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend it with a fork,pastry blender or your fingers (or do it all in the food processor, if you have one), leaving some lumps no bigger than a pea.

Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add milk to make it a cup. Stir it together with a fork and add to the flour mixture; mixing until just barely combined. Add the berries and stir gently a couple more times, then drop the sticky dough in large spoonfuls onto a buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or less if you made small scones, until golden. Reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees if baking on a dark baking sheet.

Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls

CinnamonRolls3

Many years ago, I was given a recipe for these big fluffy cinnamon rolls, with the curious ingredient of mashed potatoes!   If you have leftover mashed potatoes, this is one of the bet ways to use them!  They are light, fluffy, and smell heavenly while rising but even better while baking!
Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls
  • 4½ cups flour (separated 1½ and 3 cups)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed potato
  • ⅓ cup butter, cut up
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
 Cinnamon sugar mixture
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (for brushing)CinnamonRolls1CinnamonRolls2
  1. In large mixing bowl of stand mixer, combine 1½ cups of flour with yeast.
  2. Combine milk, potato, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, then heat on medium heat until butter starts to melt.
  3. Remove from heat .
  4. Add slowly to flour mixture and mix with regular mixing paddle on low speed for about one minute.
  5. Add eggs and continue beating 2-3 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  6. Switch to dough hook.
  7. Add the rest of the flour (3 cups) and mix for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Alternately, you can knead by hand.
  8. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Make sure to turn dough in order to completely coat the dough with the grease.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Let rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  11. Punch dough.
  12. Turn it out on a lightly floured board and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
  14. Also, prepare pan (13 x 9 x 2 inches) by greasing or spraying with non-stick spray.
  15. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
  16. Roll out dough until you get an 18 x 12 inch rectangle.
  17. Brush the surface with melted butter and evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  18. Roll into a log, starting with the long side.
  19. Cut the roll into 12 slices.
  20. Place in prepared pan.
  21. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes or until double in size.
  22. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  23. Cool slightly before drizzling with icing (if using).
Glaze
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of milk.Whisk until smooth and just glaze the rolls before serving.
I like to zest a little orange peel or lemon peel into this, optional.
Whisk until smooth and just glaze the rolls before serving.
Make it ahead:Once the rolls have been cut and placed in the pan, they can be refrigerated overnight. Remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature (covered) for about 30 minutes before baking (as per instructions).