Southwestern Soup

IMG_3136This slow cooker soup is perfect for Sunday lunches. Just load up the ingredients before leaving for church and return hungry to a house that smells heavenly because lunch is ready to serve!

Southwest Chicken Soup

1 pound chopped or shredded cooked chicken
26 oz.diced tomatoes
1 10 ounce can enchilada sauce
1 onion, chopped
4 oz. can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 (15 once) can black beans-rinsed
crushed tortilla chips for topping

optional:  2 limes, quartered


Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn, and beans. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. Serve in bowls with crushed tortilla chips on top.  We enjoy a squeeze of fresh lime juice for each bowl.

Garden Salad

IMG_2461After our weekend family gatherings with meals that inlcuded a Saturday dinner of smoked pork tenderloin, roasted corn, roasted green beans, a lunch of sausage,vegetables, and rice, baking (and eating) breakfast scones, root beer popsicles, ice cream treats, and our Memorial Day feast of grilled hot dogs, Kielbasa, smashed potatoes and all the trimmings – we were more than ready to have salad for a meal.  All the food was pretty healthy, there was just alot of it!  If you begin to feel that way as summer arrives, there is no tastier choice than a fresh vegetable salad.

If you are going to avoid a long session of prepping, remember to save those small amounts of leftovers that sometimes get tossed.  Of course you can always make soup, but think salad and stash those left behind cooked vegetables – green beans, corn, beets, asparagus, Grilling and roasting vegetables is very popular, and nothing tastes better topping your fresh ingredients. Quantities suggested below will vary according to what is in your own frig. I love it when I have a few things from my own garden. The combination of colors, textures, and flavor make this crunchy salad a feast!  Top with make-your-own or bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below photograph.

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups mixed leaf and Romaine lettuces

2 carrots, sliced

4 -5 radishes

2 ears roasted sweet corn, cut from cob

1 cup roasted green beans left whole or cut into pieces

1 small yellow squash, sliced

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

chopped red onion (optional)

Prepare all vegetables and place on top torn lettuces in large bowl.  Add Balsamic Vinaigrette and toss.  Serve with a crusty baguette.

IMG_2459

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a jar, tighten lid, and shake!   Taste and adjust amount of vinegar or seasoning as you wish.

Zesty Zucchini

006

We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you for reading Kitchen Keepers!  I feel like you are right here in my kitchen with me when you comment or tell me you are want to try one of the recipes.  I promise there will be more Kitchen Keepers in 2013!

 

Gingerbread House, Now and Then

100_1909

Gingerbread House Cake, 2012

Gingerbread1973

Gingerbread House, 1973

Almost 40 years ago, in this picture our sons Benjamin, Jeremy, and Sean admire one of the first gingerbread houses I ever made.  They did help!  We didn’t know that many years later, Sean’s 10 year old daughter would be baking and I would be helping her!

Skye and I enjoyed making a wonderful gingerbread house cake this year.  A simple dusting of “snow” was all the decoration needed and this cake is definitely a joy to eat. Nordic Ware has a collection of these pans, which range from this size down so you could make a whole gingerbread village!  We used the gingerbread recipe that came on the Nordic Ware cake pan label, but any 9 cup bundt cake recipe will work.  Next time we will use a recipe that includes dark brown sugar and/or dark molasses so the cake will be a darker color.  This recipe from the February 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine uses both, as well as dark beer.  I seldom post a recipe I haven’t tried, but maybe this is one we can try out together.  Let me know what you think.  If you don’t have the house cake pan, use a traditional bundt pan.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread Cake
by Claudia Fleming
Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Special equipment:
a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

Accompaniment: 
unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Gramercy-Tavern-Gingerbread-103087#ixzz2GGlYyRam

Chili

I am including this recipe this week because that is what we are having for supper tonight.  But strictly speaking, chili is a category all by itself.  Yes, it is made in a similar manner to most soups, but there are hundreds of chili recipes.  Chili was proclaimed the state dish of Texas by the Texas Legislature in 1977.  I have made it with beans and without, with ground beef and chunks of lean ground meat.  I even make a white chili with shrimp and white beans.  But my favorite chili has a some tomatoes  and beans in it.  The only chili cookoff I ever won was with the white chili, and it is without doubt yummy. This is a quick, easy version that uses my old friend, Pace Picante Sauce.

                                                 Parker House Chili

                         3 pounds of coursley ground lean beef

                         1 large onion, chopped

                         2 cans Ranch Style beans, or any chili beans, undrained

                         1 cup Pace picante sauce, or more to taste

                         1 – 2 cups water

                          2 Tablespoons flour

                         1/2 Teaspoon garlic salt

                         1/2 Teaspoon oregano

                          2 Teaspoons cumin

                          1/2 Teaspoon salt

Saute onion in heavy pot until tender, add ground beef and brown.  There shouldn’t be much fat cooked off, but if there is, you can press a large spoon down to collect and drain excess.  Add flour and mix.  Add picante sauce, water, and seasonings.  Simmer 30 minutes, add beans and cook another 30 minutes, adding water if mixture becomes too thick.

Often, we have chili served with tortilla chips, chopped onion, and grated cheese.  Sometimes I make a pan of cornbread.  Tonight we are having wedges of cheese quesadillas.

Shakshouka

When I started Kitchen Keepers, I suggested this food blog would include old favorites as well as new dishes that become a favored family dish.  This summer while my tomato plants were still producing abundantly and there were plenty of peppers, I discovered this spicy eggy dish that I made one morning and several since.  It is definitely a keeper, but hard to say whether it is best for breakfast, brunch, a light lunch, or supper!

You may be wondering about the title.  Isn’t it fun to say?  Shakshouka is a staple of  Moroccan cuisines, and is also popular in Israel (the name is derived from leshakshek (meaning “to shake” in Hebrew)  where it is said to challenge hummus and falafel as a national favourite, especially in the winter. It is traditionally served up in a cast iron pan with bread to mop up the sauce. I add both sweet and hot peppers,  garlic, – the possibilities are endless!
1 large onion, chopped 

 4 eggs

Olive oil 

 6 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 each sweet and hot peppers, or to taste

 salt and pepper
Saute onion and peppers  in olive oil  until golden.
Add tomatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes.
 Remove cover and break the eggs over the vegetables.
 Replace cover and cook on medium  for approximately 5 minutes or until the eggs are firm.
 Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Very good served with pita or other flatbread.

Sausage and Rice Supper

There are some of our family favorite meals that are asked for all year round.  Sausage and Rice is one of those, but I keep it in my mental filing folder of cool weather dishes.  The flavors of root vegetables, peppers and sausage are heartily complimented with Basmati rice.  The colors even look like Fall.  And it makes enough to satisfy the most robust appetites as temperatures begin to come down and we are working more outside.  I have no “first made” date penned on the recipe I originally used, but since it was torn from an entire Southern Living magazine page, I look to see if the magazine date will tell me. I smile as I turn the page and look at the coupons on the back of the recipe and picture:  they expire in the fall of 1982.  So it is an easy conclusion that I have brought this to the table for nearly 20 years.  Our version that has grown during this time varies little but I do change the vegetables occasionally.  This is a dish that can easily be stretched by adding up to 1/2 cup rice and additional chicken broth.  Last night I served Basil Cucumbers and a fresh fruit cup for sides. A wonderful companion dish is apples with  butter, cinnamon and brown sugar baked along with the casserole. Wonderful for potlucks, and  definitely “good food on a budget!”

                                        Sausage and Rice Casserole

                                         1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

                                          2 cups sliced carrots

                                          1 large onion, chopped

                                          1 cup chopped celery

                                         1/2 cup chopped green pepper

                                          2 cups chicken broth

                                          1 pound pork sausage.  (we like maple flavored or hot and spicy)

                        Spread rice over bottom of large casserole dish which has been coated with cooking spray.  Scatter vegetables over rice, then pour chicken broth over all.  Brown and cook sausage, then add to top of vegetables.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir well, replace cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is done.  Makes 8 large servings.

                                                         Basil Cucumber Pickles

 I like cucumbers and vinegar to keep in the refrigerator in the summertime.  My mother and grandmother always peeled and sliced garden cumbers to add with layers of chopped or thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper and cover with white vinegar.  One of our favorite Indonesian dishes is Acar which is diced cucumber, carrot, onion, and hot peppers added to vinegar, sugar and water.  These cucumbesr may be the best yet.  I use unpeeled long seedless cucumbers from Canada and slice them thinly.  A handful of basil leaves from the garden and a touch of sweet mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)  give these pickled veggies a unique flavor that was perfect with our sausage and rice.

                    1/4 cup sugar

                     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

                      3 tablespoons mirin

                      1 tablespoon sea salt

                      1 English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

                        1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt in a non reactive container.  Add cucumbers and basil and toss, covering as well as possible with the vinegar mix.  Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Ratatouille Salad

I faced a dilemma when I decided to blog about recipes, food stories, and my love of cooking.  The problem involved the ways in which our today’s meals differ and contrast with those of times past.  Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy many of the same tried and true foods, but change has come, and it is good change.  As a nurse, I was always interested in choosing nutritious meals, but I am even more passionate about healthy food now.  In the early years of marriage and family, I steadily improved my basic cooking skills, and enjoyed collecting cookbooks.  Today, I can access www.epicurious.com or any one of many recipe collections with a few clicks of computer keys. Cooking an Italian birthday dinner or a full Indonesian rijstaffel makes me happy!  So I decided to do some of both.  Knowing ahead of time that I will alternate past and present favorites may help.

   Providing the aha moment for tastebuds is so much fun.  Cooking may be work, for me –  it is always messy, and I know the piper will have to be paid at kitchen cleanup time.  But putting good food together and offering it to my family and friends is not only an art, but pure pleasure.  Tonight I am making a variation of a classic French dish which is delicious but which also seems a bit hot and heavy for these triple digit summer evenings. So I am grilling the vegetables and tossing them together in a salad.  It is too tempting not to include a clip from one of our favorite movies by the same name. Recipe for the salad follows. There are many similar ones on internet cooking sites and in cookbooks. 

                                                     Ratatouille

.

                                           Ratatouille Salad
  • 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 3 small  tomatoes quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper cut lengthwised into strips
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, slivered (or chiffonade, if you want to stick with the French feeling)

 Sprinkle the egglplant with sea salt and leave for 15 to 20 minutes; drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.

Heat grill or grill pan. Brush vegetables with olive oil, turning to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the vegetables, turning, until tender and marked, removing the tomatoes first, pepper and eggplant last.  Divide vegetables among 2 – 4 plates Sprinkle with the basil and balsamic vinegar.

Optional toppings:  Feta cheese, pine nuts. If desired, instead of grilling, place vegetables in a zip loc bag, toss with seasonings and oil and roast at 425 for at least 20 minutes before adding toppings. 

Elbows on the Table

Pasta was not a word in most families’ food vocabulary in 1940’s East Texas. However, they did eat noodles in chicken noodle soup and occasionally buttered instead of potatoes with a meal. Appearing also at family meals, macaroni, specifically small elbow macaroni, was the star in macaroni and cheese (not Kraft dinners) and a potluck favorite called simply Macaroni Salad.

The latter was favored by a woman who not only made it for her table at home, but also bore it proudly to Sunday School luncheons and church potlucks. Opal grew up on a farm, picked cotton, packed tomatoes and proudly sold tins of Cloverine salve to buy her first set of pots and pans. A hard worker at any of those jobs, she set herself to perform well at any task, cooking included. Opal’s blue eyes snapped with both humor and determination when she decided to do something. Permed curls bobbing, hands on her hips, arms ready to hug she demonstrated wit and will as well as how loyal and loving she could be. Raised in the Great Depression, she was thrifty to the bone while being generous with what she had. Food she made in her kitchen in the little house on Sunset Street in Jacksonville, Texas was prepared with what she had on hand. Macaroni Salad was no exception.

After tying on a brightly colored apron trimmed with ric-rac sewn on her Singer, she hard- boiled eggs in an aluminum pan whose handles had long ago burned off. With the cooled and peeled eggs set aside, she rinsed the pan and brought salted water to a boil for the little crooked macaroni elbows. She never worried that they needed to be al dente! Once she had drained the noodles into a metal strainer, she dumped them into a Pyrex bowl. Next came the chopped eggs and whatever other ingredients that were available. Most of the time, celery was in the icebox to be scrubbed and diced, along with American Cheese sliced into small cubes, chopped pickles, and a small squatty jar of pimiento pieces. Opal’s skinny, bespectacled young daughter often peeled eggs, pulled strings from celery and forked out pickles. Sometimes she cut onion into small pieces while tears ran down her cheeks.

Perhaps there was a recipe Opal learned from working in a cafeteria before her girls were born. Or there may well have been directions on the Skinner macaroni package. More likely, Opal helped Clyde Terrell, her own mama, so she knew how to make this for her husband Howard Teal when they married in 1931. Or it could be that Clyde’s gift of a cookbook was the source of the all those macaroni salad filled Pyrex bowls. There is a recipe for Macaroni Salad in a worn copy of The Service Cookbook by Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen,  inscribed “From Mamma, Dec. 25, 1933.”

Opal Terrell Teal was my mother. Until very near her death in 2006, one month shy of her 93rd birthday, she claimed Macaroni Salad by saying, “I always liked it.” No longer young or skinny, still bespectacled, and ever grateful for growing up loving to be in the kitchen, I like it too. My granddaughters like to wear the ric-rac trimmed aprons.

Macaroni Salad

2 cups cold cooked elbow macaroni
½ cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped American cheese
1 Tablespoon minced onion
½ cup French dressing
½ teaspoon salt
A few grains paprika
Lettuce
Mayonnaise

Combine the macaroni, celery, cheese and onion; marinate with the French dressing, and season with salt and paprika. Chill; arrange in individual nests of lettuce; and garnish with mayonnaise and a little paprika.

Note: I don’t remember Mother using paprika, nor do I remember any nests of lettuce. Boiled eggs do not appear in this recipe, but they did appear in the Pyrex dishes.

 

 

   Opal Terrell Teal’s cookbook.        The apron on which it rests belonged to Clyde Terrell.