Thursday, January 24, 2013

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tis the season for warm and comforting foods. During this past month, soup has frequently been our main course. There have been so many delicious bowls, but this new soup is running as my second favorite right now.  I was inspired by a soup I found on Pinterest that was from Elizabeth's Edible Experience. I couldn't find the tomatoes that her recipe called for, so I tweaked this based on tomatoes I had in the freezer. 

I have so many different forms of tomatoes in the freezer. Whole blanched, crushed, pureed, marinara sauce, and oven roasted. I LOVE oven roasted tomatoes. When they are fresh out of the oven, I can eat them just like potato chips :) The weird thing about tomatoes in our house - neither one of us like raw tomatoes. Unless, they are made into salsa. You will never ever find a slice of tomato on a sandwich. You will never find a chunk of tomato in a salad. But, if you make 'em up all yummy, we couldn't be happier! If you have never oven roasted tomatoes, My Sister's Kitchens' makes them very similar to how I make mine.

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Roasted Tomato Soup (Based on Elizabeth's Edible Experience)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 c. chopped fresh basil ( 1/4 c. dried basil)
25 ounces crushed tomatoes (canned or frozen)
6 ounces oven roasted tomatoes (or sun dried )
4 ounces cream cheese (cubed)
2 cups milk (I use 1%)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Croutons or crackers (optional)

Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions, cook for about ten minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in garlic, cook for one minute.

Add basil, crushed tomatoes and oven roasted tomatoes.  Bring to boil.  Add cream cheese, stirring until melted through.  Remove from heat and using immersion (stick) blender, blend until smooth. Return to heat and stir in milk, salt and pepper. Continue stirring gently until heated through. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed.

Pour into serving bowls and top with cheese or crackers.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Cold Wisconsin Day

 Baby, it's cold outside. But... The ladies came out! 
Apparently, they are more willing to wander when they don't have to walk on snow.

They were so cute today, I went for a walk to see if I could find them any treats out in the field.

Our view of neighboring farms

I finally found a few treat's out in the field. 
Truckin' man is pretty stingy with his harvests though, so I only found a handful.

The ladies were thrilled! I went back in where it was a lot warmer!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Banana Muffins

What a whirlwind things have been this winter.  I have been so busy with learning tax laws and how to do payroll for our growing trucking business that my time in the kitchen has been limited. Oh, and Truckin' Man was thinking we needed to cut back on the cookies a little bit. He was thinking that until I talked about getting some baking going, and then he was all excited for it. So, I was excited to spend some time baking instead of making another soup and salad dish!

Muffins. I love 'em. If you want a healthy banana muffin recipe, please go check out my Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel.  If you are looking for a scrumptious bit of banana heaven, and aren't worried about a calorie count, please keep reading. I have been making this muffin ever since I found Brown Eyed Baker, and fell in love with her recipes. Each and every bite of the muffin is packed with amazing flavor, and is perfectly moist, with that nice crust on top. They do freeze well, but you do loose that crust on top once you unthaw them.  

To tell you how much I LOVE these muffins... I don't make them to use up my ripe banana's, I buy banana's and let them ripen so that I can make muffins!

Banana Muffins 

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a bowl until blended. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until well mixed. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Do NOT over mix! 

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool.

Enjoy :) 

(Source: Brown Eyed Baker via Giada De Laurentiis)

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Potato Chili Cheese Soup

My sister and I are complete opposites. Actually, opposites really doesn't seem to fully describe how different we are. I can't wait to get moved south to the Carolina's and be warm, while sis has her family settled in Canada, where they are as content as can be. I love Kevin Bacon, maybe cuz he has bacon in his name or he is just a great actor. My sis can not stand him, she will leave the room if he is in a movie we are watching. Finally, the biggest difference, she and her family are vegetarians. I require my daily intake of meat, be it beef, bacon, chicken, bacon, pork, venison or even... you guessed it bacon. Sis has always been a full believer in organic foods. I never was. Not saying I have changed my mind on all that, but I have stopped saying she is wrong, too. With what she has always been lecturing me on, and what my friend over at Real Food Girl:Unmodified is teaching us, you have to stop and listen.  If Sis is reading this, she might just take that as I am saying she was right about something!

Now that I have brought you up to speed on the lifestyle differences, on to the rest of the story. We were all skyping after Christmas, and I showed them the new immersion blender I got for Christmas. I was really so excited about receiving this gift, and the fact that I finally had one. It was just one of those gadgets I would never buy for myself, and it finally came as a Christmas gift, actually I got two! Guess everyone was listening!

When my brother-in-law saw the blender, he was telling me about his favorite soup to make with their blender. Oh yeah, there is another difference, I love to cook, Sis.. not so much. Brother-in-law does the cooking up there. I have never used one of their family recipes before due to our differences in food choices, but I just love a good soup, and had to trust them on this one. It took a couple days, but they finally got the recipe emailed to me.  Let me just tell you, this soup is O. M. G.  Amazeballs! It has such an amazing flavor from all the peppers and spices, but no heat (Truckin' Man was happy).  I am sure I could have made the soup a little smoother with some more practice with the blender, but I actually like the little bit of texture. I will no longer question their food choices, and look forward to the next recipe!!! 

Potato Chili Cheese Soup (Slightly adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest via My Sis )

4- 5 medium potatoes 
3 cups water
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 3/4 t. salt
1 t. cumin
1 t. basil (I used dried)
2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
Lots of freshly ground pepper (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 c. diced green bell pepper
1 c. diced canned green chilies **
3/4 c. sour cream  (I used greek yogurt)
1 c. milk
3/4 c. (packed) grated jack cheese
2 scallions, finely minced (whites & greens) (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Scrub the potatoes, cut them into small chunks and cook them in the water, partially covered, until tender (about 20 minutes). Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, begin sauteing onions in combined butter and olive oil in large heavy skillet. After several minutes add salt, cumin, basil, garlic, and black pepper. Continue until onions are getting soft (about 8 minutes). Add chopped peppers and saute a few more minutes.  Set aside.

Puree the potatoes in their cooking water. Return puree to large sturdy sauce pan.  Add the saute, plus the green chilies, sour cream, and milk. Puree until well blended.  Heat very gently over low heat.

When soup is hot, stir in cheese and scallions and serve. Garnish with cilantro, if you like.

**Note from Sis:  (Be sure to go through the chili peppers thoroughly and pull our any stems and husks. You just want the peppers)

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Ladies are Ten Months Old

It is so amazing to me that I have had my chickens for almost ten months!
 I brought these little fuzz balls home on March 16th.

They definitely went through an awkward looking phase.

But they grew up into some amazing ladies.

Despite all the damage they did to our flower gardens, they free-ranged all year. 
They apparently have developed some of my dislikes, and won't leave the coop now. 
A day before our blizzard, snow had melted, and they wandered a few feet outside.

 Now, when I open the door, all they will do is look. They have no interest in touching that white stuff!
Truckin' Man says that they take after me :)

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