New Favorite

Pasta with Chard and Bacon

A few years ago I watched the Rachel Ray episode where she made this dish, sharing it was one of her husband’s favorites.  It’s easy peasy and so delicious!  It reminds me of a pasta with bacon that I made when the kids were small.  Delicious!

PASTA WITH CHARD AND BACON

1 large bunch or 1.5 pounds large, leafy Swiss chard
1/2 pound meaty bacon
2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, white or yellow
1 leek
4 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup stock, optional
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup pecans
about 3/4 cup heavy cream
about 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

  • Gather your ingredients.
  • Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
  • Stem the chard. Chop the stems. Coarsely chop the greens and keep separate.
  • Stack the bacon and cut the bacon into batons 1/8 to 1/4-inch wide.
  • Peel and chop the onion. Halve the leek lengthwise and trim the tough green tops. Run the leek under the water and wash thoroughly. Chop the leek, whites and light greens. Peel the garlic and grate or chop.
  • Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and render, then remove from pan, if desired. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in pan, drain off excess if there is any.
  • Add EVOO or butter to pan and add the stems, onions, leeks and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and thyme and soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add wine and stock if using and let it absorb.
  • Salt boiling water and cook pasta to 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup starchy water.
  • Toast nuts while pasta cooks in small skillet over moderate heat.
  • Add cream to sauce, wilt the greens into stems and add a little nutmeg. Return bacon to pan. Drain pasta and add to sauce and greens with reserved water and cheese. Toss pasta 1 minute. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with chopped toasted nuts and pass more cheese at table.

Recipe adapted from RachelRay

New Favorite

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cold winter nights mean hearty soups in my kitchen. Broccoli Cheddar Soup is always a favorite when dining out but I’ve rarely made it.  This is a great recipe that has become a family favorite.

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BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (I used regular half-and-half)
3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls

  • In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté   over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  • Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  • In a large heavy-bottom pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
  • Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  • Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  • Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne.  Stir to combine.
  • Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • Optional: I used a Braun hand blender to blend the vegetables into a creamier consistency.
  • While soup simmers, grate the cheese. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  • Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.

Recipe slightly adapted from Averiecooks.com  

Family Favorites · Holidays

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Cold winter days and soup are the perfect pair.  I have such fond memories of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Panera and also from the little luncheonette at my work. With temperatures near and below zero this week, I was craving this savory gem especially after all of the sweets from the holidays.  It didn’t disappoint!

CHICKEN AND WILD RICE SOUP

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or dry sherry)
minced parsley or chives

  • Melt butter in 6 quart kettle and sauté onion until tender. Blend in flour, gradually add broth and continue stirring.
  • Cook, until mixture thickens slightly. Stir in rice, chicken and salt. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Blend in half and half and wine. Heat to serving temperature. Garnish with minced parsley or chives.
New Favorite

Bailey’s Poptails…adult dessert on a stick

I was cruising the net for frozen yogurt pops and ran across this yummy recipe for Baileys Poptails.  I have a bottle of Baileys in my pantry begging to be used so this was a great solution for a hot summer after dinner treat. I eliminated the coffee from the recipe because I don’t need caffeine at night and just doubled the Baileys to 4 ounces.

Daughter, Megan, suggested that melted chocolate in the milk and cream (and then cooling) would also be a great variation to try next time.

BAILEYS POPTAILS

1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 cups 2% Milk
3 tablespoons Instant Coffee (I chose not to add coffee)
2 tablespoons Whole Cane Sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
pinch of Sea Salt
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream (I doubled the Bailey’s Irish Cream to replace the coffee)

  • Bring all ingredients (excluding Baileys) to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir, and remove from heat when well combined. Transfer to a container & place in the fridge for about 1 hour or until cool.
  • Remove from fridge & mix in the Baileys Irish Cream. Pour poptail mixture into pop molds. Add the stick.
  • Freeze overnight.

Recipe adapted from Family Fresh Cooking

New Favorite

Gooseberry Tart

Gooseberry bushes are prickly and the berries are tedious to clean but gooseberries lovers are willing to sacrifice for the greater good of a delicious, seasonal tart, pie, or cobbler.   My gooseberry picking buddy, Joe the Golden Retriever, was anxious to eat these sour gems again this year.  I decided to try giving a raw gooseberry to my grand-dogs as well with an equally positive response.  Who knew that gooseberries were a treat of choice for the canine crowd?

I love the slight sweetness of this crust and the creamy custard surrounding the cooked gooseberries.  My kids and their spouses, however, turned up their noses at my creation since they cannot fathom eating gooseberries.  Oh well…more for the rest of us.  Someday…they’ll wish they had a piece, right?

GOOSEBERRY TART

1 pound cleaned gooseberries
3 eggs
3.5 ounces of sugar
10 ounces heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry:

1.2 cups flour (or more to reach desired consistency)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup very cold, unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
a little ice cold water

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make the pastry by processing the flour and sugar together.  Chop the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour and sugar.  Pulse (or blend by hand) until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Mix the egg yolk with a little ice-cold water.  Add to the flour mixture and pulse until the pastry forms a soft ball.  Add ice-cold water if needed to achieve desired consistency.  Chill the dough for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and place on floured surface.  Roll to fit the tart pan and place in pan.  Pierce the bottom and sides of the pastry with a fork. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  • Combine eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla extract.  Place gooseberries in bottom of tart pastry and pour egg mixture over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes until the center is firm.

Servings:  6-8

Family Favorites · Holidays

Rum Cake … a Christmas must!

I first tasted Rum Cake in 1978 and have made it every year since then.  I was living in St. Joseph, MO and picked up a recipe card at my local grocery/liquor store.  That very worn but loved recipe card is still in my recipe box.

My Oldest daughter, Megan, advises that she’s making two this year; one to have at home for her husband and guests and one to take to the in-laws for Christmas Eve. I’ll make one for our family to enjoy on Christmas Day, too.  I may have to sneak a piece of rum cake for breakfast with a piping hot cup of coffee.  And visions of Rum Cake dance in my head…

RUM CAKE

1 cup chopped pecans
1 package yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum

GLAZE:
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  • Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.
  • Mix first seven ingredients together. Pour batter over nuts.
Rum Cake Batter ready for the oven
  • Bake 1 hour. Cool. Invert onto serving plate. Prick top of cake.

  • Make glaze by melting butter, then stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.
  • Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until glaze is all gone.
  • When cool, cover cake.