Kale and Meatball Soup

Kale and Meatballs Soup

Kale and Meatball Soup

I am at the end of my rope with my kale.  Matt keeps mentioning blanching, freezing, saving for the end of the world…. I have enough in my freezer at this point to last us until we have grand children…WHICH WON’T BE ANYTIME SOON!  So, what’s a resourceful girl like me to do?  Make soup.  In August.  This happens a lot at our house, seasons don’t dictate our menu.  Need and what I crave usually do.

About this soup.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Isn’t it interesting that I have to set the tone for a soup…in august…about kale!?  That being said feel free to substitute, switch, add to your liking or mood, freelance, go with the flow…. cool?  Great!  Knew I could count on you guys!

who says you can't eat soup this delicious in August?!!!

who says you can’t eat soup this delicious in August?!!!

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (or chicken, turkey, pork or sausage)

1/3 cup Panko

1 egg

1 tablespoon each: fresh basil, thyme and parsley

salt and pepper

For the soup:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 cup diced carrots

1 15.5-ounce can great northern beans

8 cups chopped kale (about 1/2 lb)

8 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)

1 cup orzo (or any small pasta)

1 tablespoon each: fresh thyme, basil and parsley

Parmesan Cheese for serving

How to:

For the meatballs:

In a large bowl combine all your ingredients: ground meat, Panko, egg, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.  Combine well and form into small to medium size meatballs.  Set aside.

cute little meatballs!

cute little meatballs!

browning in all its glory!

browning in all its glory!

For the soup:

In a large dutch oven heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  Working in batches brown your meatballs on all sides.  Set aside on a baking sheet.  (you do not have to cook your meatballs completely, they will finish cooking in your broth).

Do not clean your dutch oven from browning the meatballs (this is full of flavor!) add a bit of olive oil if needed or simply use what is left.  Sautee your onion and carrots until soft and fragrant, 4-5 minutes.  Add your beans and broth, bring to a boil.  Add your kale and orzo, cook for another 7-8 minutes until pasta is al dente.

that's a big pot of scrumptious soup!

that’s a big pot of scrumptious soup!

Ladle your soup into your serving bowl topped with some Parmesan cheese.

bright, healthy and superbly delicious!

bright, healthy and superbly delicious!

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Note: this is somewhat similar to an Italian Wedding Soup, but out of respect for the “real” deal I don’t think mine is exactly that.  Which is why I call my soup: Kale and Meatballs Soup.

time to fill my belly!

time to fill my belly!

Peace and Dictate Your Menu,

Isabelle

Grilled Maque Choux and Shrimp

Grilled Maque Choux and Shrimp

Grilled Maque Choux and Shrimp

Maque choux /’ma:kju:/ is a traditional dish of southern Louisinana.  It is thought to be an amalgam of Acadian French (Cajun) and American Indian cultural influence, and the name is likely to derive from the French interpretation of the Native American name.

Thank you Wikipedia

This dish is often a side dish but I’ve had it as a main course and it was a perfectly satisfying dish!  It is not something that you see often here in Indiana…although with the abundance of corn surrounding us it should be part of everyone’s menu!  Got to use that corn in many ways otherwise the peeps might get bored!  😉

I decided to add some more flavors to my version by grilling the ingredients and adding some grilled shrimp to round up this mouth-watering dish!  It was spectacular!  I love this dish, to the moon and back!

this is simply ammmuuuuuuziiiiing!

this is simply ammmmaaaaaaziiiiing!

Ingredients:

5 ears corn

1 green bell pepper (I didn’t have a big bell pepper from my garden so I did one small and one poblano)

1 jalapeno (optional…but oh so delicious!)

2 cups cherry tomatoes (I had a variety of cherry tomatoes)

1 onion, cut into thick slices

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and cleaned

Zest and Juice 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grilled slices of Tuscan bread (for serving, optional)

How to:

First you must cook your corn: 10 minutes or so in boiling water.  Set aside while you get everything ready.

In a large bowl combine your shrimp, zest and juice of lemon, thyme and parsley, salt and pepper (approx. 1 teaspoon each).  Cover and put in your fridge until ready to use.

good little shrimp marinating....good job!

good little shrimp marinating….good job!

Skewer your cherry tomatoes onto metal or soaked wooden skewers.  Put on a large baking sheet.  Lay out your pepper, jalapeno, cooked corn, and sliced onion, drizzle everything with a little bit of olive oil, add a touch of salt and pepper.  Time to start the grill.  Once nice and hot add your vegetables and DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE.  Make sure everything gets beautiful grill marks.  Have a clean baking sheet ready and depending on time and heat, remove the vegetables once ready.  You need to pay attention because most likely the tomatoes will be ready first and start bursting.  Turn each veggie around so they get color all over.  When all done, set aside to cool for a few minutes (too hot to handle!).

grill shot...always a shot in the dark...hahaha I kill myself!  ;)

grill shot…always a shot in the dark…hahaha I kill myself! 😉

yum! yum! all grilled up!

yum! yum! all grilled up!

Meanwhile back at the shrimp!  Skewer your shrimp for the grill.  Set aside.

When your veggies are touch cooler, time to chop everything.  Chop your onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, tomatoes (KEEP ALL THE JUICES), cut corn off the cobs.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large pan.  Add all your vegetables (and juices) and toss everything together.  Let this cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon butter.  Mix everything well and cook for another 5 minutes, on low.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

almost there....still missing the creaminess factor!

almost there….still missing the creaminess factor!

now...that's what I am talking about! YUMMO!

now…that’s what I am talking about! YUMMO!

Heat up your grill again.  Time to grill your shrimp.  Stay put…these should only take about 5 minutes.  Do not overcook your shrimp or you may as well eat rubber!  😉

shrimp shot!  ;)

shrimp shot!

Put your Maque Choux into your serving bowl, top with shrimp and a nice thick piece of grilled bread.  Dig in!

first bite...it's love...oh wait I forgot something!

first bite…it’s love…oh wait I forgot something!

now I am ready to dig in!

now I am ready to dig in!

Note: this serves 4 as a main course, or 6ish as a side dish or one hungry Isabelle…you pick!  So delicious, so fresh and so unexpected in the middle of summer, a welcome change to corn on the cob!

so simply pretty delicously good (I don't even make sense anymore!)

simply pretty delicously good (I don’t even make sense anymore!)

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Peace and I am never bored,

Isabelle

Scotcharoos (my way)

Scotcharoos <3

Scotcharoos ❤

Some days I think I live under a rock.  I honestly had never heard of Scotcharoos until a few days ago.  Truth be told when I saw the picture of a lovely dessert treat I wanted to make Sunshine for prom night at her friend’s house, I thought it was simply a layer of Rice Krispies squares.  I saw the name but thought nothing of it.  Then my friend Chris came over and I showed her the recipe and she said: “oh yea I love Scotcharoos….”

What?  ummmm…..OK.

So then I had this flashback of never having tried Hamburger Helper until I married Mr. Man.  Never having ordered Chinese take-out until I moved in with the “princess” in college.  Never having Spam…still!

What’s a silly girl to do?  Make Scotcharoos and make some pretty darn good one at that!  So take that stupid rock over me!  :/

these little gems are so flippin' amazing!

these little gems are so flippin’ amazing!

Please note this is not the “classic scotcharoos” these have been Isabellized…what ever that means!

Ingredients:

6 cups rice Krispies cereal

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups chocolate chips, divided

1 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

How to:

Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl combine your cereal with 1 cup chocolate chips.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine your corn syrup and your sugar.  On medium heat gently stir until sugar has melted.  Remove from heat and add your peanut butter.  Gently stir until combined and creamy.  Add to your cereal and chocolate chips mix.  Quickly stir.  The heat from the peanut butter mixture will melt some of your chocolate chips, go for it. Don’t worry about it too much.  It will taste amazing.  Spread your mixture into your prepared pan.  Set aside.

the peanut butter mixture is quite spectacular if you ask me!

the peanut butter mixture is quite spectacular if you ask me!

all set!

all set!

In a heat proof dish combine your 1 cup chocolate chips with your butterscotch chips.  Starting with 30 seconds heat in your microwave.  Stirring after each time.  (I did 30 secs then another 30 secs. but followed with 15 seconds increments as to not burn my chips)  Once completely melted pour over your cereal mixture and spread evenly.  Set aside.

chocolate & butterscotch make a beautiful friendship!

chocolate & butterscotch make a beautiful friendship!

In another small heat proof dish melt your peanut butter chips in microwave.  Again stirring after each time.  (I would suggest 15-20 seconds increments)  Using a spoon, place dollops of your melted chips over the chocolate/butterscotch layer.  Using a knife gently run through to swirl the peanut butter with the chocolate/butterscotch layer.  Done!  Place in your fridge (if in a hurry) or leave to cool at room temperature until chips have hardened.

there is no rules here....just dollops of peanut butter! Whatever works!

there is no rules here….just dollops of peanut butter! Whatever works!

pretend to be an artist....a peanut butter artist!

pretend to be an artist….a peanut butter artist!

OH MY WORD.....pure art!

OH MY WORD…..pure art!

Voila!!!! One of the best treat I have had in a long time….SUPERB!

I want this piece right now!

I want this piece right now!

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so so so perfectly fabulous!

so so so perfectly fabulous!

Note: these are simply jaw-dropping delicious….addictive….not something that will get you bikini ready….beware my friends, one could eat a whole pan of these goodies!

don't you just want to take a bite?  ;)

don’t you just want to take a bite? 😉

Peace and Rock,

Isabelle

Roasted Garlic Pomodoro Sauce

Roasted Garlic Pomodoro Sauce

Roasted Garlic Pomodoro Sauce

It’s always a good thing when I can say: “well, at least I learned something today and I can go to bed a little smarter”.  I guess in the grand scheme of life what I learned today won’t make or break me but I am glad I figured it out by myself.

Here’s the story….it’s not very riveting but it’s one I think you’ll appreciate.

I went to Aunt Joyce’s a few weeks back.  She was raving about this delicious sauce she gets at a local Italian restaurant: Pomodoro Sauce.  It can be used for dipping and of course to drown some serious pasta as well.  She told me I should find a recipe for it.  I started looking around.  I kept thinking: “it’s really just tomatoes….hmmmm….” then I stumbled upon a site that said: “pomodoro sauce simply means: tomato sauce”  AH!  Yep.  I had a AH! moment.  It makes sense.  Yet how you make your pomodoro sauce is important.  It’s all about the flavors, all about the tomatoes, and all about the consistency.

There you have it.

Tomato Sauce.

No need to reinvent the wheel…..well I did add the roasted garlic instead of just regular chopped garlic.  I find the roasted garlic adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the sauce.

my love of pasta and delicious sauce truly is infinite....amen!

my love of pasta and delicious sauce truly is infinite….amen!

Ingredients:

1 garlic head, top cut off (see pics below)

1 can 28-ounces crushed tomatoes: I went with the lovely and delicious Tuttorrosso by Red Gold (Indiana’s best!)

1 medium onion, minced

Olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil (plus more for serving)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh parmesan cheese, for serving

How to:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Put your garlic head in a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil.  Put in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

garlic, before

garlic, before

and after....fair warning your house will smell like love!  Garlic love that is ;)

and after….fair warning your house will smell like love! Garlic love that is 😉

In a large pan or dutch oven, heat your olive oil (about 1 tablespoon).  Add your onion and gently sautee for about 4-5 minutes.  Cut the tip of your garlic cloves and squeeze your roasted garlic in your onion mixture.  Gently stir and break up your garlic to blend with your onions.  Add your crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon each).  Bring to a simmer.  Roughly chop or tear your basil and add to your tomatoes.  Let this simmer for about 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  To serve top with fresh basil and a healthy dose of Parmesan cheese.

Perfect tomato sauce!  Simple perfect!

Perfect tomato sauce! Simple perfect!

I actually consider using this as my personal plate...

I actually considered using this as my personal plate…

this is the ticket to win a LOT of applause around your home!

this is the ticket to win a LOT of applause around your home!

Red Gold was so wonderful to send me some delicious Tuttorosso products.  Go check out their Facebook page: here

thank you Red Gold/Tuttorosso! I LOVE your products!

thank you Red Gold/Tuttorosso! I LOVE your products!

original

Enter to win some serious cool prizes!  It’s all about Traditions!  YUM!  I know one family tradition from my grandmother I will never forget is adding green olives to her spaghetti sauce.  OH MY GOODNESS….my absolute favorite…now if I could convince Mr. Man that olives are delicious!  😉

forget the olives for now...let's devour this madness!

forget the olives for now…let’s devour this madness!

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Note: if you do not like big pieces of garlic in your sauce you can squeeze it onto a cutting board and mince it prior to adding it to your tomatoes.

Peace and AH!

Isabelle

Southside Cocktail

Southside Cocktail

Southside Cocktail

When in Florida….

Make drinks for your hosts!

This is one of my new FAVORITE drinks!  It is refreshing, easy and tastes like the best night of your life!

OK…I made that last part up.

I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make this drink one day on the show The Kitchen on the Food Network , my only concern is that he made it with Gin.  Gin and I don’t get along to well.  So I wondered if I switched to Vodka would the drink still work.  Vodka and I get along really really really well!  Turns out vodka or gin make this drink worthy of sharing with you my friends or sister in law 😉

Cheers (please ignore my crazy hair and the fact that Dee is looking at Matt)

Cheers (please ignore my crazy hair and the fact that Dee is looking at Matt)

Ingredients:

2 ounces gin (gin for the hubby, vodka for the crazy…ummm me!)

1 ounce lime juice

3/4 ounce  simple syrup

1 sprig mint (optional…turns out both Dee and I don’t like mint)

How to:

Combine the gin (or vodka), lime juice, simple syrup and mint sprig in a shaker.  Add some ice cubes and shake vigorously.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with one mint leaf, smacked to release the oils, floating on top of the cocktail.

Simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

How to:

In a small saucepan bring your water and sugar to a boil.  Boil until sugar is dissolved.  Let cool completely.  Use as indicated in recipe.

so fresh, tart, and slightly sweet = perfect cocktail!

so fresh, tart, and slightly sweet = perfect cocktail!

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Have a wonderful weekend from us to you ;)

Have a wonderful weekend from us to you 😉

Peace and Florida,

Isabelle

Aunt Sara’s Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

As much as I love soups, evident with my: Soups Round Up, I had never made my Aunt Sara’s Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup.  She makes it every year for our Christmas Family Party.  We keep it simple for everyone with 3 large Crockpots filled with yummy food: one with her soup, one with my classic chili (which I have yet to share with you…hint: BEER is my secret ingredient) and one with Grandma Georgia’ Seafood Chowder (a recipe I am not privy to).  We also have platters of lunch meats and a crazy amount of breads to choose from.  Easy and practical for the big day!

Since I’ve had somewhat of a sore throat the past few days I thought it would be yummy and delicious to make her soup.  Isn’t chicken noodle soup the cure-all?

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery (not in original recipe but Aunt Sara said to add what ever veggies I wanted!)

1 tablespoon dry oregano

6 cups chicken broth (low-sodium is best, 49-ounce can)

1, 12-ounce can evaporated milk

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1-inch cubes)

1 whole roasted chicken, shredded (store-bought or homemade, I had about 6 cups of shredded chicken)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I think I was closer to 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups egg noodles (I prefer the extra-wide & I did use the no-yoke kind)

Salt and Pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each should work)

How to:

In a large soup kettle or dutch oven heat your oil.  Add your onion, carrots and celery.  Saute for 5 minutes until soft and fragrant.  Add your oregano, salt, pepper, chicken broth, evaporated milk and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

from start

from start

to finish...nicely reduced after 35 or so minutes

to finish…nicely reduced after 35 or so minutes

Add your roasted chicken, peas and egg noodles.  Cook until noodles are done, approximately 8 minutes.

the home stretch! All aboard!

the home stretch! All aboard!

done! Looking gorgeous and delicious!

done! Looking gorgeous and delicious!

oh my goodness....and NO cream...yet all this creaminess!

oh my goodness….NO cream…yet all this creaminess!

Serve.

***You may want to add another cup or so of chicken broth if you feel your soup is getting too thick, especially if you have leftovers.  Totally up to you, some people like their soup to be thin and lively (!) others (like me) like them thick and robust!  😉

Note: I am always hesitant to give salt and pepper amounts.  It is such a personal preference.  We don’t like it too salty at my house, some people hate the taste of pepper in food, some people actually think pepper is spicy; they wouldn’t survive here….we LOVE it really spicy, Tabasco seems closer to ketchup for us!  So you can imagine when I make spicy stuff it can really take it to a new level!  Therefore salt and pepper so your taste buds are happy happy!

now that's a happy happy soup!

now that’s a happy happy soup!

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Peace and I had to look up the word privy to make sure I was using it correctly,

Isabelle

Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

I found this lovely cookbook at my library: The New Midwestern Table (yup….again) I had seen some reviews in different publications but I had to see it for myself and turn the pages in order to formulate my own little opinion.  Well folks, it’s gorgeous.  Simply gorgeous.

I have a confession to make….I am a bit jealous of Amy.

No.  It’s not the cookbook, the lovely website, the magnificent recipes, the lovely history she shares with us….

It’s who she is.  In fact it is who she knows she is.  A Midwesterner.  Through and through.  She knows her roots, where she’s been and who she is.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know who I am.  But it’s a melting pot and it is in a constant state of change.  I am always the outsider.  Regardless.  I was the outsider when I lived in Canada.  I really was.  When I moved to a small town (St.George de Beauce, near the Maine border in Quebec) I was the girl from Quebec City.  When I moved to Montreal, I was the girl from a small town.  When I moved to Ottawa, I was the French girl from Montreal.  When I moved to Florida, I was the Canadian.  Now in Indiana, I am the French Canadian girl from Florida…..

My reality is that it has always been like that.  So I guess that’s who I am, the outsider/the foreigner.  One would think that at 44 I would have made my peace with this, I guess I am still a work in progress because some days I wish I was just here and from here with roots so deep in my present that nothing could shake me from it.  Alas…it is what is it: I am who I am  🙂

I decided to share with you one of Amy’s recipe that screams Midwest.  A casserole, known as a hotdish in Minnesota, it is simple, tasty and yet belly warming, perfect for this time of year and great after or during all the craziness of the holidays.

perfect winter meal

perfect winter meal

Ingredients:

1/2 cup natural wild rice

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 bay leaf

6 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the baking dish

2 leeks, white and light green parts, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh)

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 cups roughly chopped cooked chicken

4 ounces aged Gouda or aged cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups coarsely ground buttery crackers (such as Ritz or Club; about 2 sleeves)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

How to:

Put the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse it under cold running water, swishing the rice with your hand until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a medium bowl and add water to cover.  Pour off any black bits or floating kernels, pour the rice back into the sieve to drain, then put it in a small saucepan.  Add 1 1/4 cups water, a pinch of salt and the bay leaf; bring to a simmer.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.  Cook 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water has evaporated.  (If liquid remains after the rice is done, drain it in a sieve.)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Heat the butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks and celery and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

I looooooooove leeks <3

I looooooooove leeks ❤

Add the flour to the vegetables and stir until well combined.  Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent any lumps.  Add the cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Simmer over low heat until the floury taste dissipates, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken, wild rice (minus the bay leaf) and half of the cheese and heat until the cheese melts.

Put the crushed crackers in a heavy plastic bag and add 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the olive oil.  Shake to combine and set aside.

Rub a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of soft butter.  Pour the chicken mixture into the dish and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake 25 minutes.

all in!

all in!

cheese really is a marvelous thing!

cheese really is a marvelous thing!

already mouth-watering

already mouth-watering

Pull the dish from the oven, sprinkle the cracker mixture over the top and bake until the crackers turn golden brown and the mixture bubbles in the center, 15 to 20 more minutes.  Serve immediately.

ritz crackers....childhood memories!

ritz crackers….so many childhood memories!

golden deliciousness!

golden deliciousness!

time to dive into this simple yet flavorful lovely meal

time to dive into this simple yet flavorful lovely meal

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Peace and Know your heart,

Isabelle

Boeuf en Croute/Beef Pie

Boeuf en Croute/Beef Pie

Boeuf en Croute/Beef Pie

I actually had a difficult time translating this dish.  I mean it should be so simple yet it didn’t make sense in my head.  Beef  “in” crust…Beef “with” crust…Beef “topped with” crust…and on and on.  So bottom line, you have a delicious beef mixture topped with a golden crust.  Simple, quick, cheap and delicious!  There you have French Canadian cooking at it’s best!

I have to tell you a little bit of funny stuff that has been happening….my daughters’ friends have started referring to me as: Isabelle at home.  It’s odd.  I mean, I know it’s the name of my blog but to be actually called that in the middle of the hallway at the high school kind of makes you want to hide in a corner.  Also, oddly and nicely enough, some of Bear’s friends are following my blog!  They have even asked her if I really feed them the food on my blog!  Yup…I torture Bear and Sunshine at every meal with what ever creation I stumble upon that day!

quite the soul warming dish

quite the soul warming dish

Recipe adapted from: Coup De Pouce

Ingredients:

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening, cold

2/3 cup milk

For the meat:

2 lbs ground beef (or pork or chicken or turkey if you prefer)

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 celery stick, diced

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves ,crushed and finely chopped

1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (NOT DRAINED)

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard salt and pepper to taste

How to:

For the dough:

In a large bowl combine your flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut your shortening into your flour mixture until your get a “large breadcrumbs” mixture.  Slowly add your milk and stir until your dough starts coming together.  Drop your dough onto a flour board and mix until you have smooth texture.  Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and put in your fridge for 30 minutes.

OR BUY THE ALREADY MADE STUFF….life is short….! (and yes….for once I made it from scratch!)

my dough effort!

my dough effort!

For the meat mixture:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium sized Dutch oven, brown your meat.  You may have to do it in two installments, remove browned meat to a side plate.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your Dutch oven, add your onion, carrots and celery.  Sautee until soft and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Add your garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Return your meat and all the juices to your pan.  Add your wine and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly reduced.  Add your tomatoes, thyme and Dijon mustard.  Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Keep warm.

I love the bright orange popping through

I love the bright orange popping through

On a floured surface roll your dough to fit your pan.  Top your meat mixture with your dough and cut the extra if needed.  Make sure your dough is hanging over the side of your Dutch oven, and also laying flat on the meat.  Using a knife make 3 small incisions (pretend to be a surgeon) in your dough to let the steam escape!

ready to go

ready to go

Put in your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

ready to dig in?

ready to dig in?

Serve!

the aroma alone will drive you crazy!

the aroma alone will drive you crazy!

take a bite and smile....that's what I did!

take a bite and smile….that’s what I did!

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Peace and Teenagers…… !

Isabelle

Pumpkin Bread with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

This pumpkin bread has a story.  It’s my salvation for making cookies that were so bad even I couldn’t bring myself to eat them after it took me almost a whole day to make them.  I should have known, cookies this complicated and tidious aren’t usually worth it.  My opinion don’t send hate mail!  It’s just that sometime you spend so much energy and time on something that in all reality should be extra simple….hmmmmm like COOKIES!  And the end product is less than stellar.  Case and point these cookies.

AND YES….I followed the exact recipe!  You know that’s a pet peeve of mine to complain about a recipe if you haven’t followed it exactly.  Well I did.  And the cookies didn’t work out.  Oh well.  Better luck next time!

So in order to redeem myself and make my peeps happy I decided to try my hand at Alton Brown /Captain Know-it-all’s recipe for pumpkin bread.  It has actual toasted pumpkin seeds in it! YUMMY!

confession...I didn't let the bread cool and sliced it for this pic....day light is a pain right now!

confession…I didn’t let the bread cool and sliced it for this pic….day light is a pain right now!

You have to try this recipe, it is absolutely divine!  Such a simple addition….pumpkin seeds….genius!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups shredded fresh pumpkin (regular pumpkin works but NOT pumpkin pie mix)

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)

How to:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray or butter & flour a 9X5X3-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

Combine your flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix your sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine both mixtures and fold in the shredded pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.  Once the ingredients are all incorporated pour into your prepared loaf pan.

stunning batter

stunning batter

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  At this point a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely.

ready!  Smells like pumpkin heaven!

ready! Smells like pumpkin heaven!

Smear with loads of butter and enjoy!

time to dig in/slice in :)

time to dig in/slice in 🙂

Note: my bread took longer, approx 1hr 45mins, Alton’s pan is larger than what I have.  Just make sure a knife or toothpick comes out clean, that’s the key.  Also I had organic pumpkin (that I roasted and froze) but again I think you may be OK with organic canned pumpkin.

not too photogenic at this time of year with limited daylight but it is absolutely amazing!

not too photogenic at this time of year with limited daylight but it is absolutely amazing!

Printer friendly: Pumpkin Bread

Peace and Redemption is sweet,

Isabelle

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

My friend Chris gave me her mom’s apple pie recipe.  It won the blue ribbon at a state fair!  That’s pretty darn good if you ask me!  I have never entered into any cooking contests.  I know this may sound surprising being that I love to cook and bake….but what isn’t surprising is that I can never get my act together long enough to take the time to enter into cooking or baking contest.  My cornbread was once in a contest…one that I did not enter into but someone else did….interesting.  They did give me credit but not much else!  Oh well….you win some and you lose some!

Now this pie….it’s amazing!  I mean, really really amazing.  It does have those secret magical ingredients.  It’s the vinegar.  I know.  Weird perhaps but when I read the recipe and saw that- I knew right away why that would take it to another level.  I wasn’t wrong.

Chris and her husband Shawn came over the other night for a casual dinner and a few card games (which Chris and I won against the boys!).  I made some chili and my cornbread.  I also made Chris’ mom’s apple pie.  Chris said I did great!  YAY ME!  I was a bit worried I wouldn’t do this wonderful pie justice but turns out; I can follow directions when push comes to shove!

gorgeous & delicious, it's a winner!

gorgeous & delicious, it’s a winner!

Ingredients:

For the filling:

12 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (not too thin…not too thick….yup!)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

dash salt

1 tablespoon vinegar

For the topping:

1 stick butter, cold

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 pie crust (homemade, store-bought, borrowed or stolen!)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Line your pie plate with your pie dough.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (remember 12 apples!) combine your apples with your sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vinegar.  Toss well to combine, careful of flying apples!  Put in your pie crust.  Set aside.

a mountain of apples!

a mountain of apples!

In a not so large bowl, combine your butter, brown sugar, sugar and flour.  Using a pastry cutter (or your could do this in your food processor….but we know I like the long cuts versus the short cuts!)  combine your ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture.

does it make me a bad person if I admit I was eating this...it's really really good!

does it make me a bad person if I admit I was eating this…it’s really really good!

Carefully (and I mean carefully!) put your mixture on top of your mountain of apples.

got to work with your hands on that one!

got to work with your hands on that one!

Put in your preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest until ready to serve.

Hello there! Stunning apple pie!

Hello there! Stunning apple pie!

here's a close look!

here’s a closer look!

Scrumptious, amazingly fabulous, delicious, delectable, flavorful, crunchy, sweet & tart, perfect…..a true BLUE RIBBON WORTHY PIE!

please believe me when I tell you that this pie will make you look like a ROCK STAR

please believe me when I tell you that this pie will make you look like a ROCK STAR

Note: 12 apples….I know!  I actually texted Chris and asked: “12? really?”  She said”: “yes, medium/normal size apples”.  Therefore, please use your judgement/intuition/gut feeling/know how….good?…..good!

Another note: I had CAMEO apples from our local orchard, it’s a “sweet tart” apple, the recipe didn’t specify what kind of apples so I decided this would work.  In all honesty you should use what you like and what you have on hand. 🙂

Printer Friendly: Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

Peace and Be Blue Ribbon Worthy,

Isabelle

I shared my recipe here as well: