Sunday, June 7, 2015

Creamy Carrot Soup-Secret Recipe Club

Time again for Secret Recipe Club where I get to visit someone’s blog, pick a recipe from there and share it here.  This month the blog I visited was Why I Am Not Skinny.  Isn’t that a fun name?  This blog is written by Maxie, who is a South African living in Belgium.  She shares great recipe and fun restaurant reviews with really awesome photos that make you very hungry.

One of my favorite restaurants where I live is Black Angus Steakhouse so I thought It was interesting that there is a Dale’s Black Angus Restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.  Although my Black Angus is quite upscale, it appears that the Cape Town Black Angus may be even more so.

The challenge with picking a recipe from a European blog is that matter of recipe ingredient conversion which I am not very good at.  Maxie does have imperial measurements for at least part of many of her recipes.  I am anxious to make the 137 Year Old Dutch Apple Cake and love the idea of Banana Chocolate French Toast for breakfast.

The recipe I picked to make and share is Carrot Soup from Maxie’s post 6 Carrots, 1 Onion Soup……Close Enough.  I love cooked carrots (hubby does not) and have thought about making carrot soup from time to time, but had never actually done it.  I liked this recipe because of the added potatoes, and it looked simple and easy, which it was.

Since I was making soup just for myself, I halved the recipe but am giving Maxie’s full recipe.  I used my immersion blender to blend the soup right in the saucepan.  The soup was very good “as is”, but would also make a great “jumping off point” for the addition of some spices ( I am thinking curry powder next time I make this) and some cooked, crumbled bacon or diced ham for a heartier main dish.  I loved the wonderful orange color, and will be making this again from time to time.

Creamy Carrot Soup
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
a blob of butter (I used a heaping tablespoon)
10 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 to 5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large saucepan.  Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add carrots and potatoes.  Cover with chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender.  Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or carefully pouring into a blender jar (this may need to be done in batches).  Season with salt and pepper.  Maxie suggests serving this with fresh bread slathered with butter.  This seems to make 4 or so generous servings.

If you think that you would like to join in the fun of Secret Recipe Club, you can find information about it here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spanish Rice Casserole-Secret Recipe Club

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day, and now it is time for this month's Secret Recipe Club post.  I cannot even begin to express how thrilled I was when I received this month’s assignment.  Miz Helen's Country Cottage is one of my favorite blogs, and she is one of my blogging heroes.  I have subscribed to her blog for a number of years.  When I saw she was a blogger of a “certain age”, I thought maybe, me at my age,  could be a blogger, too.  She also cooks “down home” comfort food, just the kind I like.  Two great features of her blog are her weekly "What's for Dinner Next Week" post and her "Full Plate Thursday"  link-up.

I have used many of her recipes such as Spicy Cranberry Coffeecake and Slow Cooker Bar B Que Pork Roast.  My printed-out pile of “to try" recipes from her site is at least a half inch high.  It was very difficult to choose a recipe for this post as there were so many I wanted to do.

I finally settled on Spanish Rice Casserole for several reasons.  I like rice a lot, hubby not so much.  He was going to be out of town so I thought that was a chance to make something that only I liked.  We were gifted with a beef quarter for Christmas so I have a lot of good ground beef on hand.  The recipe made a lot so I could stick some of the casserole in the freezer for future use.

I made three slight changes to the recipe.  My ground beef is put up in 1 1/2 lb. packages, so I used that amount instead to the 2 lbs. Miz Helen used.  I don’t care for green peppers so used red peppers instead.  I always have Mexican Blend grated cheese on hand so I used that instead of the cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese called for in the recipe.  I like to put a dollop of sour cream on top of my rice and serve it with corn chips.  Next time I make this, I think I will add a small can of green chilies to replace the green color I lost when omitting the green pepper.  Boy, was this ever good.  I am so glad that I am going to have some of this available in the freezer to take care of my Spanish Rice cravings.  This makes lots so would be a great dish to take to a party or potluck.  Thanks, Miz Helen for sharing one of your great recipes.

Spanish Rice Casserole
Miz Helen's Country Cottage
2 lbs. ground chunk (I used 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 T. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped (I used a red one)
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
4 c. rice
1 (10 oz.) can tomatoes and green chilies (such as Rotel)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 c. pepper jack, shredded (I used shredded Mexican Blend cheese for the two cheeses)

Brown ground beef in a heavy, oven-proof Dutch oven.  Remove ground beef and drain if necessary.  Add olive oil to Dutch oven, heat and add the onion, garlic, and green or red pepper.  Cook until the onion is clear.  Add the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for about a minute.  Add the rice and cook and stir until the rice is just beginning to turn brown.  Add the tomatoes, tomatoes and green chilies and tomato sauce.  Add the chicken broth, pouring a little of the chicken broth into the tomato sauce can to clean it out before adding to the rice mixture.  Return the ground beef to the Dutch oven.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring several times to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Remove cover and add the cheese to the top of the mixture.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the rice is fully cooked.  (Note:  because I was going to freeze the Spanish Rice, I did not add the cheese before baking.  I covered the mixture and will add cheese to the individual servings as I heat them.)  There wasn’t an amount of servings listed, but I am guessing this will serve at least 10-12.

To freeze individual servings of this recipe I put 1  1/2 cups of the casserole into zip-top sandwich bags and flattened them out.  I placed them flat on a jelly-roll pan to freeze so I could stack the bags inside a gallon freezer bag and stack them in the freezer to save space.

To learn how you can join in the Secret Recipe Club fun, visit the membership information page.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rhubarb Curd-Secret Recipe Club

This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Culinary Adventures with Camilla which is the blog written by our group B hostess, Camilla Mann.  What a delightful blog this is.  I especially enjoyed the posts where her boys are cooking.

Camilla started her blog in 2009  so there were many, many recipes to choose from.  There are numerous recipes that I want to try and some I did.  I made the Cabbage Steaks and enjoyed them very much.  Some of the many recipes I have on my list to make are:  Homemade Saltine Crackers, Honey Soy Drumettes, Snickerdoodle Buttermilk Muffins, and Smoldering Pants Brussels Sprouts.  You need to go read the post about that last one.

The recipe I picked to share today is Rhubarb Curd.  There are several reasons that I chose this recipe, number one being that I love rhubarb and can hardly wait until it is ready each spring.  I also love to find and share unique recipes that I believe deserve a wider audience.

Camilla used fresh rhubarb.  Unfortunately, it’s a bit too early where I live to get fresh so I used some of my frozen rhubarb.  This worked out OK, although I am sure fresh would be a bit better.  The only change I would make if I use frozen rhubarb next time will be to reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup as my curd was not quite as stiff asI think it should be.  Camilla said that her curd did not keep its pink color.  Mine came out a very pale pink so I think that it depends on the variety of rhubarb that you use.  Unfortunately, unless you grow your own, you have no control over the variety of rhubarb that is available for purchase.  If you wanted it more pink, I suppose that you could add some red food color.

A couple of tips that may help in making this recipe:  grease your measuring cup when measuring the honey and separate the eggs while they are cold.  I use an egg separator as I can let the egg sit until all of the white has dripped off.

The curd was delicious.  I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar to reduce the tartness to my taste.  I see so many uses for this.  It can be used as a spread for bread, a topping for cake, ice cream or pudding, and it is good just spooned out of the jar.  Right now I am enjoying it over cream cheese spread on English muffins.  Since I got 3 cups curd when I made this, I am going to put some in the freezer and see how it freezes.  Do make this recipe, you won’t be sorry.

Thanks, Camilla, for a great addition to my recipe collection.  This is going on my list of ideas for gifts to make for Christmas.

Rhubarb Curd
from Camilla’s Culinary Adventures
6 c. rhubarb, fresh or frozen.
1/2 c. water (reduce to 1/4 c. if using frozen rhubarb)
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 c. honey
1/2 c. powdered sugar (a bit more if desired to you taste)
1/2 c. butter
8 egg yolks
juice from the lemon

In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, lemon zest and honey.  Cook gently over medium heat until rhubarb has softened, stirring often.  Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine powdered sugar, butter and lemon.  Heat until the butter is melted and bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs very well.  Very slowly add 1/3 of the butter/sugar/juice mixture to the eggs while beating rapidly.  Now slowly add the egg mixture into the butter/sugar/juice mixture, beating rapidly.  Continue beating over medium heat (do not let it boil) until mixture thickens.  Add the rhubarb mixture to the yolk mixture and cook until thickened.  Spoon into clean container and store in the refrigerator.  I got about 3 cups curd.

Check out the links below to see what other group B bloggers made this month.  If you would like to join in the fun, you can find details here.

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