Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wedding Quilts

 I have been feasting on my leftover Chicken Corn Chowder and Sourdough Bread so no new recipes for today. I've decided to post a few pictures of the recent quilts I made as wedding gifts. I am new to quilting and learning heaps as I go. It's nice to work on when it's cold and snowy outside, like today. (Seriously it's October and the plows out. ) I'm currently working on a new one for my bedroom, so I will post pictures once I get further along.

 This quilt I made for my good friends Sara and Matt.  Sara and I have known each other since grade school and remained friends after she moved to Virginia. Fortunately she married Matt who has family in New Hampshire, so we get the chance to see each other just about every year now.
I started the quilt back in January when I was pregnant with Rosalie. Even though the wedding wasn't till August, I had a feeling that I wouldn't get much accomplished with a newborn. Besides it was nice to work on when it was cold and snowy and there wasn't a whole lot of skiing I could do.  The three blocks I appliqued are a bush clover, peony, and iris. The patterns were an inspiration from a Japanese quilting book I borrowed. They were individual pieces that I brought together and repeated as the center block. I had to keep bringing the quilt out with me so I could figure out which fabrics would the borders and pull the whole thing together. Plus purple and green were her wedding colors and I wanted to incorporate them as much as possible.

 This quilt I made in September for Ben and Jen's wedding.  I wanted the quilt to be cozy and though I loved the Cathedral Window Quilt pattern (here is the link for the pattern: wasn't a blanket you would want to curl up with. So I decided to make it into the border and use fleece on the back.  I also machined appliqued Ginkgo leaves since they symbolize love, peace, hope and longevity.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder

There is something about the cool fall weather that brings on the hot soups and rustic breads. Even though we just finished off our vat of French Onion Soup, Chicken Corn Chowder was calling my name.  At the end of summer I try to get a few dozen ears of corn just to freeze their tasty kernels for Corn Chowder.  It brings back thoughts of summer and adds the warmth to your kitchen. So here we go...

Chicken (optional, you can make it without, but so much better with)
Bacon (once again optional, but who doesn't love bacon)
2 medium Onions chopped
3 Ribs of Celery chopped
5-6cups combo of milk and stock (whatever you have on hand and your preference)
salt and pepper (to taste)
4 large potatoes chopped
butter (seriously who cooks without it)

Roast, grill, or fry your chicken. I had a whole chicken in the freezer so I opted to roast it.
Cook up your bacon and try not eat it all before you finish making your chowder
Reserve a couple tablespoons of bacon grease in your pan and saute your onions and celery. If you didn't have bacon, this is where you use butter instead.
Saute the onions and celery till browned, then add your milk/stock and potatoes. I used about 3 cups of  stock and 2 cups of milk
Bring to a boil and cook till the potatoes are tender
Add in the corn and cook for another 7minutes
Then break out the blender or food processor and blend the soup. I typically blend about 1/2-3/4 of the soup and leave the rest. If you want the soup to be thicker add in 2 tablespoons of flour mixed with cold water. Next add the chicken and bacon (hopefully there is some left) and Serve warm. Even better serve in a bread bowl mmm...

Monday, October 24, 2011

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is one of my all time favorites. It's hard to find a restaurant that can actually make a decent bowl of French Onion Soup.  Who can resist the melted, bubbly cheese over crusty bread.  The real key to French Onion is the broth. Sure you can use Beef Broth from a can, but it will no where be as good as if you make the broth from scratch.  Every year I look forward to our St. Patty's Day celebration not only because of the corned beef that I cure for 8 days, but the broth left over from boiling the corned beef and veggies. It is hands down the best broth I have ever tasted.
So yesterday I pulled out of my freezer a package of marrow bones from the farm (You can buy these at the grocery store too) for two reasons:
1. to make my dogs happy

2. to make soup stock

Soup Stock:
Roast marrow bones, carrots, onions, turnips, rutabaga, and garlic with olive oil in a pan at 350 F for 1-2 hours
Next take out your biggest stock pot and fill it up with all those roasted bones and veggies.
Throw in some celery, head of cabbage chopped up, zucchini, summer squash, 2 bay leaves, etc.
If you have some stew beef or chuck roast throw in too. 
Fill the rest up with water and let boil for 5-6  hours.
The key to a good stock is the huge combo of veggies. You might not like turnips or rutabaga or cabbage, but they really make the soup stock delicious. It might smell funny at first, but as it cooks on the smell will become amazing.
Separate the broth from all the veggies with a colander and let the remaining stock boil down till it reaches your taste. Add as much salt to taste.

Next slice up at least 8 large onions and saute them in a preferably cast iron pot with butter.
Stir them every so often so they don't stick.
Cook until they are almost caramelized.
Add the broth and you can either do 1/2 cup of white wine or 2 tablespoons of Marsala or Sherry wine. This time I had some Marsala and it did the trick.
Next you want to slice up some good crusty bread and place it over your soup an oven proof bowl.
Then you want to layer on some Swiss or Gruyere cheese and place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Stay close you do not want to burn the cheese!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

What better to follow homemade granola than homemade yogurt.  Yogurt is another one of those simple, non-time consuming, money saving foods.  There are a variety of different methods from an electric yogurt maker (pricey) to a crock pot to a wood stove. The method that I like involves a heating pad.

So here we go:

On the stove, heat up 1/2 gallon of milk (preferably whole, it makes it thicker) to 185 F. Make sure to stir every so often to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once it reaches 185 F turn off the stove and cool it down to 110 F.
You have two options here:
1. cool it down in the sink with ice water ... or
2. just let it cool down on its own (that definitely takes longer)

Next you add 3 tablespoons of yogurt (preferably plain; french vanilla works fine too) and stir. Then place the lid on your pot and put on top of your heating pad. Place a kitchen towel under the pot and over it too.
Keep on Medium heat for 7 hours. That's it; then you have your yogurt.
It's a 1:1 ratio, so 1/2 gallon of milk=1/2 gallon of yogurt. Just a fraction of the cost.
Add maple syrup, brown sugar, jam, vanilla, or honey to give it your favorite flavor.
***Just remember to leave 3 tablespoons of yogurt for your next batch. This yogurt will last about 1-2 weeks.


Granola is not only tasty, healthy, and versatile, but really easy to make. I have tried other recipes, but really wasn't that happy with them.  This recipe has the perfect amount of sweetness and takes only 40 minutes from start to finish. Plus it is really inexpensive to make. It's hard to believe that they can really charge that much in the store for a box of granola. So try it out and you'll wonder why you haven't done this before.

1/3 cup olive oil (calls for canola, but I'll have in the house is Olive)
1/3 cup honey
1.4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 salt
4 cups of rolled oats
3/4 cup of chopped pecans or the nut of your choice
3/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or any other fruit
(makes about 6 cups)

Preheat oven to 350, line a large baking/roasting pan (with sides) with parchment paper, or oil, or butter.
Mix the honey, oil, maple syrup, water, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together.
In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, and pecans.  Then coat the dry ingredients with the syrup mixture until evenly distributed.
Spread mixture onto a pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
When the granola is cooled add the fruit and enjoy! Store in jars or ziplock bags.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade Pasta w/Sun Dried Tomatoes, Leeks, Artichokes, and Goat Cheese

There is nothing better than homemade pasta, seriously. If you have never had it, well just prepare yourself if you ever do, you will become spoiled. I promise. Plus if you have a pasta roller it makes it much easier and faster.

Pasta Dough Recipe:
3 large eggs
pinch of salt
pour of olive oil ( ~ 2 tbsp)
1/2 cup of Semolina (Durham) Flour
1/2 cup of Bread Flour

I start out by mixing them together in my Kitchen Aid mixer and add more flour as needed. I finish kneading the dough by hand. I just find it gives me a better consistency. You are looking for a dough that is soft but doesn't stick to your fingers.
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum.

Then if you are lucky to have a pasta attachment for your Kitchen Aid (or some other pasta roller) it will save you time and energy. I typically roll my pasta out till a number 4,  I find it to be not too thick or thin.

Get your water to a boil and place your pasta in. Stir it a bit and keep an eye on it, it only needs about 5 minutes to cook or so. (Another benefit of homemade pasta- short cooking time.) You are looking for the color of the pasta to be lighter. 

Deliciousness Sauce
Saute leeks in a couple tablespoons of butter.
Then throw in some chopped up zucchini.
And some more butter (starting to feel like Julia Child).
Next add chopped artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes.
Then pour in some milk or cream or both, but enough to cover all the deliciousness.  I only used milk (whole milk) because I didn't have any cream. It all depends on how you feel about cream and what you have in your fridge. But it really tasted fantastic without the cream.
Next add 1 teaspoon of corn starch to some water in a cup and mix well, then add to the deliciousness.
Sprinkle some salt and let the sauce simmer till it thickens up a bit.

Serve over fresh pasta and you won't be disappointed. And most importantly, Sprinkle generous amounts of goat cheese on top. I love, love, love goat cheese.

Feel free to change up the combo of veggies for the sauce-use what you have and what you like.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lamb Meatballs with Fresh Pitas

Chris and I have belonged to a meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) now for a couple years. Its a wonderful farm out in Hardwick, MA where the animals graze on green grass and frolic in open pastures. Once a month we pick up 10lbs of meat from the farm that includes beef, pork (mmm bacon), chicken, and lamb (if you so choose).  It's a variety of different cuts that allows the cook to be creative. No longer am I looking at a recipe and then going to the grocery store, instead I pull from the freezer, garden, or pantry to inspire dinner.

Tonight's dinner: Lamb Meatballs with Fresh Pitas
-Ground Lamb (1lb)
-Chopped Onion
-1 Large Egg
-Bread Crumbs (1/2-1 cup)
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp coriander
-1/8 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cloves of chopped garlic

Mixed all the ingredients together and form into balls. Place into a cast iron frying pan (preferably) greased with olive oil. Bake at 350 F for 45 mins-1 hr. 

Pita Bread
-1 1/4 warm water
-1 tbsp yeast
-2 tbsp sugar
-3 1/2 cups bread flour
-2 tsp salt
*Tips* don't put your salt right on top of your yeast; they'll fight and the salt will win= flat bread. Instead add your salt at the end.

Mix ingredients together. I typically use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook ( you can knead by hand). You are looking for a soft dough that doesn't stick to your fingers.
Let the dough rise for 1hr.
Separate the dough into 7-8 pitas and form into balls.
Roll out each with plenty of flour and let them rise for 30mins.
Oven should be heated  to 500 F
Place the pitas onto a pizza stone for about 2 minutes. They should inflate, but not cooked so long that they turn brown. Keep a close eye on them, really don't move too far from your oven.

Serve meatballs inside pitas and serve with sour cream or plain/Greek yogurt with a little bit of curry powder mix in.  Enjoy!