Minestrone Soup

There’s something elemental about soup. The components are simple: vegetables, water, maybe some meat, possibly pasta or rice, some herbs or other seasonings. The ingredients are not costly, and it is fairly easy to make an ample amount of nourishing food for the family. It’s a meal that is better made early in the day so that it is ready when the family congregates. Soup appeals us today for all of these reasons. Not only does it nourish the body, but it warms and soothes the spirit as well.

As I have said before, having soup in the freezer is like saving for a rainy day. It’s there when you need it. I like to make it while listening to a podcast. Do you listen to the Bon Appetit podcast? It’s like having a very knowledgeable foodie friend.

This minestrone recipe is large, feeds about 10. When I make it, Mr. DB and I have it for dinner with some bread. Then I freeze the rest in small portions for lunch or dinner. It’s also a nice homemade lunch for my elderly mother-in-law or a friend who is feeling under the weather. And, it’s completely vegetarian too.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. It takes under an hour to make and yields so much in quantity. It’s well worth the effort. You can get the recipe here.

Grate a little (or a lot) of parmesan cheese on top for added creaminess and richness.

Let me know what you think!

Best Chicken Noodle Soup

Best Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is one of those meals that brings me back to my childhood. Yes, I was usually a little sick when it was served to me, but not too sick, perhaps on the mend from tonsillitis, something I seemed to get often. My mother heated it up from a can and I still recall the relief of the warm broth sliding down my sore throat. The simplicity of it must have been what appealed to me. As a picky eater I did not like a lot of different foods combined in one dish, such as casseroles or stews.

But chicken noodle soup was simple with mostly chicken in small cubes, broth and noodles. To my eight year old self nothing else was needed.

I still crave chicken noodle soup when I am a little under the weather. But the canned varieties don’t cut it anymore. At least I haven’t found one that I can finish. So I set out to make my own, and make enough that I can freeze and have some ready when I need it. Over the years I tried various recipes and by trial and error, came up with one that has so much flavor, in addition to being satisfying and restorative.

My broth is made from my turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I removed what meat was left on the bird. Then I placed the remains into a Dutch oven, filling it with water as high as I dared. I got the water boiling, then turned it down to a simmer and let it go for 30-45 minutes. Since the turkey had been thoroughly seasoned, including the breast cavity, I did not season the broth at all. I cooled the broth, put it in containers and froze it in quart size containers.

Turkey Broth

For the full recipe, click here.

I prefer to roast my own chicken breasts but you could certainly use a rotisserie chicken. I buy a package of two chicken breasts, with the bone in. Having the bone in increases the flavor immensely. Place the chicken breasts in a roasting pan, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, then add 2 cups of water to the pan, cover with aluminum foil and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 325 and cook for another 1 1/2 hours. I remove the cooked breasts from the oven but let them cool in the covered pan for as long as possible. The chicken will be so tender when you let it cool in its juices. This may sound like a lot of effort but I do it while I am doing other things since the hands-on time is quite limited. I only used one of those chicken breasts in my chicken noodle soup recipe. I have another to make something else with or use in a salad. Chicken breasts are so huge nowadays.

This soup is so rich, yet simple you certainly don’t have to reserve it for sick days. It is also satisfying for those times after you have over indulged and you just want to return to a healthy routine.

The recipe makes 6 ample servings, enough to share some with a sick friend.

Enjoy!

Easy and Delicious Pumpkin Cake

There are so many pumpkin recipes all over the internet right now.  Do you really need another one?  Well, yes, actually, you do need this one.

I have been making this Pumpkin Cake for years, way before pumpkin spice was even a thing.  It’s so easy; I always have the ingredients on hand; and family and guests love it.  You can’t ask much more from a recipe than that.

I discovered the recipe over 20 years ago when I needed to make a cake to celebrate Mr. Bee’s homecoming from a deployment or birthday or another such occasion.  His favorite cake is Carrot Cake but I did not have the time to make one. I found this Pumpkin Cake recipe and decided it would be an acceptable substitute since it too had cream cheese frosting, just as the Carrot Cake does.    Hoping for the best I took the chance.

It turned out to be a winner and I haven’t made Carrot Cake for twenty years.  Being able to make it in a 9 x 12 cake pan stretches the servings too, which makes it a good option for potlucks or larger gatherings.

The canned pumpkin contributes to its moist texture.  As you can see I like my frosting a little on the gooey side so it can drip down the cake.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream sets off the flavors nicely.  We are a cake and ice cream family.  No one is scorned more than people who serve their cake without ice cream.

Since Mr. Bee’s birthday is in October, this cake is the official beginning of our holiday splurge.  Find the recipe here.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler

Those of you who have been following me know that I love to browse thrift stores.  It’s a relaxing hobby that gives me the opportunity to find treasures of all kinds and also, it helps me avoid doing the things I need to do, like cleaning.

Last week I brought home “Katie Brown’s Entertaining” .  I used to watch her show on TV whenever I happened upon it.  I found it entertaining, although I do not remember enacting any of her ideas.  But this book was $3 so I thought I’d give it a try.  The recipes look good, but her ideas for dressing a table are way over the top and nothing I would ever do.  One idea involved squares of sod on the table.

But I had to take a dessert as my contribution to a potluck dinner and Katie Brown’s blueberry cobbler caught my eye.  I love blueberry cobbler or any fruit cobbler really.  The picture in the book reminded me of a cobbler my grandparents used to make, although theirs  was blackberry, from blackberries picked on their property. My sister and I were so impatient waiting for that warm and delicious treat to be ready.

I should have studied this picture more closely.  No where in the recipe is the size of the pan indicated.  I have a deep pie plate that I just assumed would work.  My first indication that this was not so was when I assembled my cobbler.  All of the batter would not fit on the top.  Uh-oh.

Well, there’s no turning back now.

The crust that swallowed the pie plate.  Mr. DB: I bet it will still taste good.  And it does.  Plus, vanilla ice cream covers a multitude of sins.

My grandparents baked their cobbler in one of those large enamel tins, similar to the picture in the Katie Brown cookbook.  If I were to make this recipe again, I think I would use a 9×12 baking pan.  The dry ingredients have 6 teaspoons of baking powder, so that indicates the crust will expand.

I changed the recipe afterwards and have omitted the nutmeg and cinnamon that Katie Brown added to the blueberries.  The nutmeg in particular distracted from the blueberry taste.  The recipe is posted on my recipes page and here.

I really liked the addition of cornmeal to this crust.  The cornmeal gave it a cookie like taste and texture.  So good.

Enjoy!

Easy and Delicious Valentine’s Day dinner for Two

I have always liked to do a little something for Valentine’s Day.  When our children were home it was fun to mark the day with a special dessert and some small gifts.

Nowadays I am happy to have Valentine’s Day come along at just the right time to break up the winter dreariness and give us a reason to celebrate those we love; maybe we will even drink a little champagne.

And  I still like to have a special meal for Mr. DB and me. Some years Valentine’s Day is  in the middle of the week so we have to be practical. And we are trying to be healthy eaters so there’s that.  But with this menu you won’t feel as if you are sacrificing at all.

Continue reading “Easy and Delicious Valentine’s Day dinner for Two”

Vegetable Chowder with Cheese

Like most everyone I made a resolution to eat more healthfully in 2017.  This vegetable chowder really makes that easy to do.  It’s chock full of vegetables and it tastes great.
For some reason, even though I do like vegetables and fruits, I find it hard to incorporate enough into my daily diet.  So when I find a recipe like this, I think of it as counteracting those days when I didn’t hit my daily requirement.
The recipe makes 6 hearty servings.  For the two of us we will have leftovers for lunches or to freeze.

 

 

Vegetable Chowder with Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
8 celery ribs, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Bring the first six ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in corn.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Gradually stir in the milk and continue cooking until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Add the grated cheese, stirring until melted and combined.

Stir the cheese mixture into the vegetable mixture until blended.  Cook a few more minutes until warm.

A few other soup suggestions:
Do you have a favorite soup recipe?  I would love to add some variety to my list.
 
 

Favorite tapenade

 

We recently went to a party at a friend’s house and I brought my homemade tapenade. This recipe has been one of our favorites for 23 years.

As lovers of all things garlic, it hits all the right notes for us.  Throw in the salty taste of the oil cured olives and the lemony capers and you have so many wonderful flavors.
I admit to trying the ready made version but it never measures up to this one.  And it only takes a few minutes to make.
Enjoy!

Olive Tapenade

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 cup of olives, mostly oil cured-can be an assortment, pitted
3 cloves of garlic
2 T lemon juice
1 T. chopped parsley leaves
1/2 t. drained capers
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

In food processor, with chopping blade, process all but the olive oil until the olives are finely chopped but not pureed.  Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and stir in the olive oil.  Serve with slices of toasted baguette.