Thursday, October 23, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

 Ah, Autumn's Bounty! I can't think of a better combination than apples and butternut squash! Together they make a hearty brew! The RQ's mom introduced this thick soup when our family moved to her town. We've been making it every Autumn and every Thanksgiving since! One spoonful and the diner instantly knows why!
Butternut Squash Soup
(Epicurious, 1998)

butternut squash, 2 1/2- 3 1/3 lbs, peeled & chopped into 1/2" chunks
carrot, one large, peeled and chopped
celery, 4, peeled on ribbed edge and chopped
butter, 6 Tblsp
5 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple cider
thyme, dried, heaping teaspoon
sage, healthy three-finger pinch
apple, cored, peeled, chopped
onion, large, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
plain thick Greek yogurt, scant cup
thyme, fresh sprigs, garnish (optional)

The squash, carrot, and celery cook down in the melted butter over medium-high heat. The apples, thyme and sage are added along with the broth and cider (reserve 1/2 cup of the cider).  The soup simmers on med-low for about 30 minutes, covered.

While using an immersion blender, the remaining 1/2 cup of cider can reduce stove top till about 1/4 cup. This mixture can then be stirred into the plain yogurt to "dress" the soup. Remember to stir in the heavy cream after pureeing the soup! The chef will notice a few substitutions when comparing recipes. As regards ingredients likely to be on-hand, a large sweet onion, fresh thyme from the garden, and plain yogurt work just fine in this recipe! As always, ENJOY!

Note:  if the veggies/fruit are prepared ahead of time, this could be considered, dinner in "a snap!"

Thank you Epicurious!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup has always been a favorite during the Autumn season! My Italian grandmother made this often and always reminded me of its simplicity! Lentils impart a hearty stew-like soup. So be careful not to overburden the soup with too many additions. Carrots, celery, onions, and garlic are essential and all that's needed to lend that meaty flavor. Between prep and cooking "soup is ready" in ninety minutes!

Lentil Soup the way my Gram used to make

1/2 pound lentils, (French or brown), rinsed, set aside
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh tomato, chopped (Roma/canned diced)
Bay Leaf
4 cups chicken stock, (homemade ideal)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Asiago cheese, finely grated

Wash lentils (pick over-sometimes pebbles). Heat oil in thick bottomed pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot saute onions, garlic, celery, and carrots (pinch of salt) for about 10 minutes or until veggies are slightly brown. Next add chopped tomato and bay leaf cooking 10 additional minutes. Then add lentils, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid cracked slightly, and simmer for about an hour. When lentils are soft but not mushy, add parsley, salt & pepper to taste. If desired sprinkle with grated Italian cheese to serve. Crusty bread and a simple salad complete this meal. Relax and enjoy!



Dinner in "a snap" - Parpardelle Egg Pasta alla Carbonara

Mouth watering!
With fresh and simple ingredients any meal becomes a feast with the right recipe! The RQ prepares many versions of this recipe but this one is simple and made with ingredients that are often on-hand! Pair this with a lovely green leaf salad dressed with honey* and the meal is complete!

Parpardelle alla Carbonara
Serves 2
Parpardelle or desired pasta, 4 ounces
Bacon, 4 slices (apple-wood smoked, opt), cooked in skillet
half 'n half, 1/3 cup (whole milk can be substituted)
eggs, 2 (organic preferred)
Asiago or other dry-sharp Italian cheese, 3/4 cup, finely grated
parsley, 2 Tblsp
salt & fresh cracked pepper

Begin by measuring out the half 'n half and mixing in the two eggs; set aside. Place water for pasta on stove to boil adding pasta when ready. Fry the bacon in a skillet stove top turning frequently to not burn! Once done immediately move to paper towel to absorb excess fat. While bacon sizzles and water boils, grate cheese and chop parsley. Mix cheese with egg mixture. Chop resting bacon into bite size pieces. Swiftly drain al dente pasta and get it back into the hot pot and toss with egg & cheese mixture. Top with bacon, parsley, and freshly cracked black pepper. ENJOY!

Green Salad
Green leaf lettuce, sunflower seeds
*Honey Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp honey, half a lemon, s&p

Note: Is the sauce hot enough to "cook" the eggs? How swiftly can you get the pasta and remaining ingredients back into the pot?


Friday, September 26, 2014

Together Smoking ... Again

Nothing beats the taste of smoked meat! We combined two local ingredients from our favorite farmers market to produce an amazing result. Beef Brisket from Aberdeen Farms and BBQ rub from Allens Hill Farm. This 2lb brisket took 2 hours to smoke at 325 deg. Next time I will use a proper smoker box as the aluminum foil burned through from the intense heat of the lump charcoal.
Soak The Wood Chips

Use a quality rub like Allens Hill Farm BBQ Rub

Indirect Heat. Chips in foil. 325 deg until meat is 160 degF with instant read thermometer

The Smoking Rig

Only time you will ever see Portman with a Beer at 7am

Finished Product ready for transport to Lil B


Friday, June 27, 2014

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad is a lovely surprise as as the summer months heat up. The RQ was inspired by  The Red Fern,  a local Rochester restaurant that serves an extraordinary vegan cuisine! The RQ created her own version of the potato salad and served it on a bed of purple kale salad, which is both pleasing to the eyes and satisfying to the palate! (Recipe below.)


The Red Queen's Sweet Potato Salad
(serves 4)

1 large yam (cut into hearty bite-size pieces and steamed)
1/4 red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, cut on bias
1 Tblsp fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup safflower Vegenaise
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Carrot Chopper made an excellent fingerling potato salad last weekend AND reminded The RQ to STEAM the potatoes to get the most nutrients! Guess what, the potatoes turn out perfectly; not at all mushy. Steaming only takes about 10-15 minutes! Spread the steamed potato chunks on a plate to cool and prepare the remaining veggies and dressing. Throw it all in one bowl, smash and Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sweet Chocolatey Treats

Tasty Mini Brownies
Carrot Chopper is wickedly creative with a mini-muffin pan! Featured here are moist chocolatey brownies, recipe by the minimalist baker! Remember to adjust time and temperature for smaller muffin cups!

The RQ must take a moment to talk about the many treats her vegan daughter creates! This past weekend P<, CC, and The RQ ALL enjoyed an endless supply of Chocolate-Almond and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cups~and, yes, made in a mini-muffin pan! From mixing bowl to freezer Hershey's Reese's Cups, "eat your heart out!" Check out Juli Bauer's Easy Chocolate Butter Almond Cups! CC substituted peanut butter & shredded coconut for one round of cups~YUM!
If you're not yet convinced to dig that mini-muffin pan out of the cupboard, take a look at these scrumptious Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins! CC adapted the original recipe by substituting 1/4 cup applesauce for an egg and 1/4 cup coconut milk  instead of dairy milk.
Imagine P< and The RQ waking up on a weekend morning to the aroma of freshly baked muffins! CC had them artfully displayed and ready for devouring!

And although the zucchini muffins featured here are not chocolate, CC recommends the following two recipes: Zucchini Brownies and Zucchini Brownies-2.

The RQ and P< THANK Carrot Chopper for keeping them "fat and happy!"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Indian Rice and Spinach Salad

 Indian Rice with Mung Dahl and a Coconut Curry Sauce
Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Meet Lisa Barnes, a Natural Chef, and grab this delicious Salad recipe!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pizza Surprise

Friday night is pizza night and that means bring your creativity. How the pizza is topped is always a surprise and has lots to do with what's left in the fridge from the week! Last week The RQ, Little Brother, and P< enjoyed homemade pizza ever so lightly drizzled with olive oil, roasted red peppers, and sauteed onions. Ah, simple pleasures!

The RQ recommends always proofing the yeast. It doesn't take long and prevents waisting ingredients if it's not active. To proof active dry yeast dissolve yeast (amount called for in recipe of choice) in 1/4 cup warm water (100-110F), stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar, and let sit 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles the yeast  is ready to go. Remember to make quantity adjustments for sugar and water used in proofing.

Pizza Dough
(2 small pizzas)

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast or rapid rise
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups ice cold water
1 Tablespoon olive/vegetable oil
1 heaping teaspoon salt

Proof yeast. While waiting for yeast to expand, combine flour and remaining sugar in food processor or kitchen aid with dough attachments. Once yeast is successfully proofed, gradually add 3/4 cup of the ice cold water to the dry ingredients on low speed. Next add proofed yeast mixture (includes 1/4 cup of water for total needed in recipe). Follow with the as much remaining 3/4+ cup ice cold water to bring the dough to a well-formed ball. Remember, the dough doesn't like to get too wet so be watchful! Now mix in oil and salt. Place dough on flat surface and knead for a few minutes or until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl and allow the dough to rise at least 3 hours. Punch down and let rise for another 30-60 minutes. Place inverted jelly-roll pan in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 500F. Split dough in half and roll dough. Lightly brush pan with olive oil and place pizza dough directly to bake for 5 minutes or less, when bottom begins to crisp but not brown. Remove dough with spatula to cutting board or appropriate surface to dress with toppings of choice! Place back in oven for an addition 7-12 minutes. Enjoy!





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Since the very first time CC made this decadent dessert The Red Queen continues to be amazed with the simplicity and pleasant surprise of avocado taking center stage. Once again, CC has impressed the kingdom with the healthy and creative food choices of a vegan lifestyle!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

1 avocado, ripe and chilled
2-4 Tablespoons dutch cocoa (depending on chocolate depth desired)
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk, vanilla, and maple syrup, and set aside. Gently mash avocado. When almost smooth add cocoa and continue mashing till smooth. Add milk mixture slowly till all ingredients are well combined. Top with shaved coconut (shown here) fresh raspberries, and/or mint. Toasted nuts also make a lovely topping.

Alternative: Add 2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter for peanut butter lovers!




Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Entrees Featured in Bon Appetit

Roasted root vegetables and new baby spring vegetables are enjoyed with a variety of pairings in honor of the Spring season! As these dishes were inspired by the April edition of Bon Appetit I post them together.

 Barley in a Green Sauce prepared like Risotto
(This was a WONDERFUL suprise!)

Cod in a Green Onion Sauce prepared stovetop
(The RQ highly recommends less leek and more celery and cilantro in the green sauce).

Seared and Roasted Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Sugar Snap Peas
(B/C The RQ was only making a few chicken pieces she omitted the extra broth. Delish!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dark-Chocolate Chunk-Hazelnut-Cherry Cookies

WOW! What a pleasant surprise THESE cookies turned out to be! With a little tweaking from a recipe in The Simple Things The RQ was able to make a cookie that shines among many proud home bakers' recipes! This publication is inspirational and interesting! I always learn something new! The articles CELEBRATE the many ways we enjoy "the simple things in life:" food, friends & family, community; indoor & outdoor activities, and more! Check 'em out on-line. In the meantime, enjoy my version of their recipe!

Dark-Chocolate Chunk-Hazelnut-Cherry Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup caster or "superfine" sugar (pulse granulated sugar in spice mill for 2-3 pulses to achieve fine sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, large
scant* 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
scant* Tablespoon baking powder
heaping teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted (skins removed) and chopped
1 cup, dark chocolate chunks/pieces
scant* 1/3 cup dried, dark sweet cherries, chopped coarsely

(*scant: not quite full)

Cream softened butter till light and fluffy; then add both sugars, vanilla. Once combined add egg mixing well. On low speed of electric mixer add chocolate, nuts, and cherries; just till combined. Dough must be refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes before baking. Roll cookie dough out one-inch in thickness. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate (30 min).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. 

Cut cookies with a pastry cutter about one finger's width thick and place on prepared sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until just browning on the bottom edges. With care, these cookies can be moved directly from sheet to cooling rack. As always, ENJOY!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beans & Rice

New twist on some old staples!
The Red Queen and her kingdom have been enjoying the fruits of Bon Appetit January 2014 issue! Beans and rice are a traditional pairing embraced by many cultures and shine with the addition of sautéed laccinato kale and Shitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are sautéed and tossed with teriyaki sauce. 

In addition to the published recipe, The Red Queen likes to sweat the lentil beans before cooking them. Sweating simply allows the beans to begin cooking from the direct heat before adding the water to finish cooking. To sweat the beans add with desired seasonings to the pot of sautéd leeks and garlic (diced tomatoes or tomato paste is included at this stage of cooking). Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook about 10 minutes. The water can then be added, brought to a boil, and simmered for 30-40 minutes more (The RQ always adds a hearty bay leaf.). Beans cooked in this way maintain their integrity and don't get mushy. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cincinnati SKYLINE Chili

Skyline Chili Coney
Some would argue the differences between chili and coney dogs. Whether you add extra mustard and onions to your dog is a personal choice. Whatever you call it, this dog is tasty!

Skyline Chili 3-Way
This chili is from a recipe as authentic as I have found for the ultimate "Skyline" chili experience! The key to this chili formula is the cocoa and cinnamon! Yes, cocoa!!

Skyline Chili is a franchise and realized dream of a young Greek man who came to America and settled in Cincinnati. Click on the link to read more about the story behind the man.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lemon-Ginger Scones

Let me count the ways to spoil myself! These Lemon-Ginger scones are delish! 


Lemon-Ginger Scones

2 cups AP Flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
2 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tblsp crystalized ginger, chopped fine
1 Tblsp lemon zest

Mix all dry ingredients together fold in ginger and zest last. Add heavy cream and mix gently with a wooden spoon till just mixed. Use hand as dough-hook bringing mixture into a ball using extra flour if needed.  When dough comes together place on lightly floured surface. Pat into about an inch thick round. Use pastry cutter to cut into eight triangles.  Place on cookie sheet and bake 375F for 15-20 min. till golden. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alfredo Primavera w/ Arugula Salad

Nothing better than a plate of linguine and organic vegetables! 

The Red Queen's alfredo sauce always begins by sautéing a shallot in olive oil. Once the onion is soft butter is added. When the butter is melted a tablespoon or two of all-purpose flour is whisked in. The addition of 2/3 cup heavy cream makes this a lovely white sauce. Red pepper flakes are optional, but don't forget the salt & freshly-cracked-black pepper.

To compliment this dish an arugula salad with a honey-vinaigrette and shaved parmesan made for a tasty and easy to prepare meal.