woodenspoons

Hearty Bean Soup

I know! I know! I haven’t been keeping up with the blog! To be honest, after all the meals I cooked over Christmas and New Years, I kind of got burnt out on everything. Sorry about that! I will try to be better! Also…there may be a few changes in this blog this year. I think I will take my camera along on some excursions and just come show you what I see on some days. This way, I am not in the kitchen all the time with my camera!

My sweet friend, Sue, had surgery last week and I wanted to make some soup for her. I thought I would try something new and this is what I came up with! I will let you in on a little secret…I have never used dry beans before! Ever. So…this was a new experiment for me. I just got a mix of 1 1/2 pounds of mixed dried beans ( mine had pinto, kidney, northern, lima, split peas, and a little bit of pearl barley). I threw them in a pot and covered them with water and let them sit, covered in the water, all night. In the morning, I simply drained them and then just started adding a little of this and a little of that until I liked how it looked! ¬†TA-DAHHHHHH!

Just a thought….if you want to add ham or sausage, I certainly think it would be a good thing! Also…if you don’t have fresh herbs in your garden like I do, go ahead and use dried…just be sure not to overpower the soup, as the dried herbs are much more potent/intense than the fresh. ūüôā

 

Great, healthy soup for a cold day!

Great, healthy soup for a cold day!

Hearty Bean Soup

1 1/2 pounds dried beans, soaked overnight and drained

4 Tbs olive oil

4 Tbs butter

1 large onion, diced

6 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 stalks celery, peeled and chopped

10 cups vegetable broth

fresh oregano, chopped (about 1 tsp?)

fresh thyme, pulled off the stem (about 2 tsp?)

a few sage leaves, chopped (1/2 tsp?)

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmesan  and a sprig of thyme to garnish top

In a large soup pot, saute the onion in olive oil and butter for 3 minutes. Add thyme, oregano, and sage. Cook 2 more minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook 2 more minutes. Add the beans, broth and bay leaves. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour or until beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Before serving, shave some parmesan slices onto the top of the soup and add a sprig of fresh thyme.

What did I love about this recipe? It was fun to use the dried beans…I will definitely use them again!

What didn’t I love about this recipe?¬†Nothing…it was so easy and delicious!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pinenuts

Can you possibly take another Brussels sprouts recipe? This one is a bit different with the saltiness of the bacon and pancetta and the crunchy nutty taste of the pine nuts. YUM!

 

Another little twist to the popular Brussels Sprouts! Try it, you'll like it!

Another little twist to the popular Brussels Sprouts! Try it, you’ll like it!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pinenuts

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 onion, quartered

1 tsp salt

4 slices pancetta, chopped

4 slices cooked bacon, chopped

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Preheat the broiler with the top rack 4-6 inches from the heat source.

In a large pot, bring 1 tsp salt and water to a boil. Add the onion and the Brussels sprouts and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, bacon, pancetta and combine.

Line a baking sheet with foil and put the prepared mixture on the pan, spreading evenly. Broil for about 5 minutes or until they look how you like them. I like mine crispy so I stand and check on them so they are just the right mixture of cooked and crispy!

Remove from the oven and drizzle with a bit of the balsamic vinegar and the roasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

What did I love about this recipe? I loved that I boiled them first. I usually don’t do this step, but I must admit, it did give me more control over the texture of the¬†sprouts. Perfection.

What didn’t I love about this recipe?¬†Nothing to not love.

Merry Christmas!

Thought this kind of summed it all up!

Thought this kind of summed it all up!

Merry Christmas!

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Raspberry and Almond/Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

So…..I finished my shopping, wrapping, organizing, cleaning, etc….far too soon this year. Now I am left with all this TIME to Not shop, wrap, organize and clean, I am finding myself wondering what the heck to do…I don’t feel like reading, crafting, ironing, etc, so what the heck….more cookies! My kids are always happy to take them off of my hands, so I know they won’t go to waste. Today, I made these little guys…no chocolate (per request) pretty, little, thumbprint cookies! I hope you like them!

Perfect little Thumbprint cookies!

Perfect little Thumbprint cookies!

 

 

Raspberry and Almond/Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 cup raspberry jam (or any flavor you like!)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3-5 tsp milk

Christmas sprinkles, optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it is well mixed together and smooth. Mix in the extracts and flour. Cover and chill for a couple of hours. (not you, the cookie dough! haha)

Roll the dough in your hands into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on the cookie sheets…I did about 16 per sheet. Make a small indentation in the center of each ball using your finger. (I actually used the lid on a teeny container I had.) Fill the hole with the jam or preserves.

Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes. You want the bottoms to be lightly browned and the tops to be set and slightly golden. Let cool on the sheets.

While cooling, make the glaze by combining the sugar, extracts and milk. You want the consistency to be like a thin icing…you can add as much or little milk as you like to make it the right consistency for you. I lay all the cookies next to each other, then using a fork, I scoop up some glaze and go back and forth across one row of cookies at a time, refilling my fork with the glaze as needed. Add a few sprinkles (optional) and

TA-DAHHHHH done!

What did I love about this recipe? They are tasty, easy, traditional and they so pretty. Plus, they filled up some spare time I had today…Remind me next year to save a few gifts for last-minute so I can feel the “hustle and bustle” please.

What didn’t I love about this recipe?¬†Nothing…they are exactly what I wanted!

Merry Christmas!

Lemon Lime Garlic Shrimp with Herbs

Do you ever have one of those nights that you really, really, REALLY don’t feel like cooking? Although I love cooking, I do occasionally just feel burnt out and don’t feel like going through with the planning and cooking of a dinner. But somehow, because I don’t like to go out to dinner all the time, I have to just put on my big girl panties and make dinner anyway! (ha). This little recipe came about just like that. I didn’t feel like going to the store. I didn’t feel like dealing with a whole lot. I was being lazy. So…I found a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer, went out to my herb garden, snipped a whole LOT of herbs, chopped them up, stuck them in a bag with a few other things and threw it all in the refrigerator for an hour! When it was close to dinner, I made some pearl couscous and baked these shrimp…DONE! Fast, easy and healthy!

Do you ever have days you just don’t feel like cooking? What is your go-to fast recipe?

Light, fresh and delicious!

Light, fresh and delicious!

Lemon Lime Garlic Shrimp with Herbs

2 pounds of shrimp, cleaned and deveined

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup parley, chopped

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbs. brown sugar

2 Tbs. sage, chopped

1 Tbs. course dijon

1 Tbs oregano, chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp thyme, chopped

zest of 1 lime

juice of one lime

juice of 1 lemon

*optional garnish of roasted pinenuts (pignoli)

Add everything to a large, gallon-sized disposable baggie except the pinenuts. Marinate for an hour and then bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees until shrimp are cooked through.

Serve over couscous, rice, or pasta (and…optional… garnish with pinenuts).

What did I love about this recipe? This was so healthy and light. I will definitely make it for company because it was that good! Also…the recipe is forgiving…use what herbs you have!

What is in Your Cabinet?

I don’t know about you, but I have certain things in my cabinet and ‘frig that are staples. I don’t know what I would do without them. Well, certainly I COULD do without them..but I wouldn’t want to…The things below are items I tend to keep well stocked in my house…Olive Oil, white wine, stock, vanilla extract (homemade), Dijon mustard, cinnamon and garlic…those are definitely my most used staples in the kitchen…plus salt and pepper, of course.

 

What is in your cabinet???

 

What's in your cabinet?

What’s in your cabinet?

 

Great Aunt Helen’s Congo Bars

When I got married nearly 30 years ago, my lovely Aunt and Nana threw me a wonderful bridal shower. It was so fun! We drove up to Massachusetts and were surrounded by family and family friends. (some I didn’t even know!) It was amazing! One of the coolest parts of it was that each guest was asked to bring a recipe to me. I was so thrilled to have family recipes and still use many of them to this day! The best part of the recipes now is that they are all hand-written…no typewriters, copies, or computer print outs. I LOVE this about them. Every time I make these recipes, it brings me back to that day and to the people who took the time to write them out…this one is from my Grandfather’s sister…Great Aunt Helen‚ô•

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I got this recipe from my grandfather's sister for my bridal shower 30 years ago!

I got this recipe from my grandfather’s sister for my bridal shower 30 years ago!

Congo Bars

1 lb brown sugar

2/3 cup butter

3 eggs, beaten

2 3/4 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2tsp salt

1 cup chopped nuts

1 12 ounce pkg choc chips (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9″ pan with cooking spray.

Melt the brown sugar with the butter over low heat in a large, heavy pot. Cool just a bit then add eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.

When combined, add the nuts and chocolate chips. Put into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Cut into squares when slightly cool. These are rich so make the squares on the small size.

What do I love about this recipe? Well, bar cookies are always super easy and fast to throw together! Plus I love that this is a family recipe…if you know me at all…you know I love things that go way back in my family.

What don’t I love about this recipe? The only thing I would say here is that they are super-duper sweet, so cut them into small cubes, not brownie-type sizes.

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Ooops. I did it again. I bought too many bananas! Why do I keep doing that??? Jeezowhiz! I didn’t want to make banana bread…AGAIN! I fully intended on making Pumpkin Bread this week! So…what is a girl to do, but to combine her banana bread recipe with her pumpkin bread recipe!? I used 3 very ripe bananas and one 15 ounce can of pumpkin and WALAHHH! ¬†Here it is. It made the house smell delicious and now I have 6 small loaves to hand out to some friends for Thanksgiving and beyond!!!

I made this to give away as Thanksgiving gifts!

I made this to give away as Thanksgiving gifts!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Makes 6 small loaves, but you could make muffins or larger loaves too!

4 c. flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 bananas, smushed

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

12 Tbs. butter, melted, cooled slightly

4 eggs, slightly mixed

1/2 c. Greek Yogurt

1 Tbs. vanilla

*Cinnamon Sugar–optional to sprinkle on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease desired pans. (If using larger than the small loaf size, you will need to add baking time to this recipe…)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl combine the bananas, pumpkin, butter, eggs, yogurt and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients being sure that everything is moist and mixed in.

Bake for 40-55 minutes, depending on the pan size. I baked mine about 43 minutes. Remove from oven when a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you ‘d like!

What did I love about this recipe? I loved that I could use up those extra bananas. The house smelled amazing. We had enough for us and for some friends. Loved it all…..

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Nothing!

Pear Crisp

Pears. I love them. I hardly ever buy them. I had never with cooked them. I couldn’t tell one pear from another…until about 2 months ago! ¬†So…as usual, I did my ¬†homework to see which pears are the best eating pears ( I like the Comice Pears), the best cooking pears (Bosc or Anjou), and which would be great in a salad (really any would do, but I love the Asian pears…they are kind of half pear-half apple). I made this for a dinner party we had a few weeks ago. The whipped cream is optional…my husband prefers vanilla ice cream on his fruit desserts…but this night we had the whipped cream. Yum.

 

A nice change from our regular Apple Crisp!

A nice change from our regular Apple Crisp!

 

Pear Crisp

Filling:

4 pounds peeled, cored and diced Bosc pears (about 3/4-ish  inch cubes)

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into cubes

3 Tbs. lemon juice

3 Tbs. flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp orange zest (ish–from one orange)

1 tsp lemon zest (ish–from one lemon)

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbs), cubed

1 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 12 pan with baking spray. (use whatever size baking pan you have). ¬† Toss the pears and apples with the lemon juice. Add the flour, spices, salt, and zests. Combine well so that all the fruit is covered with the flour mixture. Pour the fruit into the prepared pan. Place the pan onto a cookie sheet just in case it bubbles over…you don’t want to be cleaning up pears from the bottom of your oven!

Make the topping by combining the sugars, flour, oats, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives. (or heck…a hand mixer would even work). Add chopped pecans. Spread on top of the pears. Bake for 45-50 minutes…keeping an eye on it after 40 minutes. You want it cooked through, golden and bubbly.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

What did I love about this recipe? I loved the change from the apple crisp! I will definitely make this again.

What didn’t I love about this recipe? Nothing…it was deeeeelsihhhhhh!

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