Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jalapeno Sweet Potato Soup...

4 lbs sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
3 slices bacon
3 cloves garlic
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup pickled, sliced jalapeños (chopped a little)
1 ½ cups half-and-half
sea salt to taste
course ground black pepper to taste

Scrub sweet potatoes, and bake until tender.  Let cool until you can handle them.  Peel and dice (large dice)

Peel and finely chop onion, bacon, and garlic.

In a large soup pot, place bacon, onion and garlic and sauté over medium high heat until onions are translucent.

Add chicken broth.  Cover, bring to a boil.

Stir the sweet potatoes into boiling broth. Lower heat and add the jalapeños, cumin, cilantro, and half-and-half.  Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup.  (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a potato masher, it will just be a little chunkier.)

Add salt and pepper to taste.  

My notes:  I got the original recipe from Homestead Heritage in Elm Mott, Texas.  They have an amazing cafe.  I have made a few changes to suit our taste, and to make it easier for me. For instance, I much prefer baking the sweet potatoes rather than boiling them as the original recipe called for.  If you let the baked sweet potatoes cool until able to handle, they are so easy to peel, and you have saved washing a pot.   (If you let them cool completely, they are NOT easy to peel.)

Makes Me Go Weak in the Knees Brownies...

2 boxes Duncan Hines Chocolate Lover's Brownies Mix (I like walnut version)
2 (or 3) 5 oz. Symphony Milk Chocolate bars (I use the Almonds & Toffee Chips kind)
(also oil, eggs, and water as called for on brownie mix package)

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9"x13" cake pan with cooking spray.

Mix first  brownie mix according to the 'fudgy' directions on the back of  the package. Pour batter into the cake pan, and bake for about 10 minutes, just till barely starting to set up (usually just long enough for you to mix the second mix and break up the Symphony bars).

While that's in the oven, mix second brownie mix according to the 'cake-like' directions on the back of the package, and set aside.

Then open Symphony bars and break into pieces. They don't have to be chopped or anything, I just break them along the rectangular grid lines on the bar. 

Remove the pan from the oven, and arrange the chocolate pieces evenly over the top of the hot partially-cooked brownie batter. Then pour the second brownie mix over the top and spread to the edges of pan. The Symphony bar starts to melt over the first mix, so when you spread the second mix it will move around somewhat...this is fine.

Return pan to oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or till they're done to your taste...we like them really moist and chewy around our house. :) 

My notes:  I'm not really sure what these are called.  My sister-in-law gave me the recipe without a name.  I call it this, because when I was little I thought brownies were called 'brown knees.'  :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cooking spaghetti squash...

I really love spaghetti squash, and they keep very well at room temperature for quite a long time.

To prepare, I start by cutting the stem end off...just enough to get rid of the stem AND give you a flat surface to turn it onto.

Once it sits flat securely, use a large chef's knife to cut it as nearly into halves as you can.

This is what it looks like inside.

I just use a soup spoon to scrape out the seeds and inedible center fibers.  As you scrape, you will feel the firmer flesh underneath...try not to scrape into the flesh, but right down to it.

It should look like this.

Cover a baking sheet (one with raised edges) with foil for easy clean up.  Set the squash on the foil and drizzle one or two teaspoons of olive oil into each half.  Use your hand and rub the oil to cover all surfaces of the inside flesh.

Sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper, and then turn each half flat-side down on the baking sheet.

Place in a 350 degree F oven for about an hour, or until it is tender when pierced by a fork.

Remove it from the oven, and let cool for a few minutes.  I then hold it with a hot pad in one hand, and with a fork in the other hand I scrape the flesh away from the tough skin.  The flesh shreds into spaghetti-like strands.

Empty the squash into a bowl, and continue with remaining squash halves.

To the bowl I usually add about two tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Tonight I also added about 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, and stirred well till evenly mixed in.

It was delicious served alongside tonight's Chicken Piccata (with a little of the sauce spooned over the squash) and broccoli.  Yum.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cookie Quickie

Cookie Quickie
1 box cake mix (any flavor, I used chocolate)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
optional additions: chocolate or peanut butter chips, nuts, or candy

Stir all together.  Add optional addition if desired (I used peanut butter chips).  Experiment with the combinations!

Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.