Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuscan Bean Soup

There is not much that I like about the bitter cold Winter, but a nice bowl of homemade soup sure does help with the Winter doldrums. So since we do not have the option to hibernate we can rejoice in our home made soup.This recipe is so quick and easy you will never want to eat that awful canned soup again. Who wants flavorless salty canned soup? Repeat after me.....Homemade soup rules! Say it like you mean it.....with conviction! Smile.  This is a nice soup that will warm up your chilly bones from the inside out. Italian Style Bean Soup .

Tuscan Bean Soup

  • 20 oz Shady Brook Farms Sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chicken base mixed into 4 cups hot water
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic
  • ½ tsp. fennel seed
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves, stems removed
Sear the sausage links outside on the grill or in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile in a large soup pot add the next 11 ingredients, reserving the spinach for later and simmer while preparing sausage. As soon as the sausage is cooked and cool enough to handle cut into bite sized pieces, add sausage to soup pot and simmer for about 45 minutes. Then stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately with some hearty bread.

I prefer to use chicken base and water to flavor my soups. It is a paste that comes in a jar and you may purchase it in the wholesale food clubs (in the spice aisle). Also you can find it in restaurant food supply stores or online. If you don't want to use base you may use chicken broth instead. Also you may remove casing from sausage and cook it loosely instead of in links, it tastes the same ether way.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baked Stuffed Bread

This recipe gives a new meaning to bread. You will need a plate and a fork to eat this one. Be creative and change around the stuffing. In the past I have used olives, artichoke hearts and sweet red pepper. Use whatever rings your bell. Asiago cheese goes well with this instead of Fontina. Oh, my, and of course Raclette cheese would be fabulous as well. This would be great served with soup, salad or a bread with dinner. I'll bet you can't eat just one slice.

Baked Stuffed Bread

  • 1 loaf of a hearty bread of your choice
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 sweet yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet medium size sweet onion or about ½ of a large one, diced
  • 8 oz. Fontina cheese
  • Pam olive oil spray
  • foil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat spray skillet with oil. Sauté mushrooms, onion and pepper until tender. Meanwhile slice a wedge shape top off of the bread and save for a lid for top of stuffed bread. Remove excess bread inside leaving a hollow shell and set aside. Slice cheese and layer onto the bottom of the bread shell saving just enough cheese to cover the top of the mushroom mixture. When mushroom mixture is sauteed spoon onto top of cheese in bread hollow. Then top mushroom mixture with remaining cheese slices. Top off bread with wedge shape lid that you saved. Wrap in foil and bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shrimp Kabobs

It's hard to believe that summer is almost over and fall is just peeking around the corner. So enjoy this recipe while you still can. It is a good bit of prep in advance, but it is perfect dish to dazzle your company with. All of the prep work can be done before they arrive and you can relax and enjoy time with your guests. Cooking time is quick and easy too.

Shrimp Kabobs

  • 2 lbs. 15/20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • zucchini, cut into chunks
  • yellow squash, cut into chunks
  • crimini mushrooms, marinated
  • sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • vinaigrette salad dressing of your choice
  • blackened seasoning

The day before, or at least 4 hours prior to cooking, marinate mushrooms in salad dressing. You will need Kabob skewers and a grill for this recipe. I skewered all of my mushrooms, shrimp, and veggies separately. Notice in the pic that I skewered shrimp using two sets of skewers. Generously sprinkle blackened seasoning over shrimp, veggie and mushroom kabobs. On a preheated grill set on high, cook veggies and mushrooms for 15-20 minutes and only cooking shrimp for about 7-10 minutes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Italian Cream Cake

Whoa! Boy does this cake bring back old family memories. My Mom baked this cake more times than I would dare to count. My Mom loved to bake and there was always lots of homemade goodies to chose from. RIP Mom and I'll bet you have your own designated kitchen in Heaven. This recipe is a little more work than most, but oh so worth it. You will be surprised how heavy this cake is when you pick it up, but oh so scrumptious in your mouth. This cake speaks for itself. Coconut and pecans are in this cake and in the creamed cheese icing as well. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and make your fat cells sing with delight!
Italian Cream Cake
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 ⅓ cup coconut
Preheat oven to 325 °. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating together with electric mixer after each addition. Mix together buttermilk and baking soda. Add mixture alternately with flour. Beat well then set aside.

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold ⅓ of egg whites into batter, then add the rest of the beaten egg whites, vanilla, coconut and nuts, mixing well.

Bake at 350° for 30- 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Makes 2 (8 inch) cake pans. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then invert on wire racks to cool.

Italian Cream Cake Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 1lb. box powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup coconut
Whip butter, sugar, and cream cheese on low until blended, then turn mixer up to high and add vanilla. Blend ingredients together until smooth and slightly fluffy (about 5 minutes). Fold in nuts and coconut. Frost cooled cake.

Egg white tip: Bowl and whisk should be clean with no oil residue. Room temp whites whip easier. When separating eggs from yolks be careful not to get any egg yolk into whites. Keep the mixer moving until they are uniformly white and form stiff peaks.

*To make your own buttermilk substitute: to one cup of milk add 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes.