Monday, October 27, 2014

Vegetable Corn Chowder

The veggies in the chowder. 

I'm always glad to get the Wednesday issues of The News and Observer and The New York Times, because in both newspapers a section is devoted to food and cooking.  This week in the N&O there was a recipe for Vegetable Corn Chowder from the popular cookbook 100 Days of Real Food, by NC blogger Lisa Leake.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, I am beginning to think of soup for supper.  Here's the recipe:

Veggie Corn Chowder
3 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large stalks celery, diced
5 cups corn kernel, (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 tsp salt (I omit this)
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups milk (or half and half)

Melt  the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and keep whisking until the mixture darkens but does not burn, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the onion, carrot and celery and stir occasionally until the vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the corn, salt and pepper and cook stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the stock and milk and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, until thickened.
Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree.  Add pureed soup back to the pot.  Ladle into bowls and serve warm, or you can freeze in individual portions for later. 
Yield 6 servings
Dice the carrot, celery and onion.

Three cups of corn kernels. 

Two cups of chicken broth. 
Mix the flour with the butter. 

Add the veggies and corn. 
Add the broth and the milk and simmer. 

Ready for supper. 

We enjoyed a bowl of this for supper the other day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Irish Scones

Irish scone with butter and jam. 

When I saw this recipe in the NandO it reminded me of how much Dan and I enjoyed scones when we were in Dublin.  And I ventured out of my comfort zone in cooking and made some.  Here's the recipe.

Real Irish Scones
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, cream, or a combination
PREHEAT the oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat in the oven.
SIFT together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture just holds together. Working the mixture as little as possible, add 1/2 cup milk and mix until it forms into a soft, slightly sticky ball. Add more milk if needed to reach desired consistency.
PLACE the dough on a very lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to a 1-inch thick slab. Slice the dough into triangles with a floured knife or bench scraper, or dip a biscuit cutter in flour and cut out the individual scones.
REMOVE the baking tray from the oven and arrange the scones on it. Bake 8 minutes, turn the scones over, and bake 4 to 6 minutes longer, or until just barely brown.
SERVE with butter, preserves and freshly whipped cream.
NOTES: To reheat leftover scones, warm them at 350 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes or until warmed through. To freeze leftover scones, wrap the completely cooled scones in plastic wrap, and then place them in a zip-top bag or freezer-safe storage container. To reheat, thaw at room temperature in the plastic wrap, then unwrap and reheat at 350 degrees.
Yield: 8 to 10 (1 1/2-inch) scones.

Read more here:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Red Mustard Greens

Red mustard plants in raised bed. 

When I chose plants to put in my new raised beds this fall, in addition to Swiss chard and lettuce I picked out three lovely red mustard plants primarily because they were so pretty.  These plants are nice ornamentals, but they are indeed edible.  Here's a recipe from Yummly that I tried recently.

10 oz mustard greens 

1/2 purple onion (large, thinly sliced) (I used a regular sweet onion.)

6 tbs vegetable broth (divided)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt (optional) (I omitted this.)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce (I used the low sodium kind)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 cup garbanzo (cooked, rinsed and drained) ( I used canned beans.)


  1. Remove any large stems from the greens and discard. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a deep pot or wok, sauté the onion in a tablespoon or two of vegetable broth until mostly faded to pink, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and red pepper and another tablespoon of broth and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the mustard greens, 2 tablespoons of broth, and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted but still bright green, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the salt, if using. Remove greens and onions from pan with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish, leaving any liquid in pan.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and agave or sugar to the liquid in the pan (if there is no liquid, add 2 tablespoons of broth). Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about half. Spoon the chickpeas over the greens and drizzle the sauce over all.
  4. Serve warm, with additional balsamic vinegar at the table.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

I gathered a handful of the large leaves.
Large leaves.  The stems and large vein in the leaves were later removed. 

I tore the leaves into smaller pieces.  

Leaves torn into small pieces. 

Sauteed onions in broth and added garlic, pepper and mustard greens.\\
Sauteeing the greens with the onions and garlic. 

Removed the greens and placed on serving dish.
Layer the greens with onions and garlic on a serving dish.

Added the glazed chickpeas on tops of the greens.
Ready to serve.

I liked this dish better than Dan.  The greens are a bit pungent.  I think I will likely use a few leaves in a soup or a leaf to spice up a salad, but not as likely to have them as a main part of a dish.  Just a touch will add an interesting spice yet won't be overwhelmingly bitter.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lentil Stew with Polenta

Lentil Stew with Polenta

I had some polenta in the fridge that I needed to use so I googled recipes and found this recipe from Whole Foods:
  • 1 1/2 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used French lentils.)
  • 2 onions, sliced (I used only one large onion.)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes with juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (I omitted the salt.)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used low sodium chicken stock.)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta      
I was happy to try this because it could be cooked in the slow cooker overnight and ready for lunch the next day.  

Layer lentils, onions, bell pepper and garlic in the bottom of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Halve the plum tomatoes and add them to the cooker along with all their juices. Sprinkle with oregano, chile flakes and salt. Pour in broth and vinegar, cover and cook on low until lentils are very tender, about 7 hours.
Prepare the polenta according to package directions and serve with the stew.

Put rinsed lentils in bottom of slow cooker. 
Add green pepper, onions and garlic.
Add tomatoes, oregano, chile, and balsamic vinegar.  Add broth.
I cooked it overnight on low power.
Ready in the morning after cooking all night. (about 7 hours)
I cut the polenta into slices and fried it in a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
Add polenta to plate.

Ready to eat.  
Place the polenta on plate and cover with the lentil stew. I liked this because it could cook overnight and takes only a few minutes to put ingredients into crock pot.  
Check out this website 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Casey and Adam's Wedding October 11, 2014

Last weekend we were in Cleveland County for the wedding of my grandnephew Adam and his bride Casey.  It was a lovely wedding.  The venue was a beautiful meadow strewn with hay bales, and although it rained about an hour before the wedding, it turned out to be a beautiful evening.  Actually just after it rained, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky behind the site of the bridal arch.  I think that must be a special sign for a special wedding.
Directions to the meadow.
The chairs are ready.  
The rainbow after the rain and just before the wedding.  A good sign I would say.

Dan and I waited around under the tent before the wedding and moved out to the chairs in the meadow just before the ceremony.
Dan talking with my niece Kelly, the mother of the groom, before the wedding. 

Adam's little nephews joined the wedding party just before the bride with Cason pulling his little brother Brayton in a little red wagon.

The bride was given in marriage by her mother, Donna.

The groomsmen, the bride's attendants, as well as the bride and groom wore cowboy boots.
The groomsmen.
Two brides maids (sister of the groom on the left and sister of bride of the right).

The bride and groom exchanged vows in front of a vine adorned arbor.

The happy Mr. and Mrs. 

The reception was wonderful.  Lots of good food, fellowship, and music.
The wedding cake. 

The couple enjoys their first dance.
First dance. 

The groom's family. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Lunch is Ready!" in Less Than Ten Minutes

Grain bowl ready for lunch.
A recent article* in the Dining Section of the NY Times featured grain bowls as a one-dish adventure.  Melissa Clark promoted a number of ideas for grain bowls from different restaurants, but the one thing all grain bowls seem to have in common are the three layers: the grain, the vegetable layer, and the protein topped with some kind of sauce.  Left-overs are great for building a grain bowl for a quick breakfast or lunch.  With this in mind I checked out the left-overs in our fridge and made bowls for our lunch today.
Frozen quinoa and kale from Costco.

Since I discovered the frozen quinoa and kale at Costco, I almost always have some of that in the freezer.  The little individual bag that is a perfect serving for two or three cooks in 4 minutes.  I used this as the base for the first layer, about a third of a bowl. (Yes I know quinoa isn't a grain, it's a seed but it's a good substitute.)
Pop this bag of frozen quinoa and kale in microwave for 4 minutes.
First third in bowl, a layer of quinoa and kale.

In the fridge I had a package of Trader Joe's peeled and cooked baby beets.  Dan and I both love beets, so these became the vegetable layer---the next third of the bowl on top of the quinoa and kale.
Trader Joe's baby beets ready to eat.
These go in the microwave for 1 minutes.
Layer sliced beets over the quinoa.

I didn't seem to have any sauce on hand that would work, and I didn't want to make one, so I topped the bowl with a spoonful of three-bean salad (another left-over)  This added a little more protein and a lot of flavor.  I spread a bit of the pickling juice over the top.

Trader Joe's to the rescue again.  There was part of a roll of goat cheese from TJ's---that became the protein layer.
Trader Joe's goat cheese. 
Protein layer of chevre on top and ready to eat in less than 10 minutes.

This was so easy and so quickly made and nutritious.  This can be eaten warm or cold.  We will eat it cold so I have it ready now for lunch.   I'll keep grain bowls in mind when I need to use left-overs or when I just want something a bit different and something that can be whipped up in short order.

*Check out Melissa Clark's link in the NY Times for more ideas about preparing grain bowls.

p.s. If Rachel Ray can have a TV show called "30 Minute Meals", perhaps I could have one called "Meals in Less Than 10 Minutes".  Are you listening Food Network?