Good Morning Muffins/Breakfast Bars

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Beautiful image by Jason Leung – Unsplash

Our local realtor sent another postcard with a wonderful recipe and I can see this becoming a staple in our kitchen. It’s listed as a muffin, but is more dense and chewy – more like a breakfast bar.

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup oats, ground finely
1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned whole
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup wild blueberries (or mix of strawberries and blueberries)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all but the berries well. Then gently fold in the berries, saving a few for topping. Fill 12 muffin cups right to the top. (These muffins have no leavening agent, so they won’t rise.)  Top with remaining berries.

Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Shrimp, Tomatoes & Spinach in Tuscan Butter Sauce

This is based on Lena Abraham’s Tuscan Butter Shrimp recipe on Delish.com. We absolutely loved it and I will definitely make it again and often!  I did add more shrimp and spinach, because we really love them both.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby spinach (can use a spinach/arugula mix)
1/2 cup half n half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup basil, thinly sliced, or 1 1/2 Tbsp dried basil

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Season shrimp all over with salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add shrimp and sear until underside is golden, about 2 minutes, then flip until opaque. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter. When butter has melted, stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst, then add spinach and cook until spinach starts to wilt.

Stir in half and half, Parmesan and basil and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.Return shrimp to skillet and stir to combine. Cook until shrimp is heated through, and check the seasoning. Garnish with more fresh basil if you have it.

You can serve it over some nice fresh pasta, or just have it as is, more like a stew.

Perfect Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Beautiful Brussels Sprouts by Keenan Loo on Unsplash.

This recipe from Mark Bittman is a really delicious way to prepare Brussels Sprouts.  It’s perfect for big events like Thanksgiving, because you can get it totally prepped the day before and then roast it the day of. It’s also vegan and gluten-free!

Mark made it slightly differently – he browned the brussels sprouts in a cast iron skillet first, but I wanted to make a larger batch, so I just roasted them in the oven.   The key is to let them get so dark they appear to be burning.  But that just brings out the sweetness that makes them so delicious.

2 lbs brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1/3 cup olive oil
5 big cloves of garlic, cut into thin slices
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional – I forgot it and the dish was still delish!)

Mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a ziploc bag. Add brussel sprouts and shake well to coat the sprouts.

At this point, you can refrigerate them until you’re ready to bake or go ahead and roast them on a rimmed baking sheet at 450 for 30 minutes.  You may want to go in halfway through and shake them up a bit.  Check seasoning and serve. They will literally disappear.

Rich Custard for Maya

This recipe, which seems too simple to be so delicious, has always been an integral part of my Strawberry Trifle recipe. But my daughter Maya asked me to list it separately, so it’s easier and quicker to find. So here you go, Maya!

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 cups whole milk
4 eggs, well beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Blend sugar, salt, cornstarch and whole milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once the custard reaches the boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup to the eggs in the bowl, stirring vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. Add another cup of milk mix to the eggs, and continue stirring.

Return the whole thing to the saucepan and put back on medium/low heat. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the custard is just starting to bubble a little. Don’t leave it for a second at this point or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool before adding to trifle dish.  It will thicken as it cools

This recipe also makes a lovely pouring custard. Just add another cup of milk. We don’t eat pouring custard much in the US, but it’s delicious dessert sauce. Just a bowl of fresh fruit with pouring custard poured over – it’s simple and wonderful.

Caitlin’s Supreme Pesto

Pesto

My friend Caitlin is a wonderful cook – and she shared her great Pesto recipe with me a while back.

I love how flexible it is and how simple it is to make! The ridiculous cost of Pine Nuts has kept me from making traditional Pesto, so I love this version – especially with the combination of basil and cilantro.

 

Ingredients

1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 cup of mixed nuts (any nuts)
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil (depending on the nuts)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
big pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Put everything in the food processor and blend until you get the consistency you like. Start with a half cup oil, and add more until you get a smooth consistency. You can also add more salt to taste.

Caitie’s note says: Put on everything and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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Butternut Squash Image by Nick Collins on Pixabay.

I’ve made this salad from Ina Garten a dozen times and it is so good there’s never any left.  It’s a perfect fall salad with all the gorgeous colors of the squash, arugula and walnuts.  Thank you Ina for another wonderful recipe!

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (you can substitute honey if you want to)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Craisins

For the warm cider vinaigrette:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice (I use Martinelli’s Apple Juice in the little apple bottle if we don’t have cider on hand. It’s so good – you should keep some in your pantry.)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 oz baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  (use Vegan Parmesan if you wish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp olive oil, maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place squash on a sheet pan and pour mix over. Toss with your hands until well coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender, turning squash over after 10 minutes. Add Craisins for last 5 minutes. When you add the Craisins, add a small baking pan with the walnuts and let toast for 5 minutes. Watch that the walnuts don’t burn!

Let squash sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes while you make the vinaigrette.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 6-8 minutes until about 1/4 cup is left. Take off heat and whisk in mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Pour 2/3 of the vinaigrette over and toss well.  (We don’t like our salad dripping with dressing but if you do – be bold and toss it all in.)

Serve immediately while the dressing and squash are warm. So good!

Tanya’s English Rhubarb Ginger Jam

My friend Tanya brought over a jar of this amazing jam, which her mother in England always made, and we finished it off in the first week.  So I decided to make a batch yesterday with another friend, Donna.  It’s so unusual and so good. (Think it would be amazing on baked Brie!)

Tanya mentioned that the recipe was on BBC Good Food.  After much research, (what exactly is Jam sugar?) metric conversions and hard math, we came up with this recipe.  Read more here about how to can jams and jellies.

8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (2 lbs.)
Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons  (or 6 Tbsp lemon juice)
9 Tbsp pectin powder
1/3 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root (Use more if you really like ginger)
8 cups sugar

Add everything except sugar into a large pot. On high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly then reduce heat and cook for a few minutes until the rhubarb is soft. (Frozen, chopped rhubarb will cook a little more quickly.) Be sure to continue scraping the bottom as the pectin likes to stick there.  You can use a potato masher to break the fruit down a little more.

If your rhubarb is a mostly green variety – you can add a drop or two of red food coloring, which will turn it a soft pink.  But it’s totally optional.

Add sugar and bring back up to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and continue to stir and scoop off the foam.  It is perfectly edible – just doesn’t look pretty in the jars.

With a clean damp towel, carefully wipe off the glass tops of the jars, and put the lids on.  Place rings on, but don’t completely tighten them.

In a large stock pot or canning pot, put jars into simmering water.  Cover completely and bring back up to the boil. Turn down to a simmer again and leave it for 10 minutes.  Remove from pot, and place right side up on a clean towel.  Leave to cool overnight.  In the morning check to see that the lids are all staying down in the middle.  If they’ve popped up, or they go up and down, they haven’t sealed, and need to be wiped down, and put back in the simmering water again for 10 minutes.

Tangy Fruit Salad

Another great recipe from Ree Drummond, that’s both pretty and delicious.  I ended up halving Ree’s original recipe, which serves 12, and still had more than enough for the 6 of us, with plenty left over for nibbling later.

The Orange Vanilla sauce adds just enough sweetness and tanginess to brighten everything up without being too sweet.  We loved it and had leftover fruit and syrup on vanilla ice cream the next day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
2 pints blueberries
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup green grapes, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest into a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool, then stir in vanilla. Store in the fridge until cold.

Mix together all the fruit in a large bowl and refrigerate.  Just before serving, pour the syrup over the fruit, tossing gently to coat.

 

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

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Beautiful image of peppers by Csengele Horn-Barta from Unsplash.

Ree Drummond has a wonderful recipe for roasted pepper soup that I will make often – since it’s easy and so good. I did make a few changes, but stayed pretty true to Ree’s recipe.

Normally I always drain and rinse canned veggies, but because the peppers were in a glass jar, I tasted the red pepper jar liquid.  It wasn’t very salty and had lots of pepper flavor, so I tossed it in, too. Not sure if that breaks some kind of kitchen “law” – but it tasted great.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped dry oregano, or 2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 good-sized russet potato, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
3 jars (12 oz each) roasted red peppers, sliced – plus the jar liquid
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup half n half (Ree uses heavy cream)
1 tbsp cider vinegar (Ree uses red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add potato, roasted peppers, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Mix well and let cook for 5 minutes.

Add white wine and let it cook down for 3-4 minutes. Then add the stock and pepper jar liquid. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, checking to see that the potatoes are nice and soft. Remove from heat, and buzz with an immersion blender until everything is fairly smooth. Add cider vinegar, butter and 1/2 and 1/2 and let heat for a minute or two. Check seasonings.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan sprinkled on top. So good – and even better the next day.

I also stirred in a tsp of butter at the end, so you could do that too.

For a vegan version – leave out the 1/2 and 1/2 and butter, or substitute vegan butter.

Autumn Soup – a Very Reliable Form of Soup

My mom, Marilyn Hunter used to make Autumn Soup from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and we loved it.  It was a pretty simple soup – but filling and delish.  I was pleased years later when I came across a reference to this soup while reading “A Girl Named Zippy” which is a wonderful autobiography by Haven Kimmel.

Haven grew up in Mooreland, Indiana and approached life with an irrepressible spirit.  She mentions that her friend’s mother made Autumn Soup, which she called “a very reliable form of soup.”  So if you get a chance, order the book, read it and make Autumn Soup to celebrate Marilyn, Haven Kimmel and reliable food!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup each chopped carrots and celery
1 cup diced potatoes (peel first if needed)
2 tsp salt
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Heal oil in a dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Add onions and cook stirring frequently for several minutes. Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Note: The original recipe called for six fresh tomatoes completely intact added to the pot. Each bowl would get a giant tomato smack in the middle of the bowl, but my Mom never made it like that, and six diced tomatoes would just be too much.