Potato and Kale Soup

A few weeks ago I went out to lunch with my friend Lana. We went to a tiny bistro in a small neighboring town with a limited menu and seating but an interesting atmosphere with its barn wood walls. One of the things we all ordered was the soup of the day which was pototo, kale, and chorizo sausage. From the first spoonful I decided I needed to try to make this at home.

The potato kale soup I ordered at the restaurant.

This past week I went to work on my own version and posted the pictures to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Then came the recipe requests.

A spoonful of my potato kale and chorizo soup.

I didn’t have the intention of making this soup again so I did not write down my method as I went along like I tend to do when I am creating food I know I will make more than once. But I thought I would throw together what I did here and those who were creative enough could take what they needed to make their own creations.

Moe’s Potato, Kale, and Chorizo Soup

The ingredients: I chose to use baking potatoes, baby kale, and chorizo in a sausage roll.
Other ingredients: skim milk, flour, cornstarch, chicken bouillon, paprika, cayenne pepper, and water.

My process: I started off baking four very large baking potatoes for a few hours on low, about 250 °F (our oven is a little hotter). When the potatoes were done I set them aside while I made a basic white sauce: 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and a cup of skim milk, blended with whisk then stirred over medium heat. Once heated and thickened I set it aside.

In a frying pan I fried 1 1/2 cups of the chorizo sausage (spanish sausage), which had been cut into bite size chunks, in about a teaspoon of olive oil. After about ten minutes I set it aside.

I cut open the potatoes and scooped out the innards (skins went to compost). They cooled on a plate while I set up the blender. I added the potatoes to the blender along with two cups of skim milk and blended. I added about 2 to 3 handfuls of baby kale and blended. I was afraid the kale would turn the soup super green so I didn’t blend it too much. I then poured it into a big pot and in another small blender I added a couple mroe handfuls of kale and a cup of water and two teaspoons of liquid bouillon and blended that before adding to the pot of potatoes. (I may have added one or two cups of water at this point but am not sure. If it is too thick, add some.) I then added 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Because there is so much milk (and the thickness from potatoes) it is important to keep an eye on the mixture and to keep stirring. It was at this point I realized I didn’t need to make the white sauce because the blending of the potatoes really extracted the starch but I added it anyway because it was already made.

Adding the chorizo sausage to the soup.

I added the fried sausage (I had actually used half the amount to begin with but decided to add more because it tasted too green). Simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the sausage flavor to permeate the soup. At this point I added 120 ml of whipping cream (half a 250 ml carton or about eight tablespoons. Make sure it is heated through and serve!

I found the soup more flavorful the next day after it had set overnight in the fridge the next day. Also because of the thickness I needed to add another two cups of water when I reheated it.

It is a tasty soup. I finished off the last of it tonight. It made about six or seven large meal size servings.

Fried (not) Pickles

“That’s the best pickle I ever heard.” ~ Vlasic

This is another recipe I would never have known about were it not for the wonderful world of Pinterest. Last year a friend of mine took me out for deep fried pickles at a local restaurant and they were awesome but I imagine if you coat any food in bread and deep fry it would probably be awesome. When I came across a “fried pickles” recipe that did not actually include frying I knew I had to try it. The original recipe comes from joshandkinze.blogspot.ca but as I write this I see they have since limited the view of their blog to invitation only or else I would link directly to it.

I made a few changes to the original recipe because I did not have access to some of the ingredients. For instance their recipe called for 1 jar of Claussen thick sliced dill pickles and Cajun seasoning.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Vlasic dill pickles quartered into 24 pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Your favorite Ranch dressing

Directions:

I cooked my pickles in an Oster fan bake toaster oven which has a broil setting.

When preparing the pickles I wiped them dry with a paper towel to reduce excess moisture. I cut 6 pickles into 24 pieces and found that was more than enough for two people (we had leftovers for next day).

Sliced Vlasic Dill Pickles

In a bowl large enough to fit the pickles length and deep enough that I could whisk without making a mess I added the eggs and flour and whisked until smooth. I then added the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper. It makes an interesting looking coating.

spicy egg batter for pickles

I put the Panko bread crumbs in a slightly bigger bowl so it would accommodate my hand moving around. Panko crumbs are necessary to make this recipe. Do not use regular bread crumbs — Panko crumbs are a Japanese style crumb with a totally different texture and weight than traditional bread crumbs. The first time I tried this recipe I could not find Panko in the grocery store, not even in the international isle. I had to go to an international food store and it only cost a few bucks for a box. Since then Panko seems to be becoming more popular because I have found it in both grocery stores I frequent both in the regular crumb isle and the international isle.

Panko bread crumbs

As you may have guessed the pickles get dipped one at a time into the egg mixture (I use tongs). Then very carefully rolled into the Panko crumbs (I use my fingers) so the egg mixture does not come off. It takes a few tries to get the right layer of egg and crumbs.

spicy batter for pickles

Instead of cooking on a sheet of parchment I used the rack that came with the cooking tray for the toaster oven (the parchment paper you see is underneath to catch droppings). This allowed me to bake the pickles without turning them. I did not want to fudge around turning them in case they fell apart. I baked them for 9 minutes under a preheated broiler.

coated pickles before baking

Because they were baked on a toaster oven tray it required two batches but I think they all would have fit on a regular cookie sheet for the oven.

lots of coated pickles

Fresh from the broiler:

baked dill pickles

The original recipe also included a recipe for Cilantro Garlic Ranch dressing but I am not that much of a foodie and we went with a bottle of Kraft Ranch and did not know any better.

fried pickles and ranch dressing

Jeff was definitely skeptical of the whole pickle thing from the get go. He is picky about his pickles thanks to his Gramma — the only one who knew how to make a really good dill pickle — unfortunately she is not around to satisfy his cravings anymore or to pass along a recipe.

We both enjoyed the pickles and while I would not dream of comparing them to the restaurant deep-fried ones they do come a close second and are even more appetizing knowing they are baked. A few weeks later I used the same process on zucchini sticks with equally tasty results (and a few weeks after that on chicken breasts). If you you try it let me know.

Mushroom Soup

For as long as I can remember I have loved mushroom soup. It will make you sad to hear I am sure, but the majority of my experience with mushroom soup has only been courtesy of Campbell’s. Near the beginning of the new year I took my visiting Mother-in-law to a local cafe and one of the things she ordered was mushroom soup. It was the most rich looking, mushroom laden soup I had ever seen and it inspired me to try making a homemade version.

I have made this recipe three times each time experimenting with cutting the mushrooms different, from finely sliced to little chunks. I personally prefer the little chunks for some reason it just tastes better — no idea why. Anyway, I thought I would make it for my inlaws the other night and it went over well. I took pictures for this post but for some reason forgot the final bowl shot. I know, I know. It was a hit.

Mushroom Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 white mushrooms
  • 8 to 10 brown mushrooms
  • 1 large portabello mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon becel
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester Sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • dash of nutmeg
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Gently wipe mushrooms and trim off any less than ideal spots. Finely chop all mushrooms and set aside. Out of the whole recipe this will take up most of your time. I have tried slicing them to save time but the soup was just not as good. The mushrooms definitely have to be chopped (see photos). My technique: I cut mushroom in half through stem I then cut each half again along the same line, lie flat, slice through about four times, shift then slice about four times and repeat with other half.

Heat oil and margarine and saute garlic for a few minutes but do not let brown. Add mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. The mushrooms will decrease by at least half and release juices into pot.

Add chicken broth. I use Campbell’s if it is on hand or I mix up water with Bovril liquid concentrate. Add Worcester and stir broth periodically until it boils. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for ten minutes. Add cornstarch to a few tablespoons of cold water to create a runny paste then add to soup mixture; continue to stir until it thickens. I realize that cornstarch is sacrilegious in some cooking circles but I never claimed to be a professional cook — cornstarch is no-fuss, hassle-free, and virtually tasteless.

Season with freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Add cream and milk. Bring to a low simmer — do not let it boil.

It can be served hot now or let it cool in fridge overnight. I find the next day is has a stronger mushroom taste which is very pleasing for mushroom lovers. Serve with your favorite salad and bread.

Stuffed Poppers

It seems like I have been obsessed with Pinterest recipes lately but really I am not. I am not! Ok, maybe a little. Here is a simple no fuss way to make jalapeno poppers at home. I learned about it from Lindsay at Hello Hue (she has way better pictures so I suggest you go over for those at the very least).

If you are not familiar with stuffed jalapenos or jalapeno poppers, most restaurants carry them on their appetizer menu. They are usually a jalapeno that has been sliced in half stuffed with some kind of cheese substance that have been coated and deep fried and served with a dip. Yum!

When I saw Lindsay’s recipe I knew I had to try it for three reason: jalapeno, bacon, cream cheese and the sheer simplicity of it. Lindsay’s recipe uses Pillsbury Crescent dough as a substitute for the coating and instead of only slicing the peppers in half they are chopped with the other ingredients.

bacon, jalapenos, cream cheese

Jalapeno Poppers Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Roll
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 3 strips of cooked bacon

Directions:

Open up can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and unroll dough. Divide each triangle in two. Divide ingredients between all pieces of dough (as you can see my dough was a little stretched and uncooperative.

ingredients spread on Pillsbury dough

Fold the dough over the ingredients and pinch edges closed. Bake in 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Let sit for a minute or two then enjoy.

baked stuffed jalapeno poppers

These were a tasty alternative and fun to make but I still prefer the restaurant version. If you are not into jalapenos substitute with chopped wieners and cheddar.

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Topic Links
* Try another recipe I found on Pinterest

Avocado and Tomato Dip

I have been on an avocado kick the last few weeks. It all started when I was walking through the produce section and put two avocados in the cart — with no clue what to do with them. When I got home I put them on the counter. When Jeff came home he looked at them, looked at me, made a face and said there was no way he was eating them. Since then I have used those up and bought three more and they are all gone.

The first time I used an avocado I just spread a quarter of a section on a slice of bread for a turkey sandwich. Jeff did not even notice it was there and I certainly was not divulging.

The second time I went to my twitter friends for suggestions. One woman came back with the idea for a dip. Just grind it up with a tomato and garlic she said. That seemed too easy but I tried it anyway except I did not stop with the three ingredients. What follows is my avocado dip. I have tried it twice and liked it both times.

avocado and tomato dip with Kellogg's Cracker Chips

Avocado and Tomato Dip with Kellogg's Cracker Chips

Avocado and Tomato Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of avocado
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 jalapeno (seeds removed)
  • couple tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • couple pinches of dry parsley

Directions:

I use a Bullet blender. I put all the ingredients into the small container (which also has a handy storage lid) and blended it. I refrigerated it for a few hours before trying – delicious and guilt free.

avocado and tomato dip with Tostitos Scoops

Avocado and Tomato Dip with Tostitos Scoops

The first time (with Tostitos) I made this it was a little thinner than the second because the tomato may have been a bit bigger. But it was tasty both times.

This avocado dip has a bit of bite but I would consider it mild. I have tried it with crackers and Tostitos scoops — I prefer it with the saltiness of the scoops.

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Topic Links
* Try the Avocado Salad Recipe (awesome) I posted on Facebook
* My Smoothie Recipes

Nutella Cheesecake Pots

For years my husband and I have cracked jokes at the TV when Nutella commercials would come on. To us the idea that chocolate (even if it has hazelnuts mixed in) could be a healthy breakfast or snack alternative is simply ludicrous.

Nutella Cheesecake RamekinsA few weeks ago I was pinning at Pinterest, a social networking site that lets you save images you like into categories (as well as view friends categories and comment on images, etc), and I came across a recipe from The Gluten Free Scallywag for Nutella Cheesecake Pots. I chuckled of course but then I read the recipe and thought it was a quick and easy dessert option. I am all about no fuss and of course I love chocolate. So I repinned it to my food and beverage category on the off chance I would take the time to convert the recipe ingredients (I hate doing that).

The off chance came! I was walking past the Nutella at my local grocer and it was on sale. I then had a chat with my husband about the recipe before slipping the jar into the cart. It took a couple days before I cracked open the jar but when I did, holy heavenly scent. Out of curiosity I dipped in a teaspoon and took a lick. It totally tastes like the filling from Kinder Bueno bars — in other words totally yummy. But there is still no way I am putting this on my bread and having it for breakfast.

That being said, it makes a totally acceptable cheesecake dessert. Even the man liked it and he is not a big chocolate fan.

The Scallywag version is written out in annoying (g) measurements so my conversions are not exact and I am sure mine probably tastes much different than hers. I also changed some of the directions along the way because I like to put my own twist on things as I am creating. Oh, and this is now definitely not gluten free (just in case you had any doubts) so follow her directions in the link if that is how you roll.

I used oven safe ramekins because they are convenient and have their own lids for easy storage but any dessert dishes that are microwave safe will work. I made six small portions but it could easily be made into four larger ones.

Cheesecake Pots made with Nutella

Nutella Cheese Cake Pots Recipe

Servings: 6 petite servings — just enough to taste and fill!

Ingredients:

Base

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup graham crumbs (I used the 3/4 the first time and thought it was too much but the man liked it with more. Use the 1/2 for a thinner layer.)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Cheesecake Layer

  • 250g brick of light cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

Directions:

In a small bowl cut the butter into the graham crumbs with a fork or pastry cutter. When crumbly divide between 6 ramekins or other glass dessert dishes. Put all six ramekins on one plate and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for one minute then set aside to cool while making cheesecake layer.

Blend the room temperature cream cheese with brown sugar and Nutella until smooth. In a microwave safe mug micro the chocolate chips for about 60 seconds just to get the melting process started. Stir with spoon until smooth then quickly add to cream cheese mixture and blend.

Divide between the ramekins. Cover than refrigerate a few hours or overnight before serving.

New Look for Shopping Blog

My plus size shopping blog has moved and has a new look. It is not completely moved yet but you can find it over at http://www.plusshe.com

I decided to stick with the same blog name even though it is different from the url. The url is Plus She… say it fast. I thought it was cute.

Here are a few new plus size lenses I’ve added to my lensography:
* Products for Big People
* How to Use a Scarf
* Supersize Clothing

And here are some food lenses I have added:

* Spicy Black Bean Burger Recipe
* Spicy Chicken Soup for Two
* How to Make French Toast
* Ten Things to Do with Terry’s Chocolate Orange

Have a great week friends!

Pomegranate Soup Review

Pomegranate Soup is the story of ‘new beginnings'; of planting seeds, letting the roots take hold and rejoicing in what blooms. Sometimes it isn´t all that was expected and sometimes it´s even better.

This review of Pomegranate Soup was first published on 8/14/2007 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline. The full review of Pomegranate Soup can now be read at SquidLit.

Crazy Plates Frozen Dinners Review

I tried this quick and easy frozen dish the other night. Crazy Plates Meal Kits, Wowie Maui Chicken. “Crazy Plates” sound familiar? Wasn’t there a cook book by the same name? You betcha. Janet Podleski and Greta Podleski authors of the successful cookbooks Looneyspoons and Crazy Plates have made it even easier to have a healthy, no fuss supper.

The book cover for Crazy Plates.Inside the box were five little packets: chicken, sauce, pineapple, rice and vegetables. The directions were super easy to follow and I had a great looking meal. This package made three servings. Since there are only two of us the third serving was leftover for lunch. If you’re a single person you could have easily make two lunches or suppers for another day by dividing them into to Ziploc containers while you’re taking out your serving.

Cost: $6.99 Canadian which works out to $2.33 per serving.

Taste: Great. Could have used a little more salt but it was surprisingly good considering it only has 1.1 g of fat per serving.

Crazy Plates really takes the worry out of dinner when you’re pressed for time. From the minute you open the package, it only requires 30 minutes to throw it together and heat. This was a handy substitute for regular cooking when I just didn’t feel like chopping my own meat and veggies. I would definitely get a few for the freezer for just such another occasion.

Choices: There are 4 other versions available: Stir Crazy, Mission Impastable, Wacki Teriyaki (waiting in my freezer) and Worth Every Penne.

Availability: Well, here’s the cincher. So far it’s only available in Ontario. But that doesn’t mean you can’t request it from your local grocer. The more people who ask the more available.

In the mean time, if you want to make your own Crazy Plates check out Janet and Greta’s Looneyspoons Collection:

Originally published 2/4/2005 at Large & Lovely, BellaOnline.

Mango Sherbet Recipe

Mangoes are a tasty exotic fruit which originated from India. They are bursting with vitamins and this luscious fruit is considered an aphrodisiac by some cultures. Now you can enjoy them as a cool crisp treat or an excellent end to a great meal with my Mango Sherbet Recipe.

Homemade Mango Sherbet Recipe (also good with peaches).Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz can Mr. Goudas Mangoes packed in light syrup
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup skim milk

Directions:

Freeze one can of mangoes for two days, in can unopened. I use Mr. Goudas (You can get it from the foreign section at Food Basics) but most certainly another brand would work.

Open can, break up frozen mango and syrup with a sharp knife. Dissolve 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1 cup of skim milk. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Blend milk mixture alternatively with chunks of frozen mango in blender. Sherbet should be creamy smooth and a pale yellow when done. Put in covered Tupperware bowl and refreeze. After a couple hours stir to blend.

The next day chop into pieces and re-blend gradually with 1 cup of skim milk. Pour into loaf pan that is completely lined with Saran Wrap. Freeze yet again.

Remove from pan by pulling up on plastic wrap. If stuck you can stick pan in inch of hot water for a few seconds to loosen edges. Invert onto serving plate. Slice into desired serving sizes. Let sit 1 to 3 minutes to soften slightly. If you like you can drizzle a line of chocolate sauce across for contrast. Serve and enjoy.

The mango sherbet should be consumed in 1 to 2 days because the longer it stays in the freezer the more crystallized it becomes. This sherbet is not as yellow as it appears in pictures. I have also tried this recipe with peaches.

Great Cooking Ideas from Amazon.

Originally published 12/19/2004 at Large & Lovely, BellaOnline.