Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chocolate Soup with Caramelized Bananas #soupswappers

You guessed it.  This month's theme for Saturday Soup Swappers is Mardi Gras - Cajun or Creole.  It begs for a celebration, doesn't it?  I had to really think on this one.  I love the flavors of Cajun and Creole foods but having to narrow it down to one....tough to do.  Being a seafood lover I looked longingly at Creole Bouillabaissse and at a Corn and Crab Bisque....and I will probably make those but for this post I found myself leaning in a totally different direction.

Louisiana's history and economy find sugar playing an integral part.  And, sugar means dessert, so for this post I am presenting a Chocolate Soup with Caramelized Bananas!  The desserts in Cajun and Creole kitchens are variations of the Old Country:  Germany, France, England Spain and Italy.  Those are a lot of influences.  I couldn't help but step out of the box just a bit when I read about this soup dessert!  Let's face it, I was envisioning Bananas Foster...I will do anything for Bananas Foster, even mix chocolate and fruit which is something that I do not do...(the two flavors together are not on my list of favorites)  So, unless I have to, I don't....and I guess I just had to this time.

Chocolate Soup with Caramelized Bananas
adapted from The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine

Yields:  6 servings

6 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1/3 cup creme de cacao
3 Tbsp Frangelico

Over medium low heat, cook the chocolate, half and half and the sugar in a medium saucepan until the chocolate melts and the sugar dissolves.

In a stainless steel mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks.  Add one cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk.  Slowly add the egg mixture to the pot of chocolate, stir frequently.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the liqueurs.

At this point the mixture may be refrigerated for two hours or up to five days.  Before serving reheat the mixture in a double boiler, whisking constantly.

Caramelized Bananas
4 large bananas, peeled and cut into half moons
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 slices of pound cake, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, lightly whipped

In a mixing bowl, toss the bananas and rum.  Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes. 

Melt the sugar in a skillet over medium high heat, until golden brown.  Remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir the mixture until smooth.  Add the bananas and rum.  Return the skillet to medium high heat.  (Watch closely as the rum may ignite.)  Continue to cook the bananas until most of the liquid has evaporated.  The bananas should be soft but not mushy.  Remove them from the heat and pour onto a plate.  Cover them with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

To serve, place the pound cake cubes in small bowls.  Ladle about 1/2 cup warm chocolate soup over the cake.  Garnish with the bananas and a dollop of whipped cream.


I think I was expecting bananas foster.  This wasn't that.  There was no cinnamon!   It wasn't overly sweet, the chocolate was really smooth with a hint of liqueur, and...warm chocolate soup, yep, that was it...pretty tasty!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Yummy, Crunchy Granola #Foodie Extravaganza

It is National Oatmeal Month!  That means it is time to offer some respect to this healthy grain. I didn't know much about oatmeal's beginning, but I have learned that in the 1700s oatmeal was mostly used as fodder for horses and cattle.  Knowing what we do today, I can safely say that those were some healthy critters!

The benefits of oatmeal have really only been touted by doctors since the 1980s.  Besides being high in B vitamins and minerals, oatmeal also helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and may help reduce high blood pressure.  While there are other benefits, just those few makes oatmeal sound like a deal to me.

In celebration of this versatile grain, I decided to make a super, crunchy granola.  

Yummy Crunchy Granola
adapted from Baking Chez Moi

Yield:  about 10 cups
Preheat oven: 325° (rack should be in center of oven)
Two 9 X 13 inch Pyrex baking pans

3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, quartered
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)
5 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
1 3/4 cups raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pistachio nutmeats (or omit the pistachios and increase the pumpkin seeds to 1 cup.)
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup moist dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries, etc.) 

Combine honey, butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt (if using).

Toss the oats, seeds and nuts in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour the warm honey mixture over the oats.  Using a large wooden spoon mix until all of the dry ingredients are coated with the honey mixture.  Divide the mixture between the two baking pans.

The total baking time for the granola is 45-60 minutes.  This will be done in increments as the mixture must be stirred, scraped and turned.  Put the two pans in the oven.  In 20 minutes remove the pans and using a large spoon turn the mixture.  Return the pans to the oven.   In 20 minutes remove the pans and sprinkle 1/2 cup coconut on top of each pan.  Stir, scrape and turn the mixture to the oven for another 5 to 15 minutes.  The granola should be a golden brown.  It will be a soft and sticky mixture.

Pour the granola into a large bowl.  Stir in the dried fruit.  When the granola cools to room temperature, break up any large clumps that have formed.

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Take a look at what the bloggers are sharing to celebrate National Oatmeal Month!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

German Lebkuchen

Somehow the season has rolled and rolled and I found myself not doing any baking.  I had great intentions but it just never came together as I had planned.  In fact, I found myself without any Christmas cookies and only four days left to make it happen.

I have wanted to try to make German Lebkuchen for years. I love the soft and chewy texture of this gingerbread cookie.  Today's cookie is a descendent of medieval gingerbread which was made with a combination of spices and honey and dried bread crumbs.  The most famous Lebkuchen comes from Nuremberg and while most associate the cookie with Christmas, I have seen it in the marketplace during other times of the year also. They were just as good in the spring as they were in the winter!

When it comes to the recipe, there are just as many recipes as there are bakeries selling the cookies!  The recipe I used came from the Viking River Cruise collection of recipes.  It was simple and tasty.

German Lebkuchen
adapted from Viking River Cruises

Cookie dough
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg
1/3 cup candied citron, diced (I omitted the citron.)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk or water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Sliced almonds
Candied citron or ginger

In a medium saucepan, bring the honey and molasses to a boil.  Remove from heat; stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and spices.  Stir the molasses mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the citron and hazelnuts.  Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F. 
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a floured, hard surface roll out a small amount of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough is sticky, use more flour.  Cut the cookies into rounds or stars and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make the icing by heating the granulated sugar and liquids in a saucepan, but do not bring it to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the confectioner's sugar.  If the icing crystallizes, reheat and add some more milk or water. 

Transfer the cookies to a rack and while still hot, brush them with the icing.  Decorate the cookies with the sliced almonds or candied citron or ginger.

Let the cookies cool completely.  Store them in a sealed container.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thanks for the Memories....Potato Soup - #soupswappers

I must admit that I was challenged by this month's Saturday Soup Swapper theme.  For the life of me I could not associate a soup with a specific memory.....that is, a soup that I hadn't already posted.  In fact, I was close to crying out "uncle" and waiting for January.

But then, Terry got sick....really sick...the ugly kind that seems to be going around right now and makes you miserable for a few days. This afternoon he was feeling pretty good and was a tiny bit hungry.  Then I remembered...his mom always made him potato soup when he was recovering from the flu.  He said potato soup always got him back on the road again.  So, I borrowed Terry's memory and suggested that I make potato soup for dinner.

The last time he was sick and I made potato soup for him I might have gotten a little too creative for a sensitive tummy.  I added a bit of beer....  (stop laughing)  Yes, it was a dumb thing to do.  I, myself, cannot believe that I did that.  It was not welcomed.  It was suggested that I make plain potato soup.

Remembering that plain potato soup was the memory....I asked if the thought of adding bacon bothered him...well, of course not, bacon is good anytime....  So for dinner tonight we had Baked Potato Soup!  It was super.  I don't believe that I will be waiting until he gets sick to make this again.  It was that good!  Each man was for himself when it came to the garnish.  Yes, I wanted the cheese, bacon and green onion and a little dollop of sour cream...why not, it is baked potato soup!

Baked Potato Soup
adapted from Guy Fieri of Guy's Big Bite

Yield:  4-6 servings

4 large baking potatoes
10 slices of Applewood bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups low fat (2%) milk
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Bake the potatoes in the microwave per the directions for your microwave.  When finished set aside.

Cook the bacon lardons in a Dutch oven over medium heat, until crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan to paper towels, leave the drippings in the pan.

Add the flour to the drippings and stir to combine.  Cook until the flour and the fat combine, about 1 minute.  Pour in the milk while whisking to incorporate.  Cook the mixture over medium heat until it bubbles and has thickened.  Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Remove the skin from the potatoes and roughly chop.  Add them to the milk mixture.  Mash the chunks with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving just a few chunks.

To the mixture add the bacon (leave out a tablespoon or two for garnish), 1 cup of the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper.  Stir until the cheese has melted.  Remove from heat.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with cheese, bacon bits, chopped chives and a dollop of sour cream as desired.

Thanks for the Memories is hosted by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm.  Thank you for stretching the brain this month! It was a delicious bowl of soup!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Seafood Bisque - #soupswappers

Today's challenge was to prepare a soup from our state....a regional soup.  Thank you, Ashley, of Cheese Curd in Paradise, for hosting Soup Saturday Swappers.  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

As I thought about the state and the region, I immediately thought of seafood.  While traveling in the state I am always trying to find the best Lobster Bisque or Clam Chowder.  As I thought about preparing something it dawned on me that I have a super recipe for Seafood Bisque which meets the challenge.  This is a family favorite.

There is actually a funny story about this bisque.  In 2009 while visiting my daughter in Seattle, I mentioned that I was thinking about starting a food blog.  We talked about what to call was after dinner....I had made Seafood Bisque.  We tossed numerous names back and forth...when I looked down to see a sprig of thyme laying across the soup spoon in my empty bowl.  That was it, A Spoonful of Thyme was born and all because of this Seafood Bisque!

Seafood Bisque
adapted from Biederbeck's

Yield:  8-10 servings

4 Tablespoons butter
Small onion, small dice
1 rib celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tsp dry mustard
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil

3/4 cup flour
2 cups clam nectar
3/4-1 cup white wine

1 cup chili sauce
1 3/4 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups half and half
1/2 lemon with rind
Two dashes Tabasco
Two dashes Worcestershire Sauce (more to taste, if desired)
2 cans minced clams (do not drain)
6 oz. baby shrimp (or 2 cans, drained)
5 scallops, quartered
8 ounces white fish (cod, perch, etc.) cut into small chunks
1 can crab, drained (or 3 ounces fresh crab)

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onion, celery, parsley, and the next seven spices.  Set aside.

Make a roux of the flour, clam nectar and wine in a Dutch oven.  Cook down just a little and stir in the sauteed ingredients.  (Watch carefully, it thickens quickly.)

Add the next seven ingredients.  Stir to blend.  Add the remaining seafood and heat to cook.

NOTE:  This seafood in this soup can be varied.  Whatever you have on hand or wherever your taste guides you!


The nicest part about today was that it was perfect weather for soup!  And for those men out there who really want a substantial bowl of soup, this is it!  It is filled with the very best and tasty seafood!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

What a beautiful week it has been!  Somehow Mother Nature managed to send some low temperatures our way!  It has been fall.  This weather, 60s and 70s, has been perfect.  It motivated me to hit the kitchen and actually use the oven.

I was reading the New York Times Recipes and a recipe for Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken caught my eye.  Goodness....chicken, carrots, dates, citrus and honey....yummy!   It sounded like the perfect dish to kick-off the season and we were not disappointed.  It was delicious.

Did you notice that the New York Times is now charging a fee to access recipes?  I was disappointed as it is one of my favorite sites for recipes.  I was able to access some recipes but not, I bit the bullet.  I figured if it was my favorite then I would subscribe...  Do you subscribe?   I may not be totally pleased that it is now subscription based but, it is worth it!

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken
adapted from NYT Cooking

Yield:  4 servings

1 lemon, plus 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more for the pot
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
3 Tbsp honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Black pepper, to taste

3 chicken breasts
2 cups sliced carrots, (about 1/4-in thick)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup sliced dates
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Quarter the lemon lengthwise.  Cut into small wedges and remove any seeds.  Blanch the wedges for two minutes in a small saucepan of salted boiling water and drain.

Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste, in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Let cool.

Put the chicken in a bowl and add the cooled honey mixture.  Add the carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon wedges.  Turn the mixture to coat the ingredients.  Marinate overnight in the refrigerator or a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place all ingredients in a rimmed sheet pan.   If you did not remove the skin from the chicken, it should be placed on the sheet pan skin side up.   Roast the chicken breasts for 20 to 30 minutes, the chicken should be browned and cooked through.  Remove the chicken as it is done.  Stir the carrot mixture and continue cooking until the carrots are tender, about 7-10 additional minutes.  If the pan appears dry, add 2-3 Tablespoons of water.

Spoon the carrot mixture over the chicken and garnish with cilantro, chopped scallions and the pistachios.


I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup #soupswappers

This summer has been one of heat after another.  In fact we have had over sixty six days that were over 100 degrees, so far this year.  It doesn't match the record of seventy six days set in 1917, so in this case not setting the record is a good thing!  Needless to say, there hasn't been much cooking and definitely no baking going on at my house.

For today, though, I was challenged to make a quick weeknight soup.  The winner to me would be last month's soup, which as a copycat Panera Tomato Basil Soup.  It was really a quick one to put together and super tasty.  But, since I cannot post the same thing twice, I stepped up to the plate!

Trying to slip a soup past Mr. T. when it is 112° might be tricky...but, I figured I would wow him with flavor!  It worked.  The first comment he made was in regard to how flavorful the soup was!  Score!

A few years ago I made a Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin by Rick Bayless.  I loved every bite of it but the potatoes had an amazing flavor.  I decided to capitalize on that and put together a Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup using the same method that was used in the Rick Bayless recipe.

I broiled the tomatillos and peppers and since this was a quick recipe, I put the potatoes on one end of the baking sheet and roasted them at the same time.  The broiling took the most time.  If you aren't up for a really spicy soup, then you might devein and seed the peppers!

We enjoyed this spicy soup even though it was a very warm day.  I had thought about making some cornbread but decided the kitchen was warm enough.  I served some great Honey Salted Cornbread Crisps, that I found at Trader Joe's, with it.  It was just right.

Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup

1 pound tomatillos, remove husks and rinse
1 jalapeño
1/2 serrano, deveined, seeded
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup cilantro
2 cups chicken stock
10 baby red potatoes, scrubbed, cut into small pieces
1 15-ounce can small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cups rotisserie chicken, cut into small pieces
1 ear of corn, roasted, cut kernels from cob

Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil.  Place the tomatillos and peppers on one end.  Place the small pieces of potato on the other end of the sheet.  

Roast the potatoes, tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side — 4 or 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos and chiles that are soft and cooked through. Cool and transfer everything but the potatoes to a food processor or blender, also pour any juices that have run out onto the baking sheet. Process until smoothly pureed.  The potatoes may not be completely tender.  They can finish cooking as the soup simmers after adding the chicken, beans and corn.

While the tomatillos, peppers and potatoes are in the boiler, prepare the remaining ingredients for the soup base.

Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven that has been heated over medium.  When it is warm, add the onions.  Saute until they are soft and transparent.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the tomatillo mixture into the Dutch oven.  With an immersion blender puree the soup.  Put the heat on medium-low to reheat the mixture.  Add the chicken, potatoes, corn kernels and white beans. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Add the lime juice.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream, additional lime wedges and cilantro if desired.

The theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers is Quick Weeknight Soups.  It is hosted by Amy at Amy's Cooking Adventures.  Who wouldn't love to have a quick soup after a busy day at work and/or school?!  Sometimes it is hard to have the energy to hit the kitchen after a busy day.  This month's recipes are certain to help you out!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. All are welcome!