Gardening is something you learn by doing---and by making mistakes....
Like Cooking, Gardening is a constant process of experimentation, repeating the successes and throwing out the failures.
Carol Stocker

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Zuppa Toscana (Sausage & Potato Soup)

It's another wintery day in Montana, a perfect day for soup.  This is similar to Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.   I make it with fat free half & half so it's a little lighter without losing any of the taste.  This goes great with some bread sticks and a salad.  Tastes even better the next day!

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage
3 Slices Bacon, chopped
3 Large Potatoes, skin on, in 1/4 inch slices and cut in half
1 Large Onion, chopped
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 14 oz Cans Chicken Broth
1 Qt Water
1 Tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes, if desired
1 1/2 Cups Cream ( I use Fat Free Half & Half)
1-2 Cups Kale, chopped

Wash potatoes, slice into 1/4 inch thick slices then cut in half (do not peel), set aside.
Chop Onion, set aside. Mince Garlic, set aside.
In a stock pain brown sausage, remove casings if necessary, remove from pot.
In same pot brown the bacon.  Add onions, saute until soft then add garlic.  Add a little chicken broth, stirring to de-glaze pot...the stirring and cooking will loosen up the crusty parts on the bottom of the pot.
Add the potatoes and the rest of the broth.  Add 1 qt of  water to cover the potatoes as well as salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Cover and simmer for about a half hour, until potatoes are tender.
Now add the cream, sausage, kale. Simmer for 15mn and serve.

Brown Sausage
Remove from pot

Add Bacon to pot
Brown bacon

Add onions and garlic, saute until soft

Add Chicken broth and water, cover and cook for 1/2 hr

De-stem  kale

Without the stem

Add 1/2 & 1/2 and Kale

Simmer for 15mn and serve

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ryan's Lemon Pucker Bars

Ryan has been hounding me all day to let him cook something.  Cupcakes were his first choice...I talked him out of it.  Then he suggested Lemon Bars.  We had to make a trip to town to get sugar and flour (and a loud noisy gun for Lainie), but we did it.

Ryan's Lemon Pucker Bars

1 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Cup Flour

6 Eggs
3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
1 Cup Flour

Powdered Sugar for dusting

In a bowl cream butter and sugar, gradually add in the flour.  Mix until well combined.
Press crust mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Push crust up the sides about a 1/2 inch.
Bake at 350F for 20mn, until lightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool.

When crust is out of the oven start making the filling.
Whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest.  Add the flour, mix to combine.
Pour the filling over the crust in the 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350F or 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
When cooled dust with powdered sugar.

Cream butter & Sugar, add flour
Mix it up
Out of the Oven

Press into 9x13 pan

Crack the eggs

Ryan is juicing the lemons

Add lemon juice to eggs

add flour

Pour filling onto baked crust

Out of the oven, just dust with powdered sugar

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Apple Crisp with Canned Apples

I canned some apple pie filling this summer, now is the time to break out a jar and enjoy the 'fruits' of my labor.  If you don't have homemade apple pie filling, you can use canned or chop and peel a  couple apples, add some flour and use that as a filling.

Apple Crisp

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Melted Butter
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Qt Homemade Apple Pie Filling(or a can of store bought filling)

Combine all ingredients except pie filling, mix together until is crumbly.
Press 1/2 of oat mixture into a greased  8x8 baking dish, press to make a crust.  Pour Apple Pie filling onto pressed crust, then sprinkle with remaining oat mixture on top.
Bake at 350F for 1 hour.
Serve alone or with ice cream.

Making the oat crust and topping
Press half into baking dish

Add Pie Filling

Sprinkle the rest of oat mixture on top

Out of the Oven

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

The only thing that sounded good for supper was steak and shrimp, but we didn't want to drive all the way to's a lazy Saturday night.  So, I put myself to work and  grilled some rib-eyes and made shrimp scampi.  I was sooooo worth it, but who is going to do the dishes?????

Shrimp Scampi

1 lb or so of Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 Cup Butter
2 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Tsp Minced Garlic
1/4 Cup White Wine
2 Tbs Parsley Flakes
1 Tbs Onion Flakes
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 C Grated Parmesan Cheese

Melt butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, oil, wine, parsley flakes,  and onion flakes.  Turn heat to med-high and saute for 2-3mn.
Add Shrimp to butter mixture, cook until shrimp starts to turn pink, add lemon juice.  Pour partially cooked shrimp and butter sauce into a small casserole, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350F for 15-20mn.
Serve over pasta, as a side dish or atop steak..... like we do!

Saute garlic

Add lemon juice when almost done

Put in dish then oven

Out of the Oven

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Potato Cakes

We had some leftover mashed potatoes from the wonderful stuffed duck dinner we had at my mother-in-law, Annie's house the other night.  There's no way I wanted them to go to waste, so I made Potato Cakes with our breakfast this morning.  Although these are similar to a croquette, they are still  potato cakes to me.....I just spruce them up a little.  They are crunchy on the outside and smooth & creamy inside with cheesy garlic-onion flavor. 

Potato Cakes

3-4 Cups Cold Mashed Potatoes
3 Green Onions, sliced thin
1 Tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2 Egg Yolks
1 Tsp Parsley Flakes
1/4 T Salt & Pepper each (or to taste)
2 Tbs Flour (if needed to firm up potatoes)
1 Egg for dipping
Bread Crumbs for rolling
Canola oil for frying, enough to fill pan 1/2 inch

In a bowl mix first 8 ingredients, you may chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet on medium high heat.
Roll potato mixture into a ball a little larger than an egg.  Dip cake into beaten egg then roll in bread crumbs, flatten a little as you press into crumbs.
When oil is hot place potato cake gently into oil.  I fry 3 at a time so the oil doesn't cool off too much.  Fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown, flip cake and fry on the other side and additional 3 minutes or until golden.
Place fried cakes in a warm oven to keep warm while other cakes are cooking.

Cold Mashed Potatoes
Mix first 8 ingredients

The dipping and coating station

Fry until bottom is golden

Gently flip and fry on other side

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cabbage Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

It's the beginning of a new Year and time to make some healthier food choices.  I'll be posting some health conscience recipes.  Now, that's not to say that it will be boring!  I have a lot of tasty ideas and fun recipes.  We'll see how the kids and Paul take to this, I have a feeling they won't even realize they are eating healthy! I do expect a few noses to be turned up once in awhile, but as Lainie says, "You git what you git and don't throw a fit!"
Let's start with a tasty salad...if you like cabbage.  The Pine Nuts bring such a great flavor as well as a little protein!

Cabbage Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

1/2 Cabbage, shredded
2 Leeks, green and part of the white part, julienned (can substitute a bunch of green onions)
1 Large Red Pepper, Julienned
2 Carrots, peeled and shredded

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2-4 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar (Can use Apple Cider Vinegar or Rice Vinegar)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Toasted Pine Nuts
1 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Tsp Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Garlic Salt

Combine Shredded Cabbage, julienned Leeks, julienned Red Peppers, shredded Carrots.
Toss in Large bowl to mix.
In a small bowl combine Olive oil, Vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.  Pour over vegetables and toss with hand until veggies are evenly coated.
In a small pan over medium heat add 1 Tsp Olive oil, Pine Nuts and garlic salt.  Toast nuts until they are a light brown.
Toss toasted nuts into salad and serve.
If the salad will not be eaten immediately, refrigerate.  Do not mix in Pine Nuts until ready to eat.


Shredded Cabbage

Add Red Peppers

Add Shredded Carrots

Toss together with dressing

Toast the Pine Nuts


Cutting Silage at Berry Creek