Tomato Soup: Chicklets in the Kitchen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s the end of summer and I have a glut of tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes. Fortunately, the variety I chose for this year has that cherry tomato sweetness but isn’t too sweet. What to do with a giant bowl full of cherry tomatoes? Why tomato soup, of course! A few random Amish Paste and Early Girls found their way into the soup as well but it’s all good. The batch ended up making 3 pints of soup. Half a pint made it into my lunch but the rest I froze for future meals. Happy cooking and eating.

Hardware

4 Quart Pot

Cutting Board

Knife

1 or ½ pint freezer containers

Immersion Blender

 

Ingredients

Bowl full of cherry tomatoes, washed

¼ cup sliced onion

2 med garlic cloves, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Slice the onion and garlic. Cut the tomatoes in half.

Add ½ cup of water to the pot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Drop in the onion, garlic, and tomatoes, and salt and pepper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Right in the pot, use the immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth. Serve up bowls full for lunch or supper. Freeze the rest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

NOTE: I did not strain the blended soup to remove the seeds. I kind of like the seedy chew but if you don’t, go ahead and strain the seeds out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. What do you do with your tomato abundance? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Advertisements

Peach Shortcake

PeachShortcake005

Mid-Summer in my neck of the woods means peaches. My peach tree tends to ripen late July, depending on the weather. It held off to the 1st week in August when all the peaches ripened just about at once. Nothing like an avalanche of peaches to make you put on your thinking cap. After giving away a LOT! I decided peach shortcake would be just the thing. Now it’s not complicated, but after all those peaches, I didn’t have too much brain power left. And it’s hot! So why not peach shortcake for supper. Or breakfast!

Hardware

Medium Bowl

Cutting Board

Knife

Individual serving bowls

 

Ingredients

Bowl full of peaches, washed

½ to 1 cup sugar (your choice)

Can of Whipped Cream

Shortcake

PeachShortcake001

Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, chop up and put in the bowl. Continue until all of the peaches are chopped up. I didn’t peel them, just chopped them into bite-sized chunks.

PeachShortcake002

Pour sugar over the fruit. I know. Peaches are already sweet, especially ones ripened on the tree. But the sugar makes a syrup that you really need to have to pour over the short cake. Let stand in the refrigerator all day or all night to develop the syrup.

PeachShortcake003

In an individual bowl. Place your short cake/pound cake/muffin (I used a gluten free muffin, hubby used a generous slice of Sara Lee Pound Cake).

PeachShortcake004

Scoop generous portions of fruit over the cake.

PeachShortcake005

Spray your whipped cream over all. I’m pretty generous as you can see from the photo. If I hadn’t been lazy that day I’d have made home-made whipped cream. It’s just better, but, you know. Summer, lazy, heat. It was delicious.

Left over fruit can be used in yogurt, cereal, crepes, the sky is the limit.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. What do you do with your peachy abundance? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Chicklets in the Kitchen: Mint Water and Homemade Butter

I thought it’d be fun to share something different this month. Two things, as a matter of fact.

Mint Flavored Water

Mint Flavored Water

In the summer months I make flavored water. As a Celiac, I’m limited by my disease to drinks that have no additional, artificial ingredients. That limits me, usually, to water, iced tea, lemonade and the like. But I live in Arizona where it’s hot so I drink a lot of water. Don’t get me wrong, I like water but sometimes it’s nice to have something a little extra special. So I drop an herb like mint, thyme, sage, or rosemary into my filtered water and let it set until the herbs flavor the water. Sometimes I add fruit, like apple, strawberry, blueberry, or peach to the mix for something extra special.

So, here’s how you do it.

Ingredients

Fresh Sprig of Mint (Preferably from your garden!)

Garden Mint

Garden Mint

1 Qt Filtered Water

Mint Sprig in Water

Mint Sprig in Water

Drop the mint in the container

Pour the water over the mint. The water pressure is enough pounding to release the mint but you can bruise the leaves first if you want.

Filtered Water

Filtered Water

Done. Refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before drinking. The longer it soaks, the more flavor you’ll get.

Also for fun, I sometimes make my own butter. Since most kitchens haven’t stocked a butter churn in decades, I use a mason jar to shake the cream. It’s the mechanical action that disturbs the cream and makes the butter molecules stick together.

So here’s how you do it.

Ingredients

Heavy Cream and Mason Jar with lid

Heavy Cream and Mason Jar with lid

1 Quart Mason jar

1 pint whipping cream (I use organic, gluten-free heavy cream)

Bring the cream to room temperature. You can do this when it’s cold, but it will take longer.

Pour the cream into the jar and put the lid on tight.

Pour the cream into the jar.

Pour the cream into the jar.

Shake. Shake it until you see the cream turn to whipped cream. Very handy trick if your beaters conk out on you.

Shake the jar

Shake the jar

Keep shaking. It doesn’t seem that anything is happening but trust me, it is.

It's at the whipped cream stage

It’s at the whipped cream stage

Shake some more. You miss it when the butter starts to form but it’s happening. Keep on shaking and soon you’ll realize that there’s a big blob of butter in the jar and the remaining milk.

It's Butter!

It’s Butter!

Pour off the milk which is now official butter milk. You can see from the picture I got nearly a whole cup of buttermilk from the process. Don’t toss that out! You can drink it straight or use it to make buttermilk pancakes.

Pour off the buttermilk

Pour off the buttermilk

Put the butter in a wide, shallow bowl.

Butter and remaining buttermilk

Butter and remaining buttermilk

Drain off any excess milk into your cup.

Press the butter with a spoon or a rubber spatula. You’ll notice the butter is very soft and when you press it, more milk comes off. Drain that excess into the cup. Repeat the process until no more or very little milk drains out.

Getting excess milk out of the butter.

Getting excess milk out of the butter.

Add a little salt. I used about 1/16th of a teaspoon. This is optional, you don’t have to add salt at all.

Add a little salt

Add a little salt

Mix it in and again, drain off any drops of milk. This time discard it if you’ve added salt.

Put into a dish and spread on your toast or those pancakes we talked about earlier.

Butter and Buttermilk

Butter and Buttermilk

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite fun recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Last month I talked about all of the fantastic fresh vegetables you can get at the Farmer’s Market. That’s still the case in July but also in July your home gardens should be producing like crazy. That’s when you want some recipes to use all of that wonderful fresh, organic bounty.

Pesto is just such a recipe. Traditional pesto calls for all basil as the green along with pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. I have found, however, that all that basil can be a little overpowering. So, the best way to tone it down is to mix it with another green. You can use spinach, arugula, beet greens, anything you have on hand. The best thing about a pesto spaghetti dinner is that it’s nearly no cook. The pesto is a raw sauce, just add hot pasta and you have a lovely meal.

In this case I had an abundance of parsley and just enough basil and chives in my garden, all I had to do was buy some Swiss Chard at the Farmer’s Market to make a delicious meal. I know, I did a Swiss Chard recipe last month. But it’s so good and if you have it growing in your garden, you want to use it, right? So, here’s how you do it.

Ingredients, Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto, Connie Cockrell

Ingredients for Swiss Chard, Basil Pesto by Connie Cockrell

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped, leaves and stems

1 small bunch basil,

1 handful chives

1 Cup parsley, picked from stem

1 4oz pkg pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 1/2 lb Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 Cup olive oil

 

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Gluten Free, Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta. NOTE: I used this Hodgson Mill’s pasta because I really wanted an angel hair type pasta. I was disappointed to see that once I started mixing it into the pesto, the strands broke down into 1/2 – 1/4 inch bits. Not spaghetti at all. It tasted fine, just wasn’t spaghetti. Use your favorite pasta.

Bring a small skillet to medium high heat.

Toasting, Pine Nuts

Toasting Pine Nuts

Drop in the pine nuts to toast. DO NOT walk away. As soon as you can smell the nuts, it’s too late. Watch that pan, toss around to brown evenly. As soon as they brown, take them off the heat to cool.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Trim the stem ends of the Swiss Chard and chop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil, Connie Cockrell

Basil by Connie Cockrell

Strip the basil from the stems, same with the parsley. Have the chives on hand, ready to go into the food processor.

Grated, Parmesan, Cheese, Connie Cockrell

Grated Parmesan Cheese by Connie Cockrell

Using a grating blade in your food processor, grate the Parmesan cheese. I just grated a whole brick of it. You won’t need all of it but it’ll be ready for your next pasta meal. Empty the cheese into a bowl. No need to clean out the food processor.

Pine Nuts, Food Processor, Connie Cockrell

Pine Nuts in Food Processor by Connie Cockrell

In the food processor, change out the grating blade for the regular blade. Add the pine nuts and whirl until nearly pasty.

Process, Swiss Chard, Connie Cockrell

Process Swiss Chard by Connie Cockrell

Add the Swiss Chard a batch at a time. Process until reduced then add more.

Parsley, Connie Cockrell

Parsley by Connie Cockrell

Add the parsley and process.

Scrape down, bowl, food processor, Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the bowl of the food processor by Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the sides a little to get the nuts to mix with the greens.

Add, Basil, Chives, Connie Cockrell

Add Basil and Chives by Connie Cockrell

Add the basil and chives. Whirl some more, drizzling in 1/2 of the olive oil to loosen the sauce.

Add, Parmesan Cheese, Red Pepper Flakes, Connie Cockrell

Add Parmesan Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes by Connie Cockrell

Add the cheese and the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Process again adding more olive oil to loosen.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. In a large bowl, drop the pesto onto the spaghetti and toss. Add some of the pasta water, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

 

Lemon Sage Chicken Scallopini with Apple Cider Glaze

Butternut Squash, Connie Cockrell

My Butternut Squash Harvest by Connie Cockrell

It’s NaNo! National Novel Writing Month to be exact. If I’m not done with my cozy mystery by now (I’m writing this early in November) I’m darned close. I’ve titled it Mystery at the Fair, and the series is called the Jean Hays Series after my title character. I’ve done the cover too, though I may be tweaking the back cover blurb for awhile yet.

The thyme I talked about last month? I finally got it down, the tiny leaves picked from the stems, an hour and a half of work while I talked to my mom on the phone, and put into a jar. Yay! I picked and washed sage and rosemary and they’re on the rack now. I also picked all of my butternut squash. That’s them up there at the top of the post. I keep them in the garage just like that.

But I held one out to use for supper that night. You can prepare squash by baking, boiling, roasting or grilling. I chose boiling for that meal. Here’s how I prepped the squash. Wash the outside of it with soap and water. On a large cutting board cut the stem and blossom ends off. Then cut the squash in half at the point where the neck meets the round bulb base. That makes the squash easier to handle. Cut the round part in half vertically, not around the wide part of the bulb and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off. It’s too tough to eat. Then cut the neck in half, long-wise and peel that. Cut all of it up into 1 inch dice and put in a saucepan covered with water. A pinch of salt in there will season the squash. Cook for about 1/2 an hour on medium heat and test for doneness with a fork, just like potatoes. Drain, add a little butter, a tablespoon of real maple syrup, and mash. Yummy. There’s our side dish.

Lemon Sage Chicken Scallopini with Apple Cider Glaze

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1T fresh Sage chopped very fine

1 lemon, fine zest and juice

1/2 cup fresh apple cider

1/4 cup gluten free flour

Salt and pepper to taste.

Oil for pan frying

I first heard of Scallopini way back when I was a young wife. I got the recipe out of Women’s Day or Family Circle. Traditionally scallopini is veal but they used chicken breast or pork chops. I now use the basics quite often, mostly with chicken breast. It’s affordable, healthy and very tasty.

Cut the chicken breast in half, horizontally, as though you were butterflying them open, just cut all the way through. You can just butterfly them open but then you have a piece of chicken large enough to cover a dinner plate. I find that to be too much.  Put a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap on your counter. Tear off another to use in a second. Put a breast half on the wax paper. Lay the second sheet on top of the chicken. Pound it out with a meat mallet or a frying pan or a rolling pin until it’s an even thickness all the way around. Do that for all four halves.

Sprinkle the zest, sage, salt and pepper over all four pieces, be sure to sprinkle both sides. Sprinkle the pieces, both sides, with the flour. Preheat the frying pan with a little oil and put the pieces in the hot pan. Fry each side about 5 minutes, over medium heat, sprinkling each piece with lemon juice when you turn them. When both sides are golden brown and you’re pretty sure they’re just about done, pour the apple cider over all the pieces. The cider will deglaze the pan. Cook that until it’s boiled down to a thick glaze, about 5 minutes but be careful, it goes from thick to burnt in a heartbeat.

It’s done. I served this with the squash and quinoa. Hubby declared it delicious.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite chicken recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.

Firey Angel Hair Pasta

Rosemary by Connie Cockrell

Rosemary by Connie Cockrell

October has been a wild ride for sure. I’m busy with all sorts of volunteer organizations and I’m trying to get ready for the National Novel Writing Month challenge in November. What’s that, you ask? It’s a challenge to all writers, new or not, to write 50,000 words in a month. Yep, that’s novel length. You don’t have to finish a novel but if you don’t you’re well on your way. I outline my story so I’m not spending a lot of time wondering what comes next. That’s what I’m prepping this month. I’ve decided to try and write a cozy mystery. Since my usual genre’s are SciFi and Women’s fiction, this outline has been a struggle. Mysteries require a lot of planning.

The thyme I talked about last month? Still on the drying rack. I need to get it down and the sage cut and hung before we get a frost and it’s spoiled for drying. I want to dry some rosemary, too. Not just for the kitchen but for soap. I like to make my own soap. It’s easy, I know it doesn’t have aircraft cleaner in it and I can make it unscented or add any scent I want. I’m planning on adding rosemary to my next batch so I want to have some dried and ready to go.

Back to October. Yes, even here in Arizona the days are getting cooler and we’re all thinking of heartier fare. And as I’m still running crazy with volunteer work and NaNo is coming, I like to have quick and easy dinners. I know I gave you my spaghetti sauce recipe last week. Here’s another one, but easier. It comes with some prep though. You need to make up chili oil in advance. I make mine and store it in the fridge. It has to be warmed to room temp before using but a bottle of it will last through four or five dinners.

Chili Oil

2 cups Olive Oil         4 teaspoonsful dried crushed Red Pepper Flakes

To make exactly enough to fit in your storage bottle or container, fill the container with chili oil less about 1/2 inch from the top. I use an old olive oil bottle.

Combine the oil and the red pepper flakes in a heavy small saucepan.  Cook over low heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 180 degrees F, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temp and using a funnel, pour the oil and flakes into the bottle. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

 

Fiery Angel Hair Pasta

From Giada De Laurentis

1 pound angel hair pasta   ½ cup Chili Oil   ½ cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley, 1 lemon, Juiced and zested,  Salt, Dried crushed red pepper flakes, ½ tsp grated lemon peel (optional), 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta by the package directions.  Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.  Stir the shaken oil (you want to get some of those red pepper flakes), parsley, lemon juice and zest together in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta and toss with enough of the reserved water to moisten. Season the pasta with the extra salt and red pepper flakes to taste.  Sprinkle on the extra zest and cheese.  Serve.  To keep it gluten free, use gluten free pasta.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.

Spaghetti Sauce

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Meat Sauce by Connie Cockrell

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Meat Sauce by Connie Cockrell

Last month I talked about my Paleo diet. That worked well until mid-August when my work on the Payson Northern Gila County Fair ramped up. Any diet at all went straight out the window. I still had to be gluten free, of course, but mainly I was just trying to stay fed. The week-end of the fair I was lucky. We had four food vendors and three of them had gluten-free options. Yay! Don’t you just love fair food?

My garden here in central Arizona is beginning to look a little tired. The tomato plants have sprawled all over. The butternut squash has filled all of the space between the raised beds. The mint has grown wild and is in full charge of the one raised bed it’s in. I have to cut the mint back. I let it flower because the bees love it but now the whole mess is producing seed. Can’t have that. The oregano I hung to dry was nice and crisp so I took it down, stripped it off of the stems and put it in big steel cans I have for storing herbs. The whole kitchen smelled like oregano. I cut thyme, washed it and hung it from the drying rack I made. It’ll be dry in about 2 weeks. Then I’ll dry sage.

Want to dry herbs but don’t have a rack? I made mine from an old plastic picture frame I got for a quarter at one of the local thrift shops. I stapled garden netting to the back of it. I can lean it against the wall on top of my cupboards where it’s nice and hot and it fits just right and hang bunches of herbs from the frame or the netting. I’ll never have to buy oregano, thyme, sage or rosemary again.

So on to a recipe. I love spaghetti or pasta in any form, to be honest. I make my own sauce as I find the jarred stuff too sweet.

Basic Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb ground meat
1 c chopped onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp capers
2 – 3 anchovy filets
Dried basil, oregano to taste
1/2 cup of red wine
2-3 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T Olive Oil
1 32oz can crushed or diced tomatoes

Heat a large, deep frying pan. Add the olive oil. Salt and pepper the ground meat and put in the hot pan. Brown the meat till nearly done. Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the onion, garlic, capers and anchovies. Cook 3-4 minutes then add the herbs, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes. Stir to combine. Fill the tomato can with water to get all of that tomato goodness and add to the pan, stirring to combine. Cover and let simmer for 2 – 4 hours until the sauce has cooked down to a thick consistency. Pour over the cooked pasta of your choice.

My mom likes to add sweet peppers to her sauce. I add a couple of bay leaves. Both are optional.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at http://www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.