Tomato Soup: Chicklets in the Kitchen

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Individual Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

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Finished individual scalloped potatoes with green beans and sirloin steak

One of my favorite dishes is scalloped potatoes. My mom taught me to make it in a huge pan and nestle pork chops into it for a delicious one pan meal that fed two parents and six hungry kids. I have posted a gluten-free version of it on this website in the past. Today I’m sharing a recipe I saw on a Facebook post. Have you ever done that? Seen something that looked tasty on Facebook and gave it a try?

Well, I did, mainly because this recipe looked easy and used very few ingredients. I love my traditional scalloped potatoes but it involves a lot of steps. Hey, I thought, let me try this easier version.

Hardware

One 12 cup muffin tin

Bowl (to hold potato slices)

Mandolin (or sharp knife)

 

Ingredients

One large sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or fresh if you have it

1 pint heavy cream

Vegetable oil

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees F

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If you have a mandolin, it makes the job faster and easier but using a knife is just as effective. Be sure to get sweet potatoes. There is a difference between the light yellow sweet potatoes and the dark orange yams we’re used to having at Thanksgiving. The yams would certainly work as would regular potatoes. Lots of options.

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In the bowl, mix the potatoes, melted butter, salt, pepper, and thyme.

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Lightly oil the muffin cups. Layer the potatoes in each muffin tin.

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Pour the cream into each cup. I had to lift the layers up to let the cream get all the way in.

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Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes for the boiling to subside. Serve 2 cups per person.

Feeds 6.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your favorite potato 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.

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.

 

Chicklets in the Kitchen: Pasta Primavera

Pasta, Primavera, Ingredients

Pasta Primavera Ingredients

It’s summer and the Farmer’s Market is overflowing with fresh, beautiful vegetables. We’re fortunate enough in our area that we have local dairies as well, both fresh cow’s milk butter and cheeses and goat’s milk cheeses and delicacies. If you haven’t been to your Farmer’s Market yet this year, you’re missing out. Last Saturday I scored marvelous young Swiss Chard, just picked cherry tomatoes, and fresh goat cheese. I had a plan when I went, you see, to pick up just those luscious things for Saturday night dinner, Pasta Primavera.

Pasta Primavera is great for whatever vegetables you happen to pick up at the market or what’s growing in your garden. You can substitute whatever you have for what I used. Feel free to mix and match.

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped

1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved

4 – 5 Green Onions, chopped, green and white parts

1 Cup Frozen Peas (or fresh if you have them)

1/4 Cup Basil, chopped

1 Red Pepper, chopped

12 oz Goat Cheese (not feta, the soft stuff)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 lb Gluten Free Pasta (I used spirals, but you can use whatever you have)

1 – 2 Cups Chicken Broth (to make the sauce. Use vegetable stock to keep the whole meal vegetarian)

2 -3 T olive oil

Cooking, Pasta

Cooking Pasta

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

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta.

Large Skillet, Olive Oil

Large Skillet with Olive Oil

Bring a large skillet to medium high heat.

Saute, Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Saute Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Drop in the chopped red pepper, the green onions, and the Swiss Chard. Saute until soft.

Saute, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Saute Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Drop in the cherry tomatoes and basil. Saute until the tomatoes begin to soften. Use the broth to loosen the mixture.

Goat Cheese

Add the Goat Cheese

Add the goat cheese and stir to combine. Notice that the cheese melts into the broth and the tomatoes make the sauce kind of pink.

Add Peas

Add Peas

Don’t forget the peas!

Stir, Combine, Ingredients

Stir to Combine all Ingredients

Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. Drop the cooked pasta into the sauce. Don’t worry about extra water getting in there, 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, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Chicklets in the Kitchen Post: Grilling Chicken and Asparagus

Grilled Chicken and Asparagus by Connie Cockrell

Grilled Chicken and Asparagus by Connie Cockrell

For most of us Memorial Day weekend is the start of the summer season. Not so much in Texas, Oklahoma and the mid-west this year though. Anyway, summer means grilling. I grill a lot here in Arizona. Unless there’s snow on the ground and I can’t roll the BBQ out, I can grill. Summer grilling means making meals outside where I’m not heating up the house. I love that. Here is my go to grilled dinner, chicken thighs and asparagus. Add a potato or macaroni salad, made in the morning while it’s still cool, and you have a fast, easy, pan-free meal that’s practically hassle free.

The Chicken

Everyone in my family is a dark meat fan so chicken thighs or in this case leg and thigh quarters, are the way to go. We like to grill a lot of them so there is leftover chicken for sandwiches or just to eat cold when we’re having a snack attack. Perfect for those who are following the Paleo diet.

Chicken Quarters by Connie Cockrell

Chicken Quarters by Connie Cockrell

Chicken Prep

4 Quarters, thawed and brought to room temperature

Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Sage Mix by Connie Cockrell

Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Sage Mix by Connie Cockrell

Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Sage Mix by Connie Cockrell

Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Sage Mix by Connie Cockrell

Salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried sage mixture to sprinkle over the meat (I make a bunch and keep it in a recycled spice jar. 3T salt, 1T pepper, 1T dried thyme, 1T dried sage. You can adjust these amounts to suit your family’s tastes. And yes, that’s home grown thyme and sage.)

2 -3 T olive oil

Chicken oiled, sprinkled with herb mix and ready for the grill by Connie Cockrel

Chicken oiled, sprinkled with herb mix and ready for the grill by Connie Cockrell

Pat the quarters dry and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the quarters with the salt/herb mixture.

Grill, Hot as it can Get by Connie Cockrell

Grill, Hot as it can Get by Connie Cockrell

Put skin side down on the grill. Make sure the grill is screaming hot when you put the chicken on.

Chicken on the Grill by Connie Cockrell

Chicken on the Grill by Connie Cockrell

Close the cover and turn down to medium low. Cook 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over and finish cooking, another 20 minutes or so, depending on your grill. I test for doneness with an instant read thermometer. I do NOT want to give my family rare chicken. That is not good eats. Cook longer if necessary.

The Asparagus

I love asparagus just about any way but grilled is my favorite. The flavor is still green and grassy but there’s also a nutty flavor from the grilling. Yummy.

Bunch Asparagus by Connie Cockrell

Bunch Asparagus by Connie Cockrell

Asparagus Prep
1 bunch fresh Asparagus

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

1/2 fresh lemon

Wash and pat dry the asparagus. Snap the woody ends off.

Asparagus prepped with Oil, Salt and Pepper by Connie Cockrell

Asparagus prepped with Oil, Salt and Pepper by Connie Cockrell

Sprinkle the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, use your hands and mix the spears around until coated with the oil, salt and pepper.

Put on the grill with the chicken the last 15 minutes of the chicken’s cooking time. Cook 7 minutes, then with tongs, turn the spears over to cook on the other side. Cook another 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the asparagus. These are good even at room temp so if the chicken isn’t done, it’s not a problem.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite dessert 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.com.

Quick, easy dinner: Cheesy Sprouts and Sausage

While many of my fellow Chicklets are living it up in Atlanta at the RWA National Conference this week, I’m home, doing what I normally do: Work, softball, writing and Starbucks sitting.

I’d already decided not to attend conference (with good reason) when a coworker asked if I could trade vacation weeks with him — and since I didn’t have plans anymore, I agreed.

I’m slightly jealous of all the fun they’re certainly having — the late night gabfests and fun dinners with friends — and all the great info they’re sure to be learning, both in and out of workshops.

I’m already counting my pennies for San Antonio in 2014.

Until then, a Chicklet has to eat … more than 365 dinners, as a matter of fact. 😉

This Chicklet will be making more than one meal starring her new favorite food, brussels sprouts.

Cheesy Sprouts & Sausage by Arlene Hittle | Chicklets in the Kitchen Continue reading

Drink Your Kale Smoothie

When I hear “Kale Week,” the first thing that pops into my mind is “Hell Week.” I bet Mary would agree.

I mean really … What is kale good for, besides decorating salad bars?Turns out kale makes a heck of a good green — but not mean — smoothie.

Surprise! It was delicious.

Surprise! It was delicious.

Yes, I said smoothie. If you can put spinach in a smoothie, why not kale? I’m not the trailblazer who came up with the idea, though. That honor goes to Tina at Carrots N Cake, who blogged about her coconut-kale smoothie more than a year ago.

I pinned the recipe to try — and try it I did. But at the time, I was doing Atkins. The recipe calls for a banana (which you might recall from previous posts is the highest-carb fruit). Continue reading

Crock Pot Crazy

I don’t know about you, but I love an appliance that does the bulk of the work. My Crock Pot is that workhorse.

Crock Pot … slow cooker … Call it what you will. Either way, it simplifies dinnertime. What other appliance lets you throw in veggies, meat and a little liquid, leave the house and come back eight hours later to a ready-to-eat meal?

In fact, Crock Pot cooking is so effortless that I made Thanksgiving dinner (for one) in  mine. Continue reading