Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potato-Leek Soup

I love potato-leek soup.  I will almost always order it if it's on a menu.  But this is my first time trying it out for myself.  This was an extremely easy recipe!  I got it out of my Great Food Fast Cookbook from Everyday Food.  There are a lot of healthy, simple recipes in this book.  I use it a lot.  For me this isn't the "best" recipe, but it is really good.  And with some tweeks it will be fantastic!   I will definitely add another potato next time to thicken it a little bit.

For those of you confused on what a leek is...

...these are leeks.  Leeks have a mild onion flavor and are in the same category as onions and garlic.  They are good in everything.  I think they add a certain yum that nobody can quite put their finger on when tasting.  I've had a cold lingering for weeks and soups just make me feel better.  This soup did not disappoint.

For this recipe, we are only using the white part of the onion.  Just chop the tops off and remove the roots from the bottom.

Cut these in half and then slice them thin.  

Put them in a bowl of water so that the dirt and sand can fall out.  Bring leeks, water, broth, and salt to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes. 

Puree the soup in batches, then add the cream and fresh snipped chives.

Enjoy!  Add an extra potato!

Here is the recipe I used:

Serves 4

6 medium leeks, whites only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, cleaned
2 cans (14.5 oz each) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 baking potato (8 oz), peeled and diced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup snipped fresh chives

1.  In a large saucepan, combine the leeks, broth, potato, 2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 20-25 minutes.

2.  Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, transferring to a clean bowl as you work.  Stir the cream into the pureed soup and season with salt.  Garnish with chives.  Serve immediately.

3.  If desired, chill the soup:  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  If necessary, thin with water and season with salt.  Serve the soup in chilled glasses, garnish with chives.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garlic Mojo (Rick Bayless Recipe)

The hubby and I went to the International Housewares Show in Chicago a few weeks ago.  It was amazing!  I loved looking at all the latest and greatest things to come that will help out in the kitchen.  I really loved seeing celebrity chefs do recipe demos.  Rick Bayless made this garlic mojo and I got an opportunity to taste the recipe he used it for....OMG delish!

How did I get so lucky to see these amazing chefs?  Chef Billie at The Tipsy Gourmet blog, who happens to be a great friend of mine, got tickets and couldn't go at the last minute.  I was so sad!  Having the name Billie did come in handy though, so my husband was "Billie" for the day!  Thanks B, for being so generous!  You are awesome and I look forward to going next year with YOU!

I will admit to you right now that I have said for the last ten or more years that I hate Mexican food.  Growing up in Northwest Indiana, we had access to a lot of "Mexican food," but not GOOD Mexican food.  At that time I wasn't really into cooking and would never attempt to make a Mexican dish on my own.  So, Taco Bell...Pepe's...House of Gillardo...that was pretty much it for me.  Then I moved to South Florida and found Argentine, Cuban, Dominican and many other latin flavors that I fell in love with and learned to cook.  They put the Mexican dishes I had eaten to shame!  So, I just never ate it again.

Well, that friend Billie I told you about; she LOVES Rick Bayless and Mexican food.  I would continue to question her sanity, but she has since won me over...with the help of Chef Bayless!  I watched his demo, listened to what he said, and tried the dish he made.  I have been missing out.  So I will be attempting to make some Mexican dishes with fresh, delicious ingredients in the months ahead.  I can't miss with recipes from a man who has devoted his life to Mexican food!

Okay, so you are saying to there a recipe somewhere here?  And yes, there is.  He made Mixiotes of Woodland Mushrooms with Mojo de Ajo.  You can find the recipe by going to that link.  THIS recipe listed is his as well.  It is to make the Mojo that goes in the dish.  The mojo can be used as a flavoring in many dishes, you can pour it on meats, you can use the infused oil when cooking to add flavor, you can even put it on popcorn!

 So you start with four BULBS of garlic.  I didn't say cloves!  It is a lot of garlic.  I smashed these with a knife and removed the peel, then put them in this 8 x 8 dish.  

Next I added two cups of olive oil (not extra virgin) and salt.  It gets roasted in a 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. 

Add fresh lime juice, then cook another 20 minutes.

Mash up the garlic and put in a jar or container.  It will last up to three months with the garlic submurged in the oil.  View the full recipe at:  Slow Roasted Garlic Mojo.

I can't wait to use this in EVERYTHING!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marcus' Recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich

This is my 6 year old Marcus.  He is in morning kindergarten, which ends at 11:30am, and when we get home he is ready for lunch.  Every day after school Marcus gets out what he wants on his sandwich and sets it on the counter for me to prepare.  Most days PB&J rules, but once in awhile he will switch it up.  Today he came home and told me he had a recipe that he thought of and wanted to try it out.  On the counter I found these ingredients:

I am a huge fan of Nutella (hazelnut spread with cocoa!).  I can simply eat it out of the jar and do sometimes, but I've made cookies with it, crepes, spread it on toast...I could go on really.  Never though, have I thought of it with peanut butter.  Sounds like a recees cup for lunch, but healthy!  :)

Here are the directions he gave me:

‎"So, first we need two pieces of bread. Get a knife and spread the chocolate onto one of the bread. Get a spoon out and stir up the peanut butter, then get your knife and spread it on the other piece of the bread. Next, you put the bread together. Then your done."
He was very happy with his recipe.  I think  will start a little section on my blog for his recipes as they come about.  Should be interesting.  :)

Enjoy Nutella!  If you haven't tried it, you are missing out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness


Each year I try a new dish to make for St. Patrick's Day.  This year I chose Irish Beef Stew with Guinness.  I was surprised there weren't potatoes in it!  I think if I made it again I would definitely add them, but I was sticking to the recipe.  It was still very good!  I served it with Irish Soda Bread and Guinness of course!  


The recipe came from The Guinness Recipe Sight.  Click on the link to find a TON of recipes that include Guinness.



It's really simple, just takes quite a bit of time to cook.  It cooks low in the oven for two hours!  On the stove top you brown the meat, add the onions, seasoning and all the other ingredients.  Put the lid on and cook in the oven.



Add salt and pepper at the end.  I just realized I forgot to add them!  It was still delicious!


We all had shamrock cookies with our names on them too!  Here's my place at the table.

We demolished the soda bread!

Here is the link to the Irish Soda Bread:

Here is the link for the shamrock cookies:  

Hope your St. Patrick's Day was fun and you tried something new!

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

2 tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch cubes (with some fat)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried thyme, whole
1 tsp dried rosemary
2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beef stock
1/2 cup Guinness
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 lb carrots, sliced
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a 6-quart stove-top casserole and add the oil and the bay leaves. Cook the bay leaves for a moment and then add the meat.

Brown the meat on both sides on high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook for a few minutes until it is clear. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and flour, and stir well until smooth.
Add the beef stock and stout; simmer, stirring, until the stew thickens a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and cover.

Place the pot in a 275 F oven for about 2 hours, stirring a couple of times. Check for salt and pepper before serving.

Serves 4-6

My Birthday Pint of Guinness!

I had a plan to make a pint glass of Guinness cake for my birthday for quite awhile now.  When I was looking up Guinness recipes for St. Patrick's Day I found a website that used a cone pan for pint glass cupcakes.  Too cute!  So, I ordered my pan and my birthday passed, and my pan was still in the mail.  I'm glad it finally made it for St. Patrick's Day.  I frosted the adult cakes with Baileys buttercream frosting and did the kids with regular buttercream.

The best recipe for the cupcakes I found was on Annie's Eats food blog.  I made the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes last year, and they were fantastic!  You can check my blog for the cupcake recipe (same one I used here).

Melt the butter.

Add Guinness and cocoa powder.

Heat and whisk until combined.

Whisk eggs and sour cream.  Add cocoa mixture and this cream mixture to the mixer bowl filled with the dry ingredients.

Use parchment to get rid of the cone appearance on the mold, and add your batter.  I used 3 large scoops to fill them evenly.

I can't wait to use this pan and make the cone cupcakes and put a scoop of ice cream on top of them for one of the kids birthdays!

Would you like a pint?


I made cupcakes for the boys too!  You can't go wrong with Shamrock sprinkles.  :)  Hope you had a great St. Patty's Day!

Irish Soda Bread

Last year was the first year I made Irish Soda Bread.  It was a huge hit at our house.  We love to play Irish pub music and have a traditional Irish dinner on St. Patrick's Day (no we are not Irish , it's just something fun we do). This recipe is a combination of recipes from Martha Stewart, Ina Garten and my friend Katie's Irish Grandmother.  I took what I liked from all of them and made my own.  The difference THIS year is that I actually wrote it down!  It's so simple you will HAVE to try it!

Mix the dry ingredients in the mixer.
Whisk the buttermilk and eggs and then add to the dry mixture.

Add one cup of golden raisins and one cup of regular raisins.

Knead dough a few times on a floured surface, and then put onto a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.  Use a serrated knife to put an X on the dough, and brush with egg/cream mixture.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

Use a tester to make sure the bread is completely cooked.  YUM.  Here is my recipe:


4 C Flour
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbs (1/2 stick) cold butter, cubed

put all the above ingredients into a mixer bowl.

1 3/4 C buttermilk
1 egg 

whisk the buttermilk and egg together and add to the dry mixture.

1 C golden raisins
1 C raisins

add the raisins to dough until incorporated.  turn out onto floured surface and knead a few times.   make an X on the top of the bread with a serrated knife and brush with 1 egg yolk and 1 tbs heavy cream.  place onto a sheet pan with parchment paper and bake in a 375 degree oven for 55 minutes.  (Cover it with foil if it starts to get too dark.  If you do less than 55 you might have a doughy center even though the outside is done.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shamrock Cookies

I have become a huge fan of the decorated cookie!  I love them!  They are cute and taste delicious.  If you have a good recipe for a sugar cookie and are set!  Thanks to a favorite blog of mine:  Annie's Eats I have both!  I used these same recipes for my Conversation Heat Cookies.  Just different gel coloring.  Click either link to check them out.

I made a couple different colors of shamrocks.  Marcus chose the color for the shamrocks for his classmates for St. Patrick's Day:

I think they turned out super cute!

I also made extras for us to  have on St. Patrick's Day at our Irish Dinner, and to put into Nicholas' lunchbox.

I preferred a darker green:

You have plenty of time to make your own.  These are great because you can make them a day or two ahead and they will keep well in an airtight container.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's WEEK!