Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hearty Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This is a wonderful soup for fall.  This traditional Italian soup is very hearty and satisfying, loaded with pasta, beans, and vegetables. You can use whatever vegetables you'd like, or try white beans instead of red, or change the flavor of the sausage.  A can of plum tomatoes would make a great addition to this as well.

Hearty Pasta e Fagioli Soup

12 ounces chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced (I used my Turkey and Sage Sausage)
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (or make your own - much tastier!)
1/2 cup uncooked pasta (it's easy to make your own pasta)
2 cups coarsely chopped vegetables (I used pea pods and carrots, but you could use any that you like)
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 cups cooked red beans or 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained


Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add sausage; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and vegetables; bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Add pasta; bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, and beans; cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are tender.  Serve with some crusty Italian bread, flavorful focaccia bread or even warm sweet potato bread.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Homemade Chicken Broth

I love soup. Summer or winter. Hot, cold, savory, sweet. I just love soup.

I got this cookbook for Christmas about 8 years ago.

From my dad. Which is kind of funny, because I gave him the exact same book that Christmas!

I've made a bunch of different soups from that book. A few of my favorites are the Chestnut Puree (great for Thanksgiving), Creamed Chile Soup, Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Onion Soup, Chicken Broth with Cheese and Bread Crumb Dumplings and Chicken Soup with Apples and Leeks (possibly my favorite soup ever).

I also found that I end up needing a lot of soup stock, or broth.

It makes more sense to prepare a pot of broth on a rainy Sunday and keep it around for throwing together last-minute soups than it does to wait around for a broth to cook every time you want to make a simple soup.

And having chicken broth around all the time is great for everything from stir-frys and sauteeing to making pasta and rice.

I use chicken broth instead of oil or butter when stir-frying veggies or chicken and when sauteeing just about anything. And I like to use chicken broth instead of water when making rice or couscous.

Broth is easy to freeze, but not everyone (and I am one of them) has freezer space for more than a litte extra broth. If you don't have room, you can refrigerate the broth for 5 days without its spoiling. To keep it long, just bring it to a simmer on top of the stove for 10 minutes, let it cool and regrigerate for up to another 5 days. You can repeat this trick indefinitely.

Better yet, use the broth in place of water to make your next batch of broth!

Here's how I do it:

Take all of these ingredients...

Bones, skin and leftover meat from 2 - 3 roast chickens (I freeze the carcasses
of store-bought roast chickens until I have 3)

Vegetables to add richness to the flavor of the broth - you can use whatever you have around....some ideas
- an onion
- bell peppers
- celery
- carrots
- the ends of broccoli, asparagus, peas or whatever veggie you have had that week
- leftover half of a lemon

herbs - a few tablespoons of your favorite dried herb or a 1/4 cup or so of your favorite fresh herb (I think dried works better in broth personally)

Put all of these into a very large pot. Cover it with water (or use the chicken broth already in your refrigerator) and add an additional 2 -3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.

Let the broth cool a bit, then strain it. Return the broth to the pot and discard the bones and other remaining ingredients. Add enough water to double the amount of broth and simmer until the amount is halved (or broth is concentrated enough for your taste).

Let the broth cool. (I put mine in a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator). After it is fully cooled, refrigerate. The next day you will be able to spoon any fat in the broth off of the top and you will have fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth! (Note: after refrigeration, mine is often kind of solid, like a jell-o. I just use a spoon and it "liquifies" once it gets in contact with some heat.)

Now you've got chicken broth whenever you need it! This process works with your leftover turkey carcass and with beef or other meat bones as well.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

I made this when my FIL was saying that he hadn't had any deep-dish pizza in ages and he thought we should go to Pizzaria Uno for our Sunday night dinner instead of having me cook. I looked up the nutritional values of Uno's pizzas and found that (HOLY COW!) they were NOT in calorie budget! So I did some internet research and found some recipes for Chicago style pizza... and lightened them up a bit. And voila! Even The Children liked it!

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

1 (1 pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1 pound bulk Italian turkey sausage
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
8 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish (I acutally used a 9" springform pan which worked very well).

Crumble the sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until evenly browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, and sprinkle over the dough crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over the sausage.

Add mushrooms. bell pepper and onion to the skillet; cook and stir until the onions and peppers are tender. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, salt, fennel seed and garlic powder. Spoon over the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crust is golden brown.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Cups

I baked these cookies thinking of autumn and Thanksgiving. I thought they sounded a little bit Thanksgiving-y and they ended up tasting fantastic! Shortbread cookies, with some cornmeal to give it an interesting texture and slightly sweet taste. And the jalapeno jelly gave a little bit of heat. If you like a bit more spice, make larger cookies than the recipes calls for and use more of the jalapeno jelly.

These are definitely worth a try!

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Cups

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red and/or green jalapeño jelly

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Beat in cornmeal. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly press the tip of your thumb into the center of each ball of dough. Fill each center with about 1/8 teaspoon of the jalapeno jelly.

3. Bake in the preheated oven about 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 96 cookies.

To Store: To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken with Pineapple and Sweet Bell Peppers

This was a very tasty dish, which even The Boy (very finicky about food that may have any sort of spice in it) really liked. I first told him that it was "Chicken with Pineapple and Peppers" and would not touch it. We then discussed bell peppers and came to the agreement that they were not actually peppers because they were not spicy. We agreed to call them "Sweet Bells" in the future. And he loved the dish. So, Sweet Bells it is!

Chicken with Pineapple and "Sweet Bells"
Ingredients1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 medium pineapple
1 medium green pepper(s)
1 medium sweet red pepper(s)
1 large onion(s), spanish
1/4 cup(s) pineapple juice, or orange juice
3 medium garlic clove(s), minced
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
2 spray(s) cooking spray
2 cup(s) cooked white rice, kept hot
Cut each chicken breast, pineapple, pepper and onion into approximately twenty-four 1-inch-thick pieces. Combine chicken, pineapple juice, garlic, soy sauce and oil in a large nonmetallic bowl; marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Stir-fry over medium-high heat until the chicke is completely cooked (about 8 - 10 minutes) and the vegetables are soft. Serve over rice.

Serves 4.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Banana Bread

You should totally try this pumpkin banana bread that I baked!  The recipe makes two loaves - one to share, and one to keep.  Your house will smell delicious!

Pumpkin Banana Bread


  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin (I used about 1/2 cup more to enhance the pumpkin flavor and color)
  • 2 med. ripe bananas (I used 3 for a more banana-y flavor)
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and mashed bananas; continue beating until mixed (mixture will have curdled appearance). Add remaining ingredients except nuts; mix until moistened. Stir in nuts.

Spread into 2 greased 8x4 loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes or until wooden pick in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

If you try it, let me know if you like the recipe!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Applesauce Muffins

I am apparently in the baking mood right now. This morning I baked these extra-tasty applesauce muffins:


1/2 c. oil
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 egg

Put all into mixing bowl and mix well. Bake in muffin pans at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

This is a really fast recipe - I mixed it right when I got up and baked them while I showered. Nothing like the smell of fresh baked goodies in the morning!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Caramel Apple Tartlettes

This dessert is elegant and delicious.  And so easy.  That can be our secret.  Well, ours and the internet.

Caramel Apple Tartlettes


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
  • 1 - 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 recipe Caramel Apple Compote
  • 6 slices of cheddar cheese (I used three Babybel White Cheddar rounds, cut in half)


Make the crust for the tartlettes by putting the flour and butter in a food processor.

Process for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture resembles corn meal.

Add cold water a teaspoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture holds together, but isn't sticky.  Pour onto a piece of plastic wrap.

Form into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Roll out about 1/8 inch thick, and form six tartlette shells in a muffin tin.  Don't worry if they don't look perfect.  You only want to make sure that there are not holes in the tartlette shells.

Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Now it is time to assemble.  Fill the tartlette shells with the compote.  Place a slice of cheddar cheese on each one, and put in the over for 1 - 2 minutes, until the cheese is softened, but not melted.

Carefully remove from the tin, and serve with a bit of compote on the side and caramel drizzled around the plate.

Voila!  Elegant dessert - made in a snap!

Cheddar cheese is a great foil for apple desserts.  It adds an unexpected depth of flavor that I think you'll love.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In the next week and a half...

And in between, just a little of this:

  • London Eye
  • West End Ghost Walk
  • Cutty Sark / Greenwich
  • Haunted London Walk
  • London Olympics Venues
  • British Museum
  • Harry Potter Studio
  • Eton College
  • Windsor Castle
  • Salisbury Cathedral - Magna Carta
  • Stonehenge
  • Brunel's Tunnel
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • Britain at War
  • Southwark Cathedral
  • Shakespeare's Globe Theater
  • Westminster Hall
  • House of Commons
  • House of Lords
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Cabinet War Rooms
  • Royal Mews @ Buckingham Palace
  • National Gallery
  • Kensington Palace
  • Harrod's
  • Santorini Taverna
  • Victoria and Albert Museum

Dragging my mom along with us this time.... hope she has banked some extra sleep time!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Monday: October 15, 2012

This week - lettuce, strawberries, herbs and peppers.  Lots of peppers.

We pick about this much every day.  Love it!

I guess it does feel like the same thing week after week, but it turns out, what we planted was lettuce, strawberries, herbs and peppers.  Lots and lots of peppers.

Total Harvest for the Week: 6 pounds, 2.7 ounces
Total Harvest for the Year: 82 pounds, 0.8 ounces

 Linked up with Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday... hop on over and see what else is being picked this week.


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Caramel Apple Compote - in 20 minutes!

Fall is apple season.  When I was a kid, we used to go to Aamodt's Apple Farm and we got to taste so many varieties of apples.  And have apple cider.  Yum.  I remember just how the showroom smelled.  Cool and apple-y.

I was thinking about that the other day and decided we needed an apple dessert.  I didn't get to go to Aamodt's to pick my apples (a bit to far to drive...) but I did want to remember the feeling of eating super-flavorful apples and drinking hot cider.

I decided on Caramel Apple Compote.  Compote is a really easy way to use fruit for desserts.  From start to finish, this took about 20 minutes.  Here's how I did it:

Caramel Apple Compote

  • 8 medium apples
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk


Quarter and core the apples, then cut into bite-sized pieces (I quarter each quarter).

Put the apples in a saucepan with the water.

Stir in the brown sugar and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly reduced and the apples are softened.

Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and milk.  This is what will give you the caramelly consistency.

And that is it!  Serve after it has cooled a bit.  Delicious fall flavor!  Beautiful enough to serve to company, but quick enough to make on a weeknight after work.  You can eat this plain or over vanilla ice cream.  Or tune in later this week to see what I did with it - you'll love it!


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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Angel Cookies Meet Devil Cookies

I'm officially in love with these cookies.    Super-sweet, and chock full of white chocolate chips, they taste a little bit like cake with the frosting on the inside.

I took a batch of these to a potluck at work today.  Along with a batch of my favorite jalapeno chocolate cookies, Fired Up Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Angel Cookies meet Devil Cookies.  A delightful match!

Angel Cookies


  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips


Using a stand mixer, mix the butter and cake mix together.  Add the eggs and mix until blended.  Add the white chocolate chips and mix until blended.

I used a "funfetti" mix - you can see the color sprinkles in the batter here.

Drop by spoonful onto silpat-lined cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 F for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown.


Here's a quick tip:  When baking, be careful to drop the cookies in the same sized pieces, and shape them as close to the same shape as possible.  This will produce much more uniform cookies!

Serve along with the batch of Devil Cookies (Fired Up Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies).  Your guests will love the blend of sweet and spicy.  If your cookies make it that far.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

For the Birthday Girls!

Happy Birthday to two of my very favorite people!

My mom, an inspiration in so many ways, and a kick to hang out with.

My sweet baby niece, as cute as can possibly be, rambunctious and every bit a love.

Love you both to the moon and back, and can't imagine life without you!

Enjoy a virtual birthday dessert - you get to share some birthday cake tomorrow!

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