I am no expert...

...but methinks that if this forecast comes true, it must break a record or two!


My benchmark for "nice" April weather in Wisconsin has always been 1987, the year that Ali was born. We'd had a very mild winter and then, suddenly, it was spring -- 70F when I went to the hospital, pretty much remaining there during my stay. I watched the leaves pop out while I was in the hospital! On my release, which was Easter Sunday that year, we had Easter dinner at my mom's... outside!

Obviously, we had Easter dinner outside (more or less) again this year, but WOW, would you look at those temperatures? A full week earlier and 6-11 degrees warmer than my benchmark of 1987.

As I recall, it continued mild in '87 right up until Memorial Day Weekend when it suddenly got HOTTER THAN HELL! And it stayed HOT all summer long. 2yo Katie's hair was so curly that summer, and Ali & I just sat in front of whatever air conditioner or fan we could find so we wouldn't melt into a puddle.

ANYWAY, enough again about the weather!

I found the curried shrimp recipe that I mentioned the other day and remembered why I really wanted to share it -- it wasn't just rice, it was cauliflower fried rice. It was so good! The recipe is called Cauliflower Fried Rice with Curried Shrimp, it's from Food Network. I cut it in half when I made it because I had a half-pound of shrimp in the freezer. As mentioned earlier, I had WAY too much rice. Part of that was by design -- I didn't want to have any leftover riced cauliflower, so I upped the proportion of rice to match -- but my BIGGEST mistake was MAKING that much rice instead of USING that much rice. I put 2 cups of dry rice in my Instant Pot (my favorite way to cook rice these days), which of course yielded A LOT! I just wasn't thinking, and USED IT ALL. Rusty quizzed me a couple of times about the quantity of rice & how it was listed in the recipe, and my blunder still didn't register... for quite a while.


Happy Friday!

We'll be winging our way back to Mexico two weeks from today! It's going to feel a bit like Mexico here next week, with sunshine & a high of 77F on Wednesday -- but not before we get to see more snow! An inch predicted overnight tonight. I feel like I'm talking about the weather a lot, but I know I'm not the only one. heh.


I was chatting with Kate a couple of days ago and Rusty leaned in/over my amaryllis to say HI... Kate said, "WATCH OUT FOR THE AMARYLLIS!" but it was too late, the stem was bent. Rusty leapt into action and we splinted it -- luckily the major damage was only on one side, and it seems to have responded well. You can barely make it out in the blurry background, but there's another pot with a flower bud poking up -- and there are actually two buds from that bulb, plus another that you can't see. I can't wait for flowers!

I've been cooking a lot this week, for some reason...

  • Leek Quiche -- I used an NYTimes Cooking recipe as my base, but did my own thing... I used a frozen deep-dish pie crust from the store, threw in some asparagus with the leeks (and will add more next time!), and used 4 whole eggs (instead of 2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg... can that even be called a quiche???) -- four is my minimum number of eggs for a quiche!
  • My favorite meatloaf recipe -- Yes, Virginia, There is a Great Meatloaf, with mashed baby reds & I don't remember what vegetable. My only mods are to use 1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs instead of bread and to cut back the brown sugar in the sauce. It's a favorite.
  • Curried Shrimp & Rice that was unusual for us but really good, except I misread and made probably twice as much rice as needed. I don't remember where I found the recipe...
  • Last night, I made Sheet-Pan Gnocchi With Asparagus, Leeks and Peas, another NYT Cooking recipe, and oh my gosh, was that ever good! So good that I'm giving you all the recipe, just click on the link and you should have access (the link is only good for two weeks). Anyway, the only thing I did differently was to cut the recipe in half, mainly because I didn't read correctly and only picked up one package of gnocchi the other day. I don't think it would be as good warmed up (that crisp gnocchi would get pretty soggy), so I'm glad it worked out that way. The recipe says Time: 30 minutes, but that is actual cooking time... add another 30 minutes to prep! Also, the oven time is a little confusing and I'll just say that the veggies took as long in the oven as the gnocchi to look the way I wanted them to. I set the timer and stirred the veg every 5 minutes.

Ali & fam will be coming over for Easter brunch on Sunday -- I think I'm going to make that quiche again, along with waffles, some fruit, maybe some sausage. I'm still formulating.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!


Soup Weather

I spontaneously joined Ali on a trip to Costco (and Olive Garden) recently. While there, I picked up a bag of shelled fresh peas -- 20 oz. worth -- without a clear thought as to what I'd do with them, though split pea soup with ham was on my mind, as it usually is at this time of year, especially when we've had ham at Christmas... so why not fresh peas? I did a little searching and found this recipe for Ham & Fresh Pea Soup, which I changed very little.


1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pesto
4 medium potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme tied together w/kitchen string
        I used fresh oregano because it's what was on hand;
        a blend of fresh herbs would probably work great
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
20 oz fresh or frozen baby peas
2 c. fresh spinach
3-4 c. diced ham
Feta cheese & fresh thyme for garnish, if desired
        I sprinkled some grated parmesan on top

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Add shallots & cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally; add pesto &cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, herbs, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Remove tied herbs & bay leaf. Add spinach & peas and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to blend to desired texture; I like my vegetables a little chunky. If a smooth texture is desired, a traditional blender would be more efficient (but work in batches & be careful because the soup is hot).

Add the ham and stir well to combine & heat. Taste & add seasonings if needed. Serve hot, garnished with cheese & fresh herbs, if desired.

>>This soup was SO GOOD! Ann & family were over for dinner last night and even the boys liked it.



Recent grocery list

I've been meaning to type up my riff on a Chicken & Rice Soup recipe for Ali. The original is from NYT Cooking (a separate subscription to which I will definitely keep if I ever unsub from the Sunday paper delivery). I made it for her & the kids and it was so easy... but I felt it needed a little (kid-friendly) improvement.


8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken thighs
4 stalks celery, leaves reserved, stalks diced
2 carrots, diced
        My addition to this recipe -- which I did not do but definitely will in the future
3/4 c. unrinsed jasmine rice
1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves
1/2 fresh lemon, zested & juiced
        I used a little Penzey's lemon peel (powder) and juiced the lemon
        (because it's easier*)

In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine broth, chicken, celery, carrots & rice. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat & simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice starts to break down, 20-30 minutes.

Finely chop together the parsley & celery leaves.

When chicken is cooked, transfer it from the pot to a medium bowl using tongs. Using two forks, shred the chicken, the return it to the soup along with the parsley & celery leaves.

*The original recipe instructs to make a mixture from the parsley/celery leaves with lemon & garlic that is used to garnish the soup. Um, first of all, that part didn't register when I read through the recipe, and secondly, there's no way the kids would eat soup with a dollop of green stuff in it -- they balked at the sliced celery! So I just threw the chopped leaves into the soup. One thing it really needed was a little color, so I'll be adding carrots next time! And dicing the celery... so it doesn't look as much like celery!

_ _ _ _ _

I saw this How to Get Unstuck quiz today and quickly skimmed it... nodding YES to every item in Question #2, and finding that so humorous that I couldn't even move on. Haha.

I hope you all have a great weekend... maybe with soup!


What's for dinner? Zucchini, Carrot & Turkey Burgers!

I was a huge fan of Plated, the now defunct meal delivery service. I've tried quite a few services, and Plated was, by far, my favorite in terms of ingredients, flavors, and recipes. I still miss them!

We have a separate folder in our recipe file for meal service recipe cards, which we often revisit, because we have a lot of favorite & go-to recipes! I also have a folder in Google Drive where I keep all of the downloaded recipe cards -- I made sure I had them all before the website disappeared -- and this works great for when I'm wandering the grocery store aisles, aimless & uninspired, trying to find something for dinner.


One of our absolute, all-time, most often made recipes is Zucchini, Carrot, and Turkey Burgers with Lemon-Basil Aioli. We riff on this sometimes, or change the side veg, and (except for the first time) we never serve it on buns. The only steadfast rules is that we NEVER EVER EVER make it without the aioli. This is also a great recipe for using frozen grated zucchini that you might have in the freezer! Just thaw, drain, and squeeze out all of the liquid. More recipe notes below.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Turkey Burgers with Lemon-Basil Aioli

8 oz. haricots verts
⅛ oz. basil
2 cloves garlic
9 oz. zucchini
2 tsp. butter at room temp
¼ c. shredded carrots
12 oz. ground turkey
½ oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 brioche buns
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

The original recipe is for 2 very large burgers! You'll need a baking sheet and a 12" pan with a lid.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Rinse all produce. Trim the beans, finely chop the basil leaves, and mince the garlic. Grate approx. 1/4 cup of zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. Cut the remaining zucchini crosswise into approx. 1/2" slices.

In a medium bowl, combine carrots, grated zucchini, half the garlic, ½ tsp. salt, and pepper. Rub a little olive oil on your hands, and add the turkey, mixing it in well with your hands, then forming into two patties, approx. 1" thick. Using your thumb, create a dimple on top of each burger (to prevent them from puffing up during cooking - it works). Place the burgers on a plate, and chill in the fridge for at least 5 minutes.

While the burgers chill, arrange the beans & sliced zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet, dot with softened butter, and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, stirring after 5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan.

While vegetables roast, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the burgers and sear until browned on bottom, 5–6 minutes. Flip them, cover the pan, and reduce heat to medium. Sear until cooked through and no longer pink (5–6 minutes more). Transfer the burgers to a plate and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

If serving with buns, reserve the pan, off heat, for toasting them.

In a small bowl, stir together mayo, basil, a squeeze of lemon juice, remaining garlic, 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper. If you want to infuse even more flavor, use the zest of up to 1/2 a lemon. Set aside. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving.

If using, arrange halved buns, cut-side down, in the pan and place over medium heat. Toast 2-3 minutes until light golden and warmed.

Meanwhile, divide roasted vegetables between serving plates, with lemon wedges for squeezing over. Layer buns with turkey burgers and lemon-basil aioli.

NOTES: This seems like a lot of juggling, but after I made it a couple of times, I found a flow. Turkey comes in 1-lb. packages, so I usually buy that and make at least four patties, increasing/eyeballing the other ingredients. Sometimes I forget and use the small holes of the grater, or I have more zucchini than carrot (or vice versa)... it really doesn't matter! I'm astounded every time at how much flavor is in this turkey burger by adding only some veg, salt & pepper!

Let me know if you try it!

PSA: With tomatoes ripening, don't forget about Vicki's* Roasted Tomato Sauce (with bonus recipe for Oven-Fried Eggplant)!


3TT: Three Recipes

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

I think we're all cooking a bit more, whether we want to or not. Here are three recipes that are high on the rotation list and that we really love... maybe you will, too! There's a little bit more involved than just opening cans (oh, that is a really great reward for opening cans!), but not much!

(inspo: videojug)

Special note: Thaw puff pastry according to package directions, usually about 40 minutes
Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Oven temp: Preheat to 400°

1.25-1.5 lbs. steak, diced (I used sirloin)
1 c. flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
6 T. vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled & chopped
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 T. tomato puree (or paste. I didn't have either, so used a squirt of ketchup)
3/4 c. beef stock (or bouillon)
salt & pepper
1 pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Sprinkle the seasoned flour over the meat and mix in well. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef and onions. Stir well until meat is browned, about 5 minutes.

When meat is browned, add tomato puree/paste/ketchup and stock. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well, cover, and turn down heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley. Pour into an ovenproof dish and spread evenly. Unroll the pastry and lay it over the dish, pushing down the edges with your fingers. Cut away excess, if necessary. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot!


I had a really good seal, apparently, and it came out of the oven looking a little bit like a roast turkey! Ha! It settled down after a few minutes... and it was delicious!

You can watch this in a video lesson here:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Tacos
with Creamy Slaw & Crispy Shallots
(inspo: Plated)

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Oven temp: Preheat to 425°

1 lime, halved & juiced
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4" slices (I recommend using more)
1/8 oz. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 scallions, trimmed & thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 T. olive oil
6 corn tortillas (or flour, if you prefer)
3 T. mayonnaise
3 T. sour cream
Slaw mix: 1-1/2 c. each shredded cabbage & shredded carrots (or whatever comes in the bag)
3 T. canola oil

Toss mushroom slices with coriander, cumin, paprika and olive oil, along with 3/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in oven until lightly browned and tender, 15 minutes.

Warm the tortillas. (Wrap in foil and put in oven, or however you prefer).

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Add the slaw mix and scallions; toss to coat.

Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallots in a single layer and fry without moving until crisp on the bottom, about 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking until crisp all over, about 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to remove shallots to a paper towel-lined plate.

To serve, top the tortillas with the roasted mushrooms, add the slaw, and top with crispy shallots.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Italian Spinach and Tortellini Soup
(inspo: Weight Watchers)

Special note: A one-bowl meal!
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 (or more) zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (if desired)
45 oz. reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or broth of choice)
1 or 2 14-1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
1/2 c. water
1 9-oz. pkg. cheese tortellini (or more, if you like!)
4 c. loosely packed baby spinach, chopped if you like (I usually use a lot more)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese (or similar)

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften (about 3 minutes). Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and seasonings, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in broth, tomatoes, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the tortellini and cook according to package directions. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted (about 1 minute). Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with the basil and cheese.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I'd love to hear what you think if you make any of these! Bon appetit!


Fried Chicken Meatballs

The Think-Write-Thursday topic for today is "a favorite recipe."

I've made Melissa Joulwan's Fried Chicken Meatballs from her new book Well Fed Weeknights (we love her cookbooks) a couple of times recently! Oh, my, are they ever good -- you could say that they're a new favorite! They taste like chicken nuggets -- but are so much better!! We've enjoyed them in or alongside minestrone soup and spaghetti.


I made them most recently for my birthday dinner. (I snapped a photo of my cart that day -- the checkout line was a little longer than usual, so I had time to fool around). Along with the meatballs, I also cooked up pasta and topped it with fresh tomato sauce & burrata cheese, and made my favorite chocolate cake, La Bete Noire.

So good.


I walked in the kitchen door the other night and saw every spice container we own lined up on the kitchen counter. I wish I'd taken a photo of that -- I really meant to! I'd had some difficulty finding chili powder the other day and I guess it was time to do something. Rusty took them all out of the cupboard, I consolidated or tossed and put it all back! Obviously, I'd never really KonMari'd the spice cupboard before! That wasn't really on my list, but I must admit that it's much easier now to find what we're looking for.

Here's the stripped down recipe for the meatballs. Mel's full recipe includes a side of greens, along with some cooking options and tips.

Fried Chicken Meatballs

1-1/2 lbs. ground chicken
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. tapioca starch/flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
pinch dried marjoram
pinch ground cayenne pepper
pinch ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the ground chicken, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl; mix well.

Combine the tapioca starch/flour, salt, paprika, pepper, sage, garlic & onion powders, marjoram, cayenne pepper, and cloves in a small bowl.

Moisten your hands, then measure and roll rounded tablespoons of ground chicken into balls. Roll each ball in the seasoned tapioca starch/flour, then set aside on the baking sheet.

Melt 1 tablespoon oil in a large, nonstick skillet over high heat, 2–3 minutes. Place half of the meatballs in a single layer in the pan; do not crowd. Cook, occasionally turning, until browned on all sides, 4–5 minutes; transfer to the baking sheet. Add more oil (1–2 teaspoons) to the pan and brown the remaining meatballs; transfer to the baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Quick Minestrone Soup

If it's Sweater Weather, then it's certainly also Soup Weather.

It's chilly today, a little breezy and rainy... I'm making soup tonight!

I shared this recipe almost 7 years ago... you might have missed it! It's so good, and so quick. I'll sub a whole bunch of fresh spinach for the frozen, and might add some fish or shrimp to the pot.


16-oz. can cannellini beans
16 oz. can red kidney beans
16 oz. can seasoned-for-pasta tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. orzo
season to taste

Combine beans and tomatoes in a large pot.  Add chicken broth, spinach, and orzo.  Bring to a boil, stirring to break up spinach.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender.  Makes about 10 cups of soup.

Chili All Day

The main reason I cooked our spatchcocked turkey well in advance of Thanksgiving was because I needed to make Turkey Soup for our family gathering after Saturday's baby shower and that's how the timing worked!

It turned out that Maddy was such a huge help with party prep on Saturday morning that I actually had time to run home and get a pot of Chili All Day started before the shower began. I'm so glad I did, too, because even though "turkey soup" is different than roast turkey or turkey sandwiches... it was still only two days after Thanksgiving and some people were turkey-ed out! Guests were gracious and tried both soups, but were very grateful for the non-turkey offering.

The get-together was the perfect cap to a rather drawn out and different Thanksgiving... more like a season than a day, with cake and baby gifts. Maddy, my sister Karen, brother Mike and his wife, Ali and Rodney, Rod's two brothers and their families, and his parents all came over... it was pretty great.

Christmas is going to be drawn out and different this year, too, but I'm sure it will also turn out pretty great!

So, I started writing this post on December 2nd and nearly had a heart attack when I went to link Abbey's Chili All Day recipe, as I have countless times over the years, and found that her long-neglected blog has now been entirely removed! I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later; that original post is from October 2004! Thank goodness for the Wayback Machine! I don't want to depend on that, though, so I'm sharing it here for all time (which is, obviously, a relative term in blogging).

Chili All Day

1 ½ - 2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large onion, diced large
6 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
2 Tbsp. dark chili powder
3 Tbsp. ground cumin (more or less)
2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
¼ tsp.(or more) ground cayenne pepper (if you like it hot)
½ bottle of beer

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of Bush's chili beans w/sauce
2 14 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8 oz. pkg. of sliced mushrooms

In a large pot, over high heat, sauté beef in olive oil until browned. (Or roast it, as I sometimes like to do.)

Add onions and continue to sauté until golden.

Reduce heat to medium and add all spices, stirring well and sauté until garlic is tender, but not browned.

Add beer and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, and sliced mushrooms.

Stir well and let simmer with cover on for 30 minutes or longer (longer is better....the meat will be more tender).

* If the chili is too thick for your taste, add the remaining ½ bottle of beer (if you didn't already drink it).
* If the chili is too thin, add a small can of tomato paste.


And here is the summarized story of Chili All Day, in a nutshell (because my kids people always ask):

Abbey's kids were getting ready for school one cold morning in 2004, and as they were waking up she told them, "Dress warm because it's going to be chilly all day."

After dropping the kids off at school, Abbey decided that it would be the perfect day to cook a pot roast for dinner.

When she went to pick the kids up from school that afternoon, the first thing her daughter said was, "I can't wait to have chili for dinner!"

Abbey said, "I didn't make chili for dinner."

Her daughter replied, in that pre-teen argumentative tone, "Yes you did! You told me this morning that you were going to make chili all day!"

Ha! If she had made chili that day, she'd have used the recipe shared above.  :)

Bon appetit. And happy weekend! I feel unsettled with a weird work schedule and not really prepared for next week. There's sort of a plan, but it's very loose and then there's the weather throwing a slippery layer of ice and snow on top. It'll work out, I'm sure, and perhaps some clarity will come over the next couple of days. Let's be merry!


Ten on Tuesday: Soup's on!

Ten on Tuesday: 10+ Favorite Soups

1. Potato -- including all variations, such as Potato-Leek. I don't make it often, but I sure do love it.

2. Split Pea Chowder. My mom makes this using a recipe in the Picture Cookbook from LIFE Magazine, circa the year I was born. This is an orange, oversized cookbook that is integral to my childhood and development, as is The Torch Is Passed and a gigantic Michelangelo art book that was so heavy we always looked at it two-at-a-time. This soup calls for a tablespoon or two of whole peppercorns and, though not always successful, I've been dodging peppercorns in my soup ever since I can remember and can't imagine it any other way!

3. Chicken -- also including all variations, such as what we throw together using leftovers after roasting one (some better than others), and Chicken Dumpling Soup from a local restaurant called Mary's.

4. Chili All Day. I have praised this soup year after year, sometimes numerous times a year. Delish!

5. Beef Stew. This is another recipe from the LIFE cookbook. Also, Carole's Roast Beef Soup -- I love the flavor! And, because of Carole's Roast Beef Soup, I have roasted beef in the oven (rather than browning on the stove) for other recipes -- such as Beef Stew and Chili All Day.

6. Vegetable with or without ham, always with lots of cabbage, carrots, and celery; often with potatoes; sometimes with rutabaga.

7. Bean With Bacon -- Campbell's.

8. Tomato -- also Campbell's, though I've made homemade Cream of Tomato Soup and it is divine. I like to make mine with milk and it is best served with a grilled cheese sandwich (made with white bread, butter, and sliced, but not ever individually wrapped, processed American cheese).

9. Cream of... almost anything. When we were kids Mom used Cream of Mushroom soup... as soup. Most people have an "Ew" reaction to that, as they've always only ever used it as an ingredient. When I met my husband, he used Cream of Celery soup as... soup... and I had an "Ew" reaction, having never used it in any way, shape or form EVER. Well, I ate it. And it was good! And now my kids have grown up eating Cream of Celery soup, too! (No one around here was ever a fan of the 'shroom as much as me.) I've also made Cream of Spinach (shown above) and Cream of Asparagus soup from scratch -- and I should like to do that again this spring when it's in season again.

10. Quick Minestrone.* I have a recipe at home that's almost nothing but opening cans of beans and tomatoes and chicken broth, adding some spinach (frozen or otherwise), and some orzo (or other small pasta) -- it was always a great stand-by recipe for busy weeknights!

11. Cioppino -- or any fish soup, stew, chowder, or boil. A whole bunch of my favorite worlds collide right there -- I love to make it, and to eat it.

12. Turkey. You might think, Isn't this the same as chicken? But no, it is not the same. There's a recipe in an old Holiday Cooking magazine that started us on a (somewhat lapsed but not forgotten) tradition of making it with homemade noodles -- good ones can be found at the grocery, but homemade... Mmm.

*I just found this recipe in a post from December of '09, so thought I'd share again. 


16-oz. can cannellini beans
16 oz. can red kidney beans
16 oz. can seasoned-for-pasta tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. orzo
season to taste

Combine beans and tomatoes in a large pot. Add chicken broth, spinach, and orzo. Bring to a boil, stirring to break up spinach. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Makes about 10 cups of soup.

See? Couldn't be easier. You've never tasted a more delicious "homemade" soup that came from so many cans.

Vicki's* Roasted Tomato Sauce

ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE (makes about 10 cups)

15 cloves of garlic
8 lbs tomatoes (any variety), halved or quartered
5-10 medium onions, quartered
1 c. fresh herbs, chopped -- rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, oregano
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper
3-4 Tbsp. sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Peel and chop 5 cloves of garlic; leave the remaining cloves whole. In a large roasting pan, gently toss together tomatoes, garlic, onions, oil, salt, and pepper.

Roast for 25 minutes. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes; stir. Roast for another 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and broken down into a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.

Remove from oven and taste. If slightly bitter, add sugar and stir. Pour sauce into clean, sterile jars or freezer bags and can or freeze, or refrigerate. If you prefer smoother sauce, blend in blender or use a hand blender until smooth.

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com 
*Vicki's original post (2006!) and notes here.

I play around with this recipe a lot -- using many varieties of tomatoes, combinations of herbs, different varieties of onions and garlic, etc. On Saturday, I added some heirloom peppers; last night a red bell and a couple of banana peppers.  I think I've added mushrooms in the past (making mental note to do that again).

image from www.flickr.com 
I had some nice eggplant from Saturday's farmers' market, so we made a quick, sort of deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan.  I haven't had much success grilling eggplant, but I've discovered a FABULOUS way to "oven fry" it that keeps it nice and crisp!


Eggplant, sliced 1/4- to 3/8-inch thick
Beaten egg
Bread crumbs, seasoned to taste

Lightly sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and sandwich between two layers of paper towelling for 10-15 minutes to soak up some moisture (I don't always do this part).  Dredge each eggplant slice in flour before dipping into the egg and then coating with bread crumbs.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, turn over and bake 15-20 minutes more.

It's the flour layer between the egg and crumbs that keeps this crispy!  Put a few slices on a plate, top with some freshly roasted tomato sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  It's fab!

Bon appetit!  I love this time of year!!

image from www.flickr.com 
"Seam faster!" she says!  Hahaha.  The seaming hasn't even begun yet!  But it is about to commence... a wee bit of knitting yet to do, a few more ends to weave in (amazing how well and quickly that goes when one just buckles down to do it).  This project seems to be taking a long time -- I haven't knit much else all summer -- but I have been busy with SO many other things this summer (and that will continue for a little while).  Thankfully, I don't really have a deadline for finishing and am truly savoring every step of the way.

But I will try to knit/weave/seam faster!  ; )