Chilly Day… Warm Soup!

My dad and stepmother are visiting New York this weekend. They are now retired and spend most of their time in a warm climate.  New York decided to give them a taste of the winter weather they’ve been missing as winter came really early this year!  While the purpose of their trip is to spend time with their grandchildren, a visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Times Square and more specifically a Broadway show! I became a little nostalgic thinking about my days working at db Bistro Moderne in the theater district.  Those pre-theater rushes were no joke! One of my favorite recipes from my days in the kitchen there is Butternut Squash Soup.  Here is the recipe so you can make it this weekend and warm your body from the inside out!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, sliced thin

1 large carrot, chopped

1 quart vegetable stock

Method:

-Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange butternut squash in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.

-Meanwhile in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook 7-9 minutes, until tender.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

-Add roasted squash to the vegetable mixture and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

-Blend carefully in small batches until the soup is smooth and creamy.

-Serve garnished with fresh thyme, your favorite croutons or a drizzle of crème fraiche.

Here’s a Good Excuse to Eat Chocolate Today…

Today is going to be a great day… it is Friday, hopefully the sun is shining where you are and it is National Chocolate Cupcake Day!  I believe cupcakes are the perfect sweet morsel.  They are just as delicious as a cake but you can eat them with your hands and have all of the deliciousness of the cake in one or a few bites, depending on the size. When thinking about the perfect chocolate cupcake the one that comes to mind are cupcakes I often had during my childhood.  These cupcakes were a moist chocolate cake and had a dollop of cream cheese chocolate chip filling baked right on top.  It was like they were frosted without the added mess of the frosting.  Here is an upgraded, adult version of that recipe from my childhood. 

Be sure to have a chocolate cupcake or two today to celebrate!

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Make 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper cups and set aside.

-In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, egg and sugar for the filling.  Once combined fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside

-In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate, baking soda & salt.  Gradually add the water, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla.  Mix to combine, stirring well for 2-3 minutes.

-Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin cups just filling ½ way.  Drop a large spoonful of cream cheese filling on top the muffin batter.

-Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.   A toothpick inserted into the cupcake should come out clean.

Apple Pie Season is here!

My son went on an apple picking trip a few weeks ago with his kindergarten class. He had a great time and brought home lots of apples.  You can only eat so many apples so I’ve also been busy cooking with the rest of them.  Apple sauce has been made and I’ve started researching the best candy apple recipes so the caramel doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.  This recipe for Caramel Apples with Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles and Chocolate Shavings is a winner.  I have also been testing some apple pie recipes.  There are only so many hours in the day so I resorted to pre-made crust that I just had to roll out into the pan.  My favorite recipe from the exercise is below.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Makes 1 8-9 inch pie

Ingredients

1 package pre-made pie crust

5 gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg + 2 tablespoons(egg wash)

Method:

-Preheat oven to 425°F. 

-Roll out one pie crust and gently press into greased pie pan.  Allow excess dough to hang over the edge.  Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to chill.

-In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and lemon zest.  Add the sugars, flour and spices and mix to combine.  Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the apples release more juices.

-Pour into prepared pie shell.  Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples.

-Roll out remaining pie crust.  Cut into ½ inch strips.  Place one layer of strips across the pie over the apples, about 1 inch apart… do not press edges down.  Place another layer of strips perpendicular to the first layer.  Weave the strips over and under the first layer of strips to create a lattice affect. Press down the edges of the pie crust to seal the layers together.

-Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush across the top of the pie crust.

-Bake pie for 30-35 minutes or unti top is golden brown and juices are bubbly.

-Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Best Breakfast EVER!!!

The experts always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I couldn’t agree more.  After a busy night of not eating I am always ready for something delicious to start the day off right.  I know after a good breakfast I’ll have more energy to greet the day and manage the many activities I’ll be taking myself or my children to.  Some days my breakfast is eaten on the go and may consist of a granola bar or  a couple of hard boiled eggs.  My go-to weekday breakfast is yogurt topped with fresh fruit and something crunchy like Lucy’s Granola.  On the rare occasion that we all sit down to breakfast together it is nice to have something warm and filling for everyone to enjoy.  Breakfast Casseroles were a weekend staple of my childhood(I grew up in the Midwest!) and are the perfect breakfast when I have time for something more substantial with my family.  In honor of National Better Breakfast Day yesterday, I am going to share one of my favorite breakfast recipes with you.  You can substitute your favorite veggies to make it more your own and you can never have too much cheese!

Happy Friday,

Julie   

Spinach, Mushroom & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

8 cups rustic bread, cubed

4 cups sliced mushrooms

5 ounces fresh spinach

1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere Cheese, using the large holes on your grater

1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

8 eggs

2 ½ cup Whole Milk

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350°F.

-Grease a 9  x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside

-Toss bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Pour onto a baking sheet, making one layer.  Place in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

-While the bread is toasting, in a sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms.  Cook until browned on one side and then stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and continue to stir until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

–Place the bread into the prepared casserole dish, add the spinach & mushrooms and stir to combine.  Mix in the cheese.    

-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the prepared casserole dish over the other mixture. 

-Cover casserole with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. 

-When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Place casserole on the counter for 30 minutes prior to baking.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until the custard is set and the top of the casserole is golden brown.

-Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving or bake the day ahead and serve at room temperature.

Kicking Off Football Season

As football season kicked off last weekend for Colleges across the country and the NFL, my mind naturally turns to tailgating.  For me that is the best part of attending a football game.  In fact, some of my fondest memories from college are of tailgates with my family and friends. The Google definition of tailgating is to host or attend a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium.  At Purdue University, my alma mater, tailgating before a football game was an event.  I was an expert at this before I even got to college as my family has been long time Purdue supporters and tailgaters.  The parking lot behind Ross-Ade Stadium was where we would eat peanuts mixed with candy corn, cold fried chicken and sometimes hot chili.  My grandfather would walk the aisles trying to sell or buy tickets to the game depending on our family’s attendance that week. 

While my family certainly has our own tailgating traditions, here are some of the best from college football stadiums across the country:

Texas A & M – In College Park, Texas the tradition is to arrive well before the game, the night before in fact.  At midnight before a home football game Kyle Field is filled with 40,000 plus fans for the midnight yell.  A cheer practice of sorts before the big game!

University of South Carolina – Before a Gamecocks Game in Columbia, SC you can rent out railroad cars less than 50 yards from the stadium for your tailgate.  Each car is decked out with a flat-screen television and full kitchen.  This is where tailgating dreams come true!

University of California Berkeley- Just east of California Memorial Stadium is a small hill where fans for football climb for a free view of the game.  Climbing charter hill has become a standing game day tradition and a great way to enjoy tailgate snacks throughout the game.

Of course food and drink are a big part of tailgating and what is served varies from region to region.  Check out our recipe box for some great tailgating foods like Chicken Wings with La Boite Ayala Spiced Aioli or Ricks Picks Phat Beets Happy Appy.

What are your favorite tailgating traditions and eats?

Happy Friday,

Julie

Savory Waffles with Cheese , Yes Please!

Waffles are one of those foods that everyone loves.  They are so versatile, you are sure to find a way that you love them whether that be topped with blueberries or ice cream and chocolate sauce or smoked salmon, crème fraiche and chives.  In honor of National Waffle Day tomorrow I’d like to share this amazing recipe for Zucchini Parmesan Waffles.  These waffles are the perfect way to sneak vegetables into your child’s diet but are also really delicious topped with a fried egg and served for breakfast for a grown-up. You could even use them like a pizza crust and top with Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce and mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Zucchini Parmesan Waffles

Makes 4-6 waffles(depending on the size of your waffle iron)

Ingredients

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 egg

¼ cup whole milk

½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish

½ cup All-Purpose Flour

Non stick cooking spray

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

-Place zucchini in a colander and spring with ¼ teaspoon salt.  Let site for 20 – 30 minutes and then rinse well with cold water.  Press out as much of the water as possible and blot dry on paper towels.

-Preheat the waffle iron to medium setting and have your oven on at its lowest setting.

-In a large bowl, mix together the egg, milk and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan Cheese.  Gradually add the flour to the wet ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Then add the zucchini and toss until well-combined.

-Spray the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.  Place rounded tablespoons of the batter onto the waffle iron, leaving room for the batter to spread when the machine is closed.  Close the waffle iron and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.  Place the waffles in the oven to stay warm while you continue to cook the remaining batter.

-Sprinkle with more Parmesan Cheese before serving.

Tomato Time is Here!

It is tomato season and I am loving it! This time of the year I could eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their flavor is sweet and delicious. There is nothing more juicy and refreshing than a fresh tomato in July or August. I guess that is why prime tomato season is in the summer. While I am very content to simply sprinkle the tomato with some Jacobsen Salt Co Flake Salt, tomatoes are also delicious in recipes. Try this one for a Summertime Frittata with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese. Feel free to add other vegetables you have in your refrigerator but the tomatoes are definitely the stars here.  You could even serve it with a tomato salad on the side!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Summertime Frittata

Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

8 large eggs, cracked and beaten

8 oz baby spinach

½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 oz herbed goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

-Preheat oven to 375°F.

-Heat a medium non-stick pan over high heat.  Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and sauté the spinach. Drain off the excess water.

-Reduce heat to medium and add the eggs. Let the eggs cook slowly, running a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to prevent the egg from sticking. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and tomatoes and place in preheated oven.

-Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the egg is cooking through.  Remove from pan and slice into pie shaped pieces to serve.

 

Summer time is for peaches!

Summer is a time for lots of gatherings with friends and family. I often feel compelled to bring something delicious to the celebration. It is an excuse for me to cook something different and who doesn’t love getting tons of compliments on the dish they prepared.  One of my go-to summer desserts is peach cobbler.  Peaches are in peak season and this cobbler is so easy to make for 8, 18 or even 28!  Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream and you’ll have a dessert everyone is going to remember.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Peach Cobbler

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 cup milk

4 cups fresh peaches slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

-Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish while preheating your oven to 375°F.

-Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt with milk.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter but do not stir.

-Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peaches and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter(do not stir).

-Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Cool Down with a Salad!

Summer is officially here and I try my best to cool things down in the kitchen when the weather heats up outside.  I like to have make-ahead sides that can be served at room temperature and often serve salads for dinner. Cooking in the morning before the weather really heats is a good way to beat the heat in the kitchen.  Here are the key components to a successful entrée salad.

  • A good base of GREENS: whether it be kale or Romaine or a mix of baby greens you need a base for your salad. Greens come in all flavors from mild to strong and provide the perfect back drop to a delicious salad.
  • Protein: Having a protein is key for turning a salad from a side dish to an entrée. I love grilled salmon on a salad or hard boiled eggs. Both of these can be made ahead to beat the heat at dinner time. If you really don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove, open a can of tuna or add some canned beans to your salad to provide protein.
  • Some Crunch: This could come from something as simple as toasted almonds or a crisp apple.  Adding some crunch to your salad gives it some texture and makes it more appealing to all of your senses.
  • Something Salty: If you are feeling simple, sprinkle your salad with some Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Salt. If you want to dig deeper add a salty cheese or maybe some crushed tortilla chips or perhaps some salty meat like a cubed salami.
  • Something Sweet: I love putting some dried fruit on top of my salad… raisins & apricots are always a good choice. Candied nuts are a great option to add something sweet and crunchy!
  • Dressing: This could be the most important component of your salad as it provides lots of flavor to your meal.  I am partial to line of amazing dressings from Farmhouse Lab. I would say my favorite is the Berry Olive but the truth is I love them all.  A dressing should add flavor and bring all of the other components in  your salad into one dish.  If you prefer to keep your dressing simple, I would recommend FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil and FIVE Aged Balsamic Vinegar.

With these key components and a combination of your favorite fruits and vegetables you are sure to have a delicious salad on hand for dinner tonight.  The best part of having a really good salad for dinner is saving the leftovers for lunch the following day!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Fire up the Grill!

Fire up the grill!

Who doesn’t love to grill…especially on a warm sunny day, am I right?  At my house I typically do the cooking but my husband is always in charge of the grilling.  It isn’t that I don’t know how to grill, it is just that he likes it and it is an easy task for me to delegate to him.  In the city, we have a grill as part of our Wolf Range which isn’t quite as romantic as grilling outside (but better than not grilling at all).  When we go on vacation, we always rent a house with a grill.  On those instances I am pretty sure my husband loves being outside by the grill, sipping glass of wine and enjoying the weather. 

With Memorial Day Weekend starting, summer has un-officially begun and that marks the start of grilling season for most.  When I grill a protein I typically don’t follow  recipe.  The meat or fish is seasoned with one or more spice blends from La Boîte and some kosher salt.  For side dishes I tend to be more of a recipe follower.  Here is one of my favorite grilled side dishes. I first started making this when I lived in London and we had a charcoal grill on our roof top.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Grilled Romaine Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 heads Romaine Lettuce

1 red onion

2 ripe avocados

1 pint grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

-Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating prepare the vegetables.  Slice the heads of Romaine in half from the stem to the tip.  Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices.  Season lettuce and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.

-Place onion slices on the grill away from the direct heat.  Allow to grill for about 20 minutes or until no crunch remains.

-Place lettuce on grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

-Slice grilled lettuce into 1-inch ribbons and put into salad bowl.  Chop grilled onion and add to the bowl.

-Slice the grape tomatoes in halve and add to the bowl.  Dice the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.

-Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.  Toss to coat and enjoy.