Archive | April, 2012

Sausage Lentil Soup

14 Apr

I have been going CRAZY on this Rachael Ray soup all winter. And I get to use some of my Homeade Sausage in it!

Ingredients

My homemade sausage

I have made about 5 big pots (sometimes double recipes) of this soup and I freeze containers of it for healthy work lunches.

Veggies

Simmer

We’ve been having such a mild winter, that my Rosemary bush is still alive and fresh as ever. So I love using fresh rosemary in this soup. I tend to veer a lil less on the escarole just because personally I dont like a lot of lettuce-y greens in my soups.

These guys go in at the end

Delicious

This soup is so delicious and tasty. It takes no time to make. And it makes great lunches throughout the week for work. Pair it with a piece of bread and you are set!

Sausage Lentil Soup

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound sweet italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces brown lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 head (3/4 lb.) escarole, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and cook until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils, broth and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the escarole and sausage, cover the pot and cook until the escarole is wilted and the sausage is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Versatile Vanilla Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

12 Apr

I knew I wanted to make a cake on Superbowl Sunday for Robbbb since his Patriots were playing. I wanted to make a vanilla cake since that’s his favorite, but wanted to use chocolate icing since that is MY favorite.

Basic ingredients - except buttermilk is something most people dont have on hand

Batter

I looked around for a couple days for some decent recipes. I ended up turning to Martha Stewart. I read some reviews on various cakes and netted out on her Versatile Vanilla and Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Beautiful Layers

Chopped Chocolate

I hadnt made a cake in a long time so I was excited. And I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’ve NEVER made a layer cake with icing before. And as you all know, I am always excited to get out my KitchenAid mixer and mix something!

Cream mixing with the Chocolate

Cooling the Ganache

I set out slowly and with confidence. I followed Martha’s instructions to a T and used quality ingredients. For the icing, you HAVE to use quality chocolate – 60 or 70% cacao at least. I used Ghirardelli brand 8 oz at 60% and 8 oz at 70%.

Iced Cake

It turned out AMAZING. The cake was moist and delicious and so flavorful. The chocolate ganache was the richest icing I’ve ever had. I will ALWAYS use this ganache from now on. It couldn’t have been simpler to make, too. I think the next time I make it, I’ll try using 2 cups of whole milk instead of 2 cups heavy cream just to see if I can make it a smidge healthier.

Delicious

I have since made this cake again for a Girls Night get together and it was once again, a total crowd pleaser. Robb’s compliment about this cake: “This cake reminds me why I love cake so much“. Believe it.

Versatile Vanilla Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
  4. Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides.

Dark-Chocolate Ganache

(Makes 3.5 cups)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a boil. Remove from heat; add 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, and let stand, without stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk just until combined. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 1 hour.

Easter 2012

9 Apr

Easter this year fell on Grandmom Mullaney’s birthday – if you remember, this blog is named after a famous catch-phrase that Grandmom Mullaney used to say. So we remembered Grandmom Mullaney at dinner yesterday not only by discussing her birthday, but also by having 3 desserts to choose from…..thus requiring some folks to request “a sliver of each”.

Anyway, here are a couple snippets from our holiday – we were 2 brothers (and their families) short so it was a lighter holiday dinner than normal. We also had Pat’s friend, Paul, join us as well. He is a professional photographer so we were lucky to get some great pics from him!

This Easter was fabulous – the weather was beautiful (high 60’s, breezy, and sunny), the food was delicious, and the laughs kept coming.  Here are some shots.

Here were the apps. I made two of them: The spinach gruyere pinwheels and the roasted grape crostinis – I will post recipes for these items in the near future. My mom made cheese straws and also stuffed peppadews with goat cheese and had some olives and candy.

It wouldnt be easter without the easter egg hunt! Notice how 2 of the parents are just as active in the hunt as their children???

After the Hunt...counting the loot!

Here was a family group shot – I love these and we’ve had a couple occasions to do them this year.

Here are some dinner shots. Our menu consisted of: Lamb, twice-baked potatoes (made by Julie), grilled asparagus, salads with baked goat cheese, pickled beets, and bread (made by me!).

Pre-dinner shot with Maddie and Mom-mom

Roasted lamb with twice-baked potatoes

Grilled Asparagus and salad

One of my faves....Donkey and Goat - made by Patrick's friend, Jared

Before the feeding frenzy begins

And even the peacock came to say hello! (even though we lit off a quarter stick of dynamite 2 hours prior to try to get him to LEAVE – obviously, it didn’t work!) If anyone lives in the area and would love to have a peacock on their property – and you think you can catch him – please let me know. My parents would be so grateful for you to have him.

Someone take this peacock away from my parents house

And for dessert: My mom’s amazing Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie, and Birthday Cake for me (since it was my birthday the day before). It was a tough choice to decide on just one. Some of us needed a sliver of each!!!

3 choices for dessert

All in all, it was a wonderful day for everyone.

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

6 Apr

Looking for a fresh-tasting and healthy salad that will wow your guests this weekend?

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine magazine in October or November 2011. It looked good and simple, but time-consuming so I passed it by. Lo and behold, Robbb and I spent our Thanksgiving with my brother and sisterinlaw, Pat and Julie. And Julie busts this salad out! I was psyched to try it since I had seen the recipe and was familiar with it.

Ingredients

This salad is so easy, hearty, and tasty. It tastes so fresh and makes your mouth sing. The dressing is so bright and tangy from the shallots. You can also add some crumbled bacon to the top if you like!

Doesnt it look awesome?

And you can make EVERYTHING in advance and just quickly assemble it. So it carries well if you need to bring a salad to someone’s house as part of potluck dinner. I made this salad for my Girls Night Dinner and then took leftovers to my brother, Jerry’s, house for dinner the next night.

Part of my Girls Night Dinner

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad 

Ingredients for Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Almonds:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (I usually do 3/4 cup)
  • salt

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 lb. total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife (I buy pre-shredded at Wegmans)
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino (I use 1.5 – 2 cups)

Directions:

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl.  Stir to blend.  Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

DO AHEAD:  Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Serves 8-10

Homemade Sloppy Joes

2 Apr

I saw this recipe in an issue of Rachael Ray’s Magazine in the fall. It looked easy and something that I could quickly put together on a weeknight. It also looked tasty and accessible with ingredients anyone would have on hand – which is key for me!

Ingredients - notice, i had already chopped up the onion and pepper

Originally it called for Bison meat since bison meat is very low-fat and delicious. I just tried a bison burger for the first time in South Dakota in October when I was out on a road trip with my girlfriends, Keri and Jen! It tasted just like beef – but it is healthier! When I make this recipe though, I usually just use beef because it’s easier to find. Although I am trying it with bison meat for the first time tonight!

Simmer

I tweaked the recipe slightly and added some Dijon to it. We felt it needed some “umph” – not a spicy kick, but some umph!  Once I added the Dijon the next time I made it, it was perfect. This is an EXCELLENT weeknight meal – I highly recommend it!

Off the bun

I eat it off the bun – Robbbbb eats it on the bun.

On the bun

Sloppy Joe   (makes 6)

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tblsp EVOO
  • 1 lb ground bison (I used beef the first time and it’s yummy….i also just used bison and it was great)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups no-salt-added tomato puree
  • 1.5 tblsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tblsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tblsp worcestshire sauce
  • 1 tblsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • (hamburger buns)

Using a food processor, coarsely chop the onion and bell pepper.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the onion/pepper mixture and cook until softened – about 3 minutes.

Add the meat, breaking it up with a spoon and cook until it loses its redness.

Stir in the chili powder. Add the tomato puree, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestshire sauce, dijon, and salt. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 – 10 minutes.

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