Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creamy Root Vegetable Soup

This soup is like comfort in a bowl.  It's from the Oct/Nov 2011 issue of Cook's Country magazine.

Creamy Root Vegetable Soup

1.  Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add 2 peeled
and chopped carrots, 6 ounces peeled and chopped parsnips, 1 thinly sliced leek (white and light green parts only), 1 chopped celery rib, 1 peeled and smashed garlic clove, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until browned, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in 12 ounces russet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces) and cook, stirring constantly, until starch begins to release and vegetables begin to stick together, about 2 minutes.  Add 4 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 1 bay leaf and bring to a boil.

2.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.  Discard bay leaf.  Working in batches, process soup in a blender until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Return soup to clean pot and stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Simple Drop Biscuits

These easy and yummy biscuits are from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  They are quick enough to whip up for a week-night dinner and tasty enough for your Thanksgiving table.

Simple Drop Biscuits

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven the 475 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda,
1 teaspoon sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, stir together
1 cup chilled buttermilk* with 1 stick of butter (that has been melted and cooled) until the butter forms small clumps.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Using a greased 1/4 cup measure (or a #16 disher), scoop and drop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart.  Bake until the tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

4. Brush the baked biscuits with additional melted butter, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

* I usually make these with powdered buttermilk, as it is always on hand.  Mix the buttermilk powder in with the dry ingredients in step 2.  Mix the melted butter with 1 cup chilled water until clumps form and stir that into the dry ingredients.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Halloween Recap

The last of the Halloween candy has been eaten/ dispersed/ disposed of.  I finally have a chance to sit down and post my pictures.  I know everyone is already well on their way to Thanksgiving, but "better late than never" is my motto, so here goes:

SugarBear was Jack Sparrow.  Excuse me, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

We purchased the hat w/ attached wig at the Disney Store.  I made his clothes from this pattern:

McCall's M4952

I purchased some wool crepe and spirit glue from a Halloween store to make the beard.  The brown looked darker in the package, but I probably should have used black. SugarBear didn't complain, so I won't worry about it any longer.  I used face-paint for the mustache.

We had big plans of turning SweetPea into Sally from
The Nightmare Before Christmas:

But, we ended up getting a Halloween store costume the week before.  "Best laid plans..." I guess.  She also ended up being a pirate:

We did end up going to a Halloween party, and I went with an "Eyeball" theme to whip up some treats:

Peanut Butter Eyeballs

(Mix 1 cup creamy peanut butter with 1 stick softened, unsalted butter.  Beat in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar until well blended.  The mixture should be thick enough to roll into 1-inch balls.  Refrigerate the balls until they are firm enough to dip.  I used white candy coating to dip them.  Use the pre-colored frosting sold in tubes to make the veins and iris.  Brown M&Ms are the pupils.)

Cheesy Eyeballs

(Mix 8-ounces softened cream cheese with a 16-ounce package pre-shredded 4-cheese blend.  Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls.  Stir some chili powder into ketchup and use that to pipe on veins.  Guacamole and sliced ripe olives make the iris and pupil.)

The kids have already started planning their costumes for next year, so I better end this post and get started sewing.