Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Smoked Sausage and Corn Chowder

I intended to take a photo of dinner last night. Between holding the baby, pouring soup, and broiling cheese, the photo never happened. While I think photos often help, I don't think this dinner is so difficult to imagine. Just in case you need some visual inspiration, you really should look at this woman's luscious photo of Croque Madame, which is what I served with the chowder.

The smoked sausage that I used for the chowder is the kind that you find pre-cooked and sold as as one long loop. I bought a turkey kielbasa from the local co-op, but there are many kinds to choose from. Here is an example. This chowder is slightly thickened by blending some of the vegetables and adding them back into the soup. You can make it thinner or thicker by using more or less milk, or by simmering longer before adding the milk.

Smoked Sausage and Corn Chowder

1/2 pound of smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large potato, cut into large dice
1 stalk of celery
1 small carrot
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1 small can of corn
1 can of chicken broth, plus 1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of whole milk

Simmer the potato, celery, carrot, garlic and onion in the chicken broth and water until tender.

Discard the celery stalk. Place half of the potato pieces and the whole carrot into a blender. Add half of the can of drained corn. Add the milk. Blend until smooth.

Add the sausage and remaining corn to the chicken broth and potato. Bring to a simmer. Stir the blended milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer. Taste. Add salt or pepper if needed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baked Tofu Salad

kalamata olives, steamed baby beets, feta cheese and baked tofu salad

Baked Tofu

1 pound block of firm or extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of finely grated ginger root
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice
dash of black pepper

Cut the block of tofu into cubes. Using a microplane or the side of a cheese grater that grates food very small, grate the ginger and garlic. Combine with the remaining ingredients to make a marinade. Toss the tofu with the marinade.

Bake the tofu and marinade together in a baking dish at 375 degrees, on the bottom rack. Using a silicone spatula, gently turn the tofu every 15 minutes to brown the sides. Remove from the oven when the texture starts to look more dry than wiggly, about 45 minutes.

Allow the tofu to cool and toss in a salad for protein and flavor. This will store in the fridge for at least 4 to 5 days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cookies and Thunder

Cookies to Make a Rainy Day Brighter

starring... dark chocolate, apricot and almonds

2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups white flour
2 cups oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 loose cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Beat the sugars, butter, egg and vanilla extract together. Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the almonds, apricots and chocolate.

Bake at 375 for about 10 or 11 minutes. Makes about 18 large cookies.

Enjoy with a cup of tea and stay dry while thinking about the holidays to come.

Just as I typed this... A FLASH of lightening, then 1...2... a CLAP of thunder, then 3...4...sheets of hail! This is quite the middle of a storm I am in. Thank goodness for a warm home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Now that I have been a mommy for 5 weeks, I am beginning to get the hang of things... like making dinner with a baby strapped to me. Other things will come with time, like figuring out the whole shower/bath thing. I had a nice bath today with the baby, and even got my hair mostly washed, until he pooped in the water.

I think Autumn only lasts a couple of weeks here in the Pacific Northwest. We move quickly from mostly warm and sunny days to being able to see your breath puff in front of you as you move from the car to the house without getting too wet. Although, the blue sky is making an appearance today. It is always disheartening to see the looks on the faces of new northwest transplants as you explain that these many shades of grey will be all they see from now until April. It is beautiful though, in a haunting way, to see the dozens of blue greys that make up the view of the water, clouds, and mountains. They layer on top of each other and remind me of those sand "paintings" made by pouring colored sand into glass jars.

In honor of my Dad's birthday this week, I made his famous Teriyaki Chicken for dinner. The recipe is very simple and very good:

Marinate one whole cut up chicken with:

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
hunk of ginger root, grated or minced

Bake the chicken at 375 with the marinade. Near the end of cooking time, drain the liquid into a saucepan and return the chicken to the oven to crisp the skin. Over medium heat, stir a mixture of one teaspoon cornstarch and one teaspoon water, into the marinade. Stir until thickened. Serve chicken and sauce with rice.

I stopped by my garden yesterday and picked hand fulls of parsley and dug up some root vegetables: dark ruby beets, fat knobby carrots, and cylindrical turnips that had pushed themselves out of the ground and looked like they were waiting for me.

I am looking forward to seeing the two quilts that I sent out to be finished. I found a long-arm quilter ("long arm" refers to her special machine, not her anatomy) in Bothell who is stitching the layers together for me (this is the "quilting" that makes my pieced top into a quilt). Here is a photo she sent of her progress. The stitches blend in by design, but you can just make them out in the photo.

I think I will go on a walk and catch some sun. My little guy has slept well in his Moby wrap as I typed this and now he is beginning to stir. Take care reader.