The First Soup of the Season – Baked Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

Okay, so the weather hasn’t been exactly fall weather here the last 2 days, with temperatures getting up into the 80s during the day on both days, but it still seems to be that soup time of year. Things cooled down quite a bit last night and should be back more towards normal here, which means brisk autumn air that makes for good soup weather. With so many great fall vegetables around right now, particularly a bunch of different root vegetables, the opportunities are there to make all kinds of good soups. One that has always been a family favorite of ours has been butternut squash soup and since squash is so plentiful right now  I knew I just had to make some soup the other night. I had picked up a couple of butternut squash at the farmer’s market last week, along with some carrots, celery root and leeks and I knew this was all going to come together nicely for a soup dinner. I decided to use this recipe from Molly O’Neill at New York Times Cooking for a baked butternut squash soup and adapted it to include some other great root vegetables to make it my own.

Baked Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

2 butternut squash, about 1 pound each, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed well and finely chopped

1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons honey

teaspoon each of mace, ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice


3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash, carrots leeks and celery root in a shallow roasting pan or casserole dish. Sprinkle the olive oil over the vegetables, add salt and pepper to taste and toss the vegetables in the oil to coat them well. Drizzle the vegetables with the honey and add the mace, ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice and toss the vegetables again so they are well mixed. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the vegetables in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil from the pan and continue roasting the vegetables until they are lightly browned and fork tender, about another 20 to 25 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat the chicken broth in a large pot or Dutch oven until it is simmering. Remove the pan from the oven and place the vegetables in the pot with the broth and mix them well. All the broth and vegetables to continue simmering for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables and broth together until the vegetables are smooth (You can also do this in a blender in batches if you prefer). Return the pot to the stove and bring the soup slowly to a boil over medium-low heat and then stir in the heavy cream. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley, if desired.

You get some great combinations of flavors here with the squash, celery root, carrots and leeks. The honey just bumps up the sweetness a tiny bit here and the spices, even though they are in small amounts, add just the right touch. I like roasting the vegetables before putting them in the soup because they get nice and tender and seem to have better flavor this way than if you sautéed them in a pan or the same pot as the soup. You can leave out the heavy cream if you prefer but I added it because it helps create some great texture to the soup. The soup would benefit even more if you added a peeled and sliced apple to the vegetables when roasting, but I didn’t have any on hand so I left it out. You could also easily make this a vegetarian meal by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth or just using water.This makes a nice batch of soup so you can have leftovers for other meals or lunches and we had the soup with sandwiches for dinner, but you could easily have it by itself, with some croutons, a salad or just with some homemade bread or biscuits. It was a great way to kick off what hopefully is the first of some awesome soups and stews this year.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Leftovers, Lunch, One Pot Meals, Vegetables, Vegetarian


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Here’s a Beef for You – Herb Crusted Round Roast with Parmesan Black Pepper Popovers

I do not typically buy a lot of eye round to using my cooking. It is not because we do not like to eat it; the fact is very often the pieces are just too large for just the three of us so unless I was making something for crowd for a special occasion it does not really make much sense for us. However, I am always a sucker for a good sale so if something is a really good price I am willing to take the plunge and make the investment in. Such was the case recently when our local supermarket had large pieces of eye round for a very cheap price. It meant looking for a piece that was not too big but was one that I could cut up into portions that would be the appropriate size for the three of us and allow me to freeze the rest. I was able to cut the roast that I chose into three decent sized portions so that we will be able to get at least three separate meals from the roasts. It was then a matter of finding a recipe that looks good where we could cook the roast without having it get dried out or tough, which is one of my typical complaints about many eye round roasts that you get. I came across this recipe from Serious Eats for a herb crusted round roast with Parmesan black pepper popovers that, even though it sounds complicated, is a very easy recipe to make and came up with great results.

Herb-Crusted Round Roast with Parmesan-Black Pepper Popovers

For the Popovers:

3 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup milk

3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

For the Beef:

3-pound beef eye of round roast, trimmed of fat

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

3 medium cloves of garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon grain mustard

For the Horseradish Cream:

1/2 cups sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice from one lemon

For the popovers, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 400°. Place two muffin tins in the oven to preheat; note that you will be using about 18 of the tins.

Combine the eggs, flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, milk and Parmesan cheese in a blender using a low-speed setting. Do not over mix. Remove the muffin tins from the oven, quickly spray the tins with cooking spray and pour the batter into the tins, filling eighteen wells halfway. Place the muffin tins in the oven and bake the popovers until they are puffed up and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the popovers from the oven and cool them on a wire rack in the tins.

For the beef, while the popovers are baking, season the roast with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed, oven-safe roasting pan until the oil is shimmering. Add the roast and cook, turning it occasionally, until it is well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a large platter and set it aside.

Add the thyme, sage, parsley, oregano, paprika, garlic, mustard and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a blender or food processor. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and pepper and pulse it until it forms a paste. Generously rub the herb mixture on the roast. Return the roast to the Dutch oven or roasting pan. When the popovers are done, reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Transfer the Dutch oven or roasting pan to the oven and roast the beef until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast registers 125° for medium rare or 135° for medium, about 1 hour. Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Tent the roast with foil and allow it to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.

For the sauce, while the roast is resting, combine the sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Return the popovers to the oven to reheat them for about 5 minutes.

Carve the roast, arrange the slices on a platter and serve them immediately with the Horseradish cream and the popovers.

While this is certainly an elegant looking meal, it is simple enough where you could do this on a weeknight if you felt like having a beef roast. The roast came out perfectly, with a nice pink center and it was not tough at all. The herb crust on the outside added some very nice flavor to the beef. The popovers were very nice addition and made a great side dish that was very easy to do. I did not make the horseradish sauce to go with the beef since I am the only one who eats Horseradish but under normal circumstances I think it would be pretty tasty. I served this with some fresh green beans and some mashed potatoes and we made some gravy with the drippings that were left from the meat and the gravy really helped to punctuate the deliciousness of the meal. Since I still have some beef in the freezer, this is certainly a recipe that I would fall back on again since it went over so well.

That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!





Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Beef, Breads, Cooking, Dinner


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The 101 Recipes You Need to Know How to Cook | Bon Appetit

Every home cook has some basic recipes that they turn to all of the time for weeknight meals, special Sunday suppers or dinner parties. There are some classics and basic recipes that you learn along the way that you can always rely on when you want to turn out a great meal. Bon Appetit has put together 101 of the basic classic recipes, with everything from appetizers to desserts and everything in between so that you can have recipes to fall back on, learn and use when you want them. Check it out!

Source: The 101 Recipes You Need to Know How to Cook | Bon Appetit


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Easy From Start to Finish – Peach Glazed Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Broccoli

I find myself more and more trying to figure out ways where I can make meals that are all cooked in one pan. Not only does this make cleanup much easier for all of us after dinner so we don’t have to spend 45 minutes doing dishes (no dishwasher for us; everything is done by hand) but it also allows for dishes that provide a great melding of flavors along the way. I particularly like to do one pan meals with pork and chicken. They seem to be the best for meals of this type and are most adaptable so that you can use potatoes or rice and whatever vegetables you like the most and cook everything together. Of course, adding some great flavor to your protein helps a lot too. I had picked up some peach preserves when I last went to the farmer’s market and have been looking for a meal to use them with. The preserves tasted great on their own so I knew they would really perk up a chicken dish. Instead of going out and finding a recipe like I usually do I decided to wing this one on my own and see how it would turn out.

Peach Glazed Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Broccoli

1/2 cup peach preserves

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces fingerling potatoes, rinsed and halved

2 cups broccoli crowns

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, add the peach preserves, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic. Whisk the mixture until it is well blended and heat at a low simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a large oven-safe skillet or roasting pan set over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat it until it is shimmering. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs in the skillet, skin side down, and cook until the skin is nicely browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over and heat on the second side for about 3 to 4 minutes just to lightly brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and oil in the pan. Add the potatoes to the bottom of the pan and cook them for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli on top of the potatoes. Nestle the chicken pieces into the broccoli and coat each piece of chicken with some of the peach glaze. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, coat the chicken pieces with more of the peach glaze. Return the chicken to the oven and cook until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into one of the thighs and the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

The great thing about cooking this way is that you get the great flavors from the chicken and the glaze working their way down through the broccoli and potatoes to give them a touch of the sweetness from the peaches. You also get the nice roasting of the broccoli and potatoes as well, which is my favorite way to have each. You can use your own favorite glaze for the chicken to get the flavor you want (apricot would work well here as well) or even substitute pork for the chicken. You end up with nice crispy chicken that has wonderful taste and you get the entire meal done in one dish.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!




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Who Needs a Reservation? Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara Sauce in Your Home

No matter what large city you may be in there are always iconic places that you know of that can be great to dine at. New York City is chockful of places like this and if you are a lover of Italian food, Rao’s is a place you likely know of and would love to visit. If you have ever had the good fortune of dining there yourself you are among the very lucky. Rao’s is well-known for being the toughest reservation to get in New York City, not only because they have a highly-regarded menu but simply because they have very few tables to go around and a pretty regular clientele that takes them. Just because you can’t sit at a table at Rao’s doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to enjoy one of their Italian classics,  such as meatballs with their famous red sauce. The recipe, from the New York Times, provides you the opportunity to make this signature dish on your own, saving you time, money and frustration.

Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

For the Sauce:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces salt pork, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 28-ounce cans imported Italian crushed tomatoes

6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Pinch of dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground lean beef

½ pound ground veal

½ pound ground pork

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 small garlic clove, minced

Salt and ground black pepper

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, lightly smashed

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, then add the salt pork. Sauté the pork until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the salt pork. Add the onion and sauté it  until it is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté it just until it is softened. Add the tomatoes with their juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. Add the basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the sauce for 1 minute more.

To make the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, veal and pork. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley and minced garlic, then salt and pepper as desired. Add the bread crumbs and mix everything well. Slowly add up to 2 cups water, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mixture is moist; all the water may not be needed. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 -inch meatballs.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and sauté it until it is lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, then discard the garlic. Working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan, add meatballs and fry them until the undersides are brown and slightly crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides of the meatballs, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the cooked meatballs to paper towels to drain, and then add them to the marinara sauce. Mix the sauce and meatballs gently and serve.

This recipe is very simple and I have found that really great-tasting, classic Italian dishes are often this way. They don’t need to use a lot of complicated methods or fancy ingredients; they stick to basics and offer great flavor. You can use a basic meatloaf mix to make the meatballs for the mixture of fat and flavor they go for or stick to your own and just use basic ground beef if you like, but if you are trying to imitate the flavor of a Rao’s meal to try it out, I would try to stick to as close of the recipe as you can to see if it is something you enjoy. I did go the extra mile and purchased the more expensive San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe to see if it made a difference over what I traditionally used. The sauce was very tasty, allowing the basic tomato flavor to shine through with nice fresh basil adding to it. The meatballs also were very simple but had good taste to them as well. All you need after that is some pasta, nice crunchy bread, a good bottle of wine and some great mood lighting and you can recreate your own Rao’s experience in your dining room or kitchen. It is an easy enough recipe to make it part of your meal rotation.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Eating Out, Pasta, Sauce


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Impressive Biscuits in a Hurry – Cook’s Country Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

We had something of an impromptu breakfast yesterday with Michelle’s parents and our nephew stopping over for a nice breakfast so we had to throw some things together in a hurry. There is always plenty of bacon, eggs and coffee in the house and ingredients to make pancakes, but I really like to have nice, warm biscuits to serve with breakfast as well. They are great just with butter, but also go well with jelly, or to put some egg or bacon on and make yourself a little sandwich. The usual recipe I have turned to for biscuits takes a bit of time and preparation, something I did not really have yesterday, but this recipe from Cook’s Country for buttermilk drop biscuits gives you the same great taste and flavor in much less time so you can put it together pretty quickly.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, chilled

8 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line an unrimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl until the ingredients are well blended. Stir the buttermilk and melted butter together in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup until the butter begins to form clumps.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Using a greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, drop level scoops of the batter about 1 1/2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake the biscuits in the oven until the tops are golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it on the biscuit tops. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes about 12 biscuits. The difference in this recipe is that it uses hot fat (the melted butter) instead of the traditional cold fat you use with butter. With cold butter, as the butter melts it creates steam and helps to give you a flaky biscuit. When you stir the hot butter together with the cold buttermilk in this recipe, the butter will clump up in the milk, giving you the same type of texture you would get in a traditional recipe but with less work. The biscuits came out perfectly and were light and fluffy and had great flavor, making them ideal to go with breakfast. They will also be good to go along with any meal you like and you do not have to go through a lot of effort to make them. Even if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can always create your own by combining 1 cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and allowing it to stand for 5 minutes. You could also get dry buttermilk, which I use often as a stand-in for recipes, where you just need to add water to the powder to get buttermilk. In either case you can end up with great biscuits for breakfasts or to have with stews, soups, chicken, meat or just about any meal you like in just a few minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Breads, Breakfast, Dinner, Side Dishes


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Leftovers Redux – Pastrami Hash with Eggs

Continuing along with my last post’s theme of making use of some leftovers, I needed to find something to do with some of the leftover pastrami I had when I made it myself last week. Too much work and effort went into making it to just let what was left go to waste and Sean and I had eaten quite a bit of it for lunches over the days and needed something different. To the rescue comes breakfast for dinner! Breakfast for dinner is always a family favorite and something Sean has liked since he was a little boy. We do it every few weeks when I have run out of ideas of what to make for dinner that night. It usually involves something like pancakes, bacon, eggs or sausage, but since we had leftover pastrami to work with, what better opportunity was there to make some hash? Has is a great way to use up leftovers and create something new and tasty all at the same time and it gives you a change of pace for breakfast or dinner. I used this basic recipe from Bon Appetit for a pastrami hash with eggs as a template, though you probably don’t really need one when you are making hash.

Pastrami Hash with Eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ pound winter squash (such as acorn, butternut, or kabocha), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 pound pastrami or any leftover braised meat, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces

4 large eggs

¼ cup sliced chives (optional)

¾ cup sour cream (optional)

Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and the winter squash and season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 25–30 minutes.


Add the leeks and garlic to the hash and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Using the back of a spoon or a spatula, lightly smash the vegetables. Add the pastrami and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is warmed through and the flavors have melded, about 10–12 minutes.


Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Carefully crack the eggs into the skillet one at a time and season them with salt and pepper. Cook the eggs until the whites are set and slightly puffed but the yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes.


Divide the hash among shallow bowls and top each bowl with an egg; scatter the chives over the top, if using. Serve with sour cream alongside, if desired.
If you have made corned beef hash before then you can see that this recipe is pretty similar. It would work with just about any type of meat you wanted to use – short ribs, prime rib, steak, turkey, sausage, chicken – and creates some great flavor. I really liked the spices that the pastrami already has and what they lent to the dish to give it even more flavor and it was a great way to use up the leftovers. I used butternut squash with the potatoes and opted for onions instead of leeks since I didn’t have any leeks on hand that day. Sean had his with scrambled eggs while my eggs were over easy and it was tasty to mix in the hash with some of the runny egg. We both loved it and there was a bit of hash leftover that is perfect to use with breakfast with an egg over an English muffin.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Beef, Breakfast, Brunch, Cooking, Dinner, Eggs, Leftovers, One Pot Meals


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