This adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe had us licking the bottom of bowls the other night.  I was trying to think of a way to make her white bean soup a little bit more “manly” for the Hubby and the result was wonderful.  With a little crusty bread, you’ll have a full blown meal on your hands.

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 hot italian sausage links, casing removed

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it up wiht the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 min).

Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste, as well as the sausage. Serve hot.

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For some reason whenever I think about pots of soup I always think about that scene in Macbeth where the three witches are standing over their cauldron.  I don’t know why– I don’t have visions of overtaking another’s throne or of being taken down by a C-Sectioned man.  Maybe it’s a morbid curiosity over what the fates are brewing up.  Brewing up some goodness of my own, throughout the cold weather I usually make about a pot of soup a week.  This is one of my favorites….

8 ounces bacon, chopped

1/4 cup good olive oil

6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmeruncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

 

The walking cast is off!!!!!!!!  My foot is healing well and I am back in commission.  I can’t tell you how liberated I feel!  Needless to say, having the cast on seemed to slow down my ability to be in the kitchen as much as I’d like.  Now that I’m back, I hope to have many more recipes and tidbits to share with you.  Here’s one to start:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Tomatoes
Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

For the Tomatoes: Chop the tomatoes, basil, and garlic and combine.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic until well coated.  Top the chicken with this mixture and serve immediately.  Deliiiiiiiiiiicous.

(Parmesan Chicken recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa)

A.K.A. “Crack Cocaine” Nuts.  At least, that’s what The Husband called them last night due to their addictive nature.  The sweet, spicy, warm herb-y goodness that is all over these makes you go back for just one more handful…ok, just one more…well just …

They are amazing served warm as an appetizer, great the next day cold as a snack, and perfect chopped up on a mixed green salad.  My one word of advice?  Ration.  Take a handful out and then hide them somewhere safe.

1 1/4 pounds almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, combine the almonds, pepper, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated. Serve warm.

(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Rosemary Cashews (also amazing).

These are my go-to cookie.  They are moist, chewy, fluffy, and always disappear at any function they attend.  They are a cross between a regular chocolate chip and a peanut butter cookie, making their flavor outstanding, but not overbearing on the peanut butter side (difficult to overdo in my world, but for many…).  This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa’s Party cookbook and, if I recall correctly, is served as the dessert to a Rainy-Day-Soup Party.  Mmmm….A soup party sounds wonderful right about now when the weather is miserable.  I may just have to make some with the leeks I pulled out of the yard yesterday.

1/2 lb. Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar, Packed
3/4 C. Sugar

2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Peanut Butter

2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt

1 lb. Chocolate Chunks or Chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time until combined.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter and cream together.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, b. powder, and salt.  Add half of this dry mix to the butter mixture and combine thoroughly.  Mix in the remaining dry, and then the chocolate chunks.  Scoop onto greased cookie sheets (or ones lined with parchment paper), and bake for 8-15 min (depending on the size of the cookies).  Soooo delicious.

Wait—–stop!  I know that the heading alone probably has you already thinking of two terrible images: ground turkey being masqueraded around as beef, and dry, gross, flavorless meatloaf.  For this, I am truly sorry.  I, myself, never enjoyed meatloaf until I tried this variation from the Barefoot Contessa.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals (and trust me, he is NOT a fan of switching out real food for its low cal, low fat substitutes).  This meatloaf is moist, has amazing flavor, and carries caramelized onions littered throughout.  Try it and you won’t be sorry.  You can eat it with my full fat garlic mashed potatoes (coming to a blog near you), if you really want to make up for some of the lost calories.  Please half her recipe or you’ll be eating this for a week (or more).

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions) (I prefer red onions in this)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Pecan Shortbread

I miss fall.  I know it’s quickly coming, but our days of 100 degree weather aren’t encouraging me of its swift arrival.  I love everything about fall.  I love the colors that all the foliage turns, I love the holidays, I love the crisp air, I love the trips to Apple Hill, I love the clothes, I love the Harvest sent candles that Yankee puts out, and I love, love, love the food.  I must be subconsciously trying to usher in Autumn, as I’ve found myself baking with a lot of cinnamon and pecans lately.

This past weekend, we had a BBQ and served grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I thought these would be a nice addition.  Once the weather gets cooler, they’ll be wonderful with tea or coco.  *

3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups small diced pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the pecans and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut into 2 1/2-inch squares with a plain or fluted cutter (or cut into any shape you like). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.

(From the Barefoot Contessa’s original cookbook)

*Not a nut fan?  Try out these amazing shortbread cookies here.