Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

A butternut squash soup is cooked slowly in the slow cooker, with cream cheese added at the end for a creamy finish.
Serves: 6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
1 (2-lb.) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 chicken-flavor bullion cubes
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, cubed

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.
In a 3½ – 4-quart slow cooker, combine the onion and all remaining ingredients except the cream cheese.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
About 40 minutes before serving, place about of the mixture at a time in a food processor or blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Return the mixture to the slow cooker.

Add the cubed cream cheese and stir. Cover and cook on low an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Country Seed Bread

Six times the Recipe of Country Seed Bread

Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 min.
12 cups (approx)     all-purpose flour 
6 cups                      whole wheat flour 
1 1/2 cups                flax seeds 
3/4 cup                     sesame seeds
6 Tbsp.                     poppy seeds
4 Tbsp.                     quick-rising instant dry yeast 
9 1/2 cups                 water 
3/4 cup                      liquid honey (sugar)
3/4 cup                      vegetable oil (marg.)
3 Tblsp.                     salt 

This goes along with Arta's blog post on Country Seed Bread
Go to her blog if you need the directions.
It is 6 times the recipe with the added water that she suggests putting in.
I spray the top of the bread with water instead of brushing it on.
I can only bake 3 loaves at a time so I let it all rise once and then just take half of it to make 3 loaves.  The other half I leave in the big bowl it was rising in to leaf the 3 loaves do its rising. Put it into the oven and then about 5 min. later f form your last 3 loaves into their pans to let rise.

*Grease your bread pans with shortening or lard.
This will help the bread to come out nice and clean from the pans.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, & Ricotta

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, & Ricotta

Serves 4

PESTO   (this is my all time favorite Pesto recipe!!!!)

3 Tblsp.          Pine Nuts
2 packed c.     Basil Leaves
Salt                  to taste
1 clove            Garlic (finely chopped)
1/3 c.              Olive Oil
1/3 c.              Parmesan Cheese (grated)

1.         Set oven to 350 degrees F. Have a small baking dish and a large pasta serving bowl on hand.

2.         Spread pine nuts in baking dish and toast for 7-8 min., turning often until pale golden brown.

3.         Bring soup pot of water to boil. (You will also cook the pasta in it afterwards, so save the water)  Put some ice water in the sink and have a slotted spoon on hand.

4.         Put the cleaned basil leaves into the boiling water, pushing them down to submerge them and leave only for 3-4 seconds.  Quickly transfer them to the ice water.  Squeeze out the excess water from the basil leaves.  Leave the water on low heat to cook your pasta in.  Salt the water for the pasta.

5.         In a blender or food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely ground.
            Add the basil, garlic, oil, parmesan, and a pinch of salt.  Blend until the mixture is coarsely pureed, stopping the motor often to push the mixture down around the blade.  Taste for seasonings and add more salt if you like.  Scrape the pesto into the serving bowl.

***** 1/2 of this recipe made enough for one meal for David and I - put the other half of the Pesto into a small container and freeze for your next meal.  
            So I always have a hard time knowing how much pasta will feed the 2 of us.  Now I know that 1/2 lb. of dried spaghetti will do 1 meal for 2 adults.


1 lb.     Spaghetti
1 pint  cherry tomatoes, halved
            Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 c.      whole milk ricotta  ( I used Feta)

1.         Return the pot of water to a boil and put in Spaghetti.  Stir to separate the stands. Cook 8 min. stirring once or twice.  The pasta will continue cooking a little after it is drained.  Remove ½ c. of the cooking water.

2.         In a colander, drain the spaghetti.
3.         Stir 1 to 2 Tblsp. of the pasta water into the pesto to loosen it to the consistency of heavy cream.  Add the pasta and toss to coat.  Add half the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and toss again.  Taste for seasonings and add more salt if you like.  Distribute the remaining tomatoes and the ricotta on top.

4.         I poured a small amount of whipping cream into my spaghetti and that make it more like a creamy pesto sauce.  Try it both ways!     

Monday, 7 September 2015

Pesto Chicken Tart

Pesto Chicken Tart

Makes dinner for 2, appetizers for 4
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 small head of peeled garlic cloves (optional)
3 heaping tablespoons basil pesto, homemade or store bought
1 scant cup cooked, diced chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove one sheet of puff pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. If using garlic, place cloves on a baking sheet and cook in the oven until soft and light golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Allow the cloves to cool and then chop finely.
Unfold the puff pastry onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, pressing and pinching to close any holes in the seams. Using a fork, prick the dough all over—including the edges—to prevent it from puffing during baking.
Brush the pesto in a thin layer over the dough. Scatter the roasted garlic across the pesto. Toss the chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Layer the chicken on the tart, followed by the mozzarella and the Parmesan. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
Bake until the the cheese is melted and light golden brown, approximately 15-25 minutes (start checking early). Remove the tart from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Note: You can easily sub pizza or flat bread dough in this recipe, or any other bread base you can think of. Also, I scattered some diced tomatoes on one of my slices for some extra color (see last photo); feel free to do the same if you have some ripe ones lying around.

Ricotta Cheese

How to Make Homemade Ricotta

Makes 2 cups

What You Need

1/2 gallon whole milk, not UHT pasteurized (see Recipe Notes)
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 1 1/2 to 2 lemons), 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar, or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (available from cheese-making suppliers)
1 teaspoon salt, optional
4-quart pot
Instant read thermometer or candy thermometer
Measuring spoons
Cheese cloth
Mixing bowl
Slotted spoon


  1. Warm the milk to 200°F: Pour the milk into a 4-quart pot and set it over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 200°F, monitoring the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The milk will get foamy and start to steam; remove it from heat if it starts to boil.
  2. Add the lemon juice and salt: Remove the milk from heat. Pour in the lemon juice or vinegar (or citric acid) and the salt. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes: Let the pot of milk sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should have separated into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow-colored whey — dip your slotted spoon into the mix to check. If you still see a lot of un-separated milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and wait a few more minutes.
  4. Strain the curds: Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer. (Removing the big curds first helps keep them from splashing and making a mess as you pour.)
  5. Drain the curds for 10 to 60 minutes: Let the ricotta drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you prefer your ricotta. If the ricotta becomes too dry, you can also stir some of the whey back in before using or storing it.
  6. Use or store the ricotta: Fresh ricotta can be used right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

  • Whole vs. 2% vs. Non-Fat Milk: While whole milk is our favorite for making ricotta, 2% milk can also be used, though the ricotta is slightly less rich and creamy. Avoid using skim and nonfat milks; these don't separate as easily into curds and whey.
  • Pasteurized Milk: Pasteurized milk is fine to use for making ricotta, but avoid UHT (Ultra High Temperature) pasteurized milk as this process changes the protein structure of the milk, preventing it from separating.
  • Making Fresh Ricotta Salata: If you'd like to make a fresh farmer's cheese (ricotta salata) from this ricotta, wrap it in cheese cloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Using the Leftover Whey: The leftover whey can be used in place of water in any baking recipe, whizzed into smoothies, or drunk on its own over ice.