Sunday, September 30, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Homemade Croutons

This weekend was a cooking marathon. It was wonderful spending so much time in the kitchen. I'm not sure why but this time of year I love to cook, and bake, and cook some more.

Yesterday I finally bought the Alabama Shakes album so this afternoons cooking marathon was even better while jamming out to some new tunes. You can check them out here.

One of the new recipes I tried was this delightful soup. It was a recipe from Closet Cooking.

I changed it slightly because I didn't have aged white cheddar but the result was delicious!!! I also made some croutons with the left over bread from my overnight french toast which was Sunday mornings breakfast.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower
Wegman's basting oil (or olive oil, garlic salt, pepper)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
fresh thyme, minced
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower and oil on a baking sheet and spread to a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sautee onion and olive oil on medium until soft.
Add garlic and thyme and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add roasted cauliflower and chicken stock to pot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Puree. You can use a blender or a hand held blender. If you use the regular blender make sure you remove the center of the lid and place a towel on top. Hold the lit tightly or the lid will blow right off making a huge mess!!!
Pour back into your stock pot and add milk to the desired thickness.
Add cheese, and stir.

Homemade Croutons

Stale french bread, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 c. butter, melted
fresh herbs

Toss on a baking sheet.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes
Stir every 10 minutes for even browning.

And having a helper is always fun!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock

Oh the many uses of rotisserie chicken.

Today I made chicken wing dip for the Penn State game and the fastest and easiest way to do that is with a rotisserie chicken. Once I was finished I was left with a pile of skin and bones which is perfect for homemade chicken stock.

Making homemade stock is so tasty, easy, and thrifty. Not to mention the fact that you can control what goes in the stock.
When you make it at home you know it's natural and not filled with a bunch of preservatives and salt.

What you need...

Large stock pot
Chicken carcass
3 - 4 celery ribs, broken in half
3 - 4 carrots, broken in half
1 onion, cut into wedges
5 - 6 garlic cloves, pealed
handful of peppercorns
herbs (I used a handful of thyme)
salt (I sprinkle one full circle around the pot)

Dump all of your ingredients into the stock pot and fill pot 3/4 full of water.

Let simmer for 2 - 3 hours and it will turn into this...

Then remove all of the large pieces and pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl.

At this point you need to do something with this large bowl of liquid.
I like to freeze mine into small portions which makes it easy to use as needed.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest to freeze soup in a lined muffin tin so you can defrost exactly what you need. This works great for stock!!!

Just line a muffin tin with saran wrap (I like "Press n Seal") and then cover the muffin tin with another layer of saran wrap and freeze. Notice the lovely pile of leftovers in the background!

Once frozen I pop them into a ziplock freezer bag and pull out what I need when I need it!

Each muffin tin is a heavy 1/2 c. of liquid. I typically put them into a glass measuring cup and defrost them in the microwave.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup

My very most favorite time of year is fall. There are so many wonderful things about fall in the North East... jeans & flip flops, pumpkin anything, humidity free days and chilly nights, and a rekindled love of my stove. It seems at the first sign of fall, without any planning, I find myself making soup. The other weekend I made three kinds of soup!!! I just couldn't stop myself.

One of the reasons I love making soup is the flexibility you have when making your brew. You can take a look at what you have on hand, gather complimenting indgrediants, and throw them in a pot. Viola, soup!

Of course there are some basics that I try to keep on hand through the fall - onion, celery, carrot, garlic and chicken stock - to name a few. With these basics you can develop just about any soup.

This weekend I had all of the above and some Hot Italian Sausage that I wanted to use up.
And just like that, Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup was born.

Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup

3 celery ribs
3 carrots
1 onion
3 T. basting oil from Wegman's ( grapeseed & canola oil, dried thyme, oarsley, garlic)
4 hot Italian sausage links
1 large can crushed tomato
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 c. rice

Dice extra small - celery, carrot, onion. Saute in stockpot with basting oil until soft.
In fry pan, cook sausage through breaking into small crumbles. Drain.
Cook 1 c. rice with 2 c. water for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let cool.

Add cooked sausage, tomato, and chicken broth into veggie mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add cooked rice to soup when served.

** Do not add all of the rice to the pot if you are not going to serve the entire batch. The rice will continue to absorb the liquid when stored and become soggy.