Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flashback Friday - Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

Lets flash back to December! I know soup is a winter dish, but this soup I made back when there was snow on the ground was so fresh and summery tasting I think you would enjoy it just as well now as I did then. I got the recipe from my friend Carol who has a great blog called There's Always Thyme to Cook. Go check her out! I believe the recipe was originally from Giada on the Food Network

Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup any small pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

If you would like to join me with a flashback to, flowers, fun, family please put your link below!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge ~ Apple Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

So I think I might be a little touched in the head..but hey I'm Daring! I was up at 5:15am this morning and started the challenge at about 9:00pm tonight. I've had a busy past two weeks and just didn't get to it before now. I am coming in just under the wire with this post. But I am Daring! Or crazy...Randy votes for crazy! :-) I have to say that the chosen recipe worked like a dream or I probably wouldn't be writing this at all. Nothing went wrong. I was shocked at how easily the dough stretched. I have to give a lot of credit to Randy..crazy as he may think me...because he was my stretching partner. We got the dough just about to the suggested 2 ft by 3 ft with barely a few tiny holes. It truly was tissue thin.

How do you like my pink stripes? A sheet made more sense to me than a table cloth. Jigs was really curious about what I was making. Randy was holding him and he was craning his neck to get a better look (or lick?). Don't worry...he never got close enough! But he doesn't think I'm he thinks I'm Daring! And wonderful for making him something sweet to eat.

Here is the recipe. I really changed nothing except to use pecans instead of walnuts. I just took it out of the oven and it looks great. I'll eat it tomorrow..too hot to cut now! These pics aren't the best but hey I'm living on the edge....I'm Daring!

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

ADDED NOTE: * The strudel was great! I did add a light glaze because I thought it needed a little more sweetness but that is just my taste. The filling was great. I am submitting this to Design by Gollums Foodie Friday Event. Go check out all of the great posts linked on her blog.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and Staycation!

We spent a great week with Chase, my stepson and his sweet girlfriend Mira. Mira had never been to the area and there were somethings that Chase hasn't seen either so there was a lot of sightseeing to do! Even though I did work a couple of days, we ate out every night and did a lot of fun things, so I felt a little like we were on vacation too. Wanna come along to take a vicarious whirlwind staycation too? I took a few pics myself, but I will borrow from Chase and Mira's as well. First night..a Chase tradition, we went to Hooters for wings. Smiles all around!

Sunday we headed to THE must see for anyone visiting Western Washington....Mt. Rainier. Not that you can't see it from a distance everywhere you go on a clear day! It's like the everseeing eye watching over you...kinda creepy huh? Not not really....its gorgeous!

Even the wild life came out to play!

There were still signs of winter, but spring was winning out. See how the ferns are still smashed down where they were under the snow?

Even with the snow so near I did find something blooming. Skunk Cabbage!

Pretty rocks and running water. I could stare at it all day.

Plus a waterfall...can life be more perfect?

From a distance

After a long day of mountain air there's only one thing that will satisfy your tummy. Giant plates of Mexican food! This was Mira's chunky "Baby Leg" burrito. I have to add to Mira's credit..this took her 3 days to eat.

On Monday Mariner's baseball was on the agenda so we piled in the car and headed to Seattle. There is a brewery conveniently (for all beer drinking baseball fans) located across the street from Safeco Field. We were early enough to actually get seating, so we popped into Pyramid Ales for a beer (or 5 in Chase's case) and some pregame Nachos. He got the sampler and as you can see thoroughly enjoyed the sample! All the while I am learning things about my stepson's tastes. *Note the olives left on the plate. He takes after his Dad!

After the beer we headed over the the stadium, where I'm afraid the best part was the view of Seattle (and then it was seen through the rain...Thank God for the roof!).

Of course we always want the Mariner's to win.

But sometimes you have to settle for a picture with the Moose instead!

Dinner was hotdogs! Plus Chase and Mira had the requisite Garlic Fries that the stadium is famous for and cotton candy AND I had some kettle corn...whew...makes you wanna throw up just thinking about eating all of that doesn't it?

Tuesday I dragged myself into work for a day and the kids went into Seattle for a day of sightseeing...Pikes Place Market, the aquarium, Space Needle and Pacific Science Center. I was most envious of their visit to the Butterfly House!

I picked up burgers on my way home from work...that one day pooped me out!!!

Wednesday Randy and Chase went to play golf. Mira practiced her drumming...she's in a Scottish band! Impressive huh? And I did my one day in the kitchen...stick with me til the end of the post to find out what I made. Here's a shot of Father and Son have some bonding time on the course (I think this was actually from Monday (before the game) but shhhhhh.....I would imagine they looked very similar on Wednesday!)

Wednesday evening we went out to do some shopping then had Teriyaki from our favorite local place called Kinza. No pics....too busy eating...

Thursday was another big day and we headed back to Seattle for a Harbor Cruise. It was part of the City Pass Chase and Mira had bought and they wanted us to go too. Well worth the price in my opinion. You get a really cool perspective of the skyline.

Here are Randy and me enjoying the sunshine and sights

When we left the "cruise" we did a little spin through Pioneer Square

And past Pikes Place Market

We were headed to another destination, but I couldn't resist sneaking in to see what was happening at the fish market. No flying fish for the few minutes I was there, but the seafood sure was pretty.

We made it to our car and left the city for the town of Woodinville to check out the RedHook Brewery.

Our tour guide, who was very generous with the samples!

You get to keep the little glass too. The most interesting was their Double Black which has a shot of coffee in it. I didn't think I would like it but it surprised me by it's smoothness.

They have a restaurant that has a nice little patio and we ate under the hops arbor.

Chase had this Caesar salad the last time we visited the brewery (41/2 years ago) and he's been dreaming about it since. It lived up to his expectations.

As did the mountain of nachos Randy and I shared. Its something about the cheese but they are the best I've ever had. I needed this mountain to absorb the alcohol! I'm such a lightweight.

On vacation!

The mountain was out to guide us home.

Friday I headed back to work (UGH) and Randy, Chase and Mira played more golf! After work I met them at a place we like, Katy Downs, down on the Tacoma waterfront and we shared some pizzas. We get one every time called The Wild West..barbecue sauce, chicken, mozarella, bell peppers, onions and pineapple. Very tasty!

We ate outside and had a view of a couple of Merchant Marine ships

And the mountain with the competitor hospital in the foreground. Doesn't it look like a giant Martin birdhouse condo?

We took a walk after dinner...they have a very long walking park along the waterfront. Mira went to put her hand in Puget Sound

We stop to inspect the old fireboat.

And walked out on a fishing pier for another fine shot of the ever present mountain.

Saturday and the week was almost over. The old folks were worn out so the kiddos went to Seattle to finish up the rest of the sights on their City Pass. The zoo

And Boeing Flight Museum were visited

They got back home in plenty of time for us to make our reservation at The Samurai Steakhouse. Here's our chef making an onion volcano.

Chase's Sukiyaki

And my nasty looking but very tasty oysters

Last night of vacation

Last night of Staycation...doesn't Randy look thrilled?

They took off this morning and it was very very quiet here today. Jigs had a long nap :-)
So for those of you that suffered through the whole long post...a reward! A little stack of love. I know Chase loves his Nana's Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies so I made a batch while they were out golfing one day. It just so happens to be one of my favorite cookies as well, so I'm not so sad Chase forgot to take the rest of them for the drive home...hehehe.

Darleen's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

Beat shortening, then add sugar, then eggs. Add and stir in peanut butter. Mix in rest of ingredients. Rolls in balls and pressed with a fork. I bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the pan the remove to a rack to cool. Makes 5 dozen very delicious cookies. To me they are the peanut butter equivalent to a Pecan Sandie.

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