Farm Fresh: Spicy Celery Root Soup

Image courtesy of Blake Royer

Image courtesy of Blake Royer

With no less than 8 ugly celery roots residing in my refrigerator, I needed a recipe. With the cool autumn weather settling in, this warm and hearty soup caught my eye. The chile adds a pleasing warmth for cool, damp days.

Ingredients
1 Medium onion, finely chopped
1 Red chile, finely chopped and seeds removed (leave some or all of the seeds for a spicier soup)
2 -3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 1/2 lbs Celeriac, peeled,trimmed and cut into cubes
3 Cups Chicken broth
1 Cup Water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper (I use 1 tsp salt and 1/2-3/4 tsp pepper)
1/3 Cup Light cream
Fresh coriander or parsley for garnish, chopped

In a large pot, sauté the onion, chili and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. Stir in the cumin and coriander, and season with salt and pepper. Add the celeriac, chicken broth and water.

Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or just until the celeriac is cooked.

Remove from the heat and use a handblender or food processor to puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cream, adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed,and ladle into bowls. Top with a few chopped coriander or parsley leaves if desired, and serve immediately.

Alternately, allow the soup to cool, pour into pint sized wide-mouth jars or other freezer safe containers and freeze.

Adapted from Creamy Curried Celery Root Soup and Celeriac Soup with Coriander and Chiles.

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Farm Fresh: Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

I’m quite a bit behind on my “Farm Fresh” posts for the year. Luckily, the early fall produce we received in our CSA shares at the end of the season will be available for a few more months.

I’ve never had much of an interest in squash. With the exception of a newly discovered affinity for acorn squash filled with butter and brown sugar, I still don’t enjoy it much. Receiving two large butternut squash in our CSA share felt like the universe challenging me to really give it a chance. My mother taught me to try at least one bite of everything put in front of me, and I’ve learned through experience that tastes change and it’s possible to find at least one method to make almost any food edible (and sometimes even enjoyable). Apparently, butternut squash was made for soup! This one is smooth, creamy, rich, slightly spicy, and extremely flavorful. It is one of my favorite soups. I made one batch to try, and a second days later to freeze. We finished up the last of it a few days ago and I’m making yet another batch for the freezer. This soup has become a staple in my house!

Ingredients
1 pound Italian sausage
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 medium Red bell pepper, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 large Butternut squash (about 5 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package (16 ounces) Frozen cauliflower
4 cups Chicken broth
1 cup cooked great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup frozen corn (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Light cream and minced fresh parsley (optional)

In a large pot, cook the sausage, onion and red pepper over medium heat 9-11 minutes or until the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is tender, breaking the sausage into crumbles. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove with a slotted spoon; discard drippings.

Add the squash, cauliflower, and chicken broth to the same pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender.

Remove from heat and cool slightly. Process in batches in a blender until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot. Add beans, tomatoes, salt, pepper, sausage mixture and corn (if desired); heat through. If desired, drizzle servings with cream and sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 12 servings (4-1/2 quarts).

Freeze option: Freeze cooled soup in wide-mouth quart-sized jars. To use, partially thaw the soup in the refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.

Adapted from Hearty Butternut Squash Soup in Taste of Home September/October 2013, p3-6.

Homemade Bagels

Homemade Bagels
Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp Sugar, divided
1 tsps Active dry yeast
1/2 Cup + 2 to 4 Tbsp Warm water, divided3/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups Bread flour (9.6 oz Gold Medal Better Than Bread Flour)
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp Vegetable oil

Combine 1/4 Cup of warm water (105°-110°F), 1/2 tsp sugar, and the yeast in a liquid measuring cup. Allow the mixture to sit for several minutes until the surface begins to foam. (Some would say that this step isn’t necessary if you’re using instant yeast, but I find that it can’t hurt and only takes a few extra seconds. I’d rather do this than get to the end and realize my yeast was bad when the dough doesn’t rise.)

While waiting for the yeast to proof, combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Add the yeast mixture, plus 1/4 Cup and two tablespoons of the warm water. The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra 2 tablespoons of water if the dough is really stiff or you can’t get all the dry flour incorporated.

Turn the dough down onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 4 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. Yeast dough is happiest between 70 and 80 degrees. If your kitchen is too cool, turn on the oven for just 1-2 minutes and then let the dough rise in there. Do not forget to turn the oven back off before proofing your dough.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Take each dough ball and use two hands to roll it into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands. When the snake is the proper length, wrap it around your dominant hand so the overlapping ends are together at your palm near the base of your fingers. Use your palm to squish the overlapping ends together. Once the dough is fused, slip it off of your hand and you should have a perfectly circular ring of dough. Try not to get discouraged if they aren’t shaped quite perfectly. It takes a bit of practice.

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and grease a large baking tray lightly with vegetable oil.

After 20 minutes, your bagels should start to look puffy. Add as many as you can to your boiling water without crowding. Boil you bagels for about a minute on each side. Remove them from the water, allowing them to dry briefly, and place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Place the tray in the oven. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

To create flavored bagels like sesame seed or onion, spread the seed or slice on a small dry plate. Place the boiled, dried bagels face down onto the plate to coat and then place them seed side up on the baking tray. Bake and flip as described above.

Adapted slightly from Homemade Bagel Recipe by John D Lee.

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles (Refrigetator Method)

Almost Pickles

I’m way behind in my posts, and I feel horrible about it. I’ve been cooking up a storm, but haven’t had much time to assemble it all into useful blogging magic. I have a legitimate excuse, promise. I’ve been working nights in the Emergency Department of the local hospital to complete my Advanced EMT license. Saving lives is worth a little blogging delay, right???

Unfortunately, that means this pickle recipe is just a little bit out of season. A while back our CSA bag included both pickling cucumbers AND fresh dill in the same week! The obvious solution? Dill pickles! I searched far and wide for a decent recipe. I, personally, do not like sweet pickles. I won’t touch them. So many of the recipes I found suggested adding a small amount of sugar to the mix, but I don’t like even a hint of sweetness in my pickles so I was determined to avoid it. This recipe does the trick. When I finally cracked open the first jar, I ate the entire thing in about an hour. These are THAT good!

I strongly prefer to use fresh dill in my pickles, but I turn to dry dill in a pinch. This year, with the exception of the first batch, there was no fresh dill to be found at any of the grocery stores in town. It seems that lots of people around here pickle things and like their fresh dill. I made my second batch with dried dill, but that created its own unexpected problem. Dried dill floats and sticks to the pickles. I finally found the trick with the third batch…tea bags. I created my own little dried dill teabags and put them into the bottom of the jars with the rest of the spices.

Although some people boil their pickles in a water bath canner, I can survive without an apocalyptic supply of pickles so I stick to the refrigerator method. If you’d like to process yours to make them shelf stable, you can find instructions here.

Place your spices in the bottom of each jar.

Place your spices in the bottom of each jar.

Cut cucumbers and place into the jars. They should fit tightly but not be squashed.

Cut cucumbers and place into the jars. They should fit tightly but not be squashed.

After about 2 weeks, enjoy your pickles. The longer they sit, the better they taste!

After about 2 weeks, enjoy your pickles. The longer they sit, the better they taste!

Ingredients
2 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar (1/4 teaspoon per jar)
6-12 sprigs fresh dill (2-4 per jar), or 2-3 tsp dried dill per jar
1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns per jar (1/2 tsp per jar)

Wash the cucumbers, remove the ends, and cut them into spears no larger than 1 inch shorter than the height of the jar.

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.

Arrange the jars on the counter and divide the spices between them. Pack the cucumber slices firmly into the jars, but not so tightly that they are bruised or damaged.

Pour the brine into the jar, leaving approximately ½ inch headspace.

Tap the jars gently on a table or counter to dislodge any trapped air bubbles.

Apply the lids and rings, and allow them to return to room temperature. When cool, place them in the refrigerator. Your pickles are ready to eat in about two weeks and will last up to six months in the refrigerator (if you can leave them alone that long

Adapted from Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles by Marisa Mcclellan.

Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

Snack Time
In my quest for the perfect granola bar, I had a few failures. My first attempt for chewy peanut butter granola bars was a melty, gooey mess. However, they turned into a delicious, crunchy, peanut butter candy bar. I store these in the freezer for a sweet treat! Best of all, with only a little honey as a sweetener, these are almost healthy.

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Peanut butter
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Coconut oil
1 Cup Oats
3/4 Cup Shredded coconut
1/2 Cup Rice crispies

Melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil in a medium sauce pan until fully combined. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Press into a parchment lined 9×9-inch baking pan and refrigerate for two hours. Cut into 12 bars, individually wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Spiced Apple Granola Bars

Granola Bars
I love granola in all of its forms. I could probably live on the stuff if given the opportunity. I’m sure you could understand my disappointment when I realized corn (in all of ITS forms) was one of the foods making me sick. Just about every granola product in the grocery store contains some form of corn syrup. Every time I picked up a box of granola bars for Boyfriend, I struggled with my desire to sneak just one. The occasional failure quickly reminded me that my body was not impressed with my lack of willpower. There was only one solution: figure out how to make my own.

My first attempt at granola bars was a complete failure, although what began as a granola bar failure turned out to be a candy bar success. (Peanut Butter Crunch Bars will be posted tomorrow!) The second attempt was far more fruitful. I mixed these up in just a few minutes, popped them into the oven while I got ready to go to the gym, and pulled them out right before I left. They were cooled and ready to cut when I got home…and I immediately ate 3! At least I worked out today. That balances out my granola bar indulgence, right?

See the notes below the recipe for alternative flavors.

Ingredients
1 Cup Apple butter*
1 1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup Golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom. Dump the mixture into the center of the pan; use a rubber spatula to firmly press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Use the parchment paper to remove the granola from the pan. Cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*If you do not have apple butter on hand, substitute 1 Cup applesauce**, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Any other fruit butter (including pumpkin butter) may also be substituted.
**Canned pumpkin may be used in place of the applesauce if substituting.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Pumpkin Granola Bars on Girl Makes Food!

Farm Fresh: Swiss Chard Chips

Swiss Chard Chips

I’m a week behind on these Farm Fresh posts. Hopefully you’ll forgive me because we’re in the middle of moving and things are a bit chaotic around here. We got a ton of Swiss chard the first week of our CSA, and the second week brought more of the same. Although I love pesto, I already had 44 servings safely stored in my freezer, so I needed another way to use it all. I’ve been reading about kale chips for months, and I had a hunch that just about any leafy green (like Swiss chard) could be substituted successfully. As it turns out, my hunch was right on target!

Our week 2 CSA: summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, cilantro, garlic scapes, chives, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

Our week 2 CSA: summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, cilantro, garlic scapes, chives, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

I feel almost guilty for eating the whole pan in less than 10 minutes. Then I remembered that I wasn’t eating calorie laden potato chips. These little green chips are sinfully delicious and heavenly healthy. I like a bit of spice with my chips. Let me know in the comments how you like yours.

Ingredients
8-10 Swiss chard leaves
Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 275° F.

Thoroughly clean and dry the Swiss chard leaves. Trim the stems and cut into 2″ pieces.

Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the leaves out on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and paprika.

Bake for 20 minutes. Gently turn the leaves over and continue cooking for 20 more minutes until crisp. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes…if you can.

Sour Cream and Onion Sweet Potato Chips (Microwave)

Seasoned Chips

I have an admission to make: I love snack food. That probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise since most people love snack food, but for me it’s become a bit of a problem lately. Since I’ve gone on this wheat and corn free diet, my asthma and allergies are substantially better, but the number of available snack food options is significantly worse. Just about every product on the grocery store shelves seems to contain some derivative of one of these products. Can anyone explain to me why Sour Cream and Onion potato chips need to contain not one, but TWO different corn based products?

My first solution was roasted chickpeas. Did you know you can make them in the microwave in 12 minutes instead of the hour or so it takes in the oven without heating up your house in the middle of the summer? Amazing! (I’ll post more on that sometime soon.) Sadly, I can only handle so many chickpeas in a row before I start longing for potato chips again. I miss the perfect crunchy instant snack, but I do not miss the preservatives and additives or the unhealthily high fat content.

Luckily, I came across a couple of blog posts recently that changed everything. The first was for microwaved zucchini chips, and the second was for a dry mix for sour cream and onion roasted potato wedges. Finally, I found this post by bubbly nature creations for Sour Cream and Onion Veggie Chips, and I knew what I had to do! The combination of the tangy seasoning with the lightly sweet chips is perfectly balanced. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. They don’t taste like commercial Sour Cream and Onion chips, but they are definitely delicious!

Ingredients

Ingredients
1 Sweet Potato, thinly sliced
1/3 cup powdered buttermilk (found in the baking aisle near nonfat dry milk)
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Parmesan, finely grated (or the canned)
1/2 Tbsp. Onion powder
1/2 Tbsp Garlic powder
Spritz of oil, optional*
Dried Chopped Chives for garnish, optional*

On Parchment Chips

Mix the powdered buttermilk, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and Parmesan together in a small sized bowl. Place the sweet potato sliced in a single layer onto a parchment lined microwave safe plate and spray lightly with oil. Microwave slices of similar diameter together to prevent burning (larger slices will take longer than smaller slices). Microwave on high for up to 6 minutes, checking at 4 minutes and in 30-60 second increments thereafter until the veggies have started to brown. Wait until they brown a little (darken in the center) or they will not crisp up, but be careful not to over-brown or burn them. Sprinkle seasonings over potato slices (use a mesh strainer for this), and sprinkle with the chives if desired. These can be eaten right away or stored for up to a day.

Honey Vanilla Almond Butter

Almond Butter 1

Yesterday, I decided to make a recipe that I found on Pinterest a while ago. I’d forgotten all about it until it popped up on my facebook feed over and over and over again these past two weeks. The recipe was for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (no flour, oil, or sugar added). *I’ll be posting that one in a day or so.* The recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but with Boyfriend’s peanut allergy, that makes me nervous. He can handle some peanut products (generally the heavily processed ones) like Reese’s and processed creamy peanut butter, but other things like whole peanuts or chunky peanut butter send him into anaphylaxis. Not wanting to kill him (yet), I decided to make some homemade cashew butter to use instead, and my obsession with nut butters began.

Can you call it an obsession after only two days? Actually, I’m not really sure. After making the first batch of cashew butter and adding it directly to the cookie dough bites, I decided that I wanted to make a batch just to have for spreading on things, so I pulled out the blender again last night and got to it. When I put the remaining cashews back into cabinet, I realized that I had almonds just sitting there begging to be useful. I couldn’t just close the door and forget about them! So, when I got home from running errands today, I decided that it was time to try my hand at almond butter…Honey Vanilla Almond Butter, to be exact.

Creamy, sweet, and slightly salty, it is delicious on its own or spread on just about anything. (Yes, I admit it, I scraped the blender jar clean and ate it straight from a spoon.)

Almond Butter 2

Ingredients
1 Cup unsalted roasted almonds (slightly heaping)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp honey (to taste)
1/8 tsp salt (omit if using salted almonds)
Canola oil (as needed for blending)

Add almonds to a food processor or blender. Blend on the slowest speed until finely chopped (almond meal). Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the honey. Continue to blend until the almonds become smooth and creamy. Taste the almond butter and add another tablespoon of honey if necessary.

If you cannot get the almonds to the creamy stage, add 1 teaspoon of canola oil at a time. Mine were old and a bit dry, so I had to add 2 teaspoons of oil so the blender could finish the job. Once the almonds are completely creamed, add the salt and blend for a few seconds more until fully incorporated.

Store your almond butter in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 2 weeks.

Pina Colada Muffin in a Mug

I’m feeling a little bit sorry for my regular 12 cup muffin tin. It doesn’t get much use these days and I can’t help but picture it sitting forlornly in the drawer beneath the stove, sighing and lamenting its neglect. Someday soon, I’m going to have to pull it out and make a big batch of muffin or cupcake shaped somethings to give away, but today is not that day. Today, I have some left over shredded coconut sitting in the pantry and a new can of crushed pineapple just begging for a chance to shine.

I’m using this recipe as motivation. (I have the ingredients figured out, and I have enough faith in my microwave muffin instincts now that I’m sure it will work out.) I need to start exercising more, especially since the weather is warming up and I no longer need to make the drive to the gym to keep from turning into an icicle. (Oh how I love Maine winters!) I have all of the necessary workout gear, but I usually lack the motivation to get up and go.

Boyfriend has been talking about starting a couch to 5k, although he’s pretty fit so he’s not really starting at couch, and he’s been hinting that I should too. So, today marks the start of my couch to 5k. As soon as I get back, I’ll put one of these luscious muffins into the microwave! I’m not quite sure that rewarding myself with baked goods is the best way to go about this, but a muffin in a mug is certainly a better option than a whole pan of brownies, right?

Speaking of a whole pan of brownies, I have a wonderful recipe for homemade brownies that almost perfectly replicates my favorite boxed mix, (Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge Brownies). I’ll post that one this afternoon!

**After a two-mile walk, I came home to my pina colada muffin. It tasted just as amazing as I expected, although it had a slightly more custard-like texture, so I felt like I was eating dessert! All I needed was a bit of fresh whipped cream. I hope you enjoy it too! (Sadly, I just couldn’t seem to get a good picture.)

Ingredients:

2.5 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vinegar
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp melted butter
4-5 drops vanilla extract
4 Tbsp flour
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp shredded coconut
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp crushed pineapple (drain if using canned)

In a mug, add the milk and vinegar together, and allow to stand 5 minutes. Add the egg, melted butter, and vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Stir in the pineapple.

Microwave on high for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds. (Mine took exactly 2 minutes.)

Adapted from Pina Colada Muffins by Kitchen Confidante.