Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding


Looking for a hearty vegetarian main course entree? You’ve come to the right place! This dish will wake up your taste buds and will be so satisfying your family will want seconds and your guests will ask for the recipe.
Most of you know I cook for families on-the-go. I tend to make home style, stick to your ribs dinners. All dinners include a meat entree, vegetable, salad, homemade bread and dessert. Well, all dinners except for my families that request vegetarian. Therefore, I am always searching and trying different meatless entrees.
While reading a recipe for sweet and delectable bread pudding (that recipe will be a different posting!) I thought what if I made a savory bread pudding that used fresh farm market vegetables and herbs. Well, needless to say it was a great thought!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie

Vegetable bread pudding

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced in 1/2″ chunks
2 medium carrots, cleaned and sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 bag baby spinach
1-2 TBSP. Olive oil
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 cups cubed Italian bread (about 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 TBSP. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, milk and Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Stir in bread cubes, half the cheese and the Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Saute Onions and the next 5 ingredients in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Fold vegetable mixture into egg mixture. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until center is set. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Beer Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables


When the air turns a little crisp here in Michigan I grab my box labeled Fall Recipes. This is my most requested meal this time of year.  I love to braise beef.  It is a wonderful way to turn an inexpensive piece of meat into a moist and tender dinner with a huge outcome of flavors and praise!  I also like to use our local brew-pubs in-season beers.  My favorite is Liberty StreetBrewing Companies Pumpkin Pie Ale.  If you don’t have a brewery close by Guinness is a great choice.  Also, I have used Blue Moon Belgian-Style Wheat Ale.

As with most stews, this is great the first day, but even better the next.  I love to serve this with a nice salad and thick bread. My friend Sue Ford’s Oatmeal Bread is perfect. (Recipe is in the archives)

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                     

Ingredients:

3  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2  tablespoons canola oil

1  (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

1  teaspoon salt, divided

1/2  teaspoon black pepper

1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

4  garlic cloves, crushed

1  (12-ounce) bottle dark beer

1  bay leaf

3  carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

3 parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices

3 small turnips, peeled and cut into wedges *

1  medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through bay leaf), scraping pan to remove browned bits; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, turnips, parsnips and onion; cover and cook an additional 1 hour and 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and beef is fork-tender.

Remove beef and vegetables from pan; discard bay leaf. Cover beef mixture; keep warm. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes. Skim fat off of broth or try this great tip. (Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes fat will rise to the top. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain cooking liquid into a medium bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat). Serve cooking liquid with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon parsley.

* Note……If you have never tried turnips, try them. They are wonderful, especially in this recipe but if you just aren’t a fan you can substitute  3 Yukon potatoes peeled and cut into wedges.

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Carrot Cake Cookies


It’s time for a quick history lesson!

Did you know Carrot cake is often referred to as Passion cake?  The history of this sweet dessert can go back as far as Medieval Times. Carrots were used in sweet cakes since sweeteners were scarce and expensive. Here in the States following the end of WWII there was an over abundance of canned carrots. A business man named George C. Page hired master Bakers to find uses for the cans of carrots.  He promoted the idea of carrot cake after seeing a recipe on the side of the cans.  The cakes became very popular in the 1960′s in restaurants and cafeterias from coast to coast. Every establishment had the delectable dessert on their menu.

My family history of carrot cake is with my Grandma Taylor.  She was a wonderful baker. I loved spending time with her. The most amazing smells filled my Grandma’s kitchen and I loved sitting there watching her glide easily from counter to oven and back. She would make the most delicious baked goods and all from memory. I never remembered seeing her ever refer to a cookbook.  After her death I found a small spiral notebook with my Grandma’s hand written recipes.

Consider these cookies portable mini carrot cakes!  They are made with my Grandma’s recipe in mind.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,                        

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups sugar

1 lb. butter

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 ½ tsp. ginger

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup raisins

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Directions:

Cream butter and sugars together until light brown.  Add eggs one at a time. Wait until each one is combined before adding the next. Mix in vanilla. Fold in carrots, raisins and oats.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large bowl. Slowly add mix to wet ingredients by fourths. Scrape after each addition.

Scoop by teaspoons (I use a small 1-tsp ice cream scooper to make the perfect size) onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350° until golden.

Cool on rack.

While the cookies are baking and cooling, whip up the frosting.

Frosting

1 lb. cream cheese (softened)

1 lb. butter (softened)

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese until no lumps remain.

Slowly add vanilla and sifted powdered sugar.

After the cookies have cooled and the frosting is ready, assemble them by smearing some frosting on the bottom of one cookie and then sandwiching it closed with another.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Irish Bacon and Cabbage Soup


This is what I like to make on St. Patrick’s Day.  It is so satisfying and easy to make.  I always serve it with some homemade Irish Soda Bread and a Killians beer, but since I was traveling yesterday I didn’t get a chance to make it.  It doesn’t have to be St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy one of my favorite soups.  The next day works too!

Hope you enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie

 

 

Ingredients:

1/2 pound Irish bacon, diced

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

3 cup chicken stock

salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups thinly sliced dark green savoy cabbage leaves

 

Directions:

Place bacon in a large, deep stockpot or saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.  Drain off any excess fat.

Stir in potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and chicken stock to cover.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in cabbage and allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes longer before serving.

Serves: 6

 

 

Turkey Vegetable Soup with Stuffing Dumplings


I came across this recipe for a hearty soup a few years ago and fell instantly in love. It is a wonderful way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers. I always make a little extra, just so I can make this after I have spent the day fighting the crowds!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~                                                                  

Vonnie                                                                                                                      

Ingredients:

Carcass form one 12-14 pound roasted turkey, picked clean

4 peeled carrots, 2 coarsely chopped and 2 sliced

4 stalks celery, 2 coarsely chopped and 2 sliced

6 garlic cloves, 4 smashed and 2 chopped

1 bay leaf

10 whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons flour, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups leftover stuffing

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat

1 cup leftover corn kernels

Directions:

Put the turkey carcass, quartered onions, coarsely chopped carrots and celery, smashed garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to just cover, about 2 quarts. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and strain the solids from the broth. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve; you should have about 10-12 cups broth.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper together until smooth. Add the stuffing and mix until well combined; cover and reserve.

Wipe the stockpot clean with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the sliced carrots and celery, thyme sprigs, and reserved broth and bring to a simmer; cook vegetables are just soft, about 10 minutes.

Roll level tablespoons of the dumpling mixture into balls with wet hands (see note) and drop into the simmering soup; cook until dumplings float, 3-4 minutes. Gently stir in the turkey meat, corn, and season with salt and pepper, and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately.

Note: Moistness of stuffing can vary; if the dumpling dough is too soft to roll, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it is firm enough to hold its shape while rolling.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew and Baked Apples


I always look forward to the Fall season.  There are so many dishes I love to make, but it just seems of the four seasons, Fall goes by so quickly and I never get to make all the wonderful dinners I have in my repertoire.

These are a couple of recipes that get rave reviews. I faithfully make for all of my families. These are perfect recipes for when your day is overly busy. The stew is great because you can put it in the slow cooker and all the work is done for you. The baked apples are a perfect accompaniment.  Don’t be fooled by simplicity of these dishes. The flavors meld together nicely and no one will ever know it took you no time at all to create a wonderful dinner.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~                                      

Vonnie                                                               

 

 

Chicken Stew Ingredients:

1 1/4 pound of chicken breasts or thighs or a combination, cut into bite sie pieces.

1 dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 red skin potatoes, quartered 

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/4 cup white wine

1 (18oz) jar chicken gravy

1/2 cup each, frozen corn, green beans, and peas

 Directions:

Place chicken in 3 1/2 to 4 qt. slow cooker. Top with bay leaf, pepper, onion, carrots, and celery. Pour white wine and gravy over vegetables and chicken.

Cover and cook on low setting 8 to 10 hours.

After cooking 8 to 10 hours increase setting to high and gently stir in frozen vegetables. Cook for 15 minutes.

 

 

 Baked Apples with Granola Ingredients:                                                

 2 large crisp apples(fuji,braeburn, gala)

2 Tbsp. raisins

2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

4 tsp. butter

4 crunchy granola, crushed

 

Directions: 

Cut apples in half lengthwise. Using a spoon scoop out core and make a 1 inch indentation in each half. In a microwave pie plate arrange apple halves cut side up. Fill each apple with raisins and brown sugar; dot with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and fold back one edge 1/4 inch to vent steam.

Microwave on high 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender. Top each apple with granola.

 

Slow Cooker Beef and Tortellini Soup


Nothing says Autumn more than a bowl of  this fabulous soup my friend Debbie shared with me.  She is such a wonderful person and I feel privileged to know her. She is “old school” and believes no matter how busy your day, you should have a home cooked meal.  And if the family can all eat together;  Better yet!   This recipe is a great reason to “SLOW” down at the end of your busy day and reward yourself with a very satisfying dinner. I love to serve this with a big salad,  fresh-baked bread and some apple cake for dessert!

FYI…I have made this for my meat-free families and it’s just as good as a vegetarian soup. I added some white beans (cannellini) for the fiber. YUMMY!

Happy Fall!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~

Vonnie

Ingredients:
1# beef stew meat                                                                                  
1 Tablespoon steak seasoning
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
32 oz. beef broth
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 cups frozen cheese filled tortellini  or gnocchi
1 can green beans, drained

Directions: 
In a large skillet, brown stew meat in a little oil for 3-5 minutes add steak seasoning to meat while browning.
Place meat in slowcooker. Add onion, carrots, garlic, sugar, tomatoes, and beef broth in order listed.
Cover; cook on low setting for 8 hours.
Stir in basil, frozen tortellini and green beans. Increase heat to high.
Cover;cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: I have also used gnocchi and just a good!!

Meatball and Macaroni Soup and Grilled Three Cheese Italian Sandwiches


This is the perfect meal for anyone’s crazy schedule. It seems at this time of year everyone I know is going in three different directions all at this same time!  I made these recipes years ago, when I first started watching Rachael Ray.  She had me hooked after how great everything tasted . I love how easy the soup comes together and it tastes like it was simmering for hours,  but it takes less than 30 minutes to make.  The sandwiches are, as she says “Delish”.  You will be very pleased at how it gets the whole family to the table.  A chance for everyone to gather and share their day.  And a tradition that should be savored for generations to come.

Hope you enjoy and Happy cooking,                                                                      

Meatball and Macaroni Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork and veal combined
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups chicken stock 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried small  pasta, macaroni or  ditalini
  • 1 pound washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Directions

In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve. Adjust your seasonings. Serve soup with crusty bread or grilled 3 cheese sandwiches

Grilled 3 Cheese Sandwiches                                                                                          

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin
  • 8 slices crusty Italian bread
  • 1 cup shredded provolone
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano

Directions

 In a small skillet over medium low heat, combine oil, butter and garlic. Cook garlic in butter and oil gently for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove garlic butter mixture from heat.

Place a large nonstick skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Using a pastry brush, brush 1 side of 4 slices of bread with garlic oil and place buttered side down in skillet. Top each slice with equal amounts of the 3 cheeses, distributing them equally over the 4 slices. Top each sandwich with another slice of bread brushed with garlic butter, buttered side up. Flip the grilled cheese sandwiches a few times until cheeses are melted and gooey and bread is toasty and golden.

Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Saffron Marinara and Cheese


It’s Meatless Monday and what better way to start your week than with a fabulous dinner. This meal is the perfect in every way.  Let it be the BEST part of your day!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                  

 

 

Ingredients

2 large spaghetti squash

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup chicken stock or water

A generous pinch of saffron, about 24 threads

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 medium onion, very finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

1 red-hot cherry peppers, sliced with seeds for extra-spicy sauce or seeded and finely chopped for milder heat level

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 

A handful of basil leaves, torn

 

Yields: Serves 4

 

Preparation

Heat oven to 425°F.

 

Split squash lengthwise and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes-1 hour, until the squash flesh is very tender.

 

Meanwhile, heat stock or water in a small pot with the saffron threads to bloom the saffron and infuse the liquid with flavor.

 

While squash roasts, heat olive oil  in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, garlic and hot pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes then add saffron stock and tomatoes to the pan.  Add oregano, parsley and basil, and simmer to thicken, 20-30 minutes over medium-low heat.

 

When the squash is done, melt butter in small pot. Flip squash over and shred the squash into spaghetti-like strands with a fork, leaving the flesh in the squash shells. Dress evenly with melted butter, cheese, salt and pepper.

 

Top each half-squash with sauce and more cheese.

 Serve with a simple salad and some crusty bread.

 

Grocery Cart Ambush


I went to my local market today and decided to do one of those Grocery Cart Ambush. You’ve seen and read about  TV personalities or dietitians who come upon regular people shopping and go through their grocery cart and help them make better/healthier choices.  Ok…so I didn’t exactly do that,  but I did ambush some grocery carts! They didn’t have people pushing them, but the wind was doing a pretty nice job of keeping me on my toes chasing after them.  And I didn’t help regular people make better/healthier choices. I did however, choose their grocery lists LEFT in their grocery cart!

Here’s where I’m going with all this.  I thought I would post one of the groceries list I chased down and see what kind of recipes everyone can come up with from the items. Use as many items as you can and try not to add items unless they are pantry/fridge items(oils, butter, milk spices, etc). I will see what I can come up with too! This should be lots of fun!

As always enjoy and happy cooking,                                                                 

                                                                                      

Grocery List:

Zucchini

Carrots

Yellow and Red Peppers

Garlic

Spring Mix

Raspberries

Mint

Oranges

Parmesan Cheese

Salmon

Milk