Friday, January 28, 2005

What do you do with black beans? How about a Mexican soup...

Last night I had the most delicious soup in a bread bowl, I'm dying to make it at home. It was vegetarian, but even meat eaters would love this one.

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup
Ingredients included: Water, black beans, onion, celery, red bell pepper, vegetarian vegetable base (baked carrots, lima beans, natural flavorings, tomato paste, cooked potatoes, corn oil, celery, onions), modified food starch, spices, salt, lemon juice, garlic.

Does anyone know of a recipe for this? The closest I can find is on and is called: Black Gold Bean Soup.

It was like having taco soup, I love Mexican foods. :) The bread bowl added a very nice touch - have any of you ever done a bread bowl? They are also great with chili.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bread and circuses

Well, not really circuses.

We just got back from a place that served the most sumptuous chocolate bread. Michael ate some every meal and actually asked the chef for the recipe. So I was going to make some for his birthday. The problem is that the recipe is handwritten, and a little difficult to decipher. Unfortunately I don't make bread often enough to recognise what is credible, so I'm at a loss with the proportions. Perhaps some helpful soul out there can verify for me how much salt and yeast should go per cup of flour. (I tried looking up some basic bread recipes in my cookbooks to get an idea, but they were very unhelpful, giving all the proportions with packages of yeast.)

So the recipe calls for 2 lbs. of flour. (How much is that in cups, by the way?)

Then 4 TSP of salt and yeast. I assume this is teaspoon? Because otherwise there would be a B in there? But then why the all caps? Perhaps because the chef is French? Anyway, there's a big difference between tsp and Tbl, and I want to make sure the loaf doesn't end up too bland or too salty. Any help and guidance would be much appreciated. If it turns out well I'll post the recipe here.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Thanks for Lunch

This weekend we made tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch. (I forgot to buy cocoa, so couldn't make the brownie pudding.)

I've detested canned tomato soup ever since my daycare days, but Rachelle gave me the courage to try it again. I am pleased to say that it turned out marvelously good. I sauted onions and celery, and seasoned the soup with garlic, corriader, and something else I forget now. As my brother would say, it was plumb edible.

Darren did the grilled cheese, and we added cream cheese, as the Queen suggested. It was very rich, but so good that Darren says he might leave off the cheddar next time. :)

So thanks for the ideas. I wouldn't ever have tried tomato soup otherwise. -- SJ

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Menu Planning

Tomato soup, grilled cheese, and brownie pudding... I think I've got a dinner all planned out for this week. :)

Do the rest of you all plan menus for the week or month? We did for a couple of months and really liked it, but it was more effort than I usually want to put into meals. I'm just curious as to how y'all handle things. I might get back into meal-planning again, especially as it's more efficient and economical.

-- SJ

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Quicky, but tasty dessert

Brownie Pudding

Preheat Oven: 350°

Mix together:
1 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup of sugar (or 1/2 Cup of brown sugar)
2 Tbs. Cocoa
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

In a separate bowl mix:
1/2 Cup Milk
2 Tbs. Veg oil
1 tsp. Vanilla

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. For the nut lovers now is the time to add 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts, but they are optional, so for those of you who hate nuts just skip this step.

Next our mixture into a greased 8x8 pan.

In another bowl mix:
3/4 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Cocoa
1 3/4 Cup of hot water

Pour over batter, which is already in the greased pan. It will flood the brownie mixture, but that's ok.

Bake 45 minutes. Take out and let cool. At first the liquid might be very runny underneath the brownie, but once it is cooled it will gel up into a nice pudding.

Scoop out with a spoon and serve with vanilla ice cream or alone.

It's delicious! :)

Friday, January 14, 2005

The natural follow-up

So, once you have made the delicious tomato soup, what are you going to serve with it? Grilled cheese, of course. A sandwich with many possibilities. The core secret to grilled cheese, I finally realized, is cooking it on a low enough setting that the outsides don't burn before the insides melt. Pretty obvious, but I'm very impatient.

Some ideas for variations:

Different bread: I like a multi-grain bread with nuts for the texture; sourdough is also good.

Different cheese: Munster is my favorite. Cream cheese can blend well with another cheese inside.

Things besides cheese to add: Mustard. I like dijon, but DOB likes yellow. Avocados, thinly sliced (by far my favorite addition). Tomatoes. Dill pickles (after the sandwich is cooked, so they stay cool and crispy).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tomato Soup with flair

One of my beloved former roommates (LMJ or DMR) left a can of tomato soup in the townhouse when they moved out. I hate tomato soup so it made it through two moves. Then in an act of low-fund desperation, I made it for my husband early in our marriage. He told me as he took a bite that he hated tomato soup but has continued to request it ever since. Last night, feeling a little sick, he requested it once again. Why? Because I fail to follow any directions printed on the can. Instead...

Make soup with milk instead of water, or even better, half-n-half and water mix.
Add onion soup mix or onion flakes for a little more flavor. (Or saute onion in the pan before making the soup.)
Another good add-in is orzo (rice-shaped pasta) and then
top it with fresh cilantro and fresh ground pepper.

Thanks to Linds or Dana for bringing out the creativity in me and helping us discover a family favorite.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sprucing Up...

Tuna fish.

I really like canned tuna fish (although my one occasion of freshly-caught deep sea tuna opened a whole new world for me). I grew up eating tuna fish made with mayonnaise, dill pickles, and boiled egg. Later in life my mother started putting in apples and sweet pickles, which was an absolute desecration of a good dish. Not that I said that, in so many words, to my mother.

Recently I came across a great recipe for grilled tuna-fish sandwiches, along the lines of grilled-cheese. It even froze well (pre-grilled, of course). I'll look for the recipe.

Nowadays, I do half and half mayonnaise and sour cream, and throw in a dash of garlic and celery salt. And dill pickles, of course. If you cut the sandwiches into little triangles and have a picnic on the living room floor, it suddenly become delicious to kids, too.

-- SJ

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cooking lessons from my siblings

I discovered while visiting my family that my youngest two siblings (19 and 17) have taken over nearly all the cooking duties for the family. Some cooking tips I observed while there:

  • It is impossible to have too much garlic. At my sister's direction, I peeled 6 heads of garlic for one meal's worth of garlic red potatoes. There were a few potatoes leftover--no garlic.
  • It is impossible to put cayenne pepper in the wrong dish. Cayenne pepper in spaghetti? No problem.
  • It's a whole lot more fun to make a big mess in the kitchen when Dad is going to do the dishes.