Saturday, August 19, 2017

Copy-Cat Big Boy Broccoli Soup #SoupSaturdaySwappers

Welcome to Soup Saturday Swappers.  I started this group as a way to unite those who, like me, were raised eating a lot of soups and stews when growing up.

Our moms had large families and small incomes and needed to make their grocery budget stretch. My mom did this by serving soups and stews several times a week.   It was a great way to feed a family of eight plus all of the friends we brought to the table with not one person leaving the table hungry.

If you like soups and would like to join our group we would love to have you, just leave your blog url and email address in the comments section of this post.  We post on the 3rd Saturday of each month based on a theme chosen by one of our members.  This months theme, Copy Cat Recipes, is being hosted by Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen..

I love broccoli soup and one of my favorites is from Big Boy Restaurants.  Big Boy Restaurants can be found throughout the United States and are also located in Japan, making them an International Restaurant.  Did you know that?  I  didn't.  I thought they were a Midwestern restaurant but Wikipedia set me straight.  According to them, Big Boy was first started in California and then spread across the country.  In 2000 the company changed hands to the current owners who have also started franchises in Japan.

I wonder if they use the same recipes in Japan?  Anyway, back to my soup.  I did another google search for Big Boy Broccoli Soup and found a whole website of Top Secret Recipes from Todd Wilbur.  A search on this site landed me the recipe I adapted for my soup.

My adaptations are very slight.  I added 2 more cups of broth and 1 more head of broccoli and omitted the ham. I used an immersion blender to puree the soup.  I was amazed at how perfectly this recipe replicated that soup from Big Boy that I love.

This recipe is very easy and is ready in less than an hour.  It reheats very well and is perfect to take to work or school in a lunchbox in the event you have any leftovers.

I didn't miss the ham but I will add it next time if I have any on hand in the house.  In fact, this recipe would be very adaptable to using holiday leftovers.  I garnished each bowl with some shredded cheese before serving but failed to take a photo with the cheese garnish.

Copy-Cat Big Boy Broccoli Soup
slightly adapted from Todd Wilbur

6 c. Chicken broth
2 lg heads broccoli, florets removed and coarsely chopped
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. heavy cream

Place the broth, broccoli, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a large soup pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree about half of the soup.  Combine the flour and cream.  Whisk the cream mixture into the soup, stirring until all lumps are dissolved.  Cook over low heat for an additional 10-15 minutes to allow the soup to thicken. Print Recipe

More Copy-Cat Creations

Friday, August 18, 2017

Each day should be a celebration. #FrenchWinophiles

French wines don't have to only be for holidays and special occasions.  You can get fabulous wines from France at great prices to enjoy each and every day.

Jason and Jill from L'Occasion has invited us to share our favorite French wine under $20.  Yep, that's right.  We are going to tell you all about some amazing wines that you can enjoy with dinner any time because after all........Each day should be a celebration!!

In this case, we were celebrating our first day home after being gone for a week on an Alaskan Cruise.  The cruise was amazing and we had a great time but we sure did miss our Little Angel Face.
So as soon as we got home, we invited her and Mama to join us for dinner.  We grilled some steaks and everyone knows that nothing goes better with beef than a nice bottle of Bordeaux.

I picked up this bottle at the recommendation of the owner of a wine store I visited while at Eastern Market down in the City.

I was not familiar with this winery so I conducted a little research when I got home.  Chateau Argadens is a new winery, especially by French standards, only opening in 2002.  The estate itself was founded in the 13th century by the noble Argadens family for which it is named.

The Sichel family, who bought the estate, worked extremely hard to "allow the quality of the terroir to be expressed to the full". They only have two wines a red and a white. You can learn all about the Chateau at their website by clicking on their name in the paragraph above.

While on our cruise we had many wonderful meals, including a Chef's Table with 7 courses and 7 wines matched to the courses.  It was an amazing experience that I will be sharing with you very soon.  I don't know if it was the wine, the home cooked meal, the comfort of being surrounded by family or being able to totally relax but this meal topped any of those that we enjoyed on the ship.

I served up the steak with a side of sweet and spicy redskin potatoes and a cauliflower gratin.  The redskin recipe will be shared tomorrow and you can link back to our Birthday Party for Julia Child for the cauliflower dish.

The wine is medium bodied and very smooth.  I think it is a great pour for the price and I intend to head back to the City and pick up some more as well as some of the white to see how that compares to my normal choice of Chardonnay.

Now let's go find some more amazing wine deals with the rest of the Winophiles.......

White Bean and Tuna Bruschetta #FishFridayFoodies

My friend, Sid of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking, has chosen the theme for this month's Fish Friday Foodies. I started Fish Friday Foodies in January of 2016 in an effort to add more fish and seafood into our diets.  It was a great can you not add more fish and seafood into your diet when you are inundated with wonderful recipes on the third Friday of each month?

We take turns hosting and choosing a theme for each month.  Sid chose the theme "Preserved Fish" for this month's challenge.  This means that we all had to create and share a recipe that included fish preserved by canning, pickling, smoking, drying, etc.

The minute Sid gave us this challenge I thought I would go with smoked fish.  I love smoked fish, especially smoked salmon.  But I had just shared a Smoked Whitefish Dip and I have shared several recipes using my beloved smoked salmon including a Pasta  and an Appetizer.

My decision was finally made for me when I was entertaining and wanted another salad to serve at my buffet table.  I opened the cupboard and spotted some Cannelini Beans.  I love white bean salads and pulled them out when, lo and behold, sitting behind those cans were two cellophane packets of tuna packed in water.

During the few minutes it took to throw this salad together, I spied a half a loaf of good bread sitting on my counter.

I immediately changed my mind about adding another salad to the buffet and decided instead to have it out with the appetizers before dinner.

I sliced up the bread, drizzled it with olive oil and put it in the oven to toast.  I got busy and forgot all about the toast until I started smelling it.

I caught it just in the nick of time.  The chickens only got 2 or 3 slices that were completely over done (read burnt). 

I am definitely keeping this in mind.  It is fast, easy, economical and I normally have all the ingredients in my pantry.  Great for those times unexpected guests drop by.

White Bean and Tuna Bruschetta

1 (15 oz) can Cannellini beans
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil
2 (single serving size) foil packets of tuna in spring water
salt and pepper to taste
1 small loaf or 1/2 large loaf of good rustic bread
extra virgin olive oil for brushing

Rinse and drain the beans.  Place in a bowl with the basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat. Gently fold in the tuna.  Taste and season again with salt and pepper if needed.

Slice the bread, 1/2" thick and into approximately pieces about 2" and the length of the bread. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.  Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 6-8 minutes until dry and toasted golden brown.

Spoon the salad over the bruschetta and serve.  Print Recipe

More Recipes Featuring Preserved Fish/Seafood

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Alaskan Cruise and the Weekly Menu

Hi guys.  We have been home one week after being at sea for one week and Frank now has the photos edited and ready for showing.

Day one we arrived to the cruise ship around noon.  We grabbed some lunch, walked around to get our bearings and relaxed with drinks by the pool.  Ship set sail around 6 pm and Marina joined us for dinner at one of the specialty restaurants, Giovanni's.

Day two was at sea.  We relaxed, got massages, played trivia and attended an impromptu concert by Jim Brickman followed by dinner with Marina in the main dining room.

Day three took us to Juneau.  We had made reservations for a fishing charter on our own as the cost was much less than the excursions offered by the ship.  Our operation never showed up and when we called they said the owner wasn't feeling well so it was canceled.  We were disappointed but, as I always believe, everything happens for a reason.  We went whale watching instead and saw a pod of about 15 humpbacks.  You can see them in the video "bubble netting".  This is a learned behavior for these whales, it is not instinctual and only about 15% of the whale population has learned to do this so it was quite a treat to see it in person.  One whale completely breached the water giving us a great finale to the show.  It was amazing.  Dinner was at another specialty restaurant, Izumi, featuring Japanese Cuisine.  My favorite meal of the trip.  We enjoyed a show after dinner.

Day four we arrived in Skagway, had lunch at a crab house in town and then went to a Mushing Camp where the dogs who race in the Iditarod are trained during the off season.  It was a very interesting day.

Day five we cruised through the Fjords.  That is where you see all of that gorgeous scenery, glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls.....just breathtaking.  This is also the day we attended the Chef's Dinner which was jaw dropping awesome, as you can see in the video.  

Day six was a sea day but we still had plenty to do.  Marina had arranged for us to be given tours of the Bridge, the Galley and backstage of the Theater.  We had dinner with Marina in the buffet restaurant and then we went to the comedy show which was a lot of fun.

The final day was spent in Victoria, BC.  One of Marina's friends lives in the area and arrived at the ship to take us touring.  We went to Butchart Gardens which were amazingly beautiful.  The weather was perfect and the smells were heavenly.  We enjoyed lunch at the gardens and then went into the city to have "beavertails" for dessert.  Marina's friend, Elena, said that they are only sold there on the island.  It is a long fried pastry that you can enjoy with many different toppings.  We made ours half cinnamon sugar and half chocolate and banana.  YUM.  Dinner on this final evening was with Marina and her beau, Devin, at the Steakhouse on the ship, Chops.  Getting to meet someone who Marina holds dear was one of the highlights of the trip.

I hope you enjoy the video.  This past week has been spent catching up on things we missed while we were gone.  Primarily spending time with the Angel Face who came to see us on Saturday and spent the night and all day Sunday with us, returning again Tuesday and Wednesday for her normal visit.

Tomorrow we are going to my nephews

Please excuse that hour long break.  We had to go and deskunk dogs, thankfully only two of them were outside with the skunk.  Had it been all four I would still be scrubbing them down with peroxide/baking soda/ dawn detergent concoction.

So......tomorrow we are going to my nephews.  Selfridge Air Base is having their annual Air Show and Jack's house is right under the flight pattern.  We are all gathering to enjoy the show and some time together.

Sunday John and Kirsten, their son, Mike and his wife, Amy, and their two sons are coming over for dinner.  You may know Amy from her wonderful blog, Amy's Cooking Adventures. It will be wonderful spending some time with them.

The rest of the week is pretty quiet.  Angel Face will be here Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday evening we are meeting with all the kids at Louis' Chop House to celebrate my birthday.  Friday night my TC family is coming into town.  Lili  is being moved into her dorm at Wayne State University on Saturday.  It seems like only yesterday she was my little LiliBug. 

I swear this was just last Christmas!!!!
I must have blinked!
How is it possible this little bug is starting college?

Ahhhhh.......time flies and life is bittersweet.  Lili has grown into a gorgeous young lady.  She is kind, smart, empathetic and loving.....but not as easy to pull onto your lap and smother with kisses.

Oh well, enough of that.  Here is the Menu I will be serving up this week.  Please stop by and visit as time allows.

Air Show at Jack and Maranda's

Corn Casserole
Garden Pasta Salad
Five Bean Salad 

Grilled Chicken Breasts 

Pasta and Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Out for Dinner

Chicken and Veggie Kabobs

Grilled Steaks
Baked Russets and Sweet Potatoes
Corn on the Cob

Lemon Strawberry Poke Bundt Cake #BundtBakers

Our theme for this month's Bundt Bakers, chosen by Tammy of Living The Gourmet, is Strawberries.

I found this recipe from Betty Crocker and decided to make it substituting Lemon Cake for the White Cake because I love the Lemon/Strawberry flavor combo.

I simply baked a bundt using a boxed lemon cake mix.  Once baked I used  the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the bottom of the bundt.

A puree made of fresh strawberries, sugar and lemon juice is then poured into the holes and the cake is refrigerated for at least 2 hours.  I let mine refrigerate overnight.

I had a little mishap when removing it from the pan so I decided to make more of a fluffy frosting for the cake rather than the glaze called for in the recipe.  Frosting can hide a lot of oopsies.

When you cut into the cake you find this wonderful sweet surprise awaiting you inside.  The cake is spongy from the addition of cream cheese and the liquid soaked up from the puree.  Each bite is Strawberry Shortcake Heaven but better because of the hint of lemon in the cake and frosting.

This cake was being sent to the church for a funeral luncheon.  So I sliced it into pieces and filled it with fresh strawberries before wrapping it up for transport. It traveled very well making it perfect for taking to picnics or pot lucks.

Lemon Strawberry Poke Bundt Cake
adapted from Betty Crocker

1 box lemon cake mix
1 c. milk
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 pt. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. lemon juice
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. butter, room temperature
2 T. cream cheese
1 T. milk
1/4 t. lemon extract

Mix together the cake mix, milk, 4 oz. cream cheese and eggs. Pour into a bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Bake in a preheated 325* oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.

Meanwhile, place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.

When cake is baked, remove from oven and, using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes around the bottom of the cake.  Pour the strawberry mixture from the measuring cup into the wholes, guiding with a spoon if necessary.

Place cake on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before covering and placing in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Run a butter knife around the edges of the cake and pan and turn onto a serving platter.

In the small bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together the powdered sugar, butter, 2 T. cream cheese, milk and lemon extract until light and fluffy.  Spread over the top of the bundt cake and fill center with whole strawberries, if desired.  Print Recipe

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. Hosting: Tammy from Living the Gourmet You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa #FantasticalFoodFight

Our theme for Fantastical Food Fight this month is RUM.....Put me in coach!!!  Our coach being Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes and founder of Fantastical Food Fight.

I LOVE rum.....I love Island life....I love the tropics....I love scuba diving....I love alcohol.....I love girly drinks....I  love umbrella drinks....I love fruity drinks......

I refuse to make a drink for this month's challenge!!

It was very difficult for me not to make a drink.  Rum drinks hold a special place in my heart.  We enjoy Mojitos.  We love adding rum to teas, like this SpIced Tea and this Roobois Tea.  We serve Rum Punch at nearly every dive party we have. I added it to this Indian Mango Cooler and we serve it hot and buttery during the cold winter months.

I didn't want to serve it in a dessert!!

Though I love rum desserts and have shared several.  This Spiced Rum Pumpkin Cake is awesome. You will be proud to serve up this gorgeous Pina Colada Trifle.  I even use it in my Grandma's Raisin Bread.

I knew I wanted to use it in a savory presentation!!

I just wasn't sure what I should make.  I had previously shared recipes for Pulled Pork containing Rum.  Knowing that Rum and Pork are so compatible I decided to try it again.

I found this recipe for Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin by Bobby Flay and immediately knew that I wanted to make it for this Fight.  I changed things up a bit to make it my own, pulled on my boxing gloves and jumped into the ring.

I did make some adjustments to the recipe.  Most notably, I used our homemade Rib Rub to flavor the meat and omitted some of the spices in the glaze.  I also grilled the scallions along with the pineapple for the salsa, and substituted pineapple juice for chicken broth.  Other than that just simple substitutions to use what I had on hand.

I served this up at a dinner party for some of my sister in law's family who came to visit while she was in town.  It was a huge hit.  The pork was cooked to a perfect medium rare which is perfectly acceptable by the USDA.  It was tender and juicy.

The salsa was the perfect accompaniment to the meat.  Slightly acidic, full of flavor with just a touch of heat from the jalapenos.

Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Bobby Flay

4 T. olive oil
1/2  sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 T. dark brown sugar
1 c. dark rum
2 c. pineapple juice
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 Pork Tenderloins, silver skin removed
World's Best Rib Rub (recipe here)

Sprinkle both sides of the tenderloins with the rib rub massaging it in. Set aside while making the sauce.

In a large saucepan over med high heat cook the onion and garlic in the oil until softened and fragrant. Add the brown sugar, rum, juice and jalapeno to the pan.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.

Heat a grill to med high heat.  Grill the tenderloins, occasionally brushing with the sauce until crisp and charred on the outside and an internal temperature of 145* is reached.  Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with Pineapple Salsa (recipe below).  Print Recipe

Grilled Pineapple Salsa
adapted from Bobby Flay

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed and outer leaves removed
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
juice of 1 lime
1 t. agave syrup

Brush the pineapple and scallions with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grill over med high heat until slightly charred and grill marks appear.  Remove from grill.  Chop the pineapple into chunks and place in a bowl.  Slice the scallions and add to the pineapple.  Place the lime juice, agave and jalapeno in a small jar with a lid and shake until emulsified.  Pour over the pineapple mixture and toss to coat. Print Recipe

More Rum Recipes included in this Rumble

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Julia!! #JuliaChild

Today is Julia Child's Birthday.  The iconic chef who taught so many that cooking a great meal was not only possible but a lot of fun as well.

She was the first "tv"chef, years before anyone ever dreamed that there would be an entire network devoted to nothing but cooking and food.

Julia has been an inspiration to many home cooks and professional chefs.  The movement brought about by her and her friend and cohort Jacques Pepin has evolved into quite the following of people who also document their food journeys on the internet through blogs.

We food bloggers dream of one day influencing just one person as much as Julia influenced the whole cooking community. In honor of Julia's birthday, our friends, Ellen of Family Around the Table and Cynthia of Feeding Big, invited a group of us to share a recipe that was written by Julia or one that we thought she would love.

I had just gotten back from the Farmer's Market where I had picked up this gorgeous head of cauliflower.  I pulled out my favorite Julia Child Cookbook and went to the Chofleur section.

Like all of Julia's recipes in this book, this is a simple process but is broken into several parts with each part being on a different page.  In this case, the bechemal is located in another section.  I have combined it all into one recipe to make life easier for you.  You're welcome.

This dish is not only easy but it can be made any time during the day and finished when you are ready to have dinner.  Cauliflower is blanched, combined with the sauce and topped with bread crumbs and shredded Swiss cheese.

A half an hour before serving, place the casserole in the oven and let it get bubbly and crispy brown on top.

Cauliflower Gratin
(Chou-Fleur a la Mornay Gratine)
source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Florets from 1 head of cauliflower
4 T. butter, divided
3 T. flour
2 c. whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 T. dried bread crumbs
2 T. shredded Swiss Cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower florets.  Cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Melt 2 T. of butter in skillet over med high heat.  Stir in the flour and cook until slightly nutty smelling.  Whisk in the milk.  Cook and stir for a minute or two until thickened.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Butter the inside of an 8x8" baking pan.  Pour 1/3 of the milk mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Add the cauliflower and pour the remaining sauce over the top.  

Combine the bread crumbs and cheese.  Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Melt the remaining 2 T. of butter and drizzle over the top. 

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly and the top is golden brown. Print Recipe

More Recipes to Honor Julia Child