Ham & Okra Soup w/ end-of-summer garden veggies

It's the end of summer so this is soup contains a little of this and that! From the garden: okra, onions, green peppers, carrots, potatoes, even a small yellow squash. Other ingredients I had on hand included ham, olive oil, celery, brown basmati rice, seasonings and homemade pork stock. The whole idea is to utilize what is available to create a favorable soup that appeals to your family. 

Ham & Okra Soup w/ end-of-summer garden veggies
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 cup (more or less) of cubed ham
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium green peppers, finely chopped
1 stack celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup brown basmati rice (any variety of rice should work)
1 yellow squash, finely chopped
1 potato, cubed
About 3 cups+ pork stock (chicken stock could be used)
5 to 6  tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, diced (or use a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
1 cup+ sliced okra
1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use regular paprika)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
A sprinkling of dried red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ham and allow to lightly brown.
  2. Add onions, green pepper, celery and carrots and sauté until partially tender.
  3. Stir in rice.
  4. Add squash, potatoes and stock.
  5. Add tomatoes, okra and seasonings.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer until veggies and rice are tender and flavors meld (at least 30 minutes. And, then enjoy . . .

    Recipe without photos . . .
    Ham & Okra Soup w/ end-of-summer garden veggies
    About 2 tablespoons olive oil
    About 1 cup (more or less) of cubed ham
    1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
    2 medium green peppers, finely chopped
    1 stack celery, finely chopped
    1 carrot, diced
    1/2 cup brown basmati rice (any variety of rice should work)
    1 yellow squash, finely chopped
    1 potato, cubed
    About 3 cups+ pork stock (chicken broth could be used)
    5 to 6  tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, diced (or use a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
    1 cup+ sliced okra
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use regular paprika)
    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    A sprinkling of dried red pepper flakes
    Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste

    1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ham and allow to lightly brown.
    2. Add onions, green pepper, celery and carrots and sauté until partially tender.
    3. Stir in rice.
    4. Add squash, potatoes and stock.
    5. Add tomatoes, okra and seasonings.
    6. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer until veggies and rice are tender and flavors meld (at least 30 minutes.

Cheesy Skillet Ramen Noodles for breakfast

Discovered this recipe in the all recipes Magazine in a section dubbed "The Rise of Ramen." This is an interesting alternative for a breakfast menu.

Cheesy Skillet Ramen Noodles with eggs and bacon     4 servings
4 to 8 slices bacon (either 1 or 2 per person as desired
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. ramen noodles (flavor packet discarded)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley, etc., optional
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoons vegetable (canola) oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 or more eggs (at least 1 egg per person or more as desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook bacon (in batches if necessary) in a 12" ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove skillet from heat and pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Reserve extra fat.
  3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Break each ramen noodle block into 4 pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse under cold water. Stir chopped herbs into the noodles if desired.
  4. Heat bacon fat in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add noodles, spreading them evenly to cover bottom of skillet. Cook noodles, pressing on them occasionally with a slotted spatula, until underside is golden brown, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Slice ramen cake onto a large plate, invert a second plate over top, then flip cakes over (so cooked side is now on top). 
  6. Add another 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat to skillet. Slide ramen cake back into skillet and cook over medium-high heat, pressing it occasionally, until underside is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle cheese evenly over ramen. 
  7. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Slide ramen cake onto a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges.
  9. Wipe out skillet. Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet and cook to desired doneness, 2 to 3 minutes for runny yolks.
  10. Cut ramen cake into 4 wedges and serve each wedge with fried egg and bacon.
Recipe without photos . . .
Cheesy Skillet Ramen Noodles with eggs and bacon     4 servings
4 to 8 slices bacon (either 1 or 2 per person as desired
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. ramen noodles (flavor packet discarded)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley, etc., optional
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoons vegetable (canola) oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 or more eggs (at least 1 egg per person or more as desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook bacon (in batches if necessary) in a 12" ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove skillet from heat and pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Reserve extra fat.
  3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Break each ramen noodle block into 4 pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse under cold water. Stir chopped herbs into the noodles if desired.
  4. Heat bacon fat in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add noodles, spreading them evenly to cover bottom of skillet. Cook noodles, pressing on them occasionally with a slotted spatula, until underside is golden brown, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Slice ramen cake onto a large plate, invert a second plate over top, then flip cakes over (so cooked side is now on top). 
  6. Add another 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat to skillet. Slide ramen cake back into skillet and cook over medium-high heat, pressing it occasionally, until underside is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle cheese evenly over ramen. 
  7. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Slide ramen cake onto a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges.
  9. Wipe out skillet. Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet and cook to desired doneness, 2 to 3 minutes for runny yolks.
  10. Cut ramen cake into 4 wedges and serve each wedge with fried egg and bacon.

Glazed Pumpkin-Pecan Cake Doughnuts — they're baked not fried!

I finished processing my 30 lb. pumpkin today (it yielded 26 cups of bright orange puree) and than I immediately made Glazed Pumpkin-Pecan Doughnuts. These delicious confections are baked not fried, made in a Wilton® doughnut pan that I recently purchased.  
Barry and I are really not doughnut fans but we make an exception for these doughnuts. They are REALLY good. 
I bake one batch at a time in our in a small Breville® oven. Also, extra batter can be refrigerated allowing you to bake the doughnuts fresh each morning . . . or afternoon or evening! They're that good! 

Glazed Pumpkin-Pecan Cake Doughnuts   Makes 18 baked doughnuts
1/2 cup vegetable (canola) oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (if using canned pumpkin be sure it is plain pumpkin & does not contain sugar & spices)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon + heaping 1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg & ground ginger)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Vanilla Glaze -- recipe follows
Finely chopped pecans to top the glazed doughnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray doughnut pan with pan release
  2. Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, spices, salt and baking powder until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
  4. Fill the doughnut wells about 3/4 full of batter using a scant 1/4 cup measure. Smooth off top and remove any batter that might be on the center portion of the well.
  5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  6. Remove doughnuts from the oven and invert pan onto a wire rack.
  7. Dip doughnuts into glaze; use a fork to turn them. 
  8. Return glazed doughnuts to the wire rack (place a sheet of wax paper under the rack to catch drips) and immediately sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.
  9. Leftover doughnuts can be lightly covered. (A tight cover could cause them to become soggy.)
Vanilla Glaze
3 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
In a bowl, stir together the ingredients beginning with 3 Tbsp. of milk and adding more if needed.

Recipe without photos . . .
Glazed Pumpkin-Pecan Cake Doughnuts   Makes 18 baked doughnuts
1/2 cup vegetable (canola) oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (if using canned pumpkin be sure it is plain pumpkin & does not contain sugar & spices)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon + heaping 1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg & ground ginger)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Vanilla Glaze -- recipe follows
Finely chopped pecans to top the glazed doughnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray doughnut pan with pan release
  2. Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, spices, salt and baking powder until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
  4. Fill the doughnut wells about 3/4 full of batter using a scant 1/4 cup measure. Smooth off top and remove any batter that might be on the center portion of the well.
  5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  6. Remove doughnuts from the oven and invert pan onto a wire rack.
  7. Dip doughnuts into glaze; use a fork to turn them. 
  8. Return glazed doughnuts to the wire rack (place a sheet of wax paper under the rack to catch drips) and immediately sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.
  9. Leftover doughnuts can be lightly covered. (A tight cover could cause them to become soggy.)
Vanilla Glaze
3 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
In a bowl, stir together the ingredients beginning with 3 Tbsp. of milk and adding more if needed.

Pumpkin Time -- making (and using) pumpkin puree

It's pumpkin time again! I've been waiting all year to process  batches of pumpkin puree.
Above: Picking a Fairy Tale pumpkin @ Moose Creek Pumpkin Patch with Greg Stroda.

Below: My 30 lb. Fairy Tale waiting to be processed.



Last year was the first time I visited Moose Creek Pumpkin Patch near Chapman, KS. Owner Greg Stroda suggested his homegrown French heirloom Fairy Tale pumpkin for pies and provided the step-by-step process for making perfect pumpkin puree. I used it to make:

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Beef & Bean Bake for tailgating

Getting ready for the first K-State football tailgate of the season, I decided to do a variation of Jane's Baked Bean recipe, adding ground beef. As I was tasting and evaluating, I decided to include a grated potato to both thicken and add another layer of flavor. 

Beef & Bean Bake        Makes one 12 x 10" casserole
3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans
1 (15.5 oz.) can butter beans, drained
1 (15.5 oz. can red beans, drained
1 (24 oz.) jar salsa or picante sauce
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Salt & pepper if needed
1 peeled and grated Russet potato
  1. Fry bacon in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.
  2. Add onions and sauté.
  3. Add ground beef and break into small pieces. Cook until nicely browned.
  4. Add beans and salsa. Add Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add grated potato and stir to combine mixture.
  6. Simmer, with lid partially covering, for at least 30 minute or until mixture thickens and flavors meld. Or, transfer to a 10 x 12"baking dish for tailgating and bake for 30 minutes.  Can be made ahead and then reheated in the oven right before transporting.
  7. For tailgating, I  inserted the casserole into an insulated carrier.
Recipe without photos . . .
Beef & Bean Bake        Makes one 12 x 10" casserole
3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans
1 (15.5 oz.) can butter beans, drained
1 (15.5 oz. can red beans, drained
1 (24 oz.) jar salsa or picante sauce
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Salt & pepper if needed
1 peeled and grated Russet potato
  1. Fry bacon in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.
  2. Add onions and sauté.
  3. Add ground beef and break into small pieces. Cook until nicely browned.
  4. Add beans and salsa. Add Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add grated potato and stir to combine mixture.
  6. Simmer, with lid partially covering, for at least 30 minute or until mixture thickens and flavors meld. Or, transfer to a 10 x 12"baking dish for tailgating and bake for 30 minutes.  Can be made ahead and then reheated in the oven right before transporting
  7. For tailgating, I  inserted the casserole into an insulated carrier. 

Everyday Bolognese --- another sauce for our homemade pasta

Another pasta sauce for Homemade Fettuccine . . . 

Everyday Bolognese    5 to 6 servings
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese + more for garnish if desire
  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and carrots, sauté over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes. 
  2. Increase heat and add the ground beef. Stir to break up any large clumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, parsley, basil, Italian seasoning and cook over medium low heat until sauce thickens.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and continue to simmer sauce for at least 30 minutes. 
  6. Add cooked pasta (we used Homemade Fettuccine) and Parmesan before serving; garnish with additional cheese if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Everyday Bolognese    5 to 6 servings
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese + more for garnish if desire

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and carrots, sauté over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes. 
  2. Increase heat and add the ground beef. Stir to break up any large clumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, parsley, basil, Italian seasoning and cook over medium low heat until sauce thickens.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and continue to simmer sauce for at least 30 minutes. 
  6. Add cooked pasta (we used Homemade Fettuccine) and Parmesan before serving; garnish with additional cheese if desired

Crimini-Coconut Pasta Sauce

After making fresh pasta (fettuccini), I used the crimini mushrooms we had on hand to make a vegan based sauce.

Crimini-Coconut Pasta Sauce    Makes 2 to 3 servings
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped leek (use the white and light green parts only)
1 red or orange pepper, chopped
4 oz. crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon fresh herbs -- equal mixture of thyme, oregano & parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup full fat coconut milk
Homemade Fettuccine, cooked
  1. Heat oil in skillet. Add leeks and pepper and sauté.
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté; then add garlic, herbs and salt and pepper as mushrooms begin to lose their moisture and darken in color.
  3. Add coconut milk and heat allowing it to thicken slightly.
  4. Add cooked fettuccine to the sauce and toss to coat with sauce.
Recipe without photos . . .
Crimini-Coconut Pasta Sauce    Makes 2 to 3 servings
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped leek (use the white and light green parts only)
1 red or orange pepper, chopped
4 oz. crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon fresh herbs -- equal mixture of thyme, oregano & parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup full fat coconut milk
Homemade Fettuccine, cooked
  1. Heat oil in skillet. Add leeks and pepper and sauté.
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté; then add garlic, herbs and salt and pepper as mushrooms begin to lose their moisture and darken in color.
  3. Add coconut milk and heat allowing it to thicken slightly.
  4. Add cooked fettuccine to the sauce and toss to coat with sauce.