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: A collection of pumpkin recipes

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.

Sunday afternoon project: Homemade Pasta

Decided it was time to pull out my Atlas Pasta Machine and make some homemade pasta for our Sunday evening dinner. Of course pasta can be made without the machine—just use a rolling pin and sharp knife, but the machine (which happens to be imported from Italy) adds to the fun. 
I used to take my machine to school for a pasta unit and the students enjoyed rolling and cutting the dough.
 The biggest challenge—remembering to reset the dial after rolling a batch of pasta! Bet you'll do the same thing at least once!
One other caution — if you do purchase a pasta machine check the base material. Some of the machines from Italy cannot be immersed in water (they should just be wiped off and dried ).

Basic Pasta Dough   Makes about 1 lb.
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (or 3/4 cup unbleached flour & 3/4 cup semolina flour -- semolina flour makes a more durable pasta)
2 ex-large eggs (if you have large eggs, add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to make up the difference)
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Extra flour for rolling
  1. Place flour in a low bowl and push to the sides to form a well.
  2. Add eggs to flour and mix with a fork.

  3. Add water to dry areas (a tablespoon at a time), stirring with a fork or use your hands, until dough stays together and begins to round into a ball.
  4. Knead lightly about 5 times; dough should be soft.
  5. Form into 5 balls and wrap 4 in plastic wrap.
  6. Pat remaining ball of dough with flour.
  7. To use the pasta machine: Run floured dough through the machine on setting 1; if it is a bit sticky, pat it with additional flour.
    Above: Running the dough through the machine -- setting 1.  Below: Dough after the first time through the machine on setting 1.
  8. Then fold the dough into thirds and run through (still on setting 1) until it appears to not be stretchy, is kneaded well and the excess air is out (pat with more flour only if still sticky).
    Dough after several times through the pasta roller on setting 1.
  9. Then run through on settings 2, 3, 4, and 5 -- run through once on each setting. (For lasagna noddles, do not go past setting 4 or you will not have a durable noodle.)
  10. Lay pasta on tea towel to partially air dry until it no longer feels sticky -- about 10 or 15 minutes (but could be longer); turn half way through drying time.
    This is what the pasta looks like after going through the roller at settings 2-5.
  11. Add the cutting section to the pasta machine and run sheets through the cutter -- I used the fettuccine sized section. 
  12. Air dry, sprinkle with a little flour if it's a little sticky or cook immediately.
  13. Store uncooked pasta in the refrigerator or freeze (no need to thaw frozen pasta, just throw it into boiling water).
To cook fresh pasta: bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir immediately to keep it from sticking together. Do not cover; maintain a steady boil until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh fettuccine.

Pasta Two Ways . . . (recipes to be posted soon)
Above: Crimini-Coconut Pasta Sauce.
Below: Everyday Bolognese Sauce 

Recipe without photos . . .
Basic Pasta Dough   Makes about 1 lb.
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (or 3/4 cup unbleached flour & 3/4 cup semolina flour -- semolina flour makes a more durable pasta)
2 ex-large eggs (if you have large eggs, add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to make up the difference)
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Extra flour for rolling
  1. Place flour in a low bowl and push to the sides to form a well.
  2. Add eggs to flour and mix with a fork.
  3. Add water to dry areas (a tablespoon at a time), stirring with a fork or use your hands, until dough stays together and begins to round into a ball.
  4. Knead lightly about 5 times; dough should be soft.
  5. Form into 5 balls and wrap 4 in plastic wrap.
  6. Pat remaining ball of dough with flour.
  7. To use the pasta machine: Run floured dough through the machine on setting 1; if it is a bit sticky, pat it with additional flour.
  8. Then fold the dough into thirds and run through (still on setting 1) until it appears to not be stretchy, is kneaded well and the excess air is out (pat with more flour only if still sticky).
  9. Then run through on settings 2, 3, 4, and 5 -- run through once on each setting. (For lasagna noddles, do not go past setting 4 or you will not have a durable noodle.)
  10. Lay pasta on tea towel to partially air dry until it no longer feels sticky -- about 10 or 15 minutes (but could be longer); turn half way through drying time.
  11. Add the cutting section to the pasta machine and run sheets through the cutter -- I used the fettuccine sized section. 
  12. Air dry, sprinkle with a little flour if it's a little sticky or cook immediately.
  13. Store uncooked pasta in the refrigerator or freeze (no need to thaw frozen pasta, just throw it into boiling water).
To cook fresh pasta: bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir immediately to keep it from sticking together. Do not cover; maintain a steady boil until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh fettuccine.