Soup's On

I'll be the first to admit that this soup did not photograph well, but it is the best soup I have made in ages so I'm sharing it anyway. Of course, I've already forwarded the recipe on to 5 of the 10 people that still read this blog, so to the other 5 of you - I hope you enjoy!

Butternut, Sausage & Wild Rice Soup

adapted from Emeril Lagasse's recipe 

You'll need:
1 medium butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup wild rice
1 lb fresh Italian Style Chicken Sausage  (I use the al fresco brand)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 c whole milk
2 cups chopped fresh Spinach

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the squash with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a blender or food processor, puree the squash with 1 cups of the chicken stock. Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 cups of the stock and 1/4 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a fork. Remove the rice from the pan and cool. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage (removed from the casing) and cook through, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of onions and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Stir in the rice and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and simmer until wilted.


Caramelized Peach Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream

You know what's good? 
Summer Southern peaches. 
This ice cream.
Cleaning up after this photo shoot.

Yup. I did it again. I created my own ice cream flavor and thought it was good enough to share with you all.

Here's what you do:
Start with a standard no-cook vanilla ice cream base, I have always used the recipe that came with my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker, here.
1 c milk
3/4 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 c heavy cream
1 tbs vanilla extract 

1. Combine the milk, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer/blender and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

2. Meanwhile, peel and chop 3 ripe peaches into bite sized pieces. Add to a heavy bottomed skillet with 1/4 brown sugar. Cook over low heat until rich, syrupy and caramelized about 20 minutes.
3. Once super yummy and caramelized, stir in 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes more to meld flavors then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

4. Add the ice cream mixture to frozen ice cream maker tub, churn as directed, about 15 minutes. As the ice cream mixture begins to reach your desired consistency add in the peach mixture. Continue to churn until almost complete than drizzle in 2 TBS honey (or more depending on how ripe and sweet your peaches are). 

5. Serve immediately for a "soft serve" style or remove from tub, place in freezer safe container and freeze for a harder style ice cream.

This ice cream has it all-- the fresh ripe flavors of summer mingle with the warm and comforting spice of cinnamon. For an extra treat drizzle more honey over your scoop(s).

More than one scoop - who does that? Oh, yeah, it's me. 


until next time, 

Easter, Visits, and Garden Plans

Happy belated Easter weekend! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram (If not, you really should!) you probably already know that we had family visiting for the holiday weekend. A great way to end our Spring break week. 

The girls loved dying eggs and hunting for them around the house with their grandparents. And I loved the extra cooking. I know, sounds funny, but sometimes cooking for just two extra people can cause me to splash out a bit more than I would for just John and our two picky girls. Feels more festive.
Some of the highlights from this weekend were: Edie's cheese tortellini soup, Ree's baked french toast, and Ina's Provencal Lamb.

It wasn't all celebration this past weekend, we managed to squeeze in a bit of work, too. I'm sure you are relieved. 
My parents are both avid (and opinionated) gardeners, so we really picked their brains when it came to our new kitchen garden. Concentrating on both plant placement and aesthetics, we tried to incorporate a lot of what they suggested. Along with some of our own ideas, of course. What would a family get together be without at least a tiny bit of disagreement :)

Parents suggestions:
1. Table moved to the back of garden, under the fig tree. We won't be growing anything back there anyway! Replace the table in the center with a large urn filled with blooming flowers.
2. Remove the potted rosemary so they won't block the new hedge.

Our ideas:
1. Add a hedge to outline the beds, potentially camouflaging a seasonal fence.
2. Trim the neighbors tree to allow for more light and more growing space.
3. Add some plants!

Speaking of plants, here's our rough outline for plantings. Completely not to scale and a bit rough, but you get the idea. Right?
Over the last couple of years, we've decided that gardening is all trial and error. In other words, we'll give this a go and if it doesn't work out, we'll try a new layout next year.

Any experienced Southern gardeners have any advice they'd like to share - I'm all ears, in the comment section below. 

Hope you had a great holiday weekend!

until next time,

Caramel Brittle Ice Cream

Did you know that Sunday, July 21st was National Ice Cream Day? No, you didn't? Did you miss it? Well, fear not because all of July is considered National Ice Cream Month. In honor of this most momentous occasion, we made homemade ice cream.
Actually, I received an ice cream maker from my SIL (Thanks, Linda!) for my birthday and we've been making it almost weekly since we arrived here in Charlotte. 
Strawberry and Peach were among our first flavors, but we decided to really step out of the box for the big holiday!

Salted Caramel on the menu.
Here's the part where I would usually include a recipe or a link to a recipe that worked and we loved, but not this time. This time we threw caution to the wind, mashed two recipes together, created a huge mess, nearly broke the ice cream maker, thought we had a big ol' flop on our hands, but ended up with something so beyond sinful just typing this is making my mouth water. 
(you can only imagine the restraint it took to snap these photos...) 

I followed a standard recipe for Simple Vanilla Ice Cream, as follows:
1 c whole milk
3/4 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 c heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine milk, sugar and salt in a blender and blitz until sugar is dissolved (remember, we're in a temporary kitchen with no frills other than the ones we brought - like the ice cream maker and our blender. You could certainly use an electric mixer for this step). Stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make your caramel. (I read this tutorial and found it very helpful.) Cover a heavy bottomed frying pan with about 1/2 inch of sugar, place over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until sugar starts to liquify. Slowly drag sugar to center of pan until it is completely liquified. Cook until a nice auburn color, remove from heat. Quickly add 1 TBS good quality salt, such as Maldon sea salt and 1/2 stick butter to create a salty-sauce. Allow to cool to room temperature. Your caramel sauce may harden, but should not go to a brittle-like consistency. 

3. Remove ice cream mixture from refrigerator after designated 1-2 hours. Turn on your ice cream maker, pour mixture into freezer bowl and let mix until thickened about 15 minutes. 

4. Once the ice cream has reached your desired consistency, pour in your caramel. This is when we thought we broke the machine - the caramel instantly becomes one large frozen mass! Our solution: pour the mixture into a bowl, reach in and break your caramel into pieces (yes, it's super messy, but worth it. Trust me!). Pour the mixture back into the machine and mix until a soft serve consistency is achieved, about 15- 20 minutes. 

5. Enjoy or remove to a freezer safe dish, cover and freeze for a firmer consistency. 

Salted Caramel Brittle Ice Cream. 
I simply can not get enough! 
Hope you enjoy.
Happy National Ice Cream Month!

until next time, 

What We Ate

Thanks for all the lovely comments about our backyard patio and our first BBQ. It really was a wonderful evening - perfect weather and a perfectly blooming crabtree. Not to mention some seriously good food. 

I'm sure you've heard that you're not supposed to try new recipes out on guest, but I say... why not? So we did. And they all turned out great. Of course, I am willing to share so you won't have to risk it! ha.

I ran across this easy, no kneading bread recipe on the Polished Pebble last week. As you know, Mr. DD is the baker around here but when he turned his nose up at this recipe, I decided to try it out myself. 
It's so easy, even I could do it. You really must try it. In fact, I've already made my second loaf!

Next on the new recipe trial list was Pork Tenderloins with Balsamic Strawberries, originally featured in Southern Living magazine. Where to even start with this one? Bacon wrapped tenderloins basted with a reduced balsamic and strawberry preserve marinade, topped with fresh strawberries. Best of all, everything can be prepared and cooked in 30 minutes on the grill. Including the beans. Perfection. 

And finally, for dessert, we tried this Three Layer Berry and Brown Sugar Pavlova. We're no strangers to pavlovas in these parts, but this is the first multi-layered, cake pan baked, brown sugar pav we're tried and I'll tell you, it did not disappoint.

I hope you try some of these recipes at your next BBQ. 

until next time,