Drop Biscuits

Published March 21, 2016 by jenmatteson

These are by far the quickest and easiest biscuits to make, and wonderful for entertaining. The best part is that the dough can basically be assembled far in advance. A few quick steps, and they can be in the oven in less than 5 minutes.

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You can prepare the dough up through step one (all the dry ingredients and butter), and have buttermilk measured and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Just pour, mix and drop. These biscuits come out nice and flaky, buttery and rich. They melt in your mouth – no joke!¬†I often make these for Thanksgiving, and are the last thing I put in the oven while everything else is getting to the table. Works like a charm!

Want to make these at a moment’s notice, but don’t have buttermilk? Don’t worry – you can make your own buttermilk substitute with these two ingredients you probably do have: milk and vinegar. Simply measure out 1 tbsp. of vinegar and pour into a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk into the measuring cup with the vinegar, filling up to the 1 cup line. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Viola! Buttermilk substitution.

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Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits

Source: Adapted from Fresh Direct
Servings: 8-12 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Dump into large bowl, and stir in buttermilk with wooden spoon until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Using the spoon, drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil.

3. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes.

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Published March 7, 2016 by jenmatteson

It’s March in Minnesota, and as someone who has lived here my entire life, I know the weather can be completely unpredictable. It was 60 degrees over the weekend, and currently 61 as I write this, but that doesn’t mean we are out of the clear and into spring…yet. So despite the warmer weather, everyone could still use a simple soup recipe, just in case we have another cold snap again! Or, if you’re like me, you like soup year roundūüėČ

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While the ingredients scream fall, squash is readily available year round, and it can stay fresh at room temperature for several weeks (Sometimes I tend to over-vegetable-shop, so I can always leave my gourds for last!)

This soup is awesome! Not only is it rich and filling, but it’s¬†incredibly healthy! Plus, you will definitely get your daily dose of veggies. I like to add a bit more broth because it can get a thick, but that will depend on the size of squash you use. The apple brings a subtle sweetness without being overpowering, and the nutmeg adds a depth of flavor that brings all the flavors together! I¬†know it’s early to start thinking of Thanksgiving, but this is a fantastic first course/appetizer for the big meal. I drizzled with a bit of lemon olive oil before serving for an added freshness.

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Butternut Acorn Squash Soup

 

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Source:
Servings:

Ingredients:

1 medium acorn squash
1 medium butternut squash
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth is fine if you’re not going for a vegetarian soup)
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each squash in half (through the stem) and remove seeds and stringy insides. Place face down in baking dish or baking pan with a small amount of water on the bottom. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scrape insides into a large bowl. Heat butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and apple and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add squash and broth. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender (or transfer to blender or food processor – make sure the mix is then cool, otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands). Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Green Beans with Apple Cider

Published February 29, 2016 by jenmatteson

If you don’t have apple cider in your fridge this time of year, you are adulting incorrectly.¬†I suppose it’s past prime apple season, but it’s still a¬†perfect¬†winter warmer.¬†Not only is it delicious on it’s own (or with a smidge of brandy), but it’s great for cooking, too!

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We eat a lot of vegetables in our house, but¬†I feel like I’m always doing the same thing with them. Saut√© in olive oil, salt and pepper, serve. Repeat. If you want to add a little excitement to your hum-drum vegetables, add cider! This is a quick, simple twist on green beans, which add just a little bit of sweetness. If you don’t have cider, don’t be afraid to use white wine. I did the last time I made these, and they were fantastic!

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Green Beans with Apple Cider

Source: Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

32 oz green beans
olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup apple cider
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 4-6 minutes, or until tender, but with a bite. Remove from heat and drain beans. Set aside.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the onions and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cider, raise the heat to medium-high and cook until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

3. Add beans to the pan with onions and cider. Toss to coat, salt and pepper to taste.

Rainbow Spring Rolls

Published February 22, 2016 by jenmatteson

Last weekend I hosted a ladies wine tasting party. We do this every year when the men go ice fishing. It’s a fantastic reason for us to get together, drink wine, and let loose. Very loose.

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The theme of the tasting was Sonoma County wines under $20. For food, we decided to go with spa cuisine type appetizers. What exactly is “spa cuisine” many asked? Well,¬†I can’t be positive as there was a lot of different explanations on the ol’ Google. But here is what I took away from it. Fresh, whole, minimal preservatives, and simple ingredients.

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I made these neat wine glasses as favors for the ladies, which then inspired my table setting and food choices. Everyone got a different color, so I paired it with matching placemats and plates, birthing a rainbow color scheme. Now enter Rainbow Spring Rolls.

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I wasn’t even looking for “rainbow” themed foods, but I did run across these, and thought they’d be perfect. I’ve never made spring rolls, and was a little hesitant, but they really couldn’t have been easier. The hardest part was trying to not get the wrapper stuck to itself after soaking in warm water. I hesitated a bit with the herb mixture of cilantro and mint, and a healthy handful of each, but they paired perfectly together, and to finish off with the peanut sauce – wow. They were delicious! The peanut sauce alone would be an awesome salad dressing, which is what I plan to do with my leftovers. The original recipe called for mango, which I do think would have been a fun sweet addition, but it also mentioned that the acidity in the mango ate through the wrapper if they were made ahead, so I opted out. Didn’t even miss the mango! There were a hit and I plan to make them again!

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Rainbow Spring Rolls

Source: Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

10-12 rice spring roll wrappers
2 beets, peeled and julienned
1/2 – 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 – 1 red bell pepper, julienned
2-3 medium carrots, julienned
1 large bunch mint
1 large bunch cilantro

Ginger Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup salted natural peanut butter (almond butter would be great, too)
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp Sriracha or other chili sauce
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
hot water

Directions:

  1. Fill a skillet (large enough to fit the spring roll wrapper) almost to the top with water, and bring to a boil. Set aside for a few minutes until cool enough to touch.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce by combining all ingredients except water. Whisk until well combined. Add hot water 1 tbsp. at a time until sauce reaches desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. Once the water is no longer hot but very warm, submerge one rice paper for about 10 seconds. You’ll know when it’s ready once very pliable, but if you let it for too long or the water is too warm, the paper becomes too fragile to work with.
  4. Once soft, transfer to a damp surface (I used a wet wooden cutting board which worked great!) and smooth out into a circle.
  5. Add carrots, peppers, beets and a healthy handful of each mint and cilantro. Fold the bottom over the fillings, then turn in each side. Finally, roll completely to seal. Place on serving plate and top with a damp towel until ready to serve. Repeat process with remaining ingredients.

For real, I’m back. With Chunky Tomato Basil Soup.

Published February 15, 2016 by jenmatteson

Can you believe it – it’s me! I’m back(ish). I’ve had far too many requests for me to return to my blog, so that is precisely what I’m going to do (trying…). It’s easy to become distracted and/or complacent, which is exactly what I’ve been up to the last year. I have had a wonderful year of memories with my family, closest friends and new friends! In case you’re curious, here’s a quick hit list of the year’s events¬†in hindsight:

  • Ladies winter wine party 2015
  • A trip to Sonoma County, CA with some of our best friends
  • Lake time at cabins which are not oursūüôā
  • Ladies summer wine party
  • My first trip to Moondance Jam with a mini-flood and tons of rockin’ music
  • State softball tournament with our first place team
  • Annual canoe trip down the Namekogen River in WI
  • Annual end of the summer party
  • Las Vegas for bachelor/bachelorette party
  • Wedding in beautiful Saint Paul for aforementioned bachelor and bachelorette
  • Apres Ski themed Friendsgiving
  • Hunger Games marathon party
  • New Years Eve bash
  • Snow tube soiree
  • Scuba diving trip to Bonaire
  • and finally, a yet another ladies winter wine tasting party

Wow, quite a year! And these are only highlights. Oddly many ending in “party”.

It’s now the deepest part of winter, and the current temperature as I write this is 5 degrees. I don’t even want to mention the wind chill over the last few days. My tan from Bonaire is fading fast, and I have been craving something to warm me to the core. Soup seemed to be the answer here…

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Tomato soup. Chunky tomato soup. Chunky tomato basil soup. What could be better. I choose a recipe with canned tomatoes for two reasons. 1. Its the middle of winter, so I don’t have an overwhelming amount of tomatoes flourishing in my garden (try none). 2. I find that fresh tomatoes tend to be a bit more watery than their canned counterpart. I used whole peeled tomatoes so I could control chunkiness, but you could use diced if you prefer. It would be far less messy!

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I loved this soup because it tastes creamy and rich, but there is no cream. There is a touch of butter, which surprisingly adds a luxurious texture. The basil gives a nice fresh balance to the acidity of the tomatoes. Overall a perfect soup to cure your winter blues!

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Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Adapted from The Roasted Root
Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 28 oz  cans whole peeled tomatoes with juices
2 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken broth as that’s what I had on hand)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Open canned tomatoes and dice, reserving juices. Add tomatoes and juices, stock, basil and butter to the onions. Stir until butter is melted and incorporated.
  4. Add baking soda (*Note: this will cause the soup to bubble up, but bubbles subside after stirring for a minute).
  5. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Published March 14, 2015 by jenmatteson

Bananas and peanut butter. What a classic combination!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins¬†Yet again, I was stuck with two lonely, overripe bananas that my husband wanted¬†nothing to do with. I forewent the¬†regular banana bread,¬†and thought I’d try some muffins. Not just banana muffins, but banana and peanut butter muffins. Yum! These muffins have less sugar and fat than your typical waistline-enemy, using honey and non-fat¬†Greek yogurt. You also get a great serving of¬†whole grains if you substitute whole grain flour¬†for all-purpose. Sadly, the whole grain flour makes them look a little blah, but trust me, they don’t taste like it.
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

These are pretty simple to make, and for me, I had everything required in my kitchen already. I LOVE when that happens. If you want an extra treat, melt some peanut butter to go on top of these suckers. I didn’t try it, but I’m guessing you won’t regret it!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Source: Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Servings: Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

2 large bananas, ripe to over ripe, mashed with no chunks
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup non-fat plain Green yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (all-purpose would work)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg and milk together until combined. Whisk in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.

4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 12 minutes more, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Published January 31, 2015 by jenmatteson

I remember Campbell’s Bean with Bacon¬†soup¬†making several appearances at my childhood table. I didn’t like it for the longest time. In fact, I didn’t like beans period. Especially baked beans. Clearly, I was a troubled child. I finally overcame my distain for these¬†particular legumes, and embarrassingly enjoyed this sodium packed soup with my family often.

Before roasting mushrooms and onions

Flash forward a particular number of years, and here we are. I saw this recipe in my latest wine shipment insert from Viansa, and thought it was the perfect time of year to make soup. It didn’t once cross my mind that this soup would bring me back to my childhood frienemy, Campbell’s. But oddly enough, it did. Much better, and far more classy, however!ūüėČ

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

The soup didn’t turn out quite a thick as the photo in the insert appeared, but that could easily be fixed by pureeing more beans. I didn’t, and I still loved it. While the soup reminded me of bean with bacon soup, the smell made me think of a mushroom pizza. Probably because of the roasted mushrooms, thyme and sage (great observation, Captain Obvious!). The roasted mushrooms alone were amazing, I could have probably just eaten the entire pan full, but because I didn’t have any more, I restrained myself and put them in the soup.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Adding the crispy pancetta is an absolute necessity. If you don’t have it, or don’t want to spend the dough¬†for it, bacon would be a fine substitute. The crunchiness of the pancetta give the soup a balanced texture, while the salt really deepens the flavors. Serve with a¬† salad or a nice hunk of bread (rosemary focaccia pictured above) and you have a wonderful, light but filling winter meal.

White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup

Source: Adapted from Viansa
Servings: About 8

Ingredients:

1-2 tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. pancetta
16 oz. mushrooms, halved or quartered (so they are similar in size)
2 large sweet onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
8-10 fresh sage leaves
8-10 stems + 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, divided
48 oz. chicken broth
3-15 oz cans white beans, drained

Directions:

1. Drizzle olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crispy and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss mushrooms, onions and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on prepared baking sheet. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme. Roast for 10 minutes, toss, and roast for additional 15 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, add broth, beans, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves to a large stock pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When vegetables are done roasting, separate mushrooms from onions and garlic. Retrieve 2 cups of the white beans and 1 cup of the broth from the stock pot. Add to food processor or blender along with roasted onions and garlic. Blend until smooth.

4. Add pureed bean mixture back to stock pot, bring to a boil and whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to simmer. Add roasted mushrooms to soup. Salt and pepper to taste and top with pancetta.

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