Cheesy Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower Chowder

If you’re looking for a low carb alternative to potato soup, this may be it.  Full of healthy vegetables, I added cheese, half and half, cayenne and my favorite vegetable seasoning to the original recipe for added creaminess and flavor.

Cheesy Cauliflower Chowder

adapted from Damn Delicious

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup low fat half and half
1 medium sized head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup sharp grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s Fox Point Seasoning (optional)

Saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in melted butter in a large soup pot over medium heat until tender. Add chopped cauliflower and bay leaf. Continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, until cauliflower is at the al dente stage. Do not overcook or cauliflower will be mushy.

Add in flour and stir in for about 1 minute, until flour is cooked. Add half and half and broth and stir until slightly thickened. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Because the size of the vegetables will vary, you may want to add additional half and half if soup is too thick.

Fox Point seasoning  is a vegetable seasoning made of salt, dried shallots, chives, garlic, onion and green peppercorns that adds great flavor. Fox Point is available online if you don’t have a Penzey’s store in your area. There are similar seasonings in your grocery store. Experiment with your favorite seasonings to get the results you are looking for.

Add chopped parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Mother’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegtable Beef Soup

My mother spent most of her life in the kitchen.  With 7 children and a hard working husband, she had plenty of hungry mouths to feed. Cooking was never her favorite past time- “let’s get this meal over with” she’d often say, but she managed to turn out some incredible down home cooking. She never used a recipe; never owned a recipe book but she made the best biscuits, cornbread, greens, grits and pies. All meat was fried and all vegetables were seasoned with bacon drippings. She was not a chef by any means, but that little woman was a fabulous southern cook and we were blessed with 3 hot meals everyday. Sadly, there are no recipes to pass down and these days, Mother is unable to recall those details.

This soup is one she made often. I recreated it as best I could by memory and added my own twist.  It is a savory, hearty meal that warms my soul on those chilly days and takes me back to that little house on the red dirt road.  Now if I could only re-create those biscuits.

Mother will be 98 on October 4th. Happy Birthday, Mary Helen. This one’s for you.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Serves 8-10

1-14 oz can diced tomatoes

1-15 oz can tomato sauce

½ pound stew beef, cut into bite size pieces

One large onion, chopped

1 large or 2 small stalks celery, sliced

2 14.5 ounce cans beef broth plus 1 can water

2 cups potatoes, small diced

2 carrots, sliced

¼ tsp tarragon

¼ tsp thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup elbow macaroni

1 cup frozen green peas

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, saute onions and beef until beef is browned and onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the macaroni and peas. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, 30-45 minutes. Add pasta, cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Add peas.  Simmer 5 minutes more. Serve with cornbread.

me and mother

Mother’s Day 2013

Best Carrot Cake

Carrot cake 2

I would have to say that Easter is my all-time favorite holiday. I have such fond childhood memories of getting all dressed up for a full morning at church, followed by a big family dinner and Easter egg hunt. Easter is especially beautiful in my hometown of Fairhope Alabama, and I miss the warm weather and blooming dogwood and azaleas.

I also love all of the baking that goes along with the holiday and one of my favorite Easter desserts is carrot cake. Whenever I bake a carrot cake I can’t but think of my red-haired, fun-loving, sister, Margie Faye.

I’m the youngest of 7 children in our family of 6 girls and 1 boy. All of my sisters are talented cooks and have inspired me in many ways, but especially when it comes to cooking and baking. All have their specialties, and I’m sure they’d all agree, the carrot cake belongs to Faye. She’s baked many a carrot cake and they are scrumptious every time. I don’t have her recipe to share, but this one from Southern Living is unforgettably moist and delicious; chock full of carrots, coconut, pineapple and nuts, it’s sure to please, whatever the occasion.

This recipe will make a 3 layer 9 inch cake. Since I like to share, I split the recipe into one 9 inch layer cake, 12 cupcakes, and one baby cake.

Carrot cupcakes

Best Carrot Cake
Southern Living, October 1997

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

For a layer cake, line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease and flour pans or use Pam for baking. Set pans aside. (For cupcakes, line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Recipe will make 2 dozen cupcakes.)
In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together flour baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla at medium speed until smooth. Slowly add flour on low speed until blended. Fold in carrot, drained pineapple, coconut and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (18-20 minutes for cupcakes). Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Frost with cream cheese frosting; decorate as you desire.

Frosting Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese plus 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. If you want to pipe the frosting, add an additional cup of powdered sugar for a stiffer consistency.

Cut carrot cake

My sister Faye visiting me in Chicago in 2008
Chicago Bean

Lemon Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

Rosemary Lemon Chicken1

This dish is easy enough to put together for any weeknight meal and presents beautifully for a get together with company. The lemony, garlic, rosemary sauce is a welcome accompaniment to the tender, succulent chicken and vegetables. I chose to add carrots to the original recipe as they go well with red potatoes and adds nice color to the presentation.

Lemon,Rosemary,Garlic,Chicken and Potatoes
Southern Living JANUARY 2014

Makes 6 servings

You will need:
6 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
2 pounds small red potatoes
1/2 pound peeled carrots

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cut potatoes in half or quarters if too large.
Place a large roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners. Over medium high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Place chicken skin side down in pan, add potatoes and carrots and cook until chicken starts to brown, 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce. In a medium bowl, mix the following ingredients. The original recipe calls for 10 cloves of garlic, you can cut that amount in half for a milder garlic flavor.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (3.5-oz.) jar capers, drained
2 lemons, sliced
10 garlic cloves minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Turn chicken over and cover in lemon sauce.
Bake for 50 minutes until chicken is done (165 degrees) and potatoes and carrots are tender. Spoon sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.

Lemon Rosemary chicken 2