Pumpkin Ravioli Soup

October is our annual “go buy all things pumpkin from Trader Joe’s” month. Each year we pick up a variety of pumpkin goods ranging from pumpkin bagels to canned pumpkin to pumpkin ice cream. Our new favorite are the Pumpkin Joe Joe’s, pumpkin sandwich cookies with a pumpkin cream filling.

Inspired by the variety of pumpkin goods at Trader Joe’s, I came up with this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli Soup. Made entirely of ingredients purchased from Trader Joe’s, the pumpkin gives the soup a creamy texture. Using the prepared ingredients also makes this a quick dinner to cook.

Prepared Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli makes this soup a quick dinner to cook

Prepared Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli makes this soup a quick dinner to cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s mirepoix (pre-diced celery, carrots, onions)
  • 2 Trader Joe’s sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausages
  • 14.5 oz can Trader Joe’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin
  • 15 oz can Trader Joe’s cannellini beans
  • 32 oz Trader Joe’s organic free range chicken stock
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s kale
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli
  • Trader Joe’s pumpkin cornbread croutons
  • Salt

In a 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add in the mirepoix and stir until the onions become translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove the sausages from their casing. Discard the casing and add the sausage to the mirepoix, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. Cook the mirepoix and sausage until the sausage is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes and the South African Smoke seasoning and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the canned pumpkin and stir until the pumpkin dissolves into the mixture, then add in the beans. Carefully stir the mixture while pouring in the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil,  then reduce the heat to low. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale and stir until wilted. Add in the pumpkin ravioli and cook for 3 minutes. Salt to taste and serve the soup topped with a handful of pumpkin cornbread croutons.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

The soup has a slight kick to it from the fire roasted tomatoes and South African Smoke seasoning, so substitute regular diced tomatoes and curry power or paprika if you prefer a milder soup.

Pumpkin Ravioli Soup

Pumpkin Ravioli Soup

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Summer Salad with Salmon

Summer ingredients are perfect for light salads that are just right for the season’s hot afternoons. Fresh corn and blueberries pair especially well together, lending a slight sweetness and a taste that reminds me of childhood summers in South Georgia. This summer salad builds on this flavor combination and incorporated quinoa and salmon to make the salad a satisfying main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
  • 1 Cubanelle pepper, chopped
  • 3 small, sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 limes
  • Culantro (cilantro can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 lb salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Mixed salad greens
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cook a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. If buying bulk, add one cup of rinsed quinoa to two cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat to low. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then drain  any remaining water. Once the quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

While the quinoa cooks and cools, cut the kernels off of the cobs of both ears of corn. Toss the kernels of corn with the blueberries.  Mix in the Cubanelle, sweet red peppers, and tomatoes. Mix in the quinoa and set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each).

Blueberries, corn, peppers, tomato

Blueberry, Corn, Quinoa mixture

To make a compound butter for the salmon, mix the butter, juice of half of a lime, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh culantro. Put the butter mixture into the refrigerator to cool.

Culantro-lime compound butter

Culantro-lime compound butter

While the butter mixture refrigerates, make a simple vinaigrette for the salad. In a small bowl, add the juice of the remaining lime and a half , the Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of chopped culantro, salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each). Whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil.

When the vinaigrette is ready, set aside and get the compound butter out of the refrigerator. Spread the compound butter evenly over the non-skin side of the salmon. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon to the skillet, skin side down. Cook the salmon in the skillet for 3 minutes per side. Put a lid on the skillet and finish the salmon in the over for 10 minutes, or until cooked to the desired temperature.

Salmon with compound butter

Salmon with compound butter

Serve the blueberry-corn-quinoa mixture over mixed salad greens and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Top with salmon and serve.

Summer salad with salmon

Summer salad with salmon

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Blog Hop!

Windy of the House Blend Family tagged us in this-here blog hop, so let’s play.

The Rules:

Answer the following questions, then tag someone else. Easy enough.

What am I currently working on?

Jill: After wrapping up my 219-page masterpiece of a dissertation, I’m taking a little time off from writing to read all the books and watch all the Netflix. When I get tired of those two things, I’m going to try to publish all the articles based off the aforementioned dissertation. Oh yeah, and maybe go back to posting on this blog or my other blog.

Artie: Photographing the AIA Top 100 Buildings in Florida for the new blog I’m trying to create: A Place Blog. Because I can’t keep up with one blog so I thought I would try to keep up with two.

How do I write?

Jill: Hmm…

Artie: How is this different from the question about how my writing process works?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Artie: We make no attempt to post regularly. It’s more of “here is a recipe we tried and we thought you might like it, too.” And because we often forget where we found good recipes, the blog serves as a catalog of things we like. Sorry to people who subscribe to our blog expecting regular content.

Jill: What he said.

Why do I write what I write?

Jill: I love to write. When I was little, I would always write stories (which were never very good). I’ve since accepted that I’m not ever going to write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius in the fiction category, but I’m fairly proficient in both academic writing and smart-aleck blogging.

Artie: That’s a good question…for the blog I’ll write a blog entry on something I will want to make in the future so I know where to find it later. So it’s kind of self-serving in a way.

How does my writing process work?

Jill: I think of something I want to write about. I make a note in my phone/planner/scrap of paper. I run out of time/lose the piece of paper/forget about it. Finally I sit down to blog and just make it up as I go along. But seriously, I believe in sloppy first drafts and lots of editing.

Artie: Specifically for the blog, as I’m cooking something, I jot down ingredients and amounts in a little notebook. I try to document in photos every step of the process, even if I know the photos won’t end up on the blog. Then I can recreate the recipe later. I go in the blog, drop in the photos I want to use in the order of the recipe and fill in the text.

So on to tagging! Who wants to take the Blog Hop baton and run with it?

1. The FFK

2. On the Run…The Life of a Change Agent Abroad

3. Adventures in Slowing Time

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Beet Greens Salad

We got the most beautiful beets in our Full Earth Farms CSA boxes this year. I always love beets, but I get especially excited when the beets have the greens still attached. When I am lucky enough to have fresh looking beet greens, my favorite thing to make is a warm beet greens salad with roasted beets, topped with goat cheese. Beets are naturally sweet and pair well with a tangy goat cheese. The greens are earthy like Swiss chard, but have more texture.

Beets from Full Earth Farms

Beets from Full Earth Farms

The salad is quite simple to make and only requires a few ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch beets with greens
  • 2 Sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 oz Goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp red wine (or vinegar)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the greens from the beets, leaving a little bit of the stalk attached to the root, and set aside. Place the beet roots on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle the beets with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the beets with fresh thyme, 1 tsp of coarse salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Fold the edges of the aluminum foil over the beets to form a pouch. Roast the beets in the oven for 35 minutes (or longer for large beets).

Beets for roasting

Beets ready for roasting

While the beets roast, wash the beet greens and pat them dry with a clean towel. Remove the stems and cut the beet greens into 1 inch strips.

Fresh beet greens

Fresh beet greens

After roasting, let the beets cool until you can handle them without burning yourself. With a pairing knife, remove the skins from the beets and slice the beets in half (or quarters for large beets).

Roasted beets

Roasted beets

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Toss in the beet greens and saute until slightly warmed, about a minute. Add a tablespoon of red wine to the pan and let the resulting steam wilt the greens.

Wilted beet greens

Wilting beet greens

Plate the greens and top with the roasted beets. Crumble the goat cheese over the salads and serve. The oil and wine from cooking the greens act as a vinaigrette, so salad dressing is not necessary.

Warm beet greens salad with roasted beets and goat cheese

Warm beet greens salad with roasted beets and goat cheese

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Orange Cardamom Cupcakes

While in Gainesville, Florida visiting my sister with my family, she took us to Sweet Dreams Homemade Ice Cream. They had a variety of interesting flavors, including a peanut butter curry ice cream. I ordered the orange cardamom ice cream. I immediately loved the flavor combination and thought to myself that orange-cardamom would make a great cupcake. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices because it is extremely versatile. It has a spicy warmness that complements both sweet and savory dishes. You can use cardamom with meats, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables, chili, pies (I highly recommend adding cardamom to these pies), chocolate, ice cream, and of course, cupcakes. Just use it sparingly since it is somewhat expensive and a little goes a long way. Too much cardamom can give things a slightly metallic or medicinal flavor. To make orange cardamom cupcakes, you need the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup milk
Fresh Orange Zest from Florida-Grown Oranges

Fresh Orange Zest from Florida-Grown Oranges

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper baking cups. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cardamom, orange zest, and salt) together in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the sugar with the room temperature butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the Cointreau. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, slowly mix in the milk. Pour the cupcake batter into the baking cups, filling them about 3/4 full, and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until they are a golden color and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cupcake. This recipe makes a dozen regular-sized cupcakes. If there is any batter left over, you can to make a few mini-cupcakes; just bake the mini-cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes.

These cupcakes can be eaten without any frosting and taste amazing. But who doesn’t like a little frosting on their cupcake? For these cupcakes, make this cream cheese frosting, but add in the zest of one orange (about a teaspoon), a pinch of cardamom (about 1/4 teaspoon), and a splash of vanilla (about 1/2 teaspoon).

Jill frosting Orange Cardamom Cupcakes

Jill frosting Orange Cardamom Cupcakes

Orange Cardamom Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Orange Cardamom Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in Baking, Cupcakes, Recipe | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Coffee from Seattle

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from college asked for some thoughts on urbanism. He went to Florida State with me, but now resides in Seattle (you can read about his experiences with walkable living and in Seattle here). So, I sent him two books that I think capture the essence of what’s gone wrong with America’s cities and what we should do to improve our quality of life: Suburban Nation and Walkable City. A few days later, this arrived in my mailbox:

Bag of coffee beans

Coffee Beans

I briefly debated what method to use for brewing the coffee, but quickly decided to use the classic French press. I like this method of brewing because of its simplicity and because of the richness of the coffee it brews.

One of the keys to making great coffee in a French press is coarsely grinding the coffee beans. Use a small, manual ceramic burr grinder to get a medium-coarse grind from the beans. A grind that is too fine will result in coffee sludge.

Grinding coffee beans

Freshly ground coffee

Water temperature is also important. Use an electric kettle to bring water just to a boil. Wait about five seconds and pour some of the hot water (about 1/8 cup) into a 32 oz French press and swirl it around to heat up the glass. Empty the water from the press, add six heaping tablespoons of the coffee, and fill the press with hot water to about an inch from the top. Using a small spatula, gently stir the coffee. Place the plunger assembly on the press pot and wait four minutes. Slowly press the plunger down. This should take about 20-25 seconds. Pour the coffee from the French press (coffee that remains in the press will continue to brew and will become too strong) and enjoy.

Carefully brewed cup of coffee

Carefully brewed cup of coffee

I typically use a standard drip coffeemaker to brew my coffee every morning, but when I get a special gift or splurge on a bag of higher quality beans, I try to take a little extra care in brewing it. I enjoyed my cup of coffee and thought about how I should plan a visit to Seattle one day.

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Cream Cheese Frosting 101

When it comes to cupcakes, Artie and I pack a one-two punch: he makes a delicious cupcake and I make a mean frosting. To be honest, my real favorite part is the frosting. I could probably (okay, I have!) eat frosting with a spoon.

IMG_2260

There are lots of great types of frosting you can make, but cream cheese frosting is one of my favorites and also one of the easiest to prepare. And it tastes delicious.

The ingredients include:

  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8-ounces butter, softened
  • 16-ounces powdered sugar, sifted
  • Flavorings, as desired

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and beat slowly until incorporated. Once incorporated, increase the speed of the mixer and beat frosting until smooth and fluffy. Add any flavorings you desire and mix until fully incorporated.

For Artie’s cardamom and orange cupcakes, I used the zest of an orange, a splash of cointreau, and a splash of vanilla. For my pumpkin whoopie pies, I used a healthy shake of cinnamon. Experiment with your favorite flavors and have fun coming up with tasty new combinations.

IMG_0005Frost cupcakes with a pastry bag or a spatula. Store leftover frosting (if there is any!) in a container in the refrigerator.

This is a great go-to frosting that requires relatively few ingredients and is very versatile. Enjoy!

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