Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Key Lime Birthday Pie

My birthday was Sunday, March 21, but a snowstorm blew all day Saturday so we decided to postpone the family gathering until the weather was more cooperative. I was delighted to spend the day by myself and made two of my favorite things: Spicy Talapia with Rice and Mango Salsa; and Key Lime Pie.

I didn’t have as much red pepper as I would have liked for the mango salsa, and I was light on the lime juice because I used all my limes in the pie. But an extra splash of white vinegar gave it the tartness I crave and it was still delish.  The leftover mango salsa is in the fridge mixed with the right amount of rice. I plan to have it with chicken breast this weekend.

Mom promised me a German Chocolate Cake for my birthday,  complete with coconut icing. But having just purchased a bag of key limes I decided I’d go with a Key Lime Pie on my birthday.

My dad was from Florida, so all my childhood vacations were road trips to the Sunshine State. My grandmother lived in Key West and she always had fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in a glass cookie jar on the kitchen counter when we pulled into the yard. And there was at least one key lime pie in the freezer.

Some notes about Key Lime Pie:
Real key lime pie isn’t green. It doesn’t look like pudding. And it isn’t baked.

That’s the way my grandmother made it and I make it the same way. I know there is a  risk of salmonella from eating raw eggs, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take a  few times a year when I make one of these. I’ve also inlcuded my Aunt Dorthy Ann’s recipe without eggs. It’s also pretty darn good.

Key Lime Pie
Grandmother Hamilton’s Version

Mix together:
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 C key lime juice

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into other mixture. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust. Freeze.

Serve with whipped cream on top.

Aunt DA’s Version

Mix together:
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3–1/2 C key lime juice

Fold in:
1/2 of an 8 oz Lite Cool Whip

Pour into prepared crust and top with the other half of the Cool Whip on top. Freeze.
(You may want to freeze a bit first and then spread Cool Whip on top.)

For some reason, I had a store-bought graham cracker crust in the cabinet and I used it for this pie, but it was not as good as it would have been if I’d made my own. Make the crust ahead of time so it’s good to go when you’re ready to make the pie.

Graham Cracker Pie Crust for Key Lime Pie

1 2/3 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C plus 2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients and blend well. Firmly press the cracker mixture over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. To smooth it out, place a smaller pie plate on top and press firmly against the sides and bottom. Bake at 350° 6–9 minutes. Cool.

Larrapin!

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March 26, 2010 Posted by | Dessert | , | 3 Comments

Mushroom Potato Soup

It’s another snowy day in Oklahoma.  And yes, it’s the first day of spring. So it’s a good day for soup.

I bought leeks last week for potato soup and I also had almost eight ounces of mushrooms in the fridge that I needed to use. But instead of making two soups, I put them together and came up with this one.

First, I took the outer leaves off the leeks and after removing the root end I cut them into super thin slices. I put the slices in a colander ran water over them while separating the rings to be sure and get all the dirt from between the layers. Leeks are part of the family of onions and, while similar to onions, they have a milder flavor. I like the flavor they give my soups and stews, and I was also happy to see them on this website as one of the World’s Healthiest Foods.

When I was satisfied the leeks were clean, I put them in a three quart sauce pan over low heat. I added a splash of olive oil and stirred it into the leeks.  While the leeks started to saute, I washed and sliced the mushrooms, saved a few of the best for garnish and added the rest of the mushrooms to the pan.

When the leeks were soft and the mushrooms had given up their liquid I added some white wine, just to cover the veggies, and let it continue to cook while I peeled the potatoes. I cut the potatoes into medium chunks and put them in the pan with the leeks and mushrooms. I added water* to just barely cover the potatoes and turned up the heat.

*NOTE:  I usually use chicken broth instead of water, or at least water with chicken bullion, but my son is dating a vegetarian, and has agreed to try it for a month. He was coming over later in the day, so I made this vegetarian for him. I didn’t mention the mushrooms though. He insists he doesn’t like them. Shhhh…

It wasn’t long before the potatoes were fork tender. I turned the heat down and used a potato masher to break it all into smaller pieces. Next I got out my immersion blender and used it to turn the potatoes and mushrooms into a thick puree. I seasoned the soup with salt and pepper and my own garlic rich Janz herb blend. It very thick so now I added milk. I poured in a little at a time and stirred it in until it was the soupy consistency I was looking for.

When I was ready to eat, I filled a bowl and garnished it with a small dollop of sour cream, several super thin slices of carrots (I used a potato peeler to get them paper thin), fresh mushroom slices and a sprinkle of green onions. I am a pepper fiend so I had to add fresh cracked pepper to the top.

When my son arrived, I garnished his soup with carrot slices and grated Jarlsberg cheese. Other possible garnishes include avocado slices, grated Parmesan, seasoned croutons, and crumbled bacon.

Here’s the ingredient list with estimated quantities.

The Soup:

  • 4 leeks, sliced very thin, separated, washed well
  • 6–8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • Olive oil, a tablespoon or so
  • About 1/2 C white wine
  • 5–6 medium potatoes, peeled, large dice
  • Water (or chicken broth) to cover potatoes
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, Janz Seasoning Blend
  • Milk

Garnishes:

  • Sour Cream
  • Carrot slices, paper thin
  • Mushroom slices, very fresh mushrooms
  • Chives
  • Grated cheese, whatever sounds good to you
  • Avocado slices
  • Seasoned croutons
  • Crumbled bacon

Mmmmm…. Larrupin!

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brown Bag Salad

One Brown Bag Salad
When I want something healthy for lunch and end up grabbing a salad from a fast food place I’m always disappointed. The lettuce is mostly spine and rusty on the edges, carrots are pale and dried, and there are usually only 4-5 ingredients.  The tiny cubed croutons are prepackaged and practically melt in my mouth. The dressing is also prepackaged and no matter what flavor I get, too middle-of-the-road for my taste.  And after all that it’s also way more expensive than I could have made at home.
I’m sure everyone would agree a salad is best when made with bright fresh crunchy vegetables with a variety of colors, flavors and textures. Here’s the version I had for lunch today.
 3 leaves of romaine lettuce
8-10 large leaves of spinach
1 inch of zucchini
1 carrot
3-4 red radishes
3-4 button mushrooms
3-4 green onions
1-2 T Craisins
1 T slivered almonds
3/8″ slice feta cheese
6-8 large crunchy homemade croutons
Janz Cranberry Honey Mustard Dressing*
I assembled this last night in a to-go salad bowl I saved from a store-bought salad. 
First a pile of torn romaine and spinach. I used a potato peeler to make paper-thin slices of zucchini, carrot and radishes. I sliced the mushrooms almost as thin. Next came green onions and almonds. Then I put the lid on it and put it in the fridge. 
This morning I added a thick slice of feta cheese and the craisins. I packed it with a separate bag of croutons and my own salad dressing. When I was ready to eat, I crumbled the feta, added croutons and poured on the dressing. 
I tossed it with the fork as I ate. The paper-thin slices of veggies are great for stabbing a and getting lots of variety in every bite. The craisins can soak up moisture and turn back into cranberries if I add them too soon which I why I add them at the last minute. 
*The dressing was made in an almost empty bottle of Cranberry Honey Mustard. I added some red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a little garlic, and voila!
Larrupin!

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , | Leave a comment

BLT—and then some—Soup

This isn’t your old-fashioned Campbell’s lunchtime  soup.

Although as a kid I loved my Campbell’s Tomato Soup filled with an equal part of crumbled saltines.

Craving a BLT, I pulled a Ziploc bag of homemade tomato soup from the freezer.
The frozen slab of soup went into the microwave on defrost and while I spread a few slices of bacon in a hot skillet.
When the soup defrosted enough to break into pieces, I put it in a 4 quart glass measuring cup to finish. The bacon cooked until crispy and I pulled the other ingredients together:

  • 8–10 small leaves of baby spinach
  • 6–8 leaves of cilantro
  • Sliced almonds
  • Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  • Janz seasoned croutons
  • Pepper mill filled with black pepper

 

Bacon, Spinach, Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup garnished with baby spinach, cilantro and crispy crumbled bacon.

When the soup was hot I poured it into a shallow soup bowl and garnished it as follows:

  1. Make a rosette of baby spinach leaves in the center of the bowl
  2. Add a few cilantro leaves
  3. Crumbled crispy bacon on top of the spinach

 

BLT Soup And Then Some

Tomato Soup layered with spinach, cilantro, bacon, almonds, cheeses, and a great big crusty crouton.

Continue garnishing with sliced almonds, grated cheeses and crunchy croutons. Don’t forget to add a generous grind of black pepper.

Larrupin!

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Janz Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup is one of my favorites, especially since it’s so easy to make from scratch.
Saute a few mushrooms in butter or olive oil and add a splash of white wine or a squeeze of lemon juice for a little tartness. Add chicken broth, or water and chicken bouillon and let it simmer. Thicken with cornstarch if you want, add milk, cream, sour cream or even cream cheese to make it more creamy than brothy if that’s what you like. 
Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan or a slice of provolone, maybe some avocado slices, a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of fresh ground pepper blend… mmmm. A splatter of sliced almonds would add a tasty crunch. 

A few days ago I had some mushrooms I wanted to use, but I wanted something different. So I did some searching and came across a Hungarian take on mushroom soup which of course I had to tweak.

Janz Hungarian Mushroom Soup

1 T olive oil
1/2 C thinly sliced yellow onion
1T butter
 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C white wine
1/2 T dried dill weed
1/2 T paprika
1/2 T soy sauce
1 C chicken broth
1 C milk
1 T cornstarch
1 t salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 C chopped Italian parsley
1/4 C sour cream
Seasoned croutons
3-4 slices of crisp bacon
Feta, crumbled
Green onions, thinly sliced

Saute onions in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes
Add sliced mushroom, butter, and wine. Saute 5 more minutes
Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Combine milk and cornstarch in a pint jar with a tight lid and shake well to mix. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Simmer 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.
Finally, stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3-5 minutes. Do not boil.
To serve, place several large seasoned croutons in the bottom of a shallow soup bowl. Ladle a serving of soup over the croutons. Garnish with crumbled feta, crispy bacon and green onions.

Larrupin!


PS: This is a larrupin good brown bag lunch.

Put a meal size portion in a plastic container, the croutons and bacon go in another container and use another small container for the feta and green onions. At lunchtime put the croutons and soup in a microwave-proof bowl (one that won’t get hot when you take it out), and when it’s hot, garnish with the bacon, feta and green onions. 

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Soup | , , | Leave a comment

   

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