Tag Archives: potatoes

Pine Nut Brittle and a Break

I  think I’m going to take a bit of a break … not sure how long though so I’ll leave you with a quick candy recipe post. This will give anyone reading a chance to catch up on earlier posts which they may have missed (hint) and give ME a chance to come up with some ideas for what to make during my two months of summer break.

POSSIBLE projects are mostly rehashes of things I haven’t made in ages … like cannoli shells, potstickers, pastas (I’ve been meaning to try a beet puree for colouring), yaki onigiri. (I may add more ideas here as they come to me. Right now I’m too hungry to think clearly.)

I had a brittle craving a while ago, but the only nuts in the house were pine nuts from my freezer, so that’s what I went with. Not cheap to make compared to something like a peanut brittle, but OH SO GOOD.

Pine Nut Brittle

A very simple basic brittle recipe using equal amounts by weight of sugar (100 g /1/2 cup sugar, 100 gm/1 cup pine nuts, 1 tsp butter, a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of sea salt and a few finely minced fresh rosemary leaves).

I made a second batch in which I doubled the sugar and halved the nuts. It was good too and more economical on the nuts if that’s a concern. Here’s a picture of the two versions for comparison. At least I could spread out the 2nd batch of brittle more thinly on the sheet.

Meal Round-up

Breakfast of sourdough starter pancakes topped with macerated strawberries and maple syrup, eggs over easy and LOTS of bacon.

Various chicken dishes: a disappointing chicken kebab recipe which was transformed into a chicken shawarma wrap, a couple of ways to serve leftover shredded chicken mole

Leftover pea-meal bacon roast, mac and cheese and peas … all from the freezer

Potato salad with hardboiled eggs with my home made blender mayonnaise.


Fun Cooking … Roasts/Sides, Puddings, Condiments etc

As my LJ says, “Cooking is Fun … Really”.

You can make big flashy dishes like a rosemary and garlic rubbed boneless lamb shoulder roast ($4.99/lb)  …

… with roast veggies.

Or this bbq sauce glazed peameal bacon (Canadian bacon) roast  ($2.99/lb) …

… with sauteed spinach/pine nuts, baked potatoes/sliced onion and roasted asparagus.

But you can also make simple things like this rich and creamy home made blender mayonnaise without any artificial ingredients, to use in your egg, potato or tuna salads. It’s also a great base for an aioli with the addition of roasted and pureed garlic.

Or, a basic home made pudding like a classic chocolate, which I’ve posted in the past. (I’m reposting the recipe for convenience.) Spike it with rum, bourbon, whiskey or Grand Marnier or Cointreau for a grown up version.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding – serves 4

2 cups milk
3-4 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar (can increase from 1/4 to 1/3 cup if desired)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp good quality cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Scald 1 1/2 cups of milk in a heavy saucepan (look for tiny bubbles around the edge).

Mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and cocoa, add the remaining 1/2 cup milk, and stir until well blended.

Stir in the scalded milk and blend well. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Let the pudding boil for one minute while stirring briskly. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Stir in the vanilla, spoon into serving dishes.

And a butterscotch pudding variation.

Butterscotch Pudding Variation – serves 3

1 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla

Scald 3/4 cup milk.

In a saucepan, whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cold milk until smooth.

Whisk in the warmed milk, very slowly. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook until thickened. Let the pudding boil for one minute while stirring briskly. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Whisk in the butter, a cube or two at a time until melted.

Whisk in the vanilla and then spoon into serving dishes.

Even a watermelon lemonade when your seedless watermelon turns out not to be as sweet as you hoped.

And remember that spaghetti meat sauce made with leftover odds and ends like green peppers and sauteed mushrooms? I tossed it with some large pasta shells. You can dress up the dish with grated Romano cheese or down with some leftover sweet and milky home made paneer (Indian farmer’s cheese).

Carrot Cake, Tamales and Savoury Empanadas

My freezer/pantry clear out has taken a serious turn and I can finally see the bottom of the upstairs freezer. And there are darned few things left in there so I’ve had to be creative.

Even the carrot cake was partially made with a freezer item, the last of a bag of walnuts from Costco. I DID have to buy a can of crushed pineapple though. And, killing two birds with one stone … carrot cake is on my cooking bucket list. I haven’t crossed anything off it in ages. The results were great. I used a recipe I found on Fridgg, even though I had several recipes stored away already on my hard drive. That ‘shiny, new’ tendency strikes again.

Pineapple carrot cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting and a garnish of walnut halves

I made half the recipe and baked 12 large cupcakes with the resulting batter. Perfect for a single person or couple.

The tamales were made with the last of a bag of Maseca brand masa harina and dried corn husks from my storage area. Instead of water I used frozen ham broth from the picnic shoulder ham I boiled a while ago to flavour the tamales. I made a shredded mole chicken filling with poached bone in chicken breasts. The mole paste was a jarred brand, Dona Maria. The filling wasn’t quite as good as the red pulled pork I’ve used in the past but beggars can’t be choosers.

Destined for the freezer and quick meals

Tamales with a bit of mole sauce to drizzle over

Steamed tamales

The savoury Mexican chorizo and potato empanadas were made with home made chorizo and pie crust (Tenderflake lard recipe from the box) from my freezer. I got 2 dozen 5″ diameter empanadas from a bit less than 1 pound of fried chorizo and some limp potatoes from the basement, cubed and pan fried until brown and crispy.

Pan fried potatoes and chorizo filling

Happy Easter!

After a modest meatless Good Friday meal, Easter is a celebratory occasion and this meal reflects that.

Soup was re-purposed from the salted cod, cannellini bean dip with the addition of egg noodles and ham broth.

Ham glazed with a plum balsamic reduction, mashed potatoes and peas with cherries jubilee

Washed down with strawberry lemonade.

I made a batch of crepes and paired them with the cherries jubilee sauce.

And drunken strawberries (strawberries macerated in sugar and Cointreau) over crepes with French vanilla ice cream.

And then, cause I had some cream puffs in the freezer and fresh strawberries, I sliced half open and filled them with sliced strawberries and sweetened whipped cream. I made a chocolate glaze to finish the presentation. Pretty but a bit messy to eat.

So, I piped the whipped cream into the rest of the cream puffs and served them with chocolate dipped strawberries.

Pick the one you want or eat one … or 2 of each.

Good Friday Meal Pan fried Panko breaded sole fillets, sauteed kale and a re-purposed white cannellini bean dip over dried salted cod. (No recipe cause I’m still working on getting it as good as my dad’s. After last year’s under-seasoned dish, this year, I didn’t soak the cod long enough and the dip needed to be baked longer as it was a bit too watery from the moisture in the cod. Eaten with the semolina sourdough bread, however, the saltiness was reduced somewhat. I started the meal with clam chowder.

Polish Pierogies – Potatoes, Cream Cheese and Caramelized Onions

There were a few dishes that my mother rarely, or never, made when I was growing up. Pierogies were one of them. Oh, she’d make the occasional Romanian “Gomboti cu prune” which my SIL identified as “Szilvas Gomboc” (Hungarian Plum Dumplings) for us, but I never remember eating the savoury version.

I always thought they’d be a huge amount of work so, over the years, I’ve bought the bags of frozen pierogies from the grocery store and boiled and pan fried them at home with diced onions, and served them with a heaping spoonful of sour cream.

I know that FB can be a waste of time/distraction, but one takes food inspiration wherever it’s found, and the recent flood of pierogi posts inspired ME to make a batch. (By the way, prime rib posts have been popping up in my FB cooking groups, like mushrooms after a rain. I don’t want to say that MY Christmas menu post has been the inspiration, but you can draw your own conclusion.)

I used a potato, caramelized onion and cream cheese filling … cause I had caramelized onions and the cream cheese in the fridge. I don’t know when/if I’ll make them again, though I DO want to make gomboti, the next time I find some plums at the grocery store. I think my mom used sour plums but it’s been a long time since I last had them so I’ll use whatever’s available.

The recipe is a somewhat rewritten version of one I found on Youtube. They were called “Polish Pierogies” so that’s what I’m titling this post.

Polish Pierogi – makes 24 – 32


1 1/2 pounds potatoes (2 large russets)
2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion**
1 small clove of garlic, crushed or 1/8 tsp garlic powder**
3 ounces (1/3 cup) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste


2 1/2 cups (~11 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water, you can use a bit less

** I used about 1/4 cup of caramelized onions and the garlic powder, because I was too lazy to fry just the garlic.

Filling (make ahead):

Place peeled, quartered potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.

Meantime, brown onions & garlic in oil on med-low for 10 min.

Drain and mash the potatoes, adding onion & garlic, cream cheese, salt & pepper. (Or you can rice the potatoes into a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients and fork everything together.)

Set aside to cool. Shape into 1-tablespoon size mounds if desired for convenient portioning and to make the filling process go more quickly.

NOTE: I ‘quartered’ the amount of filling I had in the bowl by eye, and then scored the top of the filling with a knife. I took out the filling, a quarter at a time and rolled each quarter into a log, which I divided into 6 equal portions. Then I rolled THESE into balls. After using up half the filling, I thought the ‘balls’ were too big so on the second half, I divided each quarter of filling into 8ths. This should give you 32 generously filled pierogies rather than 24 overstuffed ones.


Combine flour & salt in a bowl. Make a well and add sour cream, egg and water, combining with a fork or metal spoon.

Place on a well-floured board and knead for 50 turns (using a scraper if needed) until smooth. Cover with a towel or inverted bowl & let rest at least 10 minutes. You can wrap the dough in food wrap and refrigerate until the next day, if you need to, though it’s a fast dough to put together the day you make your pierogies so it’s not necessary.

Shaping the pierogies:

Divide the dough into thirds. Keeping extra dough covered, roll each section 1/8” thick, adding flour as needed. Cut 3-inch circles, saving leftover scraps of dough. Combine the leftover dough scraps from rolling the three portions for your last portion of filling.

Fill each circle with about one tablespoon of potatoes or your filling ‘balls’, fold into a half circle, and pinch edges tightly. Place apart on a towel or baking sheet sprinkled with flour.

Place the pierogies in boiling salted water, stirring at first (with the handle of a wooden spoon so as not to pierce the pierogies) to keep them separated, and cook about 3 minutes until they rise to the top, then another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove to an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle some more oil over the top of the pierogies so they don’t dry out.

You may also freeze your unboiled pierogies on the floured sheet and then place them in freezer bags.

Saute your boiled pierogies in a pan with butter or olive oil until they’re golden and serve with caramelized onions and sour cream for a delicious treat.

You can also bake them on an oiled baking sheet in a 350 deg. F oven until lightly golden.

A beautiful accompaniment to a simple boiled ham dinner.

Christmas Dinner: Prime Rib

Beef isn’t on the menu too often at my house. Not that I don’t love it, but chicken and pork are more affordable and usually on sale. However, I decided to splurge this year and make a British themed Christmas menu with the focus on a prime rib.

It was huge for a single person, almost 5 pounds, but the price was right (<$30), and I figured I’d get at least six meals out of it.

So, I bought what turned out to be a single bone roast and made the traditional sides – Yorkshire puddings/popovers with gravy from the juice, roast potatoes and carrots and mincemeat tarts and some bought marzipan topped fruit cake for ‘afters’.

I tried to restrain my picture taking cause I wanted to eat warm food for a change. I wasn’t totally successful but I TRIED.

Prime rib meal

Dessert plate

And then, because I always have to go that little bit further, I bought a wedge of Stilton cheese and did a poached pear (cranberry mead, honey, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick sugar syrup), Stilton and walnut plate.

Cheese and nut plate

Plating 2 … cause I couldn’t decide which one I liked better

Prime rib before and after roasting


Carved and leftovers for the freezer … some were more rare than others



Prime rib and sides

More Sourdough and a Turkey Soup

Never say never … to sourdough starter.

Soup is a great way to use up leftover diced turkey meat, especially the white meat which can dry out quickly.

For this creamy turkey soup, I used potato gnocchi, and chopped baby spinach and grated carrots for colour, flavour and added nutrition.

Creamy Turkey and Potato Gnocchi Soup – makes 8 cups/ servings

4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
1 tbsp extra virgin oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
4 tbsp/1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups turkey stock (home made if possible)
3/4-1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 pound potato gnocchi
1-2 cups turkey breast, cooked and diced
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2-1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese – optional

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, drain and reserve until needed. Since it only takes 3 minutes to cook the gnocchi once your water is boiling, wait to cook them until you’re almost ready to add them to the soup.

Mise en place

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil, over medium heat. When the onion becomes translucent, add the flour, and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 4 cups of turkey stock, the starting amounts of salt and pepper and the dried herbs.

Into the roux add the carrots and diced turkey. Once the mixture becomes thick add the whipping cream. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi and the spinach. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper if needed, then simmer until the soup is heated through.

Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on each bowl if desired.

And what goes well with soup?

Home made buns or rolls.

I decided to activate some dried sourdough flakes. I ground them up in my coffee/spice grinder first to make rehydrating them easier and converted an old yeast recipe for Dilly-Onion Bread to use the resulting sourdough starter.

The results were pretty good if I do say so myself. Next time, I’m leaving out the dill seeds though as I don’t feel like crunching on them.

Hybrid Dilly-Onion Bread – 2.2 lb/1 kg loaf

1 medium onion, finely diced and fried in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp dill seed
1 tbsp dill weed
1 egg (a second egg may be used for an egg wash)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter, fed about 4 hrs earlier
3 cups all purpose flour, divided

Fry diced onion and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water with 1/2 tbsp sugar. Stir well and sprinkle in 2 tsp dry active yeast. Let proof for 5-10 min or until the mixture is foamy.

In a large bowl, add 1 cup of all purpose hour, salt, remaining 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, dill seed and dill weed, fried onion and oil/butter it was fried in.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, add one egg and beat slightly with a fork. Spoon in 1/2 cup sour cream so you have a total of 3/4 cup of egg/sour cream.

Sourdough Starter

Stir in the sourdough starter and the egg/sour cream mixture. Beat well for a few minutes.

Stir in flour, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is too thick to stir. ( I had about 1/2 cup of flour left at this point.)

On a clean work surface, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour and turn out your sticky dough onto the flour. Knead gently adding more flour until you have a dough that’s still soft but not sticky. This should only take a few minutes. (You will probably have about 1/4 cups of flour left at this point.)

Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rest until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shape as desired using remaining flour to prevent sticking to hands.

Bake as per loaf, buns or braid. Buns were baked at 375 deg F for 30 minutes. The epi was baked at 450 deg F for 15-16 minutes.


And then cause I had some starter left over I fed it and made a sweet sourdough starter recipe … Cinnamon-Raisin rolls. The recipe came from here.



You can’t tell in the savoury buns, especially with the sour cream in the dough, but with these rolls, there was a definite sour back note. It was good but I’m not fond enough of the taste of sourdough that I’d make it again, especially when regular cinnamon rolls are so good.

Split Pea, Ham and Potato Soup with Fresh Peas

In the fall, before work gets busy, I make soup in my free time. I keep making soup until I use up all my storage containers and then, I’ve got several weeks of no fuss meals to look forward to.

I was certain that I had about a cup of lentils in my pantry but it turned out it was yellow split peas so the classic split pea and ham soup seemed a no-brainer. With a few twists. Like a cup of green peas from the freezer, a meaty ham bone and yellow potatoes for additional substance.

Split Pea, Ham and Potato Soup With Fresh Peas – serves 6

1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup (~4 oz) diced ham
1/2 medium (1/2 cup) onion, finely diced
1-3 tsp dried dill weed
2 stalks (1 cup) celery, finely diced
2 medium (1 cup) carrots, finely diced
1 pound/3-4 medium (2 cups) Yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
salt (start with 1/2 tsp) and freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or, if you have it, ham broth
1 cup dried yellow or green split peas**, picked over and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
water as needed (~2 cups)
3-4 tbsp plain yogurt

** Yellow or red lentils may also be used.

Mise en place

Heat the oil in a large saute pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden.

NOTE: If you have a meaty ham bone, add it to the pot, along with the chicken broth and enough water to cover it, after having sauteed the vegetables. Simmer the soup for about half an hour. Remove the bone, cut off as much meat as you can and return the meat to the pot. Discard the bone.

Add the potatoes, split peas, diced ham (broth and water, if you didn’t use the ham bone), salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and split peas are just soft, 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the peas, yogurt and simmer until the peas are thawed.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve.

Freeze away extras for another day

Soup Trio

It’s fall time and the weather is perfect for coming in to the house to a comforting bowl of hot soup.

The first soup, a copycat version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana based on some net surfing, is a hearty sausage and potato soup with kale … cause greens are colourful and good for you. I reduced the amount of sausage called for in most recipes. You just don’t need that much to get loads of flavour. Instead, I used the extra sausage as a pizza topping. And the ham stock I used as a base came from cooking up a smoked picnic shoulder ham and straining out the pickling spices used to flavour the cooking liquid. I’m frugal that way. 🙂

Zuppa Toscana or Kale, Potato and Italian Sausage Soup – serves 4-6

2/3 – 1 pound Italian sausage (4-6 sausages, hot or mild)
1 bunch kale, stemmed, rinsed and cut into strips
4 cups ham stock (chicken, vegetable stock or water)
1 onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of hot pepper flakes, if using mild sausage and wanting a bit of heat
~1 cup water
1 cup whipping cream (or whole/homogenized or 2% milk)
salt and pepper to taste


1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme

I should have used a bigger bowl for that sausage meat. 🙂

Prepare the kale leaves by ripping them off the stems (freeze stems for future batches of vegetable stock) and cut into 1/2″ strips. Rinse well in 3 changes of fresh water draining after each one. Reserve.

Remove the casing from the sausages, break up the meat and fry in a non-stick saute pan, large enough to make the soup in, until the meat is no longer pink. Break up the larger chunks of sausages as much as possible while frying. You don’t need to add any additional fat as the sausages will render down, releasing all the fat you need for browning. Remove the sausage meat to a medium sized bowl using a slotted spoon. Drain the fat that came out of the sausages and discard. (see picture below … that’s a LOT of extra fat that you don’t need)

Using just the fat remaining in the pan, saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent and just beginning to get browned.

Add the stock, cooked sausage meat, diced potatoes and about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper. (You may add the dried herbs at this point as well, if using.) Cover and bring the soup to a simmer. You can add another cup or so of water to make sure that your potatoes are covered. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the kale, cover, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the kale is wilted.

Stir in the whipping cream and bring to a low simmer.

Taste again for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve piping hot with toasted garlic bread.

I love clam chowder and cream of mushroom soup. This soup is a combination of the two. I tried to make it a bit healthier than the recipe that inspired it as 4 CUPS of half and half seemed a tad excessive.

And here’s the result … a Clam and Mushroom Chowder.

Clam and Mushroom Chowder – makes 8-9 cups of soup

6 strips of bacon (optional)
2 tsp bacon fat, or 1 tsp each olive oil and butter
1 pound white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2-3 ribs (1 cup) celery, finely diced (reserve celery tops, to garnish soup)
1/2 onion, finely diced
4 cups seafood stock (vegetable or chicken stock enriched with clam juice is also suitable)
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper, white if preferred)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup whipping cream or half and half
1/4 cup flour
4 cups/1 pound shelled frozen clams
water as needed

Garnish with diced bacon or julienned strips of celery leaves

If you wish, cook up 6 strips of bacon until crispy in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Remove the bacon strips to a plate lined with paper towels and allow to cool. Chop up roughly.

Reserve 2 tsp of the bacon fat in the saute pan to fry the vegetables for the soup, or use olive oil and butter.

Add onions to the bacon fat and saute until translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for a minute or two until it starts getting some colour. Add mushrooms and celery. Saute for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms and they’re starting to get golden brown.

Add diced potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and dried thyme. If needed, add water until the vegetables are covered by about 1/2 an inch. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced by a fork.

Put the whipping cream and the flour in a jar. Shake to dissolve the flour. Add to the saute pan, stir through and cook until soup mixture has thickened a bit.

Add the frozen clams. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until clams heat through and the flavors blend.

Taste and add additional salt as needed.

Serve into individual bowls and garnish with chopped bacon or julienned celery leaves.

And, while I’m on a roll, a completely different, RED soup. This Stuffed Pepper Soup has all the ingredients of a stuffed pepper but in soup form.

Stuffed Pepper Soup – makes ~6 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small (1 cup) yellow onion finely diced
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (a little over 1/2 of a medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5) can beef broth
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish (or 1 tbsp dried parsley)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2/3 – 1 cup uncooked long grain white or brown rice
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese, for serving (optional)

In a large pot heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the beef to the pot and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally while breaking up beef, until browned. Drain beef and pour onto a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in pot then add onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth and add parsley, basil, oregano and cooked beef, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring just to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to directions listed on package, then once soup is done simmering stir in desired amount of cooked rice into soup*.

Serve warm topped with optional cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

*For a thinner soup don’t add all of the rice and for a thicker heartier soup add it all. Also, if you plan on having it for leftovers the next day then don’t add the rice to the pot of soup, just add it to each individual bowl, then reserve the rice in a separate container in refrigerator to add to the soup the next day.

NOTE: I used red and yellow peppers cause that’s what I had, and a beef bouillon cube instead of the broth. I added 2/3 cups of uncooked rice with the peppers and simmered it all together for 30 minutes.

Sage and Brown Butter Sauce …

Well, I finally bought a bunch of fresh sage and gave the titled sauce a try.

I researched several recipes and came up with a dish that I thought would showcase it, thawed leftover wontons and microwaved the sweet potato for the filling. And then I happened to be in the Italian grocery store to pick up a bag of all purpose flour and was tempted by a package of fresh gnocchi. I ended up with a couple of dishes which I loved. I’d make either one again.

I rewrote the recipe below to reflect the fact that I FORGOT to put the pine nuts in the filling.

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce – makes 18 ravioli, 3 each as an appetizer, 6 as a main

For the Ravioli

1 (1-pound) sweet potato (baked squash or pumpkin may also be used)
2 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
18 wonton wrappers
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

6 quarts water to cook the ravioli, 1 tbsp salt
Cooking spray

For the Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

1/4 cup butter
8-12 leaves fresh sage, depending on size and preference
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts

Grated parmesan, about a tablespoon per serving

Optional garnish – large fresh or fried sage leaves

Preparing the filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pierce the potato several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool. Peel potato; mash.

For a faster alternative, put the pierced sweet potato in the microwave. Cook on high for 3 1/2 min. Turn over and repeat. Cut potato in half and scoop out the cooked flesh with a tablespoon. No peeling necessary. Mash with a fork.

Combine cooked sweet potato, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Making the ravioli:

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep them from drying), spoon 1/2 tablespoon potato mixture into the center of each wrapper.

Brush the edges of the wontons with beaten egg white; bring the 2 opposite corners to the center.

Press edges together to seal, forming a triangle and pressing out as much air as possible as you do. Repeat procedure with the remaining wonton wrappers, potato filling, and egg white.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add about a heaping teaspoon or two of salt to the water. Add 9 ravioli; cook 2 minutes or until done. Remove the ravioli from pot with a slotted spoon.  Lightly coat cooked wontons with cooking spray; keep warm.  Repeat the procedure with remaining ravioli.

Making the sauce:

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the lightest part of the butter seems to be turned a golden brown, add the sage leaves and pine nuts to the pan. Cook for a minute or two, or until butter is lightly browned.

Take off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and pepper.

Drizzle the sauce over the ravioli. You may also add your warmed ravioli to the sauce, stir gently to coat and serve in a more rustic fashion out of the saute pan.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan over each plate just before serving.

Garnish with fresh or fried sage leaves, if desired.

Gnocchi with Mushroom, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Gnocchi in Mushroom Sage Brown Butter Sauce – serves 2 to 4 depending on appetite

1 pound of cooked frozen (use package directions) or fresh gnocchi

1/4 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
8-12 leaves fresh sage, depending on size and preference
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups of sliced white mushrooms

Grated Parmesan, about a tablespoon per serving

Optional garnish – large fried sage leaves

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and the lightest part of the butter seems to be turned a golden brown.

Add the sage leaves to the pan. Cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and pepper.

Add drained cooked gnocchi to the sauce, stir gently to coat and serve.

Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over each plate just before serving.

Optional crunchy sage leaf garnish:

Wash and pat dry large, fresh, sage leaves. Deep fry in an inch or so of hot vegetable oil or in a small frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of hot melted butter, turning over carefully to fry both sides. Remove to a plate covered with a couple of thicknesses of paper towel and allow to dry and crisp up.