17 January 2015

Last Minute Tailgate Party Appetizers

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Waited to the last minute to plan to plan your playoff tailgating appetizers? Fear not, here are four snacks that are sure to be fan favorites.
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What better way to showcase a Packers versus Seahawks NFC Championship game, with Oatmeal Cranberry Granola Lara Bars.  No cookie cutter, no problem, little squares work just as well!

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Healthy and quick, this simple two ingredient Greek Veggie Dip recipe will be a hit with everyone.

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Better then chips, a simple three ingredient Spicy Edamame will be good well into the fourth quarter.

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These Deconstructed Caprese Salad bites take game day to a more sophisticated level.  Not to mention a more scrumptious level.

Looking for more snack inspiration, check out the Beloved Green recipe listing.

10 January 2015

Potato Leek Soup

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This weekend the NFL playoffs are in high gear.  I am torn between two teams, my hometown team (Go Pack Go!) and my current home team (Sea-HAWKS!) .  For this weekend at least, I can cheer both of them on as they work toward the division championship.  But when they both win --because let's face it, that is totally going to happen-- and end up playing each other next week, I am in a bit of a pickle...

...with my co-workers that is!

You getter believe I know which jersey I am wearing next weekend in their inevitable playoff rivalry.  Number 52, you hunky Clay Matthews, are going to be adorned proudly on my 5 foot nothing frame, along with my cheesehead.   This girl is going to represent.

Despite the inevitable trash taking rivalry that is going to go on all next week, I still plan to bring some Potato Leek Soup to watch the game.  This version has just the right heat, and by adding the ingredients in layers instead of all at once, the flavors are brightened to tailgating perfection.

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  • 2 Leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1/2 stick Unsalted Butter
  • 6 fist sized Yellow Potatoes (about 3 lbs)
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper, to taste

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In a large pot melt the butter so it covers the entire bottom.  

Chop the leeks into small slices, and add them to the butter mixture.  Never cut or cleaned a leek before, follow these instructions: How to Cut and Clean a Leek.  Cook until they soften and release some of their flavor, but before they brown.  Should cook about 12-15 minutes on medium heat.

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While the leeks are cooking, peel and slice the potatoes into small even size pieces so they cook evenly.  Pour in the vegetable stock and bring it to s simmer.  Cook until the potatoes soften, which should take about 20 minutes.  

Using an immersion blender, smooth the soup out before seasoning with kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Add a teaspoon of each, taste, and then season in the same manner until the desired flavoring.

Pairs well with a dollop of Crème fraîche and Pita Bread for a side.  

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07 January 2015

How to Cut and Clean a Leek

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Congrats to anyone who is using a leek in their recipe for the first time.  This member of the onion family is packed with flavor, yet not as pungent as some of its cousins.

Added bonus, less of that onion smell left lingering on the hands when prepping a leek then a regular onion.  Nothing like going to bed for the evening and hours later still getting a whiff of onion before dozing to sleep.  New fragrance, Eau de Leek.  But I digress...

The most common part of the leek used in cooking is the white and light green portions.  The darker green section needs more attention, often a greater time cooking, or in my case, a great part to include in vegetable stock.  I have a container in my freezer and I will throw the darker green portion into it, along with some other veggie remnants that I have collected, but this is another post for another day.

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I cut off the bulb of the leek, but do so as close to the root as possible so the leek stays in tact.  If it is cut to far in, then it becomes more difficult to chop because the pieces are moving around.

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The trickiest part about using leeks is not truly the cutting, but knowing how to clean it properly.  They pick up a lot of dirt because of how they are grown in the soil.  Much of the leek is covered with dirt, which is what creates that beautiful lighter color and more palatable taste.

A cut is made into the length of the leek, then a quarter turn to cut another length, but not all the way to the root.  What this allows is for the leek to open up so it can be run under water and allow all the extra dirt to wash out.

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Once the leek is run under water to clean out the left over soil, it can be chopped across into smaller pieces.  For my Potato and Leek Soup, the pieces do not need to be whole because they will cook down and be processed with an immersion blender.

For folks who would like to take the cleaning one step further, or if there is still residual dirt left behind, fill a bowl with water and place the cut leek in while giving it a quick bath.  The leek will float to the top, and the dirt should start to fall to the bottom.  Using a strainer, lift the leek pieces from the top and transfer to a new bowl.  Do not dump the whole bowl of water and leek through a strainer because it just put the dirt right back onto the leeks.

Voila!  Clean leeks, ready to be used in one of my favorite recipes; Potato and Leek Soup.

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