Sunday, November 9, 2014

Welcome to My Kitchen

There's something about the feel of fall in the air
that sends me running for my kitchen.

When we're not on the road, I love to spend time creating delicious dishes for those that I care about.  I focus on healthy, life-promoting cooking that will keep us on that travel track for many years to come.

So I've been busy cooking this week.  I made home-made chicken stock ~ it really does make such a difference over store bought, there is just no comparison.
I use whichever I have on hand, but I much prefer home-made stock because it adds so much depth of flavor to my dishes. 
I believe this makes it official, though, I need a bigger stockpot! 

And I tried my hand at pumpkin-soup-in-the-pumpkin.  
Pretty nifty!  

 It starts like this.

And it's mixed and baked and served all in the same container ~ 
the baby pumpkin itself.

And it ends up like this ~ a beautiful presentation.

And this, I say with deep pride, is my little herb garden.  What a hearty soul to have survived and thrived in my neglectful absence for weeks and months at a time.  What spirit!    

But with colder weather approaching, it's time to harvest the herbs.

In addition to using them in the chicken stock 
and the pumpkin soup, 
I'm going to make and freeze the balance as herb butters, 
which can be sliced off  "as-needed"
to top off our fresh dinner veggies all winter long.

This is a great way to use the balance of store-bought herbs, too.  You know, the dill you bought because you just needed a couple of tablespoons for a specific recipe?   Try this with the balance instead of pitching the rest.  (Well, if you're like me, let's be honest ~ I'm too frugal to throw them out straight-away.  No, I carefully re-seal the package and put them back in my produce drawer and let them languish until they go bad.....and then I throw them out ~ but they're really too expensive to waste!)

The ratio is 1/2 C fresh chopped herbs to 1 C (2 sticks) of room temperature butter.  Just whip it (lightly) with your mixer.  

Then plunk it onto a piece of saran wrap and form it into a log.

Twist the ends like a candy wrapper, like this.  
It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and if you pop it in the freezer, it will keep for 2-3 months.   

So far I have thyme butter, oregano butter, parsley butter and sage butter.  They are cute enough that I want to give them names,  don't you think???  Still puzzling what to do with my mint leaves, though.  Maybe mint lemonade?  

My favorite herb butter though, calls for a couple of extra ingredients.  I use this one all the time, on crostini's, which I serve with raw veggies (like fresh radishes) on a bed of sea salt; and on cooked veggies, like green beans.

Here's the recipe (It's Ina Garten's):
1 T minced scallion, white and green parts
1 T minced fresh dill
1 T minced flat fresh flat parsley
4 T room temperature butter
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Mix it all in a bowl, and enjoy on fresh veggies or toasted bread.

Try this and let me know what you think!   
And happy fall cooking!!


  1. I love your herb garden! So fun and since you are such a fabulous cook it great that you grow some of your own herbs! Your pumpkin soup looks fun and I am anxious to try the herb butter! Beautiful kitchen too!

  2. Well, KS, I wasn't sure I could have an herb garden and still be gone so much of the time......there are just some things you have to give up when you travel as much as we do. But you were certainly an inspiration for how easy it could be, doing it all in one pot. Took me awhile to find just the right spot in the yard ~ partially tucked under a patio table so it gets some sun, but not too much sun in the summer (@ 104 degrees!); just enough water from the automatic sprinklers while we're gone. Honestly, it saves me so much $$$ to be able to clip a little sprig of rosemary or thyme for a recipe instead of buying the fresh store bought herbs, which is always waaaay more than you need. The most fun thing about the project was that the gkids helped plant it ~ yeah, those little herbs are very forgiving! And helped water it. Again, they could have drowned, I'm just sayin'. So I am really delighted that they are such survivors!
    PS: The herb butters are really wonderful. Adds a fresh flavor touch to so many vegetables, even in the dead of winter. So I'm already looking forward to the new planting in the spring.

  3. Sherrie....yummm! I'm going to do the herb butters...great idea, I've been cleaning up and winterizing in the yard and have several herb plants...can you send me the pumpkin soup recipe? I'd like to make it for guests coming on the big are the pumpkins? They look bigger than the little mini's

    Bon a petite!

    1. Yes, Patti, several of you have asked for this recipe, so I am posting it. I have to thank my friend Maleena from the gym for sharing this one with me ~ it's originally Alton Brown's.

      You're right, it's not the little mini pumpkins, it calls for about a 4 pounder, which will serve 4-6. I would make a couple of changes next time, you will see my notes on the post. It's a really nice presentation, though, especially for guests, just set it right on the table in it's own little pumpkin bowl and serve it from there. Let me know how you (and your guests!) like it!

  4. I made the herb butter! It turned out perfect and is so yummy! I used rosemary and cannot wait to slather it on roasted chicken breasts or Cornish game hen! Thanks for such a great tip!

    1. Glad you are enjoying the herb butters, KS. I served fresh green beans last night with dinner; a quick blanch, then topped with a T of herb butter ~ they come out tasting like you've spent allot of time, when in reality it could not be any simpler!


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