Friday, August 17, 2012

Soup, Bread, and TGIF: Dream Weekend

Have you ever been to a meeting and you leave with your head spinning? You have questions and you’re confused, but at the same time you have so many ideas and everything seems so clear… After 1 day of handwriting training, and 2 days of English/Language Arts training with my new school district I’m feeling it. I have a list questions to email my mentor today, but until I know the exact students I’m working with and their educational needs I can’t worry about too much. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Tomorrow is Greg and I's 5th Anniversary. We are going to a B & B over Labor Day to celebrate and this weekend we are doing something real special… staying home.  It has been over a month since it has been just us at home for a weekend. It may include some salsa making, seeing a movie, eating out, sleeping in, or taking a bike ride… I know, we’re wild!

Two years ago we celebrated our anniversary by eating our first western  style meal in Bangkok (spaghetti!) and going to Bangkok's highest point: The Bayoke Tower. (click for link back to The MacLeod Thaimes)
Last night we were talking if we could hop on a plane and go anywhere this weekend, we’d go to a beach and get a ridiculous cheap massage. Oh how I miss getting $7/hour massages. While in Thailand we never made it down to many of the well known islands. These are the ones that you see on National Geographic’s Best Beaches and travel shows of best places to snorkel.  Koh Phi Phi is one of them… AMAZING!

Source: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Well, I’m not in Thailand anymore. I’m here in Wisconsin soaking up this cool weather. Yesterday I decided to ramp up dinner. I planned to whip up some knock off Olive Garden zuppa toscana soup and the cool weather called for baking bread too. The smells that enter your kitchen while this meal cooks should be made into a candle!

First I got the bread going. It’s a recipe from Greg’s mom. While it’s a little time consuming, it’s easy, and it’s well worth it!  While the bread is rising, you can start the soup. (I didn’t do this, but I think most everything for this recipe can be found at the farmer’s market right now. So, this is a very in-season friendly soup)  Enjoy this weather and maybe enjoy this meal too!

Worth all the effort!

Greg’s Mom’s Homemade Braided Bread

*Source: Greg’s mom
* This is very freezer friendly!

  • 3 ½-4 C flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast ( 1 T)
  • 1 C water
  • 1/8 C sugar
  • 1/8 C butter
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ T water

1) Combine 1 ½ C flour and yeast
2) Heat water, sugar, butter and salt until warm
3) Add liquid and 1 egg and 1 egg white to mixture (reserve extra yolk for later)
4) Stir until well blended and stir in rest of flour (until not sticky)
5) Knead for 5 minutes, then place in greased bowl.
6) Let rise for 45 min in warm place
7) Divide dough into 3 pieces and let rest for 10 min.
8)Roll out 3 pieces and braid together
9) Mix 1 egg yolk and water together and put on top of braid. Cover braid with seasonings of your choice.
9) Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until brown on top (we bake it on our pizza stone for a crispy crust!)

Top Row: Add water/sugar/salt/butter mix to the flour with yeast and eggs, mix in as much flour as you can
Bottom Row: Move to a floured counter to kneed in rest of flour. Make into ball to go into greased bowl.

Top Row: Cover bowl and move to warm area. For me that's under a lamp on Greg's desk where he works on his model trains, set the time for 45 minutes
Bottom Row: Awake your dough, then divide into three balls. Let it rest for 10 more minutes.

Roll out the 3 balls of dough to braid, add water to yolk to put over braided bread. Top your bread with seasonings of your liking! Basil, Oregano, Parmesan cheese, garlic, really anything can make this yummy! It's ready for the oven!

Yummy in my tummy!

 Sausage-Kale-Potato Soup

(Knock-Off Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana)

**Source: This recipe was included in one of our weekly newsletters from our Community Supported Agriculture Farm August Earth in Hutchinson, Mn in the summer of 2007 or 2008

* *This is very freezer friendly!

·        1 T olive oil
·        1 diced red-onion
·        2 minced garlic cloves
·        ¼ t crushed red pepper flakes (or 2-3 Thai chilies)
·        5 potatoes, cubed
·        3 cans broth
·        1 bunch kale, stemmed and shredded
·        12 oz spicy pork sausage(Jimmy Deans HOT is what we use)

1) In large pot, heat oil and add onion until soft
2) Add garlic, red pepper, cook 1 minutes
3) Add pork and cook through.
Transfer meat mixture to soup pot.
1) Add potatoes and broth. Bring to boil.
2) Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes
3) In blender, puree half soup and return to pot.
4) Add kale and heat to taste!

Important ingredients for this soup!

Meat mix and potatoes in the soup pot. I never weigh my potatoes, so when  it's time to add the broth I just make sure it's covered. For this batch I think it took about 6 cups. Enjoy!

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