Deviously Delish Dill Pickle Soup

Hi! My name is Debbie and I have an addiction. An addiction to dill pickles. It forces me into crazy things like driving to the next town to obtain Old Dutch brand Dill Pickle chips which are hands down, the best dill pickle chips ever. My friends and family are also quite familiar with my addiction and when they find something they know I will like they share and multiple friends shared a recipe for Dill Pickle Soup which, of course, I had to try.

It is an easy recipe which goes from cutting board to table in about 45 minutes. As much as I love dill pickles, this recipe was a bit heavy handed with the flavor. After the crew taste tested it with the same opinion I dumped the bowls back into the pot and went to work adapting the recipe.

The alterations lend nicely to additions to take it from a side dish to the main element of a meal.
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Deviously Delish Dill Pickle Soup

INGREDIENTS:

32 oz box chicken stock
1 pound chopped turnips or potatoes
1cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced (small) dill pickles
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2-3/4 cup water
1/4 cup dill pickle juice*
2 Tablespoons chicken base
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon table salt (taste taste taste!)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon basil

Optional Garnish:
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Fresh Dill
Chiffonade basil
Shredded parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

For a heartier meal:
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Add 1 cup diced cooked chicken after vegetables cook.

DIRECTIONS:

Directions

In a large pot, combine broth, turnips/potatoes, carrots, onions and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until tender are tender. Add pickles and continue to simmer.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a pourable paste. While whisking, slowly pour sour cream mixture into soup.
Add pickle juice, Old Bay, herbs de provence, basil, salt (if needed after tasting), pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 more minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

NOTE:

All pickle juice is NOT created equal. Some are saltier than others. I recommend using GOOD pickles, like refrigerated fresh pickles. Taste your soup after you add the pickle juice and seasonings and add salt if needed.

Spiced Nectarine Pie

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A recipe for nectarine pie showed up in my Facebook newsfeed and for some reason, it never occurred to me you could make a pie from nectarine. Silly right? Especially since peach pie is a thing. A pretty BIG thing in the pie world. My younger sister Wendy loves peach pie and I thought I should come up with a good recipe in honor of her and so we could know if it’s good. I guess since it’s going up on a blog post it’s safe to say, it is DELICIOUS!

I made my pie with the skins on. This imparts more tartness to the pie which I like. With a big scoop of vanilla ice cream it is heavenly! If you would like it sweeter, slip the skins.

The pie crust I used, Sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust, is found on Pioneer Woman’s site and it is an easy, perfect flaky crust.

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Spiced Nectarine Pie
INGREDIENTS:

6-9 Ripe Nectarines
3 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon All Spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons brown sugar (additional)
1 Tablespoon butter cut into small pieces

Double Pie Crust

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 425°

Prepare your favorite pie crust, roll out and fit into a 9 inch pie pan. (I use Sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust found on Pioneer Woman website)

In a large bowl combine ingredients through lemon juice. Pour into prepared pie crust, sprinkle remaining brown sugar over the top and dot with butter. Fit a slit/vented top crust onto the pie, crimp and trim. Whisk egg white to aerate then brush onto crust. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Place pie on cookie sheet in 425° oven for 15 minutes. Reduce to 350° for 40-50 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Mad Scientist Spice PUMPKIN Latte

The iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte has been resurrected early this season. What better time for me to resurrect my own recipe which, by the way, includes real pumpkin and fabulous spices and you make it at home for a fraction of the price of the big name AND you get to drink it from your favorite “Grandma” coffee mug. You don’t even need an espresso machine to make this. Just brew a good strong cuppa. If you’ve got a machine? Yay!

In case you didn’t know, I’m kind of, sort of, in love with pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie blizzards (oh my heaven do I love pumpkin pie blizzards) and yes, Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  I celebrate these seasonal treats and indulge in them as long as they are available. Imagine my joy to find a recipe on line and I could make Lattes at home! I made adaptations and adjustments in the Lah-BOR-atory and the Mad Scientist had her own recipe.

I originally posted the recipe on my writing blog and since I made the decision to start a blog dedicated to The Mad Scientists adventures in the kitchen, I figured now was a great time to bring this recipe home to where it belongs.

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Mad Scientist Spiced PUMPKIN Latte

  • 8 oz strong brewed coffee – a small cup on a Keurig
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk (depends on how strong you like your drink)
  • 1 “cube” frozen pumpkin
  • 1/8 tsp all spice *
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon *
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • REAL whipped cream
* – NOTE I don’t use pumpkin spice. I use all spice and cinnamon in equal proportions in my pumpkin pie.
Place the milk, pumpkin cube, all spice, cinnamon and brown sugar In a large coffee mug . Microwave on high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Check this every 20 seconds and give it a stir to bust up the cube. It’s “done” when the pumpkin is melted and the milk mixture is steamy hot. Fill the mug with your strong brewed coffee and top with whipped cream. Keep your spoon with you to give your drink a stir now and then to keep everything mixed together. The pumpkin likes to “settle” in the bottom of the cup. Now go sit in your comfy quiet place, close your eyes and take your first delicious sip.
Wipe the whipped cream of the tip of your nose. You know it’s there.

A Few of My Favorite Things Salad

So today my daughters friend threw her a surprise Birthday party and it was a carry in picnic. I was tasked with bringing buns for sloppy joes and a side dish. I decided I was going to make an old standby, broccoli salad. You know; the one with bacon and raisins? Of course, I was two ingredient shy and had to make a grocery store run. While grabbing a red onion, I see the pile of avocados and my Mad Scientist brain starts running so I grab the avocado, and a few more ingredients and head back to the laboratory home.

Favorite things salad

My Favorite Things Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1 package frozen Broccoli florets thawed and drained then cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup frozen new peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 ripe avocado peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower nuts
  • 4.5 oz package REAL bacon bits (or make your own)
  • chow mein noodles

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayo 
  • 1/4 cup sweet & sour salad dressing (mine is Kroger brand)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • Half & Half (or whatever type of milk you use)
  • 1 T dijon

In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients except for the chow mein noodles. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle in half and half (milk) to thin the dressing to pouring consistency. Pour dressing over salad and combine to evenly coat all ingredients.Stir in about 1/2 cup of noodles. Top salad with additional noodles. (don’t be shy – the crunch is wonderful)

Chill before serving.

Crazy EZ Iced Coffee

I love iced coffee and it took me years and many different tries to find out, it is not complicated and you don’t need a specific “iced coffeemaker” to make it.

So, take a deep breath and relax; let’s make some iced coffee.

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1. Many coffee drinkers already own a french press coffee pot and after much trial and error, I’ve found this to be the easiest, least complicated, and not messy way to make it. Mine is a 34 oz or you may find the size called an 8-cup.

2. My favorite coffee to use is coarse ground bold coffee, but I’ve had success using Foldgers Black Silk or Yuban Bold. I like to grind it myself because it has less silt, but if you don’t have a coffee grinder and don’t want to get one, it’s not a necessary part. For me, it’s personal preference and I already have the grinder.

3. Cold water. That’s it. Plain jane cold tap water or filtered from your fridge. You choose.

Here’s the specifics.

1/2 cup of ground coffee
Water
Time

Place the coffee in the bottom of the press pot. Slowly pour cold water over grounds and gently stir to wet all of the grounds. Fill to 3/4 ” from the top. Pull the press all the way to the top (plunger UP) and lid the press. Do NOT press yet! Brew the coffee cold on your kitchen counter for one day. Then, press the grounds to the bottom of the pot and pour slowly into a decanter of your choice and store in the fridge.

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To make a creamy delicious iced coffee, fill glass 3/4 full with ice, add coffee and cold water to the strength you like. Some like it strong and go full strength. I use a 1/3 water to 2/3 coffee ratio. Add milk, half & half (my fav), soy, almond or coconut milk. If you like it sweet or flavored do that too. I like mine simply sweetened and keep a container of homemade simple syrup (recipe below) in the fridge for iced tea and coffee. Give it a stir and enjoy.

Simple Syrup

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
Splash of lemon juice (this keeps the syrup from crystalizing after it’s cooled)

Place ingredients in a 2 quart sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cool completely, pour into decanter and refrigerate.

Mad Scientist CrAzY Catsup

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I’m never satisfied. I want my Mad Scientist creations to truly be scratch made. No prepared ingredients as ingredients. I’ve been wanting to adapt my BBQ sauce recipe to eliminate catsup as an ingredient so I started scouring the internet, reviewing nearly a dozen recipes to get a jumping off point.

Today was the day. The Captain put a brisket on the smoker and I wanted my Super Mad BBQ sauce as THE condiment and not a bottle a grabbed off the grocery shelf. So, the counter became extremely cluttered with an array of ingredients and cupboards left open for easy access to even more ingredients to begin the lab experiment.

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And Mad Scientist Crazy Catsup was born.

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Mad Scientist Crazy Catsup

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • A pinch each of: Cinnamon, All Spice and Cayenne pepper

 

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Combine all ingredients into a saucepan over medium/low heat and whisk until smooth. Heat until the catsup starts to bubble, then remove from heat and pour into bottles. Store in the refrigerator or if you’re have the equipment for canning do that thing and then you can store it in your pantry.

Honey, I Want Honey Wheat Bread

A friend asked me if I had a bread recipe similar to the bread served at a large chain restaurant. Having only eaten at the restaurant two or three times and it’s been quite a while since the last time. I researched copycat recipes to see what the possible ingredients were and determined it is a whole wheat bread. I had a great starting place with my whole wheat bread recipe, and with a couple of tweaks, I came up with,

Honey-I want Honey Wheat Bread

Honey-I want Honey Wheat Bread

Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups very warm water
4 Tablespoons rapid rise dry yeast (I use Saf-instant brand)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs (room temp and beaten)
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup gluten
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups whole wheat flour
6-8 cups whole wheat flour (in addition to the three)

1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Honey Butter Egg wash ingredients:
1 large ROOM TEMPERATURE egg white
1 Tablespoon of honey
2 Tablespoons melted butter cooled (don’t want to cook the egg white)

INSTRUCTIONS:
In your mixer bowl (or a large mixing bowl) combine first nine ingredients It’s OK, really. Just throw the yeast and everything right into the bowl. Now run the mixer (Paddle attachment) just until the ingredients come together. Then let it stand until it’s bubbly and double in size. (This takes approximately 30 minutes)

After the mixture has doubled, in a small bowl combine the baking powder, salt and vinegar. This gets good and foamy. Immediately add it to the yeast starter mixture and start your mixer.

Add 7 to 8 cups of whole wheat flour one cup at a time. Don’t add more than a cup at a time, otherwise you will have flour EVERYWHERE. Take it slow and don’t add too much. You want the dough to still be slightly sticky.

Once the dough has formed a ball in the bowl, you can either run the dough hook for 3 minutes to knead, or go all pioneer and turn it out on a floured surface an knead for 4 minutes. Add additional flour sparingly because you still want a slight tack when you make your loaves or dinner rolls. It forms easier and smoother when the dough is slightly sticky.

Place dough into a large greased bowl and cover. Let it rise aproximately 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch it down, cover and rise a second time. Start your oven (see last line) now to be sure it’s heated. The warm stove top helps the bread rise after you cut into loaves.

Punch down after second rise, then cut into 4 loaves. I go all kitchen nerd here and use a kitchen scale so the loaves are uniform in size. Place the loaves in greased loaf pans. You can also make pull apart dinner rolls. Probably use two 9×13 cake pans.

Whisk together the honey butter egg wash ingredients  and brush the tops of the loaves or rolls with with the mixture.

Bake 30 minutes at 370 degrees in glass pans or 375 degrees in metal pans or until loaves or rolls are deep brown.

Turn the loaves out onto a clean dish towel and allow to cool completely before bagging up for storage. You don’t want your loaves to sweat which makes your bread soggy.

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What people ask about the most:

Saf Instant Yeast
Saf-instant yeast

Pyrex Easy Grab Loaf Pan
pyrex loaf pan
Bob’s Vital Wheat Gluten
Bobs vital wheat glute

 

“Blog about it” – Almost Famous!

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I’m famous! Well, almost famous. Maybe. Our local newspaper ran an article in this Sunday’s paper about local bloggers who blog about cooking. The reporter who wrote the article is also a friend of my daughter’s from High School and I appreciate her including me and my little blog in the article. Pretty cool seeing my name and picture in the paper even if it’s just a wee paper from the NE Corner of Wyoming.

If you are visiting for the first time and have found my blog from the NewsRecord article, Welcome! Browse about. The recipes talked about in the article were my Green Chili, which is a favorite with my grown kids, and Sweet Potato Casserole, a mandatory Holiday side dish.

Please take some time and browse through the recipes I’ve got posted and come back and share your results.

Before Blog: Debbie’s Green Chili

“Mom, can you send me your Green Chili recipe?”

This request is what birthed the idea of keeping my recipes on line. At first, I kept it as a note attached to my e-mail account where it could be accessed at any time.

Facebook came along, and I had friends there ask for the recipe after I posted about cooking it for dinner. I posted a note there in December 2010.

I began a personal blog where I privately journaling and later began publishing publicly for my creative writing side.  A year later after I posted the Facebook note, I made the decision to start a new cooking blog where I could share the many recipes family and friends were asking for and “Cooking: The Mad Scientist Way” was born.

I’m not sure why I have never moved Green Chili to the blog until now, but now it’s here ready for all to find, and cook. It took an article in the newspaper for me to determine it was not here.

Sadly, I do not have a photo of the deliciousness, but the next time I make a batch, I will photograph and add a picture.

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Debbie’s Green Chili

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup dried baby navy beans + 4 Cups of water
    or 2- 3 cups cooked baby navy beans
    or 2 cans baby navy beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 – Tablespoon minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ lb Fresh pork sausage
  • 2 – 4 oz cans diced green chilies
  • 1 – 7 oz can “Herdez” Salsa Verde (Mexican Picante)
  • 1 – Box Chicken stock or 2-cans chicken broth
    (I like stock better – more intense flavor)
  • 1 – Tablespoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
    Sliced jalapeno peppers (optional)

SERVE WITH:

  • Flour Tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar or jack cheese
  • Sliced Jalapenos for the spice loving crowd

DIRECTIONS FOR DRIED BEANS:

Put dried beans, onion, garlic & water in crock pot. Cook on low 4-6 hours, or until beans cooked. Draw off majority of cooking water (water below beans in pot).

Cook sausage in microwave in 3 minute cycles, chopping sausage in between cycles until sausage completely cooked. Drain in colander & rinse under hot water. Add to beans in crock pot.

Add remaining ingredients & cook on low for at least another hour. Taste test after chili heated up for additional salt and pepper and jalapenos.

DIRECTIONS FOR CANNED OR COOKED BEANS:

Cook sausage in microwave in 3 minute cycles, chopping sausage in between cycles until sausage completely cooked. Drain in colander & rinse under hot water.

Place all ingredients into crock pot. Add additional chicken broth if needed and cook on low for 2-4 hours.

SERVE:

Sprinkle cheese over chili
Spread sour cream on flour tortillas, roll up and serve with chili.
Keep a jar of jalapeno’s on the side for those who like their chili a little spicier.

Mad Scientist: Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole

Before Thanksgiving in 2011 I wrote this post on my creative writing blog. Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my families favorite Holiday dishes and a definite must cook.

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My unfocused, scatter blogging is taking another turn into the world of cooking.  A fellow blogger, A Bloggy Mom  asked followers and friends what they are doing for Thanksgiving and I responded,

“turkey purchased so dinner at my house. Wanna come? I make an awesome gravy and my sweet tater casserole is heaven!”

To which she responded,

“how do you make your sweet potato casserole?”

So, I promised to whip up a new blog post with the recipe included because I’m all about sharing. Especially delicious recipes because what’s the point in being selfish? I’m pretty sure the majority of the people who read my blog can’t come over for Thanksgiving dinner and how else would they get to experience the deliciousness of something I love?

This recipe has it’s roots in one that was gleaned from a newspaper by my Mom years ago. It fast became a family favorite and, thank goodness, because one Thanksgiving tradition I always took a pass on was sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows on top. Gaaag! Oh how I hate that dish. My family really didn’t have a choice since I’m the cook and they don’t get a vote. I made minor changes to make it work better for me and my need to make things my own.

OK time to shut up and put up…. the recipe.

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Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 3 medium fresh yams or sweet potatoes cooked

(boil in 2 quarts water with half cup of brown sugar until fork tender & drain)
or 29 oz can of sweet potatoes drained

  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned evaporative milk

Crumb topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Drain sweet potatoes and cut into *bite size pieces.  Put potatoes in bottom of greased casserole dish. (A square glass cake pan or a2-1/2 qt. round French White Corning Ware casserole dish.)

french white casserole

Mix all other ingredients and pour over sweet potatoes.

“Shred”  frozen margarine/butter into flour and sugar mixture. ( use large holes on cheese shredder-hat tip to Alton Brown of Good Eats for this tip) Mix with a fork until like coarse crumbs. Add nuts. Then top the casserole with the crumb topping mix. You can get fancy here and arrange some 1/2 pecans on the top to make it pretty. Or not. It still tastes the same.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower temp to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, then let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

* - Some sweet potato casserole recipes mash the potatoes. I loath mashed potatoes so this option of bite size pieces creates a palatable dish for me.  If you want one of  those recipes, forget about it! Try this one and you will be a conver

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