Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Sole Minestrone

Take advantage of summer vegetables with this delicious sole minestrone!  The addition of sole to this classic vegetable soup gives it lots of protein, and some pesto kicks in even more flavor.  Carrots, zucchini, cabbage, celery, and potatoes provide lots of nutrients.  This is a hearty soup that tastes delicious and covers all the bases.  It is a full meal in one simmering pot.

sole minestrone with glassOnce again, necessity is the driving force behind a great meal.  I had some sole that I needed to cook before it lost its freshness, and I also knew that I had to make something ahead of time that could be reheated quickly when we all got home and wanted dinner.  I adapted this recipe from the Food and Wine website, and I am so glad I found it. The only ingredient I really changed was that I used great northern beans instead of pinto beans, and some of the amounts of the vegetables are slightly different.  All the vegetables are fresh and in season right now, so that was a huge bonus, especially because I still have zucchini to use, and I am always happy to find ways to use it!

sole minestrone in hands 2I have made minestrone countless times, but never with fish, and never with pesto, and I have to say I love this variation.  For this soup, I made my own pesto, since we have a lovely little basil plant thriving in a pot, and because we love to have pesto on hand, but store-bought pesto would work too.  The pesto, mixed with the mild flavor of the sole, takes this soup to a new level.  And soup is good for the soul.  (The poet in me cannot ignore the word play between sole and soul.)  Both making soup and eating soup fulfills some kind of need for my spirit.  With my kids starting back to school this week, this was the perfect way for me to nourish my family and myself through this transitional time.  My son had three bowls it the minute he got home from his cross country practice!

It has been a little while since I last posted, and it is good to be back in this space. The month of August has been really full and a bit chaotic around here, but I have nothing to complain about.  A trip to Grey County, Ontario is one of the highlights of this month, and I already miss that little A-frame cabin in the wooded valley, next to the clear, bubbling stream.  We went to sleep with the sound of the stream flowing over the rocks, and woke to the sun streaming through the trees. The Georgian Bay, hiking trails, waterfalls, and huge hills and valleys enchanted us.  Although Canada is not that far away from here, it does feel like a foreign country to me, and my family and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Why is it that in general, Canadians seem so much more laid-back than Americans?  I’m not sure I know the answer to that, but I tried to bring some of that relaxed approach to life back home with me.

trees in KimberleyMy kids are already back in school, and though it is good, I also miss our summer life together.  They are growing so quickly, and though we get on each other’s nerves sometimes like all families do, my husband and I treasured our time exploring new places and visiting familiar favorite places with them.  I was talking recently with a friend about the passage of time, and she said, “the train just keeps on going!” We laughed, in a bittersweet kind of way, because it is true.  We cannot seem to stop the train of time, or even get off for awhile.  One minute the kids are in elementary school, the next minute they are starting junior high and high school.

I hope you are all having a great summer, and hope we can savor the last month of it! This is one of my favorite times of the year, as the sun stays warm, but is mellow, and the insects are so loud at night, they make it a very distinctive time of year.  One evening not long ago, I stepped from inside my house out to the porch, and I felt like I was stepping into a whole different world, with the surprising humming and chirping of the various crickets, katydids and cicadas (and who knows what else! Luckily, my back porch is screened in.) I love that sound though, because it means the nights are still warm and summer is still here.  Have a great weekend! It has been awhile since I joined Angie’s Fiesta Friday, and I look forward to catching up with some great food bloggers there as well!DSC_0217-001sole minestrone in hands 4

Sole Minestrone

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time, plus about 35 minutes cooking time
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Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup of onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium or 4 small potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1/4 head (or about 3/4 of a pound) of green cabbage, shredded
  • 3 and 3/4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (I really like the Better than Bouillon broths)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) of great northern beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of sole fillets, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

Directions:

Wash all the vegetables and chop or dice them into about 1/4-inch pieces.  Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and potatoes.  Cook, continuing to stir occasionally, for another 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini and cabbage and cook 5 more minutes, still stirring now and then.

Add the broth, beans, tomato paste, and salt.  Bring just to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.  Continue to simmer, partially covered, about 18 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender.  While the vegetables are simmering, make the pesto (if using homemade) and cut the sole into 1 inch pieces.  When the vegetables are tender, add the pesto, sole and the pepper.  Cook, uncovered, about 1 to 2 more minutes, until the fish is done.  (Sole is a thin fish, so it does not take long to cook).  Ladle into bowls.  Serve warm or wait till it reaches room temperature, if it is a hot evening.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Banana Bread

This zucchini banana bread is moist and delicious. Extra-virgin olive oil and Greek yogurt give it extra richness, and with both a fruit and a vegetable in there, you can feel good about eating it! Perfect as a snack or part of breakfast, this bread is satisfying without being heavy, and it’s full of cinnamon and vanilla flavor.  Your kitchen will smell so comforting and good while it is baking!

DSC_0028 (1)When I am trying to figure out what to make for myself and my family, often necessity is my best guide.  Because I needed to use a zucchini, and because my husband and I accidentally both bought bananas on the same day, I made this great bread that I will definitely make again! Though I have made zucchini bread and banana bread separately many times, those two ingredients are a great combination.  I am especially pleased with this recipe, because the moistness seems just right.  I have had zucchini breads that are too dry or too oily, but this one tastes very well-balanced.  The recipe is a combination of lots of different recipes I have used over the years, and it is definitely a keeper.

zucchini and banana in sunThis is the time of year when zucchini starts to roll in around here, and I feel like it is one of the vegetables most frequently given away.  It seems like someone is always passing out zucchini, and I am happy to use it!  With a break in the heat wave, I finally felt like turning on my oven to bake. This bread makes a great gift, and it freezes really well too.

I woke up this morning to the sound of soft rain and distant thunder.  It has been a long time since we have had rain in the morning, it seems.  I am sure the parched earth is enjoying it.  It definitely puts one in a more contemplative state of mind.  Our daughter is away at cross country camp for a few days, and though I know she is having lots of fun, I miss her.  Our son is getting lots of attention though. 🙂 I hope you are all enjoying your weekend, whether in the rain or the sunshine! Though I’m a bit late to Fiesta Friday, I am joining the great bloggers there, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Petra @ Food Eat Love.zucchini banana bread on tray 1

Zucchini Banana Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: about one hour
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping cup of grated zucchini
  • 1 cup of mashed banana (about 2 bananas)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large mixing bowl, first stir the eggs vigorously with a fork.  Then add the sugars, Greek yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla.  Stir again (with a fork or whisk) to thoroughly combine.  Hold the cup with the grated zucchini over the sink and gently squeeze the excess water out of the zucchini.  Add the grated zucchini and mashed banana to the egg mixture and stir with a spoon to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Then pour the batter into the two prepared loaf pans, distributing as evenly as possible.

Bake in your 350 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with a couple crumbs attached–just not with wet batter).  Let the bread cool before removing from the pans. Enjoy!

 

Refreshing Cucumber Mint Soup

Cool off with this refreshing and invigorating cucumber mint soup. Cucumbers, mint, and lime juice are some of the coolest foods around.  When pureed with an avocado, some coconut milk, and spices, you get an amazingly flavorful and healthy chilled soup that has a lovely, creamy texture.

cucumber mint soup with pink vaseWith the outdoor temperature around here soaring this week, a cold soup is a perfect addition to any meal.  And it is so easy to make–just put the ingredients in a blender and blend! Then pour it into a container and let it chill!  This recipe is adapted from my husband’s favorite cookbook, Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.  It is a plant-based, vegan recipe–great for building up the immune system and recharging the body with lots of wonderful nutrients. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can always substitute Greek yogurt to get the creamy texture without the subtle coconut taste.  I have gotten so I really like the coconut milk taste, and it feels good to have an alternative to dairy sometimes, though I still love my cheese and yogurt.

I made this soup a couple of times this week especially for my husband.  Like I mentioned, he loves the Thrive cookbook, and he loves all these super-healthy, plant-based recipes.  Since he is almost fully recovered from his knee surgery and enjoying doing more running and exercising outside, he is looking for food that will help his body renew and gain energy.  Our kids don’t love this soup, so it is in honor of my husband that I make it (though I like it a lot too).  In the busy hubbub of our days and our life right now, he doesn’t always get the special attention he got when we were first married.  He is my biggest supporter when it comes to me doing this blog, and he is awesome.

cucumber mint soup with pink vase 4Summer is fully, completely here.  We went swimming at a nearby lake last weekend.  Before we left for home, I went into the bathroom there to change out of my wet bathing suit. The changing room had an open-air courtyard and curtains across the individual changing stalls.  The wind came in through the open ceiling and was lightly blowing the curtains, not enough to compromise anyone’s privacy, but enough that the curtains were billowing gently in the breeze, creating a hushed, peaceful atmosphere.  It was such a serene setting, with the sun shining through the leaves in the open-air ceiling, and the curtains quietly flowing with the breeze.  Women from all walks of life were going in and out, and everyone was so peaceful and refreshed after cooling off in the lake.  I never expected to find this lovely setting in a public bathroom at a state park. It was a quiet oasis in the middle of a busy crowd, like time was standing still for a few minutes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and can find some time for some peace in the middle of it all! Fiesta Friday is a happy space to visit too, and I plan to head over there soon. Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck are co-hosting this week.cucumber mint soup in hands 3cucumber mint soup spicescucumber mint soup on traycucumber mint soup in sun 2

Cucumber Mint Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes, plus at least an hour for chilling time
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Ingredients:

  • 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • a small handful of fresh mint leaves, torn from the stems
  • a small handful of cilantro leaves, torn from the stems
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Wash the vegetables and herbs. Peel and coarsely chop the cucumbers.  If they have big seeds, cut out the seedy parts before chopping.  Tear the mint and cilantro from their stems and peel and chop the avocado. Squeeze the lime juice. Place the cucumber, mint, cilantro, avocado and lime juice in a blender.  Add the cumin, sea salt, and pepper.  Puree all the ingredients.  Add the coconut milk and lightly blend to combine.  Add more salt, if desired.  Pour the soup into a container, cover it tightly, and chill for at least an hour.  Serve the soup cold as a side dish or a light lunch. Top with a pinch of chili powder (it looks pretty when swirled) and mint leaves if desired. This tastes great with tortilla chips! Enjoy!

 

Berry Cake With Lavender Sugar

Make a weekend breakfast special with this lovely berry breakfast cake.  It’s full of fresh blueberries and black raspberries, and it’s  sweetened with the subtle flavor of homemade lavender sugar–a taste of summer in every bite!

lavender on railingThe lavender in our garden is thriving. I’m kind of surprised, considering how hot and dry this past month has been, but I am happy to see it.  It is gorgeous and it smells so good! I’ve been wanting to use it in some way, and then recently I came across a post by Laurie, of the blog ten.times.tea, for lilac sugar. The lilac sugar sounded so good and looked so pretty, it made me want to try lavender sugar.  I found that there is lots of information out there about making your own lavender sugar.  What a fun and simple way to use lavender, and what a subtle flavor the lavender gives the sugar. You can use lavender sugar to sweeten tea or flavor lemonade, and you can use it in baking.

berry breakfast cake with pink linenAt the same time that I have been wanting to use my lavender, I have been wanting to bake with fresh berries–the blueberries that are in season now, and the black raspberries growing wild all over my yard.  So I made this lovely berry breakfast cake, sweetened with my own homemade lavender sugar. It is so delicious and festive for a summer breakfast! The breakfast cake recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  The only thing I changed was that I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries, and I used lavender sugar instead of traditional white sugar, and butter from grass-fed cows instead of vegetable shortening.  I am very happy with the result! The lavender sugar is not essential in this recipe–if you don’t have extra time, conventional sugar can be used just fine, and any kind of fresh berries would work.

berry breakfast cake on table 2The Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook is such a gentle reminder of the beauty in using the food growing around us, and also the simple elegance of hospitality.  Such a simple gesture as making a cake or a salad or a plate of sandwiches for others can be so satisfying to both the giver and the receivers.  We have had the opportunity to extend some old-fashioned hospitality to a variety of people this past week, and it has been so much fun to get together with old friends who now live far away, and to have friends of our kids in our house and around our table.

berry breakfast cake in hands 3Life can get very fast-paced and over-scheduled these days, and it’s so nice to slow down sometimes to cook and bake, to pick lavender and make lavender sugar, or spend the whole afternoon at a nearby lake.  To eat breakfast on the porch or a picnic dinner at a park, and let the dinner and conversation last till dark.  Sometimes it takes guests and hospitality to make us slow down, and what would we do without it.  We need to do more of it.

berry breakfast cake with vaseI hope you all have a great weekend! It is mid-summer, and feels every bit of it to me. I look forward to checking out some new recipes at Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week! If you are ever in a food rut, that is a great place to go to check out some really interesting blogs.berry breakfast cake overheadlavender sugar overheadlavender sugar on porchberry breakfast cake on porch

Berry Breakfast Cake with Lavender Sugar

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 15 minutes plus a day for the flavors to mesh for the lavender sugar, then 15 minutes of prep time plus 30-40 minutes of baking time for the cake
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for the lavender sugar:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of lavender buds
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar

Directions:

Pick a handful of lavender.  Remove the blossoms and buds from the stems and measure out 2 tablespoons. **If you wash the lavender, or if it is damp when you pick it, make sure it is completely dry before you combine it with the sugar.  (If you don’t have access to lavender in your garden, you can buy culinary lavender buds at health food stores or specialty food places.)

Place the lavender buds and the cup of sugar in a food processor (I used a blender).  Pulse or blend for a couple of minutes, stirring in between pulses, till the sugar and lavender are well mixed and the lavender is broken down a bit.

Spoon the lavender/sugar mixture into a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Let the mixture sit, covered, for a day or at least overnight.  Double or triple the recipe if you want to make more lavender sugar.  Use this delightful sugar to sweeten tea or lemonade, or use it in baking. Enjoy!

For the berry breakfast cake:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup lavender sugar (you can use regular white granulated sugar if you prefer)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, soft and at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 cups of fresh berries (I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the lavender sugar, egg yolks, and butter until creamy.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.  Add the unbeaten egg whites and stir until well mixed.  Add the milk and vanilla and stir to mix again.  Fold in the berries.  If you are using blueberries, gently stir in a bit of flour to the blueberries before folding them into the batter, so they won’t sink to the bottom.  Gently stir until the berries are combined with the batter.  Spoon the batter into the baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden and the center springs back to the light touch.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

 

 

Cherry Berry Cobbler

Luscious tart cherries, blueberries, and black raspberries are baked with a biscuit topping until the fruit is sweet and bubbling and the topping is fluffy and golden in this delicious cherry berry cobbler. This recipe is a classic that never goes out of style. The fresher the fruit, the better this cobbler tastes.

cherry berry cobbler with holders 4The sweetness of the blueberries and black raspberries (and some sugar) balance the tartness of the cherries to make a mouth-watering fruit filling full of flavor and those much-sought-after antioxidants. The biscuit topping is golden and moist, pairing beautifully with the fruit.  I really notice a difference in taste when I bake with high quality butter, and butter from grass-fed cows is gaining popularity as a relatively healthy fat.  With just a few basic ingredients, this cobbler is easy to make and tastes impressive.

cherry berry cobbler in handMy favorite thing about this dessert, aside from the luscious flavor, is that much of the fruit came from my very own yard!  Our wonderful cherry trees gave us even more fruit than we expected, allowing me to make two cobblers, a few batches of breakfast jars, and a smoothie with them, and our black raspberries are coming along nicely!  I wish I could say I picked the blueberries in this cobbler, but those I did buy from the grocery store, yet they were still sweet and juicy.  In any case, seasonal fruit tastes better than candy in my book, and it reminds me to savor the moment, because each season is fleeting.

cherry berry slump with spoonI hope you are all having a great summer so far.  It has been very sunny, but much drier than usual here lately.  We finally got some rain last night, and the air smells so fresh, especially since the storms cooled things off.  We had an interesting Fourth of July–we got to go for a sail with my brother’s family in his boat, out to a sandbar near a small island.  He put down the anchor and we all went swimming off of the boat in gorgeous, cold, clear water.  That evening, we hiked a mile at dusk to the top of a hill in a nature preserve, overlooking a lake.  Someone from the preserve had a campfire going, and we roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores while the fireworks showered dazzling colors over the lake.  Then we hiked down in the dark woods by flashlight.  It was amazing to be surrounded by so much natural beauty, up in northern Michigan for a few days.

Now it is good to be home, though a little bit tough getting caught up and back to reality, and though a lot of our flowers need some more rain, the sweet peas are thriving!  I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m a bit late, but looking forward to joining Fiesta Friday , co-hosted this week by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Jess @ Cooking Is My Sport. cherry berry cobbler in loft 1sweet peasDSC_1201

Cherry Berry Cobbler

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time and about 50 minutes baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of tart cherries, washed with the pits removed
  • 2 cups of mixed berries (I used blueberries and black raspberries)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wash the fruit and remove the pits from the cherries.  Place the fruit in a 2 quart baking dish or casserole.  Add the sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour to the fruit and stir gently to combine.

For the topping, combine the cup of flour, the salt, and the baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir just until a batter forms.  Drop the batter by the spoonful on top of the fruit, distributing it as evenly as possible.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the biscuit topping is golden.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just with itself, which is the way I like it best. Enjoy!

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