Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Nothing like a cold wintery day to make me want a bowl of hot soup. This soup is made with dried "split" peas and it's warm, satisfying, and great for leftovers. I added in some yummy veggies and used our Immersion Blender to blend it into a deliciously smooth soup right in the pot.  This is a great fix it and forget it dinner, once you drop everything in the pot just let it simmer away.  Enjoy!

Recipe (serves 6)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1-2 slices uncured applewood smoked bacon, diced
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
6 cups water
1 pound dried green split peas
1 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Add olive oil to large soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions, celery and carrots about 3 minutes. Add garlic and diced bacon, saute until tender about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth, water and seasonings. Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas and add to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover loosely and simmer about 1 hour, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Purée the soup with an Immersion blender or use a food processor or blender working in batches. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons.
...click here for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tofu Stir-Fry

This is a fun meatless dinner idea I adapted from the Everyday Food Blog. Tofu doesn't have much flavor on it's own but soaking it in a delicious marinade makes it very tasty. I didn't have any snow peas in the fridge so I substituted some fresh organic green beans, same great crunch. I made alittle extra of the marinade to add at the table as needed. Tasty!

Ingredients (serves 4)
* 1 pound firm tofu
* 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus more for serving
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 9 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
* 1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch squares
* 1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed (or green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds)
* 5 paper-thin slices fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons cold water
* cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

1. Slice the tofu block lengthwise in half; slice each half into 8 rectangles. Arrange on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; top with more paper towels and another baking sheet. Refrigerate 2 hours or at least 20 minutes.
2. Transfer tofu to a shallow dish. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil with 1 tablespoon water; pour over tofu. Marinate 5 minutes (reserve marinade).
3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook tofu until golden, 2-4 minutes per side. Set tofu aside.
4. Stirring often, cook onions, mushrooms and bell peppers in skillet over high heat until golden, 5 minutes. Add peas (or green beans) and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add marinade and cornstarch mixture, stir to combine. Cook until heated through. Season with soy sauce as desired. Serve with Jasmine rice, top with tofu and garnish with cilantro.
...click here for the recipe!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tortellini Soup

We have a few sickies in our house this week and I felt like some brothy soup tonight.  This soup has a base of chicken broth with some fresh lemon juice and seasonings.  You can use whatever pasta you like, I threw in some tasty fresh pesto tortellini that we had on hand for a hearty dinner dish.  Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium leek, white and light green only, thoroughly washed and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
10-12 ounces tortellini pasta (or your favorite pasta)
2 cups fresh organic spinach leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded

1. Combine oil, carrots and leeks in large soup pot over medium high heat.  Once vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes, add thyme and poultry seasoning, stir to combine.
2. Add chicken broth and water to pot and bring up to a gentle boil.  Add lemon juice.
3. Add pasta and cook about 1 minute less than package instructions.  Add spinach leaves.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve in soup bowls topped with cheese and served with warm crusty bread.

Along side our bread we like to pour a small plate of delicious olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar for dipping.  This is what our dipping sauce looked like tonight.  :)
...click here for the recipe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

This is a fun one for adults and kids alike! I adapted this recipe from a Rachael Ray cookbook, Cookin' Round the Clock. It's hearty and tasty and perfect for a cool fall evening. The best part is you can whip it together in just 30 minutes. It makes alot so plan for some yummy leftovers too.

Recipe: (serves 4-6)

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup Egg Beater's (or one large egg)
1/3 cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
dash of salt and black pepper

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow potato, cubed
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can (15oz) cannellini (white beans), rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes in their juices
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cups water
1 cup (small handful) spaghetti pasta; (whole wheat or semolina), broken into 2 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Start the meatballs: Combine the turkey, Egg Beater's, bread crumbs, Italian Seasoning, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl, break up meat with a potato masher and stir to combine, set aside.
2. For the soup: Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, carrots, onions and zucchini, saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and water to the pot. Cover and raise to high heat.
3. Start forming your meatballs. I like to use my small ice cream type scoop but a spoon and your hands will work great too.
When the soup boils, about 3 minutes, add meatballs directly to the pot slowly one at a time, don't stir them until they begin to brown to prevent them from falling apart. Gently run a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.
4. Once meatballs are brown, about 5 minutes, Add in your pasta, stir soup gently. Simmer to cook the pasta and meat, about 6 minutes or until meatballs internal temperature reads 165'F.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from the heat. Serve hot with warm crusty bread for mopping.
...click here for the recipe!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

Simple, healthy and inexpensive, what more could you ask for? This soup has a great creamy consistency without the cream and it's oh so delicious. The leek is a member of the onion family, but the flavor is much more subtle than a standard onion. This is a recipe made easier with your Immersion Blender but if you don't have one you can always blend it up in batches in your blender or food processor. The combination of aromatic Thyme paired with leeks and potatoes is wonderful!  Oh, and the bacon isn't half bad either.

Recipe: (serves 4)
2 medium-sized leeks, washed thoroughly and diced
4 sprigs fresh Thyme leaves, diced (or 1 tablespoon dried Thyme)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 strips bacon, diced + 2 strips cooked in the microwave and crumbled for garnish, chopped
6 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 - 1 1/4 pounds potatoes, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh green onions or chives, diced for garnish
Shredded cheese for garnish
Crumbled bacon for garnish

1.Trim the darkest green portions of the leeks and using a sharp knife, halve the white parts lengthwise and rinse very well under cool water being sure to get rid of any grit and sand. 

 Leeks are notoriously dirty so this is a very important step 
as even the most delicious soup will be ruined if it has grit from the leeks. 

Cube up the potatoes in about equal size cubes 

2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to crisp up.  Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the thyme, remaining chicken broth, potatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and falling apart.

4. Using an Immersion Blender puree the soup right in the pot being sure to keep your blender at a slight angle.  Or if you are using a blender or food processor, work in batches pureeing the soup until smooth then return to the pot.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

5. Serve topped with various toppings such as chopped green onions, bacon crumbles and freshly shredded cheddar cheese.
...click here for the recipe!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Take on Banana Bread

This is a low sugar, vegan banana bread (Dairy-free, Egg-free)** and yes, it's actually still quite tasty. It's more in the realm of a bread than the traditional cake type banana "bread". I like both varieties but decided to try something new! Try it out, it's a wonderful way to use up some over ripe bananas. Here's my other banana bread recipe if you're interested.

Recipe: (yields 10-12 slices)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Orange Juice (or you may use plain soy milk, rice milk, etc)
2 Tablespoons ground Flaxseed (you can buy it already ground as "flaxmeal")
1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable oil (you could substitute this with 1/4 cup of applesauce too)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
3-4 over ripe bananas, mashed (~ 2 cups)
1/2-3/4 cup walnuts (depends on how nutty you're feeling; could also add dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 350'F, Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan* with cooking spray
(*or you may use a Stoneware loaf pan which requires no spray)

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, whisk gently to combine.

2. In a second large mixing bowl combine the Orange Juice and flax meal. Stir the oil (or applesauce), vanilla, brown sugar (if using) and bananas until well mixed.

3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet by hand just until combined, don't over mix, it will be lumpy. Add nuts (and/or dried fruit), fold in. Spread batter into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (if you add extra bananas it may take up to 40-45 minutes), bake until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After a few minutes, remove loaf from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Banana Tip: My boys and I love bananas but more often than I'd like there are one or two that ripen alittle too much before we can eat them.  Rather than toss these, I bag them up in a zipper top bag and freeze them.  When I'm ready to make banana bread, I pull the frozen bananas out and let them soften at room temperature about 1 hour or float the plastic bag in a bowl of warm water until the bananas are soft, then I add them to my recipe!

Mini-Loaf Option: This recipe will make four mini-loaves, bake in a 350'F oven for ~ 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
...click here for the recipe!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Pepper Stew

This is a wonderful "Fix it and forget it" stew for dinner tonight. My hubby created this recipe and it has become a favorite in our house. Layer all your delicious ingredients into the Crock Pot, your house will be filled with wonderful aromas, and dinner will be done! I love to set the bread machine up as well on days like this so we can have fresh hot bread along side our "simmered all day" stew. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 6)
Add to the Crock Pot in the following order:

layer of 3/4 inch round potatoes (~1 1/2 pounds) I like Dutch baby yellow potatoes or small Red potatoes
layer of diced carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
it will look something like this
Next Add...
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes with their juices
layer of sliced mushrooms (~1-1 1/2 cups)
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust quantity to your liking)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (okay to use frozen)
Generously season the top of the chicken with
1 Tablespoon cumin
several twists of fresh ground black pepper

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Before serving, shred the chicken and stir stew, season to taste.  Serve hot with warm crusty bread.
...click here for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hi sweet readers! Oh my goodness it's been awhile since I've been on here. Life is back to normal, praise the Lord and I'm back to cooking and blogging!
It's Fall and the cooler weather makes me crave soup. I love soup and God has blessed me with a family that does too! My hubby has warmed up to the idea of soup as a meal and our 3 year old son couldn't be happier about a nice bowl of soup for dinner. This is a family favorite and special request of my hubby. Have fun with a variety of toppings so everyone can make their own just how they like it.

Recipe: (serves 6-8)
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Cumin
1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with their juices
5-6 cups Low Sodium chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies (or diced jalapeños for more heat)
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts or 6-8 chicken breast tenders*, cooked and shredded

Tortilla chips
shredded cheese
avocado slices
diced red onion

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in chili powder, Italian seasoning and cumin and lightly toast ~ 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 5 cups of broth and water, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.

2. Stir in chilies (or jalapeños), beans, cilantro and chicken*. Add more broth if needed. Simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Serve topped with your favorite toppings.

*If you prefer, you can add raw chicken to the simmering soup in step 2. Be sure your chicken is cooked through, you may want to add an additional 5 minutes to your cook time. Pull out your chicken breasts or tenders when they are fully cooked, chop or shred the meat then add it back to the soup.
...click here for the recipe!

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