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Souper Easy Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

29 Oct

Now that soup weather is finally here I decided to make tomato soup. Growing up we always had Campbell’s and I always loved it but now that I rarely eat anything processed or pre-made I thought it was time I grew up and made my own tomato soup. I found a super easy recipe and it tasted great.

As far as what kind of tomatoes to use, you can really use any kind. I did a mixture of Roma and Compari. The recipe called for white onion, not sure I’d use that again, I think I’ll try a Spanish onion the next time I make it. Not crazy about the white onion flavor.

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Ingredients:

6 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

Salt

5 or 6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large red peppers

Red pepper flakes, optional, to taste

2 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for roasting

To do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes and onions in olive oil, spread evenly on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. You may need 2 baking sheets, you don’t want them too close together.

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Peel garlic and place on tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, fold tin foil and secure edges, place in oven.

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Roast everything for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping tomatoes and onions half way through.

 

After removing the tomatoes and garlic from the oven, roast the red peppers under the broiler. Turn on the broiler, place red peppers whole on baking sheet. Put under broiler on the highest rack so they are close to the flames. Roast about 2 to 3 minutes each side turning as they get charred.

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Once they are well charred, remove and place in a bowl, cover bowl tightly to allow the steam to loosen the skin. At least 5 minutes. Remove the skins, just be careful, they are hot. You can leave some of the char as it adds a nice flavor to the soup.

Once the peppers are peeled; cut, core and remove seeds.

In batches add tomatoes, onions, red peppers, vinegar and olive oil to a blender, only till the blender is half full. Blend until smooth.

 

As you blend each batch, put the blended batch in a pot over low heat, once it is all blended and in the pot you can taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add more salt or red wine vinegar for a little more tang.

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Serve with a loaf of rustic bread and enjoy!

 

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Cocktail Time: The Aperol Spritz

8 Oct

Here is another post inspired by our recent trip to Italy, the delicious cocktail that is quintessentially Italian, the Aperol spritz. As you look around while sitting at any of the beautiful outdoor cafes the Aperol spritz is everywhere.

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The cocktail is made with the aperitif Aperol that is produced in Italy by Compari. It is refreshing and slightly bitter with the perfect dose of sweetness. The most common garnish is an orange slice but while I was doing research I came across recipes that used everything; cucumbers, raspberries, thyme, rosemary and olives among others. I chose to use fresh rosemary from our garden. (Also because I forgot to get an orange and didn’t feel like going back to the grocery store…again!)

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You’ll need:

3 parts Prosecco

2 parts Aperol

1 part sparkling water

Ice cubes

Garnish of your choice

Add a good amount of ice cubes to a pretty glass, I like a wine glass. Pour the ingredients into the glass, add garnish and begin sipping! Saluti!

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This cocktail is also referred to as the 3-2-1 because of the ratio of ingredients.

And if you look closely at the top right of this photo you can see our goat Pepsi…

*Cocktail napkins: Patio Fashions

Cacciatore, Hold the Chicken!

16 Aug

Since becoming a vegetarian I learned how to make all kinds of recipes without meat, and this has become a favorite. Summer time in New Jersey means lots of fresh local vegetables including eggplant, peppers and the famous Jersey tomatoes all of which I used in this recipe. Now I know most of you think of New Jersey as crowded and dirty, with bad drivers but in fact, there is a lot of farmland and beautiful rolling hills. We have lots of local farmers markets where we can get everything from local produce to homemade pies. (We are called the Garden State for a reason.)

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This is the perfect summer time pasta dish that is light, has lots of taste and loaded with healthy veggies!

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Just a few notes-I peeled the eggplant, I don’t like the skin but it’s up to you. You can use your favorite mushrooms, I used baby Portobello, just about any kind will do. Finally, instead of the 14 oz can of diced tomatoes I used fresh Jersey tomatoes.

 

Ingredients:

1 lb eggplant, sliced into 1/4 thick slabs

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

6 oz dried penne pasta

1 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, sliced into strips

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp capers

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dry

1/2 tsp dry oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub eggplant slabs with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until eggplant are slightly browned and tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

 

While eggplant is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions. Drain when done and return pot, toss with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

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While eggplant bakes and pasta cooks, coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and  place over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add garlic and sauté’ for another minute. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook until liquid is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, capers, rosemary, oregano and red pepper flakes to skillet and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and add eggplant, simmer 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve over pasta with a salad, crusty bread and a glass of delicious wine!

Thank you to Connoisseurusveg.com for this recipe and the photo of the final dish, mine didn’t look quite as good.

 

Summer Salad Series III: Hearty Roasted Veggie Salad

28 Jun

This is the perfect salad for a healthy summer meal, the potatoes and chick peas make it a bit heartier than a typical salad. For those of you who need protein you can always add chicken or salmon. And the balsamic dressing for this salad is super simple and really delicious, you should definitely keep it handy and use it for other salads!

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Ingredients-Salad:

12 asparagus spears, ends cut off and cut in half

1 cup red potatoes, quartered

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic nectar or vinegar

Salt and pepper

2 cups arugula or baby spring greens (I’m not a fan of arugula)

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, halved

1/3 cup canned chick peas, drained and rinsed

Ingredients-Dressing:

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs balsamic nectar or vinegar

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the potatoes and asparagus in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, tossing once or twice during that time. Add the asparagus to the potatoes and roast for another 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are done remove from oven, let cool for a bit.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

To assemble, grab a nice big bowl; add lettuces, then add the rest of vegetables and sprinkle with the chick peas. Whisk the dressing before drizzling it over the salad and there you have it! Super easy, super healthy and super yummy!

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*Napkin by Patio Fashions

Recipe from Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

Summer Salad Series I: Beets with Herb Dressing

29 May

Kicking off the summer with a summer salad series. I love salad and eat it almost everyday, sometimes twice a day. When I go to someone’s house and ask what I can bring, I am always asked to bring the salad because not only do I love to eat salad, I love to make salad. And apparently I’m very good at it!

It’s easy to get in rut and get salad boredem. So each week I will post a new recipe that will broaden your salad horizon and hopefully inspire you to be more creative in the kitchen.

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Ingredients:

3 lbs roasted medium beets, preferably a mix of colors

1 large shallot, minced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Salt

Fine grated zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley

1 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

1/4 cup chopped, fresh chives

1/4 cup olive oil + 2 Tsb

1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted, roasted pistachios

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut tops off beets and rinse well. Place beets in a bowl, drizzle with  2 Tbs olive oil and toss till well coated. Place beets on a baking sheet lined with tin foil, cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 1 hour until beets are tender.

Let beets cool.

In the meantime, in a bowl mix the shallots, vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in orange zest, tarragon, parsley, chives and oil. Season with salt to taste, stir well.

Arrange the beets in overlapping rows on platter. Stir dressing and spoon it over the beets. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve!

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*Keep in mind that you can always roast the beets and make the dressing ahead of time and then you can assemble right before you’re ready to serve.

**If you’re like me and you like your salad closer to room temperature, take the beets and dressing out of fridge about an hour before serving so that it’s not too cold.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine and Top Chef Masters star Naomi Pomeroy

Pinspiration, Inspiration!

7 May

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anything or anyone. I’m am constantly inspired but I must admit that Pinterest can provide lots of inspiration for all kinds of things. I use Pinterest to find recipes, ideas for parties, clothing and so on and on….and now you can even buy that dress you found and have to have! It helps me to see where I need to be with my business, what people like; trends. I love that you can arrange things, add boards and I can add the items I sell from the website. Pinterest is a fabulous business tool. (No, I am not in cahoots with them, this is all me.)

Here are some simple but effective ideas to make your patio gatherings really great that I found on Pinterest.

1. Lighting: those pretty little white lights that everyone loves. String them around your patio or even the patio umbrella for that soft, pretty lighting that feels like you’re in Paris! *The Window Shop

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2. Place settings: Adding a touch of nature to your table setting, like this radish, so sweet and unexpected! *Better Homes and Gardens

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3. Unusual ice bucket: Use a wheel barrow, a wagon, a large tin tub for a bit of whimsy and fun. It does the job and looks really cool! * Style Me Pretty

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4. Fruity/Floral Ice Cubes: So easy and so pretty! What an impact something so small can make. Add fruit, herbs or even edible flower petals to ice cubes. They look so pretty in a glass of sangria or seltzer! *Kidsdigne

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5. Chambray: A chambray tablecloth or runner with chambray napkins. who doesn’t love chambray? I know I do, so I decided to use chambray this season. Coming soon to you, by me and Patio Fashions…stay tuned!

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*Chambray Photo thisisnotsonew

Long Overdue-Small Business Reality

26 Apr

Hello all! I’m back. It has been 5 months since my last post and I apologize. It has been a bit crazy in my life and I was suffering from a creative block. We are renovating our house while living in it, my mother was moved into a nursing home, we adopted 2 more goats for a total of 4 and I am working on getting my Patio Fashions business off the ground…all while working full time.

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I love having a busy life. I love trying new things. I love life. I am now finding balance and I am ready to dive into this blog and my business. I hope you will continue to join me  on my journey of food, entertaining and fun!

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Photos by: Kimbrough Daniels

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