Tag Archives: Cooking

A Lemony Transition to Spring Soup

18 Mar

As much as we are craving Spring, it’s just not here yet; there is snow on the ground and it’s cold. Now today was beautiful and sunny, it did get up to 42 degrees, but that’s not exactly Spring. During the winter months we eat a lot of soups and stews which I love but I’m ready for lighter and brighter foods, so I went on the hunt for soup that was just that, and I found it! Thanks to the blog Cup of Jo I found the perfect recipe for a soup that warms the body but is light and bright; a Lemony Soup with White Beans and Kale.

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This soup is delicious, especially since I changed it up a bit to make it mine. I used spinach since I’m not a fan of kale and I used orzo instead of Ditilini pasta (not a big deal but that’s what I had in the house). I also used canned beans instead of dry, the last time I tried to use dried beans I ended up with cement not soup…something I need to work on.

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I think that other than the fact that this soup tastes so good, is that it is souper easy to make; the flavors of the lemon and garlic are just so good together and it comes together in less than hour.

Ingredients

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs olive oil

1 small potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes

6 to 8 cups vegetable stock

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked

2 cups fresh spinach

Salt and pepper

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Directions

In a large dutch oven or pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat, add onions and potato. Stir and cook until onions are translucent then add garlic. Cook for another minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Add 6 cups of the vegetable stock, lemon juice and beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat till boiling then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

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While the soup is simmering cook the pasta. I like to cook the pasta and add it to each bowl as I serve it, otherwise I feel like it gets to mushy and soaks up the liquid. So cook it and put it aside to add as you serve.

Once you feel the potatoes are done, add the spinach. At this point add more stock if you think it needs it, it’s up to you how “brothy” you like it. I did use all 8 cups.

When it’s ready serve with grated parmesan cheese, drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated black pepper. Mangia!

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Now if you want to, which I may do the next time I make it, is to leave out the potato and add a second can of beans. And of course if you want to keep it vegan, no cheese. One more suggestion for the gluten-free folks, keep the potato and omit the pasta. Once again one of the reasons I love cooking is that you can always make it your own, there are no rules. So keep on cooking and keep on enjoying!

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Shroom’n Good Mushroom Stew

21 Jan

Now that I don’t eat beef or pork I needed to find a substitute for a hearty beef stew and this, my friends, is it. If you don’t like mushrooms then this will not work for you, but if you do, you will love it. It is easy and quick to make, as it doesn’t have to cook for hours like a meat stew and completely fills that need of a hot stew on a cold day.

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The original recipe calls for potatoes. I know this sounds crazy but I don’t like potatoes in my stew. I prefer to serve it with potatoes and I added peas, we love peas in this house. You can use frozen peas or canned but I prefer fresh. Our grocery store now carries organic fresh peas that are delicious, I use them in everything. As for the mushrooms, I like them chopped but not small, nice big pieces make a nice stew, especially since mushrooms shrink so much when cooked.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive oil

1 10 oz Container button mushrooms, stemmed and chopped

1 10 oz Container baby portobello mushrooms, stemmed and chopped

1 Large Vidalia  or yellow onion, chopped

2 Celery stalks, chopped

2 Carrots, chopped

3 or 4 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Cup dry red wine

1/4 All purpose flour

3 to 4 Cups vegetable broth

2 Tbs Tomato paste

1 Cup peas

3 Tbs Fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dry

2 Tbs Fresh chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dry

1 Tbs Bragg Liquid Aminos

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pour the olive oil into a large pot or Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; cook until they begin to soften about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until tender, stirring as they cook.

Add red wine and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until wine is reduced by about half. Stir in flour a little bit at a time until fully incorporated.

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Add 3 cups of broth, tomato paste, peas, Bragg Liquid Aminos, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and make sure tomato paste gets incorporated. Bring to a low boil, then turn down heat to allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. If it thickens too much add some more vegetable broth.

Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or with a nice crusty loaf of bread!

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* Recipe adapted from Connoisseurusveg

 

Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken?

22 Dec

Either way, it is delicious! I wanted to do something different, so as usual I go to Pinterest. Scrolling through all those chicken recipes, I came across several recipes for chicken tagine, I like Middle Eastern flavors so they really appealed to me. The only thing was, there was at least one thing that I didn’t like in each recipe, so I took from the ones I liked and made my own version.

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I hope you enjoy  this as much as my husband and I did. I served it with couscous but you could also serve it with potatoes. If you choose to serve it with potatoes you can add some cubed potatoes to the pot for the last 20 minutes and voila!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive oil

2 Chicken breasts with bone-in and skin on

4 Chicken legs with bone-in, skin on

1 Yellow or Spanish onion, finely chopped

3 Garlic cloves, minced

4 Cups Chicken stock

1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup Parsley, roughly chopped

2 tsp Ginger, minced or 1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/4 tsp Saffron, crushed

1 Cup Green, pitted olives, reserve the juice

2 Lemons, juiced

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dry chicken pieces and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a single layer in pan.

Brown in batches until skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes then turn over and brown other side for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add onion to pan and cook until soft, stirring to mix it well with the olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add chicken back to pan. Add stock, cilantro, parsley, ginger, cumin and saffron. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Add olives, reserved olive juice (I used about 1/2 cup) and juice from the 2 lemons. I also added one of the lemons that I juiced. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for another 30 minutes, chicken should fall off the bones.

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I like to serve it with the couscous and also roasted carrots to round out the meal. And whether you like to call it Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken…Enjoy!

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!

 

Tuscan Inspired Vegetable Soup

1 Oct

We recently took a vacation to Italy; we went to Rome, Tuscany and Florence. All of which were beautiful but I have to say that Tuscany is absolutely breath taking! The scenery, the food, the wine and the people were all wonderful.


When we left it was still summer, now it is definitely fall. And soup season has only just begun, so with that in mind after scouring several recipes I came up with my own Tuscan inspired vegetable soup. While in Tuscany we took a cooking class, it was so much fun! There were 2 other couples in the class from New Jersey, what are the odds?! The one thing that I learned in the class that was eye opening is that the chef didn’t use white onions or Spanish onions in anything, only red. He said that they only use red onions because they are sweeter and don’t have the bitterness that the others can have. Huh, who would have guessed. So in this recipe I used red onion, normally I would have used a Spanish onion for sure.

One other thing about this recipe is that I used pink beans, most Italian soups with beans call for cannellini beans but I did’t have any and certainly didn’t feel like going to the grocery store…again.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

1 red onion, diced

1 zucchini, sliced then cut the slices into halves

3 cloves, garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried basil

3 Tbs tomato paste

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cups spinach

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. elbow macaroni cooked and drained

Directions:

Heat a large heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat, add olive oil. When oil is heated add onions, celery and carrots. Slowly cook vegetables, stirring every few minutes until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes more.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, bay leaf and stock to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes more. In the meantime cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

After the soup has been simmering for 20 minutes add spinach and cook for 3 or 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.

I like to add the pasta as I eat the soup otherwise in my opinion the pasta sops up the liquid and the soup gets gloppy.

Add some pasta to a bowl, pour desired amount soup over pasta and serve with parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread. And of course a nice glass of red wine doesn’t hurt!

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* Photographed on Patio Fashions Chambray tablecloth with Patio Fashions Chambray napkins*

 

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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

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