Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pappa Al Pomodoro (Tomato Soup)

From time to time I have friends who like to send me soup recipes to make for them. I am happy to try them out and they are happy (usually) to sample the attempts.  My friend Charity sent this one to me several years ago and I have made it for her on a few occasions now.  I am in a never ending quest for the perfect tomato soup recipe.  Very different as it uses bread as the thickening agent.  It is originally from the Barefoot Contessa and I love her recipes.  I adapted it slightly but still think the end result is good.  The crunchy topping is the best!  I could just eat it and be happy.   :)

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Soup Ingredients:
  •  1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups of 1 inch dice ciabatta bread cubes
  • 2 28 ounce cans of san marzano whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (please no green can!)

Topping Ingredients:
  •  3 cups of 1 inch dice ciabatta bread cubes
  • 1/4 pound chopped pancetta
  • 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • kosher salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until tender.  Add the bread cubes and cook for a few more minutes.  Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor (in two batches - I speak from experience) and process until coarsely chopped.  Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375.  Place the bread cubes, pancetta and basil leaves on a large sheet tray in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 - 25 minutes until everything is crisp.  The basil leaves will get all dark and crunchy and I could just eat them alone!  

Beat the soup with a wire whisk to break up the bread.  Stir in the Parmesan and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve soup with the crispy topping and drizzle with some more olive oil. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Homemade Shake and Bake Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

I have a love/hate relationship with pre-packaged store bought products.  Yes... I think they are convenient and some of them taste really good.  But then I look at all the stuff in them... words I cannot even pronounce. It makes me shudder to think what all we put into our bodies.  Preservatives?  Yuck.  So I am always looking for ways to create my own versions of these types of things. This one is just as easy as the store bought kind and tastes even better.  Super quick and simple.  We made it last night with wild boar pork lion chops.  Fancy, huh?  We have also made it with just regular old pork chops from the grocery store.  Either way it is delicious and the sauce totally makes it! I have to give credit to Southern Living Magazine for turning me on to this.  It is easily customizable using whatever seasonings you like. 

Homemade Shake and Bake Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (1/2 inch thick) pork chops 
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put first 6 ingredients plus 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper in a  gallon size zipper bag.
  2. Sprinkle chops with remaining salt and pepper.  Place two chops at a time in breadcrumb mixture and shake well to coat.  Place chops on wire rack on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining chops.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over, place any remaining breadcrumbs on top of chops and bake for 10 more minutes or until done.  Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute shallots or onions until soft.  Increase heat to medium-high, add broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in mustard, cream and lemon juice.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve immediately with pork chops. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The spices in this soup are amazing.  Even better the second day.  It wasn't as thick as I would have liked so next time I will increase the amount of cauliflower and decrease the liquids slightly.  I am going to publish this as I made it but will do an update after I make it again!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2½ tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to stay vegetarian)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss cauliflower on two baking sheets with salt, pepper and a good amount of a good olive oil.   Roast for at least 30 minutes turning a few times.  You want them to have a good dark brown roasted color because this is where the yummy flavor comes from.  Remove from oven and set aside.

While cauliflower is roasting heat 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil in your soup pot.  Add onion and saute until soft.  Add garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin and smoked paprika.  Stir until fragrant.  

Add 3/4 of the cauliflower and stir to make sure the spices get all over that cauliflower goodness.  Add chicken stock and water (personally I think the 4 cups of stock would have been more than enough!) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Using an immersion blender (or transferring in batches to a regular blender) blend soup to desired consistency.  Leave some chunks though.  They taste really good!  Add in cream and lemon juice and then add in the remaining cauliflower pieces.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in fresh dill.

Seriously, the flavor is simply amazing!  Try it!  You will love it!

Adapted from themediteranneandish.com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BLT Stuffed Avocados

Another amazing Pinterest find that we tweaked and made even more delicious!!  How can you possibly go wrong with avocados and bacon??  It just isn't possible!!

BLT Stuffed Avocados

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 Roma tomato, cubed
  • 2 slices sour dough bread, toasted and cubed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spinach leaves
  • 8 slices cooked crumbled bacon 
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic flakes or one fresh garlic clove, minced 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut avocados in half, remove pit and carefully peel.  Try to keep in one piece.  Scoop out some of the avocado flesh to make the hole bigger.  Put extra flesh in bowl along with remainder of the ingredients.  Mix well.  Spoon mixture into the holes in the avocado.  Mound it up nice.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until browned nicely and serve!  The original recipe called for rubbing the outsides of the avocado with lemon juice to keep it from turning. We ate them immediately so there was no time for them to turn. If you are making ahead of time or a larger batch of them, you may want to do this to keep them pretty longer.  But really you are just going to want to eat them immediately. 

Adapted from Stepable.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Spanish Rice

We love rice in our house... and pasta... and potatoes.  Basically anything starchy and bad for you.  But what fun is life if you don't eat what you love?  All in moderation, of course!!

This simple Spanish rice recipe came from SimplyRecipes so so many years ago.  I think I have been using it for at least 3-4 years now.  It's easy and it never fails to produce the best rice.  You can double it for a huge crowd.  The original recipe claims that it serves 4 to 6 but unless they are eating a gigantic portion, there is no way.  I think it serves 8-10 and that is still a really good size portion.  

Spanish Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Cups Medium or Long Grain Rice (DO NOT USE MINUTE RICE!)
  • 3 Cups* Chicken, Turkey or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 Can Rotel Tomatoes 
  • Pinch Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
*Check the instructions on your rice package for the proportions of rice to liquid.  Some recipes call for 1:1 ratio, some 1.5:1 or 2:1.  Use the amount of liquid called for in two cups of rice from your package. 

In a large skillet, add olive oil and rice over medium/high heat.  Toast rice slightly, being careful not to burn.  Just bring out the color in the rice.  Add onion and garlic.  Cooke, stirring frequently, until onions are softened.

In a separate sauce pan, bring stock to simmer.  Add tomato paste, Rotel, oregano and salt.   Once heated and onions are soft, add broth to rice.  Bring to a simmer.  Lower heat, cover and cook 15-25 minutes (look at your package of rice for cooking time).  Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Turns out moist and full of flavor every time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mushroom Pot Pie

This is absolutely one of those dishes that you eat with your eyes first.  It was so beautiful.  It didn't stop me from tearing right into it.  Someone in the room asked if we didn't need to let it rest first.  No way that was happening.  It was begging to be eaten!  I am so thankful to live in the internet age where we can share recipes with each other.  And thank goodness so many people love to blog about food!  The original recipe was for individual pot pies, which could be easily done by cutting the puff pastry.  We didn't have any small bowls that would work so we made a 9x13 version. 

Mushroom Pot Pie
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil.   (We used some rosemary flavored, but plain EVOO will be just fine!)
  • 2 pounds of chopped mushrooms. (I used a combination of white and baby bells. I also chopped them very small to appease the non-mushroom loving friends.)
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (again for the non-onion loving friends)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup broth (I used chicken, but to make it vegetarian, just substitute vegetarian broth or stock)
  • 1 16 ounce bag of frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (could definitely add more if you love garlic)
  • 1 package of puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet heat olive oil.  Add chopped vegetables and cook until tender.  When mushrooms start to release their juices, add salt to move the process along.  Cook until juices start to evaporate.  Add the flour and stir for a couple of minutes.  Add broth and peas.  Bring to a boil.  

Spray 9 x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Add vegetables to the pan.  Cover with pastry.  I used the two sheets that came in one package of puff pastry. They overlapped a bit.  Press to seal around the edges of the glass dish as best you can. Brush egg all over the pastry.  I did not vent mine, but I probably should have.  It was not too watery but I think vents to allow the steam to escape would have helped the crust underneath get more crispy.  It turned out just fine anyway! 

Place the dish on a large baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. 

Recipe adapted from 12 Tomatoes.  They have some really amazing recipes!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup with Boursin and Bacon

There are times when I think I have found my absolute favorite soup in the world... like the Sweet Potato and Andouille Bisque or my Roasted Poblano and Cheddar... but then I stumble across a new recipe and I find it hard to pick a favorite.  Perhaps it is like when you have more than one child?  Surely you don't love one of them more than the others?  They all have their unique qualities.  So for now I will just say that this soup is what is currently holding my obsession.  I have made it twice in the past two weeks. The first time I shared it too much and only ended up getting a couple of bowls for myself.  I made it again this week and it is all mine!  I think I did let the man have a single taste.  But that's it!!  

Butternut Squash Soup with Boursin and Bacon

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 (3-1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (5.2 ounce) rounds Boursin Cheese with Garlic and Fine Herbs (if you cannot find Boursin, you can substitute with Alouette Garlic and Herbs or you can make your own). 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Crispy cooked bacon, crumbled


  • In a large pot, melt butter over med-low heat. Add onion and celery and cook until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add butternut squash and thyme leaves, cook for about 8 minutes more. Stir several times. Add flour and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer on low for another 10 minutes. Squash should be soft. Remove thyme sprigs and then puree squash mixture until smooth.  (I use my blender and do it in batches because I want absolutely no sign of the evil celery.  You can also use a hand blender, but they just don't seem to blend it enough for me.)  
  • Add soup back to the pot  and add Boursin cheese, salt and both peppers. Stir until cheese is melted.
  • Garnish each bowl with crumbled bacon.
 The first time I made the soup I didn't have any white pepper on hand and left it out.  The second go round I added it and it definitely adds a level of heat that you do not want to miss out on.  It is fine with just black pepper and you will still want to bathe in it... but the white pepper really gives it another element that you should not miss! 

Adapted from the Noble Pig...  You should really check her out!!