Here we go again. Or I. But I like to think we are in this together. Since we are. So, it is a total we situation.
Back to my normal…which, minus all the laundry and dishes and bill paying…kinda sorta rocks. Buuuuttt, no matter what you are returning to, coming back from vacation can be difficult…so difficult, that it would have just been easier to stay on vacation – ha! We all wish, right?!?
Let us get back to talking about food. It takes my mind off that whole laundry sit, which is totally cool with me.
No matter what the weather is outside your window….sometimes your food choices just don’t match.
Ice cream in January. Pumpkin pie in July. Grilled peaches in December. Hot soup in June. Anyone with me? Yeah, I figured that much…we can be weird together! What weird things do you crave out of season? Right now (and most summers) it is soup.
Lately, my craving for tomato soup has been Out. Of. This. World. Completely, and totally. I have gone to restaurants known for their monster grilled cheese sandwiches (i.e. Melt for my fellow Clevelanders) hoping the Soup du Jour would be tomato…because it is awesome. Trust me friends. It is. It wasn’t on their menu last time…talk about a total let down (upside? a fried egg on my burger, so we made up rather quickly). After this outing, my need for tomato soup increased 7.6 fold. I was on the hunt. Officially. I had hopes, high hopes, for the hospital’s cafeteria. Daily, I scoped out the soup options. I talked about it from when I got to work ( ahem, at 6:30am) until I could wander/escape down there. It got to the point that my lovely coworkers started to report back to me the soup possibilities, if they found themselves down there before me. I even got one to call the cafeteria for me…newbies. Gotta love ‘em!
All of this effort and nothing, people. Zero tomato soup. I was on the verge of buying a can of Campbell’s and calling it a day, but I found myself with a bit of time and a few cans of San Marzano Tomatoes…and within no time I had a pot of tomato soup simmering away on my stove and a bit of sweat forming on my brow…Gross. The sweat not the soup. Tip of the day…turn on a/c if making soup in the middle of the summer. Unless you love sweaty brows. Which, more power to ya. I think. I don’t know. Sweaty brow or no sweaty brow…just make the soup. Be it December or June.
Oh! and definitely, and I mean definitely, add some cheese. I prefer blue cheese, but not a blue cheese fan? Totally OK, just add another crumbly cheese. I bet feta would be crazy good or goat cheese? Life is better with cheese, as is soup.
Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese
Adapted from Michael Symon
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 – 28 Ounce Can of San Marzano Tomatoes, with juices (dont’ have/can’t find San Marzano - use what you can find – but splurge on San Marzano if possible!)
- 1 – 14 Ounce Can Chicken Stock
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 2 Teaspoons to 2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depends on how spicy you prefer)
- Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon total)
- 3/4 Cup Half + Half
- 1/2 Cup Blue Cheese, plus extra for garnish
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat for a few minutes. Add garlic and continue to sweat for an additional few minutes, until onion and garlic start to become translucent. Add tomatoes, stock, and oregano and bring to a simmer. ( taste and add salt here if needed) Stir in half and half and sriracha sauce and continue to simmer for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.
Transfer soup along with blue cheese to a blender, working in batches if needed. Blend until smooth or desired consistency. I like mine a bit chunky, but to each their own. Pour back into original pot and taste - add extra salt or sriracha if needed.
Serve once soup is reheated. Top with blue cheese and enjoy.Read More
I made this soup Monday evening for dinner. It was after I had made a crisp ( to be posted about later this week) and was feeling like I needed to make something more , ah-hem, healthy to exist on.
Monday was my day off/pay off for working the weekend. I find it to be a fair trade. I didn’t have anything planned beyond running ( umm…that marathon is LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!), haircut/trim/got-my-bangs-back-that-were-no-longer-bangs, and puttering around the kitchen…all completed, just not necessarily in that order. OH, and a total un-necessary, necessary trip to Target. A little retail therapy if you will.
Once home and coming off my caffeine buzz – I am sucked into Starbucks in the front of Target each and every time. I don’t even try to resist anymore, I just get in line. Any who… I realized I needed actual food for dinner…besides the crisp. Something healthy, yet substantial. With a bit of green, because I hadn’t any veggies all day…and yes, I try to get some sort of green into my body each and every day. Also, it needed to last a few days…you know, easy lunches all week are a total requirement for any meal I make.
Therefore, soup is what I came up with. Real original right? I just love the stuff. And if I am adding requirements to lists…then I might as well add one to my list of requirements in the dude department. They must LOVE soups, or at least enjoy them from time to time. And by time to time I mean at least once a week. Otherwise, they might end up hungry or fending for themselves.
As you can guess, this soup contains sausage, beans, and swiss chard. I was a bit hesitant to toss in swiss chard because I was afraid it would get slimy…but thankfully it doesn’t. What a relief! I prefer thick soups or creamy soups and while this one has a bit of broth, it is chunky….which is a trade-off I can deal with. Brothy soups are for those that are sick and ailing. I need substance if the soup is going to be the main dish. Substantial is this soup’s middle name.
P.S. Check this out…had me giggling all day long.
Sausage, bean and Swiss Chard Soup
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced small
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lb Hot Italian Turkey Sausage ( or mild) – if using links, remove casing
2 Cans ( 15 ounce) Cannelini Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Cans (15 ounce) Chicken Broth
2 Small Bunches Swiss Chard, stems removed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups packed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese for garnish
In a large pot/dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add sausage and continue to cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through (7-10 minutes). Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into bit size pieces. Once the sausage is cooked through, add beans, chicken broth, and swiss chard. Stir to combine, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get all the sausage tidbits. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve immediately. Top with parmesan cheese.
Store covered in fridge.
Have you ever turned yourself a color? A color different from what you were born with. A color different from what sun exposure can create. And no body paint was involved? Because, unless you are a Blue Man, you shouldn’t be using body paint….that is just plain strange. And strange…well I may not have the right to speak of strange in a little bit.
So, let’s get this straight… besides becoming sun burnt or if you are lucky…tan, you probably have never turned yourself a color. This I think I am safe in assuming. And you are probably assuming that I have turned myself a color.
And you would be right.
Between the first year of college and year 4ish….I slowly turned orange. When they say, you are what you eat…they aren’t joking. Especially when you are eating carrots…by the 5lb bag…weekly, or biweekly…Which happened more often than not. Carrots are crunchy and sweet and packable and quick…and delicious.
The shift from freakishly pale to freakishly orange was slow and was most noticeable on the souls of my feet, palms of my hands, tips of my ears and nose. And at the peak…my complexion was a tad orangey. You might say I went a bit overboard. Thankfully, I came to my senses and slowly backed off the carrots and right now, I am back to my freakishly pale skin tone. But, I still love carrots and eat them (in moderation) on a regular basis.
I prefer actual carrots that you have to peel to the ever so popular baby carrots. Baby carrots don’t have much flavor and often taste strange…and why all the water in the package? No, I like real honest to goodness carrots. The peel and chop kind. They are sweeter, crunchier, and more flavorful. A little bit more work, but totally worth it. Now, carrots are also great transportation vessels of tasty dips. I think I have dipped a carrot in anything and everything. My favorites include peanut butter, cream cheese, blue cheese dressing, Parmesan cheese, and yellow mustard. But, I normally eat mine plain…maybe with a sprinkle of black pepper.
I think the next time I turn myself orange, it will because of carrot soup. If I had known that carrot soup was so good and simple to make while in college…well I would have looked more like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – and I would have turned orange in record time.
Smooth and creamy and slightly thick…this soup is pure comfort food. I added a bit of zing with grated ginger….adds flavor and a touch of spiciness. And the roasted garlic. Well, it’s roasted garlic…I don’t think I need to explain that one. With a touch of cream and some chopped chives on top…For this carrot lover, it is simply heaven.
The next time you see me…I might be orange. And please tell me…because I won’t notice until I am too far gone.
Roasted Garlic and Ginger Carrot Soup
Servings: 2 Large Bowls or 4 Small
1 lb Carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 Large Head of Garlic
4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Large Shallots, thinly sliced ( or half a yellow onion)
1+1/2 Tablespoon Ginger, minced
1 Can Chicken Broth ( 14 ounces)
1/2 Cup Half and Half
3 Tablespoons Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay carrots out onto cookie sheet. Drizzle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil over carrots and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer. Also, prepare garlic for roasting. With a sharp knife, cut off the very top of the garlic head (where it comes to a point), exposing the individual garlic cloves. Place garlic onto a square of tinfoil. Drizzle about 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of olive oil onto the garlic head. Like a Hershey Kiss, bring up the tin foil around the head of garlic and wrap it securely. Place both the carrots and garlic in the oven and roast. The carrots will take about 20 minutes and the garlic about 30 minutes. Toss the carrots half way through roasting. Remove from oven when the carrots are fork tender and the garlic is soft/tender to the touch. When cool enough to handle, remove garlic cloves from their skins.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, add shallots and minced ginger. Saute until shallots are tender and translucent.
Grab your blender. Add roasted carrots, roasted garlic cloves, shallots, ginger, and chicken broth to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture back into a medium pan over low/medium heat. Stir in honey and half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once soup is warmed through, ladle into bowls and enjoy.
I like to top my soup with a dollop of sourcream or Greek yogurt and chopped chives.Read More
I feel like it was just yesterday that I started working nights. Adapting and conforming to a new schedule, a new pattern, finding what worked for me and then of course what didn’t. It probably feels like it was just yesterday because it took such a LONG time to make work.
I never knew when to wake-up, let alone when to sleep, and how many hours of shut-eye I needed to function. How much was too much coffee – the horrid knawing stomach ache was the indicator that I had a tendency to ignore. Ulcer avenue here I come. Realizing that I needed much more sleep during the winter vs. the summer – that took a full year. Figuring out how to make my bedroom pitch black at noon on a July afternoon, that took a few sleepless afternoons to fix, an art I never truly mastered.
At the beginning I had a hard time scheduling meals, at home and at work. Do I eat breakfast food at 6pm or dinner? And at 6am do I eat dinner or breakfast food…all very confusing. And when was the best time to workout? Motivation was lacking both morning and night. And then how was the best way to come onto and then go off of nights, naps or no naps?…And when I started this blog, well that threw a whole new factor into the equation…
It was three years of trial and error. It was three years of sharing ideas with other night owls. And after three years, I had finally gotten the swing of things. And then I decided that it was time for a new job. A new position. Therefore, a new schedule.
So, here I go again!
Creating and adapting to a new schedule. The biggest change I have had to adjust to is not having every other week off. I am very used to letting the house ‘go’ for a week and then reining it in on the off week. So, you might say my house is a wreck. Serious wreck. If it can be piled, it is. Laundry, dishes,mail…piled, and piled high. It happens…no biggy.
I am very grateful for all the evenings that are now open and free. I spend a lot of them in the kitchen or researching recipes…exactly where I want to be, doing what I want to do. That is a great thing. When I am cooking, I am also fiddling with my camera. Snapping pics. Pics to post here. Which won’t be a problem in the summer, but did you know that the sun does not shine in Cleveland during the winter? So natural light is difficult to capture during the afternoon, let alone in the evening. I rush home from work, praying for the sun to shine, but no luck so far. So, I just take pictures, with or without natural light. Hoping I can get a few decent pics. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I try to remember what I did right when I capture those few good ones…generally it is luck and I am back to square one! Ah well. It is fun and that is why I continue.
One of the great changes that I have enjoyed getting used to (besides sleeping every night!) is eating the correct foods at the correct times, each and every week. It is the small things. With every evening free, dinner is where my focus is when I leave work. This week and for many weeks, truth be told, I have been craving soup at night. And this week has been no different. I am not a big fan of brothy soups, but thick and filling soups. Soups that feel like a meal in a bowl. Usher in lentil soup. Talk about thick and creamy and filling. Oh and lentils are seriously healthy. Just packed full of good things! So, let us make soup!
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1+1/2 Cups Carrots ( about 7 small carrots), finely diced
1 Cup Celery, finely diced (about 4 stalks)
1 Large Yellow Onion, finely diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (15 ounce)
1 lb Green Lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon Oregano, dried
2 Small Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
Salt, to taste ( I used about 2 teaspoons)
Pepper ( I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
6-8 Cups Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth)
Optional toppings include a dollop of sour-cream or Greek yogurt, chopped chives, and bacon.
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and once warm, add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and just a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the lentils, diced tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, cumin, and broth. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste-buds. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium/low and let the soup simmer (uncovered) for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaves now and throw them away.
Remove soup from the heat and transfer, in small batches, about half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender if you own one. Stir blended soup back into the large pot and serve immediately. Top with anything you like or just serve with a side of crusty bread!
This soup does stand up well in the freezer so you can have a healthy, filling, and warm dinner in moments!
This is post #101. Not that you are counting. But I am. Well, WordPress counts for me…so I have watched the number steadily climb week by week. And still the number took me by surprise. Not surprised in that 101 comes after 100, which in turn comes after 99, but that the number came up so quickly. That I have written 100, almost 101 posts. Who knew I had so much to share or that I am still loving it as much today as that first week. Maybe more. No, most definitely more. I feel much more comfortable behind the camera, in the kitchen, and on paper. And by paper, I mean on the computer. From figuring out how to maneuver myself around the behind the scenes action of a blog to actually typing words on the screen…finding my voice, if you will – however silly that may sound, it is true. Actually making sense of my own thoughts and putting them down on paper. To have others relate to my entries. All of it, it has been great! And thus, I begin the journey to post #200….one at a time, lets not rush this. I am having too much fun!
What is on the docket for post 101?
It is winter and I am getting my fill of soup. Because, even though I sort of dread the cold and haven’t truly stopped shivering since Halloween, spring will be here before I know it. Winter will be gone and with it will go the comforting steamy hot bowls of soup. I can not eat soup beyond April…maybe May since I do live in Cleveland and it might still snow….Let’s not think about that. OK? OK.
Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup.
I have made this soup a million times over. Well, maybe just like ten times or so but, never have I made it the same twice. Mainly because I have never taken the time to write down the recipe, but also because there are so many different variations. You are lucky though, I have gotten into the habit of keeping pen and paper in the kitchen along side the cutting board and measuring spoons. Kinda like a kitchen diary….or is it journal since I am no longer 12?
I prefer my soup to be hearty and chunky. To have some body. To be a meal in a bowl. I don’t like thin brothy soups…maybe when I am sick, but not when I am healthy and happy. Stoup would be more accurate a term…Thank you Rachel Ray. I will however never say EVOO. Ever. But stoup, that I can get behind.
My stoup has tons of chicken – which you can decrease if you like, but I love lots of chicken in my chicken soup. There are beans and tomatoes and peppers and spices – all of which you can increase or decrease depending on your likes and dislikes. See why I have never made this soup the same twice? The variations are endless. So, tonight this is my version. Next time around the version may be tweaked a bit depending, well depending on my mood and what is in my pantry.
Mexican Chicken Soup
4 Split Chicken Breasts, bone-in with skin (about 4 cups total shredded meat; decrease if you prefer less chicken)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced
1 medium Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
2+1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1+1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregeno
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Can Diced Tomatoes - 28 ounces
1 Can Green Chilies – 4 ounces
1 Can Black Beans – 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Corn Meal
1/3 Cup Warm Water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place chicken breasts, skin side up, on the sheet. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons olive oil over chicken and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake/roast for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices run clear or the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Warm remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in large pan or dutch oven, and place over medium heat. Add diced onion, jalapeno, red bell pepper, garlic and begin to saute. Stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes) add the chili powder, garlic powder, oregeno, cumin, and the salt and pepper (to taste – you can always add more at the end!) Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken.
Add canned tomatoes (with juices), green chilies, black beans, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.
30 minutes into the simmering, mix together the corn meal and warm water. Let sit for the remaining 15 minutes. Once the 45 minutes is up, stir in the corn meal/water mixture and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Give it a taste test here and adjust seasonings to your tastebuds.
Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
I prefer sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh jalapenos. With a side of tortilla chips!
P.S. This holds up very well in the freezer!
p.s.s. If you do not have time to roast chicken breasts or just don’t want to, go ahead and use leftover chicken or a ready made rotisserie chicken from the grocery – those things are mighty handy!Read More