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Tomato Soup

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment
Tomato soup

Tomato soup

Is there any job in America that gets it wrong more often than Weather Forecasters? I know its not an exact science, but it IS a science and you would think that in 2014 there would be a better way to get it right.

In my opinion, the only way to know what the weather is up to, is to step outside and see for yourself.

That said, I still find myself checking the various weather forecasts, especially when I have upcoming plans outdoors (or vacation).

I check way more often in the winter than the summer. I find this odd because I have less outdoor plans in the winter so in theory I should care less.  However, I do it mainly to see IF we’re going to get inclement weather that may factor in to my daily commute.

So recently I checked out one of the online weather sites and was upset to discover that in the next few days they’re predicting frigid temperatures.

A high of 1 degree to be exact.  One. Uno.  Factor in the wind chills and who knows how cold it will get.  I won’t like that at all.  I suppose many won’t.

Then I remembered there are people in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and plenty of other states that have it much worse than me for many more days each and every year.

Then there’s the Russians?  The Canadians?

After dreading whats forthcoming for a few moments, I realized that no matter how bad I think I have it, there is always someone worse off.

Still doesn’t mean I won’t lay around in comfy sweats and a hoodie enjoying a nice cup of tea….or coffee….or a delicious bowl of soup.

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This recipe is simple and has just a few ingredients (most of which may already be in your pantry).

From start to finish it takes around 15 minutes give or take.

This soup is much healthier that those cans of condensed soup. Not to mention, this version probably costs about the same, yet feeds a family of 4 (with leftovers for lunch the next day).

Who doesn’t like healthy, economical, simple and delicious.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes (I used Organic which was $1.50 at Aldi)
  • 1 (43 oz) container of low sodium tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • 2 low sodium chicken bouillon cubes
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (eyeball it)
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 1 tablespoon of basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add tomatoes and stir to combine.
  4. Add tomato juice, stir.
  5. Add sugar, stir.
  6. Add bouillon cubes, stir.
  7. Add pepper, stir.
  8. Bring everything to a boil then remove from heat.
  9. Stir in the half & half and basil.
  10. Serve immediately. (preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich)
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Tuscan Beef Stew

December 15, 2013 1 comment
Tuscan Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

When I first started blogging I would write two, sometimes three entries a week.  If you follow, you know that its no where near that pace these days.  It’s got to the point where people ask why I don’t blog more often.  It’s a legit question and one I really don’t have an answer for.

So let me dive in to it a bit more and see what I can come up with.

1.  Its no longer my ‘flavor of the month’? My wife says that anytime I do something new, I obsess over it.  Sadly, she’s right (as most significant others are).  She can easily site numerous examples and I can’t disagree with any of them.

2. I haven’t been cooking anything good?  This isn’t entirely accurate. But for the most part I’m in a bit of a rut.  I’ve been cooking things I’m comfortable with instead of branching out.  Even though I’ve found a ton of recipes I want to try, I just haven’t made them as often as I would like.

3.  Work has been a bit demanding as of late?  Business has picked up lately that’s for sure and when I’m at work doing what it is I do there, one of the last things I want to do is write. I think I’d rather catch up on TV.

4.  My food photos look like garbage?  Garbage? I think they look like crap.  We eat with our eyes so the last thing a blog about food needs is unappealing photos of said food.

5.  There’s nothing to write about?  I can’t argue with this at all.  I mean, I just wrote a list detailing why I’m not writing.  If that doesn’t reek of uninteresting, I don’t know what does.

So there you go…..5 reasons why I’m not blogging nearly as much as you (mainly me) would like.

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This stew recipe is from the Cooking TV channel show Extra Virgin starring Ari Gold’s secretary (Entourage reference in case you’ve never seen the show) and her Italian (Tuscany region) husband.  If you’ve never watched, its on often so check it out while you’re making the stew….because while the recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients, you will have a couple hours to kill while its cooking.  The show has been my new favorite cooking show.

This flavorful stew is rich and hearty and has quickly become my new go-to stew recipe.  The slow braise makes the beef fork tender but the the veggies don’t turn to mush.  Make sure you serve it with a nice hunk of crusty bread so you can savor all of the juices.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 3 large peeled carrots cut in to 1/2 inch thick medallions
  • 3 stalks of celery, rough chopped
  • 2-3 lbs of stew meat – 1 inch cubes (to save money, buy a chuck roast and cut it yourself)
  • 2 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (wrapped in a bundle if possible)
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot and celery.  Saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until just browned.
  3. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add wine and thyme. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  7. Lower heat to medium-low and cover.
  8. Cook for approximately 2 to hours or until beef is tender.
Big old Pot of Stew

Big old Pot of Stew

(Better for You) Potato and Ham Soup

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment
Potato and Ham Soup

Potato and Ham Soup

It’s January and people are making tons of resolutions they won’t keep.  Get to the gym, save more money, quit smoking, and of course, eating better.

Today’s post is the first in a series of delicious meals that won’t go straight to your waistline and hopefully help you keep your resolution.

Then again, I think these recipes are so good that you may want to eat everything thus throwing this theory out the window.

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After Christmas, all of those hams that are stocked to capacity at the grocery store go on sale.  Normally twenty or thirty dollar hams are half off…maybe less.  It’s hard to pass up that kind of bargain so I throw one in my cart whether I need it or not.

The problem is I have a small family and a whole ham will go a very long way.  So that means leftovers.  Lots and lots and lot of leftovers.

I know you can freeze it, but to me, frozen ham that’s been thawed just doesn’t have the same taste.  So I have to find alternative uses for it.

Ham omelettes for breakfast.  Ham and Cheese sandwiches for lunch. And ham and potato soup for dinner.  I’m good with these options.

Soup is a great meal when you’re watching what you eat.  It can be loaded with calories but with a few simple tweaks you can make any soup healthy.  This uses lots of lower fat/lower calorie ingredients.  But I promise you it isn’t low on taste.

Soup is also very filling so you typically eat less.  However, be warned, this soup is so tasty you probably will want seconds.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups ham, diced
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Add chicken broth to a large dutch oven (or soup pot) over medium low heat.  Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and ham.  Stir.
  3. Simmer over low heat for approximately 2 hours.
  4. Add milk and sour cream.  Stir.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Continue cooking over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve in your favorite soup bowl and garnish with a few sprinkles of low fat sharp cheddar cheese and a slice of crusty bread (optional).
Good for you

Delicious and good for you

Chicken Noodle Soup

November 8, 2012 3 comments
Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

I generally keep politics to myself but this year’s election was extremely tense that I thought I might bring it up just for a moment. Feel free to skip to the recipe if you wish to not read what I have to say.

Our country is divided.  At 50% to 48%, the results of the polls clearly show it. Social media, prevalent for the first time ever during a Presidential election, shows it too.  Things people said to one another were rude, embarrassing, and downright disrespectful.  These are my Facebook “friends.”  Wow!

To me, this is not OK.

In order for the United States to continue to be one of the greatest countries on Earth, it is important that people, starting with me and you, come together.  Our leaders must follow suit.

We can’t change the results of the election, but we can change how we treat one another. Don’t agree with me, but don’t disrespect me because I voted differently than you.  Continue to let yourself be heard, but do it in a way that doesn’t make you sound like an idiot.  Stand up for what you believe in, but don’t spit in the face of others to get your point across.  Treat others as you wish to be treated, its not hard.

In 4 years, this country will vote again, I hope for my sake, and the sake of my children, that they don’t have to witness what I’ve read during these past few days.

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Now that I have got that out of my system, let me talk about something I think most everyone can agree with and that is the comfort a nice warm bowl of chicken noodle soup provides.

It is one of the easiest soups to make and with a few shortcuts you’ll have it on the table in no time.  Enjoy!

***Note: To save time, I use a store bought rotisserie chicken.  I get 2 meals in one because I only need some of the chicken for the soup.  Also, I cook the noodles separate.  I feel that when the noodles are cooked with the soup, they tend to absorb too much of the liquid.***

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 (32 oz cartons) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz can) vegetable stock
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, skin removed, and shredded or chopped
  • 1 cooked chicken thigh or leg, skin removed, and shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 package of store bought noodles (I use Mrs. Millers Extra Wide Egg Noodles)
  1. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, celery, carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir.
  4. Add chicken broth and vegetable broth, stir.
  5. Add chicken, stir.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cover and cook for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
  7. About 20 minutes before ready to serve, fill a separate large pot with water, bring to boil and cook noodles according to package.  Drain and set aside.
  8. Add noodles to the bowl, ladle soup over noodles and enjoy!
Big Ole' pot of soup

Big Ole’ pot of soup

Chili

October 17, 2012 2 comments
Chili

Chili

I feel like its been ages since I’ve blogged.  It certainly hasn’t been a lack of cooking as I’ve been whipping up all sorts of things over the past few weeks — guess life just gets in the way sometimes.

Regardless, I’m back today and ready to blog about my (award winning) chili.  Ok, so I never won an award, but my family and friends really like it — so good enough in my book.

Synonymous with football and cold weather, to me, chili is always pleasing and always delicious. I like that there are practically a zillion ways to enjoy it too.

Ground beef or cubes of beef.  Beans or no beans.  Spicy or not spicy.  Maybe over rice or a macaroni noodle or as is in a big bowl. Condiments or none.

Here is how I like it: Beef (chili grind — see tip below), with beans, medium spice, hold the rice, with a dollop of sour cream and a small sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

I can’t forget the cornbread (a must for me).

Cornbread

A great accompaniment to chili

No matter how you like it, nothing is as comforting as a good bowl of chili on a cold autumn day. Not only warm you up, but to fill you up too.  Nice thing is a little goes a long way and its healthy for you (for the most part).

Now I know you have your tried and true version so really, why try mine.  I get it and I’m not going to be offended.  But if you don’t have your own, give this a try — then bookmark it because you’ll want to keep this handy for the next few months.

Tip:  Ask your butcher if they will do a “chili grind” for your beef.  This is more course than ground beef and adds a nice texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs (chili grind) ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (a little goes a long way in my opinion — also I don’t measure.  I just take one of the peppers out of the can, cut it open, remove the seeds and just dice a small piece)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less depending on heat)
  • 1 small jalepeno, seeded and diced small
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 26 ounce  can tomato puree
  • 1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 16 ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  1. In a dutch oven (or other heavy bottom pot), brown the beef over high heat.  Drain off fat and set aside.
  2. In the same dutch oven, heat oil, over medium high heat, adding onions when hot. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add green pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, continuing to cook 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add black pepper, cumin, chipotle, crushed red pepper, and chili powder while continually stirring until spices begin to stick to bottom of dutch oven and begin to slightly brown (about 30-45 seconds).
  5. Quickly add 3 cups of water.
  6. Add tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and the juice they were packed in.
  7. Add kidney beans and salt.
  8. Add the beef and stir.
  9. When chili begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover for a minimum of 3 hours to combine all of the flavors (stir every so often).
  10. I typically cook mine all day…about 6 hours.
  11. Ladle in to your favorite bowl, add your toppings (if that’s your thing) and enjoy!
Pot of Chili

I could eat all of this (not at once silly)

Pasta e Fagioli

September 8, 2012 3 comments
Pasta E Fagioli

Pasta E Fagioli (Soup with Pasta and Beans)

When I stepped outside this morning I was greeted by a bit of rain, a strong breeze, and much cooler temperatures than we’ve had around here lately.

Not to mention kids are back in school, college football is in its second weekend and pro football has kicked off as well.

Must be Fall (or at least all signs are starting to point that its right around the corner).

For me, Fall means really digging in to some classic comfort foods meant to warm you up.  Hearty soups, chili and stews come to mind.

One of my all-time favorite soups is an Italian soup with pasta and beans, Pasta e Fagiloi.

This is a soup my mom made time and time again.  With her broken English I never really knew what she was saying.  I thought it was Pasta Fa-Jew (no offense to my Jewish followers).  For years, that’s what I called it.  Doesn’t matter how its pronounced, I just knew it was good soup.

Simple ingredients, easy to make, and extremely satisfying.  Be sure to serve it with a nice piece of crusty bread to sop up any soup you can’t get with the spoon.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped fine
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 14oz cans cannelloni beans, rinsed well
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 box of small pasta (tubes — ditalini — small shells or elbow noodles would work too)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot.  Cook onion, carrot and celery until soft.
  3. Add garlic, cook 1 minute.
  4. Add broth, beans, and tomatoes and cook 20-30 minutes.
  5. Add cooked pasta and salt and pepper to taste. (*see note)
  6. Cook a few minutes until pasta is warm.
  7. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.

NOTE: I actually add the amount of pasta I want to my bowl, then ladle soup over the pasta. Doing so controls the amount of pasta to soup ratio AND the pasta doesn’t suck up all of the broth

Soup and Bread

Is it soup? Is it pasta? Pasta Fa-Jew