Creamy Tomato Soup

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Quick Post: As a kid, I hated tomato soup…but that was the condensed kind, so I had every right! ;) Because of that bad experience, I have only recently tried tomato soup again. I was a little obsessed with Panera’s creamy tomato soup and adult grilled cheese, and decided that I needed to recreate that meal at home. This batch makes quite a lot of soup, but it freezes beautifully! My kids loved this and agree that I need to make it again :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Creamy Tomato Soup -

  • 2 TBSP olive oil or butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano or other good quality is best)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

*Special Equipment – immersion blender, food processor or blender

Directions -

1. Heat up oil or butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic (if using), stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme and stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Remove the thyme, and carefully puree the soup. ( I used my immersion blender in the pot, while using the pot lid as a shield ;) It worked great!).

4. Whisk in cream; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with Parmesan if desired.

Chili Cheese Dogs

This turned out to be really tasty. I’m glad I took the time to make this instead of opening up a can of chili like I normally do. Those are always so full of salt and other preservatives…it kind of looks like dog food! The flavor and texture were so good, a little smokey, a nice kick and even a little sweet. We enjoyed this over nitrate/nitrite free all beef hot dogs and these homemade buns. The leftovers would be fantastic on top of fries, tater tots, or just with some cheese melted on top. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chili con Carne – adapted from Seasaltwithfood
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
  • 4 Tbsp Ancho Chili Powder (I used 2 TBSP Ancho, 2 TBSP Chili powder)
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • Sea Salt
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Sour Cream, optional

Directions -

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the cast iron pot over a moderate heat. Add the oil, garlic, and onion and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Turn the heat on high, mix in the ground beef, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and stir until the beef mixture is deep red in color and the meat is no longer pink.

Add the beans, diced tomatoes, and water into the beef mixture. Bring it to a boil, switch off the heat and cover with a piece of parchment paper and then cover with the lid. Cook in the preheated oven for about 1 ½ hours and season with sea salt. Serve the chili with cheese, cilantro, and sour cream, if desired.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I have wanted to try this recipe for sometime. Just yesterday, I picked up my first box of produce from a local organic co-op and in this weeks box there are Roma tomatoes! I can’t let these go to waste and I know I wont use this many in a week. What better way to use these than to make a homemade pasta sauce? I do need to buy about another pound at the store, but that’s ok – I still wanted to try this.

This was really tasty and I’m glad I went with my “doctoring-up” instincts or this wouldn’t have had enough flavor for us. I didn’t add the red pepper flakes while I cooked the sauce so my spice-a-phobic daughter wouldn’t have something extra to complain about. It’s like pulling teeth to get her to eat anything! We all enjoyed this with roasted garlic bread, which is obviously not pictured…it was that good! I will have to make it again sometime and make sure I keep my hands off until I get a picture. I used my go to garlic bread recipe on half of this loaf and used an entire bulb of roasted garlic in place of the chopped. It was unbelievably good – a little too good because I couldn’t help myself from eating three pieces! I joked that I was “carbo-loading” for the gym tomorrow. I haven’t indulged like that in a whole month :) These are destined to be “repeat offenders” – thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce – heavily adapted from Dishing the Divine

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • sprinkle of teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 8 ounces shell pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Chop your tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Layer the tomatoes on a sheet pan that has sides. Add olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Roast for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are bubbly and browning in spots, stirring once or twice. Set aside.

In a large skillet set to medium heat pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook until slightly caramelized then add your roasted tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to combine and add vodka, cook for 5 more minutes. If you prefer a smoother sauce, blitz the mixture with your stick blender. Add in Pecorino Romano cheese over top and toss in chopped basil – taste for seasoning. Set aside.

Put a large pot of water to boil, and add a generous amount of kosher salt to the pot. Add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Before you drain the pasta, reserve about two cups of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, stir to combine, add the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Serve with roasted garlic bread and a green salad.

Chicken Parmesan

Quick Post: This recipe is a combination of a few different techniques and ingredients I pulled together from some simple chicken parm recipes. I liked the addition of Panko in this recipe verses the typical Italian breadcrumbs. I pulled the shallow fry method from the same recipe, but baked the chicken, sauce and cheese in the oven before serving like this one. Oh, and I used my favorite marinara sauce for this recipe. This was a tasty and filling meal – even my picky eater happily ate this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan – a Mom Makes Recipe

  • 4 chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 TBSP water
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • oregano, salt, pepper to taste (for Panko)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 batch of this marinara or at least 2 jars of your favorite store-bought sauce
  • 1 pound of thin spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions -

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees and put a large pot of water to boil.

2. Clean and dry your chicken well. Set up an assembly line for your breading – one shallow dish for your flour, one for your egg, and one shallow dish for the season Panko. Season your chicken with kosher salt and pepper then lightly coat with the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then coat the chicken with the seasoned Panko – set aside.

3. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture sizzles immediately when added. Add the chicken breasts and fry without disturbing for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken breasts and fry another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through and golden brown.

4. Place the finished chicken in a 13×9 baking dish. Top the chicken with enough marinara sauce to cover the tops of each, then sprinkle the parm and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

5. While the chicken is in the oven, cook off your spaghetti noodles in rapidly boiling, liberally salted water – cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, spoon over some marinara and set alongside your yummy chicken parm! Enjoy!:)

Homemade Chili Mac

I love having a well stocked pantry! All I needed to pick up from the grocery store today for this meal was the ground beef. This is the kind of meal I like to make when I don’t want to put too much effort or thought into dinner – sorry, family! I don’t think they’ll mind;) They’re concern isn’t how much time a meal took but it does have to taste good, of course.

This recipe delivers smoky, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of spice. I didn’t add quite the full amount of green chiles for Little S – she’s so picky as it is, I didn’t want her to feel justified in not liking this meal. It’s so good and she’s still moping at the table picking at her food. M on the other hand loved it and had two helpings!  God has a sense of humor is all I can say – they’re so different:)  Either way, I’m going to have to make this again soon. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chili Mac Ingredients – adapted from The Cooking Photographer

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to season beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped mild green chiles
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions -

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and add ground beef and diced onion. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Once the meat is no longer pink, strain off the grease in a colander and place the meat mixture back in the pan.

2. Add chili powder, cumin, onion powder, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, minced garlic and brown sugar and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, can of green chiles, elbow macaroni, and 2 cups water. Stir to combine, cover and keep at a high simmer for about 14 minutes or until juices are absorbed and macaroni is tender.

4. Stir in pepper jack, vintage cheddar, and cilantro and season with freshly ground pepper. Taste for salt and add if needed. Garnish with sour cream and parsley if desired.

Pan Seared Shrimp & Four Cheese Ravioli with Vodka Cream Sauce

Quick Post: I came across this recipe today, not even looking for something like this at all. The picture on the blog sold me on the idea. My family loves shrimp, tomato cream sauces, and lots of cheese so why not? Shrimp was on sale – thankfully it was the easy peel kind! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pan Seared Shrimp & Four Cheese Ravioli with Vodka Cream Sauce – adapted from Jane Deere
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning (* I used some lemon zest and Italian seasoning )
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-20 oz package refrigerated Four Cheese Ravioli (used: Buitoni)
  • 1 jar prepared tomato & basil pasta sauce (used: Bertolli)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup vodka (* I used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Directions -
Start a large pot of boiling, salted water for ravioli.In a medium sauce pan, add prepared tomato sauce and vodka and simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter and two tablespoons canola oil.  Allow butter to melt and stop foaming, do not brown.

Toss the shrimp with lemon pepper seasoning and add to the pan, in a single layer.  Sear shrimp for 1 minute, then flip and continue for 1 minute more.  Remove to a plate; set aside.

While shrimp are cooking, add ravioli to boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes.  Drain well.

Once the shrimp are cooked, add the shallots and garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add broth to deglaze the pan and simmer for 1 minute until slightly reduced.

Add cream cheese to the deglazed pan; cook over medium heat and whisk until smooth and melted.  Stir in the tomato sauce until well combined.  Remove from heat and whisk in parmesan cheese until well blended.  (If sauce is too thick, begin whisking in hot pasta water until desired consistency is reached: sauce should coat the back of a spoon)  Stir in chopped parsley.

Add shrimp and ravioli and toss to coat.  Serve warm with hot garlic bread and salad.

Puh-sketti and Meat Sauce

Quick Post: Yum! I used this marinara sauce but before I started the marinara sauce directions, I browned three links of Italian sausage and one pound of lean ground beef. I knew M wouldn’t appreciate it unless there was meat in it…If the sauce becomes too thick for you, add tomato sauce or water if you’d like. I ended up adding two 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce and the same volume  of water to make it a little thinner. Once the spaghetti noodles were finished cooking, I ladled about five cups of the sauce along with parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Taco Chicken

This is so good, super simple but oh, so flavorful. While looking through Publix’s online ad, I discovered that boneless, skinless thighs were on sale this week and immediately I thought of this recipe. It’s marinated in some of my favorite flavors – lime, cumin and chili powder.

I’m serving these grilled with tortillas, this salsa (I was craving it) and my “orange” rice. I’m pretty plain when it comes to taco night because there is always rice, cheese and pico de gallo, or in this case salsa. My family is (thankfully) easy to please most times:) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Taco Chicken – adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • A couple of juicy limes
  • A splash of red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Directions -

1. Combine all ingredients minus the chicken. Place the chicken in a gallon size Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over top. Mush the bag to coat all the chicken well. Place the plastic bag in another container to protect the rest of the fridge in case the bag leaks. Marinade for 4 but no longer than 8 hours.

2. Preheat outdoor grill and cook the chicken pieces for 7 minutes a side. Take off grill, cover with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Super Bowl Appetizers

Quick Post: I don’t care much for football, but I do like making appetizers! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Guacamole Ingredients – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions -

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Restaurant Style Salsa ingredients – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies) *I drain these*
  • ¼ cups Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • ¼ teaspoons Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • ½ whole Lime Juice

Directions -

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

I know this looks gross, but I assure you – if you love blue cheese you’ll love the taste of this!
Buffalo Chicken Dip ingredients -

  • 1 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast, roasted and shredded
  • 1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 blue cheese dressing
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot

Directions –

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a 8×8 inch baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with celery sticks.

Beef Tacos and Flour Tortillas

Note to self: take it easy on the salt next time. I followed the directions/amounts and this came out too salty for me. The ground beef mixture by itself is really flavorful and a tad on the spicy side, but when it’s combined with the rice, cheese, pico and some sour cream its much milder. I don’t usually advocate the use of sour cream in Tex-Mex dishes, but this time it was needed to cool things down a bit.

Tonight was my first try at making tortillas – the recipe isn’t authentic because there isn’t a drop of lard in the mix. I have nothing against the use of it, but I didn’t want to try that kind of recipe, fall hopelessly in love and be required to make them for the rest of my life!;o) As a kid, my parents would take us to Old Town San Diego to eat at this amazing Mexican restaurant. I enjoyed watching the ladies make tortillas through the big windows in the front of the restaurant. For some reason I was entertained by that; but more so I knew that some of those freshly made, authentic tortillas would soon be in my belly! They were so good!

Overall these were pretty good. If I make these again, I will cut the amount of salt in half and season to taste toward the end of cooking. The tortillas were good, especially for a first try but I am open to finding a new recipe for my next attempt. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

All American Beef Taco Ingredients – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 16 ounces ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 recipe Taco Potion #19, recipe follows
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium beef broth

Taco Potion #19 – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions -

Add 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground meat, 1 teaspoon salt, and garlic. Cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the meat. Add Taco Potion and beef broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until sauce is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.


Texas Flour Tortilla ingredients – adapted from Homesick Texan

  • Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups of warm milk

Directions -

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
2. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
3. After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
4. Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat. Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil. While you probably won’t have any leftovers, you can store in the fridge tightly wrapped in foil or plastic for a day or so. Makes eight tortillas.