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Friday, March 27, 2015

Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs with Onion and Peas

Braising meats is a great way to get maximum flavor into a dish, and this method of cooking works especially well with chicken.  By starting the dish on the stove top, then finishing the cooking process in the oven, the flavors are allowed to develop while keeping the chicken moist and tender.

For this dish we used balsamic vinegar for acidity and balanced it with a broth of chicken stock and sour cream.  Tender white onions, sweet baby peas and a few herbs create a delicious sauce that tastes wonderful over rice or noodles.

This is an easy one-pot meal that can be ready to serve in about an hour and the leftovers make a great lunch the next day.  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Butter
3 TB  Olive Oil
8  Skin-on Bone-in Chicken Thighs
Ground Black Pepper
1 large  White Onion, thinly sliced
1 cup  Chicken Broth
1/4 cup  Balsamic Vinegar
1 10-oz pkg  Frozen Peas, thawed
1-1/2 tsp  Dried Tarragon
1-1/2 tsp  Dried Parsley
1/2 cup  Sour Cream
Cooked Rice or Noodles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large deep pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place in the pot, skin side up.  Cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 7 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook 5 minutes longer.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a platter; cover to keep warm.  Add the sliced onion to the pot and cook for 2 minutes, then add the broth and vinegar to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  (Skim off some of the chicken fat at this point, if desired.)  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the peas and sour cream, stirring to combine, then return the chicken to the pot, skin side up.

Place the pot in the oven and cook for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.  Taste test and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve over prepared rice or noodles.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NuWave Oven Cuban-Style Pork Roast

Using a NuWave Oven can be a huge time saver, but it's also a great way to cook dinner without heating up the kitchen.  Here in Florida, keeping the kitchen cool is really important in the summer months, so I'm working on more recipes to use during those warmer upcoming days.

This is one recipe that I couldn't wait to rework.  Cuban Sandwiches are a favorite for my family and this recipe is a delicious twist on our original Grilled Cuban Sandwich recipe.

The "original" Cuban sandwich was said to have been created near Tampa, Florida, but there seems to be several variations of the "original".   The sandwich usually consists of sliced pork, deli ham, Swiss cheese, and sliced dill pickles.  These 4 ingredients are layered onto sliced Cuban bread and topped with a generous squirt of yellow mustard.  The sandwich is then grilled on a panini press, or similar type of grill, and toasted until the bread is crunchy, and it is a most delicious sandwich!

So here is where the NuWave Oven comes in.  I've always baked a pork loin roast for this sandwich instead of the traditional pork shoulder roast for two reasons.  First, it's much quicker to cook a pork loin than a 4 or 5 pound pork shoulder.  That is a big chunk of meat and it takes quite a while to cook.   Secondly, and most important to me, the pork loin is a leaner cut of meat.  It roasts beautifully, it's easy to slice and you save a lot of fat and calories.  So for us the loin works better and look however beautiful the crust is when cooked in the NuWave.

For this recipe we used orange juice and lime juice in the pork marinade, both of which are frequently used in Cuban cooking.  (The juices are what give the pork that nice crispy, caramelized crust.)

So here is the finished sandwich.  Moist pork loin layered with the ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, then grilled to perfection.  A few crunchy chips and pickled beets on the side make a delicious Cuban-style dinner.  Enjoy!!

3/4 cup  Orange Juice
1/4 cup  Lime Juice
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Oregano
1/2 tsp  Onion Powder
1 tsp  Sea Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

1-1/2 lb  Lean Pork Loin Roast

Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large zip lock bag, then place the pork roast in the bag.   Place the roast in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning several times.

Prepare the NuWave cooking tray by lining the bottom tray with heavy duty foil.  (This will make cleanup quick and easy.)

Remove the roast from the bag and reserve the marinade.  Place the roast on the 4-inch rack of the NuWave Oven, set the power level to 7 and the timer to 20 minutes.  While the roast is cooking, heat the marinade in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the marinade from the heat.

When the 20-minute timer beeps, turn the roast over and drizzle with several spoons of the marinade.  Set the timer for 10 minutes, drizzle the marinade over the roast again and set the timer for a final 10 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the roast and add a few more minutes if needed.  If the roast is up to the desired temperature, remove the roast to a platter, cover and keep warm for about 10 minutes, before thinly slicing the pork.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fruit Kabobs with Orange Marshmallow Dip

Oh, busy days!  The last several weeks have been super busy and even though I have managed to cook up a few new recipes, getting those recipes posted was another matter entirely!  So here is the first new recipe to get us started for the year, (even though it's almost March, lol), and it is one of my favorites.

Serving fruit is a great idea for any party as it offers your guests something a little healthy, but a little sweet, too.  Fruit kabobs, served on bamboo skewers make a simple assortment of fruit into something a bit more elegant.  These are the perfect addition to your buffet for baby or bridal showers, or even a Christmas party buffet.

I've been making this creamy Orange Marshmallow Dip for many years, but it's such a simple recipe I never bothered to write it down.  So here it is in all of its glory.  This recipe can easily be cut in half if you need a smaller batch, but it does store well in the refrigerator for several days.  Enjoy!!

14 oz Sour Cream (regular or light)
16 oz jar Marshmallow Creme
1/3 cup Orange Juice
Assorted Fresh Fruits, cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat the Marshmallow Creme in the microwave for 20 - 25 seconds until softened, then stir until smooth.

Stir the sour cream into the marshmallow creme, add 3 tablespoons of orange juice and mix well.  Add additional orange juice about 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is the desired consistency, then chill the dip for 1 hour before serving.

Serve with a tray of mixed fresh fruits cut into bite-sized pieces or thread various fruits onto bamboo skewers as shown above and place on a serving tray.  Include fruits that hold up well when exposed to the air, such as honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries, red and green seedless grapes, pineapple chunks, kiwi and watermelon. Avoid bananas and apples which will turn brown quickly.

 Serve the Orange Marshmallow Dip in shot glasses or in small ramekin dishes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How Do You Cook a Standing Rib Roast (Slow-Roast Method)

It's Christmas Eve so it's time to revisit one of my favorite recipes, the Standing Rib Roast...a.k.a. Prime Rib!  We will be cooking this for dinner tonight and it is always a delicious meal to look forward to. 

There are many ways to cook this delicious cut of beef, and we've tried several, but we agree that this method delivers the most mouth-watering, evenly cooked, perfectly rare to medium-rare roast.

This recipe is adapted from an Alton Brown recipe that actually called for using a terra cotta pot (?!) in the oven. What? Well, since I didn't have a terra cotta pot to use, I improvised and used your basic foil and it worked out great!  One useful tool when cooking a large roast like this is a digital thermometer. This is a great way to keep a close eye on the temperature without opening the oven door and letting the temp drop each time.

For this roast we used a 9 pound 4-rib standing rib roast.  This size of roast will serve about 6 people for dinner, plus you will have a little leftover beef for French Dip Sandwiches the next day.  Also, don't throw away the bones which are full of flavor.  Add them to a pot of French Onion Soup and serve with the French Dip.

This method is so simple and the end result is a perfectly cooked rare to medium-rare roast with a crisp and tasty crust.  Place your oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven, but not on the bottom notch.  You want the heat to circulate well.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Allow the roast to stand at room temp for 1 hour before roasting.  Place the roast on a foil covered pan, with a rack if possible, to allow for drainage.  Rub the beef with olive oil, then coat with kosher salt and a thick layer of coarse ground black pepper.  Simple salt and pepper make this roast delicious! 

Insert a probe thermometer into the center of the roast, without letting the tip touch the bone.  Cover with a sheet of heavy duty foil and place the roast into the oven and cook to an internal temp of 120 degrees. (Note: The 9-pound roast took a bit over 3 hours to reach 120.)

When the roast reaches 120 degrees, remove from oven, keeping the roast covered, and allow the temp to rise to 130 degrees.  (This will take about 10 minutes.)  While waiting for the temp to rise, increase the oven temp to 475 degrees.  When the roast reaches 130 degrees, remove the foil and place the roast back into the oven and bake about 10 minutes until the desired crust has been achieved.  Remove roast from the oven and allow to rest 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.

A great trick for slicing prime rib is to use an electric knife.  Place the roast on a large cutting board.  Using the rib bones as a guide, cut along the top of the bones to separate the roast from the bones.  Set the bones aside and slice the roast into individual servings.  Save the rib bones (freeze if needed) to use in French Onion Soup.  Serve with Horseradish Sauce, a salt-crusted baked potato and steamed asparagus.  Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Seafood Stew with Andouille Sausage

Well, today is Halloween.  The final day of October and also the last day of our 2014 Soup Month.  This month has gone by so quickly and I hope you have had the opportunity to try a few of the new soup recipes we presented this month.

It was interesting to ask my family what their favorite soups were this month because they all liked something different!  We all enjoy a big bowl of hot soup for dinner so we now have lots of new recipes to choose from for this winter.

For our Soup Month finale we decided to go with something that my family loves, a Seafood Stew with Andouille Sausage.  Cioppino is one of our favorite dishes and this recipe is very similar, but with the addition of andouille sausage.  The sausage adds a great deal of spice and flavor to the broth and pairs beautifully with the seafood.  I actually splurged and made homemade shrimp stock for this recipe and it added a great deal of flavor to the stew, but can also substitute clam juice for part of the liquid or even use chicken stock with equally good results.

This is a great bowl of soup that can be ready to serve in ab out 30 minutes.  Serve with lots of crusty French bread to sop up all those delicious juices.  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Olive Oil
12 oz  Spicy Andouille Sausage
1 cup  Diced Yellow Onion
1 medium  Green Pepper, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
3 medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
1/2 cup  Dry White Wine
1 14-oz can  Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Onion
5 cups  Shrimp or Fish Stock or you can use Chicken Stock
1 lb  Fish Fillets, Cod or any dense white fish will work, cut into 2-inch pieces
24  Fresh Mussels, scrubbed
1 lb   Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb  Calamari Rings, defrosted

Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Over medium-high heat, add the olive oil to a large soup pot with the andouille sausage and cook 4 minutes or until browned on the edges.  Add the onion, pepper, and potatoes and saute for 6 minutes or until the onion is tender.  Add the oregano, parsley, thyme and white wine and simmer until the wine has reduced by half.  Add the tomatoes and stock to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the fish to the pot, pushing the fillets down into the stock.  Add the mussels, again pressing them into the liquid.  Now add the calamari rings and the shrimp as the top layer, pressing them lighting into the top of the stew.  (The calamari and shrimp take the shortest amount of time to cook so they are best near the top of the stew.)  Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high and bring to stew to a low boil.  Give the pan a gentle shake every minute or two and this will keep the seafood cooking evenly.

When the shrimp have turned pink, gently stir the stew and remove any mussels that have not opened.  Ladle the stew into wide soup bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Smoky Onion Soup with Asiago Cheese

We're almost at the end of October so I wanted to make a new version of one of my favorites, French onion soup.  So, for day 30 of Soup Month 2014 we made a Smoky Onion Soup with Asiago Cheese.  This soup puts a nice twist on the classic French onion soup by using a piece of lightly toasted Cuban bread topped with asiago cheese as the centerpiece.

The sauteed onions and rich beef broth are accented with dry white wine and just a hint of smoky paprika to add an extra layer of flavor.  The result was a smoky, slightly sweetened onion soup that would be delicious served with anything from a side salad to a roasted pork loin.  Tonight, we paired this soup with Classic Cuban Sandwiches and a glass of dry white wine.  Enjoy!!

4 TB  Butter
2 TB  Olive Oil
3 large  Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
1 cup  Dry White Wine
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  White Pepper
1/8 tsp  Smoked Paprika
6 cups  Beef Stock
6 slices  Cuban Bread, about 1/2-inch thick
6 slices Asiago Cheese

In a large soup pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  When the butter melts, add the  onions and saute for about 7 minutes until translucent.

Add the white wine to the onions, stir and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid reduces by half.  Add the salt, white pepper, paprika and beef stock to the pot, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once the soup reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place the 6 slices of bread in 6 soup bowls and place a slice of asiago on top of each piece of bread.  Ladle the soup around the bread, including enough liquid in each bowl to allow the bread to float. Serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Double Cheese Tuna Casserole

A casserole?  On day 29 of Soup Month 2014?  That's not a soup, stew or chili!  Well, when life gets crazy busy, and you are the chief mode of transportation for 3 teenagers, AND you have a new puppy who is driving you insane...well, sometimes you have to give up and make a quick casserole in place of a soup.  On the good side, I have been craving tuna casserole and this new twist turned out great!

This casserole incorporates creamy ricotta cheese with an extra sharp cheddar cheese that adds lots of flavor to this classic dish.  The ricotta adds such a nice creamy texture and then there are the Durkee onions!  These little onions are everyone's favorite at Thanksgiving time when they make Green Bean Casserole, and we use them in our own version of Asparagus Casserole.  But these little onions can add flavor to many dishes all year long, so I always keep some on hand.  And they were the perfect crunchy topping to this casserole.

This casserole only takes about 25 minutes to prepare and everyone loved it, including our picky eater, which is a true sign of a successful meal.  Enjoy!!

4 cups  Dry Pasta Twists (or another shape)
8 oz  Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 10-3/4 oz can  Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup
3/4 cup  Milk
1 cup  Frozen Peas
3 5-oz cans  Tuna in Water, drained
2 cups  Durkee French Fried Onions
8 oz  Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the pasta in salted water until just al dente, but not fully cooked.  Drain the pasta and place in a deep ovenproof casserole dish.  Add the ricotta cheese to the pasta and stir gently to coat the pasta.

In a medium saucepan, combine the celery soup, milk, and peas and cook over medium heat until warm, about 6 minutes.  Add the tuna and 1 cup of Durkee onions and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture over the pasta and stir to combine, then sprinkle the top with grated cheddar cheese and the additional 1 cup of Durkee onions.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until golden on top and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lemon and Tarragon Chicken Noodle Soup

For day 28 of Soup Month 2014 we made a hearty and soul warming Lemon and Tarragon Chicken Noodle Soup.  With the addition of a bit of lemon juice and fresh tarragon to brighten the broth, this soup is just what you need on a cold Fall evening.

Nothing makes you feel better than a bowl of chicken noodle soup and this dinner can be ready to serve in about 25 minutes, so it makes a great weeknight meal.  This recipe is also open to a lot of options.  You could add peas or carrots to the mix, adding them in with the leeks, or add a bit of white wine to the broth or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.  Just use what you have on hand to expand on this simple, but delicious recipe.  Enjoy!!

2 cups  Chicken Stock
2 cups  Milk
2-1/2 cups  Water
10 oz  Sea Shell Pasta (or any shape you have on hand will work)
2 TB  Butter
1  Leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 cups  Cooked Chicken
1 TB  Chopped Tarragon
3 TB  Lemon Juice
3 TB  Flour
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste

In a large soup pot combine the chicken stock, milk and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the pasta, plus 1 teaspoon of salt, to the pot and simmer until the pasta is just almost al dente, but not fully cooked.  You should have about 2 cups of liquid left in the pan, but if you have less you can add a little more milk or chicken stock, if needed.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the leeks until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken, tarragon and lemon juice to the skillet and stir to combine, and cook the mixture over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the chicken mixture with flour and stir until the flour is fully combined.

Add the chicken mixture to the pasta, stirring gently to combine, until the broth has thickened.  If needed, you can add extra liquid at this point if you prefer more broth in the soup.  Either milk or chicken stock can be added, or even a bit of water, but adding extra mix will give the soup a nice creamy texture.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Creamy Serrano Pepper Soup

The last pepper plants in my garden this year seem like they are never going to stop producing.  We started growing our Serrano and Cowhorn pepper plants from seed way back in April and here we are in late October and we are still getting a handful of peppers from each plant every week or so.

After making more than a few batches of Cowhorn Pepper Sriracha Sauce and a delicious Mexican Pork, Poblano and Serrano Stew, today it was time to turn the Serrano peppers into a soup, a recipe I've been thinking about for a long time.  I knew the peppers would be great in a soup, I just needed the right combination of ingredients to bring out all of that bright pepper flavor.  So here we go!

For day 27 of Soup Month 2014 we made a beautiful Creamy Serrano Pepper Soup.  With sweet red peppers to balance out the heat of the Serranos and a creamy spring onion jack cheese, this soup has the perfect amount of heat and flavor, with a velvety smooth texture.  Every bite is full of flavor and every once in a while you'll hit one of those spicy bits of Serrano. Yummy!

For our soup we used 5 Serrano peppers with the seeds removed, but you can always more or less peppers depending on your own preferences, or choose to incorporate all of the seeds.  The Spring Onion Jack Cheese was a great find from our local Publix store, but if you can't find it, you could always use a Monterrey Jack cheese.

This soup made a great side dish with smoked pork sandwiches, but I think it would be delicious served with grilled steaks.  We might just have to try that next weekend!  Enjoy!!

4 TB  Salted Butter
1/2 cup  Minced White Onion
2  Red Bell Pepper, chopped
5 or 6  Serrano Peppers, seeded or mostly seeded, depending on how much heat you prefer
1/4 cup  Flour
3 cups  Chicken Stock
2 cups  Half and Half
8 oz  Kase Meister Spring Onion Jack Cheese, grated
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and both peppers and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stirring to coat the vegetables.  Add the chicken stock and stir until there are no clumps of flour.  Use an immersion blender, or a stand blender, to puree the mixture to the desired consistency.

Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then add the half and half and stir to combine.  When the soup comes to a low simmer, sprinkle the grated cheese into the soup and stir until melted and heated through.

Serve with a sprinkle of crushed croutons or a dollop of sour cream on top.  Makes about 6 servings.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Corn Chowder with Bacon

For day 26 of Soup Month 2014 we made a rich and creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon.  Filled with bits of onion, celery, bacon and of course, lots of juicy sweet corn, this chowder is comfort food at its best.

One soup I really wanted to make before we finished soup month was a new version of corn chowder, and this was a perfect way to enjoy the last of this summer's corn crop.  The sweet corn we used was so juicy, I knew this would be a great bowl of soup and it made a great addition to our end of the season cookout.

To make the base of the soup we started with a really old cooking method of simmering the corn cobs.  Once the corn was cut off of the cobs, the cobs were simmered in a combination of milk and half and half, allowing all of the sweet corn milk to season the broth.  Once the broth has simmered, it is added to a mixture of sauteed onion, celery and cooked bacon.  To add a bright flavor contrast to the soup we added fresh tarragon and the soup was ready to serve.  Enjoy!!

6 ears  Sweet Corn, kernels cut off the cobs and cobs cut in half
1-1/4 cups  Milk
2 cups  Half and Half
3 TB  Salted Butter, divided
6 oz  Smoked Bacon, diced
2  Celery Ribs, finely diced
1/2 cup  Minced White Onion
1 TB  Fresh Tarragon, chopped
2 TB  Flour
Salt and Ground White Pepper to Taste

In a large saucepan, cover the cobs with the milk and half and half and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Discard the corn cobs.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add half of the corn kernels to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.  Combine the corn and the milk mixture in a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree the broth until smooth.

Using the same pan you used to cook the corn, add the bacon and cook over medium heat until just browned, then drain off the grease.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan, then add the remaining corn, the diced celery and onion, and tarragon, and saute over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat.

Add the milk and corn puree to the pan, stirring until the flour has combined and the chowder is slightly thickened, and season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into soup bowls and serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Surimi Alfredo Soup

For day 25 of Soup Month 2014 we made a quick and easy Surimi Alfredo Soup.  Surimi, also known as imitation crab meat, is made with whitefish and is fully cooked and ready to serve.  It's used in many types of sushi rolls and California rolls, it's very good in salads or even for a quick stir fry.  I used surimi years ago as an entree with sun-dried tomatoes and an Alfredo sauce, so we turned the entree into a soup.

With this recipe you are basically making a quick Alfredo sauce as the base of the soup, but it is slightly thinned down with the water.  This keeps the sauce from being too overly rich.  The addition of poblano peppers adds just a bit of spice and the lobster base, although optional, adds a great seafood flavor.

This is a great weeknight soup and can be ready to serve in just about 25 minutes.  Serve the soup with baked clam shells or even some grilled shrimp on the side.  Enjoy!!

1 qt  Water
2 TB  Salted Butter
1 large  Poblano Pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups  Half and Half
1-1/2 cups  Milk
1 tsp  Lobster Base (optional)
10 oz  Shell Shaped Pasta (or any other shape)
16 oz  Surimi Imitation Crab Meat
1 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Freshly Ground White Pepper to Taste

In a medium pot bring 1 quart of water to a boil.  In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the poblano peppers and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.

Dip 3 cups of water from the first pot and pour it into the soup pot.  Add the half and half, milk and lobster base, then add the pasta and boil for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is just al dente.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the surimi and Parmesan cheese to the pot and fold in gently.  If the mixture is too thick add a bit more hot water from the first pot or you can add a bit more milk.  If the sauce is too thin add a little more Parmesan until the soup is the consistency you  desire.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste and serve with additional Parmesan cheese and a few baked clam shells.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Asparagus and Potato Soup

As we near the end of October, the days are getting cooler and a warm bowl of soup is most welcome on these chilly nights.  With just 7 more soups to go during our 5th Annual October Soup Month, we have a great recipe for you today.

For day 24 of Soup Month 2014 we made a creamy Asparagus and Potato Soup that makes a great meatless meal or a delicious side dish in place of a vegetable or potato dish.  We served this soup with a simple baked chicken and it made the perfect side dish.

This hearty soup got rave reviews from the family and even our picky eater gave it a thumbs up.  Using the two varieties of potatoes gave this soup a nice texture and the tender asparagus was delicious.  The addition of a sharp white cheddar cheese gives the soup a smooth cheesy texture with just a hint of that sharp cheese flavor.  As a final touch we dusted a bit of smoked paprika on top and the light smoky flavor combined well with the soup.  This soup was easy to make and was ready to serve in about 20 minutes, so it's ideal for a weeknight meal.  Enjoy!!

1/2 cup  Minced White Onion
1 TB  Canola Oil
2 TB  Flour
1-1/4 lbs  Asparagus Spears, hard ends cut off, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups  Milk
2 cups  Chicken Broth
3 medium  Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/8 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
3/4 cup  Shredded Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Smoked Paprika for Garnish, optional

In a large soup pot coon the onion in canola oil until softened.  Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir to coat.  Add the asparagus, milk, broth, potatoes, salt and cayenne pepper and stir.

Cook until the broth comes to a low boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer, covered, for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with smoked paprika, if desired.  Makes about 6 main course servings.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mixed Mushroom Soup with Bacon

For day 23 of Soup Month 2014 we made an elegant Mixed Mushroom Soup with Crispy Bacon.  By combining several types of mushrooms, this soup takes on a really deep, earthy flavor, making this soup perfect for your upcoming holiday dinners.  If you choose to serve this soup as a first course along with a Prime Rib or Roast Pork dinner, this recipe will serve about 8 - 10 smaller portions.

If you prefer a smoother texture, you do have the option of pureeing the soup just before adding the sour cream and bacon garnish, but we really enjoyed the little bits of different mushrooms in the soup.

When buying mushrooms for this soup check your local market for a "gourmet blend" of assorted mushrooms, which are sometimes available at a great bargain price.  Any type of mushrooms can be used, but adding at least a small portion of oyster mushrooms really has a big impact on the flavor of this soup.  They are delicious!  Enjoy!!

1/4 cup  Salted Butter
1/2 cup  Minced White Onion
1-1/2 tsp  Minced Garlic
12 oz  Mixed Mushrooms, sliced (we used Oyster, Shiitake and Portobello)
2 TB  Flour
2-1/2 cups  Chicken Stock
2/3 cup  Milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2/3 cup  Half and Half
6 slices  Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Melt the butter in a large pan and saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms until they are soft and beginning to brown.  Sprinkle the flour onto the vegetables and stir to combine.  Slowly pour the stock into the pan while stirring, followed by the milk, again stirring well to combine.  Bring the mixture just to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the half and half.  Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and a few crumbles of bacon and serve immediately.  Serve 4 to 6.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

For day 22 of Soup Month 2014 we made an easy Asian dinner soup that busy Moms will absolutely love! This is a quick and easy recipe for a Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup, which is also known as Pho.  Although this is a total cheater recipe when compared to the authentic version, this soup is fast, simple, healthy and delicious.

With a combination of beef broth, sriracha sauce, baby spinach, thinly sliced beef and rice noodles, this is a filling soup that delivers just the right amount of spice.  A squeeze of lime juice can also be added if you like a bit of citrus flavor in your soup.

This is a great soup to make if you have leftover meat from a bottom round or top round roast.  Just slice the meat very thin, or use 2 forks to tear the meat into smaller strips, and you have beef ready for this recipe.

Also, if you have leftover beef rib bones from a Standing Rib Roast, which I always save and freeze to use in soups, add the bones to the broth and let simmer for 30 minutes before adding the other ingredients. This will give the soup a deeper beef flavor.  Enjoy!!

2 - 32-oz boxes  Beef Broth
6 oz Rice Noodles
1-1/2 tsp Sriracha Sauce, plus extra for topping
1  5-oz bag  Baby Spinach Leaves, stems removed
8 oz  Deli Roast Beef, sliced very thin
2 Green Onions, chopped, for garnish
Lime Wedges, for garnish (optional)

Put broth in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and chili sauce, reduce heat to medium-high and boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until noodles are tender. Add the spinach leaves during the last 2 minutes of cooking time and stir gently.

Divide the beef among 4 serving bowls, then ladle soup over the beef, sprinkle with scallions and drizzle with chili garlic sauce, if desired. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on the soup.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Caribbean Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

For day 21 of Soup Month 2014 we made a hearty Caribbean Black Bean and Vegetable Stew that is packed with healthy ingredients.  Peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots and just a bit of Serrano chilies come together to create this healthy, light soup.

Beans are very easy to cook and this recipe allows you to adjust the level of spice to suit your own preference.  If you like your soup a bit more spicy, just add an extra Serrano chili or maybe a little more cumin or hot sauce.  For a more mild soup you can even choose to leave the chilies out.  For a thinner soup you can add a little more broth or for a thicker, more hearty soup, just increase some of the vegetables to your liking.  This recipe is very forgiving so it's a soup you can get creative with and it will always turn out delicious.

As funny as it sounds, I think this would be a great soup to serve for a Halloween party!  With such a deep, dark color and bits of red and green color, it just seems to be a slightly "ghoulish" soup that Halloween guests would love.  And the kids loved it!  This soup would also hold up well in a crock pot so it would be easy to serve during an evening party.  Enjoy!!

1-1/3 cups  Black Beans, soaked overnight in cold water (or use 2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained)
7 cups  Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup  LandShark Beer
1/4 cup  Dark Kraken Rum
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 medium  Yellow Onion, diced
2 TB  Vegetable Oil
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
1  Green Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
1  Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
1  Serrano Chili, seeded and minced
2  Carrots,  peeled and diced
1/2 cup  Crushed Tomatoes
2 tsp  Cumin
2 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Frank's Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
Sour Cream and Chopped Green Onions for Garnish (optional)

Drain the beans.  Place the beans in a large soup pot and add the stock, beer, rum, garlic and half of the onions.  Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the liquid begins to evaporate during his time, add 1 cup of water and continue to simmer.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  Saute the remaining onions, celery, peppers and carrots over medium heat until the veggies are tender, about 6 minutes.  Set the mixture aside.

When the beans are soft, puree half of the bean mixture using an immersion blender or a stand blender.  Return the puree to the pot and stir in the cooked veggies, crushed tomatoes, and the seasonings.  Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Again, add more water, or a bit more rum if the soup is too thick, or continue to simmer a bit longer if the soup is too thin.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pan-Seared Cod in Hot and Sour Broth

For day 20 of Soup Month 2014 we made a light and flavorful, Pan-Seared Cod in Hot and Sour Broth.  With a delicate Asian-style broth laced with honey, ginger and sesame oil, plus a gentle spike of sriracha sauce and cider vinegar, the seared cod adds the perfect final touch to this meal.

My family really liked this soup and we all agreed that the broth was so tasty, that it would even combine well with shrimp or small pieces of chicken.  Even by itself the broth had a great texture and just the right amount of sweet, spicy and sour flavors.  If you enjoy making Asian cuisine at home, this is a great recipe to keep on hand.

The cod and broth are served atop a small bed of steamed rice, with brown or white rice working equally well.  Serve with Homemade Shrimp Egg Rolls or steamed edamame on the side.  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Cod Fillets, cut into 4 portions
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
24 oz  Chicken Broth
1/8 cup  Honey
2 TB  Tomato Paste
2 TB  Cider Vinegar
1 tsp  Sesame Oil
1 tsp  Fish Sauce
1 tsp  Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 tsp  Sriracha Sauce, or more to taste
1 TB  Peanut Oil
1/4 cup  Chopped Green Onions, for Garnish
2 cups  Steamed White or Brown Rice

Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken broth, honey, tomato paste, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger and sriracha sauce.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add peanut oil and heat until shimmering.  Add the cod fillets to the pan and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until the edges of the fish begin to turn opaque.  Turn the fillets, cook 2 minutes longer, then cover and remove the pan from the heat.

Taste test the broth and add salt and white pepper, if needed.

Place a 1/2 cup of steamed rice in each of 4 bowls.  Place a cod fillet on top of the rice, then pour about 3/4 cup of broth around the rice.  Sprinkle the fish with green onions and serve immediately with steamed edamame on the side.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mussel and Spinach Bisque

For all of you seafood lovers out there, we have something special for you today.  For day 19 of Soup Month 2014 we went a little fancy with a delicious Mussel and Spinach Bisque.  With a creamy broth of white wine, milk and half and half, the bisque is dotted with pieces of baby spinach and plump, juicy mussels.

Many people shy away from mussels because, let's face it, they do look a little odd.  With their black, shiny shells, often with little green "beards" hanging off the edges, they do look a bit intimidating.  The good thing is, they taste wonderful and they are easy to make.  With a slightly salty, briny flavor, mussels are quite good when they are simply steamed, but adding mussels to a creamy bisque elevates them to a more sophisticated level.  So, if you've never eaten mussels, this is a great way to try these tasty little bites.

This soup was quite filling on its own, and makes a great main course, but it could also be served in smaller portions as a first course.  It would be perfect served with grilled steaks or a Prime Rib Roast.  Enjoy!!

3/4 cup  Dry White Wine
1/4 cup  Water
2 lbs  Mussels, scrubbed and any beards removed
2 TB  Salted Butter
1 TB  Finely Minced Shallots
3 TB  Flour
8-oz bottle  Clam Juice
1 TB  Tomato Paste
1 cup  Milk
1 cup  Half and Half
Salt and White Pepper to Taste

In a large skillet bring the wine and water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the mussels, cover, and cook until the mussels open, about 5 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a cookie sheet to cool, discarding any mussels that did not open, and reserving the cooking liquid from the mussels.

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the flour, stirring to combine, and cook 2 minutes longer.

Add the clam juice and the reserved cooking liquid to the pot, whisking to blend in the flour.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the tomato paste and stir until smooth.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the milk and half and half and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Add the spinach to the pot and cook just a few minutes until the spinach is wilted, then add the mussels to the pot, season with salt and white pepper and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Autumn Butternut Squash Stew

For day 18 of Soup Month 2014 we made a Slow Cooker Autumn Butternut Squash Stew that is perfect for a chilly fall dinner.  This delicious, earthy stew is packed with cubes of butternut squash, potatoes, carrots and thinly sliced kielbasa sausage, that slow cook during the day so dinner will be ready and waiting for you when you arrive home.

There are a couple of small ingredients that add a huge boost of flavor to this stew and create a really remarkable broth.  Tiny pearl onions add a little sweetness to the stew, followed by just a bit of red wine vinegar for acidity, and the final touch, a teaspoon of herbs de Provence.

If you're not familiar with this herb blend, it is a combination of dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory, and it's kind of the "secret ingredient" to many French meals.  I've tried this blend from several manufacturers and my favorite is McCormick's Gourmet Collection.  The herbs can be used to season many types of soups and stews and even works nicely in stuffing and salad dressing recipes, so it's a good spice blend to have on hand.

Serve this stew with simple baked dinner rolls and a glass of bold, fruity red wine, such as a 2010 Undici Sangiovese, for a perfect fall dinner.  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium  Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2  Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups  Beef Broth
1 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Herbs de Provence
1 lb  Kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
12 - 15  Frozen Pearl Onions
1/4 cup  Cold Water
2 TB  Cornstarch

Combine the butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, broth, vinegar, pepper, salt and herbs in the slow cooker.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown the kielbasa and onions until both are slightly browned on the edges, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Transfer the sausage and onions to the slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW until the vegetables are tender, about 6 hours.

During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the stew.  Mix gently with a spoon and heat until the stew has thickened, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yucatan Lime Soup

Ahhh...it's finally Friday!  After a long work week, we have the perfect quick and easy soup for you to make this weekend.  For day 17 of Soup Month 2014 we made our own version of Yucatan Lime Soup also known as Sopa de Lima.

There are many versions of this soup, some of which call for allspice berries or 20 cloves of garlic or banana chilies, but we wanted to keep this soup simple.  We wanted this to be a standby recipe that can be made on any weeknight, without needing a lot of special ingredients, and I think we came up with the perfect recipe.

I'm always a fan of making a big roast chicken (about 5 or 5-1/2 pounds) for Sunday dinner, knowing I will have enough chicken left over for an easy weeknight meal.  Sometimes we use the leftover chicken to make Baked Chicken Chimichangas or Chicken Fajitas, and this recipe will surely be added to the list of options for those leftovers.

After a quick saute for the vegetables, the chicken and broth are added to the soup along with crushed tomatoes, a bit of spicy salsa and lots of lime juice.  This is a soup that you really want to be able to taste the lime juice, but you can adjust this up or down according to your own preferences.  We used 5 tablespoons of lime juice and everyone agreed the flavor was great.  I might have liked just 1 more tablespoon to increase the citrus, but I love lime!

The crunchy corn tortilla strips that are sprinkled on top of the soup only take a few minutes to prepare, but they are worth the extra bit of work.  They add a nice crunch to the soup and, if you sprinkle them with just a dusting of salt, this will add to the flavor of the soup, too.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Canola Oil
1 small  White Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
2 or 3  Serrano Chilies, finely minced
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 TB  Lime Juice
3 cups  Cooked Chicken, chopped (leftover chicken works great)
5 cups  Chicken Broth
1 cup  Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup  Hot Chunky Salsa (we used Pace)
4 to 6 TB  Lime Juice (to taste)
Limes, cut into wedges for Garnish
6  Corn Tortillas, cut into thin strips, fried and drained on paper towels **

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chilies, pepper, salt and 1 tablespoon of lime juice.  Stir to combine and saute until the onion is translucent.

Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes and salsa to the pot and stir.  Simmer over medium heat for 20  minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 4 tablespoons of lime juice to the pot and taste test, adding another 1 or 2 tablespoons of juice depending on your own taste.  Serve with lime wedges and crunchy tortilla strips on top.

** Note:  To make the tortilla strips, heat a 1/2-inch of canola oil in a medium skillet, over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully drop the tortilla strips into the oil and stir gently until the strips are golden. Remove the strips and drain on paper towels, dusting lightly with salt, if desired.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Canadian Beer and Cheddar Soup

We're already half way through our month of soups and today we have something really special.  For day 16 of Soup Month 2014 we made a Canadian Beer Cheese Bisque that combines the flavors of a strong cheddar cheese with the malty goodness of a light ale beer and the taste is truly remarkable.

This old, handwritten recipe was dubbed as "Canadian", but we chose a British cheese and an English pub-style beer as the base for the soup.  The interesting part of this soup is how the small amount of carrot, celery and green pepper that are added really bring forward just the slightest amount of sweetness and flavor, allowing the cheese and beer to be the main focus of the soup.  Also, since the beer is warmed before being added to the soup, the beer flavor is right up front and not hidden, which is the case if the beer is cooked down and the alcohol is cooked off.

This Beer Cheese Soup can be serve on its own with a loaf of crunch bread or as a side dish it would taste great with a steak or even grilled fish or seafood.  Enjoy!!

4 cups  Chicken Broth
1 TB  Finely Minced Carrot
1 TB  Finely Minced Celery
2 TB  Flour
2 TB  Salted Butter, melted
7 oz  Londoner Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/8 tsp  White Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Worcestershire Sauce
1 TB  Finely Minced Green Pepper
1 cup  Boddingtons Ale, heated until just warm

In a medium soup pot heat the chicken broth over medium heat for 5 minutes or until just warm.  Add the carrot and celery to the broth and continue heating to a simmer.

In a small bowl combine the flour and melted butter until smooth, then whisk the mixture into the stock until smooth and blended.  Slowly add the cheese to the broth, followed by the pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce and stir until the cheese has completely melted into the broth.

Add the green pepper to the soup then remove the pot from the heat.  Slowly pour the warm ale into the soup, stirring continuously until blended, and serve immediately.  Makes about 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Irish Cream of Potato Soup with Bacon and Chives

For day 15 of Soup Month 2014 we made what could be the best Cream of Potato Soup I've ever tasted.  This delicious soup comes from an old collection of Irish recipes and even though the original recipe is over 70 years old, after tasting the soup I wouldn't change a thing.  Not only is this soup delicious, it is elegant enough to be served at your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  It's that good!

Some potato soups come across as think and heavy, but this soup is light, creamy and luxurious.  A light sprinkle of chives and cooked bacon are the perfect finishing touches.  We served the soup as a side dish with grilled New York strip steaks and it was an excellent change from the usual baked potato.  Enjoy!!

1/4 cup  Salted Butter
1 large  Yellow Onion, chopped
1-1/2 lbs (about 6) Potatoes, peeled and chopped
3-1/2 cups  Chicken Stock
3-1/2 cups  Milk
1-1/4 cup  Half and Half
1/2 lb  Bacon, chopped and cooked
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp  White Pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion until softened, but not browned.  Add the potatoes, stock, and milk, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or use a stand blender, until the soup is completely smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, and stir in the half and half.  Bring the soup just to a boil then remove from the heat.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chives and the cooked bacon.  Serves about 8.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shrimp and Chorizo Soup

For day 14 of Soup Month 2014 we made a Shrimp and Chorizo Soup that combines spicy chorizo sausage with fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh shrimp in a white wine broth.  With just a hint of smoky paprika in the background, the broth really completes the soup beautifully.  A loaf of crusty French bread and a glass of white wine are all that's needed to make this a delicious, hearty meal.

This soup is very easy to prepare and features one of my favorite ingredients, chorizo.  (If you are not a fan of spicy chorizo, you could also substitute a mild kielbasa or Italian sausage.)  After a quick saute, the sausage is cooked along with garlic, onion, potatoes and tomatoes and gently simmered to blend all of the flavors.  The shrimp is added to the soup during the last 10 minutes and dinner is ready.  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 lb  Chorizo Sausage Links, sliced 3/4-inch thick
1 stalk  Celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup  Finely Chopped Onion
1 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp  Smoked Paprika
5  Medium Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 14.5 oz can  Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic
1/2 cup  White Wine
1 cup  Water
Fresh Chopped Parsley for Garnish

In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, saute the chorizo in the oil for 4 minutes, until just beginning to brown.  Add the celery, onion, garlic and paprika to the pan and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add the red potatoes, tomatoes, white wine and water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the pot from the heat, add the shrimp, pushing them gently down into the broth.  Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes while the shrimp steam.  Remove the lid and check to make sure the shrimp are nice and pink, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cabbage, Andouille and Rice Soup

For day 13 of Soup Month 2014, we used a spicy Cajun Andouille Sausage in our Cabbage, Andouille and Rice soup.  This soup gets a big boost of flavor from the sausage, so buying a good quality sausage is important and will add a tremendous amount of pepper and garlic to the broth.

This is a hearty, warm-you-up kind of soup and I couldn't help but think how delicious it would be on a cold, snowy Midwestern night.

What makes this soup taste even better is that it can be prepared in just about 30 minutes.  Cooking the rice in a separate pan, while you prepare the rest of the soup, saves a lot of time and yet all of the flavors really pop when they come together.  Serve this soup with a cold dark German beer, such as Beck's Dark.  Enjoy!!

2 cups  Chicken Broth
1 cup  Rice Select Organic Jasmati Rice, you can also use basmati or any long-grain rice
1 TB  Canola Oil
1 lb  Cajun Andouille Sausage, or another spicy sausage, thinly sliced
1 medium  Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large  Green Cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
5 cups  Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp  White Pepper
Salt and Ground Black Pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of broth with the rice and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat for 18 - 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion and cabbage to the pot and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the remaining 5 cups of chicken broth and the white pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cook over medium-low heat until the cabbage is tender, about 12 minutes.  Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, stir in the rice and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Slow Cooker Italian Tomato Tortellini Soup

For day 12 of Soup Month 2014 we used our handy slow cooker to make this hearty Italian Tomato Tortellini Soup and the results were delicious.  If you're in need of a fast and easy "go-to" recipe for a weeknight dinner, this is the one.

With just a couple of simple ingredients, and a few hours to slow cook all of the flavors together, this soup tastes like something that must have taken hours to prepare, and it did, but the slow cooker does all of the work for you!

The slow cooking allows the vegetables and spices to blend into a delicious and flavorful broth, then the only thing left to do is add the frozen tortellini during the last hour of cooking and dinner is ready. Serve with a loaf of crunch bread and a side salad for a complete dinner.  Enjoy!!

1 28-oz can  Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil and Oregano
32 oz  Chicken  or  Vegetable Broth
3  Green Onions, chopped
1  Green Pepper, chopped
1  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
19 oz bag  Frozen 3-Cheese Tortellini

Combine the tomatoes, broth, green pepper, green and yellow onions, oregano and garlic powder in the slow cooker.  Heat on HI for 1 hour, reduce heat to LOW and cook for 3 - 4 hours.  (For all day cooking, set the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 6 hours.)

During the last hour of cooking, add the tortellini to the pot, cover and cook until the tortellini are tender, about 60 minutes, stirring once after 30 minutes.   Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mexican Pork, Poblano and Serrano Stew

So far this month we've worked our way through several new soups and one new chili, so it's time to add a stew to the mix.  For day 11 of Soup Month 2014, we made a quick and easy Mexican Pork, Poblano and Serrano Chili Stew.  This is a great way to make something different than the usual tacos for a Mexican dinner night and, it won't take very long to prepare.  This meal can be ready to serve in less than an hour.

My favorite part of this recipe is the mix of the mild poblano peppers and the spicier Serrano peppers, and the way they come together to create such a bright pop of flavor.  Some people have told me they hesitate to buy fresh peppers at the grocery because they see a price $3.99 per pound for Serrano peppers and they think this is too much to spend.  The reality is, since you only use 2 or 3 Serrano peppers, and they weigh very little, those peppers are going to cost you around 60 cents.  Very little cost, but lots of fresh flavor.  That's a bargain.

We served our Mexican Pork Stew with a scoop of steamed white rice, or you could use brown rice, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.  We even tried a spoonful of Spicy Guacamole with this and it was delicious.  Serve with warm corn tortillas on the side and Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 lbs  Pork Tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
1 large  Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 large  Poblano Peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 or 3  Serrano Pepper, remove seeds for mild flavor or leave in for more spice, thinly sliced
3 TB  Minced Garlic
1 TB  Chili Powder
1-1/2 tsp  Cumin
2 cups  Chicken Broth
Lime Wedges, Corn Tortillas and Steamed Rice for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over high heat until shimmering.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and add the pork to the pot.  Cook the meat over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned on the edges, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, peppers, garlic, chili powder and cumin to the pot and stir.  Continue to cook the vegetables over high heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer until the pork is tender and the broth is reduced by about half, about 20 minutes.

Season the stew with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve with steamed rice, lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.