Carrot & Coriander (Cilantro) Soup

I was lucky and got to spend the week leading up to Easter in London. I’d been there before, but not for many years. It was great to get back.

I saw this soup on quite a few pub menus and was curious. In a good portion of the planet cilantro is called coriander-and for good reason-it IS coriander. This recipe uses it in 2 ways-ground coriander seed and the leafy coriander (cilantro).

This soup is SO yummy and SO light. It’s got really bright flavors and is so easy to make it’s unbelievable. It’s a little sweet, thick and deeeeelicious.  It could be served as either an appetizer or a main course.

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Carrot & Coriander Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tps vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 450g (3 cups) carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1.2l (4 cups) chicken broth
  • small handful of coriander (cilantro)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, add the onion, and cook until softened- about 5 minutes. Stir in the ground coriander and potato and cook for another minute. Add the carrots and stock, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the carrots and potato are tender.
  2.  Using an immersion blender whizz until smooth. Taste, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.
  3. Serve with a touch of sour cream, creme fraiche or chopped coriander leaves or scallions.

Freezes and reheats beautifully.  4-6 servings.

Adapted from bbcgoodfood.com

 

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Chicken Chili-slow cooker

It seems like this winter just goes on and on and on and on. In the usually average temperature of 40 island I live upon it has been freezing-single digits, tens, teens etc.. and we’ve been introduced to the ‘arctic vortex’ which sounds like some kind of ice cream treat they’d make at Carvel. Sadly it’s not ice cream.  So I’ve had the makings of a lot of soups, chilis, stews around all winter and it was time to clear some of them out of the cabinets to make room for (hopefully soon!!!) spring-time stuff! This chili is great for cleaning out the pantry. Adjust to what you have on hand. It’s delicious!!!

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Chicken Chili-slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 24ozs boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies (7oz)
  • 1 15oz can sweet corn kernels
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning (or you could use one of the packets)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • Toppings-avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro etc…

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken in slow cooker insert. Add everything else, stir to cover chicken and combine.
  2. Cook on low for 8.5 hours. Shred chicken with forks, check seasoning and add salt and or pepper if needed. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes on low.
  3. Top with anything you’d like.  Eat!!

Mexican Meatball Soup

The recipe for this soup caught my eye for a number of reasons-it’s easy and fast to cook and the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (I just had to buy the carrot and zucchini) yet delicious when put together. You can very easily adjust the heat too-add a bit more or less of the chili powders or add some diced green chiles. I made mine rather mild,  opting for a few squirts of hot sauce later.  I really loved how crisp the veggies stay even after reheating and there’s just enough rice. I served it with a small cheese quesadilla, a bit of refried beans, sour cream and salsa.  It was nice to dip the quesadilla into to broth. I think it would be great topped with some tortilla strips or crunched tortilla chips. This recipe is a keeper!!

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Mexican Meatball Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Goya Adobo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth (I used the last 3 cups of this home made chicken stock plus an additional 3 cups which I purchased)
  • 1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini,  halved then cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained (I used Muir Woods Organic)
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
  • freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients (beef through and including Adobo). Using your hands mix to evenly combine. Be careful not to over-mix. Pinch off tablespoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.
  2. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Place as many meatballs into the pot as you can without crowding them and push slightly on the top to flatten a bit. Brown on all sides for about 3/4 minutes. You do not have to cook them all the way through but they must be mostly done. You may have to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs.
  3. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, zucchini and rice. Return to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done and the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Season with salt if necessary.
  5. Serve garnished with cilantro and cheddar cheese if desired.

This soup reheats beautifully for left overs and I would imagine that it freezes well-although I didn’t try.

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Adapted from February, 2014 issue of All You Magazine.

Chicken Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Sometimes something really great comes out of needing to make a meal when you didn’t think you’d need to. That’s where this sandwich comes in.  It was so very very very tasty and so many different layers of flavor!!!  And mmmmmmmm melty cheese.

I had plans for Saturday which, super-sadly, fell through due the weather being awful. Torrential rain, dangerous winds etc..  I watched the figure skating championships instead. I can’t wait for the Olympics to start in February-figure skating is probably my favorite of the winter sports. Remember that whole Nancy Kerrigan thing years ago? Lifetime made a really great (well as far as a Lifetime movie goes) about that and boy did they make it dramatic and fun to watch.  I think we have some great contenders for medals this year.

I always have boneless, skinless chicken breasts frozen individually in the freezer. I buy the large family packs (they’re FAR less expensive than the 1lb packs), I bring it home, trim up the chicken, weigh it and then use my food saver to package it up. I write the date and weight on the package.  Those are lifesavers on nights when you want to make something fast. In a bowl of cold water the chicken only takes a short time to defrost.

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Chicken, Pesto and Mozzarella Panini

Ingredients:

  • 4oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning (I use the low-sodium)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus 1/4 tsp
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese-cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1 flatbread

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. In a small skilled over medium high heat heat up the 1 tsp oil and then add the chicken breast.  Cook a few minutes on each side until fully cooked. Remove from the pan. Chop into very small pieces and set aside.
  3. Microwave the flatbread for a few seconds to loosen it up.
  4. Brush a thin layer of the remaining olive oil onto the flatbread and then turn it over so that the oil side is down.
  5. Smear the pesto onto one half of the bread, then lay down the cheese then top with the peppers and chicken.  Fold the top of the bread over and gently press to make sure it’s all staying together.
  6. Place it on the panini press and cook until cheese is melted and bread is crisp.
  7. Eat immedately.

Makes 1 panini.

Italian Beef Sandwiches-slow cooker

These are delicious! The beef is cooked all day and just falls apart. The very slightly hot peppers, the melty provolone cheese and the tomatoes makes this one tasty hot sandwich. Save some of the juice for dipping if you’d like.  This cooks for 8 hours which makes it ideal for a weeknight dinner also as it can stay on ‘warm’ for a while after cooking.

I put the roast in my slow cooker at about 10am on New Year’s Day. I didn’t really have any plans for the day except catching up on some DVR’d shows and doing some chores around the house and laundry but on a lazy day off it was nice to not have to worry about dinner and have such a delicious sandwich waiting for me.  It also reheats really well. I brought some left-overs to work the next day, put the roll in the toaster oven with a slice of cheese and nuked the beef. It was delicious!

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Italian Beef Sandwiches-Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lb eye round roast (or chuck or rump)
  • 1 2oz packet Italian Dressing mix (dry)
  • 6 small Pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup low sodium low fat beef broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes w/italian herbs
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • Butter
  • Rolls

Instructions:

  1. Put the roast into the cooker.
  2. In a bowl combine the dressing mix and broth and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the mix over the roast followed by the tomatoes.  Place the peppers into the broth around the roast.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. When the cooking is complete remove any pieces of fat from the beef or liquid and discard.
  6. Remove the roast from the liquid and set aside. Strain the liquid to remove any fat that may be left. Retain the strained liquid and tomatoes.
  7. Slice the rolls in half the long way.
  8. Heat a pan over medium/high heat. Melt a tbsp of butter and when foaming place the halves of as many rolls as can fit into the butter (interior side down). Weigh down with something (I used my tea pot) and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan and place provolone onto the bread and then top with some beef and tomatoes and cooking liquid if you’d like.
  9. Serve immediately.

As an alternate serve the cooking liquid in a small bowl along side the sandwich for dipping.

Adapted from thecountrycook.net

Fondue!

I’ve always had a thing for fondue. When I was young my Mom used to make it and it was always a treat.  Melty cheese on a chilly night-perfect!! What’s not to love? I’d not ever made fondue from scratch but it was easy. If you can grate cheese you can make it.

I’m not really all that big of a New Years Eve person–truth be told it feels like any other night to me but since others make a big deal about it well I might as well do something 🙂 New Year’s Eve this year was so nice! I made the fondue, Mom brought over lobsters, Grandma brought a salad. We played cards and ate delicious food and laughed our heads off.

Thanks for holding that below Mom.

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Fondue!

Ingredients:

  • garlic clove-smashed once
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup shredded swiss emmentthal
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine (chardonnay)
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • french bread, granny smith apples etc.. all cut into small squares for dipping.

Instructions:

  1. Rub a medium sauce pan with the garlic. Add the wine, thyme bundle and lemon juice and bring to a simmer for a  minute or 2.
  2. Combine the cheeses and flour in a bowl and mix to coat evenly. Add it to the wine mixture a bit at a time, stirring until melted and velvety.
  3. Pour into your fondue pot and place over the appropriate heat source.
  4. Serve with diced bread, apples etc…

I put the bread and apples out with other small things to eat easily with the fondue fork but not to dip into the cheese-dill gerkins, kalamata olives. They were a nice addition to the plate.

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Christmas Eve Pot Roast

My family doesn’t usually do much on Christmas Eve. This year though, since Husband and Mom and I and In-Laws were all off I decided to have a Christmas Eve dinner at my house. The evening was so much fun. We started with some easy pickies-different olives, some hummus, cheese and crackers and then moved on to dinner then had some dessert and exchanged some presents.  It seemed almost too perfect that it also started to snow while we were opening presents.  Not much-just flurries-but I couldn’t have planned a better backdrop. Thanks Mother Nature!!

The menu was very simple-pot roast, roasted veggies and ranch mashed potatoes–and it was perfect.  We had only a little of everything left-and those left overs were gone the next day.  Allow yourself time to sear the meat properly-it makes all the difference in the end.

The pot roast-so simple to cook and so delicious! My father in law proclaimed it perfect and the best he’s ever had!!  It was a flavorful comforting meal perfect for a holiday get together.

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Christmas Eve Pot Roast

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  4.75 lb chuck roast*
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into 2 inch rings then halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 cup red wine (I used chianti)
  • 3 cups low fat low sodium beef broth
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 275f.
  2. Salt and pepper the roast generously.
  3. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (mine is a 6 qt) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots to the pot and stir them around for a few minutes until they’re slightly  browned. Remove and set aside with onions.
  5. If the pan needs a bit more oil add it now.  Place the roast into the pan and sear it for about a minute (or until a nice brown crust developes), then repeat for all sides–even the ends. Set aside with the onions and carrots.
  6. Add the wine to the pot and scape up all of the bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Put the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the roast halfway.
  7. Put the onions, carrots and fresh herbs into the liquid in the pot.
  8. Put the lid on and roast in the oven for 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Brown the meat so that it looks like this.

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The roast was so tender that I couldn’t slice it-I just pulled the meat apart and served it that way.

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If your roast is smaller it will take less time to cook. Plan on 3 hours for a 3lb roast.

I was also able to find some beautiful flowers in Christmas-y colors for the table. Red and white carnations with some really adorable puffy greens-they reminded me of something Dr. Seuss would think up.

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Adapted from Ree Drummond via Food Network.

Salsa & Sour Cream Chicken-slow cooker

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for quite a few weeks.  It’s been crazy crazy crazy since the weekend before Thanksgiving. We spent the first 2 weeks of December on vacation in Mexico (and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly) but the weeks before Thanksgiving turned into a ludacris crunch of putting up our Christmas tree, decorating the house, finishing all holiday cards, finishing shopping, getting ready for vacation etc.. By the time we arrived in Mexico I was really ready for a margarita.

But now that Christmas has come and gone it’s time to get back to normality.

After returning from Mexico we hoped to extend the fun and vacation feeling (even if it was just in our mouths) so I pulled out a recipe that I had pinned earlier in the year. Taco Chicken!! And it was delicious! The chicken was moist and just fell apart. The taste is very nice-it has a touch of heat but isn’t spicy and is just really flavorful. I added a bit of hot sauce to my tacos as I prefer them a bit spicier but even plain they were just delicious.

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Salsa & Sour Cream Chicken-slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 16 oz jar mild salsa (I used Fairway’s brand)
  • 1 taco seasoning packet or homemade taco seasoning spice blend
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream

  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • soft taco shells

Instructions

  1. Pour 1/3 of the salsa into the bottom of the slow cooker then add the chicken. Pour the taco seasoning onto the chicken then top with the rest of the salsa (make sure it’s all over the chicken and seasoning).  Do not add the other ingredients at this time. They’re for later.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Shred the chicken and then add the rice, sour cream and black beans. Stir to combine then cook on low for 30 more minutes.
  4. Serve in warmed tortillas with grated cheese.

Adapted from TheMagicalSlowCooker.com

Pumpkin-Shiitake Risotto with Pancetta and Pignoli Nuts

Recently I was looking around online for a recipe to use up some left over pumpkin puree and I found this. The name intrigued me. Pumpkin and Shiitake? Meh…I wasn’t sure about it.  But then as I read down the list of ingredients I knew that I had to make this and soon. And am I glad that I did! It was perfect. Crunchy pignoli nuts, creamy rice, hints of pancetta, onion and pumpkin and just a bit of tang from the mascarpone (which I doubled).  I had a double serving.

Many people think that risotto is difficult to make or easy to mess up. Lies. You can’t just let it sit on the stove but all that it takes really is attention and stirring. If you haven’t ever tried to make risotto at home I urge you to do so.  There’s almost no prep involved either-just chop up an onion and some mushrooms tops and that’ s about it. Easy peasy.

Risotto is like mashed potatoes. Some like it looser, some like it dryer. I prefer it looser and for to spread a bit when it’s spooned out. If you prefer it dryer continue to cook past when the liquid is absorbed. Be sure to not over cook it though-you do want it to be slightly toothy in the interior of the grain but creamy on the outside. Best to taste as you go.

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Pumpkin-Shiitake Risotto with Pancetta and Pignoli Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups no salt added chicken stock (I used the stock I made a few weeks ago)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4ozs pancetta, diced large
  • 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1&1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed or put through a press
  • 1 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp fresh sage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp pignoli nuts
  • 2 tbsp scallions, chipped small

Instructions:

  1. In a small sauce pan bring stock and water to a simmer. Keep it warm over low heat.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook about 7 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic and cook about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Add the rice and sage, cook, stirring for a minute. Add the wine, scrape and brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and cook until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add 1 cup warm stock and, stirring continuously, cook until it’s almost entirely absorbed. Repeat with all of the stock.  You can use extra water if needed. About 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pumpkin and mascarpone and stir to evenly distribute.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Spoon 1 cup risotto into 4 bowls (warm them so that the risotto doesn’t seize) and top with pignolis and chives.

Note: do not use pumpkin pie filling.

Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2012

Serves 4 (or 2 of me 🙂 as a main dish or more as a side dish.

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My New Bolognese

If there’s one sauce that I choose more than any other to have with pasta it’s  bolognese.   During my visits to Italy I enjoyed a nice bowl of pappardelle alla  bolognese more times than I can count. The best, in my opinion, were all in Tuscany but the best of those were where they also include wild boar sausage in the sauce.  Just delicious.  Not to mention the many local Italian restaurants near me that each make their own fabulous version of the sauce.

I had a recipe that I had been making for a while but the last few times I made it I was underwhelmed.  Really disappointed even. To the point where I just threw it out.  I couldn’t tell if I had over cooked it or if the tomatoes I used had a different taste or what but I knew I didn’t like it.  So there has been a pretty long drought for home made bolognese in my house. 

And then Carrie from www.carriessweetlife.com posted this beauty oh her blog. Pancetta. Red Wine (chianti-always chianti for me). Parmesan Rind. I new that I would love it. And I did. It’s my new bolognese.  So a huge GRAZIE to you Carrie. My freezer is now full of yummy bolongese. I adapted it a bit and it’s just as delicious as it sounds.

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My New Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 5 ozs pancetta, diced
  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped small
  • 1 large carrott, chopped small
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small can tomato paste (or half of one tube)
  • 1 cup dry red wine (chianti)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 28oz cans Muir Glen Organic crushed tomatoes w/basil
  • 2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Rind from Parmesano Reggiano wedge/wheel

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add the pancetta and cook until it’s cooked crispy.  Add the sirloin and sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it apart, until browned.  Drain the excess fat from the pan.  Add the onions, carrot, garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste until it’s evenly distributed throughout the meat and vegetables. Add the wine and cook, scraping the pan to get the bits off of the bottom, until the wine evaporates. Add the stock, tomatoes, baty leaves, oregano, pepper flakes and Parmesan rind. Bring to a bubble then reduce to medium low to just simmer gently.
  3. Cover and let it simmer for 5 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves and rind before serving or freezing.
  4. To serve place cooked pasta and desired amount of sauce in a pan over medium heat with some of the pasta water. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce and serve.
  5. To freeze let the sauce cool completely then spoon it into quart-sized ziplock bags.  Give the bags a few shakes or gentle taps on the counter to get the air to the top. Leaving just a small portion of the zipper open lay the bag flat and gently push the air out.  Zip the remainder of the way and lay flat in the freezer. Don’t forget to label the bags!!

So this is how much sauce this recipe makes.  Those are quart-sized ziplock bags and smaller 1-3 cup containers. 

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I have a funny feeling that the different brands of tomatoes that I used before this recipe were the problem.  After cooking for a while they tasted bitter and made the sauce yucky.  I recalled seeing that America’s Test Kitchen had done one of their comparisons of canned tomatoes recently so I went to their website and they recommended the Muir Glen Organic higher than any other and gave them a stellar review.  They were right on! The tomatoes were perfect and tasted just like they should. I hightly recommend using them.

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