Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cauliflower Soup and Vino

I'm back at it with the soups even though we still aren't experiencing winter weather here (not complaining). I really enjoyed this soup because it was comforting but not too heavy. Even though it was cauliflower, I liked that it reminded me of a potato soup which I love but don't need the extra starchy carbs. You can make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. The original recipe from Sunday Soup included prosciutto. But I was trying to make the recipe a little healthier and cheaper so I left that out. But that might be a necessary ingredient for some. If it is, you basically want to cut the prosciutto into thin strips and then heat it in a pan with a little olive oil until crisp and browned. After draining it, you would use it to garnish this lovely soup. 

I served it with olive rolls which I didn't bake but the lovely Publix bakery did. And course there was wine and a really good one at that.  My David Coffaro futures arrived and I didn't hesitate to break that package open. I realized that they probably intended to sit for awhile more but I just couldn't wait. The 2010 "Neighbors' Zin" Zinfandel was everything I hoped for. This was one of our favorite wineries when we went barrel tasting in Sonoma per the recommendation of my aunt and uncle. Lovely, lovely wines!

Cauliflower Soup
Makes 4 servings


2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 1/2 cups leeks (white and light green parts), chopped
1 large cauliflower head cut into florets
4 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
1/4 cup creme fraiche
kosher salt
italian parsley (for garnish)


Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook for 4 minutes. Add florets, stock, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in batches using a food processor or blender. Whisk in the creme fraiche and cheese. Add salt to taste.

Serve in bowls with extra parmesan cheese, parsley, and prosciutto (if you wish) as garnish.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls

These things were like a calzone but healthier. At least I'm pretty sure they were healthier. There definitely wasn't as much cheese in them as you would get if you ordered one at your local pizza place. But they would still satisfy any craving you have for one, in my opinion. They also don't really require much in the way of cooking so they are perfect for a quick weeknight meal when you have a craving. I never buy garlic butter so I just melted some regular butter with a little garlic powder. It seemed fine to me.  I linked it up for ya:


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Your Average Tomato Soup

I am a tomato soup fan especially with a grilled cheese sandwich.  But this time, I tried a different version that was a little more interesting in my opinion. If you are a tomato soup fan and could use a little more variety, I highly recommend giving this one a try! It was also exciting for me because I got to use my new immersion blender for the first time! Let me tell you, this is a must if you like to make soups. It makes it so much easier since you no longer have to take the soup out in batches to puree. With the immersion blender,  you just blend within the pot. FYI: I made half the recipe.

Tomato and Fennel Soup with Pernod Cream
Source: Sunday Soup
Serves 6


4 medium fennel bulbs
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup diced carrot
2 T. chopped fresh tarragon, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. red-pepper flakes
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup creme fraiche (divided )
¾ tsp. Pernod/ Anise (optional) 


Cut off and discard stalks  from fennel. Halve the bulbs lengthwise, and cut out and discard the tough inner cores. Chop enough fennel to yield 3 cups.

Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chopped fennel, onion and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and starting to brown, for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped tarragon, 1 tsp. salt and the red-pepper flakes.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock and continue to cook at a gentle simmer (reducing heat slightly, if necessary) until the vegetables are tender, for about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender or food mill and return the soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to puree soup in the pot.) Ladle a little of the warm soup into a small bowl and whisk in 1/3 cup of the creme fraiche. Then whisk this mixture into the soup. Taste soup and season with salt, as needed. (The soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.) 

To serve, ladle 1 cup of soup into each of 6 bowls. If desired, whisk Pernod with the remaining 1/3 cup creme fraiche in a small bowl. Garnish the center of each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche (with or without the Pernod) and a fresh tarragon sprig.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Potato Chowder For Those Cold Nights

I say cold nights because it's January and all. But it's been t-shirt weather here the past few days in Georgia. I guess that shouldn't really surprise me anymore. Here in Georgia, we can can be bundled up one day and sunbathing the next. We all like to act annoyed by this but really it's kind of special. There aren't a lot of places where you get such variety. But in case you are someplace cold, I have a comforting soup for you. Caraway Cheese can be a tad tricky to find. I was able to locate some at Whole Foods. FYI: Publix doesn't carry it.

Cold Weather Potato Chowder with Caraway Cheese
Makes 4 servings. Source: Sunday Soup

4 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 pound red-skin potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 cup (4 ounces) Havarti cheese with caraway seeds, coarsely grated
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish


Sauté bacon in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat until browned and crisp, for 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out and discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.

Add onion and celery to the bacon drippings in the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add diced potatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add chicken stock and milk to pot and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook soup at a simmer until the potatoes are tender, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let soup come to a boil. (Soup can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat and proceed with recipe.)

When ready to serve, add the cheese, a little at a time, to the hot soup, stirring until melted after each addition. In a small bowl, mix the butter and flour with a fork to make a paste. Whisk this mixture into the soup, a little at a time, and cook until completely blended, for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste soup and season with salt, as needed, and with freshly ground pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls and sprinkle each serving with chopped bacon and chives.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Short Ribs Plus A Veggie

Yay for easy recipes, right? I'm on a roll this week. This was a delicious and easy meal. There are two recipes in this post one for the ribs and the other for the veggie. These are from other blogs so I will just link them up here with my own pictures.

Crockpot Korean Short Ribs
I bought grass-fed already cut short ribs at Whole Foods so I didn't do the whole uncut ribs. Also, I only bought 2 pounds which was more than enough food for two people. As you can see, I served it over Basmati rice.

Roasted Broccoli

 With this one, I only bought one package of broccoli which equated to 1 pound so I adjusted the measurements accordingly. Like the blogger, I left the basil out as well though I did throw in a few pine nuts.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Tortellini

This is another great weeknight recipe since it's pretty quick and doesn't require hardcore cooking skills.

Easy Tortellini


1 Tbsp butter
1 small handful of diced green bell pepper
1 small handful of diced onion
1 small handful of diced celery
1 tsp garlic, minced
3/4 lb. ground sirloin
1/4 cup red wine
3/4 the 24 oz. jar of  Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara
3/4 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
9 oz package of fresh whole wheat cheese tortellini 


Heat butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add veggies and garlic and cook covered for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, boil water in a pot and start tortellini according to package directions.

Add meat to the pan and break it up. Cook covered stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes. Drain if necessary.

Stir in wine, sauce, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let thicken and reduce heat to low.  Pour sauce over tortellini.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spicy Chicken Pasta

I'm just stopping by for a minute to link you up to another recipe I tried lately. I thought it was pretty good and best of all quick and easy. It can be found here: Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. A few adjustments were made on my end. For one, I halved the recipe and had more than enough for two people. Also, I used whole wheat penne instead of the rigatoni. For whatever reason, I couldn't find any whole wheat rigatoni and I wanted to be a little healthier. The only other change I made was using a jar of Bertolli's Four Cheese Rosa sauce in place of both the marinara and the Alfredo. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Kale

This soup was a big hit in my house. However, I couldn't really give you my own opinion on it since I didn't really eat it. It looked and smelled good so I wish I had. It was one of those nights where you are fixated on something like pizza and nothing else (like soup) sounds appealing. I'm still kind of beating myself up for this. I spent all the time and money to make this soup that I hear was awesome and I didn't even enjoy it. Oh well, there is always next time! Sorry for the messy picture, you know I don't edit mine.

White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Kale
Keep in mind that you need about 2 hr 40 mins for this with the prep involved. Source: Sunday Soup

 1 lb. dried great Northern or Navy beans
One 4-oz. piece salt pork
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups chopped celery
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
10 cups chicken stock
8 oz. Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
5 cups of chopped kale, loosely packed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan


Rinse and sort through the beans to remove any pebbles. Put beans in a pot of boiling water. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Cut salt pork into 4 pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and let veggies soften (about 6 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

After beans have softened, drain and rinse them and add to the pot. Then add salt pork, Stir in thyme, pepper flakes, salt, 2 grinds of pepper, and stock.

Set pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover pot and let cook for 1 hour. Add chorizo, and cook covered for another 30 minutes. Remove salt pork pieces and discard.

Season soup as needed. Add kale and cook about 3 minutes until just wilted. Sprinkle Parmesan over each ladled bowl of soup.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year

So, I've been a bad blogger. I keep forgetting to come back and post the recipes I've been making and the wine I've been drinking. In fact, the one that I want to share today was made over a week ago... I think this year I will either do something more with this blog or do something completely different. Either way, I will keep trying new recipes and drinking wine of course.

These empanadas were delicious and the slaw went wonderfully with them. However, I wasn't totally crazy about the cheese sauce but others may love it. I can't even remember if I took a picture of these or not. Sorry!

Empanadas con queso (with Jicama Slaw)
 Source: inspired by recipe in Cuisine At Home

1/2 lb. ground sirloin or sirloin steak (minced)
1/2 tsp. Cajun spice
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup frozen corn kernals
1/4 cup thick salsa
2 Tbsp. beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss meat with seasonings.  Add oil to a pan and cook meat over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, cook onions for a minute. Then stir in corn, salsa, and tomato paste. Simmer until thick and then add meat back to the pan. Simmer briefly. Spread mixture on a pan and chill briefly in the freezer while you prepare the rest.

Roll out pastry sheet and cut 4 (or more) circles. Whisk together egg and water.  Place 2 Tbsp of meat mixture in the center of the circles. Fold pastry over mixture and seal edges with a fork.

Place Empanadas on a baking sheet and brush with egg mixture. Pierce the tops to vent steam.  Bake for 15 minutes.

While Empanadas are baking, prepare sauce. Melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook one minute and then whisk in milk until well combined. Gradually stir in the cheese until it melts. Season as needed.  Drizzle over Empanadas.

Jicama Slaw
makes 2 cups. Source: Cuisine At Home

2 cups jicama, peeled and julienned
1/3 cup carrots, peeled, shredded
2 Tbsp scallions, minced
1 Tbsp jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt  

 Combine all veggies in a bowl. Whisk together juices, oil, honey, and salt. Pour over slaw mixture and toss well.