January 24, 2012

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder. I've always loved this lovely soup. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't enjoy this fabulous little creation. It is to me the epitome of comfort food.

Want to know the secret a really good clam chowder? Bacon drippings! Obviously you could skip this and just use olive oil, but the flavor of the bacon really enhances the soup. What's comfort food without a little naughty? And bacon drippings are definitely naughty. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! ;oP

Clam chowder can be made many different ways, and I've made various types over the years, but this version is hearty, chunky, and just perfect for a cold winter day! If soup is for dinner, and you like clams, this is the soup for you!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (Note: I used a yellow onion this go around, but I usually use red onions instead.)
8 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
2 large carrots, shredded
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
4 cups of water
3 bay leaves
6 - 6.5 ounce cans of clams in juice, undrained
1 - 8 ounce bottle of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half (Note: I usually use the fat free variety, but regular will work as well. If you want to go really crazy you can use heavy cream!)

Add a little olive oil to the bottom of a very large stock pot and place chopped bacon in the pot and saute until crisp. Remove bacon, leave the bacon drippings.

Add onion, celery and potatoes and cook until the onions and celery are just tender.

Add carrots and stir to mix. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Next add flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes, but do not let the flour brown.

Next add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leafs, along with the water and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered until potatoes are fork tender, usually about 30 minutes.

Add clams, clam juice and half and half and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until soup is heated through and slightly thickened.

Remove bay leafs and serve immediately.

You can also store this soup in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a year.

Notes: You could add in corn too if you liked, for an even chunkier chowder. Leeks would also be a good addition to this soup.

Posted by Dianne at 2:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 6, 2012

Rustic Vegetable Soup

Rustic Vegetable Soup

I love soup. I'm a big fan year round, but especially in the winter. This soup came about from my wanting to incorporate the vegetables I got from our local CSA like vegetable/fruit delivery service this week. I had an eggplant, some bok choy, some chard, along with some left over black eyed peas from New Year's Day. Before long this soup was "born".

This soup is BIG. It makes a lot of soup. It has big chunks of vegetables and is very hearty, all while being healthy too. Pair it with some sour dough or corn bread and a side salad you've got a meal. In reality though the soup itself is hearty enough to be a meal, so you can enjoy it as is too!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, cut into round pieces
1 large red onion, chopped
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large potato, cut into bite sized cubes
1 large bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard, chopped
1 bunch of bok choy, chopped
1 large eggplant, cut into bite sized cubes
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of chicken broth
2 quarts of tomato sauce
1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of frozen corn
1 - 10 package of frozen lima beans
2 cups of cooked black eyed peas, undrained

First up let me be clear...You're going to need a very BIG pot for this soup!

In a very large stockpot saute carrots, onion, garlic, mushrooms and potato in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil until tender, stirring often. Add chard and bok choy and stir until just wilted.

Add oregano, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper and stir to mix.

Next add chicken broth, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Also add corn, lima beans and black eyed peas and stir to incorporate.

Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring often for at least an hour.

Serve immediately. Left overs are great too and freeze fabulously!

Notes: If you wanted to make this vegetarian/vegan use water or vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. You could also use other vegetables like leeks, celery, white beans, etc. Shake it up!

Posted by Dianne at 1:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2011

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Tomato Tortellini Soup

I love tomato based soups, whether simple or complex, and this time of year I often have a few jars of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes that I canned the previous summer that I need to use up in preparation of the new season of tomatoes right around the corner. This soup is a very simple soup that I came up with to utilize some of my homed canned bounty from last year.

The great thing about most soups is they are quick and easy and take next to no time to throw together, this one especially. The onion, garlic and herbs give it just the right combination of flavor, while the tomatoes bring it all together in a soup that is relatively healthy and most definitely tasty. It's perfect for a quick weeknight dinner where quality and time are the key.

As the weather gets warmer people often wander away from soups, but I myself love soup anytime of the year. This soup would be perfect on a cold winter day, but it also is fabulous in the summer as well because making a quick pot of soup doesn't heat up the house that badly. Either way be sure to try it...This one is really a winner!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 quart of tomato sauce (Note: As I mentioned above I used home canned tomatoes, but if you don't have those handy you can use a large can of tomato sauce bought from the store.)
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: See the note above.)
1 cup of broth or water, optional (Note: You can use chicken or vegetable broth or water or leave this out all together.)
1 - 8 ounce package of Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini or a stuffed pasta of your choice

In a large stock saute onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil along with a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, Italian Seasoning, dried oregano and dried parsley until onion is just tender.

Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and broth or water if desired and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld, stirring occasionally.

Next add the package of tortellini and allow the soup to cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes until tortellini is tender.

Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is great paired with a grilled cheese sandwich or a simple salad.

Posted by Dianne at 3:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2011

Chicken and Tortelloni Soup

Chicken and Tortelloni Soup

Recently I was writing a story and the main character invented this soup. I started thinking about the soup and thought "Hey I want to make that!" so I did. I was really pleased with the end result!

This recipe takes a basic chicken soup and kicks it up a notch. With the addition of heavy cream or half and half, along with tortelloni, you take the soup to a whole other level. This soup is slightly creamy, hearty and just perfect for a cold winter day!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cups of sliced mushrooms (Note: You can use any variety of mushroom that you like or a mix of varieties.)
1 leek, chopped
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
2 cups of frozen corn kernels
1 - 10 ounce package of frozen lima beans
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: I used some I had canned myself. You could also use two cans of diced tomatoes instead.)
5 cups of chicken broth (Note: I make my own and store it in the freezer in wide mouth glass canning jars and then thaw when I'm ready to use it. You can use store bought broth instead.)
2 cups of chicken chunks
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream or half and half
1 - 8 ounce pacakge of tortelloni (Note: I used a variety with spinach and ricotta. You could also use the stuffed pastas that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.)

In a large stock pot saute red onion, carrots, celery and leeks, along with a generous pinch of sea salt and finely ground pepper, as well as the thyme until just tender.

Next add frozen corn and lima beans and stir to mix. Cook for about 2 minutes to knock the chill out of the vegetables.

After the vegetables are in the pot add diced tomatoes, chicken broth and chicken. Stir and then bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes bring the soup back to a slow boil. Add heavy cream and tortelloni and cook for an additional 10-13 minutes until tortelloni is tender and then serve.

Notes: As with any soup you can easily mix this up a bit. You could add different types of frozen vegetables. Peas or edamame would be a good addition. You could use a different kind of onion or shallots instead. The possibilities are endless.

Posted by Dianne at 10:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 7, 2010

Crawfish Gumbo

Crawfish Gumbo

Alexis and I have been exploring a lot lately. I get in these modes when it feels like there is something out there just outside of my grasp that I'm supposed to be doing, or someone I'm supposed to know, but the universe hasn't decided to share yet. The other day we were out and about, having fun, laughing and just generally enjoying ourselves as we are prone to doing and I actually found crawfish at a local market! I was thrilled!

It's been years since I had crawfish, since before Lex was born in fact. When we lived in Anne Arundel county I used to pick it up at Whole Foods now and again, but I hadn't found any this area until the other day! The ones I found were already steamed, but hey, that works! A crawfish is a crawfish after all!

Alexis had a ball playing "helping me" with the crawfish. She had them "talk" to each other, have battles and even helped me in the process of cleaning/shelling them as you can see in the pictures below where she is my demo girl for the pictures. She amuses me, which is neither here nor there, but we really do have a lot of fun together!

Anyway...

I originally thought I might make etouffee, but ultimately decided I'd rather just make a big pot of gumbo! This turned out great! I was really pleased with the result. After all what's better than a big bowl of gumbo and rice?

What You'll Need:
5-6 pounds of whole crawfish or 2-4 cups of crawfish meat
1 cup of oil (Note: You can use olive or a clear oil. I've used both in the past.)
3/4 a cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 quarts of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of Creole or Cajun seasoning, preferably salt free
1 - 1 lb package of frozen okra or 2-3 cups of fresh okra sliced
Cooked rice

As I mentioned the crawfish I found were already steamed. I actually popped the bag in the freezer when I bought them a couple of weeks ago because I knew I wouldn't get to them right away.

Crawfish Gumbo: Out of the Freezer

I placed the frozen crawfish in a big pot:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready for Water

Then I covered them in water:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready for a Quick Boil

Bring them to a quick boil covered and remove from heat. In this case these are already cooked so you don't have to cook them again, you just want to knock the chill off of them.

After about 5 minutes drain and place in a bowl to cool:

Crawfish Gumbo: Steamed Crawfish

While the crawfish are cooling let's get busy with some other aspects of the gumbo!

Chop your trinity (aka your pepper, onion and celery) and set aside:

Crawfish Gumbo: Holy Trinity

Now get to work on your roux!

Roux isn't difficult, though it has a reputation for being so. You basically have oil and flour and you cook it until it's a nutty brown. It will look golden and smell nutty. I love that smell!

Crawfish Gumbo: Roux

How gorgeous is that?

Basically you add the oil to your stock pot, stir in the flour and your salt and pepper and cook on low to medium, stirring often until you achieve the nutty color/smell.

Many recipes call for you to stir roux constantly, but I'm not going to lie to you, that's not happening with me! There are very few things I'll stir constantly, custard being the only one I can think of right off the top of my head. I stir, then chop something, then come back and stir, and then do something else. Every two minutes or so I give it a good stir for 30 seconds or so, but not constantly.

When the roux is a nutty brown (this usually take 15-45 minutes depending on your stove top) add your trinity:

Crawfish Gumbo: Holy Trinity Added to Roux

Cook stirring often until onion, pepper and celery are just tender.

Next add broth, Creole or Cajun seasoning and okra:

Crawfish Gumbo: Broth, Creole Seasoning and Okra Added

Cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

You will add the crawfish to the pot during the last five minutes of cooking or so. Now let's see how to "clean" them!

First look at your crawfish:

Crawfish Gumbo: Crawfish

The "big" piece of meat on a crawfish is its tail. 5-6 pounds of whole crawfish sounds like a lot, but they are little and there isn't a lot of meat there! Some people like to suck the head, but I can't say that appeals to me at all.

The first thing you want to do is remove its arms. If it has big claws you might be able to get a small piece of meat out of the claw itself, but in most cases there isn't anything in there to write home about so if it's little like the one pictured above I wouldn't even bother.

Flip the craw fish over and hold it with your fingers like so:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready to Snap

Pull down on both ends and snap the crawfish in two:

Crawfish Gumbo: Snap

It should break in to head section and tail section. Dispose of the head, unless you're one of those who enjoys that part of the crawfish.

Next hold the piece of meat that is sticking out of the shell with one hand while holding the shell with the other:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready to Pull the Tail

Tug gently and the meat should slip right out of the shell:

Crawfish Gumbo: Tail Free

Every once in a while you'll come across a stubborn tail and you might have to crack the shell a bit, which you can easily do with your fingers, but for the most part they just slide right out.

Along the back of the crawfish tail there is a membrane and if you remove it you'll discover the vein right underneath:

Crawfish Gumbo: Vein

Give the vein a little pull and it will slide right off to be disposed of:

Crawfish Gumbo: Deveined

Place the crawfish in a bowl or container and give them a little rinse to make sure they are good and clean:

Crawfish Gumbo: Tails Cleaned

Place cleaned tails in the fridge until five minutes before servings gumbo and then add to the pot just long enough to heat through.

Serve gumbo over rice with hot sauce, chopped onions or just all by itself!

Notes: You can do this process with shrimp too.

Posted by Dianne at 1:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 17, 2010

My Favorite Mushroom Soup

My Favorite Mushroom Soup

I eat a lot of mushrooms. I've always liked them, even as a child. One of my favorite things to do with mushrooms is to make soup. A lot of people think of a creamy soup when they think of mushrooms, but my favorite is not only creamless, it's actually vegan as well.

Mushrooms are really quite versatile and I've made variations of this soup over time, but I have to say this is my favorite version. When steeped in water mushrooms give you a very "beefy" broth without the cholesterol. What's not to like about that?

This soup is easy, quick and delicious. In no time you have a steaming pot of soup that is not only healthy, but is also hearty and satisfying. Who says the two have to be mutually exclusive?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into strips (Note: Sometimes I use red onions, sometimes I use white or yellow. This time around I used yellow.)
1 leek, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped fine (Note: If you don't have fresh, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried, but the fresh really is best with this soup.)
A generous pinch of sea sat
Finely ground black pepper
2 cups of button mushroom slices
2 cups of crimini or baby bella mushroom slices
4 cups of water
2 cups of spinach leaves, chopped roughly

In a large to medium pot saute onions and leeks with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary in a little extra virgin olive oil, stirring often until slightly caramelized:

My Favorite Mushroom Soup: Leeks and Onions Slightly Caramelized

This is the only place that you are adding seasonings so be generous. You want roughly a teaspoon of sea salt and up to a teaspoon of black pepper depending on how "spicy" you like things.

Add mushrooms and stir to mix:

My Favorite Mushroom Soup: Mushrooms

Don't worry about cooking the mushrooms before the next step. They are going to cook in the water and form the broth of the soup, just like you are making mushroom broth.

Add water and again stir to mix:

My Favorite Mushroom Soup: Ready to Cook

Cook mushrooms at a simmer until broth darkens and mushrooms are tender. This usually takes about 20 to 25 minutes.

Next add spinach leaves:

My Favorite Mushroom Soup: Spinach Added

Cook and additional 2 to 3 minutes until spinach wilts:

My Favorite Mushroom Soup

Serve immediately.

Notes: Sometimes I add in fresh thyme too, but for the most part I prefer this with the rosemary alone.

Posted by Dianne at 10:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 11, 2010

Creamy Potato Soup

Creamy Potato Soup

First let's talk about this snow! *sigh*

Snow, Snow, Snow! *sigh*

It's no secret that I love snow, but I've come to discover over the past week I do not like snow of this magnitude! Give me 4-8 inches and I'm happy, I don't even mind shoveling that much snow! But add in more than that, and then two big storms back to back for a total of 53 inches of snow since Friday (28 the first storm, 25 the second) and well, no I don't love it! I don't even like it!

Now there is buzz about more heavy snowfall on Sunday night in to Monday and an ice storm in 10 days! That makes me want to go to Hawaii, now, only the county has closed all of our roads and I couldn't get down to the main road right now if I wanted to, not that it is clear to begin with. I've got serious cabin fever right now people!

So no, I'm not loving this snow and I'm not loving the thought of more. At. All! If anyone has any ideas on how to become independently wealthy by tomorrow so I can hop a plane out of here, you let me know! ;oP

Sun!

But the sun is shining today! Oh how I missed you Mr. Sun! And we're supposed to hit a balmy 33! Let's break out the flip flops! ;oP

Now let's talk soup!

Cold snowy weather makes me think of soup and bread. Yesterday I decided to be decadent and make a really creamy potato soup. It was fabulous! There is just nothing like a creamy bowl of warm soup on a cold winter day!

Oh and if anyone wants some snow, I'd be happy to send you some. Really! There are piles out there taller than me (I'm five foot nine and half inches tall!) so we've got plenty to spare. ;oP

Snow Piled High

What You'll Need:
2 tablespoons of butter
1 small red onion, chopped
Finely ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 large potato, cut into cubes (Note: No need to remove the skin.)
1 quart of broth (Note: I used turkey broth that I had made and put in the freezer. Chicken broth will work too.)
2 baked potatoes, mashed (Note: If you don't want to take the time to bake them in the oven. Pop them in the microwave instead. I recommend baking them in the oven though.)
2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of potato flour (Note: If you don't have potato flour on hand you can use regular flour, but the potato flour gives it a nice punch.)

Melt butter in a medium to large sized pot. Saute onions until tender:

Creamy Potato Soup: Onions

Add cubed potatoes, a generous pinch of sea salt and some finely ground pepper to onions. Cook until potatoes are slightly browned stirring often:

Creamy Potato Soup: Potatoes Slightly Browned

Add broth and stir to mix:

Creamy Potato Soup: Broth Added

Bring to a quick boil.

While you are waiting for the broth to boil, mash your potatoes. I like to do this in my food processor.

Slice your potato into rounds and place in the bowl of your food processor:

Creamy Potato Soup: Potatoes Ready to Mash

No need to remove the skins. Just leave them on there!

Process until smooth:

Creamy Potato Soup: Mashed Potatoes

Once the broth has come to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the mashed potatoes to the pot of broth:

Creamy Potato Soup: Mashed Potatoes Ready to Stir In

Stir in the potatoes:

Creamy Potato Soup: Mashed Potatoes Added

It doesn't have to be smooth. It's just bit of potatoes.

Let the mixture cook for about 30 minutes.

Add cream and stir to mix:

Creamy Potato Soup: Cream Added

Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes so that the cream warms and then add the potato flour:

Creamy Potato Soup: Ready to Whisk

Whisk the flour into the soup and then cook for another 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Serve immediately.

Oh and the leftovers are fabulous!

Notes: You can eat this as is or top it with cheddar, scallions and/or bacon. The broth that I made had hints of thyme and rosemary in it so that carried over into the soup in a very subtle way.

Posted by Dianne at 12:36 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 3, 2010

Snowy Day Chili

Snowy Day Chili: With Toppings

It started snowing last night again and we ended up getting four more inches of snow on top of what we already had on the ground. We may get more snow this weekend too, I've heard everything form a dusting, to perhaps up to ten inches!

Snow makes me think of soups and stews and yesterday I really had a taste for chili! I had soaked beans on Monday and planned to make pinto beans for dinner last night so that's what Alexis and I had, but no one says you can't take the left overs and make a little chili! ;oP

This morning I put together a pot and Alexis and I had chili for lunch. There is just nothing like a hearty bowl of chili on a cold winter day!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of cherry tomatoes (Note: I used some I had frozen this summer. Just throw them in whole.)
1 pound of ground beef
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1/2 tablespoon of ground chipolte chili powder
1/4 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: Again more if you like it spicy, less if you don't.)
2-3 cups of pinto beans (Note: More if you like beans, less if you don't.)
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: I used some I canned this summer. You can use a large can from the store instead.)
1-2 cups of water (Note: Just to thin things out a bit, but you don't want it too thin.)

Add some olive oil to a large stock pot and saute onions, peppers and garlic until just tender. Add cherry tomatoes, ground beef and seasonings:

Snowy Day Chili: Ready to Cook Meat

Cook for 3-5 minutes until meat is mostly browned and the add beans:

Snowy Day Chili: Ready for Diced Tomatoes

Next add diced tomatoes and water:

Snowy Day Chili: Ready to Simmer

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer covered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Make sure the cherry tomatoes have cooked through:

Snowy Day Chili: Done!

Serve plain, or with cheese and sour cream. Chives or scallions are good too!

Snowy Day Chili

Notes: This is one of the rare time I actually used ground beef in my chili. Most of the time I make a vegetarian version, or my recent foray into ground chicken. I really just had a taste for a more "traditional" chili today.

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2010

Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili

I love chili! It's one of those ultimate comfort foods that in reality isn't that bad for you! It's chock full of an entire meal all in one dish. You've got protein and vegetables in a really satisfying, yet healthy mix when made properly.

For a while now I've wanted to make a chicken chili and yesterday seemed like the day. When I first envisioned the dish I was going to go with shredded or chunked chicken, but I had some ground chicken I needed to use before it expired so my path changed slightly. A change in path is sometimes bad, but in this case it worked quite well!

This dish had all the satisfying qualities of your standard bowl of chili, yet was a bit lighter and not quite as heavy overall. Served with a slice of corn bread, or topped with a little cheese and sour cream, and you've got the perfect bowl of deliciousness!

Up next I'm going to make a "white" chili! I'll tell you about that one when it comes to be. Now let's dig in!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1/2 - 16 ounce package of frozen corn
2 cups of red beans (Note: I used beans I cooked myself, but you could use a couple of cans of read beans if you wanted.)
1 heaping tablespoon of chili powder
1 heaping tablespoon of paprika
1/4-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: Use more is you like it hot, less if you don't. You can leave this out all together if you prefer. I'm a hot person myself.)
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: I used ones I canned this past summer, but you can use a large can from the store if you prefer.)
1-2 cups of water

Saute pepper, onion and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some finely ground pepper until peppers are tender and onions are slightly caramelized:

Chicken Chili: Onions and Peppers

Next add ground chicken and cook until browned:

Chicken Chili: Ground Chicken, Onions, Peppers and Garlic

Next add corn and beans and stir to mix:

Chicken Chili: Ready for Spices and Tomatoes

Add chili powder, paprika and cayenne and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Next add tomatoes and then 1-2 cups of water depending on how thick you like your chili. Bring to a quick boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer covered for at least and hour.

(Note: Chili is one of those things that only gets better. The longer you cook it the better the flavor and the leftovers are phenomenal! I usually let it simmer all afternoon.)

Chicken Chili

Note: You could really make this with any ground or shredded meat, or if you wanted a vegetarian option you could add textured vegetable or soy protein, or even just double up on the beans for a completely vegan option.

Posted by Dianne at 9:43 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 7, 2009

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup

I love snow. I really do. I love watching the flakes swirl and twirl through the air on their way down to the ground. I love how the snow clings to everything in its path, giving the world a quiet, beautiful, bright glow. And surprisingly enough I even enjoy shoveling (though my back wasn't up for it this past weekend)...I know, I know, I'm weird. But snow also makes me want to cook!

This weekend we had our first snow of the season. I actually didn't think it was going to amount to much, but we got a very nice little snow, right around 5 1/2 inches the last time I measured, that was fun to watch and play in. You can't ask for a better weekend than that!

On Saturday I decided I wanted to make some soup. You see snow falling and it makes me think that a nice hearty soup is in order. I had some left over salmon and I was in the mood for potato soup so I thought I'd combine the two. Add some bacon and a few other simple ingredients and you've got the perfect, hearty soup for that lovely snowy day!

What You'll Need:
3 slices of thick center cut bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
3 potatoes, 2 chopped, 1 baked and mashed
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I used turkey, but chicken broth will be fine too.)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cooked salmon fillet, flaked (Note: I usually cook my salmon with dill, so there was an underlying dill flavor there.)

Add bacon to a medium sized pot and let cook over medium heat for a minute or two:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Bacon

Next add butter and let melt and then stir in onions:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Onions, Bacon and Butter

Cook until onions are tender, stirring often.

Next add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly grated black pepper and chopped potatoes and stir to mix:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Ready for Broth

Add broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.

For the baked potato you can use a left over baked potato, or you can "bake" (i.e. steam) one in the microwave. Cut the baked potato into pieces, skin and all, and add to a food processor and process until smooth:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Mashed Potato

This mashed potato mixture helps thicken the soup slightly. Add the mashed potato mixture to the soup as the potatoes are cooking and stir to mix.

Once the potatoes are tender stir in salmon and heavy cream to mix. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through and serve immediately.

Notes: This soup could easily be made without the salmon. Bacon could also be added to the top of the soup as a garnish, along with a little cheese.

Posted by Dianne at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 1, 2009

Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegetable Beef Soup

If you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you know I'm a big fan of my slow cooker. With a few simple ingredients you can drop them in and have a really fabulous, healthy meal with little, to no effort. Slow cookers are very versatile, but they are exceptionally fabulous for soups/stews.

This soup is very simple, yet still delicious. It's full of vegetables, which are always a good thing, and just the right amount of meat to give it a hearty bite. The best part is that you just throw it all in and in a few hours you've got the perfect, warm, healthy meal that really hits the spot on a cold fall night!

What You'll Need:
1 quart of broth (Note: I used beef broth, but you can use whatever you like.)
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: I used some I canned this summer, but you can use a large can if you like.)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cups of yellow squash, diced (Note: I used some I had frozen from the summer, but fresh will work fine.)
2 cups of green beans (Note: Again I used some I had frozen, but fresh will work here too.)
1 small package of frozen lima beans
1 pound of ground beef, broken into little pieces (Note: You could use ground chicken or turkey instead if you wanted.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of dried thyme

So this is basically a dump and eat soup. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker as is (i.e. raw). Give it a stir to mix everything and cook on high for 4-5 hours until meat is done through.

Notes: You could add in any vegetable that you liked. Mushrooms are always a good addition. Peas and/or corn would be good too.

Posted by Dianne at 10:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 11, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love Broccoli Cheese Soup, but I've never actually made my own. Something about it intimidated me, though I'm not quite sure why. It's really a simple soup, but for some reason in my head I had built it up to mythic proportions, when in reality something that tastes good doesn't have to be difficult.

When I get blue I want comfort food. Yes I know, food shouldn't be comfort, but what can you do? It happens, I won't deny that it does. I had bought the ingredients I thought would be good in a Broccoli Cheese Soup last Friday, but then I didn't feel much like cooking over the weekend. Monday for lunch I thought it would hit the spot since it was a dreary sort of day. I told my sister last week I needed to come up with a Broccoli and Cheese soup, so no time like the present!

What I came up with was fabulous! It's rich, creamy and yes you wouldn't want to eat this everyday, but there are a lot of foods that are that way. If you're a fan of Broccoli Cheese Soup this is the soup for you!

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
4 shallots, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 quart of chicken broth (Note: I used some I had made, but store bought will be fine.)
2 cups of fat free half and half (Note: Regular half and half will be fine, or even heavy cream if you just want to go all out.)
7 ounces of Colby cheese, shredded
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen broccoli

Melt butter in olive oil and sauté shallots until slightly caramelized:

Broccoli Cheese Soup: Shallots

Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until slightly browned:

Broccoli Cheese Soup: Mini Roux

This makes a mini "roux". You want to basically cook the flour, but not let it go all the way to nutty brown.

Add chicken broth and half and half and stir until smooth. Bring to a quick boil, then lower heat to simmer. Add cheese and stir until melted. Next add broccoli and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serve immediately.

Notes: If you can't find shallots, finely chopped red onion will work fine. You could top this with chopped bacon if you preferred. Also if you wanted to process the soup to make the broccoli finer you could, but I like my soup chunky.

Posted by Dianne at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2009

Better Bites: Vegetable Soup with Basil

Vegetable Soup with Basil

Soup is an easy, yet healthy and delicious way to get a balanced meal all in one bowl! This version pairs fresh ingredients, with little work, and yields a fabulous end result that not only is great the day you make it, but is better the next day and can even be frozen for later! That's my kind of meal!

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What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2-4 ears of corn, stripped from the cob 1 small red onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, sliced into rounds
2-3 yellow squash, cut in half and sliced
1-2 cups of green beans, chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1 quart of tomato sauce (Note: I used some I canned)
1 quart of diced tomatoes (Note: Again, I used ones I canned)
1 quart of water
Fresh basil, torn or cut into strips

In a large stock pot sauté vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil, with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper until onions are tender. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and water and stir to mix. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes.

Remove cover and add basil:

Vegetable Soup with Basil

Cook for an additional 5 minutes uncovered or until basil is wilted. Serve immediately.

Notes: Any vegetables will work. Zucchini would be a nice addition, as would leeks. This soup, made as listed is vegan.

Posted by Dianne at 1:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 26, 2009

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo

So first up let's talk some tomatoes!

I spent most of the day canning yesterday. I ended up with 17 quarts of tomatoes from the 40 pounds! My pressure gauge from my pressure canner was broken so I ended up doing the hot water bath method instead. Whatever...It worked, so that is all I can ask for! I'll replace my gauge and try the pressure method next time and in all honesty I wasn't too heartbroken that the gauge wouldn't work since the thought of pressure canning/cooking sort of freaks me out to begin with.

The majority of the jars were canned as diced tomatoes, but I did do two jars of whole tomatoes and 3 of the crushed variety. Now Alexis and I can make lots of tomato based soups this winter! Fun!

Now let's talk some gumbo! (Why do I keep typing that "gumob" instead of "gumbo"??)

I've always wanted to try my hand at gumbo, but just never had. I have made Étouffée in the past, but never gumbo. It's really a simple dish, and in fact I've always sort of thought of it as "gravy soup" given the roux base (Somewhere some Cajun/Creole cook just rolled over in their grave at my sacrilege!), but it provides a definite wow factor with only a few simple ingredients. Simple and delicious...I'll take it!

What You'll Need:
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6-8 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of a good salt free Cajun or Creole seasoning
1-2 cups of okra, sliced
2 cups of shredded chicken
Rice

First chop onion, bell pepper and celery:

Chicken Gumbo: The Holy Trinity

This is known as the "Holy Trinity" of Cajun and Creole cooking. Set aside.

Now let's talk roux!

Ultimately you want to end up with a lovely, brown, nutty smelling roux that looks like this:

Chicken Gumbo: Roux

This was my first pass at roux in a while and I have to say I was amazed by how easy it was! There is sort of a stigma surrounding roux that it is hard to make, but I don't think that is the case! In my head I remembered it as difficult though, I'm not sure why.

Roux is basically fat and flour. I chose to use olive oil, but I've seen and read that it can be made with butter or a clear oil. I also added with the flour and oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper:

Chicken Gumbo: Ready to Make Roux

Stir the ingredients to mix until smooth.

When you read recipes for roux it says to stir constantly and I have to be honest...I don't stand around and stir ANYTHING constantly! I checked it every minute and half to two minutes or so and gave it a good stir. So it was more like stir, put away a few dishes out of the dishwasher, stir, put away a few more, stir, put away the last of the dishes, stir, wipe down the counter, stir, sweep the kitchen a bit, stir, sweep a bit more, etc.

That being said you have to be careful! You want to make your roux over a low to medium heat. Keep in mind you can go from nutty brown to scorched quickly! When it starts getting slightly brown pay closer attention to your roux. It will turn a lovely brown color and actually smell nutty. Basically you're making a brown gravy and this takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Once you have browned your roux toss in your "holy trinity" and stir to mix:

Chicken Gumbo: The Holly Trinity Ready To Cook

Cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until tender, stirring often.

Next add chicken broth, Cajun or Creole seasoning, okra and chicken and stir to mix:

Chicken Gumbo: Ready to Simmer

(Note: If you can not find Cajun or Creole seasoning that is salt free then omit the salt from the roux.) Bring the gumbo to a quick boil and then redue heat to simmer. Cook for 1-2 hours partially covered. (Note: I like to do this by leaving the spoon in the pot and placing the lid on. It allows the pot to be partially covered and you're ready to stir at a moments notice!) Stir occasionally.

To serve, place some rice in the bottom of a bowl:

Chicken Gumbo: Rice

Next top with a spoonful of gumbo:

Chicken Gumbo

You can also serve this with hot sauce and/or chopped parsley.

Notes: You can make gumbo with just about anything. Shrimp is good, or crayfish, or crab, etc. It also freezes well.

Posted by Dianne at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2009

Potato And Corn Chowder

Potato and Corn Chowder

Often time you will find in my fridge left over corn on the cob (one of Lex's favorites!) and left over roasted potatoes (one of Jamison's staples) and while left overs are good, why not take them an make something else? So that's just what I did!

This chowder is completely dairy free, making it a bit lighter, but you'll never miss that addition. You'll use corn to help thicken the chowder instead of flour as well. This is a fresh, hearty, yet healthy meal that is easy to make. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped (Note: I found some garlic scapes that had been pushed to the back of my vegetable drawer from earlier this year and they were still good! If you don't have scapes you can use 2-3 cloves of minced garlic instead.)
2 cups of roasted potato chunks (Note: If you don't have any left over roast some yourself at 425 F with a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper until golden brown and tender.)
4-6 ears of corn, kernels removed from the cob and divided
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I used chicken, but whatever you have on hand is fine.)
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried dill

In a large pot sauté red onion and garlic scapes in a little extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until tender:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Onions and Garlic Scapes

Next add potatoes and stir to mix:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Onions, Garlic Scapes and Potatoes

Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to "warm" the potatoes.

While the potatoes are "warming" move on to your corn.

Remove the kernels from the cobs. Take half of the kernels (if you're using 4 ears then two of the ears, if you're using 6 then 3) and place them in them in your food processor:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Corn

Next process until mostly smooth:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Creamed

Add the creamed corn to your pot:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Creamed Corn

Stir to mix.

Next add remaining ingredients and stir well:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Almost Ready

Bring to a quick boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. The soup will thicken a bit as it cooks.

Serve immediately.

Potato and Corn Chowder: Up Close

Notes: You could add in other ingredients if you liked. I had intended to add shredded carrots, but forgot when I was making the soup. You could also switch up the seasonings. Why not Old Bay instead of thyme and dill? Or you could go with only thyme, or only dill. It's up to you.

Posted by Dianne at 11:29 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 13, 2009

Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

Some people think that warm soups are only a cold weather food, but I've never fallen into that line of thinking. I love soup, Alexis loves soup, and it seems a shame to just corral it into the cooler months of the year, though I do make more soup during those times. So even during summer you'll see soup pop up on our menu from time to time.

The other day I was in the mood for soup and surprisingly while I was thinking about soup Alexis actually asked me if we could have soup for dinner. Alexis' go to soup is chicken noodle, but I decided I wanted to take some of my fresh vegetables and whip up a soup with those. You could really eat this soup year round, utilizing frozen vegetables, but with the fresh variety it really gives the soup that much more!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1-2 yellow squash, chopped
1-2 carrots, cut in half and sliced
2-3 ears of corn, kernels stripped from the cob
1-2 cups of green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 quart of canned tomatoes (Note: If you don't have canned tomatoes you can use 2 -14.5 ounce cans of tomatoes instead.)
2 quarts of chicken broth
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons of dried thyme

(Note: The proportions of this soup do NOT have to be perfect! If you have a little more of something and little less of something else that's completely OK. You can mix and match what you add.)

In a large stock pot sauté the onions, celery, zucchini, squash, carrots, corn and green beans until onions are tender. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, sea salt, black pepper, oregano and thyme and stir to mix. Taste the soup and if it needs more salt or pepper add it now.

Bring soup to a quick boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Serve immediately.

This soup also freezes well.

Notes: This soup has endless possibilities. You can add in peas, or fresh chick peas, or leeks, or mushrooms, or potatoes, etc. Go with what you have on hand and what you like. You could also add in bit of chicken, steak or shrimp. If you liked rice or noodles either could be added as well.

Posted by Dianne at 9:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 13, 2009

Better Bites: Two For One: Gazpacho Salad or Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho Soup

As I mentioned before I'll be contributing over at Allie's Answers once a month or so. Today is the day! So stop over and say hello. It's a great place to get a lot of green tips and ideas!

In the summer it is so easy to eat healthy, local, fresh produce! Some of us don't have the luxury of being able to have fresh, local produce year round, so we really enjoy it when we do! But if you're like me after the initial thrill of having a vine ripe tomato all by itself, or fresh cucumbers sliced for a snack, or any other variety of summer garden goody right from the garden/farmer's market all by themselves has worn off you want to do something else with the natural bounty.

For years I've wanted to make some gazpacho, but I always get side tracked. (And in all honesty try...How is it possible that I had never had gazpacho before now?) Gazpacho is the perfect summer time treat! By taking a few simple ingredients and about 10 minutes you've got dinner in no time! It's cool (which is fabulous on a hot summer day), it's no cook so you don't have to heat up your house to eat (also great on a hot summer day), there are no animal products or by products (making the dish vegan, for those of us trying to eat less meat and thus reduce our overall impact) and it's a delicious, not to mention healthy, way to have a filling meal, without eating anything that is too heavy. Overall it's a very earth friendly recipe and that is always a plus.

Another great thing about gazpacho is that it's quite versatile. You can add in other vegetables that you like, throw in some herbs, or even add in some bread crumbs if you like. If you aren't in the mood for soup you can eat the vegetable combination before it's processed smooth as a salad. Also the proportions don't have to be exactly the same each time. It's a forgiving recipe that allows you to experiment each time. It's quick, easy and delicious and sometimes in the summer that is just what you need!

Gazpacho: Ingredients

What You'll Need:
6-8 tomatoes
4-6 small cucumbers, cut in half and sliced (Note: You want the pickling size. If you can't find these you can use one large cucumber.)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of brown rice vinegar

Chop tomatoes and place in a large glass bowl:

Gazpacho: Tomatoes

Next chop cucumbers and add them in with the tomatoes:

Gazpacho: Tomatoes and Cucumbers

And then the green peppers:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Green Peppers

Red onion:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Red Onion

Garlic:

Gazpacho: Vegetables and Garlic

And last your black pepper, salt, oil and vinegar:

Gazpacho: Vegetables, Pepper, Salt, Oil and Vinegar

The really great thing about this is that everything can be roughly chopped. It doesn't have to be uniform or perfect, just chop and go!

After everything is in the bowl you want to stir to mix everything together and let the oil and vinegar coat the vegetables:

Gazpacho Salad: You Can Stop Here or Proceed to Make Soup!

At this point you can do one of two things...You can stop right here and have Gazpacho Salad or you can proceed to the directions below to make soup.

Place vegetable mixture in your food processor or blender:

Gazpacho: Vegetables Ready to Process

Process until smooth and place in a serving dish:

Gazpacho Soup: Ready to Serve

Repeat this process until you have processed all of your vegetables into soup.

You can chill this soup or eat it immediately. It's great topped with parsley or fresh herbs.

Makes 4-6 main course servings.

And look at this:

Gazpacho Soup

The color and texture is fabulous! Not to mention the taste! You get a zing from the onion, garlic and black pepper, coupled with a coolness from the other vegetables. It's just the perfect combination!

Notes: If you want a chunkier soup then don't process for as long. You could also add herbs in with the vegetables. Rosemary, thyme and/or oregano would be great or how about dill? These subtle changes can make it so you have something different, yet similar every time!

Cross posted at Allie's Answers.

Posted by Dianne at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 30, 2009

Double Split Pea and Ham Soup

Double Split Pea and Ham Soup

Many people like to add a ham bone to their Split Pea soup, so when I had some ham left over from Easter I thought it would be interesting to add some chopped ham to the soup to see how it would fare. Overall the addition of the ham gave the soup a nice flavor pop. Alexis loved this! This is not the same as the actual ham bone, but it gives you a nice flavor without as much of a fuss.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 - 15 ounce package of green split peas
1/2 - 15 ounce package of yellow split peas
1 quart of broth (Note: You can use what ever type of broth you like, I used chicken.)
1 quart of water
2 cups of ham, chopped

Double Split Pea And Ham Soup: Ready for Broth

In a large pot over medium heat sauté onion, carrots and celery in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender. Add split peas and ham then cook for 1 to 2 minutes to toast the peas a bit.

Double Split Pea And Ham Soup: Cooking

Add broth and water then bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until peas are tender and soup thickens. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Note: Leeks would be a good addition to this, as would chopped mushrooms. You could also leave out the ham entirely.

Posted by Dianne at 12:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 27, 2009

Better Bites: Ten Minute Tomato Soup

Better Bites: Ten Minute Tomato Soup

First up for those of you who were not around this weekend, let me direct you to the post where I introduced my new blog daughter...Teri from Make a Whisk! Be sure and stop by and say hello!

This weekend flew by for us! I'm always amazed at how fast the weekends actually go, especially as of late! There were play dates to be had, an art class for Miss G, errands to be run, chores to be done, church, and so on and on. I didn't get half of what I hoped to get done, done, but I accomplished some stuff I hadn't thought I would get to this weekend either, so that's always good too.

Now let's talk some quick, delicious, yet healthy tomato soup!

Healthy food doesn't have to take an inordinate amount of time, nor does it have to taste like cardboard. Healthy recipes can be whipped up in no time and you don't have to worry about losing taste either. This soup is the prime example. If you like tomato soup you can have a fabulous version in about ten minutes....How great is that?

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What You'll Need:
2 - 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sized pot add tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and stir to mix. Bring to a quick boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Makes roughly 4 servings.

Better Bites: Ten Minute Tomato Soup

Notes: This truly is a whip it up fast kind of soup. It goes perfectly by itself or even better pair it with a grilled cheese on whole grain sandwich!

Posted by Dianne at 11:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 19, 2009

Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was watching a cooking show. I don't remember who I was watching, my brain has long since blotted out that little bit of information, but I do remember that they made a chicken based soup that added tortellini and I thought that was a fabulous idea, but never got around to actually trying it out. This weekend I saw some tortellini at the store and decided I'd give it a whirl! I was very pleased with the outcome!

This makes a huge pot of soup, but that's ok too...Left over soup is always a good thing! Soup just gets better as it sits. I actually stuck what was left in the freezer and plan to pull it out one night next week while my parents are visiting, add a little broth and voilà...Dinner is served! Who says chicken soup has to be be boring? Throw in some tortellini and you've got a hearty soup that takes it from chicken soup, to a class in and of itself.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into rounds
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 cup of small button mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 stems of thyme, stripped from the stem
2 twigs of rosemary, stripped from the stem and chopped
2 quarts of chicken broth
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups of chicken chunks
1 - 20 ounce package of Buitoni Mixed Cheese Tortellini

Tortellini Soup: Veggies

In a large stock pot sauté onion, carrots, celery, leek and mushrooms in a little extra virgin olive oil until onions and mushrooms are tender. Add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, rosemary and thyme and stir to mix. Add broth, frozen mixed vegetables and chicken and bring to a quick boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 minutes or so, or until carrots are tender.

Tortellini Soup: Before the Tortellini

Once carrots are tender bring the soup back to a boil. Add tortellini and cook for 5-7 minutes until tortellini is plumped and done. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can use any type of tortellini that you like. I like the cheese varieties. You can also add in other vegetables if you like. Alexis suggested lima beans, but then again she suggests those often! ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 9:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 2, 2009

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup

Soup is a very easy way to pack a vegetable punch, all while being relatively healthy, yet at the same time hearty. You can make a really great soup with fabulous flavor by simply roasting some vegetables in the oven and then making your soup from there. This method is extremely easy, yet the taste is amazing. What's more perfect for dinner (or even lunch!) on a cold winter day?

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What You'll Need:
1 butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
1 large sweet potato, cut in half
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Celtic or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup: Vegetables Ready to Roast

On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet place prepared vegetables and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place pan in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender. (Note: The garlic will only take 20-25 minutes so go ahead and remove it then. You don't want to let it go the whole time or it will burn.) Once the vegetables are done remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup: Roasted Vegetables

Once the vegetables are cooled it's time to start "mashing" them up. You can do this one of three ways: 1) In the food processor (which I highly recommend...It's the easiest!), 2) With a potato masher or 3) With a food mill. I went the food mill route since I still haven't replaced my food processor.

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup

First start with the carrots, onion and garlic, since you don't have to do anything but put them in and go. Once they are mashed then cut the sweet potato into chunks and do it next. (Note: No need to remove the skin...Mash it all!) Lastly scoop the butternut squash pulp out of the skin process it last.

Better Bites: Roasted Vegetable Soup: Mashed Vegetables

Once you have all the vegetables "mashed" place the mashed mixture into a pot and stir in vegetable broth. Simmer for about 15 minutes and serve.

Notes: This soup is really fabulous with just the vegetable flavors and salt and pepper, but sometimes I do add thyme or dill. The soup is also vegan in and of itself. You can top it however you like, or you can eat it plain. I like a dollop of sour cream on top, which may or may not be vegan depending on the brand.

Posted by Dianne at 8:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 3, 2009

Beggar's Stew

Beggar's Stew

Years and years ago I stumbled across a recipe for a soup called "Beggar's Stew". I think it was while we were still in Alabama so that was over ten years ago. It was in one of those little slow cooker magazines that are usually stationed in the checkout isles at the grocery store.

Over the years I had planned to try it, but just never got around to actually making the soup. Most of the ingredients stuck in my head however...Yes I remember trivial bits of information that I should have long since been forgotten...You don't? ;oP

As I recall this soup had a creamed soup in it, but I decided that was over kill. Don't get me wrong, I do use cream of soups from time to time (and here's a shocker...I even like Velveeta once in a blue moon! ;oP) but this just didn't need it given the recipe also called for heavy cream. I decided to lighten up the cream with the fat free half and half as you'll see below. I love half and half because it gives you that essence of cream, without all the fat! Especially if you can find the fat free version, it makes it all the more fabulous without as much of the guilt!

I also don't remember the exact vegetables other than diced tomatoes, onion and mushrooms, but decided to use some that I'm fond of to round out the soup. I know there was thyme, so I decided to go with a very healthy dose of that particular herb. I believe the recipe originally called for turkey, but I've wanted to try ground chicken for a while so I decided to make it a bit simpler. Overall everything came together well and this most definitely is on the "Let's make it again!" list!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried thyme (Note: I actually prefer dried thyme to fresh. Fresh is good, but drying thyme just makes such a lovely concentrated flavor. I feel the same way about basil as well, but that's neither here nor there at the moment. ;op)
1 leek, chopped
1 large carrot, cut into little cubes
4 ounces of cremini mushroom, slices
4 ounces of button mushroom, slices
2 quarts of chicken broth (Note: I make my own most of the time, but you can use the store bought variety.)
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen corn
1 - 10 ounce package of frozen Lima beans
1 pint of fat free half and half (Note: If you can't find fat free, regular half and half would be fine, or you could go all out and even use heavy cream if you preferred.)

In a large stock pot sauté onion with the ground chicken in a little olive oil (not more than a tablespoon tops) with sea salt, black pepper and thyme. When chicken is done through add leek, mushrooms and carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in chicken broth and can of diced tomatoes and stir. Add frozen vegetables and bring mixture to a quick boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Once carrots are tender add half and half and stir to mix. Cook for 10 minutes to heat through and serve.

Beggar's Stew: Up Close

Notes: As always you can mix up soup any way you like. You could use different vegetables. You could throw in some diced potato. You could leave out the meat. You could add in other herbs. It's all a matter of personal taste.

Posted by Dianne at 10:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 31, 2008

Maryland Crab Soup A La Dianne

Maryland Crab Soup

I had intended to do a Halloween themed recipe for today, but it just didn't come together. So you'll have to settle for Maryland Crab Soup instead. Happy Halloween to all you out there that celebrate the spooky day and especially to my best friend Darlene, since it's her favorite holiday!

Now let's talk some soup!

I love crab. I'll readily admit though when I think of eating crab I think of crab cakes or crab legs or a crab boil or even deviled crabs, well before I think of Maryland Crab Soup. In fact since I moved to Maryland in 1999 I've had Maryland Crab Soup exactly once at a restaurant out on Tilghman Island called Harrison's Chesapeake House and I instantly fell in love. Despite that fact I still hadn't had it since then, even though I've been back to the Chesapeake House itself several times since then. That however was about to change.

A while back I picked up some fresh Maryland crab meat and I knew I wanted to make some soup this go around and the result was fabulous! This soup is tomomatoey, spicy and oh so lovely! If you like Maryland Crab Soup, then give my version a try. I think you'll be glad you did!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you prefer spicy, less if you don't.)
2 - 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1- 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen peas (Note: Normally lima beans are used for MCS, but I didn't have any on hand since Miss G tends to adore them and go through them quickly, so I went with peas instead.)
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen corn kernels
2 cups of water
1 pound of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: No matter how well you do this, inevitably some shells might make it into the soup.)

In a large stock pot sauté onions and potatoes with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender and both onions and potatoes are slightly browned.

Next add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen corn, along with water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are tender add crab and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is extremely easy to make and has a bit of a wow factor to it too. It is also very healthy, so that is always an added plus. You could use lima beans in place of the peas as I mentioned above.

Posted by Dianne at 8:52 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

Simple Beef Stew

Beef Stew

When it comes to beef stew I'm very minimalistic...The simpler the better! You don't need a whole lot of things going on to make a fabulous, delicious meal in one. This stew is comfort food at its finest, because sometimes something comforting is just what you need.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound of beef stew meat
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: If you wanted to make this gluten free you could use corn starch or tapioca flour.)
1-2 cups of frozen peas 3 large carrots, cut into roughly 1 inch chunks
1 large potato, cut into nice bite sized chunks
2-3 cups of small button or baby portabella mushrooms
4 cups of beef or mushroom broth

Preheat oven to 275 F.

In a large oven proof dutch oven sauté onion in some extra virgin olive oil until just soft. Add beef and sauté until browned. Add a generous pinch of sea salt, a good amount of freshly ground black pepper and stir to coat. Add vegetables and beef broth and stir to incorporate.

Place dutch oven covered into the oven for 3-4 hours, removing from time to time to stir, until veggies are tender and broth thickens. Serve immediately.

Beef Stew

Notes: Beef stew is fabulous served with a nice piece of crusty bread. It's definitely a fabulously hearty meal all in one!

Posted by Dianne at 9:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 14, 2008

Dianne's Guest Blog Week: Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Leann is a dear friend that I met through my sister. They go to church together and she has sort of become our sister in spirit! Both my sister's children and Alexis call Leann "Aunt Leann" and in fact someone once told me when they saw a picture of us together at Katherine's baby shower for Nelson that she and I looked so much alike they thought we really were sisters! I took that as the utmost compliment! So sit back, relax and let's enjoy some chili Leann style!

Leann blogs over at My Mind's Eye about everything from her nephew Lincoln, to sports, to life in general.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

What you’ll need:
2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 package chili seasoning mix (regular)
1 package chili seasoning mix (hot)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can each (rinsed and drained) black beans, pinto beans, Great Northern Beans, Cannellini beans
1 can chili beans, undrained
2 cans (or one large can) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Brown ground beef with onion. Drain off fat. Stir in chili seasoning packets. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine ground beef and onion mixture with beans, corn, and tomatoes. Stir in 1-2 cups of water just to keep the mixture from drying out. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve with cheese and sour cream on top and corn bread.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Overnight instructions: You can also prepare this the night before and have it cook all day while you’re at work or out running errands or what have you. Prepare as above, but omit the 1-2 cups of water until the next morning when you are ready to turn on the slow-cooker.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Leftover Suggestion: Refrigerate any leftovers and you can use the chili as burrito filling for another, different meal. Just fill a flour tortilla with a small heated up portion of the chili. Add sour cream and cheese and fold the burrito as usual.

Posted by Dianne at 7:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 1, 2008

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup

October! How on earth is it already October? It doesn't seem like a year has passed since last October and now here we are! Time truly does fly! Before I know it Alexis will be in college!

This month is going to be fun here at Dianne's Dishes! The week of October 13-17 is going to bring an entire week of guest bloggers! I'm going to celebrate my birthday by letting some of my friends (and even my sister and one of my blog daughters!) share a little recipe love with you! The week of October 20-24 is going to be Homemade Bread week! I may even do some sort of giveaway to share the love for my 35th birthday! You won't want to miss any of that so stay tuned! More details to follow!

But what does any of that have to do with Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup? Nothing! So let's get to that shall we?

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup: Baby Portabella Mushroom

I love Baby Portabella Mushrooms! They are so versatile and they have such a nutty/meaty flavor! They are just perfect to sub into any dish in place of meat and even make an entire dish around! If you've never had a soup with mushroom broth then do try it, especially if you are a mushroom fan! The flavor just can not be beat!

What You'll Need:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced into slivers
4 cups of baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
4 cups of water
A pinch of sea salt
A generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of baby spinach leaves, chopped (Note: I've said this before, and I'll say it again...I don't care if the package says it has been washed a bazillion times, wash the spinach leaves anyway! They put some sort of weird something on the spinach, even the organic brands, that makes my tongue numb if it isn't washed away. I'm not sure what it is, but it can't be good! Wash, wash, wash those leaves! ;oP)
1 tablespoon of brown rice miso

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup: Onions Cooking

Sauté onions over medium heat in a small stockpot with olive oil, stirring often, until caramelized. Remove from pot and return pot to heat.

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup: Ready To Cook

Add mushrooms, water, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until mushrooms are tender and broth has formed. (Note: The process of cooking the mushrooms in the water makes the nutty mushroom broth.) This process will take roughly 15-20 minutes.

Baby Portabella Mushroom Soup: Caramelized Onions

Add spinach leaves and caramelized onions and cook until spinach is slightly wilted (about 2-3 minutes) and then add miso and stir to mix. (Note: Do not let the soup boil after the miso is added. I have no idea why this is, but every container and/or recipe I've ever seen for Miso Soup says to not let it boil.)

Once miso is dissolved serve immediately.

Note: This soup as made above is not only vegetarian, it's also vegan given there are no animal products in the soup, but trust me you'll never miss them!

Posted by Dianne at 8:54 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 29, 2008

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

This is going to be another quick and easy post and recipe. My finger is finally feeling well enough to type without wincing, but I've got a ton of things to catch up on! Tomorrow things should get back to normal! So pull out your slow cookers and get ready for some fabulous Cheesy Potato Soup!

What You'll Need:
1 large potato, cubed
1 small red onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I like to use chicken broth for potato soup, but what ever type of broth you prefer will work.)
1 cup of half and half
2 cups of Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Note: This is the perfect way to use up left over mashed potatoes! You can use plain potatoes too, but the cheesy version give the soup the cheesy aspect.)
Cheddar, shredded for topping (optional)
Bacon, chopped for topping (optional)
Scallions, chopped for topping (optional)

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup: The Veggies

Place chopped veggies in the bowl of your slow cooker and toss to mix. Add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, broth and half and half and stir to mix. Next stir in mashed potatoes and stir to mix.

Set slow cooker on high and cook for 4-5 hours until soup has thickened slightly and potatoes are tender. Serve immediately with toppings or plain.

Notes: If you wanted to add in mushrooms and/or corn you could. Leeks would also be fabulous.

Posted by Dianne at 7:46 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 19, 2008

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup: A Bite

Man...What a week! I keep thinking I'll get a second or two to slow down, but so far, not so much! This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one too. Tomorrow morning we're going to a fall festival at one of the local libraries. There will be plenty of games and activities for Alexis and she is beside herself with glee because there will be face painting! Can you imagine? Face painting! And she says it just like that...Face painting!! with exclamation points and gusto! ;o)

Tomorrow afternoon my sister, her husband and the boys are coming over to celebrate my sister's birthday a few days early, because I'm a big believer in celebrating birthdays! Birthdays should be happy times and not mourned. It irritates the life out of me when people mourn the day instead of celebrating their life! Life is a fabulous adventure and should be celebrated as such! So I will make my sister a magnificent meal and dessert of her choosing and we will celebrate the day! (If you take the link above you'll see last year's meal!) Plus we haven't had a chance to get together for the past few weeks so it's past time for baby cuddles too! ;oP

On Sunday Jamison has some homework to do and a midterm to work on and I have to do some lesson planning and things of that nature. It's going to be another whirlwind, but that's ok I guess. I can sleep later I suppose! ;oP

So we're going to round out the week with yet another slow cooker recipe. I've been utilizing it a lot this week and since I've made it through my back log of recipes, you're getting a pretty good indication of what I'm cooking in somewhat real time. I'm hoping to get a back log back up and running soon, but we'll see how things go.

This soup utilizes vegetable broth instead of using chicken, and takes the elements of a chicken and wild rice soup, without adding meat. It's hearty, healthy and meat free! Oh and did I mention easy? What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
1 quart of vegetable broth (Note: I used No Chicken Broth.)
2 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup of frozen green beans (Note: You can use the ones that come out of the bag, but these were some I had frozen earlier in the summer.)
1 cup of frozen lima beans (Note: Again a big favorite for Lex.)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
1/2 cup of wild rice
1 tablespoon of dried dill
A generous pinch of sea salt (Note: If the broth you use is really salty omit this.)
Freshly ground black pepper

This truly is the ultimate dump and go soup. Dump everything into your slow cooker, give it a stir, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Chickenless Dill and Wild Rice Soup

Notes: Again you can add in any vegetable that you like. The wild rice helps thicken the soup slightly. It's very hearty, but also healthy and that's always a plus! If you aren't a fan of dill you could add in other herbs that were more to your liking.

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 17, 2008

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup: A Bite

Alexis and I love soup. In fact I'm thrilled that she loves it as much as she does. Jamison's not a fan (shocker...I know!) so for years I had soup here or there, but for the most part it was something I had when we had guests who could share, but now I have someone who is up for sharing soup whenever I want to make it or whenever she wants it as well! Plus soup is the ultimate freeze for later food too and left overs are better the longer they sit!

If you've been a visitor of Dianne's Dishes for a while, you know that I also LOVE my slow cooker! It's a fabulous cooking tool for basic food year round and it's especially wonderful when it comes to soup! You throw your ingredients in, turn the knob and you've got hearty, healthy soup ready to go just in time for dinner! How great is that?

What You'll Need:
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 quart of broth (Note: You can use chicken, vegetable or beef broth...Whatever you have on hand works!)
1 - 28 ounce can of tomato puree or sauce
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen vegetables (Note: The mix I use has corn, carrots, green beans and peas.)
1/2 of a 1 pound package of lima beans (Note: Alexis adores lima beans and has since she started eating finger foods. In all honesty I'm not a big fan, but I can tolerate them in soup. If you don't like limas then add in some extra peas or even some edamame.)
1 cup of barley
A pinch of sea salt (Note: If your broth is heavily salted then skip this.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup: Ready to Cook

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a stir, and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Or if you want it faster you can cook it on high for 3-4 hours.

How easy is that? Just dump and walk away and when you're ready for dinner you've got a fabulous bowl of soup!

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Notes: You can use any vegetables that you like. Leeks would be a good addition, as would mushrooms.

Posted by Dianne at 12:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 28, 2008

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup: A Spoonful

My spring allergies seem to get worse with every spring that comes around. The sun and warmth call me to be outside, most likely playing in the dirt, but once I get out there I pay for it by sneezing and coughing and man does it hurt to sneeze! Not fun at all! When my allergies just get to the point where I want to curl up in a ball and wait for next winter to come and freeze out the allergens it's time to make some soup and it's quick and easy to boot!

Now the standard go to soup when you're not feeling well is a basic chicken soup, but sometimes when you want soup, you just want something creamy. This soup is smooth and hearty, all while not being too heavy. It's just the ticket for when you just want something a little velvety. It's the perfect match to chase away those allergy blues!

What You'll Need:
2 teaspoons of butter
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
A pinch of sea salt (Note: If your broth is already salty then skip the sea salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large sized potato, cut into small cubes
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of milk (Note: Any milk will work...I used skim.)
1/4 cup of corn starch (Note: If the potatoes thicken the soup sufficiently for you then you can skip the corn starch.)

In a medium sized pot sauté onion and celery with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until tender. Add the chopped potato and cook for 2-3 minutes until potatoes are slightly browned.

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup: Potatoes, Celery and Onion

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender.

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup: After the Broth is Added

Stir in mashed potatoes and milk until smooth. If the potatoes don't thicken the soup enough for your liking then stir in 1/4 cup a corn starch and cook until mixture thickens.

How easy is that?

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup: In the Bowl

Notes: You can add in other vegetables if you like. Leeks would be good, but I didn't have any on hand. You could add corn or carrots or even more potato. It's completely up to you and your tastes.

Posted by Dianne at 8:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2008

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup

I had never had Matzo Ball Soup, but I was curious. It looked like such a hearty, comforting soup and those I know who had tried it were big fans, so I decided about a year ago to make some. Of course somehow I always got sidetracked and never got around to making it, but that all changed last week and I must admit I was highly impressed! I'll most definitely make this again and I may try one of the other variations I've seen as well.

Overall this is a simple, basic, hearty soup that really hits the spot. It's exactly what you're looking for when you think of comfort food, with the added bonus of a hearty broth and nice chunks of chicken and vegetables. What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 whole chicken, rinsed
Water
Sea salt
Black pepper
2 cups of matzo meal
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of chicken broth
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped

Place your chicken (and any gizzards and such) in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and some black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes to an hour, until chicken is done through and the water has formed a broth. (Note: This is just a very basic chicken stock. You can add in other veggies or herbs and such if you want, but for this soup simple is best.)

While the broth is making mix together matzo meal, olive oil, eggs, salt and broth in a medium sized bowl until a sticky dough forms. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.

Once the chicken is done and the broth has formed remove the chicken and place it in a glass or stainless steel bowl to cool so you can remove the chicken from the bone. Strain broth through a sieve into a large glass or stainless steel bowl and set side.

Return the empty stock pot to the stove over medium heat and sauté onion, celery, carrots and leeks until the onions are tender. Return the broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for at least 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Taste the broth and if more salt or pepper are needed add accordingly.

Once the chicken is cooled enough to handle remove the skin and discard. Next tear off chicken until all of the edible meat is off of the bone. Once the carrots are tender add the chicken pieces back to the pot. Bring the mixture back to a boil and take the chilled matzo mixture and roll it into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball. Once all the matzo balls are added cook the soup for an additional 10 minutes to cook the matzo balls and then serve the soup warm.

Notes: One of the recipes I read a few years ago for this soup called for putting dried dill into the matzo balls. I must admit that intrigues me and I may try it next time, but this time I wanted to leave the soup as basic as possible.

Posted by Dianne at 7:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 20, 2008

Tomato Chick Pea Soup

Tomato Chick Pea Soup

Tomatoes and chick peas go very well together, so why not make a soup with both? This soup utilizes those two ingredients, along with some other vegetables, to make an easy, quick, hearty, healthy soup that really hits the spot. What's better than that on these days that can't figure out if they are winter or spring even if today is the first official day of just that?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 - 15.5 ounce can of chick peas, drained
1 - 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 quart of broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 cups of spinach, chopped

Sauté onion, carrot, leek and thyme in a little extra virgin olive oil until onion is tender. Add chick peas, tomatoes and broth and stir until mixed. Bring to a rapid boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook for 5-8 minutes until spinach is just cook. Serve immediately.

Notes: You could add other vegetables into the soup if you liked. You could also add some shrimp or chicken if you wanted a meat element, but the soup stands alone with the chick peas and is hearty in and of itself without extras.

Posted by Dianne at 7:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 12, 2008

Improvised Miso Soup

Improvised Miso Soup

I'm a huge fan of Miso Soup, I mean big time! I've always wanted to try and make it at home, but it was just one of those things I just never got around to. Plus when I've read about it in the past it's a bit intimidating, mainly in that you can not let the soup boil once the miso is added. Talk about pressure! ;o)

Last week I decided I finally wanted to try my hand at making Miso Soup. I got some brown rice miso and some tofu and thought I'd be good to go. I didn't however get any dashi stock. I did some reading and found that one version of dashi stock was made with dried mushrooms. The only problem with that was I didn't have any dried mushrooms on hand. I did however have some baby portabella mushrooms so I decided to make some mushroom broth from that and go from there. In other words I improvised! The end result turned out great and was an almost dead ringer for the Miso Soup I order when Jamison picks up sushi for me.

What You'll Need:
1 package of mushrooms (Note: As I mentioned above I used baby portabellas.)
Enough water to cover the mushrooms in a 2 1/2 quart pot
1 package of firm tofu, cut into small squares
1-2 tablespoons of miso
2 cups of spinach, chopped into strips

In a 2 1/2 quart pot cook mushrooms in water until mushrooms are tender. Remove mushrooms and reserve broth. (Note: You do not want to add salt to this as the miso is salty enough to flavor the whole soup. Also you can eat the mushrooms as is or use them in something like Mushroom Stroganoff or Mushroom Spread.)

Once the mushrooms are removed add in the tofu and let it cook for 5 or 6 minutes. (Note: Tofu absorbs flavor from the components of the soup. On it's own it doesn't taste like much.) After the tofu has been in for a few minutes lower the heat and make sure the soup is NOT boiling! Stir in miso until dissolved and make sure the soup does NOT go to a boil after the miso is added. (Note: I don't know why you're not supposed to boil it, but I kept reading that over and over in terms of miso and it's even printed on the side of my miso container. If anyone out there knows why drop me a comment! ;o))

Once the miso is added add the spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted. Serve immediately. (Note: I used the bagged baby spinach and I know it says it's "triple washed" or some such who hah, but wash it! They put some kind of stabilizer or preservative on it, even on the organic versions, and when I don't wash it it makes my tongue numb. That tells you it's something you don't want to be eating! Wash, wash, wash! ;o) Plus you don't know who has handled it after it was "triple washed" so don't take any chances!)

Notes: Using the mushroom broth makes this vegan, just so you know. I even ended up freezing part of the batch for use later. You can also top this soup with chopped green onion. The place I order mine from does both spinach and green onion, but I didn't have any green onion on hand.

P.S. Oh and don't forget the March edition of the Dianne's Dishes contest series for your chance to win some free herbs and spices!

Posted by Dianne at 6:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Chicken Soup A La Alexis

Chicken Soup A La Alexis

"Mommy I want to make some chicken soup."

"OK."

"And I want it to have big chunks of chicken."

"Anything else?"

"And salt, pepper, peas, corn, onion and leeks."

"Is that all?"

"Oh and egg noodles!"

"Sounds good."

"And when we get finished I want you to take a picture of my soup and put it on your 'bog'!"

So we made some soup just as she asked and I'm sharing it with you now. Why stifle creativity? ;o)

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 leek, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
At least 1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
1-2 cups of whole grain egg noodles

Sauté onion, carrot and leek with a pinch of sea salt until onions are tender. Add chicken breasts and chicken broth and cook until chicken is done through. Remove from soup and cut the chicken into chunks and then return to broth. Add peas and corn and cook until they are unfrozen (about 5 more minutes). Add noodles and cook until tender. Serve immediately.

Notes: Thyme would be a good addition to this soup. Any other veggies you wanted to add in would be good as well.

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 18, 2008

Vegetable Soup with Quinoa and Barley

Vegetable Soup with Quinoa and Barley

Nothing is as warming on a cold winter day as a hearty, healthy bowl of soup! Last week when we were iced in for two days Alexis wanted to make some vegetable soup and this is what came about. It's rich, warm, chunky and oh so filling, all while being healthy. What's not to like? So if you want to chase away the winter blues whip up a pot of this healthy, yet quick soup, and in no time you'll be warm and toasty!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 button mushrooms, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 leek, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of frozen peas
1/2-1 cup of quinoa
1/2-1 cup of barley
1 quart of broth (Note: You can use vegetable or chicken broth, whichever you prefer. If the soup seems too thick to you add more broth. You'll most likely have to add more broth to left overs as the soup ingredients absorb the liquid the longer it sits.)
3 tablespoons of tomato paste

In a medium sized stock pot sauté vegetables in a little non-stick spray until onions are tender with a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and oregano. Stir in frozen peas, corn, quinoa and barley. Cover the mixture with broth and stir in tomato paste. Bring to a quick boil and the lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered or until barley is tender.

Vegetable Soup with Quinoa and Barley

Notes: You can add any vegetables you like. Alexis wanted to add some ABC noodles to the mix as well so we did to hers. Garlic would be a nice addition. Soup really is an easy dish to tweak, so add what you like!

Posted by Dianne at 7:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder is one of my all time favorites. I've loved Clam Chowder since I was a child and a few years ago I tried my hand at making my own. My first attempts involved me adapting a recipe from Cooking Light that used canned clams and clam juice. From there it evolved even more.

While making chowder I had never actually made it with fresh clams. I had always wanted to try, but for some reason the thought was a bit daunting to me. The other day when Alexis and I were at the market they had some very nice, very fresh clams and I decided it was time to try my hand at chowder completely from scratch. My version is still on the light side as far as chowders go and is chunky with vegetables and clams. It's a lovely, creamy, chunky version that's also not as heavy as other chowders sometimes are.

Chowders made with canned clams and juice are great, but nothing compares to one made with fresh clams. Clams in and of themselves aren't overly expensive seafood either, so you won't break the bank. I readily find them here priced about $1 a pound, but that might not be the case in other areas of the country. If you're interested in making some chowder from scratch start watching your seafood counter and see how clams run in your area.


Clam Chowder: Clams Ready to be Cooked

What You'll Need:
3-6 pounds of clams (Note: Use more if you like a lot of clams, less if you don't. Remember when you are buying your clams that the majority of the weight is in the shell, so while 3-6 pounds might seem like a lot for a small batch of chowder, in reality you aren't really putting that many clams into your pot.)
Water
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
6 potatoes, 3 peeled and chopped, 3 peeled and left whole
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-4 cups of clam juice reserved from cooking the clams
3-4 bay leaves
1 cup of fat free half and half

When you buy your clams you want to use them immediately. The fresher the better. This is a recipe you'll want to purchase your clams and make the same day. Place clams in a large glass bowl and cover with water and ice. Let them sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps rinse them and let the sand settle out of them. You will see air bubbles rising to the top of the water. Don't worry...This is a good sign!

In a large stock pot cover rinsed clams with water, bring to a boil and cook until clams open. Usually about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and take clams out of the clam water, reserving clam juice for the soup. (Note: A rule of thumb to always remember with clams...Clams that are opened before they are cooked are bad so toss them!...Clams that don't open when they are cooked are bad too so toss any of those that might arise! In this batch I lost 4 clams. 3 before cooking and 1 after.)

Once the clams are cool enough to touch remove them from their shells, remove their beards (Note: You'll be able to tell which part is the clam and which part is the beard...The beard is a flowery little projections that looks like, well a beard! Alexis had a ball doing this step and was disappointed when there were no more clams to separate.) and place the clams in a large glass bowl. Cover the clams after they are separated with some cooled clam juice and set aside. I like to do this step while the soup is cooking.


Clam Chowder: Cooked Clams

In a large stock pot sauté onion, celery and cubed potatoes, with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, until onion and celery are slightly tender, but not mushy and still have a bit of a bite to them. Cover the veggies with clam juice and add the three whole potatoes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender.

Once the whole potatoes are tender remove them from the pot and mash them with the half and half. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Then return this mashed mixture to the pot to help thicken the soup. Drain the clams and then stir them into the soup. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes to heat clams through. Serve immediately. (Note: Don't cook for too long after you add the clams. They get tough if cooked too long.)

Notes: Fat free half and half is great in that it gives you that creamy aspect of heavy cream without the extra fat. You could use corn starch or flour to help thicken the soup, but the potatoes give the soup a very creamy thickness that is a bit healthier than the other alternatives. Some people like to add thyme to their chowder, and while I'm a fan of thyme, I don't care for it in chowder. Ditto for nutmeg, which is also sometimes added. If I add anything to chowder other than your basic sea salt and black pepper I go for Old Bay Seasoning to give it a kick.


Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner on Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

P.S.S. Oh and go check out the winner of Culinate's Death by Chocolate contest!

Posted by Dianne at 9:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 5, 2008

Taco Soup

Taco Soup  

Want some tacos, but want a slightly healthier twist on the sometimes fat laden classic?  Why not make some taco soup?  This soup has all the elements of your basic taco, minus the corn shell, but with corn thrown in to give it that same taste.  Top it with a little light sour cream and light cheese and your taste buds will be convinced you’re eating a taco!

What You’ll Need:

Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound of lean ground beef or turkey (Note: If you want you can leave out the meat all together.  You could add in textured vegetable protein, soy crumbles or even just add some beans.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans
1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 - 15 ounce can tomato sauce

In a large pot sauté onion and bell pepper until just tender with a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  (Note: You can add more cayenne or less depending on how hot you like things.  This is the same with the chili powder as well.)  Add ground beef or turkey when the onions and peppers are about halfway done and cook until it is browned.  (Note: The light ground beef/turkey has little fat in it and usually doesn’t have to be drained.  If the meat you are using has a higher fat content then add the spices AFTER the meat is finished and drained.)  Stir in red beans, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the flavors meld.  Serve warm.Taco Soup

Notes: You could add in different types of beans if you want.  Black beans would be really good in this mix.  You could also add in some jalapeños if you like them or even cilantro, though I wouldn’t because I’m not a fan. 

Also, don't forget that you can still vote over at Culinate in the Death by Chocolate contest!  You could win a trip for two to Napa to their chocolate festival at the end of February!  My entry is Hot Fudge Cake

Chocolate...What's not to like? 

Posted by Dianne at 9:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 17, 2008

Double Mushroom Soup

Double Mushroom Soup

It started snowing about an hour ago and we're supposed to get 3-5 inches of accumulation. When it started snowing I decided to make some soup for lunch, because snow automatically makes me think of soup. I thought about making some Maryland Crab Soup, but decided to save that for another day. Instead I thought it might be good to make some Double Mushroom soup instead.

Snowy Soup Day

Double Mushroom soup is very versatile and it's just perfect for when you want something beefy, but don't necessarily want beef. You can mix and match ingredients and broths, but the mushrooms come together perfectly to create a healthy alternative to French Onion soups, which can have a lot of fat in them. The mushrooms and broth definitely give the soup a "beefy" kick that hits the spot on a cold winter day!

Oh and on a side note...Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into strips
A pinch of sea salt (Note: The broth I made the other day didn't have salt in it. If the broth you are using is salted you can omit the pinch of salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1-3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary removed from the stem
2 large portobella mushroom caps, sliced
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 quart of mushroom broth

In a medium sized pot sauté onions until slightly caramelized with rosemary, sea salt and black pepper.

Double Mushroom Soup: Onions

After the onions are tender add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are slightly tender, but not falling apart.

Double Mushroom Soup: Mushrooms and Onions

Add mushroom broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes to an hour. (Note: The longer the soup cooks the more the mushrooms add to the flavor of the soup making it more "beefy".) Serve warm.

Notes: You can use thyme instead of rosemary, but I forgot to grab some when I was at the store. You can also make mushroom broth by boiling mushrooms in water with a little sea salt and black pepper. If you don't want to use mushroom broth or don't want to make it, you can use beef or chicken broth instead. If you want you can top this soup as you would top French Onion soup with cheese and croûtons, but it's perfectly delicious and much healthier as is. Also if you make the soup as I did above it's vegan in case you need a vegan dish for a mushroom lover. :o)

Posted by Dianne at 11:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 14, 2008

Creamy Tomato Vegetable Soup

Creamy Tomato and Vegetable Soup

It's a cloudy cool day here in Maryland today and I immediately thought of soup for lunch! What's better on a cold, cloudy day than a nice, hot pot of soup!

This soup is thick, warm, creamy, filling and also healthy if you stick to low-fat or fat-free sour cream. The rosemary and oregano give it a nice flavor, while the garlic and onion give it a bit of a kick. The sour cream comes in at the end to make things nice and creamy, while giving the soup a mellow undertone throughout. Your end product is just perfect for a cold winter day!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 1/2 cups of greens beans, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of oregano, chopped
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of broth (Note: Any type of broth you like will work. I used some homemade chicken broth that I made the other day.)
1 - 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes with basil (Note: If you can't find them with basil you can add 1 teaspoon of dried basil to the soup.)
1/3 cup of sour cream (Note: Any type will work. I used fat-free.)

In a medium sized stock pot sauté onions, celery, carrot, green beans, leek and garlic until onion is tender. Add rosemary and oregano and stir to mix. Next add mushrooms and corn, along with the broth and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour. Add sour cream and stir to mix throughout the soup. Cook for an additional ten minutes to heat the sour cream and then serve warm.

Notes: I had originally wanted to use thyme in this soup instead of rosemary and oregano, but I realized I was out of dried thyme and I didn't grow any this winter to keep indoors so I went with fresh rosemary and oregano, which I do have growing. You could leave the basil out of the soup entirely if you wanted. You could also eat the soup without adding in the sour cream.

Oh and don't forget! If you like chocolate and haven't entered yet be sure and enter Dianne's Dishes first ever contest for four bars of Green and Black's organic chocolate!! You have until Today, January 14, 2008 at 5:00 PM EST to enter. So take this link and register if you haven't already. Oh and tell your friends! Comments will be closed after five and I'll contact the person who has won to get their address so I can send their chocolate their way. Tomorrow morning I'll announce who has won so good luck!

Free chocolate...What's not to like? ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 11:20 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 3, 2008

Tomato Rosemary Soup

Tomato Rosemary Soup

Who says healthy has to taste bad or be difficult to make? Unfortunately all to often that is the perception, though it's very far off base. This soup is warm, hearty, all while being good for you too and that's what a lot of us are looking for! It's just delightful for when the weather outside is oh so frightful! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 a large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 button mushrooms, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1-1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1-2 springs of rosemary, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

In a medium sized stock pot sauté onion through rosemary with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately. (Note: You could also just dump the ingredients into your slow cooker and cook for 4-6 hours on low.)

Notes: You could add in any vegetable that you like. You could also add in other herbs if you wanted to, though I think the rosemary is perfect by itself. If you want the soup to be a bit thinner you could add in a couple of cups of any type of broth, but again that is a matter of personal taste. I think it is wonderful thick and chunky.

Posted by Dianne at 8:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 7, 2007

Bean and Pea Soup Gift Jar

Bean  and Pea Soup

Bean Soup is a basic, healthy, yet oddly satisfying soup that is just perfect on a cold winter day! Who says comfort food has to be bad for you? This soup is all about whole, real goodness and it makes a perfect gift! How wonderful is that? The soup is what you make of it, but it's always a big hit!

(Note: I forgot to soak the beans last night so I don't have a finished product picture right now. I'll make the soup Sunday afternoon and add some pictures to the entry then.)

What You'll Need for the Bean Soup Jar:
1 quart jar
6 types of beans, lentils and/or peas (Note: I used navy white beans, black kabuli chick peas, petite crimson lentils, scarlet runner beans, yellow split peas and black beluga lentils.)

You want to layer the beans,lentils and/or peas you choose so that no two of the same color are next to each other. The jar above has 1/2 cup of navy white beans, 1/2 cup of black chick peas, 1 cup of petite crimson lentils, 1/2 cup scarlet runner beans, 1/2 cup of yellow split peas and the rest of the jar is filled with black beluga lentils. Dress up the jar however you like, but be sure to include the directions for the soup (see below).

What You'll Need to Make the Soup:
1 Bean and Pea Soup Gift Jar (see above)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Broth or water

Dump contents of the Bean and Pea Soup gift jar into a large bowl and cover with water. Let sit overnight. (Note: If you choose only lentils and split pea varieties you can skip this step as they don't need to soak overnight. They can soak, it won't hurt them, but it isn't necessary.)

In a large stockpot sauté celery and onion with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until just tender.

Drain beans and peas and rinse. Add to the stockpot with the tender celery and onions. Cover beans and peas until just covered with water or broth. (Note: Most of the time I use water. The beans and peas have enough flavor to more than make the soup, but if you want you can use chicken or vegetable broth instead.) Cook for 2-3 hours until beans are tender. Serve warm.

Notes: You could also add in other veggies to the soup such as leeks of carrots. I even add in mushrooms from time to time. It's completely a matter of personal taste.

Update: 12/09/07: 2:29 PM: Now with a picture of the finished product!

Bean and Pea Soup

This soup is warm, hearty and oh so creamy. Who knew healthy could taste so good? I also ended up utilizing my Crock Pot for this soup. All you have to do is dump in the ingredients and cook for 4-5 hours on high and you're good to go!

Posted by Dianne at 9:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 2007

Three Bean Chili Gift Jar

Three Bean Chili

After a little something sweet, what better than to spice things up a bit with the gift of Three Bean Chili! This version is very basic, but basic doesn't have to be a bad thing. This is the perfect meal on a snowy day and it just so happens today is just that! ;o)

Three Bean Chili Gift Jar

What You'll Need for the Jar:
1 quart jar
3-4 tablespoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 tablespoon of onion and/or garlic powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 cup of three different types of beans (Note: I used pinto. scarlet runner and navy white beans.)

In the bottom of the jar mix spices and then layer beans on top. Dress up the jar any way you like, with fabric, ribbons and bows, but remember to include the directions for the chili (see below).

What You'll Need to Make the Chilii:
1 Three Bean Chili Gift Jar (see above)
Olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 10 ounce can of Rotel
1 potato, peeled and cubed

Scoop beans out of the jar and leave the spices behind. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak over night.

In a large stock pot sauté onion, tomatoes and garlic until onions are tender and tomatoes start to get soft.

Three Bean Chili: Veggies

Add seasonings from the jar and stir to mix.

Three Bean Chili: Veggies and Spices

Next add tomato sauce, Rotel, beans and 1 1/2 jars of water. Stir to mix and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours at least. The longer the better. Chili only gets better with time! 20-30 minutes before serving add the potato and cook until tender.

Three Bean Chili

Notes: The potato is a thing my dad does to chili. I think he got it from my grandmother. I don't do it every time I make a pot of chili, but it adds a nice little surprise that most people don't expect so I do it from time to time. You could also add in a cup or two of corn in place of the potato if you wanted. Depending on what type of canned tomato sauce you use you my need to add more salt. Taste the concoction as you go and modify the spices to your liking.

Posted by Dianne at 9:24 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 3, 2007

Veggie Soup Gift Jar

Veggie Soup Gift Jar

Tis the season to give gifts, but in reality most of us have plenty of stuff, so why not give a gift that can be enjoyed and then be gone! ;o) This soup mix is a basic vegetable soup that is warm and hearty. It also comes together quickly and cooks up fast as well! What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need for the Jar:
1 quart jar
1 cup of Just Veggies or freeze dried vegetable mix
1 cup of Just Peas or freeze dried peas
1 cup of Just Corn or freeze dried
4-6 tablespoons of Vogue Cuisine Instant Vege Base Soup and Seasoning or vegetable bullion powder

Layer ingredients as listed above into a quart canning jar. Put the lid on the jar and you can dress up the jar any way you want. A nice piece of material on the lid and a ribbon to dress up the jar make a nice addition. You also want to include the directions to make the soup (see below) so that the person you give it to will know how to make the soup.

Veggie Soup

What You'll Need to Make The Soup:
Extra virgin oil
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 Veggie Soup Gift Jar (See above)
3 jars of water

In a large stock pot sauté carrot, onion, celery and leek with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper until onions are tender. Add contents of the Veggie Soup Gift jar and 3 jars full of water. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 35-45 minutes and then serve.

Veggie Soup

Notes: You can add any type of veggies that you like. You could also use veggie broth instead of water. The vegetable bullion powder I use does not have a lot of sodium in it. If you use one that does omit the salt.

Posted by Dianne at 4:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 27, 2007

Turkey Noodle Soup

Turkey Noodle Soup

So what do you do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers? Turkey Avocado Salad is a good way to utilize the turkey other than just a good old turkey sandwich or you could even make a casserole similar to my Chicken Casserole substituting turkey for the chicken or even make some Quesadillas with turkey instead of chicken, but one of my favorite things to do with left over turkey is to make Turkey Noodle Soup!

You can make this soup the next day or even freeze the components and make it the next month! This is your basic dump and eat soup. It's simple, versatile and delicious and after all there is nothing more wonderful than a simple, versatile and delicious recipe especially after you've slaved over the stove for days or even weeks! ;o)

What You'll Need:
3-4 quarts of turkey or chicken broth (Note: To make your own broth see this entry.)
1 onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (Note: I had sliced veggies for a veggie and dip tray on Thanksgiving and had left over celery and carrots so I actually just chopped those into smaller pieces and added them to the soup even though carrots are actually included in the next ingredient. Remember soup can be as much of or as little of something as you want.)
1 - 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables
A pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon or more of black pepper
1 - 20 ounce package of noodles (Note: You can use whatever type of pasta you like. I like to use Ricciolini.)

In a large stock pot bring broth to a boil. Dump in all ingredients, but the noodles and and lower to a simmer. Cook until veggies are tender. Add noodles and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes until the noodles are tender. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can add any vegetables that you like to the mix. You could also add in other herbs if you like, but I think the simpler the better in this case. This soup is also very good as left overs.

Posted by Dianne at 9:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 9, 2007

Chili

Chili

When the weather turns brisk outside I start thinking about soup and Chili is one of the first things that comes to mind! It's just perfect on a lovely fall evening. It's also a very versatile dish that you can mix and match. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same twice unless you want it to be. I like to play around with Chili every time I make it, but sometimes you just want a good basic go to Chili that hits the spot. This recipe is just that!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (Note: You can use whatever type onion you have on hand. I used a red onion, but any other variety will work fine.)
1 large bell pepper, chopped (Note: Again whatever type you have on hand is fine. I used a yellow bell pepper, but red or green or whatever else you have on hand works just as well.)
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 heaping tablespoons of chili powder (Note: Some chili powders are hotter than others. The one I buy is rather mild. If you use a hotter version and you like things more mild then reduce the quantity to 1 tablespoon or less depending on your heat tolerance.)
1-2 heaping tablespoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 pinch of red pepper flakes (Note: Add as much as you like depending on what heat level you like. If you like things milder then omit entirely.)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper (Note: Again add as much as you like depending on what heat level you like. If you like things milder then omit entirely.)
1 - 28 ounce can of chunky tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 - 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 - 15 ounce can pinto beans
1 - 15 ounce can kidney beans
1 - 15 ounce can black beans

You can do this recipe one of three ways. One start it on the stove and then finish it in a large crock pot OR cook it in a pot on the stove top entirely OR dump everything into the crock pot and let it cook there entirely. I prefer starting it in a pot to get the lovely caramelized onions that give the chili great flavor and then finishing it up in the crock pot. Whichever method you choose will work fine. The directions below are for my preferred method.

Chili

In a large stock pot sauté onion and bell pepper until onion is tender and slightly caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so careful not to burn. Add seasonings and stir well. Add tomatoes and beans and stir to mix. Taste for seasonings and add more if needed. Remember that the flavors will develop the longer it cooks and the heat will come out more as well. Bring to a boil. Once boiling pour into a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4.

Chili

Notes: There is no such thing as too many beans in chili, especially if it is vegetarian as this version is. You can add more or less beans according to your liking and you can also add in different types of beans. I like to add white beans and even black eyed peas sometimes too. You can also add in a pound or so of ground beef cooked and crumbled if you prefer. I like to add textured soy protein or vegetable protein sometimes. You could also add in ground turkey or chicken if you liked. Some people also like sausage in their chili, though I must admit I've never really found the appeal to that, but the important part is to add what you like. Left over chili also makes a good "filling" for baked potatoes as well. This makes a large batch so you'll have plenty of left overs. You can even freeze it if you like for use later. I saved a quart in the fridge for leftovers and put the rest into the freezer for some snowy afternoon. ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

What's better than a nice big bowl of soup? Especially on a lovely Fall evening! For years I had been meaning to come up with a delicious tortilla soup, but never thought about it when I was in the kitchen. I enjoyed it out and about sometimes, but I just never got around to making it at home. This version is just perfect with just the right punch and creaminess. If you like Tortilla Soup try it and see!

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of black pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: Or more if you want it to have more of a kick.)
1 quart of stewed tomatoes (Note: I used some I had canned, but you could easily use store bought. Look for the low or no salt variety.)
1 container of vegetable broth
1 cup of frozen corn
10 corn tortillas, cut into small strips
1/2 cup of parsley, chopped

Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms until just tender. Add in all of the seasonings and then add tomatoes, broth and corn. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir in tortillas and parsley and cook for 20 additional minutes. Serve with chips, guacamole and/or cheese.

Notes: If you wanted you could use chicken broth instead of vegetable. You can also add some shrimp or chicken if you want to "beef" it up, but it's equally as good in the vegetarian state above.

Posted by Dianne at 7:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 16, 2007

13-Bean Soup

13-Bean Soup

As a kid growing up in the south pinto beans were a big thing and I'll readily admit I HATED them at the time! In fact I kept on hating them up until the point that I was pregnant with Alexis and then I craved them! Beans now are one of her favorite foods. Go figure. Now I like beans from time to time, yes even pinto beans and this soup mix reminds me a lot of the pinto beans my mom used to make as a child, even though there are more than just pintos in the mix.

The mix consists of navy beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, baby lima beans, large lima beans, garbanzo beans, red lentils, great northern beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow split peas, green split peas and regular old lentils. Sure this is a "packaged" bean mix, but it's just beans and all natural with no additives as Bob's Red Mill is famous for and to be honest who wants to go to all the work to put them together yourself?

This soup is a simple, warm, hearty, delicious meal that is just perfect for a crisp fall evening. Who says delicious has to be difficult? Sometimes simple and straight forward is the way to go.

What You'll Need:
1 package of Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup, soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
Water or broth

Soak beans overnight.

Rinse beans and dump into a large pot. Chop an onion and dump that in with the beans. Cover with water or broth until just covered. Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook covered for 1-2 hours until beans are tender and soup is creamy.

Notes: There are really not notes for this one, but as I mentioned before old habits die hard! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 1:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 8, 2007

Basic Chicken Soup

Basic Chicken Soup

I love fall (well usually this 90 degree stuff in October is past old, but that's another story all together!), but fall also brings on allergy season. As I've gotten older my allergies have gotten worse and the pollution around here doesn't help matters either. Sometimes it's nice to just whip up a nice pot of Basic Chicken Soup. It's a healthy comfort food that helps you feel better when you're suffering from allergies or even a common cold.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of chicken
1 cup of edamame

In a medium sized stock pot sauté onion and carrot with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onion is tender. Add broth, chicken and edamame and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Notes: You can make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and leaving out the chicken. Any veggie will work. Sometimes I add leek and/or peas and corn. It's an easy soup to mix and match. You can also add in pasta of some sort if you like.

Posted by Dianne at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 3, 2007

Simple Yet Perfect Chicken Broth

Simple Yet Perfect Chicken Broth

Making your own broth can be done many ways, but all of the options are better than anything you'll get from a box or can. This version is a very basic, yet very perfect chicken broth that can be used a variety of ways. In the notes we'll talk about other versions, but for now we'll just focus on simple, basic and delicious. What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 whole chicken
Water
1-2 teaspoons of sea salt
1-2 teaspoons of black Pepper
4-5 bay leaves

Rinse chicken and place in the bottom of a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover the chicken completely. Add salt, pepper and bay leaves. (Note: If you have a smaller chicken go with less salt and pepper. If it's a bigger one then go with more.)

Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at 1-2 hours until broth is a lovely golden brown color. Remove chicken from pot (Note: The chicken will most likely fall apart. Don't worry when it does!) and put it in a container to cool. Strain broth into a very large bowl. You may need to strain a few times and then place strained broth into storage containers. (Note: I like to put the broth into quart jars and then freeze them. Be sure not to fill it completely to the top or the jar will break when freezing. Leave at least and inch of empty space so that the broth can expand as it freezes without breakage.)

Once the chicken is cool remove meat from the bones. The chicken can be used in a casserole, soup, quesadillas, enchiladas, bbq, lasagna, etc. Use your imagination!

The chicken broth itself can be used in any recipe that calls for such, including the soup recipe linked above.

Makes 4-6 quarts depending on the size of the chicken plus 2-4 cups of chicken depending on the size of the chicken used.

Notes: You can also add in other herbs to the broth such as thyme or rosemary or even another herb that you might like. Onion makes a nice addition, as do celery, leeks and carrots, but keep in mind you won't be eating the veggies, but tossing them when the broth is done.

Another way to make broth is to take the left over pieces of a chicken after you've roasted it and eaten what you like, throw them into the pot with herbs, salt, pepper and/or veggies.

To make vegetable broth use the same method, minus the chicken and substitute carrots, leeks, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc. Any veggie you like will work, along with herbs, salt and pepper. Then strain the broth off of the veggies after cooking and you have a lovely vegetable broth that can be used just as you would chicken broth.

This method can also be done on a turkey to make turkey broth.

Posted by Dianne at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2007

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

I just love this time of year! The mornings are brisk, the days are cool and those beautiful fall leaves are right around the corner!

Ah...Fall! My second favorite season, Winter being my favorite. Winter, Fall, Spring and then Summer. That's my list! ;o)

My sister commented the other day that it has become Pumpkin Central around here at Dianne's Dishes the past few days and Alexis and I have certainly been rocking the pumpkin recipes! I mentioned before that it is amazing how many things you can make with three small sugar pumpkins! But when they are local, fresh and oh so lovely, why not utilize them?

For years I've read about Pumpkin Soup, but I had never tried it because it sounded odd to me. I'm not sure why that is given I love Butternut Squash Soup and the two are very similar, but sometimes you just get an idea about food in your head and it takes actually trying something to knock out a preconceived notion.

I decided to whip up a batch of soup and much to my surprise I loved it! Alexis did too. It's warm, healthy and hearty. Who can ask for a better combination?

What You'll Need:
4 cups of raw pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (Note: I like to cut the sugar pumpkins into slices as you would a cantaloupe. From there you can scoop out the seeds on one side and use a potato peeler to peel the skin off the other side. Then it's simple to cut the slice into chunks once it is scooped and peeled.)
1 large sweet potato or yam, chopped into chunks (Note: You don't have to remove the skin from the sweet potatoes. They have a lot of vitamins and such you don't want to get rid of, especially in this soup where it's all blended in the end anyway.)
2 large carrots, cut into chunks (Note: Again there's no need to peel them.)
1 small onion, skins removed and cut into chunks
3 or 4 thyme branches (Note: If you want you can strip the leaves off the branches, but you don't have to. As the thyme cooks the leaves will fall away from the stem and then you can remove the stems before you blend.)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Water

Dump all of your ingredients into a large stockpot. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (about a teaspoon or so) and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook until ingredients are all completely cooked through and tender.

Remove veggies from cooking water and reserve water. Remove thyme branches and discard. Process veggies in a food processor or blender until smooth adding some of the cooking water to help smooth out the mix. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor or blender. Return pureed mixture to your empty stock put and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over medium to ensure it is warm through. Serve immediately.

Notes: You could add any root vegetable that you like to the mix. Parsnips would be good especially. It's a very simple mixture, but it's delicious none the less. You could also make this with a couple of cans of canned pumpkin by adding it during the processing stage or you could freeze pumpkin to use later.

Posted by Dianne at 1:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 10, 2007

Quick and Easy Veggie Soup

Quick and Easy Veggie Soup

One night last week we decided to have a simple dinner. Jamison wanted grilled cheese sandwiches and I decided to whip up a quick pot of Veggie Soup to go with them. This soup is quick, easy and healthy. What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 small carrot, sliced in half and chopped
1 small leek, chopped
1 cup of spinach, chopped
2 large button mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1/2 cup of frozen corn
1 box of broth (Note: Veggie, chicken, beef...Whichever you prefer.)

Sauté onion through mushroom in a little extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until veggies are just tender. Add broth and cook for 10 minutes and then serve immediately.

Notes: You can add any veggies that you like. If you want to change this to a "tomato" based soup then add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. You could also add a cup of freshly chopped tomatoes. If you like noodles you could add some sort of pasta or even add chicken or seafood to "beef" it up a bit.

Posted by Dianne at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2007

Sweet Corn Chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder

When you think Corn Chowder you think rich and decadent, but it doesn't have to be. You can cut out a lot of fat and calories by reducing the amount of fat you use and slimming down the dairy. It's a simple way to make things lighter, yet just as delicious.

I've seen many recipes for similar chowders that call for a stick or more of butter, topping it off by adding heavy cream, but in this version you use just enough butter to give it flavor, then utilize the healthier fat in olive oil to get the job done. You also let the onions help in that area as well, as they add a heavenly background flavor. The fat free half and half makes it taste decadent too, but it's a very pleasant illusion. Fresh corn rounds out this recipe and helps thicken and sweeten the pot.

Sometimes you just have to rethink the way you do things. Lighter doesn't have to be bad.

What You'll Need:
4 ears of sweet corn, removed from ear
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of butter
1 small red onion, chopped
1 pint of fat free half and half
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the kernels off of one ear of corn. Place in the food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

Cut the kernels of corn off of the remaining three ears of corn set aside.

In a medium sized stock pot sauté red onion in butter and olive oil over medium heat until caramelized. Add pureed corn, corn kernels, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and fat free half and half stir to mix. Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve hot.

Makes about 4 servings.

Sweet Corn

Notes: The pureed corn helps to thicken the chowder. You could easily make this soup in the middle of winter with frozen corn kernels by processing 1 cup of corn kernels until pureed and also adding 2 cups of frozen corn kernels or by freezing corn during the summer for later use. It's good either way, but the fresh corn right of the cob really can't be beat! Also the leftovers are even better the next day!

Posted by Dianne at 7:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 9, 2007

Not Your Mama's Chicken and Stars Soup

Not Your Mama's Chicken and Stars Soup

As a kid I loved Chicken and Stars soup. As I've grown older though canned soup just doesn't cut it anymore. All the preservatives and salt just make it not appealing! I wanted to introduce Alexis to a childhood favorite without resorting to canned soup and I started thinking about making my own. This version has a few more vegetables than the canned variety and of course less salt! Overall I was very impressed and Alexis loved it, so what more can you ask for?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (You can use white or dark meat or even a little of both. Add more or less, it's up to you.)
2 boxes of chicken stock (Or the equivalent of homemade stock, which I actually used)
1/2-1 cup of star pasta (I used bionaturæ stelline pasta. Use more if you like a thicker soup, use less if you don't.)

In a large stock pot sauté veggies until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in chicken and chicken broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add star pasta and cook until pasta is tender, roughly 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes: I thought about adding peas in after the fact. I think they would have made a nice addition, especially since I have some fresh peas in the fridge. Alexis thought it would be fun to add tomatoes into the soup and I think we might try that next time. She's all about tomatoes and tomato based soups. It would take this soup to a whole different level!

Posted by Dianne at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2007

Mushroom Broth

Mushroom Broth

I started using mushroom broth about a year ago. A lot of the commercially prepared options have way too much salt in them though! I did a little research and most broths are made from dried mushrooms. I purchased some dried varieties and I put them in the cupboard meaning to make broth. Months passed and I still hadn't done just that!

Every spring I like to clean out the cupboards and freezer, It's part of my spring cleaning routine. When I came across the dried mushrooms I decided it was high time to make some broth! This is the first time I've made homemade mushroom broth, but it turned out to be delicious! Plus it's super simple and that's always a plus.

Mushroom broth can be used in place of any broth. It is especially good at replacing beef broth because many mushrooms have a beefy flavor, especially portabella mushrooms, though there are no portabellas in this rendition. Mushroom broth also makes a very good soup similar to French Onion soup as well.

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 ounces of dried wild porcini mushrooms
1/2 ounce dried crimini mushrooms
1/2 ounce of dried oyster mushrooms
Water
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Place mushrooms in a medium sized stock pot and add enough water to just cover the mushrooms. Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Remove mushroom broth from stove and strain. Keep mushrooms for another recipe. (Mushroom soup is a good choice or Mushroom Stroganoff is what I used them for. The recipe for that will come tomorrow.) Store broth covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

Note: The broth is very strong, so you will need to dilute it with a little water when you actually use it for cooking. You can also use whatever type of dried mushrooms you like or can find. It's completely up to you.

Posted by Dianne at 10:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 5, 2007

Creamy Potato Leek And Mushroom Soup

Creamy Potato Leek And Mushroom Soup

Some days you just need comfort food and nothing is more comforting than a creamy, warm, delicious bowl of soup! This recipe could easily be used in any recipe that calls for a can of "cream of" soup by adding an extra tablespoon of flour, or by cooking up the recipe without the extra flour and letting it cool in the fridge before using in a casserole if you have the time. By using shredded potatoes, instead of chunks of potatoes, you end up with that lovely potato flavor and creaminess, but you have a soup that cooks up in half the time. No matter how you do the soup it's delicious!

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
6-9 baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 potato, peeled and shredded
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of skim milk

Sauté onion, leek and celery in butter and olive oil until tender. Add shredded potato, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and cook for about 2 minutes to soften up the potato. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour. Stir in milk slowly, while stirring, and cook for 8-10 minutes until soup is slightly thickened.

Posted by Dianne at 9:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 3, 2007

Creamy Pea Soup

Creamy Pea Soup

This is a very simple, very fresh soup. Hot or cold, it's delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into slivers
1 clove of garlic, minced (You want just a hint of garlic for this soup. You do not want to over power the creamy flavor of the soup with too much garlic.)
1 - 16 ounce bag of frozen peas
2 cups of water
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt

In a medium sized pot sauté onion and garlic until tender and slightly carmelized. Add peas, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook covered for 2-5 minutes until peas are done through. Drain peas and reserve cooking liquid. Place peas in a food process and process with yogurt and enough of the cooking liquid to make a creamy, smooth soup. Serve warm or chilled, whichever you prefer, with a dollop of sour cream of plain yogurt.

Posted by Dianne at 11:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

Alexis and I eat a lot of soup and I go through stages where I like cream based soups, broth based soups or like I am now, tomato based versions. This soup could easily be done without the tomatoes and just broth, but it's delicious as it is!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
2 cups of frozen cherry tomatoes (Note: Alexis and I eat A LOT of cherry tomatoes. When they are just about to go bad, but we aren't eating them fast enough (which is rare truth be told) I put them in the freezer. When I'm making soup I pull them out and throw them in. As the soup cooks they break down and make a wonderful addition! You can use fresh cherry tomatoes instead.)
1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of barley
1/2 a box of vegetable broth
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
2 cups of water

Sauté onion, celery and leek until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to incorporate. Bring to a quick boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for at least one hour until root veggies are tender.

That's the good thing about soup...It's quick, easy and delicious!

Notes: You could add in some rice or noodles if you like, but I personally just like the barley as a substitute for those ingredients.

Posted by Dianne at 9:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Manhattan Seafood Chowder

Manhattan Seafood Chowder

I was in the mood for a tomatoey seafood soup the other night, instead of a cream based one, and I came up with this little gem. It's warm, hearty and delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped
1 large rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium sized potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup of frozen corn
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 -15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of crab meat (Note: NOT imitation crab. Real crabmeat. I used claw meat.)
10-15 cherrystone clams, rinsed and debearded
1-2 cups of small bay scallops
1-2 cups of small shrimp

Sauté onion and celery in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add potatoes through vegetable broth and cook for at least 1 hour. Add crab and stir to mix. Add clams and cook until clams open. Once open remove the clams from the soup and take them out of their shell and put back into the soup. If a clam doesn't open then toss it, it's not good. Stir in scallops and shrimp and cook until done. (It usually takes about 3-5 minutes for shrimp and scallops to cook.) Serve warm.

Posted by Dianne at 12:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Vegetarian Irish Stew

Vegetarian Irish Stew

Irish Stew is a traditional dish that usually has lamb or beef in it, but I decided that a vegetarian version would be just the thing! It's thick, warm, hearty and delicious! It definitely hits the spot!

What You'll Need:
2 tablespoons of Irish butter (or regular butter)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, cut into chunks
1 small container of button mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 small container of baby portabella mushrooms, cut into quarters
1-2 teaspoons of dried thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 box container of vegetable broth

In a large stockpot over medium heat melt butter with some olive oil. Stir in onions, leeks and celery and cook until tender. Add the rest of the veggies and seasonings and top with some Irish whiskey and vegetable broth. Cook for at least two hours until veggies start to break down and stew thickens.

Posted by Dianne at 9:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

I never liked Tomato Soup until I started making my own. The canned stuff is just blah! But then again canned soups usually are. Sometimes I make my Tomato soup plain and sometimes (like last night) I add in mushrooms and onions, but either way it's delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 a large yellow onion, chopped fine (optional)
4 large or 6 small button mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
1 -15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 cup of vegetable broth

Sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic in some extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for at least 1 hour.

Simple, easy and delicious!

Posted by Dianne at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007

Lentil Taco Soup

Lentil Taco Soup

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
4 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of lentils
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 of a 2 pound box of vegetable stock
1 - 16 ounce jar of medium salsa

Sauté onion, celery and mushroom until tender. Add lentils through vegetable stock and cook for about 50 minutes until lentils are plumped. Stir in salsa and cook for an additional ten minutes. Serve warm.

Notes: Sometimes I add green pepper into this soup and/or textured vegetable protein, but last night was out of both. If you like things a little less spicy then use less chili powder and mild salsa.

Posted by Dianne at 1:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2007

Potato Soup With Buttermilk Biscuits

There's nothing like a warm, creamy, potato soup! It's comforting and oh so good! Throw in some buttermilk biscuits and you've got comfort food to a tee!

What You'll Need For The Potato Soup:

Potato Soup

3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 of a large leek, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
2 cups of skim milk

Peel 3 small potatoes and slice into rounds. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain and mash. Set aside.

In a medium sized pot sauté onion, leek and celery until tender. Stir in cubed potatoes a little sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. Add butter and let melt. Once butter is melted stir in heavy cream and skim milk. Cook for 30 minutes and then stir in mashed potatoes to help thicken the soup. Cook for an additional 30 minutes and serve warm.

Pot Of Potato Soup

Makes 2-4 servings.

What You'll Need For The Buttermilk Biscuits:

Buttermilk Biscuit

3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of transfat free vegetable shortening
2 cups of buttermilk
Butter, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix flour, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut vegetable shortening into the flour mixture. Stir in buttermilk until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Roll out dough with a rolling pin and cut biscuits with a glass or biscuit cutter. Place onto a baking pan that is lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush the tops with melted butter if desired. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits Baking

Makes about 15 biscuits.

Posted by Dianne at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 7, 2007

Creamy Kale Soup

Creamy Kale Soup

I've been looking for a recipe with kale lately that actually didn't turn my stomach. I love spinach, I love Swiss chard, but there is just something about Kale that just does not touch my fancy! Kale has so many wonderful, healthy properties that I wanted to find a way to incorporate it into something I would eat, so I started searching and this soup was just the thing I was looking for! It's creamy, satisfying and delicious! What is better than that?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
4 packed cups of kale leaves, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups water
1 no sodium veggie bullion cube
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1/2 cup of fat free half and half
Sour cream to garnish

In a medium sized stock pot sauté onions and garlic until tender. Stir in lentils and quinoa and let brown for several minutes. Add remaining ingredients (minus half and half and sour cream) and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until kale is tender, liquid has been incorporated and lentils have plumped (about 35-45 minutes). In batches process ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and then stir in half and half. Top each serving with sour cream if desired.

Posted by Dianne at 3:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2007

Chili Dianne Style

Chili Dianne Style All Fixed Up

When the weather outside gets frightful I immediately start thinking of chili and cornbread! So today with the snow and ice I decided to cook up a pot. The thing about chili (or at least in my opinion) it needs to cook and simmer for a long time to let the flavors meld so you need to do a little planning ahead, but it's oh so worth it!

Chili Dianne Style

What You'll Need For The Chili:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound of grape tomatoes
1 small bag of pinto beans, soaked overnight
3-4 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 quart of stewed tomatoes (I used some I canned this morning)
1 quart of water
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup of textured vegetable protein

Toppings: (Optional)
Cheese
Sour cream
Scallions

In a large stock pot sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add cherry tomatoes and beans and stir in seasonings. Add stewed tomatoes, water and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and let chili simmer stirring occasionally for 6-8 hours. 20 minutes before serving add textured vegetable protein an stir to mix.

Serve plain or with cheese, sour cream and scallions.

Chili Dianne Style With Cornbread

What You'll Need For The Cornbread:
2 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix all ingredients and put into a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Posted by Dianne at 7:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Onion And Portabella Soup With Swiss Cheese And Croutons

Onion And Mushroom Soup With Swiss And Croutons

I must admit I've never actually eaten French Onion soup, but the idea intrigued me. Usually the base of French Onion soup is beef broth from what I've been reading and that wasn't going to work. I knew that vegetable broth was not exactly the right taste for this soup, so I kept thinking of other alternatives, but wasn't having much luck. Then it hit me...Mushroom broth! When I came up with the mushroom broth idea I then started thinking about how good portabella mushrooms would be in soup as well and this is what I came up with! It was exactly what I had in mind. That's always a good thing!

What You'll Need For The Soup:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, sliced into strips
4 portabella mushrooms, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt
Black Pepper
1 container of mushroom broth
Swiss cheese
Croutons

In a stockpot over medium heat sauté onion and mushrooms until onions are slightly brown and mushrooms are tender with garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Stir in mushroom broth and bring to a quick boil and cook for 5 minutes. Spoon soup into a bowl and top with Swiss cheese and croutons.

Onion And Portabella Soup With Swiss And Croutons

What You'll Need For The Croutons:
6 slices of bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Cut bread into cubes and drizzle bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake until golden brown.

Onion And Portabella Soup With Swiss And Croutons

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup

As a kid most of us ate alphabet soup, but these days who wants to eat soup with all those preservatives and such a high salt content? Not me! And I certainly wouldn't feed it to Alexis! So here's my take on the classic. It's warm and oh so comforting! It will remind you of your childhood.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of chopped scallions
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of black pepper
1 pinch of dried oregano
1 pinch of dried basil
ABC noodles

Alphabet Soup

In a medium sized stock pot over medium heat sauté garlic through scallions until tender. (Note: Carrots will not be tender. They will continue cooking while the soup cooks.) Add the rest of the ingredients except for ABC noodles and cook for 30 minutes to an hour. Add noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes and serve immediately.

Note: You can put in as few or as many noodles as you like. I like more so I added between 1 cup and 1 1/2 cups.

Posted by Dianne at 7:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 7, 2007

Butternut Squash Soup And Cheese Muffins

We woke up this morning with snow on the ground and on days like today I want to bake things and I want to make soup! I decided I wanted to make an old stand by of mine Butternut Squash Soup and then my mind flew to Cheese Muffins and I wondered how the two would go together. It turns out they compliment each other quite well!

Butternut Squash Soup

What You'll Need For the Soup:
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large apple, cored and chopped
1 large stalk of celery, chopped
Coarse ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 container of vegetable broth

Place veggies and apple in a large stock pot and pour in broth. Add water until the veggies and apple are just covered. Add salt and pepper. Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat and cook until tender. Remove vegetables from broth, reserving the liquid. In a food processor or blender process veggies until smooth adding broth as needed to smooth out the mixture. (Normally no more than 1 cup of broth total).

Serve immediately.

Note: Leave the peels on the potatoes and apples for added vitamins. You can also add 3 or 4 garlic cloves if you like. It's a healthy, easy soup to play with and it's delicious!! I usually reserve the left over broth to make lentil soup or something later.

Cheese Muffins

For The Cheese Muffins:
1/2 cup of butter, melted
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of buttermilk
2 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, etc.), divided

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix melted butter, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and milk until a very sticky dough forms. Stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese and stir until incorporated. Spoon into a muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and put a little cheese on the top of each muffin. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 20 muffins.

Note: You can add in garlic salt with parsley or garlic powder and they taste very similar to the garlic cheese biscuits they serve at Red Lobster.

Posted by Dianne at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 4, 2007

Dianne's Kicked Up Clam Chowder

Dianne's Kicked Up Clam Chowder

I love New England clam chowder. I mean I LOVE it! I have loved New England clam chowder since I was a child and for years I have ordered it at restaurants whenever I had the chance. A few years ago I set out to make some myself. I'll admit at first I was a bit intimidated, because it's yet another one of those recipes that have a "hard" mystique about it, though it's a mystique that is unfounded as I've found with many recipes over the years that have that aura about them . So I developed a basic clam chowder that was creamy and good!

A year or so ago I happened to try the clam chowder at Outback Steakhouse and it had a zing to it. It took me about two seconds to realize their "zing" was Old Bay Seasoning or something like it and I decided to take my basic clam chowder recipe and add a little Old Bay and see what happened. The results were delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 large celery ribs or 4 small ribs, chopped
1 potato, unpeeled and cut into small cubes
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning (Add the amount of Old Bay in preference to your own tastes. If you want it a bit zingier go for the tablespoon, less so go for the teaspoons instead.)
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
2 - 8 ounce bottles of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half
3 bay leaves
1 -15 ounce cans of steamer or baby clams, drained and rinsed(If you're in the mood for bigger clams go for the steamers. If you've in the mood for small bits of clams then go for the baby clams. Last night I chose the steamer clams.)

In a large stock pot over medium heat sauté onion, celery and potato with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning until tender, but celery and onion still retain some of their color. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add clam juice, half and half and bay leaves and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes. Add clams and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes and serve immediately.

Notes: I drain and rinse my clams because sometimes there is some residual sand and it's always better to wash that away.

You add the clams at the last minure because you just want them to heat through since they are already cooked. You don't want them to get too tough.

You can also serve this with chopped parsley if you like.

If you leave out the Old Bay seasoning you have just basic New England clam chowder.

One day I'm going to make it starting with fresh clams, but I haven't gotten that brave yet.

Posted by Dianne at 1:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 1, 2007

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Earlier today when Alexis and I were at the grocery store there was a heavenly smelling tomato basil soup near the salad bar. It was one of those smells that just screamed out "Eat me! Eat me!" So when I got my salad for dinner (which I didn't end up eating and will eat for lunch tomorrow instead) I got some of the tomato soup for lunch since we were running behind schedule. We bustled home and I couldn't wait to try the heavenly smelling soup! Unfortunately it smelled much better than it tasted as is often the problem with store bought items.

The first bite of the soup was sickeningly sweet. I was shocked by the sugar content in this soup! Then after you got over the sugar shock you were hit by a secondary spicy heat sensation that was disturbing in that it didn't hit your tongue in the area that normally senses heat! It was just weird! I tried to eat a little bit of it to see if I could figure out what they had done to the soup, but I just couldn't get over the weird sweet/hot flavor combination that sort of made you feel as if you had vertigo!

So as always my brain kicked into gear and I started thinking about how easy it would be to make a simple Creamy Tomato Basil Soup and I decided to test my idea and what do you know...It worked! And it was perfect with the No Knead Bread I made yesterday! It's simple, fast and delicious! You can have Creamy Tomato Basil Soup on the table in under an hour!

What You'll Need:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 red onion, chopped fine
2 large button mushrooms, chopped fine
2 baby portabella mushrooms, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of dried basil
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 - 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
1 - 6 ounce can of tomato paste
1 cup of light cream

In a medium sized pot sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic with basil, sea salt and black pepper until tender in a little olive oil. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and light cream and stir until mixed. Bring to a quick boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-minutes to an hour and serve.

Notes and Thoughts: Tomato sauce in and of itself is sort of sweet so I'm not sure why they thought they needed to put so much sugar into the soup. I'm all for letting nature do it's thing and there was absolutely no need to ruin the entire soup by sugaring it up.

Also I'm not a huge fan of hot peppery type spices in Italian type food. I know that traditional Italian food uses them, but I prefer to keep spicy heat on the Mexican side of the food fence, but if you wanted you could add some red pepper flakes for a kick if you like that sort of thing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack