Dec 15, 2010

Rustic Tomato Soup

Need a quick, easy and hearty dinner? This is it. Serve this soup with tuna sandwiches, and cheddar pinwheels. I guarantee you'll get Mom of the Year award. This recipe is from MAD HUNGRY. One of my favorite new cooking shows. Well, it's new to me anyway. You'll need extra hardware for this recipe, a blender or food processor. Here we go!

1 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 baguette, sliced (about 16 slices)
Olive oil, for drizzling
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves

Pulse tomatoes and liquid in a food processor until chopped. The more process it, the more smooth your soup. Heat oil and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until onions are tender, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Puree until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, drizzle bread with oil. Toast in 375 degrees oven until it begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Top with mozzarella and return to oven. Cook until cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with soup. When ready to serve soup, chiffonade your basil leaves and sprinkle over your soup.

If planning to serve with sandwiches or other things, leave off the croutons. :)

Onions for tomato soup
Tomato Soup
Tomato Soup
Tomato Soup

Dec 8, 2010

French Onion Soup

French onion soup might be the classiest & most expensive sounding soup I know of. It's light and yet rich at the same time. If you don't like onions you will not like this soup. It is exactly what it sounds like... ONION SOUP. It is sweet, beefy, and oniony. This soup is comforting and I love it. It seems fancy and if you serve this as a first course at a dinner I guarantee that you'll get rave reviews. I'll give you the Alton Brown version of this recipe, and then I'll give you MY recipe. If you google search French Onion Soup you'll get a ton of recipes, and I feel like my version kind of takes the best of everything and simplifies it.

A very important step of this soup is to create croutons to go on top of the soup. I don't generally do that if I'm just making it for myself, but it does add a bit of... specialness to the dish. Simple way to do this is to get yourself some nice bread and use your dish as the cutter. Then you get a crouton that is the exact size of your dish. Ramekins are what this is traditionally served in. You can make your soup, put your baked crouton on top, and cover with a slice of Gruyere cheese. Set on a baking sheet and pop under the broiler for a few minutes, voila cheesy goodness.

Alton's Version (Which I HAVE made and is very good... but is a bit sweet for me.)
4 lbs of mixed onions, red and yellow, sliced
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
2 c White Wine
10 oz canned beef consume
10 oz chicken broth
10 oz apple cider
Bouquet Garni with whatever you fancy, thyme, rosemary, dill

In an electric skillet on medium heat melt butter. Add all onions to skillet, sprinkle with salt, and cover. Let onions completely caramelize, this can take 20 min to an hour depending on your skillet and onions. Once onions are caramelized add your white wine. Let reduce until syrupy in consistency. Add your bouquet garni beef consume, broth and apple cider. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add to your crocks or ramekins and crouton and cheese up. Enjoy.

MY version (This is enough to serve me, my DH and one other person... usually me the next day)
Three medium onions, two red one sweet, finely sliced
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp White Wine
32 oz Organic Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Apple juice or Apple Cider
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried pepper
1 clove garlic finely minced, or a sprinkle of dried garlic

Cut your onions in half, then finely slice into half moons. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add your onions and salt, alternating a bit so all the onions get some. Leave on heat for about 25 minutes until caramelized. The onions won't burn as long as your heat isn't too high. They're going to turn a nice deep mahogany color, that's what you want. I stir them occasionally so that I know they're all getting the same amount of caramelization. When your onions are completely caramelized then add your white wine, stir to incorporate. Let the wine cook out for a few minutes, it will make your onions look kind of like they're coated in syrup. Add your beef broth, apple juice, thyme, pepper, and garlic. Let simmer on medium for 25-35 minutes until slightly reduced. Enjoy! Of course you can add the cheese and crouton to this recipe as well. I like this way because you get the nuttiness of the butter, the sweetness of the onions, the slight addition of the apple, the beefy broth and the herbs. It's just enough to keep your mouth happy without having a billion steps going on. Make sure that you choose a pan big enough! Otherwise it's not really a one pot wonder is it? Onto the pictures!

Skinned onions
All sliced and ready to go
In the pan
Halfway through
Ah... look at that color!
Adding the beef stock
Simmering away
Go make this right now!!! It's soooo easy!

Nov 21, 2010

Bread.... that's right... don't be scared....

Anyone that knows me happens to know that I am a carb junkie. Even though it usually makes my stomach freak out, and makes me sick. I LOVE bread. French bread, garlic bread, sandwich bread, fruit studded breads, I love them all. I absolutely love making my own breads as well. I know it's time consuming, and I know it can be scary if you've never done it but I promise you, it's well worth it. (AND not that scary ;) ) This is a very basic recipe, you can make rolls, breadsticks, pretzels, and my favorite plain old loaves of bread.

2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast or 3 1/2 ounces fresh yeast or .25 ounce fast-acting yeast
1 pound 10 ounces all-purpose white flour, plus extra for dusting (If you don't measure by weight you would use 6 level cups of flour)
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons olive oil (I use olive oil)
1 egg, beaten, optional
Poppy or sesame seeds, for the top of the loaf, optional (I almost always omit this)

In a measuring cup, mix the sugar with a 1/2 cup of the warm water and yeast and let stand in a warm place for 5 minutes, or until frothy. If using fast-acting yeast, there is no need to let the mixture stand.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Rub in the butter, and make a well in the center. If using olive oil instead of butter, pour the olive oil into the remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Pour in the yeast mixture and most of the remaining water (and the olive oil, if using). Mix to a loose dough, adding the remaining water if needed, plus extra if necessary.

Knead the mixture until the dough is smooth and springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. If kneading in an electric food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough. Put the dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover the top tightly with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm to rise, until it is doubled in size. This may take up to 2 or even (on a cold day) 3 hours. A great trick to use here is to take your oven racks, and put one on the very bottom, and one in the middle. Place a casserole dish on the bottom shelf, fill with very hot water. Put your covered dough on the middle rack and leave alone. This controls the heat and humidity in the oven. Just don't turn the oven on while the dough is rising inside.... that would be bad....

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

When the dough has more than doubled in size, punch down, and knead again for 2 to 3 minutes. Leave to relax for 10 minutes before you begin to shape the bread.

Shape the bread into loaves or rolls, and then transfer to a baking tray, and cover with a clean tea or dish towel. Allow to rise again in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes, until the shaped dough has again doubled in size. When the dough has fully risen, it should leave a dent when you gently press the dough with your finger.

The bread is full of air at this point, and therefore very fragile, gently brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if using, or dust lightly with flour for a rustic-looking loaf.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes for a loaf, depending on its size, or 10 to 15 minutes for rolls, Turn the heat down to 400 degrees F, after 15 minutes for the remaining baking time. When baked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool.

I've substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour into the dough before with pretty good results. If you substitute with whole wheat flour you'll need to knead the dough a bit longer. Whole wheat flour takes longer to form the gluten that makes the bread elastic. :)

Onto the pictures!


That's all for now! Go make some bread... and then show me! :D

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar (If you like your pancakes sweeter add another tablespoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1-2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree (You can use canned, or puree your own)
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. This batter is really thick, it doesn't spread on its own. You have two choices here, you can add a bit more liquid to thin it out some, or you can spread the pancake batter out with a spoon or spatula. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Pumpkin Pancake Batter
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancake

It's been a while...

Wow, it's been ages since I've had the time to post anything! I don't have anything amazing to share, I'll post a few pictures that I've had sitting around waiting to go up. Hope everything is going great, and I promise that I'll be back with a cool new recipe very soon...
Tortilla Soup
Tortilla Soup
Pretzel chicken fingers and sweet potato fries
Pumpkin Pancake
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes

Thanks for reading!

Sep 12, 2010

Essie Funky Limelight

Essie Funky Limelight
Essie Funky Limelight

The perfect homemade marinara

On my quest for my favorite recipes, I happened upon this amazing sauce. I've tweaked it a bit to suit my needs. When I say amazing... I really mean it. I haven't made a homemade marinara that is this good before. Every time I make it I wait and wait for it to be done, so that I can put it on anything. This sauce is great on any kind of pasta, and it's also pretty wicked as a pizza sauce (if you like multitasking sauces). I've made it just like the recipe, and I've also done slight variations, adding kale, spinach, more spice, less spice, chunkier & smoother. I have loved every incarnation of this. It's nice and tomatoey without being over the top. It has a little kick of spice but isn't too overwhelming. Maybe I should just get to the recipe so that you can taste it for yourselves? Yeah... that's probably the best idea. (Don't forget you can click on the pictures to make them bigger/see the full pic!)

1 Tbsp butter
3 -4 Tbsp olive oil (I use enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of my pot)
1-2 large onions, chopped (I try and chop this very finely)
4-6 garlic cloves, finely minced (I use between 6 and 8 cloves, I LOVE garlic)
1-2 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional or adjust to taste)
1 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste (if you lik it thicker you can add another)
2 (28 ounce) cans whole or crushed roma tomatoes, undrained (Make sure on the ingredient list tomatoes are first, not tomato paste.)
2 teaspoons sugar (optional, it's great with the sugar... but some people don't like it)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste, you need lots of salt!)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

In a nice big stock pot add your olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted add your onion and garlic. Saute until softened. We're using butter and olive oil because the butter helps bring out the sweetness of the onions. Trust me, it works. Once your onion and garlic are slightly softened add in your spices. Make sure that you rub and crush your spices with your fingers, this releases the essential oils in the dried spices, and helps to bring out the flavors.
Spices for Marinara
Onions Garlic and spices marinara
Onions, Garlic, and spices Marinara

Saute the onion, garlic, and spices for a few minutes to get them nice and infused together. Then add your tomato paste. It's going to be chunky and weird at first... that's normal, just keep stirring it to get the tomato paste nice and warm and melty.
Onions garlic tomato paste marinara
Onions garlic tomato paste marinara
Add in your canned tomatoes with their juices. Go ahead and add in the salt and pepper, and sugar if desired. I know, I know... canned tomatoes? The truth is, to make the amount of sauce you need for a recipe like this, you would probably have a hard time finding enough great tomatoes. I like canned because I know that they're going to be sweet, and juicy. No surprises.

Now here's the hard part. Stir your sauce together, turn the heat to medium or medium-low depending on your stove, and then leave it alone. We need the sauce to simmer for 1 to 2 hours to develop the best flavors. Stir occasionally to make sure you're not burning things to the bottom of your pot. You can simmer it more than that if desired. Low and slow is the way to go baby. You can develop the sweetness of the tomatoes with the tiny bit of spice from the red pepper flakes, and the bite of the garlic. This sauce does thicken considerably. If you need it/would like to to be thinner, go ahead and add some water or chicken stock. Please please please do not forget to taste test your sauce as it cooks. You can add more basil, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, sugar, whatever you feel it needs. Add the pepper flakes sparingly, don't forget, if you make it too spicy.... you're kinda stuck. Add your chopped fresh basil, and any sort of cheese you'd like. I tend to just use parm. If you want it to be pretty add the chopped basil and cheese to each individual plate.
Or go ahead and serve straight out of the pot. I've used this for homemade ravioli, manicotti, spaghetti, and a bunch of other things. It's never failed me. If you like your sauce less chunky, run it through the food processor or blender and make it smoother. I'd recommend doing that if you're going to use it as a pizza sauce.

Simmering marinara

Cinnamon Rolls.... :D

I happen to love a good cinnamon roll. They're a heaven unto themselves. Biting into one fresh from the oven could be one of my favorite experiences. Ooey gooey cinnamony deliciousness. I have multiple recipes for amazing cinnamon rolls, they're all amazing in their own right but I'm only going to share one with you today. Here it comes!

Cinnabon cinnamon rolls- yeild 12

1 cup warm milk (make sure it's WARM not HOT. HOT will kill your yeast)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour (I usually just use all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (bread machine yeast, if using a bread machine)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Activate your yeast in the warm milk and half of the sugar, let sit for about 5 minutes until nice and bubbly. Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Add margarine to milk mixture, and add to dry ingredients. Mix well then cover and let sit for about an hour. Dough will be sticky and wet this is what you want, don't add a bunch of extra flour, it will make your rolls tough. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. This will be paste-like, that makes it easier to put onto the dough, and also makes sure it's evenly spread around.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Press cinnamon mixture around on dough, leaving at least a half inch edge. If you go all the way to the edge when you roll the dough will not stick to itself. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

If you want these to be REALLY cinnabon like, turn them out onto a plate and let all of the delicious cinnamon mixture run over the tops. Then frost.

Onto the pictures!


Aug 20, 2010

OPI Shim-merry chic plus SH Hidden Treasure

I quite like this. It reminds me of snakeskin. Shim-merry chic on its own looks sorta like... baby poop? Somewhere in that realm. Then add the HT on top and oh man! I like it.

OPI Shim-merry Chic with SH Hidden Treasure
OPI Shim-merry chic with SH Hidden Treasure

Aug 12, 2010

OPI's Swiss Collection

OPI Swiss collex
OPI Cuckoo for This Color
OPI Cuckoo for This Color
Cuckoo for this color
Frosty emerald green. Looks almost identical to China Glaze's Emerald Fitzgerald that was released around the same time. The OPI is sparklier though.
OPI Glitzerland
OPI Glitzerland
Glitzerland.... whoa.... I adore this. It is gold toned, but doesn't make my hands look like they're the wrong color.

OPI Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous
OPI Lucerne-tainley Look Marvelous
OPI Lucerne-tainley Look Marvelous. Yeah, this is sooo much more blingy than my pics show. It's gorgeous.

OPI The Color to Watch
OPI The Color to Watch
The Color to Watch

OPI I'm Suzi and I'm a Chocoholic
I'm Suzi and I'm a Chocoholic

OPI From A to Z-urich
OPI From A to Z-urich
From A to Z-urich

OPI Color So Hot it Berns
OPI Color So Hot it Berns
Color So Hot it Berns

OPI Just a Little Rosti at This
OPI Just a Little Rosti at This
Just a Little Rosti at This

OPI Diva of Geneva
OPI Diva of Geneva
Diva of Geneva

OPI Ski Teal We Drop
OPI Ski Teal We Drop
Ski Teal We Drop

OPI Yodel Me on My Cell
OPI Yodel Me on My Cell
Yodel Me On My Cell

Overall I really like this collection. I like creme finishes the best, and this has a bunch of them. I don't love that there are several dupeable colors in this collection. But... sometimes that happens. Hope you enjoyed them!!!