Thursday, December 12, 2013

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Do you need an easy weeknight meal right about now?  I know I do!  What is it about the 2 weeks before Christmas that makes normal life so scattered?  It couldn't be the crafts still left to make, presents yet to be bought (and wrapped!), cookie exchanges to attend, or anything like that, could it?

This is, hands down, my new favorite tomato soup. It's incredibly tasty and super quick to whip up.  I made this soup last year, and we liked it really well, but using the fire roasted tomatoes in this soup really makes it something else!  I also love the hidden protein component in the soup -- it makes it creamy and fills you up more!  All it needs is some toast, corn muffins, mini-quiches, or just a chunk of hearty crusty bread to go with it and you're set.  You could even add some (3 cups) cooked brown rice to it to make it stretch.

I got the original recipe here and tweaked it pretty well to fit us.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup
makes about 8 cups
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans white beans (kidney, great northern, or chickpea), rinsed and drained
  • 2 TBLS fresh chopped basil, packed (1/4 cup packed leaves pre-chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper and extra basil to taste
  • optional: 3 cups cooked brown rice
-- Saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until tender.
-- Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5-10 minutes to let the flavors really get to know eachother.
-- Take off heat and CAREFULLY with an immersion blender, puree until smooth.

Also -- this is the last post until after Christmas (and maybe New Years!).  I have crafts still left to be make, gifts to be wrapped, cookies to bake for that exchange, and little boys to make memories with!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fabulous Flapjacks

Our family loves these pancakes.  They are hearty and delicious.  They are also an open canvas -- add fruit, nuts, or even chocolate chips!  I got the base of this recipe from a woman with five precious little girls, who got it from a friend, who got it from who knows who. They are our favorite flapjacks, indeed, and our go-to recipe when a cold morning hits and there's time to whip them up and enjoy them!

Fabulous Flapjacks
makes 10-12 pancakes (1/4 c batter each)  
Serving suggestions: maple syrup, jam, PB, apple butter, fresh fruit

What you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats OR old fashioned oats - just pulse them a couple times in the food processor
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk (almond or regular)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened OR vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten OR 2 flaxseed meal (add 1/4 cup water to wet ingredients)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

What you'll do:
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Combine all wet ingredients in a separate (larger) bowl.
  • Add dry to wet and combine until all moist.
  • Let sit 3-5 minutes to let oats absorb some of the liquid.
  • Spoon 1/4 cup of batter onto a hot (medium heat) lightly oiled skillet.  Let brown each side for about 3 minutes until done.

The flaxseed pancakes won't "bubble" like a normal pancake, so check it with a spatula, they are still fluffy, but a little more crumbly.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Red Lentil Chili with White Sweet Potatoes

This chili was surprisingly good.  I have to admit, as I was putting it together it seemed so simple.  Too simple, almost.  But I continued making it, and adapting it to my tastes, and I'm delighted to say that it all worked out.  Really well. After my first bite, I couldn't get enough.  I think I had an entire second helping and then some more.  I try to give all the leftover to Scot to take to work, and it was  hard to know I didn't get any leftovers!  Just another excuse to make it again, right?

We have enjoyed this a green vegetable of some sort on the side, along with a salad -- but I can envision roasted cauliflower going great with this!

You may wonder at the use of white sweet potatoes in this recipe.  I can find them easily at my supermarket, and it's not a fancy one, but some may find it a hard item to locate.  If that's the case, use a regular sweet potato.  The only reason I stuck the white in there was because I had them on hand, and I figured the color contrast would be nice.

I got the original recipe here and tweaked it pretty well considering the original recipe is for a pressure cooker and I don't have one of those.  It's also supposed to go over a potato -- my way just seemed simpler.

A note, though, on the sweetener.  I think the original author wanted to use the dates as a sweetener -- great idea, but it wasn't enough for me (or maybe my dates were small compared to hers!), but I would use what the recipe says and then taste and adjust the sweetness.  For me, that meant adding a solid TBLS of brown sugar.  I think molasses would have worked really well, too.  Or, in future, adding just another (smallish) date or two.  It's all personal preference.

Red Lentil Chili with White Sweet Potatoes
feeds 4-6
  • 1 lg red bell pepper
  • 4-6 Medijol dates (see note)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 15oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups broth/water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 TBLS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS oregano
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (opt)
  • 1-2 TBLS (to taste) of brown sugar or molasses if needed.  
  • 4 cups 1/2 in cubed white (or yellow or orange) sweet potatoes (nuked slightly if you need this to come together really fast on the stove top)
-- With a food processor, puree bell pepper, dates, garlic, fire roasted tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water together until smooth.
-- Add everything (including tomato puree) into a crockpot.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours until lentils are all cooked and potatoes are soft.
-- [Stovetop] Saute onion in pot on the stove.  When tender, add everything else.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until lentils are tender and potatoes are cooked through. 

Note on dates: I would suggest starting off using just the 4 dates and adding the sugar/molasses if you find the chili needs more sweetness.  If you did end up wanting it sweeter, the second time around making the chili, try using all 6 dates.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Autumn Quinoa

This is one of my favorite fall quinoa dishes.  It's simple.  It's slightly sweet.  It's perfect paired with the cauliflower soup I posted a few weeks ago.  It makes a bit, so you can either serve it to a ton of people as a side dish, in a bowl as a main dish, or, you can bake some acorn squash and stuff this inside!  (And I've done it and love it that way!)  There's just something killer about the combination of pumpkin, orange, and cinnamon that I love.

This does not take very long to make.  For me, it's trickier than most of my quinoa dishes because I don't use the rice cooker for it and actually have to pull a pot out to cook it on the stove top, but as long as you stir it occasionally, it will come out perfectly.  Creamy and full of flavor!

Autumn Quinoa
serves 6 main

  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin pure (canned)
  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups broth/water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 cup craisins or raisins
--  Saute onion until soft and translucent
-- Add liquid and pumpkin and stir until combined
-- Add spices and quinoa.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes until quinoa is done and liquid is absorbed. (Stir occasionally!!)
-- Stir in raisins and season with s&p to taste