Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tomato Soup and Beer Bread

We got 6 inches of snow last night, I was more than happy to not have to get out in it today. It is beautiful, but I would rather stay home cuddled up under a blanket.

It felt like a soup day, thank goodness I had everything I needed to make this wonderfully easy and delicious tomato soup and some beer bread to go with it.

Soup recipe was adapted from this recipe

Serves 4
1 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes ( I used pureed tomatoes, no need for an emulsion blender then)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & ground pepper to taste
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup cream

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add in your canned tomatoes and chicken broth, this is when I season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Once it has simmered, I add my cream in at the end simmering on low heat. Serve. My family loves it with a ton of parmesan cheese on top. YUM 

And the beer bread recipe was adapted from this recipe
and I did not change a thing. It is delicious! 
Beer Bread
Yields 1 loaf
3 cups bread flour (all-purpose will also work)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
12 ounce can or bottle of beer
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F . Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour in beer and mix until just incorporated. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Pour melted butter over the top of the dough.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is browned. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fresh Squash and Zucchini Salad

Yesterday was co op day, the day when I get more excited than a kid on Christmas morning. I order a "basket" of produce every other week... What we receive is local, fresh, in season produce. When I got it home and started investigating, I was thrilled to see I had received two large bags of cherries and about five zucchini and three squash, among other goodies.
 So what to do with these beautiful squash and zucchini before they went bad? I found the solution and it was SOOOO good.
Maybe a cherry recipe to come later in the week? :)

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
2 Cups of grape or cherry tomatoes
2 small zucchini, coarsely chopped
2 small summer squash, coarsely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
5 Tbsp of white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp of sugar (could sub sweetener here) it does need the sweet though
1 tsp of Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, red pepper and chopped parsley. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Combine and toss. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

A summer evening and pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes

I am a sucker for pasta dishes... I crave pasta like a mad woman. It is a curse, I know this... I'm working on it. When I found this recipe for a roasted cherry tomato pasta dish, I could not pass it up. And on a hot summer evening, I needed a quick dinner dish to feed my hubby before he took my littlest to baseball practice. 
It was easy and so yummy. There was just enough left to leave me a decent lunch tomorrow.

Tomatoes ready to roast.

The herbs and cheese mixture... before the breadcrumbs were added.

Voila... YUM!

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen again
4 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup of plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup of Parmigiano cheese
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb of fettucini or linguini pasta
oregano and parsley (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you have on hand)

Preheat the oven to 400* and grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with 2 to 3 tbsp of olive oil
Place the tomatoes in the dish, cut side up
 In a bowl toss the bread crumbs, cheese, herbs and garlic together with a fork. Sprinkle the tomatoes with  one more tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the cheese/bread crumb mixture over the tomatoes. 
Bake until the tomatoes are browned, around 20 minutes. 

In the mean time, boil your water for your pasta. Cook your pasta according to the package directions. 

When tomatoes are finished, remove from the oven. I tossed my pasta with a squirt of olive oil to keep it from sticking (after draining of course) and used one slab of a compound butter mixture I had on hand, it was a garlic herb butter. Mixed that in, tossed the pasta with the tomatoes, topped it with some fresh chopped parsley and served. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greetings...and Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

I guess this is where I should introduce myself, tell you a little about me...why I decided to start a food blog. We are a family of five, a busy family of five. I am a full time photographer, full time mom and soon to be a full time home school teacher. I have twin girls that just turned 11 (insert sad face here) and a son that is six. We have dance and soccer, I have sessions in the evenings, we are busy.
Last fall my daughter Grace started having headaches, she seemed to be gaining weight at a rapid rate and was feeling sluggish all of the time. We took her to the pediatrician to have her checked. They did a full blood work up and we found that she had high cholesterol and her blood sugar was on the border of being high. It scared us to death. It made me realize that we needed to slow down, pay attention to what we were putting in to our bodies and maybe make some adjustments, no DEFINITELY make some adjustments.
First thing was to get rid of all of the junk, the eating out at places like McDonald's, Burger King, etc. You get the idea. Those places are poison. I watched a bunch of documentaries on food, on farmers, and what some of these places do to their animals, their crops and the more I watched the angrier I became. This is when not only ridding our diet of fast food came to mind, but also to get rid of the processed food. The things that can cause cancer, that make my son bounce off of the walls and that have more than 5 ingredients in them.
I have a good friend, fellow photographer who had recently started eating no more processed food, she was making everything herself. I consulted her and she has helped me along in this journey. It's nice to have someone else to talk to about food, that understands and gets that while it is not a cheap process, we know we are doing the right thing for our families.

It has not been easy, I was met with many objections... but once we started and I started cooking and baking more, finding better alternatives to old favorites, they started to think I wasn't so crazy. And all of a sudden cooking excited me. Fixing dinner didn't seem so boring and ho hum because I was constantly looking for something new to fix. I'm ashamed to say we ate a lot of pre packaged food before, not a lot of veggies or fruit and a lot of fast food. Six months in, we are doing great. When we are on a family trip and have no choice, our bodies remind us that what we are doing is correct by reacting to the garbage we put in...
So I decided to share my excitement and love with you. I am no Betty Crocker, but I have come a long way. I hope you enjoy, find some new recipes and learn a little along the way.

Now, Strawberries and Cream Biscuits... there are at least 5 food blogs I read daily and this recipe came from one of those. I have pinned almost every recipe that she has on her site. And so far have not been disappointed at all.
I made one adjustment to them because when I started mixing them up I realized I had no sugar, but that was fine, we didn't need the extra sugar anyway, so I used honey instead and they still had a slight sweetness to them.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar (here I subbed in 1/4 cup of honey)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup (about 130 grams) chopped very ripe strawberries (I quarter small or medium ones and further chop larger ones)
1 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the cubed, cold butter in and using a pastry blender or your food processor, mix until it resembles a course, crumbly meal. (I used my food processor, so much easier in my opinion) 
Now stir in the strawberries until they are coated with the dry ingredients. Stir in the cream until you form a sticky dough. Do not over mix. (always my mistake) 

Flour your counter, transfer the dough to the counter and with your hands or a rolling pin, roll out dough until about 3/4 inch thick. Then, using a biscuit cutter (which I highly recommend, they are wonderful) or a small juice glass, cut out your biscuits. Repeat until you have used all of the dough. 

Bake  for 12 to 15 minutes. 
I mixed mine up the night before, cut them out and placed them on wax paper on my cookie sheet, stuck them into the freezer and then the next morning, popped them in the oven for 2 minutes longer than recommended and voila... Sunday breakfast! ;) Enjoy. Thank you Smitten Kitchen for the great recipe!