Vegetable Minestrone Soup

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

This soup is a winner.  I have ALWAYS wanted to make minestrone soup and usually the 20-30 ingredient list scared me off.  Finally, I found a recipe that looked similar to an Italian restaurant we recently went to.  It’s perfect.  I just suggest cooking it longer than the recipe states to meld the flavors more and make the veggies more tender.  If you use veg. stock instead of chicken stock and omit the cheese, it’s vegan.  As usual, I omitted the onion and garlic and opted for powder.  For ease I used the crushed tomato can. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 celery stalks, thinly sliced, with some celery leaves chopped thin
  • 1 potato (any kind), peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil or 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 4 med. tomatoes, peeled cored seeded and chopped – or 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 4 oz. rotelle or other tubular pasta (I used 2 oz. uncooked pasta and boiled it separately).
  • 2 cups cooked and drained pinto or white kidney beans ( I used red kidney beans)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 3 T. minced parsley

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over low heat 1 minute.
  2. Add onions and garlic, saute 5 mins or until soft.
  3. Increase heat to medium and add carrots, celery, potato, zucchini, basil, and oregano.  Cook, uncovered, 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Then reduce heat, simmer uncovered, 20 minutes.
  6. Add green beans, cover and simmer 10 mins. or until beans are tender but still crisp.  Remove bay leaves.
  7. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt.
  8. Drain and add pasta to soup along with beans of your choice.
  9. Cook until heated through, about 3-5 minutes.  Simmer more if potatoes are not tender. 
  10. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese and parsley. 

 

 

 

The Best Chicken Pot Pies

pot-pie1 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These were fantastic!  That is all there is to say.  I found this on Allrecipes.com. 🙂  They are savory, perfectly cooked pot pies!  You can use pre-made pie dough or make your own.  I made my own and it was great.  I am usually not a fan of boiling, but it was flavorful and very tender. A+!  I used five ramekins (technically souffle dishes) and it was a perfect size for us.   I went light on the butter for the roux and it worked out nicely.  I also used the pie crust on just the top to save calories and again, no problem!

Original recipe makes 1 – 9 inch pie or about 5 ramekins
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • /2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts (Or homemade dough

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta (Or Whatever Cheese You Have) Quiche

 

 

quiche-4-12-14

This is my second quiche and I am really getting the hang of it.  I made the mistake, possibly, of putting this quiche in the tart pan.  The problem was that once I par-baked the quiche crust I realized the ingredients most likely would not fit.  So then I transferred it to the glass pie plate, my favorite container for a quiche.  I must say though, the tart pan gives the quiche a cool fluted edge.  Anyway, I didn’t have feta so I used all my leftover cheeses (no waste!): shredded Swiss cheese and Land O’ Lakes 4-Cheese sliced cheese blend.  As usual, I used garlic powder not the raw.  YUM!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Homemade pastry dough or store-bought
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, trimmed of stems, and washed thoroughly
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup creme fraiche (or heavy cream, or milk)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. fresh chives, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Two hours before you want to make the quiche, take the dough out of the freezer to defrost.  (Or make your own like I did).
  2. Lay the dough into either a 10″ quiche pan, making sure you have enough to form a crust around edge.  Par-bake if you like.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°.
  4. Crumble the feta onto the bottom of the crust.
  5. Pour the oil into a pan and, when heated, throw in spinach and cook until wilted (Less than five minutes). 
  6. Spread the spinach over the feta cheese.
  7. Beat eggs, garlic, and creme fraiche together.
  8. Pour over the top of the cheese and spinach.
  9. Place cut cherry tomatoes over the top of the quiche.
  10. Sprinkle chives and ground pepper on top.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes or until done.

Homemade Spaghettio’s

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I’m always trying to make more foods my son loves from the can or box into homemade creations.  He LOVES Spaghettio’s.  We thought our creation tasted dead on but His Highness, the pickiest child on Earth, thought otherwise.  Haha.  I’m sharing because I think most kids would like this!  I used Alphabet pasta. Anyway, I’d make it again because I have a weird fascination with the taste of Spaghettio’s, I’d just cut the recipe in half.  It states it makes four servings, I’d say more like eight!  Enjoy!

TIP: I freeze the remainder of my tomato paste in a small plastic container and take it out as needed, no waste!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. pasta rings, COOKED
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 T. grated Parmesan cheese (Or more)
  • Pinch of salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add tomato sauce and paste to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until heated through. 
  2. Reduce heat to a low simmer and slowly whisk in milk and cheese.  (If you listen to Julia Child, she would always say TURN OFF the burner when adding dairy to prevent curdling! and that’s what I do too). 
  3. Cook stirring occasionally until cheese is dissolved.
  4. Stir in cooked pasta rings and toss to coat.  Season with salt to taste.
  5. Serve warm.

*To avoid milk curdling, use at least 2% or whole milk and reduce heat, or turn off, when adding milk.  Don’t dump the milk in all at once, slowly pour it in and stir. 

 

Eggless Macaroni Salad with Dill and Ham

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My husband’s never had macaroni salad because it has mayo so this was his first try!  It was very nice for everyone!  It makes a LOT, more than the 4-6 serving as stated, so I’d say more like 10-12 servings!  You can always halve it.  As usual, I substituted onion powder for the onion.  Also, the Dijon is powerful so I would only add a teaspoon and try that first.  Next time I may try prepared yellow mustard instead, but if you’re not a mustard fan, omit it completely!  Please use fresh dill, not dried, for maximum flavor.  I used already cooked cubed ham for maximum ease.  Enjoy!  *I got this recipe from Food Network’s “Get Grilling” book, (c) 2005. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus additional for salting water
  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
  • 2 T. milk
  • 2 T. white wine vinegar
  • Up to 1 T. Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz. cooked ham, cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 3/4 cup frozen baby peas (or petite peas), thawed, about 4 oz. 
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, diced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:

  1. If using raw onion, to mellow the minced onion, soak it in cold water while you make the salad.
  2. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously.  Add macaroni and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente about 8 minutes. 
  3. Drain in a colander, put in serving bowl.  Toss pasta with the milk.  Allow to cool slightly while you make the dressing. 
  4. For the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard (optional), the 2 tsp. salt, and black pepper to taste in a large bowl.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing.  Whisk in the sour cream.
  5. Drain the onions, if using, pat dry, and add to the macaroni along with the ham, peas, celery, and dill. 
  6. Add the dressing and fold to coat the pasta evenly.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

“Energy Balls” – Oatmeal Bites

1978550_10203660290097501_88301805_o

 

135268_10203660290217504_828705787_o

I made these as a way to give my growing boy some needed calories but in a tasty way.  I learned a few things by making it so I know what to do better next time.  First, I am glad I made a half batch, it made 25!  Secondly, I tried reducing the honey but it needed all of it to bind together.  Thirdly, I will reduce the chocolate chips next time because it definitely was in the ‘dessert’ category more than I liked.  As written, I’m placing this in the dessert category.  But if the chocolate chips were reduced, I’d place it in the Snacks section.  So halving the chocolate chips to 1/4 cup (for a half batch) would be fine.  I didn’t use the shredded coconut because a) I didn’t have it and b) I don’t have many fans here.  I used ground flax seed, cashews, peanuts, creamy peanut butter, raisins, and everything seen in the photo.  I got this recipe from the Washington Post.  I would definitely try this next time in the food processor for ease!  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (FULL BATCH ingredients below, I halved these amounts):

  • 1 cup peanut butter, sunflower butter or almond butter
  • 1 cup raw or regular honey (start with less if regular honey and add more if needed)
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground chia seed or flax seed
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • 1 cup any combination of nuts, seeds and soft dried fruit, raisins, cashews/peanuts, such as sunflower seeds, raisins and dried cranberries
  • Sweetened shredded coconut, for rolling (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the nut butter and honey in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth.
  2. Gradually add the oats and chia seed or flax seed. Add the cacao nibs or chocolate chips and the nut-seed-fruit mixture, and mix gently to combine.
  3. Use your hands to roll the mixture into balls (I used a cookie scoop) approximately the size of ping-pong balls. If desired, roll them in shredded coconut.
  4. Place the balls in paper mini-muffin cups. At this point, you can eat them, but they’ll be less sticky after a night in the refrigerator. They taste best after one day in the fridge.  Layer the balls in an airtight container, using wax paper to separate the layers, and refrigerate for 7 to 10 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Broccoli Ham Quiche

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This is an excellent quiche recipe.  I made my own crust in the processor and it was excellent, easy, and perfect!  I accidentally set the temp. wrong but it turned out fine and  I froze the remainder slices individually and successfully (first in saran wrap and then in a freezer bag).   Defrost in your microwave or at room temp. and it comes back perfectly.  I’d increase the spices next time, didn’t really taste them too much.  I made the quiche crust in the food processor with the recipe below in the link.  It was A+.  Great flavor!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box or make your own quiche crust, recipe here.
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed cooked ham
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped, uncooked, and most of the stems removed
  • 4 eggs, large or bigger
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt or regular
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Defrost your pie crust according to the box, or make the quiche crust recipe in the link.  I did not pre-bake the quiche crust before putting my ingredients in.
  2. Heat oven to 375° and place pie crust in 9″ glass pie pan.
  3. Layer ham, cheese, and broccoli in crust-lined pan.
  4. In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with fork or whisk.  Stir in remaining ingredients, pour mixture over broccoli.
  5. Bake 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.