Sausage and Spinach Soup

I was figuring out our dinner menu for the week and asked if husband wanted anything special.  He asked for French Onion soup, he got Sausage and Spinach soup instead.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, March 2007.

No substitutions were made.

sausage n spinach 1

Sausage and Spinach Soup

10 oz sweet turkey Italian sausage
cooking spray
1 c chopped onion
2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1/2 c water
15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can organic stewed tomatoes, undrained
14 oz fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 c baby spinach
1 tblsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tblsp grated fresh Romano cheese

spinach Collage 1

Remove casings from sausage.  Cook sausage in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over high heat until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add onion and 2 tsp garlic to pan; cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 c water, beans, tomatoes and broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thick.  Remove from heat, and stir in spinach, basil and oregano.  Ladle 1 1/2 c soup into each of 4 bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 tsp cheese.

sausage n spinach 5

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a wonderful and quick soup, dinner was on the table in less than a half hour!  Husband didn’t love the amount of tomatoes, but the flavor is rich and wonderful.  Just another soup to help chase away the chill of the Fall.

Chicken and Cashews

Who doesn’t love a cashew?  Crisp and buttery, full of good fats and nutrients.  We have cashews on hand all the time for a go-to healthy snack.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, May 2009.

No substitutions were made.

chick cashew 1

Chicken and Cashews

3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tblsp dry sherry
4 tblsp cornstarch, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tblsp oyster sauce
1 tblsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
3/4 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
1 tblsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1/4 c chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews

Combine 1 tblsp soy sauce, sherry, 2 tsp cornstarch, and chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat.  Combine remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, remaining 2 tsp cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce and honey in a small bowl.

chick cashew 2

Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken mixture to pan; saute 3 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in pan.  Add onion, celery and bell pepper to pan; saute 2 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic; saute 1 minute.  Stir in broth mixture.  Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with green onions and cashews.

chicken cashew 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a wonderful, quick and healthy go-to meal if you’re craving Chinese food.  I served the chicken over angel hair pasta tossed with dark sesame oil and the green onions from the recipe.  YUM!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

The weather suddenly realized it was Fall and the temperatures dropped, we went from flip-flops to wool sock a matter of days.  So the word of the season is SOUP.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, October 2011.

No substitutions were made.

broc cheese 1

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c half-n-half
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher slat and freshly ground pepper
2 c chopped broccoli florets
1/3 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/3c)
Croutons, for topping (optional)

broc cheese 2

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, half-n-half, both potatoes, bay leaf, 2 c water, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl; add 3 tblsp water and season with salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, drain.

broc cheese 3

When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf from the soup and transfer the soup to a blender.  Puree until smooth, leaving the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape (or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender).  Return the soup to the pot and thin with water, if necessary.  Return to a simmer over med-low heat; stir in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Ladle the coup into bowls and top with croutons if desired.

broc cheese 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This soup was good, but not great.  I’m wondering if a blend of cheese, cheddar and mozzarella?  Maybe a little Parmesan?  BUT, it was filling and hot on a cold Fall afternoon.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

I received the replacement bowl for my ice cream maker in record time.  I was told it would take 2 – 4 weeks, and it only took about 5 days!  But then I got so busy with other things, ice cream got put towards the bottom of the list.  Then Fall came and the need for all things pumpkin.

This recipe is from the Kitchenaid booklet which came with the ice cream maker.

Substitution made, noted below.

pumpkin ice cream 1

Pumpkin Ice Cream

1 1/2 c light cream – I used half and half
6 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c canned solid pack pumpkin

pumpkin ice cream 2

Scald cream in a heavy saucepan.  Whisk yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Gradually whisk in the cream, add the spice.  Return to saucepan and stir over med-low heat until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes; do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the heavy cream and the pumpkin.  Strain into bowl.  Refrigerate until well chilled.

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When the mixture has completely cooled, freeze according to your manufacturers instructions for your ice cream maker.

pumpkin ice cream 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This tastes just like pumpkin pie.  I would love to have some little pie shells to serve this in!  But as the weather cools, I’m sure we’ll be relying more on baked goods to satisfy our sweet tooth.

Cream of Pea Soup

Back in June husband and I hopped on a plane to Seattle to visit my sister and be there for my middle nephews HS graduation.  Happily, my mom and dad were with us too!  It was the first time our whole family had been together since my wedding (6 years!).  Thankfully it also meant we could celebrate my dad and my brother-in-law on Father’s Day.  This included Star Trek at the movies and English food.  We may not have been the rowdiest group in the place, but we feasted.  Fish N Chips and Bangers N Mash lined the table.

Marrowfat Collage

The restaurant also had a shop attached with all things English.  If only I had unlimited funds to bring home all the delicate china cups, each type of shortbread cookie on hand, and tins upon tins of tea.  What I did come home with was this bag of Marrowfat Peas.  I wasn’t quite sure how or why they’re different, but I thought it was worth a shot.

marrowfat peas 3

According to Wikipedia, Marrowfat peas are “green mature peas that have been allowed to dry out naturally in the field”.  Apparently this is also the type of pea used for Wasabi peas (one of my dad’s favorite snacks).

marrowfat peas 4

I followed the recipe on the back of the package for Cream of Pea Soup.  This included 2 medium onions and 8 pieces of bacon.

marrowfat pea 5

The simmering soup filled the kitchen with the aroma of onions, bacon and fresh herbs.  The immersion blender worked to break down the peas, bacon and vegetables.  In went almost a cup of heavy cream – hence the Cream of Pea Soup.

marrowfat peas 6

What a wonderful and filing soup!  The bacon I used was an applewood smoked bacon, so the soup was very dense with the smokey flavor.  It’s good, but plays second fiddle to Julia’s Pea Soup.

ps – I’m not sure if Marrowfat Peas are available all over?  If you’d like this recipe let me know and I’ll include it in the comments.

apple-pear galette

The fall season is really the beginning of baking season.  Everyone is craving apples and pumpkin and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.  This recipe fit the bill for a warm dessert, enjoyed on a cool fall night.

The recipe is from Real Simple, November 2008.

No substitutions were made.

apple pear 1

apple-pear galette

2 tblsp all-purpose flour, plus more for the surface
2 9-inch refrigerated piecrusts
1/4 c plus 2 tblsp apricot preserves
3 Empire, Gala or Cortland apples, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tblsp plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, place one piecrust on top of the other and roll the stack into one 16 inch circle.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread 1/4 c of the preserves on the crust, leaving a 2 inch border.

apple pear 2

In a large bowl, toss the apples, pears, flour, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon and 3 tblsp of sugar.  Transfer to the crust, leaving the border clear.  Fold the edges of the crust over the fruit mixture.

Brush the egg on the crust and sprinkle with the remaining tsp of sugar.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tblsp of preserves and 1 tblsp of water over medium heat until liquid, 2 to 3 minutes.  Brush on the fruit.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

apple pear 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This thing was ginormous!  We cut it into slices and enjoyed with whipped cream, and ate the leftovers for almost a week.  I wish the taste of the pear was a little stronger, and I was thankful the taste of ginger was slight.  BUT it’s wonderful warm out of the oven with a caramel latte in hand.

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

There were a few greasy spoons in CA that made the best onion rings.  Not something I’d order all the time, but every once in awhile, a greasy cheese burger with onion rings is the perfect meal.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2008.

No substitutions were made.

BBQ onion rings 1

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

3 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 tblsp sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into (1/4-inch thick) slices, and separated into rings
1 1/2 c dry bread crumbs, divided
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

BBQ onion rings 2

Combine flour, sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, allspice and eggs in a large bowl.  (A) Dip onion rings in flour mixture. Place half of onion rings in a zip-top plastic bag; add 3/4 c bread crumbs, shaking bag to coat onion rings.  Repeat procedure with remaining onion rings and remaining 3/4 c breadcrumbs.

(B) Arrange onion rings in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.  Lightly coat onion rings with cooking spray.  Bake at 450 for 5 minutes.  Rotate pans on racks; bake 5 minutes.  Turn onion rings over; lightly coat with cooking spray and back 5 minutes.  Rotate pans and bake 5 minutes or until crisp.  Serve immediately.

BBQ onion rings 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These are a less greasy, more flavorful version of one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  They paired perfectly with turkey cheese burgers.  My only wish is that I had a mandolin slicer to make perfectly sliced rings.

Black Bean Soup

Almost every time we have lunch or dinner at Panera Bread, husband will get their black bean soup.  I wanted to try this recipe to see how he’d like it.

The recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2010.

No substitutions were made.

black bean soup 1

Black Bean Soup

1 c dried black beans (about 6 oz)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
14 oz organic vegetable broth
4 oz can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4 c tomato paste
3/8 tsp salt

Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven.  Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil.  Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain beans.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat.  Add onion and garlic to pan; saute for 3 minutes or until tender.  Add beans, 2 1/2 cups water, oregano, red pepper, cumin, broth and chiles; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.

black bean soup 2

Place half of bean mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.   Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Pour pureed soup into a bowl.  Repeat procedure with remaining coup.  I used my immersion blender for this.  Return to pan.  Stir in tomato paste and slat; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

black bean soup 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a spicy soup!  But in the very best way possible.  Everything blended down gives it a creamy consistency and is perfectly spiced.  Husband was a big fan of this soup and it paired well with our fish tacos for dinner.

ps – photographing dark brown soup in a pot?  kinda boring and not very pretty…

African Drumsticks

One of my favorite things is a dinner that is easy to throw together.  Chicken will always fit that bill for me.

This recipe is from Nigella Kitchen.

Substitution made, noted below.

african drumstics 2

African Drumsticks

1/3 c Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c ketchup
2 tsp English mustard – I used 1 tsp yellow and 1 tsp Dijon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tblsp apricot jam
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
8 chicken drumsticks
1 tblsp garlic flavored oil – I used olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, ground ginger, apricot jam, and chopped onion in a shallow dish.

Dunk the drumsticks in this marinade to coat them all over.  (If it helps, you could at this stage leave them to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.)  Put the oil inot a smallish roasting pan or ovenproof dish, in which the drumsticks will fit snugly, and tip the pan about so that the oil more or less covers the base.  Arrange the drumsticks in the pan and pour over them any remaining marinade.

Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basking once or twice; the deeper the dish, the longer the drumsticks will take to color and cook through.

african drumsticks 3

cartoon-strawberry-9After almost an hour in the oven, the meat just about fell off the bone.  The sauce wasn’t quite what I expected.  It needs some heat (cumin?  red pepper?) or a little smokiness (chipotle?).  It’s a good basic sauce, but needs a little OOMPH to push it over the top.