Roasted Carrot Soup

A few months ago Anthony made a drastic decision – he went full vegan. Gasp! I have been struggling with cooking for him since then, so he’s been eating a pretty steady diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. (By the way, he’s perfectly capable of cooking for himself, I just have a habit of showing my love with food).

This week I tried out a variation on my favorite Potato and Leek Soup, using roasted carrots instead. It turned out DELICIOUS!

CarrotSoup

 

Roasted Carrot Soup

Time – about 1 hour
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
- 2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4-5 stalks of celery, diced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
2. While carrots are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and soft. Add vegetable stock and simmer over medium heat.
3. Once carrots are done, add to pot and use an immersion blender to blend the soup right in the pot until it is nice an smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in batches in a regular blender.

I made one big batch and we’ve been eating it all week. So good!

Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms

If you’ve never tried a squash blossom, now is the perfect time. Anthony and I went to the Scranton Farmer’s Market last week, and I was so excited to see them at one of the stands. If you have a local farmer’s market, one of the farmers there probably have some too. Ours were 10 for $2.50.

You can make the squash blossoms lots of different ways – some people chop them off and toss them with pasta and olive oil, some people bread and fry them. Since we can only really get them once a year or so, I decided to go all out and stuff them with crab.

First I prepped the blossoms by separating the leaves and pulling out the stamens inside. The petals are pretty delicate, so you need to be very careful not to tear them. I also trimmed the stems. If you have allergies, it’s a good idea to wear gloves or wash your hands a ton during this point, as the pollen can definitely bother your eyes.

Then I made a mixture with some jumbo lump crab meat, chives, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. I stuffed each blossom and gently twisted the tops closed.Once the blossoms were stuffed, I heated up some oil in a big frying pan and made a basic tempura batter. I dipped the blossoms in the batter, then fried them in the hot oil until they were golden.

While they were frying, I made a simple dressing of 1 part olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, and some chopped chives. We ate the fried blossoms with some arugula and the dressing. It was a perfect dinner for the end of summer.

Open-Face Grilled Ham & Cheese with Roasted Asparagus

It is crazy in our house this week. Anthony is super busy at work and I am putting together some awesome wedding invitations, making guest gift bags for a wedding, and baking 100 sugar cookies for a shower. It’s also about a billion degrees outside, so I am continuing my summer trend of low-effort dinners.

I love anything that has melted cheese on it, so I picked up some good bread, asparagus, scallions, ham and mild cheddar at the store on Sunday and made yummy grilled sandwiches that night.

Open-Face Grilled Ham & Cheese with Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed
- Several slices thick french bread
- 6 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- Several slices thin sliced ham
- Olive oil
- Fresh thyme

1. Set over to 400 degrees. Spread asparagus and scallions on a cookie sheet, toss with a little olive oil to coat. Roast for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

2. Remove vegetables from the oven and assemble sandwiches on a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with olive oil. Bread first, then ham, then vegetables, then cheese and herbs.

3. Bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees until cheese is melty and edges of bread are crispy.

Thai Steak Salad

It was super hot here last week, and the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner. I made this delicious salad that was pretty good the first night warm, but even better the next night cold. The key to this one is the dressing, and you can really add just about any vegetables you have around.

Ingredients:

- 1 pound grilled steak (can substitute chicken or shrimp)
- 8 ounces rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 2 cups salad greens (I used arugula)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Shredded carrots, chopped peppers, or any other vegetables you love

Dressing

- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha (a little more if you like it hot)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Toss cooked rice noodles in half of the sesame oil.
2. Combine soy sauce, remaining sesame oil, Sriracha, and lime juice and shake until emulsified.
3. Add steak, cucumber, salad greens, basil, and any other vegetable to the rice noodles and toss with dressing until everything is coated.

The salad keeps well in the refrigerator for several days and can be served hot or cold. Make a big batch for a busy, hot summer week and you’ll have dinner waiting for you every night!

Citrus Roasted Salmon & Barley Risotto

I made the BEST dinner the other night from Power Foods - a cook book that I have had for over a year, but never used. Anthony has been keeping up with his vegetarian diet, so the salmon was just for me. The risotto is made with barley instead of rice, and it was really delicious.

The salmon is roasted on orange and lemon slices for 17 minutes at 400 degrees and topped with a puree of fresh peas and watercress. The risotto has leeks, asparagus and peas, and is prepared just like regular risotto. Delicious

Here is the recipe for the Spring Barley Risotto.

Easter Treats

I am baking for our family’s Easter party this weekend, and I made these Easter Egg sugar cookies yesterday. Usually I decorate actual eggs, but these are much tastier. I have a few more things on my list to make, including some of this good stuff:

- The Secret to Chocolate Chip Cookies via America’s Test Kitchen

- This Asparagus Gruyere Tart from Martha Stewart has been on my list of things to try for a while, and I had it at the shower I went to last weekend – it was amazing!

- Jello in Real Eggs from Just a Taste is hilarious, and I am thinking of giving it a try.

- If you’re crazy, you might try this tutorial from Shauna Sever – How to Make Your Own Marshmallow Peeps.

- This Arugula Pistachio Pesto from Love and Olive Oil looks delicious.

- I have a huge craving for these Mussels in White Wine Sauce and might give them a try next week.

- The 100 Greatest Cooking Tips of All Time from The Food Network.

Have a great (and delicious) weekend!

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus and Lemon

I love goat cheese. A lot of people don’t (at least people in my family). This makes the following recipe fairly controversial, but I promise that the cheese turns into a delicious, creamy, mild, amazing sauce when it melts into the pasta. If you have any hesitations about trying goat cheese, this recipe is a good way to give it a try.

Ingredients:
- 1 box curly pasta such as rotini or campanelle
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 small package goat cheese
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 sprigs tarragon, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim asparagus into bite-sized pieces and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Roast for 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, prepare pasta according to package directions.
3. Crumble goat cheese into a bowl, add olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and tarragon.
4. Add cooked pasta and asparagus to cheese mixture and stir until cheese is melted and pasta is coated. Serve immediately.

Baby Bok Choy with Rice Noodles

We are in serious detox mode in our house after a few weeks of eating lots of sweets, pizza, and other bad foods. Because of that, I have been trying to pick up some new kinds of vegetables every week at the store. Last week, I gave baby bok choy a try.My go-to method for cooking new vegetables is sauteing them in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Since greens like these usually shrink down during cooking, I used 6 small bunches for the 2 of us. I cooked them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, drizzled them with about 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and served them tossed with rice noodles.It was delicious, light and made me feel a lot better about all of the sugar cookies I’ve been eating lately.

Oh Crap. I have to cook vegetables now.

That was my first thought when Anthony told me he was becoming a vegetarian. I have perfected recipes for chicken noodle soup, pork tenderloin, cheddar and bacon quiche, and (my favorite) short ribs braised in red wine, but now I have to figure out how to make vegetables the star. Sigh.

My favorite vegetable is potato, and I really only think of the green stuff as a side dish. Since Anthony went veggie, I haven’t really been too enthusiastic about cooking dinners. To get my spirits back up, I spent some time scouring the internet for great recipes that will make me forget about delicious meat (at least at dinner time, I’ll save the meat for lunch). Here are some of the ones I can’t wait to try:

Baked Zucchini Chips from Eclectic Recipes

Crispy Penne from Luxirare

Slow Cooked Broccoli with Lemon Breadcrumbs from The Kitchn

Twice Baked Potatoes from A Cozy Kitchen (okay, maybe I’ll eat the ones with bacon and he can have the healthy ones)

Greek Mac & Cheese from Saveur

I think that I can talk myself into being enthusiastic about this new trend in our house as long as there is a lot of cheese and carbs involved. I’ll let you know how long I last.

Father’s Day Cakes

I made brunch today for Anthony’s dad, brother and sister. Since our Mother’s Day brunch was such a success, we decided to do another variation on Eggs Benedict, with semolina toast and smoked salmon – it was delicious!

For dessert, I made tiny chocolate cakes with meringue frosting and raspberries.

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