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!

Fall Baking

It’s getting cool here in Scranton, and yesterday I pulled out my tall boots and warmest sweater. I’m going to be baking like a crazy person this week – 224 sugar cookies and 200 mini desserts, and I’m trying to expand my recipe book with some yummy fall flavors. Here are some of the recipes that I am dying to try:

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies from Just a Taste

Mini Cinnamon Rolls from Iowa Girl Eats

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread from Annie’s Eats

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Pinch My Salt

Apple Cider Caramels from Blondie’s Cakes

Coffee and Donut Cupcakes from Always with Butter

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.

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!

Favorite Dinner – Chicken Piccata

I decided to treat myself to one of my favorite foods in the entire world tonight – Chicken Piccata. There aren’t too many recipes that combine as many of my favorite things (lemon, capers, and butter in this case), and it’s actually a fairly quick and simple process.

- 1 lb thin-sliced chicken breasts
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons butter

1. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Beat egg in a small bowl, then mix flour and cheese in a separate bowl. Coat chicken in egg then flour and saute in the hot oil until golden and crisp, a few minutes on each side. Be careful not to crowd the pan, cooking the chicken 2-3 pieces at a time. As they are done, move chicken breasts to a platter and cover with foil.

2. Once all of the chicken is cooked and removed from the pan, add white wine and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the skillet to get the brown bits (that’s the tasty part). Cook the wine on medium high heat for about 3 minutes, then add the chicken stock and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, until the liquid reduces a bit.

3. Finally, add the lemon juice, capers and butter and stir until the butter melts. Pour the liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I am posting this recipe for Breakfast Cookies with the very strong belief that all cookies are absolutely appropriate for breakfast. Cake, cupcakes, candy and pizza are also wonderful breakfast foods as well. I have also been know to live for days on just a giant bag of salt & pepper potato chips, so I don’t judge.

However, the healthy eater in my house (Anthony), decided that we should eat better this week after several big parties this week. I have been thinking about variations on the granola bars that I made a few months ago – something simple and easy to grab in the morning, but filled with healthy and delicious ingredients.These cookies are sweet, but not crazy sugary, and the oats and whole wheat flour make them taste and feel a little healthier for the morning. They also smell AMAZING while in the oven, so they are a great treat to bake first thing in the morning.

Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Time – 20 minutes prep, 15 minutes baking

Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 large apple, peeled and diced

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat.

2. In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing until well blended. Add flour and baking powder, continue mixing. Finally, add in oats and apples and mix until just blended.

3. Scoop dough onto the lined baking sheet in small balls, then press down into flat discs (this is important, as the cookie will not spread while baking). Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and cool cookies on a wire rack.

Do Something Nice for Your Mom

Happy Mother’s Day weekend! Hopefully you have something nice planned for your mom. Anthony’s mother, brother and sister are coming to visit and we’re planing dinner on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful mom who has always supported me in everything I do. I also have a great mother-in-law, grandmother, aunts, and grandmother-in-law (is that a thing?), plus some wonderful friend who are fantastic mothers.

Here are some good things to make for your favorite moms this weekend:

- Blueberry Bundt Cake from Bake at 350

- Pasta with Garlic Mussels from Camille Styles

- Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart

- Nectarine and Blackberry Gallette from Cupcakes and Cashmere

- Soft Eggs with Buttery Herb Gruyere Toasts from Smitten Kitchen

Tiny Tomato Tarts

I have been trying to get better about using up all of the food in our fridge before buying new stuff, so when I was planning for our family Easter party, I looked at what we had first before hitting the grocery store. I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge and frozen phyllo cups in the freezer, so I picked up some grape tomatoes and fresh basil to make these cute little appetizers.

They were pretty easy, and most of the prep-work was done the night before the party.

Tomato Tarts:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into little pieces
  • 4 dozen phyllo cups (found in the frozen food section with desserts)
  • about 5 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place tomatoes, garlic and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes.
  2. Once tomatoes are roasted, cool to room temperature and mix in mozzarella.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place phyllo cups on a rimmed cookie sheet and add a small scoop of the tomato mixture to each one. Add a small piece of fresh basil to each one. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

We served them with an asparagus tart on this cool two-tiered server that my sister had. The were delicious and we ended up making the roasted tomatoes again today for lunch. I really need to set up a tomato plant on our back porch because I think we’ll be eating a lot of these this summer!

Sweet Things for the Weekend

My oven has been on for 2 days straight, as I am baking for a few parties and getting Valentine’s Day treats ready. I used disco dust (edible glitter) for the first time this morning, and I can get enough of it. I was to cover everything I eat with pink glitter.

The internet is full of super-creative ideas for things to make your sweethearts next week:

- Crazy creative homemade candy necklaces from Bakingdom via Not Martha
- Valentine’s Day Heart Punch Napkins from Make, Grow, Gather
- Pretty Lace Heart Cookies from Sugarbelle (I am making these today)
- Ruffle Fondant Cupcakes from Jessicakes
- Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake from Sprinkle Bakes

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.

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