April 22, 2013

Tortellini Soup

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Pasta in soup is a favorite of mine! Or… I suppose adding any starch because I like the addition of rice in some soups and also enjoy a few big chunks of potato (not with the rice).  ALSO, dipping bread into soup…that counts right?

So it’s a beautiful day out there today and although it is not as warm as I’d like, at least the sun is shining. My husband and I have a lot of errands today so this will be fairly short! Not that I have anything new to mention especially since I haven’t been feeling well. Activities have been limited to laying on the couch, watching tv and drinking a lot of tea.

Oh I know what I can share! I think I have a few cavities. Actually, I know I have a few cavities…the left side of my mouth is in so much pain, I can hardly think straight. Here’s the thing, I HATE going to the Dentist and I have been putting this off for…oh, maybe over a year. So it’s my own fault.

ANYWAY.

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Soups are always an easy meal to make. Chop up veggies, add broth, throw in pasta and what not, then a dash of this and that and let it heat through.

Here it is all finished up!

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CHEESE! Don’t forget the cheese.

Fresh grated cheese if you can. Huge difference. I used Romano because I had it on hand but use whatever you like!

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Tortellini Soup {adapted from the cookbook, Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 quart good quality vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14.5oz) petite-cut diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium-large onion, cut into medium dice
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or equal amounts basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano)
  • 8 lightly packed cups (about 8oz) baby spinach
  • 2 cups (about 9oz) bite-size cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • Grated cheese, for passing (Romano, Parmesan Reggiano, etc)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high. Combine the broth and tomatoes in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and Italian seasoning and cook until fragrant, a minute or so. Add the hot broth mixture and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the spinach, stirring until it wilts and cook, partially covered, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the tortellini and cook, partially covered, until the tortellini are tender and their starch has lightly thickened the soup, about 4-6 minutes. Serve hot with grated cheese passed separately.

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April 21, 2013

Toasted Almond Granola

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I wanted to update my site many times last week but I could never bring myself to do it. I was watching the news a lot and following the Boston coverage, feeling happy that we were no longer Boston residents but also sad that we were no longer Boston residents. I would have loved to have been back in the city, witnessing all the compassion and strength. I am really really glad that my husband and I had a chance to live in that fantastic city. I wish it had been longer than a year, but I will never forget the fun we had and all the amazing people we met! Fortunately, no one I know was harmed but my heart breaks for those who were killed and are currently in critical care.

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I also did not update because I have been sick with a terrible head cold all week. Headache, coughing, sore throat, etc. Not cool.

I am still feeling a little under the weather but I did not have to work today so I was able to spend the majority of my time on the couch, watching the Red Sox game (and missing most of it because I fell asleep!).

Now I have poured myself a hot cup of honey, with a splash of tea (kidding) and wanted to stop in and say hello!

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Who knew how easy granola was to make! I made Shutterbean’s Killer Granola a few months ago and it was fantastic. After trying out two great recipes and realizing how simple they are, I think I could maybe create my own next time! Could you imagine?! ME making my OWN recipe…

I’m so funny.

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All mixed up! I love the combination of sliced almonds and whole almonds. Since almonds are expensive, I went to the bulk section at my local grocery store and scooped out a cup of each, so much cheaper!

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This made quite a lot, so I have been eating it all.week.long.

I am happy to report that I never got sick of it! Neither did my husband! 

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Toasted Almond Granola {adapted from Joy The Baker}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced, raw almonds
  • 1 cup whole, raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (what I had on hand)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Place a rack in the upper third and middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together oats, whole almonds, slivered almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter, oil, honey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to boil. Carefully whisk together so it’s well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. Pour the warm mixture over the oat and almond mixture and toss together with a wooden spoon, making sure all of the oat mixture gets moistened by the sugar and oil mixture.

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, removing oats to stir and toss on the pan twice during baking. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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April 13, 2013

Pad Thai with Tofu

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I have been staying with my Mother-In-Law this past week because my husband has been away. He and his dad take a trip every year to see the Frozen Four Hockey Tournament (college hockey) and this year it is in Pittsburgh. Every year they host it in a different city, so he has been to some pretty cool places! Not that I am jealous or anything…

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I have been wanting to make Pad Thai for quite some time now because it is one of my favorite dishes to order at a Thai restaurant. I don’t know what took me so long, maybe I thought it would be difficult? Well I was wrong.

I was flipping through a new cookbook of mine called, Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals: Recipes and Techniques for Part-Time and Full-Time Vegetarians, and I found a recipe for “Perfect Pad Thai”. Clearly, I needed to give it a try…I mean it has the word “perfect” in the title and all! The ingredient list wasn’t long and the steps seemed simple. Yes, you can swap out the tofu for chicken, shrimp or whatever your little heart desires! The tofu was fantastic though so please give it a try, PLEASE?!

If you have never made Pad Thai, I feel like this is a good place to start because of how simple it is. I believe there are many recipes that are more “involved” and everything but I am glad I started with this one! If you make Pad Thai all the time and have a favorite way to make it, please share in the comments!

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I did have ONE problem. The recipe in the book said to take your rice stick noodles and place them in an 8-9 inch square pan and place boiling water over the noodles. Then cover and let stand for for 5 minutes, until soft. However, this did not work for me! Most of the noodles stuck together and took way longer than 5 minutes to soften. Maybe other people have had better luck but I looked at the directions on the package of noodles I had purchased and those directions were completely different than the book. Lesson learned: always double check package directions vs. recipe directions for things like this. Oh and next time I am busting out the chopsticks! I really like using them and we have a few pairs at home.

What are your thoughts on chopsticks? Do you use them often or do you like to use a fork instead?

Pad Thai with Tofu {adapted from Pam Anderson’s Cook without a Book}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7-8 oz extra firm tofu (1/2 package)
  • 8 oz Thai rice stick noodles
  • Pad Thai Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 medium-large onion, halved from pole to pole, each half cut into 6 wedges)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 8 oz (scant 3 cups) bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

For the Pad Thai Sauce

  • 6 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicier!)

Mix all ingredients together.

DIRECTIONS:

Drain the tofu and place on a plate. Top with a second plate and weight with a heavy can. Set aside for 10 minutes to press out some of the liquid.

Cook Thai rice stick noodles according to package direction. Set aside.

Place the Pad Thai Sauce in a small bowl. Cut the pressed tofu in bite size cubes. Arrange the onion, garlic, scallions, bean sprouts, and eggs next to your stovetop. (you need to move quickly so it helps having everything ready!)

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet (or wok) over high heat. When very hot, Add 1 tbsp of the oil and the onion and stir fry until the onion is still crisp and spotty brown, about 1 minute. Add the tofu and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in the garlic, scallions, and bean sprouts and stir-fry until the vegetables wilt slightly, about 1 minute. Make a well in the center of the pan and pour in the eggs. Cook until partially set, then scramble into the vegetable mixture. Transfer to a bowl, pour half the Pad Thai Sauce over it, toss to coat.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the same skillet and heat until shimmering. Toss the noodles with the remaining Pad Thai Sauce. Add to the skillet and stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes. Return the vegetable mixture to the skillet and stir-fry until noodles are heated through. Transfer to a serving platter and squeeze 2 of the lime wedges over the noodles, sprinkle with peanuts. Garnish with cilantro and remaining lime wedges. Serve immediately.

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