Friday, October 17, 2014

Minestrone


INGREDIENTS:  
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
1/2 c. chopped zucchini
1/2 c. frozen or fresh cut green beans
1/4 c. minced celery (about 1/2 stalk)
4 tsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
4 c. vegetable broth (can use chicken)
2 15oz. cans red kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
2 15oz. cans small white beans (drained & rinsed)
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. julienned or shredded carrot
2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
3 c. hot water
1 to 1 1/2 c. cubed butternut squash**
4 c. baby spinach
1/2 cup small seashell pasta* (or other small pasta)

DIRECTIONS:
1) Prep all veggies.

2)Heat olive oil over medium heat in large stock pot.  Saute onion, zucchini, green beans, celery, and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.

3) Add broth to pot, plus drained/rinsed beans, tomatoes, carrot, spices, bay leaves, and hot water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place butternut squash on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Toss to coat.  Place in oven for about 8 minutes, then stir and bake for about 5 more minutes, or until soft and slightly browned.

5) After soup has simmered 20 minutes, add spinach and pasta to soup. While that simmers, take butternut squash and place in food processor or blender.  Take a little broth from the soup and add to food processor to help with the blending.  Blend until smooth, then add mixture to the soup.  Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until desired soupy thickness.  Serve with grated parmesan or romano cheese on individual servings. 

*If you use whole wheat pasta, this definitely qualifies as a clean-eating, low-calorie meal.
**You can omit the butternut squash, but I absolutely love the flavor and texture it adds to the soup!  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blondies

M&M Chocolate Chip Blondies

ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup M&M's (optional)

directions:



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 8X8 pan with cooking spray. I used a glass Pyrex dish.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl-flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter and brown sugar. Stir until smooth.
4. Add in the egg and stir. Next, stir in the vanilla. Stir until smooth.
5. Add the flour mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and M&M's.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the blondies for 23-25 minutes, until the blondies are set. A toothpick will come out clean when they are done. Let the blondies cool on a rack. When cool, cut and serve.  (they are chewy when cooled, gooey when hot.  I prefer chewy, but they taste good either way!)
**I usually make these without the M&M's just because I rarely buy them.  You can omit them and keep everything else the same, or I like to increase the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup rather than 1/3 cup.
Recipe from twopeasandtheirpod.com 

Monday, October 6, 2014

French Onion Soup

FRENCH ONION SOUP

4 Tbs. butter
5-6 yellow onions (4-5 if the onions are really big)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2 tsp. fresh)
6 1/2 cups beef broth
1 small baguette
olive oil
salt & pepper
8 oz. swiss cheese (sliced or grated), or gruyere if you want stronger flavor

1. Slice onions into half moons.  Melt butter in a large stock pot or a very large skillet over LOW heat.  Add onions and sugar to skillet and try to stir onions enough to coat with butter (pan will be very full of onions, but they will shrink down more than half so don't panic).  Keep heat on low, and don't cover with a lid.  Stir onions every 20 minutes or so.  It will take 2 to 3 hours for the onions to cook down and carmelize.  It is critical to leave the heat low and to take your time.  Don't rush this!

**(If you want to make your own baguettes, now is the time! I used this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/homemade-french-baguettes.html?soc=sharingpinterest ).

2.  When the onions start to brown (carmelize), INCREASE heat to medium, then add the flour and stir to incorporate.  Cook for 3 minutes, then add thyme.  Add beef broth to pot, scraping the bottom of pan to get the good stuff, bringing soup to a simmer.  Reduce heat to keep at a simmer WITH a lid on.  Simmer 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat oven to 350.  Slice baguette and drizzle both sides of slices with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  place slices on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, turning slices over half way through.    

4.  Once bread is removed, heat oven to BROIL.

5.  Taste soup and add salt and pepper if needed (remember the cheese and bread are quite salty).  Ladle soup into soup crocks or oven safe bowls.  Top soup with 2 slices of bread per bowl (I like to cube the bread first--makes eating it easier), then place a couple slices of cheese on top of bread.  place crocks on a baking sheet and put under broiler until cheese is bubbly (only a couple of minutes).  Watch closely--it doesn't take long and you don't want it to burn!

serve immediately (careful, it's hot!).  can serve extra baguette w/ butter on the side.