Monthly Archives: February 2013

Crab Asparagus Soup

Before I begin, let me make a bit of a confession. My pictures are really bad. I have a puny kitchen, ugly dishes and, try as I might, I have a difficult time providing lovely pictures of even lovelier food. Case and point, the picture of asparagus I posted. I had my son hold a dish towel behind the little pitcher. It’s pathetic. The soup it represents is not.

I love asparagus and I am very happy that I can get it almost year round, but it will forever represent spring for me. I usually eat it barely steamed with nothing on it, with my fingers. My grandmother gave me permission to eat asparagus in this manner when I was a little girl. I still eat it this way at home and encourage my children to eat it the same way.

Since the onset of my soup obsession, I decided to try my hand at a soup with asparagus. So I took my basic smooth veggie soup concept and tried it out. It turned out great!

Crab Asparagus Soup
1 quart broth of choice (I used chicken)
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped with tough ends removed
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 chopped onion
8 oz of crab meat
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the veggies in the broth until soft enough to puree. Shoot for about 30 minutes.
2. Allow to cool for a bit and puree. I used my Braun Immersion Blender. A traditional blender will be just fine too. Just puree in batches.
3. Stir in the crab meat and season to taste.

If you want a creamy soup, you can add 1/2 cup of milk, cream, half and half, plain yogurt, or whatever dairy product you like.

Top with some goat cheese crumbles. Blue cheese crumbles would be good, too!

If you really want to fancy this up, you can heat the crab meat and place a scoop of it in the middle of your serving bowl and ladle the soup around it.

What I love most about this soup is that it’s got this really elegant feel to it but it’s insanely easy to make. I made it for lunch last Thursday morning before I went to work. I got the veggies going, showered, got dressed, got a kid up and going, cooled, pureed and VOILA! BAM! Tasty soup for lunch.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Enjoy!

Potato Cauliflower Soup

Or is it Cauliflower Potato? I honestly can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet. I make this soup more than any other. It’s my son’s favorite and he takes it for lunch at least one week a month. I love it because I can literally make it in one pot if I use my Braun Multi-Quick Immersion Blender.

Potato Cauliflower Soup
1 quart broth – I used Wegmans Vegetable Culinary Stock (Low sodium and nonfat)
2 cups each chopped potatoes and cauliflower
2 or more cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 cup milk or half and half
Pepper to taste

1. Cook the veggies and garlic in the broth until soft. It’s going to take at least 30 minutes, depending on how small you chopped your veggies.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Because I am a princess and have a cool immersion blender, I could do my blending right in the pot.
3. Blend in batches until smooth.
4. Add milk.
5. Done.

The broth was very, very golden in color which is why my soup is so yellow. The milk helped mellow the color a bit. And would you look at the size of that head of cauliflower! The bowl is about eight inches in diameter. The cauliflower easily weighed four pounds. Thank goodness cauliflower lasts for a while! I barely used any of it!

This is another soup that could be jazzed up with chunks of potatoes and cauliflower and some nice thick pieces of cod or haddock. You could even add some clams for a twist on clam chowder.

Enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Italian Sausage

Chicken breasts have been on sale everywhere this week so I stocked up, and yesterday, I used a couple to make some delicious, low-fat Italian Sausage. Once again, I got to use my Kitchen Aid Food Grinder and my cute little mortar and pestle. The sausage was done in about 5 minutes. I refrigerated it most of the day and then used it to make a really scrumptious White Spinach Lasagna. I also made a traditional lasagna, too. I have one child who is on an anti-tomato sauce kick and another who is on a permanent anti-spinach kick. I normally would never prepare two dishes for one dinner but to make two different kinds of lasagna took very little extra effort so I was game.  I’ve never made a lasagna without tomato sauce so I was very excited to try. I was very pleased with the results.

Chicken Italian Sausage
2 chicken breasts (almost a pound)
4 or more cloves of garlic, crushed
2 TBSP italian seasoning
1 TSP fennel seed
1/4 cup grated parmesan

1. Combine all the spices and crush them as best as you can. I can’t emphasize how great the results of the crushing will be. You will release the oils in the spices which will really enhance the flavor of your sausage.
2. Grind the chicken. If you’re using the Kitchen Aid attachment, you know to cut it into one inch strips. It’s helpful to do this before you start the grinding process. I sometimes have a helper but two helpers were studying and one was sick.
3. Combine all the ingredient, including the parmesan. Put in a baggie (or a covered bowl) and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Here’s a picture of my Spinach Lasagna. I added a half a 1 lb bag of cooked spinach to about 1 1/2 cups of part skim ricotta and one egg and then layered away! I usually put the meat in the sauce but since there was no sauce, the sausage was it’s own layer. I used Barilla No Boil Lasagna noodles. If you really want a recipe for this, let me know and I’ll post it later this week.

Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day: Crazy Sexy Pasta

Valentine’s Day in our house is a bit of a big deal. It’s our oldest child’s birthday. While we don’t buy each other gifts, there really isn’t anything more loving for a couple to do than celebrate the birth of your child over a wonderful meal.

If you’re looking for something special to make your honey (and your family or even just yourself) on Valentine’s Day, this is the dish for you! It’s very quick and easy and incredibly tasty. This dish is so popular in my house, running out of it has been known to make family members cry. They hide leftovers, or in a more recent development, reserve them.

The combination of the salty pancetta with the creamy sauce will make you drool. I used to make this with the traditional three alfredo ingredients of butter, heavy cream and parmesan. I no longer use the heavy cream but start with the same milk sauce I use in my Mac and Cheese. I won’t call this dish light by any means. It’s fatty fat fattening. But it’s nice to indulge once in a while.

Crazy, Sexy Pasta
1- 16 oz box of interesting pasta like Farfalle or Gemelli
4 oz of pancetta or prosciutto
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup flour
4 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmesan
pepper to taste

1. Start the water boiling for your pasta. This sauce is so fast that you will have it ready in the time it takes your pasta to cook.
2. Combine oil, garlic and pancetta (or prosciutto) in a sauce pan that is big enough to hold the milk and everything else. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes on medium heat. Remove from pan, drain and set aside. Don’t forget your pasta water! You can probably add the pasta now!
3. Melt butter in the same pan.
4. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and let it soak in for a minute. Then gently mix it around.
5. Add the milk. Some people like to add milk in stages and let it thicken. You can do that or just put it all in at once. Reduce heat to medium – low. Stir frequently until it thickens.
6. When your milk sauce (I heard this term the one time I watched Rachael Ray) is the consistency of a thin pudding, add the cheese. Start with a half a cup and add more if desired. Your sauce should look like the picture below.

7. Add the pancetta and garlic into the sauce and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
8. Your pasta is probably done! Drain it well, return it to the pot and pour on the sauce and toss it around.
9. Allow people to pepper to taste.
Serve with a nice salad and a light white wine like a Pinot Grigio. You can toss in some steamed asparagus, too. We’ve done that and it’s fantastic!
I want to emphasize how easy this is to make. My 15 year old son has made this. I decided since it’s his favorite dish that he needed to know how to make it himself. So if you are looking for something really elegant to make for a first Valentine’s Day with your honey, and you don’t feel confident with your cooking, this is it!
Are you planning a less romantic Valentine’s Day? This will work for you, too! Just cut everything in half! You’ll have one serving for dinner and enough for one more meal. Or make the whole thing and have everyone over for an Anti-Valentine potluck!
Enjoy!

Broccoli Soup

Recently, I got Wegmans’ Menu Magazine in the mail. It’s full of recipes and coupons, and much more. The pictures are dazzling. (The second picture of the ingredients is from the magazine.) All the recipes had pictures of the ingredients, the final product and the ingredients in their packaging (where appropriate). I was never so happy with a piece of mail in my life. I flipped through and found a fantastic recipe for Broccoli Soup that I have adapted here. The original recipe calls for plain yogurt but I used half and half and I substituted garlic for onion since the recipe has leeks. It’s very quick and easy!

Broccoli Soup
1 TBSP olive oil
1 leek, chopped and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
2 TBSP flour
1 lb broccoli florets
1 quart broth of choice ( I used a nonfat, low sodium chicken broth)
1/2 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute the leeks, celery and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Use a stock pot. You’re going to put the rest of the stuff in here, too.
2. Sprinkle the flour over the sautéed veggies and let is sit for a minute or so.
3. Add the broth and the broccoli. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is soft enough to puree without breaking any appliances. It took mine about 20 minutes.
4. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
5. Puree in batches in your regular old blender or if you have a stick blender, you can puree it right in the pot.
6. Stir in the half and half (or plain yogurt). If you’re serving it right away, you may need to heat it up a bit. Season as needed. I usually only add pepper and let the salt users add their own.

Top with shaved parmesan.

This soup was a major hit in my house. Most soups get two thumbs up on a scale of 4 because there are two people who just aren’t big into soup. This got three! That’s HUGE!

This recipe could be made vegetarian if you use veggie broth. I suppose you could make it vegan if you use a non-dairy milk. I didn’t test that, so if you try it that way, let me know how it was!

Enjoy!