March 5, 2015

Oven Roasted Creamy Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup with Avocado Bacon and Cream

Whenever there is a pot of soup simmering on my stove...all is right with my world.  Something about knowing a steaming hot bowl of comfort is just around the corner of my life, makes me feel very calm, happy and satisfied.

Soup-making can be an all-day-affair or it can be simple.  I personally feel it's one of those things you should start your kids off with when you teach them the ropes in the kitchen.  My kids became pros at making chicken and turkey stock at a young age and now my two tweens do it exclusively while I do other tasks...or relax! So guiding them into soup-making is easy. Check out my daughters method for making chicken stock.

There is almost nothing as delicious as a fresh picked summer tomato...eaten fresh off the vine or used in any dish you dream up.  I for one still crave tomatoes all winter long and do whatever I can to enjoy them...IF they look good that is.  Taking the extra step of roasting the tomatoes you can get your hands on in the winter, deepens their flavor and they just happen to make an extraordinary soup!

Roasted Tomato & Garlic

This soup is deep with flavor!  Tricking it out with avocado, guac and bacon is not necessary however  it was fun and rather tasty and I am going to do it again and again!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Avocado and Bacon

Roasted Tomatoes 
2 lbs Plum tomatoes, halved
3 TBS grapeseed or olive oil
4 large garlic cloves
Salt & pepper

Toss garlic and tomatoes with the oil on a baking sheet, season with salt pepper (and optional dried Oregano) and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until tomatoes begin to collapse.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 heaping cup of chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon sugar
Roasted Tomatoes & garlic from above
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes*
1/2 cup fresh chopped Basil or 2 TBS Gourmet Garden Basil
2 cups chicken stock, 
Salt & pepper to taste
Splash of Balsamic vinegar
Optional - Pinch or two of red pepper 
3/4 cup heavy cream
Optional garnished: diced avocado, crumbled bacon, guacamole dollops

In your soup pot, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes, sprinkle in sugar and saute for 1 minute more.  
Scrape in the garlic and roasted tomatoes from your baking sheet...use a rubber spatula and get all of that goodness into your pot. Add in your canned tomatoes (*or if you have an abundance of tomatoes adjust the amount you are roasting to 4 pounds and eliminate the canned). 
Add in your basil and chicken stock, stir it all up until it is incorporated, allow soup to come to a simmer.  Taste.  If necessary add salt and pepper to your personal preference. Allow soup to simmer for 25 minutes.  
Remove from heat and carefully blend your soup with an immersion blender or in your blender. Return soup to the pot. add in a splash of Balsamic and the red pepper if you want a little heat. Add in the heavy cream and bring the soup to just a simmer.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
Trick out your soup with some crumbled bacon, chopped avocado and guacamole and enjoy!!
Basic tomato soup recipe adapted from Epicurious


March 3, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Mini Jalapeno & Scallion Biscuits


The Very Best Chicken Pot Pie Soup

March has in fact come in like a lion (where I live in PA anyway)! So like our famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby, I too see a few more weeks of soups in our future which is not a bad thing in my book!

Today over on Babble I have my 13 year old son's favorite soup.  When I say favorite...I mean favorite.  I get big smiles and a bear hug when I slide a bowl of this delicious and comforting Chicken Pot Pie Soup in front of my manling!  He will come back for bowl after bowl throughout the day...he just keeps coming back for more and he'll keep saying "mom...moooommmm!!" "This soup is the best" Memories like that,well they are the closest to my heart (and I hope his too!).

Pop on over to get the recipe for this soup here, I hope you enjoy it!

Tomorrow afternoon I will have a ridiculously delicious Loaded Roasted Creamy Tomato Soup posted, so pop on back to check it out!


February 25, 2015

Easy Breakfast Pie


I was never one for breakfast (except occasionally on a Saturday or Sunday morning).  However, I began to have a love affair with eggs about 5 years ago and now I happily look forward to breakfast most mornings.  It could be as simple as a perfectly fried & seasoned egg alone or over a slice of Canadian Bacon, a 2 egg omelet with just cheese and ham made in one of the tiny pans I have just for breakfast OR it could be something heartier like Challah French Toast or this wonderful Egg Pie!

Having breakfast, for me anyway, sets me off on the right foot for the day. My son who is now 13 has been into hot breakfasts for about 4 years now and every morning, no matter how crazy it is, he gets one.  And yes...its challenging to make that happen some mornings.  But you know my little mind, I'm giving him a leg up for his day at school and plus I feel good knowing I do something nice for him since we are apart for the day.  Right there is reason enough for me to become a short order cook some mornings.  So if it means me cutting my dream of running in the surf with my boyfriend Jared Leto short to make it be it!

My daughter, she's still into cereal or toast or maybe a couple of slices of bacon.  However she only wants to eat the crispy fat parts of the should see what a piece of bacon looks like when she's finished with it, lol!  I get the spoils!  The only meat Samantha will/can eat is chicken or turkey, bacon, ham & fish....that girl can go-to-town on a piece of Blackened Grouper!  Everything else irritates her throat and gives her, as much as she loves the aroma and wants to eat meat when she sees it, especially ribs...she longs to eat them...she will not...not even beef broth because she pays for it for hours with a throat irritation.  I let her listen to her body.

One breakfast the whole family enjoys is this Simple Breakfast Pie.  We usually make it with ham & cheese, sometimes we throw a bit of chopped broccoli into it as well.  Its so easy to make that the kids can make it on their own and one of the best things about it is it hold up beautifully for leftovers! The next morning or lunch either way it reheats well and tastes just as good as it did coming out of the oven.

My kids have been helping make this Pie since they were of any age love to crack eggs, right?  Flashback to My Little Chef (about 6 years ago).  Makes me smile! 

Little Girl Cracking Eggs

You could of course customize this to your family's tastes by adding in various cheeses, scallions, mushrooms or whatever you think they would like.  This simple preparation pleases my whole family.  I also make a Cheddar Bacon & Spinach Pie for dinner occasionally which again, the whole family enjoys.

Do you have a favorite Egg Pie or Quiche combination?  I'd love to hear it and maybe give it a whirl.

This is a perfect recipe for budding junior chefs - they can totally take the wheel on this one and prepare it themselves! 

Easy Breakfast Pie
1 uncooked fresh or frozen deep dish pie crust (or make your own)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 TBS flour
1 TBS melted butter
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup diced broccoli (optional)
1 cup chopped ham
6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grab your thawed store bought pie crust and lace it in a tin or pie plate or press your homemade pie crust crust into a pie dish then place it onto a baking sheet.  Set aside.  
Whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, butter, salt and pepper until combined.  Stir in the broccoli if using, ham and cheese.  Pour mixture into your pie crust, being careful not to overfill, and bake it on a baking sheet (in case of overflow) for 45-50 minutes or until the pie is puffed up and golden brown on top. Once removed from the oven, allow the pie to cool/set for at least 10 minutes.

Colleen's Notes:  Use whole milk, if using low-fat or skim, you will need to replace 1/2 cup of it with whipping or heavy cream.  Feel free to add in any veggies you enjoy or replace the ham with cooked, crispy bacon or vegetables.  And the tiny pans I mentioned are THE BOMB when it comes to making eggs.  I have a 4 inch one and a 5 inch ceramic one...they are used more than any other item in my kitchen - they turn out perfect eggs and 2 egg omelets...every time!  I actually need to get a few new ones...mine look like they have been through a battle or something - However they still do the job lol!


February 21, 2015

My Favorite Margarita Recipe

Chambord Margarita

Did you know that February 22nd is National Margarita Day??

Not a bad thing to celebrate in my book!

I'm envisioning Margaritas and Mexican food...all-day-long!  Oh Yeah...Both of those things make me very happy!

My absolute favorite margarita is a Chambord Margarita...if you know my site then you know I love using Chambord in recipes!

Check out my Chambord Margaritas over on Jo-Lynne Shane's Site and check out one of my most popular recipes to date on this site...My Make Ahead Frozen Chambord Margaritas!  Keep your freezer stocked with these babies, when company pops over or the mood strikes....grab one and enjoy. No mess, no stress!

Frozen RaspberryMargaritas

However you like them...salt no salt, flavored or traditional...Cheers to you next one!!


February 19, 2015

Baby Portabella Mushrooms, Bacon & Peppers

Grilled baby portabella mushrooms bacon and bell peppers

Next time you are grilling up a piece of meat, instead of running in and out of your home while working on a side dish to accompany it, why not keep it all on the grill and whip up a pan of these Spicy Mushrooms, Bacon & Peppers?  Utilizing either the grill itself or its side burner will allow you to stay put, and focus on your meal and enjoy being outdoors while you do!.

little chef cooking

My kids do the prep for this dish and my oldest, who is learning the basics of grilling, mans the grill...and me...well I "supervised", lol! Check out the recipe and post  over on Saber Grills Better Barbecue Blog! Plus I also share one of my favorite kitchen tricks/tips!

February 17, 2015

Easy Spicy Sesame Noodles

This simple Spicy Sesame Noodle Salad has been a favorite of of mine (and my husbands) 
for almost 2 decades!

Easy Spicy Sesame Noodles

This is one of my favorite go-to's for parties, BBQ's and impromptu gatherings.  It's always a hit and people literally hunt me down for the recipe, I actually used to take copies of my recipe along with me back-in-the-day...but then I stared this now I can just point people to it...easy-peasy! 

A huge bonus about this recipes is that it comes together so quickly and you may already have the ingredients on-hand!  With less than an hours notice that friends or family is having a get-together for a game, a weekend night or Sunday-funday, I can shower, whip up a big bowl of these and be out the door!

These Sesame Noodles are inexpensive to made a HUGE bowlful of as well (double the recipe) and the leftovers (if there are any) are just as delicious as the day you made them.  I always make extra and set aside a bowl of it in our fridge for us the next day, however the noodle-obsessed man I live with, midnight muncher, love of my life often finds them first!

This makes a fabulous lunch and is easy to bring to work...just throw some in a container or large mason jar, pack a fork and you are good-to-go!  I enjoy this best served at room temperature, which makes it a perfect picnic item as well.

The Best Sesame Noodles

The spicier the better is my motto when it comes to these, however I do make a non-spicy portion as well for my kiddos.  I am easing them into hot & spicy foods.  They are beginning to appreciate spice, especially my son however they are just not on their parents level...YET!

If you want to make these more of a meal, add in some shredded grilled chicken,  mmmmm!

Love noodles?? If so, you will love my Easy Chicken Pho, one of the most popular recipes on my site and a family favorite soup, its literally a hug in a bowl! Get the recipe.

Popular Chicken Pho Recipe

Easy Spicy Sesame Noodles
1pound of linguine, cooked to package directions for al dente
1 red pepper, slice into toothpick-like slices (or more if you are into peppers)
4-5 scallions, sliced thin both the white and green
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 TBS red wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
3 TBS sesame oil (in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 TBS plus 1 TSP sugar
1 1/2 TBS chili sauce with garlic (in the Asian section of the grocery store)

Make your sauce first by combining the soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, sugar and chili sauce with garlic. Shake vigorously in a mason jar or pop the sauce in your blender for a minute to mix well.

While your pasta is cooking, slice your peppers and scallions.

As soon as you drain your noodles, run them under cold water until cool. Blot noodles dry with paper towels.

Assemble the dish by throwing into the pasta your peppers and scallion, then the sauce, work it through with your hands to get every inch of pasta coated. I usually do this in the pot I made the pasta in then turn out the coated noodles in the serving dish. If you make this hours or a day ahead, make some additional sauce (half the recipe) to freshen it up prior to serving - it's really good the next day too! I personally like these noodles at room temperature, but they taste great cold too!