quick + easy creamy tomato soup.

As mentioned a plethora of times, I love soup. It’s especially enchanting during these fall and winter months, when the daylight is fleeting, the wind is whipping, and you’re shivering just going from your car to your front door. Soup is the answer. So is vodka, but that’s a story for another time.

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Growing up, I never ate creamy soups. We ate broth based soups, and although a variety of tomato soups were always on the menu, I didn’t have cream of tomato until I was at least 20. I remember seeing it on a menu at a fast casual restaurant, and being wary to order it. I remember thinking “will I like it? I don’t like milk or cream”. I did.

I had a hankering for soup recently, and I had some leftover half and half from a different recipe so I decided to make creamy tomato soup. Let me tell you, I used canned and jarred tomatoes to make this a quick recipe, and I’ve found my new obsession: passata.

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Pictured above, passata is essentially a puree of uncooked tomatoes, and I describe in more detail at the end of this post, including substitutions if you can’t find it.

This soup hit the spot for me, and because I used half and half in place of the cream (only 2/3 cup!), you can feel good about eating a great big bowl! Also? A grilled cheese accompaniment is not mandatory, but highly recommended. I love fontina on pumpernickel. Enjoy!

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creamy tomato soup.
adapted from food + wine magazine. 

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ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3.5 cups fire roasted diced tomatoes (from 1 28 ounce can)
1.5 cups passata (uncooked tomato puree)*
1 cup vegetable broth
2/3 cup half and half
1 tablespoon coconut palm OR unrefined white sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
sea salt and black pepper

ingredients
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes. Add the undrained tomatoes, passata, vegetable broth, sugar, crushed red pepper, oregano, celery seed, smoked paprika and season with about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, breaking up the tomatoes with the spoon/spatula. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer for 10 minutes.

Working in batches or using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. If using stand blender, transfer blended soup to a clean pot over low heat. Add half and half and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a starter.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

NOTE: Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that is strained to have the seeds and skins removed. It originated in Italy and common in Europe. It differs from the tomato sauce or puree that you commonly find in U.S. grocery stores as it is uncooked and typically has nothing added to it, thus having a very fresh and light flavor. It is typically found in your grocery store’s tomato aisle, with specialty products, or in the Organic section. It is usually in a tall glass carafe or a box.

If you cannot find it, don’t despair! You can simply use an equivalent amount of whole/diced tomatoes, or tomato puree or sauce, being aware that the tomato puree or sauce will be much sweeter, due to the amount of sugar that is typically found in these products. The brand of passata I use is pictured above, and is labeled as ‘strained tomatoes’.

green beans with caramelized onions + toasted almonds.

I think green beans may be my favorite vegetable. They are so versatile, easy to prepare, and a real crowd pleaser. I don’t think I can think of anyone I know that doesn’t like them… can you?

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This recipe is time consuming, as caramelizing onions cannot be rushed! However, once the onions are done, this recipe couldn’t be simpler! Promise. Blanch the beans, toast the almonds, toss everything together, DONE. The onions provide a sweetness and richness, and the almonds add a crunchy, toasty note. I love recipes like this: just a few ingredients work synergistically to create a rich, complex dish.

I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, and one of the guests asked me for the recipe, as her 14 month old daughter kept asking for more beans. Baby approved? We’ve got a winner on our hands.

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green beans with caramelized onions.

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ingredients
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 sweet onion, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted, grassfed butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 cup sliced almonds
sea salt and black pepper

directions
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Slice the onions 1/4 inch thick, and add to the skillet along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring often for 40-50 minutes, or until often are soft and lightly golden, being careful to not burn/crisp them. Add the second two tablespoons of butter halfway through the cooking process. Add the thyme leaves during the last five minutes (35-40 minute mark).

While the onions are cooking, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced almonds and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of sea salt. Add beans and blanch for 4-5 minutes, until crisp tender. Remove and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve the green color.

In a large bowl, add the onion mixture, toasted almonds, and green beans and toss together. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Serves 8.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

brown rice noodles with cabbage + leeks.

I’ve always wondered why people stay away from Asian-inspired cooking… too intimidating? Too many ingredients? Unfamiliarity? Whatever the reason, I find that people are timid when attempting Asian-inspired dishes. I’m not sure how authentic this dish is, but it’s simple, fast and delicious. Also? It’s perfect for everyone. EVERYONE. Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and even vegan – this dish will please just about anyone that you serve it to. Pasta with cabbage is a traditionally Polish dish, Haluski. We’re going to switch it up today, using brown rice noodles instead of egg noodles, and napa cabbage stir fried with a simple sweet and salty sauce.

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These are a little spicy, a little sweet, a little tangy, and super satisfying. If you did want to add more protein, I would probably add extra firm tofu. Just cube it, and lightly saute it before adding the vegetables. Then remove and add back at the end with the noodles to reheat through.

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Top with scallions, a drizzle of sesame oil and sriracha if you want some extra heat. Yum!

brown rice noodles with cabbage + leeks. 
adapted from Family Table. 

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ingredients
8 ounces brown rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 head napa or savory cabbage, cored and sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 leek, washed well, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (or unrefined sugar)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1.5 teaspoons sriracha
3 scallions, light and dark greens parts, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

directions
In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and garlic cloves together over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, and then remove the garlic with a slotted spoon.

Add the cabbage, leeks, carrots, ginger and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often for 7-10 minutes, or until just tender.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar, soy sauce/tamari, coconut sugar and whisk until well combined. Add the sauce mixture to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add the rice noodles and toss well. Drizzle in sesame oil and sriracha. Top with sliced scallions, sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 3-4.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.

Hi there! Are your Thanksgiving plans and preparation in full swing? Whether you are hosting, cooking, or tasked with bringing a dish, I have something for you today that definitely deserves a spot on your holiday table. This salad is rich yet healthy, and it’s remarkably simple to make!

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Now, I can probably guess what you’re thinking: a salad… really? It’s Thanksgiving! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing… it’s a meat and potato lovers dream meal! That may be true, but I love vegetables, so I’m always very excited when I’m asked to bring something vegetal and green to the table. This is bright and punchy, which is a refreshing contrast to all the heavy dishes. The roasted pears help add richness and make this salad feel holiday special.

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Arugula is spicy, and is complemented nicely by the bright pomegranates and my favorite lemon dressing. I used a raw sheep’s milk cheese, but crumbled goat cheese would be lovely in this salad. This will be on my holiday table, and I hope it’ll make on yours, too!

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.
adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine, Fall 2016.

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ingredients
5 ounces (weight) baby arugula
2 large red pears, cored and quartered
2 ounces pomegranate seeds
2 ounces toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

lemon dressing 
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
few dashes of white wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
scant 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
dash dried thyme
* you will have leftover dressing; will keep up to 10 days

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss pear quarters with tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper (1/4 teaspoon each, give or take). Toss well and spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Once lightly caramelized and tender but not soft, remove from oven and let cool completely.

While pears are cooking, add all the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil into the blender. While the blender is on, slowly stream in the oil to emulsify.

In a large bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cheese and arugula. Add 1/4-1/3 of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Plate onto a serving platter and top with roasted pears. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Easily doubled or tripled.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.

The cider love continues! This dinner is super fast and perfect for a weeknight. In my overzealous fall shopping, I picked up a gallon of local apple cider. Turns out, I don’t really drink all that much apple cider, so after a week or so, I still had over half of the gallon left. Cider makes a delicious pan sauce, and this one is so simple. Just cider, dijon, salt, pepper and finished with a pat of butter. So much flavor with very little effort!

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I used a whisk to break up the mustard and smoothly incorporate it into the apple cider. This will bubble, and you’ll want to stir and/or whisk it often while it thickens. No cornstarch necessary here! Butter at the end makes the sauce oh-so silky and rich. Perfect for the chicken, although this would be equally delicious with pork chops or tenderloin. This sauce is SO. DELICIOUS. I loved the bitter greens agains the sweet sauce, but pick your favorite veggie if swiss chard isn’t for you.

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This comes together in under 20 minutes, making it a super fast and elegant weeknight dish that will make the return of short days that much easier!

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.
adapted from cooking light. 

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ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4)*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

swiss chard:
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pinch of sea salt
splash (1 teaspoon-ish) red wine or cider vinegar

directions
Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to remove all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes while sauce is bubbling until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat, and swirl in tablespoon of butter. Pour over chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat heat. Add minced garlic clove, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add swiss chard to pan, and add crushed red pepper and sea salt. Toss together for one minute, and add in slash of red wine vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, until the swiss chard begins to wilt. If finished before the pan sauce, remove from heat and cover.

Serves 4.

*I typically buy a pound chicken breasts, which yields two breasts in a package. I cut each breast in half, and pound to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness with a meat mallet.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

bourbon apple cider + ginger cocktail.

Tis’ the season for all things apple. I was reading an article on Buzzfeed recently (my lunchtime mindless guilty pleasure reading for sure), I happened upon a quiz titled “are you more apple spice or pumpkin spice?”. Well, I don’t need a quiz to tell me that I am squarely in the apple spice camp. Full disclosure: I one hundred percent took the quiz and was relieved when it confirmed that yes, I was in fact apple spice. Whew. 

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It’s not that I don’t love pumpkin flavored goodies. I do! My previous recipe can attest!  It’s just, I love apple. All things. My very first scented candle obsession was with apple cinnamon. I like that tart/sweet combination, and the slightly spicy notes… just yum. So what does that have to do with cocktails? Well, not very much actually. As promised in the last post, this cocktail is the perfect accompaniment. This drink is simple, oh so perfect for fall, and strikes a great balance between sweet, spicy and bitter.

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Do you like bourbon? I never used to, but over the years I’ve developed quite the taste for it, especially from bourbon-based cocktails. This one is oddly refreshing, which is a word I usually reserve for warm weather recipes. We’re going to combine bourbon (I like Knob Creek for this) with gorgeous, cloudy apple cider, a twist of orange and topped with spicy ginger beer. Make sure to get good, strong ginger beer for this: I used Trader Joe’s triple ginger brew… it has quite the kick!

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Shake and pour over ice for a delicious cocktail that tastes just like the cool days of fall. The original recipe had a cinnamon and sugar rimmed glass, but I tried it with and without and found I liked it much better without.

These are great for a crowd… you could make a big batch of the bourbon/orange/cider mix, and then top with the ginger beer when ready to serve, to ensure the cocktail stays bubbly and festive. Enjoy you guys!

apple cider +ginger bourbon cocktail. 

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ingredients
4 ounces bourbon (I like Knob Creek or Buffalo Trace for this)
8 ounces cloudy apple cider
1 ounce fresh orange juice
4 ounces ginger beer

directions
Juice an orange. Add juice, apple cider, bourbon to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.

Strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice. Top evenly with ginger beer. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 very generous cocktails. Makes 4 regular sized cocktails.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

brown rice + pumpkin “risotto”.

Oh, hi there! How are you? Sorry for my unexpected silence; life got in the way and I ended using my kitchen for incredibly uninspiring food: lots of egg white omelettes, toast, grilled chicken topped salads and copious amounts of hummus were consumed. In a nutshell: life has had me pretty exhausted. And it seems that fall has arrived while I’ve been quiet! Hello, chilled evenings and early mornings. Hello to the Harvest Moon and the incredibly vast, clear black sky. And hello to you, grey, dreary, rainy days. I’ve missed you, too. Yes, I know I’m probably the only one, but I love grey, rainy days. Rain is cleansing, evocative, romantic, even.  To usher this cool weather in, I have a super seasonal recipe that is a fun play on risotto, without the near constant stirring of hot broth into the rice: pumpkin risotto with sage. We’re using brown arborio rice to up the nutrition of this meatless main dish. The brand I use can be found here, and I can usually find it in my main grocery store.

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This risotto recipe was calling my name; although it’s a lengthy recipe, much of the time is inactive! You can just a pop a lid on the pot, set a timer, and go about your business for 35-40 minutes, and then come back to finish it off.

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Pumpkin and sage are quintessentially autumnal, and the former provides such a rich creaminess to the dish. I garnished the finished dish with some local, raw gruyere-like cheese that I picked up a festival a few weeks ago, but you can use any hard cheese that you like: pecorino, parmesan, you name it! You can also just leave it off for a dairy free and vegan friendly dish.

Enjoy friends; I loved this. The ideal cocktail for this dish is coming up next.🙂

pumpkin + brown rice risotto.
adapted from healthy seasonal recipes. 

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ingredients
1.5 cups brown arborio rice
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium/medium-large sweet onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I like an oaky Chardonnay, but any dry, crisp white will do)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2-3 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese, grated (optional)

directions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic. Saute the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and fragrant.

Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice becomes slightly toasted and translucent in spots on the grains of rice. Add the wine and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Add in vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 35-40 minutes.

Remove lid, stir and add in pumpkin, cinnamon, and sage leaves. Stirring often, increase heat to medium and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring often to let thicken and the flavors combine and to let the rice continue to soften. Once the rice is soft and everything is well combined, taste and add in additional salt and pepper if desired (I added more of both).

Divide amongst four bowls, garnish with cheese and whole sage leaves and serve immediately.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**