Avocado Hummus and a Featured Soup!

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Avocados are so good and since I was making some more homemade hummus, I decided to experiment by making an Avocado Hummus. It came out pretty much like I thought it would–really smooth and creamy, with that great avocado flavor, but … Continue reading

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Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta

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If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, … Continue reading

A Taste of Provence-Tomatoes Provençal

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DownloadedFileHave you ever been to Provence? I have never been to France but if I have the chance to go, Provence will be one of the areas I want to visit! This region of southern France stretches from the Mediterranean to the hills of Haute Provence, and from the Rhone River valley to the Italian Alps. It was the site of the first Roman colony beyond Italy and today it’s known for fragrant lavender fields, beautiful beaches like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Nice, quaint small villages, and fine wines and food. The cuisine of this area includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts–basically the core of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

I learned these things and more about Provence as I was looking through my review copy of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska. This softcover book introduces you to the geography, history, traditions, wines, and recipes of the region. Here are some images of Provence you’ll find in the book:

Provence

Above images used with permission © François Milo.

Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll find more full color photography of picturesque Provence as well as many of the 47 recipes in the book, which are traditional favorites of the region…like Niçoise Salad, Fougasse with Tomatoes, Olives, and Peppers, Artichokes Barigoule, Tapenade, Swiss Chard Tart, Mediterranean Cod with Caramelized Onions, and Lemon Tart. The recipes are organized by the different areas of Provence that they’re popular in–Aix-en-Provence and Haute Provence, Marseille, La Cote Varoise, and Nice and the Riviera.

I decided to try the recipe for Tomatoes Provençal, because I love tomatoes and this is a simple yet delicious way to fix them–fresh tomatoes topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and minced garlic. This makes a great side dish and would even work nicely for a spring or summer brunch. The book recommends serving “as a light meal with other Provençal delicacies and some crusty bread, or with meat.” For best results, use fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes!

 TOMATOES PROVENÇAL from Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living

Makes 4 servings

This traditional Provençial dish relies on the quality of the tomatoes used; they must be fresh and ripe. It’s best to prepare this dish in the summer, when tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and full of flavor….

  • 4 small to medium ripe tomatoes, halved and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) chopped fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used the very fine breadcrumbs you purchase, but I think fresh breadcrumbs would be even better!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: I added some additional chopped parsley for garnish

Lightly dust the cut sides of the tomatoes with the sugar.

In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, cut sides down, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they caramelize.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley and garlic.

Flip the tomatoes and distribute the parsley and garlic mixture evenly onto them, pressing down so the mixture adheres to the tomato. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Distribute the breadcrumbs evenly among the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked through. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve warm. Note: I drizzled the remaining olive oil from the sauté pan over the tomatoes and garnished them with additional chopped parsley.

I thought the blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and touch of sea salt made a great flavor combination as a topping for the tomatoes.

Have you made or tasted this dish before? And are you ready to take a trip to Provence now? :)

Black Bean Hummus

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When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw some Black Bean Hummus. I hadn’t noticed that flavor before and it  sounded great ! Instead of buying some, I decided to make my own.

You use black beans instead of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) in this hummus, but it still has many of the same ingredients you would use in your typical hummus recipe…like olive oil, garlic, and tahini. It also has a little cayenne pepper in it, which adds some spiciness–but if you prefer a milder flavor, leave it out.

This is a smooth and creamy hummus, and I love the flavor combination of the black beans with all the other spices. If you like hummus and black beans, keep this recipe in mind!

BLACK BEAN HUMMUS by NancyCreative

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Optional garnishes: 10 to 12 Kalamata olives, 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place all ingredients, except for the garnish ingredients (olives and cilantro), in a food processor or high-power blender; process until smooth and creamy. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with olives and fresh cilantro. Serve with pita bread, fresh veggies, or tortilla chips.

I’m enjoying trying out and creating different hummus recipes! I’ve also made these other hummus recipes: basic HummusSun-Dried Tomato Hummus, and Pumpkin Hummus.   Do you have a favorite hummus flavor?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower

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I really didn’t know what to expect when I was making this Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower. I had never tried roasting cauliflower before, so this was something new for me. I’m not a particularly big fan of cauliflower either, but I do love roasted veggies–so I thought it would be worth a try!

When I had my first taste of this, I thought, “Wow, this is good!” I really did. It surpassed my expectations. Who would have thought cauliflower could have tasted so good? The cauliflower is roasted, along with some sliced red onion, in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Sour cream and shredded Cheddar cheese, added after the roasting, give this side dish a rich, creamy flavor. And the crumbled bacon on top is a nice touch, although this is great without the bacon, too, if you want to keep it meatless.

I’m sure this is something everyone in your family will love. It’s definitely worth making!

CHEESY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup regular or lite sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces) , regular or low-fat
  • Optional: 1 slice of cooked and crumbled bacon or 1 Tablespoon real bacon bits

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; spread onto foil-covered rimmed 10 x 15″ baking sheet. Bake at 450˚ for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes for even baking (you may get a few burnt edges on your sliced onions and cauliflower, but that’s okay!).

After cauliflower is roasted, spoon back into large bowl and stir in the sour cream. Then mix in the shredded Cheddar cheese. Spoon mixture into an oven-safe baking dish and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is all melted. Top with crumbled bacon or bacon bits, if using, and serve.

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This is a great dinner side dish. And something to keep in mind for special holiday meals. It’s not the healthiest way to prepare cauliflower, but it sure is good! Do you have a favorite cauliflower side dish?

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

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I’ve mentioned before how much I love hummus, and this time I tried making Sundried Tomato Hummus! I just love sundried tomatoes and I had found a recipe at AllRecipes that sounded good. It’s made with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. I halved most of the recipe, because I didn’t need to make 4 cups of hummus, and used more sun-dried tomatoes in it for a stronger, more tomato-y taste. I also needed to use more lemon juice and olive oil in this hummus because the original recipe was really thick. It’s a little thicker and chunkier than other hummus recipes I’ve made because of the sun-dried tomatoes in it, but it is so good-and I love the fresh basil in it, too!

SUN-DRIED TOMATO HUMMUS by NancyCreative, adapted from AllRecipes

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (I used the Julienne Cut, for easier blending)
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded fresh basil
  • Optional garnish: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Place garlic, salt, tahini, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the garbanzo beans and olive oil, blending again until smooth, scraping the sides of the processor occasionally. If mixture is too thick, add a little more olive oil, lemon juice, or water. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and pulse until they’ve been chopped into very small pieces and incorporated evenly into the hummus. Add the basil and pulse a few times until it is mixed in.

Spread hummus into a shallow serving dish and serve.

If desired, you can make a few decorative grooves on top, refrigerate for 1 hour, then drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika before serving. Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita bread.

I think I could eat hummus every day without getting tired of it! So I’m really glad it’s healthy! Are you a big hummus fan too?

Easy Pantry Minestrone from Weight Watchers What To Cook Now-and a Giveaway!

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51NVSI2WbxLLike so many people I know, I’m trying to eat a little healthier during this new year. So when I heard about the new cookbook, Weight Watchers What To Cook Now, I was definitely interested in reviewing it! Not only did I receive a review copy, the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is also providing a giveaway copy! I’ll tell you a little about the book and share a recipe from it with you, and then be sure to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment–see the end of this post for details on how to win!

This cookbook has more than 300 new recipes and lots of color photos. There’s a wonderful variety of great-sounding recipes to choose from–meals and desserts that your whole family can enjoy. And they look easy to prepare, too. All recipes include nutritional information and the Weight Watcher PointsPlus® values so those of you in Weight Watchers can easily keep track of your points. Even if you’re not in Weight Watches, though, I’m sure these recipes would appeal to any of you who are wanting to eat lighter and healthier.

The book starts out with tips and helpful information on good nutrition, the well-stocked pantry, must-have kitchen tools, food safety, and choosing and preparing fresh fruits and veggies. Then you’ll find recipes organized in the following chapters: Breakfasts and Brunches; Lunches; Appetizers and Snacks; Main Dishes–Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Main Dishes–Poultry; Main Dishes–Seafood; Main Dishes-Vegetarian; 20-Minute Main Dishes; Side Dishes; and Sweets. So there’s lots to choose from! Here are some recipes I’d like to try…

  • Coconut-Almond French Toast with Tropical Fruit
  • Asian Burgers with Honey-Lime Slaw
  • Spinach and Endive Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
  • Italian Beef and Mushroom Meat Loaf
  • Brown Sugar-Dijon Glazed Ham with Sweet Potatoes
  • Maple-Glazed Grilled Chicken
  • Pan-seared Tuna with Citrus-Avocado Salsa
  • Warm Mozzarella and Tomato Flatbreads
  • Gingery Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Garlicky Spinach and Fontina Pizza
  • Chocolate Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches

For this post, I decided to try the Easy Pantry Minestrone from the Vegetarian section, since I had been wanting to make minestrone this winter. It’s a good, healthy soup with lots of veggies (carrots, onion, celery, zucchini), red beans, and chickpeas. Dried basil also flavors the soup, and you serve it with a teaspoon-size dollop of pre-made refrigerated pesto which also adds nicely to the flavor!

EASY PANTRY MINESTRONE from Weight Watchers What To Cook Now

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup whole wheat macaroni or other small pasta (uncooked)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add broth, kidney beans, chickpeas, macaroni, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and zucchini and simmer until pasta and vegetables are very tender, 10 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls and top each with 1 teaspoon pesto.

PER SERVING (1 bowl): 307 Cal, 6 g Total Fat, Og Trans Fat, 1 mg Chol, 876 mg Sod, 53 g Carb, 10 g Fib, 14 g Prot, 120 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value: 8

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I really like the dollop of pesto–it gives the soup an extra little zing of flavor when you stir it in!

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to commentor #8, Aline, for winning the book!

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of Weight Watchers What To Cook Now, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Wednesday, January 22, at 10 p.m. (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Thursday evening, January 23. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite healthy dish is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, it just means I need to click on it to approve it before it’s visible–I do this because of spam comments that sometimes come through!

Honey Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese and Thyme

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I like lots of different veggies, but I’ve never been very crazy about carrots. I wish I liked them better because they’re so good for you! The only way I really like them is if they are cooked with some kind of glaze on them. I became inspired to try some kind of carrot side dish after I saw this recipe that included carrots, goat cheese, and thyme. I thought I’d add some honey, too, for a little sweetness, and I used more olive oil so I’d have a little extra glaze to spoon over the carrots. I love the lightly sweet flavor of the honey-olive oil glaze on these! The savory fresh thyme really compliments that flavor and the tangy crumbles of goat cheese add a nice punch. This side dish is a great combination of lightly sweet and savory flavors–hopefully with recipes like this I’ll be eating more carrots from now on! :)

HONEY ROASTED CARROTS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND THYME by NancyCreative, adapted from Food52

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 pounds whole carrots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (about 5 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme, depending on how big your sprigs are)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre)
  • A few extra fresh thyme leaves from another sprig or two, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 10×15″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Peel carrots and cut diagonally into thirds–if carrots are large, halve or quarter the pieces (doing this makes all the carrot pieces a more uniform size so they’ll cook evenly).

In a large bowl, mix olive oil and honey together, blending well. Add carrots and toss in olive oil/honey mixture. Season with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Add the fresh thyme leaves and toss all ingredients again until salt, pepper, and thyme are evenly distributed among the carrots.

Spread carrots on lined baking sheet and roast at 400˚F for 20 minutes, until tender–stir carrots halfway through the baking time so they are evenly heated.

Spoon carrots into a serving dish and crumble goat cheese over the warm carrots; garnish with additional fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately.

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Do you like carrots? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

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Roasted vegetables are so good, especially roasted potatoes! I had the opportunity to try a new kind of potato recently, compliments of Albert Bartlett–the Rooster Potato, grown by farmers in the U.S. The rooster potato has RoosterPotatoesa nutty, buttery taste, and I discovered when making these Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes that it also roasts really nicely. The outer skin is pink, but when baked turns golden brown, and the inside is light yellow with a nice fluffy texture. It somehow keeps its fluffy texture inside even when it’s roasted! The Rooster Potato is a great-tasting potato and works wonderfully in recipes like this one.

These Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes have a great lemony taste that really makes them different from your typical roasted potatoes. I love the tanginess of the lemon and the savory flavor of the herbs in this recipe. I found it at Southern Living and made a few changes…I added extra lemon juice, along with some rosemary, onion powder, and garlic powder for a little extra savory flavor. I never would have thought of flavoring potatoes with lemon, but I thought they were really good. And it’s easy to make, which is always a plus!

LEMON-THYME-ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOES by NancyCreative, adapted from Southern Living

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds Rooster Potatoes peeled or unpeeled, and cut into chunks (or substitute red potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons each of finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of each, dried; or you can use 4 teaspoons of just fresh thyme or 4 teaspoons of just fresh rosemary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 15 x 10″ baking pan with aluminum foil; set aside.

Cook olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 to 4 minutes, until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove butter mixture from heat and add in the chunks of potatoes, tossing gently until potatoes are all coated (the olive oil/butter mixture may splatter a little when you add the potatoes to it, so add them carefully!).

Spread the coated potato chunks in a single layer in a 15 x 10″ baking pan. (I lined my pan with aluminum foil so the pan would be easy to clean up).

Bake at 400˚F  for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring twice during the baking time so the potatoes bake evenly (I baked my potatoes for 45 minutes). When done, transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice, thyme and/or rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, until well coated. Serve immediately.

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, because it’s soooo good! It’s a great side dish for a special meal any time of year!

What’s your favorite way of making potatoes?

Sourdough-Sage Dressing

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I’ve just recently discovered how much I like making recipes with fresh sage! After making some White Cheddar and Sage Biscuits, I was wanting to try something else with fresh sage. While I was looking through recipes, I also found out, conveniently, that my friend Denise had a big patch of sage growing in her garden and she was willing to share it! She said her plant is very hearty and stays alive through the winter. So, here’s what I came up with…Sourdough-Sage Dressing…because I thought sourdough bread would be a great combination with  sage, onion, and celery.  There’s also fresh parsley in this–I have parsley growing in a pot and it’s great to always have it on hand! This dressing is very buttery and savory…so if you like that type of thing, you really must try this!

I also learned something new when I was deciding what to name this recipe. I wasn’t sure if I should call it dressing or stuffing, because I didn’t know what the difference was. Well, I found the answer at eHow.com–dressing and stuffing differ in these ways:

Preparation: The key difference between dressing and stuffing is the method of preparation. Dressing can be prepared separately from the bird on the stove top, either from scratch or a store-bought mix. Stuffing, however, is made by stuffing the mixture into the cavity of the bird and cooking them in the oven together. 

Time: Another difference between stuffing and dressing is in the time needed to prepare it. Stuffing inside the bird must be cooked as long as the bird needs to cook, and also increases the cooking time of the bird. Dressing can be made quickly on the stove top or in the oven; either way it will take less time than stuffing.

Flavor: Stuffing made inside the bird can pick up flavors from the bird and impart flavors to the bird. This may be desirable or undesirable depending on the method of preparing the bird. The flavor of dressing depends solely on its ingredients.

So this recipe is definitely dressing. Consider yourself informed on the dressing/stuffing question! :)

SOURDOUGH-SAGE DRESSING by NancyCreative

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (my loaf was 1 lb. 4 oz. and I did not use the end slices), with slices cut into 1″ pieces (or you can cut them smaller if you want)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (or use 4 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth (this dressing can be a little on the dry side in some places, so if you like your dressing more moist, add an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken broth).

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread out pieces of bread onto a large baking sheet and let dry out at least 6 hours or overnight.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add olive oil and stir to blend well. Saute onion and celery in this mixture until tender.

In large bowl, mix together bread pieces, onion-celery mixture, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper (and garlic powder, if using), tossing to coat all the bread pieces. Spoon this mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan and pour chicken broth evenly over entire mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes of baking time. Serve immediately.

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This would be a great Thanksgiving side dish, if you’re still looking for ideas! Are you making dressing or stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal?

Heirloom Tomato Soup

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I like eating soup in the cooler weather–it’s great having a hot bowl of soup on a cold rainy or snowy day, isn’t it? I have several new soup recipes friends have given me that I’ll be trying out. Julie, who is a wonderful cook and baker, shared this tomato soup recipe with me from the August/September 2012 Issue of Healthy Cooking. It’s also posted at Taste of Home.

This is a wonderfully thick, creamy soup–and the great thing is, it doesn’t have any cream in it, unless you choose to drizzle it with some cream before serving. It’s the veggies and seasonings that make it thick and creamy, because you blend or process the soup before serving. In addition to tomatoes, this soup also has onion, olive oil, garlic, carrot, corn, sea salt, and basil in it, so it’s very healthy! It also has chicken stock, but you could use vegetable stock if you want to make this vegetarian.

The original recipe makes 20 servings, so I halved the recipe, since I didn’t need to make that much soup! Julie uses less onion when she makes this, so if you’re not crazy about onion, you can do that too. I actually used a little more onion and basil in my version. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Julie! :)

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SOUP slightly adapted from Healthy Cooking

Makes 10 servings (about 2 1/2 quarts)

  • 1 medium sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 medium heirloom tomatoes, quartered (about 4 lbs.)
  • 1 medium size carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn (or use frozen corn, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth (regular or reduced-sodium–or substitute vegetable broth)
  • optional: 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream to drizzle for garnish

In a large stockpot, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes, carrot, corn, basil, and salt. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes are softened, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

In a food processor or blender, process soup in batches (to be safe, just fill your blender or processor about half full–if you overfill, the hot soup could overflow and possibly burn you). As you are processing the soup, you’ll need another bowl or container to put the processed soup in. When finished processing, return all the processed soup to your pot and heat through.

To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle each serving with about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon heavy whipping cream if desired. Each serving is approximately 75 calories.

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Serving your soup in a teacup is a fun idea–especially if you love vintage teacups like I do!

I also love all kinds of soups, but tomato is one of my favorites! What’s yours?

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

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If you like vinaigrette on your salads, and if you like honey-mustard flavor, then you’ll have to try this vinaigrette! It’s very quick and easy to make, and really good! This Honey Mustard Vinaigrette recipe has a great lightly-sweet and tangy taste and makes about 1 cup of vinaigrette, so if you need more you’ll want to double the recipe. The original recipe is from Colman’s, although I couldn’t find the recipe to link back to on their site.

I made this vinaigrette two ways–I tried it first with Colman’s Superfine Mustard Powder (or you can use your favorite brand of dry mustard). This was actually a mistake I made! I didn’t realize the recipe called for prepared mustard. But I like how it turned out with the dry mustard.

Then I tried it with the prepared mustard–I used a slightly sweet, grainy mustard–and I liked it that way, too. The taste of the two versions was very similar.

ncHonMustvin1nmThe main difference?  The dry mustard version separates more quickly when standing, forming an oily layer at the bottom. It needs to be shaken right before serving on your salads. The prepared mustard version has a thin oily layer on top, but otherwise doesn’t separate much. I would still stir this well before serving, but it doesn’t need to be continually shaken like the dry mustard version.

I think the best time to make this vinaigrette is right before you serve your salad, with the ingredients all freshly whisked together!

If you have any vinaigrette left over, you can refrigerate it in a container with a tight-fitting lid–when I buy fancier salad dressings, I save the glass bottles–they’re perfect for keeping your own homemade dressings in! Then just give it a good shake when you’re ready to use the vinaigrette again!

HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE slightly adapted from Colman’s Mustard

Makes about 1 cup

  • 3/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard (I used a slightly sweet, grainy mustard) or mustard powder (Note: if you use mustard powder, you will need to shake the vinaigrette just before serving, since the mixture separates)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Whisk all ingredients together, blending everything well, and serve over your favorite salad.

Do you ever make your own dressings and vinaigrettes?

Juanita’s Crunchy Coleslaw

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You may have had this coleslaw or something like it at a potluck or picnic. I’ve had this side dish several times recently, and every time I have it, I think, “I need to get that recipe!” The most recent time I had Crunchy Coleslaw was when Juanita made it for a department lunch at work, and it was so good I thought I could have eaten the whole bowl of it! Juanita gave me the recipe, and so I finally had the chance to make it myself–I love, love, love this coleslaw! The crunchiness comes from the toasted sliced almonds and sunflower seeds, along with the crumbled, uncooked ramen noodles. It seems a little strange to call coleslaw yummy, but this really IS yummy…so I hope you get a chance to try it out! This tastes best the same day you make it, while everything is freshly mixed and crunchy, and since it’s so good, you probably won’t have any leftovers anyway! :)

JUANITA’S CRUNCHY COLESLAW

Makes a large bowl, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 small package sliced almonds (I used 1/2 cup from a larger package)
  • 1 small package sunflower seed kernels (I used 1/2 cup from a larger package)
  • 2 packages Ramen Noodle Soup, Beef Flavor, uncooked and crumbled (save the Beef flavor packets to mix with the vinegar, oil, and other ingredients)
  • 3/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (Juanita likes to add a few extra shakes, so I did, too!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag of coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
  • finely chopped green onion to taste, optional (I didn’t add this to mine, but I’d recommend using about 1/3 cup)

ncCrunchyCslw1Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Toast almonds, sunflower seeds, and plain noodles (uncooked and crumbled into small pieces-save the Beef flavor packets for later) on a cookie sheet at 350˚F for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside. The mixture will look like what you see in the small photo here. NOTE: An easy way to crumble up those Ramen noodles is to hit them lightly with a hammer while they’re still in the bag–they break up really easily that way! I also lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper, but it’s not necessary to do that.

In a small bowl, mix the Beef seasoning packets from the Ramen noodles with the oil, vinegar, and sugar, blending everything together well. Set aside.

Just before serving, empty the entire bag of coleslaw mix into a large bowl. Add in the chopped green onion, if using. Then add in the toasted almond/sunflower seed/ramen noodle mixture and toss well with the coleslaw, until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Finally, pour the oil-vinegar mixture over the coleslaw and blend everything together well. Serve immediately while everything is still “crunchy.”

Thanks to Juanita for sharing her recipe! It’s one of my all-time favorites! Have you made a crunchy coleslaw recipe before?