Sausage, spinach, tomato tortellini soup

Soup is my jam period – I mentioned quite a while ago my dream of opening a soup joint or something along those lines. I also share quite a few soup recipes on this blog and I am pretty  sure I will continue to do so. Every time I make a soup that makes me smile, and no not all of them do, I have failed or made just meh soup before but my successes far outweigh my failures. When it is a fabulous one I say out loud to no one in particular “the world needs to have this” and since I don’t have a soup joint and I don’t know everyone in the world I will share another warm, tasty, comfort bowl full of goodness with you all.
img_3953.jpgMy husband even said this was his favorite soup that I have made, that’s saying something! It is definitely in my top 5 but I have made and shared some pretty incredible soups over the years.
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The one common denominator is homemade chicken stock. If you are still not making your own broth, we need to talk. It is SO easy to do using your slow cooker and a leftover chicken carcass. Put the chicken in the bowl add a couple of roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion and some garlic. Cover with water and place on low overnight. In the morning strain out the liquid gold and discard of all the veggies and bones. Taste it to see if you like it or if it needs a little salt. I let it sit all day or overnight in my fridge to let the fat solidify so I can remove it all. Freeze it or use it now!

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Start by using the best ingredients you can find and your soup will be delicious!
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Sausage, Spinach, Tomato, Tortellini soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounce sweet italian sausage, casings removed roughly 2 long links
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
10-12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
5-6 ounces baby spinach
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and break it up a bit, add the onion and cook till the sausage is cooked through a little browned, about 10 minutes making sure to break up the large chunks. Add the garlic and the oregano cook for another minute.
IMG_3950Add the broth and the tomatoes. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook till the tortellini is tender, according to the package directions about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, and cook till it is just about wilted. Season with salt and pepper, grate some fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese over it and serve.
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Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking magazine

turkey rice soup – tis the season

I would love to say I am getting ready for the big game later today, don’t get me wrong I am super pumped and looking forward to it. I just am bummed that my husband and I are both sick, mostly now just congestion and a persistent cough; so we can’t have friends over, I have to call my in-laws and tell them to stay home and I feel so bad but I will not be the one to get them sick. I am going to have one of my kids bring them over a portion of our Super Bowl spread that I am serving to just us.  GO PATS!!!!

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better than anything I could have bought!

What is on your menu today? We are having meatball grinders, wings of some sort, jalapeno popper dip that I had for the first time a couple of weeks ago and loved it. I was originally going to share that recipe with you but will need to wait on that since I wasn’t able to make it and take pictures for you. I will work on that!

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turkey broth frozen into 2 cup portions

I hope you forgive me for posting another soup recipe but tis the season and there really isn’t anything more comforting than a bowl of homemade warm soup. One day last week my daughter offered to grab me soup from somewhere up town, she mentioned a few places that have soup and while they are OK I went over in my fever induced head each one and knew they were all going to be a disappointment – apparently I have become a soup snob. Which is why I made my own last night for dinner.

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turkey rice soup with garlic cheesy bread

You can build so much flavor in your own kitchen plus add ingredients you like and have on hand. I had 8 cups of turkey broth in my freezer from Thanksgiving, a package of turkey cutlets in the fridge and always have vegetables on hand.  Here is how I made this particular soup but feel free to use the concept and use your own ingredients.
IMG_3931Turkey rice soup

8 cups turkey broth
4 turkey cutlets
1/4 cup Jasmati rice
2 small onions – diced
3 carrots – diced
2 ribs celery – diced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Using the same pot, so you can build flavors. season both sides of the cutlets and brown in a little bit of olive oil. remove once browned on both sides and set aside.

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building flavor

 

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Nothing but flavor right there

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make sure to scrape up all the brown aka flavor

Add the onions, celery and carrots, if needed add a small amount of oil. Cook for a minute or two. Add broth and rice plus any of the juices from the cutlets.

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only takes about 5-8 minutes for the broth to thaw


bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

BBQ pulled pork pasta

I know I have mentioned several times that dinner sometimes comes from whatever I have on hand. There are certain leftovers that I admit kind of stump me with how I can re-invent them. There are only so many pulled pork sandwiches one can eat; at least once the coleslaw is gone.
img_3897.jpgI was going to make nachos with the leftover BBQ pulled pork but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to try something new; to us and has a little more substance than just tortilla chips with toppings. It does help that I do have a well stocked pantry and I am on a kick to start cooking with what I have on hand and only shop for the essentials.
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I would love to tell you that I succeed with cleaning out the freezer and pantry but after a few weeks I usually cave and get bored with what I have on hand. Though right now I couldn’t fit one more thing in my freezer and my pantry is a train wreck so I am going to try really hard this time.
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I would probably use a creamier cheese next time I make this, only because cheddar; while one of my favorites was a little hard to stir it into the pasta and meat mixture. Also if you don’t have cumin on hand you can use one of the following chili powder,  Garam Marsala, ground coriander, or curry powder.
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Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
1 medium/large cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
BBQ pulled pork, approx 16 ounces
1 can mild rotel
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used Garam Marsala – it was in my pantry)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (a creamier cheese would be great here – Goat cheese, feta or even mozzarella, grueyre)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions
Cook pasta according to the directions on the package

Heat the butter and oil in your skillet, saute the onions, pepper for 3-5 minutes on med-low heat or until they are soft. Add the garlic, cook for another minute or so. Add the pork, rotel, broth and cumin. Saute until heated through.  Add the cheese at the last minute just till it melts. Serve and sprinkle with a few green onions.
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Chicken Gnocchi Soup – Crockpot

We have finally gotten to the weekend free to do what you have ignored for the last 2 months because of the holidays. 99% of the decorations are put away, I still have the porch looking a little festive but I am down with that. Plus its too early for the Spring look and I don’t really have anything for the in between and I don’t want it to be naked; it would look too depressing.
IMG_3891.JPGYesterday was also the first time I have done a “normal” grocery shopping. Basically meaning I didn’t need to pick up anything for a particular dessert, casserole or a dinner in general. I can get back into a somewhat normal routine. Which in itself can be very calming at least in my world.
IMG_3879.JPGToday I figured; well most Sundays I try to prep for the week ahead; as best I can anyway. I figure I can at least take care of breakfast, lunches and snacks; for the most part. Dinner is usually whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. More often than not I look in the fridge and see what I need to use up or clean out and that dictates what we are having for dinner.

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The soup I am going to share with you literally was because I bought a huge bag of gnocchi from my favorite farmers market in Montreal over New Years; if you are ever in Montreal, Quebec please visit Atwater Market or Jean Talon Market – you won’t be disappointed. I also had a larger than we normally buy half and half that will most definitely go bad before my husband has enough coffee to use it all up. Plus I had just made some chicken stock the night before so instead of freezing it I thought I could make a soup. Add a few more ingredients and voila dinner or lunch is ready.
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I need to give a shout out to my sister-in-law for the bay leaf – she brought me a baggie full from her bay leaf plant that she has growing at her house. Yeah I didn’t even know that was a thing. Let me just say that the ones I buy from the spice aisle in the grocery store is lets just say less than stellar in comparison. Her’s is SO easy to find and pull out of whatever I added it to. the ones from the store if I can find a whole one are a whole other story.

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken breast
½ cups shredded carrots
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package approx 16 ounces potato gnocchi
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions
Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add carrots and garlic. Along with the spices. Cover with the chicken broth or stock, whatever you have on hand. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

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Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the chicken and once cooled a bit; shred or dice whatever you like. Make a slurry with the half and half and cornstarch and add it along with the gnocchi to the pot. Place the chicken back in the pot. Cover and place on high for about 30 minutes or so. You want to make sure the gnocchi is cooked through and the soup thickens. 
img_3890Add the spinach just before serving and allow it to wilt a bit. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted: http://www.fivehearthome.com

Scallopini – Milanese – Piccata

Super quick dinner that everyone will love; if they don’t you are probably reading / following the wrong blog. Or maybe should rethink who you eat dinner with – OK I know you can’t probably stop feeding your kids but you can definitely make them take the “no thank you” bite and they might just like it enough to keep going.
IMG_3737.JPGYou might be thinking I am confused today having 3 different “meals” listed in the title. Well it is quite possible. Last night was our annual Christmas party and I am literally writing this while setting up for it and directing 3 of my on hand “staff” aka as my daughter, one of her friends and my sister-in-law. So if this blog is a little frazzled you’ll know why.  I am SUPER multi-tasking right this minute.

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Yes that is my glass of wine – wink wink

OK so back to why I listed the 3 above and they actually are in order of how you can make a quick dinner that again you will love. They all start with thin sliced meat. Usually Chicken but I had Turkey on hand and usually always do in my freezer so that is what I used. So thin sliced meat lightly breaded and fried in a little oil in the pan. This is the definition of Scallopini. To make it a Milanese you need to make a sauce by deg-lazing the pan with white wine and a little lemon juice and then finish it off with a tab of butter. Then to make it a Piccata you add a small jar of capers. Voila dinner 3 ways!
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Turkey, Chicken or Veal cutlets – buy them or slice your own
salt & pepper
flour
2 tablespoon Olive or vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 jar capers
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon sliced

Salt and pepper both sides of the cutlets, dredge lightly in flour. Shake off the excess.
IMG_3726IMG_3727Swirl some oil in your saute pan, place them in the pan, not touching and leave them alone until they release on their own. Should be about 3-5 minutes. Flip, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. If there is excess fat in the pan, pour it off.  
IMG_3729IMG_3730Deg-laze the pan with white wine and add the minced garlic; cook the garlic just till it starts to get brown and cook till the liquid is about gone. Don’t walk away from the stove about 2 minutes. Add the broth, lemon juice and capers.
IMG_3731IMG_3732IMG_3733Return the cutlets to the pan and let the juice reheat the meat up. Transfer to a warm plate.
IMG_3734IMG_3735For the sauce add the butter and sliced lemons, once the butter melts pour the sauce over the cutlets. If you want to be fancy and have fresh parsley it looks really nice chopped sprinkled on top.

Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

I hope you had a wonderful day/weekend however you spent your time! We had 9 for Thanksgiving dinner and today (Saturday) will be 11 for homemade pasta (another personal cooking class for my sister-in-law) and Bolognese.
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For as far back as I can remember my family took all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and made them into a casserole of sorts. Basically take a 9×13 container and fill it or several of them with a little bit of everything and then top it with gravy. I still love doing this but this year when the family was cleaning up after eating I asked them to put everything in their own containers. I wanted to try making a thanksgiving leftover egg roll after seeing something similar floating around on FB.

IMG_3658And I had recently had an appetizer couples cooking class and I had them making a typical egg roll; pork, cabbage, carrot and scallions; except I had them air fry them, for the only reason being that there were 6 of them and we had made a lot app’s and it was the last one we made. I was a little worried about all of us being around hot oil. Did I mention that they bring wine with them. Just didn’t think it would be a good idea.
IMG_3659They were good air fried but we all were in agreement that we should have fried them in oil especially since the definition of a egg roll is “a Chinese-style snack consisting of diced meat or shrimp and shredded vegetables wrapped in a dough made with egg and deep-fried.” So egg rolls have been on my mind.
IMG_3661The ones I made were super easy and a big hit with everyone. I made 20 egg rolls and there were 7 of us that made them basically disappear. There were 2 left and my daughter brought them to one of her co-workers who also thought they were awesome. I wasn’t too sure about dipping sauces but they are a must. They just add another level of flavor. I always have thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge, I wanted to use the leftover cranberry sauce I made but my husband threw it away grrrrr. Thankfully I had a can of whole berry sauce that I added some orange juice and sriracha too that made a really nice tart sauce with a little heat. And of course there is always leftover gravy that I didn’t get a picture of but everyone gobbled up all 3 sauces.
IMG_3663Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

Egg roll wrappers
Leftover turkey chopped up
Leftover stuffing chopped up
Cranberry sauce
1 egg – beaten

Oil for frying
Yes it was that simple

Cranberry dipping sauce
whole berry cranberry sauce
splash of orange juice
sriracha to taste
place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about a 2-3 minutes

A few comments from the crowd
“what a fun way to eat leftovers”, “you are just amazing”, “these are SO good”

IMG_3662On the back of the package of egg roll wrappers will tell you how to fill, wrap, seal  and fry.

Cranberry-Pistachio Cookie Bar

So last week I mentioned having some cookie bars cooling while I was writing. They are all gone, no I didn’t eat them all by myself I had some help. Actually it is kinda funny that my son who doesn’t live here anymore but works with my husband so is here most mornings does a drive-by of the stove and immediately looks to see what might be packaged up to snack on.
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My name is Donna and I am a snack-a-holic. (stop laughing KP) we have not one but two snack drawers and anything homemade goes on the shelf above the stove, mostly to keep my dog from counter surfing. Which he has done a few times.

IMG_3615Back to the cookie bars. I am going to blame the magazines I was going through to try to get rid of a few. Out of a half dozen or so I think I got rid of two. That is not how you clean out your magazines/catalogs. While going through them I came across one that they had me at the title Cranberry-Pistachio bars. One of my most favorite combination of sweet and salty is cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate. I have made cookies, biscotti’s and bark with these three magical ingredients and have NEVER been disappointed.
IMG_3622.JPGThese bars are thick, dense and chewy; not too sweet or salty just the right amount I think. Though they did not list white chocolate I had to add a drizzle of some of it melted on top.

Cranberry-Pistachios cookie bars
Preheat oven to 350’F – line a 9×13 pan with foil, spray non-stick spray

Ingredients
¾ cup butter, melted
1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated white sugar
½ cup honey
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cup salted pistachios, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

In a stand mixer bowl, beat the melted butter, sugars and honey on medium until fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Scrape as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla.
IMG_3616IMG_3617In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Add them to the wet mixture, beating until combined. Add pistachios and cranberries till combined.
IMG_3618IMG_3620Press batter into pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out slightly sticky. Let cool completely in the pan. Optional drizzle of white chocolate. I took a handful of chips and in a Pyrex measuring cup; melted them in the microwave for about a minute. Then drizzled them on the cooled bars. Slice and enjoy!
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Recipe adapted from Southern Lady magazine