Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Tuscan White Bean Soup

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This Tuscan White Bean Soup is absolutely incredible. It's thick and creamy and brimming with flavor. Protein packed and healthy - it's a must try!

Tuscan White Bean Soup

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I L.O.V.E. soup!!! I don’t know why exactly but this obsession started about 6-7 years. Whoa, as I just typed that sentence I had a flashback – actually, I take back that former statement…I do know how this obsession started.

A few years after having my daughter I realized that I really hadn’t lost all my baby weight. I think for the first while after having a child you’re so deep into mommyhood that you barely have time to even look in the mirror. I woke up one morning and had a serious look at myself and decided it was time to do battle.

Overall, I’ve been fortunate enough that my weight hasn’t really been a huge issue prior in my life so diets had never entered my realm of existence. I was too embarrassed to ask friends what their experiences had been – I was determined to do this on my own without anyone knowing. Enter Weight Watchers. I had known a few people who had experienced really great success with this program and knew I needed something to keep me accountable. I really didn’t need to lose a ton of weight – I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin and knew I was past my own personal comfort zone. I signed up in the early fall and by Christmas, I had surpassed my goal weight by about 5 pounds – victory!!!

Now, getting back to our soup… I feel like my weight loss success was mostly due to getting a handle on portion control but also altering my typical eating habits, in particular, my lunches. I used to eat out or have huge leftovers for lunches. Instead, I switched up my lunches by taking homemade soup to work every day for my lunch. My go-to lunches were my homemade Chicken noodle, roasted butternut squash soup or vegetable soups.

Now, years down the road from my initial foray into soups, that lunch time soup habit has stuck. I was looking for a new soup that had lots of protein but that didn’t involve meat and I discovered bean soups. Now, I have to tell you, this Tuscan White Bean Soup is absolutely incredible. It’s thick and creamy and brimming with flavor. Honestly, it’s outstanding! I’ve made this soup for a number of people now and they always ask for the recipe. So, without further ado, here’s my Tuscan White Bean Soup.

TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP RECIPE

Modified from Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, cubed and parboiled
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans/white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tbsp parmesan or asiago cheese
  • 4 pieces of bacon or back bacon cooked and diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a medium, heavy soup over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, potatoes, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots soften.
  2. Add sage, sun-dried tomatoes and beans – stir and combine.
  3. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic has softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Pour the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle 3/4 (or all if you don’t want any full beans) of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth – make sure to hold the lid tightly on the blender while pureeing the beans.
  5. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pot.
  6. Add salt, pepper, cheese and bacon to the soup. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately or ladle into containers for the freezer.

Download the Tuscan White Bean Soup recipe here.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Check out some of my other recipes including Curried Apple Egg Salad Sandwich, Double chocolate pecan cookiesThe ultimate rice krispie squareBest salad everNo bake energy ballsthe best chicken soup you’ll ever eatBailey’s dipped toasted marshmallowszucchini quinoa pattiesperfect chocolate chip cookiesmarinated feta cheeseMediterranean humus.

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Penne with Roasted Onions, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts Recipe

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Who isn't always on the lookout for a delicious vegetarian meal that's great to serve to dinner guests. The combination of sweet, caramelized onions, flavorful cheese, and toasted walnuts is irresistible and makes this penne with roasted onions, gorgonzola and walnuts recipe a winner in my book.Penne with Roasted Onions, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts Recipe

Who isn’t always on the lookout for a delicious vegetarian meal that’s great to serve to dinner guests. The combination of sweet, caramelized onions, flavorful cheese, and toasted walnuts is irresistible and makes this penne with roasted onions, gorgonzola and walnuts recipe a winner in my book.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a remarkable co-worker named Diane. Her office was next to mine so I was lucky enough to get to know her really well. She’s an extraordinary woman, you know…one of those. The kind of woman that can milk a cow then churns fresh butter for her divine homemade rustic bread with the concord grape jelly that she’d made yesterday. Seriously, there’s nothing she can’t do.

We became good friends and eventually starting exchanging gifts at Christmas time. Even though I make a lot of my own homemade gifts, I was intimidated by her incredible “Martha-like” talents so instead, I decided to give her a recipe book. As with everything else, Diane is an amazing cook. Thankfully she appreciated the book and even tried a number of recipes from it. The recipe I’m sharing today is from that book (which I’m sorry I don’t know the name of as I just have a photocopy of the recipe). Diane said this recipe was simple and delicious, my two favorite things in a recipe so I decided to give it a go. Good thing I did, it’s become one of my husband’s favorite meals.

I’ve made this on a number of occasions and my dinner guests always ask for the recipe. It’s very simple, only a handful of ingredients and great if you have vegetarian guests (or even none vegetarians) for dinner.

Penne with Roasted Onions, Gorgonzola and Walnuts Recipe

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Large red onions, quartered
  • 8-12 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 oz penne, rotini or other tubular pasta
  • 6 oz Gorgonzola cheese, broken into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cut each onion half into crescent-shaped slices about 1/8″ thick. Toss in a roasting pan with garlic cloves, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, shaking the pan every so often. The onions should be tender and slightly charred.

2. Cook the pasta, drain and return it to the pot. Add the roasted onions, garlic, cheese, parsley, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir and serve immediately.

Download the penne with roasted onions, gorgonzola and walnuts recipe here.

hope you enjoyed this recipe. Check out some of my other recipes including Double chocolate pecan cookiesThe ultimate rice krispie squareBest salad everNo bake energy ballsthe best chicken soup you’ll ever eatBailey’s dipped toasted marshmallowszucchini quinoa pattiesperfect chocolate chip cookiesmarinated feta cheesemediterranean humus.

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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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The perfect chocolate chip cookie.

The perfect chocolate chip cookie.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie – For Father’s Day this year, Noelle and I decided that we would make Michael his favourite chocolate chip cookies.  I actually had no idea (after almost 12 years) that he loved chocolate chip cookies so much but recently, after all the cookies disappeared within about a day of making my last batch, he confessed his weakness to me. I’m more of a savoury food person myself but I’ve got to say that these chocolate chip cookies are really quite divine.  What makes them so great… they are a little bit crunchy and yet soft and chewy all at the same time.  They also have a nice saltiness to them thanks to the kosher salt in this recipe.  Give them a try and I think you’ll agree that they’re pretty close to perfect.

Makes about 20 – 22 cookies. Adapted from original recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips and only 1/2 cup in the cookies photographed above but they definitely could have used more)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional – I love them but my daughter doesn’t so I omit)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or mixer (I do it all by hand) cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Do not over mix.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir until combined.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently until completely mixed in.
  4. Add the chocolate chips (and nuts if using them) and stir in just until they are evenly distributed.
  5. Cover bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop enough dough to make 1″ balls (don’t make too big – I’ve done this and it doesn’t end well ;) ). Place them about 2″ apart on the baking sheets.
  8. Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes (depending on the softness you like – I do mine 14 minutes), rotating the pans after about 8 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, transfer to racks and let cool.
  10. The original recipe says they’ll last 4 days in an airtight cookie jar but I have no idea since a batch has never lasted that long in our household.
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Really Rad Roasted Radishes (+ carrots & potatoes)

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Roasted Radishes, Carrots and Potatoes

Roasted Radishes, Carrots and Potatoes

I know I’m a bit of a dork but I get so excited seeing vegetables growing in my garden.  The whole transformation from that teeny tiny speck of a seed into a wonderful, colourful and tasty piece of food that helps to feed my family still amazes me every time.  Yes, I know I can run over to the grocery store and buy my vegetables but there is just something so much more satisfying about growing it myself – oh, that and it tastes divine straight out of the ground.

Today after work I popped up to the garden to see how everything was coming along when I noticed some of my radishes were looking ready to be picked – how exciting, my first harvest of the year.  Now, I have to be totally honest here, I’ve never really liked radishes.  In fact, the only reason I grow them is for my mother-in-law’s partner Gary, but they’re out of the country for the next month.  So, that brought me to my dilemma this evening – what do I do now that I have all these radishes that are ready to be eaten.  After some consideration I realized that I could probably just roast them like I do my other veggies.  I gathered, chopped, seasoned and roasted and voila, they were spectacular. Roasting the radishes really mellows out the flavour so they aren’t so spicy. Note, that’s why you hardly see any radishes in the finished photo above – my husband ate most of them before I could get them to the plate to photograph.

This recipe is pretty loosie-goosie, just add a little more or a little less of whatever ingredients you like.

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 radishes halved or quartered
  • 8-12 baby potatoes quartered
  • 3-4 carrots chopped into chunks
  • tbsp olive oil (more if you use more veggies)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp steak spices
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp parsley

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Gather and wash veggies and chop into pieces.
  3. Put into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on HI for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Take out of microwave and pour olive oil and all the spices into the bowl with the veggies.  Stir around so that everything is evenly coated.
  5. Spread veggies onto a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Take out of oven, let them rest for about 5 minute to cool and then serve with your meal.
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