Fresh Tomato Soup & Egg Salad Sandwich

30 Minute Tomato Tarragon Soup & Egg Salad Sandwich

I started with the soup, a very quick and easy one that doesn’t require the hours of simmering that a meat soup needs. I chopped up 1/2 of a medium onion and put it in a sauce pan with 1 TBSP of butter, 2 tsp of tarragon and 1 tsp of cumin and let it cook while I chopped up three cloves of garlic. I tossed in the garlic and 2 tsp of curry powder. Then I chopped up 3 tomatoes, added some salt and pepper and 2 TBSP of ketchup and put a lid on and let it cook. I stirred occasionally while it simmered away.

For the eggs, I had boiled a couple eggs for breakfast, but added two to the kettle for egg salad and put them in the fridge and they were nice and cold by lunch. I peeled them and mashed them up in a bowl with 2 TBSP of sweet relish, 1 TBSP of mustard, salt, pepper, and about 2 TBSP of mayonnaise and a little squeeze of fresh lemon. I took a pita and heated it in the microwave, cut it in half, put some lettuce in and spooned in the egg salad.

The soup was done by now and I poured it into a Magic Bullet (you can use a food processor, but I don’t have one) and pureed the soup and poured it into a bowl. It makes one large bowl of soup. Normally I make a big pot of soup, but that’s when I spend a few hours simmering bones to get all the flavor out of them. With fresh vegetables, you want to make it quick so that they still have the bright fresh flavor of lovely ripe vegetables.

Zucchini & Roasted Red Pepper Pancakes

Zucchini & Roasted Red Pepper Pancakes

I opened my vegetable drawer about 11:30 this morning and wondered what I could come up with for lunch that would not take long as I had someone coming around noon. I had one sorry looking medium sized zucchini and a canister with the red peppers I roasted two days ago and I wondered if my traditional zucchini pancakes would work with some roasted red peppers. Well, I tried it and they do.

I put my cast iron griddle on the stove and gave it a spritz of olive oil spray and set it to a low medium heat (4 out of 10).

I used a large grater with the half inch holes and grated one zucchini. I took one roasted red pepper and chopped it into a similar size. I also diced up half an onion. I mixed all this together with 1/2 tsp of garlic salt and 2 tsp of dill weed, salt and pepper. I then added 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of flour and stirred. This was batter for two pancakes.

I cooked two at time and did not turn until I could see the batter on the top start to change – showing that it was cooking through. The temp was low enough I did not worry about it getting too dark on the griddle side. I added a dollop of butter when serving.

Mushroom Beef Tortellini with Sauteed Veggies and Dill Sour Cream

Ground Beef & Mushroom Tortellini, Sauteed Veggies and Dill Sauce

This was a better-cook-this-before-it-turns meal and sometimes they are my favorites. I sauteed a quarter of an onion and a clove of garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. I put in 1 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp of cumin and stirred them in before adding 1/4 pound of ground beef and two mushrooms. I turned the heat to medium-low and concentrated on the veggies.

I chopped up another quarter of onion and three cloves of garlic and tossed into a skillet with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. While the cooked I carefully cut up a zucchini and a summer squash and a red bell pepper. I had to peel the zucchini and squash as they were starting to turn and the peel looked unappetizing. I trimmed the ends that were also turning and tossed that away. The pepper, I cleaned and cut into strips. I tossed the pepper in first as it needed a bit more time to cook. After a couple minutes I added the green and yellow squash and put a lid on the pan. Before serving, I squeezed half a lemon on it to brighten the flavor. I added salt and pepper to taste.

I boiled water for the tortellini and added a cup of tortellini to the water. While the tortellini cooked, I put 1/4 of sour cream in a bowl, added some salt and 2 tsp of dill weed and the juice from half a lemon and mixed it all together for a sauce.

I strained the tortellini about a minute before it was done and stirred it into the meat sauce so it could absorb some of the meat sauce liquids.  I plated it with the veggies and the dill sauce on the side. I could not tell which loved the dill sauce more, the meat or the veggies. Everything was so delicious.

Chicken Braised in Pomegranate Molasses Sriracha Sauce and Roasted Veggies

Chicken Braised in Pomegranate Molasses Sriracha Sauce and Roasted Vegetables.

My best friend brought over some Pomegranate Sriracha and Mint Chicken Wings that she had made for a dinner party. The recipe came from the marvelous Food Network show, Aarti Party, that she and I like to watch.  There was a lot more sauce than wings, so after snapping up the wings, I stored the sauce in the fridge for a second use. As my friend said, “that sauce could make frilled shoe leather taste good.” It’s true. It is delicious. I am not repeating the recipe here since it’s her recipe and freely available to you by following this link. I had perhaps 1/8th cup of the sauce, so I added it to some warm water in my skillet to make a braising liquid and then put in a chicken breast and braised it in the sauce.

In the oven I put in a handful of green beans, about 6 thin asparagus and a red pepper cut into thin strips to mimic the shape of the beans and asparagus. I tossed on some olive oil and kosher salt and roasted at 450 for 15 minutes. They finished just after I removed the breast to let it rest on my plate before serving.

The pomegranate sauce is a deep dark reddish-purple that looks black in the photo. It was not black on the plate, though it’s very dark from the highly concentrated pomegranate molasses. The flavor is amazing – spicy, sweet, rich and fruity.

Pierogies with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts, Pierogies and BaconI

As with many of my concoctions, I had no idea what I was going to end up making when I started. I put 2 slices of bacon in a pan to fry up. I added half an onion and cooked until the onion was transaprent. I added 1 tomato chopped into small pieces. I was still dithering between making pierogies or wilted lettuce and all of a sudden I remembered I had some brussels sprouts and decided to sort of make both – though not with lettuce, of course.

I trimmed the ends of 6 brussel sprouts and cut them into small pieces and sprinkled over the bacon, onions and tomatoes. Then I placed 4 pierogies on top and put a lid on, trusting that the steam from the sprouts and tomato liquids would cook the pierogies and saturate them with flavor – and they did. I took the lid off and stirred a few times, but was careful not to let the pierogies touch the bottom of the pan as I was sure they would stick. It worked beautifully, the pierogies were nice and tender and thoroughly cooked and had absorbed the wonderful flavors from the bacon, onions, tomatoes and brussel sprouts. Before serving, I squeezed on half a lemon and added some salt and pepper.

Stuffed & Wrapped Chicken Breast & Layered Ravioli Casserole

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breast Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper & Chevre & Ravioli/Veggie Layered Casserole

Some of the best recipes happen by accident. I roasted a pile of sweet red peppers this morning. When I went shopping, the bulk red peppers in a bag were cheaper than the two individual peppers I planned to buy. So, I bought the big bag of peppers since you can roast peppers and store them in the fridge for several weeks (just cover them with olive oil) and the remaining red pepper oil can be used for cooking so there’s no waste. There’s a marvelous step by step guide to roasting red peppers at allrecipes.com that explains it so well that duplicating it here would be silly.

While the peppers were roasting, I prepared a layered casserole to bake once I pulled out the peppers and could turn down the oven. I sauteed some onions and garlic in olive oil and put them in the bottom of my baking dish. I cut up one green zucchini and two tomatoes into small pieces. I mixed 1/4 cup of salsa in with the raw zucchini and then just as though I were making lasagna, I layered the zucchini, followed by frozen ravioli followed by tomatoes and then repeated the layers again. I popped it in the oven at 350 and let it bake for 35 minutes while I began to make the chicken.

I thawed a frozen chicken breast in the microwave. Then I took 1/4 of a red pepper and diced it up. I added 3 ounces of chevre with some salt, pepper and garlic salt. I mixed everything together with the red pepper. I then cut the chicken breast horizontally in the thickest portion – not cutting it fully in half. I stuffed the chevre/red pepper mixture in the chicken. It occurred to me that having thawed in the microwave, the chicken could get a bit dry, so I wrapped two slices of bacon around it. I heated a skillet to medium and put the chicken on to cook. I put a lid on for a few minutes just to make sure it cooked through the center before removing the lid so the bacon would crisp up. I turned it after the bacon was nicely crisped and then cooked the other side until the bacon was done.

I put the chicken on my plate to rest and sprinkled a bit of parmesan on the casserole, turning the oven to broil. In three minutes the parmesan nicely browned and I removed the casserole and dished up one serving. The casserole made four servings, so guess what I will have for supper.

I gambled that the liquids from the tomatoes and salsa would be plenty to cook the ravioli and they were. By cooking it this way, the ravioli absorbed those flavors and was so much richer and more savory tasting. I think the chicken would have been delicious without the bacon, but do know that bacon-wrapping can really ensure moist tenderness and this chicken was moist, tender and amazing to taste. Chevre and roasted red pepper are a perfect flavor combination. As you can see from the photo, the chicken was very moist while cooked perfectly throughout.

Torsk & Roasted Green Beans

Torsk with Roasted Green Beans

This is the easiest thing in the world to make. I picked up these fabulous fresh green beans at the Farmers Market. I snapped the vine ends off and then sprinkled them with some olive oil and kosher salt before roasting at 450 degrees. As soon as I put them in the oven, I took a frozen arctic cod fillet from the oven and in a non-stick skillet at medium heat, I placed 1 tbsp of butter and just put the frozen fillet right on top of that. I put a cover on the pan and let it cook ten minutes. I turned it over and grated fresh nutmeg on top and put the lid back on. In five minutes everything was done. I grated a bit more fresh nutmeg on top just before serving with the butter I cooked it in and the green beans on the side.

I know many of you have never tried nutmeg on fish – you have no idea how perfectly it complements the subtle fish flavor, giving it just a tiny bite and a bit of tang.

Ground Turkey, Red Peppers and Tortellini with Roasted Asparagus

Ground Turkey and Red Peppers with Tortellini and Roasted Asparagus

I grabbed some asparagus (8 stalks) and trimmed the ends off before putting them in my paella pan to roast, sprinkling them with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt and sticking them in a 450 degree oven. I put some olive oil in a skillet, chopped 1/4 onion and 2 cloves of garlic and tossed them in the oil to soften. I sliced up two crimini mushrooms and 1 sweet red pepper. I added 4 ounces of ground turkey to the onions and garlic and let it cook about two minutes before added the red pepper and mushrooms. I put the lid on and poured some water in a pan and put it on high to bring to a boil. When it began to boil, I added a cup of tortellini. While it boiled, I removed the asparagus from the oven and plated it and tossed some salt and pepper on the ground turkey mixture. I added a tablespoon of dijon mustard and the juice of half a lemon. By now the pasta was done, I strained it and put it on the plate and then added the meat mixture.

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

The first thing you have to do is cook the beef tongue. Put the tongue in a pressure cooker, add water until it’s just covered with liquid. Add 1 onion, about 5 cloves, a cinnamon stick, a few cloves of garlic and salt. Cover and pressure cook for 35 minutes. Leave the lid on while it cools, when the pressure has dissipated, you can remove the lid with no pop of steam, but the tongue will still be warm enough that your can remove the outer skin easily without burning yourself. You don’t want to try to remove the skin when it’s cold – it will be far too difficult.

I cooked the barley. I generally use a 4 to 1 ration for barley. I wanted one cup of cooked barley so began with 1/4 cup of dry barley and cooked it in 4 cups of water for about 30 minutes. If you like barley as much as I do, you could make it big batches and keep in the fridge for salads, breakfast barley porridge and for casseroles. It’s far cheaper than rice or pasta and has more toothiness when you eat it and a much nuttier flavor. It’s also more nutritious besides being tastier. Seriously, you can get a bag of barley for a dollar or less – and you can’t beat the flavor.

When the barley was nearly done, I cut up and sauteed a two slices of bacon with a chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, I added 1 chopped red pepper and cubes of the beef tongue (4 ounces). I then added 1 chopped tomato and stirred, cooking until everything was done and served on a bed of barley. This makes two servings, so I set half aside for the next day.

Corn Chickpea Confetti

Corn & Chickpea Confetti Casserole

I drained and washed a small can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and lightly toasted them in a skillet. While it was toasting, I cut up a small onion, 4 oz. of roast beef from a roast I had made a zucchini, a summer squash and a red pepper. When the chickpeas were lightly toasted, I set them aside for a bit in a bowl, while I added a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and tossed in the onions and let them soften. I then added 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Corn Salsa without Tomatoes and the other vegetables and the beef I had cut up and gently mixed together and continued to let them cook with the lid on until the veggies were cooked tender. I added the chickpeas, stirred together and served. This made 4 servings as it seemed silly to use only a quarter of a can of beans.

You can easily leave the beef out and make this a vegan side dish.