Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moroccan Tomato Soup

Let's all just take a quick minute and think about this scenario: You are sitting outside on a gorgeous early summer day while the sun is shining brightly. Your sunhat is perfectly tilted over your right eye to give you the perfect amount of shade, the breeze is light and has the perfect touch to take the humidity out of the air. The only thing that would be better is if your stomach would just stop growling. Oh dear, what to fill it with?!                                                                                                                                                             Of course, the perfect bowl of fresh, homemade summer soup. And what's that you say? Your allergies are flaring up and you are in need of something spicy to clear out those nostrils? Enter Moroccan Tomato Soup, your new best friend.
Total time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1. 1 can Trader Joe's Diced and Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2. 1 can Trader Joe's Diced and No Salt added Tomatoes
3. 3 cubes Dorat's frozen crushed garlic
4. 1 diced jalapeno
5. 1/2 container Trader Joe's Mirepoix
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
7. 1 tablespoon Cumin
8. 1 tablespoon Curry powder
9. 2 teaspoons Turmeric
10. 1 teaspoon nutmeg
11. 2 tablespoons EVOO
12. 1 cup Coconut Milk
13. 1 cup water

1. Heat a soup pot to medium and add EVOO and garlic cubes
2. Add the mirepoix and jalapeno and sauté until soft (about 3 minutes)
3. Add in all spices and sautee until mixed (about 2 minutes)
4. Dump in both cans of tomatoes and water. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes
5. Add Coconut milk
6. Using a hand immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Typically a few minutes depending on how chunky or smooth you like it.
7. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bumble Bars and Granitas

Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market in Lincoln are pretty close to heaven on earth. A short 2 block walk from my apartment and I'm surrounded by local musicians rocking out on their banjos and violins, fresh produce and the smell of kettle corn wafting throughout the Haymarket district. This is the place to come for local treats and homemade delights. The Mill Coffeehouse is also the quintessential landing spot for all market attendees. With the perfect patio for people watching and catching up with a gal pal from the week's activities, the granitas are blended to perfection and the snacks are always delicious.
                                                                                                                I literally cannot make a stop at The Mill without enjoying what I used to call a nut and seed bar. Wait, what? Right, not such a cute name. Descriptive, yes. Enticing? Not so much. Well, when I went to the Farmer's Market last Saturday and made it into The Mill for my mandatory stop, I was astounded to find out that my delicious gluten free treat has a real name! And it is absolutely the cutest name ever. The Bumble Bar. Not too sweet, a hint of salt and honey and seeds galore, this little bar packs a succulent, enticing and heavenly taste that starts my weekend off right.

Next time you find yourself in Lincoln between the first weekend in May and the second weekend in October, get yourself to the Farmer's Market and get you a Bumble Bar at The Mill!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chili Garlic Chicken and veggies

Well hello there spicy and flavorful dinner. Aren't you just a delight? I was house sitting recently and while I love the vacation home getaway feeling of being there thanks to the housekeeper, back patio and pool and tennis courts, not to mention the chef's kitchen and to-die-for lounging couches, I miss my little kitchen with all.the.things.!

For someone who loves cooking and has a pretty good handle on what she has hiding in her pantry and fridge, I was a little bit lost in the chef's kitchen. Alas, I had stashed some goodies in the fridge including some fresh brussel sprouts (my totally go-to veggie) and red cabbage that I die over along with some Chili Puree with Garlic magic in a jar. Grab a chicken breast and some EVOO and voila, dinner!!

Easiest dinner ever. I simply sautéed the halved brussel sprouts and chicken breast in EVOO and chili sauce, roasted the red cabbage in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste when done. That's it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Orange Champagne Brussel Sprouts

Ok. So I kind of have a thing for brussel sprouts. I know, I know. They look like tiny green brains, they smell, and you were probably forced to eat them as a kid. But here's the thing: they are delicious. That's right, I said it. And I would shout it from a mountain top if I had one handy here in plains country, "I love brussel sprouts!" 

Here's the deal. It's all about how you cook them. I hadn't even attempted to eat these little baby cabbages in years until I went to a new tapas restaurant in Lincoln, Sebastian's Table. Uh muh gaw. They are kitchen wizards and I was not mad about it. I was reintroduced to brussels, and my love bloomed from there. 

I have tried several attempts to make my own sweet and savory brussels in hopes of coming even a tiny bit close to the heavenly taste of those little bites at Sebastian's and I think I've finally turned a corner. Enjoy this recipe for easy homemade orange champagne brussel sprouts! And next time, I'm totally adding bacon, because why wouldn't I?

1 lb brussel sprouts halved
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
3 tblsp Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Quickly steam halved Brussels in a covered microwaveable bowl with a tblsp water 
2. In a pan on medium heat, add 2 tblsp EVOO and toss in brussel sprouts
3. Add champagne vinegar and spices 
4. Mix and sauté until Brussels are browned and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes.