Simple Tomato Soup

tomato soup 5Winter in Southern California doesn’t exist. To attest to that, I’m currently wearing a tank top and sandals. I have jeans on too, in case you thought I was pantsless. But seriously, this just isn’t right. I saw on Instagram yesterday that it was snowing in New Jersey. I know you East Coast people are probably sick of the cold and can’t believe that I’d complain about the 80 degree weather we’re having today but still…. I’d like to experience a mild winter for once. Since “winter” in California isn’t really happening, I thought now was as good a time as any to share my simple tomato soup with you. This is great for lunch on a cold day (I don’t know much about cold days) or a quick dinner. And this must be served with a grilled cheese. It’s a requirement. At least with my soup. This makes a medium sized pot and is supposed to be an accompaniment soup. Yes, I’m very fancy that way.

Simple Tomato Soup

  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (or crushed)
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or 1 frozen basil cube)
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil on medium. Once heated, add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add in the tomatoes (juice too) chicken broth, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaf and the rest of the seasonings. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and then with an immersion blender, pulse soup a few times to thin it out to a smoother consistency. Turn off the heat and add the half & half. Stir and taste and add more pepper or more sugar if necessary. Serve immediately.

tomato souptomato soup 3tomato soup 2tomato soup 4tomato soup 6tomato soup 7I’m still holding out hope that a little bit of winter will arrive soon. That snow on New Year’s Eve was a total fluke and won’t happen again for at least another 10 years but I’m still wanting to get some use out of my boots. But for now, sandals it is.

Potato Cheese Chowder

potato cheese chowder 3Rain is in the forecast! Not that I really want it to rain because that means I have to clean a total of 8 Boxer paws whenever they go outside and need to come back in (which will be immediately after exiting the house), but I just really want to comfortably wear long sleeves and boots. I’d prefer cool comfortable weather, but one day of rain, I’ll take it.

As for the lack of pictures for this recipe, I apologize. This meal came about because I literally had no meat at all in the freezer. But I did have some bacon. And some potatoes. And it was slightly cool out so I decided to make some soup with what was laying around. I wasn’t sure if it would be that great so I didn’t take very many pictures. Well lo and behold, my favorite man told me that this soup may have surpassed Corn & Cheese Chowder! *gasp* That is a huge compliment because Corn & Cheese Chowder is by far my favorite soup, EVER. And he thoroughly enjoys it too. So that big of a statement means it’s good.

I know the rest of you are probably already cold and long overdue for a comforting recipe. So here you go!

Potato Cheese Chowder

  • 6 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dash cayenne pepper

In a stock pot of Dutch oven, heat on medium. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes, then add the garlic and potatoes. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add in broth and all of the seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 12-15 minutes. Turn all the way to low and with an immersion blender, pulse 2-3 times. Mix together the flour and half & half, using a whisk (this is a slurry). Add into the soup and bring back up to a boil. At this point it will thicken. Once thickened, reduce heat, add in cheese and stir. That’s it!

potato cheese chowder 2potato cheese chowderGreat additions to this soup would be extra bacon crumbled on top or even some chives. Like I mentioned above, I was really limited on what I had on hand in my kitchen and this soup as is was delicious! Also, if you don’t have an immersion blender, a hand masher or even putting a portion of the soup into a blender will do. Using the immersion blender will smooth out the soup but just pulsing it a couple times ensure texture.

Easy Cinnamon Apples

cinnapp 5Fall is here. But where I live, it really hasn’t felt like fall at all. Part of my weekend included wearing a tank top and shorts, wishing for a cool breeze as I sat watching my daughter’s softball game. It was downright hot in the sun! But a gloomy morning came to be the following day and desperately craving fall comfort food, I decided to whip up these apples. Hopefully to speed along the fall weather as well. Although it’s just wishful thinking, since the weather forecast shows 90’s midweek. This just doesn’t seem right for late October. But these apples tricked me a little into feeling like fall was in the air.

Easy Cinnamon Apples

  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin slices (any variety apple will do)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used almonds)
  • 2 tbsp. whiskey, optional (I used Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey)*

Heat a pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add in apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. *Now here’s the optional part if you choose to do so. Remove the pan from the heat. Like away from the stove. Pour in the whiskey. Place pan back on heat. It will most likely flame up so stand back and BE CAREFUL. If it doesn’t flame up, slightly tip the pan towards the flame and it will then catch and flame up. The flames will die off very quickly.  But please make sure you NEVER EVER pour hard alcohol straight from the bottle into a pan that is sitting on the heat. You can very easily catch the entire bottle AND yourself on fire. If you don’t want to use the alcohol or are afraid of setting yourself on fire, just skip this entire step.

Then at this point, add in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir. Then add in the nuts and stir to combine.

This recipe makes a smaller serving so if you’re wanting extra, you can easily double it.

cinnappcinnapp 2cinnapp 3cinnapp 4Now you have these delicious, incredibly simple cinnamon apples to do with what you will! I used them on top of a shortcake to make my very own Cinnamon Apple Shortcake. But a few other suggestions to put these apples up on top of:

  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Pork chops

They’d also be great used in an apple crisp. But I will definitely be trying them in a Cinnamon Apple Cobbler. Look for that upcoming blog post soon!

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage

cajun pastaA pasta dinner is such a nice comfort meal. And I’m all about comfort food!! Especially when I can do a double carb overload. I love eating pasta with bread. Don’t judge. It’s like a must for me.

But it’s nice to change things up a bit so this pasta recipe doesn’t have a red sauce. Instead, it’s creamy and got a little kick to it! So watch out for the little people in your house in case they can’t handle spicy. I got my Andouille at the butcher counter and it was fresh made so it was actually pretty mild but it’s typically packing some serious heat.

This recipe also makes for a really quick weeknight meal because it comes together so fast. And it’s pretty inexpensive. So if you’re tight on time and money, try this one out!

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage (serves 6)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4- 1 lb. Andouille sausage
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. crimini (aka baby bellas) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. half & half
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium. Add the Andouille sausage. I removed mine from the casing. But other types are fine to slice into coins. Brown up the sausage and break it up. Add in the onions, bell pepper and mushrooms. Continue cooking and stirring for several minutes or until sausage is cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Make sure to stir and remove any bits from the bottom. Let cook until the wine has almost completely reduced. Add in the half and half, as well as all of the spices and cheese. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add in the pasta and stir to combine and coat the pasta. Serve immediately.

cajun pasta 6cajun pasta 5cajun pasta 4cajun pasta 3cajun pasta 2

Spicy Tuscan Soup

I love a good bowl of soup for dinner. It’s just so comforting and filling. I typically make the same soups over and over because they’re just so good, but I wanted to try something different and came across this recipe. It has kale in it, which I’m a big fan of. It’s a super food! It’s so good for you, and it tastes really good in this soup. Enjoy!!!kale

Spicy Tuscan Soup (original recipe at Tasty Kitchen)

• 1 pound pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 slices bacon, diced (I used turkey bacon)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 medium potatoes
• 1 quart chicken broth
• 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
• ½ cup heavy cream
• salt and pepper, to taste

Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain off the grease and set the sausage aside.

Add onions and bacon into the Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are clear and the bacon has crisped up. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and cut into smaller chunks. Add chicken broth and potatoes to the Dutch oven and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are almost done.

Add remaining ingredients, as well as the sausage and simmer for 5 more minutes. Then it’s time to eat up!

spicy tuscan soup*The original recipe calls for spicy breakfast sausage. However, to satisfy my kids’ needs, I used regular pork sausage and added red chili pepper flakes so I could control the spice level. If spice is not an issue, use the spicy breakfast sausage instead.