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.

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs

tt ballsGame day is coming up and if you’re like me, it’s a great excuse to eat a lot of food. We’re not much for football in this house, but every year for Superbowl, I make a nice spread and we usually have friends over. This year I’m making about 9 pounds of baby back ribs and loaded potato skins as requested by the man of the house. And of course we’ll have some dips and chips and a bunch of other goodies. But, if you’re still undecided about what you’re wanting to make, I have an idea for you.

I made these meatballs for dinner last night and they didn’t disappoint. They were so tasty in fact that I thought they would be an excellent Superbowl/party snack as well. But really, they make a great dinner option. And they’re quick. And they’re kid friendly. And they taste really, really good. Sounds like a winner, right?

So I have to say this though….I call these teriyaki but there’s really only one “teriyaki” sauce that I use and I really urge you to go out and buy it. My parents have used this sauce for years and when I went out on my own and had my own home, this sauce became a permanent resident in my casa. And that’s Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce. Mi casa es su casa Mr. Yoshida. I don’t know how to say that in Mandarin or Cantonese, so Spanish will do. But do you get my point? This is the “teriyaki” sauce you should have in your kitchen. And it will be the only one you’ll ever buy after you’ve tried it. But if you want to be really stubborn, use what you’re using. I’m going to be stubborn and stick to my guns though about Yoshida’s.

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs (makes approximately 2 dozen)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce (you know what kind you should use!)
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, or 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 clove minced garlic, or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. panko crumbs
  • Dash black pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl, except 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce. With your hands, combine the meat mixture until evenly mixed. You can either put this back in the fridge for an hour or two or just go ahead and make your balls.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. To make the meatballs, I use a little scooper to ensure evenly sized meatballs, but you can just as easily use your hands. Place all the meatballs in the baking dish. Then pour the 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce over the meatballs. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Tah-dah! That’s it.

tt balls 4tt balls 3tt balls 2tt balls 5I served this for dinner with steamed brown rice and sautéed cabbage and it was just scrump-diddly-dumptious. But like I said, these would make great appetizers for a Superbowl party, or really any party. Basically what I’m saying is, just find an excuse to make these!

Have a fun Sunday. Patriots or Seahawks? Honestly, I’m just there for the food.

Spaghetti Sauce

spaghetti sauce 4OK, so yes, technically, I didn’t use actual spaghetti pasta when I made/photographed this. But, it’s a red, tomato based meat sauce that goes on top of noodles which in my opinion, equals spaghetti sauce. Call it what you want, I call it yummy.

The key to this sauce is letting it simmer and cook down. This is what I think is the spaghetti secret. For those of you who’ve had spaghetti where the sauce is a bit watery and leaching out liquid all over the plate, well, that’s no good. But if you let the sauce cook longer, the flavors develop MORE and the end result is a thicker, heartier sauce that doesn’t taste like liquid tomato. Sad to say, but I’ve actually eaten at restaurants that serve their spaghetti just like that! And I’m sure you have too.

Even though you need to let this simmer, this recipe for me is just about the easiest thing you can make. And a good spaghetti recipe is something everyone needs to know. So for you new cooks just starting out (or seasoned veterans), this one’s a keeper!

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, bulk (or 1/2 pound each of ground pork & ground beef)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced (that’s a whole package)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c. red or white wine (whatever you have on hand that’s open)
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (if using ground pork & ground beef) OR 1/4 tsp. salt (if using Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat over medium. Once hot, add in the Italian sausage. Cook until almost fully browned, stirring occasionally and add in the onion and bell pepper. Stir together and let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Then add in the wine. Stir, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Let cook for 1-2 minutes or until wine has slightly reduced. Then add in both cans of tomatoes and seasonings. Once sauce starts bubbling, add in the parmesan cheese and stir together until it has melted. Reduce heat to a simmer and leave uncovered on the stovetop for approximately 1 1/2-2 hours, or until it has reduced and reached a thicker sauce stage. Serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

spaghetti sauce 3spaghetti saucespaghetti sauce 2spaghetti sauce 5*This also freezes exceptionally well! So once it’s cooled, you can pop it into a plastic freezer container (even a gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag works great, but make sure to lay flat on top of something) and place in the freezer. I heart having this type of stuff already made and waiting for me in the freezer on those hectic days.

Spice Rubbed Roasted Chicken Legs

spice rubbedSo here’s a new recipe I tried out on my guinea pigs family the other day. I had picked up some chicken quarters at the grocery store for $.99 a pound. What a steal! When I saw that price, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I mean, that is really freakin cheap inexpensive. And considering that my oldest daughter now eats like a full grown woman, a big chicken leg sounded like a good plan.

In case you’re not familiar with chicken quarters (also known as a whole chicken leg) it’s the thigh and the leg/drumstick together, bone in, still attached, connected, as one….You get it. And it’s dark meat. In case you’re a white meat, chicken breast lover, please don’t automatically dismiss this recipe. The thigh meat (in my opinion) is the best meat on the chicken. Tender, juicy and full of flavor. Also, with this recipe, we’re leaving the skin on. And that skin is going to be crispy! Let the drool commence NOW!

FYI, since the skin does get seared, be prepared for a smoky house. My husband walked in and wanted to know what the hell was going on. But luckily, I didn’t set off any smoke alarms.

Spice Rubbed Roasted Chicken Legs (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 4-6 chicken quarters (also known as whole chicken legs)
  • 4-6 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. each cumin and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each of paprika, onion powder & garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil

Mix together all of the dried spices in a small bowl. Place 1 tbsp. of butter underneath the skin of each chicken leg (on top of the thigh). Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of the chicken. Then sprinkle the spice rub all over the skin as well as lifting the skin on the thigh up and rubbing the spice mix under the skin too. Place in an airtight container in the fridge for 6 hours (or more).

Take chicken out of the fridge and let come to room temperature, approximately 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Then heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. When nice and hot, add in 1-2 tbsp. olive oil and place chicken skin side down in the skillet. Do not move it, and let it sear for 3-4 minutes. This is when it’s going to get all smoky! With the butter melting under the skin and the hot oil, it’s going to get hot up in your house. So make sure to turn that fan on! Turn over, and let sear for about 2 minutes on the other side. Then place on a foil lined tray (or a dish big enough to hold all these legs). I was able to do 2 chicken legs at a time. So you most likely will have to work in batches too. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan as you want the skin to sear and crisp up, not steam and get rubbery.

When all chicken legs have been seared, place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. When the legs are all done, let rest about 10 minutes and then drizzle with your favorite barbeque sauce.

spice rubbed 7spice rubbed 6spice rubbed 5spice rubbed 4spice rubbed 3spice rubbed 2So I did 6 chicken legs for my family and we had leftovers. And since I’m all about leftovers and re-purposing, I suggest removing the skin and pulling that chicken off to make some chicken salad. Might I suggest my recipe for Almond Chicken Salad? 🙂