Thursday, September 17, 2015

Caprese Tomato Spinach Soup

Well this is it!  My last full day in the states, tomorrow I will be leaving for Iceland!  Currently my brain feels like mush because the preparation that goes into not being at my job for two full weeks is insanely tedious.  I think at this point I have all my bases covered for work and now just need to get home and begin packing.  We also have our travels pretty well planned out but we don't necessarily have a backup plan if things do turn violent in Munich...hopefully it won't get to that.  We will be arriving in Iceland at 6am their time and that is when the adventure begins!  Last night I adapted this AMAZING soup and it was a perfect last meal to post on my blog because it was so successful.  By the time we get back (October 1st) it will be fall here in PDX and perhaps I will have some new Icelandic, French, German, or Swiss soup recipes to share!  Bon voyage!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 can (28 0z.) fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons olive oil
7 Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 small shallots, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic clove thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dry basil
1 good pinch dry thyme
½ teaspoon celery salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
6-8 hand fulls of spinach
Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine (little)

The Process
1. In a medium soup pot over medium heat, warm up 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add in the 2 shallots, 2 cloves garlic, sun dried tomatoes, saute for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the dry basil, thyme salt, black pepper, and celery salt saute for another minute.

3. Add the can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium.

4. Add the stock, stir until well incorporated, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 6-8 minutes. With an immersion blender puree the soup.

5. Once its pureed, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar, taste, adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Bring to slow simmer, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and keep it warm.

6. Quick Saute the spinach in a skillet over medium -high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil, add 1 shallots, 2 cloves garlic and saute for 15 seconds then add the spinach and toss until they are partially wilted, and coated with the hot oil, add salt and pepper. Set a side.

7. Using oven friendly soup bowls, scoop 2-3 ladles of tomato soup, add some of the sauteed spinach and top with the mozzarella (I put 5 little balls in each bowl).

8. Place bowls onto a baking sheet and broil the soups for about 4-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly crust. Be careful to watch them so they don’t burn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bruschetta Topped Pork Chops

Well Europe is truly around the corner, only two days away!  I have been feeling so many different emotions in prepping myself for this trip of a lifetime, I go from super anxious and nervous to ecstatic in a matter of minutes.  I am very thankful that our first stop is Iceland because it will be a calm and serene introduction to our trip, as for Germany not so much.  If you have been paying attention to the news lately Germany is taking in a lot of refugees and while it was suppose to be about 5,000 it turned into 18,000 over last weekend.  And Oktoberfest is about to start which attracts 6 million people and now the minister fears there will be violence between the two groups (read article here).  So as you can see our second destination in Munich will be a little more crazy than Iceland.  Anyway around it I can't wait for all the amazing food, cathedrals, museums, gardens, palaces, picnicking, and shopping!  Now if these workdays could go a little faster I would be in heaven.  I adapted this recipe last week and it was a delicious, filling, and healthy meal.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 boneless pork chops
2 large, firm, tomatoes (I used Marianna's Peace and yellow cherries), diced small
½ large red onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for basting
1½ tbsp good balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzle
½ tsp salt
fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thick
salt to taste
pepper to taste

The Process
1.  Preheat your grill on high for at least 10 minutes.

2.  Make your brushetta topping by gently tossing together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and basil leaves. Set aside.

3.  Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Just before placing on the grill, lightly baste with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill for 3+ minutes per side depending on the thickness of your chops. Remove the meat at 140℉.

4.  Top chops with mozzarella cheese and place under your broiler for about one minute, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Let rest for at least 5 minutes to redistribute juices.  Top with a heaping spoonful of the brushetta mixture, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ham and Cheese Soup

What a whirlwind life has been, last week I was in Florida for work, often working 15 hour days, but at least I ate very well.  We lucked out and the hurricane never hit us which was good for our conference but I personally wanted to experience one.  It was also amazing seeing one of my best friends and catching up, I sure do miss having her around.  I got back to PDX on Friday and my boyfriend was waiting for me with a dozen roses which was so so sweet and it was very nice to have labor day weekend to catch up on my sleep.  Sunday was pickle fest 2015 with my mom and aunt (pictured below), and we made 55 pounds!  My sauerkraut also just finished up and I have a bunch of fresh kraut to eat up before we leave for Europe.  Speaking of Europe we are now down to 9 days away and for some reason I still can't believe we are going.  I am SO excited!  I will try and get as many posts in as I can before we leave but you know I will have tons to write about when we get back.  I don't think I could make a dish more American than this, and with that said it was super delicious.  I adapted this recipe, enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
2 cups diced yellow potatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 can peas
Plain yogurt for garnish

The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, broth, and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

2.  Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir into undrained potato mixture. Add ham and peas; heat through. Serve with a large dollop of plain yogurt.