Curried Tomato Soup

Curried tomato soupI’ve been a lot better about packing my lunch lately instead of going out. I get bored with sandwiches day after day, even if they’re different types. I’m also not a morning person, so if I’m going to pack a lunch I really need to prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday. This soup was easy and quick to make, and I’ll have enough for lunch all week.

Ingredients

1 small-medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (could also use crushed)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

Instructions

Melt butter over medium heat in dutch oven (a regular pot is fine if you don’t have a dutch oven). Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook until it gets a little golden color to it.

Add chicken stock, salt, and curry powder. Use an immersion blender to puree the onions and garlic (optional). Add crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in heavy cream.

Lasagna

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Ingredients (Sauce)

2 x 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion seasoning
2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic seasoning
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt

Spice measurements are for dried spices.

Ingredients (Pasta)

3 cups flour
3 eggs
Pinch salt
Cold water (if needed)

Ingredients (Other)

½ to ¾ container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated asiago
8oz fresh mozzarella (optional – you can just use more shredded instead. If you use the fresh, strain some of the moisture from it)
1 lb lean ground beef

Instructions

Start the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat on medium, covered, until it starts to bubble. Reduce to low and let it simmer while you continue the rest of the steps.

Brown the ground beef and set aside.

Make the pasta dough. Scoop flour onto work surface. Make a well in the center. Add salt. Add one egg and start to incorporate with a fork. Continue to add eggs one at a time, incorporating more of the flour after each one. You will reach a point where it’s clear you can’t do any more with the fork and you just need to use your hands. Once you have a dough ball, knead, knead, knead for several minutes. If the dough feels dry, add some of the cold water to get it to the right texture. The texture should be kind of elastic-y, but not really sticky.

Separate dough into portions about a half cup in size. Cover unused dough with plastic wrap. Roll out dough to #4 setting using pasta machine (start on the widest setting, #1, and work your way thinner). Place dough onto work surface and cut into lasagna-sized noodles. I like to make the noodles as I assemble the lasagna, so I stop after making one layer’s worth.

Spread sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer noodles on top. Spread more sauce on top of the noodles. Add beef.

Make more noodles. Next layer is sauce, ricotta, and shredded mozzarella.

Make more noodles. Top with sauce, asiago, and mozzarella (fresh or shredded).

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the cheese looks like it’s going to get too brown.

This reheats really well. I had leftovers for lunch this week!

Simple Salsa

Ingredients

6 tomatoes, seeded and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ large red onion, cut into large chunks (separate each layer into its own piece)
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cumin
Leaves from about ¼ to ½ of a bunch of cilantro

Instructions

Place everything into a large food processor and process on low. Once the pieces look relatively small, stop the food processor and stir. Process again to make sure any larger pieces get chopped.

Improvised Two Bean Soup – Saved from Disaster

photo-feb-17-4-59-25-pmI ended concocting this yesterday when I needed something to bring to an event. I made potato salad, but I didn’t like how it tasted. It ended up turning out fine, but I needed to get something else together in case the potato salad was a total fail. It seemed like my normally stockpiled pantry and fridge were empty, and almost every measuring cup or spoon I owned was in the dishwasher. So WTF do I make?

I basically had to come up with something with all of the ingredients I always keep a ton of: diced tomatoes, beans, stock, and onions. Chili wasn’t an option because all of my meat was frozen and I didn’t have time for anything to defrost.

I diced an onion and started cooking it in the dutch oven. I realized I was smart enough to freeze chipotles in adobo, so I chopped up a bunch of that and tossed it in. I added the tomatoes (28oz can), black beans, and pinto beans. I also added 1 box of beef stock. Ideally I would’ve wanted a third kind of bean, but didn’t have it. I also seasoned it with a bunch of salt and some Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili Seasoning (probably about 1-2 tbsp of the chili seasoning).

The soup was looking really sad. It needed more beans, but I didn’t have any. This is when I slap realized my knife skills were kind of bad on that onion. I wanted to thicken it. I grabbed the masa harina from the pantry. I would’ve liked to have used beer for this next part, but we didn’t have any. I was also not wasting any of my good wine on this! Grabbed some vodka and made a slurry with about 2/3 cup masa harina (1/3 was the only measuring cup not in the dishwasher). I stirred it into the soup, brought it to a boil, and reduced it.

It was starting to look better, but still looked sad. I decided to get the immersion blender and puree it. It was starting to look pretty good! I adjusted the seasoning, added corn, and just let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. At some point I added about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and probably 8 shakes of Worcestershire. I kept tasting it and it actually tasted good. Yay!

I didn’t really think about how I was going to transport it. I don’t have a portable Crock Pot. I ladled the soup into gallon freezer bags (I made sure they were the ones that can also go in the microwave), put the bags into the crock pot, and taped the lid shut. Not ideal, but it worked!

Everyone really liked the soup, and I didn’t have much at all to bring home.

I did not add an actual recipe for this because of all of the troubleshooting I went through to make it happen, and also because I wasn’t measuring much of anything.

Three Cheese Rustic Herb Ravioli with Cream Sauce and Tomatoes

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I tweeted earlier “Food blogger problem – realizing halfway through making something that you haven’t written any of it down.” That may have related to part of this recipe. The parts I’m unsure of are marked accordingly. Oh, and remember how I said before not to ask me about my pasta recipe because I have no idea about any of the proportions? I took note when I made the ravioli! Problem solved. Now let’s hope I can remember to keep writing these things down.

Ingredients

For Ravioli Filling

  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup smoked gouda, shredded
  • ¼ cup asiago, grated
  • 1 tbsp rustic herb seasoning (from Tastefully Simple)

For Pasta

  • 2½ cups flour + more for dusting
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

For Sauce

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ to 1 cup heavy cream (This is where I didn’t take note of measurements. Start with
  • ¾ cup and increase from there if it seems too little)
  • ¼ to ½ cup milk (Same as above. Start with ¼ and increase as needed)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 2+ tsp of the pasta water
  • Parsley (optional)

Instructions 

Ravioli Filling. Combine all ingredients. If you have the spice grinder for your Tastefully Simple seasoning container, use it. If not, crush up your seasoning a bit before you add it. Cover with film and set aside.

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He wanted to monitor the situation.

Pasta dough. Scoop flour onto work surface. Make a well in the center. Add salt. Add one egg and start to incorporate with a fork. Be careful not to kill the walls of your well or it’ll get unnecessarily messy fast! Continue to add eggs one at a time, incorporating more of the flour after each one. Add the olive oil, continue to incorporate everything until it becomes doughy. You will get your hands dirty. You will reach a point where it’s clear you can’t do any more with the fork and you just need to use your hands. Once you have a dough ball, knead, knead, knead for several minutes.

  • Tip: I recommend adding the eggs one at a time because I always end up breaking the walls of the well or sloshing them everywhere when I put them all in at the same time. Also, I always crack my eggs into a small prep bowl before adding them to the flour. There’s nothing worse than trying to fish a piece of egg shell out of the middle of pasta dough (or cake, or whatever you’re making)!
  • Troubleshooting: If your dough is way too dry, add more olive oil or some water. If it’s too wet, add more flour.

Roll out the pasta dough and put it through the pasta machine. Start on the widest setting and work your way thinner. I went to #6 (out of 8) on the KitchenAid. Lay out sheets on a lightly floured surface.

img_4445Assemble Ravioli. Depending on the size of the ravioli you want to make, add 1tsp to 1tbsp filling at even intervals down one piece of dough. Press to flatten the filling a little. My ravioli were big ones, so I used 1tbsp. Lay another piece of dough over the top. Press to seal all around the filling. Cut out the shapes using a pastry wheel or ravioli stamp. Set them aside on a lightly floured surface.

  • Make Ahead & Freeze: You can put the ravioli on a lightly floured sheet pan and put into the freezer. I did this for my entire batch, then stored in an air tight container. I used lightly floured wax paper to separate the layers of ravioli.

Get the pasta water boiling while you start the sauce. Don’t forget to salt your pasta water!

Sauce. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add flour to make a roux. Just a basic blond roux is good. Once your roux is done, stir in the cream, milk, and parmesan. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. It should be thickening. Stir often enough so it doesn’t burn on the bottom (I’ve made this mistake before – the broccoli cheddar soup incident).

  • Troubleshooting: Sauce too thick? Add a bit of pasta water.

The ravioli should only take a few minutes to cook. Test an edge since this is the thickest part that takes longest to cook. Use a spider spoon to transfer the ravioli to the pan with the sauce. Let them cook together for a few minutes. Serve and garnish with parsley and some extra parmesan if desired.

Cucumber Salad

cucumber-saladThis is a super simple cucumber salad. It’s quick to make, and a good opportunity to practice knife skills.

Ingredients

6 cucumbers
2 pints grape tomatoes
Half of a medium red onion
2 packets Good Seasons Italian salad dressing & recipe mix
Red wine vinegar

Instructions

Cut cucumbers in half vertically and remove seeds. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon or melon baller and cut into slices (half moon shaped).

Thinly slice onion (almost like a julienne size).

Halve the grape tomatoes.

Combine the veggies. Add seasoning packets, stir. Add red wine vinegar to taste (start with a few shakes, and increase a few shakes at a time).

Lazy Pizza Sauce

pizza-sauceI call this pizza sauce “lazy” because it’s super easy, plus it uses canned tomatoes and a couple of already-mixed seasoning blends. This one is great for weeknight cooking and picky eaters. One of my friends who is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet loves this sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can diced tomatoes (28oz)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • A few (3ish) cloves garlic, minced
  • About 1/4 to 1/3 medium onion, minced
  • 1 packet Good Seasons zesty Italian salad dressing & recipe mix
  • 1 tbsp McCormick salt free all purpose seasoning
  • Kosher Salt – start with 1tsp and add more as needed.  

Instructions
Toss everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste it and adjust the seasonings as needed. Transfer to a pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t skip the simmering, it makes a difference!

Blender Note: I have the Vitamix 750 and I used the “frozen” setting for about 20 seconds. Nothing was frozen, but I knew 20 seconds of that would give me what I needed. You could also use an immersion blender instead.

Troubleshooting
Too salty or garlicky? Add a little bit of sugar to rebalance it.