Tomato Soup

Tomato soup and I go way back. My mother served it often with it’s very best friend, grilled cheese sam’iches, and it was the only decent meal we were served when I taught up in the mountains at Outdoor Science School. I’d always just eaten the canned stuff, until one day I decided to give it a shot and make it from scratch. I remember my girl was about 18 months old and hated everything I made her. But when I let her try a spoonful of this delicious, silky soup her face broke into a huge grin and she said “MMMmmmmmmMMM!” Be still my beating heart.

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

Ingredients (Yields 8 cups)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups water and 1 and 1/2 large chicken bouillon cube OR 3 cups chicken broth
  • 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes and juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Prep

in a 5 or 6 quart dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter melts.

Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Stir occasionally and ensure it doesn’t get brown. Reduce the flame to low when its done.

Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic.

Add the remaining ingredients and return the flame to medium-high. Stir the mixture to ensure the flour isn’t sticking to the pan.

Once you bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the flame and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. I like to check on it every 10 minutes and stir it a little.

Once the time’s up, let the soup cool down a little. Pull out the sprig and discard. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until its silky and creamy. You will have small bits of onion no matter how much your puree it, but I think it makes for a nice texture.

Note: If you don’t own an immersion blender I strongly recommend you invest in one. It makes so many pain-in-the-ass tasks easier. But in the meantime, you can transfer the mixture into your blender and puree in batches. Return the soup to the pot for serving. 

You can garnish with a little freshly ground pepper, a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of dill, finely diced chives, or a grating of parmesan cheese.

~Nom On

Poached Chicken

Although I do love making me some crazy stuff, I also like to share the basic techniques that help us launch yummy dishes or just get something healthy and simple on the table so we can get back to that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy marathon on Bravo. Enter the poached chicken. It goes in any recipe you want cooked chicken for or you can steam some veggies, season with a little lemon, salt, and pepper and check ‘behaving yourself’ off your list. It’s a must have technique.

Poached Shredded Chicken

Poached Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 6-8 oz frozen chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2-8 cups water
  • 1 large chicken boullion cube
  • Aromatics such as fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, sage, or dill can be added if desired.

Note: Aromatics is your chance to fold in some complex and delicate flavor that can either enhance the meat if you are eating with sides or you can pair the aromatics with flavors and spices you’ll be using in the dish the chicken is intended for. 

Prep

  • In a medium-sized pot, place the chicken breast inside and begin adding water, 2 cups at a time until the breast is covered. Add the 1/2 cup of wine. Add in aromatics if using.
  • Turn on the flame to a medium high and cover with a well fitted lid.
  • Bring to a boil. Remove the lid and crumble the bouillon cube into the boiling water. Replace the lid and continue boiling for one minute.
  • Turn off the flame and leave the lid on. Allow the chicken to poach for 20 minutes.

Note: You can use pre-made chicken broth or homemade stock if you have those on hand. Just swap them for the water and bouillon. 

Poached Chicken

Remove from the water and place on a cutting board. To check for doneness, I like to pull off a few large chunks with a fork. It should come apart easily if its tender. If you see any pink parts, you can return them to the water and let sit with the lid on for a few more minutes.

You now have moist, flavorful poached chicken that can be a base for TONS of recipes or served with veggies and a starch for a weeknight meal. You never need to buy an over priced can of shredded chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken again. It’s low fat and hands off so you can be making other parts of your dish or even be poaching chicken to take to work in the morning while you get ready. And as a bonus, the toddler loves it.

~Nom On

The Case of the Disappearing Tequila-Habanero Spiced Pineapple Wontons

In case you are wondering why I have no picture for you, it’s because twice I made these, twice I served them to guests to give me feedback on my new recipe with the warning not to eat them all because I still needed a picture, and twice I turned around about 3 minutes later to see an empty plate where my wontons should be.

“Hey!,” I exclaim, “You were not supposed to eat them all before I took a picture!” The individual who swiped the last one chews more quietly, looking anywhere but at me. I sigh, “Never mind, I’ll make another batch later….” Except the spousal unit drank the last of the tequila and the rest of my pineapple went into a pineapple-blueberry wonton so it’s going to be awhile before I make these again. Given how delectable they are, I figured I had better share the recipe before your next party.

Missing

Tequila-Habanero Spiced Pineapple Wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup tequila (The best you can afford)
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 small, red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, diced
  • 1/2 pkg wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten

Prep

  • Finely dice the habanero pepper. Add your pineapple chunks to a small tupperware container and add the tequila and diced pepper. Cover and give the mixture a shake to make sure its distributed. Let the pineapple soak for a few hours. You can even leave these soaking for a few days if you want a stronger flavor.
  • Once your pineapple is ready, extract the chunks and finely dice them. Set aside.
  • Place your softened cream cheese in a medium bowl, and using a hand mixer, whip until soft and fluffy.
    If you are unfamiliar with whipping cream cheese, start the blades on slow and circle around a few times. The cheese will start to cling to the blades. Put the speed to high and beat against the side of the bowl in a circular motion and the cheese will come loose as it becomes soft and whipped.
  • Finely dice your onion and cilantro.
  • Add the diced pineapple, cilantro, and onion to the cream cheese. You should also add in the diced habanero from the marinade. Combine and stir with a rubber spatula until you have a well blended mixture.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lay out your wonton wrappers. Start with 12 wrappers.
  • Beat your egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Place approx 1 tbsp of the mixture into the dead center of the wrapper.
    Use any manner of deep breathing techniques and chanting of ‘a little dab will do ya’ to resist the urge to add larger and larger globs of filling to the wontons. It will look like you didn’t put enough, but I promise it’s correct. The filling expands in the heat and will burst your wonton open.
  • Dip your finger in the egg and trace around the edge of each wonton. Fold the sides into an X and pinch together to seal.
  • Spray a little non-stick on a cookie sheet and transfer the wontons. Make sure they are evenly spaced apart.
  • Bake the wontons for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden and crisp.
  • Serve immediately.

What do you recommend as a dipping sauce? 

I can’t figure this part out. The flavors are so fusion. Do you want spicy? Do you want sweet? Do you want an asian sauce or a salsa? I offered 2 options and what I noticed is that my taste testers had very different preferences when they tried each sauce and then just started popping them in their mouth, sans sauce, at an increasingly rapid pace. Here’s what I made for your experimenting pleasure.

If you want to offer something with sweet notes, maybe you can rock a ponzu? If you try that, let me know how it goes!

Warning: Make sure you hold back one or two wontons before you serve these or you may find yourself lost in a godzilla-like rage similar to what we all feel when someone eats the last spring roll without asking if anyone else wanted it.

~Nom On

BLT Deviled Eggs

What is it about the summer that just makes one jones for bacon, lettuce, and tomato? It’s never not awesome, right? Well, today I decided to stuff it in my deviled eggs and declare it breakfast! Low-carb, of course, if you are looking for an excuse to skip the bread and always appreciated as an appetizer.

BLT Deviled Eggs

BLT Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayo or miracle whip
  • 3 slices bacon, pan friend and crumbled
  • 1 large roma tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • 12 small shreds of green, leafy lettuce

Prep

  • Pan fry your bacon strips and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Next, bring a pot of water, about 4 cups, to a rolling boil. Set your timer for 9 minutes and place your six eggs into the water and boil. This is the perfect time for creamy yolks and firm whites that you need for a deviled egg. As soon as the timer goes off, remove from heat and transfer the eggs into a bowl of cold water.
  • Allow the eggs to cool and set in the cold water while you crumble your bacon and finely dice your tomato.
  • Remove the shells of each egg and slice in half.
  • With a small spoon, gently remove the yolks from each egg and place into small bowl.
  • Combine the egg yolks with the mayo and stir until soft and creamy.
  • Fold in the bacon crumbles and diced tomato. Taste. If bland, add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and taste again.
  • Once your mixture is complete, take a piece of lettuce and push into the center of the egg white and then add a spoonful of the yolk mixture. It will heap over because of the bacon. Repeat for all the egg halves.
  • Sprinkle each egg with a little parsley and cayenne pepper for garnish.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

A few notes…

Personally, I think real mayo is nasty. It tastes like fish to me. If your first batch tastes a little ‘fishy’ or off to you, try it with miracle whip next time.

If you like spicy food, you can stir in a 1/4 tsp of horseradish for a kick. If you are unfamiliar with this condiment, there are many layers of heat and style you can buy. They can be creamy or grainy, mild or very hot. You’ll need to experiment, but I think they are all really tasty.

~Nom On

Greek Turkey Burgers

The summer continues and so do my experiments with burgers. Today I made a low-carb Greek burger with homemade tzaziki sauce and it was quite yummy.

Greek Turkey Burger

Greek Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 16 oz ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 oz – 3 oz crumbled feta cheese, depending on how strong you want the feta flavor
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Thick slices of beefsteak tomato, cucumbers, leafy lettuce, and red onion for serving.

Prep

  • Combine the ground turkey, onion, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs together in a medium-sized bowl. Use your fingers and mix well.
  • Fold in your feta cheese crumbles and mix well.
  • Finally fold in your spices. Mix well and form into 4 equally sized patties. Set aside.
  • Heat up your griddle and brush with a little olive oil.
  • Grill the patties for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the patties reach 160 degrees internally. Transfer to a plate and let rest for a couple minutes.

Quick Tzaziki Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1 half cucumber, diced
  • 1 large roma tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep

  • Combine all your ingredients except the salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Add in about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of pepper and taste.

Note: Tzaziki isn’t meant to be salty, it should taste refreshing. This recipe is by no means a traditional sauce, but it’ll get you the majority of that flavor and it’s quick and easy to prep. Some traditional tzaziki sauces can be very garlic-y and if you like that, add in another fresh garlic clove or add a pinch of garlic powder. 

If you are serving this low-carb, arrange the patties on a bed of leafy lettuce and layer on the sauce. Top with a little more feta, if desired. You can serve with thick slices of tomato, red onion, and cucumber dusted with salt and pepper and a dollop of hummus for dipping. I make my sauces with the veggies and toppings basically folded in so you don’t need to add those extra veggies if you don’t want to. The flavors are all there.

~Nom On

Egg and Beef Steak Tomato Salad

I don’t know about you, but I am TOTALLY fighting the middle-aged chub these days. I don’t seem to have the discipline to live on 1200 calories like I used to, not with a 2-year old harshing my buzz. How to keep from totally letting go? Well, I like to do a no-carb meal each day and a no-meat meal each day. This dish nails both, and as a bonus it’s light, refreshing, takes advantage of one of our best summer produce, and it’s delicious.

Egg and Beefsteak Tomato Salad

Egg and Beefsteak Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large, ripe beefsteak tomato
  • 1 heaping tbsp of Mayo or Miracle Whip
  • 2 tbsp large snipped fresh green onion
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ground cayenne pepper

Prep

  • In a medium pot, bring water to a rolling boil.
  • Gently spoon eggs into the water and boil for 6 minutes. Set a timer to be precise.
  • When eggs are done, immediately move to a bowl of cold water. Allow eggs to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove shell from each egg and place in a small mixing bowl. With a fork, mash eggs. Add mayo and mix. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix again.
  • Slice beefsteak tomatoes thickly.
  • Arrange your tomatoes so they cover your plate and dust with salt and pepper. Spoon egg salad over the tomatoes. Dust again with a little salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Sprinkle green onion and dill over egg salad.

You can serve on its own or with a little side of mixed greens and dressing or some cucumbers like I did. Guilt-free breakfast or lunch!

~Nom On

3-Alarm Chili

I’m at yet another potluck and someone is staring down at my chili with a confused look on their face. “This looks like chili.” “Yeah,” I say, “it is chili.” “uh….with pasta? How does that work?” “It just does,” I assure them. I found the base recipe years ago in a Betty Crocker vegetarian cookbook and I have been hooked ever since. Once people get over their confusion and try, I always get rave reviews and you’ll love it, too. It’s got a great spicy heat that you can turn up a notch or 5, to suit your liking, and the cinnamon in the sauce make it the most comforting and aromatic dish for the cold months. It’s chili-licious!

3 Alarm Turkey Chili

3-Alarm Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken (optional and unneeded really, as the olive oil used to sauté the veggies makes the chili rich already, but if you are in the mood for meaty chili … )
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 medium pepper (Heat Control: Green bell pepper for mild, Passilla or Anaheim for medium, 2 large jalapeño peppers for hot, or 2 Serrano peppers for sadists.)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup taco sauce (Heat Control: The hotter the taco sauce, the hotter the dish. Just be aware that this is the tomato-based taco sauce, NOT a pepper sauce like Tabasco.)
  • 2 cans diced tomatos and chilis, undrained (Heat Control: Ro-Tel sells 4 versions of heat – Mild, Original, Hot, and Lime.)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 ground cinnamon
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 box angel hair pasta

Prep:

  • In a dutch oven or a large, deep skillet, sauté the onions and bell pepper in EVOO until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add into the dutch oven with the turkey.
  • If you want ground turkey or chicken, brown that in a separate skillet. You can either drain it, which I don’t recommend if you got a lean version, or just scrape the whole mess into the dutch oven when its ready.
  • Add in the water, cans of tomato and chiles, sauce and seasonings. Just hold off on the beans and angel hair pasta.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the beans and pasta and return to boiling. Reduce back to medium-high heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  • Serve with garnish assortment so people can doctor their chili up as desired.

Garnish Assortment

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Sliced, fresh jalapeño
  • Pepper sauces: Franks, Tabasco, Tapatillo, and Sriracha

Serving options

  • Dial up the heat when you prepare the chili and serve with tortilla chips, frito scoopers, and Tostito bowls along with a bucket of ice cold, light beer in the summertime. Everyone will have a blast dowsing their scorching mouths and getting a spice-buzz.
  • Keep the heat mild and serve with a skillet cornbread trencher. Instant fall comfort food. There are lots of skillet cornbread recipes ; buttermilk, bacon, southern, northern… Experiment!
  • Like a lot of flavor juxtaposition? I got you covered! Make the chili fairly spicy, not inferno-beer-sloshing-spicy, but enough to make you cough a little. Make a batch of skillet cornbread, but replace the sugar for a 1/4 cup of honey and add in a 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Serve on the side, rather than as a trencher, and everyone can enjoy scooping and dipping and groaning with sweet-savory-heat delight.

Uh, what’s a trencher?

A trencher is an old term that essentially refers to the practice of putting a thick slice of bread in your bowl and drenching it with your chili or stew. You can be all sophisticated with a knife and fork, or pick up the bread and eat the whole mess with your hands. That’s how they did it the medieval days!

What the heck is a dutch oven?

I am including this because I seriously did not understand this term when I first started cooking. I asked people that cooked a lot and surprisingly, I got different answers. Well, I finally have the correct and definitive answer. It’s a deep pot with a tight fitting lid. Here’s the one I own and I love, love, love it. The lid doubles as a skillet, which is uber handy. It’s also economical and will survive a nuclear holocaust.

~Nom On