Italian Wedding Soup

I’ve spent time during the last two days taking down all of the Christmas decorations, both inside the house and out. I’m someone who loves the holidays, but by late December I’m antsy to put away all of the treasured ornaments, lights, garland and glitz and take a big deep breath. I now look forward to the calmness and quiet of the month to come.

Tonight I made a pot of Italian Wedding Soup to warm us on this cold winter’s night. The recipe is from the January/February issue of The Cottage Journal.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2  12 ounce packages caramelized onion flavored meatballs (I used Aidells)

2 cups chopped yellow onion

I and 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 and 1/2 cups chopped carrot

1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

8 cups chicken broth

1 and 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup orzo pasta

1 (6 ounce) bag baby spinach

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add meatballs, and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside.IMG_71152. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to pot; cook stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

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3. Stir in meatballs, broth, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. IMG_7117Add orzo to pot, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until pasta is tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in spinach just before serving. Serve with rustic bread, if desired.IMG_7120IMG_7119IMG_7121Simple, healthy and delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Harvest Loaf

About twenty years ago, my sister introduced me to this delicious autumn-y bread and it quickly became a family favorite. The semi sweet chips add a touch of chocolate goodness to the pumpkin and spice bread. Choose to add a glaze or not before serving. I’m so happy to share it with you.IMG_6274

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Use cooking spray to grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the pumpkin. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Add the mixture to the loaf pan and smooth top.

Bake 65 – 75 minutes, depending on your oven.

Let cool on baking rack.

Optional: When cool, drizzle with glaze.

Glaze:

Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 – 2 Tablespoons cream.

Makes one loaf, but I suggest doubling the recipe and making two. Freeze one to have on hand for a cozy treat when friends and family drop by during the holiday season!

Breakfast on the Porch

Especially after a string of very busy days, isn’t there something so decadent about a slow Sunday morning? Sleeping in, taking the pooch for a walk and then having a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper feels like a true luxury.  A favorite recipe for these kinds of mornings is Barefoot Contessa’s Herb Scrambled Eggs. So simple. So fresh and flavorful. The recipe in the link is for serving a crowd, so obviously I just cut it down for the two of us. As you can see by my photos, I cook the eggs with the herbs in the mix, and I didn’t have whole milk or half and half in the fridge so I substituted just a splash of cream.IMG_5411IMG_5412IMG_5413Taking breakfast out on the porch makes it even better!
IMG_5297IMG_5353Look closely and you’ll see a zippy little friend who came to join us for his own breakfast! Happy Sunday to you.

Carrot Tomato Soup

What to make after harvesting a large basket of tomatoes? Why, this dreamy carrot tomato soup, of course!

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and sliced in half*

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

5 medium carrots, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth or stock

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

optional: oregano, rosemary

*An easy way to peel tomatoes is to heat a saucepan full of water and bring to boil. Place tomatoes in for about a minute. Remove and let cool. Skins will pull off easily.

IMG_5151Place sliced tomatoes on baking sheet and cover with most of olive oil (reserving 2 Tablespoons) and salt and pepper. Add fresh or dried oregano and or rosemary (optional) atop the tomatoes. Place in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes to roast.

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Melt butter and remaining olive oil on medium low heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to get soft (15 minutes or so). When tomatoes are done, add to pot of vegetables, along with broth. Simmer on low until vegetables are tender.

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Puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender.

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Serve in bowls with a drizzle of cream and basil.

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Grab a spoon and enjoy this late summery goodness from the garden.  This recipe is from soulemama.com (go to tutorials, recipes & patterns and click on image titled Tomato Soup).

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Here we are, a few days after National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, or National Zucchini Day for short. Yes, really! Did a kind hearted neighbor with a garden leave you any? Or maybe you’re up to your neck in zucchini from your own garden. If you’ve had your fill of grilling them, putting them in salads or making zucchini bread, here’s a favorite delicious snack cake to try.

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1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cups semi sweet morsels

4 Tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups grated zucchini

1/2 cup chopped nuts

In large mixing bowl, beat together butter, oil, and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.

In separate bowl, add dry ingredients; slowly beat the dry mixture into the wet mixture until incorporated. Add grated zucchini, semi sweet morsels and chopped nuts.

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Pour into a well greased and floured bundt pan.

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Bake 325 for 45-60 minutes.

IMG_5074Enjoy!

Pesto

One of my favorite dinners in summer is pasta made with pesto and home grown cherry tomatoes. Simple, healthy and full of garden goodness, it is the epitome of the taste of summer. Here is the recipe ( found in Cooking Light magazine years ago) I use:

4 cups fresh basil leaves

2 pine nuts

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons butter, softened

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Combine the first five ingredients in a food processor; process until finely minced. Place in large bowl. Stir in grated cheese and softened butter.

 

IMG_5004I cook pasta according to directions, drain and add to the large bowl of pesto. Stir and then add in cherry tomatoes. Serve with sliced, grilled ciabatta bread. So delicious. So quick and easy. Dinner is served.