It really doesn’t get much easier than this soup. This recipe is perfect for those nights when you don’t have much energy and just want to make something quick. The tortellini makes the soup hearty and filling and it’s also pretty healthy since it is broth based and full of fresh vegetables.
- 1 tbl. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 9-10 oz. tortellini, any variety (fresh or frozen)
- 3 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
- Parmesan cheese, shredded
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the oregano, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to the directions listed on the package. One minute before the tortellini is done, add the spinach. Continue cooking until the tortellini is done then salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Makes: About 4 servings
Just like making something red for Valentine’s Day, it seems like using a little green food coloring is a requirement for any St. Patrick’s Day baking endeavor. I still can’t get over how much I loved the Andes Chip Cookies I made a few months ago, so I decided to use those same chips in some brownies.
The brownies themselves have a great fudgy texture and rich chocolate flavor. The mint comes through with the Andes chips in the brownies and a layer of mint frosting in-between the brownies and the chocolate ganache.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 tbl. water
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 10 oz. Andes mint baking chips, divided
- 5 tbl. butter, softened
- dash salt
- 3 tbl. milk
- 1 tbl. light corn syrup
- 2 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
- green food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 7 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- dash salt
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly grease.
- In a large bowl, use a whisk (or mixer) to stir the sugars, butter and water together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and stir to combine; the batter will be thick. Reserve 1/4 cup of the Andes mint chips from the bag and mix the remaining chips into the batter. Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, do not overbake. Set aside to cool.
- To make the mint frosting, combine the butter, salt, milk, corn syrup, powdered sugar, peppermint extract and food coloring. Whisk, or beat with a mixer, until smooth. Spread over the top of the cooled brownies. Set in the fridge to cool for about 10 minutes.
- To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream until just below boiling. Add the chopped chocolate to the warm heavy cream; allow the cream and chocolate to sit which will give the chocolate time to melt. After a minute or two, gently stir the cream and chocolate until it is smooth and combined. Allow it to cool and thicken slightly then pour over the cold layer of mint frosting. Top with the reserved Andes mint chips. Let the brownies sit until the ganache is set. Enjoy!
This is one of the best and simplest breakfast dishes I’ve made in quite a while. A cream cheese sauce is made and then poured over the cut up croissants. As it bakes the bread absorbs some of the cream cheese mixture to become soft and flavorful. This recipe could easily be adapted to use nearly any type or combination of berries. I used blueberries and lemon zest in this batch, but blackberries, raspberries or strawberries would all be delicious.
The cream cheese mixture can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge for several days. It would be easy to double the recipe to serve in a 9 x 13 inch pan to a large crowd, or to cook in individual sized ramekins.
Blueberry Croissant Puff
- 3 large croissants, cut up (about 5 to 5 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- zest from 1 lemon
- Place the croissant pieces in a 9 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle the blueberries over the top.
- Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer and beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Slowly add the milk then stir in the lemon zest. Pour evenly over the croissant pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is warming up, let the croissant mixture stand for 20 minutes to allow the bread to absorb some of the cream cheese mixture.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the center is set; if you use individual sized ramekins the baking time will be shorter. Keep an eye on the pan, you may want to cover it with foil for the last 10 minutes if the top starts to get too brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Makes: About 8 servings
Peanut butter and chocolate is a pretty unbeatable combination. Reese’s have long been one of my favorite candies and I love making buckeyes around the holidays. These cookies are basically the cookie version of a buckeye. There is a thick chocolate cookie on the outside wrapped around a creamy peanut butter center. Once the whole thing is rolled in sugar and lightly sprinkled with a little coarse salt it turns into a pretty awesome cookie. A glass of milk is definitely required!
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cream the powdered sugar and peanut butter together. Use a small (1 tsp. size) cookie scoop to measure out the mixture. Place the peanut butter balls on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet. Put the peanut butter balls in the freezer while you prepare the cookie dough.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt then set aside.
- Cream the sugars, butter and peanut butter with a mixer for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Measure out approximately 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough and flatten into a disk. Place one of the peanut butter balls in the center of the disk and fold the dough around the peanut butter. Roll the dough in your hands to smooth it out, then slightly press to flatten it. Roll the ball in sugar and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat the process for the remaining cookies.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Makes: About 2 dozen
We had an absolutely beautiful weekend here. It was pretty cloudy for most of the winter, but this weekend the sun came out and we had clear skies. Since my knee surgery in January, Boomer and I haven’t been able to spend quite as much time outside as we normally do. I’m finally able to be more active though, so Boom and I made sure to get out to enjoy the sun as much as we could.
scenes from our weekend
In addition to several long walks with Boom, I also got to spend some time in the kitchen experimenting with a few new recipes including this Black Bean Chili. I loved this soup with some creamy avocado on top, but it would also be great with cheddar cheese or sour cream.
Black Bean Chili
- 1 tbl. olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes (including juices)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
- 2 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper can)
- 3 cups low-salt vegetable broth
- 3 (15 oz. each) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen corn kernels (no need to defrost)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender and light brown, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and oregano and cook for 30 seconds then add the minced garlic. Cook for another minute then add the bay leaves and the can of diced tomatoes and juices. Stir in the tomato paste, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves.
- Add the black beans and corn to the chili and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
- Garnish with sour cream, cheese, or avocado as desired. Enjoy!
Makes: About 8 servings
A few weeks ago I was invited to a potluck brunch with some friends from work. I spent a few days debating what to make before deciding on this recipe. One of the great things about these cinnamon rolls, besides how awesome they taste, is that they can be prepped the night before and then baked the next morning for breakfast. This worked out perfectly for me since I didn’t want to wake up early in the morning to make cinnamon rolls!
These rolls are super easy to make and the end result is a delicious, cinnamon filled roll with a smooth cream cheese frosting. It would be easy to adapt these cinnamon rolls to include raisins or nuts in the filling.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 packages Active Dry Yeast (0.25 ounce packets)
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2/3 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbl. ground cinnamon
- 4 1/2 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 tbl. butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla
- dash salt
- To make the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until just before the mixture boils. Set aside to cool until it is warm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 1 minute.
- Add 4 cups of flour and stir until just combined. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour. After an hour, add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
- Roll the dough into a 30 by 10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured counter, the dough will be very thin.
- Pour the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use the back of a spoon or pastry brush to spread the butter evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the butter.
- Starting at the end farthest from you, roll the dough tightly towards you. When you’ve finished rolling the log, pinch the seam together. Use a sharp knife to cut 1 1/2 inch rolls. Place the rolls in a well buttered pan, leaving space between the rolls to allow them to rise. A round pie pan will hold about 7-8 rolls.
- Cover the pans with a towel and place in a warm area to allow the rolls to rise for at 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes until the top of the rolls are golden brown.
- While the rolls are baking, you can prepare the frosting. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
- When the rolls are finished, allow them to cool for a few minutes then spread the frosting on the warm rolls. Serve and enjoy!
Makes: About 2 dozen rolls
Sometimes it can be fun to make bread with yeast when you’re not in a hurry and you can spend the time letting the yeast do its yeasty-business, but it can also be great to whip up a loaf of bread in just a few minutes. This quick bread goes together in no time and tastes delicious. It has a slightly dense texture, but is moist and full of cheddar flavor. I think it would be great with some green onions or other fresh herbs mixed in as well.
This bread goes great with a bowl of soup, I ate it with some baked potato soup, but it would be good along some roasted vegetables or with pasta. I toasted the left-over bread on a skillet to warm it up and it tasted like a grilled cheese!
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tbl. butter, softened and divided
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 5 x 9 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking soda. Use a pastry cutter to mix in 2 tablespoons of butter until the mixture looks like sand. Add the cheese and toss to coat. Stir in the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together. Divide between the two pans and smooth the tops.
- Cut a shallow cross all the way across the top of each loaf of bread. Thinly slice the remaining tablespoon of butter and place the butter in the cuts on the top of the loaf. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the top is light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm.
Makes: 2 loaves
For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about a Valentine’s Day themed dessert to make. Normally I would use this as an excuse to make something fancy and elaborate, but I was in the mood for something a little simpler. I had almost decided to just skip making something red or chocolaty for Valentine’s Day; but when I saw this recipe posted last week I instantly decided that I had to give this a try.
Rich chocolate desserts are sometimes a little too intense for me, which is probably why I love red velvet. It still has a hint of wonderful chocolate flavor, but the richness is cut with the tangy buttermilk. Plus, you really can’t go wrong with anything that involves cream cheese frosting!
Red Velvet Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tbl. sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, I used low-fat
- 1 tbl. liquid red food coloring
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cold
- 2 1/2 tbl. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tbl. vanilla extract
- 2 tbl. heavy cream
- Combine the heavy cream, 3/4 cup of sugar and the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk occasionally until the mixture is warm and the sugar and cocoa have dissolved. While the cream is warming up, combine the egg yolks and remaining 3 tbl. of sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly Pour the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees.
- Place a strainer over a large bowl and pour the hot egg and cream mixture through the strainer. Stir in the buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Cover and chill until the mixture is completely cool.
- Before you are ready to churn the ice cream, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until combined. Add the vanilla and heavy cream, beat for 2-3 minutes on high until fluffy. Set aside.
- Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructors. Alternate layers of ice cream and cream cheese frosting in a storage container. I found it easiest to put the frosting in a pastry bag and pipe it in layers on the ice cream; it doesn’t really matter what shape of pastry tip you use. Freeze the ice cream until firm then serve and enjoy!
Makes: About 1 quart
Boomer and I spent a great weekend visiting my second cousins who live a few hours away from us. I hadn’t actually met them before, but Boom and I instantly felt at home in their lovely house with all their dogs. Boom had a lot of fun playing with the other dogs on their farm and is pretty worn out. He has been sleeping quietly ever since we got home!
I didn’t have much in the house to make for dinner tonight; I should have gone to the store but it was raining really hard and, well, I was being lazy. I decided to improvise with some ingredients I had on hand and I’m really pleased with how this dish turned out. Orzo is one of my favorite types of pasta, I love how it turns so creamy with just a bit of Parmesan cheese. If you end up with leftovers, add a splash of milk to the pasta before you re-heat it to help retain the creamy texture.
Cheddar Broccoli Orzo
- 1 tbl. butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. orzo
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tbl. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup milk (optional)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in the garlic and orzo. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and continue cooking for several more minutes until the orzo absorbs the broth and the broccoli has softened. Stir in the parmesan and cheddar cheeses then salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup of milk if desired to give the pasta a creamier texture. Enjoy!
Makes: About 3 servings as the main course, about 5 servings as a side dish
A few weeks ago I had surgery on my knee to repair some soft tissue damage. The weekend before the surgery I made a few batches of soup so I’d have some easy meals for the first few weeks post-surgery when I might not feel like spending time standing in the kitchen. I did a batch of the spicy black bean soup, which has quickly turned into one of my favorites and decided I also wanted to try out something new. While I’m normally rather neutral towards cauliflower, I unexpectedly loved the creamy cauliflower soup I made last winter and I ended up really enjoying this one too. The roasted garlic and fresh herbs give this soup a wonderful flavor and it manages to be thick and creamy without any cream or butter. I finished off my last container of frozen soup tonight and I’m wishing I had made a double batch of this one!
Roasted Cauliflower & Cheddar Soup
- 1 ( 1 1/2 lbs.) head of cauliflower
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbl. olive oil
- 1 tbl. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbl. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower, garlic cloves and olive oil until the cauliflower is well coated. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes until the cauliflower is lightly browned. Separate the roasted garlic and chop the cloves. Set the garlic and cauliflower aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and saute for 5-7 minutes until tender. Add the garlic, cauliflower, vegetable broth, thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend the soup until you reach the desired consistency I like to blend about half the soup so there is still some texture from the vegetables. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with some chopped vegetables or shredded cheese.