Roasted Vegetable Soup

A week after roasting about 5 pounds of root vegetables, we’re finally finishing them off, much to the Husband’s delight.  I snuck roasted veggies in salads, on tarts, into a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and finally, into this soup.

Husband is so delighted, in fact, that he volunteered to go to the grocery store tonight after work.  If I understood anything about how odds are calculated, I would put a numeric figure here; since I don’t, I will just say that odds are very high we will not be eating vegetarian tonight.

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Roasted Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups roasted vegetables (our mix included parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, onion, fennel)
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh sage (about 4 leaves) and fresh thyme (leaves from about 6-8 stems)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2-3 cups veggie or chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • optional toppings: green onions, sage, sour cream, pistachios, etc.
  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.  Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Add the fresh herbs and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Cook off the alcohol (2-3 minutes) and add the stock.  Turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  (Note: this is an ideal time to get cornbread going! Recipe here.)
  3. Working in small batches in a blender/food processor OR with your awesome immersion blender, blend the stock, veggies and herbs together.  Add stock, as needed, for desired consistency. Season, if needed.
  4. Remove from heat and add the cream, mixing thoroughly.  Serve immediately with desired toppings…and with cornbread, of course!

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The Verdict:

While I debated the merit of posting a recipe that sounds a little too familiar (I did say that there were about 1001 variations on our favorite butternut squash soup), ultimately, I decided this was dinner chez nous last night, so I might as well.  (The real risk is probably in trying to make the Husband eat more roasted veggies.)  In the meantime, this is delicious, filling and makes tons of leftovers – using 100% ingredients that were already in my fridge.  Score for frost living.

(The best ever) Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m no baker.  All that measuring and sifting and waiting for the butter to get to just the right temperature…give me a recipe I can muck around in, any day.

However.

This cake…!

It is insanely, insanely good.  AND since I made it, hard to mess up.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 6 tablespoons butter (doesn’t matter the temperature!)
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated from whites
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • topping:  a pinch powdered sugar, berries, and homemade whipping cream – about 1/3 cup whipping cream whipped with a tablespoon or so powdered sugar,
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a small round pan (6 or 8 inches) with a circle of parchment paper and grease with butter or canola oil, generously.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, melting it as well.  Set aside and let cool until lukewarm.
  3. Beat egg yolks, brown sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens (it’ll be a gross yellow color).  Slowly add in the cooled chocolate/butter combo and mix thoroughly, until very thick.
  4. Wash and clean the beaters, and in a separate bowl, beat egg whites and salt until peaks form – add a pinch cinnamon if you like.  Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then slowly and gently fold the rest in.  The batter should be nice and light.  Pour into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes if using an 8 inch pan and about 25 if using a 6 inch pan. The center will be nice and puffy…and will quickly deflate when you remove it from the oven.
  5. Let the cake cool sufficiently and then flip it out on to another plate.  Sprinkle a tiny amount of powdered sugar over the top and serve with whipped cream and berries – and maybe a pinch of cracked salt.  Consider yourself a culinary genius.

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The Verdict:

Well, now everyone knows what they’re getting on their birthday from me.

Stromboli Night

I believe (though I’m not sure, maybe our Italian friend can help out?) the technical term should actually be calzone night, since we serve the sauce on the side (rather than baked within the dough).  But this is a Husband Specialty, and apparently the term “stromboli” was invented in Philadelphia, and the Husband is from there.  So it’s stromboli night around here.

Now, this is certainly not elevated cooking – but if you’re looking for something easy, delicious and filling enough to over-compensate for your gym routine, this is it.  This makes enough for two very hungry people or four people with normal-sized stomachs.  We fall into the former category.  New Year’s resolutions are so 2015.

getting the stromboli party started.
getting the stromboli party started.

“Homemade” Stromboli

  • store-bought pizza dough (I like the Trader Joe’s whole wheat ball of dough, the Husband, not so much.  His recipe, his rules).
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup spinach or arugula
  • a few slices red onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • handful mushrooms
  • handful Parmesan
  • optional: prosciutto or your choice sliced meat
  • crushed red peppers
  • salt + pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • store-bought or homemade marinara sauce (if store-bought, we like to doctor it up with olive oil, extra herbs, salt + pepper, etc.)
your stromboli log, pre-bake
step 3, below
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  On a large baking pan, roll and stretch out your dough as thinly as you can without breaking it.  (NOTE: If the dough is too thick, it won’t cook all the way through.)
  2. Working in thin layers (so as not to overstuff the stromboli), start with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese down the center of the dough; do not spread all the way to the end.  Top with your choice of veggies: bell peppers, mushrooms, arugula, onion, mushrooms.  If you have a diehard carnivore partner, place a slice of prosciutto or soppressata over the veggies.  Top with more mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and some crushed reds.
  3. Fold in the very ends of the dough towards the center.  Fold in both sides so that one side is layered over the other.  (The stromboli should resemble a large rectangle or log, see picture above).  Brush the top and sides of the log with olive oil and your choice of seasonings and herbs.  (We add more s+p, Italian seasoning, and crushed reds).
  4. Bake at 425 for ten minutes.  Take the stromboli out and make small cuts into the top of the log, to let some air escape.  Pop back in the oven and bake another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with a side salad and a bowl of marinara sauce.
get in my belly!
get in my belly!

The Verdict:

The Husband wants everyone to know that “the picture doesn’t do it justice.”  My above average-sized stomach agrees.

The Ultimate Go-To: Spicy BBQ Pulled Chicken with Broccoli Slaw

When I started this blog, I wanted a way to quickly catalog those recipes that were home runs, ones that I could turn to over and over again every time I started thinking “I have no idea what to make tonight.”  In other words, I wanted to catalog our “go-tos.”

The following is THE go-to in our house.  Cooking for a crowd?  Need a lot of leftovers?  Don’t have more than 10 minutes to cook? Going to happy hour and you’re not sure if you’ll be eating there or at home?  This is the answer, every time.  It’s not elevated cooking, but it’s delicious, it’s plentiful, and it’s oh-so-easy.

Spicy BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • 3/4 of 1 can cola (not diet!)
  • 1 jar spicy BBQ sauce – our favorite is Stubb’s
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 lbs chicken breasts (can obviously also make with pork)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • freshly cracked black pepper, crushed red peppers
  • good buns
  • optional: chips, pepper jack cheese
  1. Add onions and garlic to a slow cooker.  Season the chicken breasts with black pepper and the crushed reds and then layer them on top of the onions and garlic.  Cover the chicken (just barely) with the cola and BBQ sauce.  Set heat on low and cook 8-9 hours.
  2. At the end of the cook time, use forks to shred the chicken (if there’s too much liquid, mix in a teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken up the sauce).  Serve with warmed buns; top with coleslaw.
tastier than it looks.  i promise.
tastier than it looks. i promise.

Broccoli Slaw with Homemade Dressing

  • 1 package broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s carries this, but I’ve recently seen in Harris Teeter and in Safeway, as well!)
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/2 -1 cup light mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 4-5 tablespoons cider vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing
    • 2 teaspoons pepper
    • dash salt
    • one heaping tablespoon prepared horseradish
    • teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • optional: dash celery seed
  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking all of your ingredients, minus broccoli, together in a bowl.  Stir thoroughly, until the sugar dissolves.  Do a bit of taste-testing along the way to make sure it has the right amount of tang for you.
  2. Toss thoroughly with the broccoli slaw.  If you like, refrigerate a bit before serving.
hello, comfort.
hello, comfort.

Frost Living: Shrimp “Scampi”

It’s Monday night and our fridge is still full from Friday’s dinner party.  In addition to baked rigatoni, a bit of salad, cheese and some bread, we also have quite a few leftover shrimp (thanks, M!).  Which means tonight, we’re feasting on the frost of the land.

Leftover shrimp means shrimp scampi.  This meal has a special place in my heart, as it was the very first thing I learned how to cook without a recipe.  It was also a serious test of (now) my brother-in-law’s love for my sister: I made this for him and Kathryn one night in a small dorm room kitchen and used probably 6 or 7 times the amount of lemon a normal person could reasonably tolerate.  He ate the whole thing, a smile on his face.  (My sister was less sanguine.)  And now they’re married.

Frost Living Shrimp Scampi

  • pasta – linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined (ideally, they’re the uncooked kind; I had only pre-cooked)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced and diced
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or vermouth – use less of this)
  • Half of a 15 oz can diced tomatoes, juice partially drained
  • greens – we have leftover baby bok choy, but normally I like to toss in arugula or spinach
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper, crushed red pepper
  • optional: Parmesan, fresh parsley
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta according to directions.  Reserve about a cup of starchy water.
  2. Pat your shrimp totally dry; set aside
  3. Heat butter or olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add shallot and cook down until they start to soften.  Add garlic, and a dash of salt, pepper and crushed reds.
  4. If shrimp is uncooked, add them now and cook until just pink on both sides – 2-3 minutes.  Remove from pan.  If already cooked, skip this step.
  5. Add white wine, diced tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon and either a bit more olive oil or butter.  Add some lemon zest.  Bring to a boil.  Add your greens.
  6. Add shrimp to the pan and heat all the way through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Depending on the amount of sauce, add the leftover starchy water.
  7. Serve shrimp and sauce over pasta.  Top with fresh parsley and/or Parmesan.
frost living chez nous.
frost living chez nous.

The Verdict:

Well…not sure it was a good sign that the Husband picked out all the shrimp.  I think (I hope) that was more a referendum on the seafood (he’s not a number one fan) than the dish.  On the bright side, I got to eat twice the amount of shrimp!