Pureed Broccoli and Carrot Soup

This recipe is flavorful, delicious, oh so creamy and pack with tons of veggies. It’s perfect to accompany any salad, grilled sandwich or a slice of grain bread ( which I made and super excited that my bread came out better than the last attempt). It is one of the first soups I had ever made back in college. Back then, I had been a practising vegan for a few years and was always looking for the best ways to incorporate vegetables into every meal and what substitutes were good for making things creamy. But that’s a post for another day.

This Creamy Broccoli and Carrot Soup is simple and easy enough to make without needing a grocery store haul. Most of the ingredients you may already have. Yes I know we are closing in on summer, but I’ve been in the mood for soup lately for some reason. Soup is not just for Winter as many may assume. The hubster and I can eat soup everyday. I MEAN REALLY, EVERYDAY! And today is no different.

Initially I sorted out to make a simple broccoli soup. But as I got to chopping, I may have added one to many carrots which is not a bad thing. I love carrots. Who doesnt right? Okay, I know, maybe a few picky eaters. But the majority of us do. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene. And guess what? Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant which helps to slow down the aging process, promotes healthy skin and hair and is said to prevent heart disease and cancer. Apart from it being a good source of vitamin A for our eyes, they are also low in calories. Impressive huh? I thought so. I read an article some time ago from WebMD that carrots were originally used as medicine. No wonder I feel like taking on the world ūüėä. ¬†Plus I think they peer very well with broccoli. They add a bit of suttle sweetness to the soup.

Broccoli needs no introduction. It’s one of the most healthiest foods on the planet. It is a powerhouse of loaded nutrients. Along with all that carrots offer, they help with digestion, detoxification, they help to reduce cholesterol,¬† diabetes and promotes a healthy heart. So there is no surprise why this soup is in my top 5 favorite soups.
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Ingredients
‚ÄĘ 8 cups broccoli florets and stems, roughly chopped
‚ÄĘ 4 carrots, peeled and diced
‚ÄĘ 1 medium onion, diced
‚ÄĘ 2 clove garlic (optional)
‚ÄĘ 4 cups vegetable broth*
‚ÄĘ 1 stalk celery, diced
‚ÄĘ 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
‚ÄĘ 1 cup heavy cream, room temp (optional)
‚ÄĘ 2 tablespoons olive oil**
‚ÄĘ Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Topping
‚ÄĘ ¬Ĺ¬†carrot, diced
‚ÄĘ 1¬†celery stalk, diced
‚ÄĘ ¬Ĺ¬†small red onion, diced
‚ÄĘ 2 broccoli florets, finely chopped
‚ÄĘ 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions
1. For the soup:In a large pot heat oil over medium-high. Add the diced onions, celery and carrots. Saute until onions are translucent. Add in garlic and broccoli. Stir ingredients together and reduce to medium heat and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Sprinkle flour generously over vegetables and blend well. Add in broth, stir and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
3. For the topping: In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onions, carrots, celery and broccoli. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until veggies have a nice crisp to them (This method was used for the sake of time)***. Set aside for garnish.
4. Using an Emerson stick or blender, puree soup to your liking using the pulsing method.
5. Add cream and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve hot or at room temperature. Garnish with crisp veggies.
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Note

*You can feel free to substitute the vegetable broth for chicken or beef broth. I used vegetable¬† as it is just my preference and didn’t want stray away from the base of the soup.

**If you prefer using butter, it is okay. Or if you do not have olive oil on had, vegetable or canola oil will do just fine. I used the oil I had on hand.

*** For the topping, I normally roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 F.  The texture is much crisper. Spray baking sheet with a little oil and spread vegetables on the sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast.

Shrimp Tartar w/Avocado & Quinoa

It’s Finally Friday Folks!

This little piece of work will sure to delight.

I have a friend coming over today for some chit-chat and thought it would be nice to whip up something quick. Nothing fancy, just a light lunch. Salad would definitely seem like the easiest way to go, but I was craving seafood as usual.  Those of you who know me, know that seafood is my second love with chocolate taking the top spot (that is a no brainer).  I thought about what else I had in the pantry to avoid a store run. You know we all have those go to items that are life savers in crunch time. Sometimes buried all the way in the back or right at our figure tips.

I can’t say that we eat healthy every time we get together. But for the most part we try. Whatever we eat, whenever we eat it, it always must be satisfying.

As I ravaged through the kitchen, a lightbulb¬†came on.¬†No, not a big bright idea but i accidentally flipped the light switch and saw the avocados sitting in the fruit tray calling my name.¬†Still not sure of what i wanted to prepare, I looked into the¬†refrigerator and pulled out the shrimp I bought the day before. I opened the pantry and thought I hadn’t had quinoa in a while. So I took that out too. Now sitting on the counter where 3 ingredients that would make up whatever would come to mind.

I immediately thought of shrimp cocktail with some type of twist. Then I thought a quinoa salad with shrimp and avocado¬†could work too. My girlfriend is an artist and loves little cutesy things, so I thought to structure these ingredients in a mold like a tartar. That’s it, Shrimp Tartar!

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So here is what I came up with.

Ingredients

Bottom layerQuinoa

  • ¬†1 cup dry tri color¬†quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • Salt & Pepper

Middle layerGreen Goodness

  • 2¬†Avocado, cubed
  • 3¬†tbsp. Cilantro, minced
  • ¬Ĺ¬†lime
  • 1¬†clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¬ľ¬†sweet onion, finely chopped
  • ¬Ĺ¬†jalapeno, finely chopped

Top layerShrimp Cocktail

  • pound medium shrimp, peeled;cooked
  • ¬Ĺ tsp cilantro, minced
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 3 tbsp. Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 green onion, thinly minced (optional)

Directions

  1. For the Quinoa: In a medium pot, using vegetable broth, cook quinoa according to instructions on the package or cook until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, approximately 15 minutes. Turn the burner off and allow the covered skillet to set until any remaining liquid is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add cilantro for garnish, and serve.
  2. For the Avocado Mix: In a medium bowl, with a folk, mash avocado roughly, add in the remaining ingredients and set aside.
  3. For the Shrimp: Place all ingredients in a large bowl; toss combine. Refrigerate covered for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Assemble: Place large dessert rings on serving platter, for the bottom layer, add half cup of quinoa. Lightly press to compile. Spoon in half cup avocado mix and smooth top. Next add shrimp cocktail on top to finish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Gently remove the rings, garnish and serve.

You can use more or less of the ingredients with your personal preference.  Yields 4

 

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Polenta Cakes Topped w/Avocado, Poached Egg & Saut√©ed Tomatoes

Its Monday!

And I am so happy to be back with you guys! Last week I found myself a bit under the weather. Well more than a bit. Following doctors orders, I had to rest up. Still not 100% but couldn’t stay away another day. The weather is still kind of ugly, so why not make something pretty.

I was feeling a bit like polenta today.  Maybe because I was thinking of my childhood and how much I missed having grits and eggs with a side of avocado in the mornings.  Grits is a popular breakfast dish in the southern parts of America.  For those not familiar with it, its made from corn and is grounded into a coarse meal.  Seeing that it is not so popular here in Europe, I decided to use the next closest thing I could find; Polenta.  Polenta is also made from corn. It has a finer texture but does the job just the same.

In the mix, I have avocados. Avocado is a good compliment to any breakfast dish. The contrasting the flavors of mild fruit with the savory sautéed tomatoes and onions are superb. Atop a butter herb poached egg is a brilliant finish to a satisfying meal. Lets not forget that it is a good source of vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats we need.

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Ingredients

Polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • pinch salt
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups instant polenta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

Topping

  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Half lemon
  • Poached or Fried egg

Directions

  1. Grease lightly a glass rectangle pan with olive oil or butter and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce to medium heat.  Slowly pour the instant polenta into the water while stirring until it thickens which takes about 1 to 2 minutes (follow directions on package).
  3. Pour polenta into greased pan and spread out to evenly. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl place half avocado, cilantro and a splash of lemon. Place to the side.
  5. In a sauce pan coat with oil and over medium high heat, sauté tomatoes, onions and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes. Just until tender. Set aside

Assemble

  1. Using a cookie cutter, cut the polenta into about 6 to 8 circles (you can use any shape you’d like. Let your creative juices flow).
  2. Assemble by placing the polenta circles on a serving dish, top each with a dab of avocado, then set the egg directly on the green goodness, and finish off with the sautéed tomato mix. I alternated with and without an egg for my picky eater. But you can dress these little beauties however you would like.

This dish can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or during brunch. The choice is yours. These will sure bring happiness to any table.

Enjoy!

 

Disney Inspired Ratatouille!!!

Happy Tuesday!

How often can you say a Disney movie inspired you to cook up something that is not only eye catching, but tasty too.¬† Better yet, a movie where a rat was dying to become a great French¬†chef.¬† I must confess, I’ve seen this movie more than 10 times¬†both with and without the intended viewers around.¬†Although comical, the message behind the movie was clear, nothing should stand in the way of your greatness!

In 2007, Pixar released the movie Ratatouille. It was a story of an unlikely pair; a rat named Remy and a kitchen help Linguini that hilariously teamed up to prepare some of famed chef Auguste Gusteau greatest dishes. One notably, was Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew made up primarily of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini with a few other ingredient.

In the movie, Ratatouille is prepared in a slightly different way from the traditional using the same ingredients. It involves cutting and baking thinly slice zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and yellow squash, over a tomato and bell pepper sauce. The layers of brightly colored vegetables just jumped out at me. There was no reason to search for a recipe. After all, it was all visibly on the big screen.

I figured we could do with a meatless meal this week. Though I am not quite sure everyone would be in agreement. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with a healthy serving of vegetables every now and then. Did I mention that this is a perfect dish for vegetarians? Well it is! No Meat! No Dairy! My non-eating meat friends will love this dish. To make it a more hearty meal, you can add sliced potatoes, sweet or regular. Your choice.

One suggestion I have is to use a veggie slicer if you have one. I did all the work by hand. Its therapy for me. But for a quicker and more uniformed slices, a slicer would do wonders.

” I cant help myself, I like good food okay.” ~ Remy

I decided to use my go to tomato sauce adding in marjoram which was recommended by my favorite vendor at the fresh market in city. He knows his stuff. I thought that oregano would have given the sauce that additional pop on its own but marjoram took the depth to another level. 20170422_163229

Some people prepare with an additional layer of béchamel sauce, but for the purpose of this recipe, I stayed close to my inspiration. Depending on how big your pan is, you may want to add more or less vegetables.

Here we go:-

Ingredients

For the Ratatouille

  • 1 orange, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced in halves
  • 2 or 3 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 eggplant sliced
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 yellow squash sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to brush vegetables
  • 3 sprigs thyme finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¬Ĺ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 ¬Ĺ can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 fresh sprigs thyme chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425¬įF
  2. Wash and slice vegetable. Set aside
  3. In a sauce pan heat oil on medium high heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to sweat on medium heat for 3 minutes then add vinegar. After 1 minute pour in tomatoes.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then add basil, thyme salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook additional 5 minutes then pour into baking dish and spread evenly on the bottom. (if you are also using béchamel sauce, you would add it atop of the tomato sauce.
  6. Begin to assemble layers by alternating vegetables and over laying then in which ever design you desire.
  7. In a small bowl, add oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush top of vegetable.
  8. Bake on middle rack for 1 ¬Ĺ hour until vegetables are tender covered. Remove cover, drop temperature to 375¬įF¬†and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minute or until a little color appears (optional)

Bon Appitite!

Family Time at Our House!

There just doesn’t seem to be enough¬†hours in the day to have that proper family time we all deserve. With¬†busy schedules of work, school, gymnastic, tournaments here and there, projects etc, being able to fit in some quality time can¬†be a bit¬†tricky but can be done.

We have found that for our family the best time is a weekend morning before the day becomes hectic. There are no electronic devices allowed at the breakfast table, everyone must be present the entire time and share whatever is on their minds.  I kind of like it because our daughter is always glued to her handy and this gives us a chance to catch up with her. Teens!!!!!

I decided to treat¬†us to¬†a more American breakfast than what we are use to at the table. ¬†Most Germans eats pretty much the same things at breakfast everyday: cold cuts and bread.¬† I’m not talking sliced bread, but what is called ‘Br√∂tchen’ meaning small bread.¬† It’s really more like a little loaf or large roll. ¬†They add cheese and lettuce to the mix or have it with butter and marmalade.¬† Rarely there are eggs; and if there is it will be boiled.

So for breakfast I did the complete opposite. Instead of cold cuts I made warm turkey bacon. In place of regular boring bread,¬†I made this awesome French toast with scrambled eggs. My husband requested I make those hash browns like I did last year. He thinks they are¬†very American as he reminisced on¬†when we ate at an IHOP in Georgia. He never really forgot those hash browns. ūüėä They were awesome!

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We never really use syrup in our house.  My mother-in-law makes the best homemade marmalade.  So there is a never ending supply of the natural fresh goodness.  However, it would not be an authentic breakfast without syrup.  But I opted for Maple which we drizzled on the French toast.

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Threw in some fresh fruits, orange juice and good ole Earl Grey. During this time I was able to get the inside scoop of the latest gossip of the gymnastics team, who didn’t want to compete against who. I learned that my husband had a new colleague a work who smoked like a chimney. And, now all is well with the world. It was perfect!

Tenderloin w/Celery Puree Crust

 

I’ve found that the¬†most juicy tender cuts of¬†meat are the boneless¬†ones.¬†In my house there is no bias. But for this recipe, having a boneless cut not only helps the meat to cook evenly, but also gives a perfect succulent finish. Delicious¬†steaks can be cooked perfect even on¬†a stovetop.

With a few perfectly placed ingredients, you can create a delicious, mouth watering meal in under 45 minutes. Grilled seasoned veggies kick up the health value of this already scrumptious dish. Potatoes also complement well if prepared the correct way as not to over power the meat.

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I had a craving for Brussel Sprouts. So I sautéed up a few to enjoy with this unbelievably taste tenderloin.

Serving 4 Portions /Preheat Oven 400¬įF

Ingredients

Celery Puree

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¬Ĺ cup heavy cream
  • ¬Ĺ Celery Root (peel and diced)*
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg

Tenderloin

  • 4 Portions Tenderloin Steaks (5 oz each)
  • Salt
  • crack pepper
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter

Preparation

  1. For the Celery Puree – Brown the butter in a pan, then set aside. In another sauce pan, heat heavy cream on medium high, then add celery. Cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in butter a bit at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until creamy but not too soft. If needed, at a bit more cream.
  2. For the Tenderloin РPreheat a heavy skillet, cast iron pan or stove top grill. Season steak with salt and pepper. Add melted butter to skillet. As the butter begins to brown and smoke, place in steaks, 2 at a time and fry for 2 minutes each side. Please note, skillet and stovetops vary in heat, you may need to fry less or more depending on your preference of doneness. When done, place on a baking tray.
  3. Stack celery puree about 1cm to 2cm high on the prepared steak. Place tray on the middle rack in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. For a more crusted effect, mix some bread crumbs, parmesan and butter together and sprinkle on the top of the puree before baking.
  4. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest before cutting into it. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

* In some areas it is difficult to find celery root. However, a puree can be made from Cauliflower or Turnip following the same process.

What good is a fine piece of meat without delicate red wine. I always peer tenderloin with a soft Cabernet Sauvignon that is much milder than the regular bold flavors we are used to. But if you are looking for the perfect match, try a Pinot Noir.

Guten Appetit!

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Some people wait for special occasions or holidays to try new decadent recipes when there is a crowd to appreciate it. Well not for¬†me. When the craving for chocolate hits, then its an occasion to indulge in a rich piece of chocolate heaven. Sure, I could settle for some H√§agen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream or¬†curb my¬†sweet tooth¬†with¬†half a dozen¬†chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk. But why settle for store bought when you have all the ingredients to whip up something more satisfying.

This triple threat is much easier than it looks. It just takes a bit more patience, but in the end will be worthwhile. Its kind of hard to resist all this chocolate goodness. The bottom layer is an oh so moist dark chocolate cake, the middle layer is smooth chocolate mousse and the top layer is a very light creamy white chocolate.

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Ingredients

Bottom layer ( If you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, then you can opted for that)

1 ¬ĺ cups all-purpose flour
1 cups  sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 medium eggs, room temperature
3 ounces  dark chocolate, melted
¬Ĺ cup ¬†cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda
¬ľ teaspoon ¬†salt
¬Ĺ cup ¬†strong coffee
¬Ĺ cup ¬†milk

Middle Layer ( you can opt to using an instant mousse. 2 pkg will be enough. It will taste just as good).

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
2 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Top Layer (sorry, I haven’t found a substitute for this yet)

1 ¬ľ teaspoon¬†powdered gelatin (unflavored)
2  tablespoon water
8 ounces  white chocolate
1¬ĺ cups¬†heavy whipping cream, divided
¬ľ cup¬†powdered sugar
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350¬į and grease¬†and flour¬†a 9‚Ä≥ spring form pan. Set aside
Beginning with the bottom layer, prepare cake as you would any other cake. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda) together in one bowl, and in another cream the butter and sugar until lite and fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time to the mixture. Next add in the cocoa powder. Mix until blended.
Combine milk and coffee and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. In another bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 45 seconds. Begin to blend all ingredients together. Alternate between the flour mixture and the milk coffee, adding to the already creamed butter mix. Next pour in the melted chocolate and blend well. Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 t0 25 minutes or until toothpick a clean or have a few crumbs.
The middle layer is a bit easier. Combine hot water and cocoa powder in small bowl. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate in microwave for 45 seconds. stir until smooth (you can use the tempering method by placing the bowl over a saucepan filled with  a bit of simmering water, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted). Using a stand mixed, use the whisk attachment and blend on low speed the sugar, whip cream, and salt until blended. Increase to medium speed until  mixture begins to thicken, about 20 seconds then increase speed to whip until peaks are formed.
Add the cocoa powder mixture to melted chocolate. Blend until smooth. Using a hand whisk, fold part of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. The use a spatula to fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon the mixture into spring form pan over cooled cake (before I did this, I evened off the top of the cake and placed in back into the pan). Taking your time, smooth the top of the mousse with spatula. Clean any stray drips inside the side of the pan. Refrigerate for  at least 20 minutes. In the meanwhile begin preparing top layer.
For the top layer,¬†add gelatin to a small bowl of¬†water; stir and let stand at least 4 to 5 minutes. In a saucepan bring ¬Ĺ cup cream to simmer over medium heat. In another bowl, place white chocolate. Remove the cream from heat, allow to cooled 2 minute, then add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved and no lumps exist. Next, pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool at room temperature. The mixture will become very thick. No worries, simply stir frequently.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip remaining cream at medium speed adding powder sugar as you go until it starts to thicken. As it begins to thicken, increase the speed and whip until soft peaks start to form. Check the whisk after about 30 seconds for soft peaks when whisk is lifted. Using a hand whisk, fold some of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then use a spatula to fold remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until there are no streaks. Gently spoon white chocolate mousse onto the middle layer of mousse. Smooth to the sides to avoid bubbles. Placed cake back in the refrigerator and allow to set for at least 3 hours or until ready to serve.

20170208_0836491I hope you enjoy it as must as I enjoyed making it! I just love when a plan comes together!

Happy Baking!