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.

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!

Avocado Aioli

I have never been much of an Aioli fan to be honest. My first encounter was a few years ago at a party we attended in a city car garage surrounded by a rowdy crowd watching the Eroupa¬†Manschaft (German for championship) and of course cheering on our German National¬†team. Maybe¬†this setting wasn’t the best¬†for trying new dishes.¬†After all, we were in a working car garage. But what could it hurt right?

StomachXAcheWell lets just say, I paid for it severely later that night and the day after that. My husband really likes the stuff and begged me to give it another chance. But this time with my own making.

To me, aioli seems to be so much like mayonnaise of which I barely touch. Its not my favorite condiment. But sometimes you have to take one for the team.

So I did some research and found that Aioli in its purist form does not use egg or yokes. The name itself means garlic and oil which in France and Spain is used to make this condiment. Sounded great to me. So I decided I wanted to go this route and create a recipe that we both can enjoy without me having any regrets. I am so glad I did!

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I settled on an Avocado Aioli because, why not? Avocado is quite popular in my house. Plus it has natural oils which allows for less to no oil in this recipe and will give us the creamy consistency I am looking for. And you already know how I love coconut milk. It just adds that depth I like.

 

What you need :-

  • 1¬†ripe, fresh avocado
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • ¬Ĺ¬†of lemon lime
  • 1¬Ĺ teaspoon cilantro
  • 1¬†tsp of fresh diced garlic
  • ¬ľ cup coconut milk (more or less depending on your preferred consistency.)
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teaspoon mustard seed
  • salt and pepper to taste.

What to do :-

  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender and at medium speed, mix until desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days (but it tastes best when used immediately).
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Delish

 

I enjoy this creamy goodness with my Zesty Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. Oven Roasted of course!