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!

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!

 

The Ultimate Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/Mascarpone Frosting

What is Easter without carrot cake? Better yet cupcakes?

When I was growing up my aunt Bea always made the best carrot cakes.¬†I use to watch so intensely to find out what was the secret to her moist masterpiece.¬†Maybe it was the mysterious blend of spices she sprinkled in, or¬†the¬†ratio of¬†cream cheese to butter she added in the¬†frosting.¬†Perhaps it wasn’t the ingredients at all. Could have been¬†her singing while she sifted, mixed and blended with love. Whatever it was, it made for¬†the perfect carrot cake.

So after many years of trial and error, I have come up with my best combination for the most splendid carrot cake.  It is foolproof and simple to make. I guarantee you will be satisfied.

Nothing tops a carrot cake like a creamy frosting. Normally there is no¬†question as to what I whip up. It’s always going to be a cream cheese frosting.¬† On the other hand,¬†why not try something slightly different. I was feeling a bit frisky. So¬†I found a delightful twist using¬† Italian mascarpone cheese on a¬†recipe from one of my favorite chefs Ina Garten in her latest book Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.

To decorate, I made a few carrots out of fondant. Not necessary step.  Just a little something extra that the kids will enjoy and big kids like me too. Picsart2017-13-4--20-46-53

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ¬Ĺ cups grated carrots
  • ¬†¬Ĺ cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, optional

Frosting

  • 12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¬ľ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Line the cupcake pan with the cupcake molds.
  2. In the electronic stand mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment, mix oil and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix together.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. On low speed, add half the carrots to the wet mixture. Then add in the dry mixture. Now add the remaining carrots and walnuts. Blend well.
  4. Using a scooper, spoon batter into each cupcake molds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then remove from pan, place on cooling rack until ready to frost (best to allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting).

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Frosting

  1. Add all ingredients into a medium bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until fluffy. Gently spread frosting on top of each cupcake. Plate and serve.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Don’t forget to follow my new pages¬†on facebook and instagram

Adapted from: My Aunt Bea ūüôā