Cauliflower and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Goat Cheese

Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

I love roasted red peppers. They go so well with so many things whether you add them on sandwiches, salads, soups or sauces–they are a lovely ingredient to work with. I hadn’t tried roasted red peppers in a soup but I was dying to try out this soup with cauliflower and goat cheese. Diced pancetta, fresh thyme and paprika flavor this soup while the goat cheese and heavy cream give it some tangy richness. It’s fairly low in carbs but surprisingly rich and filling. Even the cauliflower puree alone is rich in flavor and has a creamy texture, almost like creamed mashed potatoes. I served it with a dash of paprika and sprinkled with extra goat cheese. Serve with crusty french bread or croutons.
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Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich 3

Messy, gooey, hot grilled cheeses are one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Who can say ‘no’ to one of these babies? This sandwich comes from the South so you know it’s going to be healthy. Each sandwich is loaded with Pimento cream cheese (also known as the “Caviar of the South”) and smoked Gouda. Obviously, the sandwich is very rich and filled with delicious flavors.┬áThe red pimentos are the same pickled peppers found in green olives. You can find these sold in separate jars by the olives and condiments section in your grocery store. The pimento cream cheese can be served as a condiment as well, with crackers, chips or celery. This recipe pairs perfectly with a simple tomato soup and salad.
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Double Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Muffins

Buttermilk Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast? These buttermilk muffins are the perfect excuse to have chocolate in the morning. They are full of chocolate flavor but won’t make you feel like you ate a heavy dessert. I reduced the amount of all purpose flour by half and subbed in a cup of whole wheat flour. If you’re out of buttermilk you can easily make “acidified milk” which is just milk with a dash of white vinegar mixed in. The milk curdles slightly and overall I’ve found it to be a good substitute for buttermilk. If going this route make sure to use at least 2% or whole milk as it does help with the flavor. While this is optional, you can add a little espresso powder to bring out even more of that chocolate flavor and give it some complexity. The texture was fluffy, delicate and perfect with tea and coffee!
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Tofu and Chickpea Massaman Curry

Tofu and Chickpea Massaman Curry

I love the flavors of Massaman curry. This recipe is a take on those flavors but with a twist. Traditionally Massaman curry is made with chicken, beef, or tofu. I chose the tofu version for this recipe and added chickpeas for protein instead of potatoes and peas for more veggies. You can make the red curry paste from scratch or go to a local Thai or Asian market and pick up a pre-made version. I like to buy a few cans of the Maesri brand curry pastes on hand for busier nights. Surprisingly, I haven’t found a huge discrepancy in quality or flavor of the dish. I was pleased with how quickly the recipe came together and how flavorful the dish turned out to be. If you make a large batch of the curry paste before hand it makes for a perfect week day dinner that comes together quickly and easily.
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Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup

Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup 2

For week night meals, I like to make a big pot of something tasty on Sunday to last me several days into the week. This is a great recipe for week night meals. It’s easy to throw together and the leftovers are just as good as the first day. The soup comes fully loaded with ground beef, elbow macaroni and the flavors of veggies, tomatoes and fresh herbs. This recipe calls for fresh thyme and marjoram, and I would recommend picking up some of the fresh stuff instead of the dried. It does impart way more flavor than dried herbs can. The combination of the fresh herbs with Worcestershire, tomatoes and ground beef were delicious. Garnish with a little grated parmesan and thyme springs and serve with some crusty french bread. As always with soups that have pasta, the noodles tend to soak up all the tasty broth if you add them in all at once. Make small batches and add a serving of noodles to each bowl so that none of the broth gets wasted.
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Recipe Round-Up: Top 5 Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

Five St.Patricks Day Recipes

Every year I’m reminded that I really should start making more Irish food. There’s so many great options, and I tend to neglect them which is really a shame. St. Patrick’s Day offers a selection of great foods to indulge in. Some of my favorites are listed here. They’re all so good I can’t really pick favorites. They’re all easy to make and quick to prepare–even if you’ve had a few Guinnesses ;).
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Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Who doesn’t love fresh tomato sauce? It takes a bit longer than opening up a jar or a can but the results are totally worth it. It’s hard to even call the stuff out of a jar and freshly made sauce even the same thing. When the sauce is the highlight of a dish it’s especially important to get the most flavor out of the tomatoes. To get that intense flavor, I roasted the tomatoes on the broil setting until the skins were well charred. This helps to concentrate the flavor of the tomatoes. While broiling the tomatoes, I added in some garlic cloves to get that amazing roasted garlic flavor into the sauce. Remember to remove the skins before pureeing because they tend to roll up into tiny little tomato skin skewers.

The recipe makes a lot so I was able to freeze it in batches so it should last a while. It works great for pretty much any pasta recipe that requires a red sauce and it’s especially good for lasagna or eggplant parmesan since you can tailor the water content to be thicker and less watery than conventional pasta sauces.
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African Chicken and Peanut Stew with Yams

African Chicken and Peanut Stew

This stew is a simple and flavorful recipe that combines savory, peanuty flavors with chicken and yams. My favorite part is the gravy that is flavored with peanut butter, toasted red chilis, garlic and fresh ginger. It reminds me a bit of an Indian curry gravy and has a similar consistency to a Massaman Curry. I would suggest using chicken meat on the bone (thighs or drumsticks) to get some of that lovely flavor into the sauce as well. You just have to fish out the chicken after its cooked and shred the meat. If you’re short on time, you can always get boneless/skinless thighs instead. The meat tends to fall of the bone after cooking it slowly for over an hour so it pretty much does the work for you. The combination of the spicy and peanuty gravy with the slow cooked chicken and yams was perfect for a chilly February day! Serve with a side of white or brown rice and garnish with cilantro.
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Banana Bread Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pop Quiz: How are bone broths and banana bread similar? Besides that they are both alliterations of the letter ‘b’, they transform normally “throw away” items into delicious food. These kinds of recipes are some of my favorite things to make. I think I just like the efficiency and, in my opinion, the transformation of these ingredients. This recipe elevates the humble brown banana (that arguably belongs in the compost bin) to a delicious dessert!

To make this recipe a little bit healthier I put in a small amount of whole wheat flour along with cake flour. I really liked the resulting texture from these two flours and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I was worried that the wheat flour would make the texture too rough but it seems that the fineness of the cake flour balanced out the roughness of the wheat. If you don’t have these on hand, all purpose flour works just fine. As for the frosting, I wanted a frosting that doesn’t have a whole lot of sweetness since the cake isn’t very sweet either. My goal was to make a muffin/cupcake hybrid so that it wasn’t overly sweet but still retained some of the finer qualities of a cupcake. The frosting was especially addictive and combined well with the banana flavor!
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Beef Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup

Tex-mex food is awesome in pretty much every form, including soup! A lot of the U.S. has been dealing with some epic winter weather so to all of you fighting the deluge of snow (hey Chicago!), enchiladas are the perfect winter comfort food. This recipe is super easy to make with hardly any prep time involved. You can buy pre-made enchilada sauce at the grocery store but it’s fresher and easy to make at home. In my opinion it’s worth it to whip up a batch before you start cooking the soup. It can be made several days ahead of time as well if you’re short on cooking time. Possible toppings include: tortilla chips/strips, avocado slices, cilantro, lime slices, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream…I could go on. The end result was delicious with minimal effort. It can be easily converted to the slow cooker, just add everything into the pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours or 3-4 hours on high!
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