Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

When I got up this morning I was actually planning to do another blog posting about cookies. I know what you’re thinking, Mama, enough with the cookies already. It is an uncharacteristically cold and gloomy day here, yes, 55 degrees is cold, so I decided to re-think my strategy. I thought I should choose to make something for my posting that I could also serve to the family for dinner tonight. Ah yes, therefore killing two birds with one stone.

Due to the aforementioned gloominess, I decided that my family would probably appreciate some good ‘ol comfort food. I don’t know about you, but grilled cheese and tomato soup is about as cozy as you can get.  I rarely get a reaction from the husband and kids regarding my cooking, but the Roasted Tomato Soup got rave reviews.

It’s just a suggestion, but if you’re having a get-together for New Year’s, how about Roasted Tomato Soup Shots with a dollop of creme fraiche, or for a New Year’s brunch you can serve the soup in mason jars with a mini grilled cheese sandwich. And the best part is you can make the soup in advance, because it will actually taste better the next day.

Roasting tomatoes in the oven.

Roasting tomatoes in the oven.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (I used tomatoes on the vine)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans (28 oz) San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream, yogurt or mascarpone (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, and place rack in the lower third of oven.  Wash and dry tomatoes, and then cut them in half. Using your fingers, gently squeeze out the seeds. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a large bowl and drizzle with the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss it all together with your hands. Spread the tomatoes out on a large baking sheet cut side up.  Place the garlic pieces in the tomato cavity (I don’t know what else to call it) as shown in the above photo. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until tomatoes begin to caramelize. Yum, now we’re creating great flavor! Then set aside to cool.
  2. Now, strain the juice into a measuring cup or bowl, from the 2 cans of tomatoes and reserve for later. You should have about 1 cup of liquid from the cans.  Next, puree the canned tomatoes, the roasted tomatoes and garlic in batches in a blender and place in a large bowl.
  3. In a large stock pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 medium, diced onion. Sweat the onion for about 5 minutes until it becomes translucent. Add  1/4 cup of flour and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and quickly whisk or stir with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Add all the pureed tomato and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, the bay leaf, cumin, rosemary spring, thyme sprigs, reserved juice and 1 cup of chicken broth. Whisk to make sure no flour has stuck to the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring in 15 minute intervals. Remove the rosemary and thyme sprigs. After it simmered, I used an immersion blender to blend the onion into the soup. If you don’t have one, you could run it through the blender again. You should let the soup cool a bit before you so though, because hot liquids spurt out of the blender. Cover the top of the blender with a kitchen towel.
  5. I ran the soup through a sieve to remove any seeds and tomato skin and ended up with a smooth, silky soup. I returned the soup to the stock pot to warm before serving.
  6. I like to serve the soup with a little dollop of creme fraiche for a little added creaminess.

Makes about 8 cups of soup

Roasted Tomato Soup in Mason Jars with Mini Grilled Cheese

Roasted Tomato Soup in Mason Jars with Mini Grilled Cheese

Mama’s Tips:

You can store the soup in a sealed container. It’s actually better the next day after all the flavors meld together. Just gently reheat to serve.

If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, you can substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.

To add extra creaminess to the soup, you can garnish it with creme fraiche, sour cream, yogurt or mascarpone.

If your soup comes out too thick, then just thin it with a little extra broth or water. But remember, add just a little at a time to achieve your desired consistency.

Roasted Tomato Soup - Soup Shots with a dollop of Creme Fraiche

Roasted Tomato Soup – Soup Shots with a dollop of Creme Fraiche

Recipe: Intermediate

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup


Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

I’m sure when I grew up in the “olden days” there was a variety of apples available, but really, all I remember was the Red Delicious Apple. Now I certainly don’t want to offend any apple growers out there who grow the Red Delicious, or insult avid fans of the Red Delicious, but it’s because of that particular fruit that I never really took a liking to apples.  Unfortunately the Red Delicious is a mealy apple that’s not crisp or sweet or appealing in any way. Please don’t be mad at me for saying this, but I think it’s the truth.

Okay, fast forward to modern times. So, I walk into my local Whole Foods the other day and was overwhelmed by the sheer variety of apples they had for sale. You name it, Gala, Fuji, Jazz, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia, just to name a few. I couldn’t decide which variety to go with, so I bought them all.

Now, armed with a plethora of fall apples, came the decision of what to do with them. I had been to a restaurant the day before call Gjelina in Venice, California (which was quite hip and happening, I must say) and had their apple salad. I loved it so much I decided to recreate it at home. This Apple & Cheddar Salad is the perfect beginning to an autumn dinner or a Saturday brunch. The sweet crunch of the apples goes perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese.

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 2 large crisp apples, any variety
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 ounces of good quality cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 head of mustard greens
  • Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Place first 6 ingredients in a small jar and shake real well. Add in the olive oil and shake vigorously again so that dressing begins to thicken. I make the dressing a day in advance so that the flavors meld together. Refrigerate for up to one week.

Directions

  1. Place pine nuts in a small, frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until nuts begin to brown and release their natural oils. Place in a small dish to cool and set aside.
  2. With a sharp knife, chop your celery stalks crosswise into thin slices, or use a mandolin. Set aside.
  3. Thinly chop your mustard greens (chiffonade) and toss into a bowl or your can individually plate 4 separate salads.
  4. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the cheddar cheese and set aside.
  5. You can use a mandolin to slice the apples in round slices, or use a sharp knife to slice the apples into thin wedges, removing the core and seeds. Place the apple slices into a bowl of acidulated water. When you’re ready to plate your salad, take slices out of water, and pat dry.
  6. Plate all ingredients onto individual plates, or combine into a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette.

Makes 4 appetizer sized salads

Mustard Vinaigrette

Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Apple & Cheddar Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Mama’s Tips

To stop fruit from oxidizing, place fruit in a bowl of 1 cup cold water to 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice. Increase the amount of water/juice depending on how much fruit you are using. When you’re ready to use the fruit, just pat dry with a paper towel.

Crisp Fall apples make a perfect salad.

Crisp Fall apples make a perfect salad.

Recipe: Easy


Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

There’s something to be said for fresh vegetables. Like the one’s that you get at the farmer’s market that look like they’ve just been pulled out of the ground because they still have dirt on them and all that green leafy matter attached. I love all the bright colors of vegetables, their earthiness, the smell and texture. Living in Southern California, and having a weekly farmer’s market five minutes away from my house, I’m never deprived of the best vegetables each season has to offer. On this week’s trip to the market I was presented with a bounty of juicy tomatoes, ripe California avocados and sweet bell peppers in glorious shades of red, yellow and orange.

When I returned home, I knew immediately what I was going to do with my bulging bag of veggies. Make gazpacho of course! For those of you not familiar with gazpacho, it is a cold, tomato-based soup which has it’s origins in Spain and is best served during the summer months (when tomatoes are their freshest) because it’s so darn refreshing. Gazpacho is a bowl of “earthy goodness”. It’s simple, straight forward, with nothing refined or processed…just good stuff from the ground.

Yes, there is something to be said for fresh vegetables. I don’t know what it is but I just feel smarter when I eat veggies. I notice a certain spring in my step upon consuming large quantities of vitamins and minerals. If you give this recipe a try, write back and let me know if you think your IQ just went up a couple of points. I bet it will.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Adapted From Pascal Lorange of Le Pain Quotidien

  • 1 medium red bell pepper (70g)
  • 2 ounces sourdough baguette, cut into small pieces (50g)
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water (300ml)
  • *3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced (100g)
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into slices
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, minced (or whatever fresh herb you have in the fridge)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

To Garnish

  • avocado slices
  • radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • cucumber, thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • scallion, thinly sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place your bell pepper in the center of a metal baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, turning the pepper every 10 minutes so that all sides will turn black and blistered. Remove from the oven and let cool. When you’re able to handle it, remove the skin from the pepper and take the seeds out. Cut the pepper into strips and set aside 1/3 (3 ounces/70g).
  2. Take the small baguette slices and place them in a large bowl filled with the cold water so that it may soak for an hour..
  3. Take the roasted pepper strips and the remaining ingredients, and add them to the large bowl containing the soaked bread.   I then took the entire mixture and transferred it to my blender and mixed it on the puree setting until I had a smooth consistency. Then place the gazpacho into a covered container to sit in the refrigerator for about 4 hours to chill. As the mixture sits in the fridge, the flavors will develop.
  4. When you’re ready to serve the gazpacho, stir it well and pour into bowls. I like to garnish each bowl with scallion, cucumber, chunks of avocado, radish and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Then give a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper.

Serves 4

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Mama’s Tips

A quick and easy way to peel your tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, slice and “X” on the bottom of your tomato. Submerge the tomato in a pot of boiling water for about 20-30 seconds. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. The skin will gently peel away from the area where you made the “X”.

If you can refrain from eating your gazpacho immediately upon making it, let it sit over-night in the fridge as it will get nicely chilled, and the flavors of all your fresh vegetables will meld together beautifully.

The roasted peppers will end up looking something like these.

The roasted peppers will end up looking something like these.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Recipe: Easy


Carrot Zucchini Cake

Carrot Zucchini Cake

Carrot Zucchini Cake

I bet you’ve been thinking all this time, all this lady ever seems to post about is chocolate. And that would be a pretty accurate assumption. I really do have some kind of a sick obsession with it, but every now and then I love to mix it up a bit and do something crazy like add vegetables to my baked goods. I know, it sounds nuts. Oh, and speaking of nuts, this Carrot Zucchini Cake is not only chock full of vegetables, but bursting with chopped nuts and raisins. I would almost go so far as too call this health food if it were not for the cream cheese frosting that is slathered all over the top of the cake.

Today I’m packing this cake and other necessary rations for a little picnic at a location I call my “happy place”. It’s where I like to go when I need to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s a one hour hike into the Santa Monica mountains to an area they call The Rock Pool. Once there you become acutely aware of how quiet it is. No cell phones ringing, no traffic sounds, just the chirping of birds and the rustling of the wind through the trees, and sometimes the splashing of a few ducks that have taken up residence there.

DSCN2327

Right at the edge of this tranquil pool is a battered, old picnic table where my group and I will enjoy our lunch.  I figure I will have worked off at least 125 calories making this trek so I won’t feel guilty enjoying a generous portion of the cake. I’m glad I found my happy place. I would love to hear where your is. Let me know.

Carrot Zucchini Cake

Carrot Zucchini Cake

Carrot and Zucchini Cake

From Better Homes & Gardens

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (3 medium)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I mixed regular & golden together)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Citrus-Cream Cheese Frosting

Directions

  1. This cake is made in a 13 x 9 pan, ungreased. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, you will sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, place the carrots, zucchini, brown sugar, eggs, raisins, walnuts, oil, honey and vanilla. Using a spatula, gently mix the ingredients together. Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and combine until all the ingredients are incorporated. Spread the batter into your baking pan.
  4. Bake for 24-26 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack before you frost it.

Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. 1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 cup powdered sugar
  3. the zest of one orange

Place these ingredients in a medium sized bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Carrot Zucchini Cake

Carrot Zucchini Cake

DSC_0037

Recipe: Easy


Shallot and Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

You know, here at Mama’s Gotta Bake we’re not only about the sweet and sugary. Yes, I do dream about large chocolate cakes dripping in buttercream icing, but sometimes I like to cross over to the dark side and bake something using more savory ingredients.

I had a large bag of shallots and some fresh thyme left over from a meal I made a few days ago. I happen to love the combination of these two ingredients and remembered a dinner roll recipe I found in a very British cookbook I have. I’m obsessed with baking tins and pans of all sorts, so being the wild-and-crazy girl that I am, I decided instead of making these rolls in a standard muffin tin, that I would use the dariole molds I had just gotten a week before.  Dariole molds are also called baba molds or timbales. You can find them at most cooking stores or restaurant supply stores.

Anyway, I thought for sure the family would turn up their noses at these rolls, but surprisingly they finished every last one. Who knew!
Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

From “The Perfect Afternoon Tea”

  • 8 ounces shallots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking shallots
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for cooking shallots
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme minced, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 4 ounces soft herb and garlic cheese ( I used this)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the center position. Using a pastry brush and melted butter, grease 10 dariole molds (baba molds). I used these molds because I thought they would make an interesting looking roll, but you could however, just make them in a standard size muffin tin or even in mini muffin tins.
  2. Drop the shallots into a medium sized saucepan of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes and then drain. When cooled, slice the shallots into quarters.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are caramelized on all sides. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cool and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
  5. In another bowl, with the mixer on medium-low, beat  together the soft cheese, milk, eggs and melted butter.  Pour into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and blend until incorporated. Do not over mix.
  6. Scrape the shallots and the liquid into the batter (reserving some to top each roll) and stir lightly.
  7. Divide the batter between the molds and fill 3/4 full. Place a shallot and some thyme sprigs on top.
  8. If using the dariole mold, bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch and lightly browned. If using a mini muffin tin, adjust the time accordingly. These are best served warm. To re-warm them, I just popped them in the microwave for about 20 seconds and they were great.

Makes 10 tall muffins

Caramelize your shallots

Caramelize your shallots

Mama’s Tips: 

Like most batters, do not over mix the ingredients. Mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Mama just loves the combination of shallots and thyme.

Mama just loves the combination of shallots and thyme.

Recipe: Easy


Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Yes, Mama does like to bake. I know how I tell you all the time how I love to play gleefully in my kitchen with butter, flour and sugar. And how I take such pride in my cookies, cakes and other crumb-like creations that emanate from my oven. But, Mama’s not a one-trick pony you know. I’m well aware of the virtues of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now that the holiday season is over and all the out-of-town guests have left, Mama’s getting back to the business of eating healthy. During the winter, when it’s even too cold in Los Angeles to use the outdoor grill, I love to roast my vegetables.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower are a big hit at my dinner table. Roasting the vegetables at a high temperature causes the veggies to caramelize; this is when the acid in the vegetables breaks down and the sugar is released, bringing out their natural sweetness. Be careful though not to over bake the vegetables, because limp broccoli is a real dinner downer. When I pull the tray out of the oven, I use a metal spatula to scoop up all those tasty brown bits on the sheet pan because that’s where all the flavor is. It’s fresh, it’s simple and it just tastes darn good.

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

  • 1 1/2 lb. broccoli, washed and cut in large chunks (leave about 1 1/2″ of stems)
  • 1 1/2 lb. cauliflower, washed and cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon, fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  2. Wash the broccoli and cauliflower under cool water and cut them into large chunks. Leave about 1 1/2″ of the stems on the broccoli. Dry with a paper towel.
  3. Thinly slice the 4 cloves of garlic.
  4. Place the broccoli, cauliflower and garlic onto a large baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables and garlic with olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. With your hands, toss to evenly coat all the ingredients.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Be careful not to over-bake the vegetables, you still want a little crunch in them. Halfway through baking, take the pan out and toss the vegetables so all sides will brown.
  6. While the vegetables are baking, toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan (dry, no oil in the pan) over medium heat. Stir them constantly so they do not burn. This will only take a few minutes. When they start to caramelize, remove them from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.
  7. When the veggies are done, transfer them to a serving bowl. Use a metal spatula to get all those little bits and pieces off the baking sheet because that stuff is full of flavor. Toss in the pine nuts. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the veggies and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Mama’s Tips:

To toast the pine nuts; place in a small frying pan (dry, no oil) over medium heat stirring constantly so the nuts do not burn. When they get a little golden brown in color, remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

When roasting the vegetables, spread them out in one layer on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd the vegetables or stack. Use two baking sheets if you need to, but you want all the vegetables exposed to the heat.

Recipe: Easy


Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Many of you have approached me recently and said, “Mama, I’m having a holiday party and I need an idea for a tasty appetizer”. Well, I think I have just the thing for you if you want something with potatoes, bacon and cheese that will pop right into your mouth. You will be amazed at how much flavor is packed into this one bite. But actually, if you’re a bit more genteel, it will be two bites. But I digress.

When entertaining for the masses, I’m a gal who likes to do as much prep work in advance so I’m not so overwhelmed the day of the party. Mini Stuffed Potatoes are an appetizer you can prepare two days in advance. You can stuff the potatoes with the mixture, and then wrap them in plastic and place in the refrigerator. An hour or so before you’re ready to serve them, let the potatoes sit out on the counter to come to room temperature.  Next, sprinkle them with the cheese and place them in a 425 degree F oven for about ten minutes until they are heated through and browned on the top. It’s quite the festive treat.

This holiday season my friends, hold your loved one’s very close. Mama wishes you all the best for the New Year.

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

From Fine Cooking

  • 24 baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, each about 2 inches across (2 to 2-1/4 lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. bacon (about 3 thick slices), cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • 6 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Place the potatoes in a medium sized bowl and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and toss again. Transfer the potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the potatoes until they feel perfectly tender when pierced with a skewer, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
  2. Carefully hollow out each potato: Decide which is the flatest surface of the potato to give it the most stability, then begin by slicing off the top; use a small spoon (I had a tiny mini spoon that worked great)or a melon baller to scoop out most of the flesh inside, transferring it to a medium bowl. Discard the tops. Mash the potato flesh with a masher or a fork, then combine it with the bacon, 1/4 cup of the chives, the sour cream, the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
  3. I used my fingers to fill the hollowed potatoes with this mixture; it should mound a bit. Sprinkle on the cheese.
  4. Return the potatoes to the 450°F oven and bake until the filling heats through, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve warm.

Recipe: Intermediate

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

P.S. For another tasty holiday appetizer, click here to view the recipe for Curried Scallop Cakes.

Mini Stuffed Potatoes

Mini Stuffed Potatoes


Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

So, I’ve told you that son #1 is a professional chef, and the guy works all the time. Being in the restaurant business he never has a weekend off, and I suppose that just goes with the territory. Lucky for him he really loves his job. He did however have off the other day and decided to invite his buddies over to watch some football. They were just going to order some pizzas and drink beer, typical guy stuff. Now me, being the hovering mother that I am, felt it necessary to offer these guys a healthy snack. They’re grown men actually, and I probably should have just minded my own business, but I just couldn’t help myself.

I decided to make these zucchini fries for them. I think they’re the perfect snack for sitting around and watching football, all crispy and crunchy. It was just kind of funny when I walked into the family room holding a tray of these and said”hey guys, how about some zucchini!”, they all just looked up at me with this look on their faces like, yay, zucchini…

However, when I returned about an hour later, the tray was empty. Mom’s always right. I’m just sayin’…

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

from Oprah.com

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups panko or plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the zucchini into french fry size sticks about 3″ long.
  2. Arrange 3 shallow bowls or pie plates in a row. In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. In the third bowl, combine the panko, parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Working in batches, first dip the zucchini in the flour, shaking of the excess. Transfer to the egg mixture and toss until coated. Let the excess egg run off, then coat the zucchini in the panko mixture.
  4. Arrange zucchini, without crowding, in a single layer on the prepared pans. Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the pans. Continue baking until panko coating is golden and crisp, 7-12 minutes more.
  5. Serve right from the oven.

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Recipe: Easy


Roasted Carrots with Honey & Thyme

Roasted Carrots

I guess it’s just human nature, but we humans tend to take everyday things for granted, and you don’t really appreciate something until you don’t have it. We just assume things we need or want will always be there, like they had nothing better to do. That would be the case for me with vegetables. Really, how much time in my life have I devoted to thinking about a vegetable? None! I’ve never cared about their well-being, or thanked them for their years of service. I just always assumed they would always be there, just waiting for ME. Oh, how self-centered.

I broach this topic because I spent the last week visiting a small island in the Caribbean that did not grow its own vegetables. We were told that all the island’s produce had to be flown in from different places. No matter were we went to eat, lettuce was brown, cucumbers were mushy, and tomatoes had no right to call themselves tomatoes. After about day 4, my body was going through a vitamin A withdrawal. Somebody help me, please, I need my soluble fiber!

Well, when I finally returned home I vowed I would never take one of my yellow, orange or green friends for granted anymore. I made myself a batch of these Roasted Carrots with Honey and Thyme, which by the way is a favorite annual side-dish on my Thanksgiving table.

Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots with Honey & Thyme

  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, minced thyme
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, crystallized ginger (optional, but I love the spicy sweetness it adds)
  • sea salt and fresh, ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel and trim tops off carrots. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
  2. Lay carrots on a metal rimmed baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over. Toss to coat carrots completely.
  3. Sprinkle carrots with the thyme, crystallized ginger, salt and pepper. Drizzle honey over top.
  4. Toss carrots to completely incorporate the ingredients.
  5. Roast on the center rack in the oven at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until you can pierce the carrots with a sharp knife.
  6. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Roasted Carrots

Mama’s Tips

Make sure that all your carrots are of equal thickness to insure that the vegetables roast evenly. If some carrots are thicker, just cut them in half.

To make your dish more visually appealing, see if your local produce market sells the multi-colored or rainbow carrots. They’re just more fun!

Roasted Carrots

Recipe: Easy


Herb Roasted Potatoes

Herb Roasted Potatoes

I guess you could say I’m a real “meat and potatoes” kind of girl.  Actually I can do without the meat, so possibly it’s more accurate just to say I’m a “potatoes” kind of girl. I like to incorporate potatoes into every meal whenever possible.  Scrabbled eggs in the morning must be accompanied by home fries, and if you know me at all, and you do, then you know french fries have to make an appearance at lunch. But what I’m here to share with you today is more of a dinnertime potato. Now mind you, I serve these whenever I have company over, and there’s nary a potato ever left in the dish.

For these Herb Roasted Potatoes, I like to use the Yukon Gold’s because they have a buttery, creamy texture and you don’t have to peel them. You roast the potatoes at a high temperature and they come out crispy and  crunchy, almost like a potato chip, and I know how you all like potato chips. The addition of the fresh herbs just brings out the potato’s earthiness. But don’t take my word for it, make them for the family and see if there’s any left.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Herb Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (I used the small ones)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
  • Kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Paprika

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and spray rimmed cookie sheets with cooking spray. Using a mandolin, so that your potato slices will be uniform in size, slice your potatoes to about 1/8” thick. Place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add your fresh herbs to the bowl, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle enough olive oil over the mixture only to lightly coat the potatoes, and with your hands toss the ingredients until each potato slice is coated.
  3. Lay the potatoes out on the cookie sheets in one layer and place in the oven, on the center rack.
  4. About half-way through baking, using a metal spatula, flip the slices over so that the other side of the potato will brown
  5. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are nice and golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional salt (if desired). Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Recipe: Easy

Fresh Herbs – parsley, thyme & chives


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