Category Archives: Food and Recipes

Tomato Carrot Soup with Basil

Soup is such a great thing to eat on a cold winter day. Like this Tomato Carrot Soup with Basil. Although, I have to admit, it’s also good in the summer made with fresh tomatoes. But during the winter you can use canned diced tomatoes and I think it tastes just as good.

I’ve been having lots of soup lately, because it is cold and because I’ve been getting over a nasty bout of bronchitis, which I had over most of the holidays. I was disappointed at not being able to post more holiday recipes, but just didn’t have much energy to cook or do much else!

So I thought this would be a good time to post a soup recipe–most people love a good bowl of soup in the winter and this is so good for you. It has a good variety of veggies in it–carrots, celery and onion–all blended to a smooth consistency. Garlic and basil also add to the flavor. It makes a great meal with some crusty bread. Or serve it before a main course for dinner.

TOMATO CARROT SOUP WITH BASIL by NancyC

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  •  2 pounds fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced (or 2 [14.5-ounce] cans diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 Tablespoons dried basil, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In large saucepan, cook carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, in olive oil, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of the tomatoes and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer mixture, in 2 batches, to a blender or food processor and add 1/2 cup water to each batch. Cover and blend until smooth, then return mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the salt, half of the basil, and the remaining tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil and balsamic vinegar and heat an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

If you are a fan of tomato soup, you’ll want to try this sometime! I love trying out new versions of tomato soup. Do you have a favorite tomato soup recipe?

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Hoppin’ John

I learned a few years ago that this dish, Hoppin’ John, is a New Year’s Day tradition, probably more popular in the South. It’s said to symbolize good health and prosperity in the coming year. The black-eyed peas are supposed to represent coins, which tie in with prosperity. And since black-eyed peas are actually beans, they’re good for you (they have lots of fiber and are a good source of potassium, protein, and iron), so that certainly ties in with the “good health” part of the symbolism.

In addition to black-eyed peas, Hoppin’ John also has chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and some canned diced tomatoes with chiles. This is traditionally made with a smoked ham hock, but you can use chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage instead. I actually used veggie sausage in this and it tastes good that way too–something to keep in mind if you’re not a meat-eater. The taste of this dish reminds me a little of Red Beans and Rice–if you like that, you’ll probably like Hoppin’ John! 

HOPPIN’ JOHN by NancyC, adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes about 8 servings

  • 1 (1-lb. bag) dried black-eyed peas (about 2 cups), soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium size green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage (or use 1 smoked ham hock)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups hot cooked brown or long grain rice
  • Optional: 1–2 green onions, sliced, and/or 1–2 Tablespoons bacon bits or crumbles, for garnish

Sort and rinse peas, then place in a large pot and soak in 6–8 cups of water (enough to cover the peas) for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse soaked peas; set aside.

In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper; sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic; sauté about 2 minutes.

Add chopped ham, smoked sausage or ham hock. Then add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and cayenne pepper. Heat mixture to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, then stir in soaked peas. Add salt to taste. Cook 50 to 60 minutes or until peas are tender. If using a ham hock, remove ham from bone–discard bone, shred ham, and stir ham into the mixture.

Stir all ingredients and garnish with sliced green onion and/or bacon bits or crumbles, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice.

If you want a real Southern-style meal, serve your Hoppin’ John with collard greens and cornbread. And have a Happy New Year! 🙂

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Christmas Sugar Cookie Rounds

I’m getting a late start on my Christmas-cookie making this year. So I’m making some easier recipes that are still very Christmasy and yummy. Like these Christmas Sugar Cookie Rounds. The batter is mixed in one bowl, so that helps with the kitchen cleanup. The sugar cookie dough is chilled for 20 to 30 minutes, then rolled into balls and then rolled in red and green sugar. Just 10 minutes of baking time and voila–you have lots and lots of festive little Christmas cookies to eat and share! And when I say lots of cookies, I mean lots–if you roll your cookies into 1″ balls, you’ll end up with about 8 dozen. You can roll them into larger dough balls, but I prefer the smaller size. If you like sugar cookies, you will need to try this easy holiday version!

CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIE ROUNDS by NancyC

Makes about 8 dozen

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Red and green sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter with the powdered and granulated sugars, blending well. Add in oil, eggs, and vanilla, mixing everything well. Then add the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt, mixing everything well. Chill dough for 20–30 minutes.

Roll dough into 1″ balls, then roll in red or green sugar and place a few inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350˚F for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on pan, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

So the recipe makes about 8 dozen, but you’ll probably be eating some of these as you bake them, so in reality, you may only end up with 7 dozen. 🙂 But that’s still plenty, right? Have you made any sugar cookies for the holidays?

Gingerbread Scones

Christmas would not be Christmas without any gingerbread treats. And these gingerbread scones, topped with coarse sugar that adds a nice sparkly touch, are definitely a treat–especially for breakfast or brunch. They’re not really sweet enough to be considered a dessert scone, but they have a rich gingerbread flavor and are great in the morning with some coffee or tea.

I just saw the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas and it’s the perfect movie for this time of year! It’s about how Charles Dickens came to write his much-loved classic, A Christmas Carol. It will certainly get you in the holiday mood, kind of like how eating gingerbread-flavored things can get you in a holiday mood. Hmmm…I wonder if Dickens happened to have any gingerbread scones as he was writing his story?

GINGERBREAD SCONES by NancyC

Makes 8 large scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium size bowl, mix the molasses, milk, vanilla, and egg yolk (save the egg white for later). Stir this mixture into the crumbly flour mixture, forming a crumbly dough.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about 6 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on prepared baking sheet, then cut into 8 wedges (if you don’t want the wedges to bake together, separate them by about an inch on the baking sheet).

Beat egg white well, until foamy, and brush over scones. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 22 minutes, until set. If you hadn’t separated the scones on the baking sheet, they will have baked together, so you can slice them where you had cut them before baking. Serve scones warm or let cool.

Have you made any gingerbread goodies this season? Or have you seen the Dickens movie?

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Cranberry Pecan Muffins

I’ve been so glad to see fresh cranberries at the grocery store these past few weeks! I just had to make something with fresh cranberries and muffins seemed like a good idea. I added some orange extract to give these muffins a subtle orange flavor. You could also add some orange zest if you wanted to.

These muffins bake up with nice rounded tops and have lots of cranberries and pecans in every bite! These are great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast or brunch, or for anytime in the fall or winter, for that matter. They also make a nice snack or dessert if you’re wanting something a little less sweet. You could probably substitute dried cranberries for the fresh, but I’ve always made these with fresh–I like their slightly sweet, tart flavor!

CRANBERRY PECAN MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 muffins

  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (or substitute dried cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix milk, butter, orange extract, and eggs. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in chopped cranberries and pecans and stir until evenly distributed in batter (be careful not to overmix). Batter will be thick!

Spoon batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake at 350˚F for 22 to 25 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for a few minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack, or serve warm.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned out? Are you making anything with fresh cranberries for your special meal? Whatever your plans are, have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Let us be thankful…. HEBREWS 12:28

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