Dec 272011
 
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I recently made a recipe that called for a can of whole tomatoes and I didn’t use all of them. I had to use up the leftovers so I decided to try making my own tomato soup. It was the first time I’ve made tomato soup from scratch before. I know–something this simple, how haven’t I made it before? I have no excuses other than laziness. Which is a major shame because we had sooo many tomatoes in our garden this summer.

Since I had to use up the tomatoes I decided to try my hand at tomato soup. I found a recipe that was simple and easy to use.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Rating: 31

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Calories per serving: 90

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 slice onions
  • 4 whole whole cloves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps white sugar (taste)

Instructions

  1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food mill into a large bowl, or pan. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.
  2. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest.
  3. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste.
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My friend Star came over for dinner and she brought her amazing cornbread. It has corn, peppers and cheese in it and it’s probably the best cornbread I’ve ever had.

The tomato soup was pretty easy to make. I didn’t have a food mill but I used a sieve to drain the liquid from the chunks. It was messy and kind of a pain but it worked.

I varied the recipe just a tad–I added a bay lead to the simmering sauce. I didn’t have cloves so I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon in there. I also added back some of the chunks of tomato. This was also the first time I’ve ever attempted making a roux. After I made the roux, I slowly added the liquid and chunks back into the pot.

I tasted the soup and it was a bit tart. I added a little bit of brown sugar to the mixture. I tasted it again and added a little bit more. Then I added some of the Sugar/Splenda Blend that I have and it tasted much better. I let it simmer a little bit longer and then dinner was served.

I’m glad I added some of the chunks back into the soup. It made it heartier. I wish the photos of the soup had turned out better but the steam made the photos a little blurry.

The soup was good! I think I could have added a bit more sugar to it because it was a bit tart, but I liked it. The recipe made 6 servings for 90 calories a serving but I dished up two servings each because it was kind of a small portion. That’s still not bad for under 200 calories.

The cornbread went perfectly with the tomato soup. It was the perfect meal for winter time.  Star also made a nice, healthy dessert for us to share–pears. She peeled the skin off, sliced the pears and put them on a baking dish. She sprinkled cinnamon on it, put goat cheese on the pears and baked them for a few minutes.

The pears were softened and warm and the goat cheese was a bit melty. It was lovely! And a very nice winter dinner with friends. When Star left I found something in my bathroom:

See that $5? It’s a little game we play. (And don’t mind the turquoise countertop–we are remodeling.) Star is the type of friend that will give a complete stranger her shoes if they asked for them, and then she’d offer them her socks as well. She’s a completely selfless person who is also impossible to spoil! She gives everything away and refuses to take money for services (like kitty babysitting). So I started hiding money in her apartment whenever I was over there. I thought I was sneaky but she’d find it and hide it somewhere in my house. That same stinkin’ $5 has been passed between us for who knows how long.

This time when Star was in the bathroom I snuck $5 into her purse but I obviously didn’t do a good job at hiding it because she hid it in my bathroom before she left. I need to get more creative with my hiding. :)

QUESTION: What’s your favorite winter soup?

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Nov 272011
 
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Michael and I are definitely not traditional in a lot of ways. In the past we sometimes skipped Thanksgiving all together. The first Thanksgiving we celebrated together we ate pork chops with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Not exactly traditional, right?

Last year we actually hosted a real Thanksgiving dinner. It was our first. I am really happy about our first bird and we made some really nice dishes that were healthier alternatives to the “norm.” For example, we sauteed green beans and zucchini instead of making the high calories green bean casserole. It was good!

This year neither of us really had the desire to go nuts with Thanksgiving. We weren’t hosting anything, we weren’t going anywhere and it was just the two of us. So I planned out an alternative Thanksgiving feast for just the two of us. I also saved us a bunch of money by using things we already had on hand.

I had a nice day: I slept in and went to the gym (where it wasn’t crowded, shocker) and then started cooking. First, I made the same stuffing we had last year–a Cornbread Stuffing–that is amazing. I added a handful of cashews to the stuffing to make it fantastic!

Cornbread Stuffing

1 lb. fresh sausage, browned

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

5 cups dried bread cubes

5 cups crumbled cornbread

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 cup milk

1 can cream of chicken soup

Directions- Melt butter in skillet and cook onion and celery until barely tender. Set aside with cooked sausage. In a bowl, combine cornbread, bread crumbs and seasonings, then stir in the milk and chicken soup. Add onion, celery and sausage, mix it up. Bake in a casserole dish at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

 

I used leftover Texas Toast from the French Toast we made a few weeks ago, and leftover baguette from the dinner party.

They worked great and I used up stale leftovers! And several cans from the pantry. I made a quickie cornbread, from a box shuddddder! for the stuffing.

No Turkey?!

Nope, we didn’t do a turkey. I’d had some Cornish Game Hens in the freezer for a few months and I decided that they would work perfectly for an alternative Thanksgiving. I defrosted them both in the fridge for a few days and when Thursday came around they were ready.


I wanted to try out a recipe I found for turkey that sounded amazing: Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter and Roasted Shallots

I adapted that recipe for the Cornish Game Hens and it turned out wonderfully.

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

by Lisa (adapted)

3/4 cup softened butter

3 T. chopped fresh sage

3 T. chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

Shallots, peeled and cut in half through the root

1 carrot, unpeeled

1 large celery stalk, cut in half

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the butter and herbs. Wash and dry the Hens. Season cavity with salt and pepper and then stuff with carrot and celery. Smother the Hens with the butter herb concoction. Place Hens in roasting pan with shallots and onions.

Roast for 1.25 hours or 1.5 hours depending on the size of the Hens. Every 20-30 minutes baste them with the broth. The hens are done when the sauces run clear. Remove carrot and celery and discard. Serve.

 

It was difficult to get the butter to stick to the skin of the Hens. Eventually I gave up and used two knives to kind of spread it around. I did the best I could and flipped them over and did the other side.

I basted them every 20 minutes. I used vegetable broth because that’s what was leftover in the fridge. It worked great.

During the last 30 minutes of the Hens cooking, I added the stuffing to cook. I picked up an organic turkey gravy from the store for $2 (because Michael hates gravy and I’m so not picky). It turned out that one Cornish Game Hen was plenty for two of us to split, but that’s ok–we have leftovers now.

The Cornish Game Hens turned out lovely! I am so glad I tried the herb recipe because the flavors were delicate and delicious. The hens were a lot juicier than regular chicken ever is.

Michael “carved” the bird for dinner. :)

And of course, for dessert: you gotta have pumpkin pie.

All of the food turned out really delicious. And while it wasn’t really traditional, it was still warm and happy. I’m glad all the recipes I did turned out and I’m happy I got to spend it with Michael. I didn’t go crazy with my portions and I’m happy with my choices. I’d say Thanksgiving was a success!

QUESTION: What was the highlight of your holiday? 

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