That time when I deleted the pretty pictures of my tomato soup recipe. :(

Hola,

Yikes! I definitely just deleted the pictures I took of my finished soup all dressed up in the bowl. I can’t even go to the recycle bin because I deleted them from my SD card. Ugh oh well, now the pictures will just be so so I suppose. 😦 I really need to wake up and be more careful.

But now onto the most delicious tomato soup I have ever had! I’m not even making that up. This recipe is so simple too. It only has three ingredients. The others are just what you would like to put on top to fancy it up. But to be honest, all I added was a few shavings of Parmesan Reggiano cheese. And I wouldn’t even miss the cheese if I didn’t have it. The soup is that good. There is a secret to this recipe…. I use fennel and caramelize it until it’s golden brown, sweet, and super mellow tasting. The fennel acts as a sweetener for the soup and helps to cut the acidic nature of tomatoes.

This recipe started from a few years back when I tried a friend’s tomato soup that I couldn’t get enough of. Yesterday I got a craving for it all of a sudden and had to make it today. I didn’t remember the recipe, so today I went with what sounded right to me for amounts.

I used San Marzano canned tomatoes becuase that is what I had on hand and they are know to be the best of the best canned tomato. When I tasted them as is they were sweet and I could have eaten them straight out of the can for a snack.

I used San Marzano canned tomatoes becuase that is what I had on hand and they are know to be the best of the best canned tomato. When I tasted them as is they were sweet and I could have eaten them straight out of the can for a snack.

Fennel. The secret ingredient to the soup.  This has a licorice scent and taste to it raw but it mellows out a ton when it's caramelized with butter. So yummy!

Fennel. The secret ingredient to the soup. This has a licorice scent and taste to it raw but it mellows out a ton when it’s caramelized with butter. So yummy!

This is the fennel almost ready to have the tomatoes added. See how it's getting nice and golden brown and almost breaking down. That's a good thing. It means they are getting really good.

This is the fennel almost ready to have the tomatoes added. See how it’s getting nice and golden brown and almost breaking down. That’s a good thing. It means they are getting really good.

The soup after I blended about 3/4 of it. I like to leave a little bit of texture in it by not blending all of it. But if you like it souper smooth blend all of it. Did ya catch that? :)  Corny I know :p

The soup after I blended about 3/4 of it. I like to leave a little bit of texture in it by not blending all of it. But if you like it souper smooth blend all of it. Did ya catch that? 🙂 Corny I know :p

The Recipe

1 28 oz can tomatoes

1 bulb of fennel

4 tablespoons of butter (this gives it a rich flavor so use a brand that you really enjoy the flavor of)

about 1/2 cup to 1 cup water

1. Cut top part of fennel of so you are only using the white bulb portion. Remove any tough outer layers. I didn’t have to because mine seemed tender enough. Slice the fennel thinly.

2. Melt the butter in pan on low to medium heat. Then add sliced fennel.

3. Cover the pan and let the fennel soften and start to caramelize in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before stirring. This lets the steam build up and really soften the fennel.

4. After the 5-10 minutes remove lid and continue to caramelize fennel until golden brown and soft enough to mash/break apart easily with cooking utensil. Stir every minute to couple of minutes being careful to not let it burn. (The way I tested it was that I tasted the fennel and it was nice and mellow and sweet tasting. The way sweet caramelized onions taste)

5. Add the canned tomatoes to the pan and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. After the soup has thickened up a bit, it is time to make it smooth. I put about 3/4 of the soup in the blender and let it whirl. (Please be careful and put a towel over the blender to make sure the steam released doesn’t burn you). This is also where an immersion blender would come in handy.

7. I also added about a cup of water the blender to make it a touch thinner. This is personal preference so do as you please.

8. Bring soup back up to a simmer and serve with a grilled cheese or croutons or whatever crackers or cheese you enjoy!

This recipe makes two hearty servings. About 1 3/4 cups each. You could easily double this recipe but I just wanted a small batch to have for myself.  Enjoy!

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Farmer’s Market Withdrawals

Today I am so wishing for summer and weekly farmer’s market trips. I’m lucky because in the surrounding towns and cities around me there is always one happening during my days off. I just wish it was here already. I’m craving to see green grass and trees full of lush leaves. Colorful flowers and vegetables growing in the garden are the best to check out. Sitting by the water in the mornings and watching the ducklings feed on the bird seed that falls into the water. Yup, I think it’s withdrawal happening. Spring is almost close but quite close enough for me right now.

A lazy Sunday with The Language of Flowers

Today I did something I don’t usually have time to do. I lounged in bed all day reading except to eat. Then I proceeded to even eat in bed. The best part was that I had left over pancakes that heated up well for breakfast and left over Thai food for lunch from last night.

I started “The Language of Flowers” at around 5:30 this morning after Sean left for work and didn’t stop unless I was hungry. I finished tonight at around 5ish tonight. The story consumed me from the very first page. I couldn’t stop reading it and frankly didn’t have any plans today, so I enjoyed the feeling of just being super comfy in bed and let the story engulf me.

My goal this summer is to be in a field of flowers described in this book. I love the feeling I get when gardening and could feel the excitement building as I was reading. I want to let you know that this story is not only about flowers but also the life of a girl who grew up a ward of the state and had misfortune in life but did what she had to. There is romance with the main character but she has to also overcome abandonment issues from childhood. In doing so she uses what she has learned about the meaning of flowers to help her through life. It’s just an incredible story that I can not even put into words because they will not do it justice.

Have a great week!

Pancake cravings…Gluten free ones too!

Hey!

Lately I have been in a pancake groove in the morning of my days off. I have been craving pancakes for some bizarre reason. The last time I had pancakes so many times in two weeks was when I was in the USVI. The little restaurant at the campground had the best pancakes. If I didn’t get them I felt like I was missing something. But this time around my pancakes are gluten free, fluffy, and delicious. I found the recipe via pinterest where it took me to Laura Fuentes’s lovely blog. The link is after the pictures 🙂

Today I added a little variation by using a quarter of a banana for some added flavor instead of the applesauce. I always use full fat coconut milk as the milk for the recipe and King Arthur Gluten Free Flour Mix. Then I always add the appropriate amount of xanthan gum. Instead of using the flax seed in the recipe I use 1 egg.  Then I follow the rest of the recipe exact.

Today I added a little variation by using a quarter of a banana for some added flavor instead of the applesauce. I always use full fat coconut milk as the milk for the recipe and King Arthur Gluten Free Flour Mix. Then I always add the appropriate amount of xanthan gum. Instead of using the flax seed in the recipe I use 1 egg. Then I follow the rest of the recipe exact. Oh yea today I even added a couple scoops of my favorite protein powder just to give them a protein boost. 

These cook up well in the pan and just as fragile as a normal pancake would be.

These cook up well in the pan and are just as fragile as a normal pancake would be. The batter can be thick sometimes but just spread it a bit after the initial amount is in the pan. (Do so right away though) I liberally cover the pan with a bit a butter just to be safe but they don’t stick easily if there is only a very thin coating of butter/oil in the pan. 

The finished product! Serve with some warmed maple syrup or fruit or both and enjoy! There you have fluffy gluten free pancakes.

The finished product! Serve with some warmed maple syrup or fruit or both and enjoy! There you have fluffy gluten free pancakes.

These pancakes really are spot on. Even my fiance Sean enjoyed them and he’s not the biggest pancake eater. Enjoy!

Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.laurafuentes.com/easy-gluten-free-pancake-recipe/

Indian Curry Round 2

Hey!

Sean decided to make Indian curry for dinner. It was delicious. He added about 8 green chilies this time versus 5 last time. We are progressively working our way up to 15 chilies in the recipe (he could handle the 15 right away but he’s hinking of me so he is taking it slow with the heat). That was the number one of his friends told him to use. His friend’s family runs an Indian restaurant, so he knows his stuff. I didn’t have to do much of the cooking for a change because Sean loves to experiment in the kitchen and cook when it comes to hot and spicy food. All I had to do was cut the raw chicken because I am neurotic about raw chicken and preventing any cross contamination. I’ve had way too many classes about salmonella and all those other little buggers.

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The chicken in the hot curry bath ;)

The chicken in the hot curry bath 😉

Sean is too cute and caramelizes the onions before hand for me because he knows I hate if the onions are crunchy.

Sean is too cute and caramelizes the onions before hand for me because he knows I hate if the onions are crunchy.

All the veggies we used for the curry. Broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. I know it's not typical but we like to mix it up. And lets face it...anything smothered in curry sauce is delicious.

All the veggies we used for the curry. Broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. I know it’s not typical but we like to mix it up. And lets face it…anything smothered in curry sauce is delicious.

The ghee we use :)

The ghee we use 🙂

The finished product! So delicious! A recipe will be coming soon, I promise.

The finished product! So delicious! A recipe will be coming soon, I promise. We’re still tweaking it. 

Have a great night!

Indian Curry Adventures

Heyy!

Our adventure started Saturday when we decided to make home made curry… from scratch…. like even making our own curry powder from the whole spices. So in the morning Sean and I stopped by the local Chinese Grocery. These ethnic markets are some of the best places to explore. This market in particular was deceiving in a good way, it was a lot bigger than it appeared to be from the outside and had isles for each Asian country. The whole spices available at inexpensive prices were incredible. We were in heaven. They had fresh Thai chilies for $1 for a small bag (at least 75-100 in the bag). Bags of whole spices for a couple of dollars versus $5 plus dollars at an American grocery store.

During our shopping it donned on us that we needed a spice grinder, so off to Bed Bath & Beyond we go. We get home and go to use the grinder, only to find out that the grinder isn’t powerful enough to pulverize any of the spices we purchased. So I made the executive decision to turn the dry container for the Vitamix into a spice grinder. Forever dying it yellow from turmeric. At least the container has a use now 🙂

We cooked the curry today with chicken and vegetables. The recipe still needs to be tweaked a little bit before I post it, but for our first time making chicken curry from scratch it came out delicious. A couple of the things we will do differently is grind the curry powder finer and add more fresh chilies to the dish.

I can’t wait to experiment with the next dish we make using our home made curry powder.

The spices we used were:

  • whole fenugreek
  • cumin seeds
  • whole corriander
  • cardamon
  • cinnamon
  • whole cloves
  • whole turmeric
  • mustard seeds
  • black pepper
  • dried chilies

Then we added fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and fresh chilies to the pan along with the curry powder.

I hope everyone has a good week, and if you live in New England… good luck digging out from yet another 12-18 inches of snow for the third week in a row! Where is all the snow going to go, nobody knows.

Small Spaces that I love.

Heyy!

So we officially finished our apartment a few months ago but I’m finally getting around to posting final pictures of it. Our space is about 34ft x 14ft. It’s nice because it is long, so it is able to be divided into four main areas. We have our bedroom area with a 3ft x 6ft closet, office/desk area, living room, and then a kitchen/dining/pantry area. If you are working with small spaces I highly recommend Ikea. I could take out stock with the couple thousand of dollars we probably spent there, but it was worth it 100%. We were able to buy beautiful counters with great storage capabilities and shelving to die for. The shelving allowed me to create my own pantry with ample space. The spice racks are one of my favorites after the wood counter tops. This experience made me realize that I am pretty efficient and creative when it comes to creating storage space in a small space. Here are some recent pictures of it all purrty.

My kitchen area where I have plenty of counter space to prep and cook. My favorite things are the ikea spice racks and the magnetic knife strip. It’s so much safer than storing them in a drawer. I used the mirrors to open up the space and as a back splash for the burners. I have some hidden storage in the corner that is a plastic two drawer container. 

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The pantry 🙂 

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I love this divider, it provides so much storage. Literally almost all of my clothes are able to be stored in 6 of the white storage boxes.

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this is an Ikea secretary desk with the top removed to accommodate the computer monitor and used a piece of plywood to create some top shelf space and to hold the middle piece of shelving together. I love the design more now than what it was to begin with. It looks great closed up as well.

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I hope every one has a great Sunday!

A Girl’s Night Dinner Party

Heyy!

Tonight I had my friends Susan and Jen over for dinner. We had some fantastic food and a festive beverage. I made Croq au Riesling, which is chicken simmered with mushrooms, onion, bacon, and Riesling cream sauce until all the flavors are happy together. That was so heavenly! For the side, I roasted those little baby potatoes with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and fresh parsley. To drink with dinner I made a winter sangria that had pomegranate juice, apple cider, blood oranges, and cinnamon sticks. It was a refreshing an straight yummy drink with the rich chicken dish. Then, for dessert I made vanilla coconut milk ice cream with a hint of cinnamon to put on top of the best gluten free fudge brownies ever. The ice cream was served soft serve style straight from the ice cream maker to top the brownies. That was pure brownie sundae bliss. (recipe links at the bottom, found via Pinterest)  I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture of the chicken because I was too distracted in good conversation to remember. Whoops.

SANGRIA!  Enough said.

SANGRIA! Enough said.

The best gluten free fudge brownies.

The best gluten free fudge brownies.

The potatoes getting yummy hanging out in the olive oil and spices before I roasted them.

The potatoes getting yummy hanging out in the olive oil and spices before I roasted them.

I saw these in the store today and had to buy them because I love Gerber Daisies and they're going to be the flowers for my wedding!

I saw these in the store today and had to buy them because I love Gerber Daisies and they’re going to be the flowers for my wedding!

Tonight was an awesome night being able to catch up with friends. We had genuine conversations that just reinforce the importance of spending time with good people that bring your energy up. I love my friends and I was so happy that they we’re able to meet Sean tonight too. 🙂 They also convinced me to do a post about my apartment and how to utilize our small space. So I’ll be posting that soon; hopefully tomorrow!

Have a good night!

Links to the fabulous recipes I used tonight        (the ice cream was my own recipe that I’ll post in the future)

http://www.theroastedroot.net/winter-sangria-with-pomegranate-blood-orange-and-apple/          (sangria)

http://simply-delicious-food.com/2013/06/26/nigel-slaters-coq-au-riesling/            (chicken)

http://deliciouslyorganic.net/fudgy-brownie-recipe-grain-free-paleo/            (brownies)