Spring Onion Soup

Sun streaming through the breakfast room window on my little Spring Onion Soup!

Don’t be sad thinking you can’t have your beloved French Onion Soup just because the winter is over! I’ve skinnied it up for you! This comes in under 200 calories for a full cup and a half serving. So sharpen your pencil and take note of this. I’m playing for keeps good people, and cooking in a lively Spring has Sprung manner.

1/2 stick butter
3 sweet onions, sliced
1 cup dry sherry
6 cups water
6 envelopes of Herb Ox granulated beef bouillon*
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t salt
1/2 t dried thyme
6 slices French bread, toasted on both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper
6 oz shredded Fontina cheese
Snipped chives for garnish

(This is a duo serving; hence the onions are scarce! Don’t want to mislead anyone.)

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and lightly browned.
Stir in sherry and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Bring water to boil in soup pot.
Add in bouillon and stir to combine.
Add onions to broth pot.
Add Worcestershire, salt, and thyme.
Cover and cook on low 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
Ladle soup into 6 ovenproof ramekins.
Top with bread slice.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Broil until cheese melts.
Sprinkle with chives before serving.

*I use sodium free broth whenever I can. Do you know that one serving of canned broth can carry 800+ mg of sodium. SNAP. Who needs that? Am I right!

Topping the soup with toasty French bread slice

And then, the cheese please

Cointreau Vodka Berry Rickey

Adult Beverage Berry Cointreau Rickey

It’s the “freakin’ weekend; baby i’m about to have me some fun!” (Thanks R. Kelly for being a bit R. Rated!) Happy Friday Everyone. It’s a BIG weekend in the collegiate basketball world. So don’t wait for summer to enjoy this berry cocktail. You’re going to muddle the berries and mix them with vodka anyway, so they don’t need to be at their summertime freshest! Enjoy in good health, my friends. It’s beautiful, right?

2 oz Cointreau
1 oz vodka
2 blackberries
2 raspberries
5 mint leaves
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3 to 4 oz club soda

Muddle berries and mint in bottom of short cocktail glass.
Add crushed ice to rim.
Add Cointreau, lime juice, and top up with club soda.
Stir well.
Garnish with additional berries and mint.

Feta Orecchiette

Enjoy this simple March Madness lunch or dinner while pulling for your favorite team. It’s honestly so straightforward that it’s almost like child’s play. And you can pull it off during half time. Bonus…it’s a winner even if your team falters. And if that happens, then just Eat. Drink. Carry On. And Stay Tuned for Next Year. 

entree-pasta-tomato-feta

1/2 t olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs capers, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sugar
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved*
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup snipped fresh flat leaf parsley
12 oz dried orecchiette
8 oz crumbled feta

In small skillet heat 1/2 t olive oil until hot.
Add pine nuts.
Cook and stir about 2 minutes until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Season lightly with salt.

For dressing, in large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, and garlic.
Stir in cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, and parsley.
Let stand at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.
Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
Drain pasta.
In the pasta pot, combine reserved pasta water, pasta, and cherry tomato mixture.
Heat for 2 minutes.
Transfer to serving bowl.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta.
Garnish with lemon slices and additional parsley.

*For this particular recipe I used my homemade canned Italian tomatoes rather than the cherry tomatoes indicated in the recipe. This is only due to the fact that I am slightly addicted to them! But good quality cherry tomatoes are available at your local grocery all year, and this dish is excellent using them!

Adapted from 100 Best Tomato Recipes by Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, 2016.

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

the don…It’s supposed to get cold and maybe even snow this weekend. I’ll go to the grocery if you’ll whip up a pot of that yummy chicken rice soup for the grands and me! My happy reply…dealeo! I’m here as the CFO (Chief Female Officer) of Forest Hills just helping to Empower Your Culinary Dreams, while offering a little nod to International Women’s Day.

soup-cream-of-chicken-and-wild-rice

Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 Tbs olive oil
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t chopped dill
1 t celery seed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking wild rice
Breast meat of rotisserie chicken, chopped
Cup fat free sour cream
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

And Here’s How You Do It:
Heat oil in soup pot.
Add mushrooms, celery, carrots, and onion.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add flour, and all other seasonings and stir until incorporated, about a minute.
Add broth, and bring to a boil.
Add rice, and reduce to simmer.
Cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in chicken, sour cream, and parsley.
Cook on medium 5 minutes, stirring half way through time.
Turn heat off, leaving pot on hot eye.
Stir again, and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from Cooking Light.
Serves 6.
380 calories for 2 cup serving.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

dessert-chocolate-lava-cakes-iBusiness Class with Turkish Airlines is kinda sweet. And on our return flight from Istanbul back to the Great USofA this past weekend, one of the sweets served was a warm chocolate cake. I knew better than to be tempted by that offer…but i will share this authentic offering! Back in the winter of 2007, the don and I took a wee respite at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun. Whoa…that’s been a decade! They had just reopened after the devastation of Hurricane Wilma, and they were thrilled to have guests back in the hotel. As part of the major renovation, the Ritz added an all Viking Culinary Center. What a beautiful atmosphere in which to cook; added bonus, it overlooks the Caribbean Sea. That’s right. One of the courses I took with Chef Rory that week included this show stopper.  I was a bit afraid initially of my results, but it was perfection on a plate; and it has turned out perfectly in my home kitchen time and time again! Sharing the Love!

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
2 1/2 sticks butter
5 egg yolks
5 whole eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbs all-purpose flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 425°.
In a small sauce pan, melt the chocolate and butter together over very low heat.
*Do not allow chocolate to get too hot.
Remove from heat and keep warm.
In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar.
Pour warm chocolate into egg mixture.
While stirring chocolate mixture add sifted flour slowly to avoid lumps.
Spray 6 soufflé cups with cooking spray.
Pour mixture into cups and place on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest 3 minutes.

To serve:
Go around edges of soufflé cup with a knife to loosen the cake.
Invert on to a plate.
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on side of cake.

Makes 6 mid-size ramekins, or 8 small ramekins.

dessert-chocolate-lava-cakes-iii

Chicken Soup with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

Soup. Owned.

Everyone knows I could eat soup for every meal. Make this yummy chicken and dumplings (with a twist), and call your best friend. Some things are simply worthy of passing down, and this one will not disappoint! It’s a one bowl wonder; no need for bread on the side – it’s right there in the soup just looking up at you. Licking my lips.soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iv

Here’s your grocery list:
1/4 cup salted butter, divided
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
8 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 t kosher salt
Breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup coarse plain yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t lemon salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme

Now, here’s your “how to”:
Melt 2 Tbs of butter in soup pot over medium high heat.
Add carrots, celery, and onion.
Cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 6 minutes.
Add 2 Tbs of flour.
Stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes.
Add half of broth, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining broth, and chicken.
Remove pot from heat.

In medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, lemon salt, black pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup flour.
Cut remaining 2 Tbs butter into flour mixture with pastry blender, until it resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, parsley, and thyme.
Stir just until dough is moistened.

soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iiHeat soup pot over medium heat.
Roll dumplings into 10 to 12 balls.
Drop dumplings 1/2 to 1 inch apart into soup mixture.
Cover and cook until dumplings are done, and dry to touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Initially they will appear to be breaking apart.
Leave them alone and they will be just fine.
Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

Next stop, Bangkok! Crossing borders. Taking cooking lessons as we venture to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Um hmm. Coming home with new talents to share. Can’t wait. Bet you can’t either!

Vegetarian Mini Enchilada

Stomp.jpg

I “Stomp”ed around Chicago with td (my husband of 41+ years!) and some friends for a few days just before the 2017 New Year. We happily played the usual suspects tourists…

beanposed with The Bean (formal name “Cloud Gate”) created and installed in 2006 by the amazing Anish Kapoor,

peg-heather-buddy

hung out with blues great, Buddy Guy, 2012 Kennedy Center Honor Recipient (please watch this video with Morgan Freeman presenting Mr. Guy with the Honor), seized this magical photo op with him at his club, Buddy Guy’s Legends), bavettesand hopped from one fantastic restaurant and hotel bar to the next. No lack there, my friends! BONUS, we enjoyed dinner one night with James Beard Award winning chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill. I mean, we just couldn’t even decide what to order; it all was so tempting…so we began with hand crafted margaritas. I was so inspired with our dinner, that I flew home and waked up my own kitchen, and prepared this concoction. So…take this little jewel to the bank and thank Rick B. and Peg all the way! And PtotheS…

Be Sociable, Share This! Everyone has been sharing a LOT lately, so let’s unite and share something yummy, just a nice little recipe-no politics ever on this blog-just joy and fun!

southwestern-mini-black-bean-enchiladas10 miniature 4” flour tortillas
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can refried beans
8 oz can red enchilada sauce
4 oz can chopped green chiles
4 oz shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
4 Tbs chopped avocado
4 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 fresh lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 12 cup muffin pan with olive oil or melted butter.
Tuck tortillas gently into cups.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes until crisp and browned.
Stir together black beans, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and green chiles in medium bowl.
Divide mixture evenly among baked tortilla cups.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Back at 350° until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Transfer enchiladas to serving platter.
Top evenly with lettuce.
Drizzle with sour cream.
Sprinkle with green onions, avocado, and cilantro.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over top.
Garnish with fresh lime.