Roasted Tomato Soup

Yum.  I kept saying this last night as I savored this delicious soup.  This soup has me thinking of curling up in blankets and sitting in front of a fire on a rainy day.  This is comfort food.

The original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.  R and I made a few alterations.  We used our own blend of herbs: thyme, paprika, dill, and chili powder.  R also added some oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes.  Then I topped the bread with a 4 cheese blend.

When you pull this soup out of the oven after the broiling process the cheese and bread create a wonderful cap, trapping the flavor and warmth of the soup under it.  The roasted tomatoes give the soup a fiery sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the herbs.  The bread soaks up the flavor of the soup and really adds a nice substance to the recipe.

As we sat there, enjoying both the soup and our new kitchen table, I imagined this soup appearing on an upscale “comfort food” restaurant.  While I still love classic American cheese and the red and white can, this recipe is going to replace that staple whenever I have the extra time.


Freezer Burritos – Featuring Fetus Joe Hot Sauce

A friend of mine makes his own hot sauce.  It’s lovely, in that burn your face off kind of way.  He’s made several varieties including: Red Pepper, Strawberry Habanero, Ginger Sesame, Carmalized Onion & Garlic, Apple Bacon, and the Holy F*ck Sauce.  R accidentally sampled a full spoonful of the HF Sauce and had heartburn for two days, but said it was worth it.  Each one has a great heat to it and it’s own unique flavor.

I wanted to make some meals that I could bring to work or heat up when I don’t have time to make a full meal.  I make Freezer Burritos, based on Shutterbean’s Freezer Burritos.  I mixed in the hot sauce with the greek yogurt and boy does it give them a kick.

These are easy to make and eat, just pop them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  The hardest part was rolling the burritos, I ate the first few that didn’t roll as well and had ingredients popping out the sides.

These are spicy and gooey and delicious.  It was hard to roll up the majority and put them in the fridge, rather than sitting down and consuming them all.


Artichokes and Olives

The pizza dough recipe I shared earlier was enough for two pizzas.  R and I decided to get a little creative with the second pizza and opted for a few extra veggies.

I am a big olive fan, especially kalamata olives.  I think it’s the sweet, rich flavor that has a hint of saltiness and the tender texture they get when cooked.  Artichokes sounded like a great pair for these olives, with a little bit of feta cheese to add some bite to the pizza.

This hit the spot on a hot summer evening.  Filling and with a fresh, light taste it’s a great summer pizza.  Pair it with a nice glass of wine or summer ale, kick back and enjoy!

California Seafood Burger

It has been getting pretty humid and hot in Virginia lately. This type of weather makes me want to make food that puts traditional summer meals on their heads and has crisp, cool flavors. I’m happy to share my Cali-Krab burgers I made for D with everyone here with my first guest blog. So ‘Hi’ everyone, R here. Hope you all enjoy!

These burgers take common west-coast ingredients and mixes things up for a great lunch that is filling without being heavy, and is different enough to be a hit at your next cookout.

I start with ground chicken (or turkey) and mix in some cracked black pepper, minced garlic, and hickory smoked sea salt, made into 6-8 oz patties. Sear the patties in a skillet (or grill over wood coals) with a medium heat. While they cook, you can prep the other ingredients.

Slice the tomatoes and avocado into 1/4 inch rings. Take a few seconds to pat the tomato down with a paper towel, it will pull the excess juice out and keep the bun from getting soggy. I used pre-made crab salad with shrimp. To make your own simply shred the crab meat, add mayo, shrimp, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and diced celery. Swiss or Loraine cheese works best for these burgers.

Toast butter kaiser roles to use as buns. Build the burger up with the tomato, then cheese, patty, avocado, and pile the crab salad on top. This is no small burger, so encourage your guests to grab some napkins.

The flavors complement each other well, but remain distinct. The Swiss pairs with the woodsmoke in the meat, the rich avocado complements the light and crisp crab salad. There isn’t much need for a side, due to the crab salad on the burger and they match really well with a light, summery beer or a quick sparkling lemonade. This fresh, playful take on a summer classic will have your guests RSVP-ing quickly for your next cookout.

2 Lbs ground chicken or turkey
1 large beefeater tomato
1 Lbs crab salad
1 large avocado
Thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Sea salt, black pepper, hickory smoked salt*, minced garlic

*Hickory smoked salt can be hard to come by. An easy alternative is to purchase ‘Liquid smoke’ and sprinkle it over coarse sea salt, allow it to dry fully before use.

Savory Mac & Cheese

I’m not usually a mac and cheese person, and when I am it’s usually blue box.  But I wandered across the idea of adding red peppers to baked mac and cheese and had to try it.

Milk, cheese, pasta, red peppers and artichoke hearts all mixed up in a baking pan and thrown in the oven until bubbly.  The smell of cheese, artichokes, and peppers greeted me when I opened the oven.  Slicing into it the top part was crunchy, help from bread crumbs, but the underneath was still creamy and luscious. The feta cheese sprinkled on top adds a kick of flavor, while the Italian cheeses make a smooth base that plays up the punches of artichoke and pepper.

Fresh out of the oven was the best, but reheated it still retains it’s flavor.

Gorgonzola & Pear Pizza

Gorgonzola and pears make a wonderful combination, creamy and naturally sweet with a taste that lingers on the tongue.  I’ve had it many times on or in pasta, but wondered how it would work as a pizza.  Pizza is a comfort food for me; easy, delicious and satisfies both a crispy and creamy craving.

Gorgonzola & Pear Pizza

16oz Frozen Pizza Dough
1 Bosc Pear (thinly sliced)
2 1/2 oz Gorgonzola Cheese
6oz Thin Sliced Provolone Cheese
Sweet Italian Sausage (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out the pizza dough onto a lightly greased pan.  Cover pizza dough with provolone, lightly overlapping the edges of pieces.  Spiral the pear slices with the top in the center.  If using sausage break into small pieces and sprinkle over pears.  Sprinkle the Gorgonzola cheese on top of everything, not too close to the edges of the dough.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and the outside crust is golden brown.

The bite of the Gorgonzola blends well with the texture and sweetness of the pair.  It has a robust flavor with a light finish.  A great meal if you’re looking for a nontraditional pizza or appetizer for a party.  Also, wonderful as leftovers served at room temperature.