Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tomato Artichoke Soup with Cheese Herbed Croutons

A long time ago my sister-in-law Chelsea and my Mom came to visit my house in Utah.  My sister-in-law had traveled with my brother, but he was out of the house one night and so it was girls night in for us!

Chelsea made this soup and croutons and I was forever in love with it.  I've made it many times since and every time I do I realize all over again why I fell in love with it in the first place.

It has layers of tomato, artichoke, onion, garlic and is served with crispy, parmesan croutons.  What is funny to me is that it looks very fancy and impressive but is super easy to make!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  It is definitely a recipe I will have and make forever.

Tomato Artichoke Soup:
4 T. olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 T. minced garlic (I used 1 heaping tsp. of the jarred, pre-done stuff)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (you can add a little more if you like)
15 oz can artichoke hearts, finely chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 c. chicken broth (one large box)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. sour cream (light is fine)

Cheese Herbed Croutons:
1/2 loaf french bread, cut into cubes
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (this should be freshly grated from a Parmesan wedge)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  For soup, heat oil in a large pot over medium to medium high heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes until softened.

Add garlic and thyme and saute another minute until nice and fragrant.

Add artichokes, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes (the longer you simmer this the more the flavors meld).

While the soup is simmering prepare the croutons.  In a large bowl combine bread cubes, olive oil, dried Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese.  Toss to combine.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out the bread mixture and evenly distribute in a single layer.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bread and cheese gets light golden brown.  You don't want it burnt but you do want it to be toasted enough so that it has a nice crunch to it.  Check on it every few minutes.  After it's done baking set it aside and finish up the soup.

To finish soup add sour cream, stir well and simmer for 5 minutes.  At this point taste the soup and see if you need more salt or pepper.

Ladle into bowls and serve with croutons.  Don't add the croutons to your bowl because they get soggy really quick.  I like to serve my croutons on the side and plop them in one by one as I take bites.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Quinoa Burrito Bowls

I like trying to cook new things.  I find it exciting and fun! Quinoa is something that I had heard of before and for some reason always thought was a "fancy food".  That fancy people made and ate it.  I mean, for heavens sake! No one can even pronounce it correctly! If you can't pronounce a food's name then in my book, that makes it fancy food.

Well, apparently I'm a fancy person because a) I now know how to pronounce it correctly and b) I know how to cook it!

This healthy, simple dish is fun and easy to make.  The quinoa acts as your burrito  base and you build on top of that with tasty black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, corn, etc.  It's a great way to sneak some whole grains into any diet.  I highly recommend this dish.  Don't get me wrong, this is no Cafe Rio but this also won't add any more rolls to my muffin top and that makes me happy to eat this.

1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. water
1-2 t. chili powder
4 T. chopped cilantro, separated
2-3 limes (depending how juicy they are)
salt to taste
shredded lettuce

Toppings of choice:
sour cream
cheddar cheese

Rinse quinoa in strainer if the quinoa you have purchased if not already pre-rinsed.

Put in medium pot along with 2 c. water and bring water up to boil and then turn down to low.  Cover and set timer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up oil in pan.  Add onions and cook until softened.  Add garlic and saute for 1-2 more minutes until fragrant.  Add beans, water, chili powder and 2 T. cilantro.  Cook on medium high until water is absorbed.  Turn down to low. Salt to taste.

Once the quinoa is cooked add 2 T. cilantro and juice from all the limes and fluff with a fork.  Salt to taste.

To assemble burrito bowls put quinoa, black beans and lettuce stacked in layers.  Toss on other topping ingredients as desired.  Enjoy!