Tuesday, November 17, 2015

even better (and faster) tomato soup

One of my very favorite things to do is cook the Wednesday night meal at our church.  We have multiple teams who divide out the weeks during the school year, and every Wednesday night, at 5:30, the line forms, and our church family gathers for an evening of great food and fellowship.  I especially love it in the cooler months.  There's a calm and comfort that overcomes me when I walk in those fellowship hall doors at the end of a long day and chilly drive across town after school.

Despite the true joy I find in taking this on along with a couple of dear girlfriends, it's a big undertaking to buy and prepare food for a large number.  And, for whatever reason, a few weeks ago, tomato soup and grilled cheese were just calling my name.  My original recipe I posted here is a good one, but I needed something that would be ready sooner.  I just didn't have a long time to let it simmer and reduce.  So, I tried this approach, and it turned out even better, because it was faster, but just as good!  I had several ask for the recipe, so here it is.

I hope you can enjoy a cup of goodness sooner than later.  Topped with a few shreds of mozzarella cheese or dollop of pesto, this rich take on the popular comfort soup will not disappoint!

Even Better (and Faster) Tomato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tbsp garlic
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 32 box chicken stock
approx. 1 cup cream

1.  Heat oil in large stock pot on medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions, stirring until

2.  Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

3.  Add tomatoes and paste, stirring with onions and garlic, and saute about 10 minutes, allowing
     tomatoes to slightly caramelize.

4.  To the pot, add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer about 5-10 minutes.

5.  With immersion blender, blend soup to desire consistency.

6.  Stir in sugar and add salt and cream to taste.

7.  Finish off with 1/4 cup of basil, sliced.

Friday, November 6, 2015

slow cooker star - momma's italian beef

A friend and I were talking a while back about the luxury of eating a meal with our family at home and how a home-cooked meal is more of a rarity than commonplace.  In fact, she said her son made a comment one night around the dinner table to the effect of, "Wow!  Eating healthy is so good, Mom!"  She said it struck her kind of funny as she looked at their main course of Poppy Seed Chicken spread across the table.  Soul food?  You bet.  Healthy?  Not so sure.  But in his eyes, "eating healthy" meant just eating something that came from the fridge or oven in his very own house.

Can't you relate?  I know we can, all too well.  Two full-time working parents, active church involvement, multiple children with homework and extra-curricular activities...  A from-scratch meal by dinner time?


EXCEPT when one has a recipe like this one.  Seriously.  If I can't make time to throw this together, which yields a fantastic hearty and delicious meal, I might add, then I need to pack it up and go home.  Home, I tell ya.

Italian Beef is one of my favorite dishes that Mom fixes, and I just don't think about it until I walk into my parents' house, and the aroma meets me at the door.  I love it, and Mom knows that, and so this last trip I made up north, she had it waiting on me.  What a gift.  I knew after eating it that night, I was going to make a conscientious effort to make it myself, so I could share it with you.

And just hold onto your hats, as I tell you about this recipe:

Four ingredients, NO prep work, and 18 hours in the crockpot -  EIGHTEEN.  Full-time working moms everywhere... this is your BFF.  No joke.

Serve this up with Lays potato chips and a green salad or cold pasta dish... I'm telling you, coming home at the end of a long day never tasted so good.

Momma's Italian Beef

1 five-pound rump roast
2 cans (10 1/4 oz) beef consomme
1 package Good Seasonings Italian salad dressing mix
1/2-1 jar (16 oz) pepperoncini peppers (depending on the spiciness you prefer)

1.  Place ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 18 hours.  Half-way through, turn meat inside pot.

If desired, serve on hoagie rolls and top with sauteed peppers, onions, and favorite white cheese.  And don't forget an extra drizzle of juice!

Other ways to enjoy...

* Take to a potluck with thin provolone cheese slices.  Place the cheese on the roll and top with hot beef to melt the cheese.

* To the roll, add a delicious slather of a little mayo and dried Italian seasoning herbs mixed together.

* Place a slice of your favorite cheese over the meat and pop under a broiler.  Watch closely for slight browning and remove.  Perfectly toasted.  Beautifully melted.