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Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese

DSC_2006 (1024X768)

Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

It’s been a busy week. Today I spent six hours helping clean out and organize one of my client’s offices that had two feet of water in it three days ago. Not much of the paperwork was salvageable, but they got the computers and other equipment up and out in time. The office will need to sanitized and repainted before anything can go back. It will get better with time…for everyone. The one thing that does not surprise me is how everyone has pitched in to help, even complete strangers. There are so many stories of good deeds. The sun comes out and we’re all reminded of the beauty that is Colorado, both the view and the people.

When the rain continued on last week and the floods hit, I suddenly needed to cook. Normalcy and comfort. I made a couple of batches of soup. Easy Chicken Tortilla and this tomato soup. I knew I wanted to post this as the full dinner menu this week, but it took me a while to get to it. I apologize for the delay.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009

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Snow Day Cookies

I was prowling around the kitchen, wanting to bake and surveying what I had for ingredients. Chocolate chips, nope. Nuts, nada. But a new bag of flax and some already toasted oats that needed to be used up before they went stale. There it was Oatmeal Flax Cookies (recipe here).

Oatmeal Cookies Final

The original recipe calls for rolled oats, but like I said, I had some rolled oats I had toasted and was afraid they would become stale soon, so I used those. Added a nice extra nuttiness to the cookies.

Oatmeal Flax Cookies

Having a good weekend, getting lots done. I even got two excellent rides in before it became too hot. It’s been cooling off enough in the evening that baking cookies seemed possible. I’ve been craving these for a while. Flax is just an amazing addition to cookies, sweet and nutty. Almonds don’t hurt either. If you ignore the sugar, these are almost healthy. I said “almost”.

Oatmeal Flax Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • milk as needed
  • 1/2 cup almond pieces

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, mixing well. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder until moistened. Add oats, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well. Add flax and fully incorporate. If batter is too dry, add a touch of milk to moisten, then mix in almonds. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet, baking at 375 degrees (f) until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing to baking rack or plate. Keep dough refrigerated between batches. Makes 2 doz.

A Few Cycling Photos and TGIF!

(Click on any photo to see full-size.)

I’ve been meaning to put these up for a while, but, shockingly, I was too busy putting up recipes. Go figure. I have been pleasantly surprised on my rides lately that while I’m seeing plenty of baby prairie dogs, none have tried to kill me this season. This is good news for both sides as far as I’m concerned.

This guy and I played red light-green light for quite a while. As long as I was still he’d hang out, preen, ate a fish, etc. As soon as I moved in anyway, he’d hold perfectly still, watching me.

Also a ton of goslings out and about and though I’ve been riding within inches of them (they’ve been hanging out at the edge of the trail) their parents haven’t seen me as a threat, so I haven’t been threatened with attack.

Milkweed is almost a full month early this year. I guess lilacs were as well and the forsythia came and went before I even noticed. I’ll be interested to see what the vegetable crops look like. I am sooooo looking forward to going to the farmer’s market regularly.

I do have an iced coffee update which I will get to today or tomorrow. Until then….

Flowering Locusts

This is my favorite time of spring. I used to wait impatiently for the lilacs to bloom and while I still love them, there is something about flowering locusts that make rides special for a short week in the spring.  Their fragrance it so delicate and sweet. That week has arrived:

A few more pics from my ride.  The other side of the bridge above:

And some wildflowers maintained by a local family in honor of a loved one:

Click on any photo to see it full size.

Whole Wheat and Flax Pancakes

Thanks to the sour milk these are light and fluffy, despite having both whole wheat and flax meal mixed in.  I’m hoping to do a long ride today, so I wanted something a little heartier than Cheerios.

Whole Wheat and Flax Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp salad oil

Add lemon juice to milk and set aside for 5 minutes.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Mix together soured milk, egg and oil, add to dry ingredients and mix until moistened, don’t over mix. Add a touch of water to reach desired consistency. Heat a skillet or griddle  (cook on medium heat) and lightly oil (I use a small piece of paper towel covered in oil.  I reapply after each batch of pancakes).  Ladle batter onto hot surface, when bubbles appear on the top, flip and finish cooking.  Makes about eight 4″ pancakes.

Busy morning tip:  Make a double batch on the weekend, store remainder in a shaker type container and pour out a quick batch of pancakes on a busy morning.  About as quick as making toast.  You may have to add a touch of water and shake vigorously before pouring.

Something Sweet

A sweet little treat with no guilt:

Mixed Berry Smoothies

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup ea:  blueberries and raspberries, frozen
  • 4-6 whole strawberries, frozen
  • opt: 1 tbsp ground flax and 1 scoop whey powder

blender

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend well.  This makes 2 thick smoothies.  For more of a milkshake consistency, add 6 ice cubes and blend well.

Thursday Night Menu: First Snow Edition

We are expecting our first snow this weekend, so I thought a good soup would be nice.  This is not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

EDIT:  From comments at Balloon-Juice:

As for BHF’s menu (which sounds delicious): you have to love a menu whose shopping list reminds you that you’re going to need basics like butter and brown sugar, but just assumes you’ll have flax in the pantry.

Yes, you will need flax.  My bad.  1/2 cup flax meal works best.

Perfect Pancakes

I’m not a big fan of eating breakfast out.  I find most restaurants confuse lots of butter with lots of flavor.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of butter, but it’s not a substitute for herbs, spices and fresh  fruits and vegetables.  I have two exceptions, a Cajun restaurant down the street from me, which makes amazing food no matter the hour, and a local breakfast spot that makes the best pancakes ever.  These cakes are light, fluffy, with a touch of vanilla. 

I assumed they were so light and fluffy because they beat the egg whites, but wasn’t sure.  One morning this week I decided to test out that theory.  And since the result was successful, I thought I share the simple recipe for Perfect Pancakes:

  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg, separated

In bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add vanilla, milk, oil and egg yolk, mix well.  Batter will be lumpy, do not over mix.  Beat egg white until stiff and fold into mixture.  Oil and heat a skillet, once it’s hot, turn to medium heat and pour batter. 

Additions:  blueberries – add just before flipping; flax meal – add to dry ingredients;  buttermilk, substitute for milk; touch of cinnamon.

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