Pasta e Fagioli ( Pasta and Bean Soup)

019I have been making this soup forever,  This is really just a tomato base soup with beans and pasta. How bad can that be? unless you hate beans and pasta that is. I usually have ingredients in the pantry and it is a wonderful warm experience, with a nice salad this is a perfect meal. I used to only make this with dry beans but in the name of time and taste I used canned beans and have now always made this with canned.  I must admit this makes it a whole lot easier  and honestly no one knows the difference! It is a wonderful hearty soup halfway between a soup and a pasta no matter how you do the beans!

Enjoy this amazingly delicious comforting soup and did I mention super easy????

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes ( San Marzano)

10 – 12 fresh basil leaves

red pepper flakes

handful of italian parsley, chopped

2 cans rinsed and drained Cannellini Beans

5 cups water or chicken broth or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian — water works just fine but you’ll have to check your salt and pepper if using broth especially boxed broth which contains salt. Your call– super easy recipe.

app. 1 cup pasta, elbows, tubetti, ditalini, or broken spaghetti

Kosher Salt — to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

In a large , heavy stockpot ( Le Creuset) saute onion in olive oil. When onion is golden and transparent, add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes and herbs. Add some kosher salt about 1/2 Tablespoon and some grinds of the pepper mill now and you’ll be tasting all along for salt and pepper

Add the beans and the 5 cups of water  and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes – until the beans begin to break down and the soup begins to thicken. Lower heat to a slow simmer, as low as you can.  Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking and burning bottom of the pot. Taste for salt and pepper again.  I always like it to simmer for a long time, an hour would probably do it, but if I have the time I let it sit for as long as I can.  Sometimes after it’s been simmering for a while ,  I turn off the heat and right before serving just bring to a boil and add pasta. Just be careful not to let it burn, stir frequently . If you need more liquid add water a little at a time, I showed a picture of my pot filler which is the greatest thing to have in a kitchen, makes it super easy to fill a pot.

Right before you’re ready to serve bring to a low boil and add the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5 – 10 minutes depending on type of pasta you’re using. I used ditalini.

Serve immediately in large soup bowls.

Guests can drizzle some good olive oil and grate some Parmesan Cheese over.  Should serve 8 – 10 depending on appetites. I froze remainder for another time.

 

Chicken Thighs with Brussels and Sweet Potato – Baked in one Pan

chicken nestled above vegetables --showing depth of pan This recipe came to me through a friend and I love suggestions for new recipes that inspire me so thanks to you Eliza once again. The original version of this recipe is from Skinnytaste and I must admit that I made it my way with a little less skinny but I think it was still very healthy. If you’d like to see the original and more diet-conscious recipe please go to Skinnytaste.

This is what I did the other night and I will say that it all came together rather quickly and very deliciously. Recipe as is should serve 4 with large thighs. I would probably add a fifth thigh for 4 people though. If you’re using smaller thighs then 6 small ones and I would probably make a salad or soup first.

Enjoy!

http://www.skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

Olive Oil

1 lb. Brussels Sprouts – cut in half the long way

2 medium sized sweet potatoes — peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

4-6 large chicken thighs — see note above

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Garlic Powder

Fresh Rosemary

Directions:

I used an oval shaped Le Creuset — you can use a ceramic one as well and if you can use oval it’s nice but I am pretty sure this would be good in another shape but make sure it’s deep enough–see photos

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray baking dish with cooking spray

Place sweet potatoes on one side and the Brussels on the other. You can use olive oil spray but I just dribbled olive oil over the veggies to give them a light glaze – and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I gently mixed and then made sure that brussels were on one side and potatoes on the other.

Season both sides of the chicken well with salt, pepper and garlic powder

Place chicken thighs on top of the veggies, skin side down and I added about 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary placed around chicken — see photos

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the chicken to a plate and stir the vegetables

Place the chicken back on top of the vegetables skin side up this time. Bake till skin is browned and the vegetables are roasted and tender, about 30-35 minutes depending on your oven. I then put broiler on and broiled for a few minutes more but only a few minutes you don’t want to burn them.

Enjoy this delicious hearty not heavy meal.

 

 

Simple Red Chili — Turkey or Beef

It’s definitely that time of year when you wake up and there is a chill in the air and that signals chili weather in my book . Chili is not an exact science and you can feel free to make substitutions where you like. Obviously the toppings are optional and at your own discretion. Chili is just so easy to make. It sits on the stove or your slow cooker and when you’re ready to eat it, it’s all done. I like chips , taco shells or small soft tortillas with this. I love fresh jalapeno on the side chopped up,  chopped red onion , guacamole, refried beans, etc.  I usually make this one day ahead for a special event. This allows the flavors to all meld together and then I just reheat–couldn’t be easier.

Can easily be made on the stove-top or slow cooker — 2 hours on high and 4 hours on low. It was perfect. First you’ll want to brown up the meat in a pan on the stove. Then dump all ingredients into the slow cooker ( spray first with cooking spray) stir it all up and set it and forget it till you’re ready to eat it. I made this chili in the morning yesterday and it was perfect! With enough leftover for 2 more meals!

This recipe will probably serve 6-8

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey–If I am using ground turkey I prefer ground dark meat if you can find it. It’s much more flavorful . You can use white meat turkey but try for 85/15. That’s 85% white meat with 15% fat. I just find the O% fat to be very dry. Of course these are all personal choices.

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (12 – 14 oz) tomato sauce, and then about 1 –  2 cans of chicken broth or water –start with  1 can of broth and only add if you need more

1 can (Ro-tel) diced tomatoes and chili peppers — If you can’t find Ro-tel brand use any brand that has diced tomatoes and chili peppers — again a 14 oz. can

1 can (15 oz.)red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed or Cannellini Beans — whichever doesn’t really matter —

1 can yellow corn (optional, but I always like to add it in. If you like corn use a large can (14 oz) if you don’t want as much corn use a small can

1 small can (4 oz.) poblano green chilis, cut up or diced (also in Mexican aisle) if you can’t find just omit it

1 teaspoon ground oregano (I use Mexican oregano. Use it if you can get it. If not, regular is fine.)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I like the heat. This is optional. You can also take down to 1/4 teaspoon.)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (then you will taste for additional salt. I added more when I tasted it . You’ll have to do so at your own discretion

Grated shredded cheddar or jack cheese for serving

diced red onion and diced fresh jalapeno for serving

Tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream and salsa for serving I also use hot sauce at serving time for those who like it hot and spicy.

*cilantro for topping (I love cilantro so I chop it up and leave it out for individual garnish.)

Directions:

Place the ground beef or turkey in a large stock pot (Le Creuset) and put in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned. Drain off any excess fat.  Add in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne add all the other canned ingredients –beans, corn etc. Stir together well and bring to a low boil and then turn it down and simmer away for at least an hour. I use the 15 oz. can of tomato sauce as a measuring cup and add 1 can of chicken broth or water , if you’ll need more liquid you can always add a little broth/water at a time. Let simmer for an hour or so, covered, occasionally stirring, and adding liquid if necessary. See note above if you’re using slow cooker.  I usually add salt at this point. Simmer for  hour or so covered. It can simmer for a long while, if you so desire. I actually let it low simmer for a few hours and then if you’re cooking on stove top I heat it up and let it simmer for another hour or so right before serving. Slow cooker is a great way to go here.

Serve with assorted toppings I’ve listed. Cheese, jalapenos, chips, guacamole, salsa, chopped red onions, sour cream  and cilantro. We love small soft tortillas on the side of our chili or chips depending on my mood and what I have in the house.

Maple Dijon Sheet Pan Chicken

I made this recipe for dinner last night and am just saying that it was pretty amazing. Delicious and nutritious. Very easy to prepare especially if you buy pre-cut butternut squash. Brussels hold up to the high heat and Butternut Squash just caramelizes and softens up beautifully.

This recipe says Fall and it’s so easy to purchase , prepare and serve.

Happy Halloween to all of you out there.

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Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard –

3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup–whenever you can use Pure

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce — reduced sodium is fine here and I almost always use reduced sodium

6 large Bone – in Chicken Thighs — or 8 small ones

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

app. 12 oz . Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved–a little more or less is fine

app. 12 oz. Butternut Squash cut into cubes — I probably used 16 oz. and it’s fine

app. 8 sprigs of fresh thyme

app. 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large rimmed sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside

In a small bowl, combine 3 Tbsp. Mustard, 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup and 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Pat and Dry Chicken Thighs and sprinkle generously with Kosher Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper on both sides and then arrange chicken on prepared baking sheet

In a large bowl, combine the Brussels and the Butternut, thyme, olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill and toss well with a large spoon till all vegetables have a nice glaze over them. Arrange the vegetables on the baking sheet around the chicken. Pour the Maple-Dijon-Soy sauce over the chicken , turning to coat the chicken completely and pour remaining sauce over the vegetables ( I place Brussels halved side down– I like the way they cook up this way) I use a silicone pastry brush to brush chicken — it’s a great kitchen tool and goes into the dishwasher.

Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, app. 40 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1 Tablespoon Mustard and 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup

After 40 minutes I poured this mixture over the chicken and placed under the broiler for another minute or so. If you don’t want to broil just put back in the oven and place oven rack a little closer to heat for another 5 minutes or so. All ovens differ and I like the skin crispy. Chicken is cooked through when inner temp. is 165 degrees.

I served over Rice Pilaf and it was perfection on a plate and prep to table in about an hour.

 

 

 

Sausage and White Bean Soup

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It’s Soup Season time again and I find myself craving a nice hearty soup either for lunch or dinner. This soup will satisfy that craving for sure.

This was an absolutely delicious dinner soup I made the other night. I like my soups to simmer for a while on the stove top, I made this soup about 2 hours before we were going to eat it. This soup can be made rather quickly or you can allow it to simmer for a few hours. It’s even better the next day. If serving the next day you will most likely need to add liquid, I added a little bit of water or you can add stock. Just add a little at a time.

There is a little effort involved here but mostly chopping and prepping.

I used my mini-processor for chopping carrots because I wanted them finely chopped.

The fresh herbs tasted wonderful and I wouldn’t omit.

You can use turkey or chicken sausage or any kind of sausage you would prefer.

I served alongside a crusty bread,  manchego cheese and a beautiful red wine.

*this soup can easily be frozen

*will serve 6-8 easily

Enjoy this !

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound spicy turkey sausage, Italian sausage (casings removed) chicken sausage, whatever you prefer, chopped.

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped– to obtain this chop I used my mini processor

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons finely chopped sage

1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt –which was enough

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes–clearly this is optional but it adds a little kick

4 cups Chicken / Vegetable Stock –low sodium or regular it’s you’re call

1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes

3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

app. 1/2 lb. baby spinach–or any greens you’d like. You can eyeball it to see how much you’d like to use. You could use heartier greens, like kale or collard greens–just be certain to cook them in the soup for at least 5 minutes prior to serving. You want them to wilt and break down a bit.

Directions:

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil over medium-heat.

Cook Sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces as it cooks. Cook until browned, app. 10 minutes or so. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to another plate.

Add onions, carrots, and garlic to pot and cook in the oil from sausage. Stir frequently, until onions are tender. App. another 10 minutes.

Add sage, rosemary, salt , pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes and their juices, and reserved sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded together, at least 15 minutes. I let it sit and simmer for about 2 hours on a very low simmer, stirring occasionally.

Before you’re ready to serve you will do this next step: this will add 15 minutes more of cooking time, you can always simmer longer.

Coarsely mash beans from 1 can of rinsed , drained beans. You can use a fork for this or a potato masher. Then add this mash to soup. Stir in the almond milk and remaining 2 cans of rinsed, drained beans. Let simmer for another 15 minutes at least. Taste for salt and pepper at this point. I didn’t need to add any.

I added the spinach a few minutes before serving, just eyeball out about 1/2 cup of baby spinach or whatever greens you are using. The heartier greens like kale will take a little longer to break down.

You can top soup with freshly grated parmesan if you’d like.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting–Fall Treats

photo (4)photo (16) photo (17) photo (18) photo (19)There are a few things I really love to eat. Mostly anything sweet and mostly dessert. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have an incredible sweet tooth. Funny that my name is Candi and I love candy, cookies, cakes and ice cream so very much. I would probably pass on most entrees and just cut to dessert if I had my way . When I was a kid I would gladly trade a sandwich for dessert any day of the week. Some things never change. I’d like to believe that my tastes in dessert have changed a wee bit and that I have a bit more of a sophisticated palate now but not when it comes to candy,  I still love junk candy as much as I did when I was 6. However my taste in cake has definitely improved with age. I don’t think I would have enjoyed pumpkin cake as a kid but I really love it now. Anything baked with pumpkin gets high marks in my book and if you put cream cheese frosting on it it’s off the charts.   It’s just the right amount of sugar and spice! A most perfect Fall Cake or cupcake.   It really is a very easy recipe to follow ,  I made cupcakes but you can easily make this in a Pyrex 9 x13 inch pan as a sheet cake and frost it and decorate with candy corn or those little candy pumpkins! Nice little treat for those little trick or treaters in your house.

Now you can make these without frosting and just eat like muffins with a little smear of cream cheese which wouldn’t be too bad either.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

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Shopping List:

1 can Pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling just Pumpkin) 15 oz. size

cream cheese  and paper liners for cupcakes

Staples: (things you should have in your Pantry and fridge all the time)

all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, vegetable oil, eggs, confectioner’s sugar, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and milk

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves if no ground cloves you can substitute with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. I prefer cloves.

1 tsp. salt (regular table salt)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) Pure Pumpkin

4 eggs ( room temperature please)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup softened butter ( unsalted)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 oz. softened cream cheese ( soften in microwave) not melted just softened or you can leave it out for a bit and it will soften up.  I actually used light cream cheese not fat free please. I mean the amount of calories is staggering, but you’re only going to eat 1 cupcake right? how many calories can possibly be in that????? Don’t tell me , I don’t want to know.

1 Tbsp. Milk ( I used skim plus)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I mixed all dry ingredients together then mixed in eggs ( one at a time) and can of pumpkin and vegetable oil. Mix till combined, don’t overmix. No need to sift, just put dry ingredients in a bowl first and whisk together with a whisk , get some air in there.

Pour into a greased muffin pan about 3/4 full.  I always use little paper liners and bake at 35o degrees for 20 – 30 minutes . Be careful not to over bake so the cake stays moist.  I baked for 26 minutes. I started checking on them after 20 minutes.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. I made my frosting in my electric mixer while cupcakes were cooling.

Frost Cupcakes / Cake  and if you’d like decorate with some of those little Halloween Candies like candy corn or those little pumpkin shaped candies sold this time of year. Enjoy!

*should make about 16 cupcakes , I made 12 and a mini loaf.

Easy Chicken Soup with Orzo and Lemon

photo 4 (24) photo 5 (27)photo 2 (33)I literally started this soup at 5 p.m. and app. one hour later I was eating it.  Now that’s always a good thing in my book. Usually I slow cook my broth etc. and it takes hours ( Homemade Chicken Soup ) but this time there was no time, I wasn’t feeling great and wanted that homemade flavor without all the work . You can certainly cook your own chicken if it works out for you time wise. This would also be perfect with leftover chicken. I bought a rotisserie chicken and this is what I did. For those of you who saw it on Instagram and Facebook–this one’s for you. One more little thing, the fresh dill is the secret ingredient and gives it that wonderful layer of flavor, don’t skip it. I also squeezed fresh lemon into each bowl of soup , this added yet another wonderful layer of flavor to this soup. This is also a fairly low-calorie soup because whole soup is made with only 1/2 cup of orzo and it was plenty. I used these vegetables this time but feel free to add parsnips, mushrooms, kale or any other veggies you like.

Ingredients:

1 Rotisserie Chicken, skin removed and shredded .

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise about 1/2″ thick

2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices (app.)

2 large carrots cut into 1/2″ rounds. I found beautiful organic baby carrots and used them, it’s about 2 large carrots but feel free to use a little more or less.

1/2 cup of orzo

6 – 8 cups chicken broth, if you have homemade broth/stock good for you and use it. If not the box ones are awesome. Low-Sodium is good here if you’re concerned about the salt.

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

app. 1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill

*Lemon halves for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the leek, celery and carrots. Cook veggies, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 10-15 minutes. I threw a little salt and pepper in to vegetables during this period, you can taste for salt and pepper again.

Add 6 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes, just till carrots are soft.

After about 20 minutes, I added 1/2 cup of orzo and cooked for 8- 10 minutes. Taste for Salt and Pepper.

I then added the shredded chicken and dill and I also added a bit more of the chicken stock at this point since broth cooked down a bit. You can always add a little water if you’ve run out of broth.  I heated soup a bit more and served with lemon halves, squeezing a bit of lemon into each bowl of chicken soup before serving.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Peppers and Potatoes

I cooked up this easy sheet pan dinner last night with chicken thighs and peppers and small red potatoes. It was very easy and it was prepped and ready in practically no time. I started cooking late and was worried that we weren’t going to ever sit down and eat and before I knew it we were eating this delicious chicken. A few simple ingredients helped to make this delicious dinner in no-time. I love that it is a complete meal on a sheet pan helping to make clean-up pretty snappy as well.

I asked the butcher to remove the bones from the chicken thighs –leaving on the skin . You can use bone-in thighs if you’d like, I was just experimenting with this recipe and liked the fact that the bones were removed. I find the dark meat more flavorful than your typical boneless chicken breasts. So this recipe worked out beautifully with the skin on bone removed chicken thighs and obviously would work out well with bone-in chicken thighs as well.

Another Day Another Sheet Pan Dinner!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

this recipe as is should serve 4 — I adjusted accordingly for 2

2 pounds skin-on chicken thighs, bones removed–I used 3 thighs and they were 1 1/2 lbs. You’ll probably get 4 large thighs or 6 small. You can always add a little more . I would say 6 thighs for 4 people which will probably be more than 2 lbs.

1 pound small red potatoes , cut in half

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice , app. 2 lemons

Olive Oil–probably about 2-3 Tablespoons — and you may use more –you’ll have to play with it as you go .

2 Tablespoons dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon dried Basil

1 clove garlic minced

4 peppers, I like the mix of colors red, yellow or orange –cored, seeded and sliced in 1/2 ” strips

Directions:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven while the oven is heating.

Season the chicken and the cut potatoes with 1-2 teaspoons of the salt and about a teaspoon or 2 of olive oil just to get a glaze over everything . Obviously if you’re using 2 lbs. of chicken you’ll need more oil and salt.

When oven reaches 400 degrees –remove pan and place chicken-skin side down in the center of the pan and potatoes , cut side down, around the edges of the baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil, garlic, oregano and basil in a small bowl and whisk to combine, set aside. Place the cut up peppers with another teaspoon of olive oil and app. 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and a little freshly ground pepper in a medium bowl and toss to combine. I like a light glaze of oil over the peppers so if you need a little more use it– just go sparingly because you can always add but you can’t take away.

Flip the chicken over after 15 minutes to skin side up. Using a brush ( I love the silicone ones) brush the chicken with the lemon-herb mixture. Scatter the peppers around the chicken and if there is more of the lemon-herb mixture brush on potatoes as well. ( I did)

I cooked for another 20 minutes and then put under the broiler for a few minutes. If using the broiler keep an eye on it. Remember all ovens are different and all chicken thighs are different sizes, mine were a little larger. You’ll want to bake until the chicken and potatoes are crispy and peppers are tender and a little browned around edges.

 

 

Couscous and Butternut Squash Salad with Kale or Arugula –Perfect Autumn Salad

This salad always makes me think of the Fall, I suppose it’s due to the butternut squash . This salad would really be delicious anytime of the year and if you added a protein it would make a delicious dinner salad. I made this salad the other evening and it was just perfection on a plate. Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Fairly Healthy and you can keep it vegan without any dairy or add cheese for a delicious vegetarian salad .  It takes a bit of prep work but you can prep a few hours ahead and be done with it prior to the meal which is always a good thing in my book.

I prepped butternut squash and couscous and used baby arugula this time. I dressed the salad and let it sit , Kale is better when it’s soft and broken down so if you’re using Kale I suggest chopping it.  I love Kale but don’t want to feel like I’m eating my front lawn. It is delicious with kale or arugula or really any greens you prefer.

If you like a heavier dressed salad I would definitely double up the salad dressing. Or just pour a little over it and leave extra for individual dressing.

This is what I did. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb . butternut squash – 1 package of pre-cut squash and then I cut into small 1/2 inch cubes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper – to taste

1 cup dry Pearl Couscous , cook in water according to package directions

app. 2 cups chopped Kale Leaves or Arugula is also a great choice if you’re not a kale fan or really 2 cups of any kind of greens you like.

1/3-1/2  cup dried cherries–you can use craisins, raisins, cranberries whatever dried fruit you like -if you like less use 1/3 cup I tend to use more

1/3-1/2  cup chopped walnuts–same as above and you can obviously omit if you don’t like or use chopped pecans or other nuts

*app. 2 oz. crumbled goat or feta cheese if you’d like– I like the creaminess that goat cheese delivers so I use it over feta in this but use whichever you prefer

Orange Vinaigrette Dressing:

2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice –this is a must

pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the salad:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and cut butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes.

Spread the butternut squash out in an even layer on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray add 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil to squash to coat, sprinkle a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to the squash .  Bake for 15 minutes then flip squash over (as best you can) Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the squash is tender and slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer back to the large mixing bowl. Depending on your oven the squash could take a little longer to cook, you just want it soft enough that it’s cooked through and a little browned up

Couscous: buy pearled Israeli Couscous –available everywhere Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil add 1 cup Couscous a sprinkle of salt and return to a boil . Reduce heat and simmer covered till tender about 15 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette:

Whisk all ingredients, (orange juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pinch of salt and pepper to taste. I used all of the vinaigrette and it was very lightly dressed and rather tasty. If you prefer more dressing on the side , double the recipe.

Add cooked couscous, kale, cherries, walnuts, goat cheese* and vinaigrette,  toss to combine. Taste for Salt and Pepper after all combined.img_2936img_2933img_2929img_2928

Serve Warm, or refrigerate and this will keep for app. 3 days in fridge.

It’s a very light salad dressing so the kale absorbs it and it will keep nicely in fridge.

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

It is soup season again. the chill in the air makes it the most perfect time of year to start making soup for dinner again. even if you live in a warmer climate this is a most wonderful meal. paired with a salad and some crusty bread you have a very heartwarming meal.

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

this is one of my absolute favorite recipes. It is a soup , which is also a full meal. It is hearty and pretty healthy.  It is one of my staples from September through April. It freezes well and you can just take it out of the freezer the night before, and you’ll have a wonderful meal the next evening. When you defrost it you will probably want to add broth/water to it. add a little at a time till you get the consisitency you like. Enjoy:)

Ingredients: chicken balls

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb chicken sausage, casings removed

3 slices whole wheat bread for bread crumbs ( I put into food proccesor with steel blade for crumbs) i remove crusts . should be app. 1 cup of bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 – 3 cloves)

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano ( fresh is best) but whatever you have will do

1/4 cup grated Parmesan ( again nothing beats fresh) but whatever you have will do here as well

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small -medium yellow onion minced

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 )

1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine( use whatever you have open)

1 cup small pasta tubetini, ditalini, stars, etc.

5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

*fresh dill ( I love the flavor) add at your own discretion about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill.

Directions:

preheat the oven to 350 degrees  put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage,bread crumbs, garlic, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt and pepper  all in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  I use a teaspoon, and make 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. you should have about 30 to 40 small balls. bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. set them aside. (I made about 30 balls, they were a little larger this time out)

For the Soup:

 heat the olive oil over medium – low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot ( Le Creuset type pot) Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes, don’t brown. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, at this point I let soup cook a while to soften the vegetables, app. 1 hour. ( a low simmer) if you’re in a hurry you can probably do the whole soup in 1/2 hour , veggies will be soft enough to eat. if some of the liquid evaporates you can always add a little more broth.

chicken balls out of the ovenItalian Wedding Soup cooking

 Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or so, the spinach will just wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.