Cherry Liqueur

Cherry Liquor

I am writing this with a big smile on my face – I am relaxed and happy – and looking forward to my husband joining us on this adventure.  Oh, and did I mention how VERY THANKFUL I am to my incredible team who is allowing me to have this break?  I swear two weeks in, and I am already a new person.

As you can tell, I haven’t been blogging, but that is because there is so much to do and see here!  Also – if you have followed my blog for quite some time, you know that I don’t love cooking in other people’s kitchens.  Even though we are here for a long time, the kitchen is not mine, and I the supplies are limited.  Another big factor is the heat…it is very hot here, and we do not have air conditioning.  So I am trying to be very careful about not using the stove or oven very much.  We have been eating very simple dinners of bread, charcuterie and cheese – and a nice salad.  I must say, it has been a welcome change.

Before I left though, the cherries were in full bloom at our house.  As with every year, we are always trying to figure out new ways to use them – last year’s cherry butter was a huge hit, but I just didn’t have the time to do any jamming before I left.  Sad as that may sound… This year I have to give the credit to my husband – he came up with the idea to make cherry liqueur, and I thought it was brilliant!  He even found the recipe on Serous Eats, and then I took over.  Fortunately I was able to have a little taster the night before I left – and OMG this stuff is amazing!!  So easy to make, and look at the color – it is screaming cherries.  It is sweet and absolutely delicious. My husband has been enjoying it while we are enjoying our own delicacies – but he promised to save me a bottle so we could experiment with cocktails when I am home.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken

Preparation

Put the pitted cherries at the bottom of a sealable glass jar and muddle them with a wooden spoon or muddler to release some juice. Drain the juice into a separate container and set aside. Then add the brandy, vodka, and cinnamon stick to the muddled cherries. Seal and shake the jar. Let steep for one week at room temperature away from direct sun, shaking every few days.

Combine the reserved cherry juice, sugar, and water in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the syrup is cooled, add it to the steeping jar, seal, and shake. Then let it steep for an additional 2 to 5 days. Strain through fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into glass jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cherry Liqueur

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby

Everyone deserves a break every once in a while – and there are those breaks that are definitely worth waiting for.  After 17 years of working for the same company, I am getting one of those breaks.  My job is not just work – it is all consuming.  I do things with my kids, and take time to write this blog – as a means to get away.  But to be honest, I am never really get away.  It is always in the background of pretty much everything I do.  But not this summer.  I am heading out on an adventure with my two girls, and my husband will join us later.  It will just be us for the summer.  Work will be left behind, waiting for me to engage again in the fall.

To say that this year has been a lot to handle would be an understatement.  After years of being consistent on this blog, I finally had to set it aside for a longer periods of time.  My breaks in the kitchen have been few and far between – but I hope that will change this summer – and if it doesn’t, it is because I am having too much fun doing something else.  Spending time exploring a wonderful city – eating and walking all day.

Last summer was the last time I really spent time cooking – and I made this Dutch Baby Pancake at my mother’s house – I was in such a hurry to take a picture that I didn’t even remember to sift the powdered sugar on top.  Then in a instant, the whole thing was gone – inhaled by my children.  Yes, it was that good.  Now, I am not posting this because it is a beautiful picture – but I couldn’t let this sit in the queue any longer.  With Father’s Day next weekend, I wanted to give you something that will make the father’s in your life happy.  We will be definitely be missing ours!

On Friday, my team made me a farewell video…it was absolutely amazing.  It was hilarious – but the words completely hit the mark.  It’s time to let it go…

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar

Preparation

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450.  Brush surface and sides of a large oven-proof 12-inch skillet generously with the canola oil.  Place skillet on over rack and heat until oil is shimmering, about 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, combine flour, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs in another bowl until frothy and light, about 1 minute.  Whisk milk, butter, and vanilla into eggs until incorporated.  Whisk one-third of milk mixture into flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
 
Remove skillet from oven and carefully pour the batter into heated skillet and bake until edges of Dutch Baby are deep golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, along with powdered sugar for generous sprinkling over the pancake.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Dutch Baby

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could actually see what was going on in people’s heads?  I am sure someone created a television show on that at some point, but think about it – so often people convince themselves of something that really deep down inside, they don’t believe for a minute.  Transparency is a very powerful tool.  It just goes to show you, that everything is more complex than it seems.  Just when you think you understand exactly what it going on, think twice. It’s what makes life extremely interesting.  It is the people that can navigate well through ambiguity that deserve all the credit in the end.

The same can be said about food – what if you always knew exactly what you were eating – not just that you were eating a chocolate cookie, but exactly what ingredients were.  Sure, we are living in a world where that is happening more and more with packaged foods – but when you are in a restaurant, there are still unknowns.  And that is exactly what creates the “secret ingredient”.  I have never been a fan of the “secret ingredient” or even not sharing recipes.  Sharing a recipe allows other people to join in on the happiness that you felt when eating that special dish.

But there is another side to all of this – if you knew that you didn’t like something, and then you knew it was in the food you were eating, you would never have the opportunity to try it in a different way.  For example, my daughter doesn’t like nuts – but in these cookies, they are so finely ground that she loves them!  It wasn’t until after she ate one did she ask if there were nuts in them – when I said yes, she already decided she liked them, so we were good.

This recipe from my mother not only has ground nuts, but also Muscat – a desert wine.  You would never know, but again, it just gives these cookies a hint of flavor that you would not get otherwise.  They are absolutely delicious.  So – maybe not knowing exactly what is going on is a good thing – it opens your mind to new things…a perfect way to learn and grow.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 oz.. sweet butter
  • 3/4 cup Muscat
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • granulated sugar for rolling
  • confectioners sugar for rolling

Preparation

Melt together butter and chocolate over double boiler. Meanwhile, mix eggs, Muscat, and sugar.  Grind almonds with flour and baking powder in food processor. Whip the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the almond mixture. Chill the dough until firm. Overnight works best (can freeze). Scoop out about 1 oz. of dough and roll into a ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball, first in granulated sugar, then in confectionery sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place 1-2 inches apart to allow for spreading. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Freezes well after baking. Batter can keep in refrigerator for a week as well. Makes 90 small cookies. For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Muscat Cookies

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Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs

Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs

Spring is here in full bloom in the Pacific Northwest.  We had a very mild (and somewhat dry winter), when the rest of the country was experiencing record snow fall.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far (as I knock loudly on wood) our spring has been pretty spectacular.  If the weather can just hold for one more week, it will be a spring miracle.  And it will make my daughter so happy…she is looking at the weather app on her phone daily right now, hoping it stays this way.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have 100 things on my mind right now, not one of them pertaining to what we are going to eat for dinner.  Oh, and cooking and baking on the weekends?  That has gone out the window completely for the past several weeks.  I am hoping to get back to it soon.  In fact, I know I will be able to get back to it soon.  Just after this major milestone, that family and friends will be coming out to celebrate with us.  No pressure at all – particularly for my older daughter.  None.

So – if you are wondering how I had time to make this delicious Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs – this has been sitting in the queue for quite some time.  About a year to be honest with you – it was just about a year ago when I made this, and just never had time to post it.  Once summer came, I decided to wait until spring came again, knowing that I would be a little consumed this year.  This recipe from Farm & Larder was the perfect spring meal – and whenever I have an excuse to make some poached eggs, I am a happy girl.  Happy spring everyone!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled fresh (or frozen, thawed) fava beans or peas (from about 2 pounds pods)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 pound chanterelles, morels or crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, whites and pale greens only, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (if desired)
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated Vecchio or Romano (about 2.5 ounces) plus more for shaving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Cook fava beans or peas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool.

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a bare simmer over medium-low heat. Add vinegar. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, then slide into simmering water. Repeat with 2 more eggs. Cook until whites are cooked but yolks are runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs.

Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with favas.

Heat oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add rice and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Add wine (or chicken broth) and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup broth. Cook, stirring often (no need to stir constantly), until broth is almost absorbed. Add remaining broth by cupfuls, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 15 minutes total.

Add cheese and reserved beans and mushrooms to risotto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season risotto with salt.

A few minutes before risotto is done, reheat poached eggs in a large skillet of simmering water, about 1 minute. Divide risotto among bowls and top with eggs, shaved cheese, parsley and pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:   Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs

Cheesy Sausage Balls

Cheesy Sausage Balls

My younger daughter was looking over my shoulder as I was loading up this picture…and I could tell she had something to say about this.  So, today’s post will be done by her.  Enjoy!

Yummy!  I am in 3rd grade, and I loved these cheesy sausage balls – they even had quinoa in them, and I couldn’t even tell.  The minute I saw those cheesy sausage balls, I couldn’t wait to eat them.  My mom sometimes gets a little crazy about making food – and so I never know if it is going to have too many vegetables for me.  But these cheesy sausage balls were on the spot.  But I shouldn’t be surprised, because my mom does make pretty good food.  In the picture it looked like we had a big party – but actually it was just me and my sister.  When we were done though, it looked like we did have a party since they were pretty much all gone.  She didn’t let us use the pretty napkins, although we wanted to.  She let us use the fancy toothpicks though, and I just loved them.  Everything tastes better when you use a fancy toothpick.

Well, there you have it – I couldn’t have written it better myself…thanks Cooking Light for another great healthy and delicious recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound reduced-fat pork sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Shape mixture into 40 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place balls on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until lightly browned and done.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cheesy Sausage Balls

Raspberry Apple Cider Jelly

Raspberry Apple Cider Jelly

Where has all of my time gone?  I used to have a lot more – and little at a time it has been taken away from me.  I am lucky if I am able to cook or bake anything over the weekends these days – and I am living one day at a time.  If I can make it through the day without anything slipping through the cracks – that is success.  But cooking has not been the priority lately (aside from dinners each night, which have been served later and later each week).  Fortunately, I know that things are about to change soon, so there is no need to completely give up hope at this point.

Normally I have quite the stash of jam that lasts an entire year, but for some reason this year all of a sudden, the pantry was bare.  It is around this time that I start gearing up for the next jam season, but not this spring.  There is just too much going on, that the thought of making jam just stresses me out – and it is supposed to be a relaxing activity.  So, I talked to my younger daughter about the fact that we just need to get through the next couple of months, and could I just buy some good jam from the market to get us through?  Right. She didn’t go for it at all.  She told me that she could never eat store bought jam again – and the thought of not making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, that are just SO easy to pack in lunches, stressed me out even more.  I guess I created this mess…

So, I went to the famer’s market to see what was in season.  There was one stand with a few stalks of rhubarb, but the price scared me away – so I ended up at my favorite apple cider stand.  I almost bought the normal spiced cider that I buy in the fall, when I noticed he had some raspberry apple cider.  That was it.  This is one of the easiest jellies to make, and with the addition of raspberry, I wouldn’t even add any other spices.  Sold.

I carved out a couple of hours (I actually blocked it on my calendar) and successfully banged out two batches of this stuff – more than enough to last the next couple of months, and boy was it satisfying.  If nothing else, it is one less thing to worry about.  Now I can focus on the other 100 things…

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 (1.75 ounce/50 g packet) powdered pectin
  • 4 cups fresh pressed raspberry apple cider

Preparation

Fill your canning pot with water and begin to bring it to temperature. Wash your jars and rings in warm soapy water and set aside. Put your lids in a small pot of water and heat (but do not boil) in order to soften the sealing compound.

Measure the sugar into a blow. Whisk the powdered pectin into the sugar to blend.  In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the cider and the pectin-spiked sugar.  Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 15-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the volume in the pot is greatly reduced.  While you continue to stir, clip a candy thermometer to the pot and watch until the pot reaches 220 degrees F.  There will be a great deal of foaming and bubbling before it reaches this point.  It should look thick and syrupy and the bubbles should look glossy.

Test the set of the jelly using the saucer test (place a saucer in the freezer when you start – when you think the jam is done, place a drop on the plate and return to the freezer for 1-2 minutes, it should wrinkle when you push on it).  If it doesn’t pass, return the pot to the heat and cook for an additional 5 minutes before repeating the test.  When the jelly has reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat and fill the jars. Wipe rims and apply lids. Screw on the bands and lower into the water. Process in the hot water bath 10 minutes. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. When the jars are cooled, check the seal by pressing on the top of the jar. If there’s no movement, the jar has sealed. Store up to one year in a cool, dark place.

Makes 4 pints (yield varies depending on width of pot, cooking length and juiciness of fruit).

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Raspberry Apple Cider Jelly

Fennel and Carrot Soup

Fennel and Carrot Soup

We have had a very mild winter here – there is nothing to complain about – in fact, when I look at what has been going on back east, wow, we have really been in a different land.  Normally we get a little snow, maybe one storm a year (which shuts the city down), but fortunately this year, it was all sun and rain.  So normally about this time I am sick of making soup, and ready for the sun to come out – but that has not been our experience.

I haven’t had a lot of time to cook lately – in fact, there is so much going on right now, I can barely think about the blog.  I am almost to the point though where I can see the forest through the trees….just a few more months and I will get a really nice break.  Time to recharge and energize…more on that later.

The last couple of days have been damp and cold – ok, maybe not in east coast standards, but compared to what we have been dealing with.  Soup was just calling me – and so was this recipe that I found in Bon Appetit.  Of course with fennel as the first ingredient, you know it has to be yummy.  This was a super simple soup, and oh so delicious.  Just the perfect warm-me-up for a cold damp day.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 small Yukon Gold potato, peeled, halved
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Preparation

Heat 4 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy pot over medium. Add fennel, onion, carrots, potato, thyme, and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed, until vegetables are soft but not browned and have released their moisture, 45–60 minutes (this will give them deep flavor).

Add broth, bring to a boil, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until potato is falling apart, 8–10 minutes. Let cool slightly. Remove herbs.

Working in batches, purée in a blender until smooth. Strain into a clean pot; season with salt and pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fennel and Carrot Soup

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Corn

I feel like it was just yesterday when my daughter wrote this post about getting her braces on.  Wow, time sure does fly by, because this week, she got her braces off!  She was so thrilled, she had been looking forward to the date for months.  She actually did quite well with the braces, but there were certain foods that she was really missing…popcorn and caramel.  It was hilarious when she came out to see me for the first time at the orthodontist’s office, with a bag of caramel corn in her hand.  Yes, the orthodontist gives it out as a present when you get your braces off!  She had a big beautiful smile on her face.

So I decided today that I would make her a little treat.  It was a recipe from Bon Appetit that had been sitting in my pile for almost 2 years – yep, caramel popcorn.  It was super easy to make, and so delicious, it was light and crispy, exactly how caramel corn should be – and those little bites of peanuts gave it that extra perfect flavor.  YUM!!  I am so glad she gave me an excuse to make this…

On another note, if you have been following my blog, you know that I won the Girl Scouts of Western Washington Recipe Contest for the Samoas 40th Birthday.  I was actually on local television this week to demonstrate the recipe.  That was quite something, let me tell you – the usual host was on vacation, so these other two hosts were filling in.  No one told me that one of them was a big jokester, so needless to say, I was quite surprised with some of the antics.  Fortunately I was able to stay composed…but I was freaking out, hoping that no one would notice.  You can check it out here if you are interested.

Now for the exciting news – as I mentioned in my previous post, I will be donating my prize money to charity.  Thanks to all of you who wrote in your favorite organizations.  I decided to split the winnings between two charities – and I randomly selected the following:  PANCAN and Imerman Angels.  Both charities will each receive a $250 donation!!  Thanks Girl Scouts for the opportunity!

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups popped popcorn
  • ½ cup salted roasted peanuts
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Preparation

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with butter; set aside. Combine popcorn and peanuts in a large mixing bowl.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water to boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add 6 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue cooking, stirring often, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10-12 minutes.

Working quickly, pour caramel over popcorn and peanuts and, using a heatproof spatula, mix to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Break into pieces.

Double-Chocolate Cookies

Double-Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes life takes you by surprise.  Even when you knew it was a possibility, it still catches you off guard.  Then it is up to you to figure out how to move forward.  That was my Friday night at 10pm.  And yes, it still shocks me even as I write this.  I won the Girl Scout Recipe contest

I couldn’t believe it, and still can’t.  I had such strong competitors!  But in the end, I think it came down to my daughter’s marketing plan.  And yes, at age 12 1/2, she definitely succeeded.  At 10pm on Friday night, already in bed, I frantically rearranged my Monday morning schedule, because as a winner, I get to make my recipe on television – which just happens to be filming tomorrow morning.  So thank-you to all of my readers who voted, every vote counted, and from what I heard – it was an extremely close race.

Now for the really fun part!  As I mentioned previously, I plan to donate my prize winnings to a charity.  Which charity?  Well, that is up to you.  Please leave me a comment on this blog post of your favorite charity, and I will select one randomly that will receive the donation.

Speaking of cookies, I leave you with this recipe for Double-Chocolate Cookies, which I found in Cooking Light.  They were super easy to make, and were a huge hit with my daughter and her friends – they are particularly good right out of the oven.  It is important not to bake these cookies to much, you want them to be soft and chewy.  Ok, so maybe they are not as good as Samoas, but hey, you can make these all year long – and you only have a few more weeks to get ahold of those Girl Scout Cookies!!

Ingredients

  • 6.75 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar, butter, and oil in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Add chocolate; beat at low speed just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Drop dough by 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pan 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Double-Chocolate Cookies

Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper, and Tomato Soup

Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Before I get into my post tonight, I wanted to remind everyone to vote for your favorite Girl Scout Cookie Recipe!!  There are only two days left (the voting cuts off at 10:00pm PST on Friday night), and my girls are really hoping to watch me on TV – or maybe even get on TV themselves.  So, if you haven’t already voted, and you would be so kind, just remember – Samoas Ice-Cream Pie!!

There is nothing more satisfying to me than making something new out of leftovers – or what I call, making something out of nothing.  I hate wasting food, and I love the problem solving (or as some might call creativity) that it takes, and that wonderful feeling when it actually works.

As I have mentioned many times, I am obsessed with Fennel – I love it in just about everything – even cocktails.  Lately I have been slicing up fennel with some red pepper strips and tomatoes, then putting some chicken thighs on top and roasting the big pan in the oven until the fennel is soft, and the chicken is crispy on the outside, but moist on the inside.  It is delicious – a one dish meal complete with a flavorful pan sauce.  It is a weeknight dinner to be proud of.  Well, last weekend I had a bunch of fennel leftover, and some chicken stock and rice in the refrigerator that I had to use up – and it hit me.  I got out my favorite kitchen appliance as of late (I swear that Ninja Blender is amazing), and in a matter of minutes, I had a perfect lunch.  My husband even tried it, and loved it.

So here you go, whether you expand the recipe and start off with some roasted chicken first, or you just go for the soup, I know this will make you a healthy and satisfying meal to be proud of.  Now go vote!!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14.5 ounce jar petit diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the thinly sliced fennel and red bell pepper into a 9×13 glass baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray.  Slightly drain the jar of tomatoes, and scatter around the fennel and bell pepper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 45-60 minutes, or until the fennel is really soft.

Place the vegetables with the chicken broth in a blender – you may have to do this in two batches (use half the chicken stock and half the vegetables) and puree until smooth.  Add the cooked rice, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:   Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Tomato Soup