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Creamy Tomato Soup in a Homemade Bread Bowl!

26 Aug

I am definitely a Fall and Winter person. I love feeling all snuggly in a hoodie and throwing on lots of cozy layers. So even though it hit 95 here in Denver today, I couldn’t get my mind off of making some soup in a bread bowl! My garden has been overflowing with ripe Roma tomatoes, so a creamy tomato soup just seemed right.

For the bread bowl, I just used this recipe from my previous French Bread post, except this time around I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose. Still quite nice and fluffy. I let the dough rise twice–once right after it was mixed and then after I shaped them into boules. I recommend re-shaping them once again after they have risen because they tend to widen a bit as they rise. You want all the seams in the dough to be on the bottom (kind of like when you turn the ugly side of the Christmas tree toward the wall where no one will see it).

The tomato soup is a staple for me, especially when I’m looking for something quick that I can whip together in a few minutes. For a super fast and painless meal, use canned, diced tomatoes (though, of course, the flavor isn’t the same!) I soaked about 1/2 cup of raw cashews in water for about an hour to make the cream for the soup. In a large stock pot, I sauteed some olive oil, lots of minced garlic and chopped onion for a few minutes until the onion became translucent. I added chopped, fresh roma and beefsteak tomatoes and let simmer until the flavors mix and everything starts getting soupy. This soup has to be really thick otherwise when you pour it into the bread bowl, it will immediately just soak in and everything will get mushy. No good. To thicken the soup up, I added some cashew cream that was quickly made by processing the soaked raw cashews with a bit of water until you get a thick consistency. Since I like my soups thick and creamy, I threw everything back into the blender and whirred it all up until very smooth. I may have added a bit too much cashew cream, hence the reason why my soup is more orange than red! Still very savory. Fresh basil paired well with this.

When you make this, be sure to bring your appetite! Or just make your boules smaller 🙂 Since my beloved is spending the week in Michigan, I have an abundance of food and no one to eat it. I might try freezing the leftover boule and then thawing/re-heating when I’m ready to use it as a bread bowl again. We shall see how that goes.

My Friday night was spent whipping this together, watching American Pickers and falling asleep with a book in hand. When did I get so old? My energy was completely absent today and I am blaming this on forgetting to make some coffee. Terrible how I’ve become so dependent on it and I’m only a week into Fall semester…! Tomorrow is this month’s garden work day at the community garden…got to get to sleep so I can be a weed-pulling fiend! Goodnight all! Happy weekend! 🙂


Aloo Gobi & Sada Paratha

15 Aug

Indian food truly is a vegetarian’s best friend. It has distinctive, flavorful dishes, many of which are already veggie-friendly or are easily made so! If you’ve never experienced any sort of Indian food, this dish is a great way to get your feet wet and see what you think.  Aloo Gobi, or Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes, is one of my favorites and I had to try and remake my Indian restaurant staple. The recipe comes out of the great cookbook “Entice with Spice – Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People” by Shubhra Ramineni. I highly recommend this cookbook because it explains a lot about Indian cuisine and the methods behind their preparation. The author brings in personal experience from growing up surrounded by the food and breaks down a seemingly complex dish into feasible steps. I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by preparing Indian food, but with the right spices, it’s pretty simple! I grabbed this book off the shelf at the library 🙂

As a side to this dish, I quickly made some Flaky Wheat Breads (or, Sada Paratha). So easy! Basically, they’re just pan-fried flatbreads that are great to balance the spiciness of Indian food. Though, naan is far superior, but I don’t have a wood oven to make them in…yet…

Since I can’t post the recipe from the book I used, I recommend this Aloo Gobi recipe from Pretty similar to the one I followed, but I did add whole garlic cloves, used FRESH heirloom beefsteak tomatoes (amazing) and ginger powder. To cut down on cooking time, I recommend boiling the potatoes a bit before throwing them in the skillet with everything else. It takes much longer for them to cook in the skillet. Also, fresh coriander = CILANTRO! Yum.

My next move into Indian cuisine will be Chana Saag! I had some at the Blues & Brews Festival this weekend and oh, it was soooo goooooood. A mixture of spicy, creamy spinach and garbanzo beans! Might have to make some chapati too…I’m hungry again.

French Bread / Grilled Vegetable & Pesto Paninis

11 Aug

Ah, the beloved crusty french bread. A seemingly difficult task to recreate this fluffy/crispy dichotomy, it turns out to be a rather simple recipe with a few basic ingredients. When I stumbled across this recipe at “Gourmet Mom On the Go”, I immediately knew I had to try it. Such an easy approach to making something I would typically buy in the store. I pretty much followed her recipe exactly, except I made it even easier…by utilizing by bread maker. Lazy lazy, I know, but it got the job done without me worrying if I had killed the yeast! I also didn’t roll the dough out like she did…I just kind of blobbed it together until it was a nice shape. Sidenote: shape it into a boule and you have an AWESOME breadbowl for a hearty soup! Might have to try this in the winter… This bread was perfect for what I had in mind for dinner: PANINIS!

We’re getting to that awkward point in the week where it’s too soon to go to the grocery, yet you have to use some creativity to figure something out for dinner. Zucchini squash, heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, and a quick spinach pesto make these hearty paninis. The squash and bell peppers were tossed in some olive oil + salt/pepper and grilled for a few minutes. I whipped up the spinach pesto using a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach (feel free to sub some fresh basil in there), walnuts, garlic, salt+pepper, and olive oil. Whizzed it in the VitaMix until pasty and spread it on the sliced french bread. I bought a couple heirloom beefsteak tomatoes the other day from a little farm that’s across the street from the library I work at…in the middle of the neighborhood! Such a neat little farm. The tomatoes tasted SO good fresh, no need to grill or prepare them any other way. Layered the grilled vegetables on top of everything and whipped out the panini press. It’s always nice to kind of feel like you’re justifying having a ridiculous amount of kitchen gadgets by actually using them. If you don’t have a panini press, just make them like you would a grilled cheese. Or even throw them on the grill if you’re looking for those authentic grill lines. Quick and easy dinner using ingredients I already had. Love it.

The bulk of my day tomorrow will play out as such: up early to go to a couple intriguing estate sales to scope out some Pyrex, whip together a fruit salad for a pot luck at work tomorrow, work, rejoice at being one day closer to having the children out of the library and back at school, and finally, come home. Relax. Possibly do something with the butternut squash that’s been sitting on the counter. Perhaps. But now? TO BED!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins and Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins – Vegan!

28 Jul

Hearty and super simple vegan muffins!

I was craving a muffin as soon as I woke up this morning. It just seemed right. With frozen blueberries and fresh raspberries waiting for me in the fridge, everything came together. I found this great recipe on VegWeb (awesome resource for new and old vegetarians/vegans alike) and threw these muffins together within 10 minutes. I had never had raspberry muffins before and was feeling daring, so why not? I imagine you can make a muffin out of anything…

I ended up making two batches of this basic muffin recipe. The first batch were blueberry muffins using entirely whole wheat pastry flour and no applesauce. The second batch were raspberry oatmeal muffins that pretty much followed the recipe below verbatim, but with 1/2 of rolled oats added.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins (adapted from VegWeb recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 VERY RIPE mashed banananana
  • Grated peel of one lemon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or your favorite sweetener (See Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk (used light Almond Milk)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (OR whatever fruit your have! nectarines? peaches?)
Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
In a small bowl, mash the banana. Add your lemon peel, sweetener, milk, applesauce (if using) and mix together well.  In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients except for the berries. Slowly work the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to over mix. Fold in your berries!

If you’re using MUFFIN tins/papers/whatever they are called, great. If not, remember to spray your muffin pan otherwise IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT TO WRESTLE THEM OUT OF THEIR MUFFIN CAVES.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops become nice and brown. DEVOUR.


Notes & Variations:
– Using only one banana really doesn’t make these muffins taste like banana (which is what I was going for). There’s a faint flavor, but it doesn’t overpower the lovely blueberries!
– Sub 1/2 cup of the whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour for a slightly (but not much) lighter muffin.

Soft muffins! Not too heavy either, considering they are whole wheat.

– Need more fiber? Who doesn’t? Add 1/2 cup (or more) of rolled oats. Remember to account for how rolled oats tend to suck up liquids!
– Looking at this recipe, it appears that there really is a lot of liquid in the muffins. Remember, I’m at 5,280ft above sea level here in Denver. Stuff always dries out on me, so I tend to add a little more liquid. My first batch of muffins I left out the applesauce completely–they stilled turned out great! The second batch with the raspberries were a tad more moist.
– Some vanilla might have been good in this…of course I think of it after I’m done baking!
– Nuts! need to remember to throw some walnuts in next time 🙂

These really turned out great. A hearty breakfast that you won’t feel too guilty about! Whole wheat and no oil always sounds good to me!
Since I used lemon peel in this recipe, I’m really craving something tart and sweet…lemonade might be in the near future…