Sunday, September 19, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Soup

Branching out. That's what I am doing.... thanks to my Abundant Harvest Organics Veggies that I get weekly. Because I receive certain things in my box, I am encouraged (or forced if I don't want to be wasteful which is one of my main goals when it comes to my kitchen!) to try new things, things I wouldn't necessarily come up with on my own. So this week, I not only got tomatoes, onions, and eggplant in my box- I also got a recipe for a Roasted Eggplant Soup that I had never tried... and I tried it.... and I liked it.... and I would make it again! So I am passing on the recipe to you, give it a chance, put a little pep in your step and branch out too- you never know what you will come across!

I personally think this soup would be perfect for a dinner party as the appetizer, or a luncheon served along with a light salad. We had it tonight for dinner with a hardier salad and I thought it was perfect, it reminded me of something you would order at a quaint little restaurant! I omitted the crumbled cheese, for preference sake, but it was delicious just the same.

1 large egg plant or 2 medium ones, halved
3 tomatoes, halved
1 onion, halved
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
Grape seed oil or Olive Oil
Salt & pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
** 3 ounces crumbled cheese of your choice** optional

All your veggies ready to roast, lightly brushed with Grape Seed Oil and sprinkled with S & P.
After Roasting for 40 minutes...
Wow, this soup is easy on the prep, it takes awhile as far as actual cooking time, but honestly, it's very little hassle. You are going to wash and half your veggies and peel your garlic, placing them on a foil-lined roasting pan or cookie sheet and pop them in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes until they are lightly browned. Then scoop them up and into a pot they go with the chicken broth and thyme. Bring that to a boil and then let it simmer for another 35 minutes. From there, take and dump it in your Vitamix or Food Processor and puree it, add it back to your pot, add your heavy cream and bring it to a simmer again. Serve it up in soup bowls or mugs and add your crumbled cheese it you'd like!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Croutons

When I think of croutons, I think of my childhood... I was the kid that liked to sneak a handful of croutons from the salad bar when no one was looking! I loved them as a little snack.... regardless or not if they were on top of a salad! But in my adult years, I haven't really seen much of them, I guess I kinda forgot about them... I have just gotten used to adding nuts and seeds to my salads and have neglected the long lost little croutons- that is until now. You have to admit they are a fun little treat... and way better homemade than store bought! Honestly, if you have never had fresh, homemade ones- you MUST try this recipe... you'll thank me later!

I had some left over Ciabatta bread on my countertop the other day and I was thinking of a way it could go to use and not be wasted... at the same time I was desiring a little change to my daily dinner salads that I make- and WHA-LA! Just like that, I found myself making a batch of homemade, crunchy, seasoned, crispy, way-better-than-any-boxed-crouton-you-have-EVER-tried kinda a crouton for dinner. Here's all you need to make your own...

Day old Bread, at least 1/2 a loaf
Grape Seed Oil (or Olive Oil)
sea salt
garlic powder
dried herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, or parsley)

(I seasoned this batch with salt, garlic powder, oregano & thyme)
Make sure they aren't stacked on top of each other for even baking!
SO simple. Cut your bread into cubes, I prefer my croutons a little on the smaller side, (1" x 1") but if you want bigger ones, no one is stopping you! Throw them all in a bowl, drizzle your oil on them (I used Grape Seed Oil but you can use Olive Oil if that's what you cook with). Then season them to your liking with your preferred flavors, toss them well and then spread them in a single layer on a roasting pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake on 350 for 20 - 30 minutes. If you prefer yours softer, go 20, if you like them brown and crunchy and toasted (like me!) you will be closer to 30! Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy! They will store up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container or ziplock bags!