Monday, January 30, 2017

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup

Today was a good day for soup, we had about 3" of snow last night and while it mostly melted today it stayed on the cold side. I mentioned making soup and Sarah mentioned a corn and bacon chowder, which sounded really good only problem is that Bob doesn't like chowders or cream based soups. Little does he know what he's missing. I may still make the chowder some other time. After perusing my pinterest soup board I found this one which sounded good. It was quick and easy to pull together which was good since I had some things come up right at the time to fix dinner.

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup
serves 4-6

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 14-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c orzo pasta
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
4 c loosely packed spinach
salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery, and garlic; saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, orzo, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.

Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Apple, White Cheddar, and Spinach Salad

We usually have our nice Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. I like to keep things easier on Christmas day so I can enjoy the day and not spend it in the kitchen making a fancy dinner. I enjoy the fancy dinner, I just want to be able to spend the time on Christmas with family. This salad was really good, a light counterpart to the potatoes au gratin.

Apple, White Cheddar, and Spinach Salad
serves 4 as a side salad

about 6 c fresh spinach
1 large apple, cored and sliced very thin (Gala, Fuji, or similar type apple)
1 c grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 c dried cranberries (plain or orange flavored)
1/2 c sliced almonds or walnuts

Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt & pepper, or to taste

To make the vinaigrette add all the ingredients to a small container with a lid. Shake well to combine, taste and tweak seasonings as necessary. In a large bowl, toss together all salad ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss again to combine. Leftover dressing will keep covered in fridge for a week.

modified from Averie Cooks

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Olive Oil Taste Test

We have been blessed by family and friends that travel and bring back gifts. In this case it was olive oil. My mom went to Greece (with my nephew) and Portugal (with my niece) and an employee of Bob's went to Italy. We've been waiting for a night to have all/most of us together to taste test the oils and see if there was a difference. Wow, was there, at least for some of us. Bob said that he tasted no difference between them. Whitney and I liked the Greek oil best.

Our method - I bought some soft French bread from the grocery store and poured the oils into dishes. It wasn't a blind tasting, we knew what we were having. It was just the bread and olive oil.

The results - Whitney liked the Greek oil best. She said that the one from Portugal had a fruity taste and an odd after taste that she didn't like. The one from Italy was ok. I also liked the one from Greece best. I didn't notice the fruity taste of the Portuguese oil but didn't like it as much. Maybe it was just more olive tasting and I don't like olives. The one from Italy had a strong garlic taste to it which I didn't like. It was also very strong smelling. I find it funny that Bob is the only one of us that likes olives and he couldn't taste a difference between the oils and neither Whitney and I like olives and we could taste a difference between all three.

It was a fun evening. We rounded out our dinner with roasted vegetables (cauliflower, mushrooms, and zucchini) and pepper-pepperoni salad.