Tomato Soup: A 2 Cats Recipe

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Tomato Soup

mmmmm a bowl of perfection

mmmmm a bowl of perfection

My recipe card, its gone through some alterations

My recipe card, its gone through some alterations

To me, tomato soup is a pretty perfect meal. It’s good in the summer as a refreshing lunch with salad or in the winter piping hot with an oozy grilled cheese for dinner. It’s simple, inexpensive to make, and has become one of my go-to meals. I developed my own tomato soup recipe while at college in South Georgia.  There was a month or two after it was perfected where I made a batch once a week, I loved it so much. I probably would’ve made soup for that entire semester if my roommate hadn’t asked me to lay off it for a while. (She also was eating the soup every week I made it and said after 6 weeks she was burnt out on tomatoes)

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His and Her bowls of soup. Chris has the cheesey bowl, I have the fresh thyme

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy tomato soup. It’s one of the meals Chris gets excited about when I tell him it’s on the menu. I think one reason it’s a crowd pleaser is that you can add so many different toppings to the soup and enjoy the outcome. My usually topping is parmesan cheese, but I’ve done bacon, sour cream, and herbs all with great success. At some point, I’d like to go the elementary school route and put Goldfish crackers on top of my tomato soup. 😀

 

As odd as it sounds, tomato soup was the gateway into regular home cooking for me. Making this soup made me realize how easy it was to cook my own food in an hour or less. I felt so empowered by coming up with my own recipe that I wanted to share it with everyone. I hope you try making this work week appropriate meal and find it pretty perfect too!

An action shot; me using my handy-dandy immersion blender

An action shot; me using my handy-dandy immersion blender

Tomato Soup

The ingredients set out all   food stylist-y

The ingredients set out all food stylist-y

(makes 4 -5 servings)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Carrots, chopped
4 Celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, lightly minced
5 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Can (28 Ounces) Crushed Tomatoes
½ Tablespoon Dried Thyme
Salt and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
¾ Cup Heavy Cream

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large stockpot. Add carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for 7-8 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until the flour is no longer raw, about 2 -3 minutes. Pour in broth and crushed tomatoes and mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil and season with a pinch of salt, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme. Cover the pot, lower heat to medium low and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has cooked, blend it in batches in a regular blender or in the stockpot with an immersion blender. Return the mixture to the pot (if blending in a stand blender) and mix in the heavy cream. Bring the soup back up to temperature and serve.

Yum!

Yum!

 

Recipe Review: Parmesan Dill Potato Salad

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Parmesan Dill Potato Salad

From Will Cook for Smiles

http://www.willcookforsmiles.com/2014/06/parmesan-dill-potato-salad.html

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

                It’s August and we’ve hit the last stretch of summer. I feel like this summer has just flown by; there hasn’t been a lot of time for summer picnics or lazy days. The only ones who had any lazy days are Tchai and Zelda!

With summer is winding down, fall and college football are also fast approaching. That means switching those picnics into tailgating feasts. I know that my mom and dad are already planning for Georgia Bulldog home games (Go Dawgs!).  So in honor of that summer to fall transition, I’ve decided to try a potato salad recipe for the blog.

                Most people have a preference for either potato or pasta salad. To be honest, I’m not sure I have any sort of leaning. I am both a big fan of the spud and any sort of pasta, but I chose to go with potato salad because I can remember one gracing the table of my family’s UGA tailgate.

                Pinterest led me to this Will cook for Smiles parmesan dill potato salad. It had an appealing ingredient list which featured dill. I really love the tang of dill; it may be one of my favorite herbs. Add in onion, parmesan cheese, and sour cream and this recipe sounded like it would be perfect.

The potatoes pre-boiled

The potatoes pre-boiled

                Boiling the potatoes (I used 5) takes around 20 -25 minutes and then they need to be cooled so that you can handle them. I think the potatoes came down to room temperature in about 1 & 1/2 or 2 hours. I suggest leaving the spuds in a strainer while you tackle another project (or watch a Midsomer Murders episode 😉 ). I found the skins difficult to work with, so I removed them before cutting up the potatoes and assembling the dressing.

                  Putting the sour cream/mayo dressing together is super quick. I didn’t have any green onion in the house so I substituted some baby red onions I purchased at the farmer’s market. I really like the sharp flavor of red onion and think it may actually be better suited for this than the green.

The sour cream/ mayo dressing without the potatoes

The sour cream/ mayo dressing without the potatoes

                The recipe calls for salt and pepper but doesn’t give any actual measurements. I would suggest seasoning the salad pretty liberally, especially with the pepper. The mayonnaise and pepper are the only ingredients in the recipe that counter balance the super tangy flavor of the sour cream, dill, and Dijon mustard.

The salad combined

The salad combined

                I made the potato salad after dinner and placed it directly into the fridge to cool and let the flavors comingle. When I ate it for lunch the next day, I was pleased to find the potato salad not too tangy and actually really scrumptious. My boss also tried the salad and liked it, though she said it could’ve used some sort of pickle. I also sent a container with Chris for some of his coworkers. They thought there was way too much dill in the salad. Thinking back on the dressing assembly, I probably had a heavy hand with the dill since I love it so much. So this potato salad may not be for everyone. I would definitely enjoy having it again as is, but I also think using rosemary instead of dill might be equally fantastic.

My lunch portion (now devoured) of Parmesan Dill goodness

My lunch portion (now devoured) of Parmesan Dill goodness

Recipe Review: Rosemary Cake

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Rosemary Cake

Rosemary Cake Plated

Rosemary Cake Plated

From Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

                As last week came to a close the weather became rather dreary. This rendered most of the 2 Cats household extremely lethargic (except for Chris, who started binge watching Game of Thrones). I decided Saturday afternoon to counteract my lazy behavior by baking.

Sleepy/Lazy Zelda

Sleepy/Lazy Zelda

                I’m a huge fan of British T.V. Cook and Domestic Diva Nigella Lawson. I have 3 of her cookbooks and I’ve watched several of her programs (including The Taste). I really admire her unapologetic style as a home cook who has a great love affair with food. I hope to be more like her as I progress through my culinary life. I found the recipe for her Rosemary Cake in How to be a Domestic Goddess intriguing and thought this was the perfect time to give it a go.

My rosemary plant

My rosemary plant

                On a somewhat unrelated note, this gives me the opportunity to show off my herb garden! Up until this year I’ve done a very poor job at keeping plants alive for longer than a month. I think that this time I chose non-finicky herbs, got good advice from a friend who has an urban farm, and just stuck to watering every day and pruning when I was supposed to. I’ve had only two causalities so far (they were both flowers that were gifts) Well actually, two and a half…I have one chive plant that is a favorite of Tchai and Zelda… they snack on it whenever I’m not looking. Anyway, I’m really pleased with my little garden and it gives me hope that maybe my thumb has a tinge of green. Now I’ve just got to keep them alive through the winter.

Part of my herb garden. From Left to Right: Catnip, Purple Basil, Rosemary, Citronella, Chives

Part of my herb garden. From Left to Right: Catnip, Purple Basil, Rosemary, Citronella, Chives

                The rosemary cake recipe calls for 1 cup of butter and l only 1 and 2/3 cups of flour, which seemed like odd proportions for something that resembles a pound cake. The batter was quick to mix together in the stand mixer and turn out into the loaf pan. I made a little mix brown sugar and finely minced rosemary to top with cake with before popping it in the oven.

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The cake ingredients

The cake cooks in less than an hour, which gave me plenty of time to wash the dishes and browse a little on Pinterest. Once the cake comes out of the oven it needs to cool to room temperature. Don’t rush this and serve it warm otherwise you’ll be disappointed.  The egg-yness of the loaf cake will be way too much and you’ll be waiting for the cake to cool down anyway.

The cake and rosemary brown sugar pre-oven

The cake and rosemary brown sugar pre-oven

The Rosemary Cake out of the oven

The Rosemary Cake out of the oven

The rosemary flavor in the cake was actually really lovely. I like the herbaceous hint against the sugary/super buttery cake batter. I do feel like the recipe, could use another ½ cup or so of cake flour, otherwise the cake taste too much of egg (even when completely cooled). Overall, I would call the recipe a disappointing miss. I may try and tinker with the proportions at some point, but for now I think it’s back to lethargy…and maybe Game of Thrones.

Still sleeeepy

Still sleeeepy