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Tuesday
Sep232014

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Mascarpone Cheese

 

 

My local farmer's market right now is bursting with bell peppers.  This recipe uses roasted peppers to make a rich soup that's made a little creamy by adding some mascarpone cheese.  If you've never roasted peppers yourself, please give it a try - it's so easy and they are really worth it.  You can use the jarred roasted peppers in the grocery store, but once you see how easy these are to roast, I think you will prefer these.  And if you line your baking sheet with foil, there is no clean up!

 

 

Did you know red bell peppers are loaded with Vitamin C?  They are a very healthy vegetable, low in calories, high in fiber with lots of vitamins.  So take advantage of the season and make this delicious soup!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Mascarpone Cheese

for a printable recipe click here

serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red hot chili pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons very dry sherry
  • ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese (you can swap for cream cheese if you can't find mascarpone)

 

Instructions:

Turn oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil.  

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and stems. Place peppers cut side down on the foil lined pan. Broil for about 20 minutes, until the skin is blackened (halfway through, take a spatula and press down on the peppers, flattening them so they blacken evenly).  Remove from oven, leave them on the baking sheet and cover with foil and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. 

Put olive oil, onion, sea salt and both peppers in a large saucepan and cook slowly over low heat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted peppers, broth, basil and sherry and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes. 


measuring thick ingedients like masarpone cheese is easier
if you use a Wonder Cup measuring cup.

 

If you have an immersion blender, place the blender inside the pot and puree the soup.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you will have to transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree.  Return the soup back to the pot and add the cheese and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if you need to. 

Tuesday
Sep092014

Asparagus Appetizers in Phyllo Dough 

I made these for my son's graduation open house this past spring and they were such a big hit. So many people wanted the recipe that I thought I would go ahead and share it here.  These are outrageously tasty and crunchy and very easy to make.  The phyllo is brushed with good mustard and sprinkled with Asiago cheese and then rolled up with asparagus. The best part about these is that they can be assembled a day ahead, refrigerated and then just baked the next day right before serving - my kind of recipe!  And you don't even have to precook the asparagus - I just use them raw in the assembly.  I even made a video to show you how fast and easy these are to whip up. 

 

These are made with frozen phyllo dough. If you have never used phyllo dough, don't be intimidated.  They are very delicate but this recipe is very forgiving and it just doesn't matter if you tear the sheets a little, because it all gets wrapped up. The best way to use phyllo is to put a roll in the fridge the night before you need it and let it defrost that way.  The box of phyllo contains two rolls. You will just need one for this recipe.  Leave the other in the freezer.  When working with phyllo, roll it out flat and cover with a couple of sheets of damp paper towel. This is very important, because the phyllo dries out easily. 

Asparagus Appetizers in Phyllo Dough

makes about 20

for a printable recipe click here

You can either use one fat asparagus spear or two thin ones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus (I had 42 thin spears in my bunch), washed and dried
  • 1 roll thawed phyllo sheets (best way to thaw is to put a roll in your fridge the night before)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • ¼ cup good mustard (we love Mike's Mustard from Michigan)
  • salt (the salt is optional - omit if you are using a salty cheese)
  • freshly ground pepper (I actually like to use Montreal Steak Seasoning)
  • 4 tablespoons Asiago Cheese (or whatever kind of cheese you like)

 

Instructions:

Trim the tough ends off the asparagus spears. 

Unroll the thawed phyllo sheet roll on your counter and place a couple of damp paper towels over the top so they don't dry out.  

On a large cutting board, place two of the phyllo sheets (if you accidentally grab three sheets, and can't get them apart, don't worry about it.  It won't matter. Also - if you rip a hole in one of the sheets, it won't matter either. It all just gets rolled up and you will never tell.) Brush some melted butter over the entire top sheet. Brush some of the mustard on the sheet.  Sprinkle with a little salt (if you are using) and the pepper.  Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the cheese all over the sheet.  

With a very sharp paring knife, cut the sheet in half.  Cut each half in half.  Place two asparagus spears on each piece of phyllo and roll up.  Place on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet.  Brush the tops with some melted butter and sprinkle additional seasoning on top. 

Repeat until all your asparagus is used.  You can refreeze any unused phyllo sheets if you want, as long as you haven't let them dry out.  Just roll up with plastic wrap and seal tightly. 

At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap and place the baking sheets in the fridge until you are ready to bake them. You can even assembble these the day before.  When you are ready to cook them, bake them in the oven at 375° F for about 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown (rotate pans halfway through if you don't have a convection oven). 

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serve extra mustard on the side for dipping if you want. 

Tuesday
Aug262014

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto

 

It looks like a serving bowl full of pasta noodles, doesn't it?  But it's not - it's "spiralized zucchini noodles" and so many people are making these right now, I wanted to make sure you knew about the great gadget that makes these! Whether you are trying to avoid wheat, or trying to cut back on calories or just trying to get rid of a ton of zucchini in your garden, this Spiralizer is for you. When I first served these zucchini noodles to my husband, he thought they were pasta - so did a couple of other people who had them. 


you can get one of these awesome Spiralizers here

 

I'm one of those people who actually uses the gadgets in my kitchen and I love this one!  This Spiralizer is from Paderno and it works like a dream.  It comes with three different blades and you can use it on all kinds of vegetables and some fruit. I used it on zucchini here, left the "noodles" raw and just tossed it with a simple basil pesto.  It's a snap to clean and the blades store right in the Spiralizer itself.

It is super simple to make these zucchini noodles - start by trimming the ends off the zucchini. The Spiralizer has suction feet on the bottom to make sure it doesn't slip.  Place the zucchini in between the blade and the pronged holder on the handle.  Make sure it's secure and then just start cranking the handle.  Cut the zucchini noodles at intervals with a knife, otherwise you will have four feet long noodles!  After the blade does its work, you will be left with little zucchini pieces that are kind of funny looking.  The blade works around the center of the zucchini and then all that is left is a long stem along with the end piece.

 

You can serve the zucchini noodles raw or lightly saute them so they are hot. Check out the bottom of this post for more awesome recipes from other bloggers that use this Spiralizer!

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Also, I wanted to thank Kristina Gill at Design Sponge for featuring me last week. I've been a big fan of that site for a long time. I developed a recipe for her and she was great fun to work with.  The recipe is a trifle that was inspired by my Sicilian roots - it's lemon cakes brushed with limoncello, spread with a pistachio cream layer and a whipped cream layer.  Pistachios and lemons are used in Sicilian cooking a lot.  The trifle is bright and luscious and goes great with little shots of limoncello.  If you would like to check the recipe out, you can find it here on Design Sponge.  


if you would like a printable recipe of the Sicilian trifle, click here

 

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto

for a printable recipe click here

serves 6

Just like pasta, don't over dress the noodles! Just a light coating of pesto is what you want. 

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, cut into chunks
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of red hot chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup of slightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil 

Instructions:

Using the Spiralizer, make noodles out of the zucchini.  In a food processor, add the cheese, garlic, a pinch each of salt, pepper and chili pepper. Pulse until fine.  Add the basil leaves and pulse.  Pour the olive oil into the feed tube slowly and pulse.  

Place the zucchini noodles in a large serving bowl.  Add the pesto and toss until all the noodles are coated.  Don't overdress the noodles.  It will take a couple of minutes to get the noodles all coated - just keep tossing.  If the pesto is a little too thick, you can add a little bit more of oil or a little bit of water, but don't overdo it. Serve immediately - you don't want it to sit too long.  

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More recipes using the Spiralizer:

Zucchini Noodles with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Cream - Proud Italian Cook
Crispy Garlic Curly Potato Fries - The Housewife in Training Files
Zucchini Noodles and Grilled Shrimp - What's Gaby Cooking
Beet and Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Juice and Honey - Foodists
Cucumber Ribbon Salad with Thai Dressing - Kalyn's Kitchen
Yam Noodles with Sweet Sauce - This Rawsome Vegan Life

Enjoy!