Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vegetable Soup

The red pepper in the fridge is starting to wrinkle.  The celery is starting to wilt.  You have one lone potato left on the counter.  What do you do when it’s cold outside so you don’t want a salad, and these sad vegetables aren’t even worthy of one anyway?  It’s soup time!

That is exactly how this concoction came about, and it turned out really well.  There’s no real recipe for this, I literally threw everything soup-worthy from my fridge, freezer, counter and cabinets into a giant pot and let it simmer on low for an hour.  Here’s what I ended up with:


1 russet potato, peeled and diced in ½” cubes
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 stalks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
½ - 1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 package frozen chopped spinach (break up as it defrosts into the soup)
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed with spoon when added to pot
1 32oz container of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried parsley
Garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Olive Oil


Sauté onion, carrots, celery and potato with some olive oil, salt & pepper for a few minutes, just to soften slightly.  Add red pepper and tomatoes.  Cook for a few minutes more.  Add all remaining ingredients, stir to combine then let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Taste soup and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Continue to let simmer for another 30-45 minutes, stirring on occasion.

Dole out a big bowl, top with a little grated parmesan (optional but tasty), then let it soothe your soul…..and don’t forget the wine.

Vanilla Biscotti with Cinnamon Chips - Baking GALS Round 26

I know, biscotti??  Believe me, this isn’t the super dry, crack-your-teeth hard, tasteless piece of kindling you get in lots of coffee shops.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t even give that stuff a second glance.  Yes, this is still a dry crunchy cookie, but there is so much flavor from the vanilla, and the texture is still tender enough to bite regularly….none of that hold it off to the side and cock your head type of biting.  Of course I had to make this festive for the season.  White, red and green sparkling sugars did the trick.  So pretty!

Go ahead, pour yourself some coffee or tea, settle in with a good book or movie, grab a slice (or 2 – trust me) and get ready to enjoy.  Dunking is optional.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour (

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2-3 tsp vanilla extract (I used 3)
¼ tsp almond extract (I omitted)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups AP Flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat/1 cup AP)
1 cup mini cinnamon chips (my addition)
Coarse sparkling sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350º.  In a medium mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and baking powder.  Beat on low speed just until combined and smooth.  Add the eggs and beat at low/medium speed until well mixed.  The mixture may look slightly curdled – that’s ok, I just beat for another few seconds until it looked smooth again. 

Add the flour one cup at a time, as well as whatever add-ins you want – in this case I added ½ cup of the cinnamon chips.  Mix on low until just combined.  Add the remaining flour and chips and again mix just until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the flour.

I happen to have a biscotti pan (about an 11½”x 5½” loaf pan) – if you have one of these, just scrape the dough into the greased pan and spread evenly.  If you don’t have a pan about this size, form a loaf on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  The loaf should be about 11x5 and about 1” thick.  Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 325º.  Let biscotti rest in loaf shape for 5 minutes.  Slice loaf in ½”-¾” wide slices and lay cut side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 12 minutes, then flip each slice and bake for about 12-14 minutes more until dried out and nicely browned.  Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.  

*This recipe suggests up to 2 cups of add-ins such as chips, nuts or dried fruits.  I recommend starting with 1 cup and seeing how it looks – 1 cup of chips was plenty for me.