Monday, September 10, 2012

Yellow Zucchini Soup

As promised!
I do have some bad news though...I don't have any pictures of this one so you'll have to use your imagination.  The soup being as fabulous as it was, was a TOTAL accident.
I was at my local farmer's market carrying around a HUGE (it was honestly like, a foot and a half long!) Yellow Zucchini.  (It only cost me 50 cents and I didn't even use the whole thing!)  A man spotted me carrying it and said, "That'll make an excellent soup." Challenge: accepted.
So I got to work.  Here's what you need:
-One yellow zucchini
-4 big potatoes
-1 yellow onion
-2 T basil
-1 T Italian seasoning
-1/4 c. marscarpone cheese (sour cream, if your grocery store STILL isn't carrying this great stuff!)
-3 c. chicken broth
-2 c. water
-salt & pepper
-Asiago cheese wedge
-3 T flour
-3 T butter
-roughly 1/2 - 3/4 c. milk
And here's what you'll do:
In a BIG pot, start heating up all of the chicken broth and water.
Give your zucchini a rough dice.  Cut it into a-little-bit-bigger-than-bite-sized pieces.  I used about 2/3 of my zucchini.  You can use the whole thing if you'd like!
Also, peel and quarter your onions and potatoes.
All the veggies into the pot.
Next, chop the basil and add it and the Italian seasoning in.  A good tablespoon of salt and half tablespoon of pepper should be added for flavor.
Now, cover your pot and let it sit on a low heat for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, you'll add in your marscarpone.  At this point, I also blended my soup.  I have one of these fancy guys:
This is called an Immersion Hand Blender.  I call it a juuusher because that's what it seems to do. :-)
Blend your soup so that there are no big chunks.
Next step is the roux.
In a medium saucepan, add your butter and flour.  Stir/mix continuously until it looks paste-like.  Now, slowly pour in milk.  Like I said in the ingredients, it will probably be 1/2 cup to 1 cup.  The consistency you are looking for is that of a cream sauce: thick but smooth.
Add the roux to the soup and give it a good stir.
Let the soup sit for another 2 hours (this can go longer or shorter...but my mom has ALWAYS told me that the longer a soup sits, the better it is).
Next is the best part.  Cube up the asiago and dump in as much or as little as you want.  It slowly melts in the soup and causes some great chewy, cheesey bites (my sister and I like to call these 'cheese surprises' :-) )
That's it!  The soup should be extremely velvety and delish.
This soup made so much, I sent some over to my parents/sister and Dan's parents and we still had lots left over!!
You gotta try this one... it is such a delicious yet light comfort food!

Chicken Cobb Salad

Hello!! It has been a minute since my last post...but I have been SUPER busy starting a new school year (my FIRST "real" year, by the way, as a third grade teacher :-) ) and finishing up planning our wedding (October 13..woop woop!!) but it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking.  I just need to catch up with my blog.  Only so many hours in the day. Le sigh.
Aaanyway.  Since we are SO close to our wedding, we've been trying to eat light.  Also, I have just discovered some awesome local farmer's markets and have been trying to take advantage of them while I can!! Honestly, I don't know what I ever did without Farmer Markets!!
So. Salad. I love Panera Bread's Chopped Chicken Cobb salad so this is kind of a copy cat of that one.  Here's whatcha need:
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 1 inch thick)
-1 ripe avocado
-1 tomato
-1 bag of lettuce
-Gorgonzola (pre-packaged are cheaper than the big wedge!)
-3 hard boiled eggs
-Kraft Light Ceasar/Italian Dressing
The first thing I did was hard boil the eggs.  Holy cow. It took FOREVER! But I think this step is worth it.  They really add to the salad.
I cooked the chicken next.  I drizzled my grill pan with some (garlic-infused) EVOO.  Regular EVOO will work just fine!  I salt and peppered my chicken liberally on both sides and got them grilling.  When I saw that they were cooked through (no pink) I removed them and let them "rest" on my cutting board, under foil, for about 5 minutes before slicing them into bite sized chunks.  I put it in the fridge to bring the temp down for about 10-15 minutes.
Letting meat rest is something I learned for all of my extensive Food Network watching.  Let me just say, it really keeps your meat JUICY!! It seems like a step worth skipping but I will tell you, it's not.
The rest is all assembly.  I dumped out the bag of lettuce, chopped up the tomato and avocado and sprinkled some Gorgonzola on top.  When the chicken and egg were ready to go, I topped the salad with that.
I drizzled some of the Kraft Light Ceasar/Italian dressing and tossed it all together.  I added some freshly ground black pepper to taste and that's it!
It was SO good!! ANNNND filling.  I turn my nose up at salads often...but this really got me full.  The creamy avocado mixed with the bite of the Gorgonzola was to die!
Some things I MIGHT do next time:
-Add some crumbled turkey bacon (My fiance, Dan opted against this one.  He was sure the chicken and egg would be enough.  We didn't miss it...but coulda been a nice touch)
-Add some toasted walnuts.  I love walnuts on just about everything...but they were just too expensive for my budget today.
-Next time, I might add some craisins for chewy sweetness.
Of course, feel free to use whatever dressing you want!  I thought the Light Ceasar/Italian was a perfect fit.  You definitely want something lighter since the salad is so hearty.
That's it!! Try it out and tell me whatcha think.
Soon, I will be posting an AWESOME recipe for yellow zucchini soup.  Seriously, you will dream about the stuff.
Til next time