Soup Season!

Ah yes, November is here which means time for hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies or Oreos dipped in hot chocolate (my personal fav), and soup! It’s soup seasoooon!! *in my Oprah voice*

I would like to share two recipes from two different cookbooks. I don’t follow the recipes exactly but both are fairly easy and inexpensive (music to my frugal ears) to make. The first one I started making because my husband (then boyfriend) mentioned that he liked TGIF’s French Onion Soup. I didn’t like their soup too much because I thought it was too salty so I decided to take a crack at it. I found this recipe in a book that I’ve featured before on the blog (pictured below)..This is the same fancy cookbook with whom I’ve had a love/hate relationship; but every once in a while, I will find a recipe that’s not too complicated or doesn’t have weird ingredients within its pages.

Click the link here for the entire detailed recipe—>>> frenchsoup

I must warn you that this takes forever to make! I only do it when I know I have time, like if I know I have time to start dinner around 5 or 6pm so it’ll be ready by 7 or 8pm..and I’m not pressingly hungry.

Ingredients: 4 large onions (it might seem like a lot but they saute down if that makes sense, also be prepared to cry your eyes out), olive oil, butter, vegetable stock, mozzarella shredded cheese, salt and pepper

After cutting the onions, put the onions, butter, and oil in the pot until they turn into a yellowish color at the bottom of the pan. Then, pour the broth and season it and let simmer. The recipe says 45-60 min but it probably takes more like an hour and half..especially to get the right flavor.

The recipe also suggests french bread which would’ve been great if I had some but I settled for regular sandwich bread. The mozzarella is also a nice touch. Personally, I like it better the day after, when it’s been sitting in the fridge over night. I had it for lunch the next day and it was delish!

Next up, vegetarian southwest chili! I got this recipe from the cookbook pictured here:

This is actually a vegan cookbook that my loving and health-obsessed mother gave me as a gift. Needless to say, I substitute some ingredients like cashew “cheese” with real cheese. To set the record straight, I have nothing against being vegan. It’s definitely a lifestyle that I admire but it’s not for me. Never say never though, maybe later in life I will have the time to make everything from scratch. Anyways, the detailed recipe can be found here–>> chili

The ingredients I used are pictured here:

<Let the onion and bell pepper simmer a little.

<<Mix it all together!

Now this soup/chili only takes about 30 min to cook, and I let it boil a little to get the beans and corn soft. I also include seasonings like chili pepper, black pepper, and season salt to name a few.

As you can see the toast is a little crispy..but my mom always said a little charcoal is good for you. Quick story: after making the soup, I realized we only had 3 slices of bread left..As the self-less wife that I am, I was going to give my husband two and only take the butt end. But then I realized how awesome the chili is when eaten with bread so I made him split the last slice. Hence, the one and a half bread pictured above. This soup is also awesome with crackers which we didn’t have. Next time I’ll be more prepared.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Next on my soup list is attempting to make Brocoli Cheese soup..I’ll let you know how that goes..

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Cookbooks: A love/hate relationship

I own several cookbooks and I’ll list all of them on here sometime..One of my policies is that I never buy anything at the grocery store that I will only use once unless it’s for a special occasion like a dinner party or holiday. Alright, that’s phrased kinda weird..what I mean to say is that I look for recipes that use things that are already in my pantry or if I buy it, I know that I can use it again in another meal..like butter.

I also believe in the Law of Substitutions which mostly came from my mother, but at times, this law can work against you. I will explain the law in another post, but first I have something to get off my chest..

Here is where the love/hate comes in: I love the creativity and diversity of cookbooks and above all, I love the pictures! BUT I hate that I have to search the high heavens for “special” ingredients or buy special kitchen utensils and appliances like a blender or electric mixer (side note: I specifically used a blender as an example because it was on our registry and no one bought it for us so I’m slightly bitter). And above all, I hate that my version of the meal looks nothing like the glossy pictures!

The above cookbook is one of my favorites to love/hate. I picked it up at Barnes and Nobles from the sale table (another philosophy of mine, never buy anything that’s not on sale)..I have tried and failed several recipes from this book but I keep coming back for more in hopes of actually creating something that will impressed people (and by people, I mean my meat-eating husband and myself). It hasn’t been all bad..I have “mastered” some of its recipes. Like the one I am sharing with you today: Cheese and Spinach Tart. As you can see from the pictures, this is very gourmet-lookin stuff..after further research, I’ve found that there is actually a career or art form in food photography! There’s a technique involved! Upon this discovery, I have since decided to not feel bad and to stop comparing my creations with that of the pictures. However, there should be some disclaimer or warning on the inside cover like: The objects in this book are not as they seem when you make them at home (or something more clever). Ok I digress.

Below is the pretty picture with the relatively simple instructions for the tart, I’ve also included a pdf file in case you would like to try this at home:

cheeseandspinach  <—click the hyperlink for the full recipe

The following pictures are my attempts at recreating this tart:

First of all I don’t own a roller, so I used this lovely shot glass to roll out the dough. Also, the dough part required “mustard powder” which I don’t have so I used a lil onion powder and garlic powder (see Law of Substitutions).

I also don’t own a circular baking pan like the one in the picture

Voila! The finished product! Now, the recipe calls for you to cut the remaining dough with a “lattice pastry cutter”..So in comparison, I think I came pretty close right?

All in all, it ended up tasting pretty good. Kinda like a spinach quiche and the dough tasted like pot pie crust. We ate it with instant mashed potatoes (since I didn’t feel like making anything else lol) and my husband said it was good. Ya hear that fancy cookbook people?! I don’t need your stupid lattice cutter!

Some professionals might say that cooking is also about presentation and I agree that presentation does make food look and consequently taste better (in some cases). But to those of us who aren’t that great on the presentation side of things, I say find an awesome food photographer in your area and maybe he can make it look better 😉

That’s it for now, remember to eat and be merry!

(Ok seriously, does anyone have any suggestions on a good signing off catch phrase? Cuz that is not the one)