TOMATO-RED BELL PEPPER SOUP WITH COUNTRY HAM AND CHICKPEAS

I like tomato soup. However, I rather love this Tomato-Red Bell Pepper Soup. The combination of tomatoes, red bell peppers, country ham, and chickpeas is amazing. I made one mistake–adding salt to the soup while cooking, which is usually the perfect addition to tomato-based soups. However, the country ham provided plenty of salt. Regardless, this soup is scrumptious!

Tomato-Red Pepper Soup with Country Ham & Chickpeas

1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained

1 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup water

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4 oz country ham, finely chopped

1-15 1/2 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) To large soup pot add crushed tomatoes and heat over medium; when tomatoes are heated through and start to bubble, stir in roasted red bell pepper, cream, water, basil, paprika, and black pepper; reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally

3) Meanwhile, to large baking dish add country ham and chickpeas; sprinkle with cumin, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat; bake in oven 5 minutes, stir, and bake additional 5 minutes; remove from oven

4) Using an immersion blender, puree tomato-red bell pepper soup (if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender, but be careful–hot!);

5) Ladle soup into bowls, spoon country ham-chickpea mixture over top, and sprinkle with parsley; serve!

Servings: 2 hearty dinner-sized servings; 4 hearty side dish servings

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ARTICHOKE-LEMON-RICOTTA STUFFED PASTA SHELLS

This Artichoke-Lemon-Ricotta pasta dish went over surprisingly well considering the absence of meat (my guys do like their beef, poultry, pork, and seafood). If not that it was just the three of us tonight, there wouldn’t have been a morsel left. But guess what’s for lunch tomorrow. Lucky me!

Artichoke-Lemon-Ricotta Pasta Shells

spray olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil

6 tbsp butter, divided

1 red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

8 oz marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

1/4 cup white cooking wine

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan-Romano blend cheese

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

18-20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente

1 tbsp minced parsley

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil a casserole dish (I used a 10×10) with olive oil spray

2) To large skillet add 1 tbsp olive oil and 3 tbsp butter (reserving 3 tbsp); heat over medium-high and, when butter melts, add onion, red bell pepper, and artichoke; cook, stirring often, 7-8 minutes until vegetables soften

3) Reduce heat to medium, add cooking wine, and cook 3 minutes; stir in parmesan-romano cheese, egg yolks, 1 tbsp lemon juice (reserving 1 tbsp), 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1/2 tsp), and 1/4 tsp pepper (reserving 1/4 tsp), and immediately remove from heat; transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside

4) To large skillet, add reserved 3 tbsp butter and melt over medium heat; scatter flour over butter and whisk until smooth; gradually add milk, whisking until smooth and sauce thickens; stir in ricotta, reserved 1 tbsp lemon juice, reserved 1/2 tsp salt, and reserved 1/4 tsp pepper; remove from heat

5) Pour half the sauce in bottom of casserole dish; fill each pasta shell with about 1 tbsp artichoke mixture and arrange over sauce; pour remaining sauce over shells; cover dish with foil and bake in oven 25 minutes; remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes; remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve

Servings: 4-6

ASIAN SHRIMP AND NOODLES

This Asian Shrimp and Noodles dish boasts the three desirable qualities of being pretty, tasty, and easy to make. Though we had only three at table tonight and I made the full four servings, Senior and Junior Too gobbled down the extra serving only to look at me expectantly. All gone, but that left plenty of room for mint chocolate chip ice cream, so no complaints.

Asian Shrimp and Noodles

3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

14 oz fully cooked Hokkien Stir Fry Noodles (or 3 cups cooked spaghetti)

1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tailless

1-1/2 cup shredded green cabbage

1-1/2 cup matchstick carrots, chopped into 1/4″ pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin into bite-sized pieces

3 green onions, sliced thin, divided

1 tsp sesame seeds (I used a mix of black and white), divided

1) To small bowl add: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, and brown sugar; mix well and set aside

2) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat; add noodles and cook 3 minutes until noodles are warmed through; add shrimp, cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, half the green onions, half the sesame seeds, and soy-hoisin sauce; stirring often, cook 7-8 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and vegetables have softened; remove from heat and serve sprinkled with reserved green onions and sesame seeds (told you it was easy)

Servings: 4

ASIAN BEEF AND BROCCOLI NOODLE TOSS

This Asian dish is delicious, filling, and one of the best ways to get veggies into your family’s diet. My guys do eat vegetables, but they often leave a good portion behind. Not this time. Not only did they put away the beef and noodles, but there was barely a scrap of broccoli, peas, carrots, bell peppers, or onions left on their plates.

Asian Beef- Broccoli-and More

3 cups broccoli florets

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1-1/2 cup matchstick carrots

1-1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed

3 green onions, sliced thin

8 oz uncooked whole wheat spaghetti

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb thin steak (I used flat iron)

1) To large mixing bowl, add: broccoli, red bell pepper, carrots, peas, and green onions; mix and set aside

2) Prepare spaghetti al dente according to package directions

3) Meanwhile, to small bowl add: chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and black pepper; mix and set sauce aside

4) Drain and rinse spaghetti and set aside

5) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add steak and sear each side 1-2 minutes (meat will be rare, but you’ll be cooking it a bit more shortly); transfer steak to cutting board and let rest

6) Reduce skillet heat to medium and add broccoli veggie mix; cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally

7) Meanwhile, slice steak into thin bite-sized pieces; stir steak into veggies followed by broth-hoisin sauce and noodles; cook, stirring often, until steak reaches desired doneness; remove from heat and serve with extra soy sauce

Servings: 6