Potato & Leek Soup

Original Recipe HERE

This is a very simple recipe that makes a great basic soup.  Despite being potato-based, it wasn't heavy or "dense."  I served it warm with toasted slices of a whole wheat baguette topped with a roasted garlic/butter/grated parmesan spread.  Both kids had four bowls.  Yes, four.

I had been cautiously optimistic that I'd outgrown my lactose intolerance (or at least a lactose sensitivity).  This soup made me a little worried I had a full-blown attack on the way, but I was able to fight it off and enjoy my meal.

1 pound leeks (approximately 3-5 medium), white and light green parts only
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
5 small Yukon gold potatoes
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 Tablespoon snipped chives [optional]

(1) Melt butter in large soup pot over medium heat.
(2) Meanwhile, thinly slice leeks into rings.  Rinse in colander to remove all dirt.
(3) Add leeks and salt to pot; sweat for 5 minutes.  Decrease heat to medium-low; cook until leeks are tender (10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
(4) Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into small chunks.
(5) Add potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until potatoes are soft (30-40 minutes).
(6) Turn off heat.  Puree soup with immersion blender until smooth.
(7) Add cream, buttermilk, and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
(8) Serve hot or cold.  Garnish with chives after spooning into bowls.

Notes: I will try half-and-half, or even whole milk, to see how well I tolerate the soup.  Also, the soup was a nice consistency but thinner than expected.  Adding a few more potatoes would thicken it up if desired.

Kid Participation: None.

Egg & Cheese Quesadilla

Original Recipe HERE

I wasn't sure if this should be served as breakfast or dinner.  But it doesn't really matter, since I'm a big fan of breakfast-for-dinner (especially when I haven't got anything else planned and it's 5:30pm..."Who wants pancakes?!").  A handy dish to have in your repertoire with ingredients that can be adjusted for anyone's taste.  Always nice to have a meal when everyone gets exactly what they want (that is, unless they don't like Egg & Cheese Quesadillas in the first place).

4 large eggs
splash of milk
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 cup pinto or black beans
finely chopped vegetables (green pepper, onion, mushroom, etc.) [optional]
1 cup Mexican cheese blend
4 tortillas
salsa [optional]
guacamole [optional]
sour cream [optional]

(1) Whisk eggs in bowl with splash of milk, salt, and pepper.
(2) Place 1 tsp of oil in a 9" pan (whatever is slightly larger than tortilla) over medium heat, coating the bottom of pan.
(3) Pour the whisked eggs, tilting pan to spread them across evenly.  Let omelette cook for 20 seconds.
(4) Sprinkle beans and vegetables on top; let it cook for another 20 seconds. Using spatula, gently go along the edges of the omelette, lifting away from pan to loosen.
(5) Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of cheese on top of eggs.
(6) Place one tortilla on top of eggs.  Flip it onto plate, tortilla side down.  Slide eggs, tortilla side-down, back into pan.
(7) Sprinkle another 2 Tablespoons of cheese on top of eggs.  Place another tortilla on top to cover.
(8) Cook quesadilla for 1 minute, pressing down lightly with spatula to help melt the cheese.  Flip quesadilla to cook other side for additional 30 seconds (or until cheese melts and tortilla is golden).
(9) Cut into wedges and serve with optional accompaniments.

Notes: My tortillas got a little dry; I think I had the burner heat too high.  Next time I'll be more watchful.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk eggs & milk
* Smear accompaniments all over top of quesdilla

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Original Recipe HERE

I whipped this together when I realized I needed a side dish to feed our out-of-town guests.  By whipped, I mean frantically raided the refrigerator and pantry for any items that seemed like they could be combined and not taste awful.  Surprisingly, this turned out well, even though I served it less than an hour after making it.  Letting it sit overnight would be even better.

* For salad
1 head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
1-2 bunches of broccoli (about 1 pound total before trimming)
3 ribs celery, sliced (about 3/4 cup sliced)
1/2 red onion (or onion of your choice), sliced or chopped (about 3/4 cup sliced)
2 carrots [or a handful of baby carrots], washed and thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

* For dressing
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder [substitute Dijon if necessary]
1/2 cup light olive oil or oil of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1) Wash cauliflower, remove stem and solid "heart," and cut into small bite-size florets (about 8 cups).
2) Wash broccoli and cut into small bite-size florets (about 5-6 cups).
3) Place cauliflower and broccoli florets, celery, onion, carrots, and green pepper (if using) in large bowl.
4) In medium mixing bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour over veggies and toss to combine and coat.
5) Chill salad for a few hours or overnight (can keep in the fridge for several days).

Notes: None.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dressing ingredients
* Stir entire salad together

Mushroom & Leek Tart

Original Recipe HERE

This took a bit more time to make than I'd anticipated (probably mostly due to two particularly clingy, attention-seeking little ones that night), but it was worth the work.  I'm sure you could use a store-bought crust to make life easier, but the one included in the recipe was much better than anything Pillsbury offers.

* For the crust:
1 cup flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
7 Tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

* For the filling:
3 Tablespoons butter
3 leeks, white and very light green parts halved, cleaned, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound chanterelles [or any other mushrooms; I used baby bella] cut into about 1-in. pieces
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves *OR* 1 teaspoon dried [I used dried]
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated gruyère cheese

* To make crust:
(1) Cut butter into small cubes and place in freezer for 20 minutes.
(2) In medium bowl *OR* bowl of food processor, combine flour, salt, and pepper.
(3) Rub butter into flour until it resembles cornmeal but some larger, pea-size pieces remain *OR* pulse butter into flour until coarse, cornmeal-textured mixture forms.
(4) Drizzle 3 Tablespoons ice-cold water into dough while stirring quickly with a fork *OR* drizzle ice water into food processor (while running) until dough comes together.
(5) Turn dough onto large piece of plastic wrap.  Fold wrap over dough; press into 1"-thick disk.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
(6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
(7) Lightly flour work surface. Unwrap dough.  Using rolling pin, gently roll it (turning dough 90 degrees between each roll) into 12" circle.
(8) Place rolled-out dough into 9 1/2" tart pan. Trim edges flush with pan edges.
(9) Cover dough with large piece of aluminum foil.  Weigh foil down with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice.
(10) Bake crust 20 minutes. Lift foil and weights off crust and bake until beginning to turn golden, about 10 additional minutes. Let crust cool to room temperature if possible.

* To make filling:
(1) While crust bakes, melt butter in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and salt.  Cook, stirring, until leeks are soft, about 3 minutes.
(2) Turn heat to high.  Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have given off their liquid, 5 to 10 minutes.
(3) Stir in thyme, cream, and pepper.  Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.

* To bake tart:
(1) Spread half of grated cheese over tart crust. Spread leek-mushroom mixture on top.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
(2) Cover loosely wiht foil to prevent severe browning of crust.  Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes: Maybe I should experiment and find the best store-bought crust available, just for the sake of this being a quicker-to-prepare weeknight meal.  Other cheeses could also be substituted.

Kid Participation: None...this was something better left to Mom.


Garbanzo, Tomato, & Pasta Soup

Original Recipe HERE

*N* read a book in which the young characters ate tomato soup, so guess what she asked me to serve for dinner.  I had already had this recipe in the hopper to make this week, so I figured it would be close enough.

Both kids enjoyed most of it: *N* picked out the onions and some tomatoes, and *J* ate everything except the chickpeas (which I find strange, since he adores hummus, but he always locates the garbanzos in anything I make and leaves them on his tray).  Both asked for second and third helpings, so this will be made again.

I followed the recipe closely, and next time I'll just use any type of canned tomato I have on hand (usually diced).  Also, any sort of small pasta, like ditalini or orzo, would work just as well - but they aren't as fun.  Toward the end of the meal, *N* enjoyed hiding various elements of the soup between two shells and asking me to guess what was in there.  Dinner and a show!

45 to 50 oz vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups small seashell pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried ground thyme
salt and pepper to taste

(1) Bring vegetable broth to a boil in large pot. Add pasta; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.
(2) Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until translucent.
(3) Add spinach and garbanzo beans to pan.  Increase heat slightly; sautee until spinach is wilted.
(4) Stir vegetables into pasta.  Add tomato paste, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Heat through and serve.

Notes: I assume chicken broth would work just as well.  *J* may accept different beans (cannellini?).
Kid Participation: None.