Tortellini and Spinach Soup
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Oct 31, 2011 | 5280 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Tortellini and Spinach Soup
Tortellini and Spinach Soup
slideshow
Total approximate time from start to finish: 25-30 minutes

This is one of the most delicious and easiest soup recipes I’ve ever encountered. I found this one in the Food and Wine Quick from Scratch Soup and Salad Cookbook. If you like garlic, spinach and tortellini, you will absolutely love this soup. It is perfect on a cold day. It is also a nice substitute for chicken soup when you’re feeling under the weather. The base is a garlic chicken broth and the spinach is full of nutrients as well. It is just as delectable the next day after the flavors have had a little time to combine. We love to eat this with crusty garlic bread.

Here is what you will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups water
3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 pound of frozen tortellini
1 pound of fresh spinach
Grated parmesan to sprinkle on top at the end.

The Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (I like to add salt to my water for seasoning the pasta as it cooks, about 1 tablespoon per large pot of water). While you are waiting for your water to boil, go ahead with the next step below. Once the water is at a rolling boil, cook the tortellini, making sure you stir often for about 12-14 minutes. Once it is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. You want to make sure your heat is not too high and that you don’t cook it took long. You want it to still be a light, white/opaque color when you’re finished – not brown. Add the water, broth and salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. This will create the yummy base for your soup.

Add the spinach to the soup and cook it about 1 minute until it is wilted. One pound of spinach will look like a TON when you are adding it to the soup but it cooks down and really adds a nice body to the soup. Once it is wilted, gently stir in the tortellini. Top each bowl with a small handful of shredded parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

A note about the ingredients: You can find the frozen, plain tortellini in the freezer section of your grocery store. It is usually located near the frozen biscuits and the frozen garlic bread.

As for the garlic – use the fresh if you can. I know so many folks that are timid about using fresh garlic but you can really taste the difference! Look in the onion section at your grocery store and you will find heads of garlic sold loosely like onions. A nice head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not have any brown or mushy spots. I’ve used white and light purple garlic but the taste is really the same. Under the skin you will see little sections – those are cloves. A quick way to prepare garlic: separate however many cloves you need (leave the little skins around the cloves). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the stem end. Put the garlic on your cutting board and lay the flat end of your knife on top. Using the heel of your hand, give it a good smack. This will loosen the skins away from your clove of garlic and you can separate it out much easier than painstakingly peeling each clove by hand. As an added bonus, it is already a little smashed and ready for mincing.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Oct 24, 2011 | 3289 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies
slideshow
I can remember growing up thinking the ready to bake cookies were amazing! I’m old enough to have been around when they first started producing them; you could find them in the freezer section. I think the brand was Mrs. Good Cookie? My brother and I adored Mrs. Good Cookie because we could grab them out of the freezer and have fresh chocolate chip cookies in a matter of minutes. Now that I’m older, I have to say the homemade cookies put all of the “ready to bake” cookies to shame. I just love a homemade cookie. Maybe my tastes have changed? Maybe I’ve become a bit of a food snob? Maybe I’m older now and can appreciate the time put into making homemade cookies and I just think they taste better? I don’t know the answer. I do know that you can’t find oatmeal butterscotch cookies in the “ready to bake” section… And these cookies are amazing. I actually found this recipe on the back of a bag of Nestle butterscotch chips. I must admit at first glance I was quite unsure that oats and butterscotch needed to be together at all, much less in a cookie. I love a cooking adventure though so I made them and we love them. They are just as simple as other made from scratch recipes; you just add a few extra ingredients (oats, cinnamon, etc.). These cookies are so unique but still soft, delicate and delicious.

What you will need:
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks of butter, softened)
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups quick oats
1, 11oz package of butterscotch chips

The Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract with a mixer until it is creamy. Add the eggs one at a time making sure to beat well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until you have a nice chocolate dough consistency. Stir in the oatmeal and butterscotch chips. Drop by the teaspoon full onto an UNGREASED cookie sheet.

Bake them for 9-10 minutes until the center is set. The edges will look a little crisper than the rest. Do not over bake them; they will firm up on the cookie sheet after you take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for at least 15-20 minutes.

Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Rice
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Oct 16, 2011 | 2862 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Rice
Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Rice
slideshow

Total approximate time from start to finish: 35-40 minutes

FALL IS HERE! The leaves are changing colors, temperatures are a little cooler (on some days at least) and it’s finally time for soup! I could honestly eat soup every day of the year but my family prefers that I limit the soup dinners to when it is 72 degrees or less. Not to say that I don’t sneak a pot of vegetable soup in during the summer… But I do get excited when fall arrives because there are so many wonderful recipes out there for soup. Just about every culture eats some kind of soup or stew. I am so excited to share several of my favorite recipes over the next few months.

This particular recipe is probably my husband’s absolute favorite dinner (and he’s not a huge fan of soup!). They actually had soup day at his office last year. Different folks brought various kinds of soup and raised money for Relay for Life and I made this one for him to take. Most people were a little reserved at first because let’s face it; most of the white soups you find in the south are made of chili (white chicken chili anyone?). However, I am told it was devoured in less than 20 minutes. It is really delicious and has all of the right flavor combinations. It is wonderful right after you make it and even for leftovers the next day. I think I mentioned in a previous post just how much we love Thai food. If you are familiar with the coconut soup found in a Thai restaurant, this recipe builds on that amazing soup. It is heartier with the addition of rice and chicken. You can make it hours in advance or even the night before if you want a warm and hearty dinner ready to eat the next night. If you make it in advance, it helps to keep some chicken broth on hand to thin it out a little as you warm it up. It thickens as it cools but the chicken broth works beautifully to thin it out and retain every bit of the yummy flavor.

Here is what you will need:

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small chunks
3 tablespoons of Asian Fish sauce (you can find this at Winn Dixie or Kroger)
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lime juice plus extra lime wedges for serving
4 ¾ cups of low sodium chicken broth
3 strips of lemon zest/peel (3 inches long, about ½ inch wide)
1 piece of peeled, fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), cut into about 4-6 chunks
1 cup of jasmine or basmati rice (uncooked)
1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk (on the Asian food aisle)
2 jalapeño peppers, diced into fine pieces (leave the seeds and ribs if you want extra heat, remove them for less spice)
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (and a little extra for garnish)
A few sprinkles of dried red pepper flakes for garnish


The Instructions:

In a medium glass dish, add the chicken, fish sauce and lime juice. Make sure it is thoroughly coated then put it aside while you prepare the base of the soup.

In a large stew pot, add the broth, lemon zest strips and ginger. Bring it to a boil then reduce it down to medium and let it simmer. Add the rice and let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until your rice is done.

Add the coconut milk next and make sure you shake the can very well before you open it. The contents will sometimes separate over time and it is harder to get out of the can and is a little harder to blend into the soup. After you add the coconut milk, bring it back up to a simmer (medium to medium high depending on your stove). Stir in the chicken/fish sauce/lime juice mixture and cook it for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is done. The first time I made this recipe I was paranoid that 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to cook the chicken. But the soup is hot enough that it cooks the chicken very quickly and very thoroughly. If the soup is too thick for your liking, just add chicken broth until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir in the jalapeños and cilantro and it is ready to serve. I like to sprinkle a little extra cilantro on top as well as some dried red pepper flakes - it adds to the flavor and it makes a nice presentation.

Note – if you are making it in advance, save the cilantro and add it right before you serve the soup otherwise it loses it’s pretty green color. You can do the same with the jalapeños if you like your soup a little less spicy. Making it in advance with the jalapeños included increases the spice because the flavors have time to really meld together.

When serving this to company, I usually fish out the lemon strips and the ginger chunks right before serving. I don’t mind the sudden burst of ginger or lemon but it can be a little surprising if it’s your first time eating the dish. I just love serving this soup with some crusty bread and maybe a salad. However, if you don’t have time for the extras – it is a meal in and of itself. Also, make sure you serve it with lime wedges – I know its a little extra trouble but it is well worth it. The lime juice adds the final touch which sends the flavors bursting forward in this delicious and fairly simple soup.

A Note about the ingredients: Asian Fish Sauce and canned coconut milk can be found on the Asian food aisle at Winn Dixie, Kroger or Food World. When you are extracting the lime juice, you don’t need a fancy juicer, just a fork. Cut it in half right down the middle where the stem end is to your left or right. Stick the fork in the middle and turn it with one hand while squeezing the lime half with the other hand. It works every time and saves on clean up. On the lemon peel – it may seem like a pain but don’t skip this step – the lemon adds an essential flavor to the broth. It is very simple, just use a very sharp knife and starting at the stem end, peel down the side of the lemon being careful to get only lemon peel if possible (you want there to be very little white on the other side of your strip). If yours doesn’t stay in one solid strip, do not fret - the soup will still be delicious. If you plan to take out the lemon strips and ginger before you serve it, just make a note of how many strips you put in. For the ginger – you can find it in the produce section of your local grocery store. I usually break off about what I need and only purchase that amount. Otherwise I end up with a huge chunk of ginger in my fridge that will probably go to waste. Ginger has a nice thin skin and it should peel off nicely with a sharp knife. It is a bit fibrous when you cut it but that will dissolve as it cooks in the broth.

Mom’s Cream Cheese Cookies
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Oct 06, 2011 | 2737 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Mom's Cream Cheese Cookies
Mom's Cream Cheese Cookies
slideshow

Total Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 25 minutes total (about 8 minutes per pan)

Even at a young age, I loved being in the kitchen and helping with whatever task I was given. Needless to say my Mom is an amazingly patient and loving woman. I am so thankful that she took the time and energy to teach me even the most basic cooking techniques. I can remember the various versions of this recipe until she had it “just right.” I have loved this recipe for a very long time. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve this recipe. I can remember watching the old clay-mation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and during the “scary” parts I would run to the kitchen and “assist” my Mom while she baked these cookies. Mostly I think I just sampled during the “non-scary” parts. It is very simple and one of those “mostly from scratch” recipes. However, it is one of the most unique and delicious cookie recipes I’ve ever encountered. I love bringing this to an old fashioned cookie swap around Christmas time. Everyone always skips over them thinking they are just a simple sugar cookie – they do appear very similar. That is, until one person takes a bite and then the plate is usually empty within 15-20 minutes. It is a very moist cookie – delicate, delicious and easy to make.

What you will need:
1 8oz package of cream cheese (at room temp)
¼ cup softened butter (1/2 stick)
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 box butter recipe golden cake mix

The Instructions:   
In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter with your mixer. Add egg yolk, cake mix and vanilla. Drop by the teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Pull them out as soon as they start getting golden brown AROUND THE EDGES. If you like your cookies more firm – let the tops get a little golden brown. If you’re like me though and you love a moist and yummy cookie – pull them out when the edges are golden brown.  They will also be golden brown on the bottom. Leave them on the cookie sheet for at least 20 minutes. The heat from the pan will continue cooking them and they will firm up nicely.

Easy 3 Bean Salad
by RaDonnaRidner-Thurman
 Savory Servings
Oct 03, 2011 | 2244 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Easy Three Bean Salad
Easy Three Bean Salad
slideshow

Total prep time: about 15 minutes
Total cook time: 5 minutes

We are a “take your lunch to work” family. We weren’t always that way. It is so tempting to get out of the office and grab something from a fast food restaurant. As we’ve gotten older we’ve been more cognizant of what we are putting in our bodies. Both my husband and I have a terrible family history when it comes to cancer, diabetes, etc. So over the past year, we’ve been trying to eat healthier, exercise more, blah-blah-blah. The blahs are in reference to just how dreary it can be to eat healthy as well as find time to exercise. However – you can absolutely tell a difference in how you feel. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy our sweets (just refer all of my brownie and cookie posts!). We just try to limit how many we eat and balance it out with some exercise. I do love this recipe because it is healthy and easy to make. It makes a great side item and it keeps well in a lunchbox (with a little cold pack). It’s high in protein and low in cholesterol, sugar and sodium. What is the best thing about this recipe? It is all of those “healthy” things and it is absolutely delicious too.

Here is what you will need:

2 cups of frozen edamame (sweet soybeans)
1, 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1, 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup red onion sliced very thin
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
¼ cup lime juice
½ teaspoon salt



The Instructions:
Cook your edamame according to package directions (you can find these in the freezer aisle at any grocery store – look in the frozen vegetables section). After they are cooked, drain them and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

In a large bowl, add the soybeans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, onion and cilantro. Stir gently to combine. In a separate, glass bowl combine the olive oil, lime zest and lime juice and salt together – stir vigorously to thoroughly combine them.

Toss the bean mixture with your dressing and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Make sure you stir it/mix it before you serve it. You can also top it with some fresh chopped cilantro if you want. I like to store mine in a large Tupperware so that I can just shake the entire container before I open it. Everything gets mixed up nicely without the extra step of stirring it.

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