Month: October 2015

Smashed Potato Soup

smashed potato soup

Whenever I want a hearty, vegetarian-friendly soup I go to this potato soup. Recently, I spruced it up a bit to make it more flavorful and easier to actually make.

Many potato soup recipes call for a blender or food processor. I have several issues with this. First, on a really basic level it concerns me to put boiling liquids into any machine that will spin them around at high speeds. It just doesn’t seem super safe. Second, I will be honest with y’all, it’s just too much effort. I have to get the cuisine art out of the top shelf, which requires William’s help because I can’t even reach it, I have to put the thing together, then I have to take the soup in batches and process it, probably burning myself in the process and accruing double the dishwashing duty I had originally planned for. Just…no. Finally, I really like preserving the natural texture of mashed potatoes. I think they are delicious, and in soup form with cheese, fake bacon, and all sorts of other things on top– I mean, it’s amazing.

Really, that’s why I’m calling this “smashed potato soup”. It’s probably the weirdest thing about the recipe, but you do have to spend some time smashing the potatoes against the side of the pot. However, it gives you complete control over the texture of your soup and it means no messy/dangerous boiling-liquids-in-the-food-processor situations! ūüôā

smashed potato soup

Smashed Potato Soup
makes about 6 servings (assuming 2 cups per person)

Ingredients
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 large shallots, minced
1 head of garlic (peeled, whole)*

3 lbs yellow potatoes, diced
2 large leeks cleaned and cut

5 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon herbs d’Provence
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, rinsed and chopped
1/3 cup sour cream

optional toppings
cheddar cheese
fake bacon
sour cream
chives

*You can slice off the end and it makes the entire clove much easier to peel.

smashed potato soup

Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the minced shallots and the garlic head. The garlic should be peeled, but does not need to be chopped as it will naturally dissolve into the soup! Let this simmer for a few minutes, until the onions and garlic become browned and fragrant.

Add in the diced potatoes, leeks (chopped and cleaned), and vegetable broth. Simmer for twenty minutes.

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Add in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and other herbs. Let simmer for another twenty to thirty minutes. Continually stir the mixture, checking on the doneness of the potatoes. Depending on what type of soup you want (brothier vs creamier), you can let the soup simmer for less time or more! The longer it simmers the more smashed the potatoes will be, and the creamier the soup will be.

Once they become soft enough to smash, use a large spoon to slowly smash them against the side of the pot. The soup will slowly become thicker. The thickness is totally up to you! If you would like to completely process the soup in a food processor, you can, but I prefer the hand method so I can get the exact thickness and potato chunks that I want!

Peel the carrots. Chop the carrots and celery. Add these into the soup and cook for another 10 minutes. Continue stirring and smashing the potatoes.

Add in the sour cream and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

After this, your soup is ready to serve with any and all desired toppings!

smashed potato soup

Enjoy!

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Conchiglioni Ripieni al Forno (Baked, Stuffed Pasta Shells)

conchiglioni

This recipe is one of my favorite meals when I want a big plate of pasta! It is easy to make and delicious!

Recently, my grandmother made something similar to this for me and I won’t lie- hers was better (but isn’t that always the case?). I believe she stuffs the¬†conchiglioni¬†with ricotta and mozzarella, but I like to sub in some cottage cheese to make it less fatty. This probably contributes to the change in flavor and texture. If you want to go all out, and not worry about the nutrition of it, I’d actually recommend using all ricotta. In my state of pre-wedding figure-concern, I felt the need to switch it up. It was still delicious, and super easy!

conchigioni

 

Conchiglioni Ripieni al Forno

serves 8-10

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons minced, fresh parsley
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

12 ounces conchiglioni grandi

32 ounces pasta sauce (store bought, or homemade like this)

several large pans (13 x 9)

fresh basil and parmesan to top

conchiglioni

 

First, create your filling: combine the cheeses, eggs, parsley, pepper, and salt in a large bowl.

 

Cook the pasta according to box instructions. Use a good amount of salt, pepper, and olive oil in the boiling water so that the shells are flavorful and do not stick to one another. Let them cook to be al dente and drain them to cool.

conchiglioni

 

Take half the sauce (about 2 cups) and spread it across the bottom of one 13 x 9 pan. Stuff each shell with a tablespoon or two of filling and carefully place it into the pan.

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Top with parmesan and bake at 375¬į F for about thirty minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Do the same with a second pan and the remainder of the shells and filling.

Top with fresh basil. Serve immediately (I count around four shells per serving).

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate, Espresso Cookies with Sea Salt

espresso cookie

These cookies are my new favorite. They are not very child-friendly or pregnant-person friendly, because they do in fact contain espresso powder. However, they are soft and chewy and sweet and salty and even a little bitter to the taste! They have a kick of caffeine and they stay nice and soft for at least a week or two after being made!!

espresso cookies

They are the answer to every craving (excepting, perhaps, the late-nite snack run). Truth be told, you also have the option of using decaf instant espresso for an all-day treat, accessible to anyone with a penchant for that delicious mocha flavor.

To top it all off, they are incredibly easy to make. The actual mixing time is about fifteen minutes, and baking time is ten to fifteen.¬†Be aware, though, you must let the batter chill for an hour or two after being made, otherwise, these cookies will melt all over your oven.¬†However, they stay so delicious and yummy even a week after being made, that you can always prep the dough ahead of time and bake ahead of time¬†or¬†prep the dough and let it chill for a day or two before you actually need to bake them! Either way- you’ve got plenty of options, and no excuse not to let yourself enjoy these fabulous cookies.

espresso cookies

 

Dark Chocolate, Espresso Cookies with Sea Salt

(makes about 18-20 cookies)

Ingredients

1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon finely-ground sea salt

2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure, vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons espresso powder

2 ounces chocolate chips (any cocoa percentage is fine)
coarsely-ground sea salt for dusting

espresso cookies

 

First, mix the flour, baking powder, and finely-ground sea salt in a large bowl.

espresso cookies

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar.

Over a pot of boiling water, in a medium-sized metal bowl, melt together the bittersweet chocolate, butter, and espresso powder. Stir continuously. For faster melting, chop all of the ingredients before putting them together over heat.

espresso cookies

Let the melted chocolate mixture cool for about five minutes. Combine it with the egg mixture and whisk. Add in the dry ingredients and mix. Finally, add in the chocolate chips (we used dark chocolate) to create the dough!

Chill the dough for an hour or two at least. If you are making it ahead of time, you can chill it for up to two days.

To bake- cover a pan in parchment paper and place the dough in rounded tablespoons. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325¬į F. The cookies are done when the tops begin to crackle!

Take them out of the oven and let them cool for about five minutes.

 

Dust with coarse sea salt and enjoy!