Roasted Tomato Soup with Kale and White Beans

OK so I lied. This post is up on Thursday as opposed to Wednesday. I was fully intending to write this when we got back on Tuesday night, but a combination of a lingering back problem and a packed day of work on Wednesday has pushed this soup post back a day. But I think it is worth the wait.

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Tomato soup is probably my favorite soup. There is nothing quite as comforting as a bowl of rich, creamy tomato soup. I had been wanting to make my own tomato soup for awhile and then one day, this recipe popped in to my head. It was super easy to make and took less than an hour. This recipe made two lunches worth of soup for me, so  double the ingredients if you are making this for a crowd.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Kale and White Beans

6 to 8 roma tomatoes, cut in half (roma tomatoes work the best for this recipe)
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 can of white beans (whichever type you prefer)
3 cups kale, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper

1) Roast the tomatoes. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Place the cut tomatoes on a baking sheet along with half of the onion, cut in to big pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, add the spices and toss until they are coated. Place in oven and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops of the tomatoes look a little caramelized, but not burned. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before placing them in a soup or stock pot.

2) While the tomatoes are cooling, heat up a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet. Saute the other half of the onion, also cut in to large pieces, until softened. Then add white beans and cook for another few minutes. At this point you can either pick out the onions and add to the roasted tomatoes and onions or leave them whole.

3) Use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes and onions until the mixture is smooth. I left mine a little chunky as a matter of taste. If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully add the roasted tomatoes and onions to a regular blender and blend until smooth. Then pour the soup in to the pot.

4) Heat the soup over medium-high heat for five minutes, or until the soup is hot enough for you. Add the white beans and kale and simmer until the kale has wilted. If after the kale is wilted you’d like a thinner soup, add some water or stock until the desired consistency is reached. You could serve immediately or let sit for up to an hour. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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Greetings from South Florida

I know it is kinda late but I just wanted to pop on and say “HELLO” from South Florida. We’ve been enjoying a few days in the sun, checking out Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and eating some delicious food. I’ll be back to normal posting Wednesday (I got an awesome soup recipe for you). But for now, I leave you with this mouthwatering photo of cannoli gelato I took at a shop on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale.

Drool
Drool

Friday Five

1) I am a chronic snacker. I feel like I purposely eat smaller meals so I won’t feel as guilty that I snack as much as I do. One of my favorite go-to nighttime snacks is microwave “baked” apples. I love me some baked apples all warm and cinnamony-y, but who wants to go to all that effort for a nighttime snack? I make them in the microwave. Slice up an apple (I find granny smiths work best), drizzle with a bit of honey, add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Microwave for 45 second to a minute until the apples are tender. Enjoy. If you are really feeling sassy, top with some whipped cream.

2) As a transplanted Southern, I love me some grits. Specifically cheese grits. I have never been able to replicate the richness of cheese grits I get at restaurants — until just this week.

Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits

The grits in this shrimp and grits were fantastic. Best part? I used this recipe from Cooking Light, so now I can make them all the time and not feel super guilty about it.

3) For as much as I like cooking, there are just some weeks when I don’t feel all that enthused about making dinner. That’s how I was this week. I blame daylight saving time. It’s dark at like 5:30 pm. It makes me want to sit on the couch. But luckily, I always have some sort of lazy dinner idea in my back pocket. One night we had these kale and white bean ravioli. Last night we had pumpkin pancakes for dinner. I don’t hate it.

4) I went to the allergist this week to get tested. While I found out I am allergic to cats (which is problematic seeing as we have one) I was SO thankful that I am not allergic to any food. I always feel for people who can’t have shellfish or nuts. Yes, food is so important to me that being allergic to something would be tragic.

5) Eric and I are heading to Miami this weekend for a little mini-break. Needless to say, I’ve very excited to lay out on South Beach.

travel-blog-miami-beach-950x635Of course I am also excited about eating. We made reservations for dinner at Local House for Sunday. And we’re definitely going to get some Cuban food and stone crab (hopefully from Joe’s). If you want to keep up on everything we are eating, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Happy weekend everyone!

Farro Salad with Chicken and Greens

Today I want to talk to you about farro. Pronounced far-oh, farro is “composed of the grains of certain wheat species in whole form” (thanks, Wikipedia). Basically it’s another ancient grain type product that might be the next quinoa. Well, at least in my opinion.

I made my first farro dish a few months ago and fell in love with it. I find that using the Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro makes things easier since the grain is already pre-cooked a bit and you don’t have to go through the whole soaking overnight process.

Farro is a blank canvas. You can serve it as is with a pinch of salt, cooked in chicken stock for more flavor. Or you can jazz it up — which is what I like to do. Here is the recipe for my most recent creation.

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Farro Salad with Chicken and Greens

3/4 cup Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro (about half the package)
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 chicken breasts or about 3 chicken thighs, cut in to cubes
1 glove garlic
1 tbls olive oil
2 large handfuls of greens (I used a mix of spinach, kale and Swiss chard)
1/4 cup Ken’s Oil and Vinegar Dressing (any sort of vinagrette dressing will work)
Parmesan cheese, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

1) Cook the farro according to package directions. Bring water or stock to a boil and cook the farro for 10 minutes. I usually cook mine for 9 because I like it to have a little bit more of a chewy bite.
2) While the farro is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is totally done, about 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool.
3) Drain the farro. Place the greens in a large mixing bowl. Dump the drain farro over the greens, allowing them to wilt from the heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
4) Add the chicken and the salad dressing and stir to combine. Season will salt and pepper. Add the cheese if desired. Serve warm or chill in the fridge before serving. I prefer to eat this chilled.

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Restaurant Review: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q

Monday’s are always my busiest day at work and today is no different. So I decided to share a quick restaurant review for you so you wouldn’t go post-less.

I mentioned at the very start of this blog that Eric and I were working our way through Atlanta Magazine’s list of top BBQ places in town, and this weekend we crossed another off our list. We’d already hit the top four places off the list and decided to jump right to No. 7 — Fox Bros.

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I’d heard a lot about Fox Bros since living in Georgia, but had never stopped by. Lots of my friends say it is their favorite, so I was eager to give it a go. Eric and I headed out Saturday night after the UGA game and my parents tagged along with us.

The wait wasn’t too bad considering it was a Saturday night. First glance at the menu showed that they had a good mix of traditional BBQ fare as well as some unique takes on the classics (my dad ordered the foxaroni as a side, which was a mix of mac and cheese and brunswick stew. Never had seen that before).

I had stuffed myself with snacks while watching football (I have a tendency to stress eat) so I wasn’t that hungry and opted for the BBQ salad with dark meat chicken. I LOVED the chicken. It was tender, juicy and full of flavor. I’m not a big pulled pork person and usually order chicken or turkey while at BBQ restaurants, and this was some of the best I’d had. Eric got the brisket plate with a side of mac and cheese and their famous Frito pie.

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I never thought a dish served out of a chip bag could be so tasty. The Frito pie was amazing. Crunchy, salty, spicy, meaty. My dad loved it so much he said he would add it to death bed meal list (we all have those, right?). The mac and cheese was also delicious, second in my mind to my favorite mac and cheese from Swallow at the Hollow.

The only disappointment of the meal was their potato salad. My mom ordered it and it was just…odd. The flavor was good, but it had the consistency of mashed potatoes rather than potato salad, if that makes any sense. We all agreed we would skip it the next time.

And there will be a next time. I have been loyal to Swallow at the Hollow for years, saying it is the best BBQ in Atlanta in my opinion. Fox Bros is a close, close second. I am already dreaming about the next time I can get some of that Frito pie.

Friday Five

1) I love cheese. I could never be a vegan because I could never give up cheese. We usually have at least five types of cheese in our fridge at any given time. I like to have options. Which is my new obsession is cheese remnants.

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I get mine at my local Kroger but I’ve seen them at Whole Foods as well. It’s a little slice of cheese usually left over from a bigger chunk that retails for about $1 to $2. It’s great for if you are making a cheese plate for a party or just want to sample some new cheese. I discovered bellavitano just a few weeks ago and my life is better for it. The ones I get also come with little blurbs about the cheese. It’s a cheese lovers dream!

2) I have been a coffee drinker since college. I used to not care for the taste, but once you find yourself staying up all night writing papers, you learn to love it. I used to just buy whatever Folgers or Maxwell House was on sale, but I’ve learned that I should be treating myself to good coffee since I enjoy it so much. I just bought this New Orleans Dark Roast from The Fresh Market and it is so, so delicious.

3) The bag of Halloween candy I bought for trick or treaters included some good stuff — Reese’s Pumpkins, mini Hershey Bars, York Peppermint Patties. But the leftover pieces I’ve been enjoying the most are the Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Bars. I haven’t had one of these in years but I now remember just how delicious they are. I’m going to have to hide the rest of I they will be gone before the end of the day today.

4) Something else I picked up from Fresh Market this week (can you sense a new trend?) were some delicious apple chips. I’ve always been a fan of apple chips, the crispier the better. I bought some awhile back at Costco that were more chewy than crispy, but the Fresh Market ones are just the right amount of crispness. Now that I have my new fancy mandolin, I might try to make some of my own. Anyone have a go to recipe for apple chips they want to share?

5) Today is November 1 which means my favorite holiday is just a few weeks away. I have always loved Thanksgiving more than Christmas, possibly because I have been food obsessed for as long as I can remember. I’m biased by my mom makes THE BEST Thanksgiving dinner around. I hope to make one as good as her someday, but right now, I stick to my role as crescent roll maker. I’m going to spend the next month daydreaming about her sweet potato casserole and perfect stuffing. Mmmmm.