The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

February 2012 archive

Meatless Monday: Split Pea & Barley Soup with Homemade Croutons

 

Yesterday  in L.A. it was cold out. And grey. What I mean is, we had to wear socks & jackets. But we didn’t – we wore flip flops.

Anyway, what better meal to come home to at the end of the day than a thick, warm soup with homemade croutons? Try this for your next Meatless Monday (since it’s now Tuesday…)

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I made a barley vegetable soup a few month ago and it was really good but this one is WAY better. I had bought a bag of dried split peas a few weeks earlier because I thought they’d be tasty but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with them. Since I still had some barley in my cupboard, I looked for a recipe combining the two and VOILA! With some adjustments I had a hearty, thick and really tasty soup. It called for croutons and since I didn’t have any I made ‘em! This is the first time and I want to tell you – make croutons as often as you have soup. They are REALLY easy to make & add that extra something that soup sometimes needs.

Here we go! You’ll need these items:
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SOUP INGREDIENTS:
2 c dried yellow split peas, rinsed & drained
6 carrots, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 c pearl barley, rinsed & drained
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 TBSP olive oil
5 TBSP bouillon (I used vegetarian chicken flavored – you can also use vegetable broth or whatever you have on hand!)
10 c + 8 tsp water (adjust for desired thickness)

Let’s get started!

1. Saute chopped onions in the olive oil until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add crushed garlic for another minute. Be sure to stir occasionally to coat with oil.

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2. Add carrots and celery. Stir to coat with oil and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.

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3. Add split peas and powdered bullion/water to pot OR vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil.

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4. Reduce heat, add bay leaf and barley.

5. Simmer covered for about 2 hours.

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No, it’s not 1:20PM. 60 minutes + 60 minutes.

D’OH!!! That’s a long time.
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6. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add water/broth as needed. I like my soup sort of thick so I didn’t. Sprinkle some croutons on top & serve.

How to make the croutons??

You’ll need:
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CROUTON INGREDIENTS:
6 oz whole grain bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes
Olive oil
2 TBSP butter (or, you can just use 2 more TBSP olive oil which is just as tasty)
1 TBSP Dijon mustard

NOTE: I used one of my homemade breads that I froze a few weeks earlier. If it doesn’t get eaten within the first day or so, I freeze it for croutons. I hadn’t actually made any croutons, EVER, but I knew I would! That said, you can use any old bread you have – so next time you have a couple of heels from your Oroweat sandwich loaf – wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or a ZipLoc and freeze ‘em!)

This is so easy!

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut bread into 1/2″ cubes.

2. Heat olive oil in saucepan. Melt butter in oil over medium heat. (Incidentally, you can also just use oil if you prefer.)

3. Pour heated oil/butter and mustard over bread cubes & toss to coat.

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4. Spread bread cubes across a cookie sheet evenly.
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5. Bake for about 12 minutes. Taste one – it should be crunchy, not chewy. If it’s chewy return it to the oven for another 2 minutes.

Sprinkle atop soup. YUM!

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My helpers:
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5.0 from 1 reviews

Split Pea & Barley Soup with Homemade Croutons
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6
 

Hearty, thick soup topped with crunchy croutons. Perfect for a chilly afternoon!
Ingredients
  • SOUP INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 c dried yellow split peas, rinsed & drained
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ c pearl barley, rinsed & drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 5 TBSP bouillon (I used vegetarian chicken flavored – you can also use vegetable broth or whatever you have on hand!)
  • 10 c + 8 tsp water (adjust for desired thickness)
  • CROUTON INGREDIENTS:
  • About 6 oz whole wheat (or whatever you have on hand) stale or frozen bread, cut into ½” cubes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter (OR skip the butter and just add 2 TBSP more olive oil)
  • salt
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard

Instructions
  1. SOUP INSTRUCTIONS:
  2. In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic & sautee for 1 minute more.
  3. Add chopped carrots and celery, sautéing for another 4 minutes.
  4. Add split peas and water/bullion OR broth (depending what you have on hand.) Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and add bay leaf and barley.
  5. Simmer for about 2 hours. Soup will be thick and cloudy (not clear.) Add water/broth to achieve your desired thickness. Or just leave it alone!
  6. CROUTON INSTRUCTIONS:
  7. Preheat oven to 375.
  8. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in small saucepan. Add butter (or just double the olive oil and omit the butter). When butter is melted, in a medium bowl, pour over bread cubes. Toss to coat.
  9. Spread bread cubes evenly on a cookie sheet, salt to taste & bake for 12 minutes. Cool and test one cube. It should be crunchy. If it’s chewy, bake for another 2 minutes.

Notes
This actually might serve more than 6. Good in refrigerator for 3-4 days. They will stay good in the freezer up to 3 months.

Soup adapted from Food.com
Croutons from Annie’s Eats.

EASY Vegan Chocolate Cake

Don’t be put off by the Vegan aspect – this cake is delicious! It’s also totally safe to lick the batter since there are no raw eggs in it. (Not that I worry too much about that…)

 

If that STILL doesn’t grab you – think of this as the: “I haven’t been to the store in a while but I still want cake!” cake.

Besides love, all you need is:

INGREDIENTS:
2-1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s but original author recommends Dutch processed)
1-1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c warm coffee
1/2 c plus 1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
small handful of chocolate chips/chunks

Let’s get started! I promise you will like this. Mine came out almost like a brownie.

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 in bundt pan (I don’t have one so I used a loaf pan. I’ll include cooking times for both bundt pans and loaf pans.) and dust with cocoa powder.

2. Whisk dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder & salt) together in a large bowl.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together coffee, oil and vanilla.

I didn’t take a picture of this so let your imagination run wild! Oooooo yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

5. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Pay attention to these baking times!

9″ BUNDT PAN: 30-35 mins
LOAF PAN: 35-40 mins
(or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean)

Dust with powdered sugar! I didn’t because one of my kids got the child proof lock off two of my kitchen drawers containing lots and lots of small tupperware dishes and lids as well as assortments of sippy cups and their various attachments. Well, anyway, I was distracted by my own yelling.

Serve with chocolate syrup, a glass of rice milk, or my favorite: a glass of cabernet.

From Joy the Baker.

EASY Vegan Chocolate Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Simple & satisfying vegan chocolate cake for cozy winter days! (What am I talking about? I live in L.A.)
Ingredients
  • 2-1/4 c all purpose flour
  • ½ c cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s but original author recommends Dutch processed)
  • 1-1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c warm coffee
  • ½ c plus 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL: small handful of chocolate chips/chunks

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9″ bundt pan or a loaf pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together wet ingredients (coffee, vegetable oil & vanilla) in a medium bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips (if you have ‘em!)
  5. Pour batter into baking pan. If BUNDT PAN: Bake 30-35 minutes. (or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.) If LOAF PAN: Bake 35-40 minutes. (or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
  6. Dust with powdered sugar & serve!

 

Meatless Monday Wild Rice Casserole

How many Sunday nights have I found myself making promises? To myself.

“Starting tomorrow, I’m going to cut out all sugar.”

“Starting tomorrow, I’m going to do 100 crunches every morning.”

“Starting tomorrow, I’m going to finish _____________.” (Fill-in the blank with one of any countless unfinished projects.)

Screw that! I’m going to make one goal that’s easy to accomplish. I’m going to eat something healthy.

Here’s a simple, yummy recipe for “Meatless Monday.” I think I ate the whole thing myself.

You need:

Too bad, Libby!

INGREDIENTS
2 large eggs (I used egg replacer)
1 c cottage cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 tsp Dijon style mustard
Salt
1 TBSP olive oil or unsalted butter
8 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 c cooked wild rice (and/or brown rice) Btw: it’s a little embarrassing to reveal what a flake I am but I actually boiled 3 c of dry wild rice. Do you know how much COOKED rice that is? A ton. You are supposed to end up with 3 c of cooked rice. But if you do accidentally make a few vats of rice, just put it in some freezer Zip-locs and chuck it in the freezer for next time!
1/3 c grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or thyme

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a medium-large baking dish with olive oil or butter. (I used an 8×11 casserole dish.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, mustard, and a scant 1/2 tsp salt.

3. Heat olive oil over high heat in a large skillet with a pinch of salt.

Stir in mushrooms.
After stirring to coat with oil, leave mushrooms sautéing for about 5 minutes.

Continue cooking, stirring every couple of minutes.

4. Add onions to mushrooms & cook for another 4-5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add garlic, stir and cook for another minute. Remove pan from heat.

5. Add rice to skillet & stir.

6. Add rice mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until combined.

7. Pour mixture into greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with two-thirds of the grated cheese and cover with aluminum foil.

Sometimes I don’t read the directions closely, so I added my tarragon at this point. I actually had fresh tarragon for the first time in my life, having just planted it in my backyard. Even though this is the wrong order, doesn’t this look delish?

Anyway, bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes, until the casserole is golden brown.

This is seriously so good! Serve with a green salad. I didn’t because I never have time to make more than one component. But I would! If this didn’t turn you on, stay tuned for REALLY easy chocolate cake. Remember my No Knead Bread? This is the No Knead Bread of Chocolate Cakes.

 

Here’s a gratuitous kids shot. Valentine’s Night.

 

Meatless Monday Wild Rice Casserole Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Tasty rice side dish that also serves well as a main with a leafy green salad!
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs (or egg replacer)
  • 1 c cottage cheese
  • ½ c sour cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
  • Sea salt
  • 1 TBSP olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 c cooked wild rice and/or brown rice (use whichever you have or a little of each!)
  • ⅓ c grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or thyme

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a medium size baking pan with olive oil or butter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, mustard and scant ½ tsp salt.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet with pinch of salt. Stir in mushrooms. Leave mushrooms to cook for about 5 minutes undisturbed. After about 5 minutes, stir again every few minutes. Add onion to mushrooms, stir and cook until translucent for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Then remove skillet from heat.
  4. Add rice to skillet & stir to combine. Then add rice mixture to cottage cheese mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle ⅔ of the cheese on top, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake another 20-30 minutes, until casserole is golden brown, especially around the edges.
  5. Serve with remaining cheese & tarragon or thyme.

Notes
The cook time includes 45-60 minutes to cook wild rice. You can also buy pre-cooked wild or brown rice to save time! If you buy pre-cooked rice, the cook time is about an hour for the baking and 10-12 minutes for sautéing veggies.

From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

Red Velvet Valentine’s Cupcakes

Regardless of how you feel about this holiday, these yummy cupcakes will bring happiness to anyone who eats one!

Here’s what you need:

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
2-1/2 c cake flour
1-1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk (how to make buttermilk if you’re out!)
2 TBSP red liquid food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar

For the frosting:

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
8 oz cream cheese
5 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Let’s do this!

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time, blending all the while, about 2 minutes.

4. Pour batter into lined pans.
Hoo boy – that looks weird pouring out of that spoon.

Pop into oven.

5. Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.

6. Now make the frosting! Combine the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and continue mixing until smooth.
Hooooooooooooo boyyyyyy! At this point I realized I accidentally threw in the entire stick of butter. Yes, 3 extra tablespoons. Let’s see if anyone notices…

7. Frost/decorate as desired!
I made these little bugs by hand to match the cupcake liners. It was really easy, I just had to create the design in Illustrator, then print on custom cut labels, and stick to toothpicks.

HAHAHAHAA!!!! ‘Course I didn’t do that! I bought them at Ralph’s for like $1.00 a few weeks ago. I was prolly there buying dishwasher rinse or something sexy like that.

Remember this cupcake thief from last September?

Alright, FINE!!! A cupcake for breakfast…just this once.

From Annie’s Eats.

Red Velvet Valentine’s Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 24
 

Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
Ingredients
  • CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
  • 2-1/2 c cake flour
  • 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP red liquid food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • FROSTING INGREDIENTS
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until well blended and smooth.
  4. Pour batter evenly into lined pans. Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes and then on wire racks until completely cool.
  5. Combine cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl. Add vanilla and beat until creamy. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well-combined and smooth.
  6. Frost cupcakes as desired!
  7. Pass these out at work, to your neighbors, use as bribes for the kids. Whatever you do, save one for yourself!

Kick @$$ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

 

We’ve cut back on sugar and desserts this year, saving them only for special occasions, treats & bribes. But once in a while you just want to eat some chocolate chip cookies (‘specially while you’re waiting for the Thin Mints to arrive…) I figure homemade must be healthier than store bought so here we go…

Let me tell you right away: leave a couple sticks of butter out a few hours ahead of time. I just leave them out the night before but you could take them out when you get home from work & then make the cookies after dinner too.

Also, there are a couple of oddball ingredients in here. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!! But if you don’t have ‘em – don’t worry about it!

Here’s what you need:

Some of that stuff is optional so don’t get stressed out looking at it!

INGREDIENTS:
1 c butter, softened
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs (I used egg replacer which reduced the cholesterol & no chickens were harmed – except knowing my luck, the truck carrying the boxes of egg replacer ran over a truck of chickens)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp (heaping) instant coffee granules (I accidentally used 2 TBSP and loved the result!)
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP ground flax seeds (OPTIONAL)
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c (heaping) milk chocolate chips (or use just one kind of choc. chip)

Hopefully you are already excited about the amount of chocolate chips in this recipe. Yayy for chocolate chips!

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. In a LARGE bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar & white sugar until combined.

Add egg replacer & vanilla, stirring to combine thoroughly.


Best thing about using egg replacer instead of eggs is that you can taste the raw dough without that pesky salmonella worry in the back of your mind!

3. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.

Don’t ask me why I had instant coffee. I think Tim & Liana picked it up when we were camping last Memorial Day weekend. I’m glad they did!

The whisk is nothing but a blur!

4. Add flax seed if desired. I add this to everything – smoothies, cookies, breads etc. Here’s the Mayo Clinic’s take on flax seed.

It looks so healthy but you really won’t notice it.

5. Add chocolate chips

& stir to combine evenly.

6. Drop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes.

I cooled them on wire racks. I also ate a few to test them.

Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Kick @$$ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 36
 

Simple, easy chocolate chip cookies that can be extra special depending on what’s in your cupboard!
Ingredients
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ c white sugar
  • 2 eggs (or egg replacer for 2 eggs)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules (I accidentally used 2 TBSP and loved the results!) (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP ground flax seed (OPTIONAL)
  • ¾ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c (heaping) milk chocolate chips

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. In a LARGE bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add egg replacer & vanilla, stirring to combine.
  3. In a MEDIUM bowl, whisk together flour, instant coffee, baking soda and salt. Add flax seed.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, slowly, stirring all the while.
  5. Add chocolate chips and combine thoroughly.
  6. Drop balls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes.



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