Thursday, December 29, 2011

A wintery soup suitable for supper!

My take on Italian wedding may make some "Itals" cringe but my family would sure disagree. I originated this recipe about a year ago for my sisters wedding shower. Since then it has only gotten better, and better for you. This year I made a large pot to last our house way past the vast Christmas celebration week. Christmas is always a tremendous feast but sometimes we need to heal and recover from all that partying and let's face it - FOOD OVERLOAD! This soup is one way to wind down the stuffed holidays and still keep the hearty winter menu going. By using turkey meat you are cutting calories and the escarole is high in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K. Those nutrients are definately not available via the traditional sugar cookie. All in all this soup is an allstar, with hint of fresh ground nutmeg being the key ingredient this soup warms your holiday heart and soul. Let's Eat!

For soup:
1 onion, chopped fine
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 bag of shredded carrots chopped
3 stalks chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound escarole (about 1 head), edges trimmed cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips, washed well, and spun dry (about 6 cups packed)
6 cups low-salt chicken broth - I use Trader Joe's Free Range
1 box barilla Stelline or other small pasta
Sea salt tt
Cracked black pepper tt

For meatballs
1 pound ground turkey 93% fat free
1/4 cup fresh italian panko bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk
1 scallion, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
dash of worsechestershire
Sea salt tt
Cracked black pepper tt

Basic Soup Starter:
In a large heavy saucepan cook carrot, celery, and onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add escarole, stirring to coat with oil, and cook, covered, 1 minute. Add broth and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Add fresh zested nutmeg, bay leaves and herbs.

Make meatballs while soup simmers:
In a bowl combine well all meatball ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Form mixture into meatballs about 1/4 inch in diameter. Small enough to roll in palm of hands.

Add meatballs to soup and simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes. Turn off soup and let stand about 20 minutes add pasta, and stir. Let soup cool before refridgeration, best served next day.

Friday, December 9, 2011


How something sweet transports us back to our childhood, I'll never know. I guess its the comforting feeling a warm chocolate chip cookie gives you or the liveliness the crunch and fresh mint taste a candy cane has? No matter how big or small your sweet tooth, treats were always coveted in our house growing up. All three of us used to spend about 3 hours after trick or treating trading our candy to build the best possible stash. The stash never made it to Thanksgiving. Whether it's Halloween candy or Thanksgiving pies, nothing came close to the desserts, and STUTZ'S candies at Christmas. Now I look forward to baking cookies, and making bark. This year I made several different kinds, you can be as creative or as lame as you want. It's up to you. The recipe listed below makes a fantastic HOSTESS gift, or looks good at the Christmas brunch table.
Merry Christmas, LET'S SWEET!

Peppermint Shortbread Bark

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Butter softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup coarsely chopped peppermint candies

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over edges; set aside.

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and candies in large bowl. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

Immediately sprinkle crust evenly with chocolate chips; return pan to oven for 1 minute to melt chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly over crust; immediately sprinkle with chopped peppermint candies. Cool completely.

Remove bars from pan using foil ends. Cut bars into 28 squares; cut each square in half diagonally.