Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Baked Mozzarella Bites

Remember that wheelbarrow garden I did earlier this summer? Well turns out we do have a green thumb after all! The basil is thriving, the tomatoes are coming in (we’ve picked one so far but have others getting there), and the peppers are starting to show up! I would have loved to do this with both our tomato and basil out of our garden, but since I couldn’t make this with just one tomato, I settled for just basil.

I did this recipe by rough chopping the veggies and letting them cook in chicken broth and used an immersion blender to smooth them all together. Because I didn’t remove the seeds and peel them, I had to run the soup through a strainer. If you have the patience and big glass of wine time to do that ahead of time though, you don’t have to strain it.

This picture is pre-blending, FYI.

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I love topping soup with something– crackers, croutons, cheese, tortilla strips– to add that extra element of usually crunchiness. Is crunchiness a word?? I think so.

Anyways, back to the crunchiness toppings, tomato soup is to grilled cheese like peanut butter is to jelly. So why not make mini grilled cheese bites? And by mini grilled cheese bites I basically mean fried mozzarella sticks. Only I baked them and made them smaller. 

Just set up a dredging station and bake them for five minutes. Easy peasy.

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The only real downer is that they don’t float and make a pretty picture. Hence why I had to put it on a spoon for this one. There’s really four or five more of those babies in this bowl. 

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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 3 lbs. tomatoes, chopped
  2. 14-20 leaves of basil, chopped
  3. 1/2 white onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 1 quart chicken broth
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1/4 cup oil
  8. 1/4 cup butter
Instructions
  1. Saute onion and garlic in oil and butter until tender.
  2. Rough chop basil and tomatoes and add to pot.
  3. Pour in chicken broth and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.
  5. Pour soup through strainer, add back to pot (heat still on low).
  6. Finish with heavy cream.
Notes
  1. Top with baked mozzarella bites.
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Baked Mozzarella Bites
Yields 18
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Ingredients
  1. 6 mozzarella sticks, cut into thirds and frozen for at least 2 hours
  2. 2 eggs, beaten
  3. Breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Take frozen mozzarella and dredge in egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Dip it back into the egg and coat with more breadcrumbs one more time.
  3. Place on a greased cooling rack on top of a cooking sheet and bake for about five minutes.
Notes
  1. Serve with marinara or on top of the creamy tomato basil soup.
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Ramekin Mac and Cheese

Like I said in my Ramekin Lasagna post, I love our cute ramekins we got for our wedding and pasta is a great vessel for these to keep portion control down. I could eat a whole pan of mac and cheese if I wanted to.

Speaking of, you know what one of the Golden Rules of cooking is? Don’t try a new recipe the first time you are going to serve other people it. 

Who broke that Golden Rule last Thanksgiving? Me. 

I called my grandmother for her famous mac and cheese recipe, but she told me it for a small size. This was not a small crowd, so I make it according to her and put it in a large baking dish. The result? Fail.

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It was not at all what I wanted to serve, but I had no real choice and brought it to the party. 

Those reading this at the party… my bad. I promise I won’t break that Golden Rule again.

The point of this story is not only don’t break the Golden Rule of new recipes, but it really matters in which size pan/pot/container you make your dish in. The recipe itself was not bad, the container was because it was just too large for the portion of food I was making– resulting in a too dry, not enough layered mac and cheese.

That’s when I got the idea to conquer my fears and make the recipe again… only in tiny dishes… ramekins to be specific. WE HAVE A WINNER!

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Ramekin Mac and Cheese
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups elbow macaroni
  2. 2 cups low-fat milk
  3. 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  4. 4 eggs
  5. salt
  6. pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package.
  2. Spray ramekins with a non-stick spray.
  3. Layer noodles, handful of cheese in each ramekin. Repeat 2-3 times.
  4. Mix together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour egg/milk mixture over each ramekin evenly.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Notes
  1. Feel free to mix up the types of cheddar cheese to give it another layer of flavor!
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What We’re Eating This Week

I’m a BIG FAN of meal planning. I usually plan for 4-5 days and we’ll eat out on Friday and/or Saturday nights. I try to do a good mix of easy meals and new recipes throughout the week, too. If it is a new recipe you can probably expect a blog post on it the next week or two! So, here’s what we’re eating this week:

Sunday: Tomato Basil Soup
Monday: Graham making dinner
Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Pizza Rolls
Wednesday: Turkey Burgers
Thursday: Tostadas 
Friday: Out
Saturday: Out

Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa and Chipotle Cream Sauce

Sorry for the seafood kick lately on the blog. I feel like we eat much more seafood in the summer than any other season so why not share some of the many ways we do it… like “baked” or almond crusted or seared or faux fried. Even more here.

Anyways, not only are we on a seafood kick, but any regular visitor to Say The Blessing knows we could eat Mexican every night of the week. So, why not combine the two? 

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We made a pan-seared tilapia version, but you can really use any white fish.

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Then, top with a little bit of arugula, mango avocado salsa, and chipotle cream sauce. The mango avocado salsa and chipotle cream sauce made it a little spicy, but you can scale back on the jalapeño or cumin if you want it less spicy.

Wash them down with a few ziplock margaritas! FIESTA! 

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 There’s fish under there I promise!! 

Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa and Chipotle Cream sauce
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 3 (6 oz.) tilapia fillets
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  3. 2 limes
  4. salt/pepper
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. Arugula
  7. 4 oz. fat-free sour cream
  8. 2 oz. chipotle sauce
  9. 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  10. 1 mango
  11. 1 avocado
  12. 1 jalapeño
  13. 1/2 red onion
For the fish marinate
  1. Mix together oil, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1 teaspoon lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro in bowl.
  2. Add fish and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
To cook fish
  1. Coat pan evenly with olive oil. Cook fish over med-high for 2-3 minutes until flaky. Remove and shred.
For mango and avocado salsa
  1. Combine diced mango and avocado with a chopped jalapeño and red onion and 1 tablespoon of cilantro and the juice of one lime. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
For chipotle cream sauce
  1. Combine sour cream, chipotle sauce, and 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
Layer fish, arugula, mango avocado salsa, and chipotle cream sauce on a soft flour taco. Serve.
Say The Blessing http://saytheblessing.com/

What We’re Eating This Week

I’m a BIG FAN of meal planning. I usually plan for 4-5 days and we’ll eat out on Friday and/or Saturday nights. I try to do a good mix of easy meals and new recipes throughout the week, too. If it is a new recipe you can probably expect a blog post on it the next week or two! So, here’s what we’re eating this week:

Sunday: Susu’s Spaghetti Sauce
Monday: Chicken Enchiladas
Tuesday: Frogmore stew
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Hot Dogs
Friday: Chicken Parmesan 
Saturday: Out

Cold Brew Coffee

Ever heard of cold brew coffee? I hadn’t until my husband bought some much needed coffee after night 1 of his bachelor party and it was cold brewed. We later found it in Whole Foods and it spiked our curiosity again.

Cold brew coffee is not to be confused with iced coffee, which is just coffee brewed hot then chilled by pouring over ice.

After some googling, cold brew coffee is actually coffee that is steeped by soaking the ground beans in room temperature/cold water for at least 12 hours. In my opinion, cold brew coffee allows the real “flavors” of the coffee more than in a traditional brew. 

It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s hard to drink a warm cup of coffee strolling through your city or on your front porch some mornings. Get your caffeine fix by making some cold brew coffee!

Careful, though, it is a concentrate so you have to dilute it with equal parts milk or water to avoid the caffeine jitters. This process makes 2 cups of the concentrate and you can store in your fridge in a sealed container for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long).

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First, you measure out 6 oz. of ground coffee (course ground coffee preferred). For those of you without a kitchen scale, that’s about 2 1/2 cups of coffee grounds. 

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Then, you soak the grounds in 900 ml of cold or room temperature water. That’s about a quart of water. Let that sit for 12-15 hours on your countertop. 

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After, you’ll strain it first through a fine mesh strainer– then run it back through a coffee filter. The coffee filter step takes a while so make yourself comfortable. 

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Keep in a covered container in your fridge. Serve with about 1 part cold brew coffee concentrate to 2-3 parts water/milk. 

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Cold Brew Coffee
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. ground coffee (course ground preferred)
  2. 900 ml room temperature/cold water
Instructions
  1. Soak 6 oz. (or about 2.5 cups) of course ground coffee in 900 ml of room temperature/cold water for 12-15 hours.
  2. Strain through mesh strainer, then run liquid again through a coffee filter.
  3. Store in a covered container in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  4. Serve by diluting 1 part coffee concentrate with 2-3 parts milk or water.
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Ramekin Lasagnas

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I think ramekins are the cutest things! Ever since we put a set of four of them on our wedding registry, I’ve been Pinterest-ing recipes to try. And since I love lasagna (see here and here), I knew that would be the first recipe on my list to make. 

Ramekins are especially good, in my opinion, for pasta meals. It’s so easy to make A LOT of pasta and overload yourself and we can’t have that now can we? This way, the size of the ramekins make the perfect portion control so they are great if you are watching what you eat. 

All you have to do for this recipe is boil your noodles according to the package and arrange them in the ramekins as so: 

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Then, start layering in your fillings. You can make this all cheese (which is the recipe below) or brown some ground turkey/beef and mix in with the pasta sauce for a meat variety. 

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Fold over one side of noodles like this a repeat another layer of filling.

Top with pasta sauce and cheese and put those babies in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Ahhh look how yummy– you might have to put the broiler on for a few minutes if your cheese isn’t a nice golden color.

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Ramekin Cheese Lasagnas
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups ricotta cheese
  2. 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  3. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  4. 8 lasagna noodles
  5. 1 jar pasta sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta noodles according to package.
  3. Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet (easier to put in and take out of the oven with). Spray lightly with Pam.
  4. Mix together 2 cups ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
  5. Place two noodles on each ramekin, arranged in a crisscross pattern.
  6. Layer two scoops of the cheese mixture and about two tablespoons of sauce on each. Fold over one side of noodles and repeat the layering.
  7. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Say The Blessing http://saytheblessing.com/