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Blizzard Worthy Chicken Tortellini Soup

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I should call this “Siberian Soup” since this winter in PA has seemed uncomfortably Russian, but I will turn down my dramatic tendencies. This soup came after trying a recipe that was just a bit too heavy for me. Instead of tossing it, I went back into the kitchen and changed the ingredients to make it lighter, and a lot healthier!

Today was certainly the best day to try it, since we are receiving almost 2 FEET OF SNOW! Luckily, my husband was off today, so I could cook warm toasty meals. This soup was a hit! My husband loved it, along with four very hungry little girls, who just came in from the snow.

So, if you are looking for a way to escape the arctic, make a pot of this tasty tortellini soup!

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached & shredded
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh tortellini
  • 2 zucchini cut into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, poach chicken breasts and shred. (You can put them in your mixer with the paddle attachment and turn on low until shredded)
  2. Sautee onions and garlic in the pot until tender. Stir in chicken broth, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, and chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in zucchini, cheese, and parsley. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. Serve with warm garlic bread.

*Note– if you save this soup for leftovers the tortellini will suck up the broth so the result is a more like a stew. Feel free to add more chicken broth if you eat it the next day.

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39

Positively Perfect Progressive Dinner Party–Roasted Tomato Caprice in Garlic Bread Bowls

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As the Fabulous Food Fairy, two of my favorite words are…DINNER PARTY!! I love the idea of gathering with friends, for adult time, where I actually get to do my make-up, dress in a fun outfit, sip “mommy drinks” and have intellectual conversation without coaxing a few more bites, or imploring my dinner companions to sit down, don’t talk with your mouth full, and KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!!

However, this dinner party is different. It is entirely virtual, so forget the hair and make-up, stay in your yoga pants (or as I call them “buffet pants”) and come to our table to “feast” your eyes on these spectacular recipes for every course, plus tips for pulling it all together!

Here are the rules:

Use the links below, to click “door to door”, visiting various blogs, and experience all that these fabulous women have to offer. If you find something really great, send it to your friends, pin it to your boards, or share it on your Facebook page. Because unlike an actual dinner party, the more the merrier, there’s plenty to go around.

To get the full Progressively Perfect Virtual Dinner Party blog hop experience, click the links below in order:

Appetizers

Salad

Drinks

Entrees

Coffee, Tea & Dessert

Late Night

Decorations, Outfits and Music

Hope you have as much fun reading through the party as we did planning it!

Roasted Tomato Caprice in Garlic Bread Bowls

Have you ever had an idea that you knew, from the moment it popped into your head, that it was brilliance? That is this recipe for me. I was charged with the task of creating an original appetizer recipe and this little goodie came seemingly out of nowhere!

I LOVE roasted tomatoes.

I LOVE basil.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE balsamic vinegar.

I REALLY REALLY LOVE garlic.

And bread…INFATUATED!

In one stroke of creative genus, all of my loves came together into one amazing appetizer that just may cause you to skip dinner.

Wanna peek?

Here it is…

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So, wanna know how to make it?

Ok. Here goes.

Ingredients:

Roasted tomatoes (click here for the recipe)

4 large dinner rolls

3 Tbsp. of melted butter

1 tsp. of garlic season all

1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese– I used the small beads of mozzarella

3/4 cup of basil leaves

2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar

4 tsp. of parmesan cheese

Balsamic glaze

Preparation:

1. Prepare roasted tomatoes according to the recipe. (this can be done up to a day ahead)

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2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

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3. Use a knife to cut a circular divot out of the center of each roll, leaving the bottom intact, creating a mini bread bowl.

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4. Mix the melted butter and garlic seasoning and brush each bread bowl inside and out with the mixture.

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5. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and bake until crispy with slightly brown edges.

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6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

7. Meanwhile, toss the roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

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8. Once the bread bowls cool a bit (you want them a little bit warm, but not warm enough to melt the cheese) place each one on a small plate.

9. Spoon the caprice salad neatly into each bowl.

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10. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and drizzle with the balsamic glaze in a side to side sweeping motion.

Serve immediately!

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I take no responsibility if your dinner guests scarf down this appetizer, ask for seconds, and don’t have room for the main course 🙂 At least, that’s what happened at my house when I made them for the first time 🙂

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Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Yoga Pants

1-IMG_2668I don’t really love tomatoes raw, but once roasted, I could eat them until I burst. Seriously, I need to wear my yoga pants (aka “buffet pants”) when indulging in any roasted tomatoey goodness. I even went as far as to plant a bazillion cherry tomato plants in various parts of my backyard to satisfy my need for these yummy little savory treasures.

My passion err..obsession for roasted tomatoes started with a recipe that I saw for French bread pizzas. The recipe called for roasted cherry tomato puree as the pizza sauce. Once I made these, it opened all new doors. I now use roasted cherry tomatoes on a weekly basis for a multitude of recipes. They’re simple, easy, and packed with flavor.

Try them, but I take no responsibility for creating a new addiction, or causing you to need stretch pants to accommodate your overstuffed belly.

Ingredients:

2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes

2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil

1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

1.       Wash & dry the tomatoes.

2.       Slice them in half.

3.       Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

4.       Place the tomatoes in a casserole dish or roasting pan so they cover the bottom in a single layer.

5.       Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper.

6.       Add thyme, and toss, coating all of the tomatoes.

7.       Roast in the oven on 425 for about 35 minutes, or until they are withered and caramelized at the edges.

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Serving Suggestions:

1.       Allow them to cool and toss with fresh basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.

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2.       Roast 3 cloves of garlic with the tomatoes. Puree with a hand blender, add a sprinkle of sugar if you like the sauce a bit sweet, and top raviolis, or use it as a pizza sauce for French bread pizza.

3.       Toss with mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinegar, and large croutons for a tasty panzanella.

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Rockin’ Rose Romano’s [SPONSORED]

1-IMG_2229Recently, the kind people at Rose Romano’s Italian Peppers sent me a few jars of their tasty sauce. Wow, am I a lucky girl. I was amazed by the beautiful presentation of the box I received, and I was intrigued by the recipes suggested in the insert. What I learned is that Rose Romano’s is actually more like a condiment, rather than a pasta sauce. As a coveted family recipe, owner, Dr. Marshall Angotti, created this gluten-free, low calorie, goodness as the perfect complement to your simple homemade dishes. Rose Romano’s Italian Peppers comes in two flavors, red pepper and green pepper, and the recipe possibilities are endless.

My biggest challenge was to figure out how I was going to use the red pepper sauce that I received, because the cookbook and menu created by Dr. Angotti is substantial! I decided on making a simple bow tie pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, and salt & pepper. Once the pasta was seasoned, I spooned it onto a plate, topped it with the red pepper sauce, and served it with a side of crusty garlic bread. What a great, easy weeknight meal, even my girls loved it! We all went to bed with well nourished, happy bellies.

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The next challenge came with how to serve the green pepper sauce. I immediately thought of my nephew’s upcoming graduation party. I knew that my sister was making 100 pounds of Freakin’ Fabulous Roasted Pork for sandwiches, and a sandwich bar was the perfect stage for Rose Romano’s green pepper sauce. Along with traditional bar-b-que sauce, we offered a bowl of warm Rose Romano’s. The green pepper sauce was a sweet compliment to the savory garlic roasted pork.

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After my initial successes, I am excited to try some of the recipes suggested by Dr. Angotti. His recipes suggest topping almost anything with this unique food accessory, from hamburgers, to grilled chicken, to eggs. The ideas are creative as well as simple and healthy.

If you are looking for a new way to dress up a boring dish, or need a quick and easy gift idea, consider Rose Romano’s Peppers. You can order online or locate them at a store near you by visiting http://www.roseromanos.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Lasagna Muffins

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My friend, Heather, always comments on my “pretty food”. So, I laugh and usually tag her in all of my “pretty food” Facebook photos. I like pretty food. It is nice to look at, you want to eat it, and most importantly, other people want to eat it (like my kids). Pretty food is also necessary if you want people to actually visit and interact with your food blog. But, pretty food has to taste as well as it looks. Pretty food is useless if it sucks, right? So I was so very happy tonight when my supermodel pretty food had hall of fame taste! WOW! When I say hall of fame taste, I’m talkin’ grand-slam H-O-M-E-R-U-N in the 9th inning of the World Series taste! So, naturally I am excited to share.

I made lasagna “muffins” or “cupcakes”. Whatever you call them, they were awesome! Now, I cannot take credit for this idea. It is all over Pinterest, and if you Google it, a million recipes will appear–Food Network, LOTS of blogs, Pinterest… the list goes on. So, why am I bothering to post? Well, when I looked at the other recipes, they were missing taste, so I took the time to blend this creative technique that others have already shared (why re-invent the wheel?) and I added the flavors that I integrate into my homemade lasagna. That is what makes mine different from all of the rest– the “better mouse trap, so to speak.

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Lasagna Muffins

The Sauce: (you can use jar sauce to save time, but then you compromise the flavor)

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  • 1/2  lb. of ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Brown ground beef, drain, & set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sautee fresh minced garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Pour tomatoes into the pan and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add sugar, salt, & pepper.
  5. Add beef and simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The Cheese:

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  • 16 oz. of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fine shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of salt & pepper
  1. mix all ingredients, blending well.

The Rest:

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  • 1 pkg. of square wonton wrappers. (about 3 inch squares)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • cooking spray

1. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each cup.

IMG_06583. Add a small spoonful of cheese to cover the bottom of the cup.

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4. Add a small spoonful of sauce.

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5. Top with another wonton wrapper. 
6. Add another layer of cheese, then sauce
7. Top with parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese

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8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes.
9. Let them rest in the pan, undisturbed, for at least 5 minutes. (if you cheat, they will fall apart)

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*** AWESOME VARIATION***

If you want to make these as an appetizer, or if you have extra wrappers, cheese, & sauce, make them as a single layer in a mini-muffin pan. They are like the cutest little one bite appetizers!

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Picture-less version:

Lasagna Muffins

The Sauce: (you can use jar sauce to save time, but then you compromise the flavor)

  • 1/2  lb. of ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Brown ground beef, drain, & set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sautee fresh minced garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Pour tomatoes into the pan and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add sugar, salt, & pepper.
  5. Add beef and simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The Cheese:

  • 16 oz. of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fine shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small dash of nutmeg
  1. mix all ingredients, blending well.

The Rest:

  • 1 pkg. of square wonton wrappers. (about 3 inch squares)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • cooking spray
  1. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each cup.
  3. Add a small spoonful of cheese to cover the bottom of the cup.
  4. Add a small spoonful of sauce.
  5. Top with another wonton wrapper.
  6. Add another layer of cheese, then sauce
  7. Top with parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes.
  9. Let them rest in the pan, undisturbed, for at least 5 minutes. (if you cheat, they will fall apart)

*** AWESOME VARIATION***

If you want to make these as an appetizer, or if you have extra wrappers, cheese, & sauce, make them as a single layer in a mini-muffin pan. They are like the cutest little one bite appetizers!

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Chicken and Orzo Soup

 

OK…So it is Sunday, my husband is gone all day at the Eagles game, and I am quarantined at home with one barfy child, and two healthy, but very bored other children.

I should take this opportunity to clean my very messy house, and when I say messy, I mean laundry hurricane, tornado looking destruction! I should maybe also grade the papers that I collected on Friday, or organize the garage, which also looks like it has endured a not so natural disaster. But, I will not do any of these things. Today, I have other plans.

On Friday, at work, a colleague told me about a book she was reading. It is called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I read a few lines and decided that I needed to read this book ASAP!

Just to clarify, I believe that I am a happy person. I have a beautiful family, the best friends on the planet, a rewarding career that I really enjoy, a nice house, my health…all the things that I attribute to a happy life. But, I also feel like the ring master at the circus some days, and I catch myself forgetting to appreciate what is really important.

So, when I got a call at 5:00 this morning from my sister to come get my vomiting middle daughter from her sleepover, I started to grumble over what was not going to get done today. Then the words from chapter one of this book started to creep into my head. It was then and there, on a dark back road, dodging deer, and listening to the whimper of my sick little duck in the backseat, that I decided that I would start my “happiness project”.

Today, I will not clean my house! I will let the mess go, and I am just going to love my kids. We are going to snuggle on the couch, make brownies, watch movies, and eat soup! Today is not just about healing my sick baby, but celebrating happiness.

So if there should be some emergency between now and tomorrow, please don’t judge me by the state of cleanliness in my home. Know that the mess is a symbol of how happy we were today. A mama and her girls on a day-long quest to find happy!

Find happy, heal the soul, and eat soup.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 pounds of chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2/3 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 cups arugula, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Directions

In a medium stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a low boil.
Meanwhile, in larger pot, sauté the chicken in the olive oil until browned, about 5 minutes.


Add the thyme and bay leaf, then stir in the onion, carrots, and celery.

Season with salt and pepper.


Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until softened, about 5 more minutes.
Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil.


Stir in the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the arugula and basil to wilt.


discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with lots of grated cheese at the table.

*** you can use leftover grilled, cooked, or rotisserie chicken