A blogoversary, pasta e fagioli and big thanks!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I first started this blog. When I first started, I was fairly certain no one except my mom would actually read it. I was really shy to share it at first (and was mortified when some of my co-workers discovered it). I’m humbled and thrilled to see all of you reading, commenting and sharing! I want to send a HUGE thanks to all of you. It’s been such a pleasure learning new recipes and techniques and generally just having so many people to discuss food with!

I figured for my blogoversary (not sure if that’s a real word but I’m going with it) post I would re-do my very first post. I wanted to update it a little and add some better photos. I’m not sure if it’s just my lack of photography skills or if this is just generally not a photogenic dish, but unfortunately these pictures aren’t a whole lot better!

I also want to express my thanks to those of you who nominated me for blogger awards! I was shocked and thrilled with each one. I had every intention of completing the required steps to receive them and pass them along, but I always got stuck trying to come up with all the unique facts about myself for each one! So I want to thank all of you here for your acknowledgement! Thank you to Lori and Ngan for nominating me for the Liebster Award, Jillian for nominating me for the Sunshine Award and Nancyfor the Dragon Loyalty Award! If I missed anyone, please let me know!

And now on to the food!  I chose Pasta e Fagioli for my first post because it was the first dish I really learned to cook myself and it got me interested in learning more about cooking.  I’ve made some small changes since the first time I posted it and I think it’s just a little bit better now!

Pasta e Fagioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashedphoto(88)
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
16oz crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
30oz (2 cans) cannellini beans, drained
32 oz chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 box ditalini pasta
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Heat the olive in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the carrots. Let the carrots cook for about 5 minutes than add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the carrots soften and the onions are translucent.

2. Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan. Stir in the reaming spices. Let the sauce cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 30 minutes, add the beans.

3. Add the broth, turn the heat up and bring the liquid to a boil. When it’s boiling, add the pasta and cook to al dente, about ten minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Top with cheese (I like lots of cheese) and enjoy!

photo(89)

Italian Wedding Soup

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This recipe was a lesson in using what I had around to create something I really wanted. For the past week or so I’ve been craving a nice hot bowl of Italian wedding soup, so I finally just made it myself. The problem was, I didn’t exactly have the right ingredients. So, I made some substitutes. Instead of ground beef, I used turkey for the meatballs. Instead of escarole, I had swiss chard. And for the pasta, all I had was small shells.

While this isn’t exactly traditional Italian wedding soup, I’m all about changing recipes up to make them my own, so I really enjoyed this little experiment. Not to mention, it tastes pretty close to the original!

Italian Wedding Soup soup3
Meatballs:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Soup:
32oz chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard
1/2 box small pasta (I used small shells)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Start by making your meatballs. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix to combine, careful not to over mix it. Use a teaspoon to scoop out small bits of the meat mixture and form small meatballs. Put the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the meatballs to the pan. Cook for about 6 minutes, turn them upside down and cook for another 5-6 minutes, they should be lightly browned.

soup

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2. While the meatballs are cooking get started on your soup. Chop up the swiss chard into bite-sized peices, using the entire green part and about 1/2 of the stems. Add the olive oil to a pot and set it to medium-low heat. Add the chard and your chopped onion to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the chard and onion about 5 minutes. Next add your stock.

3. When your meatballs have finished cooking add them into the pan with the chard, onion and stock. Finally, bring the soup to a boil and add the pasta, cooking about for 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente.

4. Top with some pecorino romano and enjoy!

soup5

Related: Fiesta Friday

Tomato Soup

photo (67)
While I absolutely love over indulging myself during the holidays, there always comes a point where I hit a wall and need to stop constantly eating heavy foods and sweets. I was lucky to enjoy a full week home with my family this year and along with that comes lots and lots of great homemade food. On our first night back in DC I decided to make a simple and light tomato soup to help us adjust. There are few meals that have the simple deliciousness of a good tomato soup. With some great crusty bread or a nice grilled cheese sandwich, this is definitely the perfect winter meal.

Tomato Soup
1 can crushed tomatoes
16 oz vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy creamphoto (68)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella and a slice of good bread for garnish (optional)

1. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic to a saucepan on medium-low heat. Let the garlic cook for just about 2 minutes.

2. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, oregano and pepper to the saucepan and stir. Let these all cook together for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

3. After cooking the tomatoes and spices for about 30 minutes add the vegetable stock and continue to cook until the soup begins to get bubbly.

photo (69)

4. About 10 minutes after adding the stock add your heavy cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with cheese and crusty bread, enjoy!