MARINARA TOMATO SOUP - QUICK AND EASY

If you read my blog, you know I am a lover of all kinds of soups!  I could eat soup every day for sure.  This soup was so quick and easy, great for lunch or dinner served with grilled cheese, gluten free buns, or a simple salad.  When in a rush, or you don't feel like cooking, store bought tomato basil marinara and chicken bone broth work great in a pinch for time, plus, it is a good way to use up what is in the pantry/fridge/freezer.  This meal came together in about  35-40 min....these days that works for me.  If you wanted Vegan or Vegetarian, simply use Vegetable broth in place of Chicken Stock/Bone broth.

2 chopped carrots

1/2 an onion roughly sliced

1 chopped leek

1 chopped large celery stalk with leaves

1 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3/4 c frozen organic spinach

2/3 cup frozen organic corn

2/3 cup frozen organic green beans

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 1/2 cups Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce (store bought or homemade)

5 cups chicken bone broth (store bought or homemade) (Vegetable stock for Vegan/Vegetarian)

1 rounded cup gluten free elbow macaroni pasta - cooked separately

Heat up a dutch oven with the EVOO on low heat.  Add in the carrots, onion, leek, celery, and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Saute 5 min.

Pour in the Marinara sauce and bone broth stirring to combine.  Bring to a simmer, and cook 15 min.  Then add in all of the frozen vegetables. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the elbow macaroni pasta separately according to directions, drain and add to the soup giving a good stir.  A warming soup for the soul.

This is a quick easy dish to make if you need to use up the last of the summer zucchinis.  With this dish you could use store bought pesto and marinara sauce or you can make your own.  For the marinara sauce I used this one.  If you make homemade there will be leftover sauce that can be frozen for another use.
2 large zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inch thick- first cut the ends off to carefully slice lengthwise
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups chopped swiss chard
1 cup cottage cheese - we use lactose free
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 big Tblsp. pesto
1 egg - whisk well
Salt and pepper to taste
marinara sauce
gluten free bread crumbs
grated Parmesan cheese
Heat up a frying pan on low medium heat with a good drizzle of EVOO.  Add the chopped swiss chard, and saute until tender, about 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl to cool.
Add more EVOO to the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Add in batches the sliced zucchini lightly browning each side about 2 1/2 min. per side, and transfer to a plate.  While doing this heat up the marinara on a low simmer.
Then add the cottage cheese, beaten egg, pesto, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the swiss chard mixing well.  To a casserole dish, spread a layer of marinara sauce and top with a few zucchini slices.  Then add a layer of the swiss chard/cottage cheese mixture, a handful of gluten free bread crumbs, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Repeat the layers using up all of the zucchini finishing with the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, bake uncovered about 30-40 min. until bubbly and golden.

This is another salmon dish but had to share as it was such a super easy lunch/dinner to make, I can't believe not having made it before now.  Plus, it was tasty and very economical.  At some point during the week we always end up with leftover potatoes in the fridge - such a great way to use them up.  Although, not sure how mashed potatoes would work in this recipe as these were pretty delicate, so make sure the pan is good and hot and cook a good 7 minutes per side.
1 rounded cup mashed leftover large baked potato
1   213 gram can wild salmon, drained bones removed
1 egg - whisk with a fork
2 green onions, diced, or 1 large green onion
1/2 tsp. dried dill - or more to taste
1/4 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tblsp.  mayonnaise
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - for frying
In a medium sized bowl combine the mashed potatoes and drained salmon.  Use a fork to break it all up mixing together.  Add the rest of the ingredients - mix.  Shape into patties, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15-30 minutes.
Heat up a non stick pan with a good drizzle of EVOO on medium high heat.  Once good and hot, cook each side about 7 minutes. (turning the salmon cake 1/2  way around in the pan to cook evenly to a nice golden brown)  Serve hot with any other vegetable side dish or a salad.  Can also be served with tartar sauce or pesto sauce.  Super easy, super quick, and an inexpensive meal all in one!

This recipe is similar to my Mung Bean Stew - with a few changes/additions.  It is said that mung beans are a legume that are heart healthy, they help to reduce cholesterol, are the least gas forming of all legumes, and they also assist in improving/balancing digestion.  It is my goal/hope for 2018 to eat this dish at least twice a week.  Eating vegetarian meals is an easy way for me to shed a few pounds - always a good thing, plus I love all lentils and curry so this should not get too boring. There is lots of flavor in this dish making it mighty tasty too.
If you soak the mung beans early in the morning or over nite (soak 8 hours) you are good to go.  In terms of preparation - it took about 40 minutes prep/saute time - then the rice was cooked separately, while the mung beans/vegetables took another 35-40 minutes to cook.  In my busy week, this should be something I can handle and with leftovers the next day that should reach my goal with a free day of cooking to make things easier.
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tblsp. cumin powder
1/2 Tblsp. mustard seeds
1/2 Tblsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. Madras curry powder - mine was not spicy hot
1/2 tsp. garahm masala
2/3 cups mung beans - soak 8 hours, and drain
1 large tomato, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tblsp. minced ginger - to taste
1 1/2 cups chopped orange yam
1 cup chopped carrots
salt to taste
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 large bay leaf
3/4 cup frozen peas
huge handful of chopped cilantro
cook 1 1/4 cups Basmati rice in 2 1/2 cups water
Heat up a dutch oven on low medium heat with the EVOO.  Add the mustard and coriander seeds, sauteing until the mustard seeds start to pop.  Add in the cumin, curry powder, garaham masala and saute until fragrant.  Then add in the onions, garlic, ginger, tomato continuing to saute for another 5 min.
Pour in the water, adding in the mung beans, carrots, bay leaf and yams stirring well.  Season to taste with salt.  Bring to a simmer lid on for about 35 min., then while the rice is cooking, remove lid and keep on a simmer.  When rice is almost done add in the peas, and chopped cilantro to heat through and serve over the cooked rice.  A dollop of organic yogurt is a lovely addition.  This is a dish that will taste even better the next day.

If you read my blog you will know that while I love the idea and convenience of a crock pot/slow cooker - in terms of success we have really had minimal results - just the odd recipe turns out great.  Usually, we find the dish is lacking in flavor, and any meat is over cooked.   This has happened time and time again, even with lots of experimentation on cooking times, added seasonings etc.  Never one to give up on a challenge in the kitchen - I keep trying.  My sister has had the same issue.  She is convinced that her crock pot dishes used to be wonderful back in the day when she used her "old school" crock pot which she no longer has.  She believes the newer crock pots cook too "hot" hence the loss of flavor/overcooked meat.  They say each crock pot is different - how true.
So, when seeing various recipes for crock pot Chicken Rice Soup, I was surprised to read a number of different comments on the challenges of making this simple soup in a crock pot.  What?  I'm not the only one out there that has challenges with a crock pot?  What do you know!
Some of these comments were:  the rice was crunchy, the rice was mushy, there was not enough liquid, the vegetables were not cooked through, chicken was dry/overcooked.  Some say to cook on low for 6 hours other recipes say cook on low for 8 hours.  Having considered the various ideas and challenges - here is what I came up with:
I paid close attention so it did not over cook - mine was done in 5 1/2 hrs...hmm, maybe my sister is right. Thankfully the soup was delicious, the rice and vegetables were nicely cooked and the chicken was lovely and tender.
Oh and by the way, normally in a recipe I would say use 2 large carrots - however - my carrots are organically grown from the farm down the road so they come in various shapes and sizes - hence the measured ingredients.  This carrot had me taking a 2nd look!  Check this out:  I thought I was seeing things.  🙂  Is this hilarious or what?

RECIPE:
1 lb. organic chicken breast skin off, no bone, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 generous cup of chopped carrots
1 level cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
2 large shallots, chopped
1 large leek, sliced in half, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 1/2 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tblsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup wild rice blend (soak in cold water for 15 minutes before adding to the crock pot and drain well)
6 cups chicken stock (I used half homemade vegetable stock and half homemade chicken stock as that is what I had on hand)
Plug in your crock pot on low to start heating up and soak the rice.  To a large frying pan on low medium heat drizzle in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Add the carrots, celery, shallots, leeks and saute about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a large (6 quart) crock pot and cover with the stock, seasonings, chicken pieces, celery leaves, the drained rice, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to combine.  Cook on low heat for 5 1/2 hrs.  Check for seasonings and adjust to taste.  Serve hot with some nice gluten free bread.  This is a soup that I will definitely be making again - so easy too.

We have had an abundance of fresh organic asparagus and fresh eggs - time to make a frittata - something we all love in this household, and yet something I tend to forget to make.  Not sure why that is, but this was a lovely reminder to make a frittata more frequently.
3 cups shredded yukon gold potatoes - put in a clean towel and  squeeze out the excess moisture
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
fresh cracked pepper
4 slices bacon, diced and cooked
4 large fresh asparagus - blanch 1 min. drain and add to cold water, once cold pat dry and slice into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large green onions diced
3 Tblsp. fresh minced basil
1 1/2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
8 large organic eggs, season with salt and fresh cracked pepper - whisk just till combined
Heat up a cast iron skillet on low medium heat.  Add the chopped bacon and cook - then transfer to a paper towel lined bowl.  Drain off 1/2 of the renderings.  Add the shredded potato to the pan with fresh cracked pepper. Cook for  20 minutes stirring about every 3-4 min. until it starts to become golden.  Then sprinkle in the parmesan cheese mixing well.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Add the diced green onions to the potatoes - continue to cook stirring about 5 more minutes.  Then spread shredded potato evenly in the pan. Once the asparagus is cool - pat dry with paper towel and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Spread through out the shredded potatoes then add the minced basil and cooked bacon evenly through out.
Sprinkle with the grated cheddar cheese and pour in the eggs evenly.  Leave on the heat for another 5 minutes then transfer to the oven and cook for  12-15 more min.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and plating.

This is a post that finally came down to the result of a whole lot of frustration.  I would like to show case wonderful, delicious, food that is GLUTEN FREE.  Most of it, GLUTEN FREE NATURALLY.
There is so much negative hype/nastiness out there these days about Gluten Free this, Gluten Free that, Gluten Free being a Fad, Gluten Free Nonsense, Gluten Free to loose weight, and the list goes on and on.
Well, I have had enough of the negative hype.  Hopefully through this post, people will gain some understanding.  Being a Celiac or Gluten sensitive in today's world is so much easier than it used to be - finally!  Twenty years ago there was nothing available or virtually nothing available for a Celiac.  One could certainly never go out to a Restaurant to eat that is for sure.
When one has lived a life - 30 plus years miss-diagnosed only to discover they are in fact a Celiac - let me tell you, the world opens up once you become Gluten Free.
How does this happen?  Well here we go:
- once going gluten free, eventually your guts will heal.  Each person is different so it may take time.  My body took 3 years to fully heal.
- eventually the pain, lethargy, brain fog will disappear.  Yes you will actually be able to think clearly once again, because your brain is no longer sending signals that the body has been poisoned.
- eventually your stomach, large intestine, and small intestine will physically heal.
- you will gradually put on the many pounds you have lost, and the mall absorption will disappear and turn your body into a healthy, vital, strong body.
- and guess what?  Because there are so many people out there that are finally diagnosed correctly:  whether a Celiac or Gluten Sensitive:  Restaurants have finally learned - yes learned and their chefs and staff have been educated on serving REAL, HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE FOOD NATURALLY.
- But best of all?  There is much more information available now for people that need to eat Gluten Free.  With all this information, awareness, plus great food blogs, you will be able to find beautiful, delicious, nutritious food that once you were terrified to eat.
Here are just a few dishes that are healthy, nutritious, and delicious:
Italian Meatballs served over gluten free pasta...what is not to love.
How about fresh, wild Baked Salmon:
Here is a lovely Roasted Tomato Vegan/Vegetarian Soup:
Here is a good one:  Remember Rice A Roni?  Loaded in Gluten.  Well, here is a gluten free version of Rice a Roni....and it is damn tasty!
Here is a delicious Chicken dish...can't do without chicken for dinner, can we?  Chicken and Leeks recipe:
How about Gluten Free Beef Bourguignon?
Need more convincing that Gluten Free food can be delicious?
How about Gluten Free French Bread?  Yes you did read it correctly...delicious Gluten Free French Bread that tastes like the yesteryear French Bread I remember:
Now for a few Pasta dishes....lord have mercy we soooo can not forget gluten free pasta dishes.  Here are a few to tempt your taste buds:
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna:
Then we have:  Shrimp and Scallop Pasta:
Can't forget about the nourishing, health giving nutrients of bone broth:  Chicken Bone Broth and Wild Rice Vegetable Soup:
Lets move on to baking/deserts.  (By the way if you want more healthy delicious meals - check out my side bar - there are almost 600 recipes - so lots to choose from.
Here is a great breakfast muffin or snack:  Rhubarb Walnut Muffins:
Or a delicious and nutritious cookie:  West Coast Trail Cookies - these pack a punch of wholesome goodness.
How about something decadent?  Yes, we all need a few of these recipes in our world once in a while:
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake With Sticky Toffee Date Sauce:
Or how about good old fashioned  great tasting Chocolate Cake - yes Gluten Free.
At the side bar on this blog under desserts you will see gluten free puddings, pies and more cakes and muffins - as a Celiac in today's world - the world is your oyster - please help yourselves!
And finally - people - please do not negate other people for eating gluten free....sometimes it truly is a matter of life or death.  Do your research to help support your friends and family that are dealing with Celiac Disease....they will love you for it!

This was a recipe that was recently printed in our local newspaper.  I made some changes to the original - and we were delighted with the results.  Slow cooking with a crock pot has always been a little bit of a hit and miss result with me in terms of flavor.  Usually I have found that most recipes turn out some what bland....so I used this recipe as a guideline and added more ingredients.  (in most of my recipes I will always to endeavor to use organic ingredients)  We served this chili over rice to give it more heartiness.
Note:  For a spicy chili (I am a whimp when it comes to heat) add in a diced jalapeno pepper
Homemade organic vegetable stock:
1 large shallot, skin on, quartered
1 celery stalk with lots of leaves, roughly chopped
3 crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
the green ends of 1 leek, rinsed well, roughly chopped
2 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves, a dash of Herbamare seasoning
2 cups of water
Add everything to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil lid on.  Turn down to a low simmer for 1 hour.  Strain into a 4 cup measuring cup and discard the vegetables.
Vegetarian Chili:
1 cup organic vegetable stock
1  28 oz can organic whole tomatoes, cut into quarters plus liquid
1  14 oz can organic tomato sauce
2  19 oz cans organic black beans - drained and rinsed well under cold water
1 large onion, chopped
1 organic celery stalk, chopped
3 large organic crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 cups organic butternut squash cut into 1 inch sized pieces
4 minced organic garlic cloves
1 cup organic frozen corn
3 1/2 rounded tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tblsp. dehydrated onion
salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 green onions, chopped
chopped fresh cilantro
yogurt, and grated sharp cheddar cheese
Place all the ingredients into the crock pot except the green onions, cilantro, yogurt and cheddar cheese.  Mix well and set to the low setting cooking for 6 hours.
When done, add in the chopped green onions and a good handful of fresh chopped cilantro.  Serve hot with cheddar cheese and a dollop of yogurt over rice.

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