Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Three Cheese Tortellini (Slow Cooker)

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Ours was very good – we saw family and friends, and had a nice, low key weekend. This week, however, is going to be a busy one! Between weddings, traveling for work, and other commitments, Nick and I will be like two ships passing in the night, so I decided to take it easy yesterday and make a nice, easy, slow cooker meal. 

Last week I had stumbled upon a recipe for a Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Tortellini on the blog Cooking Classy. It looked delicious, so I printed it out and decided to save it for a good weekend day – which as it turned out was sooner than expected! 
The soup is two big steps. The first is easy – you add everything but the tortellini and let it cook.
The second step, when everything is done cooking, is to add it to a blender (or in my case food processor) and blend until creamy. This had to be done in batches, so with each blended batch, I added it to a big mixing bowl until it was all done, then transferred it back to the slow cooker. 
All-in-all, I was very pleased with this recipe, and really only had three things to note – 
1. Make sure you season this with salt and pepper. I mean really season it – more than you think you should. I kept tasting it while I was seasoning it and it just needed more salt and pepper than I realized.
2. The original recipe says it has 8 servings, and they aren’t kidding. That is 8 generous servings. In hindsight I would use only two cans of tomatoes for the base – especially because there are only two of us.
3. The ‘Max Fill’ line on the food processor is not merely a suggestion. I didn’t even think I went that much over it, but holy crap. There was tomato basil soup EV-ERY-WHERE!
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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Three Cheese Tortellini (Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy)
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 3/4 c. diced carrots
  • 1 3/4 c. diced yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 (32 oz) carton vegetable broth
  • 1/3 c chopped fresh basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 16 oz refrigerated three cheese tortellini
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • Parmesan, shredded (for serving)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
2. Pour vegetable mixture into a large slow cooker along with tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, bay leaves and sugar. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or HIGH for 3 – 3 1/2 hours.
4. Remove bay leaves then puree mixture well with a emulsion blender.
5. Stir in tortellini, cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes longer. Reduce heat to warm, stir in heavy cream.
6. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!
Cheers!
Heather

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My Favorite Green Smoothie

I am absolutely obsessed with green smoothie’s right now. To some people they look ‘gross’, but in reality it doesn’t take much to make a smoothie green, and if you do it right, it doesn’t have to taste like a green vegetable.


I personally love greens. From raw to cooked veggies, to fresh pressed juice, to smoothies; I’m willing to give it a try, and chances are, I’m going to love it. Recently I went to a little local coffee shop downtown for lunch and was excited to see they had a green smoothie. Man alive – it was deeeelishous! I was in love. I started averaging about 3-4 smoothies a week, and at $5.35 a piece, it was adding up. I took a week of ordering smoothies and paid close attention to the process – what kind of milk did they use, and how much of each ingredient did they put in?

It was pretty simple, so off to the store I went – organic coconut milk, bananas, baby spinach and pineapple. I think it’s fair to say that when you try to recreate something at home, it may taste similar, but it never really tastes the same, but I was determined. Simple, fresh, and easy ingredients, it couldn’t be that difficult, and it wasn’t!

A handful of baby spinach, one banana, 1-2 chunks of pineapple, and 3/4 cup of milk – amazing smoothie! And for as green as it is, it doesn’t taste a thing like spinach! This is one of the many benefits to drinking green smoothies – it’s a great way to sneak in fruits and vegetables without even realizing it. If you Google ‘benefits to green smoothies’ you’ll get  hundreds of different reasons they’re good for you – from retaining the full vitamins and fiber of what you’re drinking, to them being low calorie – there are many reasons green smoothies are recommended.

Personally, I can tell you that without even realizing it I have unintentionally cut out my daily diet soda at lunch and replaced it with my green smoothie. I have went from drinking 1-2 cans of diet soda per day, to maybe 3-4 per week. In turn, I have noticed that have natural energy during the afternoon, and I’m feel much more full off of healthy ingredients. I have noticed that I consume much less soda at home and more water.

Green smoothies are EASY! There are lots of recipes on the web for you to try. Mix and match – see what works for you and what doesn’t. I have a NutriBullet that I love, but all you need a simple blender.  My advice? Blend your fruits and veggies, then add 5-6 ice cubes and blend again to make sure it’s nice and cold. Also, I blend my smoothie before work and put it in the fridge to have for lunch and it still tastes great!

Cheers to better, healthier choices!
Heather

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Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce & Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

In my quest to meal plan and eat healthy I am constantly combing through numerous food blogs, and last week I was on a salmon kick. I think I ended up with around 12-15 salmon recipes to try, and last night we tried the first one – Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce. I had most of the ingredients at home, and with us traveling this weekend I was eager to use up what I already had at home.

I stopped by the grocery store and picked up two ‘fresh’ salmon fillets (as fresh as you can get in Iowa, that is), and home I went to make dinner.
This recipe was incredible, and SO EASY! It definitely is now a staple in my house, along with the Parmesan green beans. I probably made too much of the creamy dill sauce; I’m a bit obsessed with condiments, but any leftover sauce can easily be used on most other meats.
I found the recipe on the food blog ‘Cooking Classy‘ – a blog I have not got to fully explore, but am looking forward to delving in to!
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Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce (Recipe from ‘Cooking Classy‘)
INGREDIENTS:
  • 4, 6 oz salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Creamy Dill Sauce

  • 1/3 c fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2-3 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp honey
DIRECTIONS: 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
3. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and place salmon fillets in the dish. Season the top of salmon with salt and pepper, then rotate to opposite side. Drizzle the top of salmon with the oil and lemon mixture, then season the top with salt and pepper.
4. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon has cooked through.
5. Serve warm topped with Creamy Dill Sauce.
For the sauce…
1. In a bowl mix together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, dill, and honey. Add just enough milk to reach your desired consistency.
2. Taste test! If needed, add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
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Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
INGREDIENTS:
  • Green beans, trimmed
  • Garlic salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. For easy cleanup, place aluminum foil on a baking sheet, and place green beans on sheet.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, and then season with garlic salt and pepper, shaking the pan to keep coating all sides of the green beans.
4. Cook for 10 minutes, then shake the pan around to rotate the beans.
5. Cook for 5 more minutes, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve!
Cheers!
Heather
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