Tag Archives: foodies

Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup

I practice fasting often, not just during the Lenten season. Recently I took up a liquids-only fast, overlooking our exceptionally scanty pantry. Determined to stay on course, I examined the ingredients on a can of tomato soup. Shoving the idea of a toasted cheese sandwich deep down, I quickly noticed the villainous high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient listed. I put the can back on the shelf and drifted to the refrigerator.

I considered the marvelous turkey vegetable soup I’d made from frozen turkey stock. Chunky with fresh veggies, it was not exactly liquid, so I returned to the pantry. On a different can of tomato soup, I noticed the first ingredient: “Tomato puree (tomato paste and water).” I fast-forwarded from there.

Grabbing a small can of tomato paste and I was off and running with sudden inspiration for a healthier alternative. The result is so fantastic I made it again the next two days. I would have prepared the soup even if I had received the revelation I’d sought ;).

The soup can be dressed up with cheese; I like a finely grated Italian blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago (available even at Walmart) and cheddar is also delicious. Also good to add are sweet corn, tuna or any white, flaked fish, a cup of milk, cream, or yogurt (and crumbled bacon is fabulous when one is not fasting from meat). Plain soup makes a delicious stand alone light meal (with croutons, toast or a sandwich) anytime – but the soup is especially good during a liquid fast!

Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 3 – 4 servings, 3 servings approximately 158 calories. 4 servings approx. 210 calories


1  6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, rubbed
salt to taste
a few twists of fresh ground pepper blend
6 ounces sweet, red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinon Noir or Moscato are also good)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups warm vegetable stock (bullion is acceptable, but don’t add extra salt)

Extra: finely grated cheese


In a medium saucepan slowly brown tomato paste, basil, salt (if your not using bullion) and pepper, over medium heat. Stir constantly being careful not to scorch – you can’t over-brown the tomato paste and the darker, the better. As the paste thickens, gradually and slowly blend in wine in small increments. Continue browning paste and wine. Once the last of the wine is added also add the sugar.

Once all wine is stirred in, sugar dissolves and paste thickens again, slowly and gradually whisk in 3 cups vegetable stock.

Bring soup to a gentle boil and then remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with grated cheese and serve. Delicious!



Filed under Kitchen Sync

Home Made Muffins – Just Not From Scratch

Among my favorite surprises are spontaneous visits from friends and other loved ones, especially during the holidays. I typically like a challenge, so when someone phones ahead to announce they’re on their way, I spring to action.

Those are also the times when I most appreciate the stash of couponing treasures and clearance items I’ve gleaned from town; the things I wouldn’t otherwise buy. Combined with my old, die-hard habit of up-cycling even food items all come in handy.

orange peel marabuFor example, I wash citrus fruits before peeling them. Then I’ll either peel carefully with a paring knife to dry for teas later on, or I grate the peels and either dry or freeze them.

cranberries odpicturesThis week the pouches of muffin mix that I’d bought just because they were on sale, combined with the fresh cranberries I got the day after Black Friday and tossed into the freezer, and the grated orange peel came into play.

Apples and especially frozen apple juice concentrate* are nearly always a staple in our kitchen and they added pop to the 2nd quick recipe instructions below. A little habitual practice and the sale items kept my secret that the fresh, home made muffins I took from the oven as unexpected visitors arrived weren’t actually made from scratch.


Best Quick Orange Cranberry Muffins

cranberry muffins terryb


1 box or pouch of muffin mix; Cranberry Orange is delightful, but plain works.

3/4 cup frozen cranberries, covered with 1 Tablespoon of sugar, thawed in microwave. Let sit a few (5) minutes.

      OR 3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 Tablespoon dried grated orange peel or fresh grated peel of 1/2 an orange.

1 large or 2 small eggs

3/4 cup water – If orange peel is not available use one third water and tw0-thirds orange juice.

if desired 1/2 chopped walnuts or pecans are nice too.



Take a calming, deep breath. Now go!

  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gather bowls, sifter, muffin pans, spoons, ingredients.
  3. If you have paper or foil muffin cups if on hand, great! If not, ‘grease’ those reusable muffin cups or go au naturale and ‘grease’ the pan with non-stick spray, butter, coconut oil or canola oil.
  4. Sift mix into a medium sized mixing bowl using rubber spatula, add cranberries from mix and the extra berries.
  5. In separate bowl slightly beat eggs. Mix in water (and/or juice if orange peel isn’t available), and orange peel.
  6. Make a well in dry ingredients, pour in wet mix and stir until blended, don’t over mix. Fold in nuts if desired.

muffin two thirds

7. Spoon into muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake large muffins 28 – 30 minutes; 9 – 12 muffins 24 – 28 minutes – toothpick inserted into center should come out clean :))



Quickest Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

apple crumb muffins


1 box or pouch apple cinnamon muffin mix, (or plain, you’ll add apple juice and grated apple)

1 large or 2 small eggs

3/4 c water  or apple juice if apple isn’t available

1 Small apple, grated (or apple juice :))

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if desired


If mix doesn’t come with a separate topping, no worries. This one adds the wow factor:

Topping Mix:

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup almond flour (best) or unbleached flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

dash salt

2 dashes cinnamon

2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted


  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gather bowls, sifter, muffin pans, spoons, ingredients.
  3. If you have paper or foil muffin cups if on hand, great! If not, grease reusable muffin cups or the pan with non-stick spray, butter, coconut oil or canola oil.
  4. Sift mix into a medium sized mixing bowl using rubber spatula – toss in any dried apple pieces from mix.
  5. In separate bowl combine all Topping ingredients except butter or coconut oil. Mix together. Drizzle and toss with melted oil with fork till crumbly and moist.
  6. In separate bowl slightly beat eggs. Mix in water (or juice if an apple isn’t handy) add grated apple.
  7. Make a well in dry ingredients, pour in wet mix and stir until blended, don’t over mix. Fold in nuts if desired.
  8. Spoon into muffin pan 2/3 full. Spoon on Topping mix, tapping each in slightly.
  9. Bake 6 large muffins 28 – 30 minutes, or 9 – 12 muffins 24 – 28 minutes. A toothpick inserted into center should come out clean :))

While muffins bake, whisk away the dishes and then start a pot of coffee or tea!

Answer the door!

Salud, Roo’s Muse!


*I often substitute frozen apple juice concentrate for sugar in many recipes ;).


Filed under Kitchen Sync

Wonderful Legumes – Lentil, Kale and Sausage Stew


Food is not my first passion. That would be relationships. I spent many of the happiest hours of my lifespan in kitchens, around campfires, grocery stores and farmer’s markets, mostly exploring great new foods. All typicaly within a very restrictive budget.

Recently a friend from Chicago-land shared a recipe from Eating Well *1 for a Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew.

She had me at Lentils. Dietary restrictions during the course of overcoming diverticulitis (without medication), sent my cholesterol counts crazy. After recovery, still unwilling to pollute my body with cholesterol medication, I researched and targeted my diet and exercise habits toward changing those numbers – and that right soon. #

Legumes, especially lentils, and oats are nature’s blood scrubbers, so every day I eat at least one portion of one, the other or both and power walk (breathing too hard to sing) for a minimum half hour to an hour every day, rain or shine. Also, since I also recetly discovered I was not lactose intollerant, a portion of yogurt and cheese also became a mainstay to keeping diverticulosis under control.

This wasn’t easy at first. My body and subconscious screamed in rebellion while I refused to return to my nice, comfy bed and pull the covers over my head. But within 2 weeks the routine became second nature.

I search constantly for variety, keeping a portion of oats or legumes part of my daily diet. Within four months both cholesterol counts returned to very healthy, normal levels. Two years later, keeping this as a base line, I can also eat pretty much whatever else I want in moderation without pain or upset.

Photo courtesy Eating Well.com

Photo courtesy Eating Well.com

Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew – my variation, of course, of the Eating Well Recipe *1


3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
At least a pound of chicken or turkey sausage, casings pierced several times with a toothpick (the more the better when official taste samplers lurk nearby)
1 large onion, thickly sliced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or more per your taste)
pinch of crushed red pepper, (or more to taste) *
2 ½ cups water (have more on hand in case needed)
1 ½ cups red wine (or 1/2 cup wine and 1 cup chicken or turkey stock. have extra on hand in case needed)
1 cup green lentils, washed
8 cups finely chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed **
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare by thoroughly washing kale, cutting away tough stems, and chopping (set aside separately), onion, mince garlic, and sage (also keep sage separate). Wash lentils. Measure wine (and broth if desired) & water.

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides. Remove, set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and onion to the pan and cook until clear, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper *and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute.

3. Add water and wine, bring to a boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from the sides and bottom of skillet. Add lentils, stir in and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for approximately 60 minutes until lentils are cooked through (some altitudes may require more time). Check occasionally for sufficient liquid for stew to be saturated, but not covered over. Add more warm wine, water, broth as needed.

4. Add kale, sage and salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and kale are tender, about 20 minutes more.

5. Cut the cooked sausage into 1/2 inch slices and stir into the pan along with ground pepper. Cover and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Spoon into bowls or crocks, serve topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and crusty, toasted slices of sourdough bread.

Also delightful with your favorite salsa (I especially like salsa verde), pico de gallo or pesto and sprinkles of fresh herbs (like cilantro). Be creative!

Provided by: Eating Well
Per Single Serving / Serves 4 Total
Calories 500 17%
Calories from fat 99 20%
Total Fat 11gm 28%
Sodium 665mg 64%
Cholesterol 60mg 19%

Total Carbohydrates 58gm
Fiber 16gm
Protein 32gm
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

# This may not be sufficient for some with different, more severe cholesterol counts, or other health complications. Consult with your experienced primary care physician and a licensed professional dietitian.

* Our family likes a hot/piquant palette, so I add a jalapeno and a Serrano peppers with the crushed, red pepper flakes.

** Though popular, some tastes (like my sister, Roan’s) don’t take to kale, even when well cooked. Substituting 10 cups chopped spinach provides additional folic acid with a milder flavor.

*1 http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/kale_sausage_lentil_skillet_supper.html

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2015-10-02 · 11:21