Cream of Crab & Mushroom Soup 

Soup is indeed good food. It can be a light lunch or supper or a hearty dinner served with a green salad and crusty bread for mopping up the yummy creaminess. This soup is quick and easy. I like my soup a little chunky with pieces of mushrooms and crab. For this recipe, the mushrooms are the star, so save the jumbo lump crab for another day. Crab claws or lump crab works just fine for this recipe. I also like to mix my mushrooms. Try a mix of creamini, white and oyster mushrooms for a flavor treat.  If you prefer a completely smooth soup, purée the entire batch and push it thought a sieve. 

Peace & Java


Prep Time: 30 min            Cook Time: 30 min                  Total Time: 1 hour             Serving Size: 1 cup

Servings: 6                          Difficulty: Intermediate         Yield: about 6 cups            SP: 5


INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs fresh mixed mushrooms, sliced

2 medium leeks, white and light green parts washed thoughly and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth

1 cup crab claws, picked over for shells

1 cup white wine

1 cup fat-free half & half

1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

DIRECTIONS: 

1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the leaks and cook until wilted and tender, about 5-6 minutes. 

2. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan, cooking until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they are lightly browned. Season the mushrooms with salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes.

3. Add the wine and cook until the mushrooms and leeks absorb the wine. 

4. Remove 1/2 of the cooked mushroom and leek mixture and reserve. 

5. Stir in the flour and cook 2-3 minutes with the remaining mushroom mixture. Add the chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

6. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to desired consistency. Add the reserved mushrooms and crab to the soup pot and bring the soup to a simmer. Do not boil! Whisk in the half & half and Greek yogurt. Additional broth may be added to achieved desired consistency. Add the nutmeg and adjust seasonings as needed. 

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Sherry pairs well with mushrooms and can be used instead of white wine. 

Blend the soup in batches if you don’t have an immersion blender. 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s the time of the year for fresh starts and cleansing. This zesty veggie filled soup is comfort food for the cold winter months. Though, I must admit, it’s equally tasty any time of the year. Plus, it’s Weight Watchers & figure friendly. Go soup! 

Peace & Java

Prep Time: 20 min         Cook Time: 30-45 min     Total Time: about 1 hour          Servings: 4          Serving Size: 2 cups                    Difficulty: Medium         Yield: about 8 cups.          SP:


INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped 

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 medium rib celery, chopped with leaves

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes & green chilies with juice 

1/2 cup canned low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup corn, frozen or fresh

1 cup chicken breast strips, cooked and roughly chopped

4 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce, minced

1/2 tableshoon canola oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Goya All Purpose Seasoning, Lemon & Pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Optional Garnishes: avocado, shredded reduced fat cheese, fat-free sour cream or Greek yogurt, tortilla strips


DIRECTIONS:

1. Add canola oil to a medium Dutch oven obverse medium high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, celery and carrots. Sauté, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Strain in the garlic and chipotle. 

2. Add diced tomatoes with juice, corn and chicken stock, Goya seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer. Stir in chicken.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 

3.  Reduce heat to low and cook 30-45 minutes covered. 

4. Add lime juice and cilantro to soup. Adjust seasoning if needed. 

Serve with your choice of optional garnishes. 


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: Adjust the spice level of the soup by ramping up or omitting the jalapeño and the the chipotle in adobo sauce.  
For WW SPs: 1/2 oz avocado: 1 SP; 2 tbsp RF shredded cheese: 1 SP; 1 tbsp FF sour cream or Greek yogurt: 0 SP; 1.4 oz tortilla strips: 1SP

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

September is just around the corner. The mornings are cooler in most parts of the country, signaling Fall is around the corner. Fall’s cooler weather is the perfect time to begin thinking about tummy filling comfort foods like, soups, stews and chili. And what goes great with a bowl of hot yumminess? Seasoned oyster crackers. Yes, oyster crackers – also known as soup/chili crackers – dressed up with a slightly spicy sassy kick to complement the buttery crunch. I  admit it, once they’re backed warm from the oven…..I can’t resist eating a handful whenever I pass by the pan. Few of the crackers make it to being stored in an airtight container! Try these crackers with my Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder.

Peace and Java

Prep Time: 5 min                         Cook Time: 12 min                        Total Time: 17 min

 Difficulty: Easy Peasy               Servings: about 17                          Serving Size: 1/2 ounce    

Yield: 9 oz – 1 package                SP: 2


INGREDIENTS: 

2 tablespoons light butter

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon Cajun spice – I use Emeril’s Essence

pinch kosher salt

pinch freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300°

1.On a large rimmed baking sheet melt butter in oven, about 1 minute. Stir in onion and garlic powder, Essense, salt and pepper. Gradually add crackers, stirring with wooden spoon until all crackers are coated with butter spice mixture.

2. Bake crackers for 12 minutes, stirring once halfway through until lightly golden. Cool and store in an airtight container.

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: You can melt the butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds add spices and toss crackers until coated if you don’t mind washing an extra bowl.

This mixture is yummy brushed on saltines and baked for 4-5 minutes per batch, about 30 crackers – 1 sleeve.

Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder

I’m not rushing it, but I’m feeling like fall is on the way. Fall makes me want to eat long simmered filling dishes, full of rich flavors that pack a punch with a litte spice. My Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder is the answer! And, it’s easy enough to make vegetarian, by leaving out the bacon, bacon grease, chicken and chicken stock. Add extra veggies and use vegetable stock to amp up your veggie chowder.

This recipe is for the days when you have a little extra time to chop, prep and simmer a hearty meal for the week or the days ahead. If you want, you can break the prep steps up over a day or two and simply assemble the pre-prepped ingredients on the day you want to cook this satisfying chowder and serve. This chowder freezes well for quick meals later in the week or months ahead. 

I like the idea of a “garnish bar,” so family and friends can top this spicy veggie and chicken chowder the way they like it. At G’s place, you can have it your way.

Peace & Java

Prep Time: 30 min                           Cook Time: 1 hour                        Total Time: 1 hour 30 min

Difficulty: Intermediate                 Servings: 10-12                             Serving Size: 1 1/2  cups  

Yield: about 3 quarts     


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups roasted chicken, chopped

4 slices center cut bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped

2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease

2 cups grilled corn, cut off the cob, about 3-4 large ears

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped small

1 medium sweet onion – like Vidalia chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup celery including celery leaves, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies

4 wedges laughing cow spicy pepper jack cheese

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups fat-free half and half

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice – Essence

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

non-stick olive oil cooking spray

Optional Garnishes: avocado, bacon, lime wedges, green onion, and seasoned oyster crackers




DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°

1.Cook the bacon, drain on a paper towel. When cool, chop and set aside as a garnish. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to carmelize the onion.

2. Season the diced sweet potato with a pinch of salt and pepper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and toss to coat. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown. Mash half of the sweet potato and set aside.

3. Heat the reserved bacon grease in a 3-4 quart heavy pot. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until soft, brown and carmelized about 15-20 minutes

4. Add the carrots, red and green bell pepper, celery to the onion. Stir to combine. Add the flour and cook 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to smell nutty and brown lightly.

5. Season the floured veggies with thyme, Cajun spice, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir the veggies and seasonings to combine. Add the tomatoes with green chilies, diced and mashed sweet potato and corn to the other veggies and cook 2-3 minutes.

6. Add chicken stock, stir the mixture, cover and bring to a boil, about 5-7 minutes.

7. Remove the lid from the pot, reduce heat to a simmer. Add the half and half, and the chicken. Stir to combine. Taste the chowder and adjust seasoning as needed. Simmer with the lid on covering about 3/4 of the pot for 10-15 minutes.

8. Serve with desired optional garnishes and enjoy!!


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: Divide the prep steps between a day or two to speed up the cooking process: Day 1-Roast the sweet potato and smash half the sweet potatoes; grill the corn and remove from the cob. Wash and chop the veggies and refrigerate. 

Use leftover roast chicken or take help from your supermarket and purchase a rotisserie chicken.

No fresh corn on hand, no worries, frozen corn is your friend!

No Laughing Cow? substitute jalapeno cream cheese or 4 ounces cream cheese and about 1-2 tablespoons to taste, pickled jalapeno, diced.

To make this chowder vegetarian, omit the bacon and chicken and use vegetable stock.

Gazpacho with Roasted Peppers and Shrimp

It’s too hot to cook. Crisp summer salads and cool soups are a satisfying way to eat fresh and get plenty of veggies into you belly. This recipe features the tomatoes and cucumbers I nabbed from the Farmer’s market this weekend. I also used peppers and basil from my garden. The shrimp adds protein to the refreshing soup, making it more filling for lunch or as a light dinner.

It is my understanding that authentic Spanish gazpacho is blended with softened bread, so that it is more soup-like and less like a chunky salsa. Though I have yet to visit Spain, I have attempted to honor the tradition. Feel free to adjust the thickness and spice of the soup with more tomato juice and spice. I like it spicy, as you may have begun to notice, but I know it’s not for everyone. Keep cool and enjoy the beautiful in-season summer veggies.

Peace & Java

 

Prep Time: 30 min                 Cook Time: 15 min                       Difficulty: Easy Peasy

Servings: 8                             Serving Size: 1 cup                       Yield: about 2 quarts.          SP: 3

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INGREDIENTS:

2 slices thick french or Italian bread

2 limes,  juiced

1 cup spicy tomato juice

2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

12 oz medium shrimp (41-50), peeled and deveined

1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped, about 1 1/2 cups divided

1 small red bell pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 small jalapeno, roasted, seeded and minced

1-2 small banana or havasu peppers, roasted, seeded and minced

3.4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1/4 cup  tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons Shrimp & Crab Boil

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted

 

GARNISHES (optional): avocado, radish, cucumber, red onion

 

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Roast the peppers over a medium flame on the stove top, turning  frequently to char all sides of the peppers. The peppers may also be roasted on a sheet pan in a 425 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through. Once the peppers have charred, place them in a resealable plastic bag until cooled. Once cool, remove the skins from the peppers, seed and chop.

2. Soak the bread in a small bowl of water to soften, about 15 minutes. Squeeze the bread into a ball to remove the excess water and set aside.

3. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 10-15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Once cool, peel, core and seed the tomatoes.

4. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Season the water with the juice of 1 lime and the shrimp and crab boil. Boil the shrimp for 2 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut the shrimp in 2-3 bite size pieces, season with the Old bay and set aside.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted peppers, red onion, garlic, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Stir mixture and adjust seasoning as needed.

6. Tear the softened bread into chunks and place in a food processor or blender. Add about 3/4 of the tomato mixture to the bread and puree.

7. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl. Add the tomato juice and seasoned shrimp. Stir and adjust seasoning. Cover and chill for 2 hours up to overnight.

8. Serve with chiffonade basil, garnishes of your choice and crusty bread.

 

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: To keep this dish vegetarian, omit the shrimp.

Add more or less tomato juice depending on the preferred consistency for your soup.

Perfect Pairing: Peach Tea Sangria!