Desperation Tomato Soup — Giada

I made this, one night, when my eyes were literally closing.   Forget cooking, I didn’t even want to eat.  

The other of lifting a fork to my mouth overwhelmed me.    I am sure, many of us, have these days or evenings where everything looms large.  I have them more, these days, when I am on extra duty for my job.  

That night typified exhaustion but I knew, not eating, was not going to do me any good.  I could see sleeping for an hour and waking up with hunger pains.  Then, I would, very likely not fall back to sleep for hours.  No, we were going to eat even if was lettuce without dressing.

Why I picked up Giada’s book up, I don’t know and why it opened to this soup is even more strange.  Who am I to ask questions?  I had dinner, Italian style, ready in a short while.  Tomato soup, something I love and something comforting.

I will hang my head, in shame, for those of you who always cook from scratch, something I often do, very often, but not that night.  This soup embarrassingly is made from bottled Marinara soup, boxed Vegetable Soup and canned beans plus a few extras.  I, even peeled carrots…..Wow!  Chopped an onion…..Double wow!!

Let me tell you, this soup was very good.  It had flavor and was smooth and went down, easily and I loved it, at least that night.  My instincts tell me, I would like it again and then again.  It was not simply the desperation but I can keep it for another desperation night when sleep calls.

Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Serves:  4 to 6 serving
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 28 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  any small pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.

Add the carrots and onion. and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the jar omarinara sauce, chicken broth, cannelloni beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Eat and enjoy!

Note the length of time for this soup, if you cook the pasta while you are browning the vegetables………12 minutes. Even a tired lady should be able to handle this and if one can’t, sleep is the only answer.

This is linked to Totally Tasty Tuesdays (Mandy’s Recipe Box),   Tuesday’s Tasty Tidbits  Tasty Tuesdays   Mix it Up Monday    Cookbook Sundays

Gluten Free Wednesdays

Pasta and Salmon Salad

My husband called me from Costco and asked if I was interested in a package of smoked salmon in two flavors plus plain.  One side was dill flavored, the other black pepper and in the middle, was plain slices of smoked salmon. (lox)  I had seen this in Costco and passed it up because, I figured, hubby would not like the spices.  Of course, if he was suggesting it, I grabbed the chance and told him to bring it home.

You would be amazed at how many items, I get this way.  I think, he isn’t going to eat something and ignore it to find it, in my kitchen.  That is one way to expand our food choices.

As soon, as I got my hands on the package of lox, I tasted one of each and loved them all.  As far as I am concerned, smoked salmon is delicious, in any form and with any other ingredients.  I know, bagels and lox, are well-known and certainly eaten on a regular basis.  Since, I eat little bread, I rarely get to eat that yummy bagel and lox with cream cheese and onions plus tomato slices.  How does that sound?  Here is a look.  Please, go further down for the recipe for the salad.


Are you hungry yet?

I would cut bigger pieces of salmon, next time, maybe a quarter of an inch in size.  They disappeared in the pasta salad.  I would also add some chopped scallions.

Pasta and Salmon Salad (adapted from


  • 1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti of choice (Brown rice pasta GF)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

  • 1/4 pound smoked salmon, chopped

  • 1  cup frozen green peas, thawed

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped  tarragon

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

  • ground black pepper to taste


  1. Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the curry powder, let it dissolve, then add the pasta. When the pasta is cooked but still firm, drain and cool with running water. Drain again thoroughly and place in a large salad bowl.

  2. To the pasta add the smoked salmon, tomato and green peas. In a small bowl stir together the tarragon, lemon juice, and pepper to taste until well mixed. Add the oil and stir vigorously until blended.

  3. In a small bowl stir together the tarragon, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste until well mixed. Add the oil and stir vigorously until blended.

  4. Pour dressing over pasta dish. Toss well and serve.

This is linked to Show Your Stuff   Things that Make you Say Mmmmmm   Your Recipe, My Kitchen   Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays


Tomato Curry – Nigella

At my house, on Fridays, cooking is an all day affair or it seems to be.  I am cooking for the Jewish Sabbath and we eat quite a meal on Friday nights and a less complicated on for Saturday lunch and then a third lighter meal, later in the afternoon.  All and all, this calls for a variety of food.  I was looking for a quick side dish to go with the chicken, I had made for Friday night and I opened my book (Nigella’s Kitchen) and there was my dish, Tomato Curry.  This was served with a coconut rice which I did not make .  I had a rice dish already waiting to be served.  The Curry went fine with this, as well as, it must have gone with the coconut rice, which I want to make, at another time.

This is a tasty dish and I made it a bit tastier by adding some red pepper dip to it.  It also is good served cold and we served it for lunch, that way, on Saturday.

  This is my contribution to Forever Nigella.  Nigella has tons of delicious recipes both online and in her wonderful books.  Join in the fun and select any Nigella recipe and link it up here.  While you are there, check out what some of the other Nigella cooks have made.

Linked to  Show Your Stuff


Pasta E Fagioli – Olive Garden Copy Cat

I enjoy making Copy Cat recipes, whether they are true to the source or not.  Since, we are kosher, I have not eaten these meals, in the restaurants they come from and this is the closest, I get to come to eating them.    In this case, I did not have red kidney beans so that is a change in the recipe and I didn’t even see, there were carrots in the recipe, so this is a deviant copy cat recipe.  Despite this, it is a delicious dish filled with a mixture of flavors that blend into a warm and cozy meal.  Serve with a salad and you will be full.

Pasta E Fagioli – Olive Garden CopyCat

  •  1 pound  ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 4 stalks celery , chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes , undrained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can white kidney beans , drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh  parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne sauce
  • 2 cups Marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces pasta


Brown chopped beef in a skillet.

Add to crock pot, olive oil, onion and celery and cook on high for 1 hour.

Drain fat from beef and add chopped beef to crock pot with everything except pasta.

Cook on low 4-5 hours.

During last 30 min on high or 1 hour on low, add pasta.

 Treat yourself to a hearty dinner, made with a minimum of effort.

This is linked to Full Plate Thursdays    Newlyweds Recipe Linky     Tastetastic Thursday    Friday Food    Gallery of Favorites

Tomato Bisque

I grew up with canned soups, probably Campbells.  I vividly remember thetomato soup and the chicken noodle.  If we had others, the memories are gone.  The two mentioned left an impression on me.  I think, the tomato was served the most often.  Keeping in mind, my memories of eating soup, are not the most important ones, I have so they are probably clouded.  All I know, is that I don’t remember a homemade pot of soup until I was married and my husband’s grandmother made soup.

I can remember when my younger brother got his ankle stuck in a bike spoke.  See how close those spokes are.  I found him crying, around the corner from our house with a piece of his leg hanging off.  OK, it was only the skin but I was young, also and this was frightening.  I carried him home and that memory has stayed with both of us.  It is a good memory.

I remember my second grade teacher who was very strict.  We were only second graders but I remember her as Miss Meanie.  My memories are not food-centered.

This is another Fine Cooking Recipe  from their first annual.  I, of course, adapted it.

Tomato Bisque (I made this in a crockpot.  I first cooked the onions on high for one hour and then added everything else and cooked for another five hours on low.  Below, are the cooking directions to use on the stove.

Click here to find out more!Click here to find out more!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes in purée
1-1/2 cups low-salt vegetable broth
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper; more to taste
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender and lightly browned on the edges, about 7 min. Add the garlic and thyme; stir until fragrant, about 1 min.

Add the tomatoes, broth, honey, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced by a quarter and thickened, about 15 min. Using a stand or immersion blender, purée about half the soup; it will be still be chunky and thick. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Heat gently and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with the parsley if using, and serve immediately.

The honey added a tinge of sweetness that was pleasant.  At the last moment, I added one tablespoon of red pepper dip to the soup and it did add flavor.  This was a really good soup, one, I could easily eat bowls of.  It is also very, very easy to make.

This is linked to      Full Plate Thursdays


I have to admit an awful truth.  No, for me, it is a wonderful truth.  I make my menu for the week and it give a lot of thoughtbut what that menu really tells me, is what we are eating, not necessarily when we are eating it.  My intentions are pure and if I could follow my plans, throughout the week, I would but each week, something happens and necessity dictates changes must be made.

There are a number of reasons that this happens:

  • I could be in the grocery store, planning a quickie shopping, and I might meet two friends and we could have a long chat, standing in the aisle instead of a phone call.  Don’t you dislike those people who block the aisles?  Yeah, me too. Did I mention that each friend might be a separate conversation and a separate aisle?
  • I usually shop on my way home from school and on those days, I make it a point to leave immediately after the kids are on the bus and on their way home.  It could happen that three different teachers and my principal want to discuss something important, again separately.  Shopping is not a good reason not to meet with them.
  • I lost my car.  We park on the street……which street?  That is the problem.  There are about six different streets, I can park on.  I have a route, starting at street A and moving on through the other streets.  Since, some of these streets are one way, it means circling the neighborhood, which is more than those six streets.  If I don’t note, when I leave the car, where it is, at the end of the day, I stand helplessly, looking up and down the block, trying to replay my arrival at school, that day.  Let me assure you, I have always found the car.
  • I took my husband’s car.  I should really say, he took mine.  That leaves me with his, which is fine, except that it is a bland color and I have enough trouble locating the street, the car is parked on without the added problem of a dozen other cars, the same color.  I haven’t lost it, yet.
  • Of course, there is the one, most of us have, from time to time.  I didn’t buy the squash, the main ingredient, for dinner.  I ran out of flour for the pancakes.  No cheese — what can I sub for mac and cheese?

Trust, I could probably write a book about the subject but I want to share this recipe with you.  When, I chose shakshuka for our meal, I could not envision how eggs in tomato could be good but I am up to a challenge.  The bonus is that this is an easy and quick recipe to make, especially, if you cheat.  (Another one of my secrets….)  This turned out to be a great combination, the contrast of the eggs opposing the strength of the tanginess (I think I made that word up.) of the tomatoes, worked well.

Shashuka  adapted from the Hadassah Everyday Cookbook


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika (I used half hot and half sweet paprika)

smidge of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 eggs


Heat oil in a 4 quart saucepan.  Add onions and red pepper and saute until softened, about 6 minutes.

Pour tomatoes and juice into pot.  Add seasoning and tomato paste.  Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally.

I turned the heat higher, at this point, and dropped the eggs into the tomatoes and cooked until set, about 6 minutes.   Mine took a little longer because I got called away to Skype with my grandchildren.  This meant, my eggs cooked another 10  minutes but they were still soft.  So, it is 6 minutes unless you have grandchildren who Skype.  I, also did not baste the eggs with the sauce as directed.

Serve hot.  

If you want an accurate recipe, check the book, page 163.  

This is linked to the Link Party #15    It’s A Keeper


Southwestern Hash – Ellie Krieger

I love Ellie Krieger and have made numerous dishes from her cookbooks.  I should make a lot  more.

Ellie Krieger at the 2009 Texas Book Festival,...  This is one, I made a long time ago and hope to make again soon.  Another meatless wonder…..  This is a hearty recipe and nice and warming in cold weather which is now.  Ellie is known for her healthy cooking and it is healthy but healthy is proven not to mean boring in these dishes.  She simply cooks well so we can also do a good job in our kitchens.

Tonight, we had Ellie’s hash which fortunately for me, had lots of potatoes and I love potatoes.

It called for black beans but I only had Aduki beans.  It called for green pepper; I only had red.  It called for fresh cilantro; I had parsley.  Yep, I substituted.

It called for 1 tablespoon oil in the entire recipe plus a spray of the pan.  I used one pan, as suggested for three different acts, just wiping it down, before changing.  It went well.  It tasted better.  I thought the beans would take away from the whole but they didn’t.  Every ingredient blended with the others.  The egg on top was the right finishing touch.

This was an Ellie success.

Southwestern Hash    2007, Ellie Krieger, 

  • 1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • red pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon  chili powder 
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can no-salt-added adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • Hot pepper sauce, for serving


Place the potatoes in a large non-stick skillet. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set potatoes aside.

Dry the skillet with a paper towel. Add the oil and heat over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the potatoes,  cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Add the tomatoes and beans and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley.

Transfer the hash onto serving plates. With the heat off, wipe out the pan again. Spray it withcooking spray, turn heat on to medium-low and cook the eggs, sunny-side up, or over-easy. Put an egg on top of each mound of hash. Serve with hot sauce.


Chop onions

Chop red pepper.

Potatoes cooking in boiling water in electric Skillet.

This is linked to Recipe of the Week      Five Dollar Dinners       This week’s Cravings

Soup to Warm the Soul

Soup to Warm the Soul     

Many of us agree that this is the weather (cold) for hot soup.  Come in on a cold day and if there is soup waiting, I am betting most of you, turn happy.  I know I do as does my husband.  In the past few years, I have done some experimenting with recipes and this is the results of one of these.  I don’t have the original source for this, anymore but I feel like it is mine, now.


2 tablespoons Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup brown rice

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dill

1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)

5 cups water

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion & bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the rice, seasoning, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the chicken. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just done,tes.

4.  Stir in the black pepper, lemon juice, and parsley.

Topped Baked Eggplant

I have been doing in an inordinate amount of cooking with eggplant, this season.  I discovered just how much I like it after thinking, I did not like it.  In truth, I don’t think, I would enjoy it, as part of a stew, soft and mushy.  I like when it is crisp and sets up other flavors to show their best side.

This was a Martha Stewart recipe but I ended up changing it, quite a bit.  Martha’s recipe can be found here.   I don’t enjoy mint in vegetable dishes.  I love mint chocolate chip ice cream and that is where mint, should stay, in my opinion.  I tried one time to include mint in a meat dish and that was the last time, I used it in anything than desserts.

Brownies with a mint filling are delicious.  Mint chocolates are great.  Gum with mint flavoring is the best.  Mint has its place, yes indeed.

After many years in education, I have learned that elementary school kids, at least boys, do not like mint in their cookies or cakes.  I also discovered that peanut butter is liked by only fifty percent of the guys.  Marshmallow does better, coconut much worse.  It is interesting to realize that their palates may not be  fully developed.

Topped Baked Eggplant


  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch rounds
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 ounces  feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced small
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoons red-wine vinegar, plus more if desired


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.  I used a cookie sheet.  A pizza pan would have worked, as well.

Arrange eggplant rounds in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Bake until undersides are browned .

 Roast until undersides are browned and eggplant is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon oil, feta cheese, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired. 

Transfer eggplant to a serving platter. Top each round with a spoonful of tomato mixture and serve.

I would have liked this better topped with mozzarella and cooked in the oven, for a few minutes, pizza style.  I love feta cheese but not so much, in this case.  Cheddar would have worked as would Tomato Basil Jack cheese.  This is a recipe, I would like to work on and change a bit.  Needless to say, you most likely will enjoy it Martha’s way.  It certainly caught my eye.


Chopped Salad

This week, I made a number of simple salads.  One of our favorite is some greens, grape tomatoes and feta and I made that twice with dinner.  I also like that one for lunch on weekdays.

On Friday, I decided to take vegetables and chop them up with a simple dressing. Eating small pieces is a novelty in a salad, for us.  If you don’t like it this way, throw in some arugula, spinach or lettuce.

Ingredients -

1 English cucumber, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Dressing -2 tablespoons seasoned (basil and oregano) Rice Vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil and black pepper, to taste

Procedure -

Chop and mix all vegetables.

Mix dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing on  chopped vegetables and let marinate for at least one hour.

 Ms. enPlace