North African Wedding Soup

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This is another one of the recipes that we decided to make this blog for… It’s one of my favorite Pinterest finds, from what’s become a favorite blog – Little Spice Jar. We always tweak our recipes a little bit and this was no different. But, per usual, we’ve forgotten the changes we made from the last few times we made it. So this time, we’ll cross our fingers that it turns out to be the best version we’ve ever made and actually write it down.

These little meatballs are so full of flavorful spices, and the meatballs actually flavor the soup broth itself. This broth has such depth, and the aromas floating through your kitchen are so enticing. The flavors build and build the more you eat. And actually, this is one of those soups that is so much better as a leftover. Do what we did and eat it for dinner, but then enjoy the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week. Feel free to tweak the spices based on your personal preferences, but keep it spice-heavy! It is not super spicy, so if you want it that way, go ahead and increase the spice level. You may have noticed if you’ve read our blog a lot that we love the flavors of the Middle East and Northern African. No exception here. If you’re not familiar with or unsure of the cuisine from this part of the world, please let this soup be your gateway drug. You won’t be disappointed!

Why is this called North African wedding soup? Well, every time we make it, it makes me think of Italian wedding soup – the small meatballs, couscous in place of the orzo, and of course, North African spices in place of Italian flavors. Even more confirmation for this name? Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary! North African wedding soup it is! (I have no idea if there is actually a traditional North African wedding soup – if there is, this is not it!)

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One of my favorites from our wedding ❤  Photograph by Lauren D. Rogers Photography

Mini Meatball Spiced Soup

(Adapted from Little Spice Jar)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chopped carrots
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the beef, tomato paste, and spices through nutmeg. Combine well.
  3. Then form into small meatballs and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  5. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots to the pot and top with several turns of black pepper, the Aleppo pepper, and the fresh thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are fragrant/browning and carrots have begun to soften, ~10-12minutes.
  6. Pour beef broth into the pot and adjust heat to a light simmer.
  7. Add the meatballs and the couscous, partially cover if needed, and continue to lightly simmer for ~15 minutes, until the couscous is soft and tender.
  8. Taste and adjust for salt as needed, then serve.
Serves 6-8
Quick response to a question I’m anticipating. Why bake the meatballs, won’t they cook in the broth? Yes, they would. Baking them briefly allows for two important things in my mind – 1) it helps the meatballs hold their shape and 2) allows the meat to leech some of its fat somewhere other than your broth. Yes the fat tastes delicious and yes, you’re losing some of the spiced flavors, but it can definitely make your soup cloudy and oily. 
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Pumpkin Roll

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I’ve had this recipe pinned for a long time, because I knew Selim would like it, but I found it really intimidating. When I bake, things just never turn out as pretty as the should. {I blame my friend/old roommate Terry – she is an amazing baker/dessert wizard. I’m just assuming that when we lived together, any ounce of baking ability that Katie, our other roommate, and I might have ever possessed leeched out of us and went to her. Actually, maybe she absorbed all the potential baking ability of everyone she’s ever lived with – she’s that good. I mean, people pay her to make desserts for their special events out of our little old kitchen. She made our wedding cake! Let’s all gang up on her and peer pressure her to open a bakery; it will be for the betterment for all of humankind!} But anyway… I promised Selim I’d make him a fall treat and that I’d use real pumpkin, so here we are. Obviously, I haven’t tried this dessert with canned pumpkin puree, but I don’t think roasting your own pumpkin really added that much more work. I’m sure it’s worth it 🙂

Now, I’m not going to lie. This dessert is a little bit of a project. The active time really isn’t all that much, but there’s a lot of down time. It’s a perfect fall weekend project, while you’re around the house anyway! Pumpkin roasting in the oven = watch a quarter of football. Rolled cake cooling = rake some leaves. Entire roll chilling in the oven = go on a walk around the neighborhood.

Mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty as my model from Gimme Some Oven, or as pretty as Terry would’ve made it, but it was tasty!! What can I say, I’m a baking work in progress 🤷

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Pumpkin Roll

(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 sugar/pumpkin pie pumpkin (utilizing 2/3 cup of pumpking puree)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided
  • 8oz block cream cheese, softened/room temp
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar + extra for sprinkling
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the seeds and strings. Roast face-up for an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in one large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients from flour through salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla.
  5. Once the pumpkins are done, scoop the flesh out and into a food processor. Blend a few times until you have a nice puree.
  6. Take 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree and whisk in with the other wet ingredients.
  7. Now, fold the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a well-combined batter.
  8. Splash a tiny bit of water into a 10 x 15 glass baking dish. Press wax/parchment paper into the dish, with extra hanging over the edge (you’ll use this to lift the cake out of the dish).
  9. Pour the batter into the dish and then bake for 15 minutes. [When it’s done, the dough will spring back when you touch it with your finger.]
  10. Lift the cake dough out of its pan and lay on a counter-top. Trim the paper so it is just past the edges of the cake. Roll the dough from short end to short end, as tightly as you can.
  11. Set the roll, seam down, on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool.
  12. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling. Using a hand-held mixer, ombine all of the remaining ingredients – cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar.
  13. If the cake has cooled to room temperature, unroll it and spread the cream cheese mixture onto it. Leave a little bit of an edge on all sides.
  14. Re-roll! Peel the wax paper away as you’re rolling. Wrap the now-completed roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  15. Prior to serving, slice off the edges (and eat them!), so you have a pretty edges to show the world!
  16. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Slice with a bread knife and serve those rounds.

Chicken Saltimbocca Rollups

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Saltimbocca is a traditional Italian dish, likely originating in Rome. The original dish is made with a veal cutlet, prosciutto, and sage. More recently, Italian-Americans have made the chicken version a tradition in and of itself. This Americanized recipe still traditionally uses sage, but we like to use our own fresh herbs from our mini balcony herb garden. We don’t have sage, but I thought basil would go well with the dish as a whole. It worked. We liked it. Not going to lie though, the best part is the cooking liquid. Make sure to spoon a little bit over your chicken portions and sop it up with each bite.

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Chicken Saltimbocca Rollups

(Adapted from this blog post)
Ingredients: 
  • 4 thin-cut chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 8oz mozzarella, sliced
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken, working from the middle out.
  3. Layer the prosciutto and mozzarella on each piece of chicken. Sprinkle chopped basil on top.
  4. Roll the chicken over on itself and secure each rollup with a toothpick.
  5. Season with pepper and salt.
  6. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  7. Brown all of the chicken rollups on all sides. Remove from the pan to a glass baking dish.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Simmer for a few minutes and then pour over the chicken in the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes.
Four servings.

Roasted Grape & Prosciutto Flatbread

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Ok. Obviously when we share recipes on here, we think they’re pretty good and that you should make them. But this one… I’m multiplying that sentiment by a million! These flatbreads are amazing!! Plus they are just a little bit fancy… Makes you feel like a fancy person, having fancy dinner. But the secret is, they’re easy and fairly quick to make.  We devoured them whole for dinner tonight, but they would also be perfect sliced into smaller slivers as an appetizer.

Let’s talk about our ingredients. Each one adds something to the flatbread, building to a huge depth and variety of flavor in each bite. We love Trader Joe’s naan for the base of our flatbreads, but you certainly could make your own or use something similar. We like these because they have great texture, the edges crisp up a bit in the oven, and are reasonably priced! (Trader Joe’s doesn’t pay us to say this – we really just love that place.) The next layer of Boursin herbed cheese makes for a creamy, sauce-like coating to the bread. The caramelized onions add a fragrant smokiness and the fresh rosemary, a pungent, almost piney, herbaceous taste and aroma. The roasted grapes are amazingly sweet, but in an entirely different way than you’re used to. (Even if you don’t make this flatbread, go out and roast some grapes.) And then prosciutto… I mean really… Prosciutto makes everything that much more delicious. The last drizzle of honey balances out all of the sweet and savory elements.

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Roasted Grape & Prosciutto Flatbread

(Adapted from Spices in My DNA blog)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup red or black grapes
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 package Boursin cheese (you won’t use it all)
  • 2 slices of prosciutto
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Honey
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 pieces of pre-made naan or other flatbread (we like Trader Joe’s)
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Warm 2 tsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and stir to coat in the oil. Top with several turns of fresh ground black pepper and 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary.
  3. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes until caramelized. Lower heat slightly after first ten minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toss grapes with 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.
  5. Spread grapes out on foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for ~15 minutes.
  6. Lower oven heat to 350.
  7. Assemble flatbread: spread Boursin liberally on the naan, top with caramelized onions, and grapes.
  8. Place flatbreads directly on the oven rack. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove flatbreads from the oven. Top with prosciutto, additional chopped rosemary, and a drizzle of honey.
Serves 2.

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Creamy Confetti Corn

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This post is alternatively titled: How to Make Your Vegetables Less Healthy. Just wanted to acknowledge that up front. Nothing makes vegetables yummier than bacon and cheese! Maybe you have picky little kids who you’re trying to convince to eat something other than mac & cheese and frozen chicken nuggets (describing my brother Jeffrey from age 5 to age 21…)? Or maybe you’re just trying to find a veggie side dish that’s a little bit more decadent? That’s what I was doing when making this dish. All I was craving for dinner was chips and dip – since apparently that is not a true meal (says who am I right??), an indulgent side dish was in order.

I’ve had this recipe pinned for a long time – I feel like I type that sentence a lot around here. This one has been pinned 114,000 times! It’s so impressive to me when blogs take off like that – so cool! We have quite a ways to go before we would reach that level – but hey man, one of our recipes, Bay Scallop Risotto, has been pinned 33 times! Given that I’m still shocked to see that people who are not related to me have ever read this, that’s pretty spectacular! I guess that’s the internet for you…

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Creamy Confetti Corn

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
Ingredients: 
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we love Frank’s Hot Sauce!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Green onions, sliced to top
Instructions: 
  1. In a large skillet, cook your bacon until it’s very crispy. Remove to the side on a paper towel.
  2. Pour off the bacon grease, except for just a thin coating of the pan.
  3. Over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
  4. Turn heat down slightly (medium-low), and add the rest of the vegetables and milk. Stir together and then cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes in this way, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove lid and stir in the cream cheese and hot sauce. Cook for another ~5 minutes until the cream cheese is well-incorporated and coats the vegetables as a creamy sauce.
  6. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Crumble bacon into bits and top the dish with this and sliced green onions.
Serves 6-8 as side dish

Thai Turkey Meatballs

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I was browsing my ol’ faithful – Pinterest – when this recipe (eventually) caught my eye. I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest when it comes to inspiring my dinner. Love – well, what’s not to love? There are literally millions of gorgeous photos, leading you to so many different recipes. It also lets me check out other blogs I would’ve never found otherwise. But sometimes it’s almost TOO much. It certainly doesn’t help me narrow down my plan if I have no idea what I want to make tonight. Even though I try to organize my Pinterest into food categories, the options are still overwhelming. Let’s take my “Chicken Entrees” board. I started there because we had chicken in the freezer that probably should be eaten. Obviously, each of these dishes appealed to me in some instance, because I saved them. So why did I find reasons to not make any of them tonight?? Browsing this board, I first clicked on Senegalese Chicken Yassa – 💭💭 nah, takes too long to make. Then, oooh Chicken & Dumplings – 💭💭 ehhh, Selim probably won’t want that tonight. Chicken Tikka Masala –  💭💭 oh yum, but I’m trying to write a new blog post and we’ve already done a tikka masala on here. Greek Chicken Meatballs – 💭💭 welllll we did just go on a rant about Greek food, so probably should hold off. But meatballs, that sounds good… let’s go down that rabbit hole… ⌨️ “chicken meatballs” 🖱️ And many clicks later, here we are.

And I’m glad we finally made it. These meatballs are great! And are a likely a bit healthier than the last meatballs you made. We ate them over rice noodles, which was great, but I think they’d be perfect as an appetizer as well.

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Thai Turkey Meatballs

(Adapted from The Bewitchin’ Kitchen blog)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 + 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced + 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 5 large fresh basil leaves
  • 5 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the first twelve ingredients (carrots through pepper – including the 1 tbsp of lime juice and 3 sliced cloves of garlic) in a food processor. Pulse until well-processed.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the mixture, ground turkey, and egg. Stir to combine well.
  4. Using your hands, form the mixture into small meatballs. (It will feel really wet!)
  5. Place meatballs on a lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then flip and bake another 15 minutes.
  7. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce.
  8. In a large, high-edged pan over medium heat, swirl together coconut oil and just a dash of the coconut milk.
  9. Add the remaining garlic (2 cloves, minced) and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
  10. Now stir in the red curry paste. Allow to cook for just 1-2 more minutes.
  11. Then add the rest of the can of coconut milk and the remaining 2 tbsp lime juice.
  12. Maintain the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens up a smidge.
  13. When the meatballs are done, place the in the pan. Remove from heat. Coat with the sauce.
  14. Serve over rice or rice noodles or with toothpicks as an appetizer.

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

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I love cucumbers, but I basically eat them the same two ways over and over. (See: Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad & Mama Z’s Cucumbers) I’ve had this cucumber recipe pinned for literally years, but have never made it. It’s been pinned more than 119,000 times! Apparently everyone likes a nice cucumber… I’m glad I finally tried them. These cucumbers are different from my go-tos, which makes it a nice change. I usually don’t think light and fresh cucumbers need something like oil topping them, but it works well here.

Citrus Chili Cucumbers

(Adapted from Our Life in a Click blog, via Pinterest)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients minus the cucumbers themselves.
  2. Pour liquid over top of the cucumbers.
  3. Eat! Marvel at how easy it was to make this delicious snack.