Yum Peaceful Cooking

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Boulder Organic Soup and Crusty Italian Bread

Boulder Organic Soup and Crusty Italian Bread

I love soup.

Not the typical canned soups with bland broth and high sodium. I rarely purchase processed soup. I rarely even go down the soup isle at the grocery store. Good soup is quick and easy to make and very versatile. It's the perfect answer when needing to clear out the veggies from your fridge.

However, there are times, when you need something on the go, you're rushed, or you just don't feel like cooking (or don't enjoy cooking, although if you're reading a food blog, I doubt that's the case). If you find yourself in any of these predicaments, don't grab the can. Go into the deli section and find yourself some real soup. Find yourself a container Boulder Organic Soup!

I had the pleasure of trying a few of these delicious, organic, gluten free soups. Talk about YUM factor! Each container is about 3 servings, and paired with some good bread, makes for the perfect meal when time is against you! Or take it to work and you have yourself 3 lunches for the price of one!

Boulder Organic uses locally grown produce as much as possible, is always gluten free, non gmo and of course organic. Not only are they doing good by preparing a very healthy product for the consumer, but they also donate to the local Community Food Share and other non-profits in their area.

I had the pleasure of doing an informal email interview with the Kate Brown, the Founder of President of Boulder Organic Foods. Please see read the interview at the bottom of this post for more insight to this wonderful company!

Although I tried a few flavors, Roasted Tomato Basil (pictured above), and Potato Leek, the Golden Quinoa and Kale was my favorite!

So very good! Nice chunks of tomato, carrots and kale....with oh so healthy quinoa all over the place. Perfect for those cold winter days/nights (although with the heat wave we're experiencing here, forcing us to wear our summer clothes, it's a bit challenging to go into more detail about how satisfying it is to eat hot soup in the winter0.

There are so many other flavors that I still need to try. Of course you can go on their website to find where you can purchase Boulder Organic Soup near you and see for yourself how many delicious soups there are to choose from.

In the meantime, let's talk about the bread you can make and serve with the soup (because I can't post anything without a recipe).

I found a wonderful Crusty Italian Bread recipe in the King Arthur's Flour Baker's Companion Cookbook, The biga (starter) is what makes this bread stand out from others. It gives it a depth of flavor that you can't get with other doughs (unless you're making sourdough). So plan ahead by a day....it'll be worth it! You'll love the soft, tender crumb as you bit through the firm crust.

Crusty Italian Bread

1 cup cool water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1/2 cup cool water
2 - 2.1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds

To make the biga, combine all of the ingredients, mixing until well combined and a sticky dough forms. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 - 16 hours. During that time the dough will become softer and filled with bubbles.

Now for the dough: Add the water to your bubbly biga and mix until smooth. Add the flour, yeast and salt and knead until smooth. Allow to rest in a lightly greased bowl, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours. Deflate the dough every 30 minutes during this resting period.

Preheat your oven to 425'

Divide the dough into 3 equal sections, From the sections into balls and roll each ball into a 20" rope. Then you braid the ropes. For a great demo on how this is done, check out  King Arthur's Flour how-to video

Place the braided dough on a baking sheet that's been lined with parchment paper. Cover and allow to rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until puffy. I always gently poke the dough with 2 fingers. If it springs back right away, it's not ready yet. If it springs back slowly...it's ready to go!

Brush the dough with the egg & water mixture then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place the dough in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!

And don't forget to serve it with your favorite Boulder Organic Soup.

Interview with Kate Brown, Founder and President of Boulder Organic Foods

What inspired you to create Boulder Organic Foods?
My daughter had her tonsils removed and I went to the store to pick up soup for her.  When I began reading the ingredients list I was astonished about how much bad, unnecessary stuff was in the soups – even the organic options. I decided that I could do better. I knew how to make soup and I figured that others would prefer fresh, organic and nutritious options to offer their families.

How is your soup prepared?
Our soup is made in-house every day in small batches with the finest certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO verified ingredients. And the soups are found in the grab-and-go and deli refrigerators of natural and conventional grocers nationally at similar price point to that of conventional soups.  I am exceptionally proud of our ingredients!

Which flavor is your favorite? 
It’s a tie between the Green Chile Corn Chowder and the Red Lentil Dahl.

What are the next flavor profiles Boulder Organic Foods will be pursuing? 
We have learned that exotic soup flavors just don’t appeal to most customers.  I think that soup is a very traditional, nostalgic and comforting food, so shoppers look for the old standbys and favorites.  We will continue to offer well-loved and traditional flavor profiles, with organic ingredients and cleaned up labels, that shoppers will consider a staple in their fridge. Stay tuned!

Do you plan on expanding the product line beyond soup? 
We certainly have considered an expansion.  It would make sense for us if our demand for fresh soup was leveling out, but we are nowhere near seeing a plateau in demand.  It’s been our position to pick one thing that we do really well and stick with it for a while. 

Do any of the soups have a special story behind their creation? 
Every single one has a history and some funny stories behind it!  I have definitely grown to love some particular vegetables that I didn’t previously like, due to the intense process of creating a new soup.  Butternut squash is a great example!  I didn’t appreciate the subtly of butternut squash until I started to play with flavors that enhance and amplify the deliciousness that is already there in the squash.  It is such a wonderful reward to find flavors that bring a look of delight to people’s faces when they try them!

Thank you Boulder Organic Foods and Kate Brown for giving me the opportunity to try your amazing soup! 

I was not compensated for this post, however Boulder Organic Foods supplied me with product coupons. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Cajun Style Gyro

These gems are bursting with flavor....tender, juicy and a bit spicy. We have here some Blackened Chicken, a Cajun Salsa, some delicious Cajun Dip drizzled all over it....all wrapped up in a pita.

Pure yum factor going on here.

The inspiration for such a diverse concoction comes from the tahini I used in the dip. Sesame King Cajun Tahini to be more specific. I had no idea there were flavored tahini's out there....so cool! They currently have Garlic, Honey, Cajun and Olive Oil flavors. All of which would be great in so many recipes. Hummus of course (how fun to have various flavor themes), dressings, sauces, dips.

Before Sunshine International Foods sent me some of their tahini, I had only used it in hummus. They have unknowingly guided me to expand my ways.

Cajun Dip

6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Sesame King Cajun Tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste (about a pinch)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cajun Salsa
1 large tomato
2 green onions
1 - 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced (use which ever color you prefer)
1/4 teaspoon creole seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Blackened Chicken
3 or 4 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts can be used instead)
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400'F

Drizzle chicken with a small amount of oil then sprinkle a good amount of creole seasoning on both sides of the chicken.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil an oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for a minute or so on each side. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove and cover lightly to rest. Slice thinly

Set up your station...

Grab a pita, and put it together the way you would a taco....meat, salsa and dip. Fold, wrap and chow!

The Cajun Tahini added depth to the dip. The tahini itself doesn't have heat to it, so don't worry about that if you shy away from spicy foods.

Sesame King Tahini is certified kosher, pasteurized and made in the USA. Plus, the list of ingredients is short and simple. Nothing in there that I don't recognize. Love that!

I was not compensated for this post, however Sesame King supplied me with product samples. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Slow Cooker Chili #StubbsCookingSauce

The holidays are here and time is precious. We have shopping to do, parties to attend and families to feed. This is the best time of year to break out the trusty ole slow cook (aka crock pot if you wanna get all old school on me).

This is where Stubb's BBQ can be your best friend. I know you're familiar with their bbq sauces, but did you know they also have Cooking Sauces?!

This is just 3 of the varieties that they offer. Look how cute the packaging is!!

The chili pack came with everything I needed, but the meat. Of course you can add extras, such as peppers, onions, whatever your favorite add-ins might be. I chose to keep it simple, although I did brown my stew meat before hand, and then added some onions.

After that, it was all up to Stubb! Pour in the spice pack (it's really spicy, just so you know) and the sauce

Can you see how rich those spices are?! And for those who need to know, it's gluten-free. 

With only a minimal amount of prep time, and 2 additional ingredients, I had a nice pot of chili waiting for me when I got home. Threw together some cornbread (I can't have chili without cornbread) and bam! Dinner is served. 

Let me just say.....wow. Rich, flavorful, and satisfying! It was better than any pot of chili I've ever made (for reals). 

Want some more ideas and information? Visit Stubb's BBQ . Also check out these wonderful holiday meal suggestions:

·         Stubb’s Smoked Turkey or Deep Fried Turkey
·         Black-Eyes ‘n’ Bacon

I was not compensated for this post, however Stubb's BBQ supplied me with coupons. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

GF Berry and Cocoa Cereal Bars #VansSimplyDelicious

Back in the day, before we thought too much about what we put in our bodies and what we fed our families. Back in the day when we were inundated with commercials boasting convenience, sophistication, new and improved and, in an ignorant (maybe?) manner.... good taste and nutrition, complete with (wait for it.....wait for it.....) THREE vitamins!

We sure have come a long way in the past several decades. Especially in the most recent 10 yrs. Consumers voices and dietary needs are being heard and responded to.

Which is great!

But do you ever miss some of your childhood favorites? Even though you knooooow they weren't and still aren't good for you?

Well guess what....Van's Simply Delicious must've read our minds! They've just added two new whole-grain, gluten-free cereals to their already wonderful line-up,

Van's has given us adults a guilt-free way to enjoy the flavors from our childhood with Blissfully Berry and Cocoa Sensation cereals. Oh sure, you can also feed it to your children too. They won't even notice that the cereal they're eating doesn't contain artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup. All they'll notice is how these cereals taste and wonder if  their parents have thrown their sense of good nutrition to the wind. Ha! fooled them, didn't we?!

One of my favorite treats as a child were those yummy, simple marshmallow treats. I could eat a whole tray of those babies. Almost did once. Well, maybe I did, but in my defense it took 2 or 3 days.

This time, I combined two of my favorite desserts into one. I have a love of berries and chocolate, and a love of banana splits. Although I didn't add banana chips to this tray, but the idea is still there. These delicious, gluten free cereal bars contain both the Blissfully Berry and the Cocoa Sensation cereals, along with peanuts and gluten free pretzel sticks. Sweet, salty and crunchy. Takes care of it all, doesn't it?

GF Berry and Cocoa Cereal Bars

5 oz Van's Blissfully Berry cereal
5 oz Van's Cocoa Sensation cereal
3/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup gluten free pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
1/2 cup butter
20 oz mini marshmallows
1 cup dark chocolate morsels

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the marshmallows and stir over low heat until the marshmallows are completely melted. Add the cereals, peanuts and pretzels and stir until combined.

Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the cereal mixture into the dish. Top with the chocolate morsels. As the morsels melt from the heat, spread even along the top.

Let cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Italian Almond Tart

If you're looking for a decadent, simple to make, yet not too sweet of a dessert, or even a little something to accompany your coffee or tea, then look no further.

It's rustic form is charming in it's own right, but once you've tasted the sweet almond and slight orange tang, you realize there's much more to this tart than meets the eye.

Don't be fooled into thinking that a small chunk will be enough. Sure, you'll walk away satisfied but mark my words, it won't be long before you return for just one more bite. Then another.

And another.

Italian Almond Tart

Recipe found on Food and Wine

3/4 cup raw almonds
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons fine cornmeal (I used regular cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350' F
Butter a 9" springform pan

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in the oven.

Leave the oven on.

Allow the almonds to cool a bit, then roughly chop. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, orange zest, almond extract and vanilla extract. Set aside

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal and salt. With a pastry blender, or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a course meal (which means it's not a fine powder, it's not large lumps, and it hasn't yet come together like a dough). Stir in the sugars and chopped almonds. With your hands (yes, you're going to down and dirty for a minute), gently work in the egg yolk mixture. The resulting dough should be crumbly.

Loosely press the dough into the buttered springform pan. Don't get all 'perfectionist' on me here. Remember, this is a rustic dessert. The surface should be uneven and bumpy.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a golden brown.

Allow to cool completely before unmolding.

Break the tart into chunks.

Go ahead...have a bit of fun with it. Break off chunks in all different shapes and sizes. Forget about even trying to be symmetrical here. It seriously isn't gonna happen. And don't even think about breaking out the knife.

Now that you've been inundated with the aroma, you know you're going to have to give it a try. Why don't you make yourself a hot cup of tea to go with it. Put on an old movie (Breakfast at Tiffany's perhaps) and relax a bit. No matter what kind of day you've had, you deserve it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Creamy Stove-Top Alfredo with Bacon and Green Beans #SundaySupper

As the days get cooler (and I use that term lightly here in Los Angeles) we tend to seek foods that are comforting and warm.

Today's Sunday Supper is all about warming trends. With temps still in the upper 80's and 90's around here, I'm going to define "warming trends" as being warmed from the soul.

Alfredo seems to do that for me.

It took a while for it to dawn on me that my most favorite Italian dish is anything Alfredo. A nice warm plate of creamy Alfredo and pasta, with or without meat and vegetables just makes me happy. Add bacon to the mix and we have ourselves a whole new level of yum!

That brings me to this lovely, super easy, one skillet, soul warming dish.

Creamy Stove-Top Alfredo with Bacon and Green Beans #SundaySupper

Inspired by Better Homes and Garden magazine "One-Pan Recipes"
Printable Version

4 slices thick-sliced bacon, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz pasta, uncooked (recommended: rigatoni, penne, rotini)
1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
14.5 oz chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 - 1/3 cup cream (I used half and half)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
Crumbled, crisp-cooked bacon

Before I get started, I always like to get all of the ingredients prepared and measured. Makes the whole process of cooking run so much smoother.

In a very large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until nice and crispy. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Drain off the fat (I left a little in there for flavor) and add the pasta, green beans, chicken broth, water, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender, stirring once. 

Stir in the cream and cheese. Cook and stir for 2 minutes to heat things through and get the cheese all melted. 

Garnish with more cheese and bacon crumbles if desired and serve. 

Below you'll find over 40 recipes that are sure to warm you up, whether its from the inside out, or from the soul.

Main Dishes and Soups
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Key Lime Cheesecake with Key Lime Custard

One of my chicas from work walked in with a huge bag full of what she called 'Mexican limes' (a.k.a. key limes). I'm not talking about one of those plastic bags from the grocery store. I'm talking about a huge thick plastic bag. I have no idea how many pounds it was (multiple) but I do know that I ended up with more than 6 cups of juice!

Her request? "Can you make a key lime cheesecake?"

I'm thinking....Ummm...sure. But I've never even tasted, let alone made a key lime pie. How will I know if it ends up right? I have nothing to compare it with.

There begins the challenge. I searched through several recipes. Read numerous reviews. Omitted any recipe that called for flour. Is that weird? I've just never made a cheesecake with flour. I don't understand why it would even be required. In my mind, something isn't right. Am I being a cheesecake snob? Do I need to be enlightened here? Please fill me in if I'm being ignorant about this.

Anyways....I came across a recipe that not only had a good solid cheesecake recipe, but included a delicious surprise inside.......

Key Lime Custard!! Yes, there is a layer of amazing key lime custard underneath all that cream cheese deliciousness.

There's also a layer of sour cream on top. In the reviews, several people whined about it. How it's not needed. They didn't understand why it was even in the recipe. I personally add this particular layer to just about every cheesecake I make. If it's not your thing...by all means, don't worry about it. just leave it off and bake the cheesecake an extra 10 minutes.

Key Lime Cheesecake with Key Lime Custard

Inspired by: Key Lime Cheesecake
Serves 10-12

Key Lime Custard
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 TB key lime juice
1 tsp key lime zest

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

2 - 8oz packs of cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup plus 3 TB sugar, divided
2 large eggs
3 TB key lime juice
1 TB key lime zest, plus more to garnish if desired
16 oz sour cream
Thin key lime slices to garnish

Key lime custard:
In a heavy sauce pan, over medium heat, whisk together all of the custard ingredients. Continue whisking until it boils and let boil, while whisking, for 30 seconds. This will take about 8 or 9 minutes.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to whisk! Not stir. Whisk!! You do not want the egg yolks to scramble. Scrambled custard would just be nasty.

Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, keeping in mind that it will thicken more as it cools. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350'

Wrap the outside of a 8' or 9" springform pan with 3 layers of aluminum foil. You need the foil to go up the sides about 3".

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in the melted butter until well combined.

Press the mixture inside your prepared springform pan, and up the sides about 2 inches.

Bake for about 5 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Cream the cheese and 2/3 cup of sugar until almost smooth (don't stress about the lumps. They'll go away while baking). Mix in the key lime juice and zest. Add the eggs one at a time and blend until just combined. Don't over blend. You don't want air bubbles in your cheesecake. Air bubbles help create cracks.

Assembly and Baking:
Spoon the custard into your crust, making it as even as possible and smooth it over.

Spoon the filling over the custard, carefully.

Using a roasting pan that's big enough to hold the springform pan, place the springform pan into the roasting pan. Pour enough water in the roasting pan so that the water comes 1" up the sides of the springform pan.

In your already 350' heated oven, bake for about 45 minutes, or until just set. Just set means that it's still a slightly jiggly and the center is not all puffy.

While the cheesecake is baking, in a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

When the 45 minutes is up, spoon the sour cream mixture over the top and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Place on a cooling rack and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and remove the springform pan siding. If needed, run a knife around the edge. Let cool completely then cover and refrigerate over night, allowing it to completely set.

Garnish with lime slices and zest if desired.

It is tart and sweet and absolutely delicious!

This was the first time I had done the whole foil with the pan in water thing. I almost didn't. I typically just place a pan of water on the rack below which creates steam and helps with the whole cracking thing. But because of the custard, I chose to do as I'm told. It worked and the 'mmmm' sound that came from my chica's as she ate it, told me that it was a success.

Thank you for the key limes, Nancy!