Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

IMG_0120This tomato basil soup is creamy and dreamy! One of our new favorite family recipes. We get this soup all the time at Dean & Deluca restaurant and I really wanted to recreate the same tasting soup at home, so I did just that! This recipe requires very minimal ingredients so it is budget friendly and the best part is how fast it is to cook. With prep work and total cook time it only takes about 45 minutes! I made this soup for our friends and for a ladies night event at my house and both times it was a hit. Even my picky 5 year old loves this soup, with oyster crackers of course! Mmmm this soup is perfect for the cold and windy weather we have today! Enjoy! 🙂

Creamy Tomato 🍅 Basil 🌿 Soup {Serves 4-5}

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 Tomatoes (Peeled & De-seeded)
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 4 Cups Tomato Juice (Organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil Leaves Spice
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil Leaves (And more to garnish soup)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (Unsalted)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Oyster Crackers (optional, to top)

IMG_0116Directions:

1) Peel the tomatoes using a peeler. Cut them into 4 and de-seed them. Put tomatoes into a medium pot, add in the 4 cups of tomato juice. Bring to a boil, then cover with lid and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes.

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2) Transfer the cooked tomato and tomato juice mixture into a blender. Blend until it turns into a puree/smoothie consistency.

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3) Transfer the puréed tomato mixture back to the pot.

4) Turn the heat up to low-medium (I did 4). Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. Add the Italian Seasoning, Basil Leaves Spice and Dried Basil Leaves. Then add 2 Tablespoons butter. Sprinkle salt/pepper according to your preference, you don’t need much salt because the tomato juice already has salt in it. Mix, everything together and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, don’t let it come to a boil.

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5) Serve hot, with Oyster Crackers on the side. Sprinkle each bowl of soup with a little more dried basil leaves.

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Baked Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

img_0083These teriyaki chicken thighs are a great option if you are craving some chinese takeout but also want to eat healthy too. I came up with this recipe idea myself and made it for dinner when we had friends over. Needless to say, they turned out great! You know The food is good, when people reach for seconds, that’s the best compliment to any chef! These teriyaki chicken thighs are super delicious, restaurant quality and best part is how easy and fast this recipe is. Just make sure you give it at least 8 hours or over night to marinate for best teriyaki flavor! Enjoy!

Baked Teriyaki Chicken Thighs {Serves 4-6}

Ingredients:

  • 8 Chicken Thighs (Organic, Bone in, Skin on)
  • Seasoning: Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt, Montreal Chicken Seasoning, Meat Tenderizer Seasoning
  • Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce (1/2 Cup)
  • Korean Teriyaki Sauce (About 1/2 Cup)

 

Directions:

1) Wash the chicken thighs thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels. On a paper plate or sheet of foil, season both sides of each chicken thigh one at a time. *Keep in mind the Teriyaki marinade and sauce both have salt in them so be careful with the salt and only use a sprinkle of salt. On one side only of the chicken thighs. Transfer seasoned chicken thighs to a big bowl.

2) Pour 1/2 cup of the Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce over the seasoned chicken thighs. Then add 2 Tablespoons of the Korean Teriyaki Sauce also. Mix well. Cover and let it marinate in fridge over night or for at least 8 hours.

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3) When you are ready to cook Teriyaki chicken thighs: Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees. Cover a baking dish with foil, spray the foil with an oil spray. Put the chicken thighs on the foil, leaving space in between each thigh. Bake on 350 Degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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4) When chicken thighs are done baking, take them out of the oven. Brush the Korean Teriyaki Sauce to top each chicken thigh then stick back in the oven on the Broil setting (500 Degrees) and let it bake for about 5 minutes, this makes the skin very golden and perfectly crispy.

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Great served with rice or baked potatoes and a fresh salad!

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How To Cook Lobster Tails

unnamed-38947This is a simple step by step recipe for how to cook lobster tails. Besides crab legs, this is my favorite thing to eat! I was very nervous cooking them myself the first time because I thought it must be some long and complicated process, however lobster tails are by far the easiest things to cook and so quick. I came up with this recipe myself, and the lobster tails turn out perfect every time! I like to pair these with cilantro garlic green beans and simple mashed potatoes (you can find both of these recipes on my blog). My husband and I cooked this meal together for a Valentine’s Day date at home! We had a wonderful evening cooking together, enjoying the meal and good conversation, a bottle of our favorite wine, and ending the night by cuddling and relaxing on the couch watching a romantic comedy. We had a great Valentine’s Day date for sure!!!

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Lobster Tails {I made 10 (4.5 oz) Lobster Tails to serve 2 ppl, 5 each}

Ingredients: 

  • Lobster Tails
  • 1/2 pot Water
  • Spices: 1 tsp Steak Seasoning, 1 tsp Mrs.Dash (or other salt free seasoning), 1 tsp Salt, 1/8 tsp Black Pepper, 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt, 1/2 tsp Montreal Chicken Seasoning, 1/4 tsp Dry Basil Leaves, 1 tsp Dry Parsley Flakes
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 1/2 Stick Butter (to melt and use for dip)
  • 1/2 Lemon cut into wedges (to squeeze into butter dip)

unnamed-3546Directions:

1) Wash the lobster tails thoroughly under cold running water and set aside. Measure out the spices and set aside in small container. Lobster tails cook fast so first prepare the other food. We did mashed potatoes and cilantro garlic green beans (found on my blog) and when this was almost done cooking I started lobster tails.

2) Set a large pot, filled half way with water on High and bring to a rolling boil. When it comes to a boil, add the spices and bay leaves and let it boil for 5 minutes. Set a small pot with the stick of butter on a different burner to melt the butter completely, on medium heat, then turn off and leave on hot burner.

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3) Lower the heat to Med.-High ( 7.5 ) Throw in the lobster tails and cook them for 7-8 minutes. They will turn red the instant they are in the hot boiling water. When they are done cooking, put the lobster tails in a strainer, and drain out all the water.

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4) Serve hot in a big container or bowl with hot melted butter in small containers, and lemon wedges. Squeeze the lemon wedge into the butter, this is a great dip for the lobster tails! Enjoy!!!

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Look at this deliciousness!!! Mmmm Yum!!!

 

Wonton Soup

dscn4271-2This is the best Wonton soup that my hubby and I have ever tried. I have literally been making this for dinner 3 nights in a row now. It is so tasty I could probably eat it every single day lol. It took me a lot of experimenting and finally, through trial and error I came up with this wonderful recipe. Surprisingly, this Wonton soup is very easy and quick to make. Perfect for busy weekday evenings and great to make ahead as you can make and freeze the wonton’s and make the broth any time you are ready to cook the soup. This is the perfect comfort food for such cold evenings as now, delicious and nutritious! The best part is you can find all these ingredients at any grocery store, so no need to go to international or Asian stores. I am excited to share this recipe with you all!

Wonton Soup {Makes 2 servings}:

Ingredients:

For the soup

  • 2 3/4 Cups Water
  • 2 3/4 Cups Chicken Stock OR Water with 3 teaspoons of Better Then Bullion Chicken Flavored broth paste (That’s what I always use).
  • 2 Green Onions, Cut in halves
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Cut thin
  • 2 to 3 inches Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • Green Onion & Cilantro (For Garnish)

For Wontons

  • .50 LB Ground Turkey
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 2 Green Onions, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Pressed
  • Wonton Wrappers. I use the Nasoya Brand, (Makes 25 Wontons) for 2 servings but there is enough to make the soup twice (About 50 Won Ton Wrappers) in the pack. I bought the Wonton wrappers in the fridge at our local grocery store by the veggies/salad.
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

dscn4284Directions:

1) Start making the broth first. Make the Better then bullion chicken broth in a pot. You do that by boiling 2 3/4 Cups water and adding the 3 teaspoons of Better Then Bullion Chicken base paste. Turn burner off. Then add the other 2 3/4 Cups water, green onions, ginger, garlic, Soy Sauce and set on High heat until it comes to a boil. When it comes to a boil, close the pot with a lid and cook on Low setting for 15 minutes, then turn off. Let it stand so flavors can blend. *Mean while start working on Wontons.

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2) To make wontons, first mix together all the wonton meat filling ingredients.

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3) Set up a wonton making station. I use a sheet of foil. Put all the wonton dough sheets on the sheet of foil. Have a small cup with water. And a brush (optional) to wet edges of wonton sheet with water. This will make cleaning a much faster process afterwards!

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4) How to make wontons: Put 1 teaspoon meat filling onto wonton dough sheet. Wet the edges with water using the brush (or your finger). Fold the sheet into a triangle. Wet the ends with a dab of water using your finger and stick both ends together, sealing tighly. Set wontons aside, I use a paper plate for easy cleaning.

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5) Open the pot with the broth. Take out the green onion, ginger, and garlic using a slotted spoon and discard. Bring the broth to a boil on High heat. When it comes to a boil, throw in the wontons one by one carefully, then gently mix so they don’t stick. Turn heat down to 7 and cook for 10 minutes.

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Garnish each bowl of soup individually with finely cut cilantro and green onion. Now the Wonton soup is ready to eat!

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

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This Chicken Alfredo Pasta is a new favorite in our house. It takes very little prep work and bakes in the oven for about 45 minutes. I got the idea for this recipe from my friend Natasha. Shout out to Natasha Babinov for this amazing recipe! She made this dish for dinner once when we came over, and I knew I had to get the recipe because it was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.Tasted like a restaurant dish! If you are looking for the easiest recipe, this is probably it right here. It’s also very versatile so you can add or remove anything you’d like to it and if you are looking for a healthier option you can go with gluten free pasta. I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas. Enjoy!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta {Serves 8-10}

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB Rotini Pasta (Or Pasta of your choice)
  • 2 LB Chicken Breast (Boneless, Skinless, I use organic)
  • 1 Package of Cooked, Frozen Broccoli (1LB 6 oz, or 22 oz.)
  • 1 Can Prego Alfredo Sauce (29 oz. or 2 cans of 14.5 oz.)
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (For Frying Chicken Breast)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter (Unsalted)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (1/4-1/2 Cup)

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Directions:

1) Wash the chicken breasts and chop them up into small cubes. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and seasonings of choice. I used McCormick Montreal chicken seasoning. Set a pan on Med-High heat (I did 7.5) Add the olive oil and cook the chicken until it’s done. Meanwhile take the frozen broccoli out of freezer, and boil a pot of water for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions

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2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When chicken is done cooking, set it aside. When pasta is done cooking, drain water from it and add the butter to it. Take a big glass baking tray and put the pasta and chicken in. Cut the broccoli florets into small pieces and add into the tray. Pour the Alfredo sauce all over the pasta into the glass baking dish and mix very well to incorporate everything.

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3) Bake on 350 for 30-45 minutes. In the very end add the shredded Parmesan cheese and mix the Alfredo. This dish reheats well in a pan on Med-Low heat setting.

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Shrimp Salad

DSCN4076This Shrimp Salad recipe was created by me but inspired by a salad I had at a restaurant called Canyon’s, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. It was the perfect meal for me after a long, hot, exhausting day of exploring Tweetsie Railroad (a wild west theme park) in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I had to recreate it at home and I did. The restaurant version was great but this home made recipe is even better, so much more flavor and you can add as much shrimp as you’d like. I love shrimp! And this shrimp salad takes it to a whole notha’ level (lol I know I’m corny). So fast and easy to prepare and definitely a summer favorite in our house now. I could literally eat this salad every single day! We ate it as a meal for dinner, but you could also make it as a side dish/salad. You can omit the shrimp if you are not a fan, and add anything else you want to it and get creative. Please don’t forget to share your idea’s with me, I would love to hear them!

Shrimp Salad {Serves 2 as meal, 4 as side}

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 package Grape Tomatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers or 1 long English Cucumber
  • 1 to 2 LB Shrimp, Raw (I used 2 LB as we love our shrimp!)
  • Dressing of choice (I used Marzetti Brand Classic Ranch Dressing)
  • Croutons of choice (I used Texas Toast Cheese & Garlic Croutons)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce

Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Peel & devine the shrimp, rinse through with cold water and let dry. Wash all the veggies and chop everything up into one big bowl. I chopped the lettuce into small squares. The grape tomatoes in halves. The cucumber in fourths and then chopped into pieces.

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2) Set a pan on Med-High heat (I did a 6) add some olive oil. When the oil heats up, add the shrimp. Add salt/pepper to shrimp and mix. When the shrimp looks done, lower the heat to low (I did 2) and add some Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce, I added about 2 tablespoons and 2 pressed garlic cloves. Simmer with the lid on for a few minutes until shrimp is well cooked through. Turn off heat and keep shrimp hot.

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3) When you are ready to eat, add the shrimp into the salad bowel. Mix gently. Each person can add dressing and croutons to salad individually to their liking. Enjoy!

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Shrimp Scampi (Easy One Pan Meal)

DSCN3974 (2)It’s summer time and I am really into easy, one pan meals right now. I know I am not the only one that likes to relax by the pool instead of spending hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. But I do like to eat lol. Well let me tell ya, This Shrimp Scampi pasta dish is exactly that, fast, super duper easy, but is absolutely delicious and looks just as great as it tastes! I do have another Shrimp Scampi recipe on here, but this one is a bit different in taste, and much faster and easier to make. It also tastes better in our opinion. Basically what I am trying to say is, you need to make this for dinner asap because you are going to love it! Also I wanted to add that to our surprise, this dish tasted better the next night for dinner preheated. Not sure why, Maybe because while it was standing over night the flavors mixed well and the wine really marinated the shrimp and spaghetti. But it is a great dish to make ahead and does reheat easily. I got the inspiration for this recipe idea from the Shrimp Scampi Dish at the Nothing But Noodles Restaurant.

Shrimp Scampi (Easy, One Pan Meal) 

Ingredients:

  • 2 LB RAW Shrimp (Thawed, deveined, and peeled)
  • 1 LB Angel Hair Spaghetti (Or any spaghetti of your choice, I used this one)
  • 3 Tablesppons butter (For the spaghetti)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Lemon (For the juice)
  • 1 Large Farm Fresh Tomato
  • 1 small (147 ml) bottle of White Wine, I used Chardonnay (3/4 Cup)
  • 4 to 5 Cloves Garlic (Peeled and pressed/minced)
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)

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Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Devein and peel the shrimp, then wash them thoroughly. I usually  rinse them 3 times, then place them in a strainer to get rid of all water. Wash and dice the tomato into small cubes. Set a pot of water to boil, for the spaghetti, make sure when it comes to a boil, add salt to the pot before you throw the spaghetti in and cook it according to package instructions. *I found that Angel Hair spaghetti tends to stick to itself, so make sure you mix it well and keep mixing throughout while you cook it.* (Meanwhile move on to step 2.)

2) While you wait for the water to boil, Set a big pan with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on Medium-High heat (I did 7). When the oil heats up, throw in the raw shrimp and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp is well done, stirring occasionally to make sure you cook it evenly on both sides.

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3) Add the wine to the pan with shrimp. Then throw in the tomatoes. Then add the lemon juice, I do this by cutting the lemon in half, getting the seeds out, and squeezing the juice out of the lemons halves. Mix well. Turn it down to a low setting. (I did 3).

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4) Peel the garlic and either mince it or use the garlic press, add it to the pan of shrimp. Wash and finely chop the parsley, leaves only no stems, and set aside.

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5) At this point your spaghetti should be done cooking. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter to the spaghetti and mix well. Then add the spaghetti to the pan with shrimp and sauce. Turn off the stove at this time. Mix it very well to incorporate everything. Then add the fresh parsley. Mix and now your dish is ready to eat! To reheat, set the pan on low heat (3) and cook until warmed up. This dish reheats well!

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And of course a close up… 😉

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Fried Calamari (Carrabba’s Italian Grill Recipe)

DSCN3770I hope you guys don’t mind, but I have really been into Italian food and Carrabba’s recipes lately, hence all my latest posts lol. This is another one of our favorites and Carrabba’s Italian Grill makes it the best, maybe that’s why it is actually their best selling appetizer. I have always wanted to make this dish at home, so I finally did. This is the exact Carrabba’s recipe. The fried calamari turns out perfect…tender and crisp with a light and delicate coating. We like to dip it in Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli sauce. I must admit that I had a hard time making this dish because it was my first time dealing with (and touching) raw squid, and I have a very weak stomach. So consider this a warning: Calamari is made from squid and you will have to touch it! I told my husband I was making it for him and that I wouldn’t eat it, but it turned out so delicious I ended up eating half lol. I was surprised at how fast and easy it is to make Fried Calamari, in the restuarant it looks so perfect and that makes it intimidating to cook but it’s actually very simple. If you are looking for a yummy new appetizer or if you love seafood, this recipe is for you! I made Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli Sauce for this appetizer and I highly recommend you make both sauces for dipping too, if you want to get the ultimate, restaurant, taste. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pd. Calamari, cleaned
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • Vegetable Oil (For deep frying)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (I used Sea Salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black Pepper
  • Lemon Wedges, for serving *Optional
  • Marinara Sauce or Garlic Aioli Sauce
  •  * (Ingredients and directions for Marinara sauce is on this page, below. Or you can use canned marinara sauce, heated up. The recipe for Garlic Aioli Sauce is posted on the recipe for Zucchini Fries here https://sofiesbestrecipes.com/2014/03/03/zucchini-fries-with-garlic-aioli-sauce/)*

DSCN3730Directions:

1) Wash the Calamari (Squid). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 1 baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Have a 2nd baking sheet ready nearby.

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2) Pour enough oil to come 1 inch up the side of a large, heavy saucepan. Heat over High heat to 350 Degrees (On a deep frying thermometer).

3) Cut the Calamari bodies (Sacs/Tubes) crosswise into 1/2 inch-wide rings. Cut each cluster of tentacles in halves or thirds. Season the Calamari with salt/pepper and mix.

4) Pour the flour into a bowl. Divide the calamari into 2 batches. Put the first batch of calamari into the bowl with flour and coat it with the flour, shaking off excess flour.

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5) Add the coated calamari into the saucepan with the hot oil. Cook over High heat until the calamari are golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.

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6) Using a slotted spoon transfer the calamari onto the baking sheet lined with paper towels to briefly drain.

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7) Move the calamari to the second baking sheet and place in the oven, to keep it warm and crisp. Repeat the same steps with the 2nd batch of calamari. Add more flour to the bowl if there is not enough, I did add a few spoons more of flour.

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8) Transfer the calamari to the serving plate. You can add lemon wedges to the plate, for decoration. Serve with marinara sauce and or garlic aioli sauce for dipping, if desired. I served with both sauces because we like our calamari with yummy sauces.

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Marinara Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, Finely chopped
  • 2 Scallions (white & green part) Finely chopped
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (Optional*)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup hearty Red Wine (Such as Citra Montepulciano)
  • 1 Can (28 oz.) Whole Tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot, Crushed, Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, anchovies (if using), garlic, and cook. Stir occasionally until garlic is fragrant for about 1 minute.

2) Add the wine. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Crush the tomatoes between your fingers, and pour the mixture into the saucepan. Add the oregano, hot pepper flakes, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to med.-low. Simmer, stirring often, until the tomato juices have thickened and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes.  * The sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 2 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)