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Zesty Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

Zesty Tomato Soup - yummyWhile it hasn’t been a normal winter, no blizzards, no snow even, it is winter.  And, that makes me think of the warmth of stews and soups.  So, here is another yummy soup recipe.

It has red chili pepper flakes in it…that is the zesty part.  The 3/4 teaspoon is the right amount for my kids.  If I was going to make it just for adults, I would probably increase that to a full 1 teaspoon.  But, if you are making it for folks that don’t like it hot, then you might want to cut them back even more, to 1/2 teaspoon.  You know your audience.  If you want it to be vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth; vegans will need to leave the parmesan cheese out.

As an added bonus, while you are roasting your tomatoes, onions, and garlic, your house will smell wonderful.  All the girls liked it and Leah had three servings.

Zesty Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup
Inspired by a recipe from Tasty Kitchen
Make 6-8 servings depending on appetite

  • 15 whole Roma tomatoes (3-4 lbs, depending on the size of the tomatoes)
  • 1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado or brown sugar (I used “sugar in the raw”)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes, reduce amount if you want it less zesty
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (mine consists of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage, NO salt)
  • 2 whole heads of garlic (peels left on)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped or 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried bread cubes or crumbs, optional
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 small or 1 large baking sheets with foil, parchment, or a silpat.
  2. Cut the Roma tomatoes in half and place on lined baking pans cut side uZesty Tomato Soup - Garlic Prepp.  Peel and quarter the onions and place them on baking sheet with tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle tomatoes and onions with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil as well as the balsamic vinegar and other ingredients down through the Italian seasoning and toss to coat.
  4. Cut the tops off ofZesty Tomato Soup - roasted veggies the 2 heads of garlic and place on a piece of aluminum foil.  Drizzle garlic with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Wrap the heads tightly in the foil.
  5. Place foil packet of garlic on the baking sheet with the tomatoes and onions Roast everything in the preheated Zesty Tomato Soup - in the potoven for 60 minutes.
  6. Once tomatoes, onions, and garlic are roasted, set aside to cool, until they can be handled.
  7. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their papers, discard papers and set aside the roasted garlic aside.
  8. Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Immediately add the roasted tomatoes and onions, all of their juices from the baking sheet, and the roasted garlic.
  9. Add the chicken stock, the chopped parsley, and the bread, and allow to simmer Zesty Tomato Soup - immersion blenderwithout lid, for about 20 minutes.
  10. Add the grated parmesan cheese, and stir.
  11. Using a hand immersion blender or countertop blender, purée the soup until smooth and all tomatoes are completely puréed. Note: If using a countertop blender, work in small batches to purée. Be careful to not overfill the blender, as hot soup can splatter.
  12. Check the salt/pepper, and adjust to taste, if necessary. Ladle into serving bowls, sprinkle with a little extra grated parmesan, and enjoy.

– Stacey

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili – a vegetarian recipe for everyone

You can definitely tell by the number of dishes including meat on my blog that we are omnivores, not vegetarians.  But, everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables, so a good vegetable stew or salad recipe is always helpful. 

The chili spices in this dish predominate, so you don’t even miss the meat.  I was concerned that with both the honey and sweet potatoes, the chili would be too sweet, but it isn’t.  To make the recipe vegan, substitute the honey with maple syrup or other vegan-acceptable sweetener and don’t use the optional dairy-based garnishes.

The coffee is just to give it a bit of a smoky taste. So if you don’t drink coffee, use water instead and then add a bit of smoked paprika.  That should give you the same effect.   I have given the recipe using canned beans and tomatoes; the ones I used were organic.  But, it is always better if you have the forethought to soak and cook your own beans and use fresh tomatoes.  But, I am not usually that organized.  🙂

The kids all loved this recipe.  We served ours with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, but no cheese.  You could also garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro.  The sweet potatoes will be giving you lots of vitamins A & C and the beans will give you lots of fiber.

– Stacey

Sweet Potato & Black Bean ChiliSweet Potato Black Bean Chili - potatoes and onions
Yield: 2 quarts, about 8 servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive, peanut, or coconut oil (I used coconut)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - adding garlic and spicesblack beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese or mexican cheese blend, optional for serving
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, optional for serving
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - ready to simmer
  2. When oil is hot, sauté sweet potatoes and onion in oil stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook stirring constantly 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, coffee, honey, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. For serving, you can top with a dollop of plain yogurt and/ or a sprinkle of cheese.

Note: Another lazier option for making this is to just throw everything in your crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Radish and Quinoa Salad

Radish and Quinoa Salad

The other day as often is the case, Leah wanted me to buy a bunch of radishes.  She will eat them as-is, but she is the only one of the girls that will, so I often end up throwing away radishes.  

I went looking for a salad that would make the radishes appealing to the whole family.  I found a Tomato-Mint Quinoa Salad recipe on and made a few variations on that.

The first few times I tried making quinoa I made the mistake of not washing it well in warm water.  This meant that it still contained some of the bitter-tasting saponins.  While most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating, I think that some of it must still remain based on my previous bad quinoa experiences. 

To clean the quinoa, rinse it in ample running water for several minutes in a fine strainer. Removal of the saponin not only helps the taste, but also with quinoa’s digestion.  If can’t find or don’t want to use quinoa, then I am guessing you could substitute cooked rice, couscous, or orzo pasta in this recipe. 

I will probably reduce the amount of quinoa next time I make this so that it doesn’t dominate the veggies. Do use the sesame oil as that flavor really makes the salad.

Radish and Quinoa Salad

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa (mine was the tri-color kind)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 20 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 10 radishes, quartered
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dried mint
  • 2  Tbsp chopped dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1.  Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Pour in quinoa, raisins, and a pinch of salt. Cover, and let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  2. You will know the quinoa is cooked because it will have sprouted little white tails.  This little tail is the germ  and when the quinoa is ready the cooked germ separates from the seed and looks like a tiny curl.
  3. Toss together the tomatoes, onion, radish, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled quinoa, then season with mint, parsley, cumin, lime juice, orange juice, sesame oil, and salt/pepper.
  4. Chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.

– Stacey

Sick kids, blogging, and a Tagine recipe

Beef Tagine over couscous served with fresh berries

Beef Tagine over couscous served with fresh berries

Okay, I haven’t blogged in a few weeks.  Well, I warned you about being gone for Thanksgiving, but when we got back, we were hit by illness.  First, Julia got Strep and then Leah.  They are both on meds now and recovering, and luckily the other two are still healthy.  So, while I was still cooking, I wasn’t blogging.  I did however post updates on my Feeding My Tribe Facebook page, so you might want to check that out for real-time updates.  🙂

I have spent a lot of time at the doctor’s during the last two weeks and our pediatrician actually has some pretty good magazines in his waiting room.  So, while waiting for Julia to see the doctor last week, I was leafing through the latest Bon Appetit magazine.  I came across a recipe for Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots that looked good and snapped a picture with my phone in case the recipe wasn’t on their website.  But, luckily, it was.

I have made a couple of other tagine recipes in the past and not been impressed at all.  But, I thought I would give it one last try and I am glad I did.  This turned out delicious.  And, I didn’t even use lamb, but substituted a beef tri-tip roast instead, as there were not lots of good lamb options at our local Oklahoma grocery store. 

The first thing you do is mix up the Ras-el-Hanout spice blend, which means “head of the shop” indicating it includes the best spices.  I went ahead and doubled the recipe so I would have it mixed up for next time.  It is apparently a good rub for grilled meats as well.  I also used all pre-ground spices to simplify things, but if you want to grind your own, all the better.

Ras-el-Hanout spice blend
Based on recipe from Bon Appetit

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Mix all the spices together in bowl.  Makes just under 2 Tablespoons.
Again, I used beef for this dish, instead of lamb. If you have access to good lamb, then use 2-3 pounds of lamb shoulder cut into 3/4″ cubes instead of the beef.  If you don’t want to soak dried chickpeas overnight, then you can substitute one 15-oz can of chickpeas (garbanzos) and just heat it in a small pot for about 10 minutes with the cinnamon and garlic.
Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots
Based on recipe from Bon Appetit
  • 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 5 garlic cloves (2 crushed, 3 chopped)
  • 1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 2-3 pounds beef roast cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 teaspoons Ras-el-Hanout spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juices (I used the fire-roasted ones)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • Steamed whole wheat couscous (I made mine with chicken broth)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Chickpeas and beef cooking

  1. Place dried chickpeas in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 2″. Let soak overnight.
  2. Drain chickpeas; return to same saucepan. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and cinnamon stick. Add water to cover by 2″. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, remove cinnamon and garlic, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a separate bowl.
  4. Add onion to pot; reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic, Ras-el-Hanout, and ginger. Stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes and lamb with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Add 2 1/2 cups stock. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in chickpeas and apricots; simmer until heated through, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve over prepared whole wheat couscous. Sprinkle optional cilantro over.

After we found the recipe in the magazine at the pediatrician’s, Julia and I headed to the store to get her prescription and the get the ingredients, so here is a picture of her with the finished dish.  All the girls loved this and so did Mike and me.

Julia with her Tagine and Couscous


Taco Salad… in the slow-cooker?

Girl with Taco SaladThis was dinner on Wednesday night and everyone enjoyed it.   Obviously, you don’t have to make taco meat in the slow cooker, but I had been making chili in it recently and I wondered if the extra cooking time would improve the flavor.

I always add both tomatoes and beans to my taco meat to make it more nutritious.  Do notice that the tomatoes are obviously in there and not hidden veggies.  Unlike some children’s cookbook authors, I think it is important that kids know they are eating veggies in order to develop a taste for them and a habit of choosing to eat them.

I had gotten a LOT of Westbrae organic beans and Muir Glen diced fire-roasted tomatoes during the sale our local Natural Grocers had in October.  If you can’t find the fire-roasted tomatoes, then substitute regular canned diced tomatoes but add a little smoked paprika for that smoky flavor.‎

Slow Cooker Taco Salads
Serves 6-8, depending on appetite

  • 20-oz. ground lean turkey (or ground beef)
  • 25-oz. can organic pinto beans (or kidney or black beans, if you prefer)
  • 28-oz. can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Taco seasoning of your choice (I used a mix from Native Roots, a local natural foods store,
    but here is an option from $5 dinners for making your own)
  • sea salt, to taste (our taco seasoning was salt-free, yours may not be)
  • Organic corn chips (we used some from Xochitl)
  • 2-3 cups organic leaf lettuce or raw spinach, shredded
  • 1-2 raw tomatoes, chopped
  • shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream)
  • Tabasco sauce (served at the table to spice things up a bit more for the adults)
  1. In the morning, put the ground turkey, beans, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning and optional sea salt in your slow cooker (AKA crock pot). Cook on low for at least 4-6 hours.
  2. When you get home in the afternoon or evening , chop up the lettuce or spinach and the tomatoes.
  3. Serve everything at the table and let everyone plate their own taco salad… chips, lettuce, taco meat, shredded cheese, yogurt, and fresh tomatoes.

We also mashed up an avocado with a bit of lime juice and some tabasco, salt, pepper, and garlic as a speedy guacamole.

– Stacey

Taco Salad

Crockpot Balsamic Chicken

Crockpot Balsamic ChickenLast week, I posted on my Facebook page that I tried this recipe from CrockPot Girls.  It is apparently pretty common on the web since I found the same recipe lots of other places and they admitted that someone had given it to them; they did not develop it.  So, I don’t really know who to “give credit” to for the basic recipe.  I changed a few things, so made it my own anyway.

What I like most about it is that it can be made in the crockpot, so you throw everything in and come back 3-6 hours later to find a meal ready.  But, there are lots of crock-pot recipes that are made with suspect foods such as “cream of… soup” so that is not enough for us to add it to our menu.  More importantly, this recipe uses real food such as chicken, tomatoes, onions, and vinegar.  It is your choice what to serve it with and we chose 100% whole wheat angel hair pasta.  But, brown rice or even whole wheat couscous would be good.

I was a little confused by the quantity of chicken specified in the original recipe as it said “4-6 boneless breasts”.  Sometimes, more so recently, people use “breast” to mean half of the chicken’s breast, sometimes called breast halves, or split breasts, meaning that each chicken has two of them.  But, I think traditionally, when recipes specified a “breast” they meant the entire breast, meaning a chicken only has one.  When I read this recipe, I thought the 4-6 breasts referred to split breasts.  I had a package with 9 split breast in it, so I had assumed I would be doubling everything.  But, that was way to much liquid for just the 9 split breasts, so I ended up not using as much of the tomatoes, etc.

The original recipe called for four different dried spices, but I have been using the Tone’s Italian Seasoning you can get at Sam’s Club which is a blend of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage and it has no salt or MSG in it.  So, unlike the original recipe, mine did have some sage in it.  The other thing I changed was adding the olives and capers.  I recommend the Lindsay “Naturals” olives, as they only have a few ingredients: olives, water, and sea salt.  The canned tomatoes I chose to use were the Muir Glen fire-roasted ones; they add something to any dish you make with them.  Last thing is that you can put the garlic cloves in whole after peeling if you want to, but I chose to smash mine.  Actually, that is the result of how I peel them.  🙂

Crockpot Balsamic Chicken Ingredients

Ingredients, not pictured are the olives and capers

Crockpot Balsamic Chicken
(make 8-16 servings depending on number of adults, kids, dieters, etc.)

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 boneless, skinless, split chicken breasts halves (about 3.5 lbs total of chicken)
  • ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp of salt-free “Italian seasonings” (or 2 tsp each: dried oregano,basil, and rosemary and 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup black or green pitted olives, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp capers, drained

Pour the olive oil on bottom of  a 5-7 quart crock pot. Salt and pepper each chicken breast and then place the chicken breasts in crock pot. Put sliced onion on top of chicken. Then put in all the dried herbs and garlic cloves. Pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes, olives, and capers.  Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 4 – 6 hours. Serve over pasta or rice.

Balsamic Chicken Process

The kids all liked this and so did Mike.  We tried putting the leftovers in their lunchbox cold and it was not as big a hit, so it is better served hot.  If you are trying to eliminate/reduce grains, gluten, or carbs from your diet, you could serve it without the pasta or rice.  You just wouldn’t have anything to “sop up” the sauce, so you might want to serve it in a bowl.

– Stacey

UPDATED TO ADD: Just thought I would mention that I used an onion similar to a Vidalia in this dish and that combined with the balsamic vinegar gave it almost a sweet flavor.  This dish is not at all spicy and should appeal to most kids because of that.

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