Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Snow Day = Soup Day!!

After some late and early dismissal days from school we finally had our first official snow day!  The kids were excited to play in the snow and I was looking forward to making a steaming hot pot of soup!

Soup is one of my favorite foods to make and eat, and I can't believe I only have a handful of soups posted - my apologies - there will be more to come, I promise!  I am of the thinking that soup is a meal -  served with some warm crusty bread and maybe a nice fresh salad - it makes me a happy girl!

Potato Leek soup is perfect for a cold snow day.  It's warm and comforting and hearty and steamy…mmm  I like my potato leek soup chunky and creamy, with just a little bit of tanginess from some buttermilk.  Stay warm friends - eat soup!

Potato Leek Soup Step-by-Step:

Potato Leek Soup Recipe:

Christina Verrelli - epicuricloud.com

Makes 4-quarts  (6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

6 cups leeks (about 4-5 medium sized)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

7 cups (about 3 pounds) gold potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

5 cups (40-ounces) low-sodium chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

Optional Toppings: Fresh chives, drizzle of olive oil

Directions:

Trim the dark green and root end of the leeks.  Slice the white and light green parts of the leeks into 1/4 inch rounds and slice in half or quarters if large.  Rinse and drain leeks (see notes).  Add oil and butter to a 6-quart pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, salt and pepper to pot and sauté for about 8 minutes.  Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme (see notes) and broth.  Bring to simmer over medium high heat.  Reduce heat and maintain low simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove about 4 cups of the soup and puree in blender in 2 cup batches.  Make sure to hold the lid on the blender with a kitchen towel as the lid sometimes wants to pop off when blending hot items.  Return the puree to the soup pot and stir in the cream and buttermilk.  Bring back to a very low simmer and serve when ready.  Can be made a few days in advance, just reheat gently and don't boil.  Can also be frozen.

Notes:

To Rinse Leeks: I fill up my salad spinner with water and swish them around and then drain and spin them dry.

Fresh Thyme Tips: I toss the thyme sprigs in whole and remove the stems at the end of cooking - sometimes I tie the sprigs together with cooking string to make easier to remove.

Printable Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

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Thank you for spending some time in the cloud with me!  

I hope you like the recipe ( :  Tina






Double Chocolate Pavlova Recipe

Are you ready for some RED-HOT LOVE in the kitchen?  

I thought so!  Well, as you’ll see this recipe brings all that and more!  

One of the things I LOVE most to do in the kitchen is to conquer.  No, I’m not talking Game of Thrones type conquering; I’m talking about dominating your fears in the kitchen.  Recipes, techniques, equipment you’ve never used before can be intimidating.  I LOVE the feeling when you go outside your arsenal of  “comfortable” and conquer something new!  It makes me feel like Daenerys Targaryen walking through RED-HOT fire! 

Something I was intimidated to try is called a Pavlova – just the name made it sounds all kinds of fancy pants.  Then I saw one made on the Food Network and it didn’t look so hard.  It seemed a perfect recipe to use my new best friend in the kitchen – my brand spanking new RED-HOT KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Having used a hand mixer all my life, I have been having so much fun learning all this machine can conquer.  In this recipe, it is the master of the egg whites.

The Pavlova is said to have been named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  The dessert started appearing in Australia and New Zealand after her tours there in the 1920’s.  There is much HOT debate between the two countries over who actually originated the recipe.

A Pavlova is a meringue-like base that is crisp and crackly on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.  It starts in a HOT oven, then it gently cools with the oven door propped open.  The first one I made was a traditional version topped with lemon curd, whipped cream and berries.  Thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, I created a double chocolate version, in a heart shape that is topped with whipped cream and RED berries.  I just LOVE the textures of this Pavlova – it’s crunchy, chewy, creamy and juicy all at once.  Hope your Valentine’s Day is RED-HOT and full of LOVE and chocolate! 

(From my Balanced Eats column in Main Line Media News)

Make heart shape:

Whip up the Pavlova:

Double Chocolate Pavlova Recipe
Christina Verrelli – epicuricloud.com

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
Pavlova:
1 cup superfine sugar (see Note)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Whipped Cream:
1½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Berries of your choice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Fold a 9”x12” piece of paper in half widthwise.  Draw a half heart shape starting at the fold.  Cut out.  Unfold and lay the heart in the center of the parchment and trace with a pencil.  Turn the parchment over so the pencil line is on the bottom.  Lightly dust the parchment with a little cocoa or cornstarch – this helps prevent sticking.  In small bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch.  

Using stand mixer with wire whip or hand mixer (may take a little longer using hand mixer) on medium speed, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks (about 4 minutes using stand mixer).  Add water and continue to beat until soft peaks form again (about 2 minutes using stand mixer).  Add sugar/cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running.  Continue to beat until all sugar mixture is blended in and then for 1 minute longer.  Add vinegar and vanilla and beat on high for 5 minutes (longer if using hand mixer) or until the mixture is glossy and stiff.  Sprinkle the cocoa powder and the chocolate chips over the mixture and gently fold in. 

Spoon the mixture onto the shape of the heart marked on the parchment.  Smooth the top and sides.  It will be about 2-3 inches thick. 

Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and place the baking sheet on the center rack.  Bake for about 1 hour – 1 hr. 10 min. or until the outside is hard and cracked and the inside looks like chocolatey marshmallow.  Turn oven off, prop oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon and allow it to cool in oven for 1 hour.  

When ready to serve, whip cream until slightly thickened, add sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it holds soft peaks.   Spread whipped cream over Pavlova and top with fresh berries.

Notes:
-You can buy superfine sugar (Domino makes one) or you can make your own by running granulated sugar through the food processor on high for about 30-45 seconds.
-You can make the Pavlova ahead and wrap tightly with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container for about 2 days.

Printable Recipe: Double Chocolate Pavlova

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Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me.  I hope you love the recipe!

Tina ( :

Spinach, Mushroom & Pepper Stuffed Shells Recipe

I love these "holiday" stuffed shells...  

They are festive looking, they feed a crowd, you can make them ahead, they freeze well and everyone loves them!  They're filled with lots of spinach, mushrooms and roasted red peppers…as well as three yummy cheeses!  Healthy veggies with just enough ooey gooey cheese - naughty & nice! 

Spinach, Mushroom & Pepper Stuffed Shells How-To:

Spinach, Mushroom & Pepper Stuffed Shells Recipe

Christina Verrelli - epicuricloud.com

Makes about 44 stuffed shells - about 8-10 servings                                                                                                     (You can split the recipe between two dishes and freeze one for later.)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

8-ounces sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

We've been enjoying this locally made sauce.

We've been enjoying this locally made sauce.

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained & chopped

2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry

1 (30-ounce) container ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg

2 cups mozzarella, shredded & divided

2 (24-ounce) jars marinara sauce (or homemade)

1 (12-ounce) box jumbo shells pasta

salt & water for boiling pasta

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat 6 quarts of salted (approx. 3-4 tablespoons kosher salt) water to boiling.

Add oil to large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until softened.  Add peppers, spinach and stir until well combined.  Turn off heat and allow to cool a bit.

Cook your pasta for about 9 minutes (a little less than the box states).  They will cook more in the oven.  Drain your pasta and pour onto a greased rimmed baking sheet.  This will allow them to cool a bit and not stick together.   

In large bowl (also mixes well in stand mixer) combine ricotta, Parmesan, egg and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Stir to mix.  Stir in the spinach mixture.

Pour about 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce in bottom of 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish and spread evenly.

Fill each shell with about 2-3 tablespoons filling.  Arrange them in pan.  (I like to fit them in a single layer of about 34 shells, then, make a separate little dish of them to freeze or bake separately.)

Spoon another 1 1/2 cups sauce over filled shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Cover dish with foil.  Bake covered for about 40-45 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with extra warmed marinara sauce on the side.

Notes:

To Freeze: assemble, wrap well and freeze.  I like to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before I bake them. 

Printable Recipe Link: Spinach, Mushroom & Pepper Stuffed Shells

Thank you for spending some time in the cloud with me!  Happy Holidays to you and yours!  Tina ( :