Monday, January 4, 2016

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

This soup is so delicious.  And healthy because it is packed full of vegetables.  If you want to make it vegan, skip the cheese and get vegan pasta.  But, either way, it makes a lot, and its super satisfying.  I made this when we had the missionaries for dinner and served it with a salad and some crusty bread. Perfection.
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
From A Bountiful Kitchen (modified slightly)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (yellow or sweet)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper (I had to put quite a bit more salt in)
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
14 oz can vegetable OR chicken stock, if you aren’t concerned about going meatless (check to make sure it’s MSG free)
1 cup water
1 cup “ditalini” pasta or other small pasta shape
2 cups chopped zucchini or fresh spinach (optional)*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1- 15 oz can Great Northern beans, drained
1 tablespoon basil, dried
additional water, if needed
Using a large, heavy stock pot,saute onion and carrots in olive oil on medium heat about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
Season with salt and pepper (use more salt to taste and I also added a sprinkle of garlic salt)
Add fresh tomatoes, fresh zucchini or spinach, chicken stock, and water. Bring to boil. Add pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes until al dente.
Stir in tomato paste, beans and basil. Cook just until combined.
If needed, add a little more water to the soup.
Serve immediately with lots of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Serves about 4-6.

The Best No-Bake Cheesecake

I made this for dessert a few weeks ago when we had guests over and it was a total hit.  Brian even requested it for his birthday cake- he said it was the yummiest thing he'd ever eaten.  I made the fruit topping with the suggested blueberries and that really put it over the top.  It is seriously creamy, delicious, amazingness.

The Best No-Bake Cheesecake
The cheesecake is delicious plain but you can add fruit for serving which makes it extra delicious. Fresh, juicy fruit works great (sliced strawberries, blueberries, etc); if you want a simple fruit sauce recipe combine 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, until thick and syrupy (you may need to increase or decrease the sugar as needed depending on the fruit as well as adding a little water, a couple tablespoons at a time, if it is overly thick).
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (7.25 ounces, about 13 rectangle graham crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (but not warm)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream
    1. For the crust, in a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in the melted butter until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1- or 2-inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan or into the bottom and sides of a 9.5-inch pie plate (a regular 9-inch pie plate might work but the crust and filling will be extra thick). Refrigerate until the filling is ready.
    2. In a large bowl with an electric handheld mixer (or using an electric stand mixer), mix the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and light, 2-3 minutes. Add the sour cream and whipping cream and mix until very thick and creamy, 4-5 minutes.
    3. Spread the filling evenly into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Serve plain, with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce (see note above)