Um, I may have accidentally set the kitchen on fire.

But it wasn’t my fault! Was it my fault the kitchen towel crawled itself over to the stove top while the burner was lit and I wasn’t looking? This is what happens when I multitask in the kitchen. Needless to say, the towel made its way to the sink, a thin smokey smell filled the kitchen, and I am now a fire fighter.

I’m so excited because as I write, Paul and I are on our way to Big Sur. We’re meeting our dear friends, Tess and Willie, and my brother and his family for a few days of camping. Now, let me preface this with the fact when I say “camping” I mean car glamping. Tess taught me well when it comes to the art of luxurious camping. Anyway, it’s spring break, the weather is gorgeous, we’re taking my nieces & nephew camping for the first time (“With tents and everything?” as quoted by Gwen, my adorable 7 year old niece), the Westfalia is loaded up (as donated by Tess & Willie’s client), and we’re headed up Highway 1. I’m a happy camper, pun intended (I crack myself up!).

While camping our meals are pretty straight forward… tri tip, bbq chicken, salads, etc. but this trip I’m trying something new. I made roasted tomato soup (delicious and so easy) to go along with grilled cheese sandwiches. I also baked milk chocolate, macadamia nut cookies just for fun.

Sweet! “Highway to Hell” just came on the radio. Let the camping trip commence!

Roasted Tomato and Onion Soup with Fresh Herbs (care of The Big Book of Soups and Stews)

INGREDIENTS:

10-12 (about 1 1/2 pounds) plum (Roma) tomatoes halved lengthwise, 2 yellow onions, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic minced, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons finely  chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 4 cups chicken stock or broth, 1/4 cup dry red wine, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1/2 cup half-and-half, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, baked croutons as topping (optional)

Note: I use the dried herbs. It’s just simpler.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes cut-side up in a lightly sprayed 9×13 inch glass baking dish. Add onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix oil, garlic, and herbs. Spoon over tomatoes and onions. Roast until tomatoes are soft and lightly browned, 45-50 minutes. Scrape tomatoes, onions, and juices into food processor and purée until smooth.

Transfer puréed mixture to a soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients except croutons and simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes. Add more salt if needed. Ladle into bowls and top each with a few croutons.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (care of my fabulous friend, Michelle, slightly altered to meet Paul’s request)

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts, 12 ounce package milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.

Note: Just as a sassy addition to this recipe, next time I might sprinkle some of that cool baking salt on top… give it a sweet and very subtle savory kick.

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