Sopa de la Casa is a recipe I discovered in the early 1980s. It reminded me of the scrumptious tortilla soup that I first enjoyed at Tijuana Tilly’s, in Tijuana, Mexico. Sopa de la Casa was a regular on my table before my daughters were born and it was time to revisit this easy, delicous recipe. It was just as I remembered!
Sopa de la Casa
8 slices bacon, diced
1 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 1/4 c. finely chopped celery
2 green peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
1 can (31 oz.) refried beans
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. chili powder
In a soup pot, cook bacon until crisp. Move cooked bacon to a separate bowl. Drain half of the bacon drippings. Add onion, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook until tender.
Blend in chicken broth, cooked bacon, refried beans, pepper and chili powder. Bring to boil. Remove from heat.
Garnish with tortilla chips and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
Grilled Steak with fresh peaches, gorgonzola and caramelized onions…oh my gosh. Every bite is a flavor explosion. For those that don’t like Gorgonzola, Goat Cheese would probably be equally as good (maybe with a few chopped pecans?) or just skip the cheese. You’ll love it, too!
Balsamic Steak and Peach Salad
1-1/4lbs tri-tip or flank steak, cut into easily grillable pieces (could use any cut of steak, really!)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 jumbo or 2 smaller sweet onions, sliced thin
2 large ripe peaches, chopped
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese crumbles
9 oz. mixed greens
For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Combine 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and lots of salt and pepper into a large Ziplock bag then squish to mix. Add steak then marinate for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, season lightly with salt, then saute until caramelized and soft, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning heat down slightly if onions begin to color too quickly. Stir in remaining 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar then set onions aside to cool – can be done up to a couple days ahead of time.
Preheat a well-oiled grill over high heat for at least 10 minutes then turn heat down to medium-high. Add steak then grill for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick your steak is, then let rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain – can be done 1 day ahead of time.
For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette: Add ingredients into a blender then blend until smooth.
Divide lettuce, steak, caramelized onions, peaches, and cheese between bowls then top with vinaigrette and serve.
Cauliflower Gnocchi at Trader Joe’s has been on my list for the past year. While I had my reservations about it, I was blown away with how good it was in this dish. I browned the sausage a bit before baking to release some of the grease. It is now a favorite recipe and so easy to prepare!
Italian Sausage & Peppers with Cauliflower Gnocchi
1 onion, yellow or sweet, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
4 sweet Italian sausages, cut into fifths
Bag of Trader Joe’s frozen cauliflower gnocchi (or gnocchi of your choice)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Add onion, peppers to the center of the pan, drizzle with olive oil and season generously with garlic salt. Toss to coat.
Spread into an even layer and roast for 10 minutes.
Add Italian sausages and frozen gnocchi and roast for 20-30 minutes until sausages and vegetables are cooked through and gnocchi are golden grown. Stir halfway through the process.
Eggplant = favorite food. My friend, Jan, shared this delicious recipe with me. I love how simple it is and it’s not as rich as many Moussaka recipes. I only had cheddar cheese on hand when I made it, but it would be great with Feta or other mild cheeses.
I made this dish without rice or yogurt, but enjoyed it with a nice class of red wine from my favorite winery, InVINtions.
2 globe eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound ground beef (or omit if Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced/diced
2-3 green or sweet peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 petite tomatoes, diced (I used Compari tomatoes)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil for eggplant and another 1/4 cup for sauce
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 430-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish.
Place cubed eggplant in a bowl. Add salt and 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil. Toss and mix well to assure the cubes are covered in olive oil.
Spread the eggplant over a baking sheet, layered with parchment paper. Bake until brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Add ground beef and cook thoroughly until it is dry. While cooking, crush the ground beef with the back of a spoon.
Add onion and peppers and cook on medium heat until soft, but not browned.
Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes are cooked (turning darker red), add one cup boiling water.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Place eggplant cubes in baking dish. Top with sauce and mix. (Optional: add sliced tomatoes on top). If using dried parley, sprinkle on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to serve without cheese, sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve.
If using cheese, sprinkle on top, and put back in oven until cheese in melted.
Serve as is or serve hot with rice and Greek yogurt.
Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below. The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions. Both were delicious and easy, peasy. We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!
During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times. Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness. By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE
1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
Add onions and carrots
Pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (I cooked for 4 hours)
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Last summer I raised kale in my garden and, unfortunately, the bugs LOVED it. I decided not to plant Kale again this year but Mother Nature took a different turn. Several volunteer kale plants popped up in my garden and it was beautiful and…no bugs! Mother Nature, are you telling me I need to try Kale again next year?
Recently at our book club potluck, a friend made a delicious collard green dish and this sounded similar. It is very tasty but next time I would cut back on the crushed pepper. This could easily be vegan by skipping the bacon.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic
10 cups loosely packed chopped kale (about 2 pounds)
1 cup fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (too hot for me–I would reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.
Add kale, broth, 1 cup water, and red pepper; cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
My Mother was an avid gardener growing lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, squash, green beans, peas, sweet corn, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, etc. The rich top soil of Iowa made for a prolific harvest each year. She would can and freeze vegetables and fruit for the family to enjoy all winter. Our farmhouse basement ‘fruit room’ was a treasure trove of pickles, canned tomatoes, relish, vegetables, soups, etc.
One of my favorite summer side dishes was my Mother’s cucumbers and onions. The recipe is simple, not written down, but made from memories in that Iowa farm kitchen.
CUCUMBERS AND ONIONS–Mom’s Style
Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and sweet onion. Soak in cold, salted water for 30-45 minutes. Drain. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, dash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onions and serve immediately.
My Mother occasionally made this salad, often with fresh ingredients from her garden. The last time I made this recipe was 15+ years ago for a Christmas party. This week I resurrected the recipe and tried it out in several ways. Each combination was wonderful.
1) Side dish to barbecue ANYTHING
2) Pairs very well with fish and would be GREAT on fish tacos
3) On a sandwich (daughter Sarah’s fiancé, Kyle, put it on a turkey, cheese, and ham salad combo sandwich). Sounds incredibly weird, but delicious!
Besides being delicious, this salad keeps in the refrigerator for several days. In fact it just keeps getting better and better.
REFRIGERATOR CROCK SALAD
1 head green cabbage
2 green sweet bell peppers
2 red or orange sweet bell peppers
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 cups white cider vinegar
2.5 cups sugar
Shred cabbage, peppers, carrots, onions in a large bowl. Soak in salt water for 2 hours. Drain well.
In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and the sugar. Pour over shredded ingredients and refrigerate. Let sit for a minimum of 3-4 hours before serving.