Potato Cheddar and Roasted Pepper Soup

I guarantee this soup will satisfy your comfort food cravings.  It has such amazing flavors from the cheese with the combination of the roasted red, yellow and poblano peppers.

  Potato-Cheddar-Soup

 Last Saturday, Robby and I had a nice lunch at Bittersweet Bistro before heading to Palo Alto to meet Beto and Jill’s new baby boy Severin.  It is so amazing to meet a beautiful soul such as Severin!  He is the cutest little guy ever and he looks just like Beto but he also looks like Jill and Paloma!  I thought it would be nice to bring some comfort food to Beto and Jill.  I made homemade beans, homemade fresh tomato sauce and this soup.  Jill hasn’t slept much so Robby, Beto, Paloma and I went to dinner at a great sushi restaurant called Kanpai, which was delicious.  Sunday was a lazy day around the house in the morning and then we had a nice afternoon at the beach for lunch.

Potato-and-Cheddar-Roasted-Pepper-Soup

A nice crisp white wine is simply the best with this soup.  Try a Sauvignon Blanc, a dry Riesling, Pinot Gris or a white Rioja.

Potato-Cheddar-and-Roasted-Pepper-Soup

Recipe – Approx. 8 – 10 servings – about 16 cups

  • 5 (4 lb.) Large Russet Potatoes – peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – roasted
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper – roasted
  • 1 Poblano Pepper – roasted
  • 2 Cups Fresh or Frozen Corn
  • 10 Cups Filtered Water
  • 2 Cups Low Fat Milk
  • 3 Cups Cheddar Cheese (I used Organic Valley Raw Sharp Cheddar)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt or to Taste

Instructions:

Place the cubed potatoes into a large bowl covered in filtered water.

Add the onion and olive oil to a 5 1/2 quart pot or dutch oven and sauté on medium-low heat for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook until garlic just start to brown.

Add wine and cook until reduced and it has a syrupy consistency.

Roast the peppers.  Dice the peppers into small cubes and set aside.

Add the water and potatoes to the onions then cook on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Take half of the potatoes and some water then puree in food processor or blender.

Pour pureed potatoes back in the pot and add the milk, salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes to heat it back up and slowly stir in the cheese, cook until cheese is completely melted.

Add the peppers and corn.

Cheddar-Potato-Soup

Health benefits:

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.

They’re also full of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.

 Bell Peppers are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.   Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Purple Opal Basil and Sheep Gouda Pesto + Purple Basil Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella and Fuji Apple

These crostini appetizers are the perfect balance between sweet and savory.  Purple opal basil is a bit milder but more savory than its cousin sweet basil and combines well with the flavor of sheep Gouda.  The crostini and apple gives a crunchy texture while the fresh mozzarella and pesto adds a wonderful creaminess.  All the flavors combined make for the perfect bite!

Purple-Opal-Basil-and-Sheep-Gouda-Pesto-Crostini

This Friday, we attended one of Robby’s work barbeques. It was a lot of fun and great to meet some of Robby’s co-workers I haven’t met before.  One of them was a guy named Val, he asked me what I did and I said I had a food blog.  He got excited and said, “my wife also has a food blog” and proceeded to show me on his phone.  I was impressed to say the least!  I briefly met her towards the end of the party.  Her name is Elena and her blog is “Urban Kitchen Affairs“, check it out!  For the barbeque, I made a large Greek salad and some crostini very similar to these purple basil and sheep Gouda pesto crostini, which were devoured in minutes.  I plan to share the recipe with you in the near future.

Purple-Opal-Basil-and-Sheep-Gouda-Pesto-

This appetizer goes perfect with a nice Rosé, Rueda or a Prosecco.

Purple-Basil-and-Sheep-Gouda-Pesto-Crostini

Recipe – About 24 crostini
  • Purple Basil and Sheep Gouda Pesto
  • 2 1/2 Cups Purple Opal Basil
  • 3/4 Cup Sheep Gouda – shredded and packed
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
Crostini
  • 1 French Baguette – 1/2 inch sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – or as needed
  • 2 Container Fresh Mozzarella – small balls – sliced in half
  • 1 – 2 Fuji Apples – cored – sliced
  • 1 Recipe Purple Basil and Sheep Gouda Pesto
  • Fresh Basil Leaf – garnish

Instructions:

Pesto

Wash and thoroughly dry the basil.  Measure all ingredients and add to a food processor or blender and puree.  Set aside.

Crostini

Place slices on to a baking sheet and coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check then put on for 1 more while watching.  They cook faster on the 2nd side because they are already hot.

Assemble

Spread the pesto onto each crostini, add a slice of apple, top with 3 or more halfs of mozzerella and a fresh basil leaf.

  Purple-Basil-Pesto-Crostini

Health benefits:

Apples are so incredibly healthy, they fight the effects of aging on the brain and they contain the antioxidants therein, which is helpful in protecting you from Parkinson’s. Eating apples have been linked to a decreased risk of strokes. Apples rich in flavonol could help reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23%.  Soluble fiber found in apples lowers cholesterol and the skins also prevents the cholesterol from solidifying on your artery walls.  The fiber also helps to prevent gallstones and they even help reduce tooth decay. They regulate blood sugar levels by increasing the uptake of glucose from your blood that stimulates insulin receptors.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zea-xanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.

Kale and Roasted Carrot Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Sesame Vinaigrette

This is a very fulfilling salad!   The roasted peppers with sesame oil are exquisite and the carrot’s soft texture complements the crunchy veggies.  I could eat this salad everyday!

Kale-and-Roasted-Carrot-Salad

Robby and I visited the Filoli House and Botanical Gardens last Saturday.  There are 16 acres of gardens that are gorgeous and full of flowers, lawns and ponds!  The architecture and garden designs is from the first part of the twentieth century.  It is mostly Georgian style along with some Stuart details and a Spanish tiled roof.  All of this reflects the creativity of the Golden Age of California.  The house has forty-three rooms, 17 of them being bathrooms.  Check out their website.

Kale-and-Roasted-Sesame-Carrot-Salad

After a day out, it’s nice to come home to this hearty salad.  I made everything the day before.  I prepared the dressing, roasted the carrots, chopped and washed the veggies and de-ribbed and chopped the kale.  I kept everything in separate containers and mixed them together when I was ready to eat it!  You can warm up the carrots if you like.

Roasted-Red-Bell-Pepper-Sesame-Vinaigrette

This is the perfect salad for a nice crisp sake, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or a Rosé.

Kale-and-Sesame-Roasted-Carrot-Salad

Recipe: 4 – 6 servings

Roasted Carrots

  • 3 to 4 Carrots – battened
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Dash of salt
  • Black or White Sesame Seeds

Vinaigrette – 2 1/2 Cups

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4) Red Bell Peppers – roasted – purred  – Prep 20 minutes roast – 10 minutes
  • 1/2 Cup + 3 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Rice Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Tamari Sauce
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt ?
  • 2 Teaspoons Hot Chili Sauce like Sriracha (Optional)

Salad

  • Kale – washed – de-ribbed – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Green Onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced
  • 8 Radishes (about 1 cup) – matchsticks
  • 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper -
  • 1 Cucumber – cut in half, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – torn
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro
Carrots
Pre-heat oven to 375
Cut the carrots in quarters lengthwise, then into 2 to 3-inch pieces.
Spread the carrots out on a baking sheet and pour on a tablespoon of sesame oil, toss to evenly coat and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through and starting to caramelize.  Sprinkle with black and/or white sesame seeds.  Set aside.
Vinaigrette
Roast the peppers.  Meanwhile, measure the oil, vinegar, tamari, garlic, salt and add to a medium sized bowl.  When the peppers are peeled, de-stemmed and de-seeded, cut them into about two inch pieces and add to the bowl then puree with an immersion blender or put everything into a blender or food processor and puree.   Set aside.
Salad

Wash the kale and tear off main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves, dry, then chop into thin strips.

Put the kale in a large bowl a tablespoon of sesame oil and massage the oil into the kale.  Add the onions, cabbage, radishes,

bell pepper, cucumber, basil and cilantro.  Mix in the dressing or top onto individual salads.  Top with the warm carrots.

 

Kale-and-Roasted-Carrot-Salad-with-Roasted-Red-Pepper-Sesame-Vinaigrette

 

Health Benefits:

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)  More on kale

Carrots contain beta-carotene that is then converted into vitamin A in your liver and helps restore vision. They lower the risk of coronary heart disease and are high in antioxidants that help in cancer prevention. They may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of aging, and improve the immune system.

Red Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Coconut Curry Potatoes and Peas with Black Beans and Jade Rice

This is a mild and creamy curry dish that is full of flavor.  I used my homemade curry powder, but you can use any store bought brand if you prefer not to make it yourself.  I highly recommend making your own though!

 It might seem strange to pair a curry dish with black beans but it actually works!  The rice is totally optional but you have to try jade pearl rice if you haven’t already.  It’s pretty cool!  It is dyed white rice that gets its green color from the chlorophyll of bamboo juice.  The texture is slightly sticky but also light and fluffy containing subtle notes of green tea flavor.

Curried-Potatoes-and-Peas

How was your 4th of July?  We had a very nice and mellow day with a nice picnic on the beach. Our beach is usually deserted due to the fact that we live in a neighborhood full of vacation rentals.  However, there are a lot of people on the beach on holidays like the 4th which makes it much more lively.

This potato dish is the perfect comfort food after a long day on the beach.  Ever so often Robby requests a dish that he is craving and this was one of those times.  I love it when he gives me a challenge because it is fun to see if I can make it how he envisions it.  He absolutely loved it!  He was also surprised at how well the black beans went with the curry flavor.

Coconut-Curried-Potatoes-and-Peas

This dish goes great with a Riesling,  Pinot Gris or a sparkling wine like a Prosecco.

Curried-Potatoes-and-Peas-with-Black-Beans

Recipe:

Jade Rice

  • 1 Cup Jade Pearl Rice
  • 1-3/4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Potatoes

  • 4 Large Yellow Potatoes or 3 1/2 lb – diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Unsalted Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • 1 1/2 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk – I used full fat
  • 2 Tablespoons Homemade Curry Powder or Hunters Spice Organic Curry Blend
  • 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas – or to taste

Instructions:

Start the black beans.

 While the beans are cooking, make the rice.

 Do NOT rinse the rice. Add the water, rice, bouillon, 1 tablespoon oil and salt to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Mash up the bouillon cube well, then cover, reduce to simmer in between medium-low and low for 20 minutes (use a timer).  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

 Dice the potatoes. Set aside

Add the diced onions to a straight-sided pan, along with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Sauté on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes then add the minced garlic; continue stirring until garlic just starts to become golden then add the wine and bouillon cube.  Mash the bouillon and when wine reduces to a syrup, add the potatoes and water.  Turn heat to medium and cover for 15 minutes make sure to stir a few times.

Add the can of coconut milk and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the spices and simmer for 10 minutes covered and then for an additional 10 to 15 minutes uncovered.  Make sure and stir frequently so potatoes don’t stick to the pan.  When potatoes are soft add the peas and cook for about a minute until peas are hot.

Coconut-Curry-Potatoes-and-Peas-with-Black-Beans

Health Benefits:

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold’s content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss.

Black beans are high in cholesterol lowering dietary fiber, 1 cup of cooked beans provides you with over 1/2 of your daily requirements and reduces blood cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease.   The fiber supports the digestive tract and the colon, which helps constipation, diverticulitis and other gastrointestinal disorders.  They also maintain normal blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes.   Black beans are a very good meat substitute because of their 15 grams of protein in 1 cup and contain only trace amounts of saturated fat and no cholesterol.  They contain phytochemicals, substances found only in plant foods that help fight cancer and other chronic diseases.  They increase energy with the good amounts of iron in them and have more antioxidant activity than other types of beans. They neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.  Black beans are also rich in B vitamins, Folate, potassium (helps regulate your blood pressure and heart rate), magnesium, calcium (builds and maintains bones) and other heart-healthy nutrients.

Blueberry Chevre Crostini with Champagne Vinegar Hibiscus Flowers

This is a very unique appetizer!  The champagne vinegar soaked hibiscus flowers adds the perfect tang to the soft flavors of the chevre and the subtle sweetness of the blueberries.  Add all that onto a crunchy crostini and it’s outstanding!

Blueberry-Hibiscus-Crostini

The 4th of July was always a big deal growing up in L.A.  A bunch of us would walk the beach from Santa Monica to Venice, from party to party, trying not to get hit by bottle rockets.  I remember the skies flooded with them.  It was kinda scary!  They don’t allow that anymore.

Blueberry-and-Hibiscus-Crostini

When I moved back to Venice for a few years in 2007, I did the 4th with at least 20 of our friends that all grew up together.  We were all on bikes crusin the boardwalk.  We rode to the Venice canals before the fireworks started and watched them from the top of a bridge with the best view.  It was always a lot of fun!

Blueberry-Vinegar-Hibiscus-Crostini

Tis the season for appetizers and with the 4th of July coming up, I can’t think of a better appetizer than this red, white and blue crostini.

Blueberry-Hibiscus-Flower-Crostini

For a festive wine, I would pair these crostini with a Prosecco or a Cava.

Vinegar Hibiscus Flowers

Recipe: 12 Crostini

  • 12 Slices French Baguette
  • Approx. 5 oz. Chevre Goat Cheese – or to taste – room temperature
  • 1 Container Blueberries – 5 to 10 per crostini
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar Soaked Hibiscus Flowers – or to taste 

Instructions:

You will need to soak the hibiscus flowers in the vinegar for 4 days to a week. (I did a week) Follow this recipe.

 Make the crostini.  Let cool.  Spread the chevre on to the crostini and top with the blueberries and vinegar flowers.  Serve as is or drizzle with maple syrup.   I sometimes put them in the toaster oven for a minute or so, which is also really good!

 *You will have leftover hibiscus vinegar if you make the full recipe.  You could use the leftovers for salad dressings like this one.  You could also half the recipe.  Other uses for the leftover vinegar flowers would be as a topping on a sandwich, on a salad, or anywhere you would use any pickled vegetable.

_Hibiscus-Blueberry-Crostini

Health benefits:

Hibiscus Flowers is a simple way to increase your antioxidant intake due to the high vitamin C content.  The antioxidant properties can help reverse the inflammatory process in your body and has the ability to lower high blood pressure.  It protects against chronic disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.  It helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol from the body, therefore it helps protect against heart disease and blood vessels from damage.

Blueberries are high in Vitamin C. They are a super food and are one of the highest in antioxidants compared to most fruits. They are a great source of fiber. The fiber helps reduce abdominal fat, lower cholesterol and helps lower glucose. They are great for brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and they are known to heal damaged brain cells. So they help you keep your memory intact.