In case y’all hadn’t noticed, it’s a bit harder for me to come up with lengthy blog posts right now. My husband’s work schedule has been crazy, and it isn’t looking to get easier until a few months from now. It’s something we’re both being flexible about, but it does mean that I’m not always able to cook as much and, therefore, I might not have as much to blog about. I’m not about to stop blogging, the posts just might be a little shorter than we’d all like.
Now that that little bit of business is done, let’s get to the fun part. I got a new toy recently that I might be featuring a lot more often on this blog: an immersion blender! I’ve never had a lot of luck with regular blenders. They seem to make an awful lot of noise without good results or I burn out the motor. Because of this, I don’t do a lot of pureed soups. Before I got the immersion blender, my only puree options would be the blender (which hates me) or the food processor (which has a plastic bowl that can’t handle hot soup). Now, I’m a pureeing fiend! I tried it out on a Black Bean-Tomato Soup that was very tasty (and is diet-friendly). In case you’re wondering, I got this blender, and it’s working great so far. It took a big ol’ pot of tomatoes and beans and turned into a pureed soup in less than 90 seconds.
Black Bean-Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream (from the September 2008 issue of Cooking Light)
2 slices chopped center-cut bacon
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepepr
1 15 oz. can rinsed, drained black beans
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1/4 c. sour cream
1 tbsp. minced cilantro
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. lime juice
1. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat til crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Remove all but 1 tsp. of drippings from the pan. Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook 5 minutes or til the celery is tender. Stir in 3/4 tsp. cumin, chili powder, and garlic; cook 1 minutes. Stir in the bacon, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Place 1/2 of the soup in the blender and blend til smooth; repeat with the remaining soup. (Or just whiz up with your immersion blender.)
2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, 1/4 tsp. cumin, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice. Drizzle over the soup.
I also recently got to try a new ingredient, pearl sugar. A friend of mine brought some back from Belgium, and we finally got to try it out last night. While our husbands were at a friend’s house watching a tape of the game, we had an evening of talking and pearl sugar waffles. They are so amazing! The outside of the pearl sugar caramelizes a little so you get a nice crunch in most bites. They don’t need syrup, but I did think they could use something to moisten them a bit. V says that in Belgium they’ll put on powdered sugar or Nutella. I think i’d like to dip it in melted butter or pour over some strawberry sauce.
Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, so I’m sure that’ll give us something to talk about. Since I can’t lay out my plans ahead of time (no tipping off the husband), I’ll give you some other ideas. In the past, I’ve told you about places like Groupon and Living Social that sell discounts to restaurants and shops. You might want to keep your eye on sites like that this next week, they’re definitely going to be having lots of special discounts in preparation. Also, if you go over here, you can get a Bath & Body Works coupon for a free fine fragrance mist with any $10 purchase. It’s good from 2/12-2/29, so you could nip in and get one for a present for someone else and maybe even a treat for yourself.
When it comes to gift giving, there are two things that can help, though they aren’t necessarily easy. The first one (and most important) is actually a simple thought, think about what the person might like or need. I know it sounds too simplistic, but that’s what makes it the truth. So many times, we can get caught up in the fact that we need to give something, so we buy something to fill that need. The best gifts aren’t the most expensive or elaborate, they’re the most thoughtful. The second thing is that sometimes people not need more things, and the best thing you could give them is something you made with love. For me, that usually means baking something, but I know there are lots of other ways to give homemade love. So many people are burdened down with stuff, sometimes it’s nice to give something that won’t hang around gathering dust. Just a couple little things that I thought I’d like to share. Have a great week, and I’ll be back with you soon.