Monday, September 15, 2014

Early Fall Minestrone Soup

I'm back from all my travels!! I've been to Bald Head Island, San Francisco, Sonoma County and New York City, all in the past few weeks. I love to travel, but I also love to get home and back into a routine in the kitchen. I always feel so discombobulated when I have an empty refrigerator and pantry!

Early Fall Minestrone Soup

I was looking forward to getting back to the Farmers Market as well this weekend and stock up on my favorite local goods. There was still a good amount of summer produce left, so I took advantage and loaded up my basket. The Hubby and I were planning on an all-day football extravaganza Sunday since we didn't get to watch kickoff weekend due to our travels. Sunday Fun Days are THE BEST...full of football, cooking and laziness!

Early Fall Minestrone Soup

Since the weather forecast for the weekend was overcast and slightly cool and I was going to be around the house I decided to make a soup. A minestrone is a super easy and healthy soup to make. Minestrones are not only super versatile, but very cost effective because they are vegetarian. I like to add in a little pasta and beans to make it robust and filling and the Hubby usually includes a little extra cheese and slice of crunchy bread.

It was definitely a lazy Sunday, but at least we got our veggies in:)

Early Fall Minestrone Soup


Early Fall Minestrone Soup


Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 zucchinis, chopped (if available, if not, use about 1 cup chopped)
1 ear corn, kernels removed, cob reserved
4 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 cups chicken and/or vegetable broth
1 reserved corn cob
1 Parmesan rind
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped
1 cup favorite pasta (can use a gluten free variety)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan
sun dried tomatoes (dry packed)
salt and pepper, to taste


Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add in the olive oil, onion, carrots and red pepper. Season this with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Then stir in the zucchini, corn kernels and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the broth and add the corn cob and Parmesan rind and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, add the rosemary and kale and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the pasta and cook until it is al dente (according to the package directions). Once the pasta is cooked, remove the soup from heat and stir in the cannellini beans, grated Parmesan, parsley and thyme. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve with sun dried tomatoes and more grated Parmesan if desired. 

Early Fall Minestrone Soup

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham

There is a new restaurant in town, and it is 100% gluten free!

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Bone Marrow & Beef Short Ribs

I about died and went to heaven when I heard about the opening of Primal Food & Spirits in Durham several months ago (more information on the Primal Facebook page). Even though gluten free is a personal choice for me and my health, it is still frustrating to go out to dinner sometimes. I always hate being "that person" asking a million questions about the menu. The Hubby just laughs at me when the waiter/waitress comes around to me at the table during the order. Apparently I sound like I am researching for a thesis with all the questions I ask.

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Daily Catch Special - Red Snapper with Zucchini Noodles and Potatoes

Primal not only operates with a 100% gluten free kitchen, they also are a farm to table restaurant, meaning they source most of their ingredients from local farmers and providers. I always feel good about eating at places like this. It provides me with a sense of community support!

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Deviled Eggs with Jalapenos, Bacon and Smoked Paprika Aioli

The Hubby and I decided to get a little gathering together to try out the restaurant. I walked in, camera in tow, and instantly feel in love with the place. Very friendly and welcoming staff, open kitchen, rustic and primal decor. The place had completely transformed from its previous owner, which was a horrible chain restaurant (thank goodness).

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
36-Hour Braised Beef Short Ribs

We decided to order a few appetizers and hit the bar first for some specially crafted cocktails. I had a Farmer's Blueberry Fizz with fresh blueberry juice that was super freshening and just the perfect amount of sweet.

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Farmer's Blueberry Fizz cocktail

We made our way to the table eventually and decided to each order something different so we could share tastes. The group was very patient, while I took pictures of the dishes when they first arrived....and oh, they smelled so good, so I feel really bad now that I made them wait!

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Roasted Vegetable Gazpacho

We had the bone marrow dish, snapper special, deviled eggs, braised beef short ribs, bread and butter (gluten free of course), grilled vegetable gazpacho, shrimp and grits and kale salad. Between the six of us, we pretty much covered most of the menu!

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham
Shrimp and Grits

Right now Primal is only open for dinner, but they just started a Sunday Brunch and plan on lunch in the future. Kettler Cuisine definitely recommends dining at Primal, gluten free or not!

Primal Food & Spirits in Durham

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Squash Gratin

The abundance of summer squash won't last much longer, so I am picking it up where ever and whenever I see it. The trouble is that I have to come up with new ways of preparing the sweet vegetable. After getting a large quantity from my friend Tom at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, I was determined to create a new recipe and one that would use up some of the herbs I have growing in my backyard as well. 

Summer Squash Gratin

I had a recipe for a squash gratin stored away that I was wanting to eventually try, but it was too many steps. I decided to start from that and majorly simplify it. By the end, I had completely changed it, but it turned into one of my favorite new recipes of the summer! Squash and cheese....two of the best foods together in one blissful harmony :)


Summer Squash Gratin

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

2 pounds summer squash, sliced (using a mandolin makes this easy)
1 teaspoon salt 
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cups)
1 cup grated gruyere cheese 
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the squash slices with salt and set this aside for 10 minutes. Drain the squash in a colander and lay on a paper towel for a few minutes to absorb any remaining moisture, then add to a large mixing bowl. Add in shallots, gruyere, thyme, parsley and garlic, then toss gently to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a 9×9-inch baking dish and drizzle olive oil and black pepper on top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the squash is tender and the cheese is bubbling up the sides.

Summer Squash Gratin