Heirloom Tomato Soup

Ever wonder what to do with all the homegrown tomatoes that show up during the summer? Well grab as many as you can and make a quick tomato soup. This recipe is unique because the tomatoes are roasted which brings out a richer flavor. I highly suggest serving this soup with a cheesy-goodness grilled cheese sandwich.


  • 2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or veggie broth if you don’t do the meat thing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash and dry tomatoes. Cut in half and squeeze out seeds and juices into large bowl. Place tomato “shells” on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. (This is the part where your house will smell amazing. Make sure your dinner guests arrive before this point so you can impress them with your mad cooking skillz.)

Also make sure to throw out the word “mirepoix” (pronounced, meer-pwah). Mirepoix is a term used to describe the photo below; a fancy way to stay carrots, celery, and onion. Traditionally it does not include garlic, but according to the Wiki there are a lot of variations depending on where you live.

Add the roasted caramelized tomatoes and juices from cooking, reserved tomato juices, and chicken broth to the “mirepoix” + garlic mixture. If there are not enough liquids then add more chicken broth. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: if you prefer a seedless tomato soup as I do, strain the seeds and tomato juices through a strainer and discard the seeds.

My favorite way to chop basil is to place the largest basil leaf on the bottom and stack the rest on top. Then tightly roll together as below, and slice with a sharp knife into thin strips.

Add basil and cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until desired consistency. I like my soup a little chunky so I lightly blend my soup.

You can also use a blender, just be careful because hot soup will expand in the blender so never fill it more than 1/2 full.

The soup is ready to go at this point. Serve and enjoy!

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Cake Pops


1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 tub of store bought icing
50 lollipop sticks
2 bags of candy melts

Bake the cake as directed in a 9×13 in pan and let it cool completely. When it is completely cool, break the cake into a large bowl. Crumble it with forks or your fingers until it is in fine crumbs.

Soften the tub of icing in the microwave by heating it for 20 seconds, stiring, then repeating until it’s soft, but not runny.

Add the softened icing to the cake crumbs in batches until cake holds together. Be careful not to add too much icing because it will cause the cake pops to be mushy.

Refrigerate the cake mixture for an hour until firm or overnight.

Form cake mixture into small balls with your hands and pop a lollipop stick in each one. It’s helpful to dip the lollipop stick in the melted candy melts so it sticks to the pop. When you have a full tray, put them in the freezer to harden.

Once they are hard, dip them in the melted candy melts, place back on tray and allow them to dry.

If you will be displaying the cake pops upside down (as I did above), place the sticks into Styrofoam so that the bottom (soon to be top) of the cake pop is smooth.


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Limoncello is a great way to use lemons from an overproducing tree and make friends because there is a lot of limoncello to share when it’s complete. It’s also a great way to test out a potential suitor. Zesting the lemons takes time and patience, plus it’s a three month process to reach the final stage when you can actually taste the finished product. In my case I tried it out on my “then suitor” for our third date (it was not really my plan, it just happened to work out that way). I knew he was a keeper when he spent 45 minutes carefully zesting the lemons then cleaned up the dishes after. Even better was that we were still together three months later to enjoy the finished project (and still are!).


20 lemons
2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

Over a piece of wax paper, carefully zest the lemons with a microplane zester. Only zest the yellow rind, not the white pith. The pith is too bitter and will spoil your limoncello. Discard the lemons or make lemonade!

Week 1:
In a large glass jar, add both bottles of vodka and the lemon zest. That’s it! Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature in a cool dark place for at least 6 weeks. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. (There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

Week 6:
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Put it back into it cool dark place to rest for another 6 weeks.

Week 12:
After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

A note about straining- if you want really smooth and pure limoncello, you will need to strain the mixture about three times. How long will this take, you ask? A long time. But it’s worth it! After you initially strain the zest from the mixture (a cheese cloth works well), I set up a funnel with a coffee filter over the bottles I was storing the limoncello in. Pour a little at a time, wait, pour a little more, wait and keep repeating. Replace the coffee filter when it gets clogged. I used about 10 coffee filters.

I found this site (limoncellquest.com) very helpful the first time I made this recipe. Since it’s such a long process it makes sense to do it right the first time.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart

  • Pre-baked sweet tart shell
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbps. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups sliced rhubarb (frozen will work- see baking time below.)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbps. butter, cut into pieces.


Bake the sweet tart shell as directed. Set aside.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl, beat eggs on med. speed until light. Beat in granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and the almond extract until well blended. Alternately layer rhubarb and strawberries into crust-lined pan. Pour egg mixture over fruit.

In small bowl, mix brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and the nutmeg. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over top.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set in center. Cool completely – about 2 hours. Store in refrigerator. If using frozen rhubarb, increase baking time to 55-65 minutes.

Posted in Dessert, Fruit, Recipes | 2 Comments

Simple Cherry Crumble

1 bag frozen cherries
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 t. corn starch
1 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thaw frozen cherries for 30 minutes on a baking sheet with sides. While berries are thawing, mix together sugar and flour. Cut in softened butter until the mixture is size of peas. Transfer thawed berries without juice to a bowl and mix in cornstarch and almond extract. Pour cherries into shallow pie dish and sprinkle sugar and flour mixture on top. Bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Enjoy hot with ice cream on top!

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Creamy Rosemary Potatoes


4 Tablespoons butter

1 cup half and half

1 cup heavy cream

5-6 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 8oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature

½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons minced rosemary

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup grated Parmesan

3 Tablespoons minced chives


Preheat oven to 350.

Rub the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with butter. Combine the half and half and the cream in a large measuring cup. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes very thinly. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with half of the half and half mixture. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent (about 4 minutes). Cut the bar of cream cheese in half and add them to the skillet stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and combined. Pour in the remaining half and half mixture. Add salt, pepper, rosemary and green onions. Stir to combine. Finally, add ½ cup of the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

Pour the cream soaked potatoes into the baking dish. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the top and bake for at least 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbly.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chives over top and serve.

Recipe From

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks

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Homemade Ranch with Iceberg Wedge


¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 cup real mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

¼ to ½ cup buttermilk (depends on how thick you want the dressing)

¼ cup flat leafed parsley

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon black pepper

Dash of hot sauce (optional)

2 heads iceberg lettuce


Sprinkle the salt over the garlic. With a fork, mash the salt and the garlic together to make a paste. Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl. Stir together gently, adjusting the seasonings as needed. Chill the dressing for 2 hours before serving. Thin with milk if needed.

Wash and dry the iceberg lettuce. Cut into wedges. Arrange the wedges on a platter and drizzle the ranch dressing over the top. Be generous with the dressing.

Recipe From

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks

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Rosted Beef Tenderloin


  • 1 6-7 pound whole beef tenderloin
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons bacon grease (everyone in the South has a jar in their fridge-make that a New Year’s Resolution, right along with “get more exercise”)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 450.

Trim the tough fat from the surface of the tenderloin. Discard the fat or give it to your dog if you want a friend for life. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, pepper and sugar. Next, drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil. Finally, add the bacon grease. Stir the mixture and set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet over very high heat. Add the butter and remaining Tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan is very hot, place the tenderloin in it. Sear both sides for 1-1 ½ minutes until the sides start to turn brown. Remove the meat from the skillet and place on a roasting rack on a baking sheet. Pour the seasoning mixture over the meat. Rub it into the meat with your fingers, coating evenly.

Roast the meat in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 120-125. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Slice and serve!

Recipe From

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Posted in Beef, Main Dish, Recipes | Leave a comment