Cashew Tomato Basil Soup

Cashew Tomato Basil SoupI’m all jazzed up this week because I just purchased the Breville JE98XL and am delving into the wonderful messy world of juicing. My goal is to increase my family’s nutrition intake, beat off the winter blues, and fight off this plague that has kept me on antibiotics, nasal spray and an inhaler for the first time since I was in grade school.

Weeeeell this morning I made the mistake of making beet juice for my 3-year-old. At the same time that the bright red substance projected through Asher’s straw onto the floor, Everett fell backwards while pushing his plastic shopping cart, biting his tongue hard enough that blood poured out of his mouth. At that precise moment our house alarm went off. Our unfortunate nanny had opened the front door, unbeknownst that we had changed the alarm setting to the “silent for 10 seconds then all hell breaks loose”, which then caused the fattest of our three cats to jump the baby gate onto the stair landing, knocking over almost everything within a two-mile radius.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m kind of digging soups and juices this week. I am especially proud of this Cashew Tomato Basil Soup I created based on a simpler recipe that called for cream and chicken stock. Boo! The rich creamy cashew puree and the fresh pop of thyme combined with the roasted tomato basil base is simply put – spectacular. Spectacular enough to take my mind off the beet stain. For now.

CASHEW TOMATO BASIL SOUP
1 1/2 cups whole raw, unsalted cashews
3 lbs Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise (or any tomatoes you find on sale!)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced (approximately one bunch)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 bunches of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Place 1 1/2 cups of cashews in a bowl of water and soak for at least 12 hours. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread tomato halves onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast tomatoes for about 1 hour. During the last 3 to 4 minutes, turn off the oven and turn on the broiler to get a bit of roasted char on the tomatoes. While tomatoes are in the oven, add a generous dollop of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and basils, then season with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture and reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Pour 2 cups of water and then roasted tomatoes into the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Drain cashews from their water and add to the soup. Using a hand blender, puree the soup for 5 or 6 minutes until a rich creamy consistency.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake, and Dreams of Fall

coffee cake I had a bee in my bonnet this weekend, as my husband lovingly likes to say. I was seriously in the mood for Fall. I wanted our fireplace lit, with romantic ambient candles on tables while my family gently played crossword puzzles and nibbled on gingerbread cookies, and I lit the kettle for tea. I wanted the smell of pumpkin pie spice to fill my house on this glorious chilly fall weekend, and I wanted an autumn wreath hung on our door with neighbors smiling at us and commenting how lovely the mums looked with the pumpkins on our front door step. None of these things happened.

Reality: a trip to the dollar store to stock on Halloween decorations with my nap-deprived 3-year old who screamed at the top of his lungs for the orange loader trucker he found in the toy aisle, while my husband desperately tried to get through the long check-out line which was 9 people deep because naturally they only have one cashier during their busiest times, paired with my sheer disappointment at the luck luster quality and variety of fall decorations. In truth, their seasonal aisle was more stocked up for Christmas than Halloween. On the up side, yellow cake mix was on sale this week for .99 cents at the grocery store, so for a busy mom who likes to cook but hates to bake, this was a perfectly easy compromise to usher in the change of season and satisfy my dreams of Fall!

PUMPKIN COFFEE CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
⅓ cups Water
1 can Pureed Pumpkin (15 Oz)
2 whole Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box Yellow Cake Mix (18 Ounce Box)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Brown Sugar, Divided
½ cups Flour
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1 cup marshmallows (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined. Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour batter into pan. In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and melted butter. Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. You can also throw some marshmallows on top for an added bonus if you like! Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. For the glaze, combine the other 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved. When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.