Foodie Fridays: Provencal Tomato Rice Soup

Happy Friday, folks! Today, I’d like to share with you an easy-to-make soup that I love eating for lunch in the winter. It’s good for you, inexpensive to make, and even freezes nicely. Plus it’s delicious. So grab your soup pot and your appetite. Here goes!

Provencal Tomato Rice Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Kristin Harmel
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 8
A rich, healthy, easy-to-make soup
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • One stalk celery, chopped
  • One small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Eight cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp. Herbes des Provence (a spice mix available at any grocery store: McCormick’s makes a good one)
  • One large (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups COOKED brown rice
  1. Saute celery, onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add stock and Herbes de Provence and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, return to a low boil, and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Add cooked rice (It’s vital that the rice is already cooked or it will absorb too much of the liquid in the soup).
  5. Simmer 5 minutes more, then remove from heat. Cool slightly and serve.

You may substitute white rice or wild rice for the brown rice, but quick-cooking rice is not recommended. Prepare rice according to package directions.


Foodie Fridays: Meet Emily Ellyn

Hi folks!

I typically use “Foodie Fridays” to share my own recipes with you, but today, I’d like to highlight a new friend of mine: Emily Ellyn, who was one of the stars of last season’s Food Network Star. Like me, Emily lives in Orlando, digs Paris, and loves to eat at Maxine’s on Shine, which is one of my favorite restaurants. She was featured recently in Lake Mary Healthy Living, a wonderful local magazine run by some of my favorite people in the world. Check out her holiday recipes (accompanied by amazing photos shot by Betsy Hansen) here.

I know you’ll become a big fan of Emily too!

Foodie Fridays: Raclette

Raclette is both a type of cheese and a Swiss meal based around the melted cheese; I’ve had it in both France and Switzerland, and now, thanks to a sweet Christmas gift from my mom, I’m planning to make it this weekend. You can too!

Raclette, according to Wikipedia, is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese, typically aged 3-6 months. It’s often made in Switzerland or France, but I’ve also seen American Raclette. It’s found at some supermarkets in the specialty cheese case, but I’ve had the most luck finding it consistently at Whole Foods.

In the traditional Raclette dish, the cheese is heated, either in front of the fire or in a special Raclette grill or machine, and then it’s scraped onto your plate. In fact, the name Raclette comes from the French word racler, which means “to scrape.” The cheese is then cut into bite-sized pieces and eaten with small boiled potatoes (I typically use fingerling potatoes, or sliced small red potatoes), cornichons (French pickles: You can also use gherkins), and pickled onions. I’ve read that some people also serve dried meat with the cheese, but I’ve never had it that way.

For Christmas this year, my lovely mom got me a Boska Holland Mini Raclette Set (available on for $44.99 or in Kohl’s stores on sale for $41.99). I plan to use it this weekend with my boyfriend, Jason; we’ll sit in front of the fire (Can you believe we have a fireplace in Central Florida?) and sip white wine with it, just like they do in Switzerland.

With one of these grills, making Raclette couldn’t be easier, and you can rest assured that you’ll be eating a very, very traditional winter meal with a beautiful tradition behind it. So if you can’t make it to the Alps this year, this might just be the next best thing.

Click over to the fabulous David Lebovitz’s blog to read his wonderful guide to Raclette.

Foodie Fridays: Tilapia Ceviche

Sometimes, I’m craving something so strongly that I manage to override the little voice in my head saying, “Are you sure you should be cooking that yourself?!” In this case, the culprit was ceviche, which is raw fish “cooked” by soaking it in lime juice. I’ve had it — and loved it — in restaurants many times before, but I’ve always hesitated to make it myself. After all, you’re not applying any heat to the raw fish. Continue reading “Foodie Fridays: Tilapia Ceviche”

Foodie Fridays: Easy Sauteed Lemon Shrimp Dinner

It’s summer, and that means the less time I spend heating up the kitchen, the better. Precooked jumbo shrimp were on sale at the grocery store today, so I figured I’d incorporate them into tonight’s meal, but merely serving them with cocktail sauce felt boring. So how about whipping up this super-quick and super-easy sauteed shrimp recipe and serving it with corn on the cob and a quick tzatziki pasta salad? For the pasta salad, just use 1/4 cup storebought tzatziki (Greek cucumber yogurt dressing), and toss with 3/4 pound cooked macaroni, 1 chopped seedless cucumber, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 2 tsp dried dill weed. Use some of the extra tzatziki to drizzle over the shrimp before serving, if you like. Here’s how I made the shrimp (of course this would be better if you sauteed raw shrimp, but I worked with what I had on hand!):

Easy Sauteed Lemon Shrimp
Recipe Type: Entree
Prep time: 8 mins
Cook time: 2 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 2
One of the yummiest ways to use up precooked shrimp — a 10-minute dinner from start to finish! Or extend the cook time if you just have raw shrimp on hand.
  • 1 lb. precooked large or jumbo shrimp, chilled
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
  1. Peel and devein shrimp, if this isn’t done already. Feel free to leave tails on.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium frying fan.
  3. Sautee garlic in butter until it starts to brown.
  4. Add precooked shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes, just until warm. Be very careful not to overcook them. Toss constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and toss with chives. Serve immediately.


Foodie Fridays: Mimosa Alternatives Part 3

Here’s the third champagne cocktail recipe! Cheers!

Champagne Julep
Recipe Type: cocktail
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 2
This one packs a punch. The Kentucky Derby is typically a pretty classy affair, but you can make the derby’s traditional drink even more upscale by adding some sparkle.
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 6 ounces bourbon
  • 6 ounces champagne or sparkling wine
  1. In a sturdy glass, muddle 6 of the mint leaves with the 2 tsp. of sugar. Divide the muddled leaves between two champagne flutes, add three additional leaves per flute, and pour in bourbon. Stir each flute well. Now, top each flute off with 3 ounces of champagne or sparkling wine.


Foodie Fridays: Mimosa Alternatives Part 1

I love the concept of a mimosa (and the fact that it makes a cocktail acceptable at breakfast!), but after an pretty gross OJ-related food poisoning incident at age 16, I’ve never been a fan of mixing orange juice with any liquor. I still drink it most mornings with breakfast, but there’s something about the blend – in a screwdriver, a mimosa or anything else that uses orange juice as a primary mixer with alcohol – that makes my stomach swim.

So with summer on the horizon, and lots of outdoor brunches in my future (hopefully!), I sat down to think about other favorite things to mix with champagne. Of course cranberry juice is one easy alternative, or you can use peach puree to make a Bellini. Here’s the first of three other easy champagne-based cocktails to serve with brunch (or, really, anytime!). Come back tomorrow and Sunday for more! Continue reading “Foodie Fridays: Mimosa Alternatives Part 1”

Foodie Fridays: Super-Easy Healthy Summer Pasta Salad

I’m a big believer that recipes don’t need to be complicated to be fulfilling. Here’s one of my easiest: a hearty summer pasta salad that uses fat-free Italian dressing, whole grain pasta and plenty of vegetables. It’s virtually fat-free, and the more fresh vegetables you use, the more appealing it will be. I like to make it as a side dish for dinner (it goes nicely with grilled chicken) and then eat the leftovers for lunch for the remainder of the week. Feel free to substitute the vegetables you have on hand for the carrots, celery and peppers below; this is a great, flexible recipe to use up leftover veggies. Continue reading “Foodie Fridays: Super-Easy Healthy Summer Pasta Salad”

Foodie Fridays: Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone and Toasted Almonds

Last week, I dined with my friends Marcie, Alicia and Jen at Prato, a great Italian restaurant in Winter Park (a suburb of Orlando). Their meatballs and pasta were incredible (as was the salted caramel gelato I had for dessert – yum!), but what really blew us away was their polenta with mascarpone, which was available as a side dish.

I’d never made polenta before, but I decided to see if I could come up with something that was similar to Prato’s dish. The recipe below is different in many ways – for example, Prato’s version features hazelnuts, while I used toasted almond slivers – but it’s truly one of the best side dishes I’ve ever made. And since I used a slow cooker instead cooking the polenta on the stove, there was much less work involved. Give it a try; it’s unique, flavorful and easy! Continue reading “Foodie Fridays: Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone and Toasted Almonds”