Monday, December 10, 2018

Broccoli-Parmesan-Yogurt Soup

Doug and I witnessed a miracle this morning … our first South Carolina snowflakes!! We watched in amazement as they drifted down, disappearing before ever touching the ground.

All I could think about was whether-or-not I had enough ingredients on hand to make soup. After all, there was no way we’d be driving to the store in this weather! (Hey, we’re not used to this type of weather; please don’t judge!)

Fortunately, there was fresh broccoli and enough other ingredients to make Broccoli-Parmesan-Yogurt Soup. Served with a little lavash, we were all set for a very satisfying lunch.
Broccoli-Parmesan-Yogurt soup with Lavash (just visible in the background)

Broccoli-Parmesan-Yogurt Soup
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 heads of broccoli (approx. 8 cups), rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth may be substituted)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Broccoli soup ingredients
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the onions and carrots; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli and cook 3 more minutes.
Vegetables sauteing
To the pot, add broth, salt, and pepper; cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are completely tender. Turn off the burner.

Using an immersion blender, regular blender or a food processor, puree the broccoli mixture. (NOTE: If using a regular blender or food processor, blend soup in batches then return soup to the pot.) If the soup looks too thick, stir in a little water.

Once pureed, and with the heat still off, whisk-in the Parmesan cheese and Greek yogurt until well blended.

Turn burner on low heat. Gently heat soup before serving.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Pecan Date Balls

Last October I made Date-Pistachio Crescent Cookies to share with the Women’s Guild members at my church. The package of date paste was quite large so I only used a portion of it for the cookies. With so much paste left over, I figured I might as well make something else. 

With Christmas entertaining in mind I decided to make Pecan Date Balls based largely on the crescent cookie filling recipe. Think of this dessert as a healthy holiday treat - depending on how many you eat, that is! 

Pecan Date Balls

Pecan Date Balls
Yield: approximately 24 pieces (yield will vary depending on the size made)

Note: This recipe can easily be doubled.

13 oz. pressed date paste** (sold in Middle Eastern stores)
[See below for making date paste at home]
1 to 2 Tbsp. water
1 cup chopped pecans, divided (chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachio nuts may be substituted)
1 Tbsp. orange blossom water (sold in Middle Eastern stores) – or – 1 Tbsp orange juice (optional)
1 tsp. orange zest
 ½ tsp. ground cardamom


If date paste is firm, cut into chunks; if soft and pliable, leave it as it is.

Place date paste and 1 to 2 Tbsp. water in a saucepan. Using low heat, stir until paste begins to soften and blend together, about 7 to 10 minutes. (Be patient!) 

Add ½ cup of the chopped nuts, orange blossom water (or orange juice) if using, orange zest and cardamom. Mix well. Remove from heat; cool.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, break off tablespoon-sized pieces and roll them into balls. Coat each ball with the remaining chopped nuts, pressing so the nuts will adhere.

To Serve: Place each ball in a mini cupcake liner; arrange on a platter.

NOTE: Finely shredded coconut or powdered sugar can be used to coat the balls.

** Directions for making about 1 cup of Date Paste:

Soak about 12 to 13 pitted Medjool dates in warm water (1 to 2 – or more cups, depending on how dry the dates are) for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Scoop the dates out of the water (don’t drain it; you’ll need some of the soaking water) and place them in a blender or food processor with some of the soaking water. (Start with ¼ cup of the soaking water.)

Puree until the mixture is soft and fluffy. If it’s too thick, add a little more of the water.

Store the date paste in a jar with a lid. This should keep in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.