Ordinary to Extraordinary

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  You can bring beauty, meaning and memories to any dish by just thinking out of the box a little.  Experiment with different spices, wines, creams, milk, etc.  If you aren’t a good cook, buy a new cookbook and try out something different.  Cooking for me is a creative process, the colorful ingredients, the magnificent aromas, the beautiful cookware…all waiting to be pulled together into an original masterpiece.  Then, the presentation…you could serve a great tasting hot dog with a plethora of condiments, and colorful arrangements and put in on your most beautiful china and you’ve got “presentation.”  Take that same hot dog and serve it on a white greasy paper plate and you have lost the presentation, although you may still have great taste.  You might be thinking, why is this important?  It’s taking the time and effort to making it just a little better to make someone feel special.  It’s being creative by taking the ordinary things in life and making them appear (and taste) extraordinary.

Just by adding a few special touches of different ingredients can take a very plain meal like grilled cheese and vegetable soup to a new level.  This makeover recipe will inspire you to think out of the box and deliver a fast, delicious and inspiring staple of old to the table with flair!  One of my husband’s favorite meals growing up was grilled cheese and soup.  Coming from a working family, for a quick meal, they would sit down to this very easy but  satisfying meal.  I have taken one of his favorite pastimes and put a few extraordinary touches to it.  The chopped salad at the end is so tasty and adds just the right touch of “gourmet” flair to a very ordinary meal.

Hearty Grilled Cheese on Ciabatta, Creamy Vegetable Soup,Chopped Salad

Vegetable Soup

1 tbls. olive oil

3 cloves garlic

¼ cup fresh chopped basil

1 teas. Fresh rosemary

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup kale

2 Tbls. of red wine

6-8 fresh whole tomatoes halved and salted

1 cup beef stock

1 cup red kidney beans

1 cup French green beans

Bunch of fresh spinach leaves

1 cup of fresh carrot



1 cup almond milk

(for a kick) 1 teaspoon of Boars Head hot pepper sauce or Ms. Dash extra spicy seasoning.

Combine olive oil, garlic, spices, and tomatoes to sauté until soft.  Add celery, kale, beans and carrot to the spices and garlic.  Let the spices and veggies sauté in the olive oil with tomato juices, adding red wine,  beef stock and let simmer until everything is incorporated and soft.  Then add beans, spinach leaves and almond milk.  Let soup boil on low for about 30 minutes.  Be sure to salt and pepper and extra care in making the soup base…garlic, spices, tomatoes, olive oil…it is the foundation to the taste.

Grilled Cheese

Ciabatta Bread sliced

Boars Head Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Pepper Jack Cheese

2 teas butter

Chopped Salad

¼ head of Romaine

¼ cup fresh spinach leaves

¼ head of Iceburg

2 tbls. Dijon Mustard

2 tbls. Red Wine Vinegar

2 tbls. Olive Oil

1 tbls. Parmesan Cheese



Chop lettuce and spinach leaves into small fine pieces and add mustard, olive oil, and vinegar. Mix well together and top with Parmesan Cheese, salt and pepper.



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