Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tomato Soup

It was a cool, rainy weekend in the coastal Carolina area and I was craving some warm, creamy soup.  I was about to heat up a can of tomato when I thought, what the hey, I have lots of canned tomatoes from last summer, let's make some from scratch!

The store brand:  Campbell's Tomato Soup

My Recipe:
1 28 oz can whole plum or diced tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup half and half

Easy to make - saute your onions and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes until translucent. 

Add your tomato paste and flour and then slowly add some water from the tomatoes while stirring to get out the lumps.  Once you get a smooth consistency add all the tomatoes.  Simmer 20-30 minutes.

Puree with a hand blender or blend it in a blender/food processor.  Add the half and half and enjoy. 

Optional: Garnish with fresh basil and croutons.  I used some homemade croutons!

I can't even begin to explain how much better the homemade soup was.  My husband said in comparison the Campbell's tasted like ketchup, but bad.  I made mine with half skim milk and half water.  The homemade was just so much more tomato-y and had some texture to it.

The price didn't come out much different.  My recipe made more soup - you could easily half this if you are making it for yourself and use a small can of diced tomatoes.  It costs a little more to make your own, but TOTALLY worth it in my opinion.

Campbell's Tomato Soup21.5 oz $       1.12  $            0.42
Homemade32 oz $       1.92  $            0.48

Overall, the homemade tomato soup took about 40 minutes from start to finish, but only about 10 minutes of hands-on work.  I have to say it was really, really easy.

Bake or Buy?  BAKE!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Italian Salad Dressing

I've been making some interesting salad dressings lately - I have a miso mustard one that is my new favorite.  But if I'm going to blog about it, let's figure out what the best option is - we'll start simple with Italian.

The store brand: Ken's Italian Dressing and Marinade

My recipe (adapted from allrecipes.com):
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsely
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 cup vinegar (white, red wine, or balsamic)
2/3 cup olive oil

The rest is simple - combine everything and shake it up.  It's best to let it sit and soften all those dried herbs (or you could always use fresh to make it extra delicious).  I keep this out on the counter because the olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator, and then it's a pain.

So the comparison?  The storebought Italian that I purchased was just terrible.  It had NO herbs or seasonings, and tasted like oil, vinegar, and salt.  I have had lots of great bottled Italian dressings, but this is just not one of them.  Usually I think bottled Italian dressing is pretty good (although salty), but this time, mine was just better.

So the cost here really surprised me.  It cost more to make homemade dressing than to buy the bottle.  The biggest discrepency was the olive oil - the bottled version used vegetable oil, which would have cut my price considerably (The olive oil in my recipe was $1.49 of the total $1.99).
Ken's Italian Dressing and Marinade16 oz$3.55          $0.22
Homemade8 oz$1.99          $0.25

So although it is nice to make a fancy dressing youself, or to get the rich olive oil and herb taste, I just don't know if it's worth the effort.  There are lots of bottled dressings out there that are delicious, and when I buy them on sale, they cost much less than making it yourself.

Bake or Buy?  BUY!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Somersaults Giveaway!

I've been on vacation in Nicaragua for the past week, so I'm back with a great giveaway.

This is my new favorite healthy snack.  I am seriously in love.  I just happened to pick up a pack of these Somersaults (Salty Pepper flavor) on sale at the local health food store.  Ohhhh golly.  They are little crunchy nuggets with sunflower seeds in them.  They have tons of protein and fiber - great for a vegetarian.

I went on their website to check it out and sent the company an email saying how much I love them.  They offered to send me a variety pack - apparently they have many flavors.  You can purchase them online or check out local health food stores.

So, the pack they sent me was amazing.  Sample of every type they make - and you can have the same pack sent your way!

Alright, onto the giveaway.  It's simple - do the things on this list and leave a SEPARATE comment for each one you do.
- Check out http://shop.somersaultsnackco.com/ and leave a comment saying what flavor you'd most like to try.
- Like Bake or Buy on facebook (or leave a comment that you already do).
- Share this giveaway on facebook or twitter: say something like "Win some delicious snacks in a giveaway at http://bakeorbuy.blogspot.com/2012/02/somersaults-giveaway.html".

And that's all there is to it!  I will draw a random winner on Wednesday, March 7th.

I love EVERY flavor, but I think my favorites are Spicy Pepper and Santa Fe Salsa.  Cinnamon crunch is pretty fantastic too!  Now get to it getting your entries.  One comment for each thing you do to enter.