Monday, March 27, 2006

Vegetable Chowder

This was yummy. I got the recipe from Family Circle magazine. Which, by the way, I am probably not going to renew because it's kind of Christian-centric and it makes me uncomfortable. But anyway, it was a delicious recipe. I put it together in like 20 minutes. I didn't change anything, other than cutting the recipe in half and omitting the sage (we don't have any). Xx, however, hated it. He said it had "too much corn," which was kind of true but it was a corn chowder so you kind of would expect it to have corn. So he will not eat it again. I will probably keep the recipe on hand and make large batches to freeze for days when he is at work and I am on my own for dinner. I really enjoyed it a lot.

Vegetable Chowder
Saute 3 carrots finely chopped, and 2 onions, chopped, in 2 Tbsp butter. Add 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth and 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and sage. Bring to a boil; add 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced, 6 cups corn kernels and 2 cups half and half. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix 3 Tbsp each cornstarch and sherry or water until smooth. Add a little soup liquid to thin; stir into soup. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt. Garnish with chopped chives. Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Northern Italian Stuffed Shells

Tonight we had Paula Deen's Northern Italian Pasta Shell Stuffing for dinner. For some reason I severely mis-read the amount of time it takes to make it, and we didn't eat it until 9:00. Oops :( FYI, it has to bake for 1 hour after you make all the components. It was good and tasty and filling, but it wasn't super-spectacular. I liked the use of cream cheese instead of ricotta, though. I might incorporate that into future stuffed shell recipes. But I don't think I will make this again because it wasn't much different from some other recipes that I have, other than the addition of 'meat' (in my case, soy) and the cream cheese to the stuffing. But I am looking forward to eating the remaining shells as leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

My changes: soy crumbles instead of meat; cut the recipe by half.

Northern Italian Pasta Shell Stuffing
From Paula Deen

3 packages frozen, chopped spinach
3 pounds ground round
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 large onions, chopped
Grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
2 jumbo eggs
1 (1-pound) package jumbo pasta shells
2 cups tomato sauce (your own or ready-made)

Place frozen spinach in a strainer and run under hot water until thawed. Squeeze all of the water out and place in a large bowl. In a large saute pan, cook the ground round until browned. Drain meat, reserving 2 tablespoons fat in the pan, and place meat in the same bowl with the spinach. Stir in the cream cheese until blended with the meat and spinach. Saute the chopped onions in the reserved meat fat until transparent. Transfer onions to the bowl with the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add grated cheese, salt, and pepper, to taste, and combine. Let mixture cool and then add the eggs. The filling can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and cool to the touch. Stuff the shells with the meat mixture. Place shells in a large baking pan and cover with tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour. Serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Greek Salad

So, this week my roommate said "I think I'd like a salad for dinner one night." Whaaaat? He hates salads. I was giddy about this new request. I have a salad involving pears, apples and cheese over salad greens that I've been wanting to try, but I don't think he's ready for something that 'gourmet' yet. So I settled on making a nice big Greek salad. Lots of flavors, tasty ingredients, variety, and nothing too unique or scary. Though he did have an aversion to feta cheese, but ate it anyway (and ended up liking it!). The recipe I used was from Cook's Illustrated magazine.

My changes: I didn't use fresh herbs. I used dried oregano in the dressing, and dried parsley in the salad. I ignored the mint altogether because I don't like mint in savory dishes.

My thoughts: It was AWESOME. It was so yummy and there is enough left over for lunch tomorrow. It absolutely rivals salads I've had at Greek restaurants. Delicious. :)

Greek Salad
Serves 6-8
"Marinating the onion and cucumber in the vinaigrette tones down the onion's harshness and flavors the cucumber. For efficiency, prepare the other salad ingredients while the onion and cucumber marinate. Use a salad spinner to dry the lettuce thoroughly after washing; any water left clinging to the leaves will dilute the dressing."

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 medium garlic clove, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 tsp)
6 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, haved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
2 romaine hearts, washed, dried thoroughly, and torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 12 wedges each
1/4 cup loosely packed torn fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves
6 oz jarred roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 by 2 inch strips
20 large kalamata olives, each olive pitted and quartered lengthwise
5 oz feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

1. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Add onion and cucumber and toss; let stand to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.

2. Add romaine, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and peppers to bowl with onions and cucumbers; toss to coat with dressing.

3. Transfer salad to wide, shallow serving bowl or platter; sprinkle olives and feta over salad. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pillsbury Bakeoff and Wendy's

First of all, one of the women at the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards won the $1million grand prize at the Pillsbury Bakeoff this morning! Holy crap!!! Her recipe can be found here. I obviously will not try it because I don't eat chicken, but her recipes are consistently amazing so I am sure this one is excellent as well. You can see the video here, it's about halfway down the page, number 6 of 14. Aw, it's so cute. And another woman at the CLBB was a runner up! Her recipe can be found here. She won $10,000.

I need to learn to create recipes so I can enter the Bakeoff next year!!!! Congratulations to the Cooking Light girls!

Second part of this post: Xx reviews the new Wendy's Southwest Taco Salad.
"I thought that it was very good while the chili was hot, but when it cooled off it got all goopy and was not enticing. I did not use the Ancho-Chipotle Ranch dressing because it tasted like crap. Other than that, everything was good about it. But I will not buy it again."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Baked Potato Soup

Dinner tonight was Baked Potato Soup. Yum yum. I got potatoes that were too starchy, so the smaller chunks kind of disintegrated into the soup, making it extra-thick. That turned out to be perfect. We love this recipe.

Also of note: Malt-O-Meal cereal is not too bad. I got some pirate-themed Lucky Charms knock-offs and they were pretty tasty.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Portobello Philly Cheesesteaks

Tonight we had Portobello Philly Cheesesteaks from Eating Well magazine. This time I actually made it right. I had the right buns, I used a veggie bouillon cube to make stock, it was all just very good. I substituted sliced baby portobellos for the large-size portobellos, which I think was a very good decision. I will use those from now on.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lemon Parsley Bruschetta

Tonight I made spinach-artichoke dip and chips for dinner. Delicious!

But that's not all! Lemons were on sale so I was inspired to try a recipe Giada de Laurentiis made on her show last week. When the episode was on, I was like "Woah that looks yummy." So! Tonight we had some Lemon-Parsley Bruschetta to start the meal. I guess I wasn't thinking at all when I was making it because instead of using olive oil, I used melted butter. And I didn't have a whole garlic clove, so I mixed in some minced garlic before I microwaved the butter to melt it. But it was still really good!!! It was a lot of fun to break in my grill pan. It gave the bread such lovely little grill marks and made me happy. The concensus was that the dish was delicious, would be excellent with pasta, and is a definite make-again.

Lemon-Parsley Bruschetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 (3 1/2 by 1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread, halved
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the bread until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Rub the cut sides of the toasts with the garlic. Generously brush the lemon mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Makes 6 servings

Photo added November 1, 2008:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Black Bean, Corn, & Pepper Fajitas

This is from the Sunset Books Lowfat Mexican Cookbook (1994). I needed a break from meat-substitutes this week, so this recipe was perfect. It was colorful, tasty, and easy. Xx complained that it looked like "just a bunch of vegetables on a tortilla," but he ended up quite enjoying it.

My changes: I used a squirt of lemon juice instead of 1/4 cup lime juice, I used a bit less oil than is called for, I omitted the cilantro, and I put a bit of sour cream and cheese on each of the fajitas (just a very small amount).

Black Bean, Corn, & Pepper Fajitas
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp salad oil (canola oil)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cans (about 15 oz each) black beans, drained and rinsed
About 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels (or 1 10oz pkg frozen corn kernels, thawed)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
About 1 1/2 cups salsa of your choice
8 warm flour tortillas
1/2 cup lightly packed chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper

1. In a large (1-gallon) heavyduty resealable plastic bag of large nonmetal bowl, combine lime juice, oil, coriander, and cumin. Seal bag and rotate to mix (or stir well). Add beans, corn, bell pepper, and chile. Seal bag and rotate to coat vegetables (or mix vegetables in bowl, then cover airtight). Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until the next day.

2. Transfer bean mixture and marinade to a 1 1/2-2 quart pan. Heat over medium-high heat just until hot.

3. To eat, scoop out bean mixture with a slotted spoon; drain (discard marinade), then divide among tortillas. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro; add salsa, salt, and pepper to taste. Roll up tortillas to enclose filling.

Makes 8(ish) servings.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Brown Butter Soda Bread

I decided to make Brown Butter Soda Bread from Epicurious/Bon Appetit in honor of St. Patrick's Day! It was very delicious. I still have 1 1/2 loaves left. I look forward to eating them.

Brown Butter Soda Bread
1/4 cup butter
3.5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsps. Baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg white, beaten to blend

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375. Stir butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted brown butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until mixture is moistened.

Turn dough out onto floured work space. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into a ball: flatten each into 6” rounds. Place on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5” apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with some black pepper. Using a knife, cut ½” X in top of each round.

Bake until deep golden brown and tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Yield: 2 loaves

Photo Added 3/16/12:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Irish Mashed Potatoes

This is an old, old recipe from Cooking Light that I have made several times for Irish holidays :) I wanted to make it this year but couldn't, so I decided to share it with everyone else. It's really yummy, and not as fatty as the traditional recipe.

Irish Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds peeled Yukon gold or red potatoes, halved
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 chicken-flavored bouillon cube (Note: I use vegetable-bouillon)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large stockpot; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Drain.

Return potato mixture to pan. Add cream cheese and the next 4 ingredients (cream cheese through pepper); mash with a potato masher. Spoon potato mixture into a 1 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Note: This can be made a day ahead; just cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat in oven or microwave.

Yield: 6 servings

Mexican Rice Casserole

This is a recipe we made one time for a friend's very picky family, and they actually ate it, which is super. So I kept the recipe. I made it last night and then put it straight into the refrigerator so I could warm it up for dinner tonight (I got home late from class). Yum yum! I made it with brown rice this time, which I thought was yummier. It's excellent warmed up. I am looking forward to eating it for lunches over the next couple of days. The recipe is from Madhur Joffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook, page 398.

My changes: I used brown microwave rice, I didn't roast the poblano peppers, I omitted the cilantro, I used a four-cheese Mexican Blend instead of plain cheddar, and I used a bit less oil than is called for.

Mexican-Style Rice Casserole with Corn, Sour Cream, and Cheese
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cups sour cream
6 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
6 cups cooked rice
1 3/4 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned
1 1/2 lightly packed cups grated Cheddar Cheese

Put the oil in a large saute pan or other wide pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion and garlic. Stir and saute until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes, turning the heat down if necessary. Add the roasted diced poblanos and stir another minute. Let everything cool off. Combine the sour cream, 1/2 tsp salt, and the cilantro. Stir to mix and set aside.

Stir the rice and corn into the poblano mixture, then add the sour cream and blend it in. Finally, blend in the grated cheese. Put this mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish and cover it. You may now refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chi Chi's Baked Chicken Chimichangas

I found this recipe on's copycat recipe section. It is a copycat recipe from the now-deceased Chi Chi's Mexican Restaurant chain. I've always been a fan of chimichangas (though the deep-fried kind) so I was interested in trying this. It was pretty good, but I thought the chicken was kind of unnecessary. That could be because I used the soy chicken strips, but still. And if you remove the chicken, then it's not that much different from my typical burritos or Chili's southwestern eggrolls. I will not make them again, but it was a good meal for tonight.

Chi Chi's Baked Chicken Chimichangas
* 2 1/2 cups Chicken; cooked, shredded
* 2 tablespoons Olive oil
* 1/2 cup Onion; chopped
* 2 Garlic; cloves, minced
* 1/2 tablespoon Chili powder
* 16 ounces Salsa (choice of hotness)
* 1/2 teaspoon Cumin; ground
* 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
* pn Salt;(if necessary)
* 6 10-inch flour tortillas
* 1 cup Refried beans
* Olive oil (for basting)
To serve:
* -Sour Cream
* -Guacamole

In large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in chili powder, salsa, cumin and cinnamon. Stir in shredded chicken. Let cool.

Heat oven to 450. Grease rimmed 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon a heaping tablespoon of beans down center of each tortilla. Top with a scant 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Fold up the bottom, top and sides of tortilla; secure with wooden toothpicks if necessary.

Place chimichangas in greased baking pan, seam side down. Brush all sides with the oil.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, turning every 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Today we didn't get home until about 8:00 so I wanted to pre-prepare dinner. Naturally that meant we would be eating lasagna.

Boil some lasagna noodles. Saute some onions and garlic in a saucepan, add a can of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato sauce (8 oz). Mix in some spices. I put in some pizza seasoning from Penzey's (fennel, oregano, basil). Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Take a casserole dish, put a spoonful of tomato sauce and spread it around. Then put down a layer of noodles. On top of that, put more tomato sauce, some dollops of ricotta cheese, and a layer of mozzarella cheese (I used a 6-cheese Italian blend). Put another layer of noodles, another layer of sauce, and more of both cheeses. Repeat until you run out of stuff, and top with a nice thick layer of the mozzarella cheese.

This is where I covered it with saran wrap and put it in the refrigerator.

Then later, bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. All done!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Santa Fe Nacho Pizzas

I copied this recipe out of Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. It was very good and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. I will definitely make this again, and I will probably play with it a little and see how I can tweak it.

My changes: I used reduced-fat biscuits and I omitted the olives. Instead of prepared bean dip, I bought a can of black beans, mixed them with some cumin and about 1/4 cup hot salsa, and mashed it up with a potato masher. I liked the way that turned out, especially since I could load up the little pizzas without worrying about fattiness (the FritoLay dip is not very healthy). Oh and instead of a cheddar-jack cheese, I got Sargento's low-fat Mexican 4-cheese blend and it was perfect.

Here is the original recipe:
Santa Fe Nacho Pizzas
1 can (10.8 oz) refrigerated dough for large flaky biscuits
3 Tbsp black bean dip
1/3 cup thick-and-chunky salsa
2 Tbsp chopped canned green chiles
2 medium green onions, chopped (about 2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp sliced ripe olives
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar marble cheese (3oz)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll biscuit dough. Press or roll dough into 5 inch circles on ungreased cookie sheet. Spread dough with bean dip. Top with salsa, chiles, onions, and olives. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro.

2. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted.

Yield: 5 servings, but I got 6 mini-pizzas out of it. There's enough bean mixture to use up the extra unused biscuits, too, so really you could get about 8-10 pizzas depending on how many biscuits are in your can (mine had 8).

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Tonight for dinner we had Southwest Pinto-Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise. This has really become one my favorite things to make. It is so good.

I also discovered that I had the ingredients to make Fine Cooking's Blondies. The recipe had been posted on the Cooking Light forums a couple weeks ago. So I went ahead and made them. It will be good to go into my lunchbox this week. They are very yummy. Very thick and chewy, and the top kind of caramelizes to become crispy like a candy-coating. I didn't have pecans so I used hazelnuts, and it was still great.

Fine Cooking Blondies
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg -- room temperature
1 large egg yolk -- room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup toasted pecans -- roughly chopped

Heat butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring, about 1 minutes longer-the mixture will bubble but should not boil. Set pan aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease 8" pan, line bottom with parchment or wax paper, grease paper. Stir the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla into the cooled sugar mixture. Add the flour, salt and nuts, stirring just until blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350° until it tests done, 25-35 minutes. Let cool on rack until cool enough to handle, run knife around inside, flip out, peel off paper, reinvert and let cool completely. (Can double for 13x9", increase baking time slightly).

Yield: I got 9 squares, but if you cut them smaller you could probably get more.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Veggie Planet

Tonight I went out to dinner with Dana and Ellen. Dana took us to Veggie Planet in Cambridge. It is a very well-known vegetarian/vegan restaurant. I'd heard of their cookbook before so I was excited to try it. It was so yummy! Very hippie, preparing for a folk-concert, but it was very tasty. I had the "Vegan Peanut Curry" pizza, containing coconut rice, tofu, broccoli, and Thai red peanut curry sauce. Someone had the "Mexican Bean Pizza," consisting of a black bean puree, monterey jack cheese, and tomato salsa. All of our pizzas were delicious.

SO delicious, in fact, that I came home and ordered a used copy of their cookbook, Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. $6! Hoorah. I'll definitely be making some recipes from that as soon as I get it in the mail. I looked through the index and I know it at least has the pizza dough recipe (whole wheat!) and a couple of the pizzas. It will be fun :)

Cornflake Crusted Halibut with Chile-Cilantro Aioli

I made this last night for this month's Iron Chef: Something Awful competition. The theme was seafood. I'd made this before and it was good but could have been better, so I improved it this time.

My changes: I couldn't find halibut, so I used flounder. It's thinner so it has a quicker cooking time. I put some onion powder and garlic salt into the cornflake mixture. And I used a whole egg rather than an egg white because I forgot to separate the egg. Oops!

Cornflake-Crusted Halibut with Chile-Cilantro Aioli
Recipe from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 cups cornflakes, finely crushed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
Lemon wedges

To prepare aioli, combine first 4 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare fish, combine milk and egg white in a shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Combine cornflakes, flour, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip fish in milk mixture; dredge in cornflake mixture. Add fish to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with mayonnaise mixture and lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lower-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo

He has been wanting oozy-drippy fettuccine alfredo lately, but we are trying to lose weight so that is not an option. So I found a recipe on Cooking Light that makes a low-fat version that is still gooey and saucy. It was very easy to make and was pretty good, but it's not the same as you'd get straight from a jar. I'm not sure yet if I would make it again.

I served it with my mom's poor-toast: hamburger bun topped with a mixture of mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and sliced green onions (should be a pasty consistency) and broiled. Yum. It's called poor-toast because it's what she used to make when my family was poor when I was younger.

Fettuccine Alfredo
1 pound uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half-and-half, cheese, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; add pasta, tossing gently to coat.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, March 06, 2006

New Mexican Hot Chocolate

It was a stressful day and we need to go grocery shopping so we just had leftovers for dinner, so I thought I would make things happier with some homemade hot chocolate after dinner. I'd had this recipe around for awhile so I decided to make it since we had most of the ingredients. We didn't have any honey, so I used a little bit of maple syrup and some brown sugar. *Shrug* Not sure if that was the best substitution, but it worked for us. It was yummy and was just what we needed. Oh it's from Cooking Light.

New Mexican Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and extract, stirring constantly with a whisk. Heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge, stirring with a whisk (do not boil).

Makes 8 servings (very small servings! I halved the recipe and it was just barely enough for two mugs!)

Mongolian Beef

Xx has been wanting something he's had at Chinese restaurants before called Mongolian Beef. Apparently it is spicy with some 'crunchy vegetables.' So I looked online for a recipe and found one on that sounded like it would work. The changes that I made are: soy steak strips instead of beef, bamboo shoots instead of baby corn, 3 times as much sriracha sauce as is called for, and about 1/3 as much oil as the recipe calls for (that much oil is just not necessary). The steak strips fried up pretty nice and were very tasty. The sauce could have been better but I'm not sure what I would change. Next time I'll use a variety of vegetables like bamboo shoots, baby corn, and carrots. I'm still going to be looking for a better recipe, though. But this will be the one we'll use for now.

Mongolian Beef
1 lb sirloin or flank steak (Or 1 pkg Morningstar Farms Steak Strips)

1 egg white
Pinch of salt
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch

4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 8oz can baby corn (or bamboo shoots)
1 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (Oh one more change: I didn't have hoisin sauce so I used teriyaki and a bit of Thai fish sauce. Won't use the fish sauce again.)
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar, or 1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 tsp chile paste, or to taste

1 tsp sugar
1 cup of oil for frying the beef (can be reduced significantly)
2 Tbsp oil for stirfrying (Omit this unless you're actually using a real wok; otherwise just don't wipe the pan down)

Slice the beef across the grain into thin strips. Add the marinade ingredients in the order given and marinate the beef for 30 minutes. To prepare the vegetables, wash the green onions and slice on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Rinse the can of baby corn with running water. Drain thoroughly. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

When the beef has finished marinating, heat the wok and add 1 cup of oil. When oil is ready, add the beef and fry until it changes color. Removet he beef from the wok and drain on paper towels.

Clean out the wok with a paper towel and add 2 Tbsp of oil for stir-frying. When the oil is ready, add the garlic. Stir-fry briefly, and add the baby corn and green onions.

Make a well in the middle of the wok by pushing the vegetables up to the side. Add the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring to thicken. Stir in the sugar. Add the beef and combine with the sauce and vegetables. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sloppy Joes & Tater Tots

Tonight we had Dana, her friend, and Joy over for dinner. I made Sloppy Joes and tater tots. It's what I had scheduled for tonight anyway, before we made plans for people to come over, so I just went ahead and doubled the recipe. Everyone ate it so I think they liked it :)

I had wanted to make a pear sorbet (Martha's recipe) but I didn't buy pears last time we were at the store. Oh well.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bean Enchiladas

This recipe is from Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. I guess I was just expecting something entirely different from how it turned out. It was kind of more Italian flavored, not so Mexican like I'd wanted. That was kind of weird. It may have been my fault, because I skipped the blending of ingredients and just bought pureed tomatoes with garlic and added onions. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I wanted. I'm not going to make it again.

Bean Enchiladas
1 can (16 oz) whole tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
6 flour tortillas (8-10 inches in diameter)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease rectangular baking dish, 11x7x1 1/2 inches.

2. Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth. Mix blended tomato sauce, 2 Tbsp of the cilantro, and the red pepper. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in baking dish.

3. Mix beans, ricotta cheese, bell pepper, cumin and remaining 2 Tbsp cilantro. Spoon 1/2 cup bean mixture onto one side of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; place seam side down on tomato sauce in baking dish.

4. Spoon remaining tomato sauce over tortillas. Sprinkle with Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spicy Chicken Quesadilas

Another Cooking Light recipe! This was really simple to put together and was done in about 15 minutes. It was very tasty. We used soy chicken strips (naturally) in place of the chicken. If you want to use real chicken, use the pre-cooked Tyson's chicken strips or maybe a rotisserie chicken. My only complaint is that the serving size wasn't substantial (I halved the recipe for 2 servings), but I think if I had served some sort of side dish (salad, fruit, anything) it would have been fine. I just didn't have anything to serve along with it. But I will definitely make these again!

Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 2)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeƱo peppers
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (about 8 ounces), divided
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
3/4 cup (3 ounces) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Cooking spray
3/4 cup salsa

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir until blended.

Place 1/4 cup chopped chicken over half of 1 tortilla. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cheese and 1 tablespoon onion mixture; fold in half. Repeat procedure with the remaining tortillas, chicken, cheese, and onion mixture.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla in half. Serve with salsa.

Makes 4 servings

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini

Here is why I love Real Simple magazine: the recipes are so simple. There aren't a ton of them in each issue, but the ones that are printed are absolute quality. I don't think I've ever tried a bad recipe from them. They're simple, easy, and always awesome. This recipe does not involve sauce, but involves tossing pasta with some broiled zucchini. I will definitely make this again.

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini
4 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
2/3 cup freshly and finely grated Parmesan (Note: Don't use the crappy shaker-bottle Parmesan in this recipe. It's worth it to use real Parmesan)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb fresh cheese ravioli
3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the zucchini in a large baking dish in a single layer and drizzle with the oil, chili flakes, and 3 Tbsp of the Parmesan, then season with the pepper and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Add the garlic and roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, add the ravioli and remaining salt to the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the ravioli from sticking. Cook the ravioli for 3 minutes after they begin to float. Drain and place in a large bowl. Toss gently with the roasted zucchini, half the parsley, and half the remaining Parmesan. Serve immediately with the remaining parsley and Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Mahi Mahi with Orange Salsa

This recipe is from Woman's Day magazine. I made it for dinner last night. It originally called for halibut, but our store didn't have any so I bought mahi mahi instead. The salsa was really good, especially since I had these amazing Cara Cara oranges that are almost red inside. They were so pretty and delicious! I might make it to eat with chips or something because it was yummy. But in general, this meal was a disappointment. I need the fish to be more covered-up for me to enjoy it. So. Not going to make it again!

Roasted Mahi Mahi with Orange Salsa
1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 navel oranges, peeled and diced
2 pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Four 3/4-in-thick pieces halibut filets (6 to 8 oz each)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Olive oil nonstick spray

1. For the salsa: Toss onion with lemon juice in a medium bowl. Let stand at least 30 minutes, then stir in remaining ingredients.

2. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup). Place fish on sheet; season with salt and pepper. Coat tops with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Roast 10 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with orange salsa.

Makes 4 servings.