Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mexican Bulgur Salad with Citrus-Jalapeño Vinaigrette

Today I had to work 9 hours, to compensate for leaving early for class, which was hard. When I got home, I wanted to eat. Luckily, tonight's dinner came together very quickly. We liked it a lot. I added some green onions because we like those. I also swapped bulgur for couscous, because we had couscous on hand. We liked the vinaigrette, but the jalapeno we bought was a dud. It was not spicy at all. But we liked our meal. We will make this again.

Mexican Bulgur Salad with Citrus-Jalapeño Vinaigrette
From DesertCulinary, adapted from CL

1 cup dry bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup corn kernels
3 ounces diced Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño, minced and seeded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large bowl, combine the bulgur with boiling water - cover and let stand until the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Add the carrots, corn, cheese, cilantro and black beans - toss until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, jalapeño, oil, salt and cumin until thoroughly combined. Pour into the bowl with the bulgur mixture and toss again to combine. Can be served at room temperature or made ahead and served chilled.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Asian Dumpling Soup

Tonight I started class for my first six-week summer session, so I got home late. I needed a quick meal, so I made the Asian Dumpling Soup we tried a little while ago. It was perfect because it is tasty and comes together so quickly. I have a feeling we'll be eating this a lot this summer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mom's Best Pancakes

My mom and dad used to make these pancakes a lot when I was growing up. You can toss in some chocolate chips, sprinkle with brown sugar, or serve with syrup. They freeze well, so you can make a big batch and microwave the extras some other time when you are craving pancakes.

Secret: I'd never actually made these pancakes before. I really don't have a lot of experience with pancakes in general. They turned out well though, although they were kind of weird shaped because I suck at flipping them.

Notes: I don't have a griddle so I used a frying pan heated up with some nonstick spray. I made the batter in my stand-mixer. I kept the finished pancakes in a warmed oven to keep them from getting cold.

Here is my mom's recipe, as written by her:

Mom's Best Pancakes

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Beat eggs with hand beater until fluffy. Add milk and oil. Mix. Add rest of ingredients. Stir until smooth.

Heat griddle to 375°. Oil with a paper towel. Make pancakes.

Yield: 18 pancakes

Photo Added April 20, 2011:
pancakes

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Orecchiette with Leeks, Peas, and Pecorino

Tonight's dinner was intended to be quick and simple, since tomorrow we head out on the road to Connecticut for the weekend. It was indeed quick and simple, but was not particularly yummy. It was just alright. The lemon zest may have been too strong, and the sauce was not saucy. It was alright, but nowhere near a make-again.

Orecchiette with Leeks, Peas, and Pecorino
From Real Simple, April 2007

1 pound dry orecchiette or some other short pasta
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Pecorino
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the cream and 3/4 cup of the Pecorino. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.

Drain the pasta and return it to pot. Add the sauce, lemon zest, and mint and toss. Divide the pasta among shallow bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino and pepper.

Tip: Sugary and slightly crunchy, fresh peas are well worth the extra effort of shelling during the brief period in the spring when they're available. You can use 2 pounds of fresh peas (2 cups shelled) in place of the frozen ones called for in this recipe.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, May 21, 2007

Photos

I'm in the process of transferring my website to a new host, so all my photos are down right now. That includes the delicious photos in my blog. Hopefully they will be up in the next couple of days.

Tonight we had Crispy Rice & Bean Burritos again and they were good.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Oven Roasted Chile Relleno with Chipotle Asado Sauce

For dinner, I decided to try something crazy-fancy. It took almost two hours to make and had a ton of steps, but yielded a fantastic result. It's a recipe from an episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways on the Food Network. It involves a quinoa-cheese mixture stuffed into a roasted pepper and then served with a spicy chipotle sauce. It was sooooo good. I am really proud of myself for succeeding with this recipe, because I was really worried I was going to screw up. But it is wonderful. I highly recommend this recipe.

Oven Roasted Chile Relleno with Chipotle Asado Sauce

For Chile Relleno:
4 fresh poblano chiles
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and remainder julienned
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated asadero cheese
6 egg yolks
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Chipotle Asado Sauce:
12 ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma
1 small yellow onion, julienned
5 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo or 5 re-hydrated dried chipotles
3 cups heavy cream

To make the Chile Relleno:
Preheat oven to "broil" and roast the chiles until skin blackens, making sure to turn frequently. Remove chiles from the oven and place into a stainless steel mixing bowl. Peel the outer skin, being careful not to tear the flesh of the chile. With a sharp paring knife, make a long slit the length of each chile and then gently remove and discard all of the seeds. Set the chiles aside while you make the filling.

Heat the oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium high heat and saute the onion until translucent. Add quinoa and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper, and water to cover about 2 inches over quinoa. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Turn out onto a baking sheet and allow to cool. In a clean pan, saute the mushrooms in butter over high heat. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and allow to cool. In a bowl, combine the cooled quinoa and mushrooms with asadero cheese, eggs, thyme leaves, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff each of the chiles with the filling mixture until they are very full and then set aside while you make the sauce.

To make the Asado Sauce:
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.

Quarter the tomatoes and then place into a stainless steel mixing bowl and combine with the onions, garlic, oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Turn onto a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven about 15 to 20 minutes or until the tomatoes and onion start to turn black. Remove from the oven and process mixture in a food processor, working in batches if necessary. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the processed onion-tomato mixture with the chipotles and heavy cream and heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep the sauce warm until you're ready to serve.

To serve:
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the stuffed chiles into the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until heated through. Ladle enough of the warm asado sauce on 4 dinner plates to form large pools and then place 1 chile relleno on each plate and serve.

*Cook's Note: This vegetarian recipe may be enhanced with shredded cooked meat or poultry; SantaCafe often adds duck confit, which should be added to the quinoa mixture before stuffing the chiles.

Yield: 4 servings

Our dinner:
dinner

Shortbread Caramel Kiss Cookies

We are going to our hometown in Connecticut later this week, so I wanted to come bearing baked goods. My family and I have long been fans of Peanut Blossoms (the little peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the middle - dubbed "Chocolate Nipple Cookies"), so I was intrigued by this new variation. It comes to us from the March/April 2006 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen.

I made two changes: First, I couldn't find the kisses with caramel in them, so I used some peanut-butter filled ones that I had on hand. Then, to balance that change, I omitted the pecans. Other than that, I followed the instructions as written. We LOVE these cookies!! The only complaint is that the kisses melted very, very quickly, which doesn't usually happen when we make the traditional recipe. I suspect the peanut butter filling made them less durable. Regardless, several cookies now look like chocolate thumbprint cookies - which isn't a bad thing, but they're not as nipply as they should be. Anyway. I would definitely make these again. And I hope my family and friends enjoy them!

Shortbread Caramel Kiss Cookies
A wonderful adaptation of chocolate kiss cookies, this cookie has one delicious difference from the original: creamy caramel hidden inside the chocolate kiss.

1 cup (2 Sticks ) butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
36 caramel filled milk chocolate kisses unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add vanilla, beating well. In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on lightly prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Our cookies:
melty

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hot Red Curry Shrimp

Shrimp were on sale at Bloom today, and I had some Israeli couscous leftover from that time I made Quick Vegetarian Chili, so this seemed like a good thing to make tonight. I didn't use a rehydrated chili - instead I just used about 2 Tbsp of Penzeys Medium-Hot Crushed Red Pepper. It was crazy spicy, with the crushed pepper and the Thai red curry paste. The lime juice and cilantro are necessary to balance out the spicy. It was very yummy and we enjoyed it a lot. I would make this again.

A note about the cooking time: the times and temperatures listed in this recipe are ridiculous. I cooked the shrimp at about medium heat for them to even start turning pink, and it took about 8 minutes. Then I added the couscous, but after 15 minutes it was not even close to being cooked through. I returned the pot to the heat and simmered it for about 5 minutes. At that point, the couscous was edible. It may have just been my stove, but be aware that you might have to cook it for longer than it says.

Hot Red Curry Shrimp
from Southern Living, 5/02

1 dried whole red chile pepper
1/4 cup boiling water
1 lb unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 Tbsp hot curry paste
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 (4.9 oz) packages toasted Israeli couscous
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

PLACE chile pepper in cup boiling water; let stand 30 minutes. Drain, cool, and chop.

PEEL shrimp, and devein, if desired.

COOK chile pepper, broth, and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, 8 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

REMOVE seasoning packets from couscous, and reserve for another use. Stir couscous into broth mixture; remove from heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Stir in juice; sprinkle with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Roasted Sesame Green Beans

Tonight we had some steamed Edamame Dumplings with Ponzu Sauce from Trader Joe's. They were very yummy and we plan to purchase them again.

To go with them, I decided to make these Roasted Sesame Green Beans from Cook's Illustrated magazine. It's a simple recipe with a lot of flavor. We took the beans out of the oven 5 minutes before they were done because they were already blackening. The honey in the sauce caramelized it, making the green beans taste like spicy vegetable candy. Yes, you read that right. Spicy. Vegetable. Candy. They were really yummy. Probably won't make them again, but I would recommend them.

Oh and the tip the recipe provides about using aluminum foil? Definitely do it. The sauce would have been nearly impossible to scrape off of a pan.

Roasted Sesame Green Beans
An aluminum foil liner prevents burning on dark nonstick baking sheets. When using baking sheets with a light finish, foil is not required, but we recommend it for easy cleanup.

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3 medium cloves garlic , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound green beans , stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
Table salt
4 teaspoons sesame seeds (toasted)

1. Combine oil, honey, pepper, garlic, and ginger in small bowl; set aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; spread beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; using hands, toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and distribute in even layer. Roast 10 minutes.

3. Remove baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, coat beans evenly with garlic/ginger mixture; redistribute in even layer. Continue roasting until dark golden brown in spots and starting to shrivel, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

4. Adjust seasoning with salt and and toss well to combine. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gnocchi Gratin

I'm not sure if I like gnocchi. I've tried it before, and didn't really like it, and I tried it in tonight's dish and didn't really like it either. But both times I've gotten the same gnocchi from Trader Joe's. Maybe their gnocchi is just not delicious? I don't know.

Regardless, the cheesy sauce and bacon (soy bacon, for us) was tasty in this casserole. Unfortunately, the gnocchi makes me not want to make it again. I should really try another brand and see how it goes, but I think I'm done.

Gnocchi Gratin
Gnocchi are Italian dumplings, cooked and sauced like pasta. Here, they're turned into a creamy casserole that's quick and easy to prepare on busy days. Look for vacuum-packed gnocchi on the pasta aisle.

1 (22-ounce) package gnocchi
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (Note: We used veggie broth)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese (Note: We used swiss)
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Cooking spray
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour, salt, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add Gruyère, chives, and bacon; stir until smooth. Add gnocchi; toss well.

Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, May 14, 2007

Argentine Black Bean Flatbread with Chimichurri Drizzle

Tonight we had Argentine Black Bean Flatbread with Chimichurri Drizzle again. I was very lazy and did not puree the bean mixture, did not make my own pizza dough (I used store-bought lavash bread) and did not roast my own peppers (jar!). It still turned out delicious. It's just such a good combination of flavors in general, and the chimichurri drizzle really makes it. The lavash didn't work too well so I will probably just sub some storebought pizza dough instead. Next time I won't be so lazy, hopefully (though I'll still probably use jarred roasted peppers).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Oven Fries with Aioli

Tonight for dinner we had Boca Burger cheeseburgers, because it is finally summery and that is a summery kind of meal. To go with it, I decided to try out these baked fries from a little blurb in Cooking Light. It's not even a real recipe, it was just a serving suggestion for a different meal. But it sounded yummy.

The fries took much longer than the recipe said - it took about 30 minutes for them to start browning. We liked the aioli with the fries. Mayonnaise and garlic are good on everything. However, we both decided there are probably better oven fries recipes out there. We could always make those and dip them in an aioli. Anyway, we won't make this recipe again.

Edit on 11/5/09: We did, in fact, make these again, by accident! Didn't realize we'd already tried it! Haha!

We also made the Simply Strawberry Sorbet I tried last summer, because strawberries were crazy on sale at the grocery store this weekend. It is still in the freezer but I am expecting it to be just as delicious. This time we did add the egg white. I was curious how it would affect the texture, so we tried it. I am looking forward to eating some sorbet later tonight. Yay!

Oven Fries with Aioli

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 lbs peeled baking potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Place potatoes on a jelly roll pan. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp canola oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt; toss to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender and golden. Toss with 1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter and 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley. Combine 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp ground red pepper, and 1 minced garlic clove. Serve with fries.

Photo added 11/5/09:
fries

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Greek Salad

Tonight for dinner I made my favorite Greek Salad. I've never made it for Gibby before because he specifically only likes Caesar salads, and doesn't feel that a salad is a meal (unless it contains chicken or shrimp or something). So I stuffed his in a pita pocket to make it seem like he was eating a sandwich.

It didn't work well. He didn't like it. I am sad because it's such an awesome salad. That's okay, I will just make it for company. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Penne with Caramelized Onions

Tonight's dinner was no show-stopper, but was a good, healthy meal. Very simple ingredients come together in this pasta recipe for a nice big plate of pasta with very little fat and calories. It's nothing spectacular, so we won't make it again, but it was good. It also was very quick to make.

Penne with Caramelized Onions
Shape magazine, October 2006

You can caramelize the onions and toast the pine nuts ahead of time. Store onions in the refrigerator and pine nuts in an airtight container until ready to serve.

1 oz pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb chopped fresh or frozen spinach
12 oz frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
1-2 heaping Tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 lb small penne pasta
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes or until golden and aromatic, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Set aside.

Place a deep large skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Add the salt to the onions and saute for 5 minutes longer, until the onions are very soft.

Stir in the spinach (if using frozen, defrost, thoroughly drain, and squeeze out all the water first), artichoke hearts, garlic, and broth, and heat to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently while the pasta cooks. Cook the pasta until just tender. Drain well, and transfer to the skillet. Stir and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Serve topped with black pepper, red pepper, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Asian Dumpling Soup

Tonight's dinner was on the table within 15 minutes. How, you ask? Well, most of the ingredients are pre-cut or pre-made. Frozen dumplings, shredded carrots, frozen peas, awesome. All I had to do in preparation was slice the bok choy and green onions.

For such a simple meal, it came together quite beautifully and was very yummy. I was starting to feel skeptical about the broth-based soup having enough flavor, but when you add the sesame oil the broth changes completely. It's really good and yummy. We used shrimp potstickers and pan-fried them instead of steaming them, which was a good idea. I also used vegetable broth instead of chicken, and omitted the shiitake mushrooms. We will make this again.

Asian Dumpling Soup
From Epicurious

1 (15- to 16-oz) package frozen Asian dumplings (also called pot stickers; about 20 to 24)
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (40 fl oz)
3 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (from 1 head)
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup shredded or matchstick (1/8-inch-thick) carrots (from a 10-oz bag)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cook dumplings in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling unsalted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. (Cut into a dumpling to check filling.) Remove pot from heat and keep dumplings warm in hot water.

While dumplings cook, bring chicken broth to a boil in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot. Add cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes, then add peas and cook 2 minutes. Stir in scallions, sesame oil, salt, and pepper and boil until all vegetables are tender, about 1 minute.

Divide dumplings among 4 soup bowls with a slotted spoon. Ladle soup over dumplings.

Yield: 4 servings

Photo added retroactively on February 5, 2008:
soup

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wayne's Beef Macaroni and Cheese

Since we have such an affinity for baked pasta dishes, tonight I made a recipe from Paula Deen for a baked macaroni dish. It's a lot like chili-mac, minus the chili powder. It kind of made us crave chili-mac. Maybe sometime soon I will make that. But this was definitely yummy and easy, and very quick to get into the oven when I got home from work. I would make this again.

Note: I replaced the ground beef with soy crumbles.

Wayne's Beef Macaroni and Cheese

1-pound box elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon each dried basil, ground cumin, and dried oregano
2 to 3 cups grated Cheddar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet; add the peppers, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the ground beef and saute until browned. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, to taste, and the basil, cumin, and oregano. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni and the beef mixture. Spread this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Top with the cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Paula's Note: Ground turkey or chicken can be used in place of beef, if desired.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Monday, May 07, 2007

'Prosciutto' and Egg Panini

Today I started my new job at the psychiatrist's office! I am working later than I used to, so I wanted to come home to a quick and easy meal that would be yummy and satisfying. I picked this sandwich from the January 2007 issue of Real Simple magazine because we love breakfast sandwiches. The only (yet huge) change I made is that I used vegetarian bacon instead of the prosciutto. I don't know what prosciutto tastes like, but we loved our sandwiches so I think it was a good substitution. We had it with some tater tots, because everything goes well with tater tots. We will definitely make this again. We will probably make it with cheddar vs swiss next time though. It was good with the swiss, but we are cheddar nerds.

Prosciutto and Egg Panini
8 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 soft rolls, halved lengthwise
8 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced (Sub: Veggie bacon)
8 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and scramble until cooked through.

Divide the eggs among the bottom halves of the rolls. Add the prosciutto and cheese and sandwich with the tops of the rolls.

Melt the remaining butter in a grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the sandwiches to the skillet. Cook, pressing frequently with the back of a spatula or placing another pan on top of the sandwiches to weigh them down, until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tandoori Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs

Tonight we had Tandoori Tofu kebabs from the September 2005 issue of Cooking Light. I followed the recipe as directed, except I substituted bell peppers for the mushrooms. It took a long time to make, since the tofu has to bake and then everything has to marinate. And unfortunately, all that effort goes to waste since it's not a particularly flavorful dish (despite its claims to have 'intense spices'). I couldn't taste any of the spices or marinade. The tofu had a nice grill flavor from my grill pan, but it was almost as if I'd just thrown all the ingredients straight onto the pan, rather than seasoning them beforehand. It was bland and not worth the effort. We will not make this again.

Tandoori Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs
Prebaking makes the tofu appealingly chewy, allows it to absorb the marinade more effectively, and reduces sticking and crumbling on the grill. Golden raisins in the rice pilaf are a sweet balance to the intense spices in the tandoori marinade.

1 (16-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 16 cubes
Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
16 large mushrooms (about 10 ounces)
2 small red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
2 2/3 cups water
1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon salt, divided

Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange tofu in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until tofu releases 3 or more tablespoons liquid.

Prepare grill.

Combine chopped onion and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add tofu, mushrooms, and onion wedges; toss gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

While tofu and vegetables marinate, prepare rice. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in raisins and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

Remove tofu and vegetables from bowl; discard marinade. Thread tofu cubes, mushrooms, and onion wedges alternately onto 8 (6-inch) skewers. Lightly coat kebabs with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Chili Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas

My meal plan for the week is all disjointed because whilst doing my planning I had a wicked migraine, so bear with me through the next few days. The assortment might seem a big weird. Haha!

Tonight I made Chili Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas from the Sept. 2003 issue of Cooking Light. I'm a big believer that enchiladas are really made by whatever you use as the enchilada sauce. If you get a bad enchilada sauce, the dish won't be yummy. I personally always use Old El Paso's enchilada sauce. I think it is delicious. That being said, this recipe was delicious. It stands out from my regular enchilada recipes (this one plus one my mom invented) because of the addition of soy crumbles and cream cheese to the filling. That made the filling stand out more against the enchilada sauce. We liked it a lot and would definitely make it again.

Chili Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (12-ounce) bag frozen soy crumbles, thawed (such as Morningstar Farms)
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1/3 cup (3 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, garlic, beans, and soy crumbles, and cook 2 minutes, stirring mixture frequently.

Stir in salsa, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread 1/3 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup black bean mixture down center of each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam sides down, crosswise in dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Giada de Laurentiis is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. I love - or at least really like - everything I make of hers. However, tonight she failed me. Tonight I made her Creamy Artichoke Soup, and it was not delicious.

I followed the recipe exactly (though subbed veggie broth for chicken broth) and even used a high-quality delicious mascarpone. Despite this, I did not like it at all. I thought it looked like something you'd find in a baby diaper, and it tasted icky. It didn't have a smooth and soupy texture - rather, it was very thick. It got boring very quickly.

I am sad, Giada. Very sad. We will not make this recipe again.

Creamy Artichoke Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup. Add the 2 tablespoons mascarpone and blend again to combine. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/3 cup mascarpone to soften.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Dollop the top of each of the soups with a spoonful of the softened mascarpone cheese and top the cheese with chives.

* When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Samosa Quesadillas

This recipe is old - from 1998 or so. I was attracted to it because I love ordering samosas at Indian restaurants but am too lazy to make them at home. Plus, homemade recipes usually involve deep frying and I refuse to deep fry anything. I try my best to eat healthy!

It was very easy to put together, but a little more time consuming than I had anticipated since the recipe calls for already-mashed potatoes, so you have to remember to make the potatoes first. We liked it, but it wasn't awesome. We probably won't make this again.

Samosa Quesadillas
Cooking Light

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup very thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup mashed peeled potato, cooked without salt or fat
1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
8 (6-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and next 5 ingredients (cabbage through garlic); sauté 3 minutes or until the cabbage is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; stir in potato, peas, and soy sauce.

Place 4 tortillas on a large baking sheet. Spread about 1/2 cup potato mixture over each tortilla; top each with 1/4 cup cheese and a tortilla. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tacos al Carbón

Tonight for dinner we made these tacos from Cooking Light. It originally calls for flank steak as the filling, but I'd read in several reviews that the recipe is also good with shrimp or squash replacing the steak. For our meal, we subbed some sliced zucchini and summer squash. It worked very nicely and we really enjoyed it. I also added a little bit of cheese, because we love cheese. I would make these again, and would experiment with the fillings.

I'll put the original recipe, but keep in mind that I used the squash instead of the meat!

Tacos al Carbón
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion (about 1 medium)
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced (OR VEGGIES OR SHRIMP!)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper to pan, and cook 4 minutes. Add onion to pan, and sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Place pepper mixture in a large bowl; cover and keep warm.

Add beef to pan; cook 7 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Add to pepper mixture. Add chili powder, juice, oil, salt, and garlic to bowl; toss to coat.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spoon steak mixture evenly over 8 tortillas. Top each taco with about 1 teaspoon cilantro and 2 1/4 teaspoons sour cream.

Yield: 4 servings