Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup

Oh good god. I'd been on such a good streak, having pretty delicious food for the most part. Oh god, though. Dinner tonight was awful. I feel like the recipe had potential and sounded like a quick and easy dinner, and I expected it to taste similar to the Asian Dumpling Soup we've made before.

I was wrong.

Good lord, it tasted like shrimp floating in water with slimy bean sprouts in it and odd spice from jalapenos and red pepper. Absolutely bizarre. I used veggie stock in place of the chicken stock but I don't think that's waht caused it to be so bad. Oh my. Not good at all. Never again!

water

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup
Cooking Light, December 2005

Fine-tune the taste of this filling soup as you wish--intensify the flavor with cilantro, add heat with jalapeños, or provide a crisp bite with fresh bean sprouts. Serve with spiced baked wontons on the side.

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup instant long-grain rice -- (such as Minute brand)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp -- peeled and deveined
4 lime wedges
Bean sprouts -- (optional)
Sliced green onions -- (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro -- (optional)
Sliced jalapeño pepper -- (optional)

1. Combine chicken broth and water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir in instant long-grain rice, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.

2. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, red pepper, and shrimp; sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir shrimp mixture into broth mixture. Divide soup evenly among 4 bowls, and serve with lime wedges. Top each serving with sprouts, onions, cilantro, and jalapeño, if desired.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta Salad

Tonight I made myself a Roasted Sweet Potato with Spicy Feta Salad. Delicious as usual!

The most exciting food-related part of my day, though, was the delivery of my Penzeys spices! Oh, how I miss living next to one of their stores! Now I have to order it all via the internet. ALL of my spices are from Penzeys, with the exception of some iodized salt, Chinese 5-spice powder, Emeril's seasoning, and Old Bay. All of my sea salt, pepper, basil, parsley, poppy seeds, granulated onion, epazote, coriander.... all from Penzeys. And I have a huge spice collection, so that tells you just how much I've given to Penzeys over the years! I really don't think anyone is able to equal their quality.

So other than the "usuals" that I use so much that I needed to replenish (double-strength vanilla, basil, cumin, parsley, chives, medium red pepper, etc.) I got a couple new things! I got their Smoky Seasoned Salt to put on cottage cheese for lunches. I got some Charnushka (Nigella Sativa) to add to foccaccia. I got some vanilla-bean sugar! Oh, opening a box of Penzeys spices is like a delicious-smelling Christmas. I love them forever.

Hominy-Pinto Burgers with Roasted Poblano Chiles

Since this is my soy-free week, for some reason I'm making up for it by trying to make an abundance of bean burgers. You'll see. I even have another one lined up for later in the week. So many sandwiches! I'm not complaining though!

Last night's was very good. I didn't feel like buying masa harina since I already have so much polenta, so I just went ahead and used that, as the recipe note suggested. The poblanos were surprisingly hot! And the burgers were surprisingly firm! I made them a little too thick so they didn't fit in the bun well, so make sure you size them properly. But they are definitely very yummy. It reminded us of a jalapeno popper. I would make these again. We had them with some Alexia Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries. Yum!

burger

Hominy-Pinto Burgers with Roasted Poblano Chiles
Cooking Light, August 2006

For an easy side, combine fresh corn, chopped avocado, red onion, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. If you can't find masa harina, substitute dry polenta or cornmeal.

2 poblano chiles
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves -- minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
15 1/2 ounces pinto beans -- rinsed and drained
15 ounces hominy -- rinsed and drained
3/4 cup masa harina -- divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers -- (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons low-sodium salsa
6 ounces wheat hamburger buns -- toasted

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Place chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 3 inches from heat 8 minutes or until blackened and charred, turning after 6 minutes. Place in a heavy-duty plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and discard skins. Cut each chile lengthwise into 4 strips; discard seeds.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Place onion mixture, salt, beans, and hominy in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Combine bean mixture and 1/2 cup masa in a medium bowl. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place remaining 1/4 cup masa in a shallow dish; dredge patties in masa.

4. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes. Turn patties over. Top each patty with 3 tablespoons cheese; cook 4 minutes.

5. Combine sour cream and salsa in a small bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture on top half of each bun. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each serving with 2 pepper strips. Cover with tops of buns.

Servings: 4

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet Potato and Avocado Sandwich with Poppy Seed Spread

Oh my! This sandwich is easy-peasy to put together and sounds a little weird, but it is delicious! I made it after a 10 hour workday yesterday and it came together in no time. Very yummy. All the components are important and intermingle to create a tasty sandwich. I would definitely make this again!

Of note is that I substituted our new favorite standard cheddar, Cooper sharp white cheddar, for the monterey jack. It was perfect!

sandwich

Sweet Potato and Avocado Sandwich with Poppy Seed Spread
Self magazine, July 2000

This sandwich's secret ingredient is sweet potato, and the result is delicious, not your worn-out turkey on wheat. The recipe, adapted from the new cookbook Vegetarian Sandwiches by Paulette Mitchell (Chronicle Books), is super easy. (Boiling a potato is the only cooking required.) It's low in fat and loaded with fiber and beta-carotene — definitely a win-win dinner.

1 small sweet potato -- (about 7 ounces) peeled and cut into three 2-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 teaspoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 red onion slices -- cut 1/8-inch thick
1/2 small avocado -- peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 tomato slices -- cut 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded lettuce -- (or alfalfa sprouts)

Cook sweet potato slices in boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then drain again. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut each slice into two thinner slices. Whisk together honey mustard, mayonnaise, and poppy seeds in a small bowl. To construct the sandwiches, first spread half the poppy seed mixture on 2 of the bread slices, then place half of the onion, avocado, and tomato slices on top of each slice; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add a layer of sweet potato slices, cheese and lettuce. Top with remaining bread. Slice each sandwich in half, securing each half with a toothpick. Serve with sliced dill pickles and a handful of baked chips. add your own note

Servings: 2

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nonna's Lemon-Ricotta Biscuits

Spoiler: These aren't biscuits. They're muffins. And they're amazing. I didn't lower the fat on them and decided to just go with the whole-milk ricotta. Oh boy, though. So worth it. These are delicately lemony with more of an almond flavor. I absolutely love them. My attempts at decorating them with yellow sanding sugar failed, but that's ok. They are delicious and will be a nice addition to my lunches this week! I would definitely make these again.

muffins

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits
Giada de Laurentiis

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- (1 stick) room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest -- (from 2 lemons)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

1. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).

3. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 biscuits

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mahimahi with Balsamic-Wine Sauce

Giant had a great deal on frozen fish filets about a month ago so I stocked up on mahi-mahi and barramundi for like $8 total. It was awesome. But then I forgot I had them until yesterday when I was taking stock of our stand freezer since today was our monthly stock-up trip to the store. This week is soy-free (just this week!) due to some medical reasons, so I'm making a hugely conscious effort to get enough protein. Thus the fish. And this is incredibly simple. It wasn't bad. I never like fish, and I think I overcooked it since it hadn't thawed all the way when I popped it in the pan, but it was alright.We had it with some orzo pasta and it was delightful.

mahimahi

Mahimahi with Balsamic-Wine Sauce
Cooking Light, December 2001

Serve with couscous or orzo.

24 ounces mahimahi fillets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and onion; cook for 3 minutes. Turn fish over. Stir in wine, vinegar, and capers; cook 3 minutes. Remove fish from pan. Cook wine mixture an additional 3 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Serve sauce with fish; sprinkle with parsley.

Servings: 4

Friday, September 24, 2010

Outrageous Brownies

Today we had our staff retreat and I had volunteered by default to bring a dessert. For like 100 people. When I say "by default," I mean no one else volunteered so I agreed to bring stuff. I took advantage of this opportunity to make a recipe I've had forever, a recipe touted as being one of the best brownie recipes ever, a recipe I would never make for myself because oh my god it uses a pound of butter. A POUND. We've had great success with Ina Garten's other obscenely unhealthy dessert recipes, such as her Outrageous Oreo Brownies and the Pecan Bars, but this is her standard brownie recipe. It was extremely easy to make, and it makes A TON. I used two disposable 13 x 9 x 2 foil pans and it STILL filled up both of them with good-sized brownies. It easily fed the whole crowd. It is way more than 20 servings, regardless of how much Ina tries to convince you. Her 20-serving recipe managed to feed 100, and I'm not Jesus. So consider this when you are considering portion control.

The brownies themselves did turn out very yummy. They are very buttery though, and very rich from all the chocolate and the espresso powder. I think it was great for its purpose but I would never make them again. Unwrapping four sticks of butter made me die a little bit inside.

brownies

Outrageous Brownies
Barefoot Contessa

1 lb unsalted butter
1 lb plus 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbsp instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour, divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

2. Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

3. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and chocolate chips with flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Yield: 20 giant brownies (HAH!)

Halushki

Last night I made halushki and it was magical. Yum yum. I could eat this forever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chipotle-Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

I found this meat substitute version of pulled pork by GardeIn and decided I should make it. It was very good, even though it's fake meat. But I needed a side dish, and I needed to make myself feel like I was cooking. So I made these mashed potatoes! Yum yum. It's quite delicious. We decided that these were good, albeit a little too garlicky (I can't believe I said that) and we like the Chipotle-Mashed Sweet Potatoes better. But these were still very yummy. I'd make them again if I had everything on hand.

potatoes

Chipotle-Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Cooking Light, December 2001

Chipotle chiles, smoked jalapeños in a vinegar-based sauce, give this dish subtle heat. Vary the amount used in this recipe to suit your taste, or leave them out completely.

7 ounces chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 pounds cubed peeled Yukon gold potato
6 garlic cloves -- peeled
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese -- (6 ounces)
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
3 tablespoons butter -- softened
1 teaspoon salt

1. Remove 1 chile and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can. Chop chile to measure 1 tablespoon. Reserve remaining chiles and adobo sauce for another use.

2. Place potato and garlic in a large Dutch oven; cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Drain. Return potato mixture to the Dutch oven. Add chopped chile and adobo sauce, cheese, and remaining ingredients. Mash to desired consistency with a potato masher. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.

Servings: 12

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cinnamon-Apple Cake

Well. This recipe has been one of the most highly-rated Cooking Light recipes ever, re-printed in the magazine several times. I've had it clipped for forever, and yesterday I finally got around to making it. Thank goodness, because this is the best thing ever. For standard apple cake recipes, this is absolutely our go-to recipe from now on. Delicious.

cake

Cinnamon-Apple Cake
Cooking Light, January 2000

The cream cheese in the batter give this cake lots of moisture. Because it's so tender, use a serrated knife for cutting.

1 3/4 cups sugar -- divided
3/4 cup block-style fat-free cream cheese -- (6 ounces) softened
1/2 cup butter or stick margarine -- softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped peeled Rome apple -- (about 2 large)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat at low speed until blended. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl; stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

5. Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.

Servings: 12

Sweet Potato and Poblano Salad with Honey and Rosemary

Since grill season is almost over, I thought it would be fun to try this recipe. Yummy grilled sweet potatoes, poblanos, a nice dressing.... except it was gross. It was really not very good at all. I was very disappointed and surprised. I would not make this again, and most of what we did make is in the trash. Ugh.

potatoes

Sweet Potato and Poblano Salad with Honey and Rosemary
Bon Appetit, 7/09

2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced shallot -- (about 1 small)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
dash Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes -- (yams) peeled, quartered lengthwise
Canola oil or vegetable oil -- (for brushing)
2 fresh poblano chiles -- (about 8 ounces total) * seeded, diced
1/4 cup green onions -- thinly sliced diagonally (about 2)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cook sweet potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just barely tender, about 6 minutes. Drain; run under cold water to cool. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

3. Preheat barbecue (high heat). Brush potato wedges with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill potatoes until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer potatoes to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place potatoes, poblanos, green onions, and parsley in large bowl. Drizzle dressing over; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Test-kitchen tip: Cook the sweet potatoes in the boiling water until they are just tender when pierced with a knife. If you overcook them, the potatoes will fall apart when tossed in the salad. add your own note

Servings: 8

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Parmesan

I love risotto so this recipe seemed interesting because it uses barley instead of arborio rice. Always a plus since that means more whole grains, right? But it was kind of a disappointment. This may have been because I used a different brand of vegetable stock than I normally do, and I think it was overly salty (ugh). But it still wasn't that great anyway. I wouldn't make this again.

barley

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Parmesan
Real Simple, May 2007

5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion -- finely chopped
1 large clove garlic -- finely chopped
1 1/2 cups barley
1 cup dry white wine -- (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1 pound asparagus -- cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan -- (2 ounces)

1. Warm the broth in a small saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more.

3. Add the asparagus with the last 1/2 cup of broth and cook until tender. It should take 30 to 35 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed.

4. Remove from heat, season with the salt and pepper, and stir in the Parmesan. Spoon into individual bowls.

Servings: 4

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lychee Ice Cream

For about a year now, I've been doing a 101 Goals in 1001 Days thing. Pretty self-explanatory. One of the goals is to try to make something with lychees. (Another ongoing one is to make 12 new types of ice cream - so this meets both goals!) What is a lychee, you ask?

A lychee is: "a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to China... The fresh fruit has a "delicate, whitish pulp" with a "perfume" flavor." It's a very distinctive smell and taste. I love lychee-flavored tea and the lychee-flavored gum that sushi restaurants sometimes give out after a meal. It reminds me of Japan. So many Japanese candies and drinks tasted like lychee. I love it! But I've never in my life had actual lychees. Until last night.

I was appalled when I opened the can. They looked disgusting. They felt disgusting. They smelled perfumey, as expected. They were squishy and when I was chopping them up, I felt like they were clams. It was just weird. I think that tainted my whole opinion of the ice cream.

Despite the custard base, which is often off-putting to me, this was an excellent ice cream recipe. Low fat? No. Good and creamy? Yes. He loved it. He had no aversions to the lychees, which hardened and stopped being mushy once they were frozen. I decided I would probably like it better if I had pureed the lychees or strained out the solids. The solids freaked me out a little. But to lychee lovers, this is probably a fantastic recipe. So. It was worth trying!

PS Gibby made a card table and tablecloth into a little photo studio for the food.

lychee

Lychee Ice Cream
LycheesOnline.com

Recipe by Martin Yan, celebrated host of more than 1,500 cooking shows, highly respected food and restaurant consultant, and certified Master Chef, enjoys distinction as both a teacher and author. His many talents have found unique expression in 24 cookbooks; his most recent releases are "Martin Yan's Feast: The Best of Yan Can Cook," "Chinese Cooking for Dummies" and "Martin Yan's Asian Favorites." www.yancancook.com

1 1/2 cups canned seedless lychees, drained & diced
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan or double boiler; heat until warm and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add 1 cup of the cream mixture to the yolks while whisking lightly. Gradually pour the egg mixture back into the cream mixture while continuing to whisk lightly.

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the back of your spoon is thinly coated, about 8 minutes. Do not allow to boil or the ice cream custard mixture will curdle.

3. Add the lychee and lemon juice and let it cool in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Freeze in an electric or manual ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker you can put the ice cream custard in a bowl and put it in your freezer until frozen.

Servings: 4

Potato-and-Cauliflower Dal with Spicy Shallots

Tonight I made my favorite Bhel Puri. Delicious as always! I even accidentally burned the sev in the oven and it still turned out beautifully. Yum.

Yesterday I tried out my new (used) crockpot I got from Vicky. It's way cool and looks like it's from the Jetsons. I decided to try out this curry recipe. I was blown away by the fact that it didn't burn. You may remember my last crockpot burned itself to death. It seems that Rivals get too hot too quickly. This one is a Corningware so I guess it works better.

So I made this curry and had a blast with my crockpot, but the dinner itself was only meh. I forgot to make the spicy shallots but I don't think it would have made a whole lot of difference. I was happy to finally be able to use up the rest of my yellow split peas, though!

curry

Potato-and-Cauliflower Dal with Spicy Shallots
150 Best Slowcooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson
via CLBB (Helios7)

1 cup yellow split peas (soaked, drained and rinsed, covered with boiling water and let it sit for 30 minutes)
2 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups vegetable broth (may add an additional cup of water)
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small cauliflower cut into florets
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Spicy Shallots
2 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

1. In a skillet, heat butter or oil. Add onions, celery and cook until softened. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add vegetable broth or water, and bring to a boil. Place potatoes, cauliflower and soaked peas in slow cooker. Pour onion mixture over and stir well.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours until vegetables are tender.

3. To make spicy shallots: In a skillet heat butter or oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring until crisp. Remove pan from heat. Add chilies, cilantro and basalmic vinegar or lemon juice. Transfer to small boil, ladle dal into bowls and top with spicy shallots.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Soup

Tonight I made Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder again, and it was delicious. This prompted discussion of our favorite soups. We are a soup-loving family, but it was very easy for both of us to agree to the exact same top 5 soups (with one runner-up). These are soups that we have made several times, love more every time we eat them, and could eat every day and be perfectly content.

Lauren & Gibby's Top 5 Favorite Soups
1. Baked Potato Soup
2. Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder
3. Golden Potato-Leek Soup
4. Cheesy White Chili with cauliflower
5. Thai Tomato Soup

Runner-up: Melancauli Baby

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Double Mushroom Pizza

This was oddly terrible. The saucy stuff was gluey and weird, and the mushroom mixture was boring. I stopped using Boboli crusts forever ago because it lacks the flavor of a homemade pizza dough (or, you know, Pillsbury...) and this pizza reminded me why. I still ate it, it was just not very good.

pizza

Double-Mushroom Pizza
Cooking Light, January 2009

Choosing a premade whole wheat pizza crust not only saves time, but it also introduces whole-grain benefits to the meal.

10 ounces wheat Italian thin pizza crust -- (such as Boboli)
Cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil -- divided
8 ounces presliced cremini or button mushrooms
6 ounces presliced portobello mushrooms -- coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves -- minced
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large plum tomato -- thinly sliced
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese -- (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 5 minutes. Remove crust from oven (do not turn oven off); set crust aside.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray; add 1 teaspoon oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until moisture evaporates. Stir in thyme; spoon mushroom mixture into a bowl.

4. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil to pan, and reduce heat to medium. Add garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add Asiago and pepper, stirring until cheese melts.

5. Spread sauce over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top evenly with mushroom mixture, tomato slices, and mozzarella. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Servings: 4

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My First Attempt at Canning

I've been wanting to learn how to can for years. And I DID IT! I hope! I have 6 pint-jars sitting in the kitchen filled with my Marinara Sauce. I made a huge batch of it yesterday and then canned it. I had no idea what I was doing and had to reference a LOT of websites to figure out how to sterilize the jars, seal the jars, prevent us from dying of botulism, etc. These two websites, THIS and THIS, were extremely helpful. I am going to put the jars in the basement now and hope that in a few months we do not die. If we do, you know what the cause was.

jar

Tonight I was kind of overwhelmed with some stuff that's going on so I made some frozen pierogies (boiled) and some Baby Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans. Not as good with frozen steamable brussels sprouts (versus fresh), but good enough. It was a decent meal.

Fresh Corn Tart with Chipotle Cream

I know, I know, I'm behind. So what? This was Monday's dinner. We went to DC this weekend, so we hit up Whole Foods while we were down there (we don't have them in PA). I saw some vegetarian grain-based "chorizo" that I swiped and switched our meal plan around to include this recipe. I've wanted to make this for awhile now but haven't been able to because I couldn't find soyrizo anywhere here! Stupid PA. But I finally got to make it!

The recipe itself is very yummy. You could certainly make it with real chorizo if you so desired. I like my vegetarian stuff. Spicy with the chorizo, poblanos, and chipotle - yum yum! Probably not a make-again, but enjoyable!

skillet

Fresh Corn Tart with Chipotle Cream
Cooking Light, August 2007

Meatless Soyrizo adds a mildly spicy and earthy flavor, similar to traditional Spanish chorizo. Substitute chorizo, if you prefer. Serve with a green salad.

Cream:
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile -- canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon water

Tart:
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped seeded poblano chile
6 ounces meatless Spanish sausage -- (such as Soyrizo)
3 1/2 cups corn kernels -- (about 7 ears)
3 garlic cloves -- minced
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dry polenta
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese -- (2 ounces) divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. To prepare cream, combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. To prepare tart, heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add chile to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add corn and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove corn mixture from pan.

4. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel. Recoat pan with cooking spray, and set pan aside.

5. Combine 2 cups water and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in the polenta; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 1/2 cups corn mixture. Pour polenta mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese evenly over polenta mixture; top with remaining corn mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over top.

6. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes, and cut into wedges. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with chipotle cream.

Servings: 6

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pad Thai

After a long, stressful week, it was so nice to kick off the three-day weekend with X-Men 3 and a big bowl of Vegetarian Pad Thai.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine

I'm a slacker lately. I admit it. We've been subsisting on take-out and frozen meals, which I abhor but cannot live without. So imagine my surprise when I actually - gasp - MADE DINNER. And not just that, but I made something that I hadn't planned in advance. WHAT?! Amazing. What did I make? Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine! I was out of half and half so I used heavy cream (don't judge). I used this neat weird-shaped pasta noodle instead of linguine. I completely spaced and forgot to add the veggie stock. And it didn't even matter! It was wonderful and such a nice change from the crap we've been eating this week.