Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I haven't been posting many of the soup recipes I've been making lately because I figured it would be soup overload (I've been making at least a couple batches a week of different types of pureed vegetable soups). But this one was too good to not write down and consequently forget about.  It's definitely pretty spicy, and I like spicy things.  Just use a milder type of hot pepper, such as jalapeno or Serrano, and also maybe take out the seeds if you don't want it very spicy.  

What you need:

1 large butternut squash, cut in half or quartered, seeds removed
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium/large onion, chopped
2 small hot peppers (I used Thai chili peppers), stems removed
2 chipotle peppers plus a bit of adobe sauce
2 small apples, cored and roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
5-6 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk of choice (I used a combination of 1% and almond milk... if I hadn't been running out of the almond milk, I would have just used that)
1/4 cup fat free cream cheese (optional- I added it because mine was a bit too spicy and I figured this would help mellow it out)
1 tablespoon garlic-ginger paste

Start by heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Season cut side of the butternut squash with salt and pepper, and then place, skin side up, on the baking sheet.  Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cooked through.  Let cool a bit and remove skin.  Chop roughly.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat.  Add onions, peppers, and celery, along with a generous pinch of salt.  Saute for 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and browning slightly. Add in the apple and saute for a couple more minutes.  Add the roasted squash and the broth.  Bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally   Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat, add the milk, cream cheese, and ginger-garlic paste.  Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Garlic and Herb Salmon

Here's a simple and pretty quick recipe for salmon that's a little different than I usually prefer it.  For some reason, I almost always make slightly sweet salmon recipes (pumpkin butter glazed, teriyaki  or with a simple brown sugar or honey mixture on top).  I mean, a little sweetness does wonderfully complement the flavors of salmon and broiling the bit of sugar on top gives you a deliciously caramelized topping.

But today, I felt like mixing it up and modified this recipe I found.  I thought is was delicious and it was a nice change of pace from my usual.  Plus, the more savory flavors of this give you different options for side dishes than what you might want with a sweeter recipe.  (Though I paired it with a butternut squash soup that would be still been awesome with a sweet salmon recipe).

What you need:

2 pounds salmon (either one large piece or cut into portions)
olive oil spray
1 tablespoon butter
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and diced
1/2+ cup fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, and rosemary because that's what I had)
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 teaspoons black pepper

Heat oven to broil on low if using one big piece or high if using smaller pieces.  Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add garlic.  Let garlic cook until just slightly browning.  Add in the salt, herbs, worchestershire sauce, lemon juice, wine, and pepper.  Turn off heat.  Place salmon, skin side down on a large baking sheet sprayed with olive oil.  Spoon 1/2 of the herb and garlic mixture over the top of the salmon.  Broil for 3-4 minutes.  Take out of oven, spoon the rest of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Return to oven and broil for another 3-4 minutes (smaller pieces may take less time).  Turn heat up to high if it was on low before and broil on high for 2 more minutes (applies to big piece only).

Serve with lemon slices.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baked Herbed Brie with Mushrooms, Onions, and Almonds

Baked brie is awesome, pretty much regardless of how you prepare it.  But this particular recipe might just be my new favorite way to make it.  It might be that the cheese I bought this time was of better quality, but I also think that these toppings really work well with the flavor or brie.  

I made mine on our toaster oven tray because it's easy and I don't care about how it looks, but I recommend using a smaller casserole dish (maybe a 5-6 inch circle or 5 x 7 rectangle) if you have one.  

Serve with crackers, chips, or slices of toasted baguette. 

What you need:

A 7-ounce wedge or wheel of herbed Brie (rinds removed, unless you're like me and really like the rind...  in that case just cut it to help it melt out)
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Splash of red wine
2 teaspoons honey
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Red pepper flakes

Place brie on a lightly greased small baking sheet or casserole dish.  Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add mushrooms and onions, plus a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute until cooked through and just beginning to brown.  Add the splash of red wine and the honey. Remove from heat and stir in herbs.  Spread mixture over the brie.  Sprinkle with the almonds and red pepper flakes to taste.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly at the edges.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Simple Pumpkin Soup (Crock-Pot)

There's no roasting or sauteing prior to putting this is in the Crock-Pot... it's super simple and you don't need to dirty an extra pan.

I made this to go with teriyaki salmon (not posting the recipe because I was in a hurry and really don't know what I did to make the teriyaki sauce). On top is a drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce and dot of my new favorite dipping sauce for fish, chicken, or...anything.  See at the end of this post for details.

What you need:

1/2 pound fresh pumpkin, skin and seeds removed and cut into 1-2 inch chunks (or use some canned pumpkin for this... I actually did a some of each because that's what I had)
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2 inch slices and halved
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped roughly
2 small hot peppers (optional), stems removed
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups Silk coconut milk (the refrigerated stuff... or just use regular low-fat milk)
1/2 cup coconut milk from a can
1 tablespoon Ketjap Manis Marinade (Thai version)
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
Garlic-ginger puree/paste (or a bit each of garlic and ginger powder, but you may need extra salt or soy sauce in this case, because the puree or paste is usually a bit salty)

Put pumpkin, carrot, onion, bell pepper, hot peppers, and chicken broth in slow cooker.  Cook on high until everything is soft, which should be 4-5 hours.  Add milks, Ketjap Manis, fish sauce, and garlic-ginger puree/paste.   Puree everything with an immersion blender.  Enjoy!


Just made this again with a few little changes... it was equally delicious, but slightly different flavored.  I used only the fresh pumpkin this time, subbed a yellow summer squash in for the bell pepper, and omitted the Ketjap Manis Marinade and garlic-ginger puree, but added two chipotle peppers.  It has a bit of a kick, so if you don't like spicy, use less chipotle or maybe omit the two hot peppers.  Yum!

Awesome Sauce (to use on top of this soup or on anything else):

1/2 cup each low-fat yogurt and fat-free cream cheese
1/4 low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons + Sriracha hot sauce (I go with a tablespoon or more, but I like it spicy)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix well.  Done!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Filet Mignon with Mushroom Sauce

I discovered these filet mignon in the grocery freezer the other day and couldn't resist buying a couple. That's the thing about living in a place where you can't depend on certain products being there.  It leads to a lot of impulse buys just in case whatever it is runs out and isn't shipped in again for a few months.  And after seeing the price as they rang up, I don't think I'll be getting these again.  But they were delicious and still cheaper than going out to a nice dinner, so it all works out.

I made a creamy mushroom sauce to accompany these, and served them with Green Veggie Soup and Fake Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  

What you need:

2 (6 oz) filet mignon steaks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil spray

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray an oven proof skillet or pot with olive oil.  If you don't have something that is oven proof, that's fine, but you will need to have a cookie sheet or something like that as well.

Pat filet mignon dry and then season all sides of each with salt and pepper.

Heat the pot over high heat until oil is sizzling.  Sear for 2 minutes on each flat side.  Then roll each filet mignon on its round side to quickly sear it.  Place entire pot/ skillet in the oven.  (If you are using a baking sheet, heat in this in oven for the last minute that the steaks are searing, and then place steaks onto this pan).  Cook for 2-6 more minutes, depending on thickness of the steaks and how you want them cooked.  With 1 1/2 inch thick filets, I cooked one for 2 minutes (very rare) and then other for 4 (medium-rare to rare).  Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with mushroom sauce and enjoy!

For the mushroom sauce:

I used basically the same Mushroom Sauce as I did with my t-bone steaks.   The only changes were that I used button mushrooms instead of portobello (about 5 ounces) and add in some rosemary stems while everything was simmering, and removed them before serving.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Fake" Mashed Sweet Potatoes

....or I guess you could just call it Cauliflower, Carrot, Sweet Potato, and Cottage Cheese Puree..  But that sounds too scary.

I was making steak for dinner and wanted to make an appropriate side dish... Potatoes!  But I don't like potatoes.  Really, I think they're nasty (unless in fried form, which isn't necessarily suited to dinner).  

So I thought... sweet potatoes!  But then I'm thinking, too many carbs.  Sooooo.... I'll mix in some veggies!  And that's what I did.  But, it wasn't quite what I was hoping for.  It just needed something... delicious and fatty.

Cheese or butter or something.  I compromised taste and healthiness and went with a blend of parmesan cheese and 1 % cottage cheese.  Perfect.  This may not taste quite like your usual mashed potatoes, but I promise, it's a delicious and hearty side to any meal.

What you need:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1/2 of a large sweet potato (or maybe 1 small), cut into chunks (for me, 4 largish chunks)
1/2 of a large (and I mean LARGE) carrot, cut into large chunks
1 cup Silk coconut milk (or normal milk, maybe 1 %)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup 1 % cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Pepper, garlic powder, and Season-All

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Boil potato and carrot in a SALTED pot of water until fork-tender (I really don't know how long this took... I was doing other things at the time and just let it happen).  Spread cauliflower over a lightly sprayed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until lightly browned and cooked through... about 30 minutes.

Place cooked potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower in a bowl.  Add milk, broth, cottage cheese, and parmesan cheese.  Puree with an immersion blender until (somewhat) smooth.  Add seasonings to taste.  Enjoy!

Green Veggie Soup

ANOTHER pureed soup.... Yep.  They've just so tasty, healthy, and the perfect lunch the next day.  I can't stop making them.  This one is composed of a bunch of green things... leeks, zucchini  cucumber, green onion, herbs...  Super healthy and delicious as well.  I served it with pan-seared filet mignon and "fake" mashed sweet potatoes.  And merlot.

What you need:

1-2 teaspoons oil olive
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1/2 head garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
2 medium/large zucchini, sliced medium-thin
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, sliced medium-thin
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
1 green onion, sliced
1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used basil, mint, and thyme), leaves only
1/2-2/3 cup fat-free cream cheese
1/2-1 cup almond milk
1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Start by sauteing the leek and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper.  When they begin to soften, add the zucchini and cucumber.  Cook, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally  until the zucchini and cucumber are translucent.  Add the wine and bring to a simmer.  Add the broth, partially cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Add the green onion, herbs, cream cheese, almond milk, and vinegar.  Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Garnish with red pepper flakes and a teeny splash of half and half.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Swiss and Gouda Fondue

My family always had fondue every year for New Year's Eve.  Cheese fondue first, then meat fried in oil, and then chocolate.  It was a lovely tradition, and very exciting every year as a kid.  And so special, because I really can't think of any other time I've had fondue.  All seven of us (plus boyfriends and girlfriends at times) would huddle around the table, eagerly dipping and frying, making sure to get our share.  

I don't actually have a fondue pot at the moment, nor any extension cords which would allow me to use my crockpot.  However, I made this cheese fondue on the stove and just served it into a cup for my Rob and I to dip out of, and that worked just fine.  If you have a fondue pot, use it, or try this out as a crockpot recipe. Otherwise, just do it in a pot, and I'm sure no one will complain.

I served this with beet chips and pita chips (oh, and a few slices of bacon that I was demanded to fry up... personally, I prefered the beet chips).  Chunks of lightly toasted bread or sliced apples would also work well.

What you need:

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, finely diced
3-4 button mushrooms, finely diced
1-11/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 pound EACH gouda and swiss cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Hennessy (or other whiskey... or maybe just some chicken broth... I just used the Hennessy because it was sitting on the counter from making a drink and I remembered that some fondue recipes I had looked at had the cornstarch mixed with some sort of alcohol)
Black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat medium pot over medium-low heat.  Melt butter in pot and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until beginning to soften.  Add mushroom.  Cook until softened.  Add white wine and heat until simmering.  Add the cheeses and stir until melted.  Whisk together cornstarch and Hennessy.  Add to cheese mixture.  Stir in a bit of pepper and the lemon juice.  Done!


Baked Fish Sticks

I was really pleased with how these came out.  They were really tasty, fairly simple to make, and actually WORKED.  I mean, the crumb coating didn't half fall off or horribly stick to the pan.  And they're a healthy alternative to regular fried fish sticks.  And kid-friendly, I would think.  

I served these alongside my leftover Crockpot Tomato Soup.  Simple and satisfying dinner. (and enough leftover for breakfast! ... IF you're like me and don't particularly care for breakfast food for breakfast)

What you need:

 (I forgot to pay attention to how much of everything I was using, so these are just estimates.  However, with this recipe, it's pretty easy to adjust as you go.  I had to make up a bit more of the crumb mixture halfway through myself)

2 (4-6 oz) fillets of a mild white fish, such as tilapia, swai, or cod (I used swai because I already had some), cut into 1 inch strips
Olive oil spray
1/3 cup flour
2 medium eggs or maybe 1 large one (I still had a little of the 2 medium left), beaten
1 cup panko crumbs
1-2 teaspoons EACH garlic powder, black pepper, and Season-All 

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking pan with olive oil.  Set up your breading station:  flour in one bowl, eggs in the next, and then the panko crumbs mixed with the seasonings.  Dip each piece of tilapia into the flour, shaking off excess.  Then they go into the eggs, and finally into the panko crumb mixture.  Make sure you fully cover (but shake off extra) at each step.  Place pieces on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.  If you want, you can flip the pieces halfway through for more evening browning, but mine were good enough without doing this.

Serve with dipping sauce (recipe below).

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4-1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
splash of worcestershire
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoons mustard (okay, I cannot really vouch for this, but I was definitely going to put it in, but SOMEHOW I was out of mustard.  Weird.)

Mix everything together and done!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crockpot Tomato Soup

Last night while I was eating out, I had an AMAZING tomato soup... which tasted like pure cream with a little tomato mixed in.  Mmmm...

And it made me want more tomato soup.  But, I can't really justify making such creamy goodness at home, so I made something a bit lighter, but delicious in a different, more wholesome way.  

If you've been reading my blog much at all, especially the soup recipes, you'll notice that I often use fat-free cream cheese.  Even if you're not usually a fan of fat-free products, you seriously should try this stuff.  It only has about 30 calories in 2 tablespoons, and most of that comes from protein.  While it doesn't taste exactly like the real stuff, I personally think it still works wonderfully in a lot of dip and soup recipes (but perhaps be wary about baked things like cheesecake).  

I didn't go crazy with the extras in this recipe, but I could definitely see adding parmesan cheese, fresh basil, or maybe even a homemade pesto dolloped on top.  This is a good base recipe that could be modified to make it more interesting.  And a little extra creaminess would make it better, so if you're not watching fat or calories, I'd definitely add in a little real cream instead of the milk.  

What you need:

1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper
1 large-ish carrot, cut into large chunks
Olive oil spray
2 stalks of celery, roughly sliced
1 1/2 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, garlic powder, Season-All
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
3/4-1 cup fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup Silk coconut milk (or regular milk or cream)
2-3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Goat cheese and red pepper flakes, for topping (optional)
Croutons (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Place onion, bell pepper, and carrot pieces on it.  Spray again with the oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  The bell pepper and onion should be completely cooked, but the carrot may still be somewhat hard.  Let bell pepper cool, and then remove its skin, stem, and seeds.

Place celery in crockpot, followed by the roasted vegetables.  Pour the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth over the top.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Remove lid, add about 1 teaspoon EACH pepper, garlic powder, and Season-All, plus the worcestershire.  Add the cream cheese, milk, and vinegar.  Puree until smooth.  Season with additional salt, pepper, garlic, or Season-All if necessary.

Serve with goat cheese and red pepper flakes sprinkled on top, and some croutons or toast on the side.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spicy Barbeque Shrimp

Easy, tasty, and healthy.  I paired these with a soup, but they would be great on top of a pizza or in a wrap or on a salad... Or on top of rice for those of you out there who like rice.  

If you have a grill, you could grill instead of broiling, but the broiler works just fine.  

What you need:

1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp
2-3 tablespoons barbecue sauce of choice (I try to find ones that are lower in sugar... this time it was a brand called Weber in the Hickory Smoke flavor)
1/3 cup salsa of choice (I used Pace brand in Chipotle flavor)
1 chipotle pepper, chopped, plus a little of the sauce
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and let shrimp marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Heat oven broiler on high and spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Remove shrimp from marinade, shaking off excess marinade as you do this.  Spread shrimp on the baking sheet.  Place under broiler for 5 minutes.  Pour the marinade into a saucepan.  Boil this over medium-high heat as the shrimp broils.  Take the shrimp out of the oven, drain excess liquid into the boiling marinade pan, flip the shrimp, and put back into the oven.  Broil for another 5 minutes and then remove from oven.

Serve shrimp with marinade sauce on the side (Watch out! The sauce is a bit spicy).

Cauliflower-Mushroom Soup

And the soup obsession continues...

For lunch today, I finished up my soup leftovers from the previous two soups I posted and was sad that I would have no more leftover soup for lunches.  Solution: make more soup!

I served this with Spicy Barbeque Shrimp and decadently topped it with bacon, goat cheese, and fried onions.  

What you need:
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 portobello mushroom
8 ounces button mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 fat free cream cheese
1/2 cup milk of choice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Toppings: bacon, crumbled goat cheese, fried onions

Start by roasting the cauliflower: Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and spread cauliflower florets across it.  Spray again and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes (flipping once or twice), or until cauliflower is cooked through and slightly browned.  

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onions, leek, garlic, and a hefty pinch of salt to the pan.  Cook until softened and then add the mushrooms.  Cook for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are softened.  Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the broth and roasted cauliflower.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Add cream cheese, milk, and vinegar.  Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I only needed to add pepper).

Top with the bacon, goat cheese, and fried onions if you like.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

This sauce is pretty yummy, and doesn't need to be limited to crabcake use.  I even put some on top of the Cucumber Leek Avocado Soup that I made along with the crab cakes for dinner.  I made basically the same Crab Cakes that I posted before (except I subbed regular onion for green onion and actually refrigerated them for a bit after shaping and before frying, which helps them hold together better).  They were wonderful again (I mean look at that picture.. how can it NOT be delicious?)

My attempts at photography were unsuccessful when I was taking a picture of the sauce by itself, so I've just posted some of it on top of the crab cakes and the soup.

Here's what you need:
1/4 EACH fat-free cream cheese, light mayo, and low-fat yogurt.  Or adjust quantities to your liking, I usually go with a little more yogurt and a little less mayo.  
1 teaspoons EACH lemon juice and worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic paste (you can usually find this cheap at Asian Groceries, or just use roasted garlic or garlic powder)
2-3 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper (I used the jarred stuff, but homemade would be even better)
1 chipotle pepper from the can plus a little of the adobo sauce
2-3 tablespoons diced onion

Mix everything in a small container and use an immersion blender to puree.  Or blend it up in the blender or food processor.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to let flavors meld.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cucumber, Leek, and Avocado Soup

I overstocked on cucumbers last week and they've been getting to the point where they needed to be used up.  So... soup!  Soup is always a good way to use things up.  And I had most of an avocado to use up as well as some leeks that were borderline slimy around the edges.

This could probably be served at any temperature... I tasted it hot right after making it, but served it lukewarm once I had finished the rest of dinner.  Both were delicious. Tomorrow I'll see how it works chilled for lunch.

I served this with crab cakes and a red pepper and chipotle sauce that I made to go with the crab cakes.  It looked pretty on top of the green of the soup.

What you need:

1 teaspoon oil olive
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, sliced thinly
2 medium english cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 white wine
2 cups broth of choice (I used seafood concentrate broth because I was out of chicken broth and was serving this with crab anyway)
2 chipotle peppers
3/4 large avocado (I used the local variety... they are similar to "Florida" avocados back in the States... milder flavor and lower in fat than Hass and much larger)
2 cups Silk Coconut Milk (or regular milk)
3 tablespoons fat free cream cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add leeks, garlic, and a hefty pinch of salt.  Saute until beginning to soften and then add the cucumbers.  Keep cooking until cucumbers are very translucent.  Add the wine and broth and bring to boil.  Turn off heat. Add the chipotle peppers, avocado, coconut milk, and cream cheese.  Puree until smooth with an immersion blender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Try serving with a little goat cheese on top or my new crab cake sauce (once I post it).  Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chipotle Vegetable Soup

Mmm... I love pureed soups.  And nice autumny ones like this help me feel more like it's Fall, even though it doesn't seem like it here in the Caribbean.  This came about because I had certain things that needed to be used up in the fridge, the vegetable mixture is a little random.  I'm sure variations depending on what you have in your vegetable drawer would work as well.  

I served this with Pan-Seared Red Snapper and garlic bread for Rob.

What you need:
1 pound fresh pumpkin
1 large carrot
olive oil spray
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 canned chipotle peppers plus a little of the adobo sauce (I used 2, but was torn between wanting more.  The flavor definitely came through with two, but 3 would have added some nice heat)
3 cups broth of choice (I used seafood in this because I was serving it with fish and had concentrated seafood broth packets that I wanted to try... but normally I'd use chicken)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 spicy V-8 juice (or tomato juice)
2 cups Silk Coconut Milk (or regular milk- I like this because it is slightly sweet which is nice with the pumpkin, and tastes richer than skim milk, which has comparable calories)
3-4 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
goat cheese and red pepper flakes

Start by roasting the pumpkin and carrot.  This can be done ahead of time if you want.  Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut pumpkin into VERY rough chunks (maybe a few inches across) and the carrot into smaller rough chunks (about 1 inch pieces).  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and spread the pumpkin and carrot across it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spray again with oil and then roast for about an hour, or until cooked through.  Set aside (or refrigerate until ready to use if doing this a while ahead).

Now for the rest of the soup: Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.  Add onions, celery, garlic, and bell pepper.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just slightly beginning to brown.  Add in the roasted pumpkin and carrot, the broth, the soy sauce, and the spicy V-8.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and cover with a lid.  Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the milk, cream cheese, and apple cider vinegar.  Use an immersion blender to puree.  At this point, you may want to add more salt and pepper... I did (but I like salty and peppery).

Serve with a little crumbled goat cheese and red pepper flakes on top.  Enjoy!

Pan-fried Red Snapper

This is pretty simple, but still tasty.  I paired it with a Chipotle Vegetable Soup and a served it with a little bottled McCormick's Cajun Seafood Sauce, because I didn't feel like making my own sauce (I like sauce on EVERYTHING. Rob ate his just with lemon).  Next time I think I'll get more creative and make up some sort of awesome homemade sauce to put on it, but the bottled stuff wasn't half bad.

I made three fillets because I was making this for two and also wanted a some leftover.  Just adjust everything a bit if you want to make more or less.

What you need:

3 (6 oz) Red Snapper Fillets, cut in half
1/2 cup flour
Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Cajun Seasoning, Salt
Olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Take fillets out of the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking.  Pour flour onto a plate and mix in the seasonings (I used about 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and a hefty pinch of salt).  Dry fillets on a paper towel and then dredge in flour, shaking off excess.  Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a saucepan over high heat.  Place 3 pieces of fish, non-skin side down, into the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes, or until beginning to blacken, and then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. When fish is done, it should flake with a fork.  Repeat with other three pieces of fish, adding a little more oil to the pan for this second batch.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pan-Seared T-Bone Steak with Creamy Portobello Mushroom Sauce

No need for a grill to make a delicious steak, especially when it's topped with a delicious mushroom sauce.  I served this with a variation on Roasted Romaine Hearts.  Instead of just using olive oil, salt, and pepper, I also added a little crumbled bleu cheese in between the leaves before broiling and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar afterwards.  Yum!

Just to warn you, this makes a lot of sauce, so you may want to halve the recipe if you are only planning on serving two people.  I don't mind the leftovers myself as I'm sure I'll find some other use for this awesome sauce (maybe an excuse to make more steak?).  

What you need:

2 T-Bone steaks (not sure how much they weighed, but they looked pretty average, other than being on the thin side)
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 small-medium onion, finely diced
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely diced
2 medium-large portobello mushrooms, diced
Salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 cup red wine (I used a Merlot)
1 cup beef broth
1 cup milk or cream (I used 1 % milk)
3-4 tablespoons light cream cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Olive oil

Take the steaks out of the frig about half of an hour before you'll be cooking them (I took mine out at the same time I started the sauce).  Melt the butter in a pot over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Stir and let cook for a few minutes until they start to become translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.  Add some pepper and the red wine.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the milk and beef broth.  Turn heat to low and continue to simmer as you cook the steaks.

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pat steaks dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a large saucepan over high heat and add a teaspoon or so of olive oil.  When oil begins to pop, place steaks in the pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side (My pan was actually only big enough to do one at a time, so I did them one at a time).  Place steaks on a baking sheet and then put in the oven.  Cook for 4-10 minutes, depending on thickness and how well done you want them to be (my steaks were thin- about 1/2 inch thick.  Since I like mine rare, I skipped out on the oven finishing, but put Rob's in for 4 minutes while mine was still searing).  Take out of the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

While the steaks rest, finish the mushroom sauce:  Add the cream cheese and stir to mix.  Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir until there are no clumps.  Add this to the sauce and let cook for a minute, or until nicely thickened. Add the parsley.  Done!

Serve with the sauce spooned over the steak.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Simple Chicken and Vegetable Stew (CrockPot Recipe)

This is SO quick and easy to make.  Well, quick if you don't count the 4-5 hours it takes in the CrockPot.  But, it's only 10 minutes of prep to start and maybe another 5 minutes near the end.  And it's tasty- reminds me of chicken and dumplings, minus any actual dumplings (though you could add some in if you wanted).  I usually brown the meat I am using when I do things in my CrockPot (to add flavor), but today I didn't feel like it.  In fact, I didn't even feel like taking the chicken out to thaw early enough.  So I put it in completely frozen and obviously un-browned.  And, yep, it's still delicious in the end, and WAY less work.  You could even put everything in the pot the night before and refrigerate it until morning and let it cook while you are at work, or running errands, or whatever.

What you need:

11/2-2 pounds chicken tenderloins, frozen or thawed (just cook a little less if yours are thawed)
1 medium onion, chopped into rough chunks
2 stalks of celery, chopped
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, either sliced in half or quartered
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1 inch slices and quartered
1 (13 ounce) can of 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Place chicken in the crockpot first.  Top with the onion and celery, then the mushrooms, and finally the squash.  Pour the cream of mushroom soup, the worcestershire sauce, and a 1/2 cup of water over the top.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.  Remove cover and add the cherry tomatoes.  Scoop out a couple tablespoons of the broth and place in a small dish.  Stir the cornstarch into this and keep stirring (or whisking) until smooth.  Add back into the crockpot.  Add the garlic powder, pepper, parsley, and oregano.  Keep cooking on high for 20 minutes uncovered to let it thicken a bit.  And done!

Try serving it by itself, with croutons, or over rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Carrot-Sweet Potato Hummus

I made this using some of the leftovers from yesterday's Carrot-Sweet Potato Puree.  Tastes mostly like the regular hummus I make, with a little extra flavor.  Though that might be due to the slightly disgusting amounts of raw garlic I put in it... it's hard to taste too much of.  Anyway, it's delicious.  I also added a little tapenade-like topping for extra pizzazz, but you can skip it if you don't feel like it.  It's pretty intense, what with the extra raw garlic and red pepper flakes.  But I think it's delicious.

What you need:
1 cup Carrot-Sweet Potato Puree (or just roast enough sweet potatoes or carrots to make a cup and add those in with a little extra liquid)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (or just a few cloves- the raw garlic flavor it pretty intense, so if you don't support a pretty passionate love affair with garlic, reduce it)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons tahini
1-2 teaspoons chili oil
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fat-free italian dressing (or just add olive oil... I'm just trying to cut back a bit on the calories and this works well for me)

Simply put everything into the blender or food processor and puree.  In the blender, you'll definitely have to stir it around a few times to get everything to blend.  If it still isn't working, add a little more italian dressing or olive oil.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to let it firm up and allow the flavors to meld a bit.  Top with my tapenade-y stuff (recipe below) or just leave it plain.  Enjoy!

Oh, and try making some Veggie Chips to dip with.  Awesome.  Or stick with baby carrots, cucumber slices, or the chips of your choice.


Chop the following finely and mix together along with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt:

2-3 tablespoon pecans, toasted
4-6 cloves of garlic
scant 1/4 cup dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons green olives
up to 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Carrot-Sweet Potato Puree

A nice side dish for fall. I served it last night with my Pork Chop Slop.  

I'm thinking about making leftovers into hummus for a little variation (blending it up with chickpeas, tahini, and more garlic).  I also think it would be good as an oven bake with a bread crumb/ nut topping, or thinned down with chicken broth into a soup.  But it's pretty darn tasty in it's own right as well, so don't feel like you need to change a thing.

What you need:

1 large sweet potato
2 medium/large carrots
1 medium onion
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup water
2 cups Silk Coconut Milk (not the regular canned stuff.  If you want to use that, I'd recommend just using 1/2-1 cup of it and adding water to make up the difference.  Or just regular milk, maybe 1%)
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
2-3 teaspoons Ketjap Manis or soy sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut sweet potato and carrots into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Spread sweet potato and carrot chunks across it.  Peel onion and cut in half.  Place both halves on the baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil again and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 40-50 minutes, flipping once, until cooked and slightly browned.  Dump the vegetables into a large pot and pour 1/2 cup of water over them.  Turn heat on stove to medium-high and bring the water to boil.  Boil for a few minutes and then add the coconut milk, garlic powder, curry powder, and Ketjap Manis.  Bring to a boil again and reduce heat a little.  Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes and carrots are quite tender.  Use an immersion blender to puree (at this point, add a little more water if needed to help with the blending). Add any extra seasoning if needed (I needed to add a bit more salt to mine).  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pork Chop Slop (Pork Chops Smothered in Vegetable-y Sauce)

Okay, I guess that isn't the most appetizing name, but the rhyming amused me and it's a very appropriate title.  As evidenced by the picture.  And while it won't win any food beauty awards, this stuff IS pretty tasty. I served it with a carrot-sweet potato puree and homemade croutons leftover from the other day.  You could also try it over rice.  This makes four generous servings (one pork chop and a ton of vegetable-y sauciness).

I went with really simple seasonings today, but when I try this again, I think I'll add some herbs- maybe oregano, sage, basil.  The simplicity was kind of nice though- good comfort food.

What you need:

4 pork chops, trimmed of fat around the outside edge
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 leek, sliced thinly
1/2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces and then quartered
1 large portobello mushroom, sliced into small pieces
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 (13 ounce) can of 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
2 cups water
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 dry red wine
1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Spray a large pot with olive oil and heat over high heat.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper and sear, about 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned.  Place browned pork chops on a plate.  I did this in batches of two.  Add the onion and celery to the pan along with a little bit of water.  Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the leek, zucchini, mushroom, and bell pepper.  Stir everything around and cook for a few more minutes, or until everything begins to soften and gets a little browned.  Add the cream of mushroom soup, the water, worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder.  Add the pork chops back in and spoon the veggies and sauce over them.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, mixing everything around once or twice.  Uncover, add the red wine and cream cheese and mix well.  If it is really soupy, let it simmer a bit more until the sauce has a gravy-like thickness.  Taste test and add more salt, pepper, garlic powder if needed (I went with a bunch of black pepper).

To serve, scoop out a pork chop and spoon a bunch of the sauce over it.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes for a little spice if you want.  Enjoy!

Taco Casserole or Dip

This a great weeknight dinner- it's pretty quick and could also be made ahead of time and then baked when you need it.  It would also make good party food or could be used as a hearty appetizer.

What you need:
1 pound lean ground beef (or if you are like me and on an island where you can't get lean ground beef, see my tips on de-fatting below)
1 medium onion, chopped into small pieces
2 stalks of celery
1 red bell pepper
4-5 pickled serrano or jalapeno peppers
1/2 medium zucchini
1 packet taco seasoning (I used a hot and spicy kind)
2-3 teaspoons soy sauce
2-3 fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or less if you're not a garlic person)
1 cup of your favorite salsa
3/4 cup taco sauce
1 can refried beans (I used a can of low fat refried black beans this time around)
1 cup shredded cheese (a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack is good)
Tortilla chips, for dipping
Salsa, guacamole, sour cream

Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat.  Once it is cooked through, add the onion, celery, bell pepper, serrano peppers, zucchini, taco seasoning, and soy sauce.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, salsa, and taco sauce.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally  until all vegetables are cooked and the sauce is thick, between 5-10 minutes.   While this is cooking, spread the black beans in a 9x9 inch pan.  Pour beef and vegetable mixture over the beans.  Sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and LIGHTLY browned on top.

Serve with tortilla chips and your favorite taco additions, such as salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.  Or skip the chips and just use a fork.  It works well too.


If using fatty ground beef (the stuff we have here is 20 % fat), try this:  Line a largish bowl with a thick layer of paper towels- I use 8 or 9, folded on top of one another.  After the beef has cooked, dump it into this bowl and wrap the edges of the paper towels up around it.  Place a few more paper towels on top.  Now squeeze the fat out!  The beef is going to be pretty hot, so you could try wearing gloves or using a spatula to help you (though I generally just go for it and I haven't suffered any major burns yet).  Once the first set of paper towels is soaked through, repeat with another, and that should do it.  It's actually pretty satisfying to see how much fat you get out and kinda makes me want to keep buying fatty beef even when I someday don't have to.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Croutons for Soup or Salad

I made these to go with this pumpkin-butternut squash soup.   They would also be perfect for a tomato or french onion soup.  Or just on salad.  Feel free to mix up the seasonings depending on what you are using them for.  I kept it simple here for this soup, but would definitely add different herbs and spices for different soups.  

What you need:

5 cups of cubed bread- each piece should be about a 3/4 inch cube (I used three largish sandwich rolls)
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted (if you want them to be richer, add a bit more butter)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
garlic powder, salt, pepper (I used 1-2 teaspoons of EACH)

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place bread cubes in a large bowl.  Mix the butter, olive oil, red wine vinegar and seasonings in a bowl.  Drizzle over the bread and toss to coat evenly.  Spread onto a large baking sheet.  Bake for about 5 minutes, mix them around with a spatula, and return to oven.  Do this again a couple more times, or until there is no more moisture left and they are golden brown.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

Pretending that it's Fall even though it never feels that way on Saba.  I was going to make a purely pumpkin soup, but they didn't have the fresh pumpkin in the grocery stores that they usually have.  However, they did actually have butternut squash, which is a rarity.  So I got that and a can of pumpkin and made do.  The results were pretty great and I didn't miss the fresh pumpkin at all.  Try serving it with croutons (I made some homemade ones) and maybe a little goat cheese.

What you need:

1 medium/large butternut squash
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1 medium/large onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 small/medium apples, cored and chopped, peeling optional (it all gets blended in the end, and the peel is healthy, and less work!)
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups Silk coconut milk (not the regular canned kind.. that would make this really high fat and creamy- though probably delicious, so I go for it if you aren't concerned about the fat) OR try regular skim/ 1% milk or maybe almond milk

Start with roasting the squash:

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slice squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, spray with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Roast for 40 minutes to an hour, or until it is cooked thoroughly (easily pierced by a fork).  Remove from oven and let cool until you can remove its skin.

For the rest of the soup:

Spray a large pot with olive oil.  Heat over medium and add the onion, leek, apple, and garlic.  Sprinkle in a little salt to get things going.  Cook until softened and just slightly browned.  Add in the roasted squash and can of pumpkin.  Stir and let brown just SLIGHTLY.  Add in the chicken broth and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  Turn heat off, add in the milk and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Annnnnnd, that's it!  Pretty simple to make and super tasty!  Enjoy!

Roasted Romaine Hearts

My newest obsession:

It's healthy, delicious, super quick and easy.  Way better than eating regular lettuce- trust me.  For now (like the last four times I've made it, all in the past week), I like to spread my favorite low-fat dip (which I just posted) on it.  I will soon be trying some new variations- maybe sprinkling a little parmesan before broiling, or a little goat cheese after.  And maybe doing a bleu cheese and low-fat homemade ranch dressing, or a homemade caesar.  I think it could be used to amp up any regular salad, so try experimenting topping it with your usual favorite salad toppings.  Or eat it plain.  That's tasty too.

What you need (for one large or two smaller servings):

1 Romaine lettuce heart
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to broil on high.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Slice Romaine heart down the center lengthwise.  Open it up and place on the baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Broil for 5-8 minutes, depending on how hot your broiler gets.  The lettuce should be browned in spots but not burnt.  Dress as you wish and enjoy!

Awesome Apple Bars

This recipe started with my mom's friend, and they've been a family favorite for years now.  I've made a couple slight changes to them (mostly because I have a serious compulsion to not follow any recipe I try).  They are a real crowd-pleaser and sturdy enough to pack up and bring places, such as the sides of sports fields to feed hungry post-game players.  Or serve them hot with a little whipped cream or ice cream.

What you need:

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 slices
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients:
3 cups peeled and chopped apple (I used 5 small/medium ones)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons EACH butterscotch liqueur or creme de cacao (or just use vanilla if that's what you have)

Glaze Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons milk 

Start by making the crust:
Measure the flour, powdered sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter in using a pastry blender until it is evenly distributed and the mixture is crumbly with chunks no bigger than small peas.  Or, if you don't have a pastry blender, use forks or even your hands.  Chill the mixture for 10 minutes in the freezer (and maybe work cutting up those apples while you are doing this).  Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Press crust into two 8x8/ 9x9 pans or one 13x9 pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until VERY lightly browned.

To make the filling:

Mix all of the filling ingredients together.  Plop evenly on top of the warm crusts.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and apples are cooked through.  If it is getting too brown at any point, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.  

Mix together glaze ingredients, adding enough milk to make a thick, but completely mixed, glaze.  Pour on top of hot apple bars. 

Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into if you want to have presentable looking bars.  Or just dive in and get 'em while they're hot.  They may slop over a bit, but they'll still be delicious.  I made 32 small-ish bars out of this.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Favorite Low-fat Dip

In my opinion, this goes great with everything.  My favorite use of it is with roasted veggie chips, but regular chips also work, or roasted romaine lettuce, or on top of chicken, or by the spoonful...  It's delicious and really pretty healthy.  I make slightly different versions of it all of the time, but what I'm listing below is pretty typical.  Feel feel to try your own experiments by adding a little mustard, a splash or lemon juice, chopped artichokes, olives, or some different veggies sauteed with the bacon.

What you need:

1 packet Lipton Vegetable Dip/Soup Mix
2 cups lowfat or fat free plain yogurt
4 ounces fat free cream cheese 
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
Olive oil spray 
3-4 slices turkey bacon, chopped into small bits
1 leek, sliced thinly (I've also substituted a little onion for this, and have also added in celery and/or mushroom at the point I add the leek)
3/4 cup frozen spinach
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes 
Black pepper
Garlic Powder

Mix together the dip/soup mix, yogurt, cream cheese, and mayonnaise.  Spray a saucepan with a little olive oil, heat to medium, and saute the turkey bacon until it just begins to brown.  Add the leeks (and other veggies if you are doing so) and saute until slightly softened and browned.  Add in a little season-all (seasoned salt) and the spinach.  Stir around until the spinach thaws.  Let cool for a few minutes and then add this to the yogurt/cream cheese/mayo mix.  Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes.  Season to taste with the pepper and garlic powder.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mushroom, Onion, and Leek Soup

This was so good.  I can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch when it will probably be even better.  It was my first time making mushroom soup and my ingredients are a little random, because I just went with what I had and what I felt like throwing in.  But it turned out great, so now YOU should go out and buy these random ingredients so that you can make it too.  I did use a little real butter because there is something about mushrooms sauted in butter that can't be faked, but otherwise this is pretty darn healthy.  I served it alongside some broiled pumpkin butter-topped salmon and bagel chips (I was going to make homemade croutons for it, but ended up running out of time).  Anyway, the soup was awesome.

What you need:

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounce container button mushrooms, sliced
1 portabella mushroom, sliced
1 leek, sliced into thin rings
1 head fresh garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1 packet Onion and Mushroom Soup/Dip mix (I used Lipton Recipe Secrets)
1-2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 cup 1 % milk
1/4 cup fat free cream cheese
1/4 cup red wine (I used a merlot)
Dried parsley
Shredded Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes (optional)

Start by sauteing the onions, mushrooms, and garlic in the butter over low heat.  After a couple minutes, add the leek.  Cook for another few minutes, or until everything is softened and JUST beginning to brown.  Add the beef broth, packet of soup mix, and the black pepper.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat, add the milk and the fat free cream cheese, and use an immersion blender to puree everything.  Stir in a little dried parsley and the red wine.  Season with extra garlic powder and black pepper if you like (I did this, but I like things garlicky and peppery).  Garnish with a bit of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, Cauliflower, and Four Cheeses

Macaroni and Cheese, or any pasta dish for that matter, is not really my thing.  But Rob wanted some, so I was happy to come up with something that I thought he'd like.  I used bleu cheese, swiss cheese, and a mix (which I think is cheddar and mozzarella).  I'd recommend using a variety because it will give you a nice depth of flavor, but use whatever types of cheese you want.  And trust me, you can't taste the cauliflower at all, so it's a good way to sneak in a bit of nutrition.  

What you need:

1 bag frozen cauliflower
Olive oil spray
Season-all (or just salt and pepper)
Garlic Powder
Salt and pepper
8 ounce box of macaroni, cooked al dente
1 medium onion
7 slices of bacon
1.5 cups milk
3 eggs
3-4 ounces EACH bleu cheese, swiss cheese, and mixed cheese blend (or whatever combination you like, just make it add up to around 11 ounces)
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup Panko crumbs

Start by roasting the cauliflower:  I did mine in the toaster oven, but a regular oven will also work.  Or, if you want to save time/effort, skip this and just use the thawed cauliflower as it is.  If roasting, spread on a lightly greased baking sheet, sprinkle with Season-all (or salt and pepper), and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly browned.  I didn't let mine thaw first, so it took a bit longer, but if it is already thawed, this should take 15-20 minutes.  Let cool and chop finely

Next, fry the bacon in a large frying pan over low heat.  Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel and dump all but a very thin coating of the bacon grease out of the frying pan.  Use this leftover fat to fry up the onion.  Once the onion is translucent and slightly browned, add the bacon back in (crumbling it as you go), and then add the cauliflower to the pan.  Add a half cup of the milk and use this extra moisture to scrape up the browned stuff from the bottom of the pan.  Turn off the heat.

Whisk the eggs and the other cup of milk together in a large bowl.  Add about 3/4 of each cheese to the eggs and milk.  Add the bacon mixture, hot sauce, and cooked macaroni.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Pour it all in a 9 x 9 baking pan and then top with the panko and the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fabulous Mini Crab Cakes

These were AMAZING.  I think they are one of the best things I have ever made.  I decided to go a little wild and actually fry them up instead of trying to be healthy by broiling- it was worth it.  I served these alongside a pan of melted brie with roasted red pepper and pecans for the ultimate snacky splurge meal.  

What you need:

10-11 ounces crab meat
1 egg
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1-2 teaspoons mustard
salt and pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs, divided
Vegetable oil, for frying
Mix everything but the panko crumbs and oil together.  Add in 1 cup of the panko crumbs.  Form into 1 1/2 inch diameter discs that are about 1/2-3/4 thick.  Dip in remaining panko crumbs.  Heat oil until just sizzling (I did mine over low, but my burner is HOT, so medium might be appropriate for most).  Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.  Serve with sauce (below).

For the Sauce: 

Mix the following together:

1/4 cup fat free cream cheese
2-3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2-3 tablespoons EACH finely chopped red bell pepper and onion
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce