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!