Friday, April 29, 2011

Hot tomato basil soup

Hot as in temperature, not as in overly spicy.  This creamy but low-fat soup has garlic for a bit of heat, but otherwise it's very mild.  You can dress it up with crushed red pepper flakes when it's served though ;-)

Tomato Basil Soup

Olive oil
Sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Carrot, chopped
1 can (28 oz) whole or crushed tomatoes with juice
2 c vegetable broth
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
Black pepper to taste
2 T fresh basil, finely chopped
1 c fat-free buttermilk
Optional: crushed red pepper

In a large saucepan, cook the onion, garlic, and carrot in oil over medium low heat until everything is softened.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, broth, salt sugar, and black pepper.  Break up the tomatoes if using whole.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.  Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to puree the soup, leaving some chunky if you'd like.  Stir in the basil and buttermilk, and serve with red pepper if desired.  To reheat, do not boil.  It can also be served cold.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stuffed green peppers

I've never been a real fan of traditional stuffed peppers, with the ground beef, rice, and jarred spaghetti sauce.  But recently I tried an experiment and mixed some ingredients together that I thought would be tasty, and we were very pleased with the results.

Stuffed Green Peppers

4 large peppers
1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil (or 1 T fresh)
1/2 t cumin seeds, ground
1/4 t cinnamon
1 T red wine vinegar
1 lb ground chicken
2 c cubed butternut squash
3/4 c seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 c raisins (optional)

Cut off the tops and clean out the peppers.  In a large bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes through the vinegar.  Spoon about 1 to 1-1/2 c of the mixture into the bottom of a covered casserole.  Add the chicken through the raisins to the remaining tomato mixture and stir well.  Spoon most of the mixture into the peppers and replace their tops.  Spoon any remaining mixture around the bottom.  Cover the casserole and cook at 350 for about an hour.  They can also be cooked in a crock pot on low for about 5 hours.  Make sure the chicken mixture reaches 160 F.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cherry chutney

I love chutneys, especially deep-flavored spicy ones, and this one definitely qualifies. It was great with salmon, but I think we'd like it with roasted chicken or pork too.

Cherry Chutney

Olive oil
Onion, diced
1 T fresh ginger, minced
1 c grated carrot
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/8 t ground coves
1/3 c apple juice or cider
3/4 c dried tart cherries

Cook the onion in oil until softened in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low and cook covered for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chicken piccata sauce

Yes, I have found yet another way to serve Brussels Sprouts, but these are not really integral to the recipe...I used the crock pot method for preparing the Piccata Sauce and added the sprouts right to the pot. 

You can make Chicken Piccata in a large skillet and have it ready as a thirty minute meal, or you can stick it into a crock pot and allow the flavors to develop more fully over a few hours.  I decreased the broth amount slightly for the crock pot.

Chicken Piccata Sauce

1/2 c flour
1 lb chicken, tenders or sliced breast
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-1/4 c chicken broth (reduce slightly if planning on using a crock pot)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 T fresh sage, chopped
3 T capers
1 T butter
Pasta (penne is good)

Put the flour into a plastic bag and add the chicken pieces, shaking to coat.  In a large skillet, cook the chicken in a single layer until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side over medium heat.  Remove the cooked chicken from the pan.  Drain off excess fat and add the liquids, deglazing the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes until juices are slightly reduced.

Pan method: Return chicken to the pan along with the herbs and capers.  Cook for a few more minutes, stir in the butter and serve over pasta.

Crock pot method: Pour the juices into a crock pot, adding the chicken, herbs, and capers.  Cook on medium low for a hours, adding vegetables to the pot too if you'd like.  Stir in the butter just before serving over pasta.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken divan

This is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken or turkey.  Doesn't everyone have a version of divan that they particularly like?  We have moved away from using a mornay sauce (bechamel sauce with cheese added) and have settled on mixing our sharp cheese into more cheese...a mild ricotta.  The recipe is easy to half (as shown above) if you've only got a few to feed.

Chicken (or Turkey) Divan

2 heads of broccoli, chopped
1-1/2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1 c grated sharp cheddar or Gruyere cheese
1 T lemon juice
2 eggs
4 c cooked chicken
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
1-1/2 c breadcrumbs (we like Panko)
1/2 c grated fresh Romano cheese
2 T olive oil

Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with oil and preheat the oven to 450.  Steam or microwave the broccoli pieces until they are soft and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese through the eggs.  Stir in the chicken, the broccoli, and the basil.  Place mixture in the casserole dish.

In the bowl, mix the breadcrumbs through the oil by hand and spread it over the chicken mixture.  Bake until the casserole is heated through, probably not more than about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let it set up for about 5 minutes and serve.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beer can chicken with fig and black olive sauce

Martha Stewart knows a fabulous thing to do with a can of stick it up a chicken's butt!  The great thing about the Guinness can as opposed to some other beer cans is that it's tall, so the chicken has a better chance of not falling over!

I used Martha's recipe, except that I added vegetables to my cast iron skillet to cook in the chicken schmaltz (so good!), and I changed up the sauce recipe a bit, adding 1/2 c chopped dried figs and 1/4 c chopped black kalamata olives.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Creamy chocolate frosting

No Taxing Recipes Today!!

For my sweetie's birthday, he wanted a dense chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting.  The perfect cake for him was to convert my chocolate muffin recipe (bake in a 9x13 pan for about 50 minutes), topped with this quick and easy creamy frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

5 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Melt the chocolate on medium power in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time. Microwave the milk until just warm. Combine the two and stir until smooth. Store in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally as it cools. Allow to come to room temperature before spreading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bok choy soup

I had some leftover sausage that I used in this stew, but if you'd like to make it a vegetarian delight, just leave out the sausage and switch to vegetable stock.  My amounts aren't exact since I sort of made it up as I went along.

Bok Choy Soup

Olive oil
Onion, chopped
Garlic, chopped
White wine
Chicken or vegetable stock
Large can of crushed or diced tomatoes
Bok choy, chopped
Fresh thyme
Lemon juice

Cook the onion, garlic, and sausage in the olive oil in a Dutch oven until browned.  Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the meat and stir well.  Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits.  Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the bok choy and lower to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh thyme and lemon juice.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cha siu pork skewers

Best done on the grill, you can also do cha siu pork skewers in the oven in a broiling pan when your hankering comes in the middle of a New England snowstorm.  I like my original cha siu sauce a bit better, but this recipe from Hannaford's Fresh magazine isn't too bad.  I skipped the zucchini just because I'm not a huge fan.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate buckeyes

Buckeyes with peanut butter roll filling

Buckeyes with truffle filling

So simple, so fun, so good!  Decorate the tops or leave them plain.  I have made them two different ways, and each version has its fans.

Method one: Make a batch of Peanut Butter Roll.  This mixture comes out relatively stiff and needs only minimal freezing before dipping.  This is my personal favorite.

Method two: Make a batch of the truffle filling for Peanut Butter Plops.  This mixture is soft and needs substantial freezing before dipping.  It is the favorite of those who like a very soft center. 

Either way, make your filling, freeze, roll balls, use a toothpick and dip them into melted chocolate (link for notes on tempering chocolate).  Either smooth off the little mark on the top from the toothpick or stick a nut there to hide it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Balsamic chicken with spinach

This meal can be put together really quickly if you chose to use couscous.  If you've got a bit more time, make quinoa or rice instead and let the chicken simmer in the sauce.

Balsamic Chicken with Spinach

Olive oil
1 lb chicken breast tenders
Salt and pepper
3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 c chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) chopped tomatoes and juice
8 oz fresh baby spinach
Couscous, rice, or quinoa to serve over

In a heavy skillet, brown the chicken in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.  When chicken is just cooked through, add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the vinegar and broth, scraping up the browned bits.  Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer.  Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened.  Remove the chicken and stir in the spinach, tossing it to wilt slightly.  Divide grain onto plates and top with the spinach mixture and the chicken.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coconut milk vegetable curry

The sauce that this stew makes is so creamy that you'll swear there is cheese in it...until you taste it!

Basmati rice makes a tasty base to spoon this dish over, but we had quinoa instead for a change.  It's higher protein, so it seemed like a good choice.

Coconut Milk Vegetable Curry

1 can of coconut milk (about 14 oz)
1/4 c flour
2 T red curry paste or your favorite curry spice mix
Large onion, chopped

4 oz of small red potatoes, quartered
2 c butternut squash, chopped
1 head of cauliflower florets
1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Red bell pepper, chopped
1 c frozen peas
Basmati rice, quinoa, or couscous to serve over

In a slow cooker, whisk the coconut milk together with the flour and curry paste.  Add the vegetables except for the peas and turn to coat.  Cook on low for 6 hours or so until the vegetables are soft.  Stir in the peas and serve over grain or pasta.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Easiest Fudge Recipe Ev-ah

I'm not usually interested in making (or eating) food that uses a lot of processed ingredients, but when I tried this recipe, I was sold and decided to ignore that it uses marshmallows.  It is so much easier than any other cooked fudge recipe I've used, plus the texture is rich and creamy.  As a bonus, you can use any flavor of chocolate that you want...obviously I used dark.  Shock!


2 c sugar
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 3/4 c mini marshmallows
1/2 c butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
2 t vanilla
8 oz of chocolate, broken up or chopped

Butter an 8 x 8" glass baking pan well.

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan combine the sugar, evaporated milk, marshmallows, butter and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and chocolate.  Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely combined and smooth.  Pour into the buttered baking dish.  Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until firm.

 Here's the same recipe, using white chocolate and some molds.  The consistency is pretty soft, so I recommend not using a cheap plastic mold like I did.