Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vegetarian Minestrone

This is one of those dishes that when you put it on your menu, it’s all you can think about.  I found a version of the recipe on Thursday and have been thinking about it since.  Now it’s made and in the pot waiting for Craig to get home.  

Since I love to bake, but can’t seem to make a loaf of bread that is enjoyable, I purchased a parbaked loaf of Potato Rosemary, frozen from the local super store (Fred Meyer!!!) and it’s in the oven finishing off.  Can’t wait.  It is such an super easy recipe, that I’m sure you al l will enjoy.  Check it out.

Vegetarian Minestrone
A very tasty minestrone recipe that’s completely meatless. This soup is thick and hearty, and once you’ve had a decent plateful you are quite full. An excellent winter night’s evening meal!

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
½ each red, yellow and orange pepper, diced
½ -1 teaspoon dried basil (used fresh and doubled the amount)
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ -1 teaspoon dried oregano (used fresh and doubled the amount)
¼  teaspoon pepper
2 boxes vegetable stock
1 lb small macaroni noodles or other small pasta
10 ounces spinach (fresh or frozen), cut into thin strips
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, undrained
¼ cup packed fresh parsley, minced
Grated parmesan cheese (for topping)

1. Combine the carrots, garlic and onion in a large soup kettle or pot, and cook, covered, over low heat for about 10-15 minutes (until the onion is soft and translucent).
2. Stir occasionally and add a little stock or water if necessary to prevent scorching.
3. Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, peppers, basil, marjoram, oregano and pepper and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
4. Add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes (until tender).
5. Add the spinach, parsley, beans and their liquid, and cook for about 5 more minutes (until heated through).
6. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side to sprinkle on top, if desired.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

BBQ Turkey Burgers....

Tonight’s dinner, was AWESOME!  I had no idea what we were going to have this morning, and those of you who know me, know, I gotta plan things out!  Anyhow, with the great weather today, I thought a BBQ Burger dinner would be great.  As you know Craig doesn’t eat red meat, so I used Ground Turkey instead of Beef. Below is the “recipe” I used:

            1.5 lbs Ground Turkey
            1 med onion, finely minced
            3 eggs
            1 pkg Dry Guacamole mix
            Panko, enough to “firm up” the mix

            Buns (enough for patties)

Mix all the mixture together, form into patties, and refrigerate to keep firm.  Heat BBQ on high to sear the burgers.  Once the burger are on the BBQ, turn the heat down and cook until completely done (160F).  Place cheese, and leave on BBQ until melted. Lightly butter buns and place on grill, NOT over direct heat.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day....................

As a classic for St. Patrick's Day, I'm making Corned Beef.

This is the first year I've made it, so wish me luck....ok, so I did try a dry run on Sunday, and used the meat for corned beef sandwiches all week.

My "recipe" is going to include....MUSTARD and a little balsamic vinegar....can you believe that! The mustard and vinegar adds a little tartness that the salty beef needs.

4 T Olive oil
2-2.5 lb pre-seasoned corned beef (cause I have NO IDEA how to make one from scratch!)
1 jar Dijon  mustard
3.5 cups water (or so)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 large onion
6-7 little yellow potatoes
4 carrots
1 lb shredded cabbage (I used packaged “cole slaw” mix)

Sear both sides of the corned beef in a large pot. Add water, mustard, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 3 hours. During the last 30 minutes add in washed potatoes, chopped onion and carrots. About 10 minute before serving, add in some shredded cabbage. Pull out beef and allow to rest.

Serve sliced. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rainy Day Comfort Food.....Challenge

Most people think it rains all the time in the Northwest.  I’ve lived in Portland and Seattle all of my life, and I have to say, it does rain a lot, but not all the time.  The exception to that would be this week.  Wow, it’s like the skies have opened and just dumped.  This gets me to thinking.  I always love to cook, but weather like this demands comfort food.  What’s your go-to comfort food during the inclement weather season?  Let me know, and I’ll post your recipe for all to share.  To kick it off here is a favorite of ours:

Healthy(er) Mac and Cheese 

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large can chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
Freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
8-12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil cooking spray  

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine squash, and stock in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add noodles; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch-square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

4. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

(I add seasoned breadcrumbs to the topping as well,)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remy’s Ratatouille

I asked Craig if he would cook on his day off, so he said "I want to make Ratatouillle". and I got to choose the recipe.  So those of you who know me, know I LOVE Pixar movies, so naturally I would select the recipe from the movie Ratatouille!  (Hahaha it might have been the hardest recipe he has EVER made, next to the Martha Stewart candy debacle (de·ba·cle-diˈbakəlNoun; a fiasco) of 1998!, right Tonya!!) (wanna know, gotta ask!) So far, it smells INCREDIBLE.

Remy’s Ratatouille

For the Piperade (bottom layer):
½ red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
½ bay leaf
Kosher salt

For the Vegetables:
1 medium zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch-thick rounds
1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
1 yellow (summer) squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
½ teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (such as thyme and chervil)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the piperade, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place pepper halves on the baking sheet, cut side down. Roast until the skins loosen, about 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Peel the peppers and discard the skins. Finely chop the peppers; set aside.

In medium skillet over low heat, combine oil, garlic and onion and saute until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until very soft and little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the peppers and simmer to soften them. Discard the herbs, then season to taste with salt. Reserve a tablespoon of the mixture, then spread the remainder over the bottom of an 8-inch oven-proof skillet.

To prepare the vegetables, you will arrange the sliced zucchini, eggplant, squash and tomatoes over the piperade in the skillet.

Begin by arranging 8 alternating slices of vegetables down the center, overlapping them so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. This will be the center of the spiral. Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. All vegetables may not be needed. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, oil and thyme, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle this over vegetables.
Ratatouille layered, before cooking.

Cover the skillet with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until the vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.)

If there is excess liquid in pan, place it over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, heat the broiler and place skillet under it until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and lift very carefully onto plate with an offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees as you set the food down, gently fanning the food into fan shape. Drizzle the vinaigrette around plate. Serves 4. 
Ratatouille, after cooking.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

The other night we tried this recipe, and it was AMAZING!  by all means try this one.  You will totally enjoy this recipe.  It is so easy and SO GOOD!!!

Chicken in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic -- crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 red bell pepper -- coarsely chopped
3 cups sliced mushrooms -- about 8 ounces
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
3 cups hot cooked farfalle -- bow tie pasta

Stir cornstarch into water; reserve.
Cut chicken into thin strips.
Coat large skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat until hot.
Cook onion, garlic, salt and pepper in skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in chicken and red pepper. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken no longer is pink. Stir in mushrooms, wine and bouillon granules.
Heat to boiling; reduce Cover and simmer 1 minute. Stir in sour cream. Stir cornstarch mixture into skillet.
Cook over medium-high heat about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened Sprinkle with chives. Serve over pasta.
Serving Size : 6