Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Never been so glad for leftovers...Gingered Carrot Soup

I am exhausted tonight for some reason. More than usual. I am so glad I hadn't planned on cooking tonight. I have a nice recipe waiting in the fridge, all ready to be reheated.

I made the Gingered Carrot Soup last night. It came from my favorite, the CLBB, and it was posted on this thread -Recipe. It came up in a search of my MasterCook, when I was looking for recipes to use up leftover half and half. Funny thing is, when it came time to add the half and half I was afraid of it curdling, so the recipe I made to use up an ingredient didn't end up including that ingredient! It's alright, though, because I've found two recipes that I will try this week to use up the half and half, and I am excited about both.

This recipe blended up to be a very pretty orange soup. Duh - it's a carrot soup. The orange juice gave it a nice flavor, but I ended up using a bit less than the recipe called for, so with the full amount and no half and half, the soup might have turned out too sweet. I also tossed in a little pepper. I tried using my food processor to blend this, instead of my usual blender. I don't think it worked as well - I still hit ginger chunks. Next soup I might try using my new stick blender.

I'm sure that the soup developed a deeper flavor with sitting overnight, as most soups do. I'm so happy that I get to heat up and relax. Unfortunately, my cleaners come tomorrow, so I do have to do some cleaning. Ah well - I'll be energized with a nice dinner.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gingered Carrot Soup

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
4 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced ginger
3 cups low-sodium defatted chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds carrots -- peeled and sliced
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/4 cup minced ginger and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and 4 cups sliced carrots. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in blender or processor. Return soup to saucepan. Mix in orange juice, then half-and-half. Cook over low heat 5 minutes. Mix in ground cinnamon. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing, thinning with more stock if necessary.) Ladle soup into warm bowls and top with carrot and ginger strips if desired, and serve.

"CLBB Canice -"

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 196 Calories; 8g Fat (37.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 532mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 3 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Eat the rainbow II - Broiled Polenta with Ratatouille

Today's recipe definitely fits in with ARF at Sweetnicks. In a single recipe, I ate the entire rainbow. Well almost.

Red - red bell pepper, red kidney beans, tomatoes - canned & dried
no orange
Yellow - yellow bell pepper, polenta
Green - zucchini
no blue - but what's a blue veggie?
Violet/Purple - eggplant

If that doesn't give enough veggies, what does? And to add to the pleasure, not only was it healthy, but delicious. And large portions!

This recipe also gave me the opportunity to try out polenta logs. It's interesting - I tasted what I thought was chicken broth in the polenta, but according to the ingredient list, there was none in it. I'm not sure how I feel about the product. When I opened the log, some liquid came out, so it was a bit messy. I liked the chicken-y flavor, but I wasn't sure about the texture. It also took longer to broil the cheese in the recipe than it listed - about 2x longer.

I can definitely see repeating this recipe. Maybe with a pile of creamy polenta instead of the discs.

To see all of the wonderful recipes in this week's roundup, check out Sweetnicks.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Broiled Polenta with Ratatouille

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
8 sun-dried tomato halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion -- coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves -- finely chopped
1 (3/4-pound) eggplant -- unpeeled and cubed
1 (1/2-pound) zucchini -- cubed
1 red bell pepper -- seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sweet yellow pepper -- seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
30 ounces canned kidney beans
16 ounces polenta in logs -- refrigerated tube
1/4 ounce grated parmesan cheese

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the liquid, then chop the tomatoes.

Meanwhile heat a nonstick Dutch oven. Swirl in the oil, then add the onion and garlic. Saute until golden, about 7 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, sugar, salt, ground pepper, and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are softened and the flavors are developed, about 30 minutes. Stir in the basil during the last 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Cut the polenta into 12 crosswise slices; arrange on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cheese and broil 5 inches from the heat until hot and the cheese is golden, about 4 minutes.

Serve the ratatouille with the broiled polenta rounds.

"Simply Delicious"

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 295 Calories; 4g Fat (11.1% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 1150mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 3 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Monday, January 29, 2007

Acting as substitute baker...Ginger-Cardamom Applesauce Cake

A good friend sits in the cube next to mine at work. She has been baking and bringing in the results every Monday for a long time now. This week, she is in Florida, and I have been designated her substitute. Not a bad thing, of course - I don't get to bake as much as I'd like to.

The recipe I chose was from a new favorite source of mine, the Cook's Illustrated web site. I love the show, love the books of theirs I have (The New Best Recipe and The Best Light Recipe), so I decided to give in and sign up for an annual membership. The membership is $25, but I think it's worth it.

The recipe I decided to make called for apple cider (which I had), dried apples (which I had), and applesauce (which I didn't have). Call me a bit stubborn, but even though I try to cook light, I'm resistant to baking with applesauce as an oil substitute, because I've heard it makes baked goods gummy. Life's too short for gummy food! But since this is an applesauce cake, I think it's okay. =)

I'm not sure how I initially found the recipe (don't ask me how many different ways I search for recipes), but it drew me in because it called for cardamom. I love cardamom. I'm not sure how much of it is because I love the smell versus the taste. I just know that I like using it.

This recipe was interesting. A medium amount of exertion (cooking down the dried apples), but beyond that, not too bad. The cake came out very moist, in fact a little too moist I believe. The spices were strong, but just before the line of overwhelming. I portioned the cake into 12 pieces and ended up having my slice as breakfast. It was a cake where you can feel decadent, but not too rich, and fake yourself out as to the health aspects. It's applesauce cake - how bad can it be? Well, not too bad, but it's definitely a treat.

Would I repeat? Probably not. There are too many untried recipes out there, to be boldly explored!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ginger-Cardamom Applesauce Snack Cake

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 ounces dried apple -- cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup apple cider
7 1/2 ounces unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 3/4 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger -- minced
1 cup unsweetened applesauce -- at room temperature
1 large egg -- at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter -- melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.

Bring dried apples and cider to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook until liquid evaporates and mixture appears dry, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk flour and baking soda in medium bowl to combine; set aside. In second medium bowl, whisk sugar, ginger, and cardamom. Measure 2 tablespoons sugar-spice mixture into small bowl, add crystallized ginger, and set aside for topping.

In food processor, process cooled dried-apple mixture and applesauce until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed; set aside. Whisk egg and salt in large bowl to combine. Add sugar-spice mixture and whisk continuously until well combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add butter in three additions, whisking after each. Add applesauce mixture and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; using rubber spatula, fold gently until just combined and evenly moistened.

Turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula. Sprinkle reserved 2 tablespoons topping evenly over batter. Bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Run knife along cake edges without parchment to release. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut cake and serve.

"Cooks Illustrated"

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 211 Calories; 8g Fat (34.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 33g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 39mg Cholesterol; 206mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A new veggie...Garlicky Greens & Beans

I am obsessive about using ingredients as soon as I get them. I bought a can of cannellini beans last week, so I was searching my MasterCook for a recipe to use them. I was thrilled to find Garlicky Greens & Beans. It looked like the perfect side/light meal. I am definitely a garlic person. Plus, it gave me a chance to experiment with hearty greens (in this case, kale), which is a veggie I've never worked with.

The recipe came together quickly. I took advantage of the convenience products of today - the kale came already sliced in a bag! It also said it was washed, but I take no chances. Plus, I got to play with my salad spinner! (I can't help it - it's fun!)

I usually rinse & drain my canned beans, but this recipe calls for them undrained. I wasn't sure about that, but it definitely works. As the beans heat, the liquid picks up the garlic flavor beautifully.

The result is wonderful. The greens are tender, the sauce is garlicky (although I could see using a little less), and the mix of beans & greens definitely works. It even got me to like dried tomatoes, which I have never had luck with before.

Even though my pictures are still not great, I think you should be able to see that the color combination works. The bright green of the kale, the creamy white beans, the little bits of dried tomato...pretty.

I've double-wrapped the leftovers, in hopes that the garlic will not overwhelm the refrigerator. I can't wait to try the leftovers tomorrow!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Garlicky Greens and Beans

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:25
Categories : Side Dish

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 1/2 pounds kale, chard or mustard greens -- trimmed and cut into pieces (1 inch)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic -- crushed
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans) -- undrained
6 dried tomato halves -- rehydrated if dried, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary -- crushed
Dash red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper -- to taste

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Toss the greens into the boiling water and cook until they are almost tender but still bright green, 5-8 minutes (time will depend upon the type of green being used). Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. (Greens can be cooked one day ahead; refrigerate until continuing with recipe). Heat olive oil in large skillet and sauté garlic until tender but not browned; stir in beans and cook and stir for 8 minutes, heating beans through (some beans may break up; this is okay as it helps thicken the dish); gently stir in reserved greens and remaining ingredients. Cook and stir gently until heated through. If desired, top each serving with a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

"National Pork Producers Council"
S(Internet address):
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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 148 Calories; 3g Fat (18.8% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 624mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 2532 0 0 512 258 0 0 0 2130706543

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Now that's addiction...Artichoke and Red Pepper Frittata

I haven't cooked all week. I didn't get a chance to do my elaborate dance of indecision, and I really didn't feel like shopping and cooking after a long day of work. I had decided that I would finally get to cook tonight.

So I had a sore throat yesterday that hung on all day today, and kept me drooping. I thought about picking up something simple for dinner. Unfortunately, my little obsessive mind didn't want to lose my cooking opportunity. Luckily the recipe I had chosen was something simple.

I'm not a huge fan of eggs. It's been bothering me though that I'd buy eggs to bake with, and end up tossing them before I could use them all. So I decided to try something aside from the standard egg white omelet. I'd tried a frittata before, and had ended up with a slightly burnt bottom. (On the frittata, not me). This recipe came from Eating Well - Artichoke and Red Pepper Frittata.

This recipe came together easily. I ended up using a 12-inch pan instead of 10-inch, and I don't think it would have been a good idea to use the smaller pan, because of how thick the mixture was in a 12-inch. The recipe says it serves 2, but that is a little too much egg for me, so I quartered it. Leftovers for breakfast!

The bottom was lightly golden, and broiled nicely on top. The artichoke hearts became slightly sweet with the heat. The oregano was a little too strong, so if I repeated, I might lower the oregano, and maybe add some tabasco.

The frittata could make a semi-egg lover out of me. Next step - soft-boiled over toast, or poached in spinach nests.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's winter - just doesn't feel like it...Cider-Baked Apples with Dried Cranberries

It really is amazing how mild this winter has been. I went out yesterday, and saw some teenagers in shorts. In January. Amazing.

I've got an ambition to cook more this year. Although I was fairly happy last year - I tried 116 new recipes. I decided to do my best to join in the SGOTW on the CLBB every week. It's a way to get more use out of my cookbook collection. That way I don't feel as guilty when I want to buy more.

This week we were challenged to cook from a cookbook we got for Christmas. I had a choice of three - The New Best Recipe, The Best Light Recipe, and Williams Sonoma Healthy Cooking. All beautiful books, and I believe that I will get some good use from all of them - especially the first two. I went through the two healthy cookbooks, but couldn't decide. I had thought about doing vegetarian bean chili and muffins, but with this weather, not a chance. I decided to use up the cider that is STILL in my fridge.

I love fruit. I also love desserts - but most of the time I don't want the mix the two. If I have a dessert, I want to have a true dessert - which in my mind means chocolate. I decided to open my mind this time, though. And boy - am I glad I did.

In terms of the recipe, I halved it, and left off the walnuts that I have listed in the recipe below. I baked it in a loaf pan - worked out nicely. I especially liked how easily the apple cored when I used the melon baller that was recommended.

The final result was a nicely tender apple. The cider cooked down into a sweet syrup, although there wasn't much of it. There were a ton of dried cranberries, however. And one recommendation - the best dried cranberries I've had are Newman's Own Organic. They are nicely chewy, and when cooked in the cider plumped out beautifully.

The nice thing about this recipe is that I have 1 apple left. I might get to it later this week - it will work as a nice breakfast.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cider-Baked Apples with Dried Cranberries

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
4 Golden Delicious apples
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup chopped walnuts -- (optional)

Heat oven to 375. Using a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of apple peel from the top of each apple. Stem and core apple using a melon baller, being careful not to cut all the way through the blossom end.

Place the apples in an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the dried cranberries evenly among the apple cavities. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, then sprinkle in and around the apples. Pour the cider into the dish, then add the cinnamon sticks and the remaining 1/4 cup cranberries.

Bake apples until tender when pierced with a skewer, 45 to 55 minutes, brushing apples with cider several times during baking. (Be careful not to overbake, or the skins will split). Transfer apples to a serving platter and tent with foil while making sauce.

Pour cooking liquid into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Spoon some sauce over apples, and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

"The Best Light Recipe"

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 262 Calories; 5g Fat (16.2% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 56g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 10mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0