Monday, October 15, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

I procured this recipe from a very dear friend last year when I needed an appetizer for my Thanksgiving dinner I hosted. I learned 3 things when I made this recipe: 1. Don't present a new dish to an unadventurous crowd (needless to say, I ate most of the soup). 2. Butternut squash are very hard to peel and cut; hence, I recommend roasting before cubing. 3. I am totally in love with the butternut squash and I looking into more ways to enjoy said squash. Thank you, Dorothea, for this wonderfully warm and deliciously good recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 med-large butternut squash, seeded, cut in half
1/2 large granny smith apple; peeled, cored, and diced
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 apple bourbon (optional)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 thyme (or oregano)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

-->Preheat oven to 350*. Split the butternut squash down the middle. Remove seeds. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle salt. Roast squash for 45 minutes.

-->While squash is roasting, chop apple and onions. Render bacon on med-hi in a large skillet. Remove excess grease from pan and set aside.

-->15 minutes before squash is done, in a large skillet, on med-lo, melt butter and start sauteing onions and apples. When squash is done, peel and cube (this is a messy process). Add to the onions and apples with the bacon, salt, pepper and thyme. Saute for 5 minutes.

 -->Slowly add the apple cider and apple cider vinegar to the skillet. Let simmer for 5 minutes before slowly adding chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

 -->In small batches, puree in a food processor until very smooth.

-->Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream or warm apple wedges with cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin seeds

Fall. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing from brilliant green to muted shades of yellow, orange and burgundy. Cool, crisp nights. Warm days. Blue jeans, sweaters. Not to mention the smells and wonderful fall foods...pumpkins, cinnamon, warm apple crisps.

Yesterday, my husband and I carved our pumpkin.

We found the perfect pumpkin at the local grocer. Not too big, not too small. Round with a good stem. Most importantly, plenty of seeds. My husband and I both have fond childhood memories of eating roasted pumpkin seeds after carving the pumpkin. Hence this next, very simple, recipe for Roasted pumpkin seeds.

Seeds from pumpkin and Salt

-->Clean seeds from pumpkin goo (stringy slimy stuff that we fondly call pumpkin guts)
-->Wash and set on towel to dry in a single layer.

-->Remove any leftover goo and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.

 -->Bake at 275* for 1 hour. Enjoy!

**For a sweeter version, I was thinking about melting 1 stick of butter, adding 1/8 cup of brown sugar and a 1 tsp of Cinnamon. Coating the pumpkin seeds in mixture and roasting at the same temp and time.**

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Black Bean Salsa

I was never a fan of black beans until I found this recipe one summer. The first time I made this recipe, I followed it to a tee. Then I became more adventurous and started adding/subtracting ingredients according to what was stocked in my pantry. The following is what I have come to terms with after several years of perfecting. I also started adding it as a side dish to my cookout menus. My favorite so far is as a garnish with my turkey burgers and couscous. This is also a great dish to serve by itself with tortilla chips or pita chips for an appetizer, as well.

Black Bean Salsa

1/3 cup diced red bell peppers
1/4 cup diced red onion (for a milder flavor, use yellow onion)
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
2 Tbsp chopped celery
2 Tbsp diced jalapeno peppers (leave seeds and ribs intact for extra heat)
1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil leaves
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Juice of one Lime
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 cloves of garlic
2-15oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

--> Add all ingredients in order as they appear. Stir well and chill.

--> This dish maybe made up to two days in advance and stored for up to a week after made. I have sauteed the leftovers and served over salad  and/or a meat as a warm garnish.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chicken Asian Wraps with Rice

My husband and I have a fetish for Asian food. One of our favorite traditions is going to the Chinese buffet on Christmas and then going to a movie. Though as much as we love eating Asian food out, we had become aware of the fact that we needed to lose weight. The high sodium content and carbohydrate overload was not conducive to our weight loss plan.

After some research, I came up with the following lower sodium, low carb Asian meal that has become one of our favorites.

Chicken Asian Wraps with Rice

1 lb ground chicken (I have also used ground turkey and/or ground pork)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 small sweet peppers, diced
1/8 cup Julianne sun dried tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large carrot, sliced thinly

Salt, ground pepper, ground ginger, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes
EVOO, low-sodium soy sauce, 1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

Romaine Lettuce
1 cucumber, sliced into strips
Texas Pete Hot sauce 
Rice-a-Roni, made according to directions on the box (optional for those low carb-ers)

 --> In a large skillet, heat the EVOO on med-hi; add ground chicken and season with salt and pepper.

-->Add carrots, sun dried tomatoes, onions and peppers. Cook until soft, then add the minced garlic. 

-->Add the spices to the meat and vegetable mixture. Make a space in the middle of the pan and add the sesame seeds to the pan. 

--> Let the sesame seeds toast for 30 seconds. Then add a splash of chicken broth and stir the sesame seeds into the meat/vegetables.

-->Add remainder of chicken broth and a few splashes of soy sauce and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and let simmer until mixture thickens.

-->Slice cucumber and arrange lettuce on plates while meat is simmering. The rice should be cooked and ready to serve when meat is ready.

-->Arrange the wraps with the rice on bottom of lettuce, a couple of slices of cucumber, then meat. Eat it like an Asian taco. Remember, you can leave the rice off for those who are doing a low carb diet. Enjoy!!

New "old fashion" Pork Roast

The Pork Roast. A Sunday staple in many households in the USA. In my household, this is one of the many "go-to" meals that my husband and I enjoy. This particular pork roast is a new variation of the typical Sunday roast which includes onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic with a variant of spices and herbs.

New "Old Fashion" Pork Roast

2lb pork roast
1 large yellow onion
3 mini sweet peppers: yellow, red, and orange
4 whole sun dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp EVOO
Salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic powder
1/2 cup chicken broth

--->Salt and pepper both sides of roast. On one side of the roast, sprinkle with nutmeg. On the opposite side, sprinkle with garlic powder.
--> Preheat oven to 375*. Place roast in roasting pan, cover with onions, sun dried tomatoes and peppers. Drizzle EVOO over top.

--> Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours. At the end of the first hour, add chicken broth and break up the onions.

--> Plate the roast with vegetables, let rest before cutting. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Baked chicken with creamy chickpea salad

Baked chicken is one of my go-to recipes when I need a quick meal.This meal is great when you have nothing defrosted and little prep time to work with. You can take the chicken straight from the freezer and into the oven in a matter of minutes.
Coming into the spring and summer season, my family loves bean salads. They are another quick and versatile side dish that goes great with most any meat.  They are great just eat by themselves, as well; adding in some cold cuts, pepperoni, or salami for an antipasto. This creamy chickpea salad is no exception. Feel free to add more vegetables to it to make it hardier if used by itself. After test tasting it that evening, my husband and I thought that cucumbers, zuchinni, and squash would be a addition to the salad.

Baked Chicken
1 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
2 Tbsp Mayo (I used Hellman's reduced fat with Olive Oil)
1 tsp salt, pepper, powdered garlic, and paprika

-->Preheat oven to 375*
-->Salt, pepper, and garlic one side of chicken, flip and place on baking dish.
-->Salt, pepper, and garlic other side of chicken. Spread a light layer of Mayo and sprinkle with paprika.
-->Bake for 45 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Salad

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped white onions
1 stalk of celery, diced finely
5-6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp Ranch dressing
Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic powder to taste

-->Combine all ingredients in large bowl, saving the dressing for last.

-->Chill in refrigerator while chicken is baking.

When chicken is baked, plate the meal. The creamy-ness  of the chickpea salad should compliment the creamy-ness of the chicken. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pan Seared Pork with Stewed Tomatoes and Corn

My family is all about trying to save a few pennies here and there. One of the ways we like to save is buying a pork roast instead of already sliced pork chops.  The savings are generally around $2-3, which in this economy, goes along way. In creating this blog and cookbook, I added a chapter on 10 ways to cook a pork roast. This is one of the recipes.

1.5 lb pork roast, sliced into 1/2 inch thick medallions
A pinch each of Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, and Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 Large white onion, sliced

-->Heat Olive oil and butter in your Cast Iron Skillet on Med-Hi; Preheat oven to 375*

-->Season pork with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg on one side.
Place seasoned side in pan, season the other side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Sear for 5-7 minutes on each side.

--> Place chicken broth and arrange onions on top of pork. 

--> Bake for 20 minutes, flip medallions over and break up onions. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Stewed Tomatoes and Corn
1 can of Stewed tomatoes, drained
2 can sweet yellow corn, drained and rinsed
1Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chicken broth
Pinch of Salt, pepper, and garlic powder

--> In a medium sauce pan, melt butter on med-hi
-->Add corn and stewed tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

--> Warm for 10-15 minutes; stirring occasionally.

--> After you turn the pork, I would start the stewed tomatoes and corn. That way, it will be done when you pull the pork out of the oven. Everything will be ready to serve.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Roasted Potatoes

This side dish is another simple and delicious addition to a meat dish. I prepare the dish first and have it cooking while I am making my meat and other vegetables.

9-10 small-medium red potatoes, cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic minced
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes
Olive Oil

--> Peel and cubed potatoes

-->In a large bowl, combine potatoes, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, s&p, red pepper flakes, and olive oil.

--> On a foiled and greased baking sheet, place potatoes in a single layer. Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes, turning at about 20 minutes.
--> Serve with a meat and vegetable of your choice.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

This salad is a simple, delicious and low Carb addition to any meal. I first discovered it at my husband's cousin house and have added my own twist throughout the years.

1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8" thick.
1 large beef tomato, sliced
1 large yellow tomato, sliced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
5-7 fresh basil leaves

--> Season tomato slices with S&P

-->On a large platter, alternate tomato slices and mozzarella slices.

--> Roll basil leaves into a cigar and slice.

-->Drizzle Olive Oil and sprinkle basil leaves over tomatoes and mozzarella.