Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Albondigas Soup

We found this soup to be ok. It would have been better had I used beef instead of ground turkey. Aside from the hint of mint in the meatballs, it just wasn't that special.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 quarts of chicken stock or beef stock OR water OR a mixture of both
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 lb of string beans, strings and ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup of raw white rice
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 raw egg
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A dash of cayenne (optional)
1 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, crumbled, or 1 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed pot (5-qt) over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add broth mixture and tomato sauce. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add carrots and string beans.

Prepare the meatballs. Mix rice into meat, adding mint leaves and parsley, salt and pepper. Mix in raw egg. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Add the meatballs to the simmering soup, one at a time. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add the peas towards the end of the 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne, to taste.

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meatless Monday - Big Daddy's Cheese Pizza

There was a period while growing up when my awesome dad (known to my children as Big Daddy) was responsible for dinner one night of the week. We (my siblings and I) looked forward to that night because we knew we would have one of three things: Little Cesar's $5 pizza, homemade cheese enchiladas, or Dad's cheese pizza. I am my father's daughter in many ways, some that aren't as detrimental to my health as our shared love for anything doughy, only to be made better by adding cheese. And that's where we land with today's Meatless Monday meal: my dad's amazing cheese pizza. I never said Meatless Mondays had to be healthy! I guess you could add some chopped veggies, but I would always choose plain cheese pizza over anything else. Call me crazy. I'd never personally made Dad's pizza, so I emailed him asking for the recipe. My dad is one of my heroes, and not just because he makes incredible cheese pizza! To let you in on the full cheese pizza experience, I'm posting his instructions as he wrote them to me.

In a large mixing bowl add 1 ½ cups luke warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 packets (2 tablespoons) dry active yeast.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix in 3 tablespoons oil, 4 cups flour (whatever kind Mom usually buys?). I mix everything with a fork until it is all a good doughy consistency but not sticky (add more flour if it is), then kneed it with my hands for a minute or two.
Cover the bowl with oil, put the dough in a ball, cover with a dish towel, put in a warm place to rise for one hour.
Cut the dough in half or thirds (depending on how thick you want your crust) to make two or three good size pizza doughs.
Fold the dough over on itself 10-12 times, then sprinkle with flour and roll out on one of those tupperware things that you roll stuff out on.
Sprinkle corn meal on the pizza board (if you have one). If you don’t you really need one or it’s hard to get the dough onto the pizza stone in the oven. I don't have a pizza board, but I used the back side of my largest cookie sheet and it worked well. After you put the rolled out dough on the sprinkled corn meal, give it a little shake before adding sauce and cheese. It helps keep the dough from sticking to the "board".
Oh, by the way, you need to preheat the pizza stone at 400 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
Mix together – one 8 oz. can tomato sauce, one 6 oz. can tomato paste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic salt, ½ teaspoon onion salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano until you like the consistency.
Add whatever other toppings you want and bake the pizza at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is cooked to your liking.
For a variation try doing everything with only your left hand.
Stick leftovers in the fridge and eat cold for breakfast the next morning. (and he would)
I love you.
I love you too, Dad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mexican Chicken Foil Packets

Since everything tastes better when cooked over a camp fire, I'm not promising these will be as good grilled at home - but they sure were a delicious dinner while camping! I'd never done foil packets over a fire before, so I kinda just went for it and we all agreed the result was worthy of repeating. The filling options for a packet dinner are endless. . . . this is what I used . . .

Start with a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray center with cooking spray.
Layer the following in the center of the square:
2-3 slices green bell pepper
1 skinless, boneless chicken thigh
sprinkle chili powder and Penzys Sunny Spain on chicken
2-3 spoonfuls canned black beans, drained
2-3 spoonfuls canned corn, drained
top with grated cheese

Fold up two sides of the foil and pinch together, leaving some room inside the packet for steam to move around. Fold up remaining two sides to close off packet securely.

Repeat steps to make as many packets as you want.

Place packets on grate over fire and cook for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Move the packets around every 7-10 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Open packets carefully, dump on plate over rice, chips or a tortilla, and top with salsa.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Edamame Succotash

Before you snub your nose at the thought of serving succotash for dinner, read on. This was delicious - and filling. My husband requested more bacon next time, but when is there ever enough bacon in a recipe?! The pepper spilled a bit while I was adding it in, and the result was a perfect spiciness. I served this with a baguette and room temperature Neufchatel cheese.

4-6 slices bacon
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion (sweet Vidalia was recommended)
2 cups corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh will all work)
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup torn basil (if you substitute dried basil, add it in earlier than the directions call for)

Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; coarsely chop bacon.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels; sauté for 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Add edamame, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through bell pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and basil.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meatless Monday - Black Bean Lasagna

photo taken from morgandotcom.com

There are plenty of black bean lasagna recipes out there, but this is what I used to try it out for the first time in our home. I was thrilled with the slightly spicy results! I will say this is my favorite Meatless Monday meal thus far. To be fair, I have a soft spot in my tummy for cheese and noodles! It would be very easy to double this and freeze one or take it to a family.

9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp canola oil
2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste
1 cup water
minced fresh cilantro, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flaked
4 egg whites, beaten
1 carton (15 oz) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or whatever you have on hand)

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender. A dd beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, water cilantro, and pepper flaked. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

In a bowl, combine egg whites, ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley. Set aside.

Drain noodles. Spread 1/2 cup bean mixture into 13-by-9-in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with three noodles, a third of ricotta mixture, a thrid of remaining bean mixutre, and 2/3 cup of cheese blend Repeat layers twice.

Cover and bake at 350 30 to 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer o until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chicken and Peach Quesadillas

Not so much a recipe here, but a delicious idea to be sure! The peaches were irresistibly beautiful at the market this weekend, making this quick dinner meal that I adapted from Cooking Light even more scrumptious.

1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
flour tortillas
shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1-2 cups shredded chicken
2 firmly ripe peaches peeled and sliced thin

Combine honey and lime juice in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir sour cream into honey mixture; cover and chill until ready to serve.

Place tortillas flat on a work surface. Sprinkle half with cheese then top with shredded chicken, one slightly overlapping layer of peaches, and a bit of cilantro.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in the pan and top with cast-iron or heavy skillet (leaving it there!) to help them cook more even. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Flip and repeat on other side. Remove quesadillas from pan; set aside and keep warm while repeating with remaining tortillas and filling.

Serve with sour cream mixture and black beans.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Citrus Basil Salad

I saw this recipe on Jessie's blog and thought it looked like a great summer dinner. Perfect. My basil plant is still thriving, so we might be making this again soon.

6 cups romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
½ avocado, chopped
½ Fuji apple, chopped
4 bacon strips, cooked and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup each dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds (I subbed sunflower seeds for the pumpkin seeds)

juice of 1 orange and ½ lime
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar

Combine all salad ingredients into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until blended.

Toss salad with dressing

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meatless Monday - Linguine in Lemon Cream Sauce

I'm posting this because it was our Meatless Monday meal, but we didn't really like it. Something about the cream cheese and lemon combination just didn't sit well. I added some roasted asparagus hoping it might help. Eh. Maybe too much lemon? Your family might enjoy it more than we did, though, so here it is.

8 oz dry linguine
1/2 cup light cream cheese
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and 1 Tbs. zest grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cook linguine according to package directions in pot of boiling salted water.

Warm cream cheese, oil, and 2 Tbs lemon juice in saucepan over low heat.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Stir reserved cooking water into cream cheese mixture. Add pasta, lemon zest, and parsley, toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Layered Sherbert Cake

I've decided on a new tradition: when staying with my in-laws (who are great at playing with my kids), I will embark on making a new dessert that requires my full attention (as opposed to the kind that I can make while playing cars, changing a diaper, getting lunch on the table, etc.). The tradition began with this cake and was carried on during our most recent trip with today's experiment. My Nana gave me the idea for this dessert a while back. The ingredients are very simple and it's fairly quick to put together, but you have to work quickly so the sherbert doesn't melt. The only big change I will make next time is to use two angel food cakes so there is more pure white cake to work with instead of having to use the crusty brown edges as a layer. It didn't look as pretty on the inside as I had hoped. But it was still a fun experiment and would be an impressive summer dessert.

2 angel food cakes
5-6 cups sherbert - use whatever colors you like or make all three layers the same color. It's up to you
1 tub cool whip, thawed

Place the sherbert you are going to use in a bowl(s) and let it soften while you are cutting the cake:

Using a serrated knife, cut the angel food cakes horizontally so you have four even layers of cake, discarding the crusty brown edge on the top of each cake. I didn't do this, so you'll notice in the picture below that the top two layers have the crusty brown part included - they don't look as nice and didn't stay together as well.

Working quickly, start with one layer of cake on your cake stand or serving platter. Smear 1-2 cups of sherbert evenly on top of the cake. Don't worry too much about making the sherbert even at this point. It will continue to soften and you can smooth it out after you've built all your layers. Repeat the cake and sherbert layers, ending with your fourth layer of cake on top. Using a spatula (or your fingers!), smooth out the sides of the sherbert layers, adding dollops of sherbert to fill holes if necessary to make the sherbert flesh with the cake. Put cake in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, up to one hour.

Remove cake from freezer and, working quickly, evenly spread thawed cool whip over the top and sides of the cake. Put cake back in freezer for at least one more hour before serving.

If your cake is like mine and resembles a role of toilet paper, add some brightly colored flowers to the top as a foreshadowing of the colorful surprise that comes when the cake is cut!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baked Cocopanko Chicken

Cocopanko . . . isn't that fun to say?! It's more cute when coming from the mouth of a 2-year-old. My son and I renamed this dish because it was fun to say! And equally fun to eat! I served the tenders with sweet and sour sauce, but I think the flavor of the sauce was a bit too strong for the cocopanko. Next time I'll make some sort of honey mustard dipping thing that I think would be a better pairing.

12 chicken tenders (ya know, more or less...)
1-2 eggs (start with one and crack another if it runs out)
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (you can leave this out if you want to skip the spice for the kiddos)

preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Give coconut a rough chop so it's about the same size as the panko pieces. Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices. Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating.

Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour... then dip in egg... And then finally coat in the cocopanko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.

Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up!) that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I give mine a teeny drizzle of olive oil on top to help them crisp nicely, but it's optional.

Bake in your 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. Try not to overcook them because chicken tenders go from perfect to overcooked really fast! If your tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes so keep an eye on them. If they're big they can take more like 25. The coconut will be nice and golden and the panko crisp, but light in color still.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peach Salsa

This was delicious and perfect for summer!

4 ripe but firm yellow peaches, chopped (skin on or off, your choice, skin on makes for better color) I used two peaches and two nectarines
2-3 Tbsp chopped shallots or onions
2-3 jalapenos, chopped (stem, seeds and ribs discarded)
Juice of a lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put the chopped peaches, shallots, and jalapeños in the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse 2-3 times, just enough to get most the pieces small and to well combine the salsa. Do not liquefy it. I used a blender and it worked fine

Place salsa into a bowl and cover. Let stand for an hour before serving to give the ingredients time to meld.

Serve with chips, fish, pork, or chicken.

Makes about 2 cups.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Be Back Soon . . .

Well, my intentions were to keep things rolling, but posts aren't going to happen this week while I'm on vacation with my family.  I'm ok with that.  I'll be back next week!  
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