Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I hope all my soups aren't orange?
They are?
I knew it... I was just checking to see if you noticed.

Orange is my FAVORITE color... you know those old gals that wear "purple and red"?
Nope, I will not be one of those gals, but maybe I will start an orange and hot pink club. Definately more my style.

Hmmm, not exactly sure why all my soups are orange, but it could be that I like tomatoes, curry powder and squash- - which just so happen to all be orange-y red colors and do a wonderful job imparting their colorful glow (either together, or separately) onto all that they touch, like happiness.
Isn't that nice?

It was a lazy Sunday, one where we slept in, lazed around eating a yummy brunch, and then finally took our walk. Whew, then we're SO tired, we had to finish lazing about for the remainder of the day.  I roasted some veggies I needed to use, thinking they'd be good for a Sunday dinner side dish, but also with an ulterior motive for soup!

Just in case you are wondering, while my oven was stinking hot, I also roasted some sweet potatoes that I really needed to use, plus I microwaved a spaghetti squash at the same time too. This gives me a plethora of veggies in the fridge to do yummy ( and quick) things for dinner.

Makes about 4-6 servings of soup
3-4 cups butternut squash (1 med squash), cubed into 1" pieces
1 large onion, cubed into 1" pieces
3-4 cups yukon gold potatoes (about 6 medium), cubed into 1" pieces
5-6 garlic cloves
5-6 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
Salt & Pepper to taste

HEY- If you like, you could also roast some carrots, some fennel (dang it! I had one I should have used) or other veggies at the same time. I haven't found a combination of veggies that weren't improved by roasting them.  I even like Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli roasted!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Toss the cut up veggies with a tablespoon, or two, of olive oil and throw in your garlic cloves, whole, too.  There is no need to make separate pans of the veggies... I just DID for some reason. Spread onto a baking sheet, in a single layer.  You want each veggie to have contact with the hot pan for carmelization!

Roast about 20-25 minutes.  When you check on them, be careful, the oven is hot and steamy, so don't stick your face too close for a bit.
Did you know mascara melts?
Yep, it does...

Here's a serving plate of the roasted veggies, we ate this with a couple of steaks. Sorry, you Vegans.. I like to make you stuff but still am eating meat!

We ate about a quarter of what I roasted, and the rest I threw into my blender.
I added the broth, or water, and blended until smooth.
Once you think it's smooth, blend just a little bit more. 
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Here's some more yummy Fall soups and all of these could be made vegetarian or vegan quite easily!

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Hearty Sausage & Lentil Soup (leave out the sausage, or find a meatless substitute)
Mediterranean Tomato Soup
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
Southwestern Seafood Chowder
Split Pea Soup

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spinach Quiche Toast Cups

I love quiche, but rarely make a whole one. Somehow it just seems too large for the two of us.  But I DO love quiche, so I started thinking on how else I could make this.

My Mom has been doing these little toast cups for her Eggs Goldenrod
for years, and I think they are so darn cute.  So, why not make them into little quiches?  It's no different than having some toast with your eggs, right?

This would be a very versatile thing for you to make, I used spinach and feta, but you could do it with what you like.  Lots of other ideas come to mind; sausage, mushrooms, bacon, cheddar. Your only constraint is how much room is in your toast cup, which isn't that big.  If you had a BIG muffin tin, that would be ideal for making a bigger toast cups, but alas, I don't!!! 

Makes 8 individual cups
Serves 4
Cooking spray, or butter
8 slices bread, crusts cut off 
4 eggs
2 Tbsp cream or milk
2 cups spinach
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
8 Tbsp feta, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. 

Butter pan, or It might even be easiest to lightly butter one side of the bread, and then put that butter side down when making your toast cups.

Make the toast cups. Cut the bread into 4-5" squares. 

Carefully push the pieces of bread into the buttered muffin tins, like this. Bake for 5 minutes to give them a little crispness, but I think you could skip this step if you wanted a softer toast cup at the bottom.

Saute the veggies over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the onions are soft.

Then add the spinach, cook until wilted 1-2 minutes.

Add to the toast cups, then the beaten egg mixture. Don't overfill them, add about 1 Tbsp of cheese to each one. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

I recommend that you DO butter your muffin tins... I did NOT, and it was tricky getting these out of the pan. That's the last thing you need is aggravation first thing in the morning, right?


Also, I put half this batch in the fridge to grab for quick easy breakfasts during the work week.  It took about 30 seconds to rewarm in the microwave, and I bet they would freeze and reheat just great too!

I love breakfast, here's some other ideas for some quick and delicious things to make!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lowfat Pumpkin Ginger Granola

I love big chunky granola, add lots of spice, some pumpkin puree plus candied ginger then you have a perfect Fall treat for breakfast or a snack.

I purposely do not stir my granola as much as most recipes, just bake it longer to keep the chunks as intact as possible.  I give it a small mini stir when I add the coconut and walnuts, then again with ginger, raisins and cherries.  If you like it a looser texture, then feel free to stir more often while it's baking.

I got this idea from another cooking blog I love, called Baked Bree, but I wanted to play with the flavors a bit, so I hope she understands my need to change things.  Thank you for the inspiraton!

Makes about 8-9 cups
5 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup coconut

Mix the dry ingredients (oats thru salt), then the sugars, pumpkin, applesauce and oil. , mix the wet ingredients. Mix together and place on a parchment, or Silpat, covered baking sheet.

Have your 'add-in' elements ready to go... mine are candied ginger, cherries, golden raisins, coconut and walnuts.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, add walnuts and coconut, bake another 20 minutes.
Add ginger, raisins and cherries.  Bake another 5 minutes.
Cool thoroughly and put in airtight containers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

If you are a foodie snob, just stop now.
I know that Chicken Pot Pie Soup isn't anything gourmet.
But it is yummy, and it is dinner that will make you, and your friends & family happy.
But, this was great and came together very quickly and tons easier than doing the crust.

A little time chopping in the kitchen, and you have transformed your leftover cooked chicken, or turkey, into a warm, comforting and filling dinner. 
Now,  you certainly could make this and then back into pie crust and have a regular pot pie, I'm just saying this is a bunch easier and better for you. Just reduce the chicken broth by half to get a thicker soup/filling.

I used fresh veggies (except for the frozen peas) but you could even use frozen chopped carrots and peas and those frozen cubed potatoes ( the kind for hash browns) and save even more time.

Here's a couple of.

Serves 4
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or dried
1 tsp sage, fresh or dried
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp garlic (dried granules work fine!)
1 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp freshy ground black pepper
2 med white potatoes, chopped
3 cups cooked chicken, large chunks or shredded (your preference)
1 cup frozen peas

Saute the onions, carrots and celery in the butter for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat until the onions start to get limp.  Add the spices, the wine and the flour.  Cook for another 3 minutes, add the chicken broth, the bay leaves, salt & pepper and the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then cook for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are tender.  Add the cooked, chopped chick and the frozen peas.  Reheat and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn Comfort- Quinoa, Black Beans, Cheddar & Veggies

You know something was good when you start to hide the leftovers in the fridge so someone else doesn't eat it before you get the chance. This is one of those dishes. So simple, so good for you and sooooo delicious!

Totally meatless, and could be vegan friendly if you left out the cheese. 
But, I, for one, am NOT going to leave out the cheese! It was so good and made this dish so comforting for a cold night.

I'd really recommend that you make this dish your own... what veggies do you have and like?  Try those!  Don't like spicy? Leave it out! A quick saute with your veggies, a few spices, add the beans, the quinoa and the cheese, and you have the perfect dish.

(Not shown-chili powder,  frozen corn and cheese)
Serves 6
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water, or vegetable broth
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced into 1/2"
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2"
1 tomato chopped, or 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
1 lime, juiced
1 cup cheddar cheese, or pepper jack
1/4 cup cilantro, crushed
1 tsp chili powder

Saute the onion, jalapeno and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes in oil.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini, black beans and corn and saute for another 5 minutes. MMmmm,  I have to say, it tastes pretty yummy at this point as a veggie side dish without the quinoa, you decide!

Add the hot, cooked quinoa and serve.

Here are more great recipes for quinoa:
Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad
Quinoa, Cheese & Chilies Casserole
Quinoa with Roasted Corn and Green Beans

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake

We used to eat this cake all the time when we were kids.  It was one of those cakes that was easy to make, and you almost always had these ingredients hanging around.  It's really just a spice cake with oatmeal in it and a wonderful coconut caramel broiled frosting. 
I thought we were the only ones that made this cake, but try "googling" this cake and you will see that it is an old stand by from the Quaker Oats Company.  Must have been on their oatmeal canisters forever.

As a kid, my favorite part of the recipe and the cake, is the frosting.  In fact, I think that you might want to double the frosting... it is so good!  Even one of my "coconut hating" sisters loves this cake and frosting.  So even if you are not the biggest fan for the texture of coconut, something about the broiling of the frosting caramelizes it into something different, something incredibly yummy.

It just works... tastes yummy and perfect for a Fall day. Not too hard that you couldn't make it during the week even.

It calls for cinnamon and nutmeg, but you could add ginger, or cloves, or even Five Spice or Pumpkin Pie Spice in this.

Make a 9x13 sheet cake
1 cup Oatmeal (Quick or Traditional)
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 c. boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp. Milk
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Combine oats, butter and boiling water. Set aside for 20 minutes. Stir to mix, let the butter melt completely.

Beat together the eggs, sugars and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add the sugar mixture along with oatmeal mixture. Beat well  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes.

Combine frosting ingredients,

spread on cake and place under broiler until frosting begins to bubble, about 4-5 minutes. Stand RIGHT THERE and watch it, do NOT leave it unattended!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Malayasian Curry with '10 Boy' Condiments

A mild curry, not too hot and lots of fun with condiments that are sweet, crunchy and salty.

We grew up eating this curry, over white rice, and was custom decorated at the table with the condiments of each diner's choice.  It was a blast, a frenzy of bowl passing and 'pleases' and 'thank yous' hoping to get the topping you wanted (needed!) to make your curry the best ever. In our family, this was comfort food.

My Dad was born in the Philippines to a Navy family, and spent many years in Malaysia as a young boy.  I always felt that this "exotic" curry recipe was somehow from his upbringing, I now know that this is a somewhat typical curry in the 1960's in the U.S.... not really that special at all.  But is WAS (is...) special to us, and frankly, people will have a bunch of fun with this meal and there will be lots of fun conversation to boot.  It's an easy meal to make for a crowd and to do ahead to save yourself some time and stress too.

About the "10 Boy" thing, my Dad always told us that that's how many 'boy servants' you would have in your household to pass each condiment from diner to diner... wow, as kids, we thought that was so cool. Totally not PC (politically correct) and it's kind of embarrassing to think about that many people who did nothing but pass a bowl from person to person.  Different times... different times in the Far East in the 1930's.

Here's what my "10 Boy" Curry Condiments looked like at dinner last night. A full list is below.

One more note about the curry, this is a great recipe to remember when you are faced with too many after Thanksgiving turkey leftovers!  Much better than the standard Turkey enchiladas or Turkey Pot Pie. At this time of year, I just use a Costco roasted chicken for this recipe.

Serves about 6
Curry Ingredients:
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped
2-4 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
4 cups cooked chicken or turkey
Salt to taste
½ cup flour
½ cup butter
8-10 cups chicken broth 

Sauté onions, celery, and garlic in butter or oil until soft.

Add flour and curry powder and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Add chicken broth and stir until thickened, add apple and other seasonings. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.  The sauce should be thickened, and the apples have stopped floating on top, and are now part of the sauce. Add meat, reheat and serve over hot white rice.
Serve with condiments in small bowls on the table. Here's what it looks like before you add the 'decorations'.

  • crushed pineapple
  • peanuts, roasted & salted
  • green onions
  • golden raisins
  • chutney
  • coconut
  • capers
  • french fried onions
  • bananas
  • diced cucumbers
  • sunflower seeds, or pepitas
  • lime pickles (Spicy Indian relish made from preserved limes and chilies

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Green Apple, Cabbage & Hazelnut Coleslaw

I wasn't sure I was going to blog about this, but it tasted so darn good and fresh, I had to share.

It has a nice tang from the green apple, and the hazelnuts give it a yummy crunch and a great flavor with the veggies.  This salad would be a great side dish for any meal.  We had ours with our pulled pork sandwiches.  I just had the pork and the salad together without the bread, and I was very happy and satisfied.

Serves 4-6
1/2 head of green, or red, cabbage- shredded- about 4 cups
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced and sliced into matchsticks
1 large carrot, grated
1 Tbsp hazelnut oil, or olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, or cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Salt & pepper

Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes and cool. You can rub the nuts together to get some of the brown skin off the nuts, or you can leave it. Chop.

Shred the cabbage, grate the carrot, and cut the apples into small pieces. 

In the bottom of a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar and hazelnut oil.  Add the veggies and toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I didn't want too much dressing, but if you like a more "wet" salad, go ahead and double the dressing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin, Banana & Applesauce Lowfat Muffins

Lots of healthy grains and fruits in these muffins, and relatively low fat, with the only added fat from the eggs. Spicy and moist, very satisfying!

A great muffin to make on the weekend and keep in the freezer for those late mornings.  Grab a frozen one and microwave for 30 seconds, get your coffee and go. Or, pack one in your lunch and eat it on your coffee break, it'll be thawed by then.

I've done some other muffins Banana Raspberry Bran Muffins and my favorite, "Add in" Muffins, that would also be great to make on Saturday or Sunday for the coming week.

Makes about 18 muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup rolled oat
1/3 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine flours, bran, oats, baking powder, spices, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Using whisk or spoon, stir until well mixed.
Combine remaining ingredients (except nuts) in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients. Beat just until combined.
Add nuts.
Spoon into prepared pans or tins (fill cups until just about full).
Bake for about 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.
Remove muffins from pan and cool on wire rack as soon as they come out of the oven.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Candy Corn Bark

This was just so cute, I couldn't NOT make it.
Oh yeah, it IS sweet. But, it's candy, you know!

I saw some cute pictures on Pinterest and loved the idea shown. So out I went to get almond bark 'melts' which you can buy at almost any craft store in the baking section.  The 'melts' melt a bit better than white chocolate chips, and somehow, they are not as sweet. 

Use your imagination on toppings... I used the candy corn, some mini chocolate chips, Partridge Farm's mini chocolate fish cookies and salty, toasted sunflower chips.  Try to keep a balance of sweet and salty and crunchy... don't use all sugary treats unless you want a super sweet candy. You could any number of goodies that you like, just try to keep the scale small. You really only need a 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup of any  of the toppings, so that makes it easy to find any small bags of candies. I had lots of leftovers, but I can use the sunflower seeds for salads, the chocolate chips for many things and those chocolate cookies... I will eat.

As long as you are at the craft store, buy those little treat bags, you're going to package this stuff up so that you stop eating it.  I had my hubby take all these to work today, much, much safer that way.

Makes about 20-25 mini bags of bark, about 2" pieces
1 lb. white chocolate "melts" or white chocolate chips
1 cup candy corn
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, or chocolate sprinkles
1/2 cup chocolate fish cookies
1/4 cup toasted, salted sunflower seeds, or peanuts

In a glass bowl, microwave on high the white 'melts' for 1 minute.  Stir thoroughly and microwave 30 seconds more.  Stir again.  Microwave again if you need to.  Don't over do it, if it gets too hot, you will make it seize up. Spread out on a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, silpat or even a plain baking sheet.   Working quickly spread it out evenly, I gave my pan a couple of good smacks on the counter to make it super flat. 

Add the candy corn, making sure to evenly distribute.  I had to contain myself, I kind of wanted to fling them all on, but I carefully arranged them...

Sprinkle on the rest of the toppings. Carefully pat down the toppings so that you are sure they are stuck into the white topping. I placed another piece of wax paper on top, and lightly pressed down, but its not necessary to do that.

Cool in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.  It should then hard enough to break into pieces.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Versatile Panang Curry

It was an innocent question, that got a complicated answer.
Too complicated...

Do you have a good panang curry recipe?
Actually, I didn't, so I went looking to answer my neighbor's question.
Wow, what a list of ingredients. It needed to get easier if it was going to be on my menu, or his. I loved the sweetness and spice of a Panang Curry sauce...

So I decided to give it a try, so I invited them over to be my guinea pigs one Sunday night.  That invitation turned into a party that grew and grew, swelling from dinner for 4 to a boisterous group of 7, the kind that makes everyone discuss if they should call in sick tomorrow and pretend it's weekend evening. It made us consider the "music game", something that only happens late at night under very specific conditions... but alas, we all gave in to responsibility.

Panang curry is so versatile, a fantastic sauce that lends itself to so many types of meat and vegetables.  A couple guests mentioned that they had never had Panang Curry with tomato wedges in it, but my favorite Thai restaurant, only serves it like that, as did my inspiration recipe, so I included them.  It's a very personal choice, so make it your own.  With the protein choices, I chose frozen prawns, but you could chose chicken, pork, beef or even tofu. I'll give you ideas below on how to make that work. I served this with my Larb Gai recipe, my favorite Thai dish!

I'm giving you the sauce recipe first, with the choices and basic instructions for veggies and meats below that, including some ideas on how to make that work. I will make this sauce again, maybe even prepping it ahead of time in order to throw together a quick dinner.

Serves 4-6 people
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 small onion, quartered
1 2" chunk of ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic
2-3 serrano chilies, cut into chunks
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 can good-quality coconut milk, light or regular
juice of 1/2 lime

Meat Choices-
-1 lb frozen shrimp, peeled & deviened
-3 chicken breasts, cubed into 1" pcs
-1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
-1 lb lean beef, cut against the grain in thin strips
-8 oz block of tofu, firm or extra firm

Vegetable Choices, chose any or all from below-
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 large carrot, cut into thin slices
1/2 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper or sweet red pepper, sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, or substitute bay leaves (RECOMMENDED)
1/2 loose cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (RECOMMENDED)
Serve over steamed rice!
To make the curry sauce, place all sauce ingredients in a blender.  Here's everything before I added the coconut milk and blended.

Blend it until well mixed, and now pulse it a bit more so that you really don't have any lumps.

Chose your protein and veggies, here's what I suggest for the different meats:
-Shrimp or Tofu, add fresh, or frozen prawns directly to the sauce with veggies in a large saucepan. Heat in a large saucepan for 15-20 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and vegetables are cooked.
 -Chicken, stir fry the pieces in a small amount of oil until slightly browned. Add sauce and heat in a large saucepan for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.
 -Pork, (chose a tender cut, like pork tenderloin) stir fry the pieces in a small amount of oil until slightly browned. Add sauce and heat in a large saucepan for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.
-Beef, (Sirloin, flank steak- cut against the grain) stir fry the pieces in a small amount of oil until slightly browned. Add sauce and heat in a large saucepan for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.

Do a taste test:
-add more fish sauce if not salty enough;
-if too spicy, add more coconut milk or a little yogurt.
-If too salty, add more lime juice.

Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice (white or whole-grain). ENJOY!

Here's some other curries I've blogged about that you might like:
Turkey Keema Curry
Spicy Shrimp Curry