Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Broccoli Chowder

As the weather turns colder, I've been enjoying soup for lunch. Today I needed to use up some fresh broccoli from the frig. Here's what I did with it:

Broccoli Chowder
Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each
{recipe from Eating Well}
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (1 ½ cups)

1 large carrot, diced (½ cup)

2 stalks celery, diced (½ cup)

1 large potato, peeled and diced (1 ½ cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 ½ cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth (two 14-ounce cans)

8 ounces broccoli crowns (see Ingredient note), cut into 1-inch pieces, stems and florets separated (3 cups)

1 cup grated reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

½ cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Broccoli Chowder Instructions
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook, stirring often, until the onion and celery soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add potato and garlic; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in flour, dry mustard and cayenne; cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. 2. Add broth and broccoli stems; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in florets; simmer, covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes more. Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a bowl and mash; return to the pan. 3. Stir in Cheddar and sour cream; cook over medium heat, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the chowder is heated through. Season with salt.

Broccoli Chowder Tips
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 1. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Ingredient note: Most supermarkets sell broccoli crowns, which are the tops of the bunches, with the stalks cut off. Although crowns are more expensive than entire bunches, they are convenient and there is considerably less waste.

Broccoli Chowder Nutrition Information
Per serving: 180 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 354 mg sodium.Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value), Vitamin A (50% dv), Calcium (15% dv).1 1/2 Carbohydrate ServingsExchanges:1 starch1 vegetable1 high-fat meat

sweet potatoes

I really don't like canned sweet potatoes made into that sweet, gooey, marshmallow casserole so popular at Thanksgiving. I never have. Greg likes it, though, so his mom often provides that once-a-year treat for him. Since I have never liked sweet potatoes made this way, I never made any kind of sweet potatoes until I'd been married a few years and Greg bought a fresh one at the store. He asked me to just bake it like a regular white potato. I still wasn't convinced. It took a few more years before I tried it that way, and it wasn't too bad. Then a few years ago we started grilling vegetables and sliced rounds of sweet potatoes were one of our choices. I liked them that way, too. I still don't eat them very often, but when I find a recipe that looks tasty, without any augmentation of the sugar load, I'll try it.
I made this recipe for supper on Monday evening. Served it with grilled turkey mignons and steamed fresh broccoli. It smelled good the minute I put it in the oven and I actually looked forward to tasting the end result. I was not disappointed. (Comments in the recipe come from Kalyn. Her blog is where I got this recipe.)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions, Rosemary, and Parmesan

(Makes 4 servings, slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2002)

4 large or 6 medium tan-fleshed sweet potatoes (white skin)

3 medium red onions

3 T olive oil

2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided (if you only have dried rosemary use less and make sure it's finely chopped)

1 tsp. salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

2-3 T chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F and cover a flat roasting pan with foil, then spray foil with non-stick spray or mist with olive oil.
Peel potatoes and remove skin from onions. (Sweet potatoes could also probably be left unpeeled, but I did peel them.) Cut sweet potatoes and onions into same-size pieces about 1 inch square. Place in plastic bowl and toss with olive oil, 1 T chopped rosemary, salt or sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Arrange in single layer on roasting pan and roast until vegetables are cooked through and slightly browned, about 45 minutes or longer. (I actually roasted my sweet potatoes and onions in the photo for about exactly an hour, but I like them a little crisp and well-browned.)
Combine fresh-grated parmesan and finely chopped rosemary in small bowl. Remove vegetables from oven and toss with parmesan-rosemary mixture. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh parsley if desired.

[My comments: I used yams. We just don't get "sweet potatoes" here very often. I also used fresh rosemary, but skipped the parsley. Greg really liked this.]

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dangerous Cookies!

These are dangerous because they're so darn good!
(The recipe comes from Tanya, posted to a Yahoo holiday group. )

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 Cup Crisco

1/2 Cup sugar

1 1/4 Cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 T milk

2 t vanilla

2 Cups flour

1 package instant vanilla pudding

1 t baking soda

2 1/2 Cups oats

1 Cup white chocolate chips

1 Cup dried blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat Crisco and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, instant pudding and baking soda; mixwell. Stir in oats, chips and blueberries; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool one minute on cookie sheet; remove to wirerack and cool completely.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Banana Bread

Yesterday I noticed a bag of bananas in the freezer that was dated in August, so I thought I'd best thaw it and make some bread. Banana bread is something I learned to bake in my pre-teen years, and it always reminds me of my mom. She always included banana bread in her Christmas baking, and I remember having it for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate during the winter.
The recipe I use is from the Betty Crocker cookbook I bought just a few weeks after Greg and I got married. You can see it's been well-used. :o)
Banana Nut Bread
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/3 Cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 C mashed banana
1 Cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom only of loaf pan. Mix all ingredients; beat 30 seconds. Pour into pans. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool slightly. Loosen sides of bread from loaf pan. Remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing. To store, wrap and refrigerate for up to one week.

This loaf was really good. It didn't make it to storage, but I'll make more.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fish & Chicken

I've been cooking a little lately, but not much new or exciting, unless you count the chili a couple of weeks ago that was the best I have ever made - I'll tell you about that another day.
Tonight I want to share a couple of recipes from Kalyn's Kitchen that I've been saving to try. The first is for salmon - you know how we like salmon - and was really good. It calls for a mortar and pestle to grind the spices together, and I don't have one, so I did what I could with the bottom of a spoon. It was okay, but I'd recommend the mortar and pestle. I also bought fennel seeds instead of ground fennel. Still tasted good. (Sorry about the photo - I forgot to take one before I started eating...)
Herb-Encrusted Grilled Salmon
(Makes 2 servings, recipe can easily be doubled, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from her friends.)
2 salmon filets, thawed in refrigerator if frozen
1 T olive oil, plus more for oiling grill
Herb mixture:
1 generous T Claudia's Fantastic Fish Blend (Fish blend is lemon basil, chives, dill, thyme, and dried celery leaves. To substitute, use equal parts dried basil, dried chives, dill weed, dried thyme, and celery seed.) [I used the equal parts of herbs.]
1/2 tsp. fennel pollen (to substitute, use ground fennel )
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Remove salmon from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
In mortar and pestle, grind together Fish Blend (or individual herbs), fennel pollen (or ground fennel), lemon pepper, and salt. Pick out any woody pieces that don't grind up, then add olive oil and mix together. Rub fish on both sides with herb mixture, and let sit for at least ten minutes while you preheat gas or charcoal grill.
Rub grill slats with a piece of paper towel dipped in olive oil (or use nonstick spray), then heat the grill to medium-high. (You can only hold your hand there for 3-4 seconds at that temperature.) Place fish on grill at an angle, top side down, and cook until grill marks start to appear, about 2-3 minutes. Then rotate and cook 2-3 minutes more to get criss-cross marks. Turn fish carefully and cook 2-3 minutes on second side, or until fish feels just slightly firm to the touch, but not at all hard. Total cooking time will be under ten minutes, I cooked my salmon just over 7 minutes, and it was perfect. Fish should feel barely firm when it's done. Serve hot.
Now we come to the chicken portion of our program. I wondered about serving this to Greg - he's not a fan of really "tangy" food - but, I have pledged to try new things, so... I bought the Kalamata olives and pitted them by pressing them onto the cutting board with the back of a spoon - easy peasy. When I first tasted the olive caper sauce by itself, I still wasn't sure. Then I grilled the chicken, put on the sauce, and my fears were a thing of the past. (I remember when we were on our cruise and we'd get foods with sauces on the plates, just little dabs of this and that. We enjoyed the food, but then we added the sauces, and they made the appetizer or entree so much better. That's what happened here. The olive caper sauce mixed with the flavors of the poultry seasoning on the hot grilled chicken, it all worked together for a very flavorful dish.)
Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Olive-Caper Sauce
(Makes four servings, recipe for Olive-Caper Sauce adapted from pâté di olive at Briciole.)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil for sauteeing chicken [I grilled the chicken.]
poultry season to rub on chicken breasts
Sauce: 3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 T chopped red onion or shallots
2 T capers
1 T fresh thyme (or use 1 tsp. dried thyme) [I used fresh.]
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts. Rub chicken on both sides with small amount of poultry seasoning and let come to room temperature while you make olive sauce.
(I used a food processor, but you could use a blender or chop the ingredients by hand for this sauce if you don't have one.)
Put Kalamata olives in food processor fitted with steel blade and pulse a few times until olives are coarsely chopped. Add onion, capers, thyme, balsamic vinegar, and parsley. Pulse about 20 seconds, until ingredients are well combined. Remove sauce to a bowl and stir in olive oil. (You can add a bit more olive oil if the sauce seems too thick, but I didn't need to.)
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. (Pans which aren't non-stick will give the best browning.) Put chicken breasts into the pan, top side down and cook 5-6 minutes, or until top is well browned. Turn chicken over and cook 2-3 minutes more on second side. Chicken is done when it feels firm, but not hard to the touch.
Serve hot chicken breasts with olive-caper sauce spooned over. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about a week if you manage to have any leftovers.
Seriously, try these - they're healthy and tasty and easy to make, and just might broaden your horizons a bit. :o)