Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

No one was really hungry this evening. My dinner schedule had been re-arranged so many times this week, the dinner I had planned just did not seem appetizing. The weather is warming up but there was a chilly wind coming up so I decided to throw together a soup with my last bit of pumpkin I had in the freezer.

1 quart chicken stock
2 cups pureed pumpkin(about 1-15 oz can)
2 cups black beans(about 1-15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes(about 1-14.5 oz can)
1 chipotle bullion cube(can be omitted, or you can use more for a spicier kick)
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn into bite sized pieces

Combine all but the spinach and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are tender. Add spinach and simmer 5 minutes more.

Serve with a dollop of Sour Cream

Freezes well! Just chill thoroughly and place in a resealable container(I place a layer of heavy plastic wrap directly on top of it before placing the lid) 

Lime Grilled Chicken

A Very Summer-y Flavor for Memorial Day Weekend.

These are also fantastic sliced and put on a big salad!

6 chicken breast halves(or any part really, I use boneless, skinless)
3/4 cup water
1-2 fresh limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup, WITH pulp)
zest of 1/2 lime
3 TB soy sauce
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 TB McCormick's Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning(this is not necessary but if does go well!)
Like a spicy kick? Add in red pepper flakes to taste!

Combine Marinade in a gallon size ziplock bag
Add chicken and marinate for 1-2 hours in the fridge, you can go longer but dont go too much because the acid from the lime starts to break down the meat..

A great way to cook them is to preheat a pan over medium heat with a small touch of oil. Sear them on both sides for a good 3-4 minutes then finish them off on the grill! This helps keep it juicier.
But it can be done directly on the grill, broiler or even baked if you want!

Cook to an internal temp of 165.

<<<<--------LOL I think my neighbor was getting hungry...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tangy Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad. One of the most popular summer side dishes.  So many ways to go so I just tossed together my own. Very simple!

1/2 cup miracle whip dressing
1/2 cup mayo
(want to lighten it up?  Use plain yogurt instead! you can sub it for the mayo or the MW or both)
2 TB yellow mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
salt and pepper to taste(I use seasoning salt)
4 cups macaroni
1/2 cup shredded cheese, any kind you like, I used sharp cheddar

Combine all ingredients except the macaroni  and cheese and allow to mingle for 1 hour.

Cook macaroni according to package instructions(or fresh if you have the means!)

Drain and rinse macaroni in cold water to cool completely.

Toss pasta and cheese with dressing to coat well.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Time Pork Wraps

Spin off from last nights Raspberry Watermelon Pork Roast! I think this is an excellent hot weather meal, shredded pork mixed up with the Sauce and chill it well.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
Shredded Raspberry Watermelon Pork
Cream Cheese
Any other toppings you desire

Spread a tortilla with cream cheese, add a generous amount of the pork roast and sauce to taste. Top with your desired toppings and roll it up and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Raspberry Watermelon Pork Roast

Total experiment! I had a ton of watermelon and some raspberries... We like a sweet pork so I decided to throw things together and see what happened.....and it turned out fantastic!!!! I am going to shred up the remainder of the pork and add some of the watermelon sauce and try it cold in a sandwich tomorrow!

2 cups diced watermelon
3/4 cup raspberries
1-2 tsp pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch of salt

1 pork loin roast(approx 2 lbs)

Place raspberries, watermelon and lime juice in a food processor and process until smooth.

Add in pepper flakes and salt and process again.

Cut some shallow slices in your pork roast.
Place in slow cooker and top with watermelon sauce.

Cook on low 6-8 hours until internal temp reaches 165.

Remove roast and keep warm

Dissolve 2 TB cornstarch in 3 TB cold water and add to remaining juices. Turn cooker to high and cook uncovered 10-15 minutes until thickened.

Slice pork and top with sauce.

This does not need to be done in a slow cooker.You can put the roast in a roasting pan, top with the sauce and cover and cook in a 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes until the internal temp reaches 165.
Then remove the roast add the cornstarch mix right to the roaster and heat until thickened.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Rhubarb Chicken

My neighbor gave me some Rhubarb from her garden. Most of the rhubarb recipes I came across are for dessert dishes. We have had several birthdays in the past few weeks so we are pretty burnt out on sweets so I went looking for a dinner dish to use it in. Nothing seemed just right so this is what I went with. I tried to keep it very simple for the first run as to not overpower the rhubarb flavor.

2 good sized stalks rhubarb, diced
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar, more or less to taste
1 small onion
1 TB cider vinegar

Place ingredients  in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until rhubarb is very tender. (about 10 minutes or so)

Pour into a blender or a food processor and process until smooth. Return to pan and simmer a few minutes more to thicken. Taste and adjust your sugar and add some salt if you like. I kept it very simple this time around.

Place 4- 6 chicken breasts in a slow cooker and pour sauce over the top.
Cook on low 4-6 hours until chicken is done.

Remove chicken and cover and keep warm.
Dissolve 1 TB cornstarch in 2 TB cold water  and add to sauce. Put the cooker up to high and stir well. Allow to cook and thicken for 10 minutes.

Top the chicken with a few chopped green onions and a scoop of sauce.
I served with brown rice cooked in chicken broth with fresh parsley and a side of steamed carrots(also topped with the rhubarb sauce!)

I think this would be FANTASTIC with a few sliced strawberries added into the rhubarb sauce too! It would give it a great tangy flavor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lite Alfredo Sauce

I love alfredo but most recipes I come across are full of butter and heavy cream. Although that makes for a YUMMY sauce you dont always want all the extra fat and calories. I came across this years ago and have since tweaked it to fit my family...

1 1/2 cups non fat milk
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
1/4- 1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan(fresh is BEST , the green can stuff does work but not the same)

1 TB fresh basil leaves, chopped(you can use dried if you want, about 1 tsp)

2 TB cold water mixed with 2 TB cornstarch

Place milk, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder in a blender or food processor and blend smooth.
Pour into a sauce pan and add parm cheese.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add basil. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring often.

Add in cornstarch mixture and blend well. Heat and stir until thickened slightly.
You can add more cornstarch/water mixture if you want it thicker.

Use in place of any Alfredo sauce...makes just over 2 cups sauce

Green Pasta

Super tasty veggie pasta! Always good to get in extra veggies when you can!

This makes a good amount of pasta, 1/2 batch feeds my family a good meal.
My instructions are using a KitchenAid and Pasta Roller/Cutter/Extruder Attachments.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup pureed greens*
2 TB cold water

Mix eggs and flour in mixer with paddle blade, slowly add in green puree. Add water a 1tsp at a time until crumbly. You dont want it too moist or it will not cut well. Stop the machine and gather it up with your hands. Hand knead it until if forms a ball, adding more water ONLY if necessary.

Divide dough into sections and proceed with which ever pasta attachment you are using. This batch I used the roller and fettuccine cutter.

Boil in salted water for 4-5 minutes until tender.(If fresh, if it was dried your cooking time may be slightly

*Pureed Greens
1 cup broccoli crowns
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup green peas

Steam until very tender
Place in a food processor and process until smooth adding water if necessary(I use the cooking water as it often leaches out some of the nutrients of the veggies.

I freeze it in 1/4 cup portions to pull out and use in recipes. Fantastic in meatloaves!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brandy Flamed Peppercorn Steaks

Hubby's Bday Meal request! I found it on Allrecipes and it was so fantastic I just had to share it here, I changed it only very slightly from the original recipe, and I made 3 steaks because my husbands best friend was coming to dinner too. Served with a side of my yummy Pepper Jack Cheese Knots and fresh Green Beans. (I had wanted to do Asparagus but the store I went to was $4.99 lb and it looked pretty pitiful. I cant WAIT until my garden starts producing!)

8 oz Sirloin Steaks
1/4 cup crushed peppercorns
1 TB lemon pepper
1 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
3/4 cup red wine

1/3 cup brandy
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup chopped green onions

Press Crushed Peppercorns into steaks evenly(you can go less if you like) Sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add wine and cook for 1 minute more.

Arrange steaks in the pan and cook 4-6 minutes per side(slightly UNDER desired doneness)
Reduce Heat to low.

Make sure you have OVERHEAD room for the next step as alcohol burn can be slightly unpredictable.
Pour Brandy over the steaks and CAREFULLY hold a lit match to it.  Allow the flame to burn off.

Now here is where I make it just a little different from the original recipe. I like a little char on my steak so I remove the steaks from the pan after the burn off and transfer them to a pre-heated(medium high) griddle pan(or broiler or even an outdoor grill ) and cook them for 1-2 minutes on each side so you get a nice char to it. This is why I have them slightly under done in the above step.

While the steaks are finishing up. Add Shallots and Cream to the wine sauce. Cook and stir until hot.

Place Steaks on plate, sprinkle with green onions and top with sauce.

Pepper Jack Cheese Knots

I made these as a side for my husbands Brandy Flamed Peppercorn Steak B Day dinner. We love pepper jack!

2 tsp yeast
2/3 cup warm water(110-115ยบ)
2 TB olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 TB melted butter
sea salt to taste

In a bowl combine yeast, water , olive oil and salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy.

Add in sea salt and slowly mix in flour 1/3 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull from sides(you may or may not need all the flour). Knead until smooth and elastic.

Then add cheese and knead until combined.

Place in a greased bowl , cover and place in a warm , draft free location and allow to rise until doubled(an hour or so)

Divide into 12 sections.

Roll each section into a thin rope and tie in a knot.

Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm location for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden...Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt immediately.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Irish Car Bomb Ice Cream Cake

Hubby's Bday and this was his request!
Guinness Cake and Irish Cream Ice Cream...YUM!

1 batch Irish Cream Ice Cream

Guinness Cake:
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup Guinness  Extra Stout
2/3 cup dutch cocoa powder
2 oz dark chocolate(55-65% cocao)
1 tsp  salt
2 cups  flour
2 cups white sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, separated 
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pinch of cayenne

Preheat oven to 350
Butter 2- 9 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper and dust with a little cocoa powder. Set Aside.

In a sauce pan combine butter, Guinness, and dark chocolate, heat over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside.

In a bowl combine, flour, sugar, soda, cocoa powder and salt.

Add Cooled chocolate and applesauce to flour mixture and beat on medium until well combined(about 2 minutes)

Add egg yolks and sour cream and Beat for 2 minutes more.

Fold in beaten egg whites until just combined.

Divide between 2 pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

The chef must ALWAYS sample the batter by licking the beaters....This way you find out before you cook it if you forgot the sugar or not....oops LOL

Cool on wire racks in pans for 15 minutes. Turn out of pans, remove parchment paper and cool completely.

Return to pans and Refrigerate until completely cold.

When cold divide your batch of softened Irish cream ice cream between the 2 pans and freeze until solid.

Remove from freezer and pop the cakes out of the pan. Place on plate cake side down, place second layer on top.  Allow to soften slightly. Smooth sides upwards to make a smooth surface. Freeze 1 hour more.

Make Frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 TB Powdered Sugar
3 TB Irish Cream*

Beat the whipping cream and sugar stiff. Add Irish Cream and mix until just combined.

Frost with frosting , work quickly to prevent melting.
Top with shaved chocolate and a drizzle of Irish Cream*

*boil 1/2 cup Irish Cream stirring constantly and reduce it to 1/4 cup use 3 TB for the frosting and remaining for the drizzle

Place in freezer and freeze for at least 1-2 more hours.

Remove 15 minute prior to slicing!