Monday, January 31, 2011

There Are Many

I have so many recipes to tell you about! Mark has kindly let me know in a round about way that I need to work on my food photography, because all of my food pictures don't really make the food look very appealing. haha. I agree though. From now on, I will only put pictures up if the food looks more edible than less edible. :) Read on for good info!

First: Beef Stroganoff: light
This one is for Suz! This is a lighter stroganoff, made in the crock pot. It was absolutely DELICIOUS, I thought, and full of flavor. This stuff is great because either you can make the creamy sauce separate from the meat and make it optional with the meat and noodles.

1 1/2 pounds beef (I used stew meat and it worked great)
1 pound sliced mushrooms
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup white wine
4 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch (or not)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
cooked egg noodles, whole wheat pasta or rice, for serving
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Combine beef, mushrooms, onions, tomato paste, broth, wine and 3 Tbsp. soy sauce in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 hours, or until beef is tender.
2. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, cornstarch and black pepper; whisk into the hot meat mixture and cook an additional 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. Serve over pasta or rice and garnish with parsley, if using.
Yield: 6 servings

NEXT: Blueberry and Cottage Cheese Muffins
Ok here's the story: I accidentally bought 2 things of cottage cheese. I needed to find something to use it up on, and I found this recipe under "cottage cheese" on tastespotting. haha I know it sounds CRAZY, but I think they were pretty good. Well, the insides were. The recipe says to cook them for 30 minutes, but I just don't think that's right, because mine were overdone at 25 min. So cook these (and the next muffin recipe) carefully! Watch them closely. Overall, they were delicious, and didn't taste like cottage cheese. The cc just brought an excellent moisture into the muffin. Other benefits: low sugar, high protein, loaded with blueberries and whole wheat flour. Perfect! It's like eating a muffin vitamin.

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Muffins

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (I had 2%, but I would normally prefer fat-free)
  • 1/4 cup organic 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup organic unsweetened soymilk (Silk brand)
  • 3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (out of necessity, I used dark brown)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 cups blueberries (I say the more, the better)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cups.
  2. Cream the Smart Balance and sugar in a bowl until well blended and smooth.
  3. Add the cottage cheese and 1% milk and mix a bit more.
  4. Stir in the cinnamon along with the vanilla extract and beat for 2-3 minutes till well blended.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mix, about 1/2 cup at a time.
  6. Once the ingredients are well blended, stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tray and smooth the surfaces. Bake for 30 minutes (or however long it takes to cook) at 375 F.Stick a toothpick into the muffins to make sure they're baked before taking them out of the oven. Once removed, let them cool in the tray for 10 minutes before removing the muffins and setting them on a cooling rack. Once they're at room temperature, stick them into an airtight container or eat.
A burnt muffin with my new beta fish!

Other muffins: (DON'T LAUGH) Spinach Banana Muffins
I know that you are reading this in disbelief. I know you think that sounds GROSS. I, however, really like spinach. Just ask Shantelle. But let me tell you something, these muffins don't even taste one bit like spinach! They are moist, banana-y, with a hint of lemon. Delish! Even Mark really liked them a lot, and he wasn't just saying it to be nice. I would say if you're even remotely curious, try it. They're great. Also, this recipe gave me a chance to use my food processor! Only cook these as long as they need, not according to time.

Spinach Banana Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest or more
1/4 cup mashed banana (1 medium banana)

1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Yields 6
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease or line muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together, sugar and egg until creamy. Stir in oil, yogurt, lemon zest and banana.
In a food processor, blend the spinach leaves until finely chopped.
Fold chopped spinach and walnuts into the batter, leaving some of the walnut aside. Fill batter into prepared muffin tin. Garnish each muffin with the remaining walnuts. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. - cool blog!
**Obviously I didn't photography these. They don't look very appetizing.**

Easy Salsa Chicken on corn tortillas
Super easy, super delicious. (I can't say "yummy" anymore, because Mark doesn't think it's a word. I feel the same about the word "yay". YuckBlahBoo) It really came together quickly. My advice: I don't think this recipe need all the seasoning it suggests. Tone it down, then add as needed.

Salsa Chicken and Ranch Florentine Tostadas

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
2 Cups cooked shredded chicken breast
2 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dry Ranch Seasoning
1/2 Cup prepared salsa of choice
6 Tortilla Land Corn Tortillas
1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute spinach until leaves wilt. Stir in chicken, garlic, cumin, salt, ranch seasoning and salsa. Cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through.
2. Heat small skillet over medium heat. When hot add tortilla. Cook for 30 seconds then flip and cook second side for another 30 seconds. When lightly browned on both sides remove. Cook remaining tortillas.
3. Top tortillas with chicken mixture. Serve with salsa if desired.
6 servings

Lastly: Cod Fish Fried Rice
No specific recipe. I loosely followed this one: and then just added all my extras. It was definitely a "clean out the refrigerator" meal. You can add anything! We had Grant and Maren join us for dinner on this night.. they loved it! Mark said it was his favorite dinner I've ever made. I would like it more if I didn't have to smell fish every time I come home! The smell won't go away! I vowed to Mark that I will not make fish again until we live in a house with ventilation!

Our Egypt trip got canceled because of all the craziness going on right now. :( I am SO SO SO sad!!!!! I REALLY wanted to go. So, there are other options available, we just don't know what we're going to do yet, so I'll let you know as soo as we decide.

Go ahead and make a prediction of where we're going to be this weekend! Tell me if you make one of these delish foods. Really, I enjoyed every one of these recipes.

Oh, also, I dehydrated Kiwi. Picture before they went in the oven:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pretzels and Soup

I feel Irish for posting a cabbage soup. :) I do love how thick this soup is without a cream and butter overload. I told Mark I would make this again... which is really saying something because I like trying something new every time I make dinner!

Cabbage Split Pea Soup

1 cup dried split green peas/yellow peas
7 cups of water
2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 russet potatoes, roughly chopped
salt and ground pepper
1/2 head cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 7 cups)

1. Pour peas and seven cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes.

2. Once the peas are boiling, use another large pot or dutch over to heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for 5 additional minutes, stirring often.

3. To the onions and garlic, add the celery and carrots and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

4. To the peas, add the potatoes and continue to boil another 10 minutes. To the onion mixture, add 4 cups of the broth and allow to warm.

5. Pour the peas and potato mixture into the pot containing the onion etc. We then chose to use an immersion blender to blend the mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage to the pot and allow to cook, over medium heat, for 1 minute or so until the cabbage is wilted.

I spend a lot of time browsing for good recipes. I always copy the recipe, put it in a document, and say "This is the next thing I'm making... for REALS this time!" Rarely does that happen. But sometimes I just get uncontrollably enthusiastic about something, and I have to make it. This happened on Wednesday. I came across this recipe and instantly went into the kitchen to make these pretzels. I decided they would be great to make, because I could make them and not have to eat all of them because Mark's family was coming into town for my bro in law Grant's birthday! It worked out nicely, everyone loved them, and it was FUN to make them. WARNING: they are definitely a process to make. But a fun process, of course! Also, I would suggest making sure you have a brush thing to use when you get to the egg wash, otherwise you'll be doing that with a large paint brush. :)

Soft Pretzels

For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope.
Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope, then cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tomatillos aren't JUST for salsa

Happy new year! I'm blogging more now.

Ok, so it's been pretty cold, and all I ever feel like eating is SOUP. I went out on a crazy limb when I tried this Tomatillo Soup recipe I found on a blog one day. I was literally cringing as I was making it, hoping it would be even just swallow-able. Turns out, it was great. Serious. It's very unique, slightly spicy (YUM!), but not too spicy, and thick (not broth-y). I think that you should try it, because it is great.

Tomatillo Soup

1 T. oil
1 small onion, diced
1 t. ground cumin
3 t. minced garlic, or however much you want
3-4 large tomatillos, quartered
1 4 oz can chopped mild green chiles
1 cup chicken broth
1 can white beans (I used cannelini), drained and rinsed
Cilantro to garnish

Place a 2 quart sauce pan over moderate heat. Add the oil. When warm, add the onions and cumin and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, chiles, tomatillos, and broth. Simmer for the tomatillos are falling apart. Using a stick blender or food processor, blend the chili until thick and chunky. Add the beans and heat gently. Add the cilantro. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime.

The other thing I made recently that really worked out nicely was banana bread. Note: adding chocolate chips to banana bread may seem like a good idea at first, but it's really not worth it. It's too sweet. Oh, you don't think that's possible? Trust me, that's coming from someone who also used to think that wasn't possible (before trying it myself). Stick with walnuts. mmmmmmm!

Banana Bread


2¼ cups flour
1/2 cube butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup yogurt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 handfuls chopped walnuts, not chocolate chips


1. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla together.
2. Add soda to yogurt and let fizz. --that part is pretty cool!
3. Add yogurt mix to butter mix and gently fold in.
4. Add eggs and then all dry ingredients (sifted if you have the patience, otherwise dry-whisked to break up lumps).
5. Fold in mashed bananas (and nuts).
6. Pour into 2 greased bread pans and bake at 175 C/350 F for 45 mins. to 1 hr.