Friday, June 12, 2009

Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry

I'm sorry, but does this plate not look like something you would get in a restaurant? For dinner, we had a basic shell steak on the grill that had marinated for 2 days in Lawry's Sesame Ginger marinade. That is tasty stuff. But the Asian flavors in the marinade don't lend to corn on the cob the way the typical steakhouse marinade I use does. The vegetables were crisp and colorful ... I don't know why we don't use the wok more often.

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1/2 cup green bell peppers, sliced

1/2 cup red bell peppers, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1/4 cup plum sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup baby corn

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

1/2 cup snow peapods

2 cups bok choy, sliced

1/4 cup sliced scallions

Heat the sesame oil over high heat in a wok. Add broccoli and peppers. Toss, cover tightly and cook for 5 minutes. Add plum sauce and soy sauce, stirring to mix well. Add garlic, mushrooms and corn. Toss, cover and cook another 3-5 minutes. Add water chestnuts, peapods, bok choy and scallions. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, just until bok choy has wilted.

Serve over rice or by itself.

Yields 4 servings.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Linguine with Mussels and Clams

Is there anything better than fresh caught fish on a New England summer's eve? OK, so it wasn't "caught," but they were fresh and picked (?) that day. And it's not quite summer yet, but it sure feels like it. Next to a good old-fashioned BBQ, this meal is second in my favorite summer meals.

6 oz linguine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (14.5oz) can of diced tomatoes

1/4 cup clam juice

1/4 cup fresh chopped clams

1 pound clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Boil pasta until only cooked halfway (it will finish cooking in the sauce later).

Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the wine and tomato paste, stirring constantly and until the wine has almost completely evaporated.

Add diced tomatoes (with juice) and clam juice. Bring to a boil and add the chopped clams. Cook for 3-4 minutes until clams are cooked through. Add partially cooked pasta and toss well. Add clams and mussels and cover the pot tightly. Allow shells to steam open, about 7 minutes. Toss in fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Yields 2-3 servings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chocolate Valentino (Flourless Chocolate Cake)

I am no Daring Baker (it was their February baking challenge) but with three ingredients, how could I not try this recipe? I'm not a huge dessert person, nor am I a baker, so really the only appeal of this recipe was the fact that it only had three ingredients. Fortunately, this was a very successful recipe for this non-baker.

Notes: I halved the recipe and filled three 5" ramekins (the kind you would use for creme brulee). Only half of each cake could be eaten at a time. These are SO RICH! Since I couldn't halve an egg, I used 2 eggs separated, and added 1/8 cup of Egg Beaters to the egg yolk bowl. I also didn't line the sides of my ramekins with parchment (they were scalloped...I can't be bothered with the time it would have taken), so I sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and the cakes unmolded perfectly. Tasted perfect too, fake egg and all.

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 large eggs, separated

Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan (an 8" or 9" spring form pan works best, or six 5 ramekins) and line with parchment, then butter the parchment.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate. Fold (don't stir!) in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. (Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.) Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hooray for Hamentaschen!

My fondest memory of Purim is being at a Purim party at my synagogue when I was about 9 or 10, and my best friend's dad got sooo drunk when we were reading the Megillah (the story of Purim). My friend's dad was a very quiet, reserved man (and was also slightly more religious than I was familiar with) and to see him drunk was the shock of shockers.

The reason he was drunk was because when you are reading the Megillah, you are supposed to drink and make lots of noise every time the name "Hamen" is read (he's the villian in the story). And the reason we eat hamentaschen (translation: Hamen's pockets), is to symbolically destroy his memory. And they are triangles is because it seems Hamen wore a triangular-shaped hat (how fashionable!).

Anywho, unfortunately I don't really have a personal story behind hamentashen other than that are yummy, and I'm sick of spending $5 for 6 of them at Whole Foods. Guess what? I like mine better, though the ones at Whole Foods are definitely prettier (the picture at the top is of one of the good ones that I made...scroll down for a glimpse at how most of the rest of the gang came out).

Note: I found this dough really, really sticky and it was hard to work quickly with it, which is why I think my cookies were so sad looking in the end. If they were colder when they went into the oven, maybe they wouldn't have collapsed as much.

Apricot Hamentaschen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup apricot preserves

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking powder. Then, using a pastry blender (or 2 knives in a criss-crossing motion), cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles a crumb consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in to larger bowl and mix until the dough creates a ball. Add extra flour one tablespoon at a time if dough is too sticky. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour your work surface, and roll out 1/4 of the dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter or drinking glass (I used a 4" drinking glass). Spoon 1 teaspoon of apricot preserves into the center of each round. Bring up the edges to create 3 sides, and pinch corners together (wet your fingers if the dough won't stay closed). Places formed cookies 2" apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown the bottom and on corners. Transfer to a wire rack immediately.

Yields 24 cookies (using a 3"round cookie cutter; I got 20 with a 4" glass)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Thanks for the delicious pic, Steph!

About 10 years ago, I had what I think was Potato Leek Soup once. I actually think it was vichyssoise, which is (I think) COLD potato leek soup. It was awful. Cold and so salty I could barely stomach 2 spoonfuls. So since then, I have been deathly afraid of the dreaded potato-leek combo.

Enter my new kitchen toy: the immersion blender. I have been eyeing one for a while ever since I decided that I would attempt to make my own baby food. I finally got one 2 weeks ago and I have been dying to puree everything in sight. I solicited for recipes in my Facebook status and several versions of the potato-leek combos were thrown back at me. No thanks.

THEN, I was helping a friend cook an anniversary dinner for her husband and she wanted to make potato leek soup. Argh...potato and leeks: my archenemy of the food combination world. I remembered that it would be hot and we could control the salt content. It came out pretty good and I really liked it, but it tasted a little too much like mashed potato soup, probably from the butter and whole milk we used. So here is my lighter, less-mashed-potatoey version. A definite keeper! I just can't get enough soup in the winter!

P.S. Happy Anniversary, Steph and Ian!

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green parts sliced thin (discard leaves)
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large celery stalk, sliced
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
3 medium Yukon potatoes (about 1 pound), cubed
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add leeks, carrot and celery. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, until soft (do not brown).

Add water, broth and potatoes. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add milk and parsley. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until texture is smooth and even throughout. Careful not to overblend as the potatoes can break down too much and get gummy. Stir in dried dill and salt and pepper to taste.

Yields about 8 servings (3/4 cup per serving).

WW info:
flex - 2.5 points per serving
core - included

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Oh, picture, wherefore art thou?
Thou was not taken because we were too hungry to wait for pics
when we ate it the first time, and then I froze the remainder too quickly.

As I've said there anything more soul-warming than a nice thick bowl of soup on a blustery winter day? Well, other than a kitten on your lap, or a roaring fireplace, or a toasty laptop on your lap....

I saw this recipe in a recent issue of Rachael Ray's magazine and let's face it—while RR pushes fresh ingredients, she's not exactly pushing low-cal, low-fat options. Nonetheless, I love her despite her annoying perkiness. And I love the ease of her recipes. I thrive on the challenges of figuring out how I can make them (and anyone else's) more "figure-friendly." And interestingly enough, the recipe she printed was actually a remake of an even fattier reader submitted recipe.

This soup was soooooo good. And hearty! My husband and I actually ate it for dinner one night on its own. And soup is rarely enough to serve as the main course around here. Enjoy!

1 ounce mixed dried mushrooms
7 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
6 ounces long grain and wild rice mix
12 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup light cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place the dried mushrooms and 1 cup chicken broth in the bowl of a food processor, and soak for 10 minutes. Process until coarsely chopped; set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and thyme and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add processed mushrooms, stir, and cook for one minute.

Stir in 5 cups of chicken broth, rice and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add chicken breast, lower heat to a simmer, and stir occasionally. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate and shred; add shredded chicken back to the pot. Stir in the cream, remaining cup of chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Yields 8 servings (1 serving=1 heaping 1/2 cup plus about an extra 1/4 of broth)

WW info:
4 points per serving

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tilapia with Avocado-Mango Salsa

I can't remember where or when I fell in love with tilapia. I feel like it just all of a sudden magically appeared in my shopping cart one day at the store, and we have been in love ever since. I found a dish at a local seafood restaurant that used a mango salsa on tilapia but without the avocado. One night, I found myself with a ripe mango and avocado and decided to get crazy.

Let me tell you—when the mango and avocado start to warm up from the hot fish, their flavors really come out in ways I've never had them before.

1 large avocado
1 large mango
juice of 1 lime, divided
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 (4 ounce tilapia) fillets
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
non-stick cooking spray

Slice avocado in half, and remove pit. Carefully remove flesh and cube into 1/2" pieces. Do the same for the mango. Toss in a bowl with half of the lime juice and cilantro. Set aside.

Wash the tilapia fillets and pat dry. Sprinkle remaining lime juice over fillets, and season with salt and pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Place tilapia fillets in the skillet. Cook for 3-4minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Remove fillets from pan and divide salsa equally over tilapia. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Yields 4 servings.

WW info:
flex: 5 points per serving
core: included

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm (almost) back, baby!

Friends, countrymen, devoted blog followers....I hope you are all still out there! After a hiatus from the blogging, I present to you the most delicious thing I have ever cooked up:

My daughter. Couldn't you just eat her up? She was born on October 17, 2008 and we have been in love since the second we laid eyes on her.

Well, anywho... I have been cooking for the past 9 months but not blogging. Pregnancy and motherhood are EXHAUSTING. But fear not, I've got a backlog of recipes dying to become part of the internet. Over the next week or two, I'll slowly be updating my blog with what I've been up to. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Pasta e Fagiole
  • Classic Macaroni Salad
  • Tilapia with Mango-Avocado Salsa
  • Noodle Kugel
  • Chicken Fat and Grivens
  • Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Check back soon!!!!!