Monday, January 31, 2011

Creamy, Non Dairy, Broccoli Soup

It's the potato that makes this soup creamy without having to add cream. This also makes it diet friendly.
The whole family loves this one. I hope you do too.

You'll need:
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bunches of broccoli (they sell them 2 stalks to a bag at my store), cut into pieces, stalk and all.
3 medium to large white potatoes. Peeled and diced.
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use our home made turkey broth)
½ tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion or chives

Cook the onion until soft in the olive oil.
Add the garlic and cook until it starts to take on some color.
Add the broccoli and potatoes.
Add the broth.
Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Use your handy dandy hand blender to puree the soup. You can also use a regular blender or food processor and do it in batches then return to the pot.
Heat through once more and season to taste.
Top with chives or green onion. (This step goes a long way to adding flavor for me. B4 the addition of the onion I usually find the soup to be missing something).
Serve hot and enjoy!

Easy Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

This is the family's favorite mac and cheese.
This is an adapted Alton Brown recipe.

To make this waist widening dish you'll need:
1lb elbow macaroni
1 stick butter
4 eggs
1.5 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Texas Pete)*
2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
20 ounces, sharp shredded cheddar cheese (I actually use 24 because it comes in 8 oz packages. I've found that Kraft is the best in taste and melt-ability. It isn't kosher, however. )
Cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
Return to pot and melt in butter. Toss to coat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper. **
Stir this mixture into the pasta and then add the cheese.
Cook, stirring often, over low heat until the cheese is completely melted and creamy.
Serve at once.

*Don't let the hot sauce scare you. I have NO tolerance for spice. This doesn't add heat but does add a bit of flavor that is missed if you don't use it.

**If you like mac and cheese with dry mustard (Stouffer's brand uses mustard) you can add 1 teaspoon of dry mustard into the whisked ingredients. Personally, I love it with the mustard but my family does not.

Pasta Fagioli

This is the best Pasta Fagioli EVER!

For the beans:
1 lb. dry Cranberry beans (Borlotti)
2 large garlic cloves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Salt

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I use Cento brand Chef's Cut)
6 oz. Ditalini or other small pasta shape
1/2 tsp. Salt
pepper to taste
For the beans:
Wash the beans and the soak them overnight in a big pan according to the package directions.

The next day drain the beans and rinse them.
Heat a large pan and add oil, garlic and rosemary. You may want to wrap with cheese cloth or put into a cloth tea bag as the leaves will fall off.
Add the beans and enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil and the reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cover simmer for about 1.5 hours.
Remove the lid, add the 2 tsp. salt and let them simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until cooked. Add more water if needed. They should be creamy, not soupy when they are ready.
Remove the rosemary and set aside the beans as you work on the soup.
You can make the beans the day before if you'd like.
For the soup:
In a large pan saute the onions in the olive oil.
Meanwhile, take 2/3 of the beans and blend them in a blender, set the other 1/3 aside.
When the onions are soft add all the beans, tomatoes (drain if they are in water; I don't drain the Cento brand), 4 cups of water and the salt.
Bring to a boil and add the pasta, reduce the heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked.
Add the pepper and stir well.
If you think it is too thick add more water.
Serve shredded Parmesan cheese and olive oil at the table. Personally, I like to top with a drizzle of olive oil.

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

This was WONDERFUL! My youngest kept raving all through dinner. The whole family loved this so I figured I better get this written down before I forget what I've done so I can make it again. This would be a good way to use up leftover rice. I served this with a simple salad with lemon and olive oil dressing. This would be a nice lunch dish on its own as it is a complete meal in one. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

To make 4 stuffed peppers:
4 large red bell peppers
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I grate them on a small grater)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in puree (I used a large can of Cento brand Chef's Cut tomatoes)
2 Tbs sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme (I actually just put a little in the palm of my hand and tossed it in)
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown Jasmine)

Cook the ground beef and onion together breaking up with the back of your spoon until the beef is cooked through and the onion has softened.

Meanwhile, cut the tops (stem part) off the peppers and remove and discard seeds. Set into a baking dish until you are ready to stuff them. You might also like to try cutting them in half so you'll have two shells out of one pepper to stuff.*

When the beef is cooked drain the grease. Add the garlic and let cook, while stirring, a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes (don't drain), paprika and thyme. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to dry up a little bit and all the flavors melt. About 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper as needed. Add the cooked rice and stir well; taste again for seasoning.

Stuff the meat mixture into the peppers.
Cover (with foil if you have to) and cook in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.


*The peppers will be crisp tender when done. If you like them cooked more you may want to boil them in water for a few minutes before stuffing them.

**If you like a little spice I think red pepper flake would be a nice addition to the meat.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicken sandwiches with Dijon and Moonshine Jelly

I've been slack on the post lately. Partly because we've been out of town so much lately but also because I've been having trouble with the camera. I use my husband's camera and sometimes it isn't available to me. If it is in the kitchen when I start, then I'll use it, but if it's in another room I won't run around the house looking for it.

I decided to post this even though I don't have a photo for it. I've made it twice and the whole family loves it. The important ingredient is the moonshine jelly. If you can't find it at a local store you may be able to find it online. We find it at local farm stands but they are only open during the summer so we have to stock up. If you can find jelly made with white wine that would probably work. I don't know what else would make a good substitute.

What you'll need for one sandwich:
1 sandwich roll or hoagie roll
1 tablespoon moonshine jelly
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
olive oil
1 chicken breast tenderloin
1 small clove garlic
1 large handful of spinach

Make garlic bread by slicing the bread lengthwise and brushing with olive oil.
With a small grater grate the garlic (or mince with a knife) and spread over the oil.
Toast under the broiler.
Mix together the mustard and jelly and set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to coat a skillet. Add some thyme.
Pound the chicken thin and then add to the pan. Cook until lightly brown on one side then the other.
When the chicken is finished, remove from the pan and add the spinach to wilt.

To build the sandwich put the spinach on the garlic bread and top with the chicken.

I'll post photos some other time.