Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash and Vegetable Soup (version 1)

Ah.... autumn... in the Pacific Northwest... Soup weather... with the addition of fresh produce from the local farmers makes it must better! Relocating to Washington was a GREAT idea!

So, I was gifted with a butternut squash the other day... I've never eaten butternut squash before... I did a bit of research on how to turn it into soup... I came across a recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash soup. I used it for inspiration, taking some of the comments into consideration... Here is my first version of the soup:

Ingredients:
1 Butternut Squash
1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Medium Yellow Onion
2 Carrots
3 Parsnips
Olive Oil
2 quarts Chicken Broth
3 cloves Garlic
Salt, Pepper, All Purpose Seasoning
Hashbrown Potatoes
(an afterthought - Pumpkin Pie Spice)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the apple into quarters and cut out the core. Cut the onion into eighths (in half, in half, in half). Peel and chop the carrots and parsnips into large pieces. Add all items to a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Roast the vegetables for 50 minutes.


Transfer the roasted vegetables to the pot, scooping the squash from the skins with a spoon.


Pour some of the chicken broth into the roasting pan to deglaze it a bit (scrape up the brown bits).


Pour the liquid from the baking dish into the pot and add the rest of the chicken broth. Sprinkle on about a teaspoon or two of the all purpose seasoning (feel free to use what you want, I used my go-to seasoning). Throw in the garlic cloves whole at this point.


Heat over Medium heat to simmer for a while (I didn't time it - some of the vegetables didn't cook all the way through in the oven, so I cooked it a while until everything was tender). Add a bag of (non-frozen) hashbrowns.



Cook a while longer, then blend the contents of the pot (I used my immersion blender).


Add more salt and pepper to taste. As an afterthought, I sprinkled a bit of Pumpkin Pie Spice to it at this point as well.

I added the hashbrowns to the mix in place of cream from the original recipe. It makes a nice thick soup when blended but doesn't have the added fat and lactose that the heavy cream does.

Next time, I'll experiment with the roasting process so the apple doesn't cook too quickly and the squash is easier to deal with.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Put the Key Lime in the Cookie and Shake it All Up

While visiting Jeff in White Salmon, WA one of his new friends mentioned Key Lime Pie. Well that started a ball rolling talking about Key Lime everything. Growing up in Florida I have always been a Key Lime fan. I just didn't feel like making meringue and lets face it, Key Lime Pie just isn't right without meringue. 

So leads me to the cookie. Oh the glorious cookie. Sort of a mildly sweet citrus taste. 



Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1 & 1/8 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
around 2 cups of AP flour (enough to get the right consistency, start with 1 1/2 cups and gradually add the rest at the end)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 + 2 tbsp Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE unless you have fresh key limes)
the zest of one large lime or 3 key limes
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Directions

Cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, lime juice, and salt. 
Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually add in. 

Add in extra flour if needed to get kind of a loose play dough consistency. Not quite stiff but not runny.  

Drop onto a non-stick or VERY lightly greased baking sheet in about 1 tsp amounts. 

Bake at 350F for around 10 minutes. The tops will turn just a tiny touch darker and they'll puff up and kind of shape into these cute rounds. If they spread thin at the edges, don't grease the sheet. 

Take off the sheet and place on a clean towel to cool. Let them cool about 5 minutes and dust with powdered sugar lightly. 

Oh sooo good! 

I would post a picture but I ate them all. My sincere apologies.

Liquor is Quicker but Tandy is Dandy!

I had a craving. It was one of those childhood cravings you can't get away from til you have it. Peanut Butter Tandy Cake. Now all you folks not familiar with TastyKake may have never heard of this spongy cakey concoction. Well I'm here to tell you all about it and trust me when I say you will never forget it! I will say that my version is slightly different than the packaged one so if you were a fan of the Tandy Cake from day one you may be in for a bit of a change of pace. But trust me on this, it's damn good. 


Ingredients

4 eggs

2 cups sugar
1 tsp (I dump in more cause I like it) vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
Peanut Butter (this is your judgement call, use as much or as little as you like)
1 German chocolate bar (substitution of a Hershey bar or similar item is acceptable)
about 1/4-1/2 cup Nutella
Chocolate Chips for decoration

Mix together everything except Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Nutella

I bake it in two pans for the sake of having extra crusty parts. I use a 9x9 metal baking dish. Make sure your oven is preheated to 345F or so. My oven runs hot so I knock it down just a bit to prevent it from scorching. Lightly grease and dust the pans with flour, pour the batter in evenly. Bake for around 25-30 min or until the top turns kind of a light golden. 

As soon as it comes out, scoop your peanut butter on top about a tablespoon at a time evenly over the top. Spread it around a little at a time. It melts from the heat of the cake into a nice even layer. 

Now let it cool for about 15-20 min. 

In a double boiler or microwave safe bowl mix together the broken bar of German Chocolate and the Nutella. Melt until smooth and then spread evenly over the top of the peanut butter. 

Add a grid of chocolate chips over the whole cake about an inch apart so you have cutting guides later. It makes them super cute to serve. 

Let everything cool for at least an hour. (You can totally speed it up in the fridge or freezer though)

Spray a knife with cooking spray and cut into inch-ish squares. 

Enjoy with your favorite drink whether coffee, milk, or tea. :)



Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beans! Cuban Beans!

I felt the need to stock up on some extra iron this week so I went to an old standby my Mom used to make for me. Comfort food, ahh! 

It's simple and delicious and you'll love it! 

Ingredients: 

1 bag or 2 cans of black beans (if using dry, prepare as you normally would) 
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, diced
2 packets Goya Sazon seasoning
1 bunch of cilantro, loose chopped
1 whole fresh tomato, diced
salsa verde
sour creme
sliced green olives
finely diced onion

1 cup rice per person (if using regular rice ratio is 2 parts water to 1 part rice, if making quick rice, follow the box) 

Placed the peeled and cubed potatoes in a decent sized pot and cover with water. Add in 2 packets of Sazon, 1/4 cup diced onion, and clove of garlic. Place on high and let boil for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are about 3/4 cooked. You will see them change colors a bit. 

Add in the beans and cook until they're soft, anywhere from 5 - 15 minutes depending on the bean. You should have a nice dark broth with your beans and potatoes now. 

Remove from the heat and add in some cilantro. Taste and add salt if needed, but not too much if you like the olives (like I do). They add a good saltiness to it at the end. 

Place rice in the bottom of a nice deep bowl and ladle over the beans and potato. Add a nice dollop of sour creme in the middle, sprinkle on some tomato, salsa verde, onion, and olives. Sprinkle generously with cilantro! You can add some nice Jalapenos too if you like. Although I will say they tend to overpower the whole thing. I haven't figured out how to add enough to get the heat but not too much to kill the subtle flavor of the beans and potato. 

Here's what mine looked like. I forgot cilantro at the store (will be rectifying that tomorrow!) so imagine it on there for me. 




It was really delicious. The best part is for you preggers or anemic folks, the potato and tomato contains lots of nice vitamin C which is necessary to digest the iron in the beans! Tada! Healthy blood! It's a nice rounded meal with lots of good stuff for you and easy to make. You could even do it in the crock pot (or mini crock pot) if the mood struck. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dinner for 1

Going through my current "lifestyle change" has left me with the quandary of what to nourish my system with... Typically, this time of year I make at least one pot of soup a week and eat off that for a while... My housing situation has changed and I am not as free to make those decisions as I once was (and hope to be again in the not-too-distant future). I have been left with making GF pasta (which gets old really fast) or purchasing frozen dinners. Now, don't get me wrong, frozen dinners have come a long way from the cardboard crap of the past... With steam bags and trays, frozen dinners seem a mighty good (and healthy) option... However, with my dietary restrictions, I can only eat about 1/5 of the offerings, and of those 1/5, I usually only buy 1/4 based on my own tastes... You can see where things get challenging and I end up just going to McD's and getting a plain bacon cheeseburger...

Case in point - I purchased a potsticker entree for my lunch one day... It had red peppers in the "veggie mix" but I was willing to overlook that addition and just pick them out... I also neglected to read the KIND of potsticker that was listed on the front... Getting a tofu one instead of chicken or pork is kind of a let down... Since I was the stupid one who didn't read the package all the way, I made myself eat it... or at least I tried to eat it... The potstickers tasted like sweet and sour feet and the "veggie mix" was entirely made up of red peppers... Yuck!

I had an epiphany! I can purchase potstickers that I like, add some frozen brown rice, and the veggie mix of my choice and make my OWN frozen entree! So I got a small bag of chicken potstickers (a little bit healthier than the pork variety, but still tasty) and some already-frozen brown rice. I added about 1/2 cup of the brown rice to the bottom of a plastic container and added 3 potstickers on top (the # 3 came from the amount in the original "tofu" packaging). Then I topped off the container with broccoli. **IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL THE INGREDIENTS STAY FROZEN... MAKE THESE, THEN EITHER MICROWAVE IMMEDIATELY OR PUT THEM BACK IN THE FREEZER**
Still frozen, with a bit of sauce added....


Now, I know that this is NOT a GF dish - the potstickers are made with flour... But since I'm allowing myself to eat the potstickers, I prefer to keep it "gluten-lite" and use teriyaki sauce made with tamari rather than soy... It's a personal preference. If you have a better "sauce" then by all means use it... Pour some over the potstickers (to add a bit of moisture to the skins while they cook) and a bit over the broccoli... Then put the lid on and stick it in the freezer for future use... Don't go overboard or your rice will be overloaded with teriyaki sauce and it probably won't be as good. BTW - Yoshida's sauce would probably be awesome on these!

Cooked, and ready to eat!
When you are ready to eat it, just open up one of the corners of the container to allow it to vent and microwave for around 5-6 minutes... This is very easy to put together and keeps well in the freezer. Great for a night when you are by yourself and don't have the time or inclination to cook a meal... And this way, you know pretty much what went in to it (other than the potstickers, of course) because you picked all the ingredients yourself. Season however you want... I typically add just a bit of black pepper...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Entertain Me




These olives are really good and easy to find. The yogurt was delicious too. Try the strawberry. Found at your local Kroger or Fred Meyer family of stores. Next time you're late for a family function or party, grab some of the private selection and be entertained.

Thanks BzzAgent for introducing me! 

Chicken's Done!

Want a quick easy alternative to marinating your own chicken? Try Purdue Oven Ready Roasters. :-)

BzzAgent sent me some promo materials. Thought I would share.