26 October 2008

Chowdah, Sweet Chowdah

bristol pumpkin chuckin' 2008My parents came up on Sunday to watch the pumpkin chuckin' and, being a good daughter, I fed them lunch. Being a lazy daughter, I fed them soup and sandwiches. Tasty tuna fish sandwiches made of good solid white tuna, light mayonnaise, dill, minced celery and onion, and fresh ground black pepper. Delicious soup from Frontier Soup's "Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder Mix" I had received many moons ago as part of King Arthur Flour's Mix n' Magic Baking Club.

The soup was really good. Much better than I had expected -- I have had some bad experiences with bagged soup mixes and avoided making this one up for fear of another horrible disappointment. Instead of yuckiness, I tasted creamy deliciousness. Even though I used low sodium chicken broth and a mix of heavy cream and 1% milk, the soup was still very rich and velvety. A little bland, but a few cranks of the pepper mill fixed that up quite nicely. Admittedly, I like my chowders on the zippy side.

The mix made ten cups which easily allowed me to play "generous daughter" by sending some home with my parents without running the risk of short changing my own tummy. It will make a wonderful breakfast tomorrow morning.

Or, I could save it for lunch and make some of that yummy Pompanoosuc Porridge my mother brought me back from her trip to Vermont. She also brought me sugar-free brownie mixes, sugar-free pound cake mix, Vermont Mountain Muesli, and several tempting looking freebies she picked up because she bought preposterous amounts of baking stuff (how can you visit Vermont and not come back with a carload of baking supplies and other yumminess??).

While Pompanoosuc Porridge sounds like a delicious breakfast, the chowder will probably the thing to eat tomorrow morning as I have already made Butternut Squash Sauté to take for lunch the next few days. I hope it is as tasty as it looks. While it's hard to believe something made with bacon, butternut squash, and spinach wouldn't be good, one never really knows.

23 October 2008

Alas, Poor Cookies!

The Husband had been grumping about how he hadn’t had any home made cakes or cookies since who knows how long and how terrible it was for him and ... ohwailywaily.

So I baked him cookies. And cake. And he was less waily.

The cookies were made from a "Traditional Chip Cookie Mix" I received from King Arthur Flour as part of the Mix n' Magic Baking Club (mix is not listed on the KAF website). I made thirty six delicious cookies from the mix (the package said forty) and was pleased to get that many (go, cookie scoop, go). Sadly, they only lasted about five days before they were all et up.

Alas, poor cookies! My tummy knew them; cookies with delicious chocolate chunks, all nestled in buttery, vanilla-scented goodness; they hath borne me through many an hour of Dexter and Paranoia Agent ...

*sob*

To get over our cookie grief, I made "Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting" from McCormick's Cooking With Flavor (Time Inc, 2007) which I had received for Christmas last year. This cake was phenomenal. Probably the best vanilla sheet cake I have ever made. Definitely a recipe I will be inflicting on people for years to come ...

Yes, I will be inflicting cake on people. Oh, the horror!

20 October 2008

Not Just For Diabetics

Last month, I borrowed Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking (American Diabetes Association, 2004)  from my library system.  It's a cookbook features a year’s worth of month-by-month healthy meal plans, grocery lists, and recipes so you never have to wonder what to make for dinner. While the recipes are fairly simple and straight forward, they generally avoid being boring.

I’ve made four recipes from Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking and largely been pleased with the results. Enough so that I’m planning on renewing this book, anyway!
“Tuna Spinach Pasta Bake”
Cooked farfalle (bowtie) pasta topped with a mixture of tinned tuna, wilted fresh spinach (I don’t see why you couldn’t substitute squeezed thawed chopped spinach), salt, pepper, low-fat low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. It was good, but would have been better if the tuna/spinach mixture had been combined with the pasta rather than poured on top. Still, a nice take on traditional tuna bake and worth repeating. Recipe claimed to serve six, but we only managed five.

“Blackened Tuna Steaks”
Tuna dredged in a mixture of paprika, thyme, black pepper, salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. I cooked this in a nonstick skillet for four minutes on each side and they just the way we like them at home (we’re braver at restaurants). The flavor of the spice blend made me think of Cajun Blackened seasoning. I served the tuna topped with a squeeze of lime and they were pretty darned tasty. Definitely a repeater.

“Mediterranean Chicken”
Chicken with brown rice, garlic, onions, bell pepper, zucchini, Muir Glen diced tomatoes, oregano, salt substitute, black pepper and low sodium chicken broth. While I’m not sure why this dish counts as “Mediterranean” (maybe, because of its use of oregano and tomatoes?), it was a very filling and hearty stew suitable for a brisk autumn evening. Recipe claimed to serve five, but we only managed four.

“Beef and Cheese Skillet Casserole”
Ground beef with rotini (corkscrew) pasta, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, sugar (omitted), and reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Recipe was supposed to make seven 1-cup servings, but we only managed five. Not a particularly original recipe, but pretty tasty and a good use of pantry staples. (A very similar recipe is found on the dLife website).
Next up: “Tortellini Soup” with crumbled Italian turkey sausage and red wine. Sounds nice and warming.

15 October 2008

Antisocial Soup

Made soup this weekend. Of course. How could I go a week without soup? It was a soup born of pure laziness. Full of stuff out of my pantry and crisper drawer and taking minimal effort, because I couldn't be bothered to go to the shops or get out a sauté pan.

The recipe is adapted from "Granny's Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili" over on Recipezaar.
(Don't Make Me Go Out) Bean Soup

19 oz. can Muir Glen Southwest Black Bean Soup
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz. can Heinz baked beans (English-style tomato-based baked beans)
29 oz. can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
A couple dashes of hot sauce

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.



13 October 2008

Autumnal Chicken

Made a beautiful roast chicken this evening. Roasted it with tiny potatoes, lemon, oregano, and garlic (of course). Was delicious. As always, makes me wonder why I don't roast a chicken every weekend. It's easy and nutritious and makes the whole house smell good. It is also, considering the other dishes that can come from the leftovers, quite economical.
Lemony Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes

1 4± pound Nature's Promise chicken
1 pound small white potatoes
cloves from 1 head of Spanish Roja garlic
extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
McCormick Salt Free Lemon & Pepper Seasoning
Dried Oregano
Bottle of Strongbow or Woodchuck

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and prep chicken, cutting away any excess fat and plucking off remnant feather pieces. Pat the chicken dry all over and inside. Rub chicken with olive oil (make sure to get all the nooks and crannies). Put in roasting pan. Add potatoes and garlic cloves. Drizzle potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest, oregano, and lemon pepper seasoning. Toss to coat. Sprinkle chicken with oregano and lemon pepper seasoning. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken and put squished lemon halves in chicken cavity. Place in oven. Pour about a third of the bottle of cider into the pan (into the pan, not onto the chicken or potatoes). Roast 1-1½ hours. Let rest 15 minutes. Eat.
What do you do with the leftover cider? You drinks it, obviously.

11 October 2008

Savor the Stinking Rose: Garlic & Harvest Festival

Today, we went to the Garlic & Harvest Festival at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds and ate so much garlic we could, I kind you not, knock a vampire dead at ten paces. It was an excellent festival -- much deliciousness, fast lines, many nice people, and the kind of beautiful October weather that makes me want to use words like "limpid" and "splendourous."

Despite consuming all sorts of garlicky numminess, I also had to bring some garlic home with me ...

After sampling many different kinds of raw garlic, I ended up purchasing a small bunch of Spanish Roja and a smaller bunch of German Red. To me, both have a fierce kick and hit the back of the throat with a almost fiery woo garlic taste. This is exactly what I want in my garlic -- I do not love it for its mildness, you know.

I also brought home a jar of "Can't Beet It" (shredded beets mixed with horseradish) which I won't be surprised if I end up eating straight out of the jar. Also, picked up a bottle of garlic vinegar (so mild and sweet!) which I look forward to drizzling all over a nice green salad.

Tomorrow, we're off to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Hebron. Deep fried oreos and busty wenches all 'round! Huzzah!

07 October 2008

Mish-Mash Vegetable Stew in a Hurry

My brain keeps telling me that spinach and sweet potatoes would be excellent together and my tummy has been hankering for stewed chickpeas/garbanzos and I needed something fast which would feed me at work all week ...

Thus "Mish-Mash Vegetable Stew in a Hurry" was born:
Heat a splash of extra virgin olive oil in skillet over medium heat.

Add in:
1 small diced onion
1 diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp. chopped garlic

Cook, stirring, until onion is tender.

Stir in 1½ ground cumin and cook about a minute or until very fragrant.

Stir in:
28 oz can drained Muir Glen diced tomatoes
15 oz canned yams (well drained)
15.5 oz can garbanzos/chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
7 oz bag of baby spinach (washed and dried)
about 2 cups of leftover cooked rice
a couple grinds of black pepper

Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook about 10 minutes.

Good straight out of the pan, but even better the next day.

Delicious, nutritious, and 100% vegetarian.