Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Today it finally feels like fall here. Cooler temperatures came right behind last night's rain and we woke up to a heavy fog which finally gave way to cloudy skies. Perfect soup weather! Of course I make soup even when it's 90 degrees outside, but it's nice to know that now I'm at least seasonally appropriate. The grocery stores have pumpkins and squash crammed into every available nook and cranny, so I bought a nice big butternut squash and decided to use half of it for this creamy soup. Roasting the squash and onions brings out their natural sweetness and adds a little bit of caramelization for extra flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
2 medium onions, sliced
3 large cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 quart chicken broth
pinch cayenne pepper, optional
fat free sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover large baking sheet with aluminum foil (I used the no-stick kind.) Prepare vegetables and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, curry powder and thyme. Spread vegetables onto baking sheet in a single layer. Place in oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven.

In soup pot heat chicken broth and add oven roasted vegetables. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. In batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper if using and adjust other seasonings as needed. (I ended up adding extra cumin and curry powder.) Garnish with fat free sour cream.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ham and Bean Soup

Some foods are nostalgic and have the ability to transport you back mentally to the dinner table of your youth. One of my dad's favorite foods was ham and bean soup and every time I make this recipe it reminds me of him and how he'd make my mom blush by going on and on about how great her bean soup was. I've modified the recipe a bit to lessen the fat content, but I think the taste remains the same.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 pound dried great northern beans
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced (use leaves too)
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
5 small red potatoes, diced (I left the skins on)
1 lb. diced low-fat ham
salt and pepper to taste

Sort and rinse beans and put into large soup pot. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes and remove from heat. Cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans and return them to the soup pot. Cover with 6 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes with lid slightly vented.

While beans are cooking, prepare vegetables. Heat oil in skillet and add onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

After the beans have cooked about an hour, add the chicken broth, potatoes, ham and reserved vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Panini

I could never be a vegan. I'm addicted to cheese and I harbor a sincere fondness for eggs.

However, I could be a vegetarian.... for about a week or two, maybe.

Truth is, I do tend to plan my meals around vegetables and dried beans and legumes, but mostly for weight reasons. I try to find low fat substitutes for the protein that meat provides, and when I eat meat, I opt for the leanest possible options.

Tonight's meal was strictly vegetarian. And, yeah... I'm proud of the fact that I put a very filling meal on the table without the use of meat. Cheese was present, of course... MUST FEED THE ADDICTION.

I roast all kinds of vegetables in the oven, and I use those roasted veggies in many different recipes, from pasta to omelets to soups to hashes to.... you name it. Roasted veggies, in my eyes, are the concentrated form of their own sweet and savoryness. (yeah, I know.. it's not a word)

I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread earlier this week. NOTE, I said baked, not made. WalMart sells three loaves of frozen 100% whole wheat bread dough for far less than I can buy the equivalent loaves from the bakery section of the store, so each week I "bake" a loaf of bread. If I were to really splurge, I would have purchased a loaf of ciabatta bread to really make these sandwiches awesome.

Roasted Vegetable Panini

I used eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, red onion, and mushrooms for this particular recipe. The eggplants were sliced horizontally in 1/2 inch segments. The zucchini were sliced lengthwise, and the red pepper, onion and mushrooms were chunked /sliced into manageable pieces.

Red pepper
Red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

reduced fat ricotta cheese
sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Whole wheat bread slices... or your favorite bread
Provolone cheese
Fresh baby spinach leaves

Prepare veggies (first five ingredients) and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer on greased baking sheet (I line my baking sheet with that neat non-stick aluminum foil.) Place into oven and roast for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven. Stack veggies in a pile the size of the sandwich you'll be making.

While veggies are roasting, mix ricotta, sundried tomatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. My mixture was approximately 1 tablespoon ricotta, 1 tsp sundried tomatoes, pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper PER sandwich. Set aside

Spray grill pan with cooking spray and preheat on medium heat. Spray one side of each bread slice with cooking spray and place on grill pan, spray-side down. Top one slice of each sandwich with one piece of provolone cheese, and spread ricotta mixture on the other slice. Top one slice with roasted veggie mixture after cheese has melted. Remove both halves from grill pan. Top with baby spinach leaves and put both halves together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Broccoli Salad

Everyone has their "go to" dish when it comes to potluck or barbeques and this broccoli salad is mine. When I attend such events I always like to bring something that I know falls within my diet parameters, and if there's absolutely nothing else figure friendly on the table, I know I can be content with a bowl of broccoli salad and some Triscuits.

6-8 cups of broccoli florets
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Place all of the above in a large salad bowl.

Combine 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, 1/3 cup Splenda, and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar. Stir into salad with vegetables.

Microwave 3 strips turkey bacon until crisp. Crumble bacon and toss with salad just before serving.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla

This dish was originally intended to be a stand-alone casserole type dish, but my daughter thinks everything tastes better on a tortilla. And this time, she was right! Although, if I'm trying to curtail my grains for the day, it's still pretty darn tasty on its own. Hubby had made a couple of his beer butt chickens on the grill on Sunday (NFL kickoff don't ya know) and I used the leftovers for this recipe, but any type of cooked chicken can be used.

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla

3 cups of cooked, cubed chicken
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp cumin, divided
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small can green chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used Campbell's Healthy Request)
1/2- 1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp fat free sour cream
whole grain tortillas
shredded cheese of your choice (I used an italian blend)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss sweet potato cubes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft and slightly charred. Remove from oven.

In a large skillet, heat the other Tbsp of olive oil. Saute the onion and jalapeno until softened, approximately 5 minutes, then add garlic and remaining cumin and saute for another minute. Stir in the green chilies, then add the cream of chicken soup and broth. Stir until smooth. Add the sweet potatoes, chicken pieces and black beans. Simmer until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Preheat griddle pan over medium heat. Spray one side of tortilla lightly with cooking spray and place on griddle. Spread cheese over one half of the tortilla and chicken mixture over the other half. When bottom of tortilla starts to brown and cheese is melted, fold tortilla in half and transfer to plate. Cut into thirds.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goose Slop (aka Goulash)

Isn't it funny how children make up non-words that eventually become real words within the family. Be it their own interpretation of a familiar word or a new word entirely, the non-word takes root and becomes a legitimate entry in the family dictionary. That is the basis of this blog recipe. The recipe for authentic goulash is not even close to the following recipe, but back home, any combination of beef, vegetables, and tomato sauce is referred to as "goulash." Add a three year old's attempt at the pronunciation, and you get "goose slop."

Goose Slop

1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, small diced
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups carrots, small diced
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
salt and pepper

In a large skillet on medium heat, brown ground beef, onion, garlic, and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato soup and tomato sauce. Add carrots, beans and corn. Season again and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes