Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Wow, I can't belive it's been over a month since my last recipe posting! I haven't stopped cooking, I have just been very busy with the holidays and too tired at night to post anything. And honestly, a little too hungry to wait to take a picture before my dish doesn't look pretty anymore! : )

Adam and I took a four day cruise to Mexico 2 weeks ago and as expected, ate way too much on the ship as well (you have to eat your money's worth they say!). So after a month of eating too much which is usually inevitable with me during the holidays, I was in the mood for something healthy and full of vegetables. I miss them! Veggies are my favorite things to eat surprisingly, and I just haven't had enough of them lately...or at least not without some sort of rich sauce they have been drowned in.

One of Owen's favorite things to eat is soup, and I love to make it, so tonight I made a minestrone that used zero (additional) salt and was full of flavor! This was probably the best minestrone I have ever had, and will be making it again and again. Here is the recipe:

Hearty Minestrone Soup
Recipe by, Whole Foods Market

2 Tb Olive Oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cups organic chicken broth, or Vegetable broth
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 Tb. basil, chopped (I used dried)
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can (28 oz) of chopped tomatoes
1 can, 15 oz chickpeas
1 can white canelli beans
1 cup fusilli pasta, dried
Grated Parmesean for serving (optional)
Heat oil in a large stock pot on medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sautee until onions are translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the tomatoes and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Then add chickpeas, canelli beans and pasta. Simmer for another 20 minutes until vegetables are soft. Serve with freshly grated parmesean cheese on top. Enjoy!

I took lots of cute pictures of Owen scarfing this down, only to find out that I forgot to put a memory card in the camera...duh! He was looking so cute too! Oh well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baked blintzes with fresh blueberry sauce

One of my favorite things to have for breakfast that I RARELY get to eat, are cheese blintzes. Preparing them the same way you would get at a restaurant is way too time consuming, but my beloved Barefoot Contessa has found a way to bake them all in one dish. It's so easy and is a hit every time I make them. I made them yesterday for Christmas brunch at my mom's house, and everyone loved them! Everyone is asking for the recipe, so here it is:

Baked blintzes with fresh blueberry sauce
Recipe by Ina Garten

For the Batter
1 1/4 cups milk
2 Tb. sour cream
4 Tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tb. sugar
1 Tb. baking powder

For the Filling
3 Cups (24 oz) ricotta cheese
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tb. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh blueberry sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 inch cake pan or baking dish.
For the batter, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Pour half the batter (about 1 3/4 cups) into the prepared dish and bake for 10 minutes until set.
Meanwhile, for the filling, whisk together the ricotta, mascarpone, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. Spread remaining pancake batter to cover the cheese.
Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and the filling is almost set. Remove from the oven and allow to stand 10-15 minutes. Cut the blintzes in squares and serve warm with the fresh blueberry sauce.

Fresh blueberry sauce
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
4 half pints fresh blueberries (I used frozen)
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the orange juice, sugar and the cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is translucent and thickened, stir in the blueberries and simmer for 4-5 minutes, just until a few berries have burst but most are still whole. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and cool.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

How can anyone even resist the name of this cookie? There is not one word in the title that I would think twice about making these. Now that I have made them, they are definitely blog worthy! I made several types of cookies this holiday season; Lime Melt Aways from Martha Stewart (simple and delicious), molasses drops (not too excited about), ginger bread (ended up getting dried out when I warmed in the oven before serving) and double peanut butter chocolate chewies (the perfect cookie). They are pretty rich and sweet, so don't eat too many!

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
Recipe from, Eating Well Magazine

1 cup organic chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tb. plain yogurt
1 Tb. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Sunspire peanut butter chips
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (see note)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat peanut butter, canola oil and sugars together on medium with an electric mixer until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt until well combined.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually mix the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
5. With a rounded tablespoon, place dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Dip the bottom of a glass in water and then in the turbinado sugar. Slightly flatten each cookie with the bottom of the glass, re wetting the glass as needed.
7. Bake until the tops appear cracked and they are just set (about 8-10 minutes). Don't over cook or they will become dry. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Martha's Mac n' Cheese

Having a toddler who's favorite dish is macaroni and cheese, I am always looking for great ways to prepare it as healthy as possible. I think I found the ultimate perfect dish this time! This is the recipe I am sticking with! I don't know what I am going to do when butter nut squash isn't in season next spring and summer! This is a recipe I could eat all three meals a day every day of the week and not get sick of it, I am serious. It's THAT good. Please do yourselves a favor and make this soon, you have no idea what you are missing out on! It makes a lot too, so you can have left overs for days, unless you are serving it to company, then no promises that there will be any left!

Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe by Martha Stewart

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one inch cubes.
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. coarse salt plus more for the water
1 lb. elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup). We got low fat cheddar on accident and it was still really good, you couldn't even tell the difference.
1/2 cup part skim ricotta (we used whole milk ricotta...made up for the fat in the cheddar! : )
4 Tb. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tb. panko bread crumbs
1 Tb. olive oil
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375
Combine squash, stock and milk in a medium sauce pan; bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes until squash is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and mash the contents in the pot. Stir in the nutmeg, cayenne and salt and season with pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tb. Parmesan.
Lightly coat a 9 inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining Parmesan and olive oil and sprinkle evenly over noodles.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 30-40 minutes until it's brown and crispy on top. Serve immediately. YUM.

Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili Recipe

I overlooked my other chili recipe on here the other day and tried a new one. I am so glad I did, because this is the BEST chili I have ever made!!

Vegetarian Chili
Recipe by Robin Miller

1 can 28 oz. chopped tomatoes
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped onion
1 diced red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 Tb. chili powder (I used 1/2 chipotle chili powder and half regular)
2 Tb. Mexican oregano or regular dried
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/3 cup cous cous
1/2 cup Monterrey jack, cheddar, or Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)

In a crock pot, combine all ingredients except everything listed below the hot sauce. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or High for 3-4 hours.

10 minutes before serving, add cous cous and let cook until cous cous is tender. Season to taste (I didn't think it needed any salt or pepper). Just before serving, top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and sprinkle with cilantro.

So easy, healthy and DELICIOUS!

*Note, it was the perfect amount of spice for Adam and I, however I think I will reduce the hot sauce and chili powder for Owen's taste buds next time. I think with enough yogurt mixed in, he would be fine. I'll test the left overs on him tomorrow : )