Monday, January 31, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

I love cranberries--I can eat them plain, in a sauce, and definitely in any baked good. I like that they're really tart, which I know some people don't care for. If you're not a cranberry lover, these are very versatile muffins and almost any fruit can be substituted!
These are another Cooking Light recipe, and CL suggests blueberries and lemon (which sounds fantastic), chopped apple, pear, or pineapple and cinnamon (pineapple muffins? awesome!), or mashed bananas and allspice. A reviewer on their site also suggested apricots, which sound great!
I changed their recipe up a little, so I'll list it as I made it. The original is in the link.
These also freeze great--cool completely, then place in Ziploc to freeze. Thaw at room temperatue and reheat in oven wrapped in foil.

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp Splenda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
2/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; combine. Stir in cranberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, rind, vanilla, and egg in a separate bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Spray or line 12 muffin tins. Spoon batter evenly into the tins.
Bake at 400° for 16-18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.
Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack to cool.

Nutritional Info:
156 calories, 4.6 g fat, 26.3 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 3.4 g protein

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hearty Tomato Soup

I have forever changed my opinion of tomato soup. In the past, I have always thought of the orange-y colored Campbell's soup from the can. I don't even know if I've ever tried it, but I always thought I didn't like tomato soup because of how that looked. Everyone else was enjoying their grilled cheese and tomato soup, and I finally get it!!
This is another recipe that's great for reheating. I froze half of the batch with plans to get it back out in a couple of weeks. Since there isn't any cream in it, it will be fine. You can make the creme fraiche garnish, eat it plain, or put a dollop of Greek yogurt on top, which is excellent. The nutritional info is great on this soup (listed below) and it is packed with vegetables. Enjoy some with your grilled cheese!

Hearty Tomato Soup
Makes 6 serings

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon, minced  (I used 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish:
2/3 cup creme fraiche
Zest of one lemon

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf.
Puree the soup in a blender in batches. (Remember to leave the lid or the little lid insert off and cover it with a towel so you don't trap the steam in and cause a tomato soup explosion in your kitchen!)  Return the soup to a soup pot and keep warm over low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
For the garnish, stir together the lemon zest, a little dried rosemary, and 2/3 cup creme fraiche.
Nutritional Info (without garnish):
143 calories, 4.6 g fat, 22.4 g carbs, 4.8 g fiber, 5.6 g protein

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speedy Chicken Pot Pie

 Another great recipe from Cooking Light! This is a recipe I saw on Prevention RD, a site I really enjoy reading, and is actually NOT in the book I've been raving about--can you believe it?? :)
The CL version has pie crust strips as the "crust", but I somehow accidentally bought crescent rolls instead. Norris suggested (yes, you read that right) that I press the crescent rolls into muffin tins and put the filling in. Turned out great! I only did it with half of the rolls just in case it sounded better than it would work.
I steamed a couple of extra cups of the veggies and put more in my serving, which I think was the perfect amount (another half cup or so per serving).

Speedy Chicken Pot Pie
from Cooking Light via Prevention RD
Serves 5

1.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1/4 tsp salt
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 bay leaf
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup frozen green peas, green beans, and diced carrot blend

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage

1/4 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crust dough (1/2 of 1 pie crust) OOPS! I accidentally bought crescent rolls, so I wound up with a slightly different product!

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Heat 6-8 cups of water in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add chicken and boil until cooked through. Remove from water and dice into 1/2-inch pieces.
While chicken cooks, bring 3 1/2 cups broth and bay leaf to a boil in a large saucepan. Add potatoes; cover and cook over medium-high heat 8 minutes. Stir in frozen vegetables; cover and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken. Combine remaining 1/2 cup broth and flour; stir into potato mixture. Reduce heat to medium; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and thick. Remove bay leaf. Stir in thyme, pepper, and sage.

While potato mixture cooks, cut pie crust dough crosswise into 12 strips. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes or until browned and puffy. Top chicken mixture with pie crust strips.
If you're a dork like me and bought the wrong thing, just preheat your oven to 375.  Tear the longer edge (smallest angle of the triangle) off the crescent and press the big piece of dough into a GREASED muffin tin (yep, learned that the hard way!). Fill with pot pie mixture and top with extra triangle of dough. Bake 12 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool two to three minutes before removing from tin.

Nutrition Information (per serving--the pie crust way): 341 calories; 8.5 g. fat; 69 mg. cholesterol; 668 mg. sodium; 33.6 g. carbohydrate; 2.5 g. fiber; 30.4 g. protein

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Bear!

I got an email from the vet this morning with an e-card to Bear for his birthday. I thought it was pretty hilarious--it's obviously for the pet's owner:) Not that I ever thought a dog knew (or cared) when his birthday was, but I was playing around with the movie feature on my camera and on blogger, so thought I'd share a little laugh about what is really most important to a dog!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Soup

This is yet another recipe from the borrowed Cooking Light cookbook! I have really liked every soup I've made from the book, but this is probably my favorite! I love taco flavored things, such as the taco soup I love, so I knew I'd like this one. The nutrition facts are also a thing to love--only 134 calories per cup of this soup. I made it into four-1 1/2 cup servings, so it still clocked in under 200 calories for a filling lunch! I skipped the sour cream and just stirred the cilantro into the whole batch since I brought it for a week of lunch at work. It tasted great all week!

serves 6 (1 cup each)

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 tbsp taco seasoning
cooking spray
28 oz. fat free chicken broth
16 oz cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup green salsa
light sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro (optional), for garnish

Combine chicken and taco seasoning. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heatand coat with cooking spray.
Add chicken to pan and sauté until chicken is lightly browned, about three minutes. Add broth and scrape brown bits at bottom of pan (flavor!).
Place beans in a small bowl; mash until only a few whole beans remain. Add beans and salsa to pan, stirring well.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you noticed the newest feature?

Have you noticed?
You can tell me what you think about the recipes without even worrying about leaving a comment! You have the options of "will try!", "not my style", and "no way!". You can press "no way" and you won't hurt my feelings:) It's fun to see some sort of feedback every once in a while, so I thought it would be fun to have a super simple way to leave some! Press one every now and then!:)
I've also made it easier to comment--you still have to do the word verification, but you don't have to have an account to make the comment. Hopefully that will work for you!

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni

Make this soon! It's quick to make and you can have all the dishes (except the baking dish) done while it bakes for 15 minutes! This was the best chicken parmesan I've had--loved the addition of the pepperonis and really loved the cheesy, kind of crispy sauce mixture after the baking was done. It was perfect with spicy caesar salad.

The only changes I made were to use olive oil (and about half the amount) and to reduce the amount of marinara sauce--I don't like my chicken parm completely covered with the sauce. I'll just link you to the Food & Wine recipe I found on Eat, Live, Run! (plus, she has better pictures:)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Corn and Bacon Chowder

Another Cooking Light recipe! I wouldn't call it corn and bacon chowder considering the bacon is just a garnish, but it's good stuff! The corn is nice and sweet--it smelled like cornbread while it was cooking. Perfect for a cold day!

Corn and Bacon Chowda

from Cooking Light

2 turkey bacon slices

1/2 cup chopped celery, onion, and bell pepper mix

32 oz frozen baby gold and white corn, thawed and divided

2 cups milk, divided (used skim)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3/4 cup reduced fat shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Cook bacon until crisp, remove from pan, crumble, and set aside. Saute veggies and 16 oz corn in bacon drippings for five minutes or until tender.

Blend 16 oz corn and 1 cup milk in blender until smooth. Add pureed corn to vegetables in pan. Stir in remaining milk, salt, pepper, and cheese. Cook over medium heat without boiling, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Serve with bacon crumbles on top.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Cookies

I know, it's a little early for Valentine's Day. Actually, we're not really in to VDay around here anyway, and I didn't feel like waiting to try this recipe! In fact, we're so not in to VDay that I scheduled a dr. appointment for that day after work. How romantic is that?? :)

Ever since a friend posted about eating a corn cookie from Milk bar in New York, I have been wanting one myself! The site says it has corn powder and corn flour. I have been on the lookout, but it seems everyone else is just looking too, since Google always turns up other people searching for the recipe, but nobody ever actually posting it. I was flipping through a magazine I get for school-- Martha Stewart's Food--and found a cornmeal cookie that I knew I had to try. I really liked these, and so did Norris. The corn is not a strong flavor--the sweet corn flavor reminds me of my favorite Golden Sweet cornbread. I really really liked these (will definitely make them again--like a sugar cookie but SO much faster of a process), but I'm still on the lookout for the moist corn cookie from Milk bar if you happen to come across it!! :)

Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Cookies
from Martha Stewart
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 drops red or pink food coloring
Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt.
Cream butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes.
Add in egg and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until combined.
With mixer running, add in flour mixture.
Place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on lined baking sheet and flatten balls with the bottom of a glass. Press a cookie cutter into the cookie, but don't cut all the way through. Bake until they have golden edges, rotating pans halfway through. They will bake around 12 minutes, but check at 10.
Let cookies cool on wire rack.
Whisk together powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 1 3/4 tsp cold water. Whisk in food coloring. Glaze cookies and let cool.
Martha says they make 40, but I got 24 and they weren't huge. She must have made quarter sized cookies!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup

I wouldn't actually name this "spicy" if I were doing the naming, but you could make it spicy in many ways: add hotter peppers, garnish with spicy garnishes such as jalapenos or hot sauce, or add in chipotles in adobo to the pureed mixture. I added in a tiny bit of leftover taco spiced chicken just because I had it, and it added a little extra protein and bulk, not to mention flavor! You can play with this recipe however you'd like, but the original is great as is!
This is also from that great Cooking Light cookbook my coworker is letting me borrow for school. Based on the number of recipes I've already planned from it, I have a feeling this book may be making its way to my house soon! The recipes are also available online, so I may just stick to that. I made this soup for my lunches for the week--I'd say the original recipe (which says four servings) makes closer to six bowls, though. Enjoy!

Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup

from Cooking Light

16 oz frozen baby gold and white corn, thawed and divided

2 cups fat free milk, divided

4 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped (about 1 lb)

1 cup chopped onion

1 tbsp water

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bring 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 cup corn to a boil over medium heat in a dutch oven.
Combine chile, onion, and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for four minutes.
Place 2 cups corn and 1/2 cup milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add pureed mixture to heated corn mixture in dutch oven. Stir in chile mixture and salt. Cook six minutes over medium heat.
Serve with cheddar cheese. (I just stirred in the cheddar cheese since I'd be taking it for lunches and don't bring a separate garnish for school lunch!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cooking Light Pan Roasted Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Norris, the mushroom lover, gives this soup a thumbs up:)
The picture, however, does not get a thumbs up. Boo for it being dark at 5:30!

Pan Roasted Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (4-ounce) package fresh gourmet-blend mushrooms (bought loose fresh shrooms and sliced them)
1 cup refrigerated prechopped celery, onion, and bell pepper mix (Norris doesn't go for those veggies, so added in frozen corn instead)
1 (2.75-ounce) package quick-cooking wild rice (used regular wild rice which cooked for about 45 minutes)
1 (6-ounce) package light garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese wedges (Laughing Cow)
2 cups 1% low-fat milk (used skim)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (used a lot more than this! taste and adjust according to your own preferences)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and celery mixture; cook 6 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are browned, stirring occasionally.
2. While mushroom mixture cooks, prepare rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Unwrap cheese; chop into bite-sized pieces.
3. Add milk, cheese, thyme, pepper, and salt to mushroom mixture, stirring well; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts and soup thickens. Stir in rice. Cook 1 minute or until heated.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chopped Apple Salad with toasted walnuts, feta, and pomegranate vinaigrette

"It looks like Christmas!!" was the class reaction to this salad. The kids really liked the toppings, but preferred the dressing from the Pear and Pomegranate salad. I really liked the flavor combo, but the original recipe called for blue cheese, which I think would have stood out more. Good luck finding pomegranate molasses...I couldn't find them anywhere, so I had to make my own which first turned into hard candy, then to molasses. Be careful:)
Chopped Apple Salad with toasted walnuts, feta, and pomegranate vinaigrette
Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji) any or a combination of all, skin left on, core removed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups baby spinach
2 heads endive, thinly sliced
1 cup toasted coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled (used feta)
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the pomegranate molasses, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
For the salad:
Combine the apples, spinach, endive, walnuts and cheese in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, to taste.

from Bobby Flay

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Gorgonzola and Champagne Vinaigrette

Well, except the pomegranate. I spent two hours in the biggest market in our city, and they didn't have a single pomegranate! This would have been perfect (and really pretty) with pomegranate seeds on it!
This is one of our trial recipes for our ProStart competition. The kids have 60 minutes to make a starter, entree (beef, veg, and starch), and a dessert. They can only use two butane burners and nothing electric or battery powered. Quite a feat just to come up with some recipes to use! We always start with a ton of trial recipes and change them up as needed. The hardest part is not giving TOO much of my own input and letting it be "their" project. Especially because their taste buds like Pizza Hut, but the judges are restaurant owners and chefs that might also like the Hut, but are looking for more bold and interesting flavors. If you have an idea, please toss it my way!!
I think they decided that they like the dressing from this salad with the toppings from the Chopped Apple Salad. We'll see where that takes us, but I really enjoyed this salad (and even more with pom seeds!).

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Gorgonzola and Champagne Vinaigrette
6 servings
8 cups baby spinach
1 ripe pear, cut in small slices
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 oz Gorgonzola
fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp honey
Champagne vinaigrette:
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Whisk together dressing ingredients.
Toss greens with dressing and top with pear and gorgonzola. Drizzle honey on top and top with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cheesy Pesto Dip

I have no idea what to name this, but it was really, really good! Aunt Kris always brings good stuff from Costco to family things and I always wish I had one instead of Sam's here! She brought a torte that had cream cheese, sundried tomato, and pesto in it and I knew I had to make something similar. We hosted a party for New Years Eve, so I decided that would be the perfect opportunity for making it. I have some left over that I plan to put on pizza crust and am SOOO looking forward to it! I might put some roasted red peppers and spinach on top of the pizza..yumm!

Anyway, here's the simple recipe I put together based on that torte we had from Costco. I had goat cheese and wanted to add that it, and loved the addition. I used the pesto I had frozen from the end of the summer and made this recipe super simple! You can adjust the amount of pesto and sundried tomatoes depending on your taste preferences.

Cheesy Pesto Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz goat cheese

1/3 cup pesto

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and minced plus some for garnish

Combine cheeses until blended. Stir in pesto and tomatoes. Scoop onto plastic wrap and wrap the plastic around to shape the cheese into a brick shape. Chill until set up, about two hours. Garnish with more sundried tomatoes and serve with crackers.