Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Southwestern Tomato & Pinto Bean Soup ~ 3.31.11

[ in a perfect world this soup would be flipped counterclockwise to appear normal. but blogger doesn't like me and I want you to see the soup all pretty in the bowl. so just tilt your head for me, to the right. there.. doesn't that look delish?]

I'm pretty sure many of you know by now my love for all things tomato, especially tomato soup (see here and here)!

I've had this in my 'to try' file for far too long so it was time to give it a go. This year, during Lent, I'm working hard on planning my menu for the week and using recipes that are simple and as many meat free choices as I can. It's been a great experiment and I'm writing down what we're having on a calendar I received for free from half price books! I love sitting down and thinking through what we'll have for the week and looking back to see what we've already eaten!

So this recipe that I clipped 6 yrs ago from Eating Well magazine was right up my Lenten alley. It has just the right amt of kick in it if you used the fire roasted canned tomatoes. And I just loved the addition of the crispy tortillas that took just a few extra minutes of my time, but were well worth it in the end.

If you're looking for a little bit of a twist on traditional tomato soup and you love the flavors of the southwest, please do yourself a favor and make a batch of this very soon!

Southwestern Tomato and Pinto Bean Soup

2 corn tortillas
1 can diced green chiles or 1 poblano chile
1- 15 1/2 oz can pinto beans, rinsed
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1- 14 1/2 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, not drained!
1/2 tsp cumin
couple shakes red cap Goya Adobo seasoning (optional)
1/3  cup reduced fat sour cream, garnish
1 Tbs coarsely chopped cilantro- I think this made the soup stellar
1 lime, wedged, for garnish

1. preheat oven to 425. stack tortillas and cut into strips, then in half again. you want smallish strips. scatter on baking pan or stone and toast about 10 minutes
2. Meanwhile, if using a fresh poblano ( I did not), roast it over a gas burner, turning often with tongs, until the skin is blackened, about 10 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam 5 min. to loosen skin. Scrape off skin, core and remove seeds and inner membranes and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
3. Mash 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork. Set mashed and whole beans aside.(Alternatively- you could save 1/2 a can of beans out of the soup and puree the whole pot with a stick blender or regular blender, then pour the soup back in the pot, add the whole beans and heat- I say this again, below)
4. Heat oil in soup pot over med heat, add onion and cook, until softened, 3-4 min. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 sec. Add broth, tomatoes, cumin, green chiles, beans (all), bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, 10 min. (I believe I left out the whole beans initially and pureed the soup a bit before adding in the pintos- I like my soup a little creamier and chunky, so go for what you like)
5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream, cilantro, tortilla strips and lime wedge. Enjoy!

{original recipe called for more beans and more broth, I cut it in about half and still had plenty of beans and soup!)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Lentil soup twofer ~ 3.26.11

I happened upon this next recipe way back in 2006 in the pages of Real Simple magazine. I thought it sounded so different with the combination of sweet potatoes and kale and lentils! I knew I had to give it a try.

Happy to report that I've been making this recipe regularly ever since. I don't often use kale because I seem to think of this recipe when I have leftover fresh spinach to use up from my fridge. I also decreased the amount of leeks as 4 seemed a bit much and 2 works out perfectly. I've taken some pictures of the process of adding the ingredients for you b/c all those veggies are just so beautiful as you add them to the soup and they were just begging for their photograph! ;)

The original recipe...

Winter Lentil Soup

2 leeks, white and green parts only (see recipe for how to wash leeks properly)
1 bag of spinach (or kale)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
6 cups water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 Tbs fresh thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 fresh basil leaves (optional, but oh, do they add an amazing dimension)
1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)

1. Begin by prepping all your veggies: slice your leeks, lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4 inch half moons. Place in a large bowl filled with water and swish to remove grit. Lift leeks out and repeat. Drain them on a towel and pat dry (I use my Softworks salad spinner to dry them). Remove any thick stems from the spinach (or kale). Stack the leaves and slice them into strips (Actually, I don't even do THAT... I just throw them in the pot!). Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks.

2.Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice (don't throw the can out yet!) and break up the tomatoes with the spoon or slice them with your kitchen shears in the pot. Cook about 5 minutes more.

3. Use your tomato can and add a whole can of water (about 2-2 1/2) cups. Then add 4 more cups of water and bring to a boil. Using the can helps to clean it out and you add any juices you left in there when you dumped in the tomatoes! Now recycle it or sit it by the pot and stick your wooden spoon in it, like I do.

4. Add your sweet potatoes...

your lentils and thyme

And your spinach, salt and pepper and the basil, if using (throw the stems your chopped off in there, too, you can fish them out later- add GREAT flavor!)

5. Simmer all of this until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. I leave the lid on and cracked just a bit to let some steam out, but check to make sure too much liquid doesn't evaporate!

6. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

I highly recommend you have some crusty bread on hand to eat with your delicious soup!

Here's another favorite lentil soup for you to try from the pgs of Martha Stewart everyday food.

Lentil Soup

3 strips of bacon (or use reserved bacon grease from your fridge!)
1 lg onion, chopped
3 med carrots, peeled and cut into half moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste (I use the squeeze tube, but whatever)
1 1/2 c lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh chopped)
2 cans reduced sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
S &  P

1. In a large pot, cook bacon over med/low heat until browned and crisp (8-10 min). Pour off all but 1 Tbs fat (if you have your bacon grease, obviously skip this step and proceed to #2)
2. Add onion and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 min. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 sec. Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 min.
3. Add lentils, thyme, broth AND 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender 30-45 minutes.
4. Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Taste and season again if needed. Serve immediately! Can freeze.

I like mine with a nice loaf of crusty bread and sprinkled with parmesan cheese on top! (hmmmm... that sounds familiar)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Super Sloppy Joe's ~ 3.22.11

You'd think that everyone loves sloppy Joe's, huh? Not in this family. So, I don't make them all that often. But when I asked G what special dinner he'd like me to make on the day he received his first reconciliation and it just so happened to be the feast of St. Joseph, he said, "Sloppy Joe's"!
Funny thing is, when we get to the table, the kids were all over the place about eating them or even trying them. Ah, children. This is not the first time I've made these and depending on the day, somewhere between 1 and 4 of the kids will eat it all with no complaints!

Regardless, this is a great kid favorite and the grown ups in our house love it, too. I think using half ground turkey (93/7) and half ground chuck works best for us. I also sub out green pepper for red in my recipe. I love the color it adds and I just don't like green peppers all that much. Now, when it comes to that laundry list of seasonings, don't fret, if you don't have steak sauce, don't use it! But add that pinch of cloves, it's just a unique underlying flavor that makes you go hmmm.... Lastly, know that these are a bit more sweet than spicy. So, cut back on the ketchup if you don't like it so sweet or add some Frank's or whatever to add a little spice. The original recipe had brown sugar in it and I just omit that all together.

Super Sloppy Joe's

adapted from Taste of Home

2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 celery ribs, minced fine
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbs vinegar
1 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 Tbs Heinz steak sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground mustard
pinch gr cloves

hamburger buns

1. Over medium heat, cook beef, onion, celery and red pepper until meat is no longer pink and veggies are tender. Drain off fat.
2. Add rest of the ingredients. Simmer uncovered, 25 minutes, stir occasionally.
3. Spoon onto buns.

4. Serve leftovers like this:
Sloppy Joe Pasta!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Pat's Day Sauce ~ 3.19.11

Our St. Patrick's day feast will forever include this wonderful recipe shared with me by my friend, Jen in Ohio.
 It's not pictured above and really, it's a bit shy and not as photogenic as my corned beef and cabbage, but trust me when I tell you to make it. Just make the SAUCE! I actually halved the recipe and used 1/3 of the bottle of my horse radish- you'll definitely want to taste after it sits about 30 minutes to make sure you added enough of the horseradish to it.

Rocky's Mom's Awesome St. Pat's Sauce
1/2C Sour Cream
3/4C Mayo
1/2 bottle horse radish (not prepared horseradish)
3-4tbsp cider vinegar
squirt/dollop french's mustard

Mix all together until well blended to consistency & flavor desired. Serve with your corned beef and cabbage. Dip everything into it. Then use it the next day for your corned beef sandwiches!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fave Go-To super easy dinner #3 ~ 3.4.11

I have been loving chicken lately. Especially with all the germs and colds and illnesses flying through our door, chicken soup has been in constant rotation. It's my "go-to" medicine next to chamomile tea with local honey. ;) And when you have chicken, you probably have some leftover chicken! Well, at least I always do, especially if I'm cooking one in a pot and roasting the other (that's a really good idea by the way), double duty meals, Roast chicken one night and chicken soup another night. And by all means, you should always save your bones to make stock! Let me know if you don't know how...

So this is a quick and easy recipe that my kids love and I know they'll eat it without any complaints! Gotta love meals like that.

I think I have each of the steps in pics for you and then I'll post the recipe at the end, got it?

Start by tearing your chicken apart and putting it in a bowl. Add enough BBQ sauce to make yourself happy. If it's not warmed already, warm it up for a couple of minutes.

While you've got the BBQ chicken warming up, heat up your griddle and throw your tortillas on to warm them through, making them pliable. As you warm/toast each one, slide it into a packet of foil (fold the foil in half to fit your tortillas and keep it closed so they don't dry out).

Get your cheese ready. I used smoked gouda b/c I had it and love it. You could sub out cheddar or Monterey Jack or colby jack or mozzarella if you have those.You will also need a little canola oil (not more than a Tbs), some salt, and a pastry brush.

see this night I only had so much gouda and I used some mozzarella!

Now, brush one side of your tortilla with a little oil, sprinkle it with some kosher salt and lay that side down on the griddle. Add a bit of cheese and some of the chicken mixture. Fold the top over and start another one right beside that. You could add a little more cheese on top of the chicken, too, if you really love cheese. It also helps it all stick together!

Now let these cook for a few - think of it as a variation on the grilled cheese. You just want your cheese to melt and your bottom of the tortilla to be a little browned before you flip it. Okay, looks like it's ready to flip!

Keep repeating until you're out of chicken and cheese (I know, so exact). and then cut them into wedges and serve! We like to eat these with fresh fruit and veggies.

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

cup to cup and a half of leftover roast chicken
fave BBQ sauce
6-8 oz of cheese of your choosing; smoked gouda is really good
8 tortillas
canola oil
kosher salt

1. warm tortillas on a griddle and keep warm
2. pull chicken off bones and add BBQ sauce to it. Warm up in microwave
3. Shred your cheese
4. Brush a little oil on one side of tortilla and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Lay the oiled side down on a hot griddle.
5. Lay cheese and some chicken mixture on the tortilla. Fold over the top. Cook a few minutes until bottom is golden. Flip and cook until top is golden and the cheese is melted.
6. Keep repeating until all the chicken and cheese has disappeared into a tortilla
7. Slice into wedges and serve with fresh fruit and veggies!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Asian Pork Wraps ~ 3.2.11

I didn't cook at all in February.
Nah, just kidding. I just didn't have the time for blogging about any of it, I guess. I was kinda busy scrapping and cleaning up after sick children and doing LOTS of laundry. I wish we could skip that month sometimes, but then again, it's such a great month devoted to remembering to love those around us and share that love with others. So, I guess we'll keep it. I like having an even number of months in a year, too.

Oh right, this is a cooking blog or at least a blog where I share what I have cooked/baked/ate. So let's hop to that.

We're so lucky to have a fabulous blogger in the area who does all the dirty work of planning a week's worth of meals according to the certain Giant grocery store in our area. Last week, Kristin had a recipe for Asian Pork Wraps that I thought sounded interesting and worth a try. I also happened to have some pork in the freezer. I still had to buy hoisin and shitakes, but I was up for the adventure b/c it was a CROCKPOT kinda meal. I don't have many of those in rotation... should have more, I know. This was delicious according to 3 out of 6 of us. Oh my non-adventurous boys- just try it, you might like it!!

I think you'll love this recipe as it's easy to throw together and smells delish. It's also flexible- you could cook way more than the recipe says or in my case, way less. I used only a pound of a pork loin roast. It fed us for dinner (recall 3 barely ate any if at all) and I ate leftovers of it TWICE. Add a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, mandarin oranges or some shelled edamame to balance your meal!

 And when I ate those leftovers, I threw the pork over some of my favorite ramen noodles.
I find these in my little foodtopia (GEMarket District) in the Asian aisle. less sodium. I like that.

Whenever I'm serving something Chinese or Asian, I always buy fortune cookies for the us to have after dinner. We may not eat Chinese take out that often and it's a fun way to make dinner a little special! (and bonus, Aldi had a box of individually wrapped fortune cookies this week!)

Asian Pork Wrap
from Menus that Save

1 – 2 or 3 lb. boneless pork roast, or use 8-10 boneless chops depending on their thickness– OR – use 2 pork tenderloins
½ cup of Hoisin sauce
2 T. grated ginger - I keep mine in the freezer to use whenever I need it. grate it with your microplane
2 T. sherry
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 shiitake mushrooms
12 flour tortillas
2 t. sesame oil
4 cups of shredded cabbage
1 bunch of green onions, sliced (I forgot these)

Place pork roast in crock-pot. Combine 3 T. of hoisin sauce, ginger, sherry and garlic. Pour over the roast. Discard stems from mushrooms, chop remaining part and then cover the roast. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Remove pork from crock-pot. Stir cabbage into broth in the crock-pot. Heat to high setting, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes or until wilted. Shred pork with two forks and return to crock-pot.
Heat oven to 300˚. Brush tortillas with sesame oil and stack on a sheet of foil. Wrap the tortillas and heat the packet for 10 minutes.
To serve, spread each tortilla with remaining hoisin sauce, top with shredded pork mixture and green onions.

I piled some Kyoto blend Market Day veggies into my wrap!

Dip into this yummy sauce if you'd like (also great to serve this with pork lettuce wraps!)
Dipping Sauce – from PF Chang's

¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. of ketchup
1/8 t. of sesame oil
1 T. of Hot mustard (optional – depending on your heat index)
1 – 2 t. of garlic and chili paste
Dissolve the sugar in the water by boiling the same. Set aside. Combine Soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup and sesame oil. Mix together the hot water and the hot mustard. Depending on your taste, you can add some of the mustard mixture with the soy mixture. You can also add the garlic and chili paste to the soy mixture. Keep adding various amounts to the soy sauce mixture until the taste suits you!

After I had put the kids to bed that night, I came downstairs to find a little note from one of my kids to me...
so fun!