Archive | January, 2010

Vegetable Minestrone Soup with Barley and Pretzel Sticks

30 Jan

This soup is awesome! It was freezing cold here today and I wanted something yummy to warm me up that was healthy and satisfying. Minestrone is one of my favorite soups and it is so incredibly good for you if you make a few small changes. Instead of adding pasta at the end (which always overcooks eventually) I added pearl barley. There is a lot more nutrition in barley or lentils than pasta or white rice, so I’ve been substituting it a lot these days and its just as delicious! You should try the barley swap out and see if your family notices! Mine didn’t.

And, I also wanted to mention that this recipe isn’t set in stone. Don’t feel obligated to go out and buy all the traditional vegetables to make this. Use what you have in the fridge! The spices flavor everything in the pot the same way, so everything (generally) still tastes as it should.
Now, let me take a minute to discuss these pretzel sticks. YUM. These are so easy, a 5 year old could make them. And, my recipe takes 5 ingredients. Thats it! FIVE! They are a little crispy on the outside, but still soft and chewy on the inside! Oh baby….come to momma. They aren’t like the huge ball-park pretzels you’d buy and aren’t quite as substantial (because I make mine small), but they certainly work when you’re short on time and following a budget! Please make these…..for your tastebuds sake!
Vegetable Minestrone Soup with Barley
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of any combination of the following:
green beans
or any other vegetables you have lying around
1 1/4 cups beans (I used navy beans, but any plain bean will do! Kidney, white, garbanzo, etc)
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (the smaller can size)
4 cups beef broth (or water and beef boullion cubes)
1 heaping tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 bay leaf
dash thyme
parmesan cheese (optional)
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Dice 2 cups of desired vegetables. Add to pot and continue sautéing for 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften slightly. Add in remaining ingredients excluding the parmesan cheese. Bring soup to boil and then reduce heat to slow simmer. Cook 45 minutes or until barley is soft and doubled in size. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and pretzel sticks (recipe following).
Pretzel Sticks
Yield: 6 (but you could easily do more!)
6 frozen rolls (I used Rhoades)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
Thaw rolls at room temperature until completely defrosted and soft, but not proofed (you want the dough to have NOT risen) –about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using pastry brush, grease a baking sheet with half of the melted butter and set aside. In small bowl, dissolve baking soda in water (you’ll want the hottest water out of your kitchen faucet so the baking soda can dissolve). Take one ball of dough (would have been one roll) and roll it out to be about 6 inches long. Dip dough in hot water mixture and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Brush the tops of the pretzel sticks with melted butter and then with more baking soda water. Sprinkle salt over formed dough. Bake for 15 minutes or until dark brown in color. Serve warm. Yum.

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream Filling

28 Jan

I wish I could take credit for these, but I totally found this recipe in an issue of Fine Cooking magazine from July ’08. Please please please try these because they are so delicious and so easy to make! I just couldn’t NOT share the recipe. Enjoy!

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream Filling
Yield: 24 bars
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened–plus more for the pan
13 1/2 oz. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, separated
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups room temperature blueberries (about 13 oz.) washed and drained
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the ends. Lightly butter sides and bottom of the foil.
In large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Using your fingers, blend the butter completely into the flour mixture. Transfer 2 cups of crumb mixture to another bowl and reserve for topping. Blend the egg white into the remaining crumbs and then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a level crust. Bake crust until it starts to form a dry top, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolk. Let this mixture stand 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.
Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the hot crust and then drop spoonfuls of the lemon mixture over the blueberries. Spread gently with a spatula to distribute a little more evenly, but take care not to crush the berries. Its fine if the lemon mixture isn’t perfectly even. Bake just until the lemon mixture begins to form a shiny skin, 7 to 8 minutes.
Sprinkle reserved topping over the lemon blueberry layer, pressing streusel between your fingers into small clumps as you sprinkle. Bake until filling is bubbling at the edges and the topping is brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let bars cool in the pan on a rack until just warm, about an hour. Carefully lift them out of the pan using the foil overhang and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove foil and cut into 24 bars when cool. May be stored at room temperature for a few hours, but otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator.

Southwest Fried Egg Yumminess

26 Jan

Who doesn’t love a good egg? Especially one covered and smothered in salsa and cheese? Mmmmmm…..these are so fabulous, it hurts. And it kills me how easy and fast they are. I literally had one for lunch and one for dinner the other night. Thats how much I love them.

Just had to tell someone and get that out of my system. Moving on.
I really like the flavor combinations that come from the corn tortilla, the egg, the salsa and the cheese. The fresh tomatoes and cilantro just bring it over the top. And, I’m really into the whole Mexican/Southwest thing right now, so forgive the zillions of recipes related to this.
Start to finish these are maybe 15 minutes, if that. It really helps if you have a flat top electrical griddle, especially if you have more than 3 mouths to feed. Having them all ready and warm at once allows everyone to eat together and not have to deal with a gross cold egg. Eeww.
Anyways, here are the directions and the recipe, although its not much of a recipe!
Southwest Fried Eggs
butter (to grease the pan with)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 warm tortillas (I like corn, the hubby likes flour)
Heat fry pan or flat top griddle medium low heat. Melt butter onto hot surface. Crack eggs one at a time onto hot griddle, keeping them separate. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Once egg whites have cooked, flip eggs over. Top each egg with 1 tablespoon salsa and 2 tablespoons cheese. Cover with lid or lightly with foil to melt cheese. Once cheese has completely melted, the eggs are done! (If you like a firmer yolk, keep it on there a little longer!) Serve over warm tortillas with fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Oooh! And lime juice too if you’re feeling sassy! YUM!

SUPERBOWL FOOD: The Famous White Chicken Chili

24 Jan

Man alive is this stuff good. I first formulated this recipe about a year and a half ago after a trip to a new restaurant that had something similar to this on their menu. It was too creamy and spicy for my liking so I made my own version and its absolutely delicious. To die for, even!…ok, that might be a little much, but its my husbands absolute favorite dish! He can’t get enough! I usually make this dish when I’m feeding a crowd because its easy and everyone loves it! Perfect for your superbowl parties! Keep it warm while the game is on and have everyone help themselves. You don’t have to babysit this dish. Just leave it out and enjoy your company (and the football!)

Most of the time spent for making this is in the preparation of the toppings meaning, you have to chop a few veggies. Other then that, its a breeze to make! I’ll show you how!
White Chicken Chili
Yield:4-6 adults
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
3/4-1 lb chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 chicken boullion cubes (check your package first! You’ll want the correct number of cubes to 3 cups liquid)
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk (or cream if you’re feeling spunky)
1 can black beans
1 can white beans
1 cup frozen corn
cheddar cheese
sour cream
lime juice
tortilla chips
In large pot, melt butter in oil. Sauté onions and garlic until softened and translucent, about 7 minutes on medium low heat. Stir in mushrooms and chicken and stir until chicken is thoroughly cooked through (no more pink anywhere!). Just as a side note, you don’t want your pot screaming hot-you want things to cook gently so that they don’t get too brown….unless you want brown chicken chili. Either way, it’ll still be delicious!
Sprinkle flour into pot and stir to create a thick paste. Cook 2 minutes. Raise temperature to medium-medium high. Slowly stream water into pot, stirring continually. Continue stirring until sauce has boiled and thickened. Reduce heat to low. Add in spices, beans, milk and corn. At this point, the chili is done! Do not boil it once milk has been added! Gross things will start happening! Just don’t do it!
IMPORTANT: Serve with lots of toppings over RICE PILAF! Rice Pilaf is super simple to make: melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot. Add in 1 cup of rice. Stir to coat each grain in the butter. Add in salt, pepper, 1 bay leaf and good quality chicken stock (or a boullion cube and some water). Bring rice to boil, then reduce heat. Simmer on low until rice is soft. The rice makes such a difference!

Individual Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaves!

20 Jan

I am very skeptical about meals tasting delicious especially when it comes to ground turkey or ground chicken. First, they are very lean meats which is great if you’re watching your calories, but no fat equals no flavor! Also, this lack of fat usually turns into very dry meat. However, this is a total exception! These little meat loaves were flavorful and moist and believe it or not very healthy for you! This is due to the sauteed vegetables that I added in with the meat before I baked them in the oven. I love being able to add in extra nutrients to my meals! It makes me feel good about eating dinner! I don’t have to feel any guilt whatsoever!

Anyways, these little babies were very filling and satisfying not to mention delicious leftovers. My 11 month old couldn’t get enough! Baby approved! These were a hit at my house the other day, and probably will be a hit in yours! Give ’em a whirl!
Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 carrot peeled & shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup (or more if you like more)
1. In skillet, heat oil. Add in all veggies and sautee 5-7 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine turkey, salt, pepper, egg, worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs and sauteed vegetables. Form into 4 individual meat loaves and place on greased baking sheet.
3. Spread 1 tablespoon ketchup (or more if you like it saucy) over formed meat loaves.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat is firm to the touch. Serve hot.

Banana Flax Muffins

18 Jan

Healthy healthy healthy! And, so delicious, too! Are you still working on your new years resolutions? These little babies are sure to keep you on the right track!

These muffins are packed with delicious healthy hearty grains and fruit for a great breakfast or snack. They take pretty common ingredients that I found in the bulk food section at my grocery store, so they literally only cost me pennies! The applesauce and the banana keeps these muffins moist and the flax seeds and wheat germ give it texture and nutrition. Yummy! I brought some over to my nieces and nephews place and they gobbled them up with no realization whatsoever that they were eating healthy food! Joke’s on them!
Banana Flax Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour (or regular flour)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of cloves (if you like)
1 cup brown sugar (or you can do half granulated half brown)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. In large bowl combine all dry ingredients, including sugar. In smaller bowl, whisk all wet ingredients and bananas together. Make well in dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in. Stir slowly and gently until flour mixture is just incorporated into the wet mixture. Scoop muffin batter into muffin tins 3/4 way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing and eating!

Southwest Steak and Egg Breakfast Burritos

15 Jan

What happens when you buy a huge bulk sized pack of tortillas and have leftover steak? These burritos is what happens! Gotta love a good breakfast, and this is certainly that. Heck, it could even be lunch or dinner, too! Sometimes good things turn into great things. In this meal, all that leftover steak we had from the night before became one of the main fillings for our burritos. (By the way, do I make a lot of southwestern food, or is it just me noticing that?) Anyways, these little babies are super simple to make and you can add whatever you want to them to make them your own. I added onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cilantro to my eggs and folded it up in a flour tortilla with that steak and some cheese! Oh baby, are they good! Make some today! You’ll be glad you did!

Southwest Steak and Egg Breakfast Burritos
yield: 6 pretty fat burritos
1 cup leftover cooked steak, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 button mushrooms, diced finely (to hide them!)
1 roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, torn into smaller pieces (or you could cut it)
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese (or cheddar)
6 medium sized flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In large skillet, melt butter. Add in onions, peppers and mushrooms. Sauté 5-7 minutes or until vegetables have softened slightly. In large bowl, crack 6 eggs and whisk with milk. Add in salt and pepper. Pour eggs into skillet with vegetables. Carefully and gently stir eggs to scramble. (Medium low heat for 7-10 minutes). When eggs are almost completely cooked, add in tomato. (I like to add in my tomato at the end to so it doesn’t cook completely into mush-its a personal preference.)
To assemble, take a flour tortilla and in the middle place some steak pieces, scrambled eggs and top with grated cheese. Roll burrito style (tuck the ends in to they aren’t open) and roll in foil. Continue this process until all burritos are filled and wrapped. Place in warm oven for 10 minutes or until you are ready to eat.