Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Soup

Unfortunately I am not planning to review another children's film tonight because I actually cooked dinner and remembered to take a picture of it! Maybe I'll get around to Cinderella someday soon...

Tonight I made an adjustment to an old favorite and came up with this really simple and very delicious soup. Normally Joey refuses to eat things I make and tells me "not very tasty" when I ask how her dinner is. Tonight she ate three bowls of this stuff, so I'm calling it a great success! If a three year old who thinks mac and cheese is the height of deliciousness will eat this soup then I think any adult could enjoy it as well!

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Soup

3 red bell peppers - seeded and quartered
1 really big onion (or 1.5 medium ones) - cut into 1-inch wedges
7-9 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 can (15 oz) diced Italian-style tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the garlic cloves, pieces of red bell pepper and onion in a 13x9 inch baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil on top and then add the thyme and oregano. Toss to coat the vegetables.

2. Bake the vegetables for 35 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

3. When the vegetables are done place half of them in a blender or food processor along with half of the tomatoes and half of the broth. Puree and then place the soup in a large saucepan over medium to heat. Puree the rest of the vegetables, tomatoes and broth in a second batch and add to the rest of the soup in the saucepan. When the soup warms to bubbling it is ready to serve.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slacking off

It's become clear that I'm a huge slacker as I have not managed to put anything up here in several weeks. I've been a little busy starting my job and really unimportant things like that. I have cooked but I have just been a little too lazy to put anything up here. That's not true, I would have put them up here except that I'm extremely particular. I take issue with recipes that don't include a picture of the finished product. I have cooked but not photographed and can't bring myself to share something if I can't show you what it looks like. That's a whole lot of explanation!

In order to make up for the lack of recipes (and because I had requests) here's something that I was told might be beneficial to others. On the tails of my adorable child explaining the story of Cinderella in her own words, I was confronted with the reality that Dave doesn't actually have any idea what most Disney movies are about (he knows Little Mermaid but I think he's interested in that one because of her wardrobe choices, not that he finds princess movies compelling). So here's a little help for the adult out there who may not know what the heck it is that their child is watching. I will preface this by saying I am really not making this up:

Snow White:

Snow White is a princess in some made up place at some random time that I think is described as being "long ago." Her step-mom is the queen and her father seems to be out of the picture. Step-mom looks like she's had an over-zealous eyebrow lift which fits because she's obsessed with being the prettiest lady in the kingdom. One day a floating face in the mirror tells her that Snow White is better looking than she is and she goes ballistic. Here's where I would say she's reacting badly to the news; she hires a hunter to kill Snow White and tells him to cut out Snow White's heart and bring it back to prove she's dead.

Cut to Snow White who is wearing an outfit that makes her look like a Dutch woman (big clogs) who likes patchwork clothing (meant to look like rags, I guess). She's hanging out outside and talking to animals. She sings a song down a wishing well and a "handsome stranger" is secretly watching her. Crazy man decides that the best way to introduce himself is to sneak up behind her while she's singing at a well (doesn't this sound like a recipe for "woman falls head-first down a well and obtains traumatic brain injury?"). Understandably she is a little freaked out and runs away. She is still curious so she peaks out of her window and they fall madly in love over a song. At some point he must just leave though because that's the end of that.

Moving on, Snow White and the hunter go out for a "walk," she starts talking to birds again, he tries to kill her but he can't do it, he tells her to run away and never come back, and then he goes off to kill a pig because he needs the heart for the Queen (seriously, I'm not kidding). Snow White runs through the woods at night and gets really freaked out before passing out. She wakes up and a forest full of animals are creepily watching her sleep. She asks the animals where she will be able to sleep and they show her the Dwarfs' house. She illegally enters the premises and makes fun of them for being sloppy and ridicules their size ("these must be messy little children").

In a move that seems a little wacky, she cleans the home of perfect strangers and then falls asleep in one of their beds. The Dwarfs come home and find her there. They are a little surprised but they take the news well. They are going to let her stay because she says she'll cook dinner. Snow White makes the Dwarfs wash their hands for the first time in their lives and they hate it. She lets them eat dinner. Then they have a yodeling dance party. It's all very surreal.

The next morning the Dwarfs go to work and Snow White settles into life as a homemaker. She still wants the stalker prince to come along and find her and she is sure to tell the animals about him any chance she gets. As she is daydreaming about going off to a palace somewhere with a strange prince she barely knows, an old woman shows up out of nowhere. It's obviously the evil step mom who seems to now have magical powers in addition to the floating face in the mirror. She looks hideous and mean but Snow White is gullible and lets her in the house. With very little pushing the creepy "old lady" convinces Snow White to eat this poisoned apple. Snow White falls on the floor and is dead. The animals go get the Dwarfs at work and make them come home. They find her, they are sad, they chase the queen/step mom/witch lady off a cliff (really).

Now here is where is gets INSANE. The Dwarfs put her in her bed because they don't know what to do with her. They end up building an above-ground see-though casket for her dead body because they think that she is too pretty to bury. Gross! They put her in the nasty shrine and bring her new flowers every day. Then the prince rides up one day (he's been searching the land for the girl he harassed at a well). He sees Snow White, he opens the casket, he gets the odd impulse to kiss her, then she wakes up magically. Immediately upon awakening she says goodbye to the Dwarfs, gets on the prince's horse and rides away. Talk about a quick turn around.

I didn't remember a lot of those details about that movie and was a little surprised when I watched it with Jo. I hope that my synopsis helps you better understand and answer all the questions your child is going to ask you. I am still trying to figure out how to explain why dead people wake up when you kiss them. If I think up something brilliant I will be sure to post it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shatto Butter Oatmeal Raisin Chippers

Shatto makes butter and when I realized this I had to buy a whole lot of it. Then I had to come up with a way to eat it. First I made amazing english muffins (which I will likely post another day) just so they could carry the butter to my mouth. Then I decided to try them out in cookies and it turns out they were some of the best cookies I've managed to create all by myself. I'm still not Whitney, but I think I did a great job here. You might not have to use Shatto butter, but I would pose a question; knowing that they make Shatto butter, why would you NOT want to use it?

Shatto Butter Oatmeal Raisin Chippers

8oz (1 pkg) Shatto butter / 2 sticks of inferior butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Cream the room temperature butter and the sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the delicious butter mixture and blend until incorporated. Stir in the coconuts and oats. Last, stir in the raisins and chocolate chips.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. The bottoms will brown first and the top stays a little lighter. Don't let the bottoms burn!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bison Chili

I'm not about to pretend I am not feeling brain dead right now. I won't have a lot to say about this dish but it's too bad because this was seriously yummy when it was cool outside last night.

Side note: bison is one of the healthiest meats you can eat, believe it or not. It's leaner even than chicken or turkey!

Bison Chili

1 lb ground bison
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can red beans
16oz vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

1. Brown the bison meat in a large heavy pan - it might need just a tiny bit of oil while browning so it doesn't stick to the pan. Once the meat is almost all the way browned, add the onion, green bell pepper and the garlic cloves. Saute until onion is tender.

2. Once the vegetables are tender, add the rest of the ingredients. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes and serve. It's really that easy and I wish I had the words to adequately describe how good it is!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turkey and Brie Turnovers

I was watching the food network last night and this one gal with a diner was making turkey and brie turnovers. I thought it seemed like an excellent way to make dinner in a pocket. I like food that is self-contained.

I am still on the healthy eating spree - if you call 3 days a spree - and I tried to think up ways to make this healthier but still tasty. The one she made on the show was just turkey and brie in a pastry crust. I thought I would try a wheat crust and add some mustard and cranberry relish for good measure. Dave said it tasted like Thanksgiving in a pita. He was pretty much right! Jo had a great time making the crust for this as you will see in the picture...

Turkey and Brie Turnovers

3 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt
mustard of your choice - I used Blvd Pale Ale mustard
sliced rotisserie turkey breast
about 6 slices of Brie cheese
cranberry relish

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place flour in a large bowl and drizzle with the canola oil. Using your hands work the mixture together until it becomes crumbly.

2. In a smaller bowl combine the water, milk, maple syrup and salt and whisk to combine them. Add these wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix well with your hands to form a ball of dough.

3. Transfer the dough ball to a floured surface and roll it out thin. Cut 6 rectangles (about 4 x 8 inches each) out of the dough. You may have to collect the scraps and re-roll a couple of times.

4. Spread a thin layer of mustard over half of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Layer the slices of turkey breast on top of the mustard and top with a slice of Brie and and some cranberry relish. I broke up the cheese and spread the relish so they were evenly disbursed. Wet the border of the rectangle adjacent to the filling with water and fold the unfilled half over the fillings and join the corners. Press the edges of the dough with your fingers to seal them, then crimp them with a fork.

5. Use a large spatula to transfer the turnovers to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and when the dough feels more like crust than dough. Let cool because they will be very hot, then serve. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated later!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Southwest Barley Salad

In keeping with the eating healthy decision from yesterday, I cooked something new based on a recipe from my anti-cancer cookbook. This dish is excellent either hot or cold so it's sort of up to you! I didn't include any sort of garnish in the recipe, but I topped ours with goat cheese and it was wonderful (I still had some left after yesterday).

It was sort of a long day today because Jo got sick and then we spent the whole day at home. I used the home time to steam clean all the carpets and clean my car. Needless to say, this dinner is fast and there will not be a picture of a sick 2 year old eating it!

Southwest Barley Salad

1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp salt
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small tomato, chopped and as much juice preserved as possible
1 small can diced green chiles
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of one lime
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the barley, 1 Tbsp of the lime juice and the salt. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the barley is tender.

2. While the barley is cooking, combine the black beans, corn, yellow bell pepper, tomato, green chiles, basil, cumin, cayenne pepper, the remaining lime juice and the olive oil. Set it aside until the barley is done cooking. When the barley is finished, drain any remaining liquid and add it to the vegetables. Stir well, garnish with whatever sounds good and serve!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese

Happy Gillis has some sort of famous Butternut Squash soup that everyone says is really wonderful. I keep going there and hoping to get to try it but every time I go it's not the soup that day! I finally realized that the universe may be plotting against me and I thought I would try to make up something like what I can only imagine this soup tastes like because I will never get to try it.

On a related note, Dave and I realized recently that our diet has taken a turn for the less healthy. We decided we need to get back on track with eating habits that don't invite congestive heart failure. That being the case, I not only planned to make this soup, but I made it in as healthy a way as possible and I think I was successful all around! I don't even think you have to like butternut squash to appreciate this soup. You might have to like goat cheese though.

Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 large onion - coarsely chopped
2 medium butternut squash - peeled, seeded, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 oz (1/2 pkg) Neufchatel
Goat cheese to garnish - I suggest lots!

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the butternut squash, chicken broth, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne pepper and simmer for 20 minutes until the squash is tender.

2. Remove soup from heat and let it cool slightly. Puree it in batches, adding a little of the Neufchatel cheese into each batch before pureeing. Return the soup to the stock pot and reheat it over medium heat, do not allow it to boil. Serve the soup with goat cheese sprinkled on top. Once you stir it in, it becomes marbled with goat cheese and it's pretty much the best ever.