Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Minestrone Soup

Fall means the beginning of soup season.  Last night, I combined meatless Monday and soup with this hearty minestrone soup full of delicious beans and vegetables.  I was going to have green beans in the soup instead of peas but when I opened the freezer, I discovered 2 opened bags of peas instead of one being that of green beans.  It still tasted good and was nice and thick.  I did find a Parmesan rind I had in the freezer to add to the flavor of the soup.

Minestrone Soup

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp celery flakes or 1 stalk of celery, diced
1 - 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz can light red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup pasta, I used small shells
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle or large dutch oven.  Add in onions and carrots and cook until tender.  Add in celery flakes and garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add in beans, tomatoes, Parmesan rind, broth and spices.  Simmer for a half hour.  Add in peas and pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Apple Zucchini Bread

It's zucchini season and if your family it dreading it...this is a tasty way to hide it and by peeling the zucchini and shredding it, they will never know it's baked into this moist apple bread.  

Apple Zucchini Bread

3/4 cup zucchini, peeled, shredded and allowed to drain for 1 hour in a strainer
3/4 cup apple, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Place the shredded zucchini and apple in a medium bowl.  Add in canola oil and eggs.  Stir in sugar.  Gradually add in the dry ingredients.   Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 325° for 50 minutes.  Allow to cool on a rack.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chicken Vesuvio

I'm always looking for a new way to cook chicken.  My Tivo recorded a show featuring popular foods in Chicago and one was Chicken Vesuvio that caught my attention so I decided to try it out.  I was a little leery about the amount of garlic but you only live once, right?  It was not overpowering at all.  I thought I had bone-in chicken breasts in my freezer but thawed out boneless and skinless ones and they worked great.

Chicken Vesuvio

3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 potatoes, pared and diced
6 garlic cloves, leave whole
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup white wine
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

While the oil is heating in an ovenproof frying pan or dutch oven, season the chicken on both sides.  Brown the chicken and then remove from the pan.  You may need to add in a little more olive oil before placing the potatoes in the pan.  Cook until they've browned nicely on all sides and then add in the garlic for an additional minute or two.  Return the chicken to the pan and add in the remaining ingredients.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cranberry & Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Chops

With fall right around the corner, literally...my food choices are turning more into oven oriented than grill.  I had some pork chops on hand and decided to stuff them with a wild rice and cranberry mixture which also happened to be in the pantry.  

Cranberry & Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Chops

2 butterflied cut pork chops
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 tsp parsley
1 tbsp onion, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp thyme

Pound out the pork chops until they are 1/4" thick  Season pork chops on both sides.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.  Place a scoop into the center of the pork chops, fold over and secure with tooth picks.    In a heated frying pan, preferably one that you can place in the oven, brown the pork chops in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Place the pan (or another baking dish) with the pork chops in the oven for 20 minutes at 350° to finish cooking.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

A chilly start this morning.  The thermostat read 66° inside so it seemed like it was a reason to start the oven and bake.  I had picked up a bag of Meyer lemons so I decided to bake a bread (or three).  I baked small ones so give away a couple.  I adjusted the recipe time down to 45 minutes for the smaller pans.  I also added a light glaze.

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek or plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
juice from 1 Meyer lemon (about 3 tbsp)
1/2 tsp Meyer lemon zest
1 1 /2 tsp poppy seeds

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add in eggs and yogurt.  Gradually add in dry ingredients.  Fold in lemon juice, zest and poppy seeds.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 325° for 50 minutes.  Allow to cool on a rack.  

Meyer Lemon Glaze (optional)

juice from 1 Meyer lemon (about 3 tbsp)
1/2 cup powder sugar, sift

Mix together in a small bowl.  Stir so all the sugar is dissolved so you don't have clumps on top of your bread.  Drizzle over the bread and allow to set before cutting.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Maple Roasted Squash

One of the reasons that I love Fall is the appearance of squash in the supermarkets that is locally grown.  I tried growing my own and got lots of beautiful flowers but yielded no squash.  I usually just cut them in half and place a little water in the bottom of the pan and steam them, season with salt and pepper and lots of butter.  I decided to try something new this time.  There's just a faint hint of the maple syrup...nothing over the top with this recipe.  

Maple Roasted Squash

1 Kaboucha squash, skinned and cut into cubes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Skin and cut the squash into cubes - mine were 3/4 - 1" in size.  Place into a large bowl.  Drizzle the olive oil, syrup, salt and cinnamon on top.  Use your hands and toss the squash cubes so it's all evenly coated.  Turn out onto a non-stick aluminum foil lined jelly roll pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

Beautiful almost Fall days with a chilly start and a warm ending.  Perfect weather for crock pot meals so you can devote your day to fun while your dinner cooks itself.  This chicken hides an extra bonus of an apple which adds a nice sweetness.

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

4 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
1 apple, skin & core removed and then shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup apple cider

Place chicken breasts in your crock pot.  Sprinkle seasonings on top and then the apple, garlic and onion.  Pour in the cider around the edges.  Cook over medium heat for 6 hours.  Turn the chicken breasts occasionally.  Right before serving, shred the chicken with 2 forks and stir in 1/2 cup bbq sauce.  Serve on buns (toasted works great).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hazelnut Brownie Cookies

This is a brownie in a cookie form topped with a Nutella icing and hazelnuts.  My grocery store was out of Ferrero Rocher candy a couple weeks ago so I came up with the idea then trying to create a cookie or bar that was somewhat similar. 

Hazelnut Brownie Cookies

In a saucepan, melt together and allow to slightly cool ~

1/2 cup butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate baking squares
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Beat together in a large bowl ~

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Gradually mix in these dry ingredients ~

1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and make use it's completely blended.  Scoop out cookie dough in 1" balls and bake for 10 minutes at 350°.  Allow to cool.

Nutella Icing ~

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk

Blend all the ingredients together and frost the cookies.  Sprinkle chopped hazeltnuts on top of the icing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cran-Raspberry Sauce

So I had this idea about stuffing pork chops with wild rice and cranberries.  I still like the idea and plan to do that at a later date but it was Sunday afternoon and I got a later start at dinner than I planned.  So instead of stuffing the pork chops, I made this sauce to top them with.  Luckily I had frozen raspberries and cranberries to harvest from the freezer so it worked out well.

Cran-Raspberry Sauce

1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp raspberry wine vinegar
1 tbsp green chilies

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Simmer until all the juices have released from the raspberries and the cranberries have softened.  Strain and serve over pork chops or a pork roast.