Thursday, September 27, 2012

Butternut Apple/Pear Soup...

This is a recipe that I've played with for a while, it's so yummy & just perfect for Fall!!  I like this soup so much that I made it for myself for my Birthday dinner last night.

  Olive Oil Spray
  1 cup chopped Onion
  1 clove Garlic, chopped
  4 cups peeled & cubed Butternut Squash
  2 cooking Apples (I used Macintosh), cored & cubed (not peeled)
      [variation: use Pears instead of Applies]
  1 tsp Sea Salt
  1/8 tsp ground Cayenne
  2 tsp ground Cumin
  4 cups Vegetable Broth (OR 4 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable + 4 cups water)
For garnish (optional): Roasted Salted Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds.

Spray a small soup pot with Olive Oil, sauté the Onions and Garlic.

Once the Onions are translucent add in the Butternut, Apples, and Spices.  Stir and let warm for a few minutes.

Add in the Vegetable Stock, bring to a boil.  Once boiling set temp to lowest setting and cover.

Let simmer until Butternut is nice and squishy.

Blend with an Immersion Blender.

Serve hot garnished with roasted/salted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds and a slice of fresh bread… Mmm, Mmm, Mmm!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oooo!! Can't Wait!!

I was incredibly excited earlier this week when I discovered that my favorite Fall Outdoor Market was opening… Yippee!!

Here's my stash (stop drooling on the screen & go get some for yourself) from Bergmann's in Stillwater - if you live in the Twin Cities it's worth a trip out… not only do they have an incredible array of (non-chemically grown) squash & pumpkins, they also have a Corn Maze & I heard they're going to have a Hay Ride… so go check them out!  At this point they still have Sweet Corn (not pictured - but we got some) that they are picking fresh daily.

As for me I'm just itching to make some of my old Fall Favorite recipes with these beauties, and perhaps come up with some new recipes to boot… YUM!!

Grow Or Bust Cookies

This recipe is lovingly named after cookies my Grandma used to make, they could also be called "Kitchen Sink Cookies" because… I think you'll get my drift once you read further… Grandma loved putting together healthy ingredients into a tasty treat for her grandkids, these are high in fiber, low in processed sugar & low fat - if Grandma was still here she'd approve!!

I don't normally use boxed mixes, but I do this time… feel free to substitute to your hearts content!

  1 box Fiber One Apple Muffin Mix
  1 cup Thick Cut Oatmeal
  1/2 cup Sugar
  1/2 cup Egg Beaters
  1 medium apple, skin on , cored & diced small  (I used Macintosh)
  1 cup fresh cooked Pumpkin
  1/2 cup chopped Dates
  1/2 cup roasted/salted Sunflower Seeds
  2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  2 tsp Cinnamon (suggest Penzey's Chinese)
  1 tsp Ground Ginger
  1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg (fresh is more flavorful)
  1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

Set oven to 350F.  Throw it all in a bowl & mix it up.  Line cookie sheets with Parchment Paper (or they'll stick), drop cookies by the Tablespoonful on the paper.  Bake for about 20 minutes, allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the Parchment Paper.

Store in the refrigerator in layers separated by Parchment or Wax Paper.

I didn't have any Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds when I made these about a week ago, so I substituted Banana for the Pumpkin and finely chopped Walnuts for the Sunflower Seeds… still came out wonderful!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lamb Curry...

This was dinner one night when I was in a mood to simply throw things together to see how they worked… so no specific quantities are here, but I'll provide estimates.

I had a 1 pound Lamb Steak (lamb leg steak) that I trimmed and cubed, I mixed up 1/2 cup of cold water with 1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt, I put the steak cubes in the yogurt mix & marinated 2 hours in the refrigerator.

I sprayed a skillet with spray Olive Oil, added a bit of salt, pepper, and curry powder.  I then added and sautéed about 1/2 cup each of Onion & Carrots, with a diced up medium sized McIntosh Apple (this variety gets mushy when cooked).

After the first ingredients had cooked a while (onions translucent) I added about 1/2 cup of Mild Peppers and about 1 cup diced Tomato.  I let that cook for a bit.

I pulled the Lamb Cubes out of the marinade and patted them dry, then added them in to the vegetables with a couple teaspoons of curry.  I let the lamb cubes brown a bit.

I added about a teaspoon of Sriracha (hot chili sauce), 1/2 cup of Fat Free Greek Yogurt, and the juice of 1/2 fresh Lemon.

I let it cook a bit more until the lamb was cooked through and I had a nice mushy mess :)

Shown here served on top of rice with a steamed artichoke on the side… YUM!!

For those who must have a list of ingredients here's what you'll need:
1/2 cup cold Water
1 cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt, divided
1 pound Lamb Leg Steak
Olive Oil Spray
Salt & Pepper
2+ tsp Curry Powder, divided
1/2 cup diced Onion
1/2 cup diced Carrot
1 medium diced Apple (suggest McIntosh)
1/2 cup Mild Peppers (bell pepper would work)
1 cup diced Tomato
1 tsp Sriracha
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Cooked Rice & whatever sides you like

Masa Pancakes...

Caution: Experiment follows...

I got an unusual idea the other day… I thought it might be fun to try making some little pancakes with Corn Flour or Corn Meal as a side dish with dinner… then I looked in my pantry, all I could find was Masa… what the heck, I'll try it!!

So I mixed up a batch of my Sour Cream Pancakes, but substituted in Masa for Flour… they came out good!!

This is encouraging as it will be fun to play with other types of flour… :)   I'm always looking for a new twist on things!

I decided to put honey on mine, and they were tasty… but I really want to try Corn Meal next time…

This was only an experiment, but perhaps it will give you ideas of your own experiments to try…

Have fun playing in the kitchen!!

S'mores Cake

Happy Birthday Jeff!!

If you haven't guessed yet I created this yummy little confection to celebrate my sweet hubby's birthday.

This is made with 4 sweet Graham mini-pancakes, some pre-made Chocolate frosting, and topped with mini Marshmallows… and the flavor is very much like traditional S'mores.

  1/4 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
  1/4 cup Egg Beaters
  3 full-size Graham Crackers, crushed (about 1/2 cup of crumbs)
  2 Tbl Sugar
  1/4 tsp Salt
  1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  Spray Oil (I used Hazelnut)
  6 Tbl Betty Crocker Whipped Milk Chocolate Frosting
  1/2 cup Mini Marshmallows

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Spray a griddle and 4 egg rings with the spray oil, set on a large burner on Medium-Low heat.  Once the griddle has warmed distribute the batter evenly among the rings.

Remove the egg rings when the pancakes have pulled away from the edges, the tops will still be quite wet.

Flip the pancakes - since these are higher in sugar than traditional pancakes you need to flip them a bit early to prevent burning.  It will be a little messy (see below) but you can trim the edges once they're finished cooking & cooling.

Once the second side has cooked transfer to a cooling rack, allow to cool completely before continuing.

From my picture you can see that the extra sugar causes these little pancakes to singe, don't worry about it, they'll taste great & you won't notice later.

Frost & layer the cake using about 1 Tbl frosting on top of each layer, another 2 Tbl frosting on the sides.

If you want a candle put it in first, then put the Mini Marshmallows on top, pushing them slightly to get them to stick well.

Refrigerate for a couple hours… you'll see why in a bit...

Light candle & sing "Happy Birthday"...

Because it had chilled a couple hours I could let hubby play with his new toy, a kitchen torch… note that we removed the candle first, this is important unless you enjoy eating wax...

I'd have toasted it more "golden", but this was hubby's birthday & hubby's new toy… so he did things his way :)

It was a very yummy little treat that we enjoyed sharing… and we'll definitely be making it again someday!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Creamy Mushroom Tarragon Chicken

I've been in an experimental mood this week, after sticking with lots of old favorites lately (hence not much posting)… some experiments work better than others, this one came out quite nicely.  I wasn't measuring carefully, but the following will give you an idea of the quantities, adjust to your hearts desire… (shown with Roasted Grapes)

Ingredients: (for 2 servings)
  2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  Spray Olive Oil
  Salt & Pepper
  1 1/2 cups sliced Mushrooms (I used Crimini)
  1/2 cup diced onion
  Fresh Tarragon Leaves (I used leaves from 3 sprigs)
  1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken + 1 cup Water (or 1 cup chicken stock)
  1 tsp good aged Balsamic Vinegar
  1/4 cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  1 Tbl Flour

I sprayed a non-stick skillet with Olive Oil, then added a bit of salt & pepper & put the skillet on a Medium-High flame.

I cooked the chicken breasts in the skillet for just a couple minutes on each side in order to get some nice color… then I set aside & covered with foil until the vegetables had cooked (don't want to overcook or undercook chicken)...

Sprayed the skillet again (yes, same skillet & not washed in between)… added in my Onions & cooked for a few minutes, then added Mushrooms & Tarragon leaves… cooked a few minutes more…

Added in the Balsamic…

Mixed up a cup of Bouillon and added it in just a minute or two after the balsamic…

At this point it looked a bit "soupy" rather than creamy… I let it come up to a simmer...

Added in the Yogurt, let it come up to a simmer again….

Put the chicken back in & let it cook for a few minutes more on each side...

At the end added the flower, mixed well & allowed the sauce to thicken….

Once the sauce had thickened it's ready… Yum!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Toy Shopping

My kitchen is pretty well stocked with toys… I don't have every gadget imaginable, and I think some gadgets are silly, but there's usually some "problem" I'm trying to solve so occasionally I'll go "Toy Shopping"…

I'm always struggling with finding enough room for spices… now I understand why my Grandma (she was a wonderful cook, in comparison I look pitiful) had an entire pantry just for spices… I get it now Grandma!!  Miss You!!

This Spice Rack looked like it might work… I like that it can hang on the wall & would hold my standard-sized spice bottles (I think)… or I can just fill up the bottles here & label them to my hearts desire… or I can use these for our custom blends (I have some & so does Jeff)…

This is another type that could be wall-mounted… the spice containers stick on by virtue of being magnetic…

And this one appeals to the Geek in me (I'm a Scientist/Engineer by formal training)… otherwise its not all that practical, but it would look really cool on my counter!!

So I'm thinking about these… but no decisions yet…  I have a big birthday coming up (50) so I may just have to indulge a bit… :)

Another Spice-related item… I've been looking at finding a practical way to grind other spices (like whole cloves)… I thought about getting a Pepper Mill for this, but wasn't really excited with that as an option… These are Spice Grinders, they can grind pepper, but they are adjustable for grinding a variety of spices… I may have to add one of these to my birthday wish-list…

Finally, I've been eyeing these since I saw something like it on TV… if I haven't said it before I hate Mandolins… no, that's not quite true… I HATE Mandolins!! I've never had much luck with them & I've cut myself painfully on one once - once was enough!!  This gadget (or ones like it) looks like it might give me the functions I'd like from a Mandolin… thin fine slicing that's difficult to accomplish consistently with a knife…  so its another that I'm considering for my wish-list…

Enough about Toys… have fun playing in the Kitchen!!