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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

























Fettuccine Alfredo used to be my childhood favorite.  If we ever went to an Italian restaurant, be sure I would order the Fettuccine Alfredo.  As I got older, I began to experiment with other Italian foods, but I still get a hankering for Fettuccine Alfredo now and then.  As I try to improve my eating habits, add more vegetables into my diet, eat cleaner, lower my carb intake, there is still a need for a good bowl of pasta :-)  So, I decided to find a way to make one of my childhood favorites a little easier to handle in my old age :-)

If you know my husband, or have been following my blog on a regular basis, you know that he likes his food in a traditional way.  Rarely is he up for experimenting with the classics.  BUT...even he was a fan of this sauce.  I think because I still add some butter, Parmesan cheese and heavy cream (just a lot less than in a typical Alfredo sauce), the cauliflower doesn't overpower the dish.  Definitely a winner and definitely a repeat!

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo 

Chop:

2 heads cauliflower

Bring:

6 cups vegetable broth

to a boil over medium high heat and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 30 minutes. In my experience, the longer you cook it, the smoother the sauce will be. Meanwhile, melt:

1 tablespoon butter

in a large skillet over medium heat. Add:

6 cloves garlic, minced

and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant. As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the fettuccine according to directions on package, reserving some of the starchy water to add to the sauce later.

Transfer cauliflower to a blender with about 2 cups of the broth. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Add the sauteed garlic and:

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

and puree until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture is moving, stream:

1 tablespoon olive oil

into the blender. Add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick to move through the blender. You want it to turn through the blender easily. When puree is very smooth, transfer back to the butter/garlic skillet.

Add:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

and cook over low heat. Add some starchy pasta water (or regular water if you’re not making pasta) and keep warm until ready to serve. Combine noodles and sauce in a large pot or skillet and serve immediately.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. uncooked fettuccine noodles
2 heads cauliflower
6 cups vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Starchy boiling water from pasta pot

Cauliflower Pizza Crust


























I have wanted to try this concept for a while, but never really had the courage, nor did I think Matthew would want to eat it.  I think the fact that I am helping him attempt a lower carb lifestyle, he is opening up to new ideas to replace the mundane repetition of salad with a protein or a protein with vegetables. I just can't do that day in and day out, although somehow, I love turkey and cheese roll-ups for lunch everyday...go figure!

There is some complexity to the crust, but I read all the directions of more than a dozen recipes, and I started my initial experiment with the recipe below.  As I wrote in my Facebook post, the secret is really to remove as much moisture as possible from the cauliflower...I don't want to know what would have happened if I hadn't squeezed the life out of it.  Make sure you purchase some cheese cloth; it really is the simplest way of going about it.  

This is my first try, so I don't know that I would say that I have perfected it, yet, but I will add comments of where I may improve as I write the directions.  In less than 24 hours, I have had so many requests for this recipe, I figured I would just write it out, and improve it as I experiment with the crust more...which, by the way, Matthew has already said I should make again, and soon :-)

Don't be alarmed by the length of this post.  The recipe is not that difficult, but, from what I have read, there are specific ways of doing things, AND, I wanted to document my experience, so this one will be longer than most.  Ready through it and make it your own :-)

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut up:

1 head of cauliflower (I used only the florets of the cauliflower, but I am not sure if using the whole thing would have made any difference in the taste.  Something to experiment with...)

Add the cut up florets into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is a riced...I wish I had taken a picture of it, but, basically, all cauliflower florets should be broken up into pieces that resemble rice.  I actually broke down the florets into even smaller pieces; mine looked more like the size of dry couscous.  I don't know that it makes that much of a difference, as long as all the florets are broken up to be around the same size.  You will be squeezing it all through a cheese cloth after you microwave it, and it will look like cornmeal when you are done, so use your best judgement. Scoop:

2 cups riced cauliflower (I saved mine to use for cauliflower mash another day...maybe today?)

into a bowl and microwave it for 8 - 10 minutes.  Set on the counter and allow to cool.  In the meantime, in a bowl, combine:

1 egg
3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (not the powder stuff, actually shredded)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Note: More often than not, the recipes I looked at stated a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio: 1 cup cauliflower to 1 cup cheese to 1 egg.  Now, the confusion came to the amount of cauliflower...was it 1 cup cauliflower florets, 1 cup riced cauliflower or 1 cup dehydrated cauliflower?  The second highest number of recipes stated to use 2 cups of riced cauliflower, so I same to the conclusion that 2 cups of riced cauliflower = 1 cup dehydrated cauliflower.  Although I didn't measure the dehydrated cauliflower, it looked like 1 cup, and the crust came out very well, so I am going to stick to the 2 cups of riced cauliflower.

When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, spoon it into a large piece of cheese cloth.  Now, this next part takes a while, but enclose the cauliflower in the cheese cloth, and twist the cheese cloth to reduce the amount of moisture.  The more, the better.  Mine reduced by half.  Get rid of the water!!!




















This isn't my picture, but I wanted to show how you are supposed to twist up the cheese cloth...

Alright, once you have gotten as much water out as you can, dump the dehydrated cauliflower into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix using a soft spatula.  I'm not sure if there is a possibility of overmixing or not, but since I wasn't sure, I was cautious.  Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, it's time to bake! 

Several recipes said to place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on the sheet and spray heavily with oil.  I did not use the aluminum foil or the parchment paper, and simply sprayed the pan heavily with oil.  Using a metal spatula, I was able to bring it up easily, but everyone's pans are different, so if you are unsure, add the aluminum foil or parchment paper first.  Remember to spray HEAVILY with oil!  This is important, I promise.  

There is no need to roll out the crust with a rolling pin.  In fact, it will most likely be more of a mess than you want.  Simply using your palms and fingers, flatten the crust to your desired shape.  I made a round crust, and it came out to be about 12" in diameter.  If you want to double the recipe, I would recommend making 2 crusts, rather than a larger crust.  There will be a need to flip the crust and cooking the other side, as well.  I would think it would be more difficult to do this with a larger crust size.

Also remember to make the edges a little thicker than the middle.  The middle will take longer to cook, while the edges will brown first.  You don't want to burn the edges before the middle gets cooked.  Put into the oven for 5 minutes, then check it.  Mine cooked for 10 minutes, but then I didn't place it back in the oven once I flipped it because the edges were already nice and brown, and I didn't want to burn them.  Mine was fine, but I think I would have preferred to cook both sides, given the choice.  

Remove the pizza from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees.  Add your toppings and put back in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes, based on the ingredients.  We used homemade tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella and pieces of basil; it cooked for 8 minutes.  SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!  Because this was the first time I was making the crust, I wanted to make sure the toppings were simple enough to taste test it...success!  I can't wait to do it again!!!

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower
1 egg
3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (not the powder stuff, actually shredded)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

White Chicken Chili


Colder days, more football, more requested comfort food and man food :-) I have tried this recipe a few times, and I think I have it down.  There are never leftovers, and I'm lucky if I even get to try some when the boys are over!  Not that I mind; I'm always one to taste as I go, and by the time it's ready, I'm full!  This is a great meal for football Sundays, or any day you want yummy smells to come out of your kitchen and last until the next day :-)  

Heat:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter

Add:

1 onion, chopped

Add:

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, chopped

Add:

1 c. White wine (Chardonnay)

Bring to a boil. Reduce, simmer. Add:

1 rotisserie chicken (shredded)
Salt (season)
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 - 4oz. Can diced green chilies

Mix. Add:

1 quart chicken stock

Boil. Lower to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add:

1 can of Corn
2 cans of White beans
1 package lite cream cheese

Stir until cream cheese melts. Lower to low. Add (yes, again):

Salt (season)
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander

Stir to combine. Leave on low, uncovered, until ready to serve. It also may not be as thick as you want it. The longer you cook it uncovered, the more it will thicken. 

Ingredients
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 c. White wine (Chardonnay)
1 rotisserie chicken (shredded)
Salt (season)
Ground white pepper
Cumin
Oregano
Coriander
1 - 4oz. Can diced green chilies
1 quart chicken stock
1 can of Corn
2 cans of White beans
1 package lite cream cheese

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mexican Vegetarian "Filling"

























You know, I have no idea what to name this dish.  It derived from my Mexican Chicken recipe, which I have used, primarily in enchiladas.  This, however, I put over Mexican Rice, and then whole wheat pasta when I heat up the leftovers the next day...it's not a stew, although it can be eaten alone.  It was initially created for a Meatless Monday, but I ate it for lunch the next two days...I really liked it, and even Matthew said it tasted good (he is not a fan of beans, especially black beans, so that was a win).  If you are looking for a hearty vegetarian dish, I highly recommend it! Enjoy!

Heat a large saute pan.  Add:

1 T olive oil 
4 tabs butter 

Saute, until translucent:

1 onion, diced 

Add:

4 garlic cloves, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped

Turn up heat, add: 

3 small sweet potatoes, cubed (small, like 1/4")

Cook about 5 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize slightly. Season, to taste, with: 

salt 
pepper
paprika 
cumin 

Continue to cook for another few minutes.  Add:

1-2 qts chicken stock (enough chicken stock to cover 3/4 chicken)

Add: 

1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Season with salt and pepper

Lower heat, cover, cook for 10 minutes.  Add:

1 can black beans, drained
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup spinach 
1/2 roasted red pepper (from a jar), chopped

Cook for another 10 minutes, or until zucchini is soft, but not mushy.  You can leave it on low until you are ready to use, preferably uncovered!  Soooooooo good, even Matthew liked it!

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
4 tabs butter
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
4 Chicken Thighs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1 - 2 qt chicken stock, based on size of chicken
Sal & pepper to taste
Extra salt, pepper, paprika & cumin to taste

Really the 'Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever'!!!


























I think I have made these enchiladas 3 times since we moved to the city, and that is saying A LOT. I don't really like to repeat dishes more often than once every few months, and that typically means about 6 or more...there are just too many new dishes to try and experiment with!  With that being said, this one has grown into what it is now...improvements in the chicken and rice that accompanies it; I crave this dish more often than not :-)  The nice thing is that the chicken and sauce both hold well, so you can store them to make later, and not worry about them going bad!  Enjoy!

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/best-chicken-enchiladas-ever/

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking dish. (I used a 9 x 13 glass pan.)

Make enchilada sauce:
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add in:

4 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. oregano

to the oil and stir for 1 minute. Then add:

2 cups chicken broth

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.

To assemble the enchiladas:
Set up an assembly line including: tortillas, sauce, beans, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread a spoonful of sauce in a line down the center. Then add beans (I don't put beans in the one's I give the husband, and it's fine.  Feel free to omit them, if requested) on top of the sauce, then some chicken mixture, and cheese. Roll up tortilla and place seam-side down in baking dish. Once all enchiladas are made, pour extra sauce over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then remove dish and sprinkle extra cheese on top, and bake for 5-10 minutes more until tortillas begin to brown slightly around the edges. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Ingredients
Mexican Chicken
4 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 cups chicken broth
4 Tbsp. oil (vegetable or canola)
1 (15.5 oz.) can mashed lentils or black beans, drained
2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 cup onion, diced
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
8-10 flour tortillas

Mexican Chicken

Derived from www.mommynovice.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/shredded-chicken-mexican-style

I know I am a horrible person for not having a picture, but it is THAT good!  I am always forgetting to take a picture before serving it!  This is great chicken for any dish asking for shredded chicken with spice, usually in a latin dish, like these A-MAZING enchiladas!  However, feel free to use it over rice, or pasta, or maybe to make nachos?  Hmmm....

Heat a large saute pan.  Add:

1 T olive oil 
4 tabs butter 

Saute:

1 onions, diced 
4 garlic cloves, diced

Turn up heat, add: 

4 chicken thighs

Cook 3 min on one side. Spoon onion and garlic mixture on top. Season, to taste, with: 

salt 
pepper
paprika 
cumin 

Flip, cook 3 minutes the other side, spoon onion and garlic mixture, season with salt, pepper, paprika and cumin. Flip once more, cook 2 more minutes, fat side down. Add:

1-2 qts chicken stock (enough chicken stock to cover 3/4 chicken)

Add: 

1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Season with salt and pepper

Lower heat, cover, cook for 20 minutes.  You will need to shred the chicken.  Use this for enchilladas!

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
4 tabs butter
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
4 Chicken Thighs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1 - 2 qt chicken stock, based on size of chicken
Sal & pepper to taste
Extra salt, pepper, paprika & cumin to taste

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork


























With football season in all effect, I make "man" food almost every Sunday, and most of the time, more than we will eat in one sitting.  Depending on how many people we have over, maybe not even in two sittings :-)  I am one to make way too much food, and think people will eat a lot more than they will...but, if it's a good recipe, who cares? More leftovers for me!  This pulled pork is one I make a few times during the season, and it's always a winner.  I am also going to share my pulled pork nachos and pulled pork enchiladas, but, let's start with step one, shall we?  This pork is fantastic, moist, and easy to make, since it is made in a slow cooker.  However, remember it has to marinade overnight, so be prepared :-)  Enjoy! 

Based on: The Chow Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Prepare a: 

1 (3-1/2- to 4-pound) bone-in pork shoulder 

by removing it from it's package and drying it with a paper towel.  Mix: 


2 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

until it's all combined.  Rub all over the pork shoulder (I put it in a casserole dish so that the rub that didn't stick didn't fall all over the floor).  Wrap the rubbed pork in plastic wrap (sprinkle any remaining rub on the pork before enclosing it in the plastic wrap).  Then, wrap it in aluminum foil (a juice will be created between the rub and the pork, so you don't want it to leak all over the refrigerator).  Place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, put together:

2 medium onions, cut into quarters, ends removed
1 1/2 c. carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (I used mini carrots, and just cut the ones I thought were too thick in half)
1 1/2 c. celery, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 head garlic, peeled and separated, but no need to chop, unless you want to cut them in half to release the flavor

Turn your slow cooker (low will take longer to cook (8-10 hours), high will take less time (6-8 hours).  Heat:

1 T. high heat oil

in a pan, on medium-high or high heat, depending on your cook top   Take out the pork shoulder and unwrap (there will be some drippings, so make sure you put it in a casserole dish or open over the sink).  Sear the pork on all sides for approximately 30 seconds on each side, or until it has a nice sear on it (brown crust).

Add:

1 quart chicken stock or chicken broth

to the slow cooker.  Place the pork into the slow cooker, and pour addition stock in, if required, to cover the pork halfway.  Add the vegetables and garlic to the slow cooker.  Cook for 6-8 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low.  Flip once, halfway through cooking time, if possible.

INGREDIENTS
2 medium onions, cut into quarters, ends removed
1 1/2 c. carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces 
1 1/2 c. celery, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 head garlic, peeled and separated
1 T. high heat oil

1 quart chicken stock or chicken broth, more if necessary
2 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (3-1/2- to 4-pound) bone-in pork shoulder 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Creamy Asparagus Soup


I love soup. It just is so comforting and warm...it's like being enveloped in a big cozy blanket. It may be why I started falling in love with fall...it's the start to a season of soup for every meal :-) I can eat soup for dinner every night when it's chilly...or lunch...or both! 

I had some asparagus and leeks that were getting to the age of absolute maturity...I thought risotto, then quiche, but when I mentioned those to Mattew, he actually suggested soup! You would think he would be sick of it by now! Thankfully no, and thankfully he made this suggestion, although I think he just wanted me to use the new blender he bought me :-) On a chilly Saturday afternoon, after finding several recipes, I combined them all to make my own. It turned out scrumptious, and I served it as a late lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches filled with gooey gruyere cheese...so yummy! Enjoy!

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add and melt:

2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil

Add:

1 bunch asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed

Soften vegetables, about 10 minutes. Add:

1 small shallot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Cook for another few minutes, 3 - 5. Add:

1 c. White wine

Increase heat to medium high. Reduce the liquid by half. Reduce heat back to medium or medium low. Add:

4 c. Chicken broth

Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. Put back into Dutch oven. Add: 

2 Tbsp butter
1 c. Heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-4 tsp celery salt
1 tsp Barons garlic pepper
1 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2 tsp herbs de province

Cook on medium low for 15 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings, if necessary. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve with sliced almonds, chopped bacon, shredded parmesean cheese, or any other topping that you find desirable. 






Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ham and Split Pea Soup

























I love fall!  I didn't used to (since that is when school started), but now it is my favorite time of year.  The changes in the leaves, the lower temperatures without extreme cold yet, and the ability to make soup, almost daily!!!  I could eat soup every day, really.  However, my husband not so much, so I have to get creative, and try out new soups.  Since I love experimenting with food, I am totally okay with that!  

A while back, he had mentioned I should try to make split pea and ham (which I had no idea he liked), but it was never the right time.  Either we were having people over, or I was out of town, or it had been a long day...the excuses went on and on.  Well, yesterday, I decided that it was the day!  I was finally home, wasn't swamped with work to do, and would have time to enjoy the process of cooking...which I love, by the way.  I love the chopping and the blending and the prepping and the zone I get into when I do it all.  It is totally my stress releaver, and I love it.  Okay, now I am rambling...

I originally wanted to try Julia Child's Ham and Split Pea Soup.  Well, this required 4 hours to make the ham stock, so I walked over to Jewel to pick one up in the late morning...an hour before I had a conference call...about a mile away from my house...I had seen ham hocks at Jewel, almost every time I went, but since I wasn't making this soup, I figured why buy it, right?  Well...today, they were out of ham hocks!  I mean, seriously? Was EVERYONE thinking of making Ham and Split Pea soup?  Is there another use for ham hocks?  Ooooh, is there?  There must be...I see research in my future :-)   

So, I stopped at Olivia's on my way home, one of my favorite little grocery stores to go into.  I always find something new and interesting to try. But...nope, none there either...so I am running back home (and for those of you that know me, I HATE RUNNING), made it to my conference call with 2 minutes to spare, but without any ham hocks...

So off to find another recipe that would be just as good, but without having to spend 4 hours cooking the ham hock for ham broth.  I was not optimistic, I felt defeated, and I hadn't even started cooking yet!!!  Well, I found one; Emeril to the rescue!  I was still not as optimistic...I mean, this one called to cook the ham hock for only 1 hour...would there really be as much flavor?  

I don't know why I ever doubted Emeril...he is a genius!  In much less time, we had a wonderful, hearty, filling soup...we even both went back for seconds!  This never happens!  Anyways, now that you have read my diatribe, it is time for you to experience this yummy soup for yourselves...enjoy!

If required, place: 

1 lb. dried split peas

in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain the peas and set aside. I used peas that did not require this step.

Score:

1 ham hock 

Place in a pot, cover with:

4 c. water

bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Set to low until ready to transfer to soup pot.

In a large pot, melt:

3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil

over medium heat. Add:

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots

cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add:

1 cup chopped yellow onions

cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium-high.  Add:

1 lb. ham, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces

cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Add:

1 lb. dried split peas
crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Transfer the ham hock and water it cooked in to the pot.  Add:

4 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme

cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.) Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning to taste, and serve immediately. Garnish with croutons, Parmesan cheese, or crumbled bacon.

Ingredients
1 lb. dried split peas
1 ham hock
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 lb. ham, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme
crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Based on Emeri's recipe on: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/ham-and-split-pea-soup-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Galette



Now that fall is coming (or, really, has been here for a few weeks), apples are abundant and I am craving something warm and gooey.  While I don't know that I would call this gooey, per say, it is light, creamy, with a hint of sweetness, perfect for two people that are not over the moon for sweets.  Perfect with your morning coffee or a cup of tea later in the day, you won't feel too guilty having a slice of this pastry!


First, we need to create the frangipane, the yummy almond cream that is spread on the puff pastry prior to adding the delicious apple slices.  It was pretty straightforward, although you will need almond meal, so, if this isn't something you have around the house, go out and grab some.  I have been experimenting with different flours, so I had some on hand.

I used store bought puff pastry, which I know moves away from my clean eating, but, I wanted to see if I could make this recipe at all, so I didn't want to change anything until I had made it at least once.  I have never dared to make puff pastry from scratch, but, maybe I will soon!  

Lastly, I did not add any whipping cream or ice cream, because this is very light and flaky, but I don't see any hard in adding either when serving.  I just got more apples, so I am excited to make this again this weekend!  Enjoy!

Frangipane:  

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream: 


1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter

Beat in: 


1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

until smooth.  Add:

1/2 cup (42 grams) almond meal (flour)
1 tablespoon (12 grams) all purpose flour

and beat until it forms a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate. 

Puff Pastry: 
The original recipe calls for making several of these, but I only had one sheet of puff pastry, so I made one large galette, instead.  So, once the puff pastry has been defrosted, as per manufacturer's instructions, unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Dust with a smidge of flour, and roll out with a rolling pin just a tad. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

Arrangement:
With an offset spatula or large knife, spread a thin layer of frangipane on the pastry, leaving about a 1/4 inch (1 cm) border. Cover and refrigerate the pastry for about 15 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Peel and slice: 

2 pounds (900 grams) Granny Smith Apples

into 1/4 inch slices. Place in a large bowl and toss with: 

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator and lay the sugar coated apple slices on top of the frangipane, overlapping the slices. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the apples are slightly browned and tender and the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. 

Preheat the oven broiler and move the rack to the top shelf of the oven. Lightly dust the tops of the apples with confectioners sugar (powdered or icing) and place under the broiler until the tips of the apples start to caramelize.  Watch closely and move the pan as needed.  Serve warm or cold with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Frangipane (Almond Cream):
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (42 grams) almond meal (flour)
1 tablespoon (12 grams) all purpose flour
Crust:
1 pound (454 grams) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
Filling:
2 pounds (900 grams) Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Garnish:
Confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
Softly whipped cream or French Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Company Potatoes


























Matthew's mother has been making these potatoes FOREVER, and they are a staple on Christmas morning.  I used to make them, but I always had way too much afterwards since there are just the two of us (hence the name, Company Potatoes).  So, when I found a smaller bag of frozen potatoes in the freezer section of our grocery store, I figured I would try change the recipe just a bit and see how it worked out...well, thankfully, it worked out perfectly on the first try!!!  Yes, we have leftovers, but not an overwhelming amount, and they are usually gone shortly :-)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a spatula, in a casserole dish, fold together:

1 lb 4 oz bag chunk potatoes, thawed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 c grated cheddar cheese, NOT the fine or "fancy" version

In a separate bowl, fold together:

<1/2 c melted butter
3/4 c bread crumbs

Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the potatoes.  Put into the oven for 45 minutes, or until it is browned to your liking.

I served this with the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Cups, it was a perfect combination!

Ingredients
1 lb 4 oz bag chunk potatoes, thawed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 c grated cheddar cheese, NOT the fine or "fancy" version
<1/2 c melted butter
3/4 c bread crumbs

In case you are making these potatoes for a larger crowd, below are the amounts of the ingredients of the original recipe.  Use the same directions as above.

Original Recipe:
2 lb bag Chunk potatoes, thawed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c sour cream
2 c grated cheddar cheese, not fine
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c bread crumbs

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Cups



























We have been "moving in" to our new place for months, and weekends are spent cleaning, organizing, storing, throwing away, etc...it can make for very long days, and sometimes into the night.  Since I knew this was going to be one of those weekends, I wanted to make sure we had something quick for breakfast, but also something that would sustain us, and maybe even keep for a few days into the week.  Since I made the Key Lime Pies in a Jar, I have been toying with more ideas for one-per-person food items (does that make sense???). I had seen ideas for egg muffin type creations, and had a bag of hash browns in the freezer... these are cute, healthy, and great for when you need to grab something out the door in the morning! 

Based on http://www.emilybites.com/2011/10/sausage-egg-cheese-hash-brown-cups.html

Preheat the oven to 400. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Into each muffin tin, press:

2 Tbs. hash browns (total 24 Tbs. hash browns, defrosted)

You want to form a well in each tin, and make sure it surrounds the sides, evenly, as well. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until edges are brown. While they are baking, whisk together:

8 eggs + 3 egg whites
Salt and pepper, to taste

After the hash brown cups are done, add:

1/2 Tbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese (6 Tbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese, total)
1/2 Tbs cooked bacon, chopped (6 Tbs cooked bacon, total)
1/2 Tbs onion, chopped (6 Tbs onion, total)


Pour the egg mixture evenly, on top. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, place the cups back into the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set. To remove from tins, run a large spoon or butter knife along the edges of each muffins cup. 

Ingredients
24 Tbs. hash browns, defrosted
8 eggs + 3 egg whites
6 Tbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 Tbs cooked bacon, chopped
6 Tbs onion, chopped