Monthly Archives: November 2009
|November 30, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fall, Lent, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, Soups and Stews, Vegetarian or Vegan, Winter|
Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten, Christmas music is in the CD player, and it’s COLD out!!! It seems like Mother Nature got the memo, and all of a sudden it feels like winter.
Since my mom always hosts Thanksgiving, I’m not stuck trying to get rid of leftovers all week. No turkey sandwiches here! I’m focused on more important things. Like soup. This time of year, there is very little that appeals to me more than a nice, warm bowl of soup. This bean soup is a great way to get back on track after the Thanksgiving weekend – it’s vegetarian (vegan if you skip the sour cream on top), full of wholesome vegetables and fiber, and extremely soul-satisfying. Adding your own toppings also makes the soup fun, and allows you to switch it up a little bit so that the leftovers don’t all taste exactly the same.
Most bean soup recipes that I’ve seen just call for a simple mirepoix – carrot, onion, and celery – to be added along with the beans. I wanted this soup to have more flavor, so I added a green pepper and some shallot. I also had a sweet potato hanging around with no plans, so I threw that in there too. I love the addition of the sweet potato! It added another texture to the soup, and the slight sweetness went really well with the warming spices. I think this will be a standard addition to my bean soup from now on.
I make my soup with dried beans, which does rule this out for weeknight preparation. However, it reheats really well so I generally make a big pot of it on Sunday and save it for dinner on Monday or Tuesday. If you want to speed up the preparation, you can substitute two large cans of black beans (rinsed and drained) for the dry beans. I just prefer the dry if I have time because they’re cheaper (under $1 for a 1-pound bag!), have less sodium, and don’t taste like can.
I also really like to bring soup with me to work in the winter – it makes a great, filling lunch that’s low in calories. In order to prevent it from spilling during my commute, I pack up a single serving the night before and throw it in the freezer. You can mix in some sour cream before you freeze it, but pack the rest of your toppings separately. When you’re ready to eat, just pop it in the microwave for about 2 minutes and you’ll be all set!
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound dry black beans, picked over
- 12 cups water
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 Tbs oregano
- Salt to taste
- Optional toppings: shaved red onion, avocado, lime wedges, sour cream, pepitas
Add bay leaves, beans, and water to a large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and let simmer for about an hour.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the pepper, onion, shallot, carrot, celery, jalapeno, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables have softened – about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Stir to combine, an sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the vegetable mixture and the sweet potato to the pot of beans and simmer for another hour, or until the beans are tender. Season to taste with salt.
Allow each person to add the toppings that they want to their individual bowl.
Approx. 145 calories, 1.7 grams fat, 8.5 grams fiber, 8 grams protein (without optional toppings)
I’m sending this recipe to Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday roundup!
I’m playing around with the location of the “spring it” button. Since you’re the ones using it, what is the most convenient location for you? Next to the recipe title (like it is above), under the recipe title but before the ingredient list, below the recipe like I’ve been doing? Or something else all together?
|November 24, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Breads, Italian, Sandwiches|
Judging from the lack of reactions yesterday, it seems like everyone is tired of Brussels Sprouts? OK, no more of those for a while. Today I’m back with something that has a little more mass appeal – calzones! I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a calzone. These are jam-packed with eggplant, caramelized onion, red bell pepper, and just a touch of sausage. Served with a side of sauce for dunking, they make a fun and easy dinner that’s bursting with fresh flavor. The neat little package shape also makes them extremely portable, and the leftovers make a great lunch at work the next day.
What I like most about calzones it that you can really stuff them with fillings. With pizza, I usually like to keep toppings relatively simple and limit myself to 2 or 3 things. But with calzones, I feel like i can go all out since it’s really all about the flavor. You can throw in whatever leftover vegetables you have on hand, or plan your fillings out more methodologically like I did here. I really wanted to use caramelized onions, and eggplant sounded like a nice change. I added some red bell pepper for color and a sausage link for zip. Topped it all off with a healthy serving of fresh basil and couldn’t have been happier with the results!
A note on dough: If you don’t want to make the dough yourself, most pizzeria’s will sell you some unbaked dough. Or you can buy it in the grocery store – Price Chopper here actually has a decent house made dough that they sell frozen in big hunks and Pillsbury makes a pizza dough that isn’t bad in a pinch. But really, it doesn’t take much effort to make your own. If you plan ahead, you can mix up a batch of no-knead dough the night before you plan to bake these. Or, if you have time to let dough rise on the day that you want to make them, you can use the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. This recipe really involves very little effort – you just combine the ingredients, let it rise, and shape it! The flavor is really nice, and I thought that the texture was great for calzones since it was a little breadier than a pizza dough. You can find the recipe for that here, but I’m sure they would much rather you buy their book to get it. The book is great, and I highly recommend it if you like freshly baked bread with little effort!
Eggplant and Sausage Calzones
- 1 grapefruit-sized hunk of pizza dough (such as a half batch of Artisan Bread in 5′s Master Recipe)
- 1 link hot Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 medium eggpant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 ounce parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
- cornmeal for dusting
- sauce for serving
Heat oven to 450. If using a pizza stone, set that into the oven now.
Remove casing and roughly crumble the sausage. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook. When the sausage is nearly cooked through, add the onions. Cook slowly until the soften and begin to turn golden brown – about 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and red pepper and cook another few minutes until they soften.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Sprinklecornmeal over your rolling surface. Roll each piece of dough out into a circle between 1/4 and 1/2-inch thick. Divide the ricotta between the four pieces of dough, spreading it over half of each circle. Top with a little bit of shredded parmesan, and then with a good amount of the vegetable and sausage mixture. (You may have a little bit of the veggie mixture left over). Top with torn basil. Gently stretch the remaining dough over the fillings, to completely enclose it in a pouch. Use Your fingers to pinch the edges closed.Use a sharp knife to make a few slashes in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape.
Transfer the calzones to the pizza stone, or to a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is crusty – it should be hard enough make a slight noise when you tap on it.
Serve with a side of sauce for dipping.
Approx. 550 calories, 15 grams fat, 4 grams fiber, 23.5 grams protein
|November 23, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Fall, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides, Special Occasions|
After a long day raking leaves and a late lunch that left me not really wanting dinner, finding the motivation to get up from my nap on the couch wasn’t really there. Until I remembered my plan to make these Brussels Sprouts in Ponzu or dinner! Then I was off the couch and in the kitchen in about 5 minutes!
At the FoodBuzz Festival, one of the major hits with everyone at dinner was Namu Chef Dennis Lee’s Brussels Sprouts. They were incredible, and no one could stop talking about them. In fact, we all kept talking about them so much that he finally relented and gave out the recipe. Score!! I’m not likely to get tired of Brussels sprouts when there are recipes like this out there. They’re browned in butter, and then simmered in a citrusy ponzu sauce until they’re very tender. Oh… and there’s bacon, too!
Like a lot of other people, I had actually been planning on trying my hand at these and they were on my menu for last week. So I had the ingredients on hand and was ready to go when Chef Lee posted the details. At least most of them – I did make a few substitutions based on what I had in the kitchen. Bacon instead of guanciale. Various seasonings instead of shichimi. No dashi. And a lot more f everything. He recommends making 4 sprouts per person. That is nowhere near enough! He should have gotten the point when we all asked for seconds at dinner. I made a whole pound of Brussels sprouts for the two of us – and we fought over who got the last of them.
I’m sure you’ll be seeing these on lots of blogs this week, and it will be fun to see how everyone put their own spin on them. I’m especially excited to see Mardi’s version, which she will be posting today.
I would have been perfectly happy with just a huge bowl of these for dinner, but I had some flank steak in the fridge that needed to be cooked today. I mixed up some of the topping that I use on my Korean Baked Tofu for the steak. I slathered about half of it on before I cook it in a grill pan. Then I let it rest, sliced it, and served it with the rest of the sauce. It came out very nicely (Shawn preferred it to the tofu) and complimented the Asian flavors in the Brussels sprouts perfectly. As expected though, the sprouts totally stole the show! (And it sounds silly, but I wasn’t feeling wine and I found that ginger ale also went extremely well with this dinner!)
Words really can’t describe how good these are. I strongly encourage you to try these for yourself!
Adapted from Chef Dennis Lee
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 cup oil for frying
- 1 lb Brussels Sprouts
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 slices bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup ponzu
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Add the oil to a small pan and heat until it begins to shimmer and a drop of water flicked onto it bounces around. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown and crisp – about 3 minutes. Remove garlic and allow to drain on a paper towel.
Cut the sprouts into quarters, cutting through the root so that they stay together. Blanch the sprouts in a large pot of salted water, and immediately hock in a nice bath.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the blanched sprouts and the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sprouts begin to brown and the bacon crisps – about 7 minutes. Add the ponzu and water to the pan. Stir frequently, and allow to cook until nearly all of the liquid has cooked off – another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the fried garlic, orange zest, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.
Serves 2-8, depending on who you ask
Approx. 125 calories, 5 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, 6.5 grams protein (based on 4 servings)
****Don’t forget to spring all 5 of my recipes in the Springsgiving contest for your chance to win $100!
|November 19, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Fall, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides, Winter|
Nothing beats a good pork chop. For a long time, I forgot that they existed. I must have gone years without eating a pork chop! I’m really glad that I rediscovered them though, because they’re a really easy weeknight option. In this preparation, the chops are beautifully browned before being glazed with a luscious balsamic reduction. I’m not normally the kid of girl who will happily gnaw on a bone, but I’ll admit that I picked these up and made sure I nibbled off every delicious morsel that was to be had.
Something magical happens when you brine a pork chop. The brine penetrates the meat and flavors it throughout, while keeping it nice and juicy. It also gives it a slight saltiness that reminds me almost of a slab of bacon (but in a much less gross way than eating a slab of bacon for dinner would be!). The sugar in the brine also helps the chops get a nice color on them when you sear them. It’s best if you allow the chops to brine for 24 hours, but even an hour makes a huge difference in the final dish.
For a nice fall meal, I served these balsamic glazed pork chops with wilted baby spinach and some potatoes, apples, and onions that I sauteed and then let soften in chicken stock.
Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops
Adapted from Foods of the World: San Francisco
- 3 Tbs coarse sea salt
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 Tbs dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 4-oz pork chops, trimmed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
To prepare brine: Combine sea salt, sugar, thyme, garlic, pepper, and 4 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow salt and sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Place the pork chops in a container with a lid. Pour the cooled brine over the chops, cover, and refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 24.
When ready to cook: Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry. Heat a heavy pan over high heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is sizzling, add the pork chops (don’t let them touch in the pan) and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned, then flip and cook for another 10 minutes or until center is no longer pink and internal temperature of at least 150. Transfer the chops to a 200-degree oven to keep warm.
Pour off any fat and return pan to the stove. melt half the butter and sautee the shallot until softened. Add the vinegar. It will very quickly come to a boil – allow to boil about 1 minute or until reduced by about half. Add the stock and 1/4 cup water, raise heat to high, and cook until reduced by about half. Reduce heat to low and stir in the remaining butter. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and cook for a minute on each side. Transfer chops to a serving plate and spoon remaining sauce over the top.
Approx. 261calories, 19 grams fat, 0 grams fiber, 7.6 grams protein
|November 18, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fall|
No new recipe today, sorry! Things have been a little crazier than expected at work this week and I’ve been too exhausted to cook – never mind write! I do have one recipe that I made recently that I’m really excited about posting though, so I’ll try to get that up tomorrow.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering how you can win $100, right? It’s easy! A few food bloggers are working with Springpad to host “Springsgiving.” We were each asked to submit a Thanksgiving menu. There’s a lot of great recipes that have been submitted – and you get to “vote” on your favorites by springing them! Spring a recipe, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $100 American Express gift card!
What are you waiting for? Get Springing!
Note: In order to spring recipes you will need to create an account. But as I’ve said before its a really cool site and is a great way to keep track of and organize recipes that you find on various blogs. I can’t make any promises as to what they’ll do in the future, but based on past performance I have no hesitations in recommending registering with them. No spam at all!
Also, since I feel guilty not disclosing this, the participating blogger that receives the most “Springs” for their menu items will receive $500.
|November 16, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breads, Desserts, Fall, Light, Special Occasions, Weekend Meals, Winter|
People often ask me where I get my inspiration in the kitchen. It’s a hard question to answer, because it comes from all sorts of places. Sometimes its a simple as a restaurant menu, a childhood memory, or a random item that catches my eye in the grocery store. Other times it’s a little more random – a color, a texture, a feeling. The inspiration for these pumpkin cinnamon buns came from a question. Someone on twitter asked how they should use up some leftover pumpkin cream cheese icing. My mind immediately went to cinnamon buns. Pumpkin and cinnamon goes so well together, and I thought pumpkin cinnamon buns sounded fabulous. I did some research, attempted a few recipes, and finally came up with a pan of buns that I couldn’t keep my hands off of.
In addition to these being dangerous since they’re so difficult to resist, there were a few other things that I would have like to have come out differently. I wanted soft, flaky Cinnabon-style buns, but substituting pumpkin for the butter results in a more bread-like dough. To get flaky rolls, you need a lot of butter. It works on the same premise as croissants or pie crust – butter is worked gently into the dough, and melts when it get heated, leaving behind pockets of air. Pumpkin doesn’t melt the same way, resulting in a denser final product. On the plus side, cutting out all of that butter also means cutting out a lot of fat!
That being said, these cinnamon buns are a fun weekend project that will make your house smell fabulous. They can be frozen before baking (just add a few minutes to the baking time) and also keep really well in an airtight container after they’re baked, so they can be made ahead. If you have guests coming in for Thanksgiving, these would be a great breakfast treat!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 2.5 tsp yeast (2 envelopes)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 4-1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 stick butter, divided
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 oz low-fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 drop of vanilla extract
Heat milk in a microwave for 30 seconds, or until luke-warm. Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes – the yeast should grow and become foamy. If it doesn’t, discard and start over with new yeast.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the remaining granulated sugar and the salt. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Add 2 cups of flour and beat until combined. Beat in the milk mixture, being sure the include any yeast that settled to the bottom. Slowly add the remaining four.
Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
Divide dough into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about the size of a cookie sheet. Transfer to a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer. Repeat with remaining four pieces of dough.
In a small bowl, blend 1/2 stick butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Divide the cinnamon mixture between the four sheets of dough, spreading it in a very thin layers. Roll the dough up, starting with the long edge. Cut each dough log into 12 slices (each will be about 1-inch thick). Transfer to a large roasting pan (I recommend lining the pan with a silpat or some parchment paper for easy clean-up), leaving a little bit of room between each roll. Cover and let rise for one hour.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Combine the cream cheese, 1/4 stick of butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. If desired, you can thin this mixture out with a splash of milk.
Remove buns from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before frosting.
Yields 4 dozen buns.
Each bun contains Approx: 85 calories, 2 grams fat, 0.5 grams fiber, 2 grams protein
The BloggerAid cookbook is finished! Unfortunately I never submitted a recipe for this project, but I’m excited about ti anyway! The book contains recipes from bloggers all over the world, and proceeds go to benefit the United Nations’ World Food Programme. I think this would make a great gift for anyone interested in cooking, and is a great way to give back to those who do not have access to all of the nutritious foods that we take for granted every day. Click on the image below for more information.