Chicken & White Bean Soup

I am so loving the onset of fall.  All the windows have been open for a week, allowing soft breezes to waft through the house and allowing the dog to sleep in the sunshine on the deck.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2011.

No substitutions were made.

chicken and white bean 1

Chicken & White Bean Soup

2 smoked bacon slices, chopped
12 oz skinless, bonless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 c chopped onion
1 garlic cloved, minced
1 c chopped plum tomato
2 tblsp chopped fresh oregano
2 c water
2 c fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 c uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 15oz can organic white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt

chicken and white bean 2

Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat 7 minutes or until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan; set bacon aside.

Add chicken to drippings in pan; saute 6 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender.  Add tomato, oregano, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Return bacon and chicken to pan.  Stir in water and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.  Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until heated.  Remove from heat; stir in parsley, vinegar, and salt.

chicken and white bean 3

chicken and white bean 4

cartoon-strawberry-9The tomatoes, onions and oregano give this soup a strong flavor of bruschetta.  Cutting and trimming the chicken thighs took awhile, but the rest of the soup came together easily after that.  Enjoy this soup on a beautiful fall night.

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

My poor meat and potatoes husband.  I keep feeding him these vegetarian meals.  If he doesn’t love the dish, his comment will usually be “This’d be better with some chicken in it.”  Fortunately, this lasagna didn’t get the chicken comment.

This recipe is from Real Simple, December 2009.

No substitutions were made.

broccoli lasagna 1

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

1 15 oz container ricotta
1 lb frozen broccoli florets – thawed, patted dry and chopped
2 1/4 c grated mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 16 oz jar marinara sauce
1/2 c heavy cream
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
oilve oil

broccoli lasagna 2

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, broccoli, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 1/4 c Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce and cream.

broccoli lasagna 3

Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.  Top with 2 noodles, a quarter of the remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture; repeat twice.  Top with the remaining 2 noodles and sauce.  sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c of mozzarella and 1/4 c of Parmesan.

Cover tightly with an oiled piece of foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

broccoli lasagna 4

cartoon-strawberry-9Broccoli, cheese and noodles – what could be better?  The heartiness of the broccoli stands up to the richness of the sauce with cream.  Total prep and cook time is about an hour and half, but so worth the effort!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Fall is finally here!!  Bring on the pumpkin!  Long walks in the falling leaves!  Bring on the sweaters and boots!

This recipe is from Real Simple, November 2010.

Substitutions made, noted below.

pumpkin cake Collage

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp, plus more for the pan
3 c all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
– I used Bakers Joy spray on the pan instead of butter and flour
5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c)
1/2 c whole milk – I used 2%
1/4 c molasses
1 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice – I used milk and a splash of vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

spiced pumpkin cake 1

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on med-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the pumpkin puree, milk and molasses (the mixture may appear curdled).  It totally will.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  Drizzle over the cake.  Let set before serving.

spiced pumpkin cake 2

cartoon-strawberry-9Ah Pumpkin.  Fall and pumpkin go hand in hand.  This cake is the perfect taste of fall.

Sweet Challah

I should have made this for Jewish New Year, but I missed the date by about a week.  I was nervous about braiding the dough, but it wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating.  If nothing else, this is a beautiful loaf of bread to create.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, December 2009.

Substitution made, noted below.

challah collage

Sweet Challah

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1 c warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3 tblsp honey
dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tblsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
14.25 oz bread flour (about 3 cups), divided
cooking spray
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp poppy seeds – I used sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Add melted butter, salt and egg; stir well with a whisk.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Add 13 oz (about 2 3/4 cups) flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms.  Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tblsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size.  (Gently press two finger into dough.  If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

challah 2

Punch dough down.  Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl.  Cover and let rise and additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down; cover and let rise 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25 inch rope, with slightly tapered ends.  Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal.  Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine 1 tsp water and egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended.  Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with poppy seeds.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack.

challah 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Holla Sweet Challah!  Husband said this reminded him of Hawaiian bread.  To me it was similar, but not as sweet.  I would love to serve this sweet bread with a thick rich soup on a rainy day.  (I’m dreaming and ready for fall…)

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

I really like eggplant, but for some reason I have never cooked with it before.  After this recipe, I’m ready to find every eggplant recipe and try them all.  Wonder if husband will mind??

This recipe is from Real Simple, March 2012.

No substitutions were made.

eggplant rollatini 1

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

4 tblsp oilve oil
2 large eggplants (about 3 lbs total), sliced lengthwise (about 16 slices total)
1 1/2 c marinara sauce
2 large eggs
1 15oz container ricotta
2 tsp dried oregano
2 c grated mozzarella (8 oz)
1/2 c grated Parmesan (1.5 oz)

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Divide the oil between 2 rimmed baking sheets.  Dividing evenly, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and turn to coat in the oil; season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

eggplant rollatini 2

Bake the eggplant, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until soft and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees.  – I only have one rimmed baking sheet, so this took me 3 rotations in the oven.  I lined the baking sheet with parchment and discarded after each round.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of a 9×13 inch or some other 3-quart baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, oregano, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

eggplant rollatini 3

Place about 3 tblsp of the ricotta mixture on one end of a slice of eggplant, roll it up, and transfer it to the prepared baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and ricotta mixture.

Top the eggplant rolls with the remaining cup of marinara sauce and the remaining cup of mozzarella.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

eggplant rollatini 4

cartoon-strawberry-9I need to find some better descriptors for the way food tastes.  Just saying “Yummo!”  all the time is boring.  But this one?  Super Yummo!  Even my meat & potatoes husband liked it.

Apple Honey Drumsticks

Growing up, I only wanted the drumsticks when the famous red & white bucket would make its way home.  Somewhere in my early 20’s, bags of the frozen boneless skinless chicken breast made its way into my fridge; they’re easy and can be cooked in a million different ways.  Around Labor Day this year I was in the supermarket and saw a package of drumsticks.  How had I forgotten about my first love?

A 4.5 pound package came home with me that day.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, September 2011.

No substitutions were made.

apple honey drumsticks 1

Jacob’s Apple-Honey Drumsticks

12 skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 c apple juice
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tblsp unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.  Put the drumsticks on the rack and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Bake 30 minutes; flip the drumsticks and continue baking until golden and crisp, about 30 more minutes.

apple honey drumsticks 2


Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Bring the apple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer until the sauce is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.  Set aside until the chicken is done.

Stir the sesame seeds into the sauce, if using, and warm over medium heat, if necessary.  Transfer the chicken to a large bowl.  Add the sauce and butter and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and drizzle with any remaining sauce from the bowl.

apple honey drumstick 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I could not get this sauce to set up correctly.  I’m not sure if I used the wrong type of pan, didn’t set the heat correctly, or what; but it didn’t work.  On the plus side?  The taste of the sauce is great!  Sweet and spicy with a little heat from the red pepper.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

So my ice cream maker is leaking blue freezer fluid.  After 6 uses!  I’m a little upset, but have started the return process.  (ugh)  I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come.  It’s just a fluke, right??

This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream.

Substitutions made, noted below.

rocky road 1

Rocky Road Ice Cream

1 1/2 c whole milk – 1 used 2%
1 1/2 c heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsley chopped
2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch chunks – I used chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c coarsely chopped walnuts – I used almonds
1/4 c mini-marshmallows

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine the milk and 1 cup of the cream.  Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Put the coarsely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 3 minutes.  (Set the saucepan aside for later use.)  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cream.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth.  Pour the egg mixture into the reserved saucepan and stir in the remaining milk mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes.  Do not let the custard boil.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice cubes and water.  Stir occasionally until cool  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Pour the custard into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, stir in the chocolate chunks, walnuts and marshmallows.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container.  Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days before serving.

rocky road 2

cartoon-strawberry-9The good news is this recipe came out creamier than the others I’ve tired!  I froze it in a glass container and pressed parchment paper onto the top.  And it’s WONDERFUL.  Husband has texted me from work “I’m craving Rocky Road…”  Will definitely make this one again, if I get my freezer bowl fixed…

Turkey Tenders

I went to four weddings last year;  four beautiful couples, four amazing ceremonies.  And a year later, three out of four of those couples are pregnant!  I pointed this out to the wife of the hold out couple and she just texted me back with ‘O Kathy’.  I tried this recipe thinking it’d be a great protein option for one of my pregnant friends.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, March 2011

No substitutions were made.

turkey tenders 1

Turkey Tenders

1 lb turkey tenderloin
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/3 c egg substitute
3/4 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tblsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut tenderloin in half lengthwise; cut into 20 (2-inch) pieces.

Place flour in a shallow dish.  Place egg substitute in another.  Combine panko, cheese, garlic and pepper in another dish.  Dredge turkey in flour; dip in egg substitute, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.  heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat, swirling to coat.  Add turkey pieces to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side.  Place turkey pieces on a broiler pan.  Bake at 425 for 5 minutes.  Turn turkey pieces over, and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until golden.

skillet mac n cheese 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These turkey tenders paired really well with the Skillet Mac n Cheese.  And I liked making my own tenders (chicken would work well too).  Wondering if I could make up a batch of these and freeze them for lunches…

Macaroni Monday

Thank you Thomas Jefferson for bringing mac n cheese to the colonies.  Did you know President Jefferson served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner in 1802?

This recipe is from Mac & Cheese – 80 Classic & Creative Versions of the Ultimate Comfort Food.

Substitution made – noted below.

skillet mac n cheese 1

Skillet-Fried Cheddar Mac and Cheese

1/2 lb macaroni
2 tblsp unsalted butter
3 tblsp chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 tblsp all-purpose flour
3/4 c whole milk, warmed – I used 2%
2 tblsp heavy cream, warmed
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 oz raw milk Cheddar, grated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tblsp olive oil

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Cook the pasta until it is al dente.  Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, and return it to the pot.

Heat the butter saucepan over med-low heat.  Add the onion and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion softens.

Stir in the flour and cook stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly and appears to have grown in volume.  Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the warm milk and cream.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the mustard, and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.

skillet mac n cheese 2

Add the cheese to the sauce by 1/2 c measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well.  season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet over med-high heat until it is very hot.  Add the olive oil, swirling to coat.  Add the macaroni, and allow it to cook for 3 minutes, or until a crust forms.  Scrape the bottom of the crust with a metal spoon, and cook another 3 minutes.  Do not stir often.  Cook until about 15 to 20 percent of the mixture is golden brown.  Serve hot.

Note: The sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.  Bring it to a simmer over low heat.  Cook and fry the pasta just prior to serving.

skillet mac n cheese 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Maybe someday I’ll find my very favorite form of mac n cheese and stop trying new recipes… Probably NOT.  This stuff is amazing.  The Cheddar is mild and silky and melts really well.  Then the bits of fried cheese sauce?  Heavenly.