Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Vegetable soups are one of my favorites whenever I am trying to lose weight. They are packed full of vegetables and filling enough to keep you going. Because of the Great Northern Beans and the pasta, the soup is 2 Weight Watchers Smart Points per serving. You can always leave them out to have a 0 point soup but I think they are worth it!

Vegetable Minestrone Soup
adapted from Taste of Home Summer 2016
Serves 5

4 medium - small carrots, peeled & chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 summer squash, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup Great Northern Beans (canned or cooked)
1 cup canned petite diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup small soup pasta ( I like tubettini or ditalini)
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Cooking Spray
(I've been playing with coconut oil cooking spray. Tt tolerates a higher cooking temperature.)

Cook the carrots, celery and onions in a pot coated with cooking spray until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the summer squash, bay leaf, salt, pepper, thyme, sage and crushed red pepper. Cook for another 4 minutes until the squash begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Mash 2 tablespoons of the Great Nothern Beans and add to the vegetables along with the tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente. Refer the packaging for the suggested time. Discard the bay leaf and add the remaining beans and spinach..Cook just until the beans are warmed and the spinach is wilted.

Serve passing parmesan cheese if desired.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Pork Enchiladas. Cheese & Onion Enchiladas and Beef Tacos with Creamy Black Beans

I love the combo platters at Mexican restaurants so I decided to try making one of my own. Making your own enchilada sauce is time consuming but well worth the effort. The men preferred the pork. I preferred the cheese but I would have liked to try the cheese with the red enchilada sauce. Next time I want to try it with short ribs.
My family loves tacos. I gave up the taco packets when I found Penzey's Taco Seasoning. This taco recipe is so easy and is made with things I usually have on hand.
I have also been experimenting with cooking with dried beans and have found that slow cooking from scratch and adding a little milk at the end you can create "refried" beans without all the fat and calories.

Pork Enchiladas Rojas
adapted from Bon Appetit September 2015

1   tsp coriander seeds
2   Tbsp cumin seeds
14 dried guajillo chiles, seeds removed
4   dried ancho chiles, seeds removed
3   dried arbol chiles, seeds removed
4   cups chicken stock
8   garlic cloves, peeled
2   Tbsp tomato paste
1   tsp dried oregano
1   Tbsp corn oil
1½  lb boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
Kosher salt
2   bay leaves

1   cup vegetable oil
8   6-inch white corn tortillas
Cotija cheese, crumbled

Toast coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Shake the pan frequently to prevent them from burning. Add the cumin seeds during the last 30 seconds of cooking. Let cool, then finely grind in spice mill.

Bring guajillo, ancho, arbol chiles and stock to a boil in a saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit to soften the chiles. Depending on how dry the chiles are this can take 30-60 minutes.

Transfer chile mixture to a blender and add toasted spices, garlic, tomato paste, and oregano.  Purée until smooth.

Preheat oven to 250°. Heat oil in a oven safe pot. Season the pork with kosher salt and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Pour off excess oil and add chile purée and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise pork until meat is very tender and shreds easily, about 2 hours.

Transfer the pork to a large bowl and shred. Discard the bay leaves
Mix ½ cup chile sauce into pork; season with salt. Set remaining sauce aside.

Preheat oven to 425°. 

Prepare a baking pan my spreading a cup of reserved chile sauce over the bottom.

Heat oil in a skillet over until it bubbles immediately when edge of tortilla touches the surface. Working one at a time, fry tortillas until just starting to brown and crisp, about 10 seconds per side. They should still be pliable. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Dip both sides of each tortilla in the reserved chile sauce to coat lightly. Spoon ¼ cup pork mixture across the center of a tortilla and roll up the tortilla. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with more sauce and remaining tortillas. 

Top with the remaining sauce and cotija cheese and remaining sauce. 

Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is beginning to brown, about 15–20 minutes. 

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Green Chile Sauce
adapted from Bon Appétit.July 2001

¾   lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed, quartered
1¼ cups water
2    Tbsp minced seeded jalapeño chilies
12  garlic cloves
2½ cups chopped scallions, divided
¾   cup canned mild green chilies
12  large spinach leaves
8    white corn tortillas
3    cups shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
Cooking spray

Bring tomatillos, water, jalapenos and garlic to boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tomatillos are soft, about 15 minutes. 

Transfer mixture to blender; add 2 cups of green onions, green chilies, and spinach and puree. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Return sauce to skillet.

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. 

Using the same oil as the pork enchiladas.  Fry the tortillas, one at a time until just starting to brown and crisp

Dip the tortilla into sauce. Top with about 2 Tbsp cheese, 1 Tbsp green onions, and 1 Tbsp sauce. Roll up tortilla. Place seam side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, sauce, cheese, and onions.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about 15 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Beef Tacos   
adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2016 (2015) America's Test Kitchen, Brookline, MA

2  Tbsp corn oil
1  small onion, minced
3  cloves of garlic, minced
2  Tbsp chili powder 
1  tsp ground cumin 
1  tsp ground coriander 
½ tsp dried oregano 
¼ tsp cayenne pepper 
Kosher salt 
1  lb ground beef 
½ cup tomato sauce 
½ cup chicken stock
½ tsp brown sugar 
2  tsp cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper 

8  taco shells 
Shredded Mexican blend cheese 
Lettuce, shredded
Tomatoes , chopped
Cook the onion in the oil until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. 

Add ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat up and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. 

Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently until the liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should still be moist), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Fill the taco shells with the meat mixture and top as desired.

Creamy Black Beans
adapted from Food Network Magazine September 2010

½   lb dried black beans, rinsed
1½ Tbsp olive oil
1    small onion, minced
2    cloves garlic, minced
½   jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
1    tsp ground cumin
1    dried oregano
¼   cup skim milk
Kosher salt
Cotija cheese

In a large saucepan cover dried beans with triple their volume of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook beans, uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and soak beans 1 hour. Drain.

Cook the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin in the oil, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. 

Add the oregano and the beans, then add enough water to cover (about 4½ cups). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender and moist of the liquid has been absorbed, about 3½ - 4 hours.

Add the milk and heat through, stirring to cream some of the beans. Season to taste with salt. 

Top with cotija cheese.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Strata Stuffed with Apples

This is a great overnight recipe. A little prep the day before and you can have an easy stress free breakfast.
I do not like very sweet breakfast foods. The strata itself is not overly sweet but you can make it sticky sweet with the addition of maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Strata Stuffed with Apples
adapted from Cooking Light December 2012

2 tsp butter
4 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples
6 Tbsp sugar, divided
Cooking spray
12 (1-ounce) slices Pepperidge Farm ™ cinnamon raisin bread
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 large eggs

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add apples and 1 tablespoon sugar and saute sauté until apples are tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.

Coat an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of bread in dish. Top with apple mixture and the pecans. Arrange remaining bread over pecans.

Combine the remaining 5 Tbsp sugar, milk, cinnamon, and eggs in a  bowl, whisking until the mixture is well combined. Pour milk mixture over bread, pressing down to submerge. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover dish. Bake at 350° for 48 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve sprinkled with confectioners sugar and passing maple syrup.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Warm Martini Marinated Olives

I was in need of a little snack. This is the perfect chance to try this recipe because my boys are away and they do not like olives.

Martini Marinated Olives
adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray October 2015

1/2 cup mixed green and black olives
1/4 cup gin
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dry vermouth
1-inch strip lemon peel
1/2 bay leaf
Pinch crushed red pepper
Crusty bread

Combine the olives. gin, vermouth, olive oil, lemon peel, bay leaf and red pepper into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes. 

Serve warm with crusty bread.

Tofu Ramen Noodle Soup

It's 14 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like 4 degrees. It is time for some soup.

Tofu Ramen Soup
adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray April 2013 

2 cups chicken broth
2.5 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar substitute
1/4 ounce unpeeled fresh ginger,1 large slice
2 oz fresh spinach, chopped
2.5 oz firm firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 3 ounce packages  instant ramen
Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce, optional

Cook the ramen according to the package directions but without the seasoning packet.

In another pot, mix the chicken broth, mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Cover and simmer over high heat for about 8 minutes, cover reduce the heat and cook another 5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked. . Discard the ginger. 

Stir in the spinach, tofu and ramen. Bring back to a simmer to heat the tofu and wilt the spinach.
Serve passing the chili garlic sauce.

Eggs and Avocados ... It's What's For Breakfast

This is not a combination that would normally think about together but it tasted remarkable good.

Egg and Avocado Toast
adapted from Everyday with Rachel Ray June 2012

Cooking Spray
1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk and ¼ tsp dried chives
1/3 avocado
1 slice Panera Country White at Home, toasted
 Cholula Chili Lime Sauce]

In small skillet coated with cooking spray, scramble the egg mixture.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, mash avocado with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Spread the avocado mash on toast and top with egg.
Serve with the hot sauce.