Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comfort foods

When I came up with my meal plan for the week we were enjoying a stint of cooler weather and I was craving comfort foods. Much to my dismay, we were back in the 80's by the time I got to enjoy this dinner. Since I'd been planning on it, thinking about it, and craving it all week I decided to just go ahead with the plan, but it just wasn't the same with the AC running.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup are definitely two of my favorite comfort foods, and it doesn't hurt that combined they serve as a quick, frugal dinner. I won't insult your intelligence with a recipe for the grilled cheese, but I will note that my grilled cheese was made with whole wheat bread, 2% cheese and then coated with garlic powder before cooking... yum! I like my tomato soup on the sweet and spicy side, but you can leave out the sugar and cayenne if you like (or even the half and half). I didn't have any on hand, but fresh basil would have been a lovely addition here as well.

Creamy Tomato Soup

-4 cups chicken broth
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (you really could use stewed, whole, diced or any kind of tomatoes that you prefer since you puree them)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 cup fat-free half and half (or heavy cream if you prefer)
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat broth and tomatoes in medium pot. Add salt, pepper, sugar and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and stir in half and half. Using an immersion blender puree soup. (If you don't have an immersion blender puree the soup in a food processor or blender).

What are your favorite comfort foods?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

Today I made Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast. They turned out great... like fluffy little pumpkin pies... yum! If serving with syrup make batter as listed, they aren't sweet at all without the syrup, so if serving without then add extra sugar to the batter.

Pumpkin Pancakes

-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 1/4 cup milk
-2 eggs
-2 Tablespoons apple sauce
-1/2 cup pumpkin

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl; whisk to mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Stir the wet mixture into the dry one. Drop batter into a greased skilled 1/4 cup at a time, once bubbles form flip pancakes.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Teryaki chicken and tofu with pineapple and a noodle dish gone wrong

After a very busy past few weeks today was a great day to relax and cook a simple dinner.

I always buy the Maesri brand red curry paste for my curry dishes but had never tried any of their other products. When I was at Hong Kong Market last week this Sweet Thai Noodle Sauce caught my attention and I decided to give it a try.

I stir-fried some carrots, scallions, peppers and combined them with this sauce, and rice noodles that had been soaked for 45 minutes. The result was a bit spicy, but overall very bland, I wasn't impressed at all, and would rather make my own sauce, maybe similar to Drunken Noodles in the future.

To go with the noodles I made a simple teryaki sauce and baked a chicken breast (for Jeremy) in the sauce for 45 minutes. About 25 minutes into the chicken cooking I flipped the breast, topped it with a pineapple slice, and put some slices of tofu coated with teryaki sauce and topped with pineapple slices in the oven as well.

Teryaki Sauce
-3/4 cup water (if making the sauce for a dish to be baked add an extra 1/4-1/2 cup water, because the sauce will continue to thicken in the oven
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I would have used about 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger if I had had it on hand)
-5 Tablespoons brown sugar
-pinch red pepper flakes
-2 Tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

Combine water, soy, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in a sauce pan, bring to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our fall party

Our fall party was lots of fun on Saturday. We ended up being too busy talking, eating, and watching football that only one person actually sat down and took the time to carve a pumpkin though. Here's a few pics to capture the festivities... unfortunately I never got time to snap pictures of the food, but the recipes are below.

Here's our kitchen mantle, decorated with a few wildflowers and some leaves that Jeremy's parents brought back from their recent trips to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia (no, the leaves haven't changed here yet, so I had to have my decorations imported... thanks Mom and Dad!)

Here's the table set up with the paper products, leaves, acorns, flowers, pumpkins, candy corn, and jars filled with corn kernels and candles.

Here's our living room mantle covered with leaves, acorns, pumpkins, fall scented candles and more corn kernels. A closeup of the leaves and acorns (and yes, I'm keeping these up all fall)



Kim, Lindsay, Rebekah, Tori and Harris

Me making a funny face... see Rebecca napping in the background?

Jessica and her pumpkin


Tori and Craig

Arthur and Brant

My hubby

Now for the food... I served;
  • Hot apple cider
  • Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup: I doubled the recipe, added an extra can of black beans, used fat free half and half instead of the heavy cream, and added about 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Brown sugar glazed ham with rolls
  • Veggies and curry dip (1/2 c mayo, 1/2 c sour cream, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp minced onion, 1 clove garlic minced, 2 tsps white vinegar, 1 tsp horseradish, 1 tsp curry powder)
  • Pumpkin Pasta: I doubled the recipe, omitted the sausage (since I don't eat meat, but think it would add a nice savory dynamic to compliment the dish), used fat free half and half instead of heavy cream, added 1/4 tsp cayenne and a tablespoon of brown sugar.

    Several friends brought assorted fall desserts, including; pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pudding, and pumpkin pie. It was all so yummy.


Jeremy cooks

A friend that Jeremy works with made protein pancakes and brought them to work one day to share with my hubby. Jeremy was instantly excited about this because he loves pancakes, but eats very healthy and also eats tons of protein each day to feed his muscles after training. Jeremy excitedly tackled the recipe this morning, and the result was delicious.

He made my standard Whole Wheat Pancake recipe, but left out the blueberries and added 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder. He had to add some extra milk also to account for the extra dry ingredients. The result was a chocolate-y, dessert-y pancake that we ate both warm and cold and didn't even need syrup for... I believe my hubby is in love. And as an additional voucher for this recipe, our friend Rebecca is VERY picky and she tried a pancake and then went back for seconds.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Greek salad

I was assigned to bring a salad to a dinner party with friends and brought this yummy Greek version. It would also be great with pepperoncini peppers and sliced green pepper, but I didn't have those on hand.
Greek Salad
-romaine lettuce, spring mix or spinach... just fill up a large serving bowl with your favorite
-1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
-2 tomatoes, chopped
-1 red onion, cut into large chunks
-handful of kalamata olives
-1 cup walnuts, toasted
-1 small container of feta cheese, crumbled
-1 clove garlic
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-1/2 c olive oil
-1/4 c red wine vinegar
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Toss dressing with salad (starting off with a little and adding more until the salad is adequately coated).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

White bean and spinach soup

With all of the rainy weather lately a big pot of soup seemed to be in order for my lunches for this week. I had TONS of white beans in the freezer that I had cooked from dried beans and saved away for later use, and from that this soup was born. This isn't the best soup that I've ever cooked, but it is nutritious and yummy, just a little bland compared to what I normally make. It would be excellent with some kielbasa or smoked sausage in it, but then it wouldn't be vegetarian anymore. Or less beans could be used, more broth, and some cheese tortellini for another Italian classic.

White Bean and Spinach Soup

-2 lbs dried white beans, cooked according to package instructions
-4 cups stock or broth (chicken or vegetable)
-2 cups water (if I had used all broth instead of some water it would have more more flavorful, just not as frugal)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 teaspoon salt
-fresh ground pepper
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
-1 small bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove moisture

Cook onion and garlic in large pot over medium heat until softened. Add beans, broth, water, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Simmer until beans are completely soft and breaking apart slightly. At this stage the soup could be left like this, but I wanted to give it a thicker texture and puree some of the beans. I used a potato masher to mash most of them into chunks directly in the pot. (An alternative would be to take out a few cups of the soup and run it through a blender or food processor and then stir back into the rest of the soup). Stir in spinach, cook 5 more minutes and serve.


Pumpkin Spice Latte

Today I made this Pumpkin Spice Latte. The result was yummy and quite soul soothing for a dark, rainy Sunday morning.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Quarter of a century!

Today my hubby is turning 25! I have a whole day jam packed with lots surprises to make him feel special and loved on his birthday. I'll be back soon with pictures to share from all of the festivities.

Jeremy is amazing... He is stunningly handsome and has giant muscles. He is a family guy, and would rather spend time with me than anyone else in the whole world. He is going to be an amazing daddy (one day... I don't have news that I'm keeping from you). He loves the Lord with all his heart and seeks to honor Him through everything he does. He is a great listener, counselor, mediator, and cares deeply for others. He doesn't waste words, so when he speaks people listen. He never flatters anyone, a compliment from him is meaningful. He is genuine. He is a people person, and finds joy in making others happy. He has a natural ability for drawing, music, photography, style and anything of that sort. He is loyal. He is a big picture guy. He is a master delegater. He is fun, quirky, and goofy and keeps me from taking myself too seriously. He loves nutrition and fitness. He is an encourager. He is gifted with discernment. He is great at seeing things from other people's point of view. He loves reading about economics and world events in his spare time. He is random and routine all at the same time. He is slightly rebellious. He questions EVERYTHING and doesn't believe things that are spoon fed to him. He is intelligent, smart, and knowledgeable in so many ways that I'm not. He is wise and mature beyond his years. He is the perfect compliment to me... enough alike for us to have shared interests, different enough to challenge me and make me a better person. He is so much more, but best of all he is all MINE!!!!

Happy Birthday Jeremy!!!!! I am so blessed to have you as my husband as we journey through life and grow old together!!!! I. LOVE. YOU.