Thursday, May 31, 2012

garlic, sesame, mushroom green beans

I never thought I liked green beans, until I discovered there was more to them than just what comes out of a can.  Now, I love you dear husband... but really??? Those are just nasty!  In January I noticed that Costco was now carrying 2 pound packages of fresh green beans, thus my love affair began.  This is a recipe that I threw together putting some of my favorite ingredients,

Garlic Sesame Mushroom Green Beans
1 pound prepared fresh green beans
2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed  (or less if desired)
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can mushrooms stems and pieces (Hey, its all I had on hand!)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a medium sized skillet with olive oil and let it get good and hot.  Add the green beans, stirring constantly, allowing the green beans to blister slightly.  I like my green beans semi-firm, but adjust to your own preference.  Add the remaining ingredients into the pan, with the green beans and allow to get warm.  Top with remaining sesame seeds, if desired

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dilled Carrot Puree

Another recipe from the 5 ingredient 15 minute WW magazine was the Dilled Carrot Puree.  My grand sweetie just gobbled this stuff down!  It got thumbs up on flavor, but we all agree that we would have preferred it, texture wise, with it being a "mash" rather than a puree.  At only 88 calories, this was something I could eat without guilt. It did make a lot and so we had leftovers that got used in rather clever ways.  My mom slathered some across a tortilla, added some turkey meat and cabbage mix.  She's pretty clever at times!

Dilled Carrot Puree
adapted from best of weight watchers; 5 ingredients 15 minutes

1 cup cubed peeled russet potato
1 cup fat free, chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound baby carrots
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill

Place everything but the dill into a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and let cook until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.  remove from heat.
Add half the mixture into a blender ( I love using my vitamix !!!) and process until smooth and pour into a bowl; repeat with remaining mixture. Stir in dill and serve.  Like I mentioned earlier....I won't puree mine again just because texture wise it wasn't favored.  A good mash would work just as well.

Note:  Putting hot foods into a blender takes some precaution.  Be sure not to fill too high and cover the lid with a paper towel to prevent splatters.  Never start off on the highest power.... trust me, this is info from the experienced!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes

I'm still on a liquid only diet, but thankfully things have been so hectic around here that I have recipes I haven't blogged about.  April and May really seemed to have flown by!  I'm sorry the blog got neglected, but hey... life happens :-)

At the end of April my surgeon told me he wanted me on a 1000 calorie a day diet to lose some weight before the surgery.  He also told me that the recurrence rate for people having to redo the surgery, in ten years, was 90%!  Outrageous!!! No way am I going through this crud again :-(   He then told me that the risk goes down to less than 10% if the person maintains at least a 25 BMI (Body mass Index).  That meant I would have to drop almost fifty pounds to keep my risk factors low.  What a great time to join WW!!!  I joined online and purchased a few cookbooks and just went for it.  Prior to the week of my 2 week liquid diet I had lost 15 pounds.  Hubby hasn't complained about any of the meals so they have husband appeal, too (An added bonus!).

I tried a chicken recipe from a magazine called "The Best of Weight Watchers; five ingredients 15 minutes.
We enjoyed it, but since I used a full chicken with skin left on (hey, its what I had on hand!) the flavor didn't absorb as much through the chicken.  I think that since I prefer to roast chicken with the skin on, I will put some of the mixture underneath the skin.  Keeping the skin on does keep the chicken moist, and yes.... I do remove the skin prior to eating.  Well, most of the time I do :-)  

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes
adapted from best of weight watchers; 5 ingredients 15 minutes

1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 1/2 pound chicken, butterflied
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine the honey, olive oil and tomatoes; mix to coat completely.  Place the tomato mixture on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tomato skins begin to burst.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt,balsamic vinegar, and set aside.

Prepare your chicken:
Make sure the chicken is thawed completely.  Cut the chicken down alongside the backbone and remove the backbone.  Pat dry with a paper towel... this is an important step since you will be putting it into a hot frying pan; This will keep the splatters to a minimum.
On your stove top, heat a large oven safe frying pan on high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and when it becomes very hot- gently place the bird skin side down in the pan.
 Combine the remaining salt and pepper together. Season the top of the bird with the half the salt and pepper mixture. Immediately place the entire pan in oven for 10 minutes. Carefully remove hot pan from the oven, flip the bird over. Generously season the skin side with salt/pepper.                                                                         

 Return pan to oven and roast another 10 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and  resume cooking for another 15 -20 minutes, or until temperature reaches 165 degrees in the breast area.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Banana chocolate chip cookies

So if a cookie has bananas, wheat flour, wheat germ, and walnuts can I say I'm eating a well balanced diet?  Sigh... I didn't think so.  While my diet has been slightly altered over the past few months, I still have had to make cookies for the Walden House patients and staff.  These cookies are quite yummy and I added in a few other items to up the nutritional value.  I kept a few of the cookies on hand for my grand sweetie and wanted to feel semi guilt free for letting her eat cookies :-)  The texture is soft, but still very much cookie.  Give them a try, I know you'll like them!

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 tablespoon crushed flax seed
1 tablespoon wheat germ
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped in 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well.  Blend in banana.
Combine the flours, salt, soda in a separate bowl and whisk together to combine.  Slowly add the dry mixture to the banana mixture and blend just to combine.  By hand, stir in oats, flax seed, wheat germ , chopped chocolate and walnuts.  
Drop dough by  tablespoons onto baking sheets line with parchmant paper or a silpat, two inches apart.
Bake until just golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool five minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a a cooling rack.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies

Monday, May 14, 2012

SRC: Veggie Converter's Pumpkin Waffles

The surgeon I am seeing has asked me to drop forty pounds and begin the process of what will eventually be three weeks of liquid protein diet.  Yeah, doesn't sound like fun and really isn't.  But it is what it is and I will follow the docs orders.  Thankfully My Secret Recipe Club Blog this month was with my new found love, The Veggie Converter .  To quote her site's theme it is " One vegetarian mom + one meat-eating dad and two undecided kids = a challenge to create meals that incorporate more whole foods into the family's blended-eater lifestyle". How convenient for me, eh??! LOL!  It sure made my life a whole lot easier having to pick something from this heavenly site rather than a dessert based site (kind of like mine LOL!) 
I still want to try her Black Bean Soup, Zucchini Quinoa Burgers, and Butterbean Ragout Tortilla Casserole. But when it came to finalizing my decision I went with something I knew the whole family would love; Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles
Knowing that my husband prefers a more fluffy waffle, I changed things up a bit by whipping up my egg whites and folding them into the batter.  This did indeed produce more of a light and fluffy batter which made him very happy.  I also used regular all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat since it is what I had on hand.

Light and Fluffy Pumpkin Waffles
adapted from

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling! there is a difference!)
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients; flour, brown sugar, baking power, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix together to combine.
Next, add the egg yolks, pumpkin, milk and oil. Mix until just combine.
I did a double recipe which is why you will see four eggs and not two!
In a second bowl, whip up the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Gently fold into wet mixture.
Pour about 3/4 cup waffle batter into your waffle iron and cook to desired brownness. Repeat.

Recipe yields about 10 servings.

The Daring Cooks: Boeuf Bourguignon

 Did You ever have one of those months where nothing seemed to go right?  Well, this happened to be mine.  The results of this soup were not the best... likely due to the wine we used and half my pictures are missing (Like the end result!).  This is probably... no, without a doubt it IS, the worst blog post ever!

Blog-checking lines: Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

Fabi, i humbly apologize for this disastrous post.  Your recipe and directions were without fault.  Thank you for hosting this challenge!

Ingredients for 6 people:

1 x 6 oz (200 gm) chunk of streaky bacon
Olive oil
3 pounds (1⅓ kg) stewing beef cut into 2 inches (5 cm) cubes
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (5 ml) (2 gm) pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) flour
3 cups (1½ pint/720 ml) of young red wine. Suggestions: Bourgogne, of course, but also Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Rioja etc., depending on your country and your taste. Being Spanish, my choice this time was a good Rioja. It really has to be a good one but it hasn’t necessarily to be a very expensive one, you know, il ne faut pas exagérer
1 carrot, sliced (I prefer to cut it into chunks, but that's just my taste)
1 onion, sliced in julienne
1 ½ to 2 cups (¾ to 1 pint/355 to 475 ml) of beef stock or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) tomato paste or tomato puree
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1 gm) thyme leaves
1 bay leave (Julia says it has to be crushed, I prefer not to crush it so that I can remove it at the end of the process)
The blanched bacon rind
18-24 small onions, brown-braised in stock
1 pound (½ kg) mushrooms sautéed in butter (Champignons are perfect for this purpose)
Fresh parsley sprigs to serve
1.Prepare the bacon: Remove the rind. Cut the bacon into lardons (Sticks, ¼ inch thick and ½ inch (5 mm x 15 mm) long) and simmer everything in 4 cups (1 litre) of water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry carefully with paper towels.   I was unable to find bacon with rind so had to omit this step.

2.Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.

3.Preheat oven to hot 450ºF/230ºC/gas mark 8

4.In a fireproof casserole or a frying pan, sauté the lardons in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they’re lightly brown. Remove them to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

5.In the same casserole/pan, sauté the beef until it’s golden brown. Remove it to the side dish where you keep the bacon and set aside.

6.Still in the same casserole/pan, sauté the carrot and the onion.

7.Return the bacon and the beef to the casserole. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour and toss.

8.Place the casserole/dish uncovered in the middle position of the oven for 4 minutes. This gives the meat a lovely crust.
9.Remove the casserole/dish from the oven. Stir in the wine, stock, tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay and the blanched bacon rind.

10.Bring it to simmering point on the stove. Now, if you were using a frying pan, discard it and put the stew in an oven proof dish.

11.Cover the casserole/dish (If your dish doesn't have a lid, use aluminum foil and stretch it to the edges of the dish in order to minimize the loss of juices) and place it low in the oven. Adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly, it has to go on for 3-4 hours.

12.While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. For the onions: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and sauté the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they’re almost covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid disappears and they’re tender but keep their shape. Set aside.

13.Prepare the mushrooms as well: Wash quarter and sauté them in 2 tablespoons butter. Keep on stirring until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.

14.When meat is tender, put the stew into a sieve over a saucepan, wash out the casserole and return the stew to it. Put onions and mushrooms over the meat.
15.Skim the fat off the sauce. Put the saucepan on the stove and simmer it for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter.

16.Pour the sauce over the stew. Put the casserole on the stove or in the oven and reheat for 2-3 minutes. Serve it in the casserole with some sprigs of fresh parsley. Some goods sides are potatoes, noodles or rice.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bridal shower

A good friend's daughter is getting married today.  It worked out to where the shower for her was on Tuesday and the wedding is just a few days later.  Her colors are lovely, orange, yellow and black but it did make it interesting to decorate and not have it look like Halloween.  Thankfully I have my Cricut machine and was able to create a few decorations.

I have to say that the most ingenious was what my friend Joy did.  She took a yellow paper plate, cut it out and glued it on top of an orange paper plate.

  I made the shower cake as well as cheesecake balls. While my skills are rather modest, I was pleased with the end results.  I'll be sharing the recipe I used for the cake balls later this week.  Right now I have to go finish up the 150 cupcakes I agreed to make for her wedding!