Tuesday, December 2, 2008
First, I must say "Thank you!" for all of your wonderful comments, shared experiences and warm thoughts. They were truly comforting. To update, he is doing quite well. The recovery is coming along as scheduled. He is able to get about, slowly and still with quite a bit of pain, but is able to work from home and has even gone in to his office for a few hours here and there. It is so amazing to see how quickly the body can heal from such an invasive procedure.
I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving. We were able to celebrate the day with a friend whose father was in the same hospital, at the same time as my Mr. was. She and I were able to check in with each other, grab a few meals together and she was a great support for me while I was there. It was so nice that we could all have dinner together with both of our special guys! Her son and another wonderful friend of ours was there to "Give Thanks" as well. She and I both cooked up a storm (she is a fantastic cook!) and we really had a quite the feast! ( Look for future posts on my contribution to the meal. )
There are so many things that I can't wait to get blogging on. I received my Blogging by Mail package from my secret blogging buddy while Mr. was in the hospital. I will be posting on the contents and details of the program. It was so much fun! I have been trying out a few new heart healthy recipes with nice results and have discovered a couple websites/magazines to share, so they will be upcoming as well. My knitting needles have been clicking away in preparation for Christmas. Click, click, click! It has been the perfect quiet activity to do during this recovery period.
One thing I wanted to get in today is this great giveaway that I entered yesterday. It is for a Flight of Fine Finishing Salts by Ritrovo that Marx Foods is giving away. Just enter a comment on which salt your household would go through first for a chance to win. You have until December 5th to enter. Wait until you see the selection, mouthwatering!
Good luck and I will be back soon with my Turkey Day pie recipe!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
You find out how wonderfully giving and caring your friends are, and who they are. You become humbled and learn to ask for help. You see the miracle of science and the mystery of the human body unfold. You realize how precious life is and how quickly it could all be taken away.
As for him, the road to recovery has begun, and a long road it will be. He is only 53 and in great physical shape, which will help. He had a 5 artery bypass as well as a Carotid Endarterectomy, all areas were 99% blocked. His surgeon said that he should have been dead.
The good news, it was caught just in time, before stroke or heart attack occurred.
I will return to blogging in the near future. Expect the focus to be on heart healthy recipes. Fortunately for us, we won't have to make many changes.
This is just the beginning of a new journey for us both. Today is the 1 week anniversary of his new, healthy heart.
So, savour the moment. Smile. Kiss your loved ones. Move your body and caringly feed it all things healthy.
And the journey begins.................
Friday, October 24, 2008
It has been months since I have participated in a Joust, that is, The Royal Foodie Joust hosted by Jen, The Leftover Queen. The winner of the previous month's challenge, which was Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, chose acorn squash, oranges and sage as the three Joust ingredients. Our challenge is to use all three in a recipe, post on our blogs and then at the end of the month, fellow Leftover Queen Forum members vote for the best recipe. (You can stop by the site and see all of the entries for the month)
I have been thinking about what to make for weeks! Luckily, acorn squash is readily available at the farmers' markets now. I knew there would be savory dishes and wanted to come up with a sweet recipe, as well as challenge myself. So, these cupcakes are the result. I rarely make cupcakes, even though I know they are quite the rage. I am happy to say that I have a willing arsenal of friends and neighbors on standby, so 18 cupcakes will not be lurking in the house, begging to be eaten!
So, may I now present, my soon-to-be world famous........
Acorn Squash Spice Cupcakes with Orange Sage Buttercream Icing
makes 18 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp good cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup acorn squash puree
toasted acorn squash seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
To make the acorn squash puree; cut 1 squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe container with a bit of water, cover and cook until soft, in my microwave that took 9 minutes. Let cool, then scoop the cooked squash into the food processor and puree until smooth. This can be done a day in advance.
To make the cupcakes; place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and lightly whisk to combine. In another bowl, add the egg, milk and oil, whisking to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, do not over mix. Then add the squash puree, again stirring to combine. At this point I transfer the batter to a large 4 cup glass measure. This makes it easier to pour into the cupcake liners without spilling or dripping. Fill liners about 2/3 full.
Place the cupcakes in a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. While the cupcakes are cooling you can toast the seeds and make the icing.
To toast the seeds, place the cleaned, dry seeds on a pan and lightly spray them with olive oil. Toast at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until you just hear them pop, stirring at least once. When they are toasted, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Set aside to cool completely.
For the icing
6 tbl softened butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbl orange juice
zest of 1 orange
2 sage leaves, very finely chopped
Place the butter in the bowl of the mixer and beat on high until light and fluffy.
Add about half of the powdered sugar beat until incorporated, starting out a low speed, then increase slowly to high speed. Then add the other half and repeat the mixing process. In a small bowl combine the orange juice, zest and sage. Then add to the butter mixture, beating on high until fluffy. If too stiff, add a bit more oj.
Now you are ready to ice your cupcakes!
I decided to give mine the red carpet treatment and pipe the icing, very fancy, I know. After piping, I grated more orange zest and topped each with some of the salted seeds. Let me tell you, these are sooo yummy, and a little healthier than your average cupcake. So far, my tasters have given me great reviews!
Here's hoping I win the apron this month!
Before and after being zested and seeded.
This one was sacrificed in the name of quality control. A tough job, but someone has to do it!
For more yummy pictures, just click on the Flickr widget on the sidebar!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I baked my lasagna in loaf pans. Since there are only 2 of us I find this works out much better than baking in a traditional pan. The pasta fits in perfectly (as always, I use the no-boil noodles), you can bake one pan for dinner, bake the others about 2/3 of the way, cool, wrap and freeze them in the pan. Then you have them on hand to bake when you don't have time to prepare dinner from scratch. Now, I only made 2 pans this time, since I had not made this recipe before. I used 4 noodles per pan and all of the filling, so I am not sure how this would change the points count. I also get 2 servings per pan, so I will get a total of 4 servings. I found the serving size to be fine, and since this is such a healthy recipe to start with, felt no guilt. I will post the original recipe for those who are counting the points values. I will also include my one addition, and that was a small amount of dried thyme. I felt that some sort of herb should be added to enhance the taste of the squash.
This really was a surprisingly good recipe. The combination of ingredients gives it a very rich taste. I especially like the addition of the golden raisins. I served this with a salad of arugula, pears, walnuts and goat cheese with a light raspberry vinaigrette. A perfect, light and comforting vegetarian meal.
1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/3 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
10 oz dry lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (about 12 noodles), or no-boil noodles
10 oz cooked winter squash, thawed if frozen
1 cup(s) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup(s) golden seedless raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place flour in a small saucepan and very gradually whisk in milk and garlic. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce simmers and is thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and thyme.
Spread 1/4 cup of cheese sauce over bottom of a 9 X 13-inch glass or metal pan and cover with 3 lasagna noodles; top with 1/3 of squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of raisins. Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and spread with 1/3 of remaining squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of raisins. Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and top with remaining squash and raisins; cover with last 3 lasagna noodles, pressing sheets firmly down. Top with remaining cheese sauce; sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake until lasagna bubbles around edges and is browned on top, about 30 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
For other great Weight Watcher recipes, check out the archives at Weight Watcher Wednesday!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I love cooking with the produce of the season, especially squash. They look great sitting around the kitchen, you don't have to cook them the minute you get home and when roasted, they become caramelized and sweet. So, you can imagine how happy I was to see that the Barefoot Blogger recipe for this week featured butternut squash, one of which I happened to pick up at the farmers' market last weekend. Thanks for this week's pick go to Rachel of Rachel likes to cook, and can be found in the book, " Barefoot Contessa Family Style", pg 86, or here on the Food Network website. Nice job Rachel!
I only made one change to this recipe (believe it or not), and that was to cut back the butter to 4 tablespoons, which was plenty. Ina calls for 6, but I will list my 4 in the recipe here. My squash was about 3 pounds and yielded 7 cups, but I added it all in anyway, no problem. I highly recommend adding the saffron if you can get your hands on it at a reasonable price. The flavor that it adds is worth it. If you are have difficulty locating all the ingredients, try reading the musings of fellow BB's. They offer many good suggestions for substitutions, along with their results.
Speaking of results, the final results of this recipe are outstanding! I served this as the main course paired with a salad of romaine, roasted beets, goat cheese and golden raisins. The risotto is so creamy, filling and comforting. The recipe makes plenty for 4, and leftovers for 2. You can get this together in about 60 to 90 minutes if you roast the squash while the risotto is cooking. If you are new to making risotto, one word, patience. Don't crank the heat up and rush the cooking. Pour yourself a glass of wine, stay by the stove and keeping stirring. The results are worth it.
By the way, don't pitch those seeds! They are great roasted (like pumpkin seeds) and tossed into salads.
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tbl olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I use pacific brand organic stock)
4 tbl unsalted butter
2 ozs pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. To peel, cut the ends off so you will have a flat surface to work with. Using a good vegetable peeler, just peel the outside off, working down to the bright orange flesh.
Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt (I omitted the salt here due to the salt in the cheese and it was fine without it), and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock.
Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Here is a quick dinner highlighting in-season pears that I picked up at the farmers' market this weekend. I was able to whip this together and have a delicious dinner on the table in 30 minutes. The recipe from the book, "Two's Company", calls for Anjou pears, but I had Bosc on hand and they were just fine. My pears were still pretty firm, but they softened up nicely when cooked. Since this is a properly proportioned meal and full of flavor, do yourself a favor and use the best ingredients you can get, especially the cut of pork. If you are serving more that 2, try this with a tenderloin. Just sprinkle with s&p, brown in the pan and finish off in the oven while the pears saute. What a great fall, cool weather meal, enjoy!
Be sure to stop by Weight Watcher Wednesday to see what else is cookin' this week.
Pork & Pear Saute with Lemon Vodka Sauce
Points value: 9
2 (4oz) boned center-cut loin pork chops ( about 3/4 inch thick)
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp cracked pepper, divided
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 Anjou pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored and cut in half
1/4 cup vodka or dry white wine
1 tbl chopped fresh chives
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
Sprinkle chops with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chops; saute 3 minutes on each side or until almost done. Remove from skillet and keep warm (remember, the meat will continue to cook).
Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet over medium heat. Place pear halves in skillet: cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove pears from skillet and keep warm. Add vodka to skillet, scraping to loosen brown bits. Add remaining 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, chives, lemon rind, and lemon juice; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Serve each chop with 2 pear halves and sauce drizzled over all.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
So, what is new? Not much. I was able to get ALOT of knitting and reading done. I am working on finishing those socks of mine (one down, one to go) and have several top-secret Christmas gifts in the works. As for the reading, I am halfway through, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", by Barbara Kingsolver and just started, "My life in France", by Julia Child and Paul Prud'homme. Both so far, are good reads. I was feeling better this last weekend and was able to get out to the farmers' market for some wonderful fall produce, and on Sunday we went to Burnham Orchards to pick apples. We came home with a huge 1/2 bushel bag of beautiful Jonagold apples. We had applesauce that night for dinner. I plan on freezing many of them in the next day or so for baking or sauce in the months ahead. Any suggestion are welcome.
Here is a recipe for a yummy White Bean Chard Soup that I made just before I was out for the count. You could use a variety of beans; cannellini, chickpeas, lentils just to name a few. Thanks again El, for the beautiful rainbow chard!
White Bean Rainbow Chard Soup
2 tbl olive oil
1 cup diced red onion (1 medium)
1 cup diced carrot
1 bunch of rainbow chard (about 8-9 stalks), leaves and stems separated, stalks chopped in about 1/4" pieces and leaves roughly chopped
1/2 tsp kosher flake salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
8 cups of vegetable stock
15.5 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes or 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Saute the onion and carrot until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chard stalks, salt, pepper, and crushed pepper and saute another 4-5 minutes.
When the veggies have cooked down a bit, add the stock, beans, tomatoes and rosemary. Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes. When the bean have softened a bit, add the chard leaves and cook about 5-8 minutes. Serve nice and hot with a few shavings of good parmesano reggiano on top.
Coming this week: WWW- Pork & Pear Saute with Vodka Lemon Sauce and BB- Ina's Butternut Squash Risotto. Don't forget to visit the Pier 1 Site to vote for my room: firstname.lastname@example.org The voting ends October 9th!
Friday, September 26, 2008
If you are not currently blogging, but are thinking about getting in to it, she has a great tutorial on getting started. Lots of good info for the beginner (like I was).
Here's hoping to see my posts on her site, fingers crossed kids!
Great idea and "Thanks" Martha!
As for the recipe, I only made a few changes. I read in the musings of fellow BB's that it was possible to change the dairy ratio in the dish. Ina calls for 1 cup of half & half and 1 cup of heavy cream. Now, as yummy as that sounds, I wanted to attempt to lighten it up. So, I took the advice of another BB and used 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 1/2 cups of milk. The soup was still very creamy. I had to adjust the mushroom quantities a little, due to grocery supplies and at the end I added a splash of golden sherry, just to give it a bit more depth. One word of warning: if your only relationship to creamy soups is with canned condensed glop, you should be nicely surprised to find out what a cream soup sans chemicals tastes and feels like. I served it with a crusty whole grain bread which we toasted on the grill and some creamy, room temp Camembert cheese.
Ina's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
3.5 oz fresh shitake mushrooms
6 oz fresh portobella mushrooms
6 oz fresh cremini mushrooms
1 tbl good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
splash of golden sherry
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
A note regarding leeks if they are new to you. They can be very sandy, so, after chopping them up be sure to rinse them thoroughly, separating the slices under running water. This will allow you to rid them of any sand or dirt.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.
Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, sherry, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.
Dinner is served.....
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
So, I must first apologize to Em for not getting a post in last week for Weight Watcher Wednesday! I have no idea where the week went. I almost missed the day this week. I must start planning these posts ahead of time. Anyway, after a visit back to Columbus over the weekend, a gift of garden fresh veggies helped to inspire this week's recipe. My dear friend Ellen would not let me get out of town without taking a bag of goodies from her garden. In the bag were these beautiful eggplants, as well as a huge bunch of rainbow chard. Thank you El! After searching the Internet, I found this yummy lasagna which called for eggplant. The rest of the veggies I had in my garden, and the noodles I found stashed away in the pantry, so no trip to the store was needed, what a bonus! I have a few recipes in line for the chard, will have that up in the future.
This recipe is on the Weight Watchers site. It is easy to make, but a bit time consuming, and is a dish from the series, "Cook Once, Eat All Week". The dish came out alright for the first go, I would give it about a B-. I will definitely make adjustments the next time around.
On the positive side, it was very tasty and low in points/calories, since there is no ricotta and egg filling. If you are looking for a comforting vegetarian dish, this fits the bill. It can also be made ahead of time. Another plus, I use the no-boil noodles, which saves so much time. You can definitely use a different assortment of veggies in this recipe, nice if you have an abundance in the garden or need to empty the fridge. I roasted the vegetables and then let them cool completely before processing. You could do this step a day ahead. I like the way the pureed veggies are used instead of a traditional sauce. Gives the dish more flavor and depth.
Adjustment that I will make next time, I will use more veggies, don't be stingy. The eggplants were probably a bit small and I should have use a few more. I did not have any Roma tomatoes on hand, so I used an assortment of heirlooms from my garden which were just fine. I think it needed a bit of herbs added, basil or oregano would have been nice. I would even add a splash of dry red wine to the puree. Lastly, I would suggest covering the dish with foil for the first 30 minutes of the baking time and them uncover the last 10 minutes to let the cheese brown. I tried baking it according to the recipe, and had to cover it because the cheese would have burned to a crisp, and the top layer of pasta was a bit too dry. All in all though, this is a very nice recipe to make when you have a hankering for lasagna.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Points value: 5
3 medium raw eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium sweet red pepper(s), chopped
4 small tomato(es), plum, seeded and chopped
4 medium garlic clove(s), peeled and chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
9 serving dry no-boil lasagna noodles, 9 noodles,
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In roasting pan, combine vegetables and garlic with olive oil. Bake until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Place half of vegetables, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup water in food processor and process until smooth.
Spoon 1/2 cup of vegetable purée into bottom of a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
Place three noodles over purée. Top with 1/2 cup of purée, 1/2 of remaining vegetables, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and then top with remaining 3 noodles, purée and cheese.
Bake until bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes.I would suggest covering with foil for the first 30 minutes and then uncover the last 10 so the cheese will brown a bit. Slice into 6 pieces and serve.