Sunday, September 30, 2012

Roasted Tomato & Chipotle Soup

Despite a fun swim day this weekend, I'm getting ready for fall weather and fall food!  Last week it cooled off to 85 degrees and I decided to celebrate by making some soup for dinner.  I saw this recipe on Simply Recipes and then hd a conversation with my friend about how she's been roasting pans of vegetables to make soup and I knew I had to give it a try.

I loved the method and the end result - I'm already imagining all sorts of variations I can make this fall. The garlic was subtle, but by roasting whole cloves in the paper, it had a delicious flavor.  I'd start with 1/2 or 1 chipotle chile and see how the heat is for you.  We like things spicy so I added a second chipotle pepper and some of the adobo sauce it's packed in.  Don't skip the sour cream and basil garnish - delicious.

Roasted Tomato & Chipotle Soup (serves 4)
from Simply Recipes

3 lbs plum tomatoes, cored and cut in half
1 onion, peeled and quartered lengthwise
4-5 cloves garlic, left in skins
1 red pepper, cored and sliced in half
olive oil
1-2 chipotle chiles (canned in adobo) roughly chopped
2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock)
Sliced fresh basil
sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.  Arrange the tomatoes and red bell pepper cut side down on the sheet.  Place the garlic cloves and onion on the baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes and peppers start to blacken.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.  Pick the tomato and red pepper skins off the tomatoes and red peppers and discard (I used tongs).  Peel the garlic.  Puree the roasted tomatoes, onions, peeled garlic, red peppers, and chipotle (you can use a food processor or blender.  I used a big pot and my immersion blender).  Add any tomato liquid that's left on the baking sheet.  Pulse until you have a rough puree and then pour it in a pot.  Add 2 cups of broth or stock and bring to a simmer on the stove.  Add salt to taste.  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and freshly sliced basil.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homemade chocolate pudding

Last week Big had to get 4 shots at the doctor's office.  Neither of my girls like getting shots (big surprise, right?) and there are usually lots of tears just in anticipation of the event.  This time, I didn't tell Big until I picked her up from preschool where we were going because I didn't want her stressed out about it all morning.  When she started crying, I said that if she was brave, we could have a treat.

Treats to my girls usually mean food (I know this isn't good . . . we shouldn't use food as rewards with our kids and all that but they're like their mom and they think that food makes things better).  Big asked if we could go buy some pudding for a treat.  Lately she's been begging for those Jello PuddingSnacks and I've been putting her off (artificial flavors, colors, trans fats and all those reasons).  I also had a bad dessert experience lately with an instant jello that I didn't realize was sugar-free and all I could taste was the aspartame.  Yuck.  So, I told her we could make pudding at home.

I've never made my own pudding before but being a custard, it's an awful lot like making an ice cream base or mousse.  We literally whipped it up in about 10 minutes and then stuck it in the refrigerator until dinner time so it could set up.  It was delicious!  A few lumps from not whisking vigorously enough (5 year old hands aren't that strong) but I liked this basic recipe and would make my own again soon.  Makes me want to make a homemade chocolate cream pie . . . . yum!

Chocolate Pudding (serves 6)
from Tyler Florence / Food Network

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
4 tsp. cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. fine salt
optional:  whipping cream

Put 1.5 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Remove from the heat.  Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl.

Temper the egg yolk mixture with a few tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture, whisking constantly.  Add a little more at a time and keep whisking until the egg yolk mixture is warm.  Then, add the warmed / tempered egg yolk mixture to what's left in the saucepan, continuing to whisk constantly.

Cook over medium high heat whisking constantly until the pudding comes to a full boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to whisk until thick, about 2-3 minutes more.  Pour the pudding into a bowl (or 6 individual dessert cups).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight until set.  Serve with freshly whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

Wow . . . over a week between posts this time.  In that time, I had a really bad day of throwing up and was unable to look at / prepare / eat food for awhile.  I also had an amazing trip to Washington (with Little, my travel buddy) to visit my friend and college roommate and then yesterday, fall quarter began I'm back to work.  No wonder I'm tired!

Before all that happened, I made some great muffins.  I've never done the sugar / citrus part like this before in a recipe and I'm a huge fan.  Our farmer's market had some yummy raspberries and I had looked at this recipe for awhile.  I can see this being the base for a lot of variations (different citrus in place of lemon, other berries instead of raspberries).  The unfortunate part was I didn't take the muffins out of the oven as soon as I should have and I had a lot of raspberry seeds stuck in my teeth but still, they were so worth it.

Happy fall (tomorrow) - are you ready for all the pumpkiny stuff I'm going to make this fall?  We're off to the beach for the last day of summer - enjoy your weekend!

Lemon Raspberry Muffins (makes 1 dozen)
from Eating Well July/Aug 07

1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/3 c. canola oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 cups fresh or frozen (but not thawed) raspberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners (or spray with cooking spray).

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips.  Put it in a food processor with the sugar.  Pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. I only have a mini chopper so at this point, I just whisked the rest of the wet ingredients into the sugar in a bowl.  If you have a regular food processor, add the buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla to the food processor and pulse until blended.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended (don't over mix).  Gently fold in the raspberries.  Divide among the muffin cups.

Bake the muffins until the edges and top are golden, 15 -20 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Best served warm!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Vegetable Frittata

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - 
just good food from fresh ingredients" - Julia Child

Summer Vegetable Frittata (serves 4)
from Better Homes & Gardens

3/4 lbs fresh asparagus
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4 wide inch strips
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. half and half or milk
1 T snipped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a pie pan and set aside.  Snap off and discard the woody bases of the asparagus and cut it into 1 inch pieces.

In a saucepan, bring about 1 inch water to a boil.  Add asparagus, yellow bell pepper, and onion.  Return just to boiling; reduce heat slightly.  Boil, covered, about 1 minute until crisp-tender.  Drain well.  Spread the asparagus mixture evenly in prepared baking dish.  Layer zucchini slices over asparagus.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, parsley, thyme, salt, and black pepper.  Pour over vegetables in baking dish.   Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  (186 cal / 13g protein)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Forgotten Food

It's not often that I make something that I consider to be ridiculously good and forget to post about it.  But, it happened.  I think I made it before our trip to Atlanta and got too excited about posting from that trip to return to this recipe. This grilled chicken was really, really easy and delicious and we all loved it.  Since it's still 100 degrees here, it's still grilling (and not-turning-on-your-oven) weather!

I think marinating it with yogurt really tenderizes the chicken.  I put it in the refrigerator around 9am but it would hold up fine if you wanted to marinate it the night before.  We grilled whole chicken breasts but I bet cutting them into chunks and then skewering the chicken before grilling would work really well. We ate the chicken sliced up with kalamata olive hummus, sliced cucumbers, tabbouleh and whole wheat pita bread.

Click here for a photo and nutrition information

Mediterranean Yogurt Lemon Marinated Chicken (serves 4)

In a large ziplock bag, combine the following and massage the bag to make sure it's mixed well:

1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt.

Add 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Marinate 2 hours to overnight.  Grill and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Birthday Girls

My girls have birthdays on 8/4 and 9/5 (how cool is that?) and I'm obviously a little behind on some birthday posts.  I can't believe how big they both are and it was so much fun to have drawn out birthday celebrations for both of them.  Our kids are such a blessing and I love them both so much and we have lots of birthday fun around our house.  Of course, each one was sad on the other's birthday that she wasn't getting as much attention and presents but learning that it's not always "your turn" is part of life, right?

So, here's the recap:

We were in Atlanta on Little's actual birthday but followed it up with a family celebration and Cookie Monster party when we got back

"I'm TWO"

Nemo Cake at Aunt Sharon and Uncle Joe's

Little & Papa have the two family August birthdays

Cookie Monster cupcakes . . . made the toppers all by myself!
And, Big turned 5 today.  Over the weekend, we celebrated at Pretend City with some friends.  This morning we had pancakes at the Village Diner before school.  Her teacher shares her birthday so we brought cupcakes for her classroom and tonight had hamburgers (her favorite) for dinner.  A birthday highlight was picking out her American Girl doll from her Grammy & Papa.

Look at my big girl!

Yes,  her cake says "May the Force Be With You" as per her instructions to the bakery

Jenna & Julie

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's September!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!  How is it September already???  I was reviewing our Summer Bucket List the other day and while summer isn't over for 3 more weeks, with the start of school this week, it feels like it's on it's way out the door.  We did pretty good on the list (and I have good excuses in my head for a few of these things that didn't get done).  It was fun to write them down and check some of them off.

1.  Go to Catalina Island (done 6/1)
2.  Snorkel in Hawaii (done 6/22)
3.  Eat veggies from our garden (done 7/23)
4.  Have a water fight (done 6/9)
5.  Invite friends over for a swim day (done 7/12)
6.  Make homemade ice cream (done 7/11)
7.  Go see fireworks somewhere (done 7/4)
8.  Take Big to the Hollywood Bowl
9.  Visit the girls' great-grandma in Atlanta (done 8/1)
10.  "Camp" in our backyard
11.  Visit the Discovery Science Center in Orange
12.  Have a sleepover with Sasha
13.  Go to Seattle to visit Amber (planned for 9/14)
14.  Run a 5K and a 10K
15.  Take tennis lessons
16.  Go to the beach (done 7/10)
17.  Summer reading program at the library (enrolled 7/5)
18.  Throw Little a birthday party (done 8/11)
19.  Go away overnight without our kids (done for 8/23)
20.  Work on How to Teach Your Child with Big (started 7/16 - only lasted 3 or 4 lessons)
21.  Take Little to My Gym (both girls - done 8/9)
22.  Go to the water park at the Santa Fe Dam
23.  See World of Color at Disneyland (went to Cars Land at CA Adventure on 8/29)
24.  Sleep in past 8:00 some day (done 7/5 and 7/6)
25.  Take a day trip on the train from the Claremont Depot
26.  Visit the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium (done 6/10/12)

If you want a yummy taste of summer that doesn't involve real "cooking," try these sandwiches my friend Erika made. I've been trying to copy them - so delicious I could eat one every day!

Start with a ciabatta or french roll.  Spread some mayonnaise on the bottom and top with sun dried tomatoes (I buy the julienned ones in olive oil from TJs).  Slice some fresh mozzarella cheese and layer that next.  Top with fresh tomatoes (we had some from a friend's garden).  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper and top with some fresh basil (from our garden!).  Eat.