Sunday, December 11, 2011

White Bean & Hominy Chili

So, I was really indecisive about what to make for a soup this week.  I usually try to make a batch every week to warm my little cold bones on these frigid winter nights.  Once again, Cooking Light, provided a twist on chili I never would have thought of.  I did some altering since a.)  I couldn't find some of the ingredients in my local grocery store and b.) I thought it might be nice to add a couple of ingredients.  It was originally a vegetarian dish, but I decided I wanted to add pork sausage, but you could definitely make this dish without the meat! I was not disappointed! (although it changed the caloric intake, but it is a very filling and healthy meal otherwise!)

White Bean and Hominy Chili
  • 2 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans or white beans, drained, rinsed, and divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (didn't need for this batch since I had the pork sausage grease to saute veggies)
  • 1 (4 oz.) meatless Mexican chipotle sausage, finely chopped (no idea where to find this) (substituted 1/2 pound pork sausage and fried that with 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 c. water (I doubled this since I like to have my soup a little more soupy, not casserole-like)
  • 2 Tbsp.  oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp. hot pepper sauce (Tabasco works just fine)
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with chiles (this was added)
  • 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 lime wedges
1.  Mash 2/3 cup of beans with fork. 
2.  Heat large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add sausage and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add onion, garlic, and poblano chiles; saute 6 minutes.  
3.  Add chile powder and cumin; stir and blend constantly for 30 seconds.
4.  Add mashed beans, whole beans, water, oregano, Tabasco, and hominy.
5.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.
6.  Garnish your serving of chili with a touch of cilantro and green onions with your lime wedge.

So, the next time you want to add a little spice (or rather, change it up), try your chili a different way, Mexican style. :)

Serving size is 1 1/2 cups.

Cooking Light's Nutritional Facts:
Muy bien, mis amigos! :)
Calories: 261
Fat: 6.1 grams
Protein: 14.4 grams
Carbs: 41.4 grams
Fiber: 9.7 grams
Sodium: 596 mg.

My Nutritional Facts for my Recipe's version: (these are approximate)
Calories: 600 (due to the pork sausage)
Fat: 25 grams
Protein: 33 grams
Carbs: 61 grams

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey-Lurkey Part II

Well, there isn't much to say other than cooking my first turkey really wasn't that difficult!  You, too, can be a master chef for your family's Thanksgiving!

So after letting the turkey set in the brine from Tuesday night to Sunday afternoon (approximately five days), I prepared it for its ultimate destination: the oven.

Steps to getting the turkey ready for cooking:

Step 1:  Take out the turkey and pat the bird dry with paper towels.  You will want to not only dry the bird on the outside but also the inside.

Step 2:  Take out the gizzards.  If you want to cook them, great!  If not, dispose of them as you wish.  Also, my birds' legs were clamped together with a plastic tie thingy.  I cut that off, so it would not melt into the bird.

Step 3:  After drying the turkey, I brushed the outside with olive oil.  It gives the bird a nice crispy look if that's what you're going for.  It didn't really matter for me since I was tearing it apart right away after it got out of the oven for later consumption this week.

And she's done! :)
Step 4:  Preheat oven for 350 F.  Put bird in baking pan (I bought a disposable one from the grocery store).  Set in oven for about 30-40 minutes at that temperature.  My turkey went in the oven around 2:45 p.m.

Step 5:  Turn down the temperature of the oven to 250 F.  Let the turkey slowly cook for about 4-6 hours.  I took my bird out at about 8:30 p.m., so it wasn't quite 6 hours in the oven.  Use a meat thermometer to check if the meat is cooked.  Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey (the thigh).  It should read at least 165 degrees F.

Step 6:  Carve your turkey, and enjoy! :)  It should be really moist and have a hint of smokey flavor due to the liquid smoke you brined it in! :)  Yum, yum!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turkey-Lurkey Part I

I'm attempting a big feat, something I've never done before: cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Now I'm not cooking for my family at all; I'm cooking for my Bible study group next week.  I am not going to take a day off to cook this lovely bird.  I will be brining it this coming week, and on Sunday, cook her up, nice and slow.

Here is the quick and simple recipe my mother gave me to use to brine the bird.  Thanks goes out to my friend, Chris, for letting me borrow her canning pot to hold the turkey.
This is all you need!  Seriously! And the 12 pound bird.

Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

1 turkey (12-14 pounds, frozen)
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 cup Tender Quick (meat tenderizing salt)
5 tsp. liquid smoke
1 gallon water
Let it "marinate" for several days before cooking
Combine water, salts, and liquid smoke in a large pan big enough for the turkey.  Place turkey in mixture for 7-10 days in refrigerator.  Cook as directed.

More will be coming to you when this turkey gets cooked next week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Farewell Dinner

I found out my good friend, whom I had sponsored for RCIA and entering the Catholic Church two years ago, was moving just recently.  So, in an effort to send her off well and also cook, I invited her and another mutual friend over for dinner last night.  I made a meatless Mexican dish that I obtained from October's edition of Cooking Light.  I also made a torte that involves the super-goodness of cream cheese and fruit.  Both are fairly simple to make if you make the time and have the patience.  Dinner overall was a success with great conversation and good food! :)

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce (Vegetarian)

2 large chipotle peppers in adobe sauce from the can (original recipe calls for dried ancho chiles, but I
         couldn't find in the store)
2 cups water

2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (I used sea salt)
2 cups chicken broth (recipe call for vegetable
      broth, but I couldn't find that in the store either)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. lime juice (I used the juice from a whole
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups (8 oz.)  pre-shredded reduced fat 4-cheese
     Mexican blend, divided
6 green onions, chopped
10 mulit-grain tortillas (recipe calls for 12 corn tortillas)
6 Tbsp. light sour cream or regular Greek yogurt

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Combine chiles and 2 cups of water in a saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes then drain chiles in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

Step 3:  Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over high heat.  Add onion; saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and salt.  Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Add broth (I made mine on the stove with 2 cups of water and the granule/powder broth), corn starch, oregano, tomato paste, and cumin.  Cook 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Step 4:  Pour onion mixture into a blender; add chiles and reserved liquid.  Don't let the steam build up in your blender, so leave it set a few minutes. Be sure that your lid is on very tight, or you will have a complete mess! Blend until smooth (just a few quick pulses to get the big chunks out).  Stir in the lime juice and red pepper.

Step 5: Combine the beans, 1 cup cheese, and half the green onions into a bowl.  

Step 6: Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish (I don't own one, so I used my regular 9x13 pan I use for baking); coat it with cooking spray.

Step 7:  Warm tortillas according to package directions (popped mine in the microwave for 30 seconds).

Step 8: Spoon 3 Tbsp.  bean mixture down center of each tortilla then roll up.  Place, seam-side down, in prepared dish.  Pour remaining sauce over filled tortillas.  Top with remaining cheese.

Step 9: Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

To add some variety, make some guacamole with tomatoes to eat with these enchiladas!  Muy bien!

Nutritional and Serving Information
Serves 5-6 depending on type of tortillas used; 2 enchiladas and 1 Tbsp. sour cream/Greek yogurt
Calories: 302
Fat: 12.9 g
Protein: 17.3 g
Carbs: 36.1 g
Fiber: 6.4 g
Sodium: 574 mg

Summer Fruit and Sweet Cream Cheese Galettes

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. sugar (and a little extra for sprinkling)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
1 whole egg separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 refrigerated pie crust from a 14.1 oz. box
2 cups fruit (I've used fresh peaches when in season
    in the past; this time, I used the frozen berry mix
    that can be found in your local freezer section.)

Step 1:  Preheat oven for 400 F.

Step 2:  Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. corn starch, and egg yolk in medium bowl.

Step 3:  In a separate medium bowl, mix fruit, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. corn starch, and vanilla or almond extract

Step 4: Unfurl pie dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to about 13 inches in diameter.  Slide onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and spread cream cheese mixture evenly, leaving a 2-inch border.

Step 5: Scatter fruit mixture evenly over cream cheese mixture.  Fold pastry border over the fruit.  Brush dough perimeter with egg white and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Step 6:  Bake galette until golden brown and bubbly about 30 minutes.  Loosen with a metal spatula and slide onto a wire cooling rack to cool slighly.  Serve warm.

Nutritional and Serving Information
Serves 6
Calories: 372
Carbs: 40 g
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 23 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 306 mg

Maureen, Angela, and me one last time

Angela with a bun in the oven...I think Maureen was shocked! :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

For those Lovers of Carrot Cake :)

Archived from April 18, 2011
This isn't just for any lover of cake or carrots or a combination of the two; this is a true delicacy made with the thought of healthiness without losing the true taste of carrot cake.

I found this recipe in, again, my Cooking Light magazine that I had such success with last month; this month's looks just as promising! :) Now I've made some slight changes to make it healthier and find more commonly used ingredients (which you'll see below).

Yield is 20 servings: 1 piece is 284 calories with 9.7 g fat and 3.6 g protein. That is with the original recipe. Total prep time and cooking time is approximately 1 hour and 53 minutes (that doesn't include clean up time).

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour with flaxseed and other grains to make it more whole grain)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrots (for convenience, you could buy the shredded carrots, but I like to buy the regular sized carrots, not the baby carrots, and use my grater to shred the orange vegetable)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp. butter (softened) (here I used unsweetened applesauce)
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
Cooking spray

6 oz cream cheese, softened (because you can't find packaging with 6 oz, I bought and used 8 oz.)
1 ounce fromage blanc (it's a soft cheese in case you were wondering (I used an ounce or two of vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt- AE Dairy now makes it really reasonable!)
2 Tbsp. butter, softened (I just took this out completely)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 chopped pecans, toasted (I didn't find the need to toast them, but I bought the already chopped up pecans for convenience)

1. Preheat oven at 350.
2. To prepare cake, combine flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl with whisk. Add carrots, tossing to combine.
3. Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and applesauce in a (different) large bowl. Beat with mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Then add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
4. Spread batter into 9x13 metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cook cake completely on wire rack.
5. To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and salt in a medium bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don't overbeat it!). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake; sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans.

A side note: If you want to add a different flavor or texture, boil a cup of raisins in a cup of water; add boiled raisins to mixture of cake once combined. It will add a little pizazz to your carrot cake. :)

People, namely co-workers, raved about this wonderfully simple and semi-healthy (minus the cream cheese frosting with 3 cups of powdered sugar) dessert! They even asked when I would make another one again! :)

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Granola

Archived from August 20th, 2011 from the old "Out of the Fryin' Pan and into the Fire"   

The last installment of the three recipes I promised: homemade granola. I've had some with my morning Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, and it's fantastic!

Homemade Granola

8 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 cups oat bran
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lite maple syrup
3/4 cup agave syrup (found in the healthy food section at Hy-Vee...can also use regular honey)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup olive oil (original recipe calls for 1 cup vegetable oil, but I substituted applesauce and olive oil)
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup craisins

Optional: The original recipe calls for 1 cup finely chopped pecans and 1 cup finely chopped almonds, but I decided to just use the walnuts.)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
2. Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, and walnuts into large bowl.
3. Stir together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; then pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat.
4. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted for about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through baking.
6. Cool, then stir in raisins and cranberries before storing in an airtight container.

Now I made the mistake of not reading things all the way through and added my dry ingredients to the wet ingredients without putting in the saucepan. It still turned out well, but I'm sure I make it the next time, it will be so much better! :)

Refrigerator Pickles

Archived from August 18th, 2011 from the old "Out of the Fryin' Pan and into the Fire"

One of my favorite foods that I always find myself buying are pickles. Dill, sweet, whatever the flavor, but my favorite is Bread & Butter! I probably could snack and chow down on an entire jar in one sitting if I had no self control. Recently, one of my colleagues from school brought in a bunch of cucumbers from his garden. I took so many home that I found myself not knowing what to do with them, so the next day, I was chatting with another colleague from work, and she suggested a refrigerator pickle recipe. So this past weekend, I made a batch, and they were delicious! Here's the recipe, courtesy of Yolanda. :)

Refrigerator Pickles

7 cups sliced cucumbers
1 sliced onion
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt (I use sea salt)
1 tsp. celery seed
2 cups sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups)

1. Combine ingredients.
2. Store in ice cream bucket/large container or in canning jars.
3. Leave for at least 3 hours or overnight.

And there you have pickles! :)

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Archived from August 18th, 2011 from the old "Out of the Fryin' Pan and into the Fire"

So, in my efforts to keep up with the summer (and since I've been gone for the last three months), I figure it's time to add three more recipes. Here is one below that I found last summer during the busy tomato season that we have here in Iowa. Now while it probably adds a little more color to the plate to use heirloom tomatoes, regular red tomatoes work just as well; however, the ones from the roadside stands, the garden, or the farmer's markets are absolutely the best! 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes
1 cup bocconcini
(This is what is deemed as baby mozzarella-it's supposed to be the freshest mozzarella, but I buy the soft kind in the deli section at Hy-Vee with the rest of the gourmet cheeses..right now, I got it for $2, which is very reasonable!)
2 generous handfuls fresh basil leaves (fresh from the garden!)
Several sprigs fresh chives (again, fresh from the garden!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt (not really necessary unless you like a little salt)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 Tbsp. olive oil (2 Tbsp. for each plate)

1. Wash tomatoes, slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
2. Divide tomatoes among four plates.
3. Break up cheese and divide pieces among plates.
4. Drop whole basil leaves on top of tomatoes and cheese.
5. Distribute chives by snipping with scissors and letting pieces fall over salad.
6. Drizzle 1 Tbsp vinegar over each salad followed by 2 Tbsp. olive oil (I never use the olive oil.)
7. Dust with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Voila! A great summer salad with class and color that is not your average salad!

Summer Is Here!

 Archived from May 30th, 2011 from the old "Out of the Fryin' Pan and into the Fire"

With summer here, rhubarb-strawberry pie is in! :)

Rhubarb has been an all-time favorite since I was a kid, visiting Grandma Sprung when we would go to her house for our weekly excursions (usually after church on Sundays). She would always have goodies, but I would always look in hopefulness for a rhubarb delectable, whether it was crisp, bars, or muffins. My favorite was the crisp, however, warmed up in the microwave for 30 seconds. It didn't even need vanilla ice cream or whipped topping. It was good enough all by itself. :)

So this year to start off the summer with Memorial Day, I have decided to try making my first made-from-scratch pie...strawberry-rhubarb! Grandma Sprung would be so proud of me, I'm sure. I will say that my first attempt was a complete success, AND all my friends at our Memorial Day weekend gathering thought it was excellent!

Here are the recipes for the filling and the pie crust. I'll attach the links, but I made my own adjustments, as I always do.

3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Trim outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away any and discard of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange rind. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape. (I created the lattice pie crust, which I will discuss below.)
3. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer. Cool on a rack.
Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 to 8 Tbsp ice water (I substituted 1-2 Tbsp. almond flavoring to add
a little different flavor to the pie crust.)
1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again.
2. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough just enough to form the discs, do not over-knead. You
should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
3. Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.
I used a pie disc plastic shaper! It works superbly well! I would highly recommend that if you make pies, this saves so much time and heartache trying to get the right round shape for your 9-inch pie tin. 
4. Add filling to the pie.
To Create the Latticework Pie:
1. Before starting the lattice top, roll out half of your pie dough and line your pie dish with it. The dough should extend beyond the rim of the pie dish by about half an inch. Put it in the refrigerator to chill while you work on the lattice. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the other half of your pie dough to the same extent as the first half (about 3 inches beyond the diameter of your pie dish). It's easier to work
with the dough if it is chilled, so if it the dough has softened too much, put the rolled-out piece on a flat cookie sheet and chill it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes.
2. Cut the dough into even strips, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide, depending on how thick you want your lattice strips. You can use a blunt knife with or without a ruler or straight edge to guide you, or you can use a pizza wheel or a pastry wheel if you have one.
3.  Fill your pie shell with the pie filling. Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pie dough, depending on how thick your strips are, on top of the filling, with about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch space between them. Fold back every other strip.
4. Place one long strip of dough perpendicular to the parallel strips as shown. Unfold the folded strips over the perpendicular strip. 
5. Now take the parallel strips that are running underneath the perpendicular strip and fold them back over the perpendicular strip, as shown. Lay down a second perpendicular strip of dough next to the first strip, with some space between the strips. Unfold the folded parallel strips over the second strip.
6. Continue this process until the weave is complete over the top of the pie.
7. Trim the edges of the strips flush with the dough of the underlying pie dish, which should be about half an inch over the sides. Fold back the rim of the shell over the edge of the lattice strips, and crimp to secure.
I added a little oatmeal and brown sugar mixture to the top of the pie before putting it in the oven. Delicious! :)