Sunday, November 11, 2012

Creamy Pumpkin-Red Pepper Soup

It has been so warm these past couple of weeks in October and November here in Iowa that I haven't been able to make any soup at all.  I was almost ecstatic to see the temperature drop from almost 70 yesterday to a mere 40 degrees today.  God even added a drizzly, rainy morning to the docket as well.

This is from my Cooking Light magazine, November 2012.  I had a pumpkin squash I had been waiting to use from the garden for over a month now, so I was pretty excited to be able to use it.  The other ingredient I've never used before that I found utterly amazing is called "five-spice powder".  It is an Asian spice comprised of China cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, and cloves. I bought mine from Penzy's Spices.

I've, of course, taken some liberties with some of the ingredients and measurements, but it turned out fantastic!

Without further delay, here is a fall favorite of mine:

Creamy Pumpkin-Red Pepper Soup

Hands-on Time:  30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes

The gorgeous veggies ready to go in the oven for roasting
with the awesome spices!
4 cups chopped & peeled pumpkin squash
2 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
2 cups chopped & peeled sweet potato
1 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp. five-spice powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. salt
6 cups no-salt-added chicken stock
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary (garnish)
Almond slivers (garnish)
Parmigiano Reggiano (garnish)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Combine first 8 ingredients (from pumpkin squash to salt) in a large mixing bowl.  Toss well, and place vegetable mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan or large cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender, only stirring once.
3.  Combine vegetables, stock, and a dash of salt in a large cooking pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then let simmer for 5 minutes.  I added another dash of cumin and five-spice powder for good measure. :)
4.  Put butter in large bowl.
5.  Place part of vegetable mixture in a blender.  Remove the center piece of the blender lid (to allow steam to escape.)  Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Process until smooth.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat this procedure with the remaining vegetable/stock mixture.  Stir in butter.  Top with fresh rosemary, slivered almonds, and/or parmigiano reggiano, if desired.

The final product with fresh rosemary sprigs, slivered almonds,
green onions, and parmigiano reggiano.  
Note:  I had 1/4 cup of heavy cream in my fridge, so I added that to the vegetable stock mixture as well, and it made it creamier.  You wouldn't have to use that, but I was making use of my stocked fridge.  The original recipe's nutritional information is below.  It might be slightly more with the 1/4 cup of heavy cream I added.  It definitely made more than 6 servings, the original amount that the recipe makes.

Nutritional Information (1 cup per serving)
Calories: 120
Fat: 3.8 g
Protein: 6.2 g
Carbs:  16.2 g
Fiber: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 279 mg

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Homemade Beef Stroganoff

It has been a very long time since I last gave you a recipe.  When I was looking to cook something for my friend to warm our insides and take away the chill the autumn has been leaving us as of late, I had a hankering for beef stroganoff; I remember my mother making her version with ground beef and cream of mushroom soup.  It was a simple and easy recipe, but it lacked some pizzazz and creativity.  No offense to my mother as it was very good, but I wanted to try a homemade, made from scratch version of the recipe.  

When I found the recipe you see in the link below, I saw that it took over 2 hours and the oven was used.  I decided again the oven and let it cook on the stove instead.  My friend and I were quite amazed with the results considering I changed quite a bit with the recipe.  It's very low calorie and fat.  On the website, it brought it in around a little over 200 calories (without the noodles) and 9 grams of fat.  Check it out below for a complete list of nutritional information.

Homemade Beef Stroganoff

1/2 pound beef top round, trimmed and cut into thin slices

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Forgot the sprig of parsley, but it was very tasty.  Can't wait for the leftovers! :)
This version did not have onions to cater to my friend's tastes. 
1 large onion, finely chopped 

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. paprika

Dash red cayenne pepper

14 oz. beef broth (made from 14 oz. water and low sodium beef broth powder)

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

2 red bell peppers, diced

1/4 cup red wine (I used merlot.)

1 lb. mushrooms (2-8 oz. containers), sliced

1/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 A&E Greek yogurt (regular 6-oz.)

Fresh parsley, chopped

1.  Slice the beef across the grain into thin strips.  Heat 1 tsp. of olive in Dutch oven over high heat.  Add beef and cook until browned on all sides for approximately 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to plate, and reduce heat to medium.

2.  Add 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil to pot.  Add onion and red peppers until tender (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic, flour, and paprika.  Cook stirring one minute more.  Add broth, red wine, mustard, and beef.  Bring to a simmer and cover pot for about 15-20 minutes

3.  Add mushrooms and Greek yogurt, stirring.

4.  Season with salt and ground fresh pepper and garnish with fresh parsley.  May serve with mashed potatoes, biscuits, or egg noodles. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

I love salad!  I know some might think that lettuce tastes like dirt, but I find it has a refreshing taste with the right kind of vegetables to give the salad a bit of color and flavor.

This recipe came from Cooking Light with a Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp recipe in the December issue.  I usually double or triple the recipe, so I have a bit to last for a few weeks.  Since it's a vinaigrette, it's healthier than the creamy dressings you might choose.  The fat content may seem high, but it's the good fat from extra-virgin olive oil, and you're using the vinaigrette in moderation with fresh vegetables!

Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Combine in small bowl, and stir with a whisk.  Serve with salad and enjoy! :)  I like to add tomatoes, carrots, 1/2 diced avocado, green or red pepper, black olives, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and meat (chicken, crab meat, or turkey or turkey ham) over a bed of spring greens and spinach.

Nutrition Facts (1 1/2 Tbsp.)
104 Calories
2 Grams Carbohydrates
11 Grams Fat
1 Gram Protein

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sausage Ragu over Creamy Polenta

Wanting to feed a dinner party of four under $10?  This recipe is the perfect way to feed and fill you and your dinner guests, and it's super easy!  

This recipe, of course, was found in my January issue of Cooking Light.  I've made some subtle changes; there were no sweet Italian sausage turkey links, so I substituted a pound of ground turkey; the guy behind the meat counter at Hy-Vee gave me an Italian seasoning spice mix FOR FREE because he had run out of the turkey sausage links. :)

So without further ado, here is the recipe. 

Sausage Ragu over Creamy Polenta
1 lb. ground turkey 
4 Tbsp. Italian seasoning spice mix
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (I got an Italian-flavored 
            jar of Prego sauce)
2 1/3 cups water, divided
1 cup skim milk
3/4 cup instant polenta
4 Tbsp. Romano Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

1.  Mix ground turkey and Italian seasoning spice by hand in medium bowl until evenly mixed.
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage; sautee for 6 minutes or until browned.  (There 
           will not be much fat at all, so no need to remove the fat as it will help flavor the onion and garlic.)
3.  Add onion and garlic to cooked sausage for 1-2 minutes.  
4.  Stir in marinara sauce and 1/3 cup water; bring to a boil.
5.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

6.  Bring remaining 2 cups water and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce heat to 
7.  Gradually add polenta, and cook for 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
8.  Serve sausage mixture over polenta and sprinkle parsley for garnish as well as 1 Tbsp. of grated cheese  
         for each serving.


Serves 4;  serving size:  3/4 cup polenta, 1/2 cup sausage mixture, 1 Tbsp. parsley
Carlories:  357
Fat: 14 grams
Protein: 17.2 grams
Carbs: 50.8 grams
Fiber: 3.7 grams