Monday, November 29, 2010

French Onion and Mushroom Soup

From the looks of it, our lovely readers might think I only eat soups.  I swear, I do eat other things - but soup has just felt so right for my soul lately.  I'm not making Campbell's just add a can of water soups either.  These are hearty, filling, healthy soups.  Perfect for freezing.  Perfect for taking to work and eating at lunch.  Clearly a meal on it's own.  And unlike many of the canned soups, I know that my soups aren't filled with preservatives or sodium.

Many people focus on limiting fat and calories in their diets, but sodium is a surprising health concern as well.  That and it makes me bloated.  As I get older, I noticed my body react more and more to excess salt in my diet. The day after a salt filled meal?  Forget about form fitting.

French Onion and Mushroom Soup with Gruyere toasts:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups vertically sliced yellow onion (about 2 pounds)
  • 5 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 10 ounces whole mushrooms)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasts:
  • 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices French bread baguette, toasted (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
To begin, heat oil in a large a large pan and caramelize the onions.  The recipe from Cooking Light calls for the use of a Dutch Oven, but I don't have one of those, so I made due with, oh, only about three pans.  


It's an onion soup, so there are a LOT of onions to be caramelized.  Needless to say, I had to properly vent the kitchen so that my entire apartment didn't reek of onions.  Go ahead and caramelize these slowly.  It will take some time to get them to a nice golden brown.  Cook on high until tender, then reduce heat and slowly cook 40 minutes or so.



While these are browning up, chop up your mushrooms.  The recipe calls for Shiitake mushrooms, but I am on a budget, so I used regular old mushrooms.  Once your onions are set, throw in the mushrooms and saute until tender.  




Still in garlic and thyme and keep on saute-ing.... at this point, your kitchen probably smells amazing.  My entire studio did at this point... and it wouldn't be a bad thing, until I woke up at 3 am.  Let me tell you how those same smells are not as appetizing in the middle of the night.



After a few minutes of saute-ing, add the white wine.  I went cheap, cheap, cheap on the wine.  I didn't think there was a need for anything fancy.  Maybe there was.  Maybe this soup would have been even tastier with better wine and fancier mushrooms.... you let me know.

If you're using a frying pan, transfer to a saucepan and add in the broth.  I used more than the recipe called for because the broth didn't seem to be enough.  You could also add a cup of water if you only have just enough broth.  Simmer on medium low for about 30 minutes - be sure to stir frequently.


Shred up some Gruyère cheese and slice some French baguette.  The soup can be finished in two ways - either top the baguette with cheese and put in the oven to brown and melt the cheese.  Or you could toast the baguette in the toaster, top with cheese and melt in the microwave.  

Either way, ladle some soup into a bowl and top with baguette and cheese and serve.


Isn't the thyme a nice touch?


*Note - this is a light recipe, so while it's flavorful and delicious, it's not as rich as French Onion soups you might otherwise make.  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Chili

I have been eying up buffalo chicken chili recipes for a few weeks. I printed out a few, and I plan to try making ALL of them. Here is a modified version of a recipe that I found at BettyCrocker.com. This recipe gets a thumbs up from me, and I feel like the other recipes won't be able to compare to these high standards. Also, the prep was super easy.

**Sidenote: I am typing with only my right hand because I have seriously burned my left hand on an iron skillet while making cornbread. Those ba$tards get HOT!

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts, 1 in. cubes
1 cup of chopped onions
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped carrots (I used some that I had flashboiled and froze.)
28 oz diced tomatoes
15 oz black beans, drained
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot sauce

Grease a crockpot. Toss in everything except the hot sauce into a crockpot. Stir.

How easy is that?!Cook for 8-10 hours on LOW.

Add the hot sauce, stir and serve with crackers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Cornbread Dressing

This recipe is seriously awesome.

First of all, there are many cooking and recipe websites on the interweb, and above all, I trust the Pioneer Woman. Check her out. Kelley and I refer to her as PW. In my head, PW and I are BFF. I also follow (stalk) her on Twitter.

This was my first time making dressing. Ahem---- I think that this is an appropriate time to mention that my family refers to it as stuffing. Please take this poll about the stuffing v. dressing debate (right menu).

PW's title to this recipe is Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples. If I was naming this recipe it'd be called White Wine and Cornbread Stuffing. I think that white wine was a key ingredient, and that may or may not be because I was also sampling much of the wine while making the recipe. Hey, someone had to test it to make sure that it was acceptable for the recipe.

There are a lot of ingredients. This recipe is a multi-step process.
Ingredients:
32 ounces of Crimini Mushrooms (I had no idea what these were pre-making this recipe)
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 cups Cornbread, 1 in. Cubes
4 cups French Bread, 1 in. Cubes
4 cups Artisan Bread, 1 in. Cubes
½ pounds Italian Sausage (p.s. this isn't very much)
2 cups diced onion
5 Granny Smith Apples, diced, unpeeled
5 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 cup White Wine
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
½ teaspoons Turmeric
2 teaspoons Rosemary, Minced
½ teaspoons (additional) Kosher Salt
Black Pepper To Taste
Fresh Parsley, Minced

First you have to roast the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 500. Apparently my oven doesn't like to be 500 degrees. It made a really loud noise during this step. After washing and drying the mushrooms, toss them in a bowl with salt and canola oil. Now roast the mushrooms on a sheet pan for 20 minutes.

While roasting the mushrooms, you can start browning the sausage. This recipe serves 16 people (wowser!), and it only calls for 1/2 lb of sausage. It's nearly meatless. After the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan, but use the same pan to brown the onions. Then, after the onions are browned, add the apples, Kosher salt, and brown sugar. Brown for about five minutes. The next step is where it gets fun.

Add the WINE on medium heat. Cook for a few minutes. Remove these ingredients from the pan.

Now, back to the dirty pan, add the thyme, rosemary, salt/pepper, and turmeric (this was my first time working with this ingredient). Click here to learn how to pronounce turmeric. Heat in the skillet, and set aside.

Next, combine all of the bread. I made my own cornbread via this recipe. Add the sausage, mushrooms, onions/apples to the the cubed bread. Toss while adding the chicken broth.
Add in the minced parsley, and layer this entire mixture in casserole dishes. I had to use one and a half. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees.

I'm making this for Thanksgiving, and I'm REALLY nervous. I was able to practice making this once, but it's a little blurry because of the white wine.

Wish me luck!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Stuffed Peppers

Looking for the world's easiest, yet impressive, appetizer to bring to your upcoming events?  Or possibly an easy weekday, vegetarian meal?  Or something to bring to a summer picnic?  Oh, AND, it's healthy and gorgeously colorful?

The solution:

Roasted Stuffed Peppers from Epicurious:
4 red bell peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
about 3 tablespoons olive oil

Start with halfing and seeding your peppers:



And Slicing and Dicing the remaining ingredients into a bowl:



Give it a good mix up and use this mixture to stuff each pepper.




Toss into the over at 475 for about 20 minutes.  If you're bringing them to a party, cook for 10 minutes at home, cover and finish baking at the party.  I couldn't help myself - I ate one of them halfway cooked and it was just as awesome as after they were cooked.  These could be eaten raw or warm or chilled - whatever you prefer. 

After these were done in the oven, I did turn them slightly to drain as they got very juicy. 

Serve as is, or sprinkle with feta. 

CROWD PLEASER!

** recipe discovery, manual labor and ingredients bought by a certain French Sous Chef

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meatless Mondays

For much of my life I have consumed meat in almost every meal. I enjoy the flavors of meat, and I have felt like I needed the protein.

After recently reading books like The Compassionate Carnivore and Omnivore's Dilemma, I was disgusted by the huge increase in the the amount of meat that Americans consume each year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "In 2000, Americans consumed an average 57 pounds more meat than they did annually in the 1950s." I started thinking that this has to have contributed to the obesity problem in the United States. Compassionate Carnivore was the tipping point for me to try Meatless Mondays. I cook a lot, and I tend to have a lot of leftovers because I live alone. When I now actively participate in Meatless Mondays, this also means that many of my other weekly meals will be meatless because I undoubtedly have leftovers.

I was surprised to see immediate results on the scale. I have been losing a few pounds each week, and I think it's definitely linked to Meatless Mondays. I also know that I am consuming and purchasing more vegetables, and therefore I'm eating more vitamin rich foods.

Compassionate Carnivore also made me more cautious about the meat that I do purchase. The word organic is a legal term. Big factory farm companies who are producing non-organic foods are also in the organic business. There are a lot of awesome farms that are not organic, and there are a lot of shady farms that are legally labeled organic. Think about this when you chose your allegiances. Read here to learn more about what organic actually means.

Click here to learn more about Meatless Mondays.

Interested in recipes for meatless meals? Click here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chicken Rotini Soup (for the soul)

Maybe Amy and I should change the name of this blog to My Kitchen, My Soup, because I think that's all that's been coming out of our kitchen's these days.  Soup is so warm and yummmy on these cool, blustery fall days, so I will chalk it up to that.  But there are worse streaks in life to be on (like fried chicken and deep dish pizza), so at least a Soup Kick is healthy... and good for your soul, obviously.  

I had some left over chicken from the BBQ pizza, so I searched high and low for a tasty chicken soup recipe.  I found this on Cooking Light and adapted it to my cooking whims, as per usual strategy.  

Chicken Rotini Soup

Nine ingredients about to become one.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup prechopped onion
  • 1/2 cup prechopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 6 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

This is an easy one, so let's get down to the business of Chicken Soup makin'....
  
First, get out your Ginzu's and start chopping your carrots, celery and onion.   There's no need to arrange them in equal parts in a bowl like I did, but just go with it.  It was 11 pm at night and I guess I was feeling artsy.
While you're choppin' cut up a few chicken breast and toss into a pan to cook up.  Don't over cook.  No need to do anything fancy beyond a bit of salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil.
Once you've wiped away your onion tears, toss your vegetables into a sauce pan with a little bit of oil and the salt/pepper and let these bad boys soften up.  
Tender is the correct word, I beleive. 
Smells like home cooking.
Once your veggies are soft, add the broth and water and bring to a boil.  Once you're boiling, add in your pasta and cook the pasta al dente.  (About seven to nine minutes.)  Once those are in, take a taste - need more pepper?  Possibly some salt?  I needed more of each.  Plus, then I got way crazy and added some oregano.  This soup isn't supposed to be terribly over seasoned, but I did want various flavors and oregano just felt right.  As a final step, toss in the chicken to warm it up and you're set.  I let mine simmer for a while longer and then at 11:45 at night, I sat down with a bowl on my couch and watched Hell's Kitchen. 
As a secret closet bad ass, I've always wanted to order pizza at midnight and crack a bottle of champagne while watching TV in bed.  This totally wasn't the same, I get that, but I did feel like it was sort of the same concept. Right? 
ugh.  Getting older means being more practical and that is a giant suck.
Top with parsley and you're good to go. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Microwave Cookbook.

I've lost inspiration and motivation for the past few weeks.  If I were a color, it would be gray.  Not even a charcoal gray, but just a plain, boring shade of gray.  I think it's the drastic departure of fall.  The pretty colors are gone, coats are now required and I am neck deep in the throes of grad school right now.  Remember how my fridge was pathetic and sad looking?  That pretty much summed it up for a while there and sadly it got worse before it got better. 

On a side note: Thank goodness for frozen leftovers.  And I finally went to the grocery store. 
I have mentioned before that I love cookbooks.  I love going to other people houses and flipping through their cookbooks.  I recently was doing so at a friend's house and came across this gem, buried beneath a stack of Pasta and Spanish cookbooks:



The Microwave Cookbook.  I guess I should have known given it's completed discolored and outdated cover that this was not a book that had been made anytime recently.  There is unfortunately no copyrighted year on the inside cover, but I can imagine that it was released right after microwaves became popular in the everyday kitchen.  I am young enough to have always had a microwave in my home, but seriously - I bet when the microwave made it into people's home, people raved!  Imagine the technology!  The efficiency!

After my July move, I hemorraged money left and right trying to build a little home of my own.  Pots, pans, garbages, cleaners, toilet paper, not to mention a bed and couch - all of that stuff added up.  As I entered my kitchen, I knew I was missing two things - a coffee pot and a microwave.  Both I decided I could live without.  I knew a microwave was a convenience, not a necessity, but I decided to test myself and see if I could do without.  I did not want to spend another $60.  I was spent.  And, honestly, while there were a few times I wished I had had a microwave, I did not NEED one.  I did just fine without.  But when a free microwave came across my front door, I certainly didn't turn it away. 

Back to the cookbook.  What a treat when I opened the cover.  The "genuises" behind this book found a way to make a microwave meal out of everything.  Microwave Meatloaf.  Check.  Microwave Cookies?  CHECK.  As the cover clearly indicates, you can also make a beef roast in the microwave.  According to this book, there isn't anything you can't make in your microwave.

Is this making anyone else sort of ill just thinking about it?  I wonder if this was a revolutionary book when it came out.  Imagine all the little housewives dreaming of less time in the kitchen due to this miraculous invention.

Stay tuned dear readers, for in the depths of what will surely be a long winter, I plan on doing a little experimentation to see just how far you can really go with your microwave.  :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Man Repeller

I love funny blogs. Have you stumbled upon Man Repeller? The girl is hilarious, and she writes about something that is not discussed nearly enough-- the fact that most men despise many of the clothes and accessories that women love. To quote the author of Man Repeller, "The Man Repeller is a blog about highly coveted fashion trends that women adore and men abhor." Examples include skinny jeans, bright red lipstick, shoulder pads, and harem pants. For the record, I LOVE shoulder pads.

This got me thinking about man repelling and food. I will continue wearing shoulder pads and bright lipsticks without any concern over male opinion, but this philosophy of disregarding male opinion is not at all true with cooking. With cooking, I strive to be a pleaser of both men and women. Cooking and eating are also much more sensual to me than fashion. It is a shared experience. We can't exactly share pieces of clothing at the same time ---- unless you get scandalous with a Snuggie.

My cooking has not always been stellar, and I am still a complete failure when it comes to omelets. With that being said, I think that we all strive to impress others with our cooking. Making a gross meal could actually make someone ill. When was the last time that shoulder pads made you throw up?

Since I'm committed to the BF, I'm not looking to attract males via my cooking. My focus is to keep trying to avoid repelling the BF through my cooking (<--- intentional double negative).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Losing Weight when you Love all things Food.

*note: I am not an expert in nutrition.  What is written below is only a reflection of my experience.

I sat across my dining partner yesterday and watched him put down a nearly two pound burrito at Chipotle.  This football sized missile was stuffed with rice and beans and steak and guac and cheese, among other varying ingredients.  It's massiveness required two hands in order to eat it.  After we respectively shoveled our burritos down our throats, we laughed at the absurdity of it. 

That was a standard burrito?  No wonder Americans are facing an obesity problem.  No one needs to eat a burrito of that size!

Representative of burrito size.

Chipotle is one of my favorite places to eat.  All of their food is fresh and locally sourced.  Their menu is simple and yet plentiful.  Their (americanized) Mexican delights are par above any other burrito joint I have eaten at (yes, including Anna's!!).  My only gripe is that their portions are excessive.  Their food may be fresh and local, but they deceivingly contain just as many calories, if not more, than many other fast food restaurants.  Conservatively, my dining partner's burrito probably contained 1,200 calories.  This is well over half a days worth of calories for the average American.

My friends have often poked fun at me about my obsession with calorie counting.  I am self admittedly a calorie counter, and proud of it.  I can accurately portion out anything and assign a calorie count to it - it's like a party trick, except if I ever whipped it out at a party, people would think I was a crazy woman.   I log my calories into the LoseIt iPhone app Every. Single. Day.  Without fail.  It's a habit I build into my day, like brushing my teeth. 

I am also in the best shape of my life.  In the last two years, I have lost over 20 pounds and managed to keep it off.  I hit an all time high weight of 150 pounds twice in the past six years and am now at a healthy 126.  Counting calories and adopting a long term healthy lifestyle contributed to this weight loss.   Counting calories keeps me accountable for the things I put into my body.  I try to eat around 1600 calories a day to maintain my current weight.  Getting to your goal weight isn't about deprivation, it's about adopting a new, long term attitude about food.

I lost all that weight because I believe in a simple formula:  calories in vs calories out.  If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.  If you burn more calories than you eat, you lose weight. 3500 calories is a pound either way.  Ta-Da. You would think I just solved the the million dollar question.

The biggest problem that people have is they don't know what they are putting into their bodies and they are drastically underestimating how many calories are in the things they eat.  Portion size is another HUGE problem.  Did you know the standard serving size of pasta is 1/2 cup and contains 220 calories, on average?  What's your pasta serving look like?  At the risk of being harsh, I don't believe it when people say they can't lose weight.  Yes, you can.  Anyone can.  Show me what you are eating and I'll tell you why you aren't losing weight.

I write a food blog and I obviously LOVE food.  I think about eating all the time.  I love the taste of familiar foods, I love the textures of new foods, I love creating food.  I love sharing a good meal with good friends.  So while being immersed in all things food, I refuse to let the pounds creep on.  I must make conscious decisions everyday about the choices I make regarding food in order to maintain my weight loss.

I make conscious decisions about what each calorie is worth and what is not.  Here are a list of things that (to me) are just not worth the calories:
  • Anything fried.  If you go sometime without eating fried foods, your first bite of fried foods can make your stomach ache for hours.  Why cover up good food with salty, fatty batter? The earth's creator did not intend for food to be beigish brownish.
  • Dressing.  What a hidden calorie fest.  Without even trying, a good salad can be easily ruined with an extra 300 calories of dressing.  I either use a spray dressing or I measure out a few tablespoons into a ramekin.  I then dip each bite.  I always ask for dressing on the side.
  • Bread.  If I am out to eat, I will typically only eat half the bread.  If it's a sandwich or burger, most of the time I eat the sandwich open face. 
  • Desserts: trust me, I eat these.  Lots of them.  But in extremely small portions.  I don't want subpar chocolate like a hershey's bar.  Give me one good, fancy chocolate truffle and I am happy.  Give me two bites of a really good cookie.  Give me a bite of the cupcake or some spoonfuls of decadent ice cream.  I try to share or I just throw the extra away to not tempt myself. 
  • Butter.  This is a no no to me.  I use the fake spray butter and always use EVOO to cook with.  If a recipe (like cous cous) calls for butter, I just take it out.  Doesn't change the food, saves you calories.
I eat almost everything I want to, I just control it all in moderation.  I drink wine, I eat sweets, I eat pasta.  I eat cheese like it's my job.  I go out to eat at restaurants frequently.  But yes, I order steamed veggies instead of fries, have all my sauces on the side, and my favorite delis sandwiches typically contain a 2 to 1 ratio of veggies to meat and zero sauce.  I often eat lean cuisines for lunch because they are portion controlled.  I opt for fish over steak and I don't get much satisfaction from starchy carbs, so I don't bother eating them.  I'm not deprived at all.  I am satisfied.  If food is fuel, I use premium and I don't overfill the tank.

I live by the motto:  "That doesn't taste as good as being thin feels." 

I recognize that any emotional attachment to food can be unhealthy.  I remind myself that if I indulge here and there, it's not the end of the world.  If I am tempted to make bad decisions or "treat" myself, I try to remember that 30 minutes after I eat, it won't have mattered what I ate.  It all goes into and comes out of the same places regardless of whether it's veggies or fries.  The veggies count toward my long term health goals and the fries will probably just give me gut rot and guilt.  I use to make all these decisions very consciously and methodically.... until guess what?  It became a habit.  It became second nature to me.

So yesterday after a significant workout, my dining partner wolfed down his well earned two pound burrito, while I wolfed down my well earned burrito bowl - steak, rice, extra pico, extra corn salsa, lettuce and light sour cream.  No beans.  No wrap. Beans make me wicked gassy anyways....

It's what works for me.  What works for you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic Butter Sauce

I cannot remember how I stumbled upon The Dabble, but I'm glad that I did. It's a food blog. I tried making the Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic Butter Sauce recipe that she has listed on her blog. Find it here. Let me know if you try her other recipes.

I can't find any explanation of why cooking potatoes in this manner is often called Hasselback. I think that in many cases, the name Hasselback originates from Germany. One thing that I know for sure is that I cannot STAND Elizabeth Hasselback. She drives me crazy.

Please consult The Dabble's website for ingredients and instructions.

It's a really easy recipe. Here are some of my photos from making Hasselback Potatoes.

Do yous see the slits in the potatoes?pre oven: post oven:
Don't they look pretty? I like the presentation.

Drizzle the garlic butter sauce, and we have a perfect meatless meal...
(Potatoes were served here with blackberries)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Thank you California Pizza Kitchen for turning me onto the wonder that is Barbeque Chicken Pizza.  If you have ever had this pizza, it's phenomenal.  It's also very, very easy to recreate at home.

Or your home away from home for a weekend in Vermont. 

Which, by the way, had a full kitchen and counterspace. And a dishwasher.  And a full stove.  It was magnificent.  I didn't want to come home to my little (cockroach infested) studio kitchen. 

Sob, Sob.  Cockroaches.  I digress.



Behold: A little red onion that had big dreams of becoming something bigger than his little onion self.  Like a caramelized onion.


Start by halfing the whole onion.

And chopping into perfect little red onion slivers.


And toss the entire slivered onion into a moderately hot pan filled with a dash of EVOO.  Cover and allow to cook for approximately 30 minutes.  Stir on occassion.  Enough to keep from burning the onions to the bottom, but not too much that you keep the onion from getting a gorgeous brown color.  During this process, the sugars from the onion are releasing and making caramelized amazingness.

Like this.  Mmmm.... mmm.... If you find the onion sticking to the bottom, simply toss a tablespoon or two of water into the pan to destick and deglaze.  Be patient.  Caramelizing an onion is a process that takes patience.  While your onions are caramelizing, start the pizza.



This is a wheat Boboli crust, topped with plain old generic BBQ sauce.  Find a perfect balance of sauce.  You want enough sauce so that it's not dry, but not too much that your toppings slide straight off.  If you decide to use a dough crust, make sure you prebake your crust before putting on the toppings.  This will ensure that your pizza crust has enough time in the oven. 

Soggy crust and overcooked toppings are a bad combo.


Top with all those caramelized onions.  I thought this might have been excessive, but in the end, it was the perfect amount.


Add in your chopped cooked chicken.  I didn't do anything fancy to the chicken.  I marinated and then cooked in the BBQ sauce.  Careful not to overcook or the chicken will be chewy.



Cover entire pizza with cheese of choice.  Mine was about 5 ounces of white Cabot cheddar from Vermont.  (Note: A significant amount of cheese was sacraficed in the shredding of this block.)  So tasty.


Drizzling of BBQ sauce for effect.

Bake in the oven until the toppings are cooked to your liking. Basically, since everything is already cooked, you're just melting the cheese. I like mine nice and brown.  This was about 10 to 15 minutes.  I then topped with chopped parsley and served.

The caramelized onions were the key to this pizza.  Along with the freshly shredded Vermont cheddar cheese.  Using regular mozzerella probably wouldn't have been as good.




I didn't take any pictures after this because I was too busy stuffing my face. 

We at My Kitchen, My Sanctuary love our pizzas.... for more pizza, see here and here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stuffed Baked Apples

I love apples.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to go to an apple orchard this fall like Miss Kelley. :(

I decided to make another recipe from the Today Show. The recipe is called Savory Stuffed Baked Apples. You can find the recipe here.

The ingredients were simple. The only ingredient that I hadn't used before was sherry. I knew what it was, but this is the first time that it has shown up in any recipes that I have attempted.

Ingredients:
3 slices of bread with the crust removed (I used white because I can't have very much wheat)
3/4 cup milk
1 lb ground beef, pork, or veal (I used beef because I won 10 lbs at a meat raffle, not kidding)
2 slices of bacon
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a handful of chopped parsley
salt
6 large baking apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry

Start by preheating the oven to 425.

Core the apples and expand the openings.
This was challenging. I used a melon baller. That worked pretty well.Tear up the bread into small pieces. Soak the bread in the milk for 10 minutes.

The recipe called for rubbing lemon juice on the apples. I've done this before to limit the browning on apples. With this recipe, it didn't seem completely necessary because there wasn't much time between coring the apples and baking them.

Mince up the garlic and chop the onion. Toss the meat, garlic, chopped parsley, salt, cinnamon, bacon, and onion in with the soaked bread. I fried my bacon, but this was unclear in my recipe. I was just assuming that it was supposed to be cooked. Now, stuff this meat mixture into the cored apples. I had an abundance of extra meat mixture. I ended up coring more apples to finish the rest of the meat mixture.

Drizzle the stuffed apples with the sherry and olive oil.

Bake for 35 minutes. My apples exploded a little. It didn't seem to impact the flavor. They were delicious and juicy.

When I make this again, I'm going to try pork. It seems like pork and apples are a better combination. I remember eating pork chops and apple sauce as a child.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

I think about food, oh, 97% of my day.  In the morning, I am already thinking about lunch... during lunch I am thinking about what I want to eat  for dinner.  Most of the time I dream about things I want to eat, like meatball subs, pad thai, steak and cheeses, etc.  You know, things that I could totally indulge in, except if I did it with any regularity, I would need an entirely new wardrobe.  Gotta stay at fightin' weight!

One afternoon I had a burger craving and the recipe below was born.

Stuffed Turkey Burgers:
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • green onion
  • onion
  • garlic
  • soy sauce
  • cheese
  • egg
  • bread crumbs



Start by chopping up some garlic, onion and some green onion.  You don't need much - this will be working into your ground turkey.


BEHOLD!  A mini food processor!  Santa Mom brought me this for Christmas last year and this was, very sadly, the first time I have used it.  I guess I was previously intimidated by it.... looked like a lot of clean up for minimal results.  In fact, this thing's blade had seen more action cutting my finger in moving it all around the last  nine months.  


In went the garlic, onions and soy sauce and down went the button.  AMAZING.  I can't believe I haven't used this thing before.  What a little powerful chopper!  Given my studio size kitchen, with extremely limited counter and cabinet space, this perfectly replaces a much larger food processor.  

Once you've minced and chopped, work into your ground turkey.  Add in some bread crumbs and egg.  These two ingredients will act as a binding agent to keep your burgers from falling apart.  Mix only enough properly mix.  Because of the lower fat count (than beef), ground turkey tends to get tough and dry out in cooking.  Form into very, very thin patties.  I used a spatula to press down and my fingers to properly form the edges.




Transfer your flat turkey patties to a broiler pan.  Cover with your favorite chopped cheese.  I used a manchego.  I love cheese, so I piled mine high.  You stuff a burger by stacking two burgers on top of each other and pinching the edges together, much like you might do a calzone.  Be sure to leave a bit of room around the edge of the burger like I did. 

A cheese free perimeter if you will.  :)





These are the final products - cheese goodness stuffed inside.  Broil on high, with a layer of tin foil covering them.  This will keep the burger tops from over cooking, but allowing them to cook all the way through.  I broiled them covered for 20 minutes, flipped for 10 and broiled them uncovered for another 10 minutes, until golden brown.


These babies went in between some low calorie sandwich thins, a side of steamed asparagus and some relish.  Instant weekday dinner!