Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Sadly, the local tomato season is officially over. I still need my tomato fix though so in the fall and winter months I will buy Campari or vine-ripened tomatoes when I can find them on sale. Both are on the smaller side, but perfectly red and juicy. My store had Campari tomatoes BOGO a few weeks ago, so I picked up 2 packages.

I thought about making stewed tomatoes, but then came across David Lebovitz's recipe for Oven Roasted Tomatoes. His pictures were enough to convince me that I needed to make these!
These tomatoes roast for a while in the oven - 2 hours, low and slow. After roasting for so long, the garlic is soft and sweet, and the skins slide right off the tomatoes which was perfect for my little one. I used dried herbs instead of fresh because it's what I had on hand.
We enjoyed these as a side, but I'd also love to do what David did and put them over a toasted baguette topped with some sort of crumbled cheese. That alone would be the perfect dinner for me. Just add wine.  

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Source: David Lebovitz

  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 3 cloves)
  • 8-10 branches of fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • a few spring of fresh rosemary (I used 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF (165ºC.)
  • Pour the olive oil into a shallow baking dish or pan and add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, then use a sharp knife to remove the stems, if you wish. Toss the tomatoes with the oil and seasonings, then lay them cut side down in the dish.
  • Bake for two hours, or until the tomatoes are completely softened and wilted, and start to wrinkle. Depending on the tomatoes, they may take longer to cook.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Asian Noodle Soup

Open fridge, start grabbing things. That's how this soup came to be.

Earlier in the week I bought some Napa cabbage and bok choy with the intention of making a stir fry but I never got around to it. So when I opened my fridge on Sunday morning and saw them in the veggie bin, I used them as my inspiration for this soup.

I have built up a pretty good amount of Asian cooking ingredients - I now have a full door shelf in my fridge dedicated to various things like soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin, sriracha, rice vinegar, mirin, and minced ginger. Because I always associate Asian flavors with bok choy, I grabbed almost every bottle from that shelf when making this soup.
The final product reminded me a lot of the soups my dad and sister talked about after their trip to Vietnam, and I think it was because I used both lime juice and cilantro at the end giving it a bright and fresh flavor.
I kept this vegetarian (except for the broth), but you could definitely add some shredded chicken to it for some protein.

Asian Noodle Soup

(note - amounts are approximate)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks of bok choy, sliced (don't use the very top greens or very bottom white parts)
  • 6 c low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version) 
  • Soy sauce - approximately 2 tbsp
  • 2-3 quick shakes of rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • Large handful cilantro, chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • 6 oz Asian noodles of your choice
  • Heat the olive oil and sesame oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat
  • Add the garlic and ginger; sauté 1 min
  • Add the carrots and sauté another minute
  • Add the cabbage and bok choy and stir gently until it is starting to wilt
  • Add the broth, soy sauce, and rice vinegar; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cook your noodles (I like to cook them separately so they don't soak up too much of the soup's liquid; that way you can add as many or as few noodles to your soup as you'd like, or you can just put them in the pot when they are done cooking)
  • Before serving, add lime juice and cilantro to the soup. Add noodles and top with the green onions.
  • Note: when I ate mine, I added just a squirt of Sriracha sauce for some heat.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

 Every night I spend about twenty minutes making my lunch to take to work, and my daughter's lunch to take to preschool. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a serious rut, sending her with the same things day after day. She always eats it but I feel like I need to give her some variety. I feel the same way about my lunch sometimes - it always consists of a sandwich on some form of whole wheat bread/pita/thin, and in the fall I add a bowl of soup. It gets a little boring day after day...
From talking to other women on a cooking board I belong to, this seems to be a common problem for everyone - what to take for lunch?? So this month's Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap was all about lunch.
I shared by White Bean and Spinach Soup with Brown Rice and was given a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad from the blog Kate's Recipe Box. I was excited about it for a few reasons. I've been making a lot of Buffalo Chicken Recipes over the past few months, and loved all of them. Something about that spicy buffalo sauce with the blue cheese - yum! And I love quinoa too, but just haven't made it too much recently. Finally, this looked like an easy recipe that would be nice and filling, yet healthy - the perfect lunch!

One note about cooking quinoa - you want to rinse it thoroughly before cooking it to remove any of the bitter taste.

I ended up having some issues with this recipe, and I really hate giving recipes bad reviews during these swaps! But it's just my opinion, and everyone has different tastes. First, the dish seemed a bit confused. Was it supposed to be eaten hot, cold, or at room temp? Also, even though I started cooking my chicken before I added the hot sauce, the hot sauce completely reduced, burning my pan three times. I kept having to add chicken broth. And although I love the buffalo flavor on chicken, I thought that it overpowered the quinoa, and didn't go well with the broccoli.

 I love the idea of a chicken/veggie/quinoa salad though, so maybe if you love those things too and you make this, skip cooking the chicken in the buffalo sauce and just slowly add the buffalo dressing to taste.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
Makes 2-3 servings

For the salad -
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot)
  • Added: approximately 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

For the dressing -
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt (I used Kosher salt)
  • For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
  • For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside.
  • Add the chicken and sauté 2 min per side, until golden brown but not cooked through. Add 1/4 cup hot sauce and broth to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.


    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Spicy Ginger Garlic Grilled Shrimp over a Crunchy Romaine Salad

    I think last week may have been our final week of warm, summer-like temperatures. We have had an amazing fall, and have been enjoying spending evenings outdoors cooking and playing without needing jackets - I love it!

    Even though it's getting cooler we will still grill. Heck, Jon will even shovel a path to the grill if we have snow on the ground. But luckily last week he didn't have to do that, and was able to stand outside in the warm sunshine while grilling up some shrimp.

    I picked up some shrimp for Jon not knowing what I'd do with it until I realized I was craving this Grilled Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing that I first made last year. I used it as my inspiration for this Spicy Garlic Ginger Grilled Shrimp over a Crunchy Salad. I created a spicy marinade, used the dressing recipe from the original salad, added some rice noodles, and changed up the salad ingredients a bit.

    Jon liked this one - great flavor, a bit of heat, quick and easy, and healthy. I'd say that's a successful meal. I made the same dinner for myself but used a chicken breast instead of shrimp.

    Spicy Ginger Garlic Grilled Shrimp over a Crunchy Romaine Salad
    Inspired by: Grilled Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

    The Shrimp
    • 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled (I used 21-25 count shrimp)
    • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 tsp ginger, minced
    • 2 quick dashes rice vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce, depending on how much heat you want
    • Before cooking: juice from 1/2 of a lime
    • Skewers
    • Mix the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce. Pour over the shrimp and marinate in the fridge for 4+ hours.
    • When you are ready to cook, skewer the shrimp and squeeze lime juice over them. (note - I used metal skewers. If you are using wooden skewers make sure you soak them in water for 20-30 minutes so they do not burn.)
    • Heat a grill to 400 degrees. Place skewers on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, until cooked through.
    • Remove shrimp from the skewers and place atop the salad.

    The Salad
    • 4 c chopped Romaine lettuce (makes 2 salads)
    • 2 green onions, chopped
    • 1 carrot, julienned
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced into rounds
    • A few slices of red onion
    • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
    • Cooked rice noodles
    • Other items you could add: fresh bean sprouts, cooked pasta noodles, baby corn, cilantro, cucumbers, radishes.
    Mix all of the veggies and toss with the dressing. Plate the rice noodles and put the salad on top. Top with the shrimp (or chicken)/

    The Dressing
    Mix these ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use:
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp light olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • Pinch or 2 of sugar
    • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
    • 1/4 tsp Sriracha sauce
    • Few dashes each of salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    Sausage Casserole with Herbed Potatoes and Carrots

    When I first saw this recipe, I was drawn to it because the author named it "Lazy Sunday Casserole."
    I read through it and while it was not really a fix it and forget it recipe, it still looked like something you'd only have to pay attention to a few times over the hour and a half that it cooks, so I put it on our menu.

    I made a few two small changes to the recipe. I used hot Italian sausage, omitted the fennel (just don't like it), and used more garlic. While Jon wasn't a huge fan of this - the man doesn't like potatoes or carrots (I know, right???) - I absolutely loved it. The sauce that the broth, herbs, and balsamic created was heavenly. The veggies were perfectly tender, and this dish made awesome leftovers.

    Sausage Casserole with Herbed Potatoes and Carrots
    Adapted from: Kayotic Kitchen

    • 1 lb hot Italian sausage (5 links)
    • 1 lb potatoes; I used a mix of Russets and Yukon Golds
    • 1 onion
    • 1/2 lb carrots; I used baby carrots
    • 1/2 red bell pepper
    • 2 cloves garlic; I used about 6
    • Black pepper
    • Salt
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1.5 tsp dried Italian herbs
    • 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
    • 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
    • Prep your veggies: peel and chop the potatoes into large cubes, chop the pepper into chunks, and slice the garlic. Place everything into a large roasting pan and season with salt and pepper.
    • Mix the oil, herbs, and broth. Pour over the veggies and stir to coat.
    • Cover the pan and place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the veggies are just about fork tender.
    • Lightly brown your sausages and cut then in half. Add them to the roasting pan after the veggies have roasted for 45 minutes. Pour the balsamic vinegar over everything, cover and let roast for 25-30 minutes. Halfway through, flip the sausages and spoon some of the cooking juices over everything.

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    Soy-Sesame Grilled Chicken over Vegetable Lo Mein

    Last week I picked up a bag of broccoli slaw in the market as well as some Napa cabbage. Originally I planned on tossing it with the Sweet and Spicy Lime Vinaigrette from this Napa Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw. But then I decided that I felt like having some carbs with dinner so I picked up a package of Chinese style noodles.

    I threw together a quick stir fry using the broccoli slaw and some peppers, and topped it with grilled marinated chicken. The sauce I used for the stir fry is one that has become my go-to sauce. I originally used it in this Veggie Lo Mein, a recipe I made as part of a blog swap from the blog Oishii Food. I think the ratio of rice vinegar to soy sauce, as well as the addition of Sriracha, is what makes this sauce so good. The first time I had it I felt like I was eating my favorite dishes from the awesome restaurants in Philadelphia's Chinatown.

    The little one loved this dinner and we didn't have any leftovers! I usually cook way too much food so it's rare that we don't have leftovers.

    The Marinade
    For 2 chicken breasts; amounts are approximate
    • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
    • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
    • 1 hour before cooking add juice from 1/2 of a lime
    Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken breasts. Let marinate at least 8 hours.

    The Stir-Fry
    Source: original recipe using the sauce from Oishii Food's Vegetable Lo Mein Recipe
    • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 1/2 sm onion, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 jalapeno, chopped
    • 1/2 bag broccoli slaw
    • 1/2 sm head of Napa cabbage, chopped into long pieces (explain how to chop)
    • Handful chopped cilantro
    • 3 green onions, chopped
    • 8 oz noodles
    • 3 to 4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
    • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp mirin
    • 2 tsp brown sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste (omitted this time)

    • Grill chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees
    • Cook the noodles according to the package directions (I try to time this so the noodles are done as soon as the veggies are done cooking, so I drop my noodles when I turn on my wok/pan)
    • Heat veg oil in a large wok or sauté pan
    • Add onions and garlic, sauté 2 min
    • Add jalapeno and red pepper, sauté 2 min
    • Add broccoli slaw and Napa cabbage and stir to combine
    • Add sauce and bring to a simmer. Tilt your pan to the side, moving all of the veggies out of the way, and allow the sauce to simmer on it's own so it thickens a bit.
    • Add your cooked noodles, green onions and cilantro.
    • Top with grilled chicken and more green onions and cilantro

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Creamy Dairy Free Black Bean Soup

    Creamy, but without any cream. Completely dairy free. The beans puree so beautifully that they become silky and creamy, giving this soup the appearance and taste of being a cream soup, but with all the health benefits of beans and veggies!

    I kept this recipe simple, starting with sautéing onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and peppers. I then added the black beans, spices, and broth. Once it cooked for a bit, I pureed everything into a smooth soup. Adjust a few of the spices and you are done. 20-25 minutes from start to finish.

    As I always do, once the soup cooled I ladled it into 4 containers for lunches for the week. When I warmed it up the next day and sat at my desk to eat it, I was in heaven - this soup was SO good. Smooth, hearty, and with it a bit of a kick. And while it was a completely vegetarian soup, it had a slight flavor of smokiness from the cumin - you could totally be tricked into thinking this soup started with bacon.

    This is my go-to soup whenever I need something healthy, filling, and quick.

    Dairy Free Black Bean Soup
    Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
    4 servings

    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 sm onion, chopped
    • 1 carrot, diced
    • 1 stalk of celery, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 1 26.5 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • Pinch of cayenne pepper (more for heat)
    • Pinch of salt (adjust as needed)
    • 3.5 c vegetable broth
    • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat
    • Add the onion and sauté 2 minutes
    • Add the carrots, celery, garlic, red pepper, and jalapeno. Saute 3-4 minutes, until veggies are slightly tender.
    • Add the black beans, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt; stir.
    • Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Remove from the heat and puree. I use my handheld immersion blender, but you could also puree it in batches in a blender.

    Serve topped with cilantro and crushed tortilla chips. If you do not need to be dairy free, add a dollop of sour cream.