Wednesday, April 11, 2012

South Beach Friendly Broccoli Cheese Soup

Remember me???

I know, I know, it's been almost four months since my last blog post. I have lots of excuses, but none of them are very good. Anywho....I was inspired today to try my hand at broccoli cheddar soup in a South Beach friendly manner. I think it was a success. My husband devoured it and my youngest asked for leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

What you'll need:
2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 turnips, chopped (mine were sort of large)
4-6 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
one clove garlic, chopped (optional)
32 oz chicken stock
1/3 cup half and half
3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or french oven, heat olive oil. When your pot is hot, add the copped onion, turnips and broccoli. Stirring occasionally, cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat.

This is what it should look like after 5-7 minutes. Notice how bright the broccoli has gotten? I also had about a cup of shredded carrots from dinner last night that I decided to toss in there for good measure. I'm sure it would be fine without the carrots.

Then add your chicken stock and reduce the heat to low. You'll let this simmer away until the broccoli is tender. I didn't time mine, but I would say it was about 30 minutes or so. 

Then you will add your cream and puree the soup. If you have an immersion blender, this will be the easiest way to get that soup smooth. It will look like this.

Add your shredded cheese and stir in a figure eight pattern until completely melted and incorporated in the soup. The add your salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into your favorite soup bowl and top with cheese. I also added some crispy onions for a little crunch. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fabulous Fennel Risotto

With winter produce in all of its glory I've been getting some gorgeous greens, squash and root vegetables. By far, the most exciting thing to come out of my CSA box this month has been the fennel bulbs each week. Don't get me wrong, I love the crisp apples and lovely winter citrus that grow abundantly in Southern California, but I've been most excited about the fennel. Fennel has such a short season, or at least it seems that way. I feel so lucky to have it for the past several weeks.

This recipe is simple, delicious and my idea of warm winter comfort food.

Here's what you'll need to get cooking:

2T olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, cored and sliced thin (reserve a handful of the fronds for garnish)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large shallot diced (or 1/2 med onion)
1T butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken stock
3T heavy cream
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
fennel fronds for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan heat the chicken stock on low. While that is warming, heat olive oil in large pan or sauce pot. Cook the fennel for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook another 5 minutes or until the fennel becomes slightly browned, being cautious not to over cook your garlic.

Remove the garlic and fennel from the pan and add butter to the same pan.

Add shallot to the pan and cook until translucent and then add the arborio rice.

Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When five minutes has passed, add the white wine and cook until it reduces by half or more. I used a very nice viognier because that is what I wanted to drink last night. Any dry white will do, I just suggest using something you like to drink so that you aren't wasting a bottle of wine.

Then pour yourself a glass to drink while you babysit your lovely, creamy risotto. Yeah, that's how I roll.

Now, at medium low heat, you'll just add stock, one ladle at a time, to the risotto. Stir until stock is absorbed and then add another ladle. Continue this process about 20 minutes or until risotto is done.

This was after about 15 minutes. Not quite there yet.

When the risotto is completely cooked, turn off the heat and hit it with the heavy cream. Yes, I said HEAVY cream. I'm all for taking short cuts, and you can here, too, but I don't recommend it. You're seriously only using 3 tablespoons in the entire dish to feed four people. It's not that much and it adds such  a silky finish to your risotto that I think is fabulous.

Add your fennel and garlic back to the pan and stir to incorporate.

Add all but about 2T of parmesan cheese and stir well.

Plate into serving bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and pine nuts and garnish with fennel fronds. Your family will thank you and so will your belly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Pear Tart - Quick Enough For A Weeknight

I just can't express how much I adore pears. So, it makes me super happy to have received them for the past couple of weeks in my CSA box from Harvest2U. Rather than just gobbling them up, I decided to exercise some self restraint and save several of them for this delicious dessert.

I had every intention of making a from scratch crust when I set out to make this recipe. And then it dawned on me. It was a Tuesday night and not everyone has the time to make a homemade crust on a Tuesday night. If I was going to be enjoying this on a week night, then everyone else should be able to as well. So, I opted for the pre-made crust.

Easy Pear Tart

What you'll need:

1 pre-made pie crust (Please feel free to substitute your own home made crust if you feel the desire!)
3-4 pears peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4" wedges
Juice of one lemon
1T corn starch
2-3T brown sugar
1/4t cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Place pears, lemon juice, corn starch, brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir. Set aside.

Roll out pie crust on a pizza stone. I literally just unrolled the pre-made crust onto the center of the stone.

Place pear mixture in the center of the pie crust leaving enough border to fold up the crust (approx. 2 inces). Fold the crust up over the filling, making just a border. You won't completely cover the fruit filling.

Place tart in oven. Cook at 425 for 12 minutes. While the tart is still in the oven, reduce the temperature to 325 and cook for another 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

While the tart is cooling, place honey and water (4:1 ratio water:honey) into a microwave safe bowl and heat until the honey melts enough to be mixed with the water. Wisk the honey and water together and drizzle over the tart.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mac N Cheese With a Twist

My family loves macaroni and cheese. I'd say my kids love it, but it would only be a half truth. The hubs and I love a good homemade mac n cheese, too! I grew up loving mac n cheese. I'd eat it out of the box, sure, but I loved it when my mom made it homemade (which wasn't very often). Later in life I'd learn that my little sister also coveted my mom's homemade macaroni and cheese. I hope that one day my boys have the same fond memories of some of the dishes that I make for them. There's not a lot that's more satisfying than hearing how much your family loves the meal you've created for them! So, in an attempt to make comfort food that they love in a more healthy manner I came up with the following recipe today. It's my regular macaroni and cheese but with added veggies.

Warning: This is not South Beach Friendly

Mac N Cheese With a Twist

What you'll need:
1 lb. pasta cooked
2T olive oil
2T corn starch
2 diced shallots (or one small onion, diced)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups of milk
3 cups of grated cheese (I used a mixture of gruyere and cheddar)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 bunch of greens, chopped (I used chard)
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
bread crumbs (I used Italian flavored panko)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cook your pasta according to directions on package. If you are on SB diet, you'll want to choose whole grain pasta. While the pasta is still warm (and after it's been drained), toss the chard and tomatoes right into the pasta pot.

In a saucepan, heat your olive oil. Add to the pan the shallots (or onion) and garlic and saute for three minutes. Add cornstarch and stir until well blended and there are no lumps. This will serve as a thickening agent for your cheese sauce. Add your milk, dry mustard, dijon mustard, salt and pepper and stir continuously. Continue to stir over medium heat just until the mild begins to thicken a little. At this time add all but about 1/3 cup of your cheeses. Turn the heat off and stir in a figure 8 pattern until all of the cheese has been incorporated.

Pour cheese sauce into pasta pot and stir.

Transfer to an oven proof baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.

Top with remaining cheese and about 2T of bread crumbs. Bake approximately 15 minutes and then put under the broiler on low a few minutes until the cheese has slightly browned. Keep an eye on it once it goes into the broiler. It can go from golden brown to cinder black rather quickly.

Serve and enjoy! You'll might get mom of the year for this one.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes

This is the cutest and easiest treat for your little pumpkins this fall!

This post is about the method and not so much the recipes.You don't have to be a baker or master chef to make these adorable little candy corn cupcakes. I made my cake from scratch, but you could absolutely use a box cake mix for this one.

Let's get started!

What you'll need:
Cake mix and all necessary ingredients. Mixed, but not cooked.
yellow food coloring (I use gel color from my local cake supply store)
orange food coloring
white buttercream frosting (homemade will work best for piping, canned is not stiff enough)
candy corn candies

Divide your cake batter evenly in two bowls. 

In the first bowl, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of the yellow food coloring and stir until the yellow is well combined and evenly distributed.

In the second bowl, use the same method, but with the orange food coloring.

Once your cupcake pan is lined with baking cups you will spoon the batter into the cupa. Starting with the yellow batter, scoop approximately one tablespoon of batter in each baking cup. I used my Pampered Chef small scoop to ensure equal distribution. Once the yellow is done, gently tap down the batter by tapping the cupcake pan on the counter.

Next, repeat the previous steps with the orange batter. You can spread the orange gently over the yellow to make sure it covers the yellow batter, but do not stir.

Bake your cupcakes according to your recipe instructions.

When your cupcakes have cooled, frost them with white buttercream frosting. You can use the spreader method if your icing isn't stiff enough to pipe. If it is stiff enough you can use a pastry bag with the corner snipped off (if you don't have a piping tip) or you can even use a zip lock bag with the corner clipped off.

Top each cupcake with a piece of candy corn.

Stand back, enjoy the Oooh's and Aaaah's and accept the compliments. You will get them!

The Great Pumpkin....Chili?

We had an unseasonably cold week last week and it put me right in the mood for baking and comfort food. Usually, that's not a good thing for my South Beach eating plan. But, not this time. A friend of a friend shared a recipe for pumpkin chili with me a couple of years ago, and although the original recipe was missing something, in my opinion, it was a good base to run with. The recipe is my version of the recipe, with some alterations. This recipe is SB phase 2 or 3 friendly since it does contain pumpkin, which not advised on P1. It's also gluten free and great for diabetics.

I get lots of interesting responses when I tell people I'm making pumpkin chili, but let me tell you, it's GOOD. The pumpkin puree adds a certain creaminess to the chili and my family loves it. This is an easy recipe to make stove top or toss it in the crock pot all day.


What You'll Need:
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
1 lb. lean ground beef (or bison, turkey, chicken, etc.) I used organic, grass fed beef
1 (14oz) can pumpkin puree (not with pie seasoning)
1 cans of black beans drained and rinsed (you may also use kidney or pinto beans)
1 large can of diced tomatoes (I used 4 fresh tomatoes because I had some that needed to be used)
1/2c your favorite salsa or chile sauce (I used green chile sauce)
1 cups (approx.) chicken stock
Low fat sour cream
garlic chives

Place oil into skillet on medium high. Once the oil is heated, add onions, peppers, garlic and spices and saute 5 minutes. I actually didn't have a red pepper but I did have some carrots that I wanted to use so I tossed them in there. Then add the ground meat and cook until the meat is done. Drain the fat off of the meat and add to crock pot (or large stock pot if making stove top) on low.

To the pot (or crock pot) add the remaining ingredients. Tough, right? You'll notice some green stuff that wasn't in the recipe. It's swiss chard. I had some beautiful chard from my CSA and decided to add it. Nothing like getting extra veggies to your kids, right?

Give it all a good stir. Cover it and walk away. If you are cooking stove top, cook on low for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. If you're cooking in a crock pot, just leave it until you're ready to eat.

When it's ready, top it with your favorite garnish and enjoy!