03 October 2010

A Long Time Coming...

I've been considering moving TPF to a new hosting site for quite a while, and now I'm finally ready to share my new blogging home with all of you.

Please update your bookmarks and subscriptions, because I've moved!

Click here to visit my new site. Thanks for following me in my foodie adventures - I hope you'll take the time to visit and comment in my new location.

Hearty Egg Drop Soup

I've been wanting to try making an egg drop soup for a while, but never got around to it. I've read a few different recipes, including this one and this one, and figured I would cobble together my own version. 

I knew I wanted to add meatballs to mine the way Brianna did in order to make this soup into a hearty meal, so I defrosted a pound of meatballs I had in the freezer. (Sausage meatballs would be amazing in this soup!) We've been eating as healthfully as possible lately, so I also decided to bulk the soup up with spinach. What I ended up with was a garlicky, flavorful, filling soup that really hit the spot on a cool, rainy night.

Hearty Egg Drop Soup
makes six servings

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. canola oil
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. water
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 large eggs, beaten
2 green onions, sliced
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb. meatballs
1-1.5 tsp. sesame oil (optional)

Heat canola oil in a large stockpot. Add garlic to the pot and saute until slightly softened (but not brown!). Add chicken stock, water, and soy sauce, bring to a boil. 

Stir the soup in a circular motion and slowly stream in the scrambled eggs. (I used a pourable measuring cup)

Step away from the pot and let the eggs cook (unstirred) for one to two minutes. 

Add the spinach and meatballs to the pot and simmer until meatballs are heated through. Add sesame oil to taste, if using. Serve with soy sauce and additional sesame oil.

This is a simple and delicious soup that reminds me of a cross between Italian wedding and egg drop - hey, think I can get away with calling this an Italian-Chinese fusion dish?  ;) 

01 October 2010

Curried Pumpkin Soup

I'm in love with a new (to me) blog. Ezra Pound Cake. Rebecca is a fantastically funny writer, an occasional boozehound, and she cooks the yummiest things. I mean, the woman made me drool on my keyboard just reading about her Southern Comfort Carmel Apple Pie. One of the recipes I bookmarked (other than the pie and these luscious Kahlua lattes) was for a pumpkin soup. I love pumpkin, I love soup, and I REALLY love autumn dishes, so I was sure it would be a winner.

Last fall I was a victim of the pumpkin shortage and this year I was determined not to let it happen again. So I went to Wal-Mart last week planning to stock up and buy six big cans, only to find that...they were OUT. The two major grocery stores in my town...out. My pumpkin dreams were fading, but I refused to cross the soup off my meal plan for this week.

A mini miracle struck while visiting Andrew's grandparents, who live an hour and a half away.

Andrew and Grandpa hanging out at the marina
Grandma's close friend Amy (who shares both my name and my love of reading) had brought her a big can of pumpkin! I jumped up and down a little and wouldn't you know, Grandma gave it to me! She reassured me that since she knew she could get it in town, I could have this can. Hooray!

Grandma & Grandpa's adorable lab, Bear

Wouldn't you know, after that one act of kindness, it was like the angels started singing or something because while at the discount grocery store the next town over, I came across an entire endcap display of pumpkin! The clouds parted, a beam of radiant light shone down, and I snatched up four more cans.

The moral of the story is, I have tons of pumpkin now. No pumpkin shortage in this household!

This soup is flavorful, nutritious, and low in calories, coming in at just 230 calories per serving. Enjoy it for lunch or dinner totally guilt-free!

Curried Pumpkin Soup
adapted from Ezra Pound Cake
makes 6 servings

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp. AP flour
1 tsp. yellow curry powder
2 c. fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. water
15 oz. (1 small can) solid-pack pumpkin
12 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Once the broth comes to a boil, stir in all this stuff:

At this point, the soup looks like this:

You can serve as is and it will be delish. Andrew isn't a huge fan of mushrooms - it's the texture he objects to, not the taste. 

 Heat through, stirring well. Serve immediately or keep warm over the lowest heat setting.

A lovely accompaniment to this soup is a 95 calorie snack that we love - six little bruschetta toasts smeared with one wedge of Laughing Cow Light cheese.

You can top this soup with anything from dried bananas to slivered almonds to pumpernickel croutons. To be honest, you don't really need a topping - this soup is rich, creamy, velvety, and delicious all on its own.

28 September 2010

Not Your Mama's Tuna Noodle Casserole

I should preface this post by saying that as a child, I would never have eaten tuna noodle casserole. As an adult, I would most likely not bother to waste my calories on a tuna noodle casserole made from condensed soup - I really try to avoid the fat, sodium, and preservatives that compose this "pantry staple". I'd much rather make a simple bechamel in its place. Despite my reservations, when I came across this recipe about a year ago, I decided I had to try it. I've since made it a few times, much to our satisfaction.

Most recently, I recreated the recipe and calculated my own nutrition facts using the ingredients/measurements I was actually using. This recipe has just over 250 calories per serving, a nice savings over Eating Well's  already super healthy 406 calories. This is a great option in the "creamy comfort food" category that doesn't wreak havoc with your nutrition. If you're not watching fat or calories as closely as Andrew and I are, you can add more cheese and/or breadcrumbs to the top but honestly, it doesn't need it.

Not Your Mama's Tuna Noodle Casserole
adapted from Eating Well
makes 4 servings

6 oz. no-yolk egg noodles
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, diced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. dry white wine
3 tbsp. AP flour
1-1/2 c. skim milk
1 c. frozen peas
1 - 5 oz. can of tuna (white albacore packed in water), drained
1 wedge Laughing Cow Light cheese
1/4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook egg noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Lightly spray an 8"x8" baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms to the pan, add salt, and saute until onions are translucent, about five minutes.

Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, then add the milk and bring to a simmer. Stir sauce as it thickens.

Add the peas, tuna, and Laughing Cow cheese to the sauce and stir until cheese has melted.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and top with the mozzarella cheese. Broil for five minutes or until cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly.

Cut into quarters and serve with a nice green salad.

It's easy to get your lean protein and veggies when they're wrapped up in such a cozy dish. This is the perfect hot meal for a cool autumn day - easy to put together, warm, and comforting.

27 September 2010

Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini

I saw this recipe in Real Simple magazine and immediately wanted to try it. I'm not a huge fan of stuffed peppers, but the contents of this "stuffing" were right up my alley, so I figured I'd give it a try. One half was enough for me, but Andrew ate two. We repeated these numbers for lunch the next day, so three zucchini was the perfect amount for us. I omitted the sun-dried tomatoes called for in the original recipe because Andrew isn't a huge fan of them.

You could easily make up the "stuffing" the night before, then just halve, scoop, and stuff the zucchini for a super fast meal. Since the weather is turning cool here, I've got fall foods on my mind and I think this would be equally good with acorn squash.

Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini
adapted from Real Simple - September 2010

3 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 c. grated Asiago cheese
2 tbsp. pignoli (pine nuts)
2 tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 chopped green onions

Halve the zucchini lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and form the "bowl" for your stuffing. Place halves on a cookie sheet and set aside.

Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Drain grease and combine with remaining ingredients. I had reserved the scooped out zucchini and mixed it in at this point.

Roast at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until zucchini is fork tender. Serve with additional asiago, if desired.

16 September 2010

Cuban Sandwiches

We had our neighbors over for dinner last weekend and I opted to make a giant pork tenderloin. This thing was so big I had to kink it to fit in my biggest roasting pan! 

While hanging out chatting at the dinner table, we got around to discussing what to do with all that leftover pork. Our neighbors are both originally from the Dominican Republic, and Nelson has worked as a chef, so I really enjoy talking food with him. Nelson's suggestion for the leftover pork? Cubans! I've served Cuban sandwiches before working in restaurants, but had never tried one (not being a huge fan of sandwiches) and Andrew had never even heard of them.

I guess Nelson was a pretty good salesman...we drove to the store the next morning so we could eat them for lunch.

Cuban Sandwiches
makes 4 sandwiches

4 ciabatta rolls
4 slices leftover pork tenderloin
8 slices honey-baked ham
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices dill pickles
Dijon mustard

Halve and toast the rolls in the toaster oven or under the broiler.

Place the bottom half of each roll on a cookie sheet. Top with one slice Swiss cheese, mustard, 2 pickles, 2 slices of ham, and one piece of pork. Add another slice of cheese to the top.

Return sandwiches to the broiler or toaster oven just long enough to melt the cheese. Add top half of bun to each sandwich. Serve with additional mustard and pickles. Handcut potato chips wouldn't hurt.

These sandwiches are easy, filling, and delicious. A nice weekend lunch or quick weeknight dinner, Cubans are a little something different from boring old turkey or chicken salad. Enjoy!

14 September 2010

Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova

If you're looking for an impressive dessert that's a little something different, look no further. I have made one of Nigella's dessert recipes before, but wasn't 100% pleased with the results. This time, I could not have been happier. This Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova was rich and sweet, yet light and fruity. An amazing treat that works for any occasion.

I made this for my in-laws' tenth wedding anniversary. There were seven of us and we ended up with one giant piece left over - this would easily serve ten if you cut it properly.

Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova
adapted from Nigella Lawson

For the Meringue

6 large egg whites
2 c. superfine sugar  (**see note**)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the Topping

2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. superfine sugar
2 c. sliced strawberries 
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate

**Please note: I don't have superfine sugar in my pantry and I wasn't about to buy any. You don't need to either. Put regular old granulated sugar in your food processor or blender and whir for about 30 seconds (until it's super fine).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Use a pencil to trace a 9-inch- cake tin on the paper. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. 

Sift the cocoa into the bowl, then add the vinegar and chopped chocolate over the egg whites.

Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Plop the meringue into the center of the parchment circle. Yummy!

Shape the meringue into a disc using a butterknife or offset spatula.

Lick the spatula clean. Mmmm hmmmm!

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for 60-75 minutes.

When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.(This is word-for-word Nigella's direction - I love it!)

Open the oven door, turn off the oven, and let the meringue cool completely.

Move the meringue onto your serving plate.

Whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and whip to combine.

Spread the whipped cream on the meringue and top with the strawberries. My lovely sister-in-law Leah is allergic to strawberries, so I left a section of the pavlova free for her.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave curls of chocolate over the pavlova.

Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite people!

03 September 2010

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles

It's Labor Day weekend here in the States, and for a lot of us, that means backyard barbeques, picnics, and camping. I thought I'd share a yummy side dish I made this summer. From the June 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles are a fantastic twist on tired old pasta salad. They're something different, yet not so out there that unadventurous eaters will be wary.

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles
adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2010
p. 104

12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
2/3 c. crunchy peanut butter
1-2 tbsp. red curry paste
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/3 c. fresh parsley leaves
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain pasta, rinse under cool water. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter, curry paste, vinegar, lime juice, parsley, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tsp. salt. Puree until smooth.

Toss the spaghetti, vegetables, and peanut sauce in a large bowl until well combined. Season with salt (you'll need it) and stir in some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary.

If serving immediately, transfer to serving bowl and top with red pepper flakes and fresh parsley. We brought this along with us as a camping side dish, so I packed it into an airtight container and into the cooler.

A lovely camping meal - cheeseburgers, chips, coleslaw, and this awesome pasta salad!

Those of you who know me are aware that I'm not much of a camper - I mostly do it to make my husband happy. I'm also not much of a fisherwoman, but every once in a while, I'll do that too, just to make Andrew happy. 

As you can see in the picture below, this city girl in borrowed waders does not appreciate the moment being recorded for posterity!
We're not in NYC anymore, Toto!

Have a Happy Labor Day weekend!

25 August 2010

Summer Wrap-Up

I have been very neglectful of my blog this summer, which is too bad because I've been cooking lots of great stuff that's worthy of sharing!

In lieu of a new recipe today, I wanted to post some of my summertime favorites for your perusal.

And a few more of my summertime favorites:

 The Red Sox!

  The Connecticut shore

Cocktails by the water

Hope you're enjoying the last of the warm weather!

23 August 2010

HamJam 2010

Great times were had by all at HamJam 2010, a fantastic party thrown by the amazing parents of my friend Kris. He and his wife Rachael invited Andrew and I up for the combo pig roast / jam sesh in Michigan, and we were so happy we were able to make it up there. I tagged this post "holidays" because HamJam is a day I'd be happy to celebrate every year!

It was so fun hanging out with all our new friends. Here are some shots of the day:

Rachael with her adorable son Dru

Andrew and I, ready to eat some more!

Party!!! Kris is in the foreground, wearing a green shirt and playing guitar

Now for some fabulous food!

The chefs preparing to do battle

Grandpa checking the sitch

So many sauce options! I went with the Voodoo Vinegar (far left)

My plate - tri-tip, pork sandwich, corn casserole, mac & cheese, cheesy potatoes, baked beans...hollerrr!

Andrew's plate - a lot more tri-tip, pork sammy, corn casserole, green bean casserole, baked beans

I didn't get pictures of dessert, but if I can get the secret recipe for Blueberry Delight and permission to publish, I wouldn't be surprised if that recipe goes viral in 2 hours. It's that amazing.

The beautiful, fun-loving, incomparable Wollets

Kellie - whose amazing photographic talents I've spread liberally throughout this post!

We had such a wonderful weekend - Kris, Rachael, and their families were so welcoming and made us feel a part of the group. The food was spectacular, the music was wonderful, and the company was even better. Happy HamJam!

05 August 2010

Cape Cod

Unlike many native New Englanders, I have never been a frequent visitor of Cape Cod. My family has a beach house on the Connecticut shore, so we spent our summers there. In fact, I had never been to the Cape until I started dating Andrew. He took me there for a weekend and we had a great time. Though my heart will always be at the Connecticut shore, I can see the appeal of the Cape. I mean, they have their own drink, and not only is it easy to make, it's delicious!

A Cape Cod (also called a "Cape Codder") is just equal parts vodka and cranberry juice. Pour it over ice and garnish with a lime. What a sweet summer drink!

We have been so busy this summer - we put a new roof on our house (did the whole thing ourselves!) and have been traveling almost every weekend. We got back from our annual trip to Acadia National Park in Maine on Sunday. Here are some shots from our vacation:

Finn sitting on my lap like the baby he is!

Me fishing at Otter Point

An incredible moonrise over Southwest Harbor.

To see more amazing vacation shots, check out my husband's blog here. Hope you're having an amazing summer! Cheers!

06 July 2010

Nanaimo Bars

Oh boy. Let me preface this post by saying that nanaimo bars (say it "nah-nee-moh") are completely addictive. If you're looking for a new no-bake treat, this is a surefire winner. I had all the ingredients on hand in my pantry, so when I found the recipe, I was eating Nanaimo Bars within a couple of hours!

These layered bars remind me a little bit of Brookies in that you mix the different layers separately and then combine. Also, both are very rich and chocolate-y. However, when judged by me, Nanaimo Bars would win the dessert contest anytime. They're slightly easier to make, don't require baking, keep in the fridge forever, and taste amazing. Try them!

I would suggest assembling and measuring all your ingredients ahead of time. You have time in between making each layer where the bars need to chill in the fridge, so prepping only the layer you're about to work on will be sufficient.

Nanaimo Bars
adapted from The Joy of Baking

bottom layer ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

middle layer ingredients
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 tbsp. milk or cream (I used skim milk)
2 tbsp. vanilla pudding powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar

top layer ingredients
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 tbsp. unsalted butter

bottom layer assembly
Grease a 9"x9" (I don't have one, so I used 8"x8") pan with cooking spray or butter.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder until incorporated completely.
Slowly stream the beaten egg into the mixture, stirring constantly.
Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining "bottom layer ingredients".
Press the mixture into the greased pan with your fingers, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

middle layer assembly
Using a KA or electric hand mixer, beat butter until creamy.
Add all other ingredients and beat until smooth.
If mixture is too thick to spread, add a tablespoon of milk/cream at a time until it reaches a thick yet spreadable consistency.
Spread over the bottom layer.
Cover and refrigerate at least thirty minutes.

top layer assembly 
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate and butter in thirty-second increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.
Pour over the middle layer and smooth.
Refrigerate until chocolate has set.

Cut into squares (I did 4x4, so got 16 2"x2" bars) with a sharp knife. I prefer to serve chilled straight out of the fridge, but you can also bring them to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!