Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole

Pair Annie's recipe with a salad and it's dinner.

Yield: about 6-8 servings

2 tsp. olive oil

1 lb. brown mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup cottage cheese (reduced fat is fine)

½ cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

½ tsp. coarse salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional), such as chives, parsley, etc.


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add in the rice mixture and stir gently until well blended. Sprinkle most of the Parmesan over the top, reserving a bit for finishing. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20-30 minutes more, until the top is lightly browned. Top with remaining Parmesan and fresh herbs, if desired.

Annie's Eat's original source: slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Monday, November 21, 2011

Caldo de Pollo

You will love this soup.

Gwen gave me an adorable cookbook as a present one year, The Soup Peddler's Slow and Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries by David Ansel. We agreed that a book with a title like that has a specific audience and we both believe we're it. We like our soups cooked long and slow with a story about a Jewish great aunt or annual neighborhood potluck to back up their authenticity.

After using this book for a half dozen years, I now have a crush on the Soup Peddler, David Ansel. If/when I make it back to Austin, Texas, I will go to his shop and eat his soup (AND I will go again see the bajillion Mexican freetail bats depart from Congress Ave bridge for their night forage. Once is not enough.) The cookbook is a quirky, fictionalized account of his first year as the Soup Peddler. This recipe is from one of Austin's legendary restaurants, Guero.

The soup:
1 chicken
12 C chicken stock
2 onions, cut into thin strips
3 carrots, peeled and very coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery (w leaves), very coarsely chopped
1/4 head cabbage, very coarsely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into thick rounds
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1 T ground cumin
3/4 C uncooked white rice
S&P to taste

Cilantro "Pesto":
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 jalapenos, stems removed
juice of 1 lime

Halve the poor chicken and put it in your soup pot. Cover with the stock, bring to a simmer over high heat, hten lower the heat to medium. You may, at any time, pull the chicken out and pull the skin off to keep the fat content to manageable level. Regardless, cook the chicken until the leg bone feels as though it will easily pull out of its socket. The longer you let it go, the more flavor you'll extract from the bones. Remove the chicken to a tray to cool.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, tomato paste and cumin to the pot and return to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, pull the meat from the bird, shred it and add it to the soup.

Once the carrots and potatoes are soft, add the rice, season with S&P and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes longer.

Meanshile, make the pesto. Use a food processor or, if you're in absolute pursuit of slowness, a molcajete y tejolete (a Mexican mortar & pestle) to grind the cilantro, jalapenos and lime juice together. Stems and seeds are encouraged.

When the rice has cooked well, to the point where its split ends make the soup appeart to be swimming with X chromasomes, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the green paste concocted above. Serve steaming hot. [Instead into the pot, I drizzled a little on the soup's surface once it was ladeled into a bowl.]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

From: Eating Well When You're Expecting

This recipe uses fruit juice concentrate instead of sugar. I don't like things that are super sweet, and I thought these were just right. I don't know if kids would like these, but I thought they were good for my breakfasts this week. I'll freeze the rest. You can also add diced apples or pears when you add the raisins. I filled the muffin cups just about to the top. They don't expand too much. They did stick to the papers, though, so next time I might just spray the pan with Pam and skip the paper liners.

1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups white grape juice concentrate (I used apple juice concentrate)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsps vanilla extract
3/4 cups raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. Line a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (I might try just spraying the muffin tin with Pam next time).

2. Place the bran, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, nuts, baking soda, and baking powder in a mixing bowl and stir to mix.

3. Place the grape juice concentrate, buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla in another mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Add the grape juice concentrate mixture to the bran mixture and stir gently just until thoroughly blended; be careful not to over-mix.

4. Gently fold in the raisins.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly. If you have extra batter, just bake some more muffins (mine made 19 total).

6. Bake the muffins until a toothpick comes out clean, about 19 min.

7. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days or individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for 3 months.

Makes at least 12 muffins (mine made 19).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

pasta with sauteed brussels sprouts

I am officially obsessed with brussels sprouts. Yum.

I've made this three or four times and finally have it the way I like it, I think. It's loosely based on this recipe from Gina's Skinny Taste, but there are a lot of modifications at this point... I'll still put her nutritional info at the end, but I'm not sure how valid it is any more.


  • 1 package of low-fat chicken sausage, squeezed out of the casings
  • a few splashes of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 12 oz brussels sprouts, shredded [Wegmans sells these prepackaged, which is amazing; if you are starting with whole sprouts, just dice them them as finely as you can]
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 celery stalk, diced small
  • other optional diced veggies: zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, red or green pepper
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes 
  • a few T oregano and/or herbs de provance
  • pinch sugar
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 14 oz pasta of any kind you like

In a big skillet, heat some olive oil and saute brussels sprouts until they turn golden but are still crunchy, about 6 minutes. Put into a big bowl and set aside.

Heat a bit more olive oil and saute the chicken sausage, breaking it up as it cooks.

When it's cooked through, shove to the side of the pan and make a hole in the center. Add a little more olive oil and saute the garlic and onion. After a minute or two, add the rest of the veggies and mix everything together until it's beginning to get soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, spices, sugar, and more pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta.

When it's done, drain and add to the brussels sprouts in the big bowl. Pour sauce all over it and serve with grated Parm.

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: about 1 3/4 cup • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 326.1 • Fat: 6.9 g • Protein: 15.7 g • Carb: 54.8 g • Fiber: 8.8 g • Sugar: 5.4 g
Sodium: 343.6 mg (without salt)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Turkey Corn Chowder

Yesterday I went to a craft show at a fire hall in Lancaster Co. As I was leaving the house I said to Todd, "I bet they're going to have chicken corn soup for sale" and they did. It was really good, and I decided to try to make something similar at home today. I wanted something a little heartier, though, so I added some extra ingredients. I also wanted to use up some turkey I had in the fridge, and some turkey stock taking up room in the freezer. You could just as easily use chicken. I just made this up as I went along, so I'll do the best I can with the recipe.

2 Tbsp butter
2 med onions, diced
1 cup diced celery
diced peppers, your fave kind (if desired. I used some banana peppers)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart turkey stock
3 cups diced potatoes (I left skins on), divided
2 bay leaves
dried thyme
dried rosemary
4 turkey cutlets
1.5 cups diced carrots
1 can corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
pot pie noodles, or noodles of your choice (optional)
milk or cream, if desired

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter. Saute onion, celery, peppers and garlic until they begin to soften. Add turkey stock, about half of the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Place turkey cutlets into the pot. Make sure the liquid covers the turkey. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until turkey cutlets are cooked through (this didn't take long - maybe 6-8 min?) Remove turkey cutlets to a cutting board and dice. Set turkey aside.

If the potatoes are not cooked through yet, continue cooking until potatoes are soft. Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot. Add carrots and cook about 5 min. Add remaining potatoes. Add corn and creamed corn. I added a couple handfuls of pot pie noodles here and continued to cook about 12 minutes until noodles were cooked through. Add turkey back into the pot. Add some milk or cream if desired. Stir everything together.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Biscuit potpies

adapted from "time for dinner"

My favorite part of this cookbook is the back where it says "if you have this, make this."
So, taking either a rotisserie chicken or one of those roasted chickens I made, meat pulled off the carcass...

Bake a package of biscuits according to the directions.
While they are baking, heat 4 Tbsp. of butter in a medium soup pot. Add a chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots and 2 chopped stalks of celery. Saute for 10 minutes, then whisk in 6 Tbsp. flour. Add 1/2 c. of white wine and stir until paste forms. Add 4 c. chicken stock, stirring until smooth. Simmer over low heat until thickened.
Add the shredded chicken and some frozen peas, cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
Split the biscuits in half. Place bottom halves in bowls, ladle chicken mixture over top, cover with biscuit tops.

Barley salad with beets and oranges

One of the other things I cooked during the marathon cooking day was a pot of barley. I had never really thought of using barley as a side dish grain, like rice, but again, that cookbook suggested it, so I gave it a shot. It was surprisingly good, actually. The kids ate rice. I haven’t convinced them yet.
They did, however, try this salad. They love beets, but mostly because they make you pee pink.
The other prep work I did was to roast some beets in the oven, when I was roasting acorn squash for dinner. I slipped the skins off before I put them in the fridge, which cut down on my work. We had this with the sausages and apples. It was a lovely fall-ish meal.

adapted from "time for dinner"

Two cups of cooked barley, in a large bowl. Toss with cooked, peeled beets, 1 can of (drained) mandarin oranges. Toss with a dressing made of 1 part orange juice, 2 parts olive oil.

Sausages with apples

So...I had some bratwurst in the freezer, and these cooked apples in my fridge. This was super quick.

from "time for dinner"

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown brats (or whatever sausages you're using) on all sides. Remove, reduce heat, and add a little olive oil and a sliced red onion, 1/4 head of red cabbage (shredded), and the cooked apples (sliced). Saute until the cabbage wilts. Add some of the leftover cooking liquid from the apples, along with a few Tbsp. of cider vinegar. Turn the heat up, add the sausages, and cook through.

Cooked apples

A bushel and a half is a lot of apples. Luckily they don’t go bad very quickly, and I have an extra fridge to store them all. I made a huge batch of applesauce in the crock pot with some, and then made these cooked apples. These are also from the same cookbook, so they will be serving dual purposes.
We ate 2 ½ of them with the pork, and probably could have eaten the whole pan if I hadn’t wanted to use them for another recipe.

adapted from "time for dinner"

5 apples, cored
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip lemon peel
2 whole cloves

Peel the apples (or not, if you liked cooked apple peel. I do not.) Combine the remaining ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil for 1 minute, then add the apples, coating them in the liquid. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, flipping the apples halfway through.

Braised pork

Braised pork

So, back to the cookbook from G. I made this braised pork, which was a huge hunk of meat. It was enough for dinner for the four of us, and then 3 more meals. I portioned it up and put two in the freezer and one in the fridge for a recipe later in the week.

adapted from "time for dinner"

one 5 to 6-pound pork shoulder
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp. paprika
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 c. orange juice
1/3 c. lemon juice

Stab deep slits with a knife into the pork shoulder. In a small food processor or on a cutting board, make a paste from the garlic, paprika, and 2 to 3 Tbsp. of the olive oil and smear over the pork. In a Dutch oven set over medium high heat, brown the pork in the remaining olive oil. Add the orange and lemon juice and cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until internal temperature of the pork is 140 degrees, about 1.5 hours.

Slow cooker chicken stock

Okay, so let’s talk about those chickens I roasted.
I stripped the meat off the bones (and ate a lot of the skin), and put in a ziploc bag for recipes later in the week.
And was left with two lovely chicken carcasses. Mmmm…carcass. My chickens still had a little meat on the bones, because I’m too lazy to pick them completely clean. And I didn’t bother picking the wings, again, because I’m lazy.
I saved all the drippings from those chickens, too, because that right there is liquid gold. Gold I didn’t turn into gravy, since we weren’t actually eating the chickens when I cooked them.

Into the crock pot went:
1 chicken carcass, plus any of the skin from the chicken I didn’t eat.
Half the chicken drippings (since I roasted 2)
1 carrot, snapped in half (I didn’t bother peeling)
1 stalk of celery, snapped in half

Now, you could add all kinds of things at this point, if you like. Peppercorns or a bay leaf or an onion. I saw something that suggested parsnip, and I just happen to have one lonely parsnip in the fridge. It’ll go into the next batch. Because I used this specific chicken recipe, with the spice rub that was mostly bay leaves, I left it as is.

Cover with water (I think I used about 10 cups). Set the crock pot on low, for 10 hours.

In the morning the whole house smelled like chicken broth. (which is sort of weird when you first wake up, but smelled really, really good) I let the crock pot cool, then stuck in the fridge. After dinner, I skimmed all the fat off the top (don’t need that), discarded the solids, and drained the broth. I froze it in Ziploc bags (easier storage, and they tell me it’s easier for defrosting), in two cup measurements.
Since I had two chickens, I did this twice. That's enough stock for a good long time.