Low-Fat Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

I don’t really know how to write this post.

You see…this is a recipe that I thought was okay, at best. Not memorable and not really blogable.

BUT…

Every person except for me has loved the final outcome. I have gotten more raves on it htan on anything in recent memory. So…I mean, I have to share it, right?

Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. mixed cauliflower and broccoli

1 onion, 3 carrots, and 2 cloves garlic, diced

2 tbsp. butter

4-6 cups vegetable stock

2.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/3 cup whole milk

3 tbsp. salt or to taste

pepper to taste

balsamic vinegar, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce to taste

IMG_2032 1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and butter over medium high heat in a large pot for about 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened and the garlic is just starting to turn golden.  IMG_2059 2. Add the stock, the rest of the veggies, and the salt, and cover. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, verging on mushy.  IMG_2060 3. Puree and add the pepper, Tabasco, and balsamic vinegar. Taste for seasonings.  IMG_2066 4. Add the milk and cheese and turn off the heat. Stir until the cheese melts – it should melt quite quickly.  IMG_2067 5. Taste for seasonings.  IMG_2071 6. Serve with Greek yogurt and  (optional) jalapenos.

My husband, my friends, and some co-workers went GA-GA over this the day after it was made. I found it gritty, they found it pleasing. I found it one note, they found it comforting. I found it muted in flavor, they found it subtle and balanced. I don’t know what to tell you…they just LOVED this. Everyone has…mine is the only dissenting voice.

I’m dying for you to make this and tell me what you think!

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

This is less of a recipe and more of a tutorial.

It’s how you cook spaghetti squash. It’s pretty quick and made with stuff you already have in your pantry and fridge.

It does NOT taste like spaghetti – whoever said that should be shot. That’s like saying that mayonnaise and marshmallow creme taste the same because they look alike.

Come ON, people.

Anyway, this recipe is good for meatless Monday. It’s filling, it’s cheap, and if you use really great sauce, it’s pretty satisfying, too.

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash parmesan Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash

1.5 jars your favorite pasta sauce (I sautee some mushrooms quickly and add those, some sriracha, and a little dried basil to my favorite jarred sauce)

1 ball low moisture mozzarella (regular is also okay, but make sure it’s fresh and high quality)

IMG_1921 1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise (use a heavy duty knife – it’s a hard shell!) and scoop the seeds and strings out of the cavity and discard. Then, place shell side up in a microwave safe pan, with a wee bit of water in the bottom. Microwave for 12 minutes and wait for the squash to be cool enough to handle.  IMG_1929 2. Take the fork and scrape it against the inside of the squash – the flesh magically separates into noodle-like strands. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Now, let’s layer! IMG_1944 3. Sauce… IMG_1946 squash… IMG_1950 mozz… IMG_1953 repeat. I finish with an extra layer of sauce, but you do whatever works best for you.  IMG_1956 4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden, and bubbling. There will be a ton of extra liquid, but much of it will thicken as it cools to an edible temperature.  IMG_1964 5. Serve over greens for an extra dose of roughage.

Like I said, this is a technique, not a recipe. It’s just jarred sauce, fresh cheese, and squash that you can keep on your counter for a week till you need it. It’s super filling and an easy way to go meatless – because if you are adding meat, just go whole hog and use actual noodles, ya know? This is one of my husband’s favorite healthy meals, and I have to say that as long as you are expecting the bouncy, snappy, earthy taste and texture of squash, it will be one of yours, too.

Spicy Baked Kale and Artichoke Dip

Happy New Year! I hope that you are ready to eat some KALE!

Don’t worry…this kale is loaded with cheese, cream, and hot sauce.

Basically, I made a fabulous kale salad for dinner the other night – don’t worry, I’ll blog it! Anyway, no one ever eats THAT much kale, and my remnants usually go into a frittata or waste away in the fridge. But after NYE, we had some cheese left over.

Like, a TON of cheese.

And some artichokes.

And I was feeling blue that the holidays are over and just felt like being fatty and indulgent. I used bacon fat in this recipe, riffing off of this one, but butter works just as well. You could certainly throw some ground sausage in here, as well as olives, roasted red peppers, etc. The sky’s the limit – all that you need to do is use up the random ingredients in your fridge.

Oh, and don’t plan on wearing a bathing suit the next day. Because this goes straight to your love handles. It’s okay, those resolutions can start tomorrow.

Spicy Baked Kale and Artichoke Dip

hot kale dip Ingredients:

3-4 cups washed, dried, and cut kale

1 tbsp. butter or bacon fat

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 serrano pepper, diced

2 cans of artichoke hearts or crowns

1.5 packages of cream cheese (assorted varieties are fine – I had leftover veggie and scallion, but use whatever works best for you)

salt and pepper to taste

Tabasco sauce to taste (about 8 dashes for spicy but not painful)

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and Asiago, but fontina and Parmesan would also be fabulous)

20150101_172351 1. Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat with the fat of your choice for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are softened and translucent. You could let these go for even longer on a slower heat if you are patient. Obviously, I’m not – the point here is to get the alliums soft and remove their bite.  20150101_172804 2. Add the kale and cover. Reduce the heat slightly and let cook for about 10 minutes. When you remove the lid, the kale should be quite soft and the scent should be damned near intoxicating – especially if you use bacon fat. Wow.  20150101_174059 3. Add all of the ingredients except half of the shredded cheese into a baking dish and mix well. Really incorporate those veggies into that cream cheese and mayo mixture. Preheat the oven to 350F. 20150101_174331 4. Add the rest of the cheese to the top, and bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese is melted, brown, bubbly, and every other type of delicious word that you can imagine.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXtDB1hl640&feature=youtu.be

Click here ^ to hear the sound of delicious. 

That’s what it should sound like (minus your husband on the phone in the background.)

20150101_185751 5. Eat with tortilla chips, celery stalks, and spoons. 
20150101_185811 But mostly just tortilla chips. Maybe very thick potato chips – they need to be able to stand up to this rather thick, substantial dish.
20150101_185819 This is just so indulgent. Creamy, cheesy, and just on the border of bieng too rich. Velvety artichoke hearts, zesty Serrano peppers, and that wonderful bacony kale. This recipe is great for kale that is perhaps JUST past its prime. After all, you don’t want the kale to be too crunchy – you want it nice and soft. It’s reminiscent of  cheesy garlic bread, but even better. The kale really does add a meaty, minerally content that cheesy garlic bread lacks. Bring this to a party and you will be the most popular kid there.

Of course, make it at home and eat the whole pan and you will hate yourself.

Like I said, resolutions can start tomorrow.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese chicken salad is SO under-represented on the east coast.

I don’t know why that is. Is it because Wolfgang Puck, creator of the world’s finest Chinese chicken salad, focused on the west coast in is heyday? Is it because NYC focuses more on dim sum and miso cod and less on the light food that you need on the incredibly hot, often arid weather on the west coast?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Bottom line: I need Chinese chicken salad in my life. And here is what that salad needs:

-soft, moist, poached or roasted but certainly not grilled chicken

-cabbage, not lettuce

-something crunchy

-a dressing that is a little spicy, a little sweet, and incredibly tart and refreshing.

So what’s a gal to do?

Make it herself, of course.

Chinese Chicken Salad

chinese chicken salad Ingredients:

1 package shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix

1 shallot, half in large slices and half in small dices

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Enough wine or beer to barely cover the chicken in a shallow saute pan

1 cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped

1 tsp. chopped ginger

1 clove garlic, diced

pita chips or fried wontons

sesame oil

peanut oil

wasabi and mustard OR hot English/Chinese mustard

sesame seeds

hoisin sauce

rice wine vinegar

soy sauce

20141208_171918 1. Put the wine, ginger, garlic, and the sliced part of the shallot in a large, shallow saucepan. Put he chicken breasts in there, too. Set it to medium high until it simmers, then set it to medium low. Cover and check back every 3 minutes until the chicken is poached – you want to take the chicken out when it is still BARELY pink in the very center of the breast. As it cools it will continue to cook.  20141208_174018 2. While the chicken cooks, put the scallions, snow peas, and cabbage into a large bowl.  20141208_174142 3. Make the dressing. This is a ratio thing, so get ready for it:

2 parts oil: 1 part rice wine vinegar: .5 part hoisin sauce: .25 part hot mustard/mustard and wasabi combo

Everything else is negotiable. You are looking for a dressing that is light, sweet, tart, an only BARELY spicy. Don’t forget to put the diced shallot in there, too.
20141208_175706 4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it with 2 forks. Alternatively, you can make the chicken ahead of time and then pull it and make the salad the following day.  20141208_175903 5. Add the chicken, pita or wontons, and dressing to the salad. Make sure that the salad is well dressed – it’s the secret to what makes this so embarrassingly addictive.  20141208_180258 6. Serve – if you want, like I did, with super crispy, soy sautéed potstickers

This is what I crave…THIS is the stuff. Light, crispy, juicy, and hearty. A tiny punch of heat and whole lot of sweet and tangy. The slight bitterness of the cabbage plays off of the juicy, ginger infused chicken and the sweet snow peas. Wontons are traditional but all I had were some rather stale pita chips and – lo and behold – it totally worked! The chips soaked up the dressing and managed to stay a little crispy. And oh, that dressing…you could serve this a rubber band and people would clamor over that rubber band. The secret is the hoisin sauce – its sweet, viscous, and umami.

I’m picking up where Wolfgang puck left off - because the East coast deserves its own Chinese chicken salad.

Toffee Apple Bacon Pie

This pie is delicious.

The technique is very poor.

But the outcome is so, so good.

Please note that this recipe can be adjusted to your tastes, and also note that the toffee sauce is copied from this recipe.

But the addition of bacon and the combination of tart, pie, and sticky toffee pudding, is unbeatable.

Toffee Apple Bacon Pie

Ingredients:

2.5 cups flour, plus more for apples

2 sticks butter, cut into cubes, plus 3/4 cup butter

3 egg yolks

4 cups sugar, divided evenly

1 cup whipped cream

vanilla, to taste

salt, to taste

1 package bacon, cut into pieces

About 10 apples, peeled and sliced into medium-thin wedges

20141126_083945 1. Combine half of the sugar, the cream, and the 3/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm it until the sauce has thickened and coated the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. You don’t want the sugar to burn, you want it to gently melt.

20141126_090626 2. Pour it over the apples, add a scant amount of flour to thicken the mixture (maybe 1 tablespoon or so), and set to work making the dough.

20141126_085238 3. Combine the rest of the butter, sugar, flour, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla, too.

20141126_085904 Really get your hands in there and make a nice, crumble-y mixture. Don’t forget to add the bacon!

20141126_091924 4. Pat the shortbread mixture into a pie dish, poke it with a few fork holes, and bake it at 350 F for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. It will seem oozy and bubbling, but that’s just all the butter. Don’t worry, it will solidify.

20141126_092121 5. Tip the apples into the pan, along with all of the toffee sauce, cover with large patches of the dough, and bake at 350 F for about an hour, or until the apples are soft and the crust is golden but not too brown.

20141126_092846 Bake it on a sheet pan in case any sugary juices bubble over.

20141127_181904 6. Serve warm with a mountain of whipped cream.

Sweet, Buttery. Soft. Crumbly. Sweet apples, soft but not mushy, in the lushest, softly sweet toffee sauce. A crust that needn’t be rolled out. And tiny shards of crispy, salty, slightly smoky bacon throughout to temper the sugar content.

It’s not kosher. But it is perfect.

Beefy Tomato Rice

This is comfort food 101.

It’s what my mom used to make when I was sick. Or when my sister had friends over. Or when it was Tuesday.

You know, just any time that we wanted some delicious food quickly.

My husband calls it grown up Beefaroni.

Anna Wintour would call it hideously ugly.

You will call it delicious.

Beefy Tomato Rice

2011-12-18 tsimis brisket liver hummus latkes1 Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 onion and 2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup rice or orzo

3-4 cups broth or stock

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp. ketchup

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese

20141125_173214 1. Sautee the onions and garlic over medium heat until they turn translucent and soften – the picture here is a little bit too far gone. You don’t want the garlic to color like it has here.  20141125_173720 2. Add the beef and cook until it’s browned. Drain off any excess fat.  20141125_173733 3. Add the orzo or rice. Stir to coat in the residual fat.  20141125_173924 4. Add the tomatoes and one ladleful of stock.  20141125_174034 5. Stir the rice continuously until it absorbs the stock. You continue adding stock and letting the rice or orzo absorb the liquid until the grain has become creamy and plump. This should take about 30 minutes and must be continuously stirred so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.  20141125_175821 6. Add the tomato  paste, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.  20141125_180145 7. Stir in the cheese.  20141125_192144 8. Serve

And be sure to serve youself a much heartier portion than this piddly little serving in the photo.

You are going to want a LOT of this stuff. Creamy, starchy, warming. Juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, tart ketchup. Not too salty and not too spicy – really different than the type of food that I normally enjoy.

And yet…perfect. So delicious. So easy and cheap to make for a big crowd or just for yourself.  20141125_192149

It makes me feel like I’m home again.

And yes, it’s pretty much grown up Beefaroni.

Black Bean Soup

This is a great detox soup for when you have eaten too much meat, too much bread, and too much wine.

It’s vegan, filled with fiber, and comes together in about 30 minutes.

Better than that…it acutally tastes like none of the above.

It’s rich and hearty and spicy and savory.

Not to mention crazy cheap.

That’s right…it’s black bean soup time.

Black Bean Soup

black bean soup Ingredients:

2 cans black beans, drained

2 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken or vegetable stock

1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 3 big carrots, all diced

2 tsp. fresh or frozen ginger

4 jalapenos or 2 serranos en escabeche, chopped

2 tbsp. each cumin and coriander

1 tbsp. oil

salt and pepper to taste

cheese, sour cream, and cilantro to garnish

IMG_1791 1. Sautee the garlic, onions, carrots, and peppers in an oiled pan over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions have turned translucent and the garlic has released its scent.  IMG_1795 You want the onions to brown and the garlic to turn golden but not too dark – no burning here! IMG_1820 2. Add the stock, seasonings, and one can of the beans. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it down to medium and let it all cook under a lid for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are super soft.  IMG_1828 3. Bring out that immersion blender and whirl it into a smooth paste – add more stock if necessary. Now, add the next can of beans and taste for seasonings.  IMG_1829 4. Serve with garnishes.

This looks like mud and tastes like home. Piping hot and creamy, with the kick coriander and the tang of those vinegary preserved peppers. I highly recommend that you de-veganize this by adding some creamy Greek yogurt and some sharp cheddar cheese. My better half perefers some sausage in this, but I think it’s perfect as is. It is so filling and tastes rich, but what is it, really? Some veggies and broth…that’s it!

It almost makes detox look fun.

Corn-Coconut-Lime Muffins

So sorry for the tardy posting…I could have sworn that I pushed “publish” yesterday, but I pushed “draft!” Have a delicious weekend, all!

These are some super easy muffins based on my favorite treat from Amy’s Bread - their lime cornmeal cookies. These cookies bridge the gap between sweet and savory. They are perfect for breakfast or a snack – I guess that you could eat them as dessert, but I certainly never have any left over after dinner.

These muffins are a tribute to those, made with a sample of Zico that I was sent.

Corn-Coconut-Lime Muffins

coconut lime corn muffins

1 package corn muffin mix, including whatever is needed to prepare the package

Zest of 2 limes

2 cups shredded coconut

Enough Zico coconut water to replace the liquid (NOT THE OIL!) called for in the recipe

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1. Prepare the muffin mix according to instructions. Replace the water with coconut water.

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2. Add the lime zest and shredded coconut.

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3. Put into greased muffin tins and bake according to package.

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4. Serve.

IMG_1750 This is so easy…like, almost criminally so. It’s just an easy mix that is doctored up with a few ingredients and BAM! – suddenly it’s some artisanal muffin. It could actually be sweet enough for dessert with a powdered sugar and milk glaze, but I like it as a muffin. It’s light and fluffy, with sticky shreds of coconut and that fragrant coconut water flavor. Lime’s essential oils are all in the zest, so using the zest infuses the batter with tart lime flavor without having to juice the lime. Replacing the liquid with coconut water cuts fat and adds such a delicate tropical flavor. The texture is a little crumbly, but slap some butter on one and you will suddenly forgive its structural defects. Whip these up and you will feel like you are in the tropics.

Or at Amy’s Bread…def one or the other.

BBQ Chicken and Cheese Crescent Rolls

I took my cue from this off of one of those stupid commercials where the family all plays football together in the picture perfect backyard, falls into a pile of leaves, then scampers off to the gleaming kitchen for a quick meal that mom whips up while wearing size 2 jeans and smiling the entire time.

Needless to say, we are not that family.

We are a family who has frozen chicken burgers in the freezer, a jar of bbq sauce in the pantry, and a can of crescent rolls in the fridge.

Don’t worry, I promise that I served a salad and some roasted carrots alongside.

BBQ Chicken and Cheese Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:

1 package crescent rolls

1/2 lb. of ground chicken burgers (if you just have ground chicken, add some chopped onions, herbs, salt, and pepper to the mix)

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 tbsp – 1/4 cup bbq sauce

hot sauce to taste

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1. Sautee the chicken until it is totally cooked. Add the cheese and mix through until it’s melted.

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2. Add the bbq sauce and mix to combine. Turn off the stove.

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3. Take out the crescent rolls and preheat the oven per the instructions on the carton.

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4. Take a small dollop of chicken mixture and spoon it onto the widest part of the crescent roll.

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5. Roll the crescent dough over once, then put a smaller amount onto the next little triangle section of dough.

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6. Roll around to complete your little crescent! Repeat for all of the dough, and don’t worry if some come out a little wonky looking – that’s okay!

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8. Bake on a greased baking sheet until the dough is golden brown on top, then serve the buns topped with hot sauce and extra bbq sauce.

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These are wholesome guilty pleasures. The dough is basically a carb and preservative bomb, but the chicken is lean, the cheese is filled with protein, and you can always eat salad on the side. These are creamy, spicy, and tangy. They are best when served piping hot, but someone I know eats them cold out of the fridge for midnight snacks. These would be awesome for a big party, since they can be served room temperature and are hand held.

It’s the closest that we ever came to being a tv family.

Elle’s Kale Chip Commandments

I have this friend, Elle, who is kind of my lifestyle guru.

She just knows how to DO things well.

Which is why I should have known that she would teach me how to make kale chips. Her methods are straightforward and must be followed to a “T.”

The result is nothing less than crack cocaine.

And all that you need to do is follow Elle’s commandments:

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1. Thou shalt dry thy kale

Chips abhor moisture. No matter how great your oven is or how fresh your kale is, if the stuff isn’t dry, it ain’t gonna crisp. Elle carefully dries EACH leaf with a paper towel before she declares it good enough to bake.

2. Thou shalt not overlap thy leaves

Because she says that if even a little bit of the leaf is left unexposed to heat, it will stay limp and become mushy, ruining the entire chip. She says that the kale can be touching at the edges but not overlapping. You will have to do several rounds of baking since there’s a lot of shrinkage when they heat up.

3. Thou shalt drizzle, not pour, the olive oil.

Do that little hand back-and-forth hand shaky thing to get a few drops of oil on each leaf, then let it go. You don’t want to drown these puppies in oil.

4. Thou shalt salt well

Kale loves salt and needs it. Salt those suckers, and add some cayenne pepper if you feel frisky.

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5. Thou shalt bake at 350 F until they are almost black and smell delicious

About 20-30 minutes should do it.

6. Thou shalt eat like potato chips that break easily

Because these break all over the place and unless you have a dog to eat the crumbs, you’re going to want to take care.

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7. Thou shalt not save thy leftovers

Kale chips are salty and delicious when hot and soggy and sad when not.

8. Thou shalt make extras for me

Okay, I added that last part.