Monday, March 21, 2011

Curried Zucchini Soup

I think vegetable bisque soups are one of my favorite things to make. Butternut squash is my usual stand-by so I went looking through the cook books for something a little different. My South Beach Diet cook book had a recipe for a curried zucchini soup that looked perfect! I changed a few things about the recipe to suit my likes - I upped the curry amount just a little bit as I like it spicy!

Curried Zucchini Soup
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2-in half moons
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • Fat free yogurt for garnish

Chop your ontion and place in the bottom of a soup pot with the olive oil. Sweat the onions until they are translucent and tender. Add the garlic let it cook for a few more minutes. Add zucchini and continue cooking until it is almost tender. Add ginger, curry, and garam masala.

Once the veggies are all tender, add the broth and simmer for 5-7 minutes until everything is tender.

Transfer batch by batch into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Serve warm with a dollop of the yogurt on top.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Famous Deviled Eggs

A lot of the time when I say my recipe is 'famous', it really is only famous in my mind. I'm sure people who have eaten it have enjoyed it, but famous may be a little bit of an exaggeration. Either way, secret ingredients are really fun, especially when you won't tell anyone what it is. I guess that's how I build the hype about my 'famous' deviled egg recipe.

I had a mini-super bowl party and I made 7 layer dip, pigs in blankets (yum), and deviled eggs. Perfect game day food.

Well, I guess this means my secret ingredient is officially not a secret anymore. Unless you don't read my blog, in which case I can still withhold the information from you. ;) What? You want to know what it is? You'll just have to keep reading my friend.

Deviled eggs are also one of those party foods that can either be decently healthy or not healthy at all depending on how it is made. They really are just protein, with some added fat and flavor.

My Famous Deviled Eggs
  • 1 dozen eggs, preferably a few days old
  • 1/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp mustard - I use garlic aioli mustard from Trader Joes. Yum.
  • 1/2 tsp Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • SECRET INGREDIENT: 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • dash of salt & pepper
First off you'll need to boil the eggs. I use a really simple and easy to remember method for boiling the eggs. Place your eggs in the bottom of a big pot - don't go over 1 layer in the bottom. Then fill the pot with cold water filling it to about an inch above the eggs. Heat on high until boiling (you can add vinegar to help the eggs from running should they act). Add a bit of salt to the water. Once boiling, let simmer for 1 minute. If you have a gas stove - you may need to turn the heat to very low. With an electric stove, there is enough heat leftover to keep it simmering for a minute. Next, remove from the heat and let sit covered for 12 minutes. Immediately place them into an ice bath and let cool completely. You can certainly boil the eggs ahead of time and put them in the fridge for a while before you need them. Cold eggs are so much easier to peel!

I like to peel my eggs under running water. It makes things easier and I'm convinced the water forces its way into the teeny space between the egg and the shell and helps me force it off. Maybe I'm crazy. Either way, the eggshells drop right into the sink which makes clean-up nice and quick!

Once they are peeled, slice the eggs in half lengthwise and separate the whites from the yolks. Toss the yolks into a food processor (or a bowl if you don't have one).

Add all of your remaining ingredients and combine until fully incorporated. Grab a spoon and start stuffin' those eggs! Don't use too much in each egg or you'll run out! You can always go back and add a bit more if you have extra at the end.

Sprinkle the eggs with a light dusting of paprika and enjoy.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Five Orange Butternut Squash Bisque

One of my absolute favorite things to make during the fall to winter months, is some sort of pureed bisque soup made from butternut squash. I usually try to do some sort of variation involving other starches as well as interesting fruit flavors to give it another dimension. It's one of those soups where you can be creative with different ingredients you probably already have laying around anyways.

I haven't made it much this fall as I've been disappointed in the sizes of butternut squash that I've seen at Kroger and the market. It's very healthy, filling, and tastes amazing!

My boyfriend jokingly called it five orange bisque as I was making it - included are the flavors of butternut squash bisque, sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, and orange.

Five Orange Butternut Squash Bisque
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted and cubed
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • 1/2 cup mango juice (I use the Bolthouse brand)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (this can be left out easily if you don't want the fat)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Orange for zesting
My method of making this soup involves roasting the squash ahead of adding it to the mix. It saves some time in simmering on the stove, and the squash is SO much easier to peel when it's been roasted to perfection beforehand. 

Preheat your oven to 450°. Cut the squash in half and place face down on a cookie sheet - I recommend using a silicone baking liner. Roast in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes (time varies depending on the oven) or until outside is brown and bubbly and corners are a dark orange/burnt color. Take out and let cool until you can handle it. I usually start the soup part at this point - and by the time the squash is cool, it's time to add it in. 

Heat oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and sweat them until tender (but not caramelized - remember that they'll be cooking longer).

When ready, add in carrots and sweet potato chunks and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in vegetable stock, salt & pepper, and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sweet potatoes and carrots are nice and tender.

At this point, the squash should be cool enough to peel it. The easiest way is to cut it into large sections and use your fingers to peel away the skin. Some trouble areas can be gently sliced off with a knife. Rough chop the squash into 2 inch cubes and add to the soup on the stove. Continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes until everything becomes very soft. 

Get out a food processor (or in my case a blender, as I'm still lusting after a few processors to add to my kitchen), and slowly ladle the soup into the processor bowl. The whole soup probably won't fit in all at once, so puree it in batches. Use another clean bowl to transfer the pureed soup into after each batch. Once pureed, quickly rinse out the soup pot to remove any small non-pureed pieces and transfer the soup back onto the stove. Keep on low heat, and add in the mango juice and heavy cream. 

Serve warm with a garnish of rosemary and orange zest. Enjoy!

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Banana Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

A few posts back, I made a cake for a friends wedding. A delicious sour cream peanut butter & chocolate cake.  A few weeks later, I still had some of the ingredients left over and some bananas that were going bad. Now it may not be a good strategy, but I'm trying to eat healthy, so when I have not-so-good-for-you food in the house, I usually decide to use it all so I can get rid of it. I had to eat a few, it ended up being more than a few, and brought the rest to work to feed my co-workers.

Banana Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat your oven to 350°
  • 1/2 cup butter (or 1 stick)
  • 4 overly ripe bananas, chopped into chunks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I like to use unbleached)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Chocolate chips - approx 3/4 of your standard bag, but it's up to you how many you use.
The first thing you need to do, is have your bananas and sugar make friends. This is a technique that I utilize in a lot of my baking that involves fruit. Throw your chopped bananas in a small bowl.

Add your sugar directly to the bananas.

Get out a fork, and begin mashing the sugar into the banana. The fibers will let go and the bowl will become a gooey mess of delicious banana sugar goo. I like to imagine that the sugars from the banana and the sugars from the sugar get together, go dancing, and dance off into the sunset in little sugar happiness. Whatever it is, it'll make your bananas sweet, and add a nice flavor to your batter. Let the mashed goo sit in the bowl (to give the lovers time) for about 20 minutes.

Transfer the goo to your mixer (or a bigger bowl) and mix in your vanilla, and then eggs one at a time.

In another medium sized bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients and whisk together to incorporate. Add your dry mix to the wet mix one third at a time, making sure it's all incorporated each time you add it in. Add your chocolate chips and you are ready to stick them in their cups, and into the oven.

Since I was utilizing some leftover ingredients, I used both bittersweet chocolate chips and some peanut-butter swirl chocolate chips I had lying around.

You'll notice that I use silicone baking cups for my cupcakes. I really like them because they don't create paper waste and the cupcakes come out of them easily when you are eating them!

Bake them for approximately 18 minutes, or until they have risen and are a nice golden brown color. Something like this:

and just fer kicks:

Now it's time to make your frosting while the cakes cool.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter (or 1 stick)
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
Start with room temperature soft butter - if you don't, your frosting won't be creamy and fluffy like it should. Same with the cream cheese. Ideally, using the whisk attachment in your mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese. While still mixing, slowly add in the confectioners sugar, bit by bit, until the mixture is even more fluffy. Lastly, add the peanut butter and mix until incorporated. 

By this time, the cupcakes should be cooled, and you'll probably notice that the centers have sunk a little bit. That's okay - just creates a nice little well to fill with frosting. 

Add your icing to a pastry bag (or just frost with a knife if you don't have one) and go to town! I decided on a  swirl pattern and topped the cupcakes with a few extra chocolate chips.

They were so sweet and melt-in-your mouth amazing. You can't just eat one.

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