Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roasted Party Dip

My tastebuds came alive when this creamy roasted party dip made an entrance onto my palate. My eyes sparkled with delight from experiencing new combinations of flavor. Scooping up more of this dip with cut veggies and assorted crackers, my mind was racing about with ideas of how many people I could impress with this easy-to-prepare party dip. I could easily purchase all of the ingredients and mix them all together. That is easy entertaining with no fuss.

Purchase from your market:
Roasted red peppers
Roasted eggplant
Hummus of choice
Goat cheese

What you will need:
Kitchen knife
Large spoon
Cutting board
Serving bowl

Preparation of dip:
Cut red peppers and eggplant into small pieces
Break goat cheese into small pieces
Put hummus into serving bowl
Add cut veggies and goat cheese into hummus and stir.
Option: puree all the ingreditents for a finer dip.

Serving suggestions:
Cut fresh veggies of choice on a plate for dipping.
Have an assortment of crackers or tortilla chips for dipping.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I smell these cookies baking in my home my mind wanders back to memories of a tummy-warming breakfast of oatmeal as well as my love for a chocolate bar. Two favorite flavors in this hearty cookie recipe.
My first bite into a warm, just-out-of-the-oven cookie 'cause I can't wait until they cool down has me saying "Mmmmmm". An old fashioned cookie with a modern twist. Does it get any better than that? This recipe produces a firm, thick cookie with a softer center even when cooling process has been completed.
Try a batch to see the difference with this recipe. (my version of Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies)These cookies vanish, right into your tummy.

What you will need:
1 cup (two sticks) margarine or butter (I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread in a tub)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups Quaker Oats uncooked (quick oats or old fashioned)
1 cup Nestles Chocolate Semi-sweet Chocolate Bits
Two large baking sheets
Parchment Paper
Wooden spoon
Large mixing bowl
Medium mixing bowl
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Electric mixer (standing or hand-held)
Pot holders
Wire cooling racks
Large platter or plate for finished cookies

Prepare to bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together margarine (or butter) with sugars using an electric mixer until mixture is creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla into the above mixture and put mixer on beat rather than cream.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Using a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients together.
Add the mixed dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl with the creamy wet ingredients that was previously beaten together in the larger mixing bowl.
Use the wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the creamy mixture thoroughly.
Stir in the uncooked oats and mix well with the wooden spoon.
Add the chocolate bits and stir into the above mixture.

Line the baking sheets with parchment paper and prepare to bake the cookies:
With a rounded tablespoon, drop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cookie size is optional therefore more or less dough will determine the size of baked cookies. I use a very rounded tablespoon and do not press the cookie dough down once it is on the baking sheet. This will allow for a very rounded cookie that is soft in the middle.
Bake the cookie dough for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
(Hint: for a softer middle, take the cookies out of the oven before they look browned and let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes to finish cooking.)
Continue the cooling process by putting the cookies onto a wire rack.

Finished cookies:
Depending on size, this recipe will make up to four dozen cookies.
Hint: Using the Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (or margarine) allows the cookies to be firm on the bottom and top yet softer in the middle.
These cookies practically melt in your mouth.

Nachos - Easy Appetizer or Meal

Warm melted cheese gets my attention every time. It is like a fluid sensation coating my tongue and cheeks. The gooiness sticks to any choice of food enhancing flavors to the moon! Here is a tasty snack food transforming into complete meal with very little effort, right in front of your eyes. Comfort food all to yourself or share it with your best friends. Get ready for the compliments on your cooking skills. Only you will know how simple it is to create this homemade dish. Grab your favorite easy chair and watch some football with your comfort creation or put a baking dish full of Nachos on a buffet table and quietly watch your friends stuff their mouths with joy because you cooked.

The Souper

What you will need:
1 lb. block of fresh cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips of choice - two bags
Can of beans of choice - white, navy or red (optional)
Jar of favorite salsa
Guacamole - prepared from the market
Sour cream - purchased from the market
Large baking dish
Large bowl
Small serving bowls - three
A box grater
Pot holders

Preheat your oven to 400-425 degrees F.
Grate your cheese into a large bowl
(Optional)Open a can of beans - rinse with cold water and drain out the liquid
Open a bag of tortilla chips
Put salsa, guacamole and sour cream into small serving bowls

Create your Nachos:
In the large baking dish, put one layer of the tortilla chips
Cover the tortilla chips with some grated cheese
Cover the layer of grated cheese with some rinsed beans (optional)
Continue layering of tortilla chips, grated cheese and beans
Tope layer is grated cheese

Put the full baking dish of Nachos into the preheated oven
Bake until the cheese is melted - about 10 minutes depending on your oven temp.
Remove the baking dish from the oven with pot holders

Eat Nachos directly from the baking dish
Have individual serving dishes ready to put all the fixings for the Nachos - salsa, quacamole and sour cream.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Paprika Chicken - like a chicken stew

New photo of Paprika Chicken aka Chicken Stew - by The Souper - 2012

Chicken stew is comfort food to me. This Paprika Chicken Recipe aka "Chicken Stew" is a favorite of mine. Without copying directly from a recipe I found years ago, I am going to take you through the steps to prepare this yummy, satisfying, one-pan meal. The basic ingredients and prep steps are here, but let your tastebuds and imagination create your special chicken stew. Make a lot because you will crave more the next day, I am sure. Of note, the original recipe found in a newspaper used chicken thighs on the bone, white potatoes, carrots and pearl onions.

The Souper

Prep before cooking to have kitchen supplies and ingredients ready to use:
One large frying pan with matching cover
One large rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper
Large platter for partially cooked chicken
Pair of tongs
Wooden spoon
Large serving fork
Large platter or serving plate for cooked chicken dish

Chicken parts to include white and dark meat on the bone to fit in large frying pan. (or boneless chicken breasts/thighs work well also)
Butternut squash and/or sweet potatoes cut into cubes (white potatoes are good, too.)
Pearl onions or cut a large onion in slices
Carrots cut into small pieces (about 2-3)
Celery cut into small pieces. Two stalks. (optional)
Canola oil, about 3 tablespoons at beginning, may need more during cooking.
Paprika, enough to coat all the chicken parts generously on both sides. (Smoked paprika adds another depth of flavor to this dish.)
Kosher Salt and ground black pepper on both sides of the chicken parts.
Dry white wine, 1/2 cup (optional)
Chicken broth, low sodium from box, about one cup. (use more if not adding the wine.)
White flour or cornstarch - enough to cover the vegetables while cooking
Fresh parsley, chopped, as a garnish to cooked dish.

Photos during the prepping/cooking process:

Prepare to cook:
Place chicken on the baking sheet lined with wax paper.
Coat both sides of chicken with Kosher salt, crushed black pepper and generously sprinkle with paprika to cover the chicken totally.
Let all the spices set into the chicken for several minutes.
Add the canola oil into large frying pan and turn heat on the stove burner up to medium-high.
Begin to put uncooked, coated chicken into the heated frying pan. Let the chicken parts cook for a few minutes to brown before turning them over with tongs.
Remove partially cooked chicken to a large platter after they have browned on both sides. (may have to do this in batches if making a large amount of chicken.) They will be returned to the frying pan to finish cooking after other ingredients have been added.
Add a bit more olive oil into the frying pan and add onions and stir them around with the wooden spoon until a bit soft.
Add the butternut squash or sweet potatoes along with the carrots and celery. Keep stirring the veggies around until they soften.
Sprinkle the veggies with the flour or cornstarch and keep stirring for a minute or two to coat all the veggies with flour. It is ok if there is browning at the bottom of the fry plan.
Slowly add a 1/2 cup dry white wine and stir the veggies with a wooden spoon while scraping off brown bits from the frying pan into the mixture for flavor. Then add chicken broth and keep stirring the veggies around creating a nice sauce.
Put the partially cooked chicken back into the frying pan on top of the cooking veggies. After chicken and veggies come to a low boil, lower heat under the pan to low temperature. Cover the frying pan with a matching lid and continue to cook the stew mixture until all veggies are soft and the chicken is fully cooked, about another 20-30 min.
The stew should be cooking at a low boil on low heat to finish the dish.
Adjust flavor after a taste test by adding more salt or crushed black pepper when the stew is fully cooked and ready to serve.

Put the cooked chicken on a clean platter or large serving dish. Spoon the cooked veggies all around the chicken.
Spoon more of the gravy all over the chicken and veggies.
Sprinkle chopped, fresh parsley over the entire stew and serve.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spice Swirl Soup

Colorful Ingredients in Spice Swirl Soup

Hearty, spicy and comforting. Soup base is non-dairy and gluten-free. Can be totally vegetarian by using vegetable broth. This recipe utilizes basic cooking techniques of roasting, pureeing and heating on stovetop. The best way to enjoy veggies.

Bowl of Roasted Vegetable Soup

Recipe Prep:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Food processor (or blender)
Large spoon or spatula
Wooden spoon
Kitchen knife
Vegetable peeler
Cutting board
Pot holders
Large soup pot with matching lid
Measuring cup
Two, large rimmed baking sheets
Parchment paper (for easy clean up)
Assorted veggies to roast

Floating The Spices While Soup Is Cooking In The Pot:
Before "The Swirl" Through The Soup

Olive oil
Eggplant, small to medium, washed, peeled and cubed
Butternut squash, one small or half of large, peeled and cubed
Carrots, two or three, washed, peeled and cut into disc shapes
Red pepper, one large (washed, seeds taken out, cut into small pieces)
Onion, one large(Vidalia or red onion; peeled and sliced in strips)
Garlic, two cloves, not peeled and left whole
Chicken broth, three cups, boxed or canned, low-sodium
Water, 3-4 cups, cold
Spices: one teaspoon, dried, of the following
Cumin, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, Kosher salt.
Red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon
Bay leaves, two whole dried leaves
Kosher salt, added during the cooking process for personal taste.

Preparing to make Spice Swirl Soup:
After the veggies have been washed, dried and cut, put them on the lined baking sheets in one layer so they will roast more efficiently.
Drizzle the cut veggies with some olive oil before roasting.
Sprinkle the veggies with Kosher salt also before roasting.
Roast the veggies in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, until browned.

When veggies have cooled from roasting, puree them in small batches in a food processor or blender along with some of the chicken or vegetable broth (one or the other.) Note: peel the roasted garlic and add to food processor.
After puree of each batch of roasted veggies, put the mixture into large soup pot.
Add remaining water, bay leaves and bring to low boil with cover on the pot.
Once the soup is boiling, turn heat down to low.
Add the spices to float on top of the soup in colorful piles and then with a wooden spoon, begin to slowly swirl around through the spices to blend them into the cooking soup.
Keep tasting the soup and adjust flavor to your liking by adding additional salt. (easier to correct flavor while cooking than adding too much salt at the beginning of the cooking process.)Salt helps with the blending of all the spice flavors.
When the soup is heated sufficiently, it is ready to serve in individual bowls.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with hearty tortilla chips, melting cheese, homemade croutons.
Add any cooked protein leftovers such as: chicken, sausage, ground beef, sauteed shrimp. This makes a complete meal-in-a-bowl.

Spice Swirl Soup tastes even better the next day. Have extra chicken or vegetable broth to loosen the thickened soup or just add more water. This soup freezes well, too.

The Souper
Spice Swirl Soup on FoodistaSpice Swirl Soup

Thursday, September 30, 2010

GF Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

from The Gourmet Cookbook

GF Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies Makes about two dozen cookies.

What you will need and baking instructions:

1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar (1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a baking sheet and set aside.
In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes.
Roll mixture into walnut-sized balls and create a cris-cross pattern with a fork.
Optional: Add a few chocolate pieces to the top of the cookies.
Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool on the baking sheet for two minutes, then transfer to… your mouth.

The Souper on Foodista

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rainy Day Saturday Soup - aka Veggie Soup

Description: My version of Minestrone Soup utilizing fresh veggies on-hand, reaching for pantry items to add into soup stock. This completed soup is built upon staples on hand for the day. My creative efforts produce a one-of-a-kind soup full of nutritious vegetables, pasta/beans. Can become a complete meal in a bowl.
Extra touches: grate cheese into an individual bowl (keeping the pot of soup non-dairy) and add-in homemade crouton or soup crackers.

Recipe Preparation: About an hour from chopping veggies to completed soup.
Pull any fresh veggies of choice from your refrigerator. Saturday’s veggies listed below. Chop into same-size pieces.
Peeled garlic clove(s), chop ready to include with sautéing veggies in olive oil.
Soup pot on the stove ready to sauté pieces of veggies in olive oil.
Wooden spoon available to stir veggies while sautéing.
Tube of tomato paste for a couple of squirts into sautéing veggies in pot.
Box of low-sodium chicken broth (32 oz.) ready to add slowly as veggies absorb olive oil.
Cold water in a measuring cup (2 cups at a time) to add slowly after the chicken broth.
(you might be adding up to 4 cups of water depending on other ingredients put into the soup that will absorb the liquids.)
Assorted spices & dried bay leaves, including salt & pepper ready to be added to the soup while veggies sauté in liquids.
Canned beans, washed & drained, ready to put into soup pot while soup cooks.
Small-size pasta or shells (uncooked) ready to put into the soup by a handful or two.

Olive Oil: to drizzle into bottom of soup pot to sauté veggies.
Carrot or two, depending on size and desire. Cut into discs.
Celery, one or a couple of stalks. Peel to take tough, stringy outer layer off. Cut into small slices.
Butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
Asparagus: wash and cut tough bottom ends off, then cut upper part into small pieces.
Garlic clove(s) to taste. Chop.
One box of low sodium Chicken Broth (32 oz.)
One large can of crushed tomatoes with no salt added (28 oz.)
One tube of tomato paste for a couple of squirts into sautéing veggies.
One small can of Cannellini (white kidney beans), washed and drained.
Small pasta such as shells. (a couple of handfuls.)
Water, about four cups.
Spices (dried): Oregano, Basil, Cinnamon, Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes, Turmeric, Tarragon, Salt & Pepper.
Bay Leaves: two-three
Sugar: optional

Building the Soup:
Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of the pot, on stove burner.
Turn heat to medium-high, let it heat for a couple of minutes without burning and begin to add the chopped veggies. Should hear sizzle of veggies in heated oil.
Stir the veggies with a wooden spoon to get them soft.
Add chopped garlic on top of veggies sautéing.
Add salt, pepper and rest of spices. Stir with wooden spoon.
Add about three squirts of tomato paste (to taste) and stir into the sautéing veggies. Stir.
Add slowly the chicken broth to keep veggies from burning. Keep stirring.
Add water up to four cups if you will be adding pasta and beans. Keep stirring.
Add Bay Leaves (two – three).
Add small pasta (two – three handfuls). Keep stirring.
Add washed & drained Cannellini Beans (Red Kidney Beans work well, too.)
Add more salt & pepper to taste when pasta is cooked in the soup. (The beans and pasta absorb salt.)
Add some sugar if soup tastes bitter as canned tomatoes might be very acidic. (sugar & salt correct an acidic taste.)
Turn temperature of cooking soup to low and put a cover on soup loosely, leaving opening for steam to escape.
Sir and taste soup before serving.

Serving Suggestions:
Slice a baguette or hearty-grained bread, drizzle with olive oil, heat in oven (400 degrees on lined baking sheet) for homemade croutons.
Put a homemade crouton in the bottom of a soup mug/bowl or serve on the side.
Add a protein to the soup for a complete meal:
-left over cooked chicken, cooked sausage or cooked ground beef (meatballs/meatloaf.)
-add melting cheese to the soup bowl. (now it is a dairy soup.)

Be creative in building your own soup recipe. Enjoy and have fun.

The Souper
Rainy Day Saturday Soup - Aka Veggie Soup on Foodista

Friday, September 17, 2010

Meatballs - Homecooking Happiness

Meatballs – The Healthy Way

A small round package of ground beef mixed with traditions of families. Eat alone as is or combined with tomato sauce to be ladled over fresh pasta, meatballs satisfy my meat cravings. How many families prepare these little bursts of flavor filled with the secrets of grandmas of many cultures? Here is a new twist on an old world favorite.
My recipe combines healthy add-ins to get more veggies into a meal creating a very moist ground beef mixture. Highly seasoned with lots of spices, these meatballs are not boring. Baking the newly-created version of my meatballs cuts down on calories as well. Serve as an appetizer or in a sauce over pasta. Watch your friends and family be surprised from this hearty creation.

The Prepping:
· Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
· With parchment paper, line a rimmed baking sheet.
· Have ready one pound of fresh ground beef (or defrost some from freezer.)
· Gather fresh vegetables, wash and chop into small pieces to mix into ground beef mixture.
· Organize add-ins for creating your meatballs: seasonings, spices & condiments of choice.
· Large mixing bowl.
· Oven mitts or pot holders.
· Wooden spoon for mixing; or mix with clean hands.
· Tongs or spatula for transferring cooked meatballs to a serving dish.

Ingredients: (choose any from list below or include your personal choices.)
One pound of fresh ground beef.
One egg
Ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestshire Sauce: all to personal taste.
Mustard: optional.
Chopped fresh onion.
Chopped fresh peppers: use different colors.
Chopped baby spinach: optional.
Chopped fresh zucchini/summer squash.
Grated cheese: optional.
Salt and ground black pepper
Dried oregano, basil, tarragon.
Dried cumin (more intense flavor); red pepper flakes (for heat): optional.
Seasoned bread crumbs or Panko flakes (do not include for Gluten-free meal.)
Enough to allow mixture to form a meatball.

Mix all the above ingredients in a large bowl. If not using bread crumbs, this mixture will be wetter but should still form a meatball. The size of the meatballs is up to you. For meals, a golf ball size is good. For an appetizer, make a smaller meatball.

Arrange the meatballs on the lined, rimmed baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven.
Bake until browned. (about 30+ minutes depending on your oven.) Your nose will tell you when they are done. Your kitchen will be filled with a delicious, inviting aroma of home cooking.

Serve with dipping sauces of choice.
A side salad completes a very healthy meal.
Serve bread or rolls on your table as an option.

Meatballs - The Healthy Way on FoodistaMeatballs - The Healthy Way

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Noodle Pudding - Noodle Kugel

Noodle Pudding or Noodle Kugel

Bringing back holiday tradition with this sweet dairy Noodle Kugel. Talk about comfort food!!! Sweetness with butter and cheeses mixed with cinnamon and noodles. Oh, yes, this has it all. Great brunch dish or weekend at home. Perfect dish to serve at the end of a fast such as Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur.

· 16 ounces (400 gm) broad egg noodles
· 4 Tbsp. (50 gm) butter, melted
· 1 pound (500 gm) cottage cheese ( or 8 oz. cottage cheese + 8 oz. farmer’s cheese)
· 1 pound (500 gm) sour cream
· 4 eggs, beaten
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
· 1 cup crushed cornflakes
· 1 tsp. cinnamon
· 1/4-1/2 cup sugar

1. Cook noodles in boiling water according to package direction. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. In a large bowl, mix the noodles with the melted butter, cheeses, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
3. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the cornflakes, cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cornflake mixture on top of the noodle mixture.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for about 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the top is brown.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sole Meuniere - Classic French Meal

A fancy name for a simple-to-prepare fish dish. With prep before cooking, you too can enjoy this classic French fish dish. The sole melts in your mouth and does not taste "fishy" at all. Enjoy

Sole Meuniere
What You Will Need

6 sole fillets (skinned) (about one pound fresh fish.)
1 cup flour
6 Tbs unsalted butter
6 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving)
2 Tbs fresh parsley (minced)
salt and white pepper to taste

In a shallow dish combine flour and 1 Tbs salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper. Dredge each fillet in the flour mixture on both sides.

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat add 2 tsp butter with 2 tsp oil. When butter foams, shake excess flour from fillets and cook until golden brown about 1 minute, flip and cook the other side for a couple minutes until cooked through. (next step optional)Wipe the pan out and repeat process until all of the fillets are cooked.

(optional)Clean pan one more time and make sauce. Melt the remaining 4 Tbs butter over medium heat, add lemon juice and swirl the mixture in the pan. Pour over warm fillets, sprinkle with parsley and serve with extra lemons.

adapted from Williams-Sonoma Fish cookbook

Hints: If you are not fussy for a very white sauce, you can skip the pan-wiping steps. I actually enjoyed the little brownish look after cooking the fish in the pan and then continued to make the quick sauce in the same pan. Very tasty.

I also think the next time I prepare this Sole dish, I will cut back on the amount of butter during cooking process. A little unsalted butter is delicious, but a lot is not healthy, I feel.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Enjoyed my first Heirloom Tomato for lunch today. What a treat! Are all tomatoes alike? Not really. Many thanks to Whole Foods for making these special tomatoes readily available in their store near me.

Heirloom Tomatoes can be enjoyed simply on a good whole grain or rustic bread, toasted. Drizzle the toast with good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), cut thick slice of tomato with a serrated knife so as not to tear the meat of the tomato. Then drizzle again with the EVOO. Sprinkle with some dried basil. That's it. Enjoy.

Prep: Wash and dry the fresh Heirloom Tomato very carefully. Slice a good bread with a serrated knife on a cutting board. Toast or bake in oven with EVOO drizzled on it and bake on a baking sheet. Also use a cutting board to cut the tomato in thick slices with a serrated knife. Have extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) nearby as well as dried basil.

Serving suggestions: Layer toasted bread, extra virgin olive oil, tomato and dried basil, ending with a drizzle of the oil on top of the tomato. Or, add a layer of your favorite cheese like Mozzarella with fresh basil leaf.

What a nice first course or appetizer this recipe makes!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fresh Salad Dressing - No Fancy Name

Here is a no-fuss, no measure dressing for your garden salad. With good Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), juice of one half of a fresh lemon, Kosher salt, crushed black pepper and assorted dried herbs, you will have salad dressing as you need it. I like to use basil, oregano & tarragon. A pinch or two of sugar gives a nice balance to all the ingredients.

Prep: With your garden salad prepared in a nice serving bowl, gather all the ingredients mentioned above. Begin first with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzled on top of the salad. (A few turns around the salad bowl.) Then take half of the fresh lemon and squeeze into your clean hand to catch the seeds, allowing the juice of the lemon to fall into the salad bowl. Then take pinches of Kosher salt, crushed black pepper, basil, oregano, tarragon and sugar to add on top of the garden salad.

Once all ingredients are in the salad bowl, you can toss the salad gently with clean hands, salad tongs or wooden spoon. Be sure to taste a piece of lettuce to check the balance of your seasonings. Sometimes more salt is needed, sometimes a bit more sugar. Amount of herbs to use is up to your personal taste.

Serve: It is best to prepare the salad dressing just before serving at the dinner table. You do not want the vegetables to get soggy. Your salad should remain crisp with just enough dressing to coat the vegetables.

Optional: For an acid instead of lemon juice, you can use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar for a slightly different taste.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Veggie Medley Sauteed

Tonight's sidedish with dinner was a medley of veggies we had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry. A small zucchini, small yellow squash, one small carrot, half of a Vidalia onion and three cloves of fresh garlic. Assorted herbs and olive oil completed this sidedish. Fresh cherry tomatoes added at end for garnish.

Prep: Gather your veggies, wash and dry them. Have a cutting board, a sharp knife, a large frypan, three cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and sliced, not crushed. Sliced garlic gives a milder flavor. Cut the zucchini, yellow squash and carrot into small cubes or short sticks. Cut the onion in slices or dice it. Your choice. Dried herbs of choice this evening were oregano, basil, tarragon, pinch of red pepper flakes, and Kosher salt. Have a wooden spoon ready for stirring.

Saute: Put a few tablespoons of regular olive oil in the frypan. Turn heat on stove to med.high temp. When heated, add the onions first with a pinch or two of Kosher salt and stir around with wooden spoon. When onions look shiny, add the sliced garlic and keep stirring. After a few minutes, add the rest of the cut veggies and keep stirring. If more olive oil is needed, add some now. Sprinkle your dried herbs on the veggies while cooking and add a pinch more of salt to taste. When veggies look a bit softer, this dish is done.

Serving: Put the sauteed veggies into a nice serving dish. Add a few cut, washed fresh cherry tomatoes for a pop of color contrast. A sprinkle of dried tarragon gives a fresh look to the cooked veggies and another pop of color contrast.


Fresh Fish - Don't be afraid to cook it.

It is important to buy fresh fish from a reputable supermarket or specialty fish market. That said, fresh fish does not smell "fishy". Simple as that. My favorite kinds of fish to bake are halibut, haddock, sole and salmon (sockeye, preferred).

Prep: Purchase your fresh fish and unwrapp keeping on ice in a dish in the refrigerator until ready to cook. At cooking time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. with rack in the middle of the oven. In a baking dish, spray with a cooking oil and then put the washed/dried piece of fish into the baking dish. Have some olive oil, butter and optional Panko Bread Crumbs to put on top of your fish. Seasonings: Kosher salt, crushed pepper, parsley or dill. Be sure to have an oven mitt ready as well as a large spatula for serving.

Baking: Fish cooks quickly at high heat. Therefore, allow at least 15 minutes until fish looks firm and flakey. Do not over cook the fish. You might see some whitish protein form on/around the cooking fish. This means it is just about cooked. A firmer fish like halibut will turn a nice white color and brown a bit on top.

Serving: Serve right from your baking dish onto a plate. Think about preparing some fresh, steamed veggies as a sidedish and/or a carb of your choice. Please check out my recipes for Couscous and Quinoa. A baked potato works well, also. This is a very healthy meal.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Steak Tips On Grill The Easy Way

Tonight is going to be a meat night. After lots of fish and chicken, sometimes one just enjoys a meat meal. During summer months, what is better than grilling some steak tips? Are you ready for this simple recipe? You will not be disappointed.

Prep: Purchase a good quality cut of meat for steak tips. If not labled at your supermarket, ask the butcher behind the counter to assist you. Have a cutting board used for meat, a sharp knife, a clean plate to bring steak tips to the outdoor grill and another clean plate to bring the cooked steak tips to your dinner table. You should also have a a grill brush, mesh grill rack, oiled or sprayed with olive/canola oil to keep the steak tips from sticking. Suggestion: if your steak tips come in strips, cut them into large cubes for quicker cooking. Don't forget a pair of tongs to turn your pieces of meat. An oven mitt is helpful as well.

Grilling: You do not need to season or marinate good cuts of meat. Do not even salt them first because they will loose their juice. After preheating your grill, using your grill brush to clean the grill, lower temp so meat does not burn. Put the mesh grill with the meat on the heated grill. Turn the pieces of meat when you have them cooked to your liking.

Serving: After the cooked meat is put onto a clean plate, sprinkle some Kosher salt and pepper, let the meat rest on the plate for a few minutes before eating. Cover lightly with foil. This resting time allows for the meat juices to redistribute back into the cooked meat. While the meat is resting, prepare a tossed salad to go along with your steak tips. Additional steamed or grilled veggies is added nutrition to your meal. If you prepare enough steak tips and salad you then have another meal for the next day: cook once, eat twice!

Optional: If you desire to marinate your steak tips before cooking, put the meat cubes in a large plastic food bag and add: olive oil, redwine vinegar, Worcestshire Sauce, Kosher salt and crushed pepper. Some people like to add ketchup also. Dried herbs can be added such as Tarragon and Rosemary. Close the plastic food bag after all ingredients are sealed inside and shake/turn the bag to distribute the marinade. Put the bag into the refrigerator for 15-20 min. Drain and put the cubed steak tips on a plate ready to bring to your grill. Follow grilling instructions above.

You will be amazed at the taste of good cuts of meat grilled in this simple way. No need to dump lots of sauce on them. The true flavor of the grilled steak tips will be pleasing to your palate, I am sure.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Easy Party Dip Sure to Please All

Was out to dinner last evening and served a new dip using very few ingredients producing a mild, flavorful, healthy dip. Served with crackers, homemade pita chips and cut, fresh veggies. This was a total surprise to experience favorite ingredients all blended together.

Preparation: Use roasted veggies (peppers and eggplant for example) purchased from a store or make on your own at home. A great way to use up cooked veggie leftovers, also. Put the cooked veggies into a food processor, combine with plain hummus purchased from a store and the last ingredient is goat cheese (put chunks into food processor to your desired amount.) Blend the above ingredients briefly and put into a serving bowl.

Serving: Along with your dip mixture (above), have platter of fresh, cut, peeled carrots & celery, fresh colored peppers cut in wide strips and whole mushrooms (cleaned gently, bottom stems trimmed off.) Have a basket of good quality bread sticks, tortilla chips and homemade pita chips to serve along with the dip.

Options: Be creative in mixing cooked veggies of your choice into hummus. Imagine the varieties sure to impress your friends.

Party Dip - Veggies and Hummus on Foodista

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Veggies Grilled, Roasted or Steamed

Think of your favorite veggies in spring,summer,fall and even winter. I like to buy veggies in season for freshness and lower price. Have you ever visited a local Farmer's Market? If not, take a little time to stroll through one. It can be an adventure! Imagine, purchasing veggies directly from the farmer who grew them? No shrink-wrapped packages, no box from a freezer from a supermarket. Hmmm, how much did that packaging cost you? Your veggies from a Farmer's Market did not take an airplane ride for you to spend more money to transport them.

Ok, so here is the prep: Wash, dry, peel if necessary any veggies of choice. Examples for grilling: Vidalia Onions (peeled,sliced); Zucchini (sliced lengthwise in thick strips); Peppers (cut into wide strips); Eggplant (unpeeled, sliced in wide, thick strips); Asparagus (cut off bottom tough ends.)

If grilling: use a mesh rack, place veggies on the rack. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Have tongs ready to turn the veggies so they do not burn.

If roasting: Use a large baking sheet with rim (lined with parchment paper)or baking dish to serve in that can go into the oven. Brush the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast until veggies are soft and a little browned. The delicious smell will tell you when they are ready. Cooking time is about 20 minutes depending on your oven. Roasting brings out sweetness in veggies.

If steaming: Use a large pot with some water in the bottom. Use a steaming basket to put inside the pot. Cut your veggies of choice to fit in the steaming basket. Cover the pot when filled with veggies and turn heat first to a medium high, then when steaming begins, turn the heat down to low. Veggies take about five minutes to steam. The should not be soggy, but they should not be hard either. You will know when they are done with just a taste test.

Always make extra veggies as these make great leftovers to put into tomato sauces, egg scrambles, added to a sandwich, and even turned into a pureed soup with added broth.

Enjoy your veggies!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Grilled Chicken Made Easy

Platter of Grilled Chicken over fresh Garden Salad

It is amazing how a few ingredients make plain chicken tasty. It is summertime so get your grill fired up, oil the rack or use a mesh grid sprayed with Olive Oil or Canola Spray and get ready to grill some chicken breasts (boneless skinned) or bone in. Make extra chicken for lunch the next day. Cook once, eat twice!

Rinse your chicken pieces and pat dry. (Be sure to wash hands after touching raw chicken.) Put on mesh grid or a plate to bring to your grill. Brush chicken pieces with a little olive oil or drizzle a bit on each piece before placing on your grill. Sprinkle the chicken with a bit of salt. (Pepper after chicken is cooked, as pepper can burn at high heat.) That's it. Grill on medium heat and turn over once.

Serve: Prepare a side salad just before you put the chicken on the grill, but do not put dressing on the salad until you are ready to eat. This is a very healthy meal if you are cutting back on carbs. (You can always have a treat later after this kind of meal and not feel too guilty.)


Party Tips - Homemade Pita Chips

Having your friends over for an informal gathering does not have to send you into a panic attack. Have some go-to favorites in mind, quick trip to market and just make one thing, homemade pita chips. Your home will smell delicious and your friends will think you spent a lot of time preparing to entertain.

Homemade Pita Chips: Store bought pita bread. Olive Oil. Have a cutting board with serrated bread knife ready as well as a large baking sheet with rims. For easy clean-up, line the baking sheet with either parchment paper or foil. Preheat oven to about 375-400 degrees. Also have oven mitts ready to use.

Prep: On cutting board, cut each pita bread round into quarters, then cut each quarter in half. Carefully open and separate the pieces for individual pita chips. Put the chips on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle or brush each chip with olive oil. Put the filled baking sheet into the preheated oven and standby for a few minutes until the chips look a bit browned. Don't burn them! The chips will smell delicious when done.

Serving: From the market (or if you dare to make your own) serve with your homemade pita chips: salsa, guacamole, hummus (assorted flavors).

Invite your friends to bring beer, wine or soft drinks and you have an instant party!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fresh Tomato Sauce - Quick and Flavorful

The simplicity of preparing fresh tomato sauce amazes me. This magical creation comes together in a very short time. In approximately fifteen minutes, pasta with vegetables is on my dinner plate, ready to comfort me and my tastebuds.
Knowing that once a large pot of water comes to an active boil, pasta usually takes about eight minutes to cook. At the same time, cooking chopped vegetables and adding a few more ingredients turns into a sauce for my pasta.
It is only minutes for my fork to be twirling around in the pasta in my fresh tomato sauce.
Being prepared to cook is the secret for enjoying the process of creating fresh, delicious food in minutes.

What you will need for preparing this recipe:
Large pot with matching lid
Large frying pan
Chopping board
Kitchen knife
Wooden spoon
Large slotted spoon
Measuring spoons
Pot holders
Can opener
Large serving bowl
Large serving spoons

Cold water to fill the large pot about 3/4 full
Olive Oil, regular not extra virgin. About 3-4 tablespoons.
Onion, one small or half of a large onion
Garlic, 3 cloves chopped
Peppers, one green or red pepper cut into small pieces. (Assorted colors make a nice presentation.)
Zucchini, one small size cut into small pieces
Cherry tomatoes, one cup or more, washed and cut in halves.
Tomato paste from a tube, 3-4 squirts from the tube
Canned tomatoes with no salt, 28 oz. size
Pasta, one pound box of personal choice variety
Kosher salt, 1-2 teaspoons
Sugar, 1-2 teaspoons, determined by personal taste.
Dried herbs, one teaspoon or less of any of the following:
Oregano, basil, tarragon
Red pepper flakes, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons depending on personal taste.
Optional: chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

Fill the large pot with cold water and put the cover on the pot.
Put the covered pot of water on stove burner and turn heat up to medium-high.
Wash and cut all vegetables.
Open the can of tomatoes.
Have all dry herbs available to measure.
Put the large frying pan on another stove burner and put the olive oil in the pan. Turn stove burner up to medium-high. In a minute when olive oil is heated, add chopped onions and stir around with the wooden spoon.
Add some of the Kosher salt to the cooking onions to help release their moisture and keep stirring.
Add the chopped garlic and all the chopped vegetables. Keep stirring the mixture.
When the vegetables look softer after a few minutes, add the tomato paste and keep stirring with the wooden spoon for another minute.
Add the canned tomatoes and keep stirring the sauce. At this time add some cold water to half of this can and add to the cooking sauce.
Add the dried herbs, more Kosher salt and sugar. Keep stirring the sauce.
Turn the heat under the sauce pan to low heat.
Carefully taste the sauce and adjust seasonings with more salt or sugar (canned tomatoes may have an acid taste.)

When the pot of water has large bubbles, add the box of pasta and stir with the slotted spoon.
Cook pasta for about eight minutes, taste a cooled piece of pasta for a bit of firmness. If soft, but still firm in middle, transfer the pasta from the pot by spoonfuls and put into the fry pan of tomato sauce still cooking on low heat.
The liquid from the cooked pasta will thicken the tomato sauce. (Always put pasta into sauce, not sauce over pasta say the experts.)
Depending on the amount of prepared sauce and amount of pasta, you have an option to add a bit more of the water from the large pot that the pasta cooked in to thicken the tomato sauce even more. It is a personal choice for the thickness of the sauce.
Gently blend the pasta into the tomato sauce carefully to not break the pasta.
Transfer the mixed pasta and tomato sauce to a large serving bowl to bring to your dinner table.

Serving Options:
Grated cheese of choice can be added to your sauce at serving time. Or, have grated cheese in a bowl on the dinner table for individuals to add on their own plates.
Fresh, chopped Parsley spinkled on top of the Fresh Tomato Sauce gives a truly clean, fresh look to your sauce creation.
A drizzle of Olive Oil on top of your pasta adds more flavor.
You will experience a smooth, burst of flavor in your mouth from the freshness of this dish.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Couscous or Quinoa - Question of the day

Do you know the answer to this question of the day?
I am so pleased to have the answer to the culinary question of what to serve as a side dish besides rice, pasta or potatoes. The answer for me is both couscous and quinoa. Both are easy and fast to prepare. Both are easy to up the nutrition with added veggies. Both make a colorful addition to my dinner plate. This makes me very happy. Nice to know I can offer a glutenfree choice to family and friends with quinoa also.

I prefer to use Couscous Grande or Israeli Couscous found in supermarkets usually in the aisle with rice and pastas. These two variations of couscous are little tiny round balls of pasta. Follow cooking instructions on the package. It cooks up within a few minutes. This is a go-to carb when you don't know what to serve with your meal of chicken, meat or fish.

Sauteeing veggies of choice in regular olive oil with garlic and onions enhances the couscous dish as well as stretches the number of servings. Make extra for another meal the next day. Cook once, eat twice!

Quinoa is so easy to prepare and so healthy for you. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is also found in supermarkets in the aisle with rice and pastas. Follow the cooking instructions on the package. It will say give a quick rinse of this small grain first. Again, very easy to do. Serve as is after fluffing up when cooked, like rice. Add sauteed veggies for added flavor, color and nutrients as you would with a rice dish or a couscous dish.


Hamburger Stretch

It is possible to get five burgers from one pound of ground beef by adding some flavor. Depending on the servings for yourself or your family, this is an economical way to stretch food on a budget. Cooking for two? You then have lunch the next day or two.

Prep: Purchase a good quality ground beef. Bring out one egg, ketchup, Worcestshire Sauce, salt & ground pepper, bread crumbs or Panko crumbs (crispy, Japanese crumbs). Optional: add chopped onions, green/red peppers, chopped baby spinach. Have your chopping board and sharp knife ready along with a large bowl. A smaller bowl for cracking open the egg. Also have a clean plate ready to put the formed burgers on before cooking. (Can prepare formed burgers uncooked, keeping them covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for an hour or two.)

Mixing ingredients: No measuring required. With clean hands, put the ground beef in a large bowl. Crack open the egg in a smaller bowl to make sure the egg is fresh, then put the egg on top of the ground beef. Continue to add the rest of the wet ingredients, then the veggies, saving the crumbs for last for the desired consistency. When using the wet ingredients, use amounts that you feel comfortable with a few shakes at a time. The ground beef should be loose a bit. After adding some crumbs, use your clean hands to gently blend in all the ingredients.

Make hamburger patties for your desired size burger, putting them on a clean plate to transfer to a frypan or outdoor grill. Be sure to use a spray Canola oil for frypan or grill rack. (Canola oil can be brushed in a pan or on a grill. Canola oil holds up to a high heat. A vegetable oil also, but olive oil requires a lower heat.)

Important point when cooking burgers: Do Not Press Down with a Spatula. This will release juices and make a very dry burger. A simple test for doneness in meat is: press a clean finger gently to the center. The firmer the meat, the more well done the meat is. A medium well burger is done with just a little press in the center.

Serving tip: Allow cooked burgers to rest a few minutes on a clean plate before serving. Use this time to have desired condiments available at the table to build your custom burger. If using a bun, add some fresh lettuce or baby spinach (washed), have sliced tomatoes available to include veggie servings during your meal. Or serve a burger on a plate with a side salad.

With a tasty, custom burger prepared at home, you will not miss a take-out burger and will WOW your family and friends. Your burgers will be healthier prepared with the control you have over the ingredients you put into your food.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zucchini & Vidalia Onions

Summertime easy sidedish: Zucchini & Vidalia Onions

Prep: Wash & dry zucchini (s) Take skin off onion(s) Numbers depend on servings. It is a good idea to prepare more than you need for one meal because using leftovers makes meal prep easier for your next meal. Cook once, eat twice!

On cutting board, cut zucchini into small pieces/chunks; chopp onion into small pieces.
Have Kosher salt and ground pepper nearby ready to use.
Have a saute pan or frypan chosen for size required.
Have some good olive oil available to put into frypan (about 1-2 tbs) or as needed for cut veggies.
For some flavor (heat) have some red pepper flakes available (a pinch).
Have wooden spoon available for stirring.

Heat olive oil into frypan on med.high heat; add chopped onions and stir around.
Add sprinkle of salt to bring out juice of onions. When onions are shiny, add chopped zucchini and stir around with cooking onions.
Add some ground pepper and keep stirring the veggies. (lower heat if cooking too fast.)
Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes (to taste).
Ready when zucchini is cooked.

Options: Add cut fresh red peppers (for a nice colorful, healthy dish.)
Use leftover cooked veggies in an eggwhite scramble for breakfast!

No calorie counting for now. Concentrate on veggies, flavor & quick prep.

Food Blogging Adventure Begins Today

My food blogging adventure begins today. Looking forward to sharing simple, quick, meal planning with you. You say you cannot cook? Willing to take a first step into homecooking land?
Give yourself a gift of good nutrition with lots of flavor! As I learn to post some of my favorite dishes here, please feel free to email me personally with your questions or concerns.
The Souper