Sunday, February 28, 2010

Soup's on!

We're currently stuck in between winter and spring here in New York, and it seems like just as it's starting to warm up, we get dumped on with snow. Last week was no exception. It start snowing early Thursday morning, and didn't stop until late Friday evening. Aside from wanted to stay in bed all day (which did not happen due to work), all I could think about was home made soup! Since pulled pork was on the menu Saturday night, soup was the perfect thing to round out my weekend on Sunday!

I've had a pound of asparagus in my fridge for a few days so I definitely had to make use of it before it rotted. I found a great recipe for creamy asparagus soup in my SHAPE Lowfat & Easy recipe book.

Before making this, I didn't think I was going to like it. I thought that the asparagus would be overpowering. I was completely wrong! The mixture of the broth with milk and sour cream tamed the strong asparagus flavor and really brought out the warm, rich flavors of it.

1 lb fresh asparagus, tough ends removed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 14.5 oz cans reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 cup nonfat milk
3 tbsps cornstarch
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1) In a large saucepan, combine asparagus, onion and 1 can of broth. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until asparagus is tender. Cut off asparagus tips and set aside.
2) In a blender, puree remaining asparagus mixture until smooth. Return puree to pan, add remaining broth and bay leaves and bring to simmer. Whisk together milk and cornstarch. Add milk mixture to pan and simmer 2 minutes, until mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
3) Place sour cream in a small bowl. Add a spoonful of asparagus mixture and stir to heat sour cream. Add sour cream mixture to saucepan along with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Simmer 1 minute, to heat through. Remove bay leaves and discard. Ladle soup into bowls and top with reserved asparagus tips.

I'd recommend this recipe to anyone interested in making a homemade soup. Enjoy!

Slowwww Cookin'

It seems like these days, my weeks drag on and weekends fly by. With so much to do on Saturday, I knew I had to whip up something easy since I was having company over. When thinking about what on earth would be the easiest thing possible, I remembered that 5 years ago, my mother gave me a crock pot from 1980-something. Having never used it, and being on a "try something new" kick, I figured it was a clear sign: Slow cooked pulled-pork!

The only downside to this plan was, I slept in and had to search for a recipe that could be cooked on high for a shorter time. After flipping through my Better Home and Garden cookbook, I found an interesting pulled pork recipe with a root beer sauce. I had some challenges with this toward the end of cooking, but overall - the meal was tasty! (Especially serving it with baked beans and slaw!)

1 - 3 pound pork butt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsps olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
1 cup root beer (NOT diet)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups root beer
1 cup bottled chili sauce
8 to 10 hamburger buns

1) Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3.5 to 5 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Transfer meat to cooker. Add onion, the 1 cup of root beer, and the garlic.
2) Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat for 4 to 5 hours. (I cooked mine for four and one half hours on high.)
3) Meanwhile, for sauce, in a saucepan stir together 3 cups root beer and the chili sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 2 cups.
4) Transfer meat to a cutting board or serving platter. Using two forks, pull meat apart into shreds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onion to serving platter; discard cooking juices. Place shredded meat and onion on rolls. Drizzle meat with some of the root beer sauce.

Unfortunately, my grocery store only had Oriental Hot Chili Sauce. Even after putting in less chili sauce then advised, my root beer sauce was a bit too hot for me. I did a little substituting, and heated up some Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. I still poured a little root beer sauce over the BBQ sauce though, and combined with the Sweet Baby Ray's, it was delicious!

*Also, I have to apologize for the picture. Since I had friends over and was so excited to eat that I didn't really consider the fact that you can't even see the meat in this image. Oops!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

That's a Spicy Meat-a-ball!!

I made pasta twice last week, so I figured it was time to mix things up. After searching through various recipe books and websites, I stopped by my friend Schyler's blog: Entertaining With Sky. It was there that I found the perfect thing! Greek meatballs with Greek salad and hummus with pita bread to boot!

I've cooked a variety of things over the last few months, but I have to put this one at the top of my list! Every bite was so tasty and I was able to get three full meals out of this recipe. (When I brought it to work for lunch, people were jealous! Seriously!)

Although the meal was more than a belly full, the flavors were absolutely amazing. The onion and spices in the meatballs made the dish really pop, but not too over powering; and the feta cheese I snuck in (per Schulyer's advice) added a great punch.

This is definitely a dish you want to try! It was a lot of fun for me - especially since this was my first attempt at making homemade meatballs.

1 lb of lean ground turkey meat
1/2 red onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
1 egg, beaten

3 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and all purpose seasoning - a few dashes of each

1 bag lettuce -I used baby spinach
3/4 cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced to form rings
1 package of low fat feta cheese, crumbled
Greek salad dressing

1) Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the meat, onion, garlic, egg, white wine vinegar, and spices with your hands. Be careful not to overmix ingrediants. Form into 2" meatballs, then in a saute pan, add olive oil and brown the meatballs. Once browned, place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (To make these Greek meatballs a little more Greek - stuff a little bit of crumbled Feta cheese in while you're forming them!)

2) While the meatballs are baking, assemble the salad.

To round out my meal, I dipped my pita bread into hummus, then topped it with pieces of the meatball. It was a great combination!

Is your mouth watering yet??

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Yup, it's true. I had my first kitchen fire last week. It happened so quick that I didn't even have time to process what happened.

Per the directions, I placed my brolier pan on the closest rack to the flame to cook. You'll read below that you are suppose to cook full tomatoes and scallions in the pan with the steak after coating them with oil, so that's exactly what I did. Once both sides of the meat cooked per directed, I checked the steak then popped it back in to cook a little longer.The vegetables didn't need anymore time so I removed them. When the steak was ready to be removed, I carefully pulled the pan out of the oven and POOF! half of the pan was in flames!

I screamed and wafted the pan. Luckily, the fire immediately burned out. I'm assuming the grease from the veggies splashed up at the flame and ignited. Weird, right? What's crazy about the whole thing is that not only was the flame huge, but it was contained to only one small portion of the pan and the meat was safe!!!! (Seriously! Isn't that great?) Unfortunately, my pan did not make it out alive. The heat immediately warped the pan and even after cooling, it never settled flat again. Oh well...lesson learned: Even when directions say to place pans closest to the flame, DON'T! If I had placed the pan lower, I would have had to cook it longer, but would have avoided the loss of my pan.

All crazieness aside, the steak was delish! I chose to use the relish to top my garlic toast, and I must say - it was soooo good. And to complete my meal, I grilled up some shrimp for a little surf and turf! Mmmm mmm mm!

1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Extra-virgin olive oil
, for rubbing steak pluse 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (I subbed in all-purpose seasoning instead...much better) ;)

Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

3 ripe medium tomatoes
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
8 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted crusty bread
, for serving.

Position a broiler pan on the rack closest to the broiler and preheat to high. Rub the steak lightly with some olive oil and sprinkle with the herbes de Provence and salt and pepper, to taste. Put the whole tomatoes, scallions, and garlic cloves in a large bowl, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the vegetables until they are lightly coated.

Carefully lay the steak in the center of the hot pan, arrange the vegetables around it, and broil until the steak is brown but still tender to the touch and the vegetables are charred, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the steak and the vegetables and broil another 5 to 6 minutes, until the steak is medium rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted crosswise into the side of the steak registers 130 degrees F) and vegetables are charred. Transfer the steak and vegetables to a cutting board.

For the relish: Core the tomatoes, squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins, and chop them both with the scallions to make a chunky relish. Transfer the vegetables and all their juices to a bowl and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup or so of the olive oil, the vinegar, and the Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Slice the meat against the grain and on an angle, transfer to a plate or platter, and serve with the relish and toasted bread.
(This is not going to look very appealing but trust me, it tastes delicious! Because of this relish, I ended up eating 5 pieces of garlic toast!)

Recipe courtesy of

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

I have to say - my intentions were good, but as you can see...I didn't really follow through with my week of recipes idea. I cooked three nights in a row, but when it came time to blogging, it just wasn't happening. You might be asking yourself, "Beth, you posted two recipes in 1 day." Well my friends, that is not quite true. I started this post on 2/16 and have just now finished it on 2/22. Oops! ;) I've been fighting off the tail end of a cold, so I'm going to chalk it up to that.

Anyway, on to the yum yums....

Dish two of "Back in the Kitch week" was Chicken Caccitore. The name of this dish has always intimidated me. With such strong name like "caccitore" I assumed this had to be a difficult meal to make. Little did I know... not only was this dish easy to follow, it was very flavorful and a little out of the ordinary for my taste buds. Almost every pasta dish I make is covered in pre-made pasta sauce. This was my first time making a red sauce out of tomato paste, white wine and diced tomatoes. I was pretty impressed.

Check out the recipe below. If you like chicken and pasta, I think you'll love this one.


2 1/2 to 3 lbs meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs and drumsticks.)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, slice (But I chose to chop)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley

1) Skin chicken. In a large skillet, brown chicken on all sides in hot oil over medium heat (about 15 minutes), turning occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet; set chicken aside.
2) Add mushrooms, onions and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Return chicken to skillet.
3) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken in skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once during cooking. Sprinkle with parsley. If desired, serve over hot cooked pasta.

*ANOTHER BH&G low fat meal! Per 3 oz chicken + 1/2 cup vegetable mixture: 280 calories, 11 grams a fat! That's two healthy meals in a row. Maybe I'll be bikini ready before I know it! ;)

A Simple New Start

Since it's my first week back and they always say "take baby steps" I started out with a simple dish. While scanning through my Better Home & Garden Cook Book I stopped at a recipe for Spaghetti with Beef and Mushroom Sauce. This sounded interesting and oddly enough, I can't remember the last time I cooked spaghetti. (I know what you're thinking..."She makes pasta dishes all the time" but they are never spaghetti dishes - always another sort of pasta.) I read the recipe and luckily, I only had to pick up two or three ingredients that I didn't already have. It was destiny! My first blog worthy meal in the new pad!

(Please note: I'm still trying to figure out the best way to snap photos of my meals in the new place. The lighting is very different.)

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 10.75 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 4 oz can sliced mushroom, drained (I used 1/2 cup freshly sliced mushrooms instead)
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 oz dried spaghetti

1) In a large saucepan, cook the ground beef and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain. Stir in mushroom soup, tomato sauce, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain. Serve sauce over hot spaghetti.

*BH&G marks this as one of their low fat dishes! Per 1 cup of pasta + 2/3 cup sauce, it's only 398 calories and 11 grams of fat! Not bad at all, right?!

I'm Backkkkk!

Yes, I am alive! It embarrassing to say that I haven't blogged in over 3 weeks. That is such a long time! There have been so many things going on that I just couldn't find time to write (or cook many new recipes for that matter.) To give you a recap: As you know, I was in Arizona for a week. The day after I got back, I moved into a brand-spanking new apartment!!! And after a week of moving, it was my 25th birthday! (The best celebration yet!) Then immediately following my birthday, I got sick... and still am today! ;( Lovely, right? To be honest, I really haven't minded the sick part. I've been able to enjoy my new place and have had time to relax and decorate.

Since it's been so long since I've steadily cooked, I planned out recipes for the entire week! I am back and ready to blog! Check back later tonight for last night's quick yet nutritious and delicious meal!

In the mean time...check out my new kitchen!!! (as you can see... I am going to LOVE spending time in there!!!)