Saturday, December 31, 2011

Red Pepper Relish

Shelby from Grumpy's Honey Bunch contacted me to let me know she was a having a big giveaway and would I like to make something in celebration of her blog-o-versary. Yes, indeed I do. Yes its a busy time of year and I think I am a little late posting but I wanted to tell you about her giveaway- you still have time. It ends on January 7th. And what a perfect time to talk about little bites on the biggest appetizer day of the year. This is a wonderful appetizer that keeps for a while in the fridge, is easy to make and tastes outstanding. I first saw the recipe here at Savory Sweet Life.

Red Bell Pepper Relish

2 red bell pepper (or any other type of bell pepper), chopped in small pieces
1 cup onion, minced
1 1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of aleppo pepper flakes

Add everything to a small sauce pan and stir all the ingredient together. Cook the relish on medium heat for 5 minutes and turn down the heat to medium-low for an additional 20 minutes or more, stirring occasionally until there is barely any liquid left. When you get toward the end of the cooking time be sure to keep a close eye on it and keep stirring- it will burn real fast if you leave it unattended. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Goodwill Towards You

Merry Christmas to you..
Happy Holidays to you.
Whatever your holiday is. 
Even if you don't have a holiday to celebrate.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you joy, peace and happiness.
Not the kind of happiness that makes you jump up and down necessarily but the kind happiness that makes you say to yourself, "eh, everything is going to be okay."
The kind of peace that lets you rest and be harmonious with all that surrounds you, including yourself.
The kind of joy to be found in having an awareness of your blessings or in knowing what you are grateful for.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Pumpkin Soup

Can you believe it?- a very busy week and here I am, posting on time!  Wahoo.

I picked up this Cinderella pumpkin in the fall.  I love to go crazy over pumpkins and butternut squash.  The people at the market probably think I am crazy, squirreling away all those squashes.  They freeze perfectly and if it keeps me from paying outrageous prices for them at the grocery store then hey I am all for it.
It's a very beautiful pumpkin.  Looks like Cinderella's carriage really.
The seeds were excellent too.  I found a new way to roast them.  You soak the seeds in salted water for 24 hours, drain  and then roast them.  Lots of flavor!

This is a really simple soup and I tend to really get into flavorful soups- one of my absolute favorites is the Thai pumpkin soup and the Olan Stew/Indian soup (yes I have made it wtih both butternut and pumpkin)I make.  Recently I tried some pumpkin soup with smoked gouda and bacon- to die for really- thanks S!  It was totally delicious.

Light and comforting at the same time

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 (15 oz.) cans solid packed pumpkin or roughly four cups pumpkin puree
1 quart water
1 cup milk, 2%
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often until very soft, about 8 minutes. Once they are translucent, add pumpkin, water, milk, syrup, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking often. Flavors are always better the next day after it has time to meld.

This is about 800 calories for the entire recipe depending on what percent milk you use, etc.  Divided into eight portions will give you about 100 calories.  Each serving will be a little over a cup.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sugar Cookies

I know you guys are wondering what happened to the light cooking for Wednesdays.  I am wondering what happened to the light cooking too.  I have been sewing so much that really I grab whatever for dinner just to get something on the table.  I have lost my foodie mojo and replaced it by feverish working as Santa's Elf for Christmas.  I will say there has been a lot of soup in this house.  Simple soup and really fairly light.  That's the easiest route to take at this time.
At Christmas time I usually bake a ton of cookies.  This year I have paired down because quite honestly I will eat way too many of them.
But there is one cookie we can not go without in this house and that is sugar cookies.
They have always been my weakness. These have a fabulous flavor.  You might think the combination of almond extract and lemon zest is a bit unusual but they have a nice flavor.
Cut Out Sugar Cookies
This is an extremely big recipe.  With sugar cookies you really got to go big anyhow, right?  For best results make the dough the day before and refrigerate overnight.  These have a nice tender chew.  If you make them thin and bake them a little longer you will have crisp cookies.

9 cups of flour
3 cups butter
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
6 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, mix until light and fluffy (five minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.  Add the cream cheese, flavorings and lemon zest.

Mix the flour baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture a third at a time.  Break off about 2 cup portions and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour but better yet- overnight.

Take out one dough ball at a time and roll out on a floured surface.  Cut your shapes and bake in a preheated oven to 350F.  Depending on the size/thinness of your cookies baking time will be around 8 to 12 minutes.

Cool completely before icing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lemon Meatballish Cookies

A couple of years ago Tracy from Ra Cha Chow posted a desire to have the lemon meatball cookie recipe from Wegmans.  I have been on a mission ever since because I really like them too.  It is really hard when your a baker (at least it is for me) to buy a cookie I feel I should be able to make easily at home.  It's kind of been in the back of my mind ever since.

About a couple weeks ago I started going through my recipes, all my magazine clippings and what not.  Initially I was looking for what Christmas cookies I would make this year.  But of course it turned intoa  project of going through all my recipes and whittling them down and organizing them. Its good but why did I get inspired to do that at the busiest time of the year. Anyway I saw a recipe from Wegman's magazine called lemon cookies.  I read the directions and I thought, "this is it!".  

When you make these cookies, pretend lemon is your best friend. Invited her to the party- keep having her join in on the fun. Add lemon here, add lemon there. That's about the only thing I would change at this point.  Use lemon juice instead of milk for the glaze or use a ton of lemon zest in it.  Add way more lemon zest to the recipe itself.  Next time I may even add lemoncello instead of lemon flavoring because quite honestly I was surprised by the fact that the lemon flavoring really didn't add all that much lemon flavor to the final product.

Lemon Meatballish Cookies
Adapted from this recipe at Wegman's

1 cup shortening (I used Earth Balance natural shortening)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 lemon s
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2-3 Tbsp warm milk  or lemon juice instead
1/2 tsp juice from a fresh lemon (optional- if you don't use all lemon juice)


Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray cookie sheets with cookie spray or line with a silpat.

In a large bowl, beat together shortening and sugar until light. Add eggs, sour cream, lemon extract, vanilla extract, and lemon zest; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine flour and baking powder; add to mixture in bowl and beat just until moistened.

Shape dough into small balls, using about 1 level tablespoon for each. An ice cream type scoot is really helpful here.

Arrange about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10 min, until lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove from pans and cool.

Combine confectioners' sugar and milk in small bowl; whip lightly with spoon until smooth and slightly thick. Add 1/2 tsp lemon juice if desired; stir briskly until well-combined.

While cookies are still warm dip tops of cookies into icing. Let set until icing is dry to the touch. Store in closed container.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Indian Stir Fry

I know, it's Saturday.  Humor me.

I missed my day for Weight Watcher Wednesday. I slacked off last week and this week but I am back in full force. I made a definite decision to lighten things up around here.  In many ways.  Me, the amount of stuff I have around the house... So I will have a bunch of recipes to choose from each week. 

Let me remind you of stir fries just in case you have put them ont eh back burner so to speak.  I remember int he 90's they were big.  Everyone had a wok and was doing stir fries.  They were fast and delicious, especially if you had everything ready to go into the wok.  I loved them.  Somehow I have veered away from them.

Indian cuisine offers a lot of stir fry ideas as well.  I recently tried this amazing stir fry.  It went above and beyond what I expected.  At first I thought it and unusually weird combination of vegetables.  But since I had green peppers and squash to use up, I decided to try it.  Fabulous.

Green Bell Pepper and Butternut Squash Stir Fry
Any vegetables will work here.  These spices add so much flavor without adding calories.

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
cilantro (if desired for garnish)
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, cut in small cubes*
1 tablespoon ghee or a flavorless oil such as canola
1 teaspoon oil

In a heated frying pan, melt butter, add bell peppers.  Saute until tender then add butternut squash.  Cook until tender.  In a separate small non stick frying pan add oil.  When oil is hot add cumin seeds and mustard seeds.  When they begin to pop add garlic and ginger, cook one minute more.  Remove from pan and set aside. Add to stir fry when it is nearly done.  (When toasting the spices be sure not to burn it as the spices will turn bitter.)

*If you want to up the flavor quotient, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and roast the squash until lightly browned at 425F.  If you have the time roast at 350F- it will take longer but it will be sweeter.

Coming up... some more Weight Watcher Meal reviews.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vada Pav

Today, I am making chana saag.  I need to do a post on all the recipes that make repeated appearances in our kitchen.  You see that is why I think I have slowed on my posting.  I have a repertoire that I love- not that I dont like to try anything new now, its just that its not as often as it used to be.  Sometimes too, I am making meals that are boring, just because they are so fast.  Having my attention focused on my sewing has really taken a bite out of my passion for cooking and yes the blogging part too.

Quilting is like a soul mate for me.  I am artistic in nature but have never found a medium that totally enveloped me.  I did do water color for quite a while.  I loved it.  It was very relaxing but it just didn't totally fit the bill. Thats not to say that I havent been thinking about doing anoth painting.  Colored pencil and drawing same story.  I am not that good at either.  I am proficient.  Now with quilting- its like a long lost friend descending upon me. Filling my life with joy.  I am not as proficient as I want to be but I am getting there little by little.  It's a journey.

I still love to explore the world of Indian cuisine.  So wide and vast.  Many distinct areas with different spices and dishes.  I have always loved cumin and cilantro so it is a natural fit.  These dishes, along with occassional sweets, seem to be the bulk of what I want to post.

This Vada pav dish is amazing.  I had some leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes that I out through a ricer to lighten them up a little so I could add the spices and aromatics to them.  I also added an egg, mainly for its binding qualities.  We loved these.  I didn't have time to make the chutneys.  You know, it was spectacular even without the sauces.  So I can only imagine what it would be like with them.  You can visit Aayi's Recipes for the original recipe.

Vada Pav

3 cups mashed potatoes
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon ghee (I used my niter kibbeh)
salt and pepper to taste
10 curry leaves, cut in small piece
oil for frying (I used peanut oil)

coating mixture:

2 tablespoons rice flour
1/2 cup besan/chick pea flour

In a fry pan melt the ghee and add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds.  Wait until they begin to be fragrant.  Then add the curry leaves for one minute more.  Inhale that fabulous aroma.  Swoon.  Remove from pan and pour into the mashed potatoes.  Add the onion to the fry pan.  Cook until transluscent.  Add the garlic and ginger. Cook one minute more and add to the mashed potatoes.  Stir.  Add egg and stir until combined.

Form patties and dip into flour coating mixture.  Fry in not oil until golden. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Black Beans or Negro Frijoles

One of my most favorite parts of eating at a Mexican restaurant is the rice and beans. That is when it is done well. So often it is not. But better yet, you can make it at home and control the ingredients etc.This bean recipe I made was inspired from Homesick Texan.  She has a book that just came out.  Nice.  I may need to buy that book as a lot of her recipes appeal to me. 

I wish I had more time to visit blogs.  I feel like I have been in a whirlwind for a while.  First, it was the kids being home for summer vacation.  Next, it was school starting and canning season and now, it is the holidays.  Whew.  I love it, don't get me wrong.  It is no complaint but I wanted to explain why I have been MIA. 

Black Beans
From Homesick Texan.  Click here to see the recipe in its original form.

16 oz. dried black beans
1 tablespoon of lard or bacon greas

1 cup onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 tablespoon of epazote 

1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 cup cilantro. chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup lime juice
Six cups of water
Two cups of chicken or vegetable broth
Salt to taste

Soak the beans covered in water overnight. Next day drain the soaked beans.

In the pot you’re going to cook the beans, sauté the onions in the fat for 10 minutes and then add the garlic for one minute. Add the beans, chipotles, epazote and half the cilantro.

Cover beans with water and chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low.  Stir occasionally.

After 1 1/2 hours, add the cumin, tomato paste, lime juice, and salt and cook for 30 more minutes or until beans are tender. At this point, smash a few against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the broth a bit, stir the pot and serve. Add the remaining cilantro.  (Cilantro is a very delicate herb that has most of its flavor when eaten fresh- cooking takes away a lot of the flavor).

Serve with fresh cilantro, avocado, salsa and my favorite sliced radishes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cream of Celery Soup

It was an interesting Thanksgiving around here.  My daughter had started out the week with a stomach bug.  And several people came down with it throughout the week.  It was a bummer.  When you are hosting Thanksgiving and having people stay at your house- the last thing you want is for everyone to get sick.

Then I tried the recipe of doing the turkey in parts.  It sucked.  I may try it again with a small turkey at some point because I really feel like it should have worked.  I wonder what I did wrong.  Really my brined turkey is MUCH better.  Maybe it was the fact that there was so much in the oven.  Maybe it totally messed up the cooking times, etc.  I kept taking the birds temp.  I had the white meat in one roasting pan and the dark in another. 

I did try my friends idea of making the mash potatoes early on in the cooking process and keeping them warm in a crockpot.  The only thing is- is that you can't keep them in there too long before dinner.  I would say an hour, max, because the moisture comes out and they begin to harden up.

All in all I feel like the only thing I loved about the dinner was my cranberry relish.

But I remain very grateful for all my blessings- family being the greatest of them!

So, while I don't have any rave reviews of my Thnaksgiving dinner- I will say this soup is pretty good.

Cream of Celery

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 medium onion chopped
1 quart celery broth (see note)
6 stalks of celery
1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes (optional for thickening)
1/2 cup half and half

Melt butter in a stock pot.  Add flour once butter is melted.  Cook the butter for about two minutes.  You want it to be golden.  Add celery broth, whisking constantly to incorporate flour into liquid.  Add the chopped onions and celery.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of half and half. Heat until just before it boils.  Blend soup and strain.  Add instant mashed potatoes if a thicker soup is desired.

Note:  I used some hard celery ribs that had a very strong celery flavor.  I had bought some celery root and the stalks were still attached.  I boiled them in water for about an hour with some celery. I ended up with about a quart of broth.

*This is a very delicate flavored soup.  I might try adding some celery seed the next time I make it.  I would put it in tea bag or coffee filter - tied up so I could pull it out when I was done with the cooking process.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.  For those of you who are not American, I 'd like to wish you a happy day.  I will be celebrating with friends and family.  A bit of a reunion of sorts.  A family who has long needed to come together will be together this weekend.  I am very grateful for that.  For my husband who I love dearly - who continues to amaze me each and every day.  We are not perfect, we have had our ups and downs like everyone else, but I must say that here in our tenth year of knowing each other we have come to some kind of good ground.  I am thankful for that too.  I am thankful for all the things in my life really.  My children, my home, my family, my friends, the opportunities that have been presented to me.  I wish each of you the same today and every day.  Even if you find yourself in a bad spot.  Look for something to be grateful for- whatever it is.  Start focusing on it and more and more may come to you.

What am I doing for our meal?

Cranberry Orange Relish- but no cinnamon or walnuts this time
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Turkey- roasted in parts which will be something new for me.  I will let you know how that goes.
Mashed Potatoes
Relish Tray- pickles, olives, dilly beans, etc.
And dessert-
all pies, My Mom will be making an assortment

I will not be doing much posting over the next couple of days.  I will be enjoying our company. Cheers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celery Root with Curry Yogurt Dressing

When I finish a head of celery, I take the little knobby end and cut the sides off- the yucky parts- and I am left with a little white square.  I love to eat that "heart" of the heart.  Celeriac or celery root very much reminds me of that flavor.  And that makes sense because they are all a part of the same plant.

When I bought the celery root, I was walking through the market with them, their stringy celery tops and leaves flailing all over the place.  In the other hand I had a bunch of beets with their tops flailing all over.  I found it a little humorous.  They asked if I wanted them to cut off the top, I said no way.  When I got home I boiled the tops in water, making a celery broth.  Those pieces of celery were very strong.  I am going to experiment and see if I can make a nice cream of celery soup with that.  If it goes well, I will share it with you.

Celeriac with Curry Dressing

3 cups pf celery root, diced
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
curry yogurt dressing (recipe following)

Saute celery root in oil until lightly golden.  Add turmeric, salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Cook for thirty minutes.  Pour some dressing over the cooked celery root and serve.  Sprinkle with cilantro if you really want to kick it up a little.

Curry Yogurt Dressing
Adapted from this recipe at Martha Stewart

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 whole allspice berry
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

In a skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to turn translucent, about 9 minutes.  Add cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, and allspice.  Cook until they become fragrant.  Remove from head and place in a food processor with turmeric, yogurt, salt, lemon juice, and sugar; process until smooth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Pecan Waffles

Yup- pecan waffles.  Fabulous and delicious.

I made a batch on Sunday last week when my daughter had a friend sleeping over our house.  The next morning I made these waffles.  They were gobbled up pretty quickly. 

I made them again on Monday so I could freeze them for some quick toaster breakfasts for the week.  I realized when I went to make them on Monday that I completely omitted one major ingredient... butter.  Yeah, I know.  Like a stick of it.  Yup.  They were good without it.  Toasted up nice so I made the second batch without it too- this time on purpose.  With a stick of butter being gone, it completely changed the calorie count.  They are about at 95 calories a piece.  Depending on how big your waffle iron is.  We ended up with 13 of them.  If you used the stick of butter- it almost doubles the calories.

Pecan Waffles

Based largely on this recipe from King Arthur Flour's Baking Companion. 

1 3/4 cup all purpose, unbleached flour
12 ounces ( 1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup pecan meal

Mix dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Mix the two together.  Pour by half cup fulls into waffle pan.  Mine took 3.30 minutes to get done. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Turkey Mulligatawny

I have wanted to make mulligatawny for a few years now.  Finally.  Man, this is good soup.With some turkey on the horizon, this is something wonderful and different to have with some of that leftover broth.

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup
The recipes I used came from Epicurious and The Kitchn and a book called 400 SOUPS, publisher: Hermes House.

Turkey broth
Two turkey legs and wings
1 large onion, quartered
1 inch fresh ginger, about 1 ounce
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
water to cover
black pepper corns

The Soup
turkey that has been removed from the bones
1/4 cup red lentils

1 tablespoon garam masala
4 cups chopped onion
3 carrots, sliced
3 large garlic cloves
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
freshly crushed black pepper

Separate the turkey wings into individual joints, and place in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Quarter 2 onions and stir into the pot. Add in unpeeled fresh ginger and garlic cloves, smashed.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook at an extremely gentle simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

After at least 1 1/2 hours of cooking at a gentle simmer remove from heat.  Take the turkey pieces out of the broth.  When cool enough to handle, strip off the skin and discard. Shred the meat from the bones and cut into small pieces. Discard the bones.

At this point you can cool your broth in the refrigerator overnight, allowing you to remove excess fat from the top.

Now to make the soup with your fine soup:

Saute onion in butter and oil. Add carrots and garlic cloves.  Cook one minute and add the remainder of the ingredients except for the coconut milk.  Add in the coconut milk after about twenty minutes.  Heat five more minutes. 

Cilantro goes well and/or a little lemon juice served in each bowl. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Red Beet and Orange Salad

If you don't like beets, boy are you missing out.  As a child I never liked beets.  As an adult, I love them.  My husband can not stand them.  I eat my beets alone.  Gladly.  I don't have to worry about him eating my beets. 
There are a lot of recipes for orange and beet salad. You don't have to get fancy for it to taste good.  All you need is some oilve oil, cider vinegar, salt, and of course an orange and beets.  Oranges are about 70 calories a piece and 1/2 cup of beets are 37 calories. It makes a great lunch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Seriously pumpkiny, seriously cheesecake-y.... seriously loved this.

It was my Mothers birthday, so of course I had to make cake.  And I did.  I have been wanting to make cheesecake for a long time.  Pumpkin is always fetching to me this time of year- why not?

No calorie counts for this one.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from this recipe at

4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temp
4 eggs, room temp
1 cup sugar
15 ounces canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon pupmin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups finely crushed ginger snaps
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix crumbs and melted butter right in the 9inch springform pan.  Press down and up the sides a little all around.  Bake in oven for about five minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar.  Add in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Once combined add eggs, one at a time.  Pour into prepared crust and bake for one to one and a half hours.  Remove when center is still a bit jiggly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Poor:  When you have too much month at the end of your money.

Love that. I found it on Pinterest, filed under funny.  I can SO identify.

And that goes for counting calories.  Hungry:  When you have too much day at the end of your calories. I hate when that happens.
The following recipe may seem shocking to you as a low cal soup.  How can it have 3 tablespoons of oil?  Don't skimp on it, really, put it in.  It will satiate you and it gives the soup more flavor- especially the butter.  The regular oil helps the butter to not burn. And use real butter please, it will make a difference in taste.  Something about things fried in butter- it ups the flavor quotient tremendously.  With 135 calories per cup- how can you go wrong.  If you had two cups for lunch, along with a couple of saltine crackers, you would have a filling, tasty meal for 300 calories.  Not to mention nutritious.

Butternut Squash and Apple Cider Soup

1 pound (about 2 cups) of onion, skinned and chopped
4 pounds (about 1 larger size squash) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 pound (about 2 1/2 apples) apple, any are fine, I used a Granny Smith and a Honey Crisp
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil
salt to taste
2 cups cider
4 cups water or broth - like vegetable or chicken
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce 

Roast the squash in the oven at a temperature of 375F.  While the squash is roasting, saute onion in butter and oil.  Add the remainder of the ingredients once the onions have become golden.  Add squash when it is lightly browned.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Puree and serve.

135 calories per cup.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Puffed Caramel Popcorn

In the Fall, every year, since I was a child, we join my parents and their friends with their families for a picnic.  We use to have clams and corn etc, the typical clam bake.  But with the cost of clams having skyrocketed, they have long since been out of the picture.  We all bring a dish to pass and some takes over for making a traditional chicken gizzard soup and brings the corn.  Everything else, everyone brings.

One of the ladies usually brings this dish, puffed caramel corn. It disappears in no time. It's the sweet with the salty that makes it so darn appealing and addicting.  I decided to take it on retreat this past weekend.  If you want to know more about that, click here for my Crafty Bee's Knees blog post.  It was a hit.  So here is the recipe ladies for anyone clicking in from retreat.

Puffed Caramel Popcorn
Adapted from this recipe on Allrecipes

8 cups puffed corn or popcorn
4 cups square rice cereal
2 cups pretzels
1 cup peanut
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 300F.  Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large metal or glass bowl stir together popcorn or puffed corn, rice cereal, pretzels and peanuts.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt together brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and pinch of salt (if you use salted butter don't bother putting in the pinch of salt). Let it boil for five minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and baking soda.  It will bubble up but don't be afraid, keep stirring and it will not go over the sides of the pan.

Pour the melted mixture over the bowl of snack mix.  Toss to coat.  Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven to stir.  Return to oven for seven minutes more.  Remove and cool on a rack.  Break up pieces and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Coconut Curry Pork Satay

I have made satay before but it probably was way more calories than this.  The nice thing about having a cookbook that lists the nutritional value is that you don't have to try and figure it out for yourself. It's all there servings and counts.  I have figured out calorie counts for recipes before.  I use Calorie King and Calorie Count at About.  After a while you get to know what a cup of sugar is, a cup of oil, a cup of butter, etc.  Memorizing these calorie counts makes the job go by a lot faster. 

You also come to understand that a lot of times adding 2 tablespoons of light sour cream verses regular sour cream doesn't make a whole lot of difference in the end amount of calories.  As stated before I am really not into light things.  Often times the amount of chemicals or sugar used to make up for the lack of fat are far worse than having the regular item.  I think it is better to make substitutions with things like buttermilk or yogurt for sour cream rather than  light sour cream. I would never judge you if you choose to use those products just investigate what is in them and make informed choices. Okay there is my food rant of the day.

Coconut Curry Pork Satay
Adapted from Weight Watchers, Take Out Tonight!
If you do not have the tomato paste, use ketchup; brown sugar for palm sugar; anchovies for fish sauce; and chicken for pork. This recipe serves 6 people who are watching their weight- four people if they are not.

1/2 cup light coconut
2 tablespoons palm sugar, grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin trimmed of all fat, cut into thick chunks
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
lettuce leaves, if you so desire

Mix pork, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Make sure all pieces are coated.  You want the chunks of pork to be about 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch by 1 inch.

In a saucepan combine coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, tomato paste, peanut butter, fsih sauce and crushed red pepper.  Bring to a boil, whisking to combine.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes.  Remove from heat,  but keep the mixture warm.

Place pork chunks on skewers. leaving about a 1/4 inch between pieces of meat to allow for even cooking.

Grill or broil pork about 2 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the slices.

1 skewer (or 1/6th of the pork) with two tablespoons of sauce is 157 calories, 6 g fat, 456 mg sodium

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

My Mom bought me, well really I should say, my Mom bought my kids this donut maker.  You see, I rarely buy donuts.  Like maybe once a year.  I like them, I am just not into them.  It's probably the "fried" thing.  My kids however LOVE donuts.  Donut holes.  In fact they are my motivation for buying donuts because otherwise I would never go.
Enter this little machine and you can take the "fry" out of donuts.  It's pretty handy and the donuts were pretty good. A very fun thing to do with the kids.  There are two sizes out there- so if you are interested- shop around.

Chocolate Glazed Chocolate Donuts

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, combine wet ingredients: buttermilk, egg, oil and vanilla.  Add the wet to the dry.  Mix until just combined.  Pour mixture into a pastry bag or a plastic container with a small hole cut in it at the corner.  This will make it so much easier to put into the donut forms.  Once they come out of the donut cooker or your oven (you could easily do these in your oven in a donut pan- 350F for 10 to 20 minutes), pour glaze onto donut while it is still hot.

You could also make these donuts.
Buttermilk Cake Donuts

Pumpkin Donuts