Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ham Hocks and Red Beans

This was a warm and satisfying meal.  I do love a one pot type meal.  Delicious and satisfying.  Thanks to Cooking Lights good ideas, its rather light as well.  It certainly does not skimp on flavor.  If I had green onions I would have added them in for garnish.  Being on a low budget at the end of this month, green onions, just were not at the top of the list. This was a perfect meal as I had some chopped red peppers in my freezer and the hocks as well.

Ham Hocks and Red Beans
Adapted from this recipe from Cooking Light, November 2003

Ham hocks:
1 medium onion
3 whole cloves
10 cup water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 smoked ham hocks (about 2 pounds)
4 bay leaves
1 whole onion
3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups red pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare ham hocks:  Place onion, water, cloves, and next 8 ingredients (water through thyme sprig) in a stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 4 hours. Remove hocks from stock. Strain stock through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Cool stock to room temperature. Cover and chill hocks and stock separately 8 hours or overnight. Remove meat from bones; finely chop. Discard bones, skin, and fat. Skim solidified fat from surface of stock; discard fat. Reserve 4 cups stock.

To prepare beans, sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.

Combine beans and reserved stock in a Dutch oven. Add chopped thyme, fennel seeds, marjoram, and tomato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender.

While beans simmer, heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, 1 cup carrot, 1/2 cup celery, chopped red peppers and 2 garlic cloves; cover. Cook 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Add vegetable mixture, ham, ground pepper, and salt to bean mixture.

Calories 366 ( 1 cup)

Serve with rice and/or cornbread.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Bars

Lucky me, I am happy to say that I finally have a few buddies to work out with at the gym.  It's a great motivator to get my butt to the gym, early in the morning.  If I don't own up to my commitment I get some harassment.  If they don't make it to the gym I harass them.  Of course it is all in good fun.  I also love the fact that if we are working out next to each other and talking, it makes the time go by much faster!  Like, boom, forty five minutes gone.  Love that.  Most of the time, if I am working out by myself at the gym, I stare at the clock.  The first ten minutes is good.  I am getting warmed up, getting into my work out.  Then there are the middle doldrums where, if there is nothing good on the tv's, seems to be real long.  If I listen to music instead of the televisions and I hit a good beat, I really get going.  What is it about a good tune that can totally carry you through a work out?  The last ten minutes are pretty good because I know it's the final stretch and the end is near.  

From work outs to food... These peanut butter bars are so delicious.  They are a perfect treat to make with children.  They go great with a nice tall glass of milk. If you eat them as your breakfast, you could actually even get away with eating one.

Peanut Butter Bars
Largely adapted from this recipe at Williams Sonoma

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, wheat germ, baking soda and salt and stir with a whisk until well blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix to combine. Fold in dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture.  Pour into prepared 9 x 13 and place on middle rack of oven.  Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.  It will be golden.  As it cools it will become firm.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brown Soda Bread

I made this on St Paddy's Day along with some cabbage and pasta ( a quick fill in and substitute for no potatoes).  St Paddy's day with an Italian slant.  The fact that I am posting this long after St. Paddy's day is testament to the fact that it is deliciously worth posting.  The downfall of this bread is that it gets dry the next day, but toasted that works out just fine.  Eat it up the first day- especially when it is warm.  Oh, so good.

Oh, did I mention that it's loaded with lots 'o' fiber (that's Irish for good for yah- ha).

Brown Soda Bread

Recipe from this recipe at Cooking Light

11.25 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats (such as McCann's)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I omitted this by mistake and it turned out fine- will try again with it)
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 6 ingredients (through salt). Combine buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until combined.

Spoon the mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert bread onto a wire rack; cool completely. Remove parchment; slice bread into 12 slices.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

 Easy and delicious.  I loved this one. I am totally into quick meals as I lost my cooking mojo and fgained some sewing mojo.  In the last month or so I have participated in Iron Craft nearly every week, made curtains for my upstairs bathroom, pieced a few quilts, made a few table runners or centers, made three coin purses, and started to piece another quilt, Cathedral Window style.   With all that I have had little time for cooking.  Soups and salads and quick easy meals are gaining popularity in my household.

This checken cacciatore is about as easy as opening a few jars and throwing a few things in.  Voila, the crock pot does the rest.  And may I say it is majorly delicious.  Lots of flavor.  Oh and pretty light.

Chicken Cacciatore
Adapted from Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Cookbook

6 skinless chicken thighs (you could put in more without increasing the liquid)
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup white wine ( I used one that was on the dry side)
1 jar of your favorite sauce
1 jar of stewed tomatoes, flavored if you like- I used my homemade tomato soup with vegetables

Throw it all in the crock pot.  Set on low for seven or eight hours.  Set on high for four to five hours. Serve with pasta and bread for sopping all those flavorful juices.
*If you want it thick make a small amount of slurry with 1/4 cup flour and a tablespoon or two of water.  Mix well and then stir into the mixture an hour before it is done.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tapioca, Crock Pot Style- minimal stirring

Let me tell you what I have been doing. Going to the gym, sewing, taking classes, running errands, letting the dog in and out, in and out, etc. and of course my kids. Lots 'o' homework. We added to her homework list. Yeah, I know, we are just cruel like that (subject for another post). Really nothing more than anyone else's busy-ness. I apologize, my blog has not been a top priority this week.

Do not adjust your screen, that really is green tapioca... on purpose.  I bought it at a local, large, Asian warehouse.  Little lime green colored tapioca pearls.  I am so drawn to that color that I had to buy them.  I cooked it up in the crock pot this time.

If you ever cooked tapioca, you know that one of the first important steps is to soak the tapioca in milk.

Crock Pot Tapioca

2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup small pearl tapioca, not instant
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine milk, sugar, tapioca and vanilla in the cooker  Stir with a whisk.  Cover and cook on low until the milk is absorbed and the pudding is thickened.

In a small cup beat eggs.  Stir a small amount of hot tapioca into the egg to temper it.  Add a bit more and then stir the egg into the tapioca.  Cook for another 30 minutes.  Turn off the machine and let the pudding cool partially covered for about 30 minutes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lighter Crab Cakes and Black Radish Relish

Any time I have a coupon for crab from our local warehouse type store, I buy it.  Once or twice a year we have some lump crab meat.  Once or twice a year I make crab cakes.  I love them.  I rarely use the crab for anything else because I love it so.  WHile my crab and avocado enchiladas were good, I prefer to taste just crab.  Now if I had access to lots of crab all the time I would definitely make those enchiladas again.

When you dont have much of something, you really want to taste it, which is why I made the crab cakes.  I wanted to go lighter this time. I am very glad I did.  These were really yummy.  No one would ever know they were a lighter crab cake.  At 140 calories a piece I enjoyed two of them!  Delicious!

Thank you Cooking Light for a most delicious crab cake recipe!

Crab Cakes

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 crab cake)

3 (1-ounce) slices white bread
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.lace bread in food processor; process until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (through crabmeat). Divide crab mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1-inch-thick patty.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 patties; cook 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan; place on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining 3 patties. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and golden.

Cooking Light, APRIL 2006
The second day we enjoyed another crab cake.  I made a relish to go with it using a black radish that I picked up from the market.

Black Radish Relish

2 cups chopped black radish
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup water

Place chopped radish in a bowl, set aside.  Combine sugar, water and salt in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Pour over radish in the bowl.  Let sit until it comes to room temperature.  Add in green onions.  Refrigerate until well chilled.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fudgy Brownies

These brownies are a bit mroe grown up tasting.  A little more dark chocolate and a little less sugar.  They are rich, fudgey and delicious.  If you are counting calories you can have a 1 inch by 1 inch piece.  It will probably set you back about 100 calories.  If you are not counting calories, oh my, eat a couple, sooo good.

Fine Cooking has a great article on Brownie baking and how to achieve the texture you like.  Within the article are dozens of sample recipes.  This is one of those recipes.  The article also has a link to a "Build Your Own Brownie" interactive recipe builder.

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies
This recipe was found at Fine Cooking, 105, pp. 31;  May 6, 2010

12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into 9 pieces; more softened for the pan
3-3/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
2-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
5 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. of a 9x13-inch straight-sided metal baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on the short sides. Lightly butter the foil.

Put the butter in a large (4-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat and stir occasionally until melted, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth, 1 minute. Add the sugar and salt, and whisk until well blended. Use your fingertip to check the temperature of the batter—it should be warm, not hot. If it’s hot, set the pan aside for a minute or two before continuing.

Whisk in the eggs, two and then three at a time, until just blended. Whisk in the vanilla until the batter is well blended. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with small bits of brownie sticking to it, 35 to 45 minutes. For fudgy brownies, do not overbake. Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a rack, about 3 hours.

When the brownies are cool, use the foil overhang to lift them from the pan. Invert onto a cutting board and carefully peel away the foil. Flip again and cut into 24 squares. Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cheesy Chicken and Bean Enchiladas

It was a last minute thing to use up some leftover ingredients.  And wow I am posting it because I want to make it again.  It may seem like nothing special but when my husband says something like this is your best ever I have to write it down.  If you have leftover chicken, this recipe is a snap to put together- five minutes- baking time 40 minutes. If I wasn't watching calories I would have added a lot more cheese but I have to say

Cheesy Chicken and Bean Enchilada's

1/4 cup sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella, shredded
4 green onions chopped
15 ounces shredded chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Lowry's salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup beans (I used some black chick peas)
1/4 cup of bean liquor (cooking liquid of the beans)

enchilada sauce:
1 can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder

8 inch flour tortillas

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl.  Set aside.

Mix enchilada sauce, adding water to the consistency you like.  Pour half of the sauce into a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Scoop out a packed 1/2 cup of filling and roll up in the tortilla.  Place the rolled tortilla in the 9 x 13, seam side down.  Repeat process 8 times. Pour the remainder of the sauce on top of rolled tortillas, spreading it out so that it covers them.  Sprinkle about 2 tablespoon of mozzarella over top.

Calories per serving according to my rough calculations.  I did not use "light" anything.  The mozzarella was part skim. The tortillas I used were 150 calories a piece.  It works out to 330C per enchilada.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lucknow Red Bean Chili aka Rajma

You may remember me talking about my favorite farmer at our local Farmers Market.  He always has interesting stuff.  When I went to the market a couple weeks ago, he had these red beans.  Man, were they delicious.  I was so excited to find some locally grown, dried beans.  I had to use them right away. 

I am so looking forward to the market and all the fresh produce.  For me it is one of the best aprts of summer.  I am gearing up for my garden right now as well.  I am going to fertilize this year.  We plant the end of May so I want to get the fertilizer on this month so it has time to settle in.  Even though we compost, our composter only makes so much as it is a contained unit.  I need to get my little tomato seedlings going.  I saved some of my Purple Cherokee Heirloom seeds.  I hope they produce.  I am a little nervous about it.  I am only going to do a few.

Lucknow Red Bean Chili (Rajma)
Adapted from India The Vegetarian Table by Yamuna Devik; CHronicle Books San Francisco

2 tablespoons ghee
1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of asafetida
1 inch nub ginger, grated
1 quart tomatoes
1.5 to 2 cups bean cooking liquid
6  cups red beans, drained1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
salt to taste

Heat ghee (you can use oil if you do not have ghee) in a large pot such as a Dutch Oven.  Add the following spices: ajwain seeds, garam masala, chile powder, asafetida and ginger.  Cook until mixture becomes aromatic.  Do not let it burn or it will turn bitter.  Add the onions and cook until they become soft.  Add tomatoes, beans, bean cooking liquid.  Cook with lid off for about 40 minutes.

If you soak your own beans, remember to soak them in water the night before.  Cook the beans in a pot with water and a bay leaf until they are tender and then you should proceed with the recipe.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ambrosia Salad

While it looks kind of scruffy, it tastes, like out of this world good. 

Growing up my mother made this ambrosia salad a lot.  I loved it.  I could not get enough of it.  It's versatile, easy and delicious.

I have to tell you that I am totally and utterly addicted to my sewing machine these days.  I still like to create in the kitchen but there is something about creating something with my hands and being able to enjoy it for a while.  I have been making quilts, purses, crafts, whatever.  Some nights I could care less what we are having for dinner as long as I can get it made in 30 minutes or less.  Yup, me.  This salad is one of those whip ups at the last minute.  Or you can go a bit more fancy and do some more with it.

Here's what I did and the usual way to do it is in parentheses

Ambrosia Salad

1 pint of my canned maraschino cherries (store bought maraschinos will work wonderfully as well)
2 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
2 cans fruit cocktail, drained
1 banana, sliced
1 bag of mini marshmallows
1 cup heavy cream, whipped (6- 8 ounces sour cream)

Mix it all together and let it sit or be like me and eat it right away.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What a difference a pan makes

I just had to share with you.  I made the Texas sheet cake again.  Yeah, I know I already posted the recipe but I just had to tell you what a difference the pan makes.  Do not use a shallow 9 x 13 to make this cake like I did the first time.  It will be a little bit too dense.  I used my deep 9 x 13 and wow!  It made a huge difference.  First of all it was lighter- obviously.  But when I poured the hot frosting on the hot cake it didn't go over the sides like it did before.  Oh no, it bubbled and raged and made its way down around the cake forming a wonderful cookie crust-ish thing on the bottom.  I have to tell you this is the BEST cake EVER!  You Texan's rock!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pork and Hominy Stew

I have posted Posole before but this way to do it, caught my attention.  The recipe is from Cooking Light so if you are counting calories this baby clocks in at 300 for a 1 1/3 cups- not too shabby.  It's real BIG on flavor.  Add some fresh vegetables and wow it cranks it up even more.  For some reason the cabbage, lime juice and radishes really make the dish!

I did not have pork tenderloin thawed out.  I had some ground pork which I think worked really well.  However it was probably a bit more calories.

Adapted from this recipe at Cooking Light.

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
1- 16 ounce jar of my fire roasted salsa (what? you dont have it, okay substitute your favorite salsa here)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; set 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture aside. Add pork to remaining spice mixture in bowl, tossing well to coat.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture, broth, hominy, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes.

Serve with some or all of the following accompaniments:  cilantro, avocado, cabbage, radishes and lime juice.