Tag Archives: Tomato

My Favorite Cold Weather Soup

10 Mar

  Back in college, I worked at Mimi’s Cafe and became addicted to their corn chowder.  When I lived in Long Beach, I decided that I wanted to make my own and see how it turned out.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com for Gramma Brown’s Corn Chowder.  It is a fabulous, rich soup that beats Mimi’s chowder any day.  Since then, I have made this soup several times and tweaked it to include my favorite spices.  I also usually make the soup without bacon, but I decided to add it as a special treat for a few wonderful people this time around!

To start, I cooked the bacon until almost done, and then sautéed it with onions and celery.  I usually add a bit more celery than the recipe recommends.  I also add more carrots.  The result is more of a hearty stew, than a soup.

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This being the first time in well forever I made bacon, I did not have the foresight to first chop it and then cook it.  I ended up cutting it into pieces in the pan while it simmered.  The pan I used is well-loved, so I didn’t worry too much about adding a few more scratches.

I then transferred everything to a big pot with 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth and cooked it with the carrots and potatoes.

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The final step involves adding the milk and a paste of flour and water.  This thickens it up and makes it creamy.  You can add more flour if you like your soup thicker, but I think the flour plus the starch from the potatoes are plenty.

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Once everything is nice and soft and hot, you can top it off with some salt, pepper, and any other spices you’d like.

IMG_0890   I typically add a bit of cayenne, onion powder, and basil.  This gives it just the right amount of kick.  This soup is fairly easy and it always gets rave reviews.  This time around I added a side garnish of chopped tomatoes, avocado, and lime juice.  Some chose to add it to the soup, others just ate the avocado, but all in all I think it went over well.  I also like to buy or make a round loaf of sourdough and serve it warm with the soup.  Let me know if you think of any more exciting spice combos or interesting ways to serve it!

 

Un Mélange: Making It Work On The Weekends

22 Oct

The Fruits of My Labor

(Chris was sick today, so I was on my own in the kitchen)

I always find that no matter how much I plan, something gets in the way of at least one or more meal for the week, leaving a mix of food that will spoil if not used.  My solutions this weekend – firing up the oven, and diving into my Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.  The result was an odd, but delicious mixture of food.  Above you’ll find (clockwise starting at your bottom left) spicy peanut sauce, broiled curry chicken satay, cucumber relish, and roasted potatoes with tomatoes.

Peanut Sauce: Peanut butter (surprise, surprise), coconut milk, cayenne, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and chicken broth.  It’s mixed together and then cooked for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  It came out smooth and delicious, with just the right amount of kick.

Chicken Satay: Thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breast marinated in curry powder, lime juice and oil, cut into strips, and then broiled for 8-10 minutes on each side.

Cucumber Relish: Peeled cucumber chopped with red onion and marinated in vinegar and sugar.  Topped with peanuts and cilantro.

Roasted Potatoes: Chopped potatoes roasted in olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Topped with Gorgonzola cheese and pecans.

Roasted Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes roasted in olive oil, garlic, basil, pepper, and salt.

Drink: Muddled mint, lime juice, and tonic in a mason jar.

Breakfast For Tomorrow

(Our leftover fruit baked in an oat crumble)

From Food52: Chopped pears and apples mixed with flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Drizzled with maple syrup, ginger, orange and lemon juice, and orange and lemon zest.  Covered in a mixture of oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and pecans.  Okay, okay, so this one isn’t part of the diet.  There is a plus side: No rotting fruit from last week, and it’ll be better than just skipping breakfast.
I’ll let you know how it goes.  Until then – sweet dreams!

 

Poached Chicken Provencale

6 Sep

This recipe is found in the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.

1. Poach Chicken in Chicken Broth

*Cook’s notes: If you can’t cover the chicken, do the next best thing and flip them half way through.

2. Set chicken aside and cook potatoes.

*Cook’s note:  I was afraid that there wasn’t enough liquid to cover the potatoes, so I added another cup of water and bullion in a deeper pan.  In retrospect, the potatoes were a bit mushy and this might not have been necessary.

3. Drain potatoes, mix with tomatoes, tapenade, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh pepper.

*Cook’s notes: Fresh lemons and good olive oil are staples in my kitchen.  If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, the diced can version will do (but you’ll sacrifice some freshness).  You can use a store-bought tapenade OR you can make your own.  Tapenade is fairly easy if you have olives, fresh herbs, garlic, oil, spices, capers, and a food processor.  I made my tapenade with canned olives and artichoke hearts (instead of capers), but I’m sure the fresher version is superior.

    

4. Plate your chicken, top with potatoes, and add a green of your choice.

*Chef’s notes: This is where I like to ask Chris to make a fresh salad.  This evening he took bibb lettuce and tossed it with fresh cucumber, fresh red pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.

There you have it!  A delicious healthy dish.  A few points: 1) Poaching the chicken adds moistness and flavor without oil.  2) While there’s oil in the tapenade and potatoes, it’s a good oil (monounsaturated).  3) You can limit your starch intake (with the potatoes) by first filling up on a fresh, light green salad (again some oil but it’s monounsaturated and better than cream).  Chris loved the lemon and garlic on the potatoes.  Vinegar and citrus are his weaknesses.

Another surprising note.  You can complete this dish in the same time that it takes to assemble a brand new coffee table.

    

   I was hoping I’d beat Chris, but it was rather lucky to have a table to eat from while watching the Daily Show tonight.

The Quest for The Crispy Breakfast Potato

2 Apr

Looking at our past posts, I realized that we’ve neglected a very important meal – BREAKFAST!  With our busy lives, breakfast usually consists of a cup of coffee (or two) and maybe a Greek yogurt with jam or granola or nuts or a banana.  However, the weekends sometimes afford us the time to cook up something delicious.  Chris and I trade-off more than collaborate when it comes to breakfast.  Chris has perfected his hollandaise sauce, and he boiled the perfect 6 minute soft-boiled eggs.  I make the best, from scratch fluffy buttermilk pancakes ever, I like to experiment and elevate other dishes like huevos rancheros, and I have a love and obsession for baking muffins.

Starving and looking to fuel up for a big training run (I’m running a half marathon in May eek), I went to our kitchen and gathered what was left from the week.  Recently we decided to switch from our usual microwave meals from Trader Joes to more fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats from Whole Foods.  I had pushed Chris to do this for a while, and I think my fitness/running goals finally convinced him.  The sticker shock was a bit much at first, but we discovered that the quantities were larger and that the food we bought lasted us longer.  My first find in an adorable, tiny Whole Foods paper bag: 3 russet potatoes.

My other finds: eggs, ciabatta bread, low-fat cheese, a red onion, and a fresh tomato.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  That’s right! The perfect ingredients for Ciabatta Egg Sandwiches and Crispy Breakfast Potatoes!  I’ve tried to perfect my breakfast potato crisping skills for a while now, and this time would be no different.  I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and…oh shoot I should probably look before I start peeling and dicing.  In my usual fashion, I tried to only cut off the parts of the potato that were going bad and ended up nearly peeling everything (yea I’m kinda picky when it comes to brown spots).  I also rinsed the potatoes until they water ran clear and dried them off as best I could on some paper towels.  I read somewhere that if they’re too wet they’ll boil or steam and not crisp when you cook them.  I then diced the onion, tossed it in with the potatoes, and added oil, paprika, and Italian spices (too bad we don’t grow our own herbs – we want to, but we haven’t started this yet).

I decided to bake the potatoes in a jelly roll pan for 45 minutes at 475 degrees, stirring it every 15 minutes or so.  In the meantime, I started a fresh pot of water in our kettle to make our new favorite french press coffee and set the other ingredients aside.  About 10 minutes before the potatoes finished, I took out my silver dollar pancake pan and used it to make scrambled eggs fit for a sandwich.  I always beat my eggs with a bit of cream or milk and season them with basil, salt, and pepper.

Just as I finished the eggs, the timer went off for the potatoes (super proud of my timing this go in the kitchen).  When I pulled the potatoes out, they look golden and slightly crispy but certainly not crispy enough.  I stabbed one with a fork, cooled it, and took a bit.  Bleh totally bland too!  Rescue time.  I heated and seasoned a frying pan and then added the potatoes and some low-fat cheese.  Sure enough they started to crisp up perfectly and evening and the extra flavoring did the trick.

Last but not least, I toasted the ciabatta bread in the oven with the tomatoes and cheese on top, layered the egg sandwiches, and plated the potatoes.

I called Chris over, apologizing for the kitchen that looked more like a disaster zone, and we sat down to feast.  Oh wow, the potatoes were amazing.  This will go down as the day that I perfected the breakfast potato.  Chris couldn’t stop raving about the potatoes.  I think he would have been happy with just a whole plate of them.  The sandwiches were decent.  The eggs definitely could have been better, and the bread was a bit dry, but the tomatoes were a nice fruity touch.  Afterward, I had a few eggs and tomatoes left.

I put these suckers on top of a small plate of potatoes and heated them up for breakfast for us the next morning.  The flavors were great together.  Chris ate around his egg, devoured his potatoes and asked for more.  Big surprise :).

*All photos in this post are courtesy of Chris’ new IPad 3

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