Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Presents for my Nephews and Baked Kale Chips Recipe

 Baked Kale Chips
Smitten Kitchen

Olive oil
Sea salt

I cut the ribs out of my kale, then chopped it down to bite sized pieces and followed her directions to cook at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. I made mine a tad too salty, so beware. They were quite good and I am of the same mindset that kale has typically not been that lovable for me. However, I have also recently made it in a hearty Potato and Kale soup from America's Test Kitchen and loved it. Due to the texture I would generally choose spinach or chard over kale. Kale certainly has its nutritional and wallet saving benefits though.

Meet my adorable nephews, whom I love to make presents for. The list of things that I have made for them now includes: a dinosaur blanket, turtle blanket, tee pee, puppet theater, and now a set of hats, scarves, and mittens all from Oliver+S. I bought their book of things to make for kids this fall to make the aforementioned puppet theater and am now completely in love with the book. My mom is an expert seamstress, but I am still in the learning process and would say that this book requires reading and re-reading to accomplish a project, but so far so good everything has come out pretty cute! See for yourself.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe

Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy

1 medium butternut squash (approx. 2 lbs) peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 C low-sodium chicken broth
4 C water
1 onion, minced (*I only used about 1/3)
2 garlic cloves, minced
11/2 C pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 C dry white wine (I used another cup of chicken broth)
3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp minced fresh sage (I didn't have any on hand)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the squash with 2 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper and spread out over the prepared baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes; set aside until needed.
2. Meanwhile, bring the broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover to keep warm.
3. Combine the remaining tsp oil and onion in pan. Cover and cook over med-low, stirring occasionally, util the onion is softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Stir in the barley, increase the heat to med and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Stir in the wine (or chicken broth) and continue to cook, stirring often, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in 3 C broth and half of the roasted squash. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, 22-25 minutes. Stir in 2 more C broth and continue to simmer until absorbed, 15-18 minutes.
                  6. Continue to cook adding 1/2 C broth at a time until absorbed, 15-20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in remaining roasted butternut squash, Parmesan, sage, butter, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per 3/4 C serving: Cal 240, Fat 5g, Sat Fat 2g, Chol 5mg, Carb 40g, Protein 7g, Fiber 7g, Sodium 440mg


Cheese Tray with Rosemary Flat bread Recipe

There is nothing that I love more than being put to work in the kitchen when I go to someone's home! Last night my hubby and I went to one of my former adviser's home and had a great time. As soon as we walked through the door I was making homemade avocado fettuccine with her 7 year old boy. Who by the way has red hair just like one of my nephews which just makes him all the more endearing!! The irony of my loving this is that I rarely relinquish control myself. I almost always finish 3/4ths of what needs to be accomplished before anyone ever walks in the door, so that I can focus on enjoying the people and have a clean kitchen. Maybe next time I will choose a different route. Now to the food! I chose to bring a cheese plate because I knew that we were likely to have wine with dinner and because I didn't know what we were having. My thought being that it was likely to go well with a lot of things. I made Rosemary Flatbread from Smitten Kitchen a food blog that is amazing and was introduced to me by a friend not long ago. She also listed a flatbread with thyme, honey, and sea salt that sounds amazing! I chose to pair it with slices of granny smith apples, red bartlett pears, walnuts, honey, blue cheese, fontina (a favorite of mine for its smooth nutty taste), and camembert. I also added in a plain multigrain water cracker.
Rosemary Flatbread
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008

1 3/4C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C water
1/3 C olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

1. Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

2. Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

3. Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).

4. Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.

Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Couscous with Saffron, Raisins, and Toasted Almonds Recipe

Another recipe from ATK! We had this for dinner tonight with some roasted chicken breasts. It was my first time cooking with saffron threads. Surprisingly manageable when crushed in a mortar and pestle, but I would say beware of the sticker shock! I ended up purchasing my saffron threads from World Market for significantly cheaper than I saw them at the grocery store. Who knows if that was to the benefit of the dish though. If anyone takes a chance on the more expensive variety and has thoughts, please let me know!! 

Couscous with Saffron, Raisins, and Toasted Almonds

1 C whole-wheat couscous
1 onion
2 Tbp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/8 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I used paprika)
3/4 C water
3/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 C raisins (I used golden raisins)
1/4 C toasted sliced almonds
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. Toast the couscous over medium high heat, stirring often, until a few grains begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer couscous to a bowl and set aside.

2. Combine the onion, 1 Tbsp oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the liquids and raisins and bring to a boil.

3.  Stir the couscous back in, stir, and cover. Let sit until the grains are tender, about 12 minutes. Uncover and fluff the grains. Stir in the remaining oil, almonds, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Per 3/4C Serving: Cal 190, Fat 7g, Sat Fat 1g, Chol 0mg, Carb 28g, Protein 4g, Fiber 4g, Sodium 170mg 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Comforts (Tea and Cinnamon Oat Scone Recipe)

I am sure that this is an overstated sentiment, but I love the weekend. Last night we attended an amazing wedding for some friends and had a great time dancing the night away. And now I have leisurely woken up and am in the process of watching an old movie (Born Yesterday), making Cinnamon-Oat Scones, and a pot of Irish Breakfast tea.

Cinnamon-Oat Scones
taken from Pillsbury Breakfast and Brunch Book                                              
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 C oats
1/4 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C butter
1/2 C milk

1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening or cookie spray. In medium bowl, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, sat, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Add milk all at once, stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

2. On floured work surface, gently knead dough 5-6 times. Place on cookie sheet, press into 6-inch round, about 1 inch thick. Brush top with melted butter. 

3. In small bowl, mix sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over top. Cut into 8 wedges; separate slightly. 

4. Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

1 Scone: Calories 270, Fat 14g, Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 370mg, Carbohydrates 32g, Protein 4g


Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

I am hoping this is the first of many recipes shared. I am completely obsessed with America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook that I received from my parents (aka my mom) for Christmas this year. Not only has everything that I made so far been delicious, but it has also fit in well with a health conscience minded girl's diet! What can I say? I barely look at food the wrong way and it sticks!

I am also sincerely in love with Chicken Tortilla Soup of all kinds and varieties; cheese based, broth based, out to eat, made at home, with or without lots of veggies. Soup and a good book (I am currently reading Great Expectations and loving it) are a great recipe for a cool winter evening. This recipe definitely has a little added kick with the canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce. I should also note that I am in the process of saving up for a new food processor, having recklessly left mine in Knoxville when we moved in the hopes of upgrading. Therefore, my soup did not achieve as thick a consistency as would have been achieved otherwise.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
Vegetable oil spray
Salt and pepper
8 C. low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or 1 1/2 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with skin removed
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
8-10 fresh cilantro sprigs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (*to make a milder soup, decrease or remove)
1 tsp canola oil
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)

Serve with low fat sour cream, low fat shredded Monterrey jack cheese, and lime wedges.

tortilla strips
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in the middle position. Spray tortilla strips with oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread over a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp 15-17 minutes (mine took approximately 10 minutes due to the holes in my pizza tray), stirring halfway through baking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

step 2 with minced garlic and onion instead of quarters
2. Bring the broth, chicken breasts, 2 of the onion quarters, 2 of the garlic cloves, cilantro, and oregano to a simmer in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken registers 160-165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer approx. 20 minutes (once again mine took less time, because my grocery store had chicken tenderloins on sale this week).

3. Remove the chicken from the broth; when cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces, discarding bones, etc. Strain the broth discarding solids; set aside.

shredding chicken

4. Process remaining onion quarters, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and chipotles in a food processor until smooth, 15-20 seconds. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Add the pureed onion-tomato mixture and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened in color, about 10 minutes. (I did not perform any of this step really, due to my lack of food processor. How I long for a 12C Cuisinart food processor!)

5. Stir in the strained broth, cover and simmer until flavors have blended, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken and continue to simmer until it is heated through, about 5 minutes.

dinner complete!
6. Divide tortilla strips among individual bowls and ladle the soup over the tortillas. Sprinkle with avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, cheese, sour cream, and serve with lime wedges.

Per 1 1/2 C serving: Cal 280; Fat 9g; Sat Fat 1g; Chol 45mg; Carb 27g; Protein 21g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 960mg


Saturday, January 14, 2012

For every chapter there is a beginning...

'In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.' - Lewis Carroll
And thus begins my journey into the world of blogging. Much like Alice, I feel as though I am taking a very long and slow tumble into uncharted territory. In this instance, not exactly a walk on the moon as there are probably thousands of others sharing their thoughts in a similar forum, but new to me none-the-less. This is especially true since I cannot yet imagine why anyone would want to read my ramblings. However, I have appreciated so many others blogs when finding new recipes or learning new and more efficient ways to craft that I have decided to follow the encouragement of friends. Friends you know you are and I thank you for thinking that my words and thoughts contain enough value to be broadcasted.