Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cheddar and Green Onion Smashed Potatoes

I've been away from cooking for a few days now because Mike and I visited his parents over the weekend, and I promptly developed a nasty cold on our way home. I did manage to try out one new recipe that went over well when I tested it on a few people.

For some reason I don't eat too many potatoes (bread is my carb of choice!), but I've been working on a "meat"loaf recipe and potatoes sounded like just the thing to go with it. I wanted to jazz them up a bit beyond regular mashed, and this is what came of it. I love the combination of really sharp cheddar cheese and the fresh onion-y taste of green onions - it works in so many dishes, and these potatoes make it shine. I also stirred in 4 cloves of finely minced garlic, but if that's too much for you, feel free to omit.

It's not the healthiest of recipes, but the dairy products are spread out over 6-8 servings.




Cheddar and Green Onion Smashed Potatoes

Serves 6-8

2 lbs small red potatoes, skin on and washed
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
6 green onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

After washing the potatoes, cut them into uniform pieces and place into a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until they can be pierced easily with a fork, 15-20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and mash the butter into the potatoes first with a potato masher. Mash into the consistency you prefer (for smashed, I like it a little chunky), then stir in the remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creamy Tomato Soup

I adore creamy tomato soup - okay, who doesn't? Canned tomato soups never seem to hit the spot, however; they're tinny and lack flavor. And cream of tomato soup is extremely easy to make at home! In fact, I nearly always have the ingredients around, so it's a recipe I can whip up on a whim.
I love pairing it with grilled cheese, and if I'm feeling even more indulgent, Goldfish crackers to sprinkle on top. You can also flavor the soup however you like, when you start from the basic recipe - you can add curry or garam masala to give it an Indian flair, or basil and oregano for an Italian flavor. I normally add either Penzey's Tuscan Sunset or Pizza Seasoning because they're quick, tasty, and readily available for me. Adding cheese boosts flavor and protein content, and you can stir in any vegetable you'd like as well - I love spinach in it.

This time around I halved the recipe, added 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 2 oz of Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of chopped baby spinach. I also used Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes - they give a lot more flavor than regular canned tomatoes. You can use tomato sauce in place of chopped tomatoes for a smoother texture.

Give this a try the next time you're in the mood for tomato soup and grilled cheese, and I promise you'll never go back to canned.




Creamy Tomato Soup

Serves 4 as a side dish to a sandwich or a salad, 2 as a main dish

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
4 cups of milk
28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, pureed
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: additional seasonings such as curry powder, garam masala, basil, oregano, Parmesan, cheddar, smoked salt, cumin, cayenne pepper - the options are endless.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and whisk in flour when the butter has melted. Allow to cook for one minute, then slowly pour in milk while continuing to whisk.

Allow to thicken, approximately five minutes, then stir in tomatoes and optional seasonings, and cook for an additional five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poached Eggs over Asparagus

Good-looking asparagus is finally starting to show up at Publix! Costco still has huge woody asparagus, but I picked some up at Publix that are thinner than pencils. The thinner the asparagus, the better! Spring fruits and vegetables are beginning to come into season and I'm excited, even though the weather here in Florida has been unseasonably chilly.

Usually I do something boring with asparagus and broil it with olive oil and balsamic, but I wanted something that highlighted the asparagus more. I'm back on my upswing of enjoying eggs - I go back and forth - so I was thinking of the classic dish of poached eggs over asparagus. I also wanted to have a light sauce over the dish, but definitely not hollandaise - that's a rare treat. I know that mock hollandaise is sometimes made with yogurt, so I came up with a creamy mustard dill sauce that goes together very easily. I garnished this with lemon zest because I don't think lemon zest is used enough as a garnish for savory foods, and perks up so many dishes.

Finally, to give the dish a little more substance, I served it over thickly-sliced toasted whole grain bread. If you shop at Publix, I love to use their whole grain seeded loaves, and slice it myself.




Poached Eggs over Asparagus with a Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

Serves 2

1/2 lb asparagus
4 fresh eggs
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup full fat yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 slices of whole grain bread
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the asparagus and place it into a steamer basket in a large saucepan with an inch of water below. Cover, turn to medium high, and steam until crisp-tender, approximately 5 minutes.

In a shallow pan (I like to use my large, deep skillet), heat 3 inches of water and the tablespoon of vinegar to a simmer. Crack two eggs each into two small bowls or ramekins, and when the water is gently simmering, quickly pour the eggs into the pan. Gently move the white over the yolk. Poach for three minutes for medium-done yolks. Toast the bread while the eggs are poaching.

Meanwhile, in a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the yogurt, mustard, dill, and garlic with salt and pepper to taste, and heat until warmed through.

On a plate, place the bread, asparagus on top, then the poached eggs. Drizzle 1/2 of the sauce over the eggs and sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and serve.

Note: if you're not a fan of poached eggs, you can always use hard boiled eggs, slice them, and arrange over the asparagus as well. Thanks to Jenn for the input!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jambalaya

This recipe basically came about due to a desire to do a little "something" to celebrate Mardi Gras. After a long Valentine's weekend, Mike and I preferred to stay in, so I set about working on a proper jambalaya recipe. I've always only ever made jambalaya with the box of Zatarain's, so it's high time that I actually developed my own recipe.

I'm not claiming in the least that this is authentic, though I tried to capture the flavors of New Orleans. I like the Tofurky brand of sausages as I cannot find vegetarian andouille very easily, but if you can, feel free to substitute. I also added quartered mushrooms for their meaty texture. I probably use more garlic than 4 cloves when cooking for Mike and I, since we're garlic fiends, so add more if it suits you. This is also "accidentally" vegan, as written!



Jambalaya

3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 vegetarian sausages (I prefer the Tofurky brand), sliced into 1/4 inch coins
2 large onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms (also known as baby portabellas), trimmed, washed, and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 can chopped tomatoes, undrained
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and green onions, for garnish

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add vegetarian sausage. Cook until sausage is browned, or 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add remaining oil, onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until garlic is fragrant.

Add the next nine ingredients, cover, and simmer until the rice is cooked through, about 40 minutes. Add salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and green onions, and as much Tabasco as you please!