Friday, May 31, 2013

Crab Meat Rangoons and Egg Drop Soup

Double recipe day!

And we're checking something off of that bucket list.

And I'm keeping my promise that I was going to utilize crab in honor of the Ravens' Super Bowl win.

What a big day :)

I was craving some Pi's the other week. Pi's is this great Chinese restaurant in my hometown that makes the best crab meat rangoons (no joke, best ever!) and a deliciously simple egg drop soup. Unfortunately with the restaurant 6 hours away I had to make different plans. So I decided to make it at home.

Overall, I would say it was a success. The crab meat rangoons were good (although Pi's are still better) and the egg drop soup was great. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I sure wasn't.

Crab Meat Rangoons (adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventure)
4 oz neufchatel cheese (this is reduced fat cream cheese)
1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 green onion, green part only, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
dash of ginger
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup crab meat, picked over and shells removed
14-16 wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 415 F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Mix together the cream cheese, yogurt, sriracha, soy sauce, onion, garlic powder, ginger and sugar. Fold in the crab meat. Lay the wonton wrappers on a clean work surface (it is best to work with 4-5 at a time). Place about 2-3 tsp of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Then working with one at a time, use your finger to wet the sides with water and fold along the diagonal. Press around the filling to remove any air pockets and seal tightly. Place on your baking sheet and repeat until all the wrappers are filled and you are out of the crab mixture.

Mist the top of the wontons with cooking spray. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Egg Drop Soup (adapted from Tyler Florence)
2 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low-sodium)**
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, chopped
salt and white pepper, to taste


Whisk together 1 tbsp broth and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Bring the remaining broth, ginger, soy sauce and mushrooms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the slurry of cornstarch and stir until thickened. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the egg slowly while stirring. Turn off the heat and add in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 1-2.

**Feel free to substitute chicken broth or turkey broth here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Rain, rain, go away... We've had enough of you already.

Oh wait, those aren't the words. Ah, well. You should make this tuna casserole. It is my go-to warm tuna recipe. It's from Cooking Light so that means it is practically healthy, right?

Tuna Noodle Casserole (adapted from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2010)
4 oz egg noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup diced carrots
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 oz neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
5 oz can tuna in water, drained

Preheat broiler. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the noodles according to the package without the salt and butter. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook about 6 minutes until tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Gradually whisk in the milk, cook for 5 minutes until thickened. Add the cream cheese, mustard, salt and pepper and cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the noodles, peas, half of the parmesan cheese, and tuna. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the additional parmesan. Broil for 3-5 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Smashed Chickpea Sandwich

Am I right that cleaning kitchen appliances is the worst thing about cooking? Especially the food processor and blender which have so many parts where little pieces of food can get stuck requiring you to scrub, rinse, scrub, rinse, repeat until finally clean.

Let's say you were craving the taste of hummus but didn't want the extra effort of cleaning your food processor. Then a smashed chickpea sammy is perfect for you! Totally adaptable like hummus itself to whichever flavors you are in the mood for, but only necessitating a fork and bowl to prep. This time I used some fresh veggies, a little bit of lemon juice and thyme. This little sandwich is great for lunch or even as a light summer dinner. Try it out (and let me know what other flavors you come up with!).

Smashed Chickpea Sandwich (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 cup chickpeas (cooked, rinsed if from can)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely diced cucumbers
1 tbsp minced red onion
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste
hamburger bun, toasted
2 green leaf lettuce leaves

Mix the chickpeas, carrots, cucumbers, onion, lemon juice and thyme in a bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to smash everything together. Add the olive oil and mix to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve atop toasted hamburger buns with lettuce leaves. Open face is the way to go!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reuben Stew

Do you want to know when I made this recipe?

New Year's Eve!

It was on the menu while Scott was in town because he really likes sauerkraut and it is a part of his German heritage during the holiday. However, I didn't have time to post it close to NYE so I made a plan to post it pre-St. Patrick's day as inspiration for that holiday. BUT, somehow March came and went with only three posts! So here we are almost to the end of May and I'm finally getting around to sharing it with you.

Truthfully, you don't need the excuse of a holiday to make this recipe. It is delicious! It resembles the sandwich very closely but you eat it with a spoon! I would suggest only adding the bread and cheese to whatever you are planning on eating right away. Save the extra soup, bread and cheese for whenever you reheat leftovers (if you have any!).

Of course, I used my homemade vegetable broth but the beef broth was sadly from the store. Has anyone made homemade beef broth? I'm assuming it is fairly straightforward but I'm not really sure what to add to make it "beef" (well obviously some part of a cow, but the meat? the bones? the fat?).

Reuben Stew (adapted from Taste of Home's Ultimate Soup Cookbook)
1 small onion, sliced
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium)
2 cups low sodium beef broth
3 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 oz deli corned beef, chopped
1 1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
3 slices marbled rye bread, cubed
4 sliced swiss cheese

Preheat broiler.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender.

In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable and beef broths to a boil. Add the horseradish, Worcestershire, mustard, celery seed, garlic powder, corned beef, sauerkraut and onion. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Ladle soup into 4 ovenproof bowls. Top each with 1/4 of bread cubes and 1 slice of cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serves 4.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Here's the deal. My friend Teresa is trying to kick my butt into shape. Somehow she has convinced me to ride a bike to work with her. She does this a lot in the spring/summer... me? I've accompanied her twice in the past two weeks and plan on trying to kick it up to twice or three times a week. Until she convinced me to do this, I could not remember the last time I had been on a bike (well besides the stationary ones at the gym). I thought back and I really think it was the summer after my first semester in college when I biked over to my friend Jennifer's house. That was like 10 years ago!?!

I'm beginning to really appreciate the saying "just like riding a bike". Somehow, I had not forgotten how to peddle, shift gears, or stop from moving. My leg muscles, on the other hand, forgot how to function the day following a bike ride. Wow-sers! Ow-sers! And my bottom... I had to tenderly sit down for the next few days.

But truthfully, it felt good to be outside and stretching my muscles. I had been to complacent lately with working long hours and not getting myself to work out. This really helping me out. You know the best thing about riding a bike to work? You have to bike home too. No take backs, sheets, or give-ups. You gotta get back on it at the end of the day and push through.

For all this bike riding, I need some extra protein to feed my muscles. This pork tenderloin in the slow cooker is great. The Asian flavor of hoisin sauce and chili paste is great. The pork is tender and ready when you get back to the apartment. Serve it up with a baked potato and broccoli and you will have a filling and nutritious meal to refuel you for the next ride.

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin (adapted from Rachael Ray)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tbsp chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)
1/2 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Coat crockpot with cooking spray.

Whisk together the garlic, hoisin, ginger, chili paste, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil. Place the pork in crockpot and pour the sauce over it. Cook on low for 8-10 hours (or high 4-5 hours).

Remove the pork from the crockpot and let rest until ready to slice.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water. Turn the crockpot to high and whisk in the cornstarch solution. Heat until thick.

Serve the pork topped with the hoisin sauce.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Creamy Tomato and Artichoke Soup

When my parents were visiting, my mom left me all of her magazines that she has read during the car trip. I love my traditional cooking magazines but I do enjoy perusing her Midwest Living, LHJ, and Woman's Day because they can surprise me with an intriguing recipe here or there. Case and point -- Creamy Tomato and Artichoke Soup from LHJ.

I know we've talked tomato soup and grilled cheese before. However, I've focused on the grilled cheese part because I have nothing against a can of Campbell's tomato soup. Open it up, mix it with a little milk and water, heat, and you're ready to go.

But if you've got a little extra time, you should definitely be making this tomato and artichoke soup. It is nice and creamy because of the milk and half and half, but it has a little extra tang from the artichokes. There is more texture to the soup because of onions and artichokes.

Really, it doesn't take too much more time than opening the can. You should do it!

Creamy Tomato and Artichoke Soup (adapted from Ladies Home Journal March 2013)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (both green and white parts)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium)
1 cup milk
5 oz artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
16 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup half and half

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, green onion (save some of the green parts for serving), and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir about 1 minute to heat through. Stir in the broth, milk, artichokes, salt and crushed tomatoes. Bring to simmer (do not boil in order to avoid scalding the milk). Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Add the half and half.

Serve garnished with additional green onions... and accompanied with a grilled cheese! 

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pizza Quinoa Casserole

Confession time.

Last Friday I picked up a pizza on my way home from work. What can I say: I was just craving a thick-crusted, gooey cheese, and piping hot mushroom pizza. But that isn't my confession. I don't judge if you order pizza or get takeout, especially after a long week at work. I confess instead that it took all of my will power to not scarf down a piece on my way home. The garlic, cheese and tomato smell filling my car was so irresistible that I could barely make it the whole 10 minutes to my apartment. Granted it had been awhile since I had consumed pizza but still pretty ridiculous, right?

So moral of the story-- there is no way I could be a pizza delivery person. I do not have enough self-control to ride around with that smell everyday.

Although it had been awhile since I eaten a slice of pizza, I did have a little bit of a fix a few weeks ago with this pizza quinoa casserole. I doctored it up with green peppers and onions and would have added mushrooms if they had been in my fridge, but you could certainly use any of your fav pizza toppings. The quinoa is a great base for any flavoring and the tomato and Italian seasoning do not disappoint. Top it off with some mozzarella cheese and your house will smell like you have a fresh baked pizza.... but without the guilt of the calories and fat.

It's not delivery nor DiGiorno! It's quinoa!

Pizza Quinoa Casserole (adapted from Gloria of Food)
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup water
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp tomato juice or sauce
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning (or a combination of basil, oregano, garlic and parsley)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an individual baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the water and quinoa in a small pot; bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is completely cooked.

Combine the onion, green pepper, tomato paste, tomato juice and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Pour into the baking dish. Top with the cheese.

Bake 30-35 minutes until heated through and the cheese is browned.

Serves 1.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bacon and Pea Ravioli

So you bought a can of tomato paste but your recipe called for 1 tbsp. What in the world are you supposed to do with the rest of it? If you are like me (my old self, that is), you close the top back on the can, throw it into the fridge, and cross your fingers that you remember it is there and that when you pull it back out, no green fuzz has sprouted. Those days, however, are in the past. Now you're more intelligent and you realized that you should probably scoop the tomato paste into 1/2 tbsp piles, freeze them on a cookie sheet for a few hours, and then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag. Now you can grab one, two, three, four whenever you need tomato paste. Say goodbye to your green fuzz and hello to saving 89 cents each time you need a little bit.

As a side note, Rachael Ray uses this nifty resealable tube of tomato paste on her shows. I searched my grocery store high and low but could not find it. So this option is second best, and truthfully more convenient to me.     

So what can you use your frozen tomato paste for? How about this quick and easy ravioli?

Bacon and Pea Ravioli (adapted significantly from Food Network Magazine)
1/2 lb cheese filled ravioli
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp half and half
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook the ravioli according to the package. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, cook the pieces of bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. If you have more than approximately 1 tbsp bacon fat, remove some. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook about 1 minute. Add the 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the half and half and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the ravioli, peas and parsley and toss to coat completely.

Serves 2.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Irish Brownies

As a child, I was definitely more of a cookie than a brownie gal. Something about the crunch of a cookie made me happier than the chewiness of a brownie. However, I would never say no to one of those brownies swirled with cream cheese. Cheese makes everything better, amiright?

Now that I'm a grown-up, I'm still more of a cookie lady, but cream cheese brownies still always get a yes... especially if those brownies are spiked with a little Guinness beer and Bailey's Irish cream. I made these for a St Patty's day party back in March, but they are appropriate anytime of the year.

Irish Brownies (adapted from A Spicy Perspective)
For brownies:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
dash of salt
4 tbsp butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 oz stout beer (like Guinness)

For cream cheese swirl:
4 oz neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg white
2 tbsp Bailey's Irish cream

For ganache:
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 8 X 8 baking dish with foil.

Mix the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl. Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs together until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate while the mixer is running. Slowly add the flour mixture. Finally mix in the beer. Pour into the prepared pan.

Beat the cream cheese and 3 tbsp sugar together until completely smooth. Add the egg white and Baileys and beat until smooth. Add to the top of the brownie batter and use a spatula to swirl together.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Combine the the heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth (if needed microwave for another 30 seconds). Pour over the top of the cooled brownies and smooth. Refrigerate until the ganache has set.

Remove from the pan using the foil and cut into pieces.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Homemade Naan Bread

Remember yesterday? When I posted that delicious chickpea curry that I said was great on sweet potatoes or over rice? You wanna know what it is also great with? Homemade naan bread!! Y'all this is maybe my favorite homemade yeast bread ever. It takes a little longer for the rising time (2 hours) but it is totally worth it. Make it once and you'll be hooked.

Before we get to the recipe though, can we just talk about how spring has finally sprung? I cannot express my excitement for warm sunny days. The gloom of winter in central IL was just bumming me out. Now I am finding myself smiling and basking in the sun (in between the downpours). What are you looking forward to most this spring?

Homemade Naan Bread (adapted from Eat Live Run)
1 1/2 cups warm water (~100 F)
1 tsp active dry yeast
3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

In a small bowl, gently stir the yeast and sugar into the water and let sit for 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer, combine the yeast mixture with half of the flour. Mix on low for approximately 3 minutes. Add the rest of the flour and the salt and increase to a high speed for about 6 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and divide into four sections. Shape each into a rectangle and sprinkle with water. Make dimples using your fingers. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chickpea Curry

It is time again to open up that spice cabinet-- we're making Indian cuisine!

This vegetarian curry is a nice blend of spices especially atop baked sweet potatoes. The sweetness of the potato balances out the spicy curry perfectly. Additionally, it is quite delicious mixed with rice. There are so many options for serving that I don't want to limit your creativity. Just do it-- make this hearty vegetarian dish (vegan, if you skip the Greek yogurt) and no one will miss the meat.

Chickpea Curry (adapted from Three Many Cooks)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (with as many seeds as you would like)
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
10 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups of cooked chickpeas*
2 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low-sodium)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Baked sweet potatoes** or cooked rice, for serving
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
Chopped parsley and red onion, for serving

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and ginger and cook about 1 minute. Add the seasonings and stir to coat. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes until thickened. Stir in the parsley.

Serve the curried chickpeas over baked sweet potatoes or cooked rice topped with Greek yogurt, red onion, and additional parsley, as desired.

Makes a large pot serving 4-6.

*Use 2 15-oz drained cans of chickpeas, or 3 cups soaked and cooked chickpeas.
**To bake sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 400 F. Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour until fork tender.