Cream of Broccoli Soup

With a few cups of leftover steamed broccoli from yeterday’s family get-together, I made an easy cream of broccoli soup.  The whole shebang takes less than an half hour and pairs well with grilled cheese for a change of pace from tomato. 
You will need:

2 Tablespoons flour, 1 stalk celery, chopped (I used two of the sticks pictured here), 3 tablespoons butter, 1/2 a large onion, chopped, 2 cups milk, 3 cups broth, 4-5 cups cooked broccoli (steamed in the microwave)

Begin by whizzing 1/2 the broccoli in the food processor.  This is much easier than trying to puree hot soup later.

You should end up with half chopped, half regular broccoli.

Neat.  Get a tablespoon of butter melting in a soup pot.  Stir in your onions.

Saute till they are soft

Add the celery, let it saute until soft, then scoot everything to the sides of the pan and add in your remaining butter.

When the butter is melted, add the flour on top of the melted butter.

Whisk the flour into the butter.  It will create lumps, but don’t be alarmed.

Gradually stir in your broth, whisking as you go.

When the broth is all stirred in, your soup sould be opaque.  Let it cook about 3 minutes to warm up the broth.

Incrementally stir in the milk.

Continue stirring so the milk doesn’t scald.  This is what mine looked like after 2 cups:

Add in your chopped broccoli.

And unchopped broccoli:

Add black pepper.

And serve with sandwiches.  Enjoy!

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December 21, 2010 at 2:19 am Leave a comment

Home Alone Pad Thai

If you only make one recipe from my blog, this is the one to try.  This tofu pad thai recipe is better than most of the restaurant pad thai I’ve had and is just as quck as take out.  The recipe is for one hungry person or two normal people, but is easily doubled. Inspired by Mark Bittman (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/dining/21mini.html)

You will need:

Back row: 1/2 T Garlic, 1/2 T Rice Wine Vinegar, 1T Fish Sauce, 1 1/2 T Honey, 2 cups shredded napa cabbage,1/2 a handful of rice noodles (cover in boiling water to soften). 
Middle Row: 3 green onions, chopped, 1/4 block of tofu, cubed and draining in paper towel, a lime, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Front Row: 1 c bean sprouts, cilantro for garnish, 1 egg, 1 1/2 T vegetable oil

Begin by boiling water and covering your noodles to soften.  Mine took about 7 minutes.

Make the sauce.  In a small saucepan combine 1/2 a tablespoon of vegetable oil, the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce (yes it is made from fish, yes I encourage you to use it.  Strict veggie? Use soy.  Can’t find fish sauce?  Come to my apartment, I bought that big a** bottle and only used a tablespoon), honey, brown sugar, and the juice of half the lime

Bring to a boil
Let simmer about 2 minutes or until the brown sugar has dissolved.  Add in your crushed red pepper flakes.


That’s it for the sauce.  Now, the stir fry part.  Begin with putting the rest of your oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.

When it shimmers, add in your green onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Crack in the egg.

Scramble the egg.  Over medium high heat this will take approx. 30 seconds to a minute.

When the egg is cooked add the cabbage and bean sprouts.

Stir to combine.


Add Tofu

Gently stir in the tofu.  Add the drained noodles.  If bits of egg or tofu have stuck to your pan, the residual liquid on the noodles will help lift it off.

Stir in the noodles and add in your sauce.

Cut up what’s left of your lime into segments to serve with the finished pad thai. Sprinkle the cilantro on top.  Some people add chopped peanuts up here as well.  That’s it!

Close up:

December 14, 2010 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

Fancy (for finals week) Spaghetti Squash


Finals week.  In the immortal words of Liz Lemon “Blergh.”  Make it special with fancy brain food!

Let’s say you have one of these ^, a hungry vegetarian with lots of studying to do.  Sounds like a perfect opportunity for trying out a new vegetable and make it look fancy! in 15 minutes!

You’ll need these:
A spaghetti squash, 2 cups of spinach, black olives (I Used kalamata), garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, about 1 cup tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, capers, 1/2 an onion, parmesean cheese 1 cup chickpeas,  6 sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and parsley.

None of these ingredients are absolutely necessary except the spaghetti squash, nor are the measurements hard and fast.

To begin, stab the squash10-15 times all over so that it doesn’t explode in the microwave very spectacularly.

Microwave the squash for about 2 minutes and it will be easier to cut.  Cut your squash in half, but try not to be like me, as I am a terrible squash-cutter.
Put the squash in a microwaveable dish and cover it with wax paper or saran wrap or whatever you like.  Microwave it for about 5 minutes per pound of squash.  I did about 10 minutes for this one.  Scoop out the seeds.
Begin raking a fork across the cooked squash.  You will noticed long threads forming…like spaghetti.  Magic!

Sprinkle the strands with salt and pepper, and a little butter if you are so inclined (I am so inclined) and set aside.
Fantastic.  Now, the next few steps can all be conducted while the squash is microwaving, so you can be ready to eat when you’re done forking the squash.  Heehee.

Start a nonstick skillet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Add in the onion, I sliced mine, but you could chop or dice or whatever throws your hair back.  Or use defrosted frozen pearl onions.  Whatever.

When the onions are soft add sundried tomatoes.  I sliced mine, but you could dice or chop or….is there an echo in here?  Add about a clove of garlic too, for fun.  If you can’t find sundried tomatoes in the produce section, lots of grocery stores carry sundried tomato paste, which would do just fine here, maybe a tablespoon?
When the garlic is cooked (30 seconds?) add in your tomato product.  I had leftover pasta sauce, but you could use half a can of diced tomatoes or a 4 oz. can of tomato sauce, I’m going to love you anyway.

Now, add in your (pre-cooked) chickpeas.
Spread all the spinach on top of this mixture and put a lid on it for about 3 minutes, that’s enough time to wilt the spinach and deal with the spaghetti squash.
Spinach is wilted. Hurray!
Well..mostly wilted.   Grate in about…meh 1/4 c Parmesan cheese.

Stir, and the cooking is done!

Now, for assembly.
Squash:
Spinach/Chickpea/Tomato Goodness and a few olive halves.

Parsley and a few capers
Goat Cheese.  Everything’s fancy with goat cheese.
Side View:

Feed to your favorite hungry grad student (that might be you).  Enjoy!


December 7, 2010 at 5:08 am Leave a comment

Chili

For a short time, I enjoyed considerable celebrity as a second place finisher in the Marquette County Fair’s chili cook off.  My almost-winning recipe contained…you guessed it..MEAT.  Chicken, in fact, and it is delicious.  But, even if you’re cooking meat-free there’s no reason to deny yourself the spicy goodness of homemade chili.  This is a very, very flexible recipe.

You will need:
Back Row: 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup to 1.5 cups water, 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, 2 stalks celery (chopped),1 can kidney beans, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can black beans
Front Row: 2 Tablespoons Chili Seasoning (recipe from allrecipes.com, or buy a packet) green pepper, an onion, half a jalapeno, 1/2 a cup of frozen corn kernels, 1 can tomato paste, 12 or so ounces chickpeas (canned is fine), 6 oz soy chorizo.
Not pictured: Optional garnishes: cheese, green onions, sour cream, plain yogurt etc.  And/Or a carb to serve with, like spaghetti noodles or rice.

Begin by sauteeing your chopped onion (I used half of a large onion) in olive oil on medium heat.

As you chop, add in your celery

Green Pepper and jalapeno (be sure to wash your hands after you chop your jalapeno!)

Add in your soy chorizo.  I pre-crumbled mine, but you can easily do this in the pan with your spoon.

Scoot everything to the side and add in your garlic.  Let it cook for about 30 seconds.

Wonderful.  Stir everything together and let the vegetables soften.

While your vegetables soften, begin opening your cans (beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, etc.)  Drain the beans–no one likes nasty bean can juice (I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again) but don’t drain the tomatoes (tomato can juice is fine, even welcome).
As you finish each can, add it to your crock pot (set to low heat).  In no particular order: kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste.

Stir and add the contents of your saute pan. Stir again.

Add in two tablespoons of your spice mix.

Stir and cover, 4 hours on high, 6-8 on low.

When you’re almost read to serve, stir in the frozen corn kernels.

See how much it’s reduced?  Serve with toppings or on its own–any way is delicious.  I served mine over brown rice with a dollop of plain yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese.  Leftovers are great too!  Enjoy!

November 16, 2010 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Pie-Yay-Ah



So, maybe you’re a paella veteran–cooked & eaten many a time.  Maybe you’re like me and you’ve never tried saffron, much less paella.  But, now is the time.  Why?  Because paella doesn’t require a bunch of fresh veggies (good for winter months) but still tastes  vibrant.  From what I can tell, this dish is to the Spanish as pasta is to the Italians or Haggis to the Scots (clearly at a loss on national dishes).  In other words, if you mess it up, Spanish grandmas chase you down the street and whack you on the head with their paella pan.  Most paella recipes have mussels, shrimp, some have chicken, chorizo, etc., none of which are options here.  We’re using artichokes, soy chorizo and edamame, though there are many possibilities.  Let’s make it! 


Starring (front row): 1/2 a cup edamame (or peas), 12-15 quarters of artichoke hearts (about half a bag from Trader Joe’s or one jar), 6 ounces soy chorizo
Middle Row: 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes, drained, an onion, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 4 cloves garlic minced (a heavy tablespoon) about 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon saffron, 3/4 teaspoon paprika (not smoked), 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1 1/2 cups arborio rice, 3 cups vegetable broth.
Note: you will need a pan that can both go on the stove and go in the oven.  If you have a skillet with a silicone handle, you can wrap it in tin foil.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Warm up your olive oil and chop an onion.  Saute the onion till it softens.

While that’s cooking, pop your vegetable broth in the microwave for about 3 minutes 30 seconds so its nice and warm.  Add in your saffron.

Never used saffron before?  Me neither.  What I do know is that saffron is expensive, so I just dumped mine in from the bag rather than risk wasting some threads while measuring.

When the onions are soft, add in your garlic and cook about 30 seconds.  Pour in your rice, paprika and thyme and give it a good stir.

Stir and add in your tomatoes.

Add in your warm broth (that has saffron in it)

Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and let it boil for about 5 minutes.

This might remind you a bit of our risotto adventures (except paella is arguably much easier to make than risotto).
Stir in your edamame/peas (no need to thaw) and smooth out the top with your spoon.

Arrange your artichoke hearts and soy chorizo (again, no need to thaw) in a semi-attractive pattern.

Into the oven (no lid) for 15 minutes. 
The first post (up at the top) shows what it looks like when it comes out of the oven.  Enjoy!

November 9, 2010 at 3:24 am Leave a comment

Creamy Veggie Lasagna

This is another recipe made on request–see, if you ask, I will make it.  Vegetarian lasagna with white rather than red sauce is sort of time consuming, but worth the wait.  I’m including my recipe for alfredo sauce here and it can be used on its on with pasta, or in this dish, or eaten out of the pot with a spoon.  For timings sake, you might prepare the veggies and pasta while you’re making the sauce, so everything is ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Speaking of which, preheat the oven to 350 and bring a big pot of water to boil.

Alfredo Sauce (borrowed heavily from allrecipes.com)
You will need (no I don’t know why this picture is sideways).

2 cups milk, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, a crack of black pepper, half a stick of margarine or butter, about a handful of grated parmesean cheese.

Melt the butter/margarine.

I hope you have your one way ticket to Fat Island because now it’s time to add in the cream cheese.  I prefer in globs because I think it melts faster, but it’s up to you.

Stir around to break up the globs (this will take a little while).  Also, it looks disgusting.

Nom!  Begin adding in milk about 1/4 cup at a time at first, then in larger increments, whisk after each addition.

Isn’t that yellow ring from the margarine just charming?  This is after about 1 cup of milk. 

Much better.  Whisk in the parmesean.

Add in the garlic powder and black pepper (a dash of nutmeg is nice here as well).

Whisk to combine, and that’s it.  Leave over low heat to stay warm while you’re making the rest of the components.

Lasagna. 
In addition to the above alfredo sauce (you could also use about 16 oz of jarred alfredo, I won’t tell anyone, but the homemade tastes better) you will need:

Noodles (16 oz) , Lasagna style.  I accidentally bought no-boil but made the photographer run to Kroghetto to get yes-boil noodles because I have never used no-boil.
Dairy: 1 ton (just kidding, 1 bag) mozarella cheese, 1 container (12 oz?) ricotta cheese, 1 egg (technically not dairy but who’s counting?), about 4 oz. grated parmesean
Veggies: I used 1 red bell pepper, about 2 cups shredded carrots (you could shred your own, but why?), 8 oz white mushrooms, 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes and a head of broccoli.  This is pretty wide open–a spinach artichoke version might be lovely, or one that is 90% mushroom.  Or a primavera version with zucchini, summer squash, peas and carrots.  Or..ya know..whatever.
Not pictured: Non-stick Cooking spray

Cut up your veggies.  In batches drop them into your boiling water you’ll use for the pasta, then strain them (uh, leave the water in the pot).  I used my little handheld strainer to fish them out, but a slotted spoon would work too, though it will take longer.  No need to do this with already cooked ingredients, like frozen peas, artichoke hearts,canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, etc.
Don’t boil the heck out of your veggies, 2 to 3 minutes should be enough to soften them up.

Cook your noodles in the same water.

While the noodles cook, find your 9X13 baking dish, cooking spray, and assemble the cheese filling with the ricotta, egg, and parmeasean.

Drain your noodles, spray a baking dish, and put about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Cover with 3 Noodles

Next, plop on the ricotta cheese mixture.

No need to smush it out and tear your noodles, this will all spread out in the oven.
Cover the cheese with 1/2 your veggies.

Add on top the rest of the sauce and a handful of mozarella

Continue in this order: another layer of noodles, veggies, cheese, noodles, cheese (you can divide up the sauce better than I did and add some during the top layers).

Into the oven at 350 for 40 minutes with aluminum foil on, and about 25-30 with the foil off (you can put it under the broiler at the end for an extra crispy-cheesy top crust, but watch it, no one likes burnt lasagna…I think).

Now, don’t be like me and cut the lasagna right away because you’re starving, or you’ll get a big pool of sauce in the pan.  If you can wait 5 or so minutes, the lasagna will set up nicely for more even pieces.  But, I didn’t do that.
Serve it up and Enjoy (with garlic bread!)

November 2, 2010 at 3:24 am Leave a comment

No Fail Falafel

In the vein of my “do irreperable damage to traditional street foods” theme (see: almosta samosa) I provide a recipe for non-fried falafel.  This recipe is quick to assemble, but requires about half an hour of oven time, so plan for that.  Falafel is meaningless (and I don’t use that term lightly) without sauce, so that recipe is here too.  I should mention, this recipe is being included at the behest of Katy Powers whose requests for falafel were ignored for many a week.  I will (promise!) be better about requests in the future so if you’d like to see me make something, let me know!

You will need:

Back Row: 2 Tablespoons Flour, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 can chickpeas, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 Tablespoon garlic
Front Row: Plain yogurt (half a container), 1 teaspoon baking power, 1/2 an onion, 1 teaspoon each coriander and cumin, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon dill, parsley (curly or flat is fine), a cucumber.

Falafel:
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 and  draining and rinsing your chick peas.  Mush them in a bowl.  I used my hands because I am a hooligan but you could be more civilized and use a fork or a potato masher or whatever.

I like my falafel to still have recognizable chickpea, but if you don’t, keep on a’mashin.  Chop up your onion (1/2 a small onion) and parsley (a handful).  I used my ulu from Alaska, but something tells me ulus are not necessary for falafel making. 

 

To your bowl of chickpeas, add onion, parsley, olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and all the spices except the dill. 

 Stir in your flour and baking powder.

Form the mixture into patties (similar to making meatballs in my “spaghetti and ‘meat’balls post).  I used a cookie scoop to make them all the same size.  Place them on a greased, rimmed (for safety) cookie sheet.

 

Bake for 15 minutes, flip ’em over, and bake for another 15.  That’s it for the falafel balls!

Now, on to the sauce, which is so easy you really don’t need a recipe, but I’ll pretend as though you do because why else would you come to my blog? 

Okay, in a bowl, plop in your yogurt, dill, remaining lemon juice, and garlic.

I may have used too much cucumber, I ended up using about half of this, chopped:

Put in your chopped cucumber (if you didn’t used a seedless variety, please scoop the seeds out first!)

 

 

I added salt and pepper after a taste, but whether you add (and how much) is up to you.  Stir it up!

To serve, I filled pita pockets with spinach, 4 falafel patties and a healthy dose of the cucumber sauce.  Condiments and additional fillings are up to you (my favorite falafel place in Ann Arbor put FRENCH FRIES inside.  yum!). 

Enjoy Everyone (Katy especially)!

October 26, 2010 at 3:01 am Leave a comment

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