Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I recently heard someone say that candy corn tastes like diabetes and chalk.  I would only argue with one point: it tastes like delicious diabetes and chalk.

Indulge.  You've got the rest of the year to be good.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Soup -- with Recipe!

Once the weather starts cooling off, I make a pot of soup just about once a week.  It's usually something hearty that can be eaten as a main course, and I eat it for lunch or dinner for a few days until either I get sick of it or I run out of it.  If I get tired of it (or for whatever reason, the soup is a few days old and I still have some left) I freeze the remainder in individual portions. 

Your mileage may vary depending on the size of your family and whether or not you like leftovers.  But remember: soup is always better the second day.

Tuscan-Inspired Soup 
(This is a vegetarian version, but you can brown 1/2 lb. of ground beef after the first step.  Drain off any excess fat and then continue.)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15.5-oz can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
5 C. vegetable broth (or chicken broth, or a combination of broth and water)
1/2 C. dry elbow macaroni, ditalini, or other small pasta (or 1 C. leftover cooked pasta)

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until the onions are clear, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add garlic and saute for a minute more.
3. Add zucchini, diced tomatoes, beans, broth (or broth and water combination), and Italian seasoning.  Stir. Add salt and pepper (I use about a teaspoon of salt; use more or less to taste).
4. Raise heat to bring soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Simmer approx. 30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked, stirring occasionally.  Add broth/water as needed to maintain good soup consistency.
5. Meanwhile, cook dry pasta in a separate pot according to package directions.  Drain.
6. When vegetables are done, add pasta, stir, and heat through, about 1 minute.
7.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with a little grated parmesan cheese if you like.

* If the pasta soaks up a lot of liquid overnight, add another cup of broth and heat through.  Alternatively, you could keep the pasta separate and add it to individual portions as you go.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Go-To Tofu -- with Recipe!

I make this tofu dish whenever asparagus is on sale.  It's a tasty, quick, light meal that's good for you.  Serve over rice or couscous.  If you're making a pot of rice, wait until it's about 5 minutes from being done before you start cooking the tofu and asparagus.  I tend to go easy on the heat, but feel free to add more red pepper flakes.

Go-To Tofu (serves 4)
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound thin asparagus, washed, trimmed, and cut in 1/2-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz. package tofu, well drained and cut in cubes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp. sugar

1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over high heat.  When hot, add asparagus and garlic and stir-fry 2-3 minutes.  Add tofu and red pepper flakes, stir-fry 2 minutes more.

2. Add the soy sauce and sugar and cook, stirring often, 1-2 minutes. 

3. Serve

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mr. Onion Says...

I like Eating Well magazine because it always contains some interesting ideas and healthy recipes -- and that's a good thing, since most of the recipes I come up with contain copious amounts of cheese.

One thing I've noticed, however, is that the recipes tend to take shortcuts.  I'm sure this is to make them user-friendly for the busy home cook, but some things can't be rushed.  To wit: sauteeing onions.  When I made the Eggplant Bulgur Pilaf in the October issue, I followed the instructions.  I put the eggplant in first, never stopping to consider the natural order of saute handed down from mother to daughter since the earth cooled.

I just blithely went ahead, and ended up with chewy onions and not much aromatic flavor in the eggplant.  If only you'd spoken up a little sooner, Mr. Onion.  Lesson learned.