Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup

Tonight we tried a new recipe from Taste of Home magazine, Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup. I don't think I have ever even tried vegetable soup until I had it at my great aunt's house last year, and I've wanted to try it since then. This morning I chopped up the veggies so Mike could brown the beef and divide the soup between a freezer bag for later and the crock pot (not the method that was called for in the recipe, but hey, it worked). When I got home, all we had to do was make some garlic bread and we were ready to go! Another interesting side note; I left out several veggies, like the green chiles and mushrooms, but I included the turnips the recipe called for, which neither of us had ever eaten.

The verdict

Sometimes when I make a new recipe, I eat it while constantly thinking about how I could improve it. This was one of those recipes. First off, I would halve the amount of turnips. They imparted a sweet-hot taste to the soup that I thought was too strong. Second, I would chop up all the veggies (turnips included) much finer, just to make it easier to eat. I guess I don't like to chew :) In that same vein, I would make the tomato part of the soup less chunky. All these changes are just to tweak the soup to suit our tastes, but I liked the idea of a healthy, veggie soup. I would have made the bread whole wheat to boost the health factor even more, but the white bread was left over from the stuffed French Toast. I give this meal for taste and 2 and a half out of five stars for taste and 3 and a half stars for health. A final note: Mike divided this recipe between a freezer bag for later and tonight's dinner, and it still made a LOT! We have enough for another meal at least.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Breakfast For Dinner (and Three New Recipes - Whoa Buddy!)

I haven't tried any new recipes in a loooong time, so tonight I tried THREE new ones and we had breakfast for dinner. First, Raspberry-Stuffed French Toast, a lighter version of traditional stuffed French Toast from Kraft's Food and Family magazine. It's supposed to have a custard sauce that you drizzle on top, but I didn't realize that I forgot to make it until I was plating the dishes - argh! I decided to forgo it rather than let everything get cold, especially since the Cinnamon Stewed Apples took less time than expected (note: I adjusted the recommended cooking time in the recipe). The third new recipe I tried was our beverage: Herbal Iced Tea from the Barefoot Contessa. It features fruit-flavored herbal tea and apple juice. The last feature of our breakfast-for-dinner was a tad bit of bacon.

The verdict
It was so much fun to try new recipes! I've missed trying new things, and cooking so much made me realize how much I'm looking forward to getting into a house and a kitchen that's bigger than a shoebox. The apples were a nice side to the French Toast, although they tasted more like chunky applesauce, partly because they cooked a long time and also I think they need a little more spice, and maybe a tad of sweetener. Honey, perhaps? The Stuffed French Toast was good even without the custard sauce, but I think I'll try it again with the sauce. I might try different berries, too. The Herbal Iced Tea was refreshing and slightly sweet, and I plan on making it again. I give this meal 4 out of 5 stars for taste and 3 stars for health.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Crescent Calzones with Mozzarella and Chorizo

Tonight I was feeling creative, but didn't want to get very involved in making something complicated. Kind of a weird combination, I know. I decided to throw caution to the wind and try my hand at making calzones with whatever was in the fridge, which happend to be mozzarella cheese, some chorizo sausage, and a can of crescent rolls. I browned the sausage and flattened out the dough, dividing it in half and sealing all the seams. Once I drained the meat, I put it over the cheese, then sprinkled some of Penzey's Pasta Seasoning on top, then rolled the whole thing up like a pinwheel, pinching the ends so the filling wouldn't ooze out in the oven.

The calzones were baked at 350 degrees for about 2o minutes. Here they are ready to go in the oven:

And on the plate, with sauteed green beans and a fruit salad of strawberries, bananas, and plums. There were supposed to be peaches in the salad too, but they tasted like cardboard. I hate when that happens!! Darn you, Publix!

The verdict

These calzones were really good, and so easy! Not exactly health food, but it's a good meal to fall back on when I'm out of ideas. I would have preferred pepperoni, as chorizo is so strong, but they were still very satisfying. I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health. A tasty and creative use for crescent rolls!
Giving a New Cake a Try

I had heard about this trick before, but had never tried it for some reason. Supposedly, it's an old Weight Watchers secret: you take a yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree and mix the two together, then bake it according to package directions. Skip the eggs and oil and whatever other guilt-inducing ingredients are usually called for.

Here's the cake right after it was pulled out of the oven:

I whipped together a frosting out of reduced-fat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a little milk.

I was anxious to try this out, and I must say I was very happy with the results. The cake was really good! The only thing was, the icing needed some work. In fact, I could have done without the icing completely! Which is weird for me, because I'm usually a big icing person. I think next time I do this, I'll make muffins out of these and leave the icing off. I have a recipe that calls for mixing a yellow cake mix with a can of pie filling, which isn't a far stretch. The best thing about this was it was really good, and not very guilt-inducing. Always a good thing! Try it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hot N' Spicy Steak Chili

In a flash of brilliance, I came up with a use for the leftover London Broil that was sitting in the fridge. I chopped up the meat, getting about 3/4 of a cup, then threw that in the Crock Pot with a can of pink beans and stewed tomatoes. I wanted it to really taste like chili (because I usually make taco soup and I wanted there to be a difference), so I laid on the chili powder and cayenne, perhaps a little too much. Hence the name. Mike volunteered to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the chili, and I totally forgot to make a vegetable until the last minute, so we had some baby carrots and celery.

The verdict
The chili certainly was hot n' spicy! I had to put some sour cream into my bowl to cool it down, but Mike thought it was perfect. Sophie also seemed to approve, and licked our bowls clean (sorry if that grosses you out - I wash them afterwards!!) I think next time I'll leave out some of the spices and let Mike add them afterwards to his liking. I give this meal 3 stars for taste and health. Yaaaaay for trying something new! There's nothing quite so satisfying as finding a new use for leftovers.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A simple dinner to end Spring Break

We got back from visiting my parents today, and Mike offered to make us sandwiches for dinner. He took some kaiser rolls we had from burgers earlier this week and made a hot sandwich out of deli ham and a mexican blend of shredded cheese, then added the Spring Mix lettuce at the end. If it had been me, I would have brushed the bread with a honey-mustard sauce, then heated it, but hey, beggars can't be choosers! Sorry I don't have anything more exciting to show you, meals have been like that around here lately. I seem to go through spurts of creativity, and for now I just have too much on my plate to have much energy left for inventive cooking. I get tired of showing you the same meals over and over, so I've only been posting when I have something new or interesting. I do get inspired sometimes, though, so keep checking back!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Grilled Marinated London Broil

After a long absence, I have a new post and a new recipe for you! Winn-Dixie had London Broils on sale, so I bought two. The fact that I had never cooked (or eaten) London Broil didn't phase me until I got home. So I promptly turned to the recipe board that I visit occasionally, and the lovely ladies obver there gave me some ideas. It was there that I found the recipe for Grilled Marinated London Broil. Yesterday I put the marinade together, and Mike put the meat on the grill today along with some potatoes. Throw in some steamed veggies from the freezer, and we have a meal!

The verdict
I was very pleased with how the meat turned out. We cut it real thin against the grain and boy was it good! I look forward to London Broil going on sale again so I can make it again :) I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 3 and a half stars for health.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A realization...

Whenever we don't finish off a bunch of bananas before they go brown, I stick them in the freezer for making banana bread at a later date. I always use my grandmother's recipe, but I've never actually looked at it. Well, I did last night, and it hit me that this bread is better suited for a dessert than breakfast! It has TWO sticks of butter and THREE eggs! Grandma, I love you, but I've got to find a less guilty recipe! Of course, I'm munching on a slice as I type this, so it hasn't slowed me down too much...