Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray, oh, my!

I really should plan our weekly meals out more often. Sometimes I just stock the house with food we like and we end up winging it and making it work. But the issue is when I do that- I often to buy things we don’t use in time or doesn’t go with anything else in house. (Sometimes the supermarket greatness makes me impulse buyer. Yes, I’ve been that person to buy 10 cans of olives when they are on sale for a dollar.) So, trying to be smarter about our food budget- this weekend I started going through my cookbooks and magazine recipes. Here were the three I’ve made this week:

Sunday Night: (Betty Crocker)

Last time I was home, my mom let me take her 1993 Betty Crocker New Choices Cookbook.  I picked up this vegetarian gem, which just happens to be a low fat, low cholesterol, low calories, and high in fiber recipe.

Lentil Stew

Betty Crocker Sunday Stew

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

1 cup of chopped onion (about 1 large)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (uh, I used 4 cloves)

2 cups coarsely chopped potatoes (about two medium)

1 cup dried lentils

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

3 cups of water

½ teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon of ground mace (Had to buy- ugh. Since when does a spice cost 10 dollars?… must find more recipes to justify this cost)

8 ounces small mushrooms, cut into halves

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, un-drained.

Directions:

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients; break up tomatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender.  (6 servings).

Results:

I loved the way this made my house smell. I thought the prep was easy and was glad that it was healthy for me. And it was good with out cheese (yes, for some reason, I like to think everything is better with cheese).  Flavor was great- I think next time, I would cut my potatoes differently (I made potato sticks.) The hubby, who grew up eating Arabic lentil meals was more of a critic. “No meat?… It’s best with meat” and “I thought the potatoes were slightly underdone”. My coworker loved the potatoes so meh. Obviously, I can tinker with it next time.

Tuesday Night: (Martha Stewart)

Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Cilantro

Just another reason I love Ginger... :)

I love ginger. The smell, the taste, the texture and the health benefits.  And I’ve been looking for ways to use it more. Plus, I have this Asian mart right by me, where the ginger is bigger than my head.  So when I saw this in my monthly Everyday Food- I wanted to try.  It was pretty easy to put together- but I realized- I have no freaking clue on how to de-meat a rotisserie chicken. And at 7 p.m. at night- I didn’t care- I zoned in until I think I had four cups. That poor carcass didn’t even have a chance.

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded (from 1 whole chicken), room temperature
  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) cellophane (bean-thread) noodles, prepared according to package instructions
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 3-inch sticks
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Refrigerate until cool, at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 week).
  2. Combine chicken, noodles, cucumber, and cilantro. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

Results:

Hubby ate this and loved it. He even said it was perfect even two days later. I liked it because it was so different. And I have friends that have lots of food restrictions, and I could make this meal for them. Thus, it’s a keeper.


Wednesday Night (Rachel Ray)

Drunken Tuscan Pasta

Pink Noodles? Yum. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (750 ml) bottle tuscan red table wine (Rosso di Montalcino or Chianti) *Um. I just picked up a cheap bottle of red.
  • coarse salt
  • 1 lb bucatini pasta or spaghetti or perciatelli
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb deli-sliced pancetta * I just used the Morning Star Bacon.
  • 3 portabella mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped *Not a fan of rosemary- so I used fresh basil and chives.
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • red pepper flakes (a couple of pinches)
  • 4-5 cups chopped chard leaves or escarole or spinach or kale *I bought Kale for the first time.
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese * Eh, too expensive- so I had some other three cheese blend that worked just fine

Directions:

1.    Pour the entire bottle of wine into a large pan; add water and fill the pot up as you would to cook pasta.
2.    Bring the wine and water to a boil over high heat.
3.    When the liquids boil, add salt and the pasta; cook to al dente. (you will use some of the cooking liquid later).
4.    Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add 2 tablespoons of olive oil; then chop and add the pancetta.
5.    Brown the pieces until they are golden at the edges and transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate.
6.    Add the mushrooms to the olive oil in the same skillet; season with rosemary; cook 6-8 minutes until deeply golden.
7.    Push the mushrooms to the sides of the skillet; add in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook for a minute or so, then toss the mushrooms together with the garlic.
8.    Add the greens to the pan; season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
9.    When the greens have wilted down, add a couple ladles of the starchy pasta cooking liquid to the pan; cook for a minute to reduce it a little.
10. Drain pasta well and add it to the skillet.
11. Add in the pancetta and a handful of cheese to the pan; toss the pasta for a minute or so to allow it to absorb the remaining liquid.
12. Adjust the seasonings and serve; pass the extra cheese at the table.

Results:

Can I just say… cooking with a bottle of wine awesome- why didn’t I think about that before? Though, I couldn’t really taste the wine but the hubby could. I liked it- but I think next time I make this I would use maybe spinach or escarole just to see the difference. Also, I thought I just use the fake-on because I thought pancetta would hurt the hubby’s tummy. Though he said it wouldn’t- so next time, I’ll actually buy it. Also this says four servings, but honestly, it felt like 6 to me.

Final word:

So, I still don’t know if I’m a Betty, a Martha or a Rachel Ray. But I still enjoyed this week’s culinary adventures.

Speaking of culinary adventures- I just finished reading Julie & Julia. I felt very trendy reading it… and like I should have read it before it was a movie deal. Ha. My sister and mom sent me the same article from the Detroit Free Press:

http://www.freep.com/article/20090806/FEATURES01/908060318/

It was a cute book. Though, if you read it and liked it- read My Life in France also. Both are adventures that your taste buds will enjoy.

The only thing about J&J… is Julie was kinda too bitchy at points. Like I just felt though she was having a professional and personal identity crisis- I kept thinking- do you have be such a bitch to everyone? I honestly had a hard time liking her character until the end. Anyways- I’m glad that she’s successful though (side note- kinda shocked that she hasn’t had a baby yet- and she’s 36 now- but eh. It’s probably because it was talked so much about in the book).

Anyways – the point is she found her foodie niche and ran with it.

And that’s what I’ve been thinking about for months.

What will be my foodie niche?

Until then, I think I’ll add the Art of French Cooking to my Christmas List. J&J made me want cook with liver. Hopefully, there is a recipe with liver and olives. 🙂

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Salt N Pepa – S(ho)oup

Cold Days… Hot Soups… Soup, baby, soup! :oP

Heh.

Goal: I need to re-fall in love with my slow cooker again.

 And I think I found some new inspiration.

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/06/crockpot-broccoli-and-three-cheese-soup.html

CrockPot Broccoli and Three-Cheese Soup Recipe

Thank you Stephanie!  Ahhhmazing.  Made it for the rents when they were in town and everyone was a member of the clean plate club. (It made great leftovers for lunch also. Bought enough cheese to make it twice.)  Picked up a fresh loaf of bread from Swedish Bakery in Andersonville for $1.80.

http://www.swedishbakery.com/

I’ll tell you why this place is absolutely fantastic. We decided to pick up about six beautiful pastries to go with our Starbucks coffee- and a loaf of bread- and it cost us under 12 dollars. I thought they made a mistake at the cash register. No. It’s just that amazing and that cheap.  I wish the place were big enough to sit down and enjoy.

 

Are you... um... going to finish that?

Are you... um... going to finish that?

Another new meal last week:

Soba Soup with Spinach (From this month’s Martha Stewart, Everyday Food)

 

) Thank you Martha!

Dinner in 30ish minutes 🙂 Thank you Martha!

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

12 ounces of shitake mushrooms (stems removed) & caps thinly sliced

4 scallions, white and green (parts separated and thinly sliced)

1 garlic clove, minced (you know I minced like 4 though…)

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

coarse salt (I used sea salt)

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of reduced sodium chicken broth. (But me being veggie friendly, I used veggie broth)

½ package (4.4 ounces) soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles)

Couple handfuls of flat leaf spinach, torn

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon soy sauces (realized we didn’t have any yet in the house- so we used teriyaki sauce

 

Directions:

1.     In large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add mushrooms, scallions (whites) garlic and ginger. Season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender. Around 6 minutes.

Add broth and 3 cups of water; bring to a boil. Add soba; reduce to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Add spinach; cook until tender- about a minute. Add lime juice and soy sauce.  Serve topped with scallion green.

Enjoy!

The hubby said he would of loved some shrimp in it. May do that next time. I thought left overs were fantastic! 🙂 Another winner! 

Martha Stewart Eats This

I love my life a little more when I receive the Everyday Food magazine by Martha Stewart in my mailbox. My mother bought me a subscription for Christmas and I swear- it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It inspires me to cook unique meals on a weekday. The unique meals just happen to be healthy and pretty quick to make. It’s a very well organized and attractive little magazine- and it does not matter what your cooking level is- this has something for everyone’s skills and taste buds! 🙂

These are two recipes that I made this week out of the latest copy (September 2008 ).

Cuban Black-Bean Stew W/ Rice
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

*If you want, serve this protein rich vegetarian dish with brown rice to boost up the health factor even more. It’s also delicious with chips or tortillas alongside.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups long grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion
1 garlic clove, minced (But as always, I doubled… okay tripled)
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
2 cans (19 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can  (14.5 oz) vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ tablespoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Garnishes (optional) lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and sliced radishes.

***The only thing I didn’t have was a radish and I ran out of red onion so I just used white. I think if you make this- the lime wedges and fresh cilantro are excellent add-on’s and are a “must” to make this meal memorable.

Directions:
(1) Prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 – 10 minutes.

(2) Add beans, broth, vinegar, and oregano. Cook, mashing some beans with the spoon, until slightly thickened, 6 – 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fluff rice with a fork. Serve beans over rice, with garnishes if desired.

***The hubby loved this and we both thought it was excellent the day afterwards.

Also, in this month’s copy, I made the Open-Faced Egg & Tomato Sandwich. Which honestly I think took me less than 10 minutes to make.

1. Take one whole-wheat English muffin split it and toast it (I only had wheat bread- so I used that)
2. Cut a thick tomato slice and put on English muffin. (But if you use a loaf of bread- use two slices per piece of bread.
3. Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan (on medium). Gently crack eggs and let them cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. When whites are almost set add a couple pieces of cheese over the yokes. Cover for another minute to let cheese melt. Slide one egg per slice of muffin/bread. Put some salt and pepper on it.

Voilà- Dinner or Breakfast is served! I think next time- if I still have any fresh basil or herbs- I will throw them on top. Hubby said he would eat this any day of the week.