Archive | November 2012

Greek Geek!

Ever since 2000, when I went to Greece, I have been in LOVE with Greek food!  I have made gyros, and Greek salads, and even a kebab which may have actually been more Turkish  but whatever.  One thing I made for my mom and granddad when I got home, but had never made again was Moussaka.  A delicious dish described as Greek lasagna, or a casserole.  I had an awesome recipe, which I don’t have with me in Korea, but I have been thinking about it ever since.

My challenge with Groove Magazine has me pulling out Korean ingredients trying to incorporate them into my every day life.  Well, one food that I don’t usually use, but have been thinking about for a long time is eggplant.  I have some ground lamb in the freezer from Itaewon (the foreigner district in Seoul), and now I have eggplant in the house at the same time!  What is more perfect that making a traditional moussaka?!  Okay, I cheated a bit, and it would have been less weight watchers points had I not cheated, but I didn’t  feel like making both tomato sauce and a white sauce in my tiny kitchen at the same time.  So those came from jars.  After searching some general recipes on youtube and perusing several different written recipes (although mostly going from memory), I compiled my own recipe.  The first thing I did was wash 3 small potatoes.  I used a mandolin to slice them up very thin and quickly fried them at a high temperature just to make the outsides brown.

Then I did the same thing with thinly sliced egg plant.  I did learn that I should probably slice these things by hand, or at least with a thicker attachment on my mandolin, as the cuts were too thin, browned very quickly almost to the point of burned, and the eggplant cooked into almost nothing.  I peeled the eggplant before slicing, as after doing some research, I found out that unless they were fresh, the peel could be chewy.

Next, I diced up two onions, and two cloves of garlic.  I put them in a frying pan with just a little oil (using up what was left over in the pan from the potatoes and eggplant.  Once they started getting clear, I added in 250 grams of ground lamb.  I stirred it together and let the meat cook.  Once the meat had turned brown, I added 1/2 of a jar of roasted garlic sauce into the pan.  I stirred it, and let the meat soak up the sauce.  I wanted the meat to be the star, and wanted it to be very thick, so I did not overwhelm it with too much sauce.  I removed it from the heat when the liquid had cooked out a little, and it was very thick.

Next, I layered ingredients like a lasagna into a pan.  I put a layer of potatoes, then egg plant, then meat.  My pan was not yet full, so I did that a second time.  After finishing with three layers of potatoes, three of eggplant, and two of meat sauce, I heated up 3/4 of a jar or roasted garlic Alfredo sauce and poured it over the top.  I then topped it off with a sprinkle of dried parsley, and a light dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Next I let it bake until the top was starting to turn golden brown.  The more I think about it, my original recipe had me covering the entire top with fresh mozzarella, but that was not going to happen on weight watchers…

I scoped out 4 servings from this pan, at 17 weight watchers points per serving.  Luckily I had enough points today for two servings, however, I only ate one.

After the two meals with lamb that I have made recently, I am learning that I really don’t like the stuff very much.  this is a sad realization but true.

Anyway, the food turned out amazing.  If the sauces had been homemade, it would have been so much more incredible!

Handmade Tortellini

The first thing I made when I got my pasta roller was make ravioli.  Filled pastas are so delicious, and impossible to get around here!  If it is not a spaghetti noodle, you can’t get it in a restaurant in Korea.  It is crazy!  Well a few weeks ago, I went to my friend Krissi’s house where she made some delicious Alfredo sauce with bacon.  I thought I needed to do the same.   The biggest differences in mine were that I didn’t use cream, I used almond milk in the sauce.

first I made the filling for the pasta.  It was beyond simple .  I hand made some non fat ricota cheese, but this is just as easy with store bought.  For my ricotta recipe, see here.

I put about a cup of that (which is what I was able to make with about 1/2 gallon of milk and 1/4 cup of lemon juice), and a cup of marinated artichokes from Costco into my food processor.  Before I used them I strained off some of the oil, and rinsed some of the oil off with warm water. I blended them together just until mixed.

Next, I made a basic no egg pasta dough, just 2 cups of whole wheat flour, a teaspoon of salt (I usually use a sprinkle, not a full teaspoon), and just enough water slowly to bring the dough together and get it to kneed and turn into a nice ball.  I rolled this dough into very thin sheets, going to 5 or 6 on my pasta roller (6 is the thinnest I can go).  I have to break it into small sections because my kitchen is very small, but I used my measuring cup, and cut out circles from the pasta sheets.

Next, I scooped a tablespoon of artichoke cheese filling into the center.

And, I folded them up.  To do this, you either take an egg white, or quickly whip an egg with a fork, and dip a  brush or your finger into it.  You then put it around half of the circle of the pasta you are closing, and fold the sides together trying not to let any filling escape.    If filling escapes, you know to put less in your next one.  I tried the egg wash with just water, but the egg held better.

After it is folded in half you wrap the two ends around your finger and push them together until they look like this:

Alternativly, if you want to take two pieces of pasta and maybe have a little more filling,  after you scoop the filling in, you can do your wash around one side of one, and add another piece on top, and make a ravioli instead.

After you have as many as you are cooking, (I cooked about 12 per person before I got too hungry to make anymore if I wanted filling left!)  you put them into already boiling water.  Only cook a few at a time until they are cooked.  The pasta will change color slightly.  I find that with my homemade pastas, I have to cook them 3-5 minutes, not just until they float as some people say.  I have had problems with my longer noodles turning into tasty mush from that!

My sauce was a basic white sauce that I make.  First I cooked up a little bacon (inspired by my friend’s Alfredo , then used a little grease in the pan to saturate some flour.  Next I slowly add almond milk until it thickens up, and add some seasonings.  I use whatever I like usually rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, and fresh ground pepper.

Once the pasta and sauce combine, it is a magical thing!  I add some crumbles of bacon and parmasan shreds over the top and I know I beat the Olive Garden for both flavor and health!

So Delicious!  

Turkey and dumplings

Thanksgiving was last week.  It was a blast!  I had Thanksgiving with one of my classes of Korean students.  The students had never tried turkey before, and they got the whole thing, from turkey to homemade pumpkin pie!  The students loved it, and what an amazing experience for all of us!  We went around the table and said things we were thankful for and everything.  That got me warmed up!

Well, I did that on the tuesday before Thanksgiving, then we had friends over for another turkey dinner with ALL the trimmings, and NO diet foods.  We had a great time, and got to enjoy a day with friends.

We pulled a turkey breast out of the freezer so we could enjoy some left overs with turkey…You know, you always have t have at least one turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce right?  Well move on a little further in the week, we have turkey for sandwiches, but only one person in my house likes sandwiches ever day.  So, time to think of another use for turkey.  Well it is as usual, a cold winters night, and there is nothing better than a nice hot pot of comforting soup!  So, turkey soup here we come!  It is what mom always did after thanksgiving with the turkey carcass.  Only, I don’t have a carcass.  I mostly used chicken broth, but added as much turkey juice as I could.

The first thing that I did was put 6 cups of water, 6 chicken bouillon cubes, and five small diced up potatoes in a pot and turn it on high.

Next I chopped up and threw in two large carrots.

After that, I diced up and threw in two onions, and three cloves of garlic.

I dumped in one can of corn and one can of green beans next.

Lastly, I dumped in all the juice from the turkey packaging, and diced up and threw in 400 grams worth of turkey breast.

As it was cooking, I measured out 2/3 of a cup of sundubu tofu (liquid silken tofu), and blended it up with another cup of water.  I should have blended it with broth, or some sort of cream though, as it did not cause the texture to be creamy.  I added it to the pot.

After I added it to the pot, I cut up 1/2 a roll of Pillsbury crescent rolls and put that half onto the soup to hopefully be the dumplings.  I know you can do canned biscuits, so I thought maybe crescents would fluff up a bit and work as dumplings.  I put the other half in the oven, and put the lid on the pot.  They fluffed up in the pot when covered, but still stayed pretty flat and lifeless.

They still tasted good, but got stirred into the pot a little when I realized I had not seasoned my soup at all!  So I broke a whole and added some rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.  They were not very floaty, but they still tasted good!

Turkey and dumplings:

400 grams turkey breast

1 can of corn

1 can of green beans

2 carrots

6 cubes of chicken bouillon (better yet, turkey broth!)

2 onions

5 small potatoes

2/3 cup sundubu tofu (liquid silken tofu)

1 can of biscuits for dumplings.

Peel and dice 5 small potatoes.  Put them in a pot with six cups of chicken broth (6 bouillon cubes, or 6 cups of turkey broth if you have it!).  Turn stove on high.  Peel and chop two large carrots and throw them into the pot.  Peel and dice 2 onions, and 3 cloves of garlic and add those as well.  Add a can of corn and a can of green beans.  Put tofu into the pot.  Blend first if you prefer, but not necessary.  put in 400 grams or whatever leftover turkey you have.  Bring to a boil.  Season with favorite herbs and spices.  I chose rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.  Drop in sliced up pieces of canned biscuits for dumplings.  If they don’t all fit in the pot, bake them in the oven following package directions.  Bring the rolling boil of the pot down to a steady simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  When dumplings cease to be doughy, take off the lid and serve hot, with a biscuit (or in my case crescent roll) that came out of the oven.

Weight watchers people!  This pot of soup renders abut 10 bowls full, I am saying 1 bowl = 1 serving, and it is 9 points a serving.

Mexican(ish) Super Foods!

Wow, I was going through my to be posted file tonight and realized I am really far behind on my posts!  I have about  4 recipes  that still need to go up here before I forget how I made them!

Mexican is one of the favorite food generas in this house.  Strangely enough, I have not really done Mexican food for a long time.  I am not sure why, it used to be one of my staples.  Well more recently, my husband and I discovered quinoa, and he mentioned that it would make a good Spanish rice substitute…got me thinking!  I decided to try this, only “beef” it up a bit.

I made what we might think of as traditional taco meat, with a few changes.

First, I took a small package of firm tofu, and crumbled it up.  I mixed it by hand with 500 grams of ground beef, and cooked it up.  I also added 1 small onion.

When the meat was done, and the onions were turning translucent, I drained them and followed the directions on my taco seasoning packet.  I added 2/3 of a cup of water, and the packet and mixed.  I let it continue cooking until it was almost dry and then removed it from the heat so I could continue to use the stove top.

My kitchen is so small I can only have one pot or pan on at a time.

Next, I got out all the cans I would need for my Spanish Quinoa.

I strained the tomatoes saving the juice, and rinsed the black beans and corn.

I sauteed another small diced onion, and garlic in the  bottom of a pot, and then added the tomato juice, a little jalapeno juice and enough water to bring the total liquid up to 2 1/3 cups.

Bring this to a boil, and then add the quinoa.

 Lower the temperature and cover the pot.  Let this simmer for about 15 minutes until the white ring starts coming off of the kernels  and they are soft.  It is okay to take the lid off and stir to check on it every once in a while, unlike rice!  Which is good cause I burned my first batch!

When all the water is soaked up, and the quinoa is done, add all the veggies in, as well as your spices.  I used chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, and pepper.

This is what it looks like when it is done cooking.

Next is the super easy part…grate your cheese, get out your sour cream, and use your tortillas…

(yes you can make your own tortillas, however, the ones I made were actually store bought Paratha Indian bread)

Assemble your tacos as you normally would with rice and meat.

Spanish Quinoa and Ground Beef/Tofu Tacos:

Spanish Quinoa

1 cup quinoa

1  can corn

1 can black beans

1 can diced tomatos (I used S&W diced tomatoes with jalapenos)

½ cup jalapeno juice (optional if you have pickled jalapenos around)

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

1-2 teaspoons cumin, chili powder, paprika, pepper, salt to taste.

Water

Strain tomatoes saving the juice.  Measure out the juice.  Fill the measuring cup to a total of 2 1/3 cup, of liquid using the water and jalapeno juice.

Dice one medium onion, and 2 cloves of garlic.  Sautee them in a pan until onions turn translucent.  Add the liquid and boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add quinoa.  Cook for 15 minutes or so, checking and stirring every once in a while (I burned my first batch cause there was not enough liquid).  Quinoa is not like rice, you can take the lid off and stir every once in a while.  While that is cooking, rinse out a can of black beans, and a can of corn. Add them to the tomatoes and set them aside.  When the water is absorbed and the quinoa is blown up, soft, and the white edges start separating it is done.  Add the tomatoes, beans, and corn, as well as your cumin, paprika, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.  I did about 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 of paprika, 1 of chili powder, and just a dash of salt and pepper.  Heat on the stove until hot.

Taco meat:

500 grams ground beef

320 grams of firm tofu

1 packet of taco seasoning

1 small onion

Crumble up 1 small block of firm tofu.  Mix it by hand in with ground beef. Add the mixture to a pan and cook until meat is done.  Add one diced onion while cooking.  When the meat is no longer pink, follow the directions on the back of your taco seasoning packet.

Tacos:

Grate 2 oz of cheddar cheese for 10 tacos.

Use 10 flour tortillas.

And sour cream.

Also you can use salsa, guacamole, olives, cilantro, spinach or lettuce, and fresh tomatoes if you happen to have them.

Assemble your tacos with a scoop of the Spanish quinoa (like you would Spanish rice), and a scoop of the meat.  Mixing the two together is actual an okay idea as well, and just serving from one pot.  Put a little cheese on, and a dollop of sour cream (about 2 teaspoons).  Add any other veggies you enjoy on tacos.

This meal is jam packed with protein, with the quinoa, beans, meat, and tofu, and is incredibly filling!

This whole meal is maximum 8 points per taco, but I actually wound up making enough filling for about 20  tacos, which I will use tomorrow night, so in actuality  they are probably about 5 points each counting enough tortillas in the recipe for 20 tacos.

 

I took some of the filling and some wanton wrappers the next night and made these delicious fried empenadas.  I filled the wrappers, and fried them in olive oil.  Then I had a bowl of finely grated cheese, and some sour cream.  Dip into the sour cream, then dip the cheese…I would have mixed the  cheese into the filling, but I forgot…also dip in hot sauce or salsa…very good…

I don’t want to know what weight watchers points are!

Hippie Potato Soup!

 

I am known in my family and circle of friends for my amazing potato soup.  I have made it for Christmas, and been told I could trade staying the night at a friend’s house for feeding her family soup.  My husband HATED potato soup before he met me, now he loves the stuff!

I have never really written my soup recipe down, as it changes every time based on what I have in the house at the time.  It usually consists of cream, or at least milk, potatoes, onions,  garlic, and if I have it broccoli and some sort of leafy veggie such as kale or spinach. It has reminded people in the past of the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Tuscana soup.

Well it is the soup time of year again, and I have already made a few.  Tonight however, I really wanted to make some potato soup. I do however, have a cold this week, and this is the most terrable time for me to eat cream.  For one I am allergic to it, but for two, when I am sick it really congests me.  So, I decided to alter my recipe to both accommodate my illness, and accommodate the food that I have in the house.  Thus the reason for the name, Hippie Potato Soup.  I used what my husband and I (being from Portland, Oregon) might call hippie food.  I wound up making almond milk potato soup without much dairy, and it was thicker and creamier than almost every cream based soup I have ever made.  I am sorry I forgot to take photos, my kitchen is a mess right now, and there was no room for the camera in there!

Here is the recipe for my Hippie Potato Soup:

5 cups of water (or just enough to cover the potatoes chopped up in a pot)

1 cup of silken tofu

2 small/medium onions

2 slices of bacon for every person you are serving

1 crown of broccoli

about 2 oz of cheddar cheese (I used 72 grams, the end of my loaf)

3 bouillon cubes

5 medium potatoes

3 cups of almond milk (separate one cup out)

garlic to taste (I probably used 3 cloves)

1 medium to large carrot

various herbs and spices.

First, wash and peel potatoes.  chop them up in quarters, then in bite sized pieces from there.  Chop the carrot into bite sized pieces as well.  I quartered the carrot then sliced it smaller from there.  Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes, carrots, and  3 bouillon cubes and let them boil until almost soft.  Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy.  Drain some of the bacon grease leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Chop up onions, garlic, and broccoli, and fry them up in the bacon grease until the onions are transparent, and the broccoli starts to change to bright green.  Take it off and let the veggies drain in paper towels until potatoes are soft.  when they are, add the veggies and 2 cups of almond milk to the soup.  Add the last cup as well as the cup of tofu to the blender, and blend them well to make sure the tofu is not lumpy.  Also add this to the soup.  Season to your liking, and let the soup thicken for maybe five minutes before removing from the heat.  It should have thickened up a lot.  Stir to make sure the  bottom does not start to burn if you are boiling.  I then cut up 72 oz of cheddar cheese, and with the very thick soup, it melted beautifully.  I crumble the bacon over the top of the bowl.

I seasoned with parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, chili powder and Tobasco.  I do like this soup spicy, and I didn’t have any spicy sausage to put into the soup, so I threw the Tobasco in.  It was the kick it needed and it tasted amazing!  I love this almond milk and tofu for thickening soups thing!

One bowl is only 8 WW plus points!

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Grilled Cheese

Hi there everyone!  This week at  Costco, my husband freaked out when we got to the  cheese aisle.  They had our absolute favorite cheddar cheese from home that they have never had there before!  They had Bandon Cheddar Cheese!  This cheese is made in Oregon by the Tillamook Cheese Comapany.  However, When I was growing up near Bandon, Oregon, the cheese factory was there, and I remember going and trying fresh cheese curds or “squeeky cheese” and having ice cream cones the size of my head.  I don’t know what is so different between Bandon brand cheddar or any other cheddar, but it is incredible!  While at the store, we usually grab a few different kinds of cheese, however this week, after I hugged it and drooled over it a little, my husband and I decided to buy two blocks of cheddar instead of any other kind of cheese.  It is a harder cheddar than say Kirkland cheddar, and does not crumble as easily.  It also has a bit more cheddar flavor than what I have been used to in Korea.

I am just a little excited…HOME!

Since I had some incredible cheese, I had to take on the challange of planning an entire meal around this taste of home, that would not be too many weight watchers points.

So now I get to what this post is really about:

My post today is primarily about this amazing oven roasted veggie soup that I made tonight to go with some killer grilled cheese sandwiches.  I did make some incredible bread as well for the sandwiches, however, I did not get any photos of the bread because I have made it before in my Whole Wheat Hoagies post.  The big difference in my bread today, was that I actually baked it into two loafs (took about 45 minutes to turn golden brown in a loaf pan).  I added garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and some basil to the recipe as well, and took out some of the sugar.   Anyway, the hoagie recipe I used is found on food.com.  I change the recipe by using all whole wheat flour and a tablespoon of yeast.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Anyway, back to my soup:

When I got home from work tonight, I chopped up some veggies.  I chopped up two bell peppers into 8 strips, 2 small onions, and 2 small carrots.  I spread them over two cooking sheets (one big one would work if your oven is big enough or an average sized cookie sheet).  I sprayed just a tiny bit of olive oil on them, and one pan at a time I roasted them.  The peppers I roasted until they were charred, broiling them for about 15 minutes, then turning the pan and letting it go for another 15 minutes, until they looked like this:

The yellow peppers were a bit more done than the red by the end of this.

then I threw in a pan of thinly sliced onions and carrots.  In hind site, I perhaps should have cut the carrot into sticks instead of madallions so they did not loose so much moisture and flavor. I cooked them the same way under the broiler for about another half hour, turning the pan and stirring a little half way through.

Next I opened two cans of S&W ready-cut diced tomatoes and dumped them into my soup pot.  While my roasted veggies were cooling a bit, I took the time to mix the bread together, and plan for it to raise while the soup was cooking.  so I let the veggies cool a bit, and then peeled the peppers by hand.  Charring them the way that I did releases the skins, and they practically slide right off.

After I added the tomatoes, I peeled the peppers, and

Here is the package of tofu, it comes in a tube and you just cut the tip and squeeze it out.

threw them into the pot with the onions, carrots, tomatoes, about a tablespoon and a half of garlic, and here is the kicker…a cup of silken tofu.  This was an experiment for me, but I actually looked forward to giving it a try.  I added two cups of water, then another half cup with about a tablespoon of beef bouillon mixed in with it.  I threw in some dried thyme, and let it simmer on low while the bread was raising.

After it simmered for maybe an hour while the dough was raising, I scooped the hot soup carefully into a blender and pureed it until it was smooth.  The tofu gave it the creamy look and feel of having dairy and the flavor was really intense .  It was a little overwhelming however, and I added 1/2 a cup of sour cream just to cool down the flavors just a touch.  I was pleased to see it did not add any extra weight watchers points to a serving, which is what I was trying to avoid.


I sliced enough bread for two sandwiches, and measured out two ounces each of Bandon cheese.  I planned this entire meal around the cheese after all…Therefore, I was not about to skimp on it!

I grilled them up in a little butter, on the smallest flame I can get.  My bread was cut kinda thick, so I wanted to give the cheese time to melt while the bread was grilling.  The flame was on so low, that it probably took 5-8 minutes per side to get it golden brown on each side.  I prefer to grill my sandwiches like this, because otherwise the bread is done long before the cheese is ooey gooey and melted.

When it was ready, I served my husbands plate, then went back to cut my sandwich, take some photos and serve up my own.  When I came to sit down, my husband was already oohing and awwing over the incredible flavor.  I knew the soup tasted good, but when I sat down, and dipped the sandwich into the soup, oh my gosh that was pure heaven!  This meal was super filling with the hearty whole wheat bread, and the thick soup.  And best of all, the soup serving four generous helping was only three points a bowl!

Oven Roasted Veggie Soup:

2 cans of tomatoes (because this soup is pureed, this can be any kind of canned tomatoes)

1 cup silken tofu

1/2 cup sour cream (optional with the tofu)

2 onions

2 carrots

a few cloves of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

dried thyme

2 bell peppers, any color

olive oil spray

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon beef bouillon (use what you have, I have used chicken before as well. Veggie could also work)

First de-rib and slice into strips two bell peppers.  thickly slice 2 onions and two carrots and spread all out on a cookie sheet with a light spraying of olive oil.  Broil on the highest temperate and the closest to the top heating element for 15 minutes, and turn the pan around.  Cook or another 15 minutes, or until the peppers are well charred and the onions are starting to caramelize or brown.  Dump 2 cans of tomatoes into the soup pan.  Peel the skin off of the roasted peppers, and add them and the onions to the soup.  Add the garlic, thyme, and tofu. Let this simmer for at least a half hour.  when it has cooked down just a little, and is sufficiently hot, carefully scoop or pour the contents of the soup pot into the blender, and blend until the entire soup has a smooth consistency   You can add the sour cream now, or after you pour the soup back into the pot.  Mix well, salt and pepper to taste.

One bowl of this soup is very thick and filling, and is only 3 weight watchers points!

Leave me a comment if you want more details on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.