Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vegetarian Taco Soup

Sometimes I drift so far afield of the inspiration recipe that I'm not sure I can even claim to have followed it! Tonight was one of those times! I found a recipe for Taco Soup (originally by Paula Deen) and decided to jazz it up a bit. We really have been digging Lentils Tacos lately. Don't knock it till you've tried it! The texture of the lentils is surprisingly similar to ground beef, and the flavor is out of this world! So I thought, why not apply the same substitution to taco soup? Here's what we did...

Since I hate buying canned beans, I used dried. I have no idea on the measurements, but I'll try to estimate.

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 cup dried light red kidney beans
2 cups black beans (these were already cooked and in the freezer)
2 cups lentils
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans green chiles
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 envelopes taco seasoning
4 tablespoons ranch dressing seasoning mix
2 tsp beef base

All this cooked in the crockpot on high for about 6 hours. Viola!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Continuing on with the fall theme, this morning I made apple muffins. But not just any old apple muffins! Whole wheat! With cinnamon! Filling and tasty. I got the original recipe from the back of the bag of flour, of all places!

1 cup flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs

Combined all the dry ingredients and tossed with the diced apples. Then combined the wet ingredients and added to the dry, stirring until just moistened. Then, into the muffin tins and baked for 25-30 min at 350.

We will definitely be enjoying these more often! They were hearty, delicious, and made the kitchen smell great!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

On our cruise this summer, I had the most amazing pumpkin soup! Since Fall is in the air, I decided it was high time to try recreating the soup at home! I found lots and lots of recipes, but ended up swerving off into my own tangent.

6 cups chicken stock
1 29 oz can of pumpkin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp curry powder
5 whole peppercorns

Cooked the onions and garlic for 10 minutes, until soft. Then combined everything in a slow cooker and cooked on high for 3-4 hours. I had to adjust the seasonings and lot, and by then end, there's no telling how much of everything I put in! I know i added more of ALL the spices and a splash of vinegar.

The soup was so yummy and creamy. I will definitely be honing this recipe throughout the season!

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

I decided to make these sticky buns for a dinner party, and as always happens when you're trying out a new recipe for other people, it didn't go as expected. Still, this recipe has potential. By that I mean, after making this recipe, I decided I would do it entirely differently. Here's a link to the original recipe. The dough was so incredibly soft that the first pan (it makes two) ended up being sticky bun loaf instead of individual buns! For the next pan, I froze the dough for an hour and added a lot more flour! That made the dough workable. The rolls were nice and soft, but I like a bit more substance to my rolls. These had the ooie-gooieness of a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. I prefer the more substantial Dunkin Donuts, personally.

The sticky buns were good, but with a few changes, I think the next batch could be stellar. I'll:
Use my regular cinnamon roll dough
Make Cracker Barrel-style fried apples and add caramel sauce for the topping.

Of course, my waistline demands that I wait a while before trying my new ideas. But don't worry. I'll let you know of my certain success!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oeufs en meurette (Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce)

Quick. Vegetarian. French. How often do those words describe one recipe? Another adjective that we could add to this list is "amazing." Cause that's exactly what it was. All I have to say is--wow.

I had no idea I could produce something so scrumptious in my humble kitchen! If you couldn't tell, we went to see Julie & Julia this weekend, which of course prompted me to run, not walk, to the library to check out Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I've been flipping through it and came across one that I just had to make for dinner tonight...eggs in red wine sauce. Doesn't sound all that amazing, I know, but my tastebuds were delighted!

And it was quick and easy to boot! The original recipe was for 8 servings, and since we are but 2 people, I cut that in half.

For the sauce:
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme (I think I forgot to put this in...oh well!)
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of cayenne
pinch of pepper

Heat this mixture to a boil and reduce by half. Make a roux with 1 1/2 tb butter and 2 tb flour. Beat into broth mixture off the heat. Boil for 30 seconds. Just before serving, stir in 1 to 2 tb of butter.

For the canapes:
Half a stick or so of butter, clarified

Heat bread in butter until lightly browned on both sides.

For the eggs:
I cheated and didn't do poached eggs. Instead, I used 6-minute boiled eggs (which Julia assured me would substitute perfectly well). We each had 2 eggs, but I wished for more!

It may not look like the prettiest dish from my not-so-great picture, but let declare emphatically that it was DELISH. I think I may try it again with white wine and see how it does! Especially now that I now that you can bake eggs in muffin tins in the oven instead of poaching them! Could it get any easier?? I doubt it. And for that matter, it was a downright frugal dinner!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Easy Chickpeasy Pasta

Had a fabulous Labor Day weekend, complete with baby shower for my dear friend Julia. Dad even took me, Allen, and Mom for a quick ride in the plane! When we got back into town last night, we had a sandwich over at Allen's parents, which meant that there were no leftovers in the fridge for lunch today. Rather than caving in to my first impulse (to eat one of those microwave ramen noodle boats that I so love and adore), I made a nice, quick pasta!

4 chicken broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas, not drained
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Brought the mixture to a boil, added

box of penne pasta (okay, about 3/4 a box!)

Cooked 12 minutes, or until the liquid was mostly absorbed, then stirred in a good 1/2 cup or so of ricotta cheese.