Welcome to HowDoYouCook.com

By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Egg Rolls

The best thing about making your own egg rolls is you can control the ingredients.  Using fresh cooked shrimp and fresh vegetables the flavor is so much better than you get from the local Chinese take-out place.  This recipe can be changed in many ways. Try using chicken or pork instead of shrimp, add Thai chilies or red pepper flakes for more heat or even add bean sprouts.  The possibilities are endless!  These egg rolls go great with Hot and Soup Soup.

1 TB  Peanut Oil
1 tsp  Grated Ginger
2  Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1  Green Onion, sliced thinly
1  Small Carrot, shredded
1  cup Green Cabbage, finely chopped
2  cups  Green Cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
3 TB  Soy Sauce
1 TB  Sugar
1 tsp  Sesame Oil
8  Large Egg Roll Wrappers
10  Medium Shrimp, cooked, cooled and minced
Canola Oil

In a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add ginger, garlic and green onion and saute 3 minutes.  Add the carrot and cabbage mixture to the skillet, stir and saute 2 minutes.  Add the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil, stir to combine and heat until the cabbage just begins to soften.  Add the shrimp and cook 2 minutes longer, then remove skillet from heat.

Allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes, so it is cool enough to work with.  Place an egg roll wrapper on a cutting board in a diamond shape and spoon about 3 tablespoons of the filling into the center.  Dab a little cold water around the edges of the wrapper, fold up the bottom corner, then the sides, then roll to seal.   Add another dab of water, if needed, to seal the edges, but not too much or the rolls will be soggy.

Using a heavy skillet, over medium-high heat add 1/4 inch of canola oil.  When the oil is hot, carefully add the egg rolls in a single layer, leaving space between the egg rolls.  Cook 4 minutes or until golden on the bottom, then turn, repeating as necessary to brown on all sides.  Remove egg rolls from pan when browned and place on paper towels to drain.  Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Egg Roll Sauce

1/4 cup  Soy Sauce
1/4 cup  Rice Vinegar
2 TB  Honey
1 tsp  Sesame Oil
1/4 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes

Combine in a bowl and serve.  To adjust the flavor, add a bit more honey for more sweetness or more red pepper flakes if you like more spice.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Do You Cook a Standing Rib (Prime Rib) Roast?

Serving a Prime Rib Roast to your guests may seem overwhelming, but it is actually a very simple meal. When buying the roast, allow 1 rib per 2 people, so a 3-rib roast will serve 6 people and a 4-rib will serve 8. Don't buy smaller than the 3-rib roast for best results. 

Cook a Standing Rib (Prime Rib) Roast using a Searing Method

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast should stand at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours if possible. In foil lined baking pan place roast rib side down. Season generously with Kosher salt and fresh black pepper. For extra flavor, rub roast with a cut fresh garlic clove before seasoning. Insert meat thermometer in center of roast without touching the bone. Do not cover and do not add liquid.

Roast, uncovered 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 300F. (To bring the temperature down quickly, leave oven down open slightly for a few minutes.) Continue roasting to desired doneness. The roast will continue to cook slightly after removing from the oven, so be careful not to overcook.

Transfer roast to a platter and let rest for 5 - 10 mintues. To carve, use a long, thin and very sharp knife to cut the roast away from the bones. Slice roast into steaks. The inside cuts will be most rare and end cuts will be more medium to well.  Serve with Au Jus and Horseradish Sauce.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Twist on Texas-Style Chili - No Beans, No Tomatoes

This is our version of classic Texas-style chili with a combination of both beef and pork, but no beans or tomatoes.  Due to a tomato allergy in the family, we have discovered that you can create an awesome pot of chili, full of spice and flavor, without a single tomato product.  This can be served over spaghetti or on its own. A handful of sharp cheddar cheese or chopped onion makes a great final touch. Enjoy!

3 to 3 1/2 pounds Beef Chuck or similar cut, cubed to 1/2 inch (we used bottom round for this batch)
1 pound  Pork Sausage
1 large  Onion, chopped
1/4 cup  Chopped Garlic
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Garlic Powder
1 TB  Onion Powder
3 TB  Ground Cumin
1 TB  Mexican Oregano
1/3 cup  Chili Powder
4 cups  Beef Broth
1 cup  Red Wine (or water, but the wine will tenderize a cheaper cut of meat and add great flavor)
2 - 3 TB  Yellow Cornmeal, optional

In a large soup pot, brown off the pork sausage and drain.  Add the onions and garlic to the sausage and saute for about 5 minutes until onions are softened, but not browned.
Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook uncovered, stirring often, until meat is not longer pink, about 10 - 15 minutes.
When meat is browned, add the remaining ingredients, except the cornmeal.  Bring mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours, adding additional water if the chili becomes too dry.
Taste to adjust the seasonings, and cook 30 minutes longer, until the meat is very tender.
If you like your chili thicker, sprinkle a few tablespoons of cornmeal into the chili, stirring constantly.  Simmer 5 - 10 minutes longer and serve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a yummy soup for a cold weeknight dinner.  The prep time is only about 20 minutes using precooked chicken. The combination of chicken, chilies, black beans and spices create a filling but healthy soup.  
Just a side health note on black beans, which are sometimes called turtle beans, these little treasures are high in everything your body needs: folate, protein, fiber, magnesium and B1.  Black beans are also high in the antioxidant anthocyanins, which is also found in cranberries and grapes. 
3 cups  Chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
1 15 oz can  Diced Tomatoes
1 4.5 oz can  Diced Green Chilies
1  Green Pepper, diced
1  Red Pepper, diced
1 TB  Olive Oil
1  Large Onion, diced
4  Garlic Cloves, minced
1 TB  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Paprika
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1/2 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 1/2 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 cups  Chicken Broth
12 oz  Frozen Corn
1 15 oz can  Black Beans, rinsed and drained

Optional Garnish Items
Grated Mexican Cheese
Sour Cream
Flour or Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells, cut into strips and baked lightly
Lime Wedges

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened.  Add shredded chicken and all of the dry spices.  Stir to combine.  Add the chicken stock and simmer 5 minutes over low heat.

Next add corn and black beans, reduce heat to low and simmer partly covered for 45 minutes.

If using tortilla shells, cut tortillas with a pizza cutter into strips.  Place on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Ladle soup into bowls, add toppings of cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips or a squeeze of lime juice if desired.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken-Barley Soup with Veggies

2 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup minced Onion
1 1/2 tsp Garlic, minced
1 pound Boneless / Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp Dried Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
3 14 1/2-ounce cans Chicken Broth (or low-sodium version)
2/3 Quick-Cooking Barley
1/2 cup Frozen Corn
1/2 cup Frozen Peas
1 TB chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Green Onions Chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes, until browned on all sides, stirring frequently. Toss in thyme and bay leaves and stir to coat chicken.

Add broth and barley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until barley is tender. Stir in corn and peas and simmer 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Before serving, sprinkle some chopped green onions on the soup.  Serves 4.

Note: This is a very versatile recipe. Instead of peas you can use a peas and carrots blend or you could eliminate the chicken and add extra veggies for a vegetarian soup. The barley will add a nutty flavor to the soup and is a great source of healthy good-for-you carbs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The birthday cake request this year from our youngest was for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  This is one of my favorite cakes to make because it looks amazing and is super easy to make.  Enjoy!

1 box  Pineapple Cake Mix
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 cup  Brown Sugar
1 20 oz can  Pineapple Rings, drained
Maraschino Cherries for Garnish (about 6 cherries, sliced in half)

On the stovetop, using a large stainless skillet, melt the butter and add brown sugar, heating over low heat until blended and smooth.  Remove from heat.

Place about 6 - 7 pineapple rings in an even layer on the bottom of the skillet.  Place a cherry, sliced side up, inside of each ring.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions and pour batter over the pineapple rings.

Place skillet in oven and bake about 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Allow to cool 15 minutes. Using a small knife, carefully loosen the cake from the edges, if needed, and invert cake onto a serving tray (a round pizza pan works great for this).  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rosemary Chicken

I found this recipe in Food Network magazine and could not wait to try it.  I did adjust the recipe (as usual) so we can get 5 servings out of it and being that we live in tiny-town...there were no cremini mushrooms in sight, so I had to settle for portobellos. 

The flavor of the garlic and lemon on the potatoes was wonderful, but I think next time I would leave out the mushrooms. (It might have better flavor with the creminis though.)  I served this with oven-roasted Garlic Asparagus, and all of the flavors blended really well. Very easy dinner for such an amazing taste.

8  Small Red Potatoes, halved
2  sprigs of Fresh Rosemary (actually had this in the garden)
2  cloves Garlic, smashed
1 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes
Juice of 2 Lemons (save the squeezed halves)
3 TB  Olive Oil
5  Skin-On and Bone-In Chicken Breasts
10 oz  Portobello Mushrooms (or creminis, if you can find them)

Preheat oven to 450.  Cover potatoes with water in medium saucepan, add 1/2 tsp salt and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes;  drain and set aside.
On a cutting board combine rosemary leaves from 1 spring, garlic, 2 tsp kosher salt and the red pepper flakes.  Mince well to combine. 
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the juice of 1 lemon plus 2 TB  olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, skin-side down.  Cover and cook about 12 - 15 minutes until the skin side browns.  Turn the chicken and add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon.  Add the rosemary springs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet.  Place the skillet in the oven and roast uncovered until the chicken is cooked thru and the skin is crisp about 25 - 30 minutes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Salsa Verde Chicken Salad

We grow our own green chilies and use them to make homemade "chili sauce". Green chilies, a little vinegar, and salt and pepper make a delicious, but simple chili sauce. I recently found a new product called Salsa Verde from Pace. Made with tomatillos and jalapenos, this sauce adds a tasty kick to chicken salad. (Even better, this salsa packs a lot of flavor with only 15 calories in 2 tablespoons.) Serve with Fruit Kabobs.

6 (4 oz) Chicken Breasts, cooked and diced into small bite-sized pieces
4 Eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1/4 cup Salsa Verde ( I love the Pace brand)
1/4 cup Light Miracle Whip (can also use fat-free or regular)
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and adjust salt and pepper to taste. You might like to add more salsa for more spice. Spoon onto whole wheat buns for a light and tasty dinner.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

1 pound Beef Boneless Sirloin or Round Steak, trimmed of fat and cut into strips
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash White Pepper
1 pound Broccoli, cut into flowerets (about 4 cups)
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tsp Vegetable Oil
6 cloves Garlic, pressed
1 tsp Ginger Root, finely chopped
1 (8 oz) can Sliced Bamboo Shoots, drained

Toss beef with salt and pepper, and a dash of white pepper.

Heat a little over an inch of water in a saucepan and place broccoli in the boiling water; heat to boiling. Cover and cook 2 minutes to blanch the broccoli. The broccoli should be bright green. Immediately rinse with cold water; drain and set aside.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix cornstarch and soy sauce, then stir in sesame oil and broth.

In a wok or skillet, heat your oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger root and stir for a few seconds. Quickly add bamboo shoots, then stir in the beef and broccoli and cook until beef is done.

Last, add the cornstarch mixture; cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds or until thickened.  Serve on top of brown or white rice or noodles.

This is a really great wok. Easy to use and easy to clean up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise

When you were little and your parents told you fish was brain food, they were right! Recent studies show that people who eat fish at least once a week have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.  This is a delicious high-protein meal packed with healthy veggies and a light dressing.

1 lb fresh Tuna Steaks, cut 1 inch thick
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1⁄3 cup White Wine Vinegar
2 TB Drained Capers
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Dijon-Style Mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 lb Small Red Potatoes
8 oz Green Beans, trimmed
1/2 cup Red Onion, cut into wedges (1 medium onion)
2 small heads Boston or Bibb (butter) lettuce, rinsed and cored
8 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
3 Hard-Booked organic eggs
1/3 cup Niçoise Olives or Pitted Kalamata Olives

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Set fish aside.

Prepare Caper Vinaigrette: In a screw-top jar combine olive oil, vinegar, drained capers, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well. Remove 1⁄3 cup to use as marinade. Cover remaining vinaigrette and set aside.

Place fish in a shallow dish; drizzle with the 1⁄3 cup vinaigrette. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile, peel a strip around the center of each potato; place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add green beans; simmer, covered, about 5 minutes more or until potatoes and beans are tender. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Set aside.

Drain fish, reserving marinade. For a charcoal grill, grill fish on the greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 8 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully turning and brushing with marinade halfway through grilling. If desired, place onion wedges and cooked potatoes on grill for the last half of grill time. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place fish on greased grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.) Discard any remaining marinade.

Using 2 forks, flake the tuna into pieces. Cut eggs into halves. Line a serving platter or individual plates with lettuce leaves. Arrange fish, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, onion, eggs and olives on lettuce. Drizzle with remaining Caper Vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Shake

15 oz  Canned Pumpkin - 1 can (not pie mix)
1/4 cup  Raw Cashews
1/4 cup  Low-Fat Milk, (or Vanilla Soy Milk)
2 TB  Maple Syrup
1/4 cup  Chai Tea Concentrate
2 TB  Milk Creamer (or Soy)
2  Dashes Cinnamon
2  Dashes Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 cups ice (or for a treat, coconut water ice cubes)
Optional: 1/2  Frozen Banana, Pinch of Flax Seed Oil/Meal for added nutrition

Add all your ingredients, except the ice, to the blender.

Blend on high until smooth. The pumpkin will make this smoothie thick, so be patient while blending. Add a bit more milk if needed.

Keep blending and slowly add in the ice. Make sure it blends icy-smooth! Again, if you need to add a bit more liquid, do it gradually. You can always do a taste test before pouring and modify as needed to suit your own tastes.

If desired, for extra flavor and nutrition, add a few extra cashews.  Pour into glasses, and sprinkle with cinnamon on top. Makes 2 - 3 servings.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Many people only use Pumpkin in the fall months and they are missing out on a delicious and healthy treat. Pumpkin can be used in smoothies, breads, soups or these yummy pancakes. While very low in calories, Pumpkin is rich in potassium, magnesium and iron plus the antioxidant beta-carotene.
1 1/2 cups  Milk
1 cup  Pumpkin Puree
1 Egg
2 TB  Vegetable Oil
2 cups  Flour
3 TB  Brown Sugar
2 tsp  Baking Powder
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1 tsp  Ground Allspice
1 tsp  Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp  Salt
Oil, as needed, for grilling pancakes

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, and oil. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a separate bowl. Then stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve with warm maple syrup.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creole Salmon Patties with Fresh Salmon

This is another delicious recipe for salmon patties, but it is made using fresh salmon instead of canned.

2 cups Fresh Salmon, flaked, skin and bones removed
1 cup Saltine Cracker Crumbs
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 -2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
1/4 cup Milk

Canola Oil for frying

Begin with the flaked salmon in a large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients through the Old Bay, putting the milk in last. You want the mixture to be moist as it needs to be a little sticky to form the patties. You can add a splash more milk, if needed. (Do not let the mixture get runny.)  Form mixture into hamburger-sized patties and sprinkle each side of the patties with Old Bay Seasoning, then place the patties on a plate.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to the pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Heat briefly, and then add the patties to the pan. Brown about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. (Note: Only flip the patties once during cooking.) Serve immediately with cocktail sauce or a light lemon-dill sauce.

Makes about 5 patties.  Leftovers make great sandwiches!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Low Country Shrimp Boil

Low-Country Boil? Frogmore Stew? Beaufort Stew? Shrimp Boil? The name given to this delicious meal will likely depend on your region, as each area of the country has its own name for this combination meal of seafood, potatoes, corn on the cob and kielbasa.  Regardless of the name you are most familiar with, this hearty meal is a family favorite, and nothing tastes more like summer than a huge pot of boiling seafood.  As a bonus, since this is a fairly messy meal, the kids seem to love it even more.

The main ingredients are adjustable according to your personal preferences. Add a little more shrimp or a little less crab or kielbasa, just add each ingredient to the pot in the same order, so all of the foods are cooked through, and finish cooking at the same time.

This recipe serves 10-12 adults.  Serve with lemon wedges, lots of napkins and a big bowl in the middle of the table so everyone can discard the empty shells.  Enjoy!!


Old Bay Seasoning, to taste ( we use approx. 1/3 cup for a large pot)
1 Whole Lemon
1 TB Tabasco Hot Sauce, more or less to taste
3 - 4 pounds small Red Potatoes, scrubbed, cut in half
3 (16 ounce) packages cooked Kielbasa, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 - 10 ears Fresh Corn, husks and silks removed, ears cut in half
5 pounds King Crab Legs, broken pieces work best (can substitute Snow Crabs, just use what is in season)
5 pounds fresh Shrimp, deveined, peeled or unpeeled

Heat a very large pot of water using an outdoor turkey pot, or over medium-high heat indoors. Add Old Bay and Tabasco to the pot, then squeeze the lemon juice into the pot and then place the whole lemon in the pot and bring to a boil.

Add potatoes and sausage, cook for about 10 minutes. Add the corn and crab; cook for another 5 minutes, then add the shrimp when everything else is almost done, and cook for another 3 - 5 minutes.

Drain off the water and pour the contants into large servings bowls. Be sure to have 2 -3 large empty bowls on the table to discard crab and shrimp shells. Serve with ice cold beer and lots of napkins.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tarragon Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are an American favorite for any picnic. There are an endless array of recipes for these tasty little appetizers from basic to fancy and mild to spicy. Try Firecracker Deviled Eggs, Deviled Eggs with Pepper & Horseradish, or Pesto Deviled Eggs for a new twist.

This recipe uses French Tarragon, a delicate herb which has a slightly anise-type flavor. You might also find Russian Tarragon plants which have a more mild flavor.  Many grocery stores now carry fresh herbs in the produce section.
Tarragon Deviled Eggs and Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs
6-8 Large Eggs (I like the eggs generously filled, so I usually boil one or two extra for extra yolks)
1 tsp finely minced fresh Tarragon, plus a bit more for garnish
1 tsp White Wine Vinegar
3 TB Mayonnaise (regular or low - fat)
2 tsp Dijon Mustard

While eggs are cooling, blend together the tarragon and vinegar. Mix in mayo and Dijon mustard, and let this mixture sit while the eggs are cooling.

When eggs are fully cooled, carefully cut in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a bowl. Mash yolks well with a fork, then mix in tarragon/mustard/mayo mixture. You can fill the eggs with a spoon, or put the mixture in a plastic bag, cut off one small corner, and squeeze the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Garnish finished eggs with chopped fresh tarragon, if desired.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Caribbean Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich

The distinct flavor of the Caribbean comes alive when mango, lime, shrimp and just a hint of jalapeno are combined to create this tasty sandwich.  Serve with Spicy Guacamole and chips for a quick summer dinner.

1 lb Shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 medium Mango, seeded, peeled and diced
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 Serrano or Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp finely minced Lime Zest
1 TB Lime Juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1 24-inch French Baguette
4 Bibb or Romaine Lettuce Leaves

Coarsely chop the cooked shrimp.

In a medium bowl combine shrimp, mango, mayo, serrano or jalapeno pepper, green onion, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and chill up to 1 hour.

Cut baguette into 4 equal rolls. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove some of the bread from the bottom half of each roll, leaving a thick shell. Place all rolls, sliced side up, on a broiler pan or baking sheet; broil 3 - 4 minutes or until toasted.

Place lettuce leaf on bottom of each roll. Spoon shrimp mixture onto lettuce, replace top bun and serve.

Hot Chili Sauce

6 oz Hot Chiles (try using Cayenne, Fresnos, Habanero, Jalapeno, Serrano, Thai, or a combination of these), stemmed and chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 TB Sugar
1 1/2 TB Distilled White Vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process to a coarse texture. Taste and adjust the flavor with add extra salt or sugar. Transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a vigorous simmer over medium heat, lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2/3 cup. Use within one month.

Lasagna with Spinach & Italian Sausage

This recipe is a slightly lighter version of the Italian Classic, with only 1 layer of noodles and some healthy spinach in the center.

10 oz Chopped Spinach, frozen
15 oz Ricotta Cheese, part-skim
8 oz Mozzarella Chese, shredded
4 oz Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 lb Italian Sausage
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 jar Ragu Parmesan/Romano spaghetti sauce
8 - 10 Lasagna Noodles
2 Basil Cubes (See Recipe) or 2 TB chopped fresh Basil

In a large skillet, brown the sausage and crumble. While the sausage cooks, defrost spinach and squeeze out excess water. In a bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, garlic powder and oregano. Set aside.

Drain the sausage and add the spaghetti sauce to the skillet. Bring sauce to a simmer and add 2 Basil Cubes and stir until cubes dissolve (or add fresh basil).

Pour all of the sausage mixture into the bottom of a 13 x9 inch baking pan and top with 2 layers of the cooked lasagna noodles, creating 3 rows. (This will make it easy to slice when cooked.) Smooth the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, and top with Mozzarella cheese, then the cheddar.

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned.

Skillet Pasta Primavera

8 oz ( 2-1/3 cups) Uncooked Penne Pasta
2 TB Light Butter
1 medium Onion, Chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
2 medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices, then halved *
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium Yellow Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 medium Tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 TB Fresh Basil, chopped (or 2 tsp Dried Basil)
4 oz (about 1 cup) Reduced-Fat Swiss Cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to the package directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a deep, 12-inch skillet; stir in onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned (about 4 - 5 minutes). Add zucchini, red and yellow peppers. continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp tender, about 4 minutes.

Stir in cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and basil. Continue cooking until tomatoes are heated through. Sprinkle with Swiss cheese, cover and let stand 1 - 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

* Substitutions: You can also use sliced eggplant in place of the zucchini. In place of the tomatoes, you can also use 8-10 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters. Serves 6.

Sweet 'n Sour Chicken Stir-Fry

This recipe tastes so much like takeout Sweet-n-Sour Chicken, you will never order it again!

2 TB Rice Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 TB Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Minced Fresh Ginger
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
8 oz Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, thinly sliced
1 tsp Peanut Oil
3 Green Onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup Snow Peas
1 TB Cornstarch
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 TB Apricot Fruit Spread
1 can (20 oz) Pineapple Chunks
2 cup Hot Cooked Rice

Combine vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes in medium bowl. Toss chicken with vinegar mixture. Marinate 20 minutes at room temperature.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain chicken; reserve marinade. Add chicken to wok and stir fry 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in onions, green pepper and snow peas. Stir fry 3 minutes longer.

Stir cornstarch into the reserved marinade. Stir broth, fruit spread and marinade mixture into wok. Cook and stir 1 minute or until sauce boils and thickens. Add pineapple and heat through. Serve over rice.

Crock Pot Guinness Beef Stew

This is a hearty meal that you can make in the crockpot and it's ready to eat when you arrive home after work.

4 TB Olive Oil
1-1/2 - 2 pounds Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 large Onion, chopped
1 - 2 Baking Potatoes or 5-6 Red Potatoes, chopped
3 large Carrots, coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 16-ounce Guinness Stout
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 15.5-oz can Beef Broth
3 TB Tomato Paste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl toss meat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat all pieces. Arrange the meat in a single layer in the heated skillet. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side, just browning the outside.

Next, toss the onions, potatoes, carrots and garlic into a crockpot. Pour the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce over the veggies, sprinkle the thyme on top, and drop in the bay leaf. When all your meat is browned, place it in the crockpot, on top of the veggies.

Return the skillet to the stove and pour in the can of beef broth. Stir in the tomato paste, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits on the bottom of the pan into the broth. Those flavorful brown bits add a lot of flavor to this stew! Add the beef broth mixture to the crockpot, and top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.Stir gently to combine.

Place the lid on the crockpot and set on LOW for 7 - 8 hours or on HIGH for about 5 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Mixed Greens & Pasta Soup

For the mixed leafy greens choose any combination of mustard, kale, collard, or swiss chard. Greens have an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat and calories and taste great.

2 TB Olive Oil
1 small  Onion, chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 pound Mixed Leafy Greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
3 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock diluted with 3 cups water
2 tsp Salt, or more to taste
3/4 cup Small Pasta Shapes (such as riso or stars), or 1 cup Cooked Rice
1 tsp Sherry Vinegar, more to taste
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
6 TB grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat and cook onions until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes. Add the coarsely chopped greens to the pot, one handful at a time, and let them wilt, stirring constantly.

Add the diluted stock and the salt and slowly bring to a simmer, then cook until the greens are just soft (but not darkened or faded), about 10 minutes.

While the greens are cooking, cook the pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside until the soup is done.

Coarsely shred the greens with a handheld immersion blender. Some will become puréed, but mostly they should be shredded. If you don't have an immersion blender, a food processor will do a better job than a stand blender. Transfer half the greens and liquid to a food processor and carefully purée until the greens are finely chopped. Reserve in a mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining greens and liquid. Wipe out the soup pot and return the greens and liquid to it.

Bring the soup to a simmer, and stir in the cooked pasta and 1 teaspoon vinegar. If the pasta clumps together (it probably will), let it warm and stir it again to break it up. Season with pepper. Taste, and add more salt or vinegar if needed.

To serve, ladle the soup into heated shallow bowls and garnish with a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Each serving (approx): 192 calories; 5 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 6 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 4 mg. cholesterol; 890 mg. sodium.

9-Bean Soup

This is a great winter soup recipe. Once the dry beans are combined, you will have several extras bags ready for the next soup night. Serve with warm cornbread.

Step 1 - Prepare bean mixture.

1 pound Black Beans
1 pound Red Kidney Beans
1 pound Barley Pearls
1 pound Pinto Beans
1 pound Great Northern Beans
1 pound Navy Beans
1 pound Lentils
1 pound Yellow Split Peas
1 pound Green Split Peas
1 pound Black-Eyed Peas

Combine all varieties of beans and divide into Ziploc baggies of 2 1/2 cups each.

Step 2 - Prepare the Soup

1 package (2-1/2 cups) Nine Bean Soup Mix
1 pound Smoked Ham, diced
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, grated
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes include the juice
1 4 oz can Diced Green Chilies
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Chopped Cilantro, if desired.

Wash and sort beans, discarding any damaged beans. Place in a Dutch oven or large soup pot and cover with water 2 inches above beans. Let soak overnight.

Drain beans and rinse well. Cover with water, and add the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours until the beans are done. Stir occasionally and add a little bit of water as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of cilantro if desired.

Black Bean Soup with Asparagus

Black beans are one of the most important health foods you should be adding to your diet. Not only are beans a great source of fiber and many nutrients, they also make an inexpensive meal.

This recipe is fast, flexible and easy to make. Adjust the amount of cumin used or use a spicy version of salsa. The flavors can be adjusted to suit your own taste.

1 19 oz can Black Beans
2 cups Salsa, or Crushed or Diced Tomatoes,
1 TB Olive Oil
1/2 to 1 tsp Cumin Seed, crushed
1 to 1 1/2 cups Water, Vegetable or Chicken Broth or Asparagus Cooking Water
1/2 pound Asparagus

Drain the beans, but save the liquid to thin the soup, if needed. Put the beans in a blender with the salsa.

Crush the cumin seed and cook it in a small skillet in the olive oil, until it sizzles and the aromas begin to release. Add the cumin see to the blender. Add about 1/2 cup bean liquid, water or broth. Purée until very smooth. Pour soup into a medium saucepan and warm over medium heat.

Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Cut off the tips, then cut the rest of it into fairly small pieces, about the same in length as the asparagus is thick. Cook the asparagus in a separate pot until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Reserve the asparagus tips and use them to garnish the soup. Put the rest of the asparagus into the soup, and thin the soup with some of the asparagus cooking water if it is too thick. Test and adjust the seasonings. Be careful not to overdo the salt; some of the ingredients called for can have quite a bit. A little pepper may be all that's needed. Serve the soup when it is hot, garnished with the asparagus tips.

Serves 4.

Italian Minestrone Soup

The ingredient list may seem long, but once you're savoring this soup on a cold day, it'll seem well worth it! The addition of spaghetti sauce provides rich flavor without a long simmering time.

1/3 cup Olive Oil
5 Bacon Strips, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup Celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup Carrots, sliced
1 can (6 oz) Tomato Paste
1 TB Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
1 can (28 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1 cup Parmesan/Romano Spaghetti Sauce (or another flavor)
1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup Frozen Green Beans
1 (15 oz) can Beef Broth
6 cups Water
2 cups Ditalini Pasta, uncooked
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Fresh Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Heat oil in 5-quart saucepan. Add bacon, cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta. Stir until ingredients are blended. Bring to boil and reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add uncooked pasta and simmer for 10 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve in large soup bowls with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Beer Cheese Soup

This is a rich and hearty soup that would be perfect for dinner on a cold and snowy night. Serve with a loaf of crusty french bread and a good dark beer.

4-1/2 cups Chicken Broth, divided
1-1/4 cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 slices Bacon, diced
2 TB Butter
1/2 cup Onion, finely diced
1/2 cup Celery, finely diced
1/2 cup Carrot, finely diced
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Flour
2 - 1/2 cups 1% Milk
3/4 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 (12 oz) can Beer (nothing too dark)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Simmer 2 cups broth and potatoes in a small saucepan. Cook 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Transfer potato mixture to a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid to avoid spills. Blend until smooth. Set mixture aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook bacon until slightly crisp and drain drippings. Add butter to the pan, then add onion, celery and carrots to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level flour with a knife. Combine flour, remaining 2 1/2 cups broth and milk in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened; stir constantly with a whisk. Add potato mixture, both cheddar cheeses, and Worcestershire, pepper, and salt to the pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Add beer to pan and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with black pepper and a sprinkle of cheese, if desired. Serves 4-6.

Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

2 quarts Chicken Broth with Garlic Seasoning
3 Carrots, thinly sliced
3 Celery Stalks, diced
1/2 cup Onion, diced
1-1/4 pounds Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup Raw Wild Rice
1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Salt and pepper to Taste

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker, cover and set temp to low. Cook 6 to 7 hours.

This recipe can also be made on the stovetop. Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot and simmer on low until the vegetables and wild rice are tender, about 90 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Southwest Chicken Soup

1/2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 TB Olive Oil
1 (15 oz) can Corn, drained
1 (15 oz) can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can Chicken Broth with Garlic
1 (10-oz) can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, undrained
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Sour Cream
Fresh Cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and saute until just tender. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the corn, beans, broth, tomatoes, cumin, salt, chili powder, and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream in the center and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Serves 4.

Asian Spinach Soup

This makes a great side dish for any Asian meal. It's light flavors also blend well with precooked chicken or shrimp, which can be added to make this soup into a meal.

2 - 14 to 15 oz cans Vegetable Broth
1-1/2 cups Water
2 TB Soy Sauce
2 TB Rice Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TB Oriental Sesame Oil
1 TB Minced Garlic
1 TB Minced and Peeled Fresh Ginger
2 cups Thinly Sliced Button or Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/2 pound Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 of a 10 ounce Bag of Fresh Spinach Leaves
3 Green Onions, chopped

Combine first 7 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tofu, spinach and green onions and simmer until spinach wilts and tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Cream of Lentil Soup

Lentils are a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, and are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out.

2 cups Dried Lentils
1 quart Water
2 quarts Beef Stock or Beef Broth
4 slices Bacon, diced
4 stalks Celery, diced
2 Yellow Onions, peeled and diced
1/2 Green Pepper, diced
Worcestershire Sauce, to taste
Tabasco Sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups Cream OR half-and-half
1 Yellow Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 TB Fresh Rosemary OR 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
Fresh Chives or Green Onions for Garnish
1/4 cup Dry Sherry

Place the lentils, water and beef stock in a large soup pot, cover and bring to a simmer. In a skillet, saute bacon and chopped vegetables until soft, about 6 minutes. Add this mixture to the soup pot. Cover and simmer until the lentils are soft. Working in small batches, puree the soup, and return to the pot.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cream and gently simmer while you prepare the onion and rosemary garnish.

In a skillet, saute the sliced onions, rosemary and chives until the onion is tender. Set aside.

Add the sherry to the soup and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of the onion and rosemary mixture.  Serves 8.

Easy Green Pea Soup

This soup is quick, easy and economical.   It makes a great dinner soup served along with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

1 cup Frozen Green Peas, thawed
1 small Onion, chopped
1 small Potato, diced
1 TB Butter
1 cup Water or Chicken Stock
1 cup Milk or Cream *
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

*If using cream, add more water or stock and use half a cup of cream.

In a medium pot, melt butter and saute onion and potato for 1 minute. Add green peas and water or stock. Bring to boil and let it simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer soup to the blender, and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot and bring to a simmer. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream on top, if desired.

Makes 2 - 3 generous servings.

Pumpkin-Black Bean Soup

This Caribbean-inspired soup combines pumpkin, black beans, tomatoes and sherry, with a sprinkle of queso fresco to top it off. A delicious soup for Halloween evening or even Thanksgiving Day.

1 1/2 cups Diced Canned Tomatoes, drained
2 (15 oz) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp Olive Oil
Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups Onions, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 cups Fat-Free Chicken Broth
2 TB Sherry Vinegar
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 (15 oz) can Pumpkin
2 TB Dry Sherry
1 cup (4 oz) Queso Fresco* , crumbled (or substitute Feta cheese)
1/2 cup Green Onions, sliced
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Place tomatoes and beans in a food processor; process until about half of the beans are smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion to the pan; saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cumin and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add bean mixture, broth, vinegar, pepper and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in sherry. Ladle about 1 cup of soup into each of 6 bowls, and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons queso fresco and 1 tablespoon green onions each. Garnish with pumpkin seeds. Serves 6.

* The U.S. version of queso fresco is soft, moist, mild and crumbly cheese for sprinkling over enchiladas or black bean soup or crumbling onto a salad. Sadly, most of the versions in the U.S. do not melt very well. In Mexico the cheese is used to stuff chiles or for quesadillas.

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

This spicy soup gets it's zesty flavor from green chilies and red curry paste. But don't let the spicy ingredients scare you, adjust the seasonings down just a bit for a milder flavor. Also, if you would like to make this soup a whole meal, add a can of black beans. See note below.

1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Red Curry Paste
1 15-oz can Pumpkin
1 15-oz can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
1 heaping cup Roasted Corn Kernels
1/2 cup Frontera Jalapeno- Cilantro Salsa
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 14-oz. can Coconut Milk, as needed
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Chopped Cilantro, dried or fresh, to taste
1 tsp Raw Agave Nectar (or substitute maple syrup or raw sugar to taste)
Juice from 1 Fresh Lime

Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat and add the garlic, cumin and curry paste; stir for one minute. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes with green chiles, roasted corn, and salsa. Stir to combine.

Add the broth. Heat through to a simmer, and begin adding the coconut milk; start with one cup. If you like it creamy, add more. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, and cilantro. Heat through gently and bring to a slow simmer.

Taste test and add the fresh lime juice to brighten the flavor. Stir. Add more spice if you need more heat; add more agave (or maple syrup if substituting) and/or coconut milk if you need less heat.

Serve with organic blue corn tortilla chips. Makes four servings.
** Optional: Add a can of rinsed and drained black beans for more protein.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

This is a very adaptable recipe and tastes much better than tomato soup from a can. Try adding diced jalapeno peppers for a little more zesty flavor, or even skip the addition of sour cream and add cream to the final recipe. Also, if you are short on prep time, substitute a jar of roasted red peppers and a large can of peeled and diced tomatoes for the fresh vegetables.

2 tsp Olive Oil, divided
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Red Bell Peppers
4 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
2 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Sugar
6 cups Chicken Broth (regular or low sodium)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pinch Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 dash Hot Pepper Sauce
2 TB Butter
1-1/2 TB All-Purpose Flour
6 TB Sour Cream

To roast the peppers: Rub 1 teaspoon olive oil on peppers and place under the broiler until blackened, turning peppers to get all sides evenly roasted. Carefully place peppers into a paper bag and seal. Let rest for 15 minutes, remove from bag and peel off the skins, and remove core and seeds. Dice the peppers, reserving one cup; set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, bell peppers (except reserved), thyme, paprika, and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until all the tomato juices have evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Strain soup, reserving broth. Place solids in food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Set aside the pot of broth.

Strain soup, reserving broth. Place solids in food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Set aside the pot of broth.

In the soup pot, melt butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stirring slowly, add puree and broth back to the pot. Add reserved chopped peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and add 1 tablespoon of sour cream to the center of each bowl. For a lighter soup, this is also delicious without the sour cream.

Ladle into bowls and add 1 tablespoon of sour cream to the center of each bowl. For a lighter soup, this is also delicious without the sour cream. Serves 6.

Roasted Squash Soup

This delicious and creamy soup would be perfect served as a first-course for Thanksgiving dinner. Acorn Squash makes a great substitute if Butternut Squash is not available.

1 TB Olive Oil
1 large Butternut Squash (about 3 pounds), halved and seeded
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
6 cloves Garlic
4 Thyme Sprigs
3 TB Unsalted Butter
1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

1 TB Unsalted Butter
1 cup 1/2-inch Diced White Bread
1 TB Sour Cream
1 TB Fresh Minced Chives

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub the olive oil over the cut side of the squash and season with a 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Place the squash, cut side down, on the prepared pan. Tuck the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs under the cavity of the squash. Roast the squash 50 to 60 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reserve the garlic cloves and discard the thyme. Scoop the butternut squash flesh from the skin, coarsely chop, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and shallots for 7 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the roasted butternut squash, the reserved garlic cloves, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the squash begins to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Purée the soup until smooth with a hand-held blender or in a food processor. Return it to the pan and add the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

For the croutons: Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the cubes of bread and toast, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown.

To serve, ladle the hot soup into warmed shallow bowls, dollop each with 1/2 teaspoon of sour cream, sprinkle with the croutons and chives. Serves 4 or 6 servings as a first course.

Potato-Leek Soup

3 TB Butter
2 cups Sliced Leeks
2 cups Sliced Onions
3 TB All-Purpose Flour
2 quarts Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to Taste
4 cups Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Parsley or Chives, chopped

In a large skillet melt the butter and saute the leeks and onions without browning. Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper and potatoes. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Blend the soup in a food processor, if desired. Add the cream just before serving. Garnish with parsley. Serves 6-8.

Spicy Carrot Peanut Soup

This is a delicious Moosewood Restaurant soup that has a lot to offer -- a mildly sweet flavor, with just a bit of nutty and salty taste and a little sour from the lime juice.

1 TB Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 lbs Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Chinese Chili Paste (such as Sriracha)
6 cups Water or Stock, vegetable or chicken
2 TB Peanut Butter
3 TB Soy Sauce
2 TB Lime Juice

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and chili paste and cook, stirring often, on high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the water or stock to the vegetable mixture, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients – peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice – and then allow to cool slightly. In a blender, puree the soup until silky smooth. Reheat if desired, and season to taste. For a little crunch, top with finely chopped roasted peanuts.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder

This is a great fall soup that includes a variety of vegetables and a creamy cheddar cheese base.

2 cups Chopped Onions
1 TB Butter
1 TB Canola or Vegetable Oil
2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 cup Peeled and Diced Carrots
1 1/2 cups Diced Potatoes
3 cups Water or Vegetable Stock
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper (or use Ground White Pepper)
1/2 cup Green Beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup Diced Red Bell Peppers
1 cup Diced Zucchini
1/2 cup Fresh or Frozen Green Peas (you can also substitute frozen corn, which works great)
2 TB Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 cups Milk
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
2 oz Neufchatel or Ccream Cheese

Optional: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little extra spice, or add a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese or even parmesan cheese on top of the soup.

In a large soup, sauté the onions in the butter and oil for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat. Add the celery, cover, and cook until just soft, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, potatoes, water or stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. With a strainer or slotted spoon, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked vegetables and carefully pour into a blender or food processor. Set aside until ready to puree.

Add the green beans, bell peppers, and zucchini to the pot and cook until the green beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and parsley, simmer for 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.

Puree the reserved vegetables with the milk and cheeses to make a smooth sauce, stir the sauce into the soup and gently reheat. Serve with crusty French bread and a salad.  Serves about 8.

Blueberry Peach Smoothie

Blueberries are delicious and healthy! They are naturally high in antioxidants for disease protection, they help to improve memory, and are heart healthy. A powerful superfood!

1 whole Banana -- frozen
1 cup frozen Peach Slices
1/4 cup fresh or frozen Blueberries or Raspberries
1/2 cup Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
1 TB Wheat Germ

Place banana, frozen peach slices, blueberries, yogurt and wheat germ in a blender and process until smooth.

Serves 2.

Ginger Smoothies (5)

Have your own smoothie bar at home with these delicious and easy to prepare smoothie recipes. Try different fruits, use juices or milk, add a spoonful of sugar-free jam or protein powder and change the flavors each day. The varieties are endless and yummy.

1 Banana, cut into chunks
1 cup Ice Cubes
1/2 cup Bottled Carrot Juice
1/2 cup Plain Low-Fat Yogurt
3/4-inch piece Fresh Ginger, peeled

Nutritional Info: 233 calories, 2.5 gr fat, 1.4g sat. fat, 8.9g protein, 47.2g carbs, 4.1g fiber

Hawaiian Smoothie with Ginger
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup Frozen Pineapple Chunks
1/2 cup Frozen Mango Chunks
a good sized piece of fresh ginger

Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend 'til smooth. Serves 2.

Strawberry Ginger Smoothie
2 cups Frozen Strawberries
1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 cup Milk
2 TB Honey
1 tsp Chopped Ginger

Place all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. Add a bit more milk if desired, until you have the preferred consistency. Serves 2.

Papaya Ginger Smoothie
2 1/2 cups Papaya, chilled and cut into chunks
1 cup Ice Cubes
2/3 cup Low-Fat Plain Yogurt
1 TB Finely Chopped and Peeled Fresh Ginger
1 TB Honey
Juice of 2 Lemons
16 Fresh Mint Leaves plus 4 sprigs for garnish

Blend papaya, ice, yogurt, ginger, honey, and lemon juice in a blender. Add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture is smooth and thinned to desired consistency. Blend in mint leaves and garnish with mint sprigs.  Serves 4.

Ginger, Kiwi and Banana Smoothie
2 Kiwis, cut into chunks
1 Banana, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp Ginger, chopped
1 cup Low-Fat Milk

Place kiwi, banana and ginger into blend. Pulse until smooth, then add milk to desired consistency. Serves 1.

Double Berry Smoothie

1 cup Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
1 small ripe Banana, cut up
2 TB Honey
1 cup fresh or frozen Strawberries
1 cup fresh or frozen Raspberries
1/2 cup Raspberry Sherbet or Sorbet

Combine all ingredients in a blender until thick and smooth. Serves 2.

Crock Pot Split Pea & Ham Soup

Serve with garlic toast or crusty french bread and a salad for a delicious and healthy meal.

2 TB Butter
12 - 14 oz Smoked Cooked Ham, diced (or Ham Bone with Meat)
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Chicken Broth
1 quart Water
16 oz dried Split Peas, sorted and rinsed
2 to 3 medium Carrots, diced
2 ribs Celery, sliced
2 large Potatoes, cubed
1/2 tsp Dried Marjoram Leaves, crumbled
1 Bay Leaf

Place a skillet over medium heat; add butter, ham, and onion, cook until onion is tender and ham is slightly browned. Combine ham mixture and remaining ingredients in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 - 8 hours, or until split peas are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Serves 8.

Grilled Prosciutto-Stuffed Pork Chops

The combination of tangy balsamic vinegar and the sweet molasses create a delicate balance with the spicy rub.

4 Pitted Dried Plums, halved
2 very thin slices Prosciutto (about 3/4 ounce), halved
1/2 tsp Crushed Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Chopped Fresh Sage
1/2 tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 (4 oz) boneless Center-Cut Loin Pork Chops (about 3/4 inch thick)
Cooking spray
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Molasses

Prepare grill.

Soak the pitted dried plum halves in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain plums. Wrap 2 of the plum halves in each prosciutto piece.

Combine next 6 ingredients (through freshly ground black pepper) in a small bowl.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each pork chop to form a pocket. Stuff 1 prosciutto wrap into each pocket. Sprinkle pork chops with spice mixture. Place pork chops on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Combine vinegar and molasses; brush over pork chops.

Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms & Thyme

This tasty dinner for two is low-carb and heart-healthy. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to serve for a family meal.
2 (5 oz each) boneless, Center-Cut Pork Loin Chops
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 tsp Olive Oil
1 medium Shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced Mushrooms (about 4 oz)
1/2 cup Dry Vermouth (or substitute unsweetened apple juice)
1 TB Dijon Mustard
2 tsp chopped Fresh Thyme

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to 2 serving plates; tent with foil to keep warm.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to the pan, add shallot and cook, stirring, until tender, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add vermouth and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in mustard, thyme and any juices that have accumulated from the pork; cook until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes more. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Wait! Don't throw away those pumpkin seeds. Here is a delicious and healthy way to prepare a fall snack for your family. One large pumpkin will generally yield 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, and smaller pie pumpkins will yield about the same amount.

Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups Pumpkin Seeds
2 TB Margarine or Butter
1 1/2 tsp Salt

Remove largest chunks of pulp from the pumpkin seeds but do not wash.

Toss the seeds with margarine and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 250F for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Stir two or three times through out the roasting. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Sweet Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1 TB melted Butter or Vegetable Oil
1 TB Sugar, more or less to taste
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Allspice

Remove largest chunks of pulp from the pumpkin seeds but do not wash.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Toss seeds with butter, sugar and spices. Spread coated seeds on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes, turning once or twice, until golden brown.

Hot and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups Pumpkin Seeds
2 TB melted Butter
1 TB Frank's Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt

Remove largest chunks of pulp from the pumpkin seeds but do not wash.

Combine seeds with butter, hot sauce and salt. Spread seeds on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake 45 - 60 minutes, turn once or twice, until golden brown.

Homemade Trail Mix

Find a few foods that your kids really love (like M&M's or chocolate chips) and you can sneak in a few healthy additions (like nuts, seeds or dried fruit) to this trail mix. They have a healthy, high-energy snack to carry them through the day.

Add in a few things you know they will like:

Mini Pretzels
Goldfish Crackers (whole grain would be even better than regular)
Mini Chocolate Chips or Peanut Butter Chips
M&M's candies (use sparingly)

Then add the healthy stuff like:

Kashi's Heart to Heart Toasted Oat Cereal (kids love this cereal as a snack)
Multi-Grain Cheerios
Peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts
Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
Cashews or Almonds
Dried Cherries or Apricots (cut into bite-sized pieces)
Banana Chips or Craisins

In a bowl combine 1/4 cup each of the above ingredients. You can use all or just a few and see which combinations the kids like the best. Put in snack size bags and you have enough for a week of lunches.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mesquite Bacon BLT Sandwich

This recipe is from Arizona, the land of Mesquite foods! If you have not tried Mesquite-Smoked Bacon, you are in for a treat. You'll never want a regular BLT again. Enjoy!

16 Thick-Sliced Mesquite-Smoked Bacon Strips, about 1 pound
4 6x4-inch pieces Focaccia, Ciabatta or other rustic-type bread about 2 inches thick
8 Red-Leaf Lettuce Leaves
Large Tomatoes, cut into 16 thick slices
1/2 cup Mayonnaise

Cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until just crisp, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain excess fat. Set aside.

Halve each 6 x 4-inch piece of ciabatta horizontally; lightly toast. Spread about 1 TB mayonnaise on each slice of ciabatta. Top 4 of the slices of ciabatta with a lettuce leaf, then with 4 slices of tomato, 4 slices of bacon and finish with lettuce leaf. Place mayonnaise side of remaining 4 ciabatta slices on top of lettuce. Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal. Serve immediately.

Corned Beef Sandwiches

Just the thought alone makes your mouth water... corned beef, dark swirly rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, with Russian dressing - grilled. Our national love affair with Corned Beef Sandwiches, also known as the Reuben, has been going on since the 1920s, though the exact origin is strongly disputed.

Regardless of who owns the title of creator of the first Reuben, this sandwich has steadily gained in popularity over the last 90 years or so, especially during St. Patrick's Day festivities.  It's nearly impossible to find a restaurant that doesn't serve this tasty sandwich and many variations exist as local bars put their own twist to this classic meal.

Corned beef is very simple to prepare at home.  Just remember to cook it low and slow and the result will be a fork-tender brisket that slices easily for sandwiches.

To Prepare Corned Beef

1 Corned Beef Brisket (3 - 4 lbs) including spice packet
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 TB Garlic, minced
1 TB Butter

Drain and rinse the corned beef, reserving the spice packet. Place the onion, garlic and butter in the bottom of a large soup pot.  Saute the onion and garlic for 6 minutes or until tender, then place the brisket into the pot.  Add enough water to the pot to fully cover the meat, and add the spice packet to the water.  Turn heat to medium-high, bring to a boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about  3 hours, turn the brisket over occasionally using a fork.  (The longer the beef simmers the more tender the meat, so for a 3-4 pound brisket, 3 hours works great.)
Add additional water, if needed, to keep the beef covered.

Remove meat from pot and allow to rest 10 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and prepare sandwiches as below.

Sandwich Ingredients for 4

2 TB Butter, softened
8 slices Rye Bread
8 slices Swiss Cheese
3/4 lb Corned Beef Brisket, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Sauerkraut
1/4 cup Russian Dressing

Butter one side of four slices of bread, and place the slices buttered-side down on a large piece of wax paper on a flat surface. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese, and then divide half of the corned beef among them.

Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from sauerkraut. Divide the sauerkraut among the sandwiches, and top each with one tablespoon of Russian dressing. Add another layer of corned beef and a second slice of Swiss cheese to each sandwich. Top with the remaining bread slices; butter the side facing out.

Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwiches over and finish cooking on the second side. Cut the sandwiches in half before serving. Serve with Seven Day Slaw.