Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tortellini and Chicken Soup

This time of year screams SOUP to me!

I tend to overload my Pinterest "Soup" Board with cream based or chili-like soups but that isn't always what I am craving. Sometimes I just want something warm and hearty that will fill me up and leave me satisfied without the heaviness of beans and meat.

When a co-worker of mine said she had a soup recipe that would fit that criteria I immediately made my grocery list and headed home for some soup and tortellini.

She was right...it was awesome....and so delicious that I had to make more to keep in my freezer for another night.

Tortellini and Chicken Soup

2 boxes chicken stock
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 chicken breasts
1/4 cup garlic powder
3 tablespoons black pepper
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
fresh tortellini (whatever flavor you prefer though I would steer clear of anything with red meat in it just because the flavors would clash with the chicken)

Pour the chicken stock in a large pot and add all of the ingredients except the mushrooms and tortellini.  
Bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is done.  Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks.  
Return to the pot.  (If you are planning on freezing it for another meal stop here and add the mushrooms and pasta when you are ready to serve -- do not freeze it with the pasta and mushrooms or they will get super mushy) Add mushrooms and tortellini and cook for 4-6 minutes or until done.
Serve immediately.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Collard "Cassoulet"

 There is nothing better than cooking with the vegetables of the season and this recipe is the prime example for how that can be so successful!  For just over a year now, my brother's mother-in-law has been raving about this recipe she found in the paper and it took me this long to get it together and finally make it! 

Perfect timing, right?  Fall is the time when the collards produced are, in my opinoin, at their peek!

If you are looking for a hearty side or simply a different entree, this dish will fill all your fall cravings and comes highly recommended by all of those to whom I recently served it and who immediately went silent at the dinner table because their mouths were full!

Collard "Cassoulet"

1 lb. collard greens, stems and tough ribs removed
5 garlic cloves, 1 crushed and 4 chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups cooked white beans, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved
1/2 cup (plus more if desired) diced or chopped cooked ham-hock meat, sausage, chorizo or bacon
1/3 cup (plus more, if desired) freshly grated Parmigiano-Regiano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup (plus more, as needed) medium-coarse fresh bread crumbs

Clean your collards and remove the leaves from the stems.
In a large pot, cover the collard greens with salted water and boil over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes.  
Drain well and chop into small pieces.  
Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Vigorously rub the inside of a 10- or 12-inch gratin dish with the crushed garlic.  
Discard the crushed garlic and set the dish aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes.  
Add the chopped garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  
Add the collard greens, stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute.  
Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in the beans, meat, roughly half the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  If the mixture seems too dry, add enough of the reserved beans cooking liquid to moisten.  (If you don't have liquid, use water) 
Spread the mixture in the prepared dish.  
Top with the bread crumbs and remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.  
Cover the dish with aluminum foi and bake until the filling is hot and bubbly, 30-35 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake until the top of the gratin is golden and crusty, another 10 minutes.  Serve hot.
Emory had both of his grandmothers there to spoil him and give him ALLLLL the 
attention in the world!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Turkey and Bean Burritos

So if I am being honest I don't like to diet, I am not a huge fan of a strenuous workout regiment and I can't stand exercise classes because I leave wondering why the instructor wouldn't stop screaming at me.

Ok, it's off my chest...I feel better!

With this revelation out there for the world to know I can finally move on.  Like most people, I don't want to have to buy new clothes because I grew out of the old ones and let's be honest, I can't really claim vertical growth anymore unless it is becoming commonplace to hit a growth spurt at age 31.

For some time now I have been trying to change my mentality...I have tried to love working out...I have tried to believe that a salad will really leave me full and satisfied, but I am just lying to myself.

This is where I decided to take a look from a different perspective.  What if I didn't try to find joy in things that make me miserable, but what if I just tried to tweak the things I love to make them healthier than they have been in the past.

Great!  Brilliant!  I can't believe my own genius!

Sorry, sometimes I like to pat myself on the back for a minute.

Moving on!  

I have started walking my dogs more often.  I don't have to run 5 miles a day but if walking the pups makes me happy then walking the pups I will do, just for a little bit farther and more than once a day.

Ok, that's good....now on to the butter soaked, fatty fat, calorie packed meals I have eaten and cooked all my life.  

After doing some research on substitutes, consulting the professionals and determining what I could do differently I decided it was time to put the vegetable oil away and give the alternative a try.  Well more figuratively, but you get the drift!

This was my first try and taking something I would have previously made with ground beef, whole milk cheese and all sorts of accouterments and turned it into a protein packed, lean, filling dinner.

Game on peeps...this is going to be an interesting ride!

Turkey and Bean Burritos
1 pounds Ground Turkey
1 whole Medium Onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (7 Ounce) Mexican Tomato Sauce Or Enchilada Sauce
Salt And Pepper, to taste
Cumin, Oregano, Chili Powder, Garlic To Taste (I used homemade taco seasoning instead)
1 can (28 Ounce) Vegetarian Refried Beans
3/4 cups Grated 2% Cheddar Cheese
12 whole Burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
Extra Grated Cheese, For Sprinkling
Extra Sauce, For Drizzling
Cilantro Leaves, Optional
Optional Filling Ingredients: Mexican Rice, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Green Chilies, Pico De Gallo

Brown ground turkey with garlic and onion and season to taste. 
Pour in sauce and simmer over low heat. Add water if mixture gets too dry.  
This needs to cook for at least an hour but if you have up to three hours that would be great.  Just keep adding water as it dries out and keep the lid on the pan so that it doesn't evaporate as quickly.  This will help the turkey to tenderize.
Heat refried beans in a saucepan. Add cheese and stir in till melted. Keep warm.
Heat tortillas in microwave for one minute.
Spread a small amount of beans on each tortilla. Add meat. Fold over ends, then roll up. 
Place side by side in a 13x9-inch pyrex dish. 
Drizzle additional enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheddar. Microwave for one minute, or until cheese is melted and burritos are very hot. Serve immediately.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

The Perfect Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is just around the corner and in my mind it is the starting line of the holiday season.  Festivity is in the air, the temperature is cooling down and football is in full gear across the country.

This past weekend my cousins and I got together to do a little pumpkin carving.  As these things go, it might have been a little more competitive than in years past but a little family rivalry never hurt anyone....right?

Well we all survived and came out with several pretty spectacular looking pumpkins....an one that might haunt my dreams.
With such an entertaining evening and so many pumpkins to clean out there was only one more thing we HAD to do before the cleaning began....roast the pumpkin seeds.  There are a million different ways you can do this and they are delicious still if you put them on a baking sheet (once cleaned of course), brush them with a little cooking spray or canola oil and season with a little salt and pepper, but this year I decided to do a little digging to see if there was anything I was missing.  Here is what I found and they were absolutely delicious!

Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Salt and Pepper
Pumpkin Seeds
Cooking Spray

Clean out your pumpkin reserving the seeds.  Rinse off the seeds removing as much of the stringy, gooey stuff as possible.  You don't have to get rid of every last strand as some of it will leave some delicious flavors but you certainly want to knock off all the chunks!

Boil the seeds in salted water for 10 minutes.  I had just under 2 cups of seeds so I used about 6-8 cups of water and 1/4 cup salt.  
Drain in a colander and pat dry.

Place on a baking sheet and toss in cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper or your spices of choice.  You could do a million different things here from cajun to sweet!
Roast in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes keeping a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn and every oven is different. 
 EAT and ENJOY!!

We decided our reward would be a bonfire with s'mores!
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