Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roasted Broccolini

Roasted Broccolini

Broccolini is a hybrid between broccoli and Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan). I first tasted broccolini when Earthbound Farm came out with "Broccolette." I purchased a 2-pound bag of "Broccolette" at Costco for $5.99 (now $4.99), where it is the most reasonably priced. I roasted the broccolini in the oven the same way I roast broccoli, only at a slightly lower temperature. Since then, it's been my favorite roasted vegetable. I prefer broccolini over broccoli. There is no trimming/peeling necessary in broccolini. I only trim away very little of the stalk ends because it looks dry (but that is not necessary). Just wash, dry, and cook. Broccolini is very versatile to cook with. You can boil, steam, saute, grill and roast broccolini, which roasting is my favorite way to prepare broccolini. Each stalk has a broccoli floret and a few long leaves. Some stalks will be thicker than others, so I vertically cut the thicker stalks in half for even cooking. It's that simple. Broccolini is very nutritious: high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, iron and fiber.

1 pound broccolini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Trim very little of each stalk ends if it looks dry and ugly. Cut thicker stalks in half, vertically, for even roasting. Plunge broccolini in a very large bowl of cold water to wash well. Drain well and towel dry. In a very large bowl, toss broccolini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place broccolini in one even layer on a shallow-rim baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. I like to roast mine for exactly 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly in the pan. Transfer to a serving dish and ready to eat.

Yield 2 to 4 servings

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sausage Potato Kale Soup

Spicy Sausage Potato Kale Soup
Adapted from The Candid Appetite

This soup is very simple to make and tastes delicious. This is another soup recipe I will be making quite often. This recipe does not require a lot of seasonings because most of the aromatics comes from the turkey sausages. This soup is practically a complete meal in itself with the turkey sausages, potatoes and kale. The heavy cream adds a nice richness to the soup without being too heavy. With some crusty whole-wheat French bread, it's a very satisfying meal. And makes a good breakfast soup.

1 to 1.22 pounds sweet or hot Italian TURKEY sausages, casings removed
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 9.8 ounces)
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced (about 0.6 ounce)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 bunches of Lacinato kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 14.4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 medium-size or 2 large-size Yukon gold potatoes, UNpeeled and thinly sliced; then soaked in water to cover until needed (about 2 to 2.25 pounds)
8 cups Swanson brand 33% Less-Sodium Chicken Broth (64 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (8 ounces)

Heat a 6-quart stock pot over medium-high heat (8.0 on induction cook top) until hot. Brown the turkey sausages in a tablespoon of olive oil until browned, breaking up sausages as it is browning. If there are a lot of liquid released from the sausages, turn up heat to high heat and continue cooking. When all the liquid have evaporated, reduce heat back to medium-high heat. When sausages are done cooking, transfer sausages to a colander to drain. Set aside.

Using the same pot and over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Add the onions and garlic. Continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently and scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook until onions are soft and lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the kale in 3 batches, allowing each batch to wilt down as it cooks. Stir in the nutmeg. Continue to cook the kale for another 3 minutes or until it turns bright green and completely wilted down. Stir in the sliced potatoes (drained) and turkey sausages.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer (gradually 4.0 to 2.6 on induction cook top) and continue to simmer, covered, for about 20 to 25 minutes or when potatoes are cooked tender. Taste to add more seasonings to your liking. For my taste, I only added another teaspoon of ground black pepper and no additional salt was necessary. Stir in the heavy cream. Increase heat to medium heat (5.0 on induction cook top). When soup starts to come to a boil, immediately turn off heat. Soup is ready to enjoy with some whole-wheat French bread smeared with some coconut oil.

Yield 6 to 8 servings

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins

Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

The first time I baked these Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins from Cooking Light, it turned out to be the ugliest muffins I ever baked. They were dry and very dense. I knew these muffins would be a disaster once I mixed together the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. The muffin batter was the consistency of a cookie dough. I continued to bake these muffins anyway just to see what would be the outcome. When they were done baking, they were really small, ugly, dense, and dry. I couldn't understand how these muffins got such outstanding reviews. I wanted to throw them out immediately, but I decided to taste them first. Surprisingly the muffins were moist on the inside, but very dense. Had a good chocolate flavor, but lacked the coffee flavor. They were very dry on the exterior, but remain moist and dense brownie-like on the inside. These muffins had potential and with a few of my own modifications, the muffins are now light, tender and very moist with great chocolate/coffee flavor. Another plus... it's 100% whole wheat.

2 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (8.5 ounces)
2/3 cup unrefined natural cane sugar (4.6 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (3.4 ounces)
1 large egg (1.8 to 1.9 ounces) 
1 cup carton UNSWEETENED coconut milk (8 ounces)
5 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted (2.5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons NesCafe Clasico Dark Roast Instant Coffee (about 0.4 ounce)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven. Spray 11 standard-size muffin cups with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large-size mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir together with a wire whisk until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a separate medium-size mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Whisk in the next 4 ingredients, one at a time, until well blended. 

Add the coffee mixture to the flour mixture. Using a pastry fork or wire whisk, gently stir and fold the flour mixture with the coffee mixture until just until dry ingredients are moistened and finish folding with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Batter will be quite thick.

Divide batter among 11 muffin cups.

Bake for 18 minutes or until muffins feels firm on the top when lightly touched.

Let muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield 11 muffins

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Everyday Foods

I really love this vegetarian version of split pea soup. This soup has so much flavor on its own without having to depend on smoked turkey drumstick (or smoke ham shank) for flavor. This recipe will make a very large quantity. You can either cut the soup recipe in half or you can make the full recipe, portion it into containers and freeze it. Since this soup is vegetarian, I even have this soup for breakfast, and again for dinner the same day. It's that delicious and good for you!

2 pounds dried split peas, rinsed well and drain
4 quarts water (16 cups)
2-1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 extra-large potatoes)
1 pound carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
3 medium-size red bell peppers, seeds and membrane discarded and finely chopped (1:3.1 pounds)
2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (1:6.0 pounds)
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped (5.1 ounces)
4 large garlic cloves, finel minced (0.8 ounce)

2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 large dried bay leaf
3 to 4 teaspoons salt or to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper or to taste

Combine all the ingredients, except the salt and ground black pepper, into a 10-quart or larger stock pot. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat (Pb on induction cook top). Reduce heat to a simmer (2.4 to 2.0 on induction cook top) and cook for 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally and skimming away foam from the surface as needed (I don't bother with the skimming, if you stir occassionally, the foam will eventually cook out). During the last hour of cooking time, continue to stir occasionally and smashing a few chunks of potatoes against the sides of the pot each time you stir.

When cooking time is up, the soup will become thicker and peas will be cooked down. Add the salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Remove from heat. Ready to serve. Let soup cool completely before portioning soup into containers and storing in the freezer. Soup will thicken even more as it is cooling and stored in the refrigerator/freezer. You may need to add water to thin it out if it becomes too thick.

Yield about 7 quarts

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Moussaka, a Greek eggplant casserole, is traditionally made with ground lamb. Fine bulgur is used in place of the ground lamb to make this a vegetarian version of moussaka. It's hearty, savory and delicious. It is a great dish to make ahead and reheat later. I loved this dish a lot and is planning to include this vegetarian dish for our Christmas dinner.

Three eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
2 cups chopped yellow onion (10.3 ounces)
4 large garlic cloves, minced (0.8 ounce)
3/4 cup uncooked fine bulgur (4.5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted, no-salt diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (1.0 ounce)
2 cups vegetable stock (16 ounces)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons butter (1.0 ounce)
4 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour (0.8 ounce)
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk (16 ounces)
4 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese (0.8 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat broiler to 475 degrees or high. Position oven rack to be able to broil the eggplant slices 5 inches from the heat source.

Line a shallow-rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place one-third of the eggplant slices onto the foil in a single layer.

Brush each eggplant slices with olive oil. NOTE: Eggplants tend to soak up olive oil very easily like a sponge. To use minimal amount of oil, dip only the very tip of the pastry brush with olive oil and brush each eggplant slice. By dipping the very tip of the pastry brush, the olive oil will go a long way. I was able to stretch 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch of eggplant slices.

Broil 5 inches away from the heat source for 5 minutes or until browned on the first side. Leave the oven door slighly ajar when broiling?! I have always left the oven door slightly ajar when broiling and it seemed to work perfectly for my eggplant slices. You decide!
Remove eggplant from the oven and turn each slice over. Brush the second side with more olive oil and broil for anther 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer eggplant slices to a plate and repeat the broiling process with the remainder of the eggplant slices.
NOTE: While I am broiling eggplant slices, I always do an extra eggplant so I can eat it for my lunch. I like to package eggplant slices and eat it with hummus. I spread some hummus on each slice and fold it or roll it up and eat it like a taco.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (7.0 for induction cook top) until hot. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to skillet and swirl pan to coat the bottom. Add the chopped onions and saute onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for additional 1 minute.

Add the bulgur and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add the allspice, cinnamon, cloves, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth and oregano. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer (4.0 to 3.0 on induction cook top) mixture for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, smashing large chunks of tomatoes to break them up.

While bulgur mixture is simmering, make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. With a wire whisk, whisk in the flour, salt and white pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low (3.0 on induction cook top) and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. Whisk in cheese and remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.
Lightly spray an 11-inch by 7-inch size rectangular baking dish (I used a Le Creuset 9-1/2-inch by 14-inch size cast-iron baking dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the baking dish, slightly overlapping slices.

Spread the bulgur mixture evenly over the eggplant slices.

Arrange the remainder of the eggplant slices over the bulgur mixture, slightly overlapping slices.

Top the eggplant slices witt the bechamel sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove dish from oven. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. When oven reaches 475 degrees, return dish to the oven and bake for additional 4 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Simply Recipes

I have to agree that these are the best zucchini muffins ever. What I love about these muffins, they are pack full of zucchini. They also have a lot of walnuts and raisins that adds sweetness, crunch and texture to these muffins. Just as I do with most recipes, I modified a few ingredients to suit my healthy way of eating, like replacing all-purpose flour with WHITE whole wheat flour and replacing butter with EXTRA LIGHT olive oil. I like my zucchini bread spiced up tasting like a pumpkin bread or a carrot cake, so I added a few more ground spices to this recipe. I seem to detect an unpleasant "metallic" aftertaste from the amount of baking soda the original recipe called for so I reduced the amount of baking soda and replaced the difference with baking powder which worked out perfectly.

3 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (12.6 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups slightly packed grated fresh unpeeled zucchini (about 13.7 to 14.1 ounces from about two large-size zucchini)*

1-1/3 cups unrefined natural cane sugar (8.9 ounces)
2 extra-large eggs, beaten (3.8 to 4.0 ounces)**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup EXTRA LIGHT olive oil or expeller-pressed canola oil (3.4 ounces)
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (4.0 ounces)

1 cup dark raisins (5.0 ounces)

*ZUCCHINI: If you don't have enough zucchini, no worries. Just add enough grated peeled carrots for the difference in weight.
**EGGS: You don't have extra large eggs, just add enough EXTRA LIGHT olive oil to make up the difference in weight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position two oven racks to the upper third and lower third of the oven. Spray 15 muffin cups with nonstick baking spray (2 muffin pans). Set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Whisk everything together until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

Grate the unpeeled zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. DO NOT need to squeeze dry the grated zucchini. Set aside.

In a separate large-size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Sugar will somewhat dissolved, but not completely. Whisk in the olive oil until blended.

Using a pastry fork, stir in the grated zucchini. Then add in all the flour mixture. Gently stir/fold the flour mixture with the pastry fork until almost combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts and raisins until thoroughly combined, but do not over mix.

Divide batter among 15 muffin cups. Place the muffin pan that is entirely filled in the upper third rack and the other pan that is partially filled in the lower third rack. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Best to store muffins in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. The muffins will become more moist as it sits out at room temperature of more than one day. Reheat muffins in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Yield 15 muffins, approximately 291 calories per muffin

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Frozen Banana-Peanut Butter-Dark Chocolate Milkshake

Adapted from The Kitchn

DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY TO ENJOY THIS MILKSHAKE FOR BREAKFAST. First time I made this, I forgot to add the vanilla extract and it still tasted delicious without it. I added the crushed ice so I can achieve a thicker "smoothie" consistency. NO SWEETENER ADDED!

1 large frozen sliced banana (about 6.0 ounces)
1/2 cup carton UNSWEETENED coconut milk (4.0 ounces)
1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter (0.5 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed ice (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped Trader Joe's 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate or your choice (0.4 ounce)

Combine all ingredients, except the dark chocolate, into the container of a blender. Blend until smooth. Use the blender tamper to push and stir if you need to. Add the dark chocolate and blend just until finely chopped and incorporated. Ready to serve.

Yield approximately 11 ounces, 345 calories