Monday, July 21, 2014

Who Knew?

New Tuna-Noodle Casserole

I really thought this one wasn't going to work out. Not that I thought the recipe wouldn't be good, but I figured that PC wouldn't like it. I figured that because tuna noodle casserole is really little more than glorified baked ziti- you know, sans the marinara sauce and with the inclusion of vegetables, and tuna, and different shaped noodles.  All right, so I admit tuna noodle casserole isn't really like baked ziti, but I assumed that PC would find it just as filling. (Translation: Not filling enough...) 

On the other hand, I have been eyeing this recipe (salivating over it) since I got Susie Fishbein's Teens and 20-Somethings cookbook and I was really in the mood for it. So I paired it with a soup and prayed for the best. 

As for the result, I'll wait till the Verdict, just to increase your suspense! 

The Attempt:

High heat or professional cooking spray
1 (12 oz) bag extra broad egg noodles (yolk-free if possible)
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
water as needed
1 (12 oz) can white albacore tuna, packed in water, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled, but into 1/4-inch dice
8 oz button or crimini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs or breadcrumbs
1 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, rapidly boiling water according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Add the drained tuna, using a fork or your fingers to break it up and distribute through the noodles. Add the peas, set aside. 

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and mushrooms. Saute until soft and fragrant, 5-6 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the 2 Tbs butter and stir to melt it and distribute it through the onions. Sprinkle on the four. Stir until mixture becomes sticky. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Add the salt. Stirr in the cheese. As it melts, the sauce will thicken. Pour over the noodles and mix well.

In a small bowl, mix the crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the noodles. Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot. 

Notes: 
  1. I halved the recipe and baked it in a smaller pan because we don't have a meaty oven. So we bake all our dairy stuff in a toaster oven. I halved it because we didn't need 8-10 servings, which is what this recipe makes... 
  2. PC+Mushrooms=NO GO. I substituted with mixed chopped peppers and just followed the recipe. 
  3. I added more tuna than the recipe called for, because the tuna is my favorite part. The recipe called for 12 oz. I halved the recipe, but added 10 oz. If you were making the whole recipe that would be the equivalent of 20 oz for the whole recipe (or 4 tuna cans, but who is counting?)

The Verdict

Mikey likes it!! Charming dubbed this one a repeat!! A repeat! He even said that it didn't need the soup to be a filling supper. (Doing happy dance!!) 

Some stray observations. 
  1. Charming suggested that replacing the peppers with spinach would be  better fit for the recipe. It's an interesting idea that I'll have to give a go.
  2. I think it would be possible to replace the butter in the crumb  topping with olive oil, which is a tiny bit healthier. However, in the sauce, the butter adds flavor so I wouldn't replace it. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let's Smoothie Everything Over

Breakfast Fruit Smoothies

So, this post is going to break with the template a bit because this isn't actually a recipe. It's more a list of great ideas. 

First, some background: PC is on a sort-of diet. It's only a sort-of diet because the only two real changes is that I'm making 'lighter' suppers with more veggies, and instead of cereal for breakfast he has fruit. First he started having a pear for breakfast, but after an hour or so he would be hungry, so we hit on another idea: SMOOTHIES!!

It goes like this. I put fruit and fruit juice in the blender. Blend. Pour into two cups. One for PC, one for me and the princess (we share). I freeze the leftovers in Ice Pop molds for SMOOTHIE POPS!!! 

(You may or may not have noticed, but I'm rather exited about this...) 

Here are some of the smoothie combinations we have tried: 

1. Blueberries, pineapple, and juice (Either guava, youngberry, orange or pomegranate) 
2. Strawberries, pineapple, and juice
3. Strawberries, mangoes, and juice
4. Strawberries, kiwis and juice
5. Strawberries, blueberries, kiwis and juice
5. Strawberries and apples and juice
6. Blueberries and mangoes and juice
7. Blueberries and kiwis and juice
8. Blueberries and apples and juice
9. Blueberries, mango, persimmon and juice

Really any combination. I usually use a base of blueberry or strawberry and then add a second or third fruit. I don't usually add sugar unless the smoothie is really tart (generally with the kiwi) or really bland (i.e.: with the apple). 

And the best part is, it keeps you full till noon!! 

Oh and did I mention SMOOTHIE POPS!!!

Feel free to comment with your ideas! 

Loverly Leftover Chicken

Moo Shu Chicken Salad


Leaving aside how awesome Moo Shu sounds, I was really exited to try this one (This one is also from Family Circle.) It looked so yummy and easy. As it turns out, I was right. 

I made this recipe using leftover barbecue chicken from Shabbos. Now, the recipe actually calls for pre shredded carrot, and bagged coleslaw mix. That plus shredded pre-made chicken, and bottled moo shu sauce, cinch right? Of course, being  me, I have to complicate things. 

Firstly, I never get shredded carrots, because getting a whole carrot and shredding it myself is cheaper. It only takes about three minutes, so while the little Princess was gleefully spreading ziplock bags all over the kitchen floor  I took a nice medium sized carrot, peeled it... and kept on peeling. After I had a pile of carrot peels I took a knife and coarsely chopped the peeled carrot. Super easy- but the effort kind of defeats the purpose of using shredded carrot. 

Ditto for the coleslaw mix. Prince Charming hates cabbage, so that was automatically out, the good news is that I had a bunch of wilting peppers that were begging to be used, so I cut them into super thin slices while Princess tired of the ziplock bags and started climbing up me. Again, it only took about 3 minutes and then the Princess and I were off to play with blocks, but the whole point of using the coleslaw mix is that there is zilcho effort involved as opposed to minimal effort. 

That being said, I actually don't mind minimal effort, especially if the results taste like this. 

The Attempt: 

2 tsp canola oil
1 bag (10 oz) coleslaw mix
3/4 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup moo shu stir fry sauce (such as Iron Chef or China Bowl)
4 cups shredded rotisserie (or leftover) chicken
8 cups Asian salad blend (such as Earthbound Farms Zen Blend)
3 Scallions, sliced
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add coleslaw mix and carrot; cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until partially wilted. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in chicken.

To serve place greens on a large serving platter. Spoon Chicken mixture over greens and sprinkle with scallions and peanuts. (Serve remaining 1/4 cup stir fry sauce for drizzling over salad)

Notes: 
  1. As I mentioned above, I switched out the coleslaw for 2 large thinly sliced green bell peppers,  and a thinly sliced onion. Because in the end that meant more vegetables than in the original recipe, I added more sauce. In the end I used close to a cup of the sauce, but I didn't reserve for drizzling over the salad later because it didn't need it. 
  2. PC doesn't like nuts (I'm nuts about them though-Groan for bad pun.) so I left them out altogether. I do, however, think that they complement the salad wonderfully. According to the recipe, if there is a question of peanut allergies, soy nuts substitute nicely. 

The Verdict:

So I could tell PC wasn't thrilled with this one, on account of the shredded COTB (chicken-on-the-bone) but he did concede that it tastes really good and is a great way to use leftovers. He even had it for lunch the next day! 

As for me, I'm obsessed. I think I would have it once a week if I could, but I would probably get sick of it- you know, shredding the chicken.... 

:) 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Five Star Fish

Linguini with Tilapia, Green Beans, and Red Pepper

A few weeks ago to get out of the house with the Princess, I decided to take a foray down to the pharmacy. While there, since I really didn't have anything useful to pick up, I got myself a magazine that looked interesting. Family Circle magazine, after wasting precious space prattling on about bathing suits and waterproof/beach-proof makeup finally got to the good stuff: Supper recipes, which as it turns out, they do quite well. Since I got the magazine I've been making one recipe from the magazine a week. Two weeks ago I made this scrumptious recipe using Harissa, pearl couscous, and tilapia. It was super spicy but easy and delicious. Going into the rotation. Last week, as I have already blogged about, I made a variant of their Sausage and Bean Tortilla Soup, albeit with meatballs instead of sausage. This week, I made a recipe for linguine with scallops, broccolini, and red pepper.

As you can see from the title, I didn't quite make their recipe. Firstly, as scallops (like all other seafood) is sadly, not kosher, I swapped it out for Tilapia- which is my go to fish. Mostly because it's generally on sale. And Charming likes it. Secondly, I have no idea what broccolini is, let alone where to find it. Chances are I wouldn't find it in the frozen aisle. Oh, and Charming doesn't like broccoli- so the chances of his liking broccolini were slim. Instead I opted for green beans. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I love green beans. (as a snack... and a side.... and as lunch... in salads.... dipped in caesar dressing... or chumus... need I go on?) Otherwise I left (mostly) everything else the same.

The Attempt

8 oz linguini 
1 lb green beans
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 lb tilapia 
3 Tbs flour
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 Tbs chopped parsley (use a little less if using dried)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Parmesan (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, about 9 minutes. Add green beans an red pepper during last two minutes of cooking. (Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water) Drain

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs each of the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut Tilapia into smallish cubes (about 2-3 inches). Coat with flour and season each side with salt and pepper. Saute Tilapia in batches until they are done. Put to the side. 

Add rest of oil and butter to the pan, cook garlic for 30 seconds. Mix cornstarch and vegetable broth add to skillet and simmer for 1 minute. 

Put pasta and vegetables into a large bowl. Pour the broth and garlic mixture over the pasta and mix with lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 2-3 Tbs chopped dried or fresh parsley. Add fish and mix some more. 

Serve with parmesan if desired. 

The Verdict

This recipe is five stars. The flavor was very subtle and very good. It was quick, easy, and yummy- the three requirements for a good supper in my book. 

Two adjustments: the next time I make this, I would add more vegetables. There was a lot more pasta than vegetables and it could have done with more. Also, I wouldn't mix in the fish next time, because then what ends up happening is that you get none in one spoonful of the dish, and then in the next one you get 10 pieces. If they are on top you can take as many as you want. 

Without the fish this would be an excellent side dish to any meal, dairy or meat!

TENTH POST!! DO A HAPPY JIG!!! 

Er, That Didn't Go As Planned

Meatball and Bean Tortilla Soup

So, last week I planned on making a recipe that I found in Family Circle magazine. It was a one pot soup- Sausage and Bean Tortilla Soup. It looked delicious and what's more, it was quick and Kosher. Essentially speaking I wouldn't have to change a thing about the recipe. And then life happened.

I went shopping and forgot to get the main ingredient: Chicken Sausages. After 20 minutes of painful (ok, it wasn't really so painful) deliberation over whether I should make the next night's supper that night, I decided to use the package of chopped meat I had in the freezer to make my own sausages- in a manner of speaking. 

The Attempt

Meatballs

1/2 lb chopped meat
1 egg
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/4 of a package of taco seasoning 

Mix all ingredients together and roll into small meatballs

Soup

2 tbs canola oil
2 cups chopped onions and peppers
1 (14 1/2  oz) can of reduced sodium stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz ) can of tomato sauce
1 (32 oz) container of reduced sodium chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
chile powder, to taste
dried oregano, to taste
salt, to taste
Meatballs (see above)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers, cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Stir in tomatoes, breaking up with a spoon. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, beans, peas, spices, and meatballs. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered until meatballs are fully cooked. 

Note: There are some major changes from the original recipe:
  1.  I used frozen peas instead of frozen corn because prince charming doesn't like corn (may have mentioned this before...
  2. I doubled the amount of broth from the original recipe because once I added all the ingredients it seemed like there wasn't enough liquid. 
  3. The original recipe doesn't call for a can of tomato sauce, but once I added more broth I had to compensate with more tomato to keep the flavor right. 
  4. Also, the original recipe only called for 1 tsp each of the chile powder and dried oregano and 1/8 of a tsp of salt. Because of the added broth I had to keep adjusting the taste so in the end I wasn't sure how much I actually added. 
  5. You can serve it with crumbled tortilla chips, sliced scallions and avocado on top like the recipe recommends, but I didn't think it was necessary. 

The Verdict

The soup was great. It had a good subtle flavor. Though I was making it in the summer I would say it is a perfect winter soup. It also makes a lot! A ton more than I thought it would- it's possible that the meatballs made the soup expand? 

I would probably try the original recipe at some point, but I have to say, this one is a keeper. 




Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mama Mia!! It's a Meat Pizza!!


Chicken "Facon" Pizza

My name is Esti and I am a pizza-holic. I don't mean I am addicted to eating pizza, though I do like it. What I mean is that I am addicted to making pizza, or to be more exact, using fresh or frozen pizza dough in recipes. With pizza dough I make italian breadsticks, garlic knots, and these awesome meat pockets that we call pizza pockets just to confuse everyone else on the planet. It got me to wondering,  'why can't I use pizza dough to make pizza?"

Good question. Of course I can't make regular cheese pizza because our oven is strictly meat-only and my tiny toaster oven that I use for dairy isn't quite big enough to accommodate a pizza. There is also the minor fact that my dear Prince Charming doesn't consider pizza an adequately filling dinner, so the next logical conclusion was to make a meat pizza. But without the fake cheese, because, well, let's just say I'm not a huge fan of it. (I think it tastes nasty...)

My first attempt at meat pizza involved chopped meat that I browned with some spices (don't ask me which, I don't remember.) I put some pasta sauce on, threw on the meat, added some veggies and voila! meat pizza...

It was ok. But the recipe needed improvement. That's when I found a recipe for chicken bacon pizza in one of my cookbooks that are devoted exclusively to chicken. "I can kosherize that," thought I. So I set  about doing so.

The Attempt

1 ball of frozen pizza dough (about 1 lb)(defrosted)
Jar of salsa (as intense as you desire it)
Approxiately 2 cups of chopped onions and peppers
1/2 lb of grilled chicken shredded
1/2 lb of pastrami shredded

Using your hands spread out the pizza dough into a circle or square, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour the salsa on the dough and spread using a pastry brush or your fingers, your choice. Sprinkle shredded chicken, pastrami and vegetables on the pizza. 

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes (or until crust is golden-brown/looks done)

The Verdict

I would give it a B-. For some reason the recipe just didn't gel together, both in the literal and figurative sense. Without cheese to hold it together, the toppings just kind of fell off. Also, for some reason the flavors of the salsa, chicken, pastrami, and veggies felt weird together. 

Guess this one isn't a repeat. Back to the drawing board!! 



The Great Summer Cookie Caper, Part 2

Chai Latte Brownies

I found this recipe for Chai Latte Brownies in the post-Pesach (Passover) issue of Family First. Since then, I've been dying to make them. A. I love brownies. B. I love Chai Tea C. Chai Lattes are even better than Chai Tea. When I was in Israel for the year, I used to stay overnight in the hospital with sick children, so their parents could go home for the evening. Hadassah Ain Kerem hospital has a Aroma Cafe on the first floor and every time I went there I would get myself a chai latte on the way out. My sibs (with the exception of my brother, who is still trying to figure out what is wrong with us) are chai latte enthusiasts as well. So this seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe out. 

The Attempt

1/4 Cup chai tea (see instructions below)
2/3 Cup oil
2 Cups chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional but recommended)

Preheat oven to 325. 
Place 2 chai tea bags in a small bowl (or mug) and pour over them 1/4 cup (or a bit more) boiling water. Let tea bags steep for a few minutes, then squeeze the tea bags to release all of the flavor.
Place tea, oil, and sugar into a medium sized pot over medium heat and let cook until just starting to boil. Remove from flame and quickly stir in chocolate chips until melted, followed by the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously until they are fully incorporated. In another bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients and add gradually to the pot stirring until all is smooth and incorporated. 
Pour batter into a greased 9X13-inch pan and bake for 40 minutes, or less for a softer center. Flavors will intensify once cooled. 

I did the stuff in the pot, and my sister did the dry mixture (because she can't stand by the stove on account of her injured foot.) It went into the oven, but I forgot to mark the time I put it in so it was likely in for a little less than 40 minutes, which is fine with me because I like my brownies on the fudgy side. 

The Verdict

Initially I wasn't sure if making it in a pot over the stove was a patchke that was worth the end result. It actually wasn't that bad. There was no mixer involved and in the end I had to wash the same amount of dishes that I have to wash for my normal brownie recipe. (My mixer and I have a very complicated relationship, and don't even get me started on the Kitchen Aid.) 

So in the end, they are good as brownies, but they don't taste much like chai. For me that means, that I'll probably stick with making my regular recipe, seeing as it's just as good as this one, but without the addition of the pot.