Category Archives: Dinner
Until recently, I didn’t really like soup. Something about drinking food with chunks in it seemed really weird to me. That was until I went to this small soup shop in Tacoma, Washington called Infinite Soups. I had a tomato gorgonzola soup, and it was amazing. Since then, I have tried other soups and they’ve been good, but they’ve never compared to the tomato gorgonzola I first had at Infinite Soups. If you ever get the chance to go there, I highly recommend it. They even have vegan and vegetarian selections and all the soups are made fresh daily.
I’m always worried to try to make my favorite of anything because I’m worried it won’t turn out well. There’s nothing worse than expecting something awesome and getting something awful. Luckily, that was not the case this time.
When I realized my boyfriend and I had guests coming over for dinner, I decided soup was an easy option and I should try to make my favorite soup. I took the risk that it might turn out bad, any it actually turned out really well! It was creamy and cheesy and tomato-ey. All of the flavors came out smoothly and none were overpowering. This is a delicious one-pot meal that makes food that will last for days. It was a hit with everyone else as well. This would be a great meal for a potluck as a vegetarian option.
While I was looking around for a decent recipe for a tomato soup, I found out that baking soda will prevent milk from curdling. I think it must be something about it being basic since it’s sodium bicarbonate, but I don’t know why. I didn’t search for very long, but I couldn’t find any answer for why this happens. Does anyone know? I’ll give you a recipe for tomato gorgonzola soup if you can tell me…oh wait….
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp baking soda (to prevent curdling)
8 oz low fat cream cheese
8 oz gorgonzola cheese
1 cup half and half
3-14.5 oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes, salt free
2 cups low sodium tomato juice
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings, about 1-1/2 cups each
In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Add the baking soda, the gorgonzola cheese, the cream cheese, and the half and half. Break apart the cream cheese and stir until the cheeses have melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the soup heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and spices. Stir to combine. Heat for a few minutes until the tomatoes are slightly tender. Then blend the soup using an immersion blender or by pouring the soup into a regular blender and blending in parts and return to heat. Stirring frequently, heat to a simmer and let simmer for at least 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with extra oregano or basil. Enjoy and don’t forget to go for second helpings!
Have you ever wanted to make sushi, but didn’t because it seemed too intimidating? That was me for a while. As it turns out, it’s not scary. Since I’ve been cooking more, I feel like I’ve been getting better at it and I’m more confident. Last week when my boyfriend requested I make sushi, I didn’t shy away from the idea like I normally do. Instead, I looked up everything I could possibly want to know on the internet and tried it out. If it didn’t work, no big loss. If it did work, I’d get delicious sushi.
Sushi is really fun to make. I want you to be able to have fun making sushi too so I’ve compiled all the resources I used and divided them up by step in the sushi making process. Good luck. I would love to help anyone having trouble and I can try to answer questions. I’m no pro, but I have done it myself so I can try to help.
What You’ll Need:
Very sharp knife
Nori or seaweed wrap
Vegetables (whatever you want. I used carrots, cucumber, and avocado)
Other stuffing ingredients (cream cheese, sauces, spicy mayonnaise, etc.)
*All ingredients can be found at local Asian markets and are becoming increasingly common in regular chain supermarkets.
Making Sushi Rice:
To pick oout the sushi rice, I went to my local Asian marketplace and asked someone where to find the sushi rice. They pointed out a bag that was clearly marked “sushi rice,” but also told me that sushi rice is just a grain of rice and there is nothing else special about it. Feel rather silly for not seeing the sushi rice, I bought it.
This is the brand I bought. I can’t vouch for this amazon seller I linked to, but the rice worked well. It was only about $5 in store.
After that, instead of cooking the rice in a pot, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. I have an old, but really high quality, rice cooker and it cooked the rice very nicely. If you do not have a rice cooker, I would follow the instructions from the link above. I cooked 1 cup of dry rice and got about 3 cups of cooked rice. Once the rice was cooked, I removed it from the heat and put it in a bowl. I then heated 1/3 cup of rice vinegar on the stove and added 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp salt. I heated the combination until the sugar and salt had completely dissolved. The above link recommends 1/2 cup rice vinegar for 3 cups of cooked rice, but I found that to be a little too vinegar-y so I reduced it to 1/3 cup for 3 cups of cooked rice. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cooked rice and mix well. Allow to the rice to cool and the vinegar to soak in.
This is what I struggled with the most. I did not end up with pretty even little sticks of vegetables like I wanted. Turns out, it didn’t really matter. I followed the above instructions as best I could, but it didn’t end up having a big bearing on the taste or the outcome of the sushi. I think that practice makes better so I will eventually get better, but I didn’t find it to be very important. The best advice I can give is find very even vegetables. If you find ones that are perfect cylinders, then that would be ideal.
I did not buy raw fish or cut fish for this sushi. I found canned crab and used that for the sushi. Maybe I’ll get adventerous and try to use raw fish, but I was focusing more on the roll first.
Preparing the Sushi:
The first step is to wrap the sushi mat (usually bamboo with one side flat and one side round) with plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Prepare a small bowl with water and add a little rice vinegar. This is to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands. Also have a hand towel ready. You want to handle the rice only with wet hands and you want to handle the nori or seaweed wrapper only with dry hands. Place the nori on the mat with the shiny side facing down and rough side facing up. Wet your hands and grab a handful of rice about 3″ in diameter. Spread the rice over the nori leaving about an inch of room at both the top and bottom of the nori (where you will start rolling and where you will stop rolling). Add the vegetables, fish, and whatever else you want (spicy mayo, cream cheese, etc) to the starting end of the roll on the rice.
Rolling the Sushi:
Use the video above. It was very helpful after 1:37. The beginning part is just her spreading rice out and is very boring. Start by using the mat to roll the nori over the stuffing (veggies and fish). Use your fingers to keep the stuffing from spreading out. Squeeze the mat tightly after this first roll. Roll the sushi again squeezing tightly after each complete roll until you reach the end.
Cutting the Sushi:
All I can say is use a sharp knife. What I did was first sort of wiggle the knife in a sawing motion to get through the top layer of nori. Then I cut straight through and I sawed again at the end. The helped keep the nori on the sushi and prevented it from exploding everywhere. I cut my sushi into 6 pieces, but you can decide where you want to cut it.
As I said at the beginning, good luck and I’d love to try to help anyone having trouble. I had a really fun time making sushi and I want you all to have fun too. Enjoy and don’t forget to go for second helpings!
Remember the stray kitty I found? He’s doing well. He’s got the sniffles, but it looks like my sister will be able to take him so he will have a good home.
In food related news, I made a yummy orange sauce that is perfect for dipping meats or as a sauce on vegetables! I bought a pack of fried shrimp for the boyfriend a while back. He ate half of it but used all the sauce that came with it so I tried to recreate the sauce when he ate the other half. It came out really well, so I made it again to share with you all.
It’s spicy, but that can be changed by altering the amount of red pepper flakes and chili powder in it to make it a sweeter orange sauce. A little bit of this sauce adds a lot of flavor so you don’t need to pile it on to taste it. This is good because it keeps the calories lower and makes veggies taste better! Isn’t that what everyone’s looking for? Something yummy and healthy?
1 tbsp apricot jam
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Splash of tequila
Splash coconut rum
Prep time: 15 minutes
Servings: Makes 1/2 a cup of sauce (2 servings)
Combine the jam, orange juice, sugar, rum, mustard, and spices in a small sauce pan over medium heat. While stirring, heat until the sauce begins to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to stir until sauce thickens. When the sauce is the desired thickness, add the tequila and coconut rum. Continue to stir until the sauce reaches the desired thickness again. Enjoy!
This post is part 2 in a series leading up to the greatest stuffed pita of all time. The first recipe was piquillo pepper hummus and the last is stuffed pita. This hummus is amazingly and so simple. If you have time to make these pitas, you have time to make the hummus. You really need to try it. You’ll thank me. The second recipe is for pita.
Pita bread is common in the Mediterranean area and is used as a pseudo spoon to scoop dips or sauces. It’s puffed up and has a pocket in the middle that makes them perfect for stuffing with sandwich like ingredients. The possibilities are endless when you have a pita. Whatever your favorite sandwich is, you can turn it into a stuffed pita and make it even better. Although making any kind of bread takes time, the out come is amazing and I would recommend this recipe.
Recipe for the Pita (Pitta):
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour, plus some for sprinkling
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
Active Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hours 45 minutes
Makes: 15- 4″ pitas
Using a bread machine place all the ingredients into the bread pan in the order specified by your manufacturer. If you aren’t sure, it’s common to place them from wet to dry (the order that I have them listed). Set to dough. Add water if the dough appears too dry (I added about a teaspoon of water and my dough was perfect after that). If you do not have a bread machine, mix the ingredients in a stand mixer with a dough hook or by hand and knead for at least 10 minutes. Let rest in a warm area for 1 hour.
When the dough cycle (or resting time) has finished, divide the dough into 15 equal parts. For larger pitas, divide the dough into fewer parts. Shape each part into a ball. Cover the balls with a damp paper towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat as well. Roll each ball into a circle or an oval about 1/4″ thick (very thin). Cover again with a damp paper towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Move the pitas to the stone or place on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until they are puffy and lightly browned. I had to bake mine in parts so make sure that you give your oven time to reheat from opening and closing the door. Transfer the finished pitas to a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy with hummus, stuffed, or plain. And don’t forget to go for second helpings!
Ok. New goal: Put up a post every week on Tuesday evening. I read somewhere that Wednesday morning is when the most people are on the internet. I don’t know if it’s true, but it posting before Wednesday seems like a good goal. Especially since I totally abandoned this blog for about two weeks. I can’t really expect to gain loyal readers if I abandon them now can I? For any potentially loyal readers, I apologize. I won’t do it again. I don’t even have a good excuse for why I didn’t post. My family was in town for a week (we went to the Grand Canyon!) and then the other week the things I made were not very good. I’m going to start making drafts before I post online so that even if I don’t have time that week, I can still post. I think it’ll work well…I think.
In other news, it’s fall. This means there are a flurry of pumpkin and butternut squash recipes. I thought I’d try one to see how it went. It turned out awesome. Since butternut squash doesn’t have a low GI, this recipe is not the best for diabetics. However, this recipe does have very few calories per serving. You can check it out in the nutrition facts. Now, on to the recipe!
(Makes 8 side dishes or 4 main courses)
1 medium to large butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 green pepper (optional)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup lowfat cream cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1. The goal of this first part is to end up with butternut squash mash. I’ll explain how I did it and then how I think it could be done. First preheat the oven to 425°F. Next, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and guts. Place the squash cut side up on a baking tray and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until the flesh is soft and you can easily insert a fork (about an hour depending on the size of the squash). When the squash is done, remove from oven and let cool. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrap out the flesh into a large bowl and mash it up.
I think that a better way to do this would be to peel the squash before placing it in the oven and then cutting it into 1″ cubes. This would reduce the baking time and also allow you to immediately mash the squash when it comes out of the oven. Also, I’m impatient and burnt myself because I didn’t let the squash cool enough. However you want to do it, you want to end up with butternut squash mash.
2. While the squash is in the oven or while it is cool, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Once hot, add the chopped red onion, the chopped green pepper, the thyme, and the ginger. Stir occasionally and cook until the onion and pepper begin to brown. Add to the large bowl with the butternut squash mash.
3. Add the cream cheese and the parmesan cheese to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together until uniform. Spoon the mixture into oven safe dishes. I made mine in 4-3.5 oz ramekins. You could also put all of the mixture into one large baking dish (probably a 9×9 glass casserole dish) for a family style dish. Add the bread crumbs and chopped pecans to the melted butter and mix. Spoon the mixture over the top of the mixture in the dishes as evenly as you can.
4. Place the dish(es) in the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes until the tops begin to brown. Remove from oven. Let cool and then enjoy and don’t hesitate when going for second helpings!
You see that title and you think, what are arancini rice balls and why would I want to make them? They are tomato-y rice surrounding a little pocket of cheesy goodness and you want to make them because they are AMAZING (don’t they look amazing?). These are an appetizer from Italy and I love them. A lot. If I have them, I usually make them my main course because I always eat so many of them.
So I decided to be adventurous and try to make them, modified to be healthy of course. First thing I did was I switched the usual arborrio rice for brown rice. This makes it so that it’s a whole grain and better for you. Second, I baked them instead of frying them which is how they are usually prepared. This decreases the fat content. Even with these healthy switches, they still came out amazing and delicious. What’s better is that each ball is less than 100 calories! Awesome, right?
These are a little spicy, which my boyfriend and I really like. If you’re not a fan, add less of the crushed red pepper. Generally, the amounts listed for spices are flexible and you can add more or less based on your preference.
Arancini rice balls are a really great way to use up left over rice. I made some brown rice the night before to go with some indian food and made a little extra to try out with these guys. Most of the ingredients are probably things you have in your pantry right now making them super easy to make.
Here is the recipe for these bad boys:
4 cups cooked brown rice (chill the rice if you want to make these all in one day)
1/3 cup (plus some for sprinkling) asiago (or parmesan) cheese, grated
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (less for a less spicy dish)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, part skim milk, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 cup gorgonzola grumbles (optional, but they really make it yummy!)
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (You can use regular bread crumbs if you don’t have/don’t know what panko is. If you want to use panko, you can find it at Trader Joe’s.)
Active time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: Makes 16-2″ balls. 1 serving = 1 ball (but I had four for dinner with some broccoli)
Combine the cooked rice, beaten eggs, asiago cheese, and tomato paste and mix until uniform. Add the dried thyme and crushed red pepper and mix again. If your rice was already cold then you can go right on to the next step. If not, chill it until it is cold. I left mine overnight.
Now comes the tricky part. Making the balls. I will admit that I failed spectacularly at the several times before getting it down. I’m here to share you what I learned. First, let’s get everything set up. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a cooking sheet with PAM or something like it (I found an olive oil spray. It makes me happy). Next, get out a large spoon and moisten your hands. Keeping your hands moist throughout the ball forming process will ensure the rice won’t stick to you. Now cup one hand as if holding water and spoon a dollop (about 1/8 of a cup or 2 tbsp) of the rice mixture into your palm. Flatten it out with your other hand to make a cup sort of thing. Now place a mozzarella cube and some gorgonzola crumbles (if using) in the middle. Spoon another dollop of rice mixture on top. With your free hand try to smoosh the rice mixture you added on top to cover the cheese. Then bring your hands together to form the ball shape and transfer it to the other hand. This way you can check to make sure the cheese isn’t leaking out either side. In the end, you want to have a ball of rice without any cheese showing through. The balls will be fragile so don’t check it too much or they will fall apart. Place the ball on the prepared cookie sheet. Do this about 16 times.
This next part is fun, but be careful still. Take the panko or breadcrumbs and pour them into a shallow bowl or a plate. Then roll one of your balls around in it to coat it. Be gentle with the balls. I had a couple fall apart in the panko and that was sad. All that work to create a ball gone to waste! Once coated sufficiently, place back on the cookie sheet. Do this with all of the balls.
Once you’re done coating the balls in crumbs, place them in the oven for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip them over CAREFULLY so that they brown evenly. Devour immediately and don’t forget to go for second helpings!
Recipe makes 16 servings (1 serving = 1 ball)
Amount Per Serving:
Calories – 99.5
Total Fat – 3 g
Saturated Fat – 1.5 g
Cholesterol – 28 mg
Sodium – 159 mg
Potassium – 114 mg
Total Carbohydrate – 14 g
Dietary Fiber – 1.3 g
Sugars – 0.8 g
Protein – 4.2 g
I love pizza. I think that pretty much everyone loves pizza. The major problem with pizza is that it’s too delicious and has about a zillion calories. I tried to create a pizza dough that you can use with any toppings that’s healthier than a frozen pizza or take out but just as yummy. At first, I was just using regular flour, but I thought today that I’d try to make it a little healthier by making it whole wheat. It turned out really well! It didn’t taste different from the white crust and it’s healthier.
Do you know why whole wheat items are healthier for you than white items? This is a little bit of biology so if you are scared of science, you can just skip this paragraph and get right to the recipe. If you want to know, read on. While they can have the same amount of calories, whole wheat items have a lower glycemic index (GI) than white. This means that it takes longer to break down the carbohydrates and release glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. Then your pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard to make insulin to break down that glucose so you are less likely to get diabetes later. Basically whole wheat = less diabetes. Hooray!
Enjoy this pizza, and don’t be worried about going in for second helpings.
Special tips are in italics. Nutrition facts are at the bottom.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
1-1/3 cup lukewarm water (warm to touch, but not too hot)
1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (if you don’t have this, you can use all purpose flour)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp active dry yeast
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 1.5 hours
Servings: Makes 4-12″ pizzas. 1 serving = 1/2 pizza
If you have a bread machine, put all the ingredients in the pan. Most suggest doing it wet first then dry and yeast last. You can just dump them in the pan in the order that I listed them above and that should work. If you don’t have a bread machine then here’s what Bobby Flay has to say about the matter in his pizza dough recipe on foodnetwork.com (this is the recipe I started with). Or you could just do what my bread machine does: slow knead for 10 minutes, knead quickly for 20 minutes, let rise for 1 hour in a warm area.
After your dough has risen remove it from the pan or bowl and knock it back (punch it a little). Now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 450°F. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll or pat each part into a ball. I find that patting by holding it in one hand and hitting it with the other it works better than rolling it. Maybe I’m a bad ball roller, but patting it works for me. If your dough is a little dry at this point, moisten your hands with a little water and then work with the dough. Next, I use a rolling pin and try my hardest to flatten it into a circle. I always seem to mess this up. My pizzas are lopsided. As long as the dough is an even thickness, then it should be fine. Roll up the ends a little to make a crust if you want. At this point I recommend putting the extra pizza dough in the freezer. I separate the crusts with some wax paper so they don’t stick and then put them in a ziplock bag.
Now top the pizza with sauce, cheese, and whatever goodies you want. If you want part of it to be veggie and part of it to be meat, you can do that since you’re making it yourself! So convenient, isn’t it? And you know that no one is going to mess it up. I did a red sauce I bought from Fresh & Easy, mozzarella cheese, sliced crimini mushrooms, and turkey on half. If you use mushrooms, you will end up with water on your pizza since the mushrooms dry out and leak a little. Don’t worry, you can just dab it off. Sprinkle some more corn meal on a pizza stone or a baking sheet and place your pizza on the stone/sheet. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Let the pizza cool before you cut it. Seriously. Pizza burns hurt.
Now you can enjoy your awesome creation.
8 Servings (1 serving = ½ pizza, crust only)
Amount Per Serving:
Calories – 282
Total Fat – 8 g
Saturated Fat – 1 g
Cholesterol – 0 mg
Sodium – 585 mg
Potassium – 51 mg
Total Carbohydrate – 47 g
Dietary Fiber – 4.5 g
Sugars – 0.6 g
Protein – 7.4 g