Be sure to check out my Happy Eats Healthy site to see upcoming classes, seminars, for more information on Health Coaching, nutrition information and more!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grilled Tomato Soup with Garlic Hummus and Veggie Sandwich

We all have those times when we make something so good that hits the g-spot of our taste buds. This time it wasn't a chocolate dessert or some molecular gastronomy creation, but rather basic grilled veggies. Yes!

Using simple ingredients is often overlooked. But simple ingredients allow for the true flavor of the ingredient to shine through.

Hands down my favorite soup of all time is this Grilled Tomato Soup. It's one of the rare recipes that is not my creation; this one came from the Joy of Cooking recipe book and it just can't be beat. I haven't actually looked up the recipe in some years, but I'm pretty sure the below is close; if nothing else- my version is amazing! The smoky grill flavor mixes so nicely with the sweet balsamic- it's a tomato explosion in your mouth!

Food doesn't always have to be fancy to be good.  Try this fat and happy grilled soup and sandwich before all the superb home grown vegetables are gone. I think you'll be delightfully satisfied with how intoxicating this is.

Tips and Techniques:  Remember to peel off the tomato skin after grilling, it should slide right off.  Serve the soup in a shallow plate for pretty presentation. My option for the sandwich bread was an an olive loaf bread, the extra hint of salt from the olives was a perfect pairing. Choose any good artisan bread, just don't use loaf sandwich bread. Makes four servings.

Grilled Tomato Soup with Garlic Hummus and Veggie Sandwich

Grilled Tomato Soup
4 large tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cups of water, broth or wine
2 tbls balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon

Preheat the grill.  Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil.  Cut the small onion in quarters, push each quarter through a metal barbecue skewer to keep all the pieces together.  Cut the shallot in half, add to the skewer along with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the skewer with olive oil and a few turns of fresh black pepper.

Place the tomatoes on the grill, cut side down, and the onion skewer.  Grill until the tomatoes begin to soften and have definitive grill marks, about 4-6 minutes per side depending on their ripeness. Turn and grill on the second side, remove from gill and set aside. Turn the onions as each side begins to have charred edges, until all side are nicely grilled and softened.

Rough chop the onions, shallot and garlic, toss in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  Saute about 5 minutes to fully finish softening the onions.  Add in 1/2 cup of water and the tomatoes, smash them with a wooden spoon. Simmer a few minutes to combine the flavors.

Use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients into a soup (or carefully use a blender).  Don't over blend, just pulse the ingredients together. All a little more liquid for a runnier soup if desired. Simmer the soup for a few minutes then remove from heat.

Add the lemon juice and balsamic and a little salt and pepper to taste. Salt as needed.  Serve warm or cold; I prefer this soup at room temperature for the best flavor.

Garlic Hummus and Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Garlic Hummus
1 can chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large radishes, chopped
1 tsp sesame chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil
up to 1/4 cup olive oil
up to 1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbl lemon juice

Add all the ingredients from chickpeas through the sesame oil to a mini Cuisinart or blender.  Pulse to chop and combine; slowly drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the hummus begins to blend nicely.  Finish by adding a few tablespoons of water until desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon into a bowl and squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lemon over the top.

Grilled Zucchini, Squash, Shallots and Garlic

1 zucchini
1 yellow neck squash
1 tomato
2 large shallots
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbls fresh thyme, pinched from stem
Handful of fresh thyme stems

Using a mandolin, carefully slice the zucchini, squash and shallots to medium thickness so they can stand up to the grill (and the bread and the soup!) You can do this by hand- try to make all slices the same size.

Dice up the garlic cloves and toss with the sliced veggies.  Heavily drizzle and toss all with olive oil, lots of fresh ground black pepper and the fresh thyme.  Let the veggies rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Grill veggies on each side until grill marks form; I like to grill them on fast over high heat so that they still have a little bite to them and do not turn to mush. Remove from gill, add a few more turns of fresh ground black pepper (salt if needed.)

Assembling the Garlic Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

1 loaf artisan bread (choose a good bread, do not put this on sandwich bread)

Cut bread into 4 inch pieces lengthwise, and then in half to open the soft bread. Brush the soft bread insides with olive oil and grill for about 3 minutes. Remove from grill.

Spread the garlic hummus on one side of the bread, layer on a few slices of the grilled squash, zucchini and tomato.  Cover with the top half of the bread.  Serve with the grilled tomato soup.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Toasted Nut Butter and Roasted Grape Sandwiches

 I knew a guy once who ate only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day.  Every day!  And he was in his 30's.  Blech.

Recently I started this infatuation with roasting grapes; it started because of a bunch of sad grapes slowly deteriorating in the fridge. They sat too long and were forgotten, but I wanted to rescue them and this seemed like the only viable option.

Through roasting, the grapes become sweet and tart at the same time.  So I
got to thinking about these roasted grapes as I was popping them into my mouth, and decided they could be used in place of jelly, on a sandwich, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich more specifically.  But this would be an  upscale version of PB & J considering the roasted grapes, so regular old peanut butter wasn't going to work.

This called for home made nut butter, made with the random nuts in the house - almonds, pecans and walnuts. It's a simple process of blending the nuts with a pinch of salt and sugar (see my yummy cashew nut butter recipe here). 

The result?  Yup, it's an upscaled PB & J.  Great as an afternoon snack or this could be served as a little bruschetta appetizer for a fun party twist!  But as yummy as this is, eating it every day does not interest me in the least; why limit your fat and happiness to one dish?

Tips and Techniques:  Definitely use seedless grapes.  Last thing you want is to try to spit little grape seeds out of a nut butter covered mouth.  My preference is red, but if green is your thing, go with it.  Have patience with nut butter, if you add too much oil too soon you'll end up with a runny nut butter- that happened to me as you can tell from the photos, still delish though!

Toasted Nut Butter and Roasted Grape Sandwiches (aka peanut butter and jelly sandwich)

1 bunch of seedless grapes
1 cup nuts (almond, pecan, walnut or mix and match)
1-3 tsp of sugar
pinch of salt
1-2 Tbls of pistachio, walnut or olive oil
baguette or sandwich bread

Lay the grapes on a baking sheet, leave them connected to the vines and place them in bunches.  Sprinkle them with a little olive oil.  The grapes will need about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven just until the nuts begin to brown, 5-6 minutes, watch them closely as they will burn in a blink of the eye. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.  Place in a blender with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Drizzle the nuts with the oil and blend on high. You will need to have patience and scrap the sides down often, adding small drizzles of oil as needed. If you add too much oil early on, you will end up with a runnier nut butter (that's what happened to me!)

Assemble your sandwich or bruschetta.  I liked this with toasted bread but if you prefer the classic, soft bread just do that.  Spread the nut butter on one side, pick the grapes off the stems and place on the nut butter. Enjoy while the grapes are warm for the best flavor.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken Soup with a Spicy Buttermilk Drizzle

Fall is officially upon us and that means chilly winds, cute sweaters and warms meals.

I have a tendency towards rustic foods and this chicken soup is just that; it's a nice deviation from the typical 'noodle' soup. The base flavor comes from the heavy amounts of seasoning while the touch of spice from the banana peppers is a nice surprise.

Simple ingredients, easy to put together - this is a nice soup to greet the fall weather; a real Fat and Happy fall dish!

Tips and techniques:  Use all the chicken pieces and parts. Even if you don't want to eat them, they will add flavor to this dish. Use any remaining buttermilk sauce on a salad the next day.  For the spicy banana peppers, purchase the jarred variety at the grocery so you can use the juice to deglaze the pan. 

Chicken Soup with a Spicy Buttermilk Drizzle

Rustic Chicken Soup
1/2 - 1 lb whole chicken in pieces, skin removed
olive or canola oil
4 Tbls ground cumin
4 Tbls chili powder
1 Tbls seasoning salt
1 Tbls smoky paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup onions, diced large
1/4 cup pepper juice
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups water

Begin placing all the seasonings (the cumin, chili powder, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper) in a bowl and stir to combine.  Rub the seasoning all over the chicken and then brown the chicken in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, turn to brown all sides.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan add the onions and another drizzle of olive oil if needed.  Saute the onions until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the pepper juice.  Add in the potatoes and carrot and cook for a few minutes. Add in the water and return the chicken to the pan.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Make the spicy sauce while the soup is cooking (recipe below).

To plate, pull hunks of meat from the bone, place in a bowl,  fill the bowl with the chicken soup and top with fresh parsley and a spoon of the buttermilk sauce.

Spicy Goat Cheese Buttermilk Sauce
5 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup spicy banana peppers
2 cups green olives (about 20)
1 tsp garlic powder
handful of chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in Cuisinart or blender, blend until smooth.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Studded Nut Butter Shortbread Cookies

Whew, that is a long name for a small, delicate cookie, but I wanted to get all the goods in the title. Here's the story- I have three kinds of desserts stacked in the freezer for Dave to snack on (pumpkin magic bars, biscotti and semifreddo), but he just plain prefers a cookie and isn't touching any of the other treats.

So Dave needs cookies but I'm on a detox from all dairy (even butter!) so creativity is a must. Using homemade nut butter as the base, left over from the Adult PB&J's last week, these are a version of my shortbread recipe with the addition of nut butter and both chocolate and peanut butter chips.  Oh- and did I mention the use of olive oil in place of the butter? Genius.

The result?  A delicate, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth, creamy, nutty, chocolaty experience. They even melt on your fingers for just a moment as you raise it to your lips. 

For some reason these remind me of a grandma cookie so I took a few photos of them assembled in Grandma's sugar jar- just seemed fitting. On that note, I think I'll go call her and let her know how fat and happy we are. You should do the same... right after you make these scrumptious cookies and put them in the freezer for your sweetie.

Tips and Techniques:  You can use store bought almond butter or peanut butter, they are going to be slightly stiffer than my homemade nut butter; if the dough is too stiff and crumbly, adding in an extra tablespoon of olive oil should help.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Studded Nut Butter Shortbread Cookies

aka Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powder sugar
pinch of salt
3 Tbls olive oil (butter flavored if you have it)
5 Tbls creamy peanut butter or home made nut butter (recipe for nut butter is below and at the Roasted Nut Butter sandwich posting here.
1 tsp vanilla
1 handful of peanut butter chips (roughly 1/4 heaping cup)
1 handful of milk chocolate chips (roughly 1/4 heaping cup)

Add the flour, powder sugar and salt to mixing bowl, stir to combine.  Mix in the olive oil, peanut butter and vanilla, use an electric mixer if needed. Add the chips last. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough onto the sheet; slightly smash with a small glass dipped in sugar.

Bake on parchment paper lined cookies sheet for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.

This makes a nice small batch of cookies, about 30 using my smallest cookie scoop (#100); this scoop is slightly smaller than 1 tablespoon.

Roasted Nut Butter recipe

1 cup nuts (almond, pecan, walnut or mix and match)
1-3 tsp of sugar
pinch of salt
1-2 Tbls of pistachio, walnut or olive oil

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven just until the nuts begin to brown, 5-6 minutes, watch them closely as they will burn in a blink of the eye. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. 

Place in a blender with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Drizzle the nuts with the oil and blend on high. You will need to have patience and scrap the sides down often, adding small drizzles of oil as needed. If you add too much oil early on, you will end up with a runnier nut butter (that's what happened to me!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Savory Roasted Apple, Rosemary and Thyme Egg Casserole

Spring and Fall weekend brunch's are some of my favorite moments in the kitchen. It's a time to shake off the week, watch the sun warm the city and be creative with whatever is left in fridge before going to the farmers market. Summer is beach volleyball time so we don't get many of these lazy start days in the summer.  And winter weekend mornings are just plain for snuggling.

Fall also brings a bounty of apples that just can't be ignored, but it also means the end of my herbs is near and they must be used before they are lost. So I paired the two into a casserole-like concoction similar to a bread pudding or a strata.  And it's tasty.

A little wild rice salad on the side along with a mimosa turned this sweet and savory dish into a well rounded brunch. Make your fall brunch special with this dish today, because the fat and happy weekends are only as far away as the first snuggling snowfall! 

Tips and techniques:  This dish is perfect for left over bread; I happened to have 1 wheat hot dog bun in the freezer and that's all it took for this fabulous dish.  Use whatever bread you have, but it's better to use day old bread then fresh.

Savory Roasted Apple,  Rosemary and Thyme Egg Casserole Bread Pudding

1/2 green apple, cored and sliced
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls brown sugar
2 Tbls thinly sliced shallots
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbls fresh rosemary
1 Tbls fresh thyme
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 wheat bun (or bread)
1-2 Tbls fig jam

Tear the bun into pieces and set aside to dry out. Roast the apples by sauting them in the butter along with the shallots and the fresh rosemary allowing the shallots to soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add in the brown sugar and a few turns of fresh black pepper. The butter and brown sugar will come together to create almost a caramel sauce, once that happens, remove from heat and set aside.

 Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Drop in the fig jam one teaspoon at a time and whisk once or twice- don't break up the entire jam.

Assemble a layer of bread in the bottom of a small loaf pan, add a layer of apples then repeat until all the bread and apples are added.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and apple layers, pushing the layers down slightly to absorb all the eggs.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until middle is puffed and set.  Allow to rest for a minute before serving.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tomato Sausage Ragu over Campanelle Pasta

 Pasta comes in more shapes and sizes than people!  And for a good reason; each shape is meant to hold various sauces. Smaller, thin, lighter pastas are best with simple oil based sauces while bigger shapes, which often have a bowl to them, are meant for heartier, chunky sauces.  And whimsical shapes amuses kids while enticing them to eat.

As much as I enjoy making fresh pasta at home, there are shapes that just cannot be created at home. Campanelle pasta is a super fun, funnel-like shape with ruffled edges, like little chewy flowers in your bowl.

Ragu is really just a meat sauce, today it's a sausage meat sauce.  A tomato, wine and sausage meat sauce packed with flavor from just a handful of ingredients. A simple sauce that does most of the work just by simmering for a couple of hours.  Fun pasta and one meaty sauce makes one fat and happy-shaped eater.

Tips and Techniques: If you can't find campanelle pasta, simply substitute another fun shape like fusilli or ziti or farfalle.

Tomato Sausage Ragu over Campanelle Pasta

3 spicy turkey sausages
1 tbls garlic powder
Canola oil
1 medium sized onion, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup broth
1/2 bottle of dry red wine (about 3 cups)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes, with juice (16 oz)
1 can whole tomatoes, with juice (16 oz)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, for topping

Begin by removing the casings from the sausage, crumble them into a cast iron pan with fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, and a little salt. Cook until just done; add a little canola oil to the bottom of the pan to help get them started. Remove the crumbled sausage from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add in the carrots and continue to cook until both the onions and the carrots begin turn a caramelized brown on the edges. Add in the garlic and a few grinds of fresh black pepper and continue to cook another  2 -3 minutes. By this point you should have a deep colored onions and carrots and the flavor should be filling the house; and some of the onions and carrots may be sticking to the bottom of the pan, this is ok!  The next step is to deglaze the pan which removes all those super tasty, browned little morsels from the bottom.

To deglaze, you simply add in a little liquid and move it around the pan using a wooden spoon, easily scraping off the deeply caramelized pieces from the bottom.  To do this add in only 1 cup of wine.  Once you feel the spoon move freely across the bottom, add in another cup of wine and the broth. Simmer this for about 1 hour or until the liquids reduce by half.

Add in the remaining wine, tomatoes (smash the whole tomatoes by squeezing with your hand or with the back of the spoon) and the sausage, cover, simmer on low for about 2 hours. Remove the lid, add in salt and pepper and simmer about 20 minutes or until ragu is reaches desired thickness. Add salt and pepper if needed.

The pasta will take about 10 minutes to cook, start a large pan of water about the time you uncover the ragu.  Always use cold water, it is the cleanest and will taste the best.  Once the water is boiling, add in a good sprinkling of salt as this is your only chance to salt the pasta.  Add in the pasta, stir immediately and test often.  The pasta should be al dente, still firm to the the bite.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Toss the pasta back in the same pan and add in scoops of the ragu and a drizzle of the pasta water, toss.
Serve immediately with a fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Jelly Wontons

It was Friday night and we were spent from a long week at work.  After stopping at Club Lago to wash away the day, we headed home to order in Indian food and for bragging rights after a rousing game of Wii. Ordering food for delivery has become much easier with all the online options, especially since nobody ever wants to be the one to make the call to the restaurant.

ETA for the food was 8:34ish.  Not kidding.  The website actually said 'ish' on the delivery time. Considering that was nearly 90 minutes away, a snack was a must to hold us over. With leftover wontons and cheese, little mini grilled cheese wonton sandwiches were calling our names.

I had actually created these tasty morsels of sweet, crispy cheesiness the week before because it was literally the only things in the fridge. We have paired cheese with jam for years, the sweet and salty flavors play beautifully together. Be brave and pair up different cheeses with a variety of jelly. We had huckleberry jam with a triple creme brie cheese that was out of this world.  Fig jam and smoked Gouda was a sweet, smoky party for the taste buds.

Gooey, crispy snacks as an appetizer, a late night treat or to fill the void while waiting for your food delivery.  These are a true fat and happy-ish snack!

Tips and Techniques:  Through trial and error I found out you must pre-cook the wonton wrappers before adding the cheese, otherwise the cheese and jam will totally ooze out and there will be nothing left in the sandwich. 2 of these mini cheese treats each held us over, but make as many as your heart desires.

Grilled Cheese and Jelly Wontons

Jam or jelly (flavor of your choice)
Cheese (again, your choice)

Spray a large fry pan with Pam, place in wontons in a single layer.  Cook over medium heat until it begins to brown, flip and repeat on the second side.  Remove crispy wontons from the pan, repeat with remaining wontons, respray the pan to keep the wontons from being too dry.  If you don't have Pam add a tiny drizzle of oil or melted butter.

In the meantime, thinly slice the cheese and have the jelly ready. Once the wontons are complete, assemble the little sandwiches. Spread a layer of the jelly on one wonton, top with thin slices of cheese and top with a second wonton.

Place the wonton sandwiches back in the pan, heat over medium high heat just until the cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes per side.  Enjoy!


Related Posts with Thumbnails