Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hearty Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Image from the kitchn


If you haven't checked your local Big Lots, Odd lots for food items you are missing out! Some Big lots don't have a Grocery section but the ones that I've visited I've found International Orange Fanta (or minerals as my grandmother would say), A big jar of Garam Masala spice mix for $2!! Yes $2!, many no salt added canned foods, a lot of gluten free, organic foods, vegan foods and vegetarian packaged foods. Kashi is the one name brand I frequently see. There are others, too. That have a great spice selection for $1 a pop for ~5oz of black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning, no salt seasoning,  etc.. I don't remember them all but I'm sure there are at least 20 to choose from.

Its getting pretty cold and I've got a hankering to make some soup but I was being lazy and didn't make anything but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. This post is about the last batch of soup I made because I got a steal on a bag of Bob's Red Mill Wild Rice mix for $3 at Big Lots. (It was the last one!) I was in the process of making my standard soup and I was just going to add the rice mix instead of pasta or potatoes. I spotted the wild rice and mushroom soup recipe on the back of the package and I decided to follow it.  I'm glad I did cause this soup tasted great! I make my soups a little spicy and it is the perfect warm winter lunch or dinner. This soup was gone in 3 days..Normally my soups last me over a week!

My friends and family were very surprised to learn that this soup is meatless. Its so hearty you really don't miss it. I only had two mushrooms on hand that went into the large soup pot, so it really wasn't a mushroom soup until the second and third batches where I purchased mushrooms before my soup making efforts. I added 2 bags of frozen veggies because I buy them constantly and I'm always trying to add veggies into my home-cooked meals. I add the veggies toward the end of the cooking because I don't like my veggies too soft but you can add them at whatever stage you want.

Modified Wild Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Here is my reduced calorie, increased veggie modified version

Ingredients:
3T  Butter 
2 large Garlic Cloves, chopped 
1 medium Onion, chopped 
1/2 tsp. Thyme or Rosemary
1 cup Wild Rice and Brown Rice Mix 
10 cups Chicken Stock (Or 10 water I normally add 2 chicken,beef or veggie bouillon cubes to taste)
1/2 pound Mushrooms, stems discarded, coarsely chopped 
1 tsp. Sea Salt 
1/2 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper 
2 packages of frozen vegetable soup mix from Kroger* (Mix of carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, okra, green peas, celery, onions)
1 cup skim or 2% milk

Directions:
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic, onion, and thyme and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Add rice and stir to combine. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender but not over cooked. Add the vegetables with the rice or 20 minutes after the rice has been cooking. Add salt, pepper, and milk into soup and cook until heated through. After the milk is added be sure not to let the soup boil! Serve at once.

*for me its the okra, green beans and lima beans that really add to the soup.


Here is the original recipe:

Wild & Brown Rice Mushroom Soup 
contributed by Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods
Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Butter 
    • 2 large Garlic Cloves, chopped 
    • 1 medium Onion, chopped 
    • 1/2 tsp. Thyme 
    • 1 cup Wild Rice and Brown Rice Mix 
    • 6 cups Chicken Stock 
    • 1/2 pound combination of fresh Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms, stems discarded, coarsely chopped 
    • 1 tsp. Sea Salt 
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper 
    • 1/4 cup Half-and-Half 
Directions:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, and thyme and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Add rice and stir to combine. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender but not over cooked. Melt remaining butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute or until tender. Stir mushrooms, salt, pepper, and half-and-half into soup and cook until heated through. Serve at once.

Serves 6 to 8.


NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Serving Size: 1 Serving

Calories 240, Calories from Fat 90, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 6g, Cholesterol 25g, Sodium 160mg, Total Carbohydrates 28g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 3g, Protein 11g.

Source: Found here!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kale Juice.

In the interest of trying to save on money and calories. I've been trying to save making the green smoothie for days that I do strength training. But I still want to get the nutrients from the veggies, so I've been making kale juice instead. It has an orange juice base, lime juice, 4-5 chunks of frozen fruit and Kale. Its pretty tasty and I estimate its no more then 200 calories. I can have a slice of toast and get some more fiber in.

Ingredients:

1 cup Orange Juice
4-5 chunks frozen vegetables
1/2 T Lime Juice or juice of 1/2 of a lime.
2.5-3 cups Kale

Directions:

First blend the Kale and Orange Juice. Then add the frozen vegetables and lime and blend until combined.
Enjoy.

Pita Pizza!


I've been making this pita pizza for a few years now. I love it for lunch and I've been making it about every day that I've been on break. Now, school is back in session and I'm not able to have it at lunchtime. Its great of you have access to a oven/ toaster oven.

 Its very simple all you need is (authentic middle eastern) pita bread (or a flour tortilla), a whole tomato, shredded cheese, toppings (I use onion and chicken leftovers) and seasonings (italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. 

Ingredients:
1 Pita (white or wheat) (non-puffy, authentic middle eastern pita) can be subbed with flour tortilla.
Vegetable Oil or Spray Oil (Like Pam)
one whole tomato (thinly sliced)
Italian seasoning
Salt
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Red pepper flakes
Shredded cheese
Toppings:
Onion
Chicken


Directions:
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Rub or spray thin coat of oil on both sides of pita bread. Place pita in skillet on medium-high heat until slightly browned (about 1 minute). Place pita on cookie sheet (or pizza pan) browned side up.* Sprinkle salt, garlic powder, black pepper and italian seasoning on pita. Then,  place one layer of thinly sliced tomatos on pita, then put pita in oven for 5-8 minutes. 

*Notice that we are only browning one side of the pita. I'm leaving the bottom oiled but not browned. I've noticed that when I brown both sides the edges burn more often. 

While the "sauce" is cooking, warm your toppings. I always pull the leftover chicken out slice it up and use the same skillet to rewarm and also to grill the onions I want to put on the pizza. Be careful not to overload the pizza its meant to be crisp and kind of light, too many toppings will weigh it down. I know from personal experience, LOL. All your toppings should be ready to eat when you place them on the pita, you just want to put the pita back into the oven to firm up the bottom crust and melt the cheese.

This is how my pita looks after I take it out of the oven with cheese before the toppings.



Take the pita out and place your toppings and cheese (I normally add the onions, light cheese, chicken then final light cheese) and put the pita back into the oven for no more then 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy!!

Here is my pizza from today's lunch. I forgot to take a pic before I dug in. 


If you don't like raw tomatoes,  despite the short cooking time of the tomatoes the seasonings develop into a great flavor. 






Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year of the green smoothie & frozen veggie mixes

This fall I started making green smoothies as a get out of the house quick, I have class from 8am to 12pm, breakfast. I was really surprised that I liked it, I just KNEW that I wouldn't.  I'm glad I tried it. It not too expensive to start. You really do not need those ridiculously expensive blenders, I bought my single serve blender from walmart it was between $9-$14. I don't remember because the price kept fluctuating.

Around thanksgiving time I tried Kale in my smoothie because I caught a manager's special on Kale for 99 cents. The spinach you can't really taste once blended in but the kale is pretty bitter. Some people add sugar/honey/agave/whatever sweetener to fix it. I don't like the idea of adding sugar to my smoothie. I tried to deal with it but I noticed that when I added banana, a little bit more fruit and lime juice (not lemon it doesn't seem to work as well) the bitterness was gone! 


I switched from (frozen) Spinach to Kale because I like the taste and also because Kale is one of the most beneficial greens in terms of nutrition. I was further convinced after watching this TED talk where this physician changed her diet to include alot of Kale (and other things) to reverse the progression of her multiple sclerosis (MS). They are good for your mitochondria (BTW, mitochondria is my favorite organelle). I'm going to add a link so you can view it at the bottom. For the green smoothies my normal ingredients are listed below.

Components
Orange Juice (1 cup)
Plain non fat/low fat yogurt (2T)
Spinach (usually frozen) or Kale (2-3 cups)
Frozen pineapple, peach, etc (1/2 cup)
Ripe Banana  (usually 1/2 or whole)
Protein Powder (I scoop ~20g protein)

Extras (things I sometimes add)
Lemon/ Lime Juice (a few squirts)
ground Flax seeds (a sprinkle) they will make your smoothie grainy
Oats (usually pre-soaked) it can also add grainy factor
Green Tea (usually I brew a strong 1/2 cup and replace 1/2c of orange juice if I do this)
Ginger (a little grated ginger)

*sometimes the blender gets stuck because the mix is too thick, I just add water.

I started buying more frozen veggie mixes from Kroger and using those to cook with instead of buying fresh and having to chop.I prefer the texture of frozen to canned veggies and with the recent BPA scare, I doubt I'll switch to using only canned veggies. Its a real time saver and with my intense graduate school life that will be re-starting in about one week, I'm trying to organize all the healthy shortcuts I can make now.  My go to mixes are the

Vegetable soup mix
Fiesta mix
Italian mix
Mexican mix

I normally season the last three mixes according to the meal I'm making and serve myself so my plate is 2/3 veggies 1/3 meat or main dish.

What are your healthy timesavers?

doin it slow...

This is a post I started 4/2011. I can't believe I never finished it! Here ya go.

I am so impatient when it comes to my cooking. I often make things that are browner then they are supposed to be because I like it dark (chocolate, food, my men! haha!) and slightly charred. The over browning often happens because I trying to cook my food faster then it wants to cook. I've recently been cooking with a few new people and I think I've come around to see the benefits of cooking for a long time over low heat.

This quick toss veggie dish is a perfect example and its so good alone or served with a protein. The best part of this is that you just use whatever veggies you have on hand.  My usual mix is a rotation of:

1 bag Frozen California Mix veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
1  Bell pepper (Chopped)
1 onion (Chopped)
1 cup Corn

I throw
1T of butter
2-3 whole garlic cloves into a sauce pan
Salt, Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper to taste

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pancakes! Soft Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes


I made these pancakes this morning for my little cousin. I've been wanting to use up this whole wheat pastry flour (WWPF) that has been unopened for a whole year. Initially I bought it because I watched Ellie Kreiger's Healthy Appetite on Food Network and for most of her baked goods she uses this flour. Well there have been no new episodes since March/April of 2009.

I love pancakes with scrambled eggs! That right balance of sweet and salty..yum!  I've always loved pancakes since I was a little girl, I ate them morning noon and night. A family member told me that they called me pancakes and syrup until I was 8 or 9 because I always smelled like syrup. LOL

I've nixed making boxed pancake mix a while ago. I found and tweaked this awesome old fashion Old fashioined recipe the flavor is spot on. The problems with this recipe was that it used 2 1/2 sticks of butter, 3 whole eggs and it was a little drier then I like.

I've had this buttermilk pancake recipe that I've been wanting to make a wheat version.(No worries there is a sub for the WWPF if you don't have any you will need All-Purpose Flour and Whole Wheat flour.) Well, these pancakes rival pancakes that I've had anywhere. Light, Fluffy and Moist..They are perfect.
One little problem..unless you watch them carefully, they will brown REALLY fast.  I usually make my 'cakes on med-high heat, that was too hot. I lowered the head to medium-low and still you must flip as soon as the edges are firm enough. I don't mind because I like the way darker pancakes taste but I know some people do not.

These are not my pancake recipe..But I'll still pull out the Old fashioned recipe every once in awhile ;)

The recipe is as follows:

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour Buttermilk Pancakes



Ingredients
1 1/2 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or 3/4  cup  all-purpose flour and 3/4  cup  whole wheat flour) *sift!
3  tablespoons  sugar
1 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1 1/2  cups  non/low-fat buttermilk (or 3/4c low/non fat sour cream and 3/4c skim milk)
1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
1  large egg
Cooking spray * I found that with my pan the pancakes came out better when I used NO oil in the pan your milage may vary depending how nonstick your pan is.


Directions:
Dry Team:  Combine and mix sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Wet Team:  Combine and mix buttermilk, oil and egg.

Add wet team to dry team and mix with whisk.

Heat pan to medium-low heat.
Add 1/4 cup batter to pan for each pancake. ( I just eyeballed it) Be careful if you make these too big, they get hard to flip..Below is my first pancake out of the batch.

Flip the pancakes as soon as the when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look firm.
Keep pancakes warm in oven on 200 degrees.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Soup's for Breakfast!



This morning I ditched my usual breakfast fare of Kashi GoLean cereal (the non-crunch kind) and Greek Yogurt for a warm bowl of chicken soup from this batch I made last week.  
   

This picture isn't too much to look at but I think it was one of my best batches of soup yet..I ended up using some baked chicken leftovers that I froze, the baked chicken was marinated in white wine, vinegar, EVOO and spices. Also, I added one carton of organic vegetable soup broth, I'm sure any vegetable soup broth would do but was on sale/clearance at a better price then the non-organic broth. After I thawed the chicken out I browned it on both sides, chopped it and added it to the soup.

  I didn't have any chicken stock or bullion cubes on hand, so the soup needed some more chicken-y flavor, so I tasted the leftover marinade, realized it was very chicken-y and added it to the soup base. It was almost perfect because it was a little too salty.. I added some more water and the end result was a hearty soup with really well developed flavor with little effort on my part. This was also the first time that I used butter in my soup. It turned out to add a slight buttery flavor that made the soup taste more flavorful.

Below is the recipe that I used that day but I will also include my original go to chicken noodle soup that I based my other chicken soup recipes from. 

Recipe.
Chicken Soup 10.10.2010

1 bone-in chicken breast (slow roasted in oven for at least an hour and chopped) OR chopped
boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked OR 2-3 medium boneless/skinless chicken thighs (or
boned and skin on)
Precooked Whole Wheat pasta
1 small onion chopped
1tsp of sage
1c  chopped red bell pepper
2 stalks of celery chopped
1/4 tsp of butter or 1 tsp EVOO
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic pressed (or chopped)
1c carrots chopped **optional (I had none on hand but it is a nice addition to any soup)
1tsp of black pepper and cayenne pepper **optional I like my soup spicy
3 chicken bouillon cubes plus 6-8 cups water 
Vegetable broth (1-3 cups) *optional 
1-2 bay leaves
On med low heat add butter/oil to the stock pot. Add onions and celery and cook until onions are almost clear, then add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
-Add water, chicken cubes (and/or all broths you are using) sage, bay leaves, black pepper and celery (and carrot if you are using) cook on high for 10 minutes to soften the carrots and celery.
Add chopped chicken and let simmer for 10 min.
Then taste, add salt to taste and add noodles 

-chicken prep for boneless skinless thighs season each side with salt, pepper and rosemary and
saute until done
-for skinned and bone in chicken I boil the thighs in chicken broth for 10-20 min, cool, remove
meat from skin and bone then chop to prep for soup.

That's it easy peasy the most time consuming part is the chicken prep and chopping everything. 



My finished cup of soup..yum!

My original recipe:

Kemi’s Chicken & Soybean Soba Noodle soup
a really yummy chicken soup with soybeans  and smooth soba noodles (made with
buckwheat) instead of traditional noodles 

1 bone-in chicken breast (slow roasted in oven for at least an hour and chopped) OR chopped
boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked OR 2-3 medium boneless/skinless chicken thighs (or
boned and skin on)
Precooked Soba noodles (or you can use 1-2 cups of any type of precooked pasta)
1tsp of rosemary & sweet basil
2-3 bay leaves
1c chopped carrot
1c of frozen or fresh unshelled soybeans
2 stalks of celery chopped

1tsp of EVOO
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic pressed (or chopped)
1tsp of black pepper and cayenne pepper
6-8 cups of water
3 chicken bouillon cubes

On med low heat add oil to the stock pot. Add onions and cook until almost clear, then add garlic
and cook for 2-3 minutes.
-Add water, chicken cubes, rosemary, basil, bay leaves, black pepper, carrot and celery cook on
high for 10 minutes to soften the carrots and celery.
Add chopped chicken and soybeans and let simmer for 10 min.
Then taste, add salt to taste and add noodles (soba noodles are added last because they will tear
and break up if overcooked)
-chicken prep for boneless skinless thighs season each side with salt, pepper and rosemary and
saute until done
-for skinned and bone in chicken I boil the thighs in chicken broth for 10-20 min, cool, remove
meat from skin and bone then chop to prep for soup.