Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leek & Potato Soup

I just made some leek & potato soup. I winged it:

1 tbsp. EV olive oil
1 large Walla Walla onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 large leek, sliced, white part only
salt & pepper
generous dash of ground Thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
4 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp. white wine
2 sm. celery stalks with leaves on
1 bay leaf
4 potatoes, peeled & quartered

Saute the onions, shallot, & leek in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the spices & melt in the butter. Add the flour, mix to make a roux. Stir in the broth & wine. Add the celery & potatoes, bring to a boil, simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Discard the celery & bay leaf.

Normally I'm not a fan of the blender and I prefer my soups chunkier, but in this instance, because of all of onions, etc., I used the blender in an attempt to fool the kids. I'm calling it Baked Potato soup as far as they are concerned! LOL Also, you can first brown some bacon and add the onion/leek mixture to that as oppossed to the olive oil. I'm still trying to avoid red meat. Its really hard!!!

Update on my bleu cheese/pecan dip: I bought some from Trader Joes today and checked the ingredients. I was pretty damned close except theirs has milk, more spices, and preservatives. I tasted the TJ's dip and damned if mine isn't much better! ;) Theirs is a thinner consistency, whereas mine was much thicker. I'd probably thin my down a little bit next time, but I'm thinking I will stick with my home made version from now on!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

*First, you want to preheat your oven to 400, carefully cut your squash into quarters, seed it, dot it with butter, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top, then bake for about 45 minutes or until its soft. OMG yum. And if you're lucky, you'll have some leftover for another use. Be sure to discard the skin before adding to the soup.*
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diced onion
  • 1/4 cup (1/4-inch) diced celery
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash (see above)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, optional--but I recommend it!

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, and cinnamon stick and saute until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the stock/broth and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Mash the squash inside the pan, or if you want you can put it in a blender. I didn't. I like a chunkier soup.

Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Michael Chiarello's recipe, but with my own variations. I love that man. This soup is absolutely delicious. And all you need with it is a small salad or a piece of crusty bread to dip into olive oil and grated garlic. My friend brought me the coolest plate from Italy last summer. The artist put these rough indented lines into the ceramic that are meant to grate a clove of garlic on. You pour olive oil over the garlic directly onto the plate and it is delicious.)

Now I'm dying to try Cowgirl Yoga's Curried Pumpkin Soup! It sounds delicious and I have all the ingredients on hand. I've been slowly dropping subtle (and not so subtle) hints to my husband that I really want to go to a retreat next summer in Big Sky, Montana! It sounds so amazing!!! Keeping my fingers crossed!

Bleu Cheese & Pecan Dip

Trader Joes makes this delicious dip that is perfect for dipping celery, carrots, bell peppers, green beans, etc. I haven't had a chance to get up to TJ's recently, but I realized this morning that I have all the ingredients that I think I needed and I could try and whip up my own batch. It turned out super good and I thought I'd pass it on. It comes out to about 160 cals for 2 tablespoons, but I figure its one way to get a bunch of fresh veggies down my throat, so its worth it.

Trader Shelley's Blue Cheese & Pecan Dip:

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz low fat sour cream
3 oz bleu cheese crumbles (you could adjust more or less to your tasting)
1 oz pecans, smashed up into pieces
Cracked pepper to taste

Mix thoroughly and enjoy! I love it with celery, in particular.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bungalow 44

I've been wanting to dine at Bungalow 44 for quite some time now. We consider it often, but we always shoot it down because their menu seems to change often. Plus, its way down in Mill Valley, and it always seems too far to drive. But since Thursday was my birthday, I decided I wanted to try somewhere we've never been before and the menu was looking good.

Their parking lot is really tiny, so we had to park up the street, which gave us a nice little walk on a beautiful evening. We were seated promptly in a lovely booth in the small dining room next to the bar. Its a very lively place and the patrons were all very well dressed. I had heard that its one of those seen and be seen kind of places, and it was. I loved the ambiance.

We were greeted right away by our very attentive waitress. We finally decided on the "Double Dip" onion rings and the Heirloom tomato flatbread as our appetizers. Both were very good, although, I've had much better onion rings before. These were thinly sliced and very light, but I guess I prefer a thicker slice and a little more batter.

It was challenging to find something for the kids to eat, but it turns out that they did have a kids menu. Bella ordered the cheeseburger and so you know I had to try it! Delicious!!! Rori had her usual pasta with butter and cheese. Boring child. My husband ordered the Steak Frites and the bite I tasted was delicious. I ordered the Filet Mignon with Pt. Reye's Bleu Cheese & Broccolini. I didn't think it would be enough, so I ordered a side of creamed spinach. My steak was perfectly cooked, but the broccolini seemed a bit tough to me. Everything was absolutely wonderful. We even ordered dessert, seeing as how it was my birthday! Bella and my huband shared the Butterscotch pudding, while I eagerly attacked my chefs selection of cheese. It had sliced apples and a few pieces of toasted artisan bread. I couldn't finish it all; it was too huge! I didn't even mind the one cheese which was doused in honey and golden raisins.

I give Bungalow 44 5 stars and I really look forward to returning. Next time we'll go alone or with another couple. Its not that its not kid-friendly, but its just more of a party scene. Lively and bubbly. A great place to spend my birthday!

Today we head up north to shop for costumes and to pick some pumpkins. After that, we're stopping in at Guy Fieri's place, Tex Wasabi. Yum! Can't wait!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Future post

I haven't blogged in a few days, but I made Arroz con Pollo and Eggplant Parmesan recently, and they both turned out really good. I'll do that later when I can breathe.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Time for some Chili!

Something about October says "Chili" to me! I've been meaning to make it for a few days now, so today I finally got around to it. I adapted it from Bobby Flay's Beef & Black Bean Chili recipe, but as usual, I always add my own twist to it.

2 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
2 lbs stew meat
1 large Walla Walla Onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 Pasilla peppers, diced
2 red jalapeno peppers, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 bottle of dark beer
2 cups stewed tomatoes (fresh, homemade :)
5 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp Chipotle in Adobo sauce
2 lgt.cans black beans
2 sm. cans kidney beans
1 sm. can garbanzo beans

Brown beef in olive oil. Set aside. Saute onion, peppers, & carrots in reserved oil from meat until soft. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add beer and cook until liquid evaporates. Add stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to boil, simmer for an hour. Add all the beans and the diced fresh tomatoes, cook for another 3o minutes. Garnish with cilantro, toasted cumin sour cream (see below) and avocado.

Toast 1 Tbsp cumin seed in a saute pan over medium high heat, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, add 1 cup sour cream, salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. Mix, chill for at least one hour so the flavors can marry. This was also adapted from Bobby Flay, but I omitted the lime juice because I didn't have any lime.

This was delicious!!!!! Maybe a little too thin of consistency, so I would add less liquid next time. The beer was a great flavor enhancer! :)