You Say Tomato, I Say Tasty!

I love tomatoes, love, love, love them and I was so happy to find this delicious Fresh Tomato Soup in Cooking Light a while back that I decided to make it on my day off yesterday. Not only was it perfect for dinner last night with a simple grilled cheese sandwich, it was great for lunch the next day.

What I really liked about this soup was how simple it was to make. Cut tomatoes into wedges, chop the onion and celery and throw all that in a saucepan with some tomato paste, thinly sliced basil and chicken broth and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then you simply puree the soup in two batches and serve. I tasted this without the plain low-fat yogurt and I have to say don’t skimp on this ingredient because it end really rounded out the soup and made it silkier in texture.


Luck O’The Stir-Fry

So I got home late on St. Patrick’s Day, no not because I was out drinking green beer, I was just working late. So you can imagine my glee when I got home and realized I had serendipitously chosen the Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanuts recipe that mentioned it would be on my table in minutes. “Yeaaaaah right” I thought. Well, they were right it turns out and I was happy to be wrong for once (I believe I hear everyone I’ve ever known laughing out loud). This dish came flying out of the kitchen and it tasted great.

I substituted snow peas for snap peas because, well, I just like them better and added some diced red bell pepper for good measure. The recipe calls for jalapenos or serrano chile. I chose the serrano because I like spice but this was definitely heat manageable for anyone I would think. The basil and peanuts added a nice depth of flavor and I was really surprised at how great this tasted with so few ingredients. The simpler the better, I love it!

What a lucky St. Patty’s Day for me eh?

Everyday Food = Love

I picked-up the March issue of Everyday Food, and I have to admit in these times it was like a breath of fresh air to see short ingredient lists that use a lot of pantry staples, have easy instructions and after testing, were still loaded with flavor.
On Sunday – slow cooker day – I made Smoky Beef Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema and Avocado-Red Onion Relish plus the Spicy Pineapple Salad on the side and for dessert, their Mexican Snowballs.
The Smoky Beef Tacos turned out to be moist, tender, spicy and yes smoky and the crema sauce and avocado/red onion relish were the perfect complement to round out the taco experience. The Spicy Pineapple Salad was very spicy but good. I only used one of the two recommended jalepenos – and I like spice!
I love simple desserts and I don’t know how much simpler it could be than to toast coconut and cinnamon in the oven and roll frozen ice cream balls in the mixture. I used Vanilla Bean ice cream instead of just vanilla because I love the more vanilla-ish flavor you get. I used a 1/2 less fat version from Dryer’s called Slow Churned it was quite delicious! This was definitely a new favorite and has been added to the our evergrowing “Foods We Love” roster.

Got Milk?

When I see that a recipe has made any kind of “Best Of” on the Cooking Light Web site my food antennae perk-up. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out this Creamed Corn with Bacon and Leeks recipe was voted “Best Side Grain Dish” in the magazine. I love creamed corn and put bacon and leeks with it? Wow, I’m in heaven.
I get home, get settled, shuck and cut the fresh corn off the cob. I’m so excited, I prance over to the refrigerator to get out the 1% milk and my jaw drops…no milk. Really? We usually have too much milk in theĀ house and now, the one time I need the precious stuff I don’t have any? Sigh.

So I’ve got this fresh corn shucked, but like any good Southern girl I also have a can of Creamed Corn in my pantry. I decide to go rogue and try my own thing, kind of. So, I cook the bacon, then sauteed the leeks and fresh corn together and finally place the canned cream corn in the pan to combine and warm through. I have to say I was proud of my sheer determination to get my daily dose of bacon and leeks. Even though I didn’t try the full recipe, I think the real lesson learned here is that corn, bacon and leeks are an awesome flavor combination together.

Mom’s Fried Okra

I had the pleasure of growing up in home where my Mom made a home cooked meal every night. I’ll never forget the nights of her Enchiladas or Chicken Fried Steak or Corn Bread with Pinto Beans and Pork Chops.

My mom a few years ago lovingly put together a cookbook that had all of her signature recipes in them including one of my favorites – fried okra. I’ll never forget my mom making this during special occasion meals and when she would set it out on the plate with a paper towel over the top, me (and my whole family actually) would casually walk by and steal a few pieces before dinner. You know she saw us but never said anything!

With that I would like to share with you my Mom’s Fried Okra recipe. I love how she wrote this because the key to this crispy treat is (1) not fresh okra as it’s too slimy (2) the proper cooking method to get it just right (3) and leaving it alone to work its magic in the pan. You do not know how many times I called my Mom asking her how she did it so well. Follow these instructions and you will get it down pat.

I know my Mom is reading this right now and so happy that I’m sharing her love of great food with you. Thanks Mama Ingle and I hope you make a batch the next time I’m home.

Mom’s Fried Okra
Approximately 30 minutes to one hour before cooking the okra, let it thaw in the bag. If cooking the entire bag, fill it with water to thaw it more thoroughly. If using only a small portion of the bag, take out what you need and put in a bowl of water and place the rest back in the freezer. Either way, drain well of water and pour enough corn meal (white or yellow) to coat okra well. In a large skillet fill with oil (about 1/2 full)*. Turn burner on low and fill skillet with coated okra, try to not get too much in pan. Cover and turn burner on high. Check on it about every 5 – 10 minutes. When okra starts becoming very brown in color, it is most likely fairly crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towel covered dish. Add salt to taste.

*Emily note, I like vegetable oil

Suiza Me Enchiladas

I love Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals and I love Tex-Mex, combine the two and you have one happy Texan. When I came across this Enchiladas Suiza Mexican Lasagna recipe inside the 30 minute meals section of the new Everyday with Rachael Ray, I had to try it.

My first thought was it looked like a lot of prep for the 30 minute meal time frame, with lots of vegetable chopping plus food processing the tomatillo salsa and avocados and limes separately. And there was ground turkey to cook and an onion mixture to saute. I charred the tortillas in my Lodge LogicĀ  cast-iron skillet which was simple enough but a little more time consuming than originally thought. One thing that I did not follow – gasp – was I used corn tortillas instead of flour since that’s what I had in the casa.

Overall this came together quickly and beautifully – my picture looked almost like the one in the magazine. I served this with a simple black bean and corn salad on the side. My favorite part of this was the leftover factor. The next day I threw the leftover lasagna, black bean and corn salad and some pickled jalapenos in a bowl and reheated – it was even better the second day. Maybe it’s like a soup were the flavors get better over time? Regardless this is a fun play on Enchiladas Suiza and I really liked the idea of lesser-hassle way to enjoy its flavors.

I would say…7 out of 10 for this recipe.

Say it with me now – Al-bon-digas

Ivette, my co-worker/bestie/fellow blogger is from originally from Mexico and my go-to source for all things “authentic” Mexico. So when I told her I had proudly made albon-digas (insert thick Texas accent here) she goes “No Emily it’s al-bone-digas!” So even though I can’t say it correctly, Cooking Light sure knows how to make this traditional Mexican meatball and vegetable soup and it’s good for you too!

As one of the finalist in the “Family Dinners” category in the magazine’s Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest, Emily Almaguer’s Hidden Rainbow Albondigas recipe is all sorts of vegetable, brothy, good-for-you goodness. This recipe is chock-full of red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, carrots and onions, and I appreciated the fact that her kids do not like chunky vegetables so she pureed them for a smoother texture. I sometimes feel the same way about soups and I’m not even a kid!

Since things are pureed you can imagine that this might be a smidge more labor intensive than just chunking everything in a pot and letting it simmer. But I didn’t mind since it proved better for my texture preferences and it was a Sunday afternoon so I had some time on my hands. Also, what turned out amazingly well were the meatballs. Putting the meatball ingredients into the food processor made it so easy to scoop them out and place in the broth mixture.

Warning, this makes a lot of soup! I had enough for the rest of the week and shared with my coworkers Allison and Ivette. This is definitely a recipe I will make again. Al-bone-digas!

Sunday Night Dinner – Part Two

…so when I saw this Fresh Whole-Wheat Pita recipe I thought why not put the meatballs and sauce from the Everyday with Rachael Ray recipe on top and put some grated parmesan and shredded mozarella cheese on top? We both loved this dish and the whole wheat pitas were delicious.

If Cooking Inside the Lines exist for any other reason it is most certainly for baking recipes. If the culinary world were a high school, cooking would be English and baking would be Math. I love cooking because it doesn’t have to be exact to turn out well but baking, ick, you miss one thing by just a wee bit and it’s a disaster.
Sometime even if I follow baking recipes to the letter it can turn out wrong but not with this pita recipe. It was easy to follow, quite quick and they came out piping hot, moist and delicious and I love that it’s whole wheat. Amazing! Try these now!

Sunday Night Dinner – Part One

I love slow-cooking on Sunday. I found this super simple Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Paprika Sauce in the new Everyday with Racheal Ray. This was so easy and quick to assemble and my only concern was the amount of paprika, yes I know paprika is in the name of the recipe but wow two tablespoons? Even when I added it in I said out loud, “wow, that’a lot of parprika,” but you know what, it was delcious and really made this dish sing. I loved how the meatballs cooked in the sauce for the six hours, keeping them moist and full of flavor.

The recipe mentions to serve it over spaghetti but then my cooking bible aka the new Cooking Light just hit the stands and I came across the Homemade Whole Wheat Pita recipes and got an idea…