Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pea Soup

At first, I thought this would be gross, but I have recently realized that I love peas.  I got the idea from Ina Garten's cook book but, of course, I needed to make healthier substitutions.  The soup is bright green so it looks delicious and it tastes sweet and hearty.  The recipe serves 4 to 6.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek
1 small yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
4 ounces of low fat cream cheese
5 cups frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

First, you need to clean the leek.  Just slice it in half longways then cut slices about a half inch thick.  Fill a large bowl with water and put the leek slices in the bowl trying to separate the layers with your fingers.  Let them sit in the water for about 20 minutes.  There tends to be sand between the layers and since the sand sinks and the leeks float they clean themselves by soaking.

Roughly chop the onion and garlic and add it to a soup pot with olive oil and the washed and chopped leek.  Saute them together on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Then add the peas and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the cream cheese and puree the soup until smooth.  To serve, I add black pepper on top. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vegetable Stuffed Bread

I love making these for an easy lunch.  They're filling, nutritious and great to pack for lunch because they're good at room temperature or heated.  The recipe makes 8.

1 lb. of multigrain or whole wheat pizza dough (You can purchase at the food store already made, I use Whole Foods)
10 button or cremini mushrooms
1 orange pepper
1 cup of steamed broccoli
16 black olives (2 per bread)
1/2 yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp olive oil, additional drizzle for baking sheet

For the mushrooms, first clean them using a damp paper towel and gently wipe the dirt from the surface, then thinly slice them.  Chop the onion and garlic and add it to a pan with the olive oil.  Heat the pan to medium low and saute for about 2 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms.  You want to cook the liquid out of the mushrooms so the bread does not get soggy later.  Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, until they have reduced in size.  While they are cooking, chop the orange pepper in about 1/4 inch squares.  Add them to the pan once the mushrooms have reduced.  Cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, then add the steamed broccoli.  Cook the mixture together for another 5 minutes.

To begin assembling the stuffed breads, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, shred the mozzarella cheese and slice the olives.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Stretch a piece of dough into a thin layer, it doesn't have to be a defined shape.  Add a sprinkle of cheese, 1/8 of the veggie mixture, sliced olives and another thin layer of cheese on top, covering only half of the dough.  Then fold the empty side over and crimp the edges together using a fork.  With a knife, slice an inch long opening on the top to allow steam to escape.  Then place it on a baking sheet that has been lightly drizzled and brushed with olive oil so the breads do not stick.  Repeat these steps to make the rest of the breads. If there is extra cheese at the end, I sprinkle it over the top of the breads to get browned and add extra flavor. Then cook them in the oven for about 25 minutes, the tops should be golden brown.


If you have not tried quinoa, I encourage you to!  It is a healthy and great tasting grain you can add almost anything to.  Also, you can serve it hot or cold.  I will probably post additional ways to prepare it but I have only tried it once, this way, and loved it.

1 cup Quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
3 small or 2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup of minced white onion
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup of Kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tomato

First, mince the onion and garlic.  Add the olive oil to a medium soup pot and heat on medium low.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the quinoa; saute and stir often until it smells nutty and toasted, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, until the broth is absorbed.  Pour the quinoa into a serving bowl and add the olives, feta cheese and tomato either on top or stirred in.  I do not add salt because the broth, olives and feta cheese have salt in them.

Ginger Infused Green Tea

This tea is so refreshing and packed with antioxidants.  I use Agave to sweeten it, which you can find in Target or a food store.  It is not an artificial sweetener, but sweeter than sugar per tablespoon. 

1.5 quarts of water
1 tsp of minced ginger (I use minced ginger in a jar to make it easy)
3 Tazo green tea bags
The juice of 1/2 an orange
1 tbsp Agave (more or less depending on how sweet you like tea)

First, heat the water and ginger together in a pot over medium heat.  Allow the water to steam but not boil.  Once it begins to steam, take it off the heat and strain out the ginger.  I pour the water into the serving pitcher and the ginger solids stay on the bottom of the pot.  Next, add the tea bags to the ginger infused water.  Let the tea bags sit in the water for as long as you like but at least 30 minutes.  Add the Agave and the juice of half an orange.  Serve iced or warm. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Soups

I am on a major soup kick lately, so I am posting recipes for Creamy Mushroom Soup and Roasted Tomato Soup.

Creamy Mushroom Soup (4-6 servings)

I am not a huge fan of mushrooms but wanted to try this soup anyway.  I used cremini mushrooms which have a strong mushroom flavor.  Button mushrooms would work well also.

1 lb of mushrooms
4 cups of chicken broth
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 can of cannelini beans
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a soup pot and heat it on medium heat.   Roughly chop the onion, garlic and mushrooms and add them to the pot.  Saute for about 15 minutes until the onion has softened and the mushrooms have reduced in size.  Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans and thyme to the pot and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Next, add the cream cheese and puree the soup until smooth.

Roasted Tomato Soup (4-6 servings)

4 large tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 celery stalk
1 yellow onion
1 (14.5) oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
4 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil (optional)

First, preheat the oven to 450.  Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and liquid.  Then slice each half into thirds and place on a baking sheet.  Toss them with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast them in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tops are browned.  Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion, celery and garlic.  In a soup pot heated to medium low, add the olive oil, onion, garlic and celery.   Saute until translucent, then add the roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Simmer the soup with the lid on for 20 minutes on low heat.  Then add the cream cheese and puree until smooth.  To serve, add about 2 chopped basil leaves on top.