Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Chickpea Soup

It is dreary.  It has been raining on an off for what seems like forever.  It is supposed to be fall, but all this rain and temperatures hitting the 80s don’t exactly scream hot cider and sweaters.  However, none of this stopped me from making some soup for dinner on Friday of last week.  I wanted something comforting but easy, so I threw together this soup.  It was great because almost all of the ingredients can be kept in the cupboard. 

Tomato and chickpea soup
One onion- diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
A pinch of red pepper flakes
28 ounce can of tomatoes- I used crushed with basil but I think diced would be better
15 ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.  Sauté onion for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.  Sprinkle oregano over onion and stir for 30 seconds.  Pour in tomatoes and chickpeas and one cup of water.  Let simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Using either a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use water to get the soup to the consistency you prefer- I used an additional cup and half.   Simmer for an additional five minutes.

I split this into four servings, and served with a Panini made with sourdough bread and herbed goat cheese inside.  The gooeyness of the cheese really complimented the soup well.  It would also be good served with toasted bread for dipping or parmesan crisps.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Salad

The other day I had to run out to the store to pick something up.  The store was right next door to a sports bar with an outdoor seating area, and the smell of buffalo chicken wings was wafting through the parking lot.  I love all things buffalo-style, so this really set off a craving.  Instead of indulging in deep fried wing goodness, I decided to throw together a buffalo chicken salad for dinner one night this week.  It came out really well, so I thought I would share the recipe.  I didn’t really measure everything, so most of these ingredients are approximates.

Buffalo Chicken Salad (serves 2)

1 head of lettuce, I used romaine
½ pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 ounces of tortilla chips, I used Late July Sea Salt by the Seashore Tortilla Chips

8 chicken nuggets, I used Boca soy chicken nuggets since I don’t like to eat meat during the week

Blue cheese crumbles, about half a cup

Franks hot sauce, to taste, I used about ¼ cup

White wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons

Olive oil, ¼ cup

These tortilla chips were good on the salad,
but if eaten alone would need a dip of some kind

Cook the chicken (or fake chicken) nuggets according to the direction on the package.  In the meantime, chop up the lettuce and tomatoes, and crush the tortilla chips in your hand and put everything in a bowl. Put half the blue cheese crumbles in the salad.  Take the other half of the blue cheese crumbles and combine with the olive oil, vinegar and hot sauce.  Use a food processer or stick blender to blend until smooth.  When the chicken nuggets are done, chop up and add to the salad. Pour on the dressing and toss to combine.

I can be pretty “blah” about salads, but this was great.  It really had the flavor of buffalo chicken, and the crushed tortilla chips added the necessary crunch.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Recipe: Marinated Tomatoes

      A few weeks ago I bought a new cookbook, "You Can Trust a Skinny Cook" by Allison Fishman.  So far I have made a few recipes from the book, and been really happy with all of them.  One of the things I love about the book is that she uses all REAL ingredients.  No "light butter", no turkey bacon (because we all know that turkey bacon shouldn't even be called bacon!).  She just uses the ingredients in moderation.
      Last weekend, Scott smoked a brisket on the Big Green Egg, and I was looking for a side that would take advantage of one of my favorite foods of summer: tomatoes. This recipe was easy and required no cooking.  It tasted great, and you can eat it over several days if you want as the flavors will just continue to meld.

Marinated Tomatoes
1 lb ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbl red wine vinegar (we only had white)
1.5 tbl dried parsley
Greens of 1 scallion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic power (I used a little bit of garlic salt)
salt and pepper to taste
I also added a teaspoon of garam masala to complement the BBQ

Whisk together all the ingredients and pour over the tomatoes.  Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 5 days.  (The dried herbs allow the recipe to be kept for longer)

     This recipe really allowed the flavor of the ripe tomatoes to shine through, but added an nice punch.  It would be great in salads, and no need for additional dressing, or on a sandwich with fresh mozzarella or goat cheese.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Favorite Things: Crabs

As a resident of Maryland, it is pretty much a requirement to eat crabs at least a few times a summer.  At first, I wasn’t too sure about them because they seemed like a LOT of work for not a lot of reward.  Plus, I grew up spending my summers on Cape Cod, which made me a lobster-person, through and through.  Lobsters also seemed better because it is easier to avoid all the “icky” parts.
                Turns out, crabs are great.  Not only do they taste great, they are an excellent bang for your calorie buck.  The meat is sweeter than lobster, so there is no need to dip them in butter.  They are only 2 or 3 Weight Watchers point per crab, so you can have half a dozen and stay within your daily points value (or use some flex points and have more!).  Of course, I always use flex points with crabs because you really can’t eat crabs without something alcoholic to drink.
Crabs covered in Old Bay: a Maryland Tradition
                Another great benefit of crabs is that they take a while to eat, so there is no way to rush through your meal.  It is a very social event, and a dozen crabs can take an hour or two to get through.  If it is just Scott and I, we like to get crabs and bring them home.  First, we can drink as much as we want and not have to worry about driving.  Second, we put some towels in a cooler, and this keeps them warm for a lot longer than just dumping them on your table at a restaurant.  So my advice, if you haven’t jumped on the crab bandwagon, is to go out as soon as possible to try them!