Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Time to Make the Stollen

I thought I didn't like stollen until I tasted it at a CIA class I took a few years ago. Since then, I've been a convert. Nothing is better with a cup of hot tea than a slice of homemade stollen dusted with confectioners' sugar. I posted the recipe quite a while back, so I thought it was time for a reminder to those of you who are gearing up for your holiday baking. My only problem with making stollen is my intentions are always good--I MEAN to let it sit long enough for the rum to develop the flavors and I MEAN to give most of it away. But it's so darned good. Make some, and judge for yourself!

Here's the link to my original post; you'll find the recipe there.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Nothing says fall better than delicious root vegetables. Butternut squash soup shows up frequently on the rotation this time of year and, much as I love it, I was looking for something different. This creamy carrot and sweet potato soup fit the bill.

Serves 6-8

3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmet
5 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (about 3 very large ones)
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups peeled, chopped carrots (about 4 very large ones)
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme

Melt 1 tbs butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg and cook 1 minute more, stirring.

Move onion mixture to side of pan and add remaining 2 tbs butter to open space in Dutch oven. Increase heat to medium-high and cook about 1 minute, until butter begins to brown. Add sweet potatoes, water, broth, and carrots and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer 35-40 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth (or do in batches in a food processor or blender, being careful to vent steam and avoid splatters).

Add the half and half and salt and pepper; stir well. Top each serving with a touch of chopped thyme.
This was a very thick and creamy soup with just the right notes of sweetness and spice. The intense orange color is beautiful. In retrospect, I'd have liked to top it with toasted pignoli nuts. This soup would make a great starter for your Thanksgiving meal, but is easy enough to make any night of the week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pierogi and Kielbasa Bake

I've been using Hillshire Farms turkey kielbasa for many years and find the taste and texture to be far better than other brands that I've tried. While I enjoy regular kielbasa on occasion, it is too high in fat to be eaten on a regular basis. I generally steam it and serve it with sweet and sour red cabbage and pierogies, but this one dish bake sounded like it would be more flavorful, so I tweaked it to lower the fat and calories. It went together very quickly and offered generous servings plus leftovers.

Serves 6
2 tsp olive oil
13 oz Hillshire Farms turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 packages Mrs. T's mini pierogies (any flavor)
12 oz red cabbage (about 1/4 small cabbage), cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup hard or regular apple cider
1 cup drained sauerkraut
2 tbs whole grain mustard
6 oz extra sharp, reduced fat cheddar (I prefer Sargento's)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kielbasa and brown on one side (3-5 minutes). Stir in the onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender (6-7 minutes).

While the onions are cooking, cook the mini pierogi according to package instructions; drain.

Add the cabbage and cider to the onions and kielbasa and cook uncovered, tossing occasionally until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the sauerkraut and mustard.

Spray an 8X8 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Arrange one-third of the pierogi on the bottom of the dish and top with a third of the cabbage mixture and top with a third of the cheese. Repeat twice.

Bake until the cheese melts, about 8 - 10 minutes.

(WW - 12 PP per serving)
What a wonderful one-dish meal to serve on a chilly night! The sweet and sour flavors melded well with the pierogi and the sauteed kielbasa slices with the melted cheese between each layer gave a variety of textures and tastes. The only thing missing was an iced cold beer. I'll have to remember that next time. This dish comes together very quickly and can be held for a while before cooking.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Chili

Having dipped my foot in the chili pool with a version of Jamie Deen's beef and sausage chili, I was intrigued by a recipe I found on Skinnytaste billed as a "no bean" chili. Since I love beans, I decided to try my own version of this, adding black beans and punching up the spices. Here's my version:

Serves 4-6 (PP value 7-10 pts depending on serving size)

  • non stick cooking spray
  • 20 oz 93% lean ground turkey
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 10 oz can Rotel mild tomatoes with green chilies
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 bay leafI
  • 2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • optional:  serve with sour cream and salsa

Spray a large non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray and brown the ground turkey, breaking it up as it browns. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the Rotel, tomato sauce, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, paprika, bay leaf, and sweet potato. Stir to mix evenly, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, adding more chicken broth, if needed.
Given how little time it took to put this dinner together, the flavors were really there. I would increase the cumin and chili powder even more next time and add a bit of hot sauce to spice it up. I also think it would be equally good with butternut squash. A cup-sized serving over half a cup of rice was very filling and leftovers will make a hearty lunch on a cold, fall day.