Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder


Being part of a CSA has changed how I cook and meal plan. Where I used to find recipes I wanted to make and shop around what those recipes required, now I have to focus on using up ingredients. Fortunately, the August 2010 issue of Cooking Light is allowing me to pick recipes I want to make that also use the fresh, local produce I get in my CSA, like this soup. There are only so many times you can grill corn on the cob in a week, so making it into a soup topped with bacon, green onions, and cheese is a delightful departure from the status quo. Blending the corn with the milk gives it creaminess without added fat.

I prefer a thicker, more uniform-textured soup, so I used an immersion blender to puree the squash (and the celery, had I remembered to pick it up at the store) before the addition of the remaining cup of corn. Joe said it reminded him of a much lighter baked potato soup. Cooking Light recommends serving it with a tomato bruschetta, but I had eaten all of my tomatoes already, so we settled for a multi-grain baguette.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
Yields 4 servings

2 slices applewood-smoked bacon
3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 lb yellow summer squash, chopped (I used pattypan squash)
1 lb frozen white and yellow baby corn kernels, thawed and divided (I used 2 1/2 cups of fresh corn kernels.)
2 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese


1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Crumble bacon, and set aside. Add 1/2 cup onions, celery, and squash to drippings in pan; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Reserve 1 cup corn; set aside. Place the remaining corn and 1 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups milk, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to blender; process just until combined. Add pureed mixture and reserved 1 cup corn to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt. Ladle about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon bacon, 1 tablespoon remaining onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Zucchini Oat Muffins


It's high summer, and we've got eggplant, corn, summer squash, zucchini, and tomatoes coming out of our ears. The nice thing about zucchini bread and muffins is that, not only does it use up some of the bounty, but they can also be frozen for later consumption. These are a relatively healthful version with whole wheat and oats and only a bit of brown sugar and butter. I eliminated the streusel topping from the original version to save a few more calories, and I don't miss it. But if you're making these for company or as part of a more indulgent Saturday morning breakfast, go ahead and add it. These muffins are nice and hearty, perfect for an afternoon snack with a Georgia peach.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Oat Muffins
source: Amber's Delectable Delights
Yields 12 muffins


⅓ cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
⅓ cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
1-½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed grated zucchini
⅔ cups buttermilk
2 whole eggs
¼ cups butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or line with liners.
Stir together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the grated zucchini and mix until it is well coated with the dry ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Fold into dry ingredients stirring just until combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clean Eating Moussaka

A few weeks ago I won Tosca Reno's book The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged on Fit Bottomed Girls. I don't read a lot of diet books, but this one makes a lot of sense. Out with processed foods, white flour, and sugar; in with vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean protein. It's a way of eating that appeals to me because, well, I like to eat. 5-6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 large meals? Awesome. It means I'm hardly ever hungry. Summer is a great time to eat like this because of the proliferation of fresh, flavorful fruits and vegetables. If you couldn't tell from my most recent posts, we're eating a lot of eggplant, and last night, Joe requested "something with meat". I had come across this recipe for moussaka and had almost everything on hand except for potatoes and evaporated skim milk.

The last time I ate moussaka was at the local Greek Festival, and it was a tasty, cheesy, greasy mess of eggplant, tomato, beef, and bechamel. This is a very different animal from that moussaka, but it's still delicious. The tomato and ground turkey (or beef, if you prefer) mixture is seasoned with cinnamon, oregano, and bay leaf, which gives it a lot of warmth. This meal takes a while; I started cooking dinner at 4 pm, and we sat down to eat at 6:15. But if this meal is what eating right tastes like then I don't want to be wrong.

Clean Eating Moussaka
source:  Proceed with Caution (originally from Clean Eating Magazine)
Yields 8 servings


2 lbs white potatoes, peeled, left whole
1 lb ground turkey or 12 oz extra-lean ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 t minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 cups tomato puree (I pureed fresh tomatoes in a food processor.)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t oregano
1 bay leaf
olive oil cooking spray
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/3 inch slices.
1 cup low fat sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/4 c evaporated skim milk
1 egg
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425. Fill a large pot halfway with water, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm but not fully cooked. Strain and set potatoes aside to cool.

2. While potatoes are cooking, brown meat with onion and garlic in a 2-qt pot over medium heat, breaking up meat into little pieces for about 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meat is no longer pink. Pour in tomato puree and 1 C water. Mix in cinnamon, pepper, oregano and bay leaf. Lower heat to simmer and cook, covered, 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cover 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and mist with cooking spray. Lay eggplant slices on sheet and lightly mist again with cooking spray. Bake in oven about 8 minutes. While eggplant cooks, slice potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Remove eggplant, transfer to plate, raise oven temperature to 475, re-spray foil and lay potato slices on cookie sheets. Lightly mist potatoes with cooking spray and bake in oven for 8 minutes. Remove. Lower oven temp to 350.

4. Make bechamel sauce: In a separate bowl, mix sour cream, milk and egg until blended; mixture should be thick.

5. Spray a 12x9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in dish, top with layer of eggplant, then pour all of turkey mixture over top. Top again with layer of potatoes and then eggplant. Finish with bechamel. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in oven for 45 minutes, until set and lightly brown. If not brown, raise temp to 400 and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce

Eggplant and tofu are not that amenable to picky palates, so I understand if this doesn't exactly wet your whistle. Many people think that eggplant is slimy and best experienced slathered in breadcrumbs, pan-fried, and doused with cheese and tomato sauce. But after making this dish, my favorite eggplant preparation is cooking it down so much that it falls apart, creating a thick sauce that is amenable, in this case, to Asian flavors. In fact, the flavor of this was so complex -- spicy, sweet, salty, garlicky, etc. -- that it tasted very much like something from a little ethnic restaurant, particularly served over brown basmati rice.

As you might notice, this recipe calls for a lot of ingredients,  though many of them are pantry staples for me now. Acquiring many of them took me a while, but now that I have them, they get a lot of use in stir-fries and other dishes. It makes it really easy when I see a recipe like this to know that I already have hoisin sauce and sesame oil in the house. So if you're wary of making the plunge to buy some of these things, go ahead and do it!

Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
adapted from: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Yields 4 servings

1 pound extra-firm tofu (not silken)
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup water
6-8 garlic cloves, minced–about 2 tbsp.
1-inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp vegetarian hoisin sauce
3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp hot chili sauce (like Sriracha) (original recipe calls for 1/2-1 tsp if you prefer it more mild)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
sprinkling of sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get some of the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.

Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. Set aside.

Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Uncover and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except the tomato, sesame seeds, and tofu. Simmer uncovered until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked–they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the tofu cubes and tomato and cook until heated through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

5 Answers for 5 Questions

Cara over at Cara's Cravings (definitely one of my favorite blogs) tagged me to answer a few questions.

1) What was on your To-Do list today:
- do laundry
- blog (check!)
- read chapter 11 of Christian England by David Edwards
- exercise
- grocery shopping

2) 5 Snacks you enjoy:
- cucumbers or carrots with hummus
- apple and cocoa roasted almonds
- Chobani Greek yogurt with fruit
- Fiber One bars
- cheese and crackers

3) 5 Places you have lived:
- Dallas, TX (where I grew up)
- Interlochen, MI (where I spent two years in high school)
- Houston, TX (where I went to college)
- Sacramento, CA (where I spent a summer)
- Nashville, TN (home for now!)

4) What were you doing 5 years ago:
- turned 21
- was in college getting my degree in voice
- was in between relationships
- did a ministry internship at the church where I grew up
- decided that God was calling me to be ordained

5) 5 things you would do if you were a Billionaire:
- travel back to Puerto Rico and to Chile and Argentina, Paris, London, Thailand
- still work for the church but without having to worry about a paycheck
- buy a condo/house in San Juan
- adopt more cats
- donate money to Episcopal Relief and Development, my high school, and my alma mater

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shrimp with Chickpeas, Grape Tomatoes, and Cilantro

Shrimp recipes that do not contain pasta or loads of butter and white wine are few and far between, but shrimp is such a quick and healthy lean protein, so this recipe stuck out to me in a sea of shrimp scampi. It's not the most amazing meal I've ever had, and I would definitely bump up the spices a bit next time to develop a more prominent flavor profile, maybe with some more cumin, curry powder, or garam masala. It is good though, just needs some tweaking. I also just realized that I didn't halve the tomatoes. Maybe that would make it a bit saucier. Joe kept asking me why we don't have shrimp more often, so I guess I have an excuse to perfect this recipe a little bit more. If at first you don't succeed...

Shrimp with Chickpeas, Grape Tomatoes, and Cilantro
source: The Southern Gourmand
Yields 2 servings


1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 15-ounce can cooked chickpeas, drained
12 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp cilantro, minced and divided
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, sliced

Mix paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Pour 1 tsp into a small bowl and set aside.
Combine chickpeas, garlic, tomatoes, and 1 tsp cilantro into the medium bowl. Toss to coat.
Place the shrimp in the small bowl and toss to coat.
In a medium sauté pan, sauté chickpea mixture until tomatoes are cooked through and chickpeas are warm. Add shrimp and continue to cook until shrimp are in the shape of a “C”, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice and place in serving dishes. Garnish with remaining cilantro and lemon slices.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Black Bean and Summer Squash Enchiladas and a GIVEAWAY!

Happy 2-year Blogiversary to me! I can't believe it's been 2 years since I started this blog on the urging of Joe. I remember that I showed him an article about Elise from Simply Recipes, and he said, "You should start a food blog!" In those two years, I've had my share of successes and failures, but I've learned that I love to cook. I have a lot more that I would like to learn and blog about, but I would like to thank you all for reading and supporting my efforts. I know this isn't the fanciest food blog out there, but it's been a great project for me. So to thank you, I am giving away a copy of Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos.

Robb Walsh is one of my favorite food writers, and he has a passion for Texas cuisine, particularly the origins of Tex-Mex (which is different from authentic Mexican and other regional variations such as New Mexican). For a while, Robb Walsh was the restaurant critic for the alternative weekly newspaper in Houston, the Houston Press, but now, the rumor is that he is opening his own restaurant. My enchiladas below certainly won't compare to anything you'll find in this book!

Enchiladas are notoriously difficult to photograph, and after a while, they all look the same. But, as with people, it's what's inside that counts, and these are filled with a well-spiced mixture of black beans and fresh summer squash. When I told Joe what was for dinner, he feigned excitement, but after eating them, he requested the leftovers for lunch the next day. He even admitted his prejudice and remarked that he liked how the squash was finely diced but not mushy. These could also be served in individual dishes for a fancier presentation, particularly if you happen to be having any vegan guests for dinner. Even if you don't have any vegan friends, this is a nice, light, summer version of enchiladas, especially contrasted with the heavy, greasy, cheesy enchiladas that I get at our Mexican restaurant.

Black Bean and Summer Squash Enchiladas
Source: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Yields 4 servings (2 enchiladas each)

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup green or red bell pepper, chopped
12 ounces patty pan, zucchini, or yellow summer squash, diced (about 2 medium squash)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder (or mild chili powder)
1/8 -1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, well rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 can enchilada sauce (or 10 ounces homemade sauce)
8 corn tortillas
chopped green onions, for serving

Saute the onion in the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the bell pepper and squash and cook, stirring, for about two minutes, until squash is just beginning to become tender. Add the cumin, chile powders, black beans, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the nutritional yeast and lime juice. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly spray one large rectangular baking dish or 4 individual baking dishes with olive oil. Place a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of each dish, reserving most of it to go on top. Microwave the tortillas for about 20 seconds to soften them. Place a tortilla in front of you and arrange about 1/4 cup of the bean mixture across the center. Roll up and place seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beans. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Sprinkle with sliced green onions to serve.

To win Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook, comment below by and answer the question: What would you like to learn to do in the next year? It can be cooking or baking related or just something else you want to learn. How to sew? How to take a killer portrait shot? Just comment below by Monday, July 19th at 11:59 PM Central Time. And make sure you leave an e-mail address or a means by which to contact you! A number will be drawn randomly, and the winner will be contacted by July 20th.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Considering that I'm a graduate student, I'm actually not that big of a coffee drinker. Too much caffeine makes me jittery and scatter-brained, not so good when I'm trying to follow complicated theological arguments. But iced coffee in the summer is a different story. It's refreshing and cooling without that bitterness that some hot coffee can produce. I like it so much, that I'm going to have to start making this from decaf coffee because I want to drink it all day long. I pour in a splash of milk, a tablespoon of sugar-free hazelnut syrup, and shake it all up in a Mason jar. The recipe can be easily multiplied. I usually make 4 jars of the coffee concentrate at a time and just strain and store in the refrigerator.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
source: New York Times
Yields 2 drinks

1/3 cup medium-coarse ground coffee
1 1/2 cups water

In a jar, stir together coffee and water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cantaloupe Soup with Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sandwiches

Everyone knows that cantaloupe and prosciutto go well together. Those prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe balls leave me longing for a melon baller, but it's not exactly dinner. But a chilled soup and a baguette sandwich? Add a glass of white wine, and we are definitely talking. It helps because Joe doesn't think he likes cantaloupe. Too many bland, hard chunks of cantaloupe in generic fruit salads will do that to you. This was a local melon, full of juice and sweetness brought out ever so slightly by the salt. The recipe is easily halved, which I did. This is also a great summer meal because it doesn't use any heat (provided you don't bake your own baguette). Cool, crisp, and quick to make.

Cantaloupe Soup with Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sandwiches
source: Real Simple 
2 baguettes
2 8-ounce balls fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
1/2 pound sliced prosciutto
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cantaloupes, chilled, halved, and seeded
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
16 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Cut each baguette in half lengthwise, then in thirds crosswise. Layer the mozzarella and prosciutto on the bottom of each baguette portion. Drizzle with the oil and sandwich with the baguette tops; set aside.
In a blender, puree the cantaloupe and salt. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with the pepper and mint. Serve with the sandwiches.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Berry Pie

I never want to actually make anything with fruit because I prefer to eat it on its own or in cereal or with yogurt. But around this time, when its prime berry season, I can justify getting more berries to use in desserts. Fruit desserts are my favorite kind of dessert anyway, especially in the summer.

I made this for a party that our HOA threw for the 4th of July, except it was on the 1st since a lot of people would be going out of town. Most of the people that live in our condominium complex are empty-nesters or single, older people with grandchildren around my age. It's kind of like living with a bunch of grandparents because they're all really nice and want to talk to us all the time. They also loved this pie. Given the plethora of desserts on the table, I thought I would be taking a lot of this home, but I only had about a 1/3 of it left. Everyone wanted to know what made up the filling. The filling is pureed berries, strained, and then cooked with cornstarch to thicken it. It sets up beautifully in the refrigerator, and a lot of people guessed that it was jam. The other nice thing about this pie is that it isn't too sweet, just very refreshing for a hot summer evening.

Summer Berry Pie
source: Annie's Eats

For the crust:
5 oz. graham crackers (approx. 9 crackers), broken into rough pieces
2 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm

For the filling:
2 cups raspberries (about 9 oz.)
2 cups blackberries (about 11 oz.)
2 cups blueberries (about 10 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. strawberry jam

To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, process the graham crackers into fine, even crumbs (you should have about 1 cup of crumbs). Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small mixing bowl and toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Use the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides, forming a crust. Bake in the preheated oven until it is fragrant and beginning to brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely while making the filling.

For the filling, combine the berries in a large colander and gently rinse (taking care not to bruise them). Spread the berries on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently pat dry with additional paper towels.
In a food processor, puree 2 1/2 cups of the mixed berries until smooth and fully pureed, about 1 minute. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a small nonreactive saucepan, scraping and pressing on the seeds to extract as much puree as possible (you should have 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups). Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl to combine, then whisk the mixture into the puree. Bring the puree to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; when the mixture reaches a boil and is thickened to the consistency of pudding, remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and set aside to cool slightly.

While the puree is cooling, place the remaining berries in a medium bowl. Warm the jelly (or jam) briefly in the microwave to melt it slightly. Add the warmed jelly to the bowl of mixed berries and toss very gently so that all the berries are coated. Pour the berry puree into the cooled crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Evenly distribute the glazed berries over the puree and gently press into the surface. Loosely cover the pie with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled and the puree has set, about 3 hours (or up to 1 day). Slice with a hot, dry knife and serve.