November 30, 2011

Accidentally Delicious- Tomato and White Bean Sauce


I often make an impromptu delicious dinner and think, "Hey, I should blog this." Inevitable I forget to take pictures and/or forget how I made what I made. But tonight, in a cranky-hungry stupor, I've created something delicious. In my pantry I had a can of small white beans and a fancy can of chopped tomatoes (some Whole Foods brand with garlic and onion). I also have this great "Quick-Cook" pasta that cooks in 3 minutes. And all of a sudden it was delicious and blog-worthy. I'm literally not even done eating as I type this. I took the picture on my webcam, you can see the pasta sliding out of my bowl and the drip of liquid that fell on my keyboard immediately after the picture was snapped. I know it doesn't look appetizing; I promise, it is.

Here's how you do it:
Put up a pot of water to boil. Keep an eye on it and cook the pasta while everything else is going on. Drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil in a small saucepan. Add some garlic (I used 2 frozen cubes of this), about a teaspoon of rosemary, and a pinch of red chili flake. Let that all heat up and flavor the oil then add the can of tomatoes, cook off some of the liquid, for about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse the can of small white beans. Once the tomatoes have reduced, add the beans (I only used about 2/3 of the can) and continue to reduce down. It will start out looking a lot like soup, let it cook until it more closely resembles sauce. Stir in 3-5 TBSP grated parmesan cheese (the powdery stuff). When the pasta is done top it with the tomato bean sauce. It's so good.

Sorry again the picture is terrible. Just make this dish, it's SO easy, and healthy. The sauce would probably be good on whole wheat pasta or quinoa if you're looking for a healthier starch. But those don't cook in 3 minutes.

February 23, 2011

Easy as Pudding Banana Cookies




I came across this recipe: http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2010/12/day-1-of-12-days-of-christmas-cookies.html in December and loved the idea of using pistachio pudding mix because I love pistachio flavoring. So I whipped up a batch only adjusting it by replacing ¾ of the chopped nuts with white chocolate chips; why? because I ran out of pistachios and white chocolate chips are delicious. I brought them into work as a treat for the volunteers I manage while they work hard at a solicitation booth. I have another booth coming up this week and I wanted to bake them some more cookies. I looked up a few recipes but I really wanted to make the pistachio cookies again, then it dawned on me: If you can use pistachio pudding mix, why not use some other kind of pudding. When I went to the store, the only non-chocolate/vanilla/pistachio pudding they had was banana cream, so I got it and decided it would be good with walnuts and chocolate chips, so I made these, and they are good.

Ingredients

1 package sugar cookie mix
1 package (4 serving) instant banana pudding mix
¼ cup AP Flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup melted butter
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾-1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together cookie mix, pudding mix, and flour. Stir in butter and eggs to form dough. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop by teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment) about 2 inches apart, they will spread out. Bake for 9-11 minutes (I baked mine for 11-12). Cool for at least 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet, then cool completely.

Everyone who tried them really seemed to like them, here is a picture of my friend and volunteer, Leah, enjoying her cookie.


February 19, 2011

It's Been a Long Time French Onion Soup

I know it’s been a while and I am ashamed of my neglect. The main reason I started contributing to this blog was to add a little accountability to the quality and frequency of my cooking. Oops. I’ve been cooking and I have a few backlogged recipes and photos, and I’m going to see what I can do about posting a little more often. The reason I’m posting this particular recipe is because my friend asked for a French Onion soup recipe; so thanks for getting me back on the blogging wagon, Shelley.

Hi, my name is Jenna, and I’ve been a Food Network junkie for about 15 years now. I can’t say I love 100% of their programming, but I still remember the traumatic experience of learning something from Food Network that I absolutely did NOT want to know. French Onion soup is made with beef stock/broth. This was not good news to me. I had grown up having this delicious soup at non-kosher restaurants. The beef stock isn’t kosher there, and beef stock and cheese is never allowed. I just had to stop eating one of my favorite foods, cold turkey. mmm...bubbly cheese, how I missed thee. This happened when I was 10 or 11, by the way. So I went years without French Onion soup, but I finally started to realize I could achieve its rich flavor with no beef involved (I always choose cheese). All it takes is a few hours to milk (caramelize) the onions for all the flavor they’ve got. This is a simple recipe, but it is not a quick, weeknight recipe. However, your patience will pay off.

2 lbs yellow onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3-4 T olive oil
1 T salt
6 cups water
1 small pkg dried porcini mushrooms
1 cube beef bouillon (parve! yay!)
1 T flour
½ T balsamic
½ T soy sauce
½ t dried thyme
½ t dried rosemary (optional)

Garnish
1 ½-inch slice good baguette per serving
1 thin slice fresh mozzarella per serving (gruyere preffered)

caramelize onions over low heat in 3 T olive oil. This will take a long time, like 1 to 2 hours. If you are cooking over a low enough flame, you won’t have to stand over the stove the whole time. For the first 45 minutes you only have to stir them about once every 10 minutes. You can let the onions stick to the pan a bit, but stir again before they burn. Sprinkle some salt in every once in a while, starting at about 20 minutes into the cooking time. You can add a little more oil after 45-60 min too.

make broth by putting 6 cups of water up to boil. once it’s boiling, add the dried mushrooms and the bouillon. you may want to crumble and dissolve the bouillon in about ½ cup of the hot water so you don’t get clumps of saltiness in your broth. let it all boil for 2 more minutes then turn off the flame. let the flavors steep for at least 30 minutes, still keeping an eye on the onions and stirring them to prevent burning.

when the onions are caramelized and have reached a rich brown color, sprinkle them with 1 T flour and stir, cook for about a minute. Then add soy sauce and balsamic and a little broth to get all the sticky onions off the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth, carefully avoiding the reconstituted mushrooms and any grit, you may need to leave some broth in the pot just to be careful. Rinse the mushrooms, and slice about half of them and add them to the soup. Add the rosemary and thyme. Simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes.

meanwhile, make the garnish. All you need is toasty bread and cheese. You can use storebought croutons and shredded cheese, or you can make your own toast and broil cheese on top. I did something in between, a little closer to the fancier version. I think the best way is to make the toast and broil the cheese on, but I don’t have oven safe serving dishes, so I toasted the cheese directly on the toast and “floated” them in the soup. I also added a little shredded monterey jack cheese to the soup under the crouton.