Day 211: Pumpkin Pepita Bread

It is great fun to discover new recipes only because some random ingredient was hanging around and needed using up!

Today, the target was pepitas, roasted pumpkin seeds. For situations like this, my favorite resources are:
  • The reliable Epicurious despite its less-than-modern search capabilities
  • The multi-ingredient useful FoodieView which could be still more useful were its feeds to include more than 2 or 3 food blogs
So after considering everything from fish crusts to pepita brittle, I settled on this quick bread.

It's a good way to use up pepitas -- today's were hulled from Trader Joe's but you can make your own, too, as Elise has here at Simply Recipes.

That said, I wouldn't buy pepitas special for making pumpkin bread and thus this recipe won't replace my long-time favorite, especially since the pepitas really add to the calorie count.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

~ more pumpkin recipes ~


PUMPKIN PEPITA BREAD
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 16


1 1/2 cups pepitas
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or more all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (provides a small but very optional kick)
1 teaspoon salt (unless the pepitas are salted)

15 ounce can of pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1/2 cup, this makes the bread a bit more savory than sweet)
1/4 cup brown sugar (ditto)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (next time, use softened unsalted butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (next time, try 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Roughly grind the pepitas in the food processor. Add the remaining dry ingredients (flour through salt) and give a swirl or two just to mix.

Add the pumpkin, sugars and oil (or better, butter) to a large bowl and mix until well combined with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two after each. Add the ginger. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, just combining (if you combine too much, the bread will end up with small holes in it) after each and beginning and ending with the flour mixture (Here's another way to put that: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and just combine, add 1/4 cup of buttermilk and just combine, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and just combine, add the remaining buttermilk and just combine, add the remaining flour mixture and just combine but making sure there are no floury bits left.)

Transfer to a bread pan that's been well greased with butter or oil or cooking spray. Bake for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan onto a rack and finish cooling.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With 16 slices, 214 Cal (52% from Fat, 10% from Protein, 38% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 13 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 46 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 209 mg Sodium; 31 mg Cholesterol,, Weight Watchers 5 points

With 12 slices, 285 Cal (52% from Fat, 10% from Protein, 38% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 17 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 29 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 62 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 279 mg Sodium; 41 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 7 points


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Very adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2001

Day 210: Asian Broccoli in the Microwave ♥

Broccoli on the kitchen sill on a beautiful early-fall day
~ recipe & photo updated 2007 ~

2005: Lots of folks really cook with their microwaves. Aside from heating leftovers, mine is rarely called on for much beyond popping corn, melting butter and the morning oatmeal. And it shows: in seven months, there are only five microwave vegetable recipes on A Veggie Venture.

Time to fix that! And here's a start, with broccoli, one of several vegetables for which microwaves are perfect time-wise and taste-wise.

But microwaves do vary in power so the trick is, for something like broccoli that you might make again and again, is to take time-and-taste notes until you achieve reliable and perfect results, then do just repeat again and again.

TIP: Record the details on a sticky pad and stick it inside a cupboard as a reference next time. My notes from tonight read, "1/2 inch water, 'trees' vs trimmed, miked 5min covered then 5min rest w sauce ... too al dente ... next time try 7min in mike".

OH: and the sauce is so easy, so fast, so good, so healthful, that I recommend it no matter how the broccoli itself gets cooked.

2007: It takes the same few minutes to mix 3x or 4x the sauce ingredients so if you like this sauce, mix enough for multiple servings and then store in the frig.





ASIAN BROCCOLI in the MICROWAVE
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively (see ALANNA's TIPS)

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (from a jar)
1 teaspoon minced ginger (from a jar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Few turns of salt and pepper

Add 1/2 inch water to a microwave safe dish with a cover. Add broccoli, cover and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes (or more, see notes above) or until broccoli is nearly cooked. While broccoli cooks, assemble remaining ingredients. Pour over the broccoli, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 44 Cal (25% from Fat, 26% from Protein, 48% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb3; 66 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 255 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • I didn't tonight (and regretted it later) but here's how to "aggressively trim" broccoli. It's a supper-changing technique - really!! -- technique learned from StephenCooks who wrote:
"Cut the last 1/4" from the end of the stalks, use a paring knife to trim any gnarly stumps or little branches from the stalks and then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin from the stalks, starting at the base of the flower and going to the end of the stalks. Some larger stalks have a fairly thick skin and may need two passes of the peeler...you can tell when you got it all when the inner flesh of the stalk is exposed...it has a softer wet-green look, with no fibers visible and a consistency like a cut radish or potato.

Cut the broccoli into serving portions...I usually cut it crosswise into three pieces - the flower and two pieces of stalk about 2 1/2 - 3" long. Then divide the flowers from each other and halve or quarter the stalk pieces lengthwise. For uniform cooking, the flower stems should be about the same diameter as the quartered or halved stalk pieces.

I frequently cook a large amount of broccoli. I remove the portion I need immediately and covering it for a few minutes as you describe, I shock the remaining broccoli in cold water to totally stop the cooking. This leaves the broccoli slightly undercooked and ready to be reheated without being mushy for the next meal (microwave or quick steam) OR a nice crunchy addition to salads fully cooked broccoli is too soft. It keeps really well in the refrigerator."

Day 209: Broccoli Potato Cheddar Soup ♥ Recipe

Today's soup recipe: A gorgeous recipe for broccoli cheese soup, substantial enough for supper. It is rich and creamy yet not fat with empty calories. The spices build a flavor layer that many broccoli cheese soups don't have, fresh broccoli makes it all come alive. Gorgeous color!

~recipe & photo updated 2010~

2005: This is one great soup. Let me say it differently: this is one GREAT soup. The cumin and mustard deepen and sharpen the flavor of an otherwise bland mix of vegetables. The potato softens and creams the broth. The peppers and broccoli just look pretty and taste good! It takes some time to make but can be cooked partway, then rewarmed and finished later in all of 20 minutes. For anyone watching calories, it is just as delicious without the cheddar cheese.

2010: When I return to an early recipe from the first year of A Veggie Venture, I wonder if it will stand up to its memory. This recipe does -- and more. It's a really delicious broccoli cheese soup, one to turn to again and again.

RECIPE for BROCCOLI POTATO CHEDDAR SOUP

Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 9 cups

6 cups vegetable stock or chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
1 - 2 red peppers, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively (see TIPS), stems diced, florets reserved
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, skins on, diced

4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave. (This is a time-saving tip and can be skipped if there's no rush.)

Melt the butter over MEDIUM HIGH in a Dutch oven. Add the onion and peppers as they're prepped, then the garlic. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. While the onion/pepper cooks, gather together the flour/spice mixtures in a small bowl (this is a keep-moving technique that can be skipped if there's no rush); trim the broccoli and dice the potato; SET ASIDE the broccoli florets; grate the cheese.

Stir the flour/spice mixture into the onions/peppers until well combined, let cook about 1 minute (this lets the flour cook just a bit, removing a floury texture/flavor). A bit at a time, add the broth, incorporating well each time. (If you do this too fast, you'll end up with floury lumps, yuck.) Add the potatoes and broccoli stems (still reserving the top-bit florets). Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to MEDIUM. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes. (If you're cooking ahead, stop here and refrigerate til ready to serve. Return to a boil before continuing.)

Add the broccoli florets and cheddar and let cook for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked but not mushy. Serve immediately.


ALANNA's TIPS
I think frozen broccoli would work great, too.
How to agressively trim the broccoli (instructions come from StephenCooks): "Cut the last 1/4" from the end of the stalks, use a paring knife to trim any gnarly stumps or little branches from the stalks and then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin from the stalks, starting at the base of the flower and going to the end of the stalks. Some larger stalks have a fairly thick skin and may need two passes of the peeler. You can tell when you got it all when the inner flesh of the stalk is exposed, it has a softer wet-green look, with no fibers visible and a consistency like a cut radish or potato."

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE BROCCOLI RECIPES
~ Never-the-Same Steamed Broccoli ~
~ Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli ~
~ Asian Broccoli in the Microwave ~
~ more broccoli recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Quick Broccoli Soup ~
~ Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli ~
~ Power Food Broccoli Salad ~
~ more recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 208: Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar ♥

When the oven's already on for something else, it just feels good to roast some vegetables at the same time, even if they're not on the night's menu.

Tonight I tried roasting the beets with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the new favorite technique over at The Amateur Gourmet. Adam wraps the beets in foil. I wrapped two, then decided that foil wasn't so efficient for the remaining five beets so arranged them in a single layer in a covered casserole dish and roasted them side-by-side.

Both turned out great! And the balsamic vinegar is an inspired addition.

Oven temperature is always a question.
  • The Amateur Gourmet roasts his at 400F for an hour.
  • I did a little math and thought that at 375F, the beets'd be done in 65 minutes. Nope. It took 90 minutes for both those wrapped in foil and the ones in the casserole.
  • Are there temperature/time conversion techniques that actually work?
  • UPDATE: I've learned that it really isn't predictable how long it will take to roast beets, it depends on their size, their density, how much moisture they have, and on and on. So now I roast a bunch but don't plan on serving them that night.
Don't waste the greens! For ideas, check recipes for leafy greens but especially my top three, Greens with Sour Cream and Greek Greens and Greens & Stems with Mustard.

RECIPE for ROASTED BEETS with BALSAMIC VINEGAR

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 65 minutes or 95 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound fresh red beets
Olive oil, optional (I don't find it necessary, see NUTRITION ESTIMATE for calorie impact)
Balsamic vinegar

Slice off the greens but leave about a half inch of the stem end intact (this preserves the nutrients). Wash well. Place each beet on a sheet of foil or all the beets in a single layer in a casserole dish. If you're watching calories, MEASURE the olive oil (it's easy to use more than you want!) and drizzle onto the beets. Splash with balsamic vinegar.

Roast at 400F for 1 hour OR at 375F for 90 minutes. Let cool, slip off skins. Slice or chop and serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.


A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE BEET RECIPES
~ Beet Carpaccio ~
including my favorite way to roast beets
~ Harvard Beets ~
~ Beets with Feta ~
~ more beet recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Karelian Borscht ~
a Russian Beet Borscht Soup
~ Those Pink Potatoes ~
~ Borscht Beets ~
~ more beet recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Kitchen Parade Extra: Creamy Wild Rice Soup ◄

Winter and Spring and Summer may have their soups. But Fall? Fall is the Real Soup Season!

This week's Kitchen Parade column features a long-time favorite, a wild rice soup creamed with parsnip and potato and perfect for chilly days.

Day 206: Vegetarian Tsimmes ♥

'The Minimalist' Mark Bittman was in St Louis last night to promote his new book, The Best Recipes in the World, another tome of 700+ pages like his bestselling and my oft-cooked-from How to Cook Everything.

It was a small group of foodies gathered round, not a bite in sight, but I found him funny, cerebral and real, the kind of person you'd love to share a table with, even if he knew not one whit about food!

My thoughts on the new book after scanning maybe 100 pages, yes, in the vegetable section:
  • If you like How to Cook Everything and the Wednesday columns in the New York Times, you'll likely appreciate the new book too
    • It's classic Minimalist style with short ingredient lists and shortcut techniques
    • It's packed with substitution ideas -- this is also hallmark Minimalist and last night he quoted Jacques Pepin about kitchen artistry, 'You never step in the same river twice'
  • The recipes seem somewhat adventurous but not the least bit 'weird'
    • I 'study' classic-cuisine cookbooks but I rarely cook from them
    • This feels like one I could cook from every day
  • Most if not nearly all ingredients seem likely to be available in a middlin'-to-decent supermarket
    • Bittman says that so-called 'international' ingredients have been become dramatically more mainstream even in the last couple of years
Notable comments:
  • His take on the world's best cuisines: France, Italy, India, China and, the one he thinks might surprise, Mexico
  • About why he writes for the Times, despite it 'not paying well': It keeps him honest, keeps him cooking, even finding kitchens on the road Thoughts on the food blogging world: He pays minimalist attention, citing workload and a fear that if he were to start reading blogs OR writing his own, that obsessive-compulsive tendencies would take over (can anyone ELSE relate?)
  • While he signed my book, I mentioned making his Tomato Ginger Jam last summer using a bottle of chopped ginger -- to my surprise, he hadn't done this so I guess, yes, I really have "out-minimalized" the Very Minimalist himself!
So tonight, straight from the pages of the new cookbook, is what Mark Bittman calls Vegetarian Tsimmes, an Eastern European vegetable and fruit stew that's pronounced like this. This version is sweet potatoes and carrots and dried fruit and ... prunes, because yes, this is Prune Blogging Thursday over at David Lebowitz.

I figured on it being perfect for Thanksgiving tables. And it would be, yes. That said: It is sweet, in fact, sweet enough for the dessert table at a large potluck gathering -- I'm even tempted to mash some of the leftovers for a holiday pie.

I've never had tsimmes before and thus wouldn't have known there are meat versions except for the name, but I did find it crying out for meat, pork, specifically -- that's another idea for the leftovers

All in all, this was a grand introduction to Mark Bittman's new book -- and I do look forward to poring over and cooking from its many pages. And from the number of sticky notes already in place, I'd say that'll happen sooner than later.

VEGETARIAN TSIMMES
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Makes 9 cups


1 cup pitted prunes, about 6 ounces
1 cup dried cranberries, about 6 ounces (the recipe specifies dried pears)
1 cup dried figs, about 6 ounces (the recipe specifies chopped dates)
(the recipe also specified a cup of dried apricots which I didn't have and might not have used anyway since I was erring on the side of vegetables versus fruit)
Warm water to cover

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut in diagonal chunks
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in chunks (the recipe specified only 1 pound, again, I was erring toward more vegetables than fruit)
1 pound onions, diced

1 teaspoon ground cloves (the recipe specified a pinch, if you don't like cloves, use that, otherwise a teaspoon seemed right)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (oh my! I just now realized the lemon and honey were left out! hmm ... after tasting, I'd say the lemon is a good addition, the honey would only make it still sweeter)
1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon butter

Fill a Dutch oven with water (enough to cover the vegetables) and bring to a boil. Salt well. (The recipe didn't specify salt but I sure thought it'd have helped.)

Soak the fruit in warm water. (Or hmm, brandy? Yes, that'd be something.)

Prep the carrots, sweet potatoes and onion and cook nearly all the way. (The recipe says to parboil. I've had bad experiences with dishes like these where they take forever to cook in the oven if they're not mostly cooked beforehand. And again, I was thinking of Thanksgiving gatherings when oven availability can be iffy. So ...)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Scoop out 2 cups of the liquid and save. Drain the vegetables and return to the Dutch oven. Stir in the fruit (including the liquid), the remaining ingredients and about 1/2 cup of the potato/carrot liquid. (The recipe says a cup, this left an inch of liquid in the bottom.) Transfer to a well-buttered large casserole dish and top with dots of butter. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes (the recipe said 30 but that didn't seem enough, it also said to check occasionally and add more cooking liquid if the dish started to dry out, this didn't happen tonight). Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown a little.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 103 Cal (12% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 82% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 23 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 42 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 24 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Veggies for Kids: Moms Speak of Success

Today three Moms wrote of (surprising!) success getting vegetables into their little ones:

  • Meg of Too Many Chefs made kid- and parent-friendly (if a tad messy for toddlers) zucchini muffins
  • Alysha from The Savory Notebook first had luck with a canned vegetable soup and decided to brave a vegetable soup with pesto
  • Sweetnicks' Nick gobbled up a Rachael Ray spinach salad

VEGGIES for KIDS
is a continuing crusade here at A Veggie Venture, a forum for parents wanting to encourage healthful eating habits at home and school. What works for you? What would you like to fix at your own table? Leave a comment, send an e-mail or write your own post -- ideas and links along with kid-tested recipes will be posted in Veggies for Kids.

Day 205: Satisfying Lunch in One Point ♥

Satisfying Lunch in One Point
My favorite standby lunch, year-round, with any luck, the inspiration to help readers discover their own low-point standby lunch.

~recipe & photo updated 2010~

2005: If you're wondering, yes, those are canned beans! But please, keep reading. Canned beans are not required!

When there's a big supper on the calendar, this is my standard eat-at-my-desk lunch. It racks up a grand total of 1 Weight Watchers point (that's about 5% of a day's calories) but is still very filling and very satisfying. (If I'm having hunger pains before going out, I might fix another. The point is to fill up -- with volume and fiber -- without wasting the wonderful calories that'll be so enjoyed later on! I fix the same salad at five o'clock to avoid overeating at a happy hour. Or if I've had a big lunch out but still want to nosh for supper. Or if I'm just too full from too much and too-rich food over a few days. Or just because it's easy and fast and healthful.

Everyone needs a "standard lunch" in the culinary repertoire: easy, filling and satisfying. (Canned beans definitely not required -- but hey! I like 'em!) If you like, add something warm like this or this.

2007 & 2010 Update: Do you have a favorite one- or two- point lunch? Leave a comment, to share with others. This is one of A Veggie Venture's top posts so do share your own favorites with readers here. It's also still one of my favorite quick lunches, five whole years later!

SATISFYING LUNCH in ONE POINT

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 1 but easily multiplied

Fresh spinach or lettuce greens
A can of green beans, drained
A scant half cup of 1% cottage cheese
Other chopped vegetables (often leftover from the night before)

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
ST LOUISANS The Pevely/Dierbergs 1% cottage cheese is so creamy, it makes for a great no-mix salad dressing.
Believe it or not, I buy green beans by the case at Sam's Club, a case or two at a time for about $5 for a dozen cans, way cheaper than buying individual cans at the grocery store.




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 204: Potato Soup ♥

Today my back-door neighbor delivered a sample of her leek'n'potato soup. After the first bite, I groaned. After the second, I swooned.

We've swapped recipes for awhile now so it's a safe bet that the soup was fat (literally and figuratively) with butter and olive oil and cream.

But hey! She's been married for 50+ years and has the physique of a 20-something. Maybe it's the soup! I rationalized. I licked the bowl and decided, on the spot, to try my own.

My version (the one in the picture) is accidentally less leek-ish and decidedly more healthful. (I did deliver a cream- and yogurt-laced batch to the east-side neighbors. Beforehand, I tried a spoonful. It was good enough though not swoon worthy.)

The recipe is a good basic start for your own creative soup-making, moving where the veggie gods take you. And I'll work on my neighbor for her recipe!

POTATO SOUP
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 6 cups without and 7 cups with added cream/yogurt

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter
3 leeks, cleaned (how to clean) and white/light green parts chopped fine
8 ounces fresh fennel, chopped fine
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, of course!)
2 tablespoons water

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, skins on, diced small
8 ounces carrot, peeled and diced small

1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (the recipe specified tarragon which I think would have been perfect, certainly better than the savory I picked at the grocery)
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup half 'n' half (optional, I like the fat-free half'n'half in soups)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave.

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. When it's hot, add the leeks and fennel as they're prepped, then the garlic and water. (Less butter is needed when water provides a tad more cooking liquid.) Cook until soft and pungent, about 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook unattended for about 30 minutes. Stir in the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cook another few minutes.

Now, choices:
  • Eat as is, lots of lovely lumps of vegetables.
  • Remove some of the vegetables with a slotted spoon and puree the rest, preferably right there in the pot with an immersion blender. Return the vegetables to the pot.
  • Puree the whole darn pot.
Now more choices:
  • If you're cooking ahead, stop here and refrigerate the soup to let the flavors meld. (A good choice.)
  • Consider eating as is, without the added calories/fat of the cream and yogurt. At the very least, try it! Learn how it tastes without the richness and then decide. I decided to add a spoonful of richness on top, keeping the creaminess concentrated rather than diffused throughout -- this was more than satisfying.
  • Or, add the cream and yogurt and let heat but do not allow to boil.
NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Cup (makes 6 cups), without cream and yogurt: 177 Cal (34% from Fat, 13% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 99 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 465 mg Sodium; 20 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Per Cup (makes 7 cups), with cream and yogurt: 148 Cal (31% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 67 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 392 mg Sodium; 14 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Note: Yes, the nutrition math is right, at least I checked it twice. The difference is the change in the number of servings from the two versions.

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Bringing the broth to a boil ahead of time saves a few minutes cooking time later. Skip this step if you're not in a hurry. That said, I often do it even when there's no hurry because it's quite often that the "active prep time" concludes at the same time the soup comes to a boil and can be left unattended.
  • If you're going to puree the whole batch, then how large/small you chop the vegetables makes little difference.


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
VERY adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2003

Day 203: Roasted Butternut Squash ♥

Roasted Butternut Squash
Today's vegetable recipe: How to roast a butternut squash, cut in half and roasted cut-side down.

~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005 Original Post: Lots of squash a-cookin' here! Here is my number one tip for roasting winter squash, make good use of the oven and dishwasher by cooking two, not one, butternut squash at a time. In the Recipe Box, recipes calling for pre-cooked squash are marked with a Watch for recipes calling for cooked squash, marked with this , watch for it.

Tonight's culinary question is what made two squash turn out so very different? I'm stymied about what might be the source of the differences, if anyone cares to chime in!

Both butternut squash were purchased on the same day from the same bin and had been stored the same, on the counter looking all healthful and fall-wholesome. Both had the same appearance on the outside. But my goodness, once split open, what a difference:

Day 202: Broccoli Soufflé ♥

It was supposed to bake for 20 minutes. It took nearly an hour.

It was supposed to rise up in an airy pillow. It was more like a favorite old feather-flattened pillow. (Though hey, it DID deflate so maybe it was better than apparent?)

Sounds like a failure, yes? No way, even if timing and aesthetics were less than ideal.

This broccoli soufflé, my first soufflé ever, was absolutely honest-to-goodness spoon-lickin' delicious and I can't wait for the opportunity to perfect the technique.

Thanks to Kitchen Chick for hosting Is My Blog Burning, another online food event, this one featuring cooks from all over the world worry-watching their ovens for the oh-so-desirable soufflé poof. There are many other first-time soufflérs in the event, most who experienced great success. My thoughts/tips on what might have gone wrong with mine are included below but the other posts are well worth reviewing.

BROCCOLI SOUFFLÉ
Hands-on time: maybe 45 minutes (but shortcup tips are below)
Time to table: nearly 2 hours (but I suspect this can get down to 45 minutes)
Supposedly serves 8 but in small-ish portions; it's so good, I'd plan on 4


Boiling water

1 cup half 'n' half (or whole milk as the recipe suggests)
1 tablespoon garlic
1 bay leaf

Cooked broccoli, pureed to measure a generous cup (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage (or other herbs)
3 ounces good cheddar, grated (or other cheese)
Pinch of pimenton paprika
Generous salt and pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons flour (see ALANNA's TIPS)
3 egg yolks

Butter
Grated Parmesan

4 egg whites

Bring a kettle of water to a boil (if you'll be baking right away, otherwise, do this with the egg whites.) Bring the half 'n' half, garlic and bay leaf just to a simmer in the microwave. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Combine the broccoli, sage, cheddar, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. (The recipe suggest 'overseasoning' since the egg whites are so bland.)

(See TIPS.) Melt the butter in a medium sauce over MEDIUM. Add the flour, stirring well to work out all the lumps. Cook for a minute or so. Slowly add the cream, stirring all the while to avoid lumps. (The recipe says that at this point, the mixture will have to cook for a few minutes to thicken to the consistency of custard. Tonight's version was already very thick so I proceeded.) Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir this mixture into the broccoli mixture.

Butter 4 one-cup ramekins OR 2 two-cup ramekins OR 8 half-cup eight OR 1 4-cup souffle dish. Dust with Parmesan. Arrange in another baking dish that can be filled with water TWO-THIRDS up the sides. (At first, my pan wasn't even close to this full, a possible reason for the long baking time and the disappointing poof. )

(I worked ahead this far.)

(If you haven't boiled the water, do so now.) Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Incorporate a spoonful into the broccoli mixture to loosen a little, then gently fold the remaining egg whites in. Fill the ramekins, smoothing the top. Rub your finger around the inside edge (suppposedly this encourages early rising). Add the boiling water to the baking dish. Bake until the top is puffed and golden but the center is still soft, supposedly (the recipe says) for 20 - 25 minutes for a large souffle and 15 - 25 minutes for the small.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With four servings, Per Serving: 395 Cal (67% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 14% from Carb); 19 g Protein; 29 g Tot Fat; 17 g Sat Fat; 14 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 295 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 313 mg Sodium; 257 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 10 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Broccoli was nearly too much for the food processor attachment to my favorite immersion blender. Next time I'd go for the food processor, even for such a small amount. OR: a bit of liquid might have helped. OR: better yet, how about baby food???
  • A quick glance at other savory souffle recipes suggests that tonight's poof might be the result of the proportion of liquid:flour. I'll work on this. It also affected the consistency of the butter/flour/milk which was more like a cream puff choux pastry than the creamy custard the recipe seemed to contemplate.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from French Food at Home by Laura Calder


+

Day 201: Butternut Squash Soup

With so many delicious-sounding and -looking squash soup recipes popping up on food blogs, I had to try one too.

But instead I took a shortcut and picked this up this package at Trader Joe's for some moment when a cupful of soup was needed in a minute flat.

And it was good enough though to my taste, not as good as the creamy corn version from Day 153 nor even half so good as this Squash & Pear Soup.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Hands-on time: 2 minutes
Time to table: 2 minutes
Serves 2


Pour a half cup soup into two small microwave-safe dishes and warm, separately, in the microwave for one minute apiece. Top with croutons or toasted pumpkin seeds or sour cream if you're feelin' fancy.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per cup, 90 calories, 2 grams fat, 16 grams carb, 3 grams fiber, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 200: Broccoli with Garlic Oyster Sauce ♥

It's just so absolutely perfect that on Day 200 (imagine, 200!) of cooking vegetables in a new way every single day, what emerged from the veggie bin is this delicious, easy, nutritious side dish. We can never, ever get enough broccoli!

It's every day food. It's wonderful.

Timing is important in this recipe. The broccoli won't be cooked after only five minutes of steaming. However, be sure to have the sauce ready by then. Add it to the drained broccoli, cover, and let rest for five minutes so that the flavors can meld and the broccoli can finish cooking. Another five minutes? Too many, trust me.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more broccoli recipes ~
~ Never-the-Same Steamed Broccoli, where I first learned about the real trick for great steamed broccoli that starts with aggressive trimming with a carrot peeler and a knife ~
~ more Weight Watchers one-point recipes ~
~ more favorite vegetable recipes (this was my very favorite recipe in October 2005) ~


BROCCOLI with GARLIC OYSTER SAUCE
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively (see ALANNA's TIPS)

SAUCE
1 generous tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar!)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring an inch of water to boil in a steaming pan. Transfer broccoli to steamer basket. When the water is boiling, place the basket inside the pan, COVER and let steam for five minutes. Turn the heat off, leave the cover on and let rest for five minutes to finish cooking.

Meanwhile, assemble the sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil. Toss with the broccoli and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 51 Cal (23% from Fat, 26% from Protein, 51% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 72 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 468 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • How to agressively trim the broccoli (instructions come from StephenCooks).
    "Cut the last 1/4" from the end of the stalks, use a paring knife to trim any gnarly stumps or little branches from the stalks and then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin from the stalks, starting at the base of the flower and going to the end of the stalks. Some larger stalks have a fairly thick skin and may need two passes of the peeler...you can tell when you got it all when the inner flesh of the stalk is exposed...it has a softer wet-green look, with no fibers visible and a consistency like a cut radish or potato.

    Cut the broccoli into serving portions...I usually cut it crosswise into three pieces - the flower and two pieces of stalk about 2 1/2 - 3" long. Then divide the flowers from each other and halve or quarter the stalk pieces lengthwise. For uniform cooking, the flower stems should be about the same diameter as the quartered or halved stalk pieces."


    StephenCooks adds this note about making ahead.

    "I frequently cook a large amount of broccoli. I remove the portion I need immediately and covering it for a few minutes as you describe, I shock the remaining brocolli in cold water to totally stop the cooking. This leaves the brocolli slightly undercooked and ready to be reheated without being mushy for the next meal (microwave or quick steam) OR a nice crunchy addition to salads fully cooked brocolli is too soft. It keeps really well in the refrigerator."


    CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
    Broccoli technique from StephenCooks
    Adapted from Gourmet, February 2004
  • Kitchen Parade Extra: Mocha Morsels

    It's about time!

    FINALLY we can turn on the oven without first turning on the air. So set that oven to 350F and mix up a batch of the Mocha Morsels featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

    Day 199: Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Cake ♥

    When you write about vegetables, some times it takes an extra cup of creativity to participate in the dessert-loving food event Sugar High Friday, this month hosted by Lovescool and featuring chocolate.

    But chocolate turned out to be easy. Choices included:
    • ... chocolate & zucchini, a 1960s cake combination made famous long before the popular Parisian blog adopted the moniker
    • ... chocolate & carrot, usually in otherwise-traditional carrot cakes
    • ... chocolate & sweet potato, in Southern-style sweet potato pies
    But this chocolate and vegetable pair is new to me, chocolate and ... chocolate and ... think ... think ... think ... hint: think root vegetable ... hint: think RED root vegetable ... think .... think .... think beets.

    BEETS? Yes, beets!

    And the cake tasted quite good though it was not especially 'interesting' taste-wise since the beets seem to add structure and sweetness and a hint of color but little taste. Still, it's an easy and inexpensive way to add nutrients and fiber to dessert without risk of notice!



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

    ~ more beet recipes ~


    SECRET-INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE CAKE
    Hands-on time: 20 minutes
    Baking time: 55 minutes
    Time to table: 2 hours
    Serves 16


    2 15-ounce cans cooked beets, drained (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked beet)

    1/2 cup vegetable oil (reduced from 1 cup, see ALANNA's TIPS)
    1 cup sugar (reduced from 1 1/2 cups)
    3 eggs
    2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I'm partial to the Trader Joe's vanilla paste)

    1 3/4 cups flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon cinnamon (recommended)

    1 teaspoon powdered sugar

    Preheat the oven to 350F.

    Puree the beets in a food processor until very smooth. (This took several minutes, longer than expected.)

    Combine the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Mix in the beet puree and the vanilla. Collect the dry ingredients on top of the batter and stir together lightly without incorporating into the batter. (This is a dish-saving technique that works quite well for me. The alternative is to whisk the dry ingredients together separately and then add to the batter.)

    Transfer to a well-greased Bundt pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool the rest of the way. Sprinkle with powdered sugar through a small strainer.

    Serving Suggestion: We had this topped with sour cherries and a splash of half 'n' half. But I'd also recommend whipping cream with a bit of chocolate and cinnamon for a topping. THAT would be yummy.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 211 Cal (40% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 10 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 29 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 21 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 310 mg Sodium; 46 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

    ALANNA's TIPS
    • It's generally NOT a good idea to fiddle with ingredient proportions in cakes because each ingredient has its purpose and the stated quantities are likely important to the cake's outcome. I didn't hesitate in this instance, however, to reduce the oil because experience says that 1/2 cup of oil is a frequent amount for 1 3/4 cup flour and to reduce the sugar because my own experience is that American recipes are nearly always very sweet and that halving the sugar is a reliable technique.

    Day 188: Squash Pizza ♥

    St Louis is one grand sports town for fans, owners and players alike. We love our Rams and we love our Blues. But more than anything, we love our Cardinals and the tradition of redbird baseball.

    (This is a food post, promise! Read on!)

    Tonight, the Cardinals played the Astros in Game 6 for the National League Championship title. We lost 5-1, making tonight's the last game of the season, the last game at forty-season Busch Stadium and the last game broadcast by signal-strong KMOX that made the Cardinals the hometown team in at least ten states. (This morning's paper says it well, the emotion, the pride, the disappointment.)

    So the game was lost. It won't comfort the sports-only folks but foodies, know this: At least the pizza was good!

    For the crust, I used a new Boboli product, a whole wheat thin-cardboard, I mean, thin-crust. (Next time I'll perfect the crust technique first tried here.) I also do NOT appreciate how Boboli is making it difficult to compare nutrition labels. The traditional crust is supposedly 8 servings, this crust is measured at 5. Bad Boboli, Bad Bad Boboli!)

    The pizza base was cooked butternut squash which was very tasty on its own but especially topped with toasted walnuts, goat cheese, grated Swiss cheese and an inspired drizzle of honey. It also included smidgins of smoked salmon but these seemed gratuitous and unnecessary.

    And the drink of the night was a birch juice from Russia, slightly sweetish and very refreshing -- and supposedly an arthritis- and MS-fighting elixir.

    For the record, this is A Veggie Venture's official entry in the third Blog Party, an online food event this month with the theme of "Big Game Night". It's sponsored by Dispensing Happiness.

    SQUASH PIZZA
    Hands-on time: 10 minutes
    Time to table: 25 minutes
    Serves 4


    1 pizza crust

    About 1 cup cooked and mashed butternut or other winter squash
    About 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, in pieces
    1/4 pound Swiss cheese, grated
    Drizzle of honey


    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    (Topping Only) Per Serving: 209 Cal (52% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 30% from Carb); 10 g Protein; 13 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 246 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 201 mg Sodium; 26 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

    Day 187: Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan

    See the X in the stem end?

    That's one trick to cooking Brussels sprouts evenly, inside as well as out. The other is to select sprouts which are similar in size. I happen to like the teeny-tiny bite-size ones.

    The lemon/Parmesan treatment was "okay" but forgettable.

    BRUSSELS SPROUTS with LEMON & PARMESAN
    Hands-on time: 10 minutes
    Time to table: 25 minutes
    Serves 8 (a few seem to go a long way)


    1 pound Brussels sprouts
    Juice of a lemon
    Bit of grated Parmesan cheese
    Salt and pepper

    Place 1 - 2 inches of water in a large pot with a steamer basket and bring to a boil.

    Wash the Brussels sprouts. Cut off the stem end, leaving about 2/3 of the sprout and discarding the tougher outer leaves that come loose. With the tip of a knife, make an X into the interior of the core. (The trimming can be done far in advance, even a day or so if you're making for a holiday dinner.)

    Transfer to the steamer tray and place over the boiling water. Cover and let steam for about 15 minutes or until cooked clear through. (I taste one to know if they're done.)

    Sprinkle with the lemon juice and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve.



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

    ~ more Brussels sprouts recipes ~


    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 29 Cal (10% from Fat, 26% from Protein, 64% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 33 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 26 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points


    Day 186: Microwave "Baked" Sweet Potato

    This is a Gimme, no doubt. (But hey! Some days, even weeks!, the last thing worth worrying about is what vegetable's for supper.)

    It's one of these new microwaveable sweet potatoes, all clean and wrapped in plastic. It's also a hot, tasty, healthful food that moves from the frig to microwave to the table in a matter of 10 minutes.

    [2007: It's easy (and much cheaper!) to cook a standard sweet potato in the microwave.]

    Sure, ordering pizza or picking up carryout on the way home are options. But these new microwave-able potatoes and sweet potatoes are keepers -- they're cheaper, faster and far more healthful.

    For the record, they also keep. I cooked the baked potato version back on Day 145 so this sweet potato guy has been languishing in the frig since then, well more than a month.

    MICROWAVE "BAKED" SWEET POTATO
    Hands-on time: 2 minute
    Time to table: 10 minutes
    Serves 2


    1 8-ounce microwave-able sweet potato
    Salt and pepper

    Follow sweet potato instructions. Season to taste. Enjoy!

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 86 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 20 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 34 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 15 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Day 185: Healthy Creamed Spinach ♥

    Creamed Spinach
    Creamed spinach is such a favorite vegetable side dish! But my recipe for creamed spinach is not the "heart attack on a plate" that you find at steak house. In fact, let's just go ahead and be honest, mine is a recipe for healthy creamed spinach, heavy on the spinach, low in fat and absolutely delicious.

    ~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2010~

    2005: This is a such long-time favorite recipe, one served all seasons, on weeknights and weekends, for kids and grown-ups, for just-family and company alike. Creamed spinach is a favorite because:
    It's remarkably healthful and reliably delicious.
    It makes up without fuss and uses inexpensive ingredients that are often on hand.
    It works with lots of meats but especially steak, pork, chicken and lamb.
    Most of all, however, I like how it can be made a half hour or an hour ahead of time and it'll hold -- including the bright green color -- while the rest of dinner gets finished. This makes it ever-so-versatile when timing is a question.

    2008: This recipe was first published in 2005 and was republished online in 2008, after making it four times in two weeks, twice with frozen spinach and twice with fresh spinach. (Fresh is definitely recommended!) It's more 'spinachy' than 'creamy' so to my taste, perfectly balanced.

    2010: I experimented with a mix of fresh spinach and fresh broccoli raab (also called broccoli rabe or rapini). This was extra good, for broccoli raab has just a hint of bitterness that adds a welcome note to the creaminess of the sauce. Very good -- gosh I love this recipe!

    Besides, how healthy is my Healthy Creamed Spinach versus a popular recipe from another food blogger? Just check the nutrition comparisons, below.

    TESTIMONIALS
    "I made it last night and it was awesome." ~ TaraTot


    CREAMED SPINACH

    Hands-on time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Serves 4 or 8

    1 - 2 pounds frozen spinach OR 1 - 2 pound fresh spinach, preferably not baby spinach which is too tender, washed well and stems removed

    1 tablespoon butter
    1 medium onion, finely chopped (2008: shallot was lovely)
    2 tablespoons flour
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 cup skim milk, warmed in the microwave
    2 tablespoons (about 1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan or smalls chunk of feta cheese
    Additional salt and pepper to taste

    If using frozen spinach, defrost in the microwave. If it's really watery, press through a colander to remove the excess liquid.

    If using fresh spinach, chop roughly, then lightly steam.

    Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the onion and sauté until soft and fully cooked. (Be sure to cook the onion all the way through.) Stir in the flour, salt and nutmeg until smooth. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM. Add a tablespoon of the warm milk and stir until the milk is smoothly incorporated into the flour. Repeat until all the milk is used. (You're making what's called a white sauce. If you add all the milk, or too much of the milk at one time, the sauce will contain unsavory lumps of flour.) Let cook, stirring all the while, for a minute, then stir in the Parmesan or feta. Add the spinach to the sauce and stir well, then let cook for a couple of minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings. To hold for serving in 30 - 60 minutes, reduce heat to LOW and cover.

    ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
    While creamed spinach is 'good' when made with frozen spinach, it's out-of-this-world delicious when made with fresh spinach. I don't recommend bags of the 'baby' spinach, however, for the leaves are so tender, they don't stand up to the sauce. Instead, gather fresh spinach leaves, wash them very well, cut off the stems and the center core, then chop roughly. Just delicious!
    I've tried to just dump still-frozen spinach into the sauce and it just doesn't work. The spinach DOES does need cooking, not just reheating, to taste good.


    A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic







    © Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


    Day 184: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

    What's so hard about scalloped vegetables?
    • A week ago, I had trouble with a potato/beet scallop and turned it into Survivor Soup.
    • Tonight, I tasted a few bites of sweet potato scallop and dumped the rest into a freezer container for Saturday Soup.
    I don't know what's happening! But I do know, THIS is no keeper, despite all apparent promise.



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

    ~ more sweet potato recipes ~



    SCALLOPED SWEET POTATOES
    Prep time: 15 minutes + Soaking time: 30 minutes + Assembly time: 6 minutes
    Baking time: 50 - 70 minutes
    Serves 8


    2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (easy enough with a knife)

    (have these on hand before assembling as they go between the layers of sweet potato)
    Olive oil (I used a mister)
    Salt and pepper
    About 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    Thyme and marjoram
    3/4 cup chicken broth

    Soak the sweet potato slices in cold water for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a 9x13-ish oven dish with cooking spray. Arrange a layer of slices on the dish, then mist with olive oil, salt and pepper, some of the onion, a sprinkle of thyme and marjoram and some of the broth. Repeat until the potatoes are used up. (I was tempted to cover with foil and wish I had to contain some of the moisture.) Bake until tender, about 50 minutes (or so the recipe said, tonight's took another 20 minutes; foil may further lengthen the cooking time).

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 107 Cal (15% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 78% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 37 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 69 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


    CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
    Teri's Kitchen

    Day 183: Broccoli with Fennel ♥

    This broccoli/fennel combination is good -- not roll your eyes and moan out loud good but everyday good.

    The fennel adds subtle verve -- plus, it's an excellent way to use up fennel bulbs that tend to linger in the vegetable bin.

    The original recipe called for a red pepper (and I used what was on hand, a yellow one) which did "veg up" the dish (for example, to serve more people) and "use up" a pepper that needed attention. But it also wasn't that interesting and seemed a gratuitous addition of color -- so next time, unless I need to veg up or use up, I'll skip the pepper.



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

    ~ more fennel recipes ~


    BROCCOLI with FENNEL
    Hands-on time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 25 minutes (requires occasional attention during last 10 minutes)
    Serves 4


    1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 4 tablespoons)
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    1 bulb fennel, finely chopped
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 red pepper, finely chopped (next time, skip this)

    1 pound broccoli, "aggressively trimmed" (see ALANNA's TIPS)
    A sprinkle of thyme, basil and savory (or use herbes de Provence if you have it on hand)
    2/3 cup fat-free chicken broth (Swanson's 100% Natural Goodness is what Cook's Illustrated recommends)

    Heat a large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. When it's hot, add the oil and let heat. Add the fennel seeds and stir into the oil, let cook for about 3 minutes.

    While the fennel SEEDS cook, chop the fennel BULB and onion; add them to the skillet as they're prepped. (The fennel needs slightly more time to cook so do add it first.) Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

    While the fennel/onion cooks, trim the broccoli (see TIPS). Add the broccoli, herbs and broth to the skillet and stir to slightly coat the broccoli with liquid.

    Cover and let cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir and cover again, turn off the heat and let rest for another 5 minutes (Hands off that cover! for the heat inside will continue to cook the broccoli. )

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 84 Cal (37% from Fat, 17% from Protein, 46% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 69 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 139 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


    ALANNA's TIPS

    This is a broccoli-cooking-changing technique learned from StephenCooks:
    "Cut the last 1/4" from the end of the stalks, use a paring knife to trim any gnarly stumps or little branches from the stalks and then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin from the stalks, starting at the base of the flower and going to the end of the stalks. Some larger stalks have a fairly thick skin and may need two passes of the peeler...you can tell when you got it all when the inner flesh of the stalk is exposed...it has a softer wet-green look, with no fibers visible and a consistency like a cut radish or potato.

    Cut the broccoli into serving portions...I usually cut it crosswise into three pieces - the flower and two pieces of stalk about 2 1/2 - 3" long. Then divide the flowers from each other and halve or quarter the stalk pieces lengthwise. For uniform cooking, the flower stems should be about the same diameter as the quartered or halved stalk pieces."



    CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
    Adapted from Bon Appetit November 2001

    Kitchen Parade Extra: Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Cranberry Sauce ◄

    Kitchen Parade's weekly column continues its new series featuring Quick Suppers where the fare is fast and healthful. Here's a great dish for fall, Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Cranberry Sauce.

    Day 182: Simple-As-Campbells Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup ♥

    There's something clever about a can of Campbell's. "Mix soup + 1 can water" and "for creamier soup, use 1 can milk." Ah, so simple.

    By good luck vs good design, tonight's soup seems perfect for Day 182 (!) here on A Veggie Venture, the halfway point in what's likely a full-year odyssey.

    It's as simple as a can of Campbell's, after, that is, the tomatoes spend 12 hours in the oven. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes are a 2006 idea for Northern Hemispherers but for anyone in what are now spring-and-soon-summer-climes, I've got a freezerful and hope to tempt you all (my) winter with ways to use them!

    SLOW-ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
    Hands-on time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 10 minutes
    Serves 1


    1 cup slow-roasted tomatoes
    1 cup skim milk
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Mix tomatoes + milk. Warm on stovetop but do not allow to boil. If desired, puree with an immersion blender. Season to taste.

    Day 181: Chocolate "Mousse"

    CALL FOR HELP!
    I'm stymied by calorie-dense desserts for people with dietary restrictions.
    • No dairy so no cream.
    • No animal products so no egg.
    • No refined sugar or flour so no, well, no sugar or flour though honey, maple syrup and whole-grain flours and whole grains are okay.

    It's like vegan on steroids. What DO you make?

    This is more than a casual question. I'm cooking for a neighbor who's ill and on a much-restricted diet. Mostly I'm happy to experiment and learn along the way. But in this instance, I'd rather not, I'd rather have tried-and-true-and-tested great results. Comments are fine. Or my e-mail address is on the right. In advance, many thanks.

    If you have ideas or sources (and in a perfect world, recipes) I'd much appreciate it.

    THE MOUSSE
    Perhaps it was eight years of not eating meat. If I weren't going to eat meat, I saw no reason for meat substitutes. Even now, I enjoy the occasional veggie burger but in its own right not as a substitute for a beef or lamb or turkey burger.

    So tofu-based mousse is confusing. It might be enjoyable in its own right. But it's not cream-rich mousse. And it's certainly, to my taste, not worth nearly 400 calories and 9 Weight Watchers points.

    CHOCOLATE "MOUSSE"
    Hands-on time: 10 minutes
    Time to table: 30 minutes
    Serves 6


    12 ounces chocolate (to my dismay, chocolate contains more sugar than I knew and didn't actually meet my sick neighbor's diet requirement)
    16 ounces soft silk tofu
    4 tablespoons honey (substituted for maple syrup)
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Melt the chocolate. Mix it with the remaining ingredients in the food processor until very smooth. Transfer to serving dishes and let chill for at least 20 minutes.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 390 Cal (43% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 49% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 19 g Tot Fat; 8 g Sat Fat; 48 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 132 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 49 mg Sodium; 13 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 9 points


    Day 180: Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut ♥

    Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, easy to make, rich and slightly sweet, beautiful color, a fall tradition. Vegan. WW points vary.
    graphic button small size size 10 Today's fall tradition, a golden bowl of butternut squash soup, here slightly sweet (but not too fruity) with puréed pear, warmed with curry (but not spicy hot! I promise!) and almost creamy with coconut (but not coconut-y). When made with vegetable stock, not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

    ~recipe updated & republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration~
    ~more recently updated recipes~

    WAY BACK IN 2005 Mmm, mmmm, good. This is the second week cooking for a neighbor sick with cancer and his wife: comfort food for him, a reprieve for her. Last week the objective was lots of calories. As happens in these situations, however, this is a new week and the new alternative medicine doctor has prescribed what I think would be called a macrobiotic diet. No meat, no fish, no dairy. No refined flour or sugar. So vegetables and fruits and grains are the order of the day – yet he still needs dense calories because his appetite is diminished. It's a challenge, cooking with so many restrictions, but fascinating too.

    UPDATE My neighbor lost his battle with cancer in 2006 and just this week, his widow passed away too. They were good people: he was a brother and she was a nun when they met, fell in love, married and grew old together. Warm summer evenings, she would take his arm and slowly they'd stroll around their small house, taking stock of the flowers, then sit on a hanging swing, just quietly visiting, just enjoying one another's company. Mutual friends and I laugh about their reunion in heaven, it's a nice thought, we hope, we believe, it's true. It's a small thing perhaps, but I made this soup again in their honor and served it to much acclaim for my book club. I said it in 2005 and I'll repeat it now. Mmm, mmmmm, good. Very very good.

    Over the years, I've collected several butternut squash soups, all slightly different, all wonderful. Here's how they vary. At least one (and perhaps more than one?!) belongs on your fall menu!

    2005 Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut – Recipe below, uses pear for fruitiness and coconut milk for creaminess. Vegan.
    2006 Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream – Uses apple and apple cider for fruitiness. Vegetarian.
    2007 Simple Butternut Squash Soup – Quick to make, the simplest soup, really just squash and broth. Vegan.
    2010 Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash – More involved but extracts the most squash flavor. Vegetarian.
    2011 Butternut Squash Soup with Mango & Toasted Coconut – A good season-transition soup since it's good both hot and cold. Vegan.

    COMPLIMENTS!
    "Turned out yummy ..." ~ dvinokur

    Day 179: Carrots with Honey & Vinegar ♥

    Isn't there a children's rhyme about honey and vinegar? Something's nagging the back of my brain ...

    No matter, this is a great weeknight supper recipe! Invest a few minutes up front (and do take the couple of minutes to peel real carrots -- the prepeeled ones from bags just have no flavor when cooked) and then the carrots almost cook on their own while you work on whatever else's on the menu.

    The inspiration for these came from -- get this! -- a little recipe booklet hanging off a vinegar bottle. It's been hanging around for a few weeks. Tonight I put my foot down and said, Cook 'em or throw it away. It was worth the wait!

    Find other carrot recipes in the Recipe Box.

    CARROTS with HONEY & VINEGAR
    Hands-on time: 7 minutes
    Time to table: 35 minutes
    Serves 4


    1/2 cup water or fat-free chicken broth (have more available if needed)
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I think any vinegar'd work fine)
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 teaspoon butter
    1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced thin (the thinner, the faster they'll cook)
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Bring all the ingredients except the carrots to boil over MEDIUM HIGH in a small saucepan. Add the carrots. Add more water or broth if the carrots aren't fully covered. Once the liquid boils, reduce the heat to MEDIUM. Watch the liquid level, if it boils away before the carrots are cooked, add more. Eventually, however, you'll want it to cook away, leaving the carrots slightly glazed. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 73 Cal (14% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 79% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 38 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 157 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


    Day 178: Greens & Stems with Mustard ♥

    Add this to a growing list of great ways to cook greens (and look at those gorgeous stems, too!) without fat. Here the magic flavor ingredient is mustard.

    The inspiration came from My Adventures in the Breadbox (2007: a now-defunct food blog) who last week served kale alongside pork tenderloin.

    GREENS & STEMS with MUSTARD
    Hands-on time: 15 minutes (mostly for cleaning which can be done ahead)
    Time to table: 20 minutes
    Serves 4


    1/2 cup (or more but start with 1/4 cup) fat-free chicken broth
    Greens and stems, about 1 1/2 pounds (tonight, used the greens from 4 beets and the stems from 2, think that's about the right proportion)
    1 large shallot, chopped
    2 tablespoons good mustard
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Heat the a large, deep skillet. Add about 1/4 cup of the broth just before adding the first stems. Rinse and remove the stems, chop into small pieces and add to the skillet. Cook the stems while rinsing and chopping the leaves. Add the shallot and the mustard and let cook until the shallot just begins to soften. Add the leaves in batches, letting each one cook a bit before turning under and adding another. Once all the greens are added, cover and let simmer until fully cooked, adding broth as needed to cook quickly without burning. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 48 Cal (10% from Fat, 32% from Protein, 57% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 6 g Fiber; 205 mg Calcium; 5 mg Iron; 456 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points