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Chick Pea Soup

Chick Pea Soup

Last night I was on my own for dinner. Usually I try to do something really healthy, but most of the time I end up eating frozen pizza. However, last night I made Chick Pea Soup. I don’t usually eat chick peas, I don’t make hummus or use them in salads, but I have heard they are good for you, and I will be really disappointed if someone tells me otherwise.

This soup was different for me because your first making a vegetable broth. Then you toss the veggies, and I like veggies. I considered putting some of the vegetables back into my soup after it was finished, but the soup is good and creamy so I opted not to add any vegetables back in.

Vegetable Broth

Ingredients

1 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (1 to 2 medium leeks)
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 fresh thyme sprig, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and juices

Put the leeks, carrot, 2 teaspoons salt, bay leaf, thyme sprig or dried thyme, tomatoes, and 4 cups water in a medium, heavy pot over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain stock into large bowl, extract much liquid as possible, and return stock to pot (discard vegetables in strainer).The stock should be about 4 cups. If not, add enough water to equal this amount.

Chick Pea Soup

4 cups stock
One 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup, short dried past, such as ditalini
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups baby spinach leaves
Parmesan cheese

Puree 1/2 cup chickpeas with 1/4 cup water in food processor or blender. Add the pureed chickpeas and remaining whole chickpeas, pasta, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon salt to the stock. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, for 6-8 minutes. (If the soup starts to cook down too much, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups additional water and return to simmer.) Add the spinach and cook 1 minute more or until wilted. Season with salt or pepper, if needed.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each serving.

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Grilled Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

Fish Tacos

Last night was TACO NIGHT! I really dig Taco Night because Marc and I work together in the kitchen and usually it goes quite nicely. Well, until it is time to clean up. Marc is not a cleaner upper. Taco night usually is chicken or steak tacos with all the fixings, but last night I decided we were going to have fish tacos.

I haven’t always been a fan of fish tacos. At first, I thought the idea sounded a little strange. About 2 years ago I started seeing fish tacos on restaurant menus. I just could not imagine fish with all the taco goodness,but that all changed when Marc and I spent 2 weeks in Hawaii. Not only is Hawaii absolutely beautiful, but fish taco huts are everywhere. Marc obviously wanted to eat at one, so I gave it; if I was going to try a fish taco it was going to be in Hawaii. Let me tell you that first fish taco took me by surprise. I was hooked. I ate a fish taco everyday we were there after that. To be honest, I didn’t even like guacamole until Hawaii. I’m telling you that place will change your life.

Grilled Fish Tacos

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb firm fleshed fish fillet
¾ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 8 oz can of corn
¼ teaspoon salt
8 corn tortillas
3 cups lettuce, shredded
1 lime

Fish Taco Sauce (stir together)
1 cup sour cream
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)

Method:
Preheat your grill. We used the George Forman last night, but however you choose to grill you will first need to combine the olive oil, paprika and garlic salt into a bowl and toss the fish. The fish should take too long to grill; only a few minutes each side.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you are using an outside grill, you can do this on the grill instead.
For oven: on a baking sheet lay corn tortillas flat, maybe only 4 can fit at a time. I butter the tortillas and add a little salt for taste. Bake for about 5 minutes then flip and bake about another 5 minutes.
For grill: During the last 2 minutes of grilling the fish, throw the tortillas on the grill and flip to grill the other side.

After the fish is done, cut into pieces, enough for 8 tacos. I like lots of small pieces myself, but whatever works for you. Assemble tacos with lettuce, fish, spoonful of sauce, corn, squeeze of lime, pico de gallo, and a little guacamole or lots in my case.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

I have to stop Marc from eating all this before the fish is done.

Ingredients:
2 tomatoes
¼ cup finely diced red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (the seeds are spicy, leave them out if you want your pico de gallo mild)
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ lime, juiced
½ teaspoon salt

Toss all ingredients in a small bowl and let stand at least ½ hour before serving.

Guacamole

Guacamole

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons red onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 large avocados
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely minced
1 tablespoon of small fresh cilantro leaves, optional
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion, optional

Method:
Combine the onion, lime juice, and the sea salt in a small bowl, and smash with a pestle or fork to a coarse paste. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop the flesh into the bowl. Add the cilantro and mix and mash, leaving some lumps. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

Sprinkle the guacamole with the cilantro leaves and/or chopped onion and serve immediately, if possible. To keep the guacamole at room temperature for up to 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface. To keep the guacamole for up to 3 hours, do not add the cilantro until just before serving, and cover and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.

Fried Egg Sandwiches

On nights when I am way too tired for anything that might take more than two minutes to fix, my tummy relies on a fried egg sandwich. It’s my mother’s fault really she started me on the grilled cheese. The famous grilled cheese, my husband is really good at making these. My mom used to make these famous grilled cheeses for me too, did you know you get addicted to cheese? You do. I heard it on Ellen. A doctor said it so I know it’s true something about opiates. It has opiates or you have opiates that get released. I don’t remember, but you get addicted. Anywho, I am addicted to cheese and egg sandwiches.

Last night, I fell asleep right after work. Crashed out. Oops. For 2 hours. Woke up long enough to watch Ugly Betty and Grey’s and make my fried egg sandwich.

I use 2 eggs, I’m not sure if that is healthy, but it fills the bread better than just 1 egg. Crack the eggs into the pan, like you would if you were cooking them sunny side up, but then break the yellow part. So, it’s fried eggs. Then add 2 pieces of buttered bread, with a slice or two of cheese. Then you grill the sandwich like a regular grilled cheese with the egg in the middle, until the cheese has melted around the egg and the bread is done. It’s so good, and it’s so fast I didn’t miss a minute of Ugly Betty.

Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola

Normally I like my artichokes with mayo, a little salt and pepper, served with some warm pita bread. However, today I am talking about parts of the artichoke that don’t always make it to the dinner table.

The artichoke is best known for its “heart,” the base. The heart is used in dips and casseroles. The “choke” is the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud; you don’t want to eat the choke. I am not here to talk about the heart or the choke, though. I want to talk about the basal leaves of the artichoke; which studies show are effective for improving digestion and liver function as well as cholesterol levels. Boiling or steaming an artichoke softens the petals, and there is a meaty part of the petal, which is quite good. The idea here is to stuff the artichoke with a dip, sort of like an appetizer without the pita bread. Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe.

Salt
2 artichokes
3 lemons
1 cup mild Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top 1-inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so the artichoke can sit up straight, and remove some of the bottom leaves. Using kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Add the artichokes to the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water. Toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the Gorgonzola, cream cheese, thyme, 2 teaspoons parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl stir together the bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the center choke of the artichokes using a small spoon. Stuff the cheese mixture into the center of the artichokes. Place the artichokes into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.

Panzanella

I made this completely on a whim. Some friends of ours, Tasha and Rich, came over for dinner the other night and I had no idea what to make for them. It had to be great because Marcus, being the wonderful husband he is, brags so much about my cooking. It puts a girl on the spot when she has to live up to those fine, loving words. I have been eying this recipe for quite sometime, but my concerns were that Marc is never going to accept this as a side dish and seriously? another salad I might die from starvation. Alas, this is another to chalk up to my serious lack of saladary expertise. Yes, saladary is a word, it’s my word. Panzanella, which comes to me from Barefoot Contessa is absolutely divine. I am awful at describing flavors, but the combination of the onions, basil, pepper, oil and vinaigrette sent my taste buds a flarin. Panzanella is so easy to make and a great side dish for the spring or summer. The idea is to add whatever it is you like, olives would be really good in this too.

Panzanella

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Blueberry Crisps

I don’t make dessert too often on week days. It is usually Oreo and minute brownie mix. However, as I posted earlier Marc has been having a couple of rough days, weeks, months…at work and well, I felt like be a nice wife and made him a dessert that I knew he would love. I found Blueberry Crisps on Baking Bites, very good stuff there. We had Blueberry Crisps the same night we grilled Chicken Kabobs, I tell you Marc was definetly impressed by my wifeyness that night! These were a hit! I made a few adjustments to my Blueberry Crisps.

1) Powder Suger – makes everything better!

2) Vanilla Icecream – Holy Moly! A warm blueberry crisp and icecream, melt in my mouth good. Think I am going to go eat another.

Blueberry Bars
Filling
3 cups fresh or frozen berries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

Crumble and Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking or regular)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened and cut into 7-9 large chunks
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling: In a medium saucepan, stir together berries and lemon juice and cook medium heat until fruit is tender, about 8-15 minutes, depending on type of berries being used (strawberries take longer than other berries, usually).
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, then stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, until thick. Scrape berry filling into a medium bowl and set aside.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9×13″ baking pan.
In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda , salt and vanilla extract. Pulse until mixture is thoroughly blended and resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this mixture in a medium bowl. Pour remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, spread evenly and pat down. Place filling in dollops over crust and carefully spread to cover entire surface. Squeeze reserved crumb mixture into large clumps with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over the top of the fruit filling.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Linguine with Tofu and Edamame

Linguine with Tofu and Edamame

I bought some tricolor linguine from World Market last week; although, I have not mastered the art of the noodles keeping their color. This is a meal we eat almost every week. I love the mix of tofu and edamames. I usually use whole wheat linguine for this recipe, but the tricolor was a good change.

Ingredients:
2 cups shelled edamame
8 ounces whole wheat linguine (or tricolor linguine)
2 cups chopped firm tofu
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups coarsely chopped arugula
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
Cook the edamame in boiling salted water until they are crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the pasta to the same water, and cook according to package directions. Drain it in a colander, drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil, and set it aside.
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 15 seconds. Add tofu and cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the arugula, coating it with the oil, and cook until wilted, 2 minutes. Mix in the edamame and remove the pan from the heat. Add the drained pasta, stirring until it is warmed through, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta and vegetables among 4 shallow pasta bowls or dinner plates, and top with equal amounts of the cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature.