Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fast & Fabulous Soup You'll Love

I made this, so-called, 7-Minute Soup from Food & Wine magazine last evening. It's made with roasted red pepper, hummus, and chicken. And while, from start to finish, it took me a bit longer than seven minutes, it was indeed, fast and easy. Plus, it was delicious!

I think once all the ingredients are prepped peppers drained and sliced, chicken boned and shredded, etc. from that point on, it's probably about seven minutes. I also made rice specifically for this soup, so that took some time, but since the recipe only calls for half a cup, leftover rice would be a perfect solution.

I didn't shop around for piquillo peppers, but used a jar of roasted red bell peppers instead. I also used brown rice instead of white; store-bought broth instead of stock; and I omitted the black pepper.

Pepper is a huge turn-off for my kids lately, so for most things, we just add pepper to taste at the table. In the end, however, I didn't even add pepper to mine it didn't need it. Same with the hot sauce, which is suggested for serving. I did, however, top the soup with red pepper strips, olive oil, and chopped parsley. While the red pepper is mostly for color (there's already plenty blended into the soup itself), the parsley and extra virgin olive oil added wonderful flavor that I wouldn't want to go without.

If you're needing a truly fast week-night dinner, prep your ingredients in advance, then start blending and cooking just seven minutes before serving time. Here's the recipe from Food & Wine: Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Blondies (Gluten-Free!)

One of the last, delicious baked treats I remember eating before going gluten-free was chocolate-chip blondies (AKA butterscotch brownies) made by my neighbor. They were so darn good! And I knew I was about to phase out gluten, so I suppose I enjoyed them even more because of that.

Occasionally, I get a craving for these blondies, and I've looked for gluten-free recipes online, but they all seem kind of odd to me. For example, one recipe calls for almond flour, which is out at my house because of my son's nut allergy. Another a no-bake recipe calls for pre-made vanilla wafer cookies. Other recipes claim to be wonderfully cake-like, but I don't want cake-like. I want moist, a bit chewy, brownie-like. I finally found a fairly standard recipe (standard for gluten-free, that is), but my results were just OK, not great, and worst of all, they were dry and crumbly.

I decided to take the traditional blondies recipe from one of my cookbooks, a recipe I know to be excellent when made with regular wheat flour, and make the substitutions myself. I used a gluten-free brownies recipe as kind of a guide... Three eggs? No, too much that would make them cakey. I decided on two.

They real key, I think, is the bake time. Over-baking makes the bars too dry. Under-baking leaves you with gooey cookie dough. Check them often, as ovens vary; the changing weather seems to affect things; and other mystery factors do too. Mine were just right, this time, after 25 minutes.

Blondies with Chocolate Chips  PRINTABLE RECIPE

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter - melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup brown rice flour blend  PRINTABLE RECIPE
3/4 tsp xanthun gum
1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet - your choice)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Prepare an 8" square baking pan (mine is glass) with non-stick spray.

2. With an electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and sugar until smooth; then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add the salt, flour, and xanthun gum and mix until well combined.

3. Stir in the chocolate chips; then pour the batter in to the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until just set in the middle - do not over-bake!

4. Cool completely (be patient) before cutting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jen Cooks Curry

I tried out a new curry recipe last evening and it was one of my more successful attempts at this type of dish. I know I should just stay away from cooking Thai and curries at home, but I love the flavors of these foods so much that once in awhile I have to take a stab at it.

Anyway, for curry, it was a fairly simple recipe. And, for a curry made by me, it tasted pretty good too. It was beautiful to look at as well, so I just had to post a picture.

I used mint and cilantro, but didn't make it to the Asian grocery for curry leaves or Thai basil (both optional). Also, no palm sugar I used brown sugar instead.

I loved the fresh herbs and the shallots, but overall, it was on the mild side for me. I like a lot of spice and more pungent flavors. If you're more of the mild type, you might like to try it. The recipe is from Sunset Magazine: Fresh Herb & Tofu Curry.