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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Low fat low calorie delicious Broccoli Soup recipe

This is a wonderful light summer soup that is low calorie and low fat, but it sacrifices none of the taste. Use fresh broccoli; the taste is much more delicious. You can make it with fat free chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, but I have a vegetarian in the house and I always use vegetable broth. Try for low-sodium if you use canned, since a lot of times store bought broth is made with tons of salt. It's a light, lovely meal when eaten with a salad and a fruit dessert. Tasty, but you don't ruin your waistline.

Broccoli soup

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
4 cups fresh broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups skim milk, warmed to room temperature *see note*
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Saute onion, garlic, and celery for 3-4 minutes, until onion is softened. Add potato and chopped broccoli, then add broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. If you prefer a smoother soup, process the slightly cooled soup in batches in your blender or food processor. I usually take out about half of it and blend it up, then add it back to the soup.

*if you add cold milk to hot liquid, you get milk that curdles in big lumps. If you don't have time to bring the milk to room temperature, add in the broth to the soup, withholding milk. Then when it comes up to a boil, add a ladle of broth to the milk. Then add it to the soup.*

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Apple Brown Betty

Another simple apple recipe that the quality of the dish depends completely on the taste of the apple you pick. Tart apples cook up better; Winesap, Pink Ladies, Granny Smiths, etc. Find one you like. This is quick and easy, and it serves beautifully. Dish it up with a topping of whipped cream or a Scoop of ice cream.


3 med. apples, cored and sliced
2 tbsp. raisins
1 tsp. cornstarch
Dash lemon juice
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. brown sugar

4 tsp. coconut
4 tsp. butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. brown sugar
Dash nutmeg
2 tablespoons walnuts or pecans

Put apple and ingredients in a lightly oiled 8" X 8" Pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mix topping ingredients together. Then put on top of baked apple mixture and bake another 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pears Poached in Wine

This is a beautiful and easy dessert that will always be a hit. I always feel so decadent eating pears this way; it seems so classy. The beautiful taste of the ripe pears shines through, and it's ultra simple to make.

Pears Poached in Wine

4 firm, ripe pears with stems
2 cups sweet white wine
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
Candied Orange peel or Orange Peel

Using a melon baller or paring knife, cut cores out through the bottom of the pears, leaving the tops intact and leaving a stem on. Peel the pears. In a Dutch oven or a heavy saucepan, stand pears upright with space between them.

Pour the wine and orange juice over pears. Bring to boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pan and gently simmer the pears, basting occasionally with the wine liquid, until tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat. Using slotted spoon, transfer them to stand in center of 4 dessert plates.

Add cinnamon stick and orange peel or candied orange peel to wine liquid in pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat; lower heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced, about 10 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the pears; garnish each with a piece of the cooked orange peel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tahini paste or sauce

Tahini is used in many Middle Eastern dishes, and it's hard to find in the store. If you're making hummus, you're going to want some of this. I've got a secret for you. Tahini is nothing but a sesame seed paste made with olive oil. It takes about 3 minutes to make.

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup tepid water

Whirl the sesame seeds up in the food processor, and drizzle in the olive oil while it is still running. Add salt. Add water in a steady stream until it makes a paste.

That's it.

Easy Hummus Recipe

Hummus is a dip made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Hummus actually means chickpea in Arabic. It's traditionally a Middle Eastern dish, but it's made in Greece, too. It's called hommos there. This recipe is not quite the traditional, but it's been altered to suit my tastes. And don't worry about not being able to find tahini; tahini is nothing but sesame seed paste, and I've got a recipe for that, too. If you don't want to bother making tahini, even though it's dead easy, you can buy some very inexpensively. Organic Tahini

2 cups Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 tomato, chopped, including juice
1 roasted pepper, red or green
2 tablespoons of tahini
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice
2 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients together until they form a creamy paste. Put in a large serving bowl and serve with warm pitas, pita chips, or tortilla chips.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Applesauce Muffins

I eat a lot of apples. A lot. And since I hate to throw anything away, I keep the cores and peelings in the freezer until I have enough, then cook them in water along with some cinnamon, pick out the seeds, and whirl it all up in the blender until it makes a nice applesauce to cook with. (I know, I know, it's ridiculously frugal. I can't help it.) Even if you don't feel a compulsion to use every single part of the apple, this a great applesauce muffin recipe. They're moist and firm-textured, and I usually make a batch and freeze half to use for a quick microwave breakfast later.

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg *see note below*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons oats (I prefer Rolled Oats for this, but you can use quick oats)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg, applesauce, vanilla. Stir all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add wet ingredients just until moistened. Add nuts, if using. Fill ungreased silicone muffin tin or greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes our clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.

*Freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon tastes better than regular ground, and only takes a minute. This great Nutmeg Grater costs less than $3 and I use it often.*

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

I love biscuits, but I don't love rolling out the dough and cutting them out before putting them in the pan, then re-rolling the leftover dough and doing it again. I've got a really great drop biscuit recipe, and as long as you don't mind if your biscuits are funny shapes, these are perfect. It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3. Stir it up, put it in the oven, and about 15 minutes later, you're done. I use bread flour to make biscuits, but the other kind is find. I just find that the bread flour makes them come out lighter.

Drop Biscuits

2 c. sifted flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter or Crisco or (my favorite)Fleishcmann's Premium Blend Made with Olive Oil
Melted butter or substitute for tops of biscuits
3/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 425.
In bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter or substitute until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk; stir until well blended. Drop from spoon on oiled baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter, lightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Quick and Easy Poached Salmon

This is the simplest and quickest salmon recipe ever. I made this dinner when I got home from work, served it with a nice apple salsa on the side, with mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. And it was on the table in 10 minutes. Got to love those ten minute meals.

Easy Poached Salmon

1 pound Salmon fillets
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 or 4 slices of onion, thinly sliced
Several sprigs of fresh dill or1 teaspoon dried dill
Sprig of fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Black pepper, to taste

Saute onion lightly in olive oil in large skillet. Add wine, water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Put in salmon, skin side down, and sprinkle with herbs. Cover pan tightly and cook for 5 minutes, until it's cooked the way you like it. Don't overcook, or it will be dry. Serve dusted with black pepper.

Easy, quick and delicious.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Apple Salsa

This is a fresh, different salsa that makes a beautiful side dish at barbecues, or just as a side dish when you're bored of the same old salsa. It's sweet, tart, and spicy all at the same time, and I absolutely love it. Easy to make, and even better after it sits in the refrigerator overnight. A Granny Smith apple is great for this, or try Winesap or Pink Lady apples.

2 tart apples, cored and cubed
1 tomato, chopped
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or1 tablespoon dried
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon Candied Ginger, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, stir together apples and lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

If you just don't feel up to making salsa, this very nice Raspberry~Cilantro Salsais perfect to keep in the refrigerator ... just for those nights when you don't feel like cooking. It's sweet and spicy, and the perfect accent. It's one of my very favorites.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Navy (white) Bean Soup

You can make this soup with any kind of bean, but I usually use Navy beans for it. If you want to cook this in the Crockpot, that's easy enough to do; just dump all the ingredients in the pot and cook on low for about 8 hours. Drop it in when you go to work, and when you come home, it will be done. You can add ham to this, but I usually don't. Add some cornbread, and it's a fine meal all on it's own.

Bean Soup
8 ounces (1/2 of 1 pound bag) Great Northern beans or Navy Beans
4 cups water
2 cups fresh spinach leaves or 1/2 cup frozen spinach
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
1 or 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a kettle, cover beans with water; bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer for 30 minutes. Drain beans. Combine beans, more water, and remaining ingredients in kettle. Cook on medium low until beans are tender and have made a 'gravy', approximately 2 to 3 hours. If it doesn't seem thick enough, take out about 1 cup cooked beans and mash them and return to the pot. This will make the soup thicker and creamier. I add the salt in at the beginning of cooking time, but some people do not add it until beans are already cooked, saying that it makes them tough. I have never seen this, but you may leave the salt until the end if you prefer.

Navy Beans Give Me Gas Grey T-Shirt

Saturday, May 3, 2008

White Bean Dip

Beans are very nearly the perfect food. Pound for pound, they're the best protein buy for your dollar. They contain minerals and B vitamins, and they have no cholesterol, and no sodium. They're full of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

The American Dietetic Association recommends 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, but most Americans take in about 11 grams. That's a significant deficit. With nine grams of fiber per cup, beans can significantly improve the fiber content of your diet.

And they taste great, too.

I usually cook beans up ahead of time and keep some in the frig, but I've included the canned amount in case you want to save time.

This dip great is to serve at parties or just to keep around as a snack. Highly nutritious and very delicious, it takes about a minute to make. Serve it with pita chips (Parmesan & Herb are my favorite kind) or cut up vegetables. You can use fresh parsley in place of the spinach, but I prefer the spinach.

White Bean Dip

1 15 ounce white beans, drained and rinsed
or 1 3/4 cup white beans
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup fresh spinach, loosely packed
black pepper
1/2 teaspoon organic dried oregano

Place the beans, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, oregano, and spinach leaves in food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a bowl. Serve with pita chips or chopped vegetables.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Easy Basic Bread Recipe

I never used to make bread. I love the taste, the texture, and the smell of new bread, but I always thought it too hard to do. I let other people do it, ate their offerings, and wished I could do the same. Then my grandmother wrote this recipe down for me, and I realized it's not as hard as it seems. It takes a while, but there's not as much work involved as you think. Your actual work time is only about 25 minutes; the rest of the time you are letting the dough rest or rise. I know that you think that you can't do this, but anybody who can cook a dinner can make a loaf of bread. And there is nothing more delicious than a slice of homemade bread, still warm from the oven. Try this out; you'll be surprised how easy it actually is.

I cup warm water (think baby bottle warm)
2 tablespoons Yeast (or two packages)
About 7 cups of Flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
Melted Butter for brushing on top of bread

Put 1 cup of warm water plus one tablespoon sugar in a mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of yeast, sprinkling it on top. Let sit for about five minutes, until the mixture is foamy and has increased in size.

Add three cups of flour, 1 cup of milk, dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of oil. I like to use olive oil. Stir 50 times clockwise, and then 50 times counter-clockwise.

Add another 3 to 4 cups of flour and mix until the dough forms a good ball. Turn dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and let it sit for ten minutes. Then knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes. (press down with your hands, folding dough over and over)

Let rise in a greased bowl for about an hour. It should double in size. Punch down the dough. Literally, punch your fist down in the very middle of the dough and deflate it. Divide into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in Nonstick Loaf Pans . Let it rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. When you tap the top of the loaf, it should sound hollow. If it doesn't, cook it a little more.

Cool on a wire rack, or balance it on the edge of the two pans. Brush the top with melted butter. Don't cut it for at least 20 minutes, or the inside of the loaf will be doughy.

And that's it. Easy-peasy.