Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It has been so ridiculously cold lately. Supposedly, the coldest winter in the last 3 years.  All  I want to do it eat is soup. Has been craving something hearty and had lots of leftover stock so came out with this soup. Must say was good, FAST to make and my critiques approved. All measurements are estimates, you really can't go wrong.

5 cups frozen sweet corn kernels
4 cloves garlic sliced thin
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
8-10 shrimps cooked and deveined
Heavy cream (optional) about teaspoon per bowl

Oil for cooking shrimp and garlic

Bring chicken stock to boil.  If you have homemade, feel free to use, if not, store bought stock perfectly fine. I am not a snob when it comes to this.

In the meantime, microwave your corn kernels for about 75 seconds. Add to stock. If you wish, reserve some of the corn. This reserved corn will add some bite to the soup. If you don't want to have kernels floating around, go ahead and put them all in.

Cook garlic in a skillet in a bit of oil till golden, add to above. 
Using emersion blender, carefully blend your soup till creamy consistency. 

If your shrimp is not cooked, cook it in oil once you remove the garlic.  Cook through till nice and pink, about 3 minutes per side. I used Trader Joe Frozen Blue Shrimp. It was already peeled which makes life so much easier. Once cooked, chop into small pieces, reserving a whole shrimp per serving to top soup with (optional).

Some bits ok.  Add the unblended corn if you reserved it. Add pieces of shrimp. Add coriander and cumin. Bring to boil and cook for a few minutes.

Ladle into bowls, add a bit of cream and top w whole shrimp. I actually topped it with roasted parsnips bits what I warmed up only because I had some leftover from last night. 

Recipe for that is here  I cut up the parsnip leftovers into small pieces and reheated them in the same skillet I cooked the garlic and the shrimp.

Roasted Parsnips (Great Alternative to Potatoes)

Really experimenting with roasting all kinds of veggies lately. Parsnips are a great alternative to potatoes.  Onces again, roasting veggies just makes them taste so good!

4 parsnips
2 tablespoons oil (I used grape)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425.

Peel and cup parsnip into rounds. Try to keep the thickness even. Toss in a large bowl with oil, salt and pepper. I don't use pepper only because my kids don't like it. But if you and yours do, go right ahead.

Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through. Check on occasion, smaller pieces will likely be ready earlier and will need to removed earlier.

I served these a side with meatballs the other night and used leftovers as a soup topping.

Farro Salad with Cherries, Pine Nuts, Pecans and Roasted Red Onions

Monday, January 21, 2013

Love farro and really don't make it enough. Decided to make this salad for my potluck at work. I am on a renewed health kick since the new year and figured if I make something healthy, I won't ruin my being good with something that's not even worth the calories.

This salad is pretty flexible in terms of what you put in it, so you can get creative.

Ingredients for potluck (this makes a lot so feel free to cut in half or more)
2 cups farro
6 cups water (plus more for soaking)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons white balsamic for soaking cherries (plus 2 more for dressing)
1 diced red onion (shallot or white onion is fine also)
1 tablespoon oil (I used grape)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 more for dressing)
Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice (optional)
1 clove crushed garlic

Preparation for Salad:

1) Soak farro in cold water for about 25 minutes. Rinse and drain.

2) Add 6 cups of water to 2 cups of farro. Bring to boil. Cook on low flame for about 1/2 hour. 

3) Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Set aside to cool.

4) Dice your red onion, toss in 1 tablespoon of grape oil or another oil that tolerates high heat. Roast for about 1o minutes at 425. Turn over half way through. Once cook, set aside. You can easily not cook the onion but I figured since this will be served the next day, I would rather cook it through. Once onions are cooled, add to farro.

5) While your onions are roasting, fix up your dried cherries. If they  are large, feel free to cut them in half. Soak them  in 2 tablespoons of white balsamic and 2 tablespoons hot water. Let them sit while onions are cooking. Drain. Add to farro.

6) Toast nuts on a dry skillet about 5 minutes. Watch carefully not to burn. I toasted pine nuts and pecans separately due to different size. Let cool and add to farro.

7) Add salt to taste.

Mix olive oil, white balsamic, orange juice and crushed garlic. If you are eating salad immediately, you can add to salad. If you are serving later, set aside and combine right before eating.

You can garnish with grapes like I did or add a green such as arugula or mustard greens. I did not only because I need this to keep overnight.

Potato Leek Soup with Tumeric and Smoked Paprika

Monday, January 14, 2013

What could be better on a cold winter night then a hearty soup. Granted, winter has not been cold but I am still craving soup.  Playing around with flavors here and came up with an interesting twist on the classic.

5 potatoes peeled, washed and diced
3 leeks washed well and chopped
2 shallots peeled and chopped
1 carrot peeled and chopped.
5 cups of broth or stock (chicken, beef, vegetable--your choice)
2 tbs oil
Salt, Pepper to Taste
1-2 tbs of tumeric
1/2 tbs of smoked paprika 
3 strips of bacon cooked till crunchy and drained on paper towels (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil and simmer shallots and leeks for about 7 minutes till begin to soften. Add potatoes and carrots, simmer another minute. Add broth, bring to boil. Cook till potatoes soften, about 20 minutes. Add tumeric and paprika, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes.

Using emersion blender, blend soup till smooth. If too thick, add more broth and bring to boil while stirring.

I will be serving with bacon bits and kale chips.  Recipe for kale chips here:

Kale Chips

If you think you hate kale, you have not tried homemade kale chips. Does not get simpler or yummier not to mention it's a healthy super food blah blah blah. Even my 7 year old who is Miss Picky Pants adores these. In fact, my kids actually question the health benefits of these because they taste "just like potato chips"! Score!

Ingredients (all 3 of them)

Kale washed and spun dried with rough veiny areas disguarded

         (these come out great both with regular kale as well as luciano kale)
Oil of your choice (I use grape or truffle) 1-2 tbsp depending on amount of kale. 
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Preheat oven to about 300 degrees.
Roast till crunchy and a bit brown but not too brown, about 15 minutes. Be careful not too burn as they go from yummy to yucky fairly fast. I usually remove ones that are done and continue roasting longer for the others.
Drain on paper towels if a bit oily

Enjoy alone as a healthy snack or as a topping when you want some crunch.

I have recently tried these with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (which tastes like cheese) and it was great that way as well.

Balsamic Pork Chops (healthier then they sound)

Monday, January 7, 2013

This is a really tasty and surprising fast dinner particularly for a weeknight. I have made them and forgotten about them only to rediscover them all over again. 

Balsamic Pork Chops with Fresh Salad


4 loin chops about 1/2 inch thick
Flour for dredging (I use whole wheat)
1/2 Cup aged balsamic vinegar 
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp oil (I use grape)
2 gloves crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry pork chops.

Crush 2 garlic cloves, set aside.

Wrap in saran wrap and pound it like you mean it.  My kids always love this step!

Dredge in Flour. 

Add salt and pepper. Brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Less or more depending on thickness but don't overcook.  Remove to a  dish. Pour off excess oil from the pan. Leave bits from pork if any.
Take balsamic vinger,  crushed garlic and add a bit of brown sugar. Reduce flame and let bubbling, remove crumbly bits. When vingar is totally bubbling, take off and pour over chops. It should look like this.
You really can serve this with anything. I made a simple salad of cubed tomato, seedless cucumbers, avocado, yellow pepper, shallots and fresh mozzarella. I dressed it in balsamic (2 tbsp) and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. 

Dinner! Yummy, healthy and in keeping up with resolution to eat healthy this year! 

Eggplant Spinach Lasagna (Noodle Free)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Is it strange that I don't like meat lasagna? I think I am probably the only one. I do love a vegetarian version that I made a month ago, recipe here : Lemon Basil Lasagna Roll Ups. Inspired by this, I decided to go for the noodless version featured here. After all the holiday eating this carb free just might be the way to go.

Eggplant Spinach Noodlefree Lasagna


2-3 small to medium eggplants
2 cups of fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
1 15 ounce container of ricotta (I used part skim)
Fresh basil (about 1/2 cup)
1 small can of tomato paste (12 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or pizza cheese)
Salt to taste
Dry oregano (optional)

1) Wash and dry eggplant. Slice eggplant the long way. Sprinkle with salt and leave for a while. The longer the better 20 to 30 minutes is great. Do not rinse.

2) Preheat oven to 425. Roast eggplant for about 10 minutes per side. 

3) Mix ricotta with chopped basil. Reserve about 1/3 for garnish.

4) Spread about 1/3 of the tomato paste in a square dish. Top with eggplant and 1/2 the ricotta mixture. Top with spinach.  Add more ricotta. Add another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining tomato paste. Bake at 375 uncovered about 15 minutes. 

5) Cover with foil. Cook another 15 minutes. 

6) Top with shredded cheese. Cook about 3-5 minutes till cheese melts. Garnish with remaining basil and cook a few more minutes.