Monday, January 28, 2008

Souping and Caking

When I got done arting with the girls on Saturday, I went home and commenced to cook. I made a pot of spicy cheeseburger soup, which we had for dinner with bread, and a chocolate raspberry cake, which we had after being disappointed by the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. The soup was nearly too spicy, even with the toning down I did. The boys and J raved about the cake long after they'd finished their pieces and gone on with life. I would add a touch more jam next time, but J said, "Don't change a thing!" I've had these recipes for so long that I have no idea where I got them.

Spicy Cheeseburger Soup
1 1/2 c. water
2 peeled, cubed potatoes
2 sm. carrots, grated (I actually used a fat handful of baby carrots and match-sticked them)
1 sm. onion, chopped
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1 seeded, chopped jalapeƱo (I used half)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. beef bouillon granules (I used a Knorr cube, crumbled)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. ground beef, thoroughly browned & drained (I used 90% lean)
2 1/2 c. milk (I used 1%)
3 tbsp. flour
8 oz. Velveeta, cubed (I used 2%)
1 tsp. cayenne (I used half, tasted, then added the rest. I would simply use half next time)
1/2 lb. crumbled, cooked bacon (Frankly, I don't think this added anything, really, and the texture was a little awkward, so I would skip it next time)

In a soup pot, mix water through salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. I found that 15 was fine, but I cut my veggies small. Add beef and 2 cups of the milk. Heat while mixing flour with half a cup of milk until smooth. Add gradually to pot, mixing well. Bring to boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add Velveeta, stirring to melt. Add cayenne. Top each serving with bacon on the way to the table.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake
1 chocolate cake mix (I used Devil's Food)
12 oz. chocolate chips
1/4 c. raspberry liqueur (optional & I skipped it)
1/2 c. raspberry jam
8 oz. sour cream (I used light without any texture or taste issues)
2 tbsp. chopped, toasted pecans (I subbed hazelnuts with no regrets at all...they seem right)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir up the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Add 1 cup of the chocolate chips to the batter and pour into 2 greased and floured 9" round pans. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350, using the toothpick test to determine doneness. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely. Brush top of each layer with liqueur, if using. Spread one layer with jam. Add second layer. Melt the rest of the chips, cool and gradually add sour cream. Spread the frosting on top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with nuts. Chill 2 hours. (It did seem as though the frosting would have done just fine if eaten right away rather than being chilled, but I went ahead and chilled it anyway)

Apparently, the boys were still raving about this cake in the car on the way back to PA. It wasn't my favorite cake ever, but the rest of the family sure loved it. I have been spoiled by my chocolate nemesis, I suppose.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Operation 10 by 40

My wife and I have decided, after a week indulging in Miami, to try and get fit. She is calling her project Operation Size 12, for her goal size. Mine is size 10 by age 40. Not sure I can do it that fast, but we shall see. Last night, she broiled some tuna steaks she'd marinated in Old Bay Lemon & Herb, lemon juice, cayenne and a smidge of olive oil. On the side, we had a big salad with light Italian dressing and some steamed veggies. Tonight, I made a big salad and some pita sandwiches. The salad was an iceberg blend with cubed avocado, pieces of crisp turkey bacon, chopped tomato and light vinaigrette. I put a small amount of Jack cheese in the pitas, along with baby spinach, broccoli sprouts, sliced black olives, cucumber slices and light vinaigrette. It was a nice light dinner that was plenty filling. Now, I am going to have a Valencia orange and watch "Georgia Rule." When J gets back from class, we'll hit the treadmills for a half hour walk. Last night, we did the same and it was actually fun, with someone along to keep me company.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chili & Pasta for a Chilly Night

Oh, boy, do I love chili! Last night, I put it over pasta for our supper and it was delicious! This is my adaptation of a Weight Watchers' recipe:

Rotini with Turkey Chili
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 minced cloves garlic
1 chopped onion
1 lb. lean ground turkey
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 lb. rotini

Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil and heat. Cook onion & garlic in oil for a couple of minutes. Add turkey & cook until browned. Add tomato & spices. Bring to a boil. Simmer while you cook the pasta, 15-20 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Tonight, my Beloved is cooking, but I am throwing some bread machine bread together & making amaretto peach crunch for dessert.

Garlic Herb Machine Bread
1 1/4 c. water
1 tbsp. butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 1/4 c. bread flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Add to machine in order and set for large loaf of white bread.

Amaretto Peach Crunch
1 lb. sliced peaches, fresh or frozen
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. amaretto
20 amaretti cookies (I really only like the Lazzaroni ones)
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/8 c. brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put peaches in 8x8 baking dish. If frozen, defrost before putting in dish. Sprinkle with lemon zest and juice and amaretto. Grind amaretti into crumbs in a few short blender pulses, adding almonds in last couple of bursts (or whack it all to crumbs in a zipper bag). Add sugar. Put in bowl & add melted butter, mixing with fork. Sprinkle over peaches and bake 25 minutes.