Roasted Tomato Soup

We have been ALL ABOUT THE SOUP in our house this last week.  Know why?  Because IT IS OCTOBER and fall weather is finally starting to arrive.  Okay, it’s Mississippi, which means cooler nights, and days still in the 80s, but we take what we can get after  a brutal summer of 100+ temps.  Fall, for me, means roasted vegetables (among other things).  And tomato soup was exactly the ticket.  This makes 4  1 1/2 cups servings at 120 calories and 3.7 grams of fat.  It’s marvelous with a grilled cheese or some focacia.

Ingredients:

  • 2 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 packet beef flavor boost (This is a new product by Swanson that I just had to try)
  • 1 tbs Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Drain off liquid from tomatoes and reserve.
3. Peel and quarter the onion.
4. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and add the tomatoes and onion.
5. Drizzle with olive oil.  You’ll probably use more than a tablespoon but you won’t be dumping the whole contents into the crock pot after roasting.
6. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
7. Roast for 25-30 minutes.
8. Scoop the tomatoes and onions into your crock pot.
9. Add the wine, flavor boost, and reserved tomato juice.
10. Stir and cook on low for 4 hours.

Printable version.

Gluten Free Friday: Southwestern Lentil Burgers

I’m not vegetarian, but I do often like vegetarian meals.  I’ve been on a kick for veggie based lunches lately to up my total veggie consumption.  I’ve had this bag of red lentils for a few months with no clue what to do with them.  I’m not a fan of Indian food, and I don’t much do bean salads.  When my BFF asked me the other day if I knew of a good recipe for veggie burgers, I thought AH HA!  These have the bene of also being gluten free (many veggie burger recipes call for bread crumbs).  Makes 7 burgers at 140 calories and  5.15 grams of fat per burger.

Ingredients:

  • 2  tbs olive oil
  • 1.25 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1.75 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packet Sazon

Directions:

1. Bring the stock to a boil.
2. Add the rinsed lentils and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add the rotel, onion, cilantro, paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.
4. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft.
5. Allow to cool for a bit.
6. Add the egg, stir well and fast (so it doesn’t cook).
7. Add the potato flakes.  Stir until well combined.
8. Add the corn flakes.  Stir until well combined.
9. Pan fry in canola or vegetable oil until both sides are browned (effectively seared).
10. Finish off in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
11. Serve with good sharp cheddar or monterey jack.

Printable version.

Oven Fried Eggplant

I’ve been away.  Bad food blogger.  But I’ve been finishing up my latest book, knocking out revisions and getting it ready to go out the door, and sadly, food blogging is what typically slides because I’m back to old favorites rather than creating new recipes.  But one of the things I did try was a new preparation for eggplant.

My husband’s grandmother makes the best fried eggplant.  Like, I could sit there and eat a plateful of nothing else.  But of course it’s not what you call GOOD for you.  I have a recipe for zucchini fries that I really love and I once tried adapting it to eggplant with soggy results.  Then I saw an episode of–I’m ashamed to say I don’t know what–on the Food Network where I found that you’re supposed to salt and press it for a while to get the excess moisture out.  Ah ha!  So I tried it again.  And this time, success!  I served it up with some marinara sauce as a marvelous appetizer.  Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Japanese eggplant (you could certainly do this with regular eggplant, I just happen to prefer the Japanese) cut into medallions, a bit less than a quarter inch thick.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1.5 cups breadcrumbs (if you’re doing the gluten free thing, use gluten free breadcrumbs…I made mine from this sandwich bread)
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/2 tsp parsley

Directions:

  1. Slice your eggplant and lay out on a cookie sheet.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and cover with another cookie sheet.  Press down with a couple of cans.
  3. Let it hang out for half an hour.
  4. Remove the cookie sheet and blot the excess moisture with paper towels.
  5. Flip the eggplant and repeat.
  6. Mix the breadcrumbs and all the spices until well combined.
  7. Once the eggplant is suitably dried out, dip it in the egg, then coat it in the breadcrumbs.
  8. Place on a wire rack over a cookie sheet.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Printable version.

Spicy Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Soup

One of my favorite foods is sweet potato fries, something I discovered only last year.   I just really dig the play of the faintly sweet of the potatoes against the chili powder.   That flavor combo just really works for me.  So I set out to try to duplicate that combination in a soup since I had a lone sweet potato and a butternut squash hanging out needing to be used.  The end results were delicious, with just enough heat to make me happy.  Makes 5, 1 cup servings at 205 calories and 6.8 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, seeds removed
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and rough chop the sweet potato, squash, and onion.
  3. Toss them lightly in olive oil and place in a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes.
  5. In a large dutch oven, add the chipotle pepper (no need to dice, you’re going to be pureeing this in the end), garlic, roasted veggies, and enough chicken stock to just cover the veggies in the pot.
  6. Add the salt and chili powder.
  7. Simmer on medium low for 1 hour.
  8. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.

Printable version.

Greek Yogurt Corn Casserole

I’ve been on a kick lately of substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream.  One of my favorite sides, that I usually only make for holidays, is corn casserole.  It’s not what you’d call light, but it’s OMG so good.  The Greek yogurt was a fantastic addition and we demolished this between the two of us in 2 days.  This probably technically makes 6 servings, but we considered it 4 at 483 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole kernel corn
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted (I used light margarine
  • 1/2 cups 2% shredded Cheddar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the corn, cream corn, corn muffin mix, yogurt, and melted butter.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar.
  6. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Printable version.

Quick Roasted Asparagus

One of the best summer veggies is baby asparagus.  That lovely, thin as a pencil variety, tender green and sweet.  Asparagus is one of those foods I thought I hated.  It turned out I just hate how my mom fixes it.  She uses the canned stuff that’s slimy and thick and noxious.  :shudder:  That shouldn’t be considered a food.  And the few times she’s had fresh asparagus she didn’t know you’re supposed to snap off the bottom woody part.  But I know.  And now you know (if you didn’t already), and you’re going to enjoy the end result.

Ingredients:

  • fresh summer asparagus
  • olive oil
  • seasoning of choice (I like Emeril’s Essence)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Snap each piece of asparagus to wherever it naturally breaks.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle with seasoning.
  6. Toss to coat.
  7. Roast for 5 minutes.

Printable version.

Cheesy Summer Veggie Saute

Feeling repentant for weekend excesses?  I know I am.  (We aren’t going to talk about the love affair I had with the guacamole dip and chips at a party we went to the other night)  Getting back on the bandwagon is hard when you’re making a lifestyle change.  One of the biggest challenges is that your body reacts to decreasing your calorie intake by making you hungrier (so not fair).  This quick and easy dish is light, healthy, and filling, packing in a whopping FOUR SERVINGS of vegetables.  It also makes really kickass filling for vegetarian quesedillas (using the 96% fat free tortillas).  As prepared, this is one serving at 232 calories and 11 grams of fat.  Additional variations include adding in a serving of black beans, a cup of fresh spinach, or adding some lean chicken as a protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 mini peppers (I like one each of yellow, orange, and red for a pop of color)
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat fiesta blend shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add onions, zucchini, and peppers.  Stir to coat with oil and saute for about three minutes.
  3. Add in the mushrooms.  Toss.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and paprika.
  5. Continue to saute until zucchini is tender.
  6. Remove to bowl and add cheese, tossing to evenly distribute and melt.

Printable version.

Corn In The Husk

This is the easiest way of making corn on the cob EVER.  No brainer.  Truly delicious.  You’re going to microwave it in the husk.  This essentially steams the corn perfectly.

Directions:  There aren’t even steps.  Microwave corn in the husk, 3 minutes per ear.  Carefully pull the husk and silk

Thoughtless Thursday: Roasted Vegetable Soup

I’ve been eating fairly heavily lately, so I was craving something veggie-laden and healthy.  My usual tomato soup wasn’t quite what I was in the mood for, so I opted for a roasted vegetable soup.  It’s loaded with different veggies and pureed.  This makes a fantastic lunch with a grilled cheese.   Makes 5-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 pint mini peppers, deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice.
  2. Rough chop the remaining veggies (except the garlic).
  3. Toss them in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes (until you get some nice caramelization).
  5. Pour the veggies and any juices into the crock pot.
  6. Add the garlic.
  7. Add the tomato juice.
  8. Add two cups of chicken stock.
  9. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6.
  10. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Printable version.

Thoughtless Thursday: Healthier Purple Hull Peas

Please excuse this week’s absence.  Our internet has been going in and out all week, which has made it difficult to post.

I actually had planned on giving you a recipe for slow cooker cassoulet, but it was a total bust, so my last minute pinch hitter is a healthier adaptation of a Southern staple: purple hull peas.  I am always astonished by how many southerners outside Mississippi have never heard of this little guy.  You like black eyed peas?  These are SO MUCH BETTER.  Late summer is the season for them, but I had several bags that have been hiding in my freezer.  Now the appropriate way to cook up a pot of purple hull peas is with some pork belly or a couple of strips of bacon.  A big hunk of country ham will do too.  But of course all the fat doesn’t exactly make for a healthy dish.  So I tried a little experiment today.  In the Latin foods section at Kroger, I actually found ham bouillon.    I’ve seen this mentioned on food blogs before, but this was the first time I’ve actually found it.  I decided to give it a shot and see if I could make a decent, healthy pot of peas.  The end results were pretty good, if not as good as the fatty version (no shock there).  Served up with a slab of jalapeno cheddar cornbread and I was quite happy.

Ingredients:

  • purple hull peas (I had probably a quart)
  • 1 packet of ham bouillon
  • salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Add the peas, bouillon, and 5 cups of water to the crock.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.
  3. Add salt just before serving.

Printable version.