Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back on the Wagon Mediterranean Tomato Soup

Christmas was lovely, the best ever spent surrounded by all of the people I love, including two brand new babies. Our family spent our Christmas dinner at a gorgeous garden centre restaurant this year. My hubby's cousin is the manager there and they booked the restaurant and all of our family, including their own families (mother-in-laws, father-in-laws) brought the food. It was the best Christmas dinner yet! They organizers had a huge room for all of the kids to play in with X-Box, Playstation, and lots of toys for the kids to enjoy. There was also an enormous gift shop we could all browse through on the way to watching the kids play floor hockey amongst a warehouse of Christmas trees. The pine and the flower scents were intoxicatingly festive. Though I will print a couple of Christmas dishes I enjoyed, here is the back on the wagon Mediterranean Tomato Soup to cleanse our bodies of all the chocolates, stuffing, turkey, and pies. I am looking forward to the new year and am currently writing out my dreams and goals. Enjoy the soup.


Mediterranean Tomato Soup

1 big onion chopped
1 zucchini
2 stalks of celery
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 carton of beef broth (you don't need to add this, just add packets of powdered bouillion with the appropriate amount of water if you like.
2 packets of beef bouillion and two cups of water (in addition to the carton of beef broth)
1 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes.


Optional flavorings
Chipolte spice
Balsamic vinegar
4 packets of splenda toheightenn flavor
Salt and pepper
Parmesan


Orange Stuffed Sweet Potato: Here is a cute and cool recipe my Aunt made. She gave me the ingredients, but in no particular measure while we were eating Christmas dinner. Slice a regular orange in half and squeeze out the juice, then scrape some of the pulp. Boil sweet potatoes and when done, mash with some butter, cream cheese, and seasonal flavorings, like nutmeg and cinnamon. Once the sweet potato is mashed and still thick in texture, stuff the orange halves and stick in the oven until the tops are slightly browned. Top with 1/2 a marichino cherry.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Italian Almond-Iced Christmas Cookies

I got this recipe from "Holiday Cooking with American Chefs" but made my own adjustments mostly to improvise for the ingredients I didn't have. These are the cookies I made for a cookie exchange this year.

Cookies: 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. of baking powder, ½ tsp. of salt, 3 eggs, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup of vegetable oil, 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, and ½ tsp. of pure almond extract. Icing: 2 tbsp. of milk, 1 tbsp. of egg white, 1 ¼ cups icing sugar, ¼ tsp. of pure almond extract.

Heat oven to 350 deg. Butter 2 sheet pans. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Then mix eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until pale yellow and fluffy. With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, form into logs 1 inch in diameter. Working in batches if necessary, cut into ¾ inch slices and arrange the cookies on the sheets pans. Bake until light golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. To make the icing: Whisk the milk, egg white, icing sugar, and almond extract together until smooth. When the cookies are cool, dip the tops into the white icing. ****My cookies looked boring, so I decided to toast some almonds and mix a chocolate concoction of chocolate chips, a little oil, and some balsamic vinegar and melted it in the microwave. I piped the chocolate onto the cookies and pressed the toasted almonds onto them while the chocolate was gooey and let dry. I also decorated a few cookies topped with "edible blossoms." Very attractive.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Simple Green Beans with Yellow Pepper and Boursin

I think that I just wrote out the whole recipe in the title! Trim a pound of green beans and boil in a pot of salted water for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, saute some sliced yellow/orange peppers in a pot of olive oil and garlic. When the beans and the peppers are done, toss them all together, adding more jarred garlic and olive oil if you like to make it glisten. Then dot the top of the green beans and peppers with Boursin Cheese and put into an oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Very pretty and very delicious.

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Creamy Corn Souffle/Casserole

It's hard to decide which to call this delicious mixture of baked corn and cheese so I will call it both a casserole and a souffle. It's a casserole because it's baked in a nice big casserole dish, and I will also deem it a souffle simply for it's gorgeousness and for it's luscious texture. Simply add four tins of cream of corn into a bowl and mix with two cups of strong cheddar cheese, 3 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 small onion, salt and pepper and pour it into a buttered casserole and bake at 350 degrees for at least one hour, or until the centre of the casserole is firm. Let cool a little and slice into squares. You will want to eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

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Thai Carrots a la Paul Newman

O.K. this recipe was just too darn easy, but so damn delicious. When cooking for this dinner party, I wasn't keen on boiling the crap out of a pot of carrots and then dousing them, like I normally might, with some nice orange cheese medley. Simple boil some baby carrots in a pot until al dente - I cooked two pounds of carrots for just under 10 minutes. Then you cool them down and toss in Paul Newman's Thai dressing and top with some fresh chives. Voila! Too easy and too delicious. Everybody loved them. Healthy too!

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Sirloin Roast Beef Dinner

Wow! For the longest time I thought that only Prime Rib would do; but last night I cooked an inexpensive gargantuous hunk of meat for my husband's company party and it turned out amazing. I highly recommend finding out exactly the best way to cook different types of roast. The sirloin is a leaner cut of beef and must be cooked fat side up at 300 degrees. I had a 12.65 lb. beef and needed to first do some kg to pound conversion. Being from Canada I still need help converting the kg into the pound thing. I found a great website: www.metric-conversions.org/weight/pound-conversion.htm

I then found another website called: www.ochef.com that really helped me cook this meat to perfection. "A sirloin roast of 8- to 12-lbs will take 16-20 minutes for rare, 20-22 for medium rare, 23-25 for medium, and 26-30 for well done. A boneless top round, by contrast, will take 28-30 minutes for rare, 30-33 for medium rare, 34-38 for medium, and 40-45 for well done." We took the roast out for medium rare. Beef will continue cooking for a little while when you take it out.

Beef is such a low maintenance food. I simply mixed together olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and poured it over the roast. I added a nice Greek herb/spice mixture to it as well and popped big daddy into the oven at 300 degrees. My roast cooked for exactly 3 hours and was pleasantly succulent and flavorful.

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Hot and Sour Soup made from left over Seviche

Last night I served Seviche as an appetizer before our company Christmas party at our house. Since there was some seviche left and because I didn't want to waste it, I turned this Mexican dish into a Mexican/Asian fusion with a very simple recipe for hot and sour soup. I just had a bowl and it is delicious.

Put left over seviche into a pot and add a carton of Chicken broth. Then add about 6 slices of fresh ginger to the pot, and 4 green onions. Then bring the dish to a boil and simmer. I then added two tbsp. of cornstarch to the pot - but you must first mix the two tablespoons of cornstarch with three tablespoons of water and mix until it is a smooth paste. Then add it to the pot and it will add a nice texture to the soup. I then added two tbsp. of Splenda to freshen the taste up together with lots of hot sauce - taste and do it to your own liking. Also add 1 tbsp. of rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. of soy and Worcestershire sauce. I also added a little olive oil to the pot as well because the recipe had called actually for 1 tsp. of sesame oil and I didn't have it. Then mix up one egg and stream it into the hot pot. It looks gorgeous and tastes amazing. If you are starting from scratch and not using leftover seviche, follow all of the above and just add 2 cups of shrimp.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shrimp and Avocado Seviche

I was introduced to this insatiably delicious appetizer by my friend who hails from Mexico. I served it at my hubby's birthday party last April and was asked by many for the recipe. Every Christmas when I send out my Christmas Cards I send with it a favorite recipe for my friends and family to try. This year I am sending out this appetizer that is delicious every season. It is a flexible appetizer that can be adapted to fit your tastes. First I purchase one bag of already cooked frozen shrimp. I generally buy the bag that is probably about 1 1/2 pounds - don't worry about the exact amount of shrimp as there can never be too much shrimp in this recipe! Make sure the shimp is defrosted first because you don't want it too watery. In a pretty bowl combine shrimp, 2 - 3 chopped avocados, 2 chopped up yellow/red peppers, 1 chopped cucumber, 1 cup of fresh lime juice, 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, 1 tbsp. of chipotle spice, 1 tsp. of sugar, 1/2 tsp. of salt. Put this concoction into the refrigerator for at least four hours to allow all the flavors to mingle. Serve with some nice baked tortilla chips. ***Last April tomatillos were in season and I added a few of these.

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