Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MDP's Confused Chowdah

I call this confused because when I was a kid, chowder came from Rocky Point and was red (Manhanttan style), or maybe white (New England style). But this batch was more of an orange because I can never decide between creamy or with tomatoes. And when I did a little research, I found there were tons of styles, but this wasn't  one of those either. If you have any interest, check out the Wiki run down for regional chowder characteristics HERE.

2 strips thick sliced bacon (or 3 regular sliced)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 extra large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
4 inside celery stalks (w/ leaves), thin chopped (about 1.5 cups)
4 small potatoes, diced 1/2" size (about 3 cups)
2 dried or fresh bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 small cans chopped clams with juice
4 cups stock (ham is excellent here if its on hand, if not any)
2 cups fresh diced tomatoes, 1 cup canned with juice
1 cup light cream or half and half
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large pot on medium high-heat. Add oil and cook bacon until browned. Add butter, onions, celery, potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and saute about 5 minutes. Once vegetables have begun to soften, add clams and juice, stock and tomatoes.

Cook about 15 minutes over high heat until potatoes are cooked completely. Add cream and stir well to combine before serving.

Estimated Nutrition Info
300 calories
32g carbs
13g protein
4g fiber
5g sugar
437 mg sodium

To get it on the table quicker, I use my Tupperware Quick Chef™ to chop up the onions and tomatoes. You could also do the celery, but I prefer the knife to make clean slices. If you can only find whole clams, you can through them through.

Whatever leftovers we have go into CrystalWave® Soup Mugs so we can grab them and go. Not that they last long!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Taco Pasta Salad

I make this salad all the time to go along with any meat cooking in the crockpot. It makes it a breeze to get dinner together when you are short on time.

1/2 lb tri-color spirals or other short cut pasta
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1 TBSP taco sauce
1/2 cup corn
1 roma tomato diced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup black beans

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Mix with ranch and taco sauce and refrigerate (at least an hour). When you are ready to serve, add the corn, tomato, onions, and black beans. If it seems a little dry, add a little more ranch dressing.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Low Sugar BBQ Sauce

2 strips of thick bacon, chopped fine
1 small onion, minced
3 clove garlic, minced
5 oz can tomato paste
12 oz can diet Dr. Pepper or diet root beer
1/4 cup reduced sugar ketchup
2 TBSP yellow mustard
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 pinch ground cloves
1 tsp MDP's seasoning
1 cup water

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until the fat renders out and drain off as much grease as possible. Add onions and garlic and cook about 2 minutes to caramelize. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Cook on low heat, uncovered, 1 hour. It should be reduced by about half and real thick when. If you like a thinner sauce, cook about 30 minutes to give the onions time to full cook, but leaving some of the liquid content.

This makes about 2 pint jars of sauce, and if you fill canning jars with the hot sauce and put right into the fridge, they will seal and be good for about a month in the fridge (these can NOT be kept in pantry storage unless you pressure can).

Assuming you use the EXACT quantities and brands that I used, this recipe yields:
2 pint jars, 4 cups, 64 tablespoons
My nutrition calculations per 1/4 cup are:
24 calories, 4 g carbs, 1g protein, 1g sugar

Try this with some recipes like:
Crockpot Brisket
Crockpot Pulled Pork
Beery Good Baked Beans

Beans that Bite (in 5 minutes time)

Need a quick side disk for dinner? Beans are a great source of fiber!

1 TBSP olive oil
small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-15oz) can beans (red, kidney, black, pinto, etc)
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)

Heat oil over medium high heat and add onion and garlic. Cook onion about 2-3 minutes until translucent.

Add chipotle with a little of the sauce from the can, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine and add beans. Cook another 2 minutes to heat beans through.

What is chipotle in adobo?
Smoked jalapeno chili peppers that are canned in a red sauce that usually contains tomato puree, paprika, salt, onions, oil, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and oregano. Used for making sauces, dressings, and other recipes. Save the rest in the freezer and use a little in chili, soup, etc. I LOVE a little in my tomato soup.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pizza Pasta

The best of both worlds, it's spaghetti with pizza toppings and a great way to mix the usual. And done in 20 minutes, this is a great meal to prep the veggies for ahead of time and throw it all together for a quick dinner.

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1 TBSP olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef
1/2 cup fine diced pepperoni (from slices or stick)
3 cloves garlic, smashed

3 cups any combination:
thin sliced onion
thin sliced bell peppers
thin sliced fresh jalapeno rings
sliced raw mushrooms
sliced black olives
other favorite veggie pizza topping

1 jar  marinara (quart size/28oz)
crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated romano, parmesan, or asiago cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat pan over high heat and add olive oil. Cook meat until browned and add garlic and veggies of choice. Cook until veggies are softened and add marinara and red pepper to taste. Simmer on low about 10 minutes and serve over or tossed with the pasta. Top each plate with a sprinkle of grated cheese, shredded mozzarella, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mexican Spiced Brownies

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups raw (turbinado) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.

In mixer bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves  in a separate bowl and gradually add into mixing bowl until well blended. Pour into baking pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3/4 cup sugar
6 TBSP butter
4-6 TBSP milk
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch cayenne pepper

In a small saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat stirring constantly. Sugar will melt into a golden brown liquid. Once melted, remove from heat and add butter and 1 TBSP milk and stir well (it will be lumpy) Return mixture to medium heat and stir until it becomes smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.

In a mixer bowl, beat cooled sugar mixture and 3 TBSP milk. Add powdered sugar and a pinch of cayenne and beat until it forms a smooth frosting. If mixture is too dry, add more milk 1 TBSP at a time. If it is too runny, add sugar 1/8 cup at a time. Spread frosting over the pan of brownies and let sit at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares.