Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Low Carb Kitchen Sink Crustless Quiche

I love to make quiche to use up leftovers. Serving a "crustless" quiche is great way to enjoy this recipe but still stay low carb. Since I have a lot of different veggies, meats and cheeses leftover from various recipes, I made a "kitchen sink" crust-less quiche. I used what I had on hand but you could easily swap the meat, cheese and veggies for something that you like better.



Kitchen Sink Crust-less Quiche

1/2 C. Cajun turkey breast deli meat, chopped - watch carbs!
3 deli sliced Swiss cheese
3/4 C. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 C. steamed broccoli florets
1/4 C. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
red pepper flakes to your liking
4 eggs
1/4 C. heavy cream
1/4 C. water
1/4 C sour cream

Preheat oven to 350*

Spray a 9" or 10" pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Layer 1/2 of the meat into the pan leaving a space between the meat and the edge all the way around the pan.

Top the meat with1/2 of the cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 pieces of the Swiss cheese that has been torn into pieces.

Layer on all of the broccoli florets, cutting any of the big pieces into bite-size pieces.  Sprinkle mushrooms on top of the broccoli.

Shake seasonings over top of everything.

Repeat the layers of meat and cheese.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs, cream, water & sour cream until smooth and creamy. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, making sure the egg flows all the way to the edges of the pan. With a spoon, spread the meat, cheese and veggies out in the pan.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the center of the quiche is set and the top is light brown.

Let the quiche set for 15 before slicing.




Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wedding Soup - the Low Carb Way

Who doesn't like soup on cold, dreary days? I know that I do.

I love Italian wedding soup. Unfortunately the original version of this soup is full of carbs. I found a recipe for a low carb version that is super delicious and very filling. The best part is that you can make this soup with little ingredients and little cooking time so that means you can have a hearty soup at any time. The aroma from this soup will make you want to eat dinner! MMM! I wish that you could smell it. I served cheese crisps to go with it...a nice replacement for bread or crackers. (recipe for crisps below)



Low Carb Italian Wedding Soup
taken from Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way

serves 4 very small servings - more like 2 servings
in my opinion.

1/2 lb Italian sausage - casings removed - watch carbs!
I found a ground hot sausage with only 2 carbs and only
natural sugars - no sugars added
1 small onion, diced - I left it out
2 cloves garlic, pressed - I used 2 big tsp. minced garlic
2 C. kale, chopped and big stems removed
1 - 14 1/2 oz can chicken broth
2 baby zucchini, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram - I subbed 1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt - I left it out
dash red pepper flakes to taste

In a large, heavy sauce pan brown sausage over med. high heat. Stir in onion & garlic; cook and stir until soft, about 2 minutes. Add kale and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 8 - 10 minutes. Soup should be quite thick.



The recipes says to serve with a green salad. I had a bigger portion of soup and skipped the salad. I made small cheese crisps to go along with it and that was enough to fill me up.

Leftovers can be stored in the frig or frozen.

11 carbs - 6 dietary fiber = 5 usable carbs


Cheese Crisps

There are great examples of how to make cheese crisps on Linda's Low Carb Recipes & Menus. She posts instructions, along with many pictures. I used the stove top method to make my crisps today but I have had much success in the past using the microwave to make them.

They make a great substitute for breads, rolls or crackers. I can't wait to try them as a taco "shell" for a taco salad.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Low Carb & Family Menu Plan Monday

Last week was a menu plan nightmare. I don't think that I stuck to the menu at any time after Wednesday. I did stick to low carb eating, though. (Yay!)

Hopefully we will stick to this week's menu better. :)  I've been searching through some low carb recipe books that I picked up from the library last week. Between those books and the ones that I have here at home, I found several new recipes that I'm eager to try. Low carbing is even easier and more fun when you can look forward to trying new recipes!

One tip that I would like to offer on eating out at restaurants....

If you don't see anything low carb on the menu, don't be afraid to create a dish for yourself. As long as it's not too far out in left field, most places will accommodate you. For instance, this past Wednesday my husband wanted to try a new Mexican restaurant that just opened in the town next to us. There wasn't anything other than a garden salad on the regular menu so I asked them if they would make a steak salad for me. After explaining what type of meat I would like on it and what items I would like left out of the salad (guacamole, salsa and sour cream), they were more than happy to make it for me. Happy Happy!

On to this week's menu...

My Low Carb Menu

Monday - chicken salad

Tuesday - low carb wedding soup* - new recipe

Wednesday - crustless quiche* - new recipe

Thursday - puerto rican turkey* w/ sauteed spinach - new recipe

Friday - undetermined- we usually go out

Saturday - pork soulvaki & steamed cabbage

Sunday - Cauliflower Soup* with salad -new recipe 


Family Menu

Monday - grilled chicken, chicken rice and corn

Tuesday - chicken tortellini soup and corn bread

Wednesday - breakfast for dinner

Thursday - puerto rican turkey, potatoes and veggie

Friday - undetermined  - we usually go out

Saturday - pork soulvaki & spaetzles

Sunday - pasta & red sauce


For more inspiring recipes, check out Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Low Carb Cheesey Bacon Chicken w/ Fauxtatoes

Lots of sadness in our house today because my husband's JETS were eliminated from the playoffs. He wanted comfort food in the form of pasta. That meant that I was on my own for dinner. I usually go grocery shopping on Sunday but with the playoffs, I put it off until tomorrow.

I had boneless chicken defrosting in the frig so I decided to use a piece of it for my dinner. I found a small chunk of "3 alarm cheddar cheese" - my new favorite cheese! It is very hot!- and some turkey bacon that I needed to use up. I'm happy that I'm not a picky eater and because of this, I like to mix things together. That's were I came up with this cheesy bacon chicken.

There was a head of cauliflower waiting to be eaten in there, too. I had been wanting to try a "fauxtatoes" recipe for a while so that's what I cooked to go along with the chicken.  "Fauxtatoes" are cooked, mashed cauliflower that really resembles mashed potatoes.

The entire meal was very delicious. I will definitely make this again.


Cheesey Bacon Chicken
1 serving

1 boneless chicken breast, thawed if frozen
2 strips of lowfat turkey bacon
1/4 C. of your favorite cheese - I used 3-alarm cheddar.
The hot peppers really added a great flavor to the chicken.
1 TBSP butter
onion powder
Montreal Steak seasoning

Add butter to frying pan. Melt on med-high heat. Add chicken to pan. Season with onion powder and steak seasoning. Do not add salt, there is plenty in the bacon. Fry on one side until light brown. Flip over and brown on the other side.

Add two pieces of turkey bacon to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover with a lid and continue to cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Once the chicken has finished cooking, turn off heat but leave the chicken in the pan. Lay the two strips of bacon on top of the chicken breast. Top the bacon with the cheese. Cover the pan with the lid, the cheese will melt over all of it.


Fauxtatoes
taken from "500 Low Carb Recipes" by Dana Carpender
Whole recipe makes 6 generous servings.

I halved the recipe and only ate half of it.
1 lg. head cauliflower - I used 1/2 of a lg. head
1/3 C. cream
4 oz. cream cheese - I used 2 oz.
1 TBSP butter - I used 1/2 TBSP in the mix and 1/2 for on top
salt and pepper

1. Simmer cauliflower in water with the cream added to it. (the cream keeps the cauliflower sweet and keeps it from turning an ugly gray color). Cook until really soft. Drain thoroughly.

2. Put the still warm cauliflower into a food processor with cream cheese, butter and salt & pepper to taste. Process until smooth.

This really does look like mashed potatoes. It doesn't taste like mashed potatoes like some claim, it still tastes like cauliflower...but that's ok because I love cauliflower. I'm sure adding cheese to it would be delicious, too!  It's very satisfying and filling.


6 grams of carbs - 2 grams of fiber = 4 grams of usable carbs per serving.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chocolate Mint "Cookies"

These cookies have been a favorite of ours for several years. I make them at Christmastime to go along with our other cookies. They taste just like Girl Scout Thin Mints but the secret is that they are made using Ritz crackers for the "cookie". They also hold up great in lunch boxes.



Chocolate Mint "Cookies"

Chocolate Almond Bark
Mint Extract
Ritz Crackers

Cover a small baking sheet with foil and set aside.

I found it easiest to work with 4 blocks of chocolate at at time with this recipe. That way you don't have to keep melting the chocolate over and over.

Melt 4 blocks of chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave. For convenience, I used the microwave. To melt the chocolate, cook chocolate on "high" for one minute at a time, stirring well after each minute, until the chocolate is completely melted.

For the extract, start by stirring  in 4 drops of mint extract into the chocolate. Do a taste test to see if the mint taste is strong enough for your liking. I added about 4 more drops of mint to our chocolate because we like it. Don't take my word for it, after the first 4 drops, stir in just two drops at a time until you are happy with it.

Dip one Ritz cracker at a time into the chocolate. Cover the cracker completely, scraping off excess chocolate and then lay on the foil. Once the tray is full, pop it into the freezer for a minute.

Remove the tray. Dip the crackers a second time, again laying the crackers back onto the tray. Place the tray back into the freezer for two minutes or until the chocolate is completely dry.



Store in a sealed plastic container. These cookies are best eaten within 2 days.



Caramel Mandarin Orange Cake

I found a new cookbook, The $7.00 a Meal Cookbook, on one of my thrift store jaunts last week. It appears to have never been opened. After quickly thumbing through it, there were several recipes that caught my eye. For 99 cents, I couldn't pass it up.

The book lists tips and suggestions to go along with the recipes. It also shows the calorie count (but unfortunately not the carb count) for each recipe.

I decided to try any easy dessert recipe for my family. All of the family love mandarin oranges so I figured that everyone would like this cake. Even though I did not try this cake, it looks and smells delicious. I could've eaten the caramel icing with a spoon - I resisted the temptation to do so ...my willpower was working OT that day.


(Just overlook that large holes in the cake. I talk about my mistake later on in the recipe.)

Caramel Mandarin Orange Cake

2 (9 oz) boxes yellow cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 C. vegetable oil
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges, undrained
1/2 C. coconut
1 1/4 C. brown sugar
2 TBSP honey
5 TBSP butter
6 TBSP milk
2 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350* Spray a 9 x 13 cake pan with spray containing flour and set aside. ( I didn't have a 9 x 13 pan available since I was using it to bake a chicken in at the time. I used 2 - 8 x 8 glass pans instead. The next time I will make it only one layer so that the whole cake soaks up the caramel topping.) 

In a large bowl, combine cake, eggs oil and undrained oranges.



 Beat on low speed until combined, then beat at medium speed for 2 -3 minutes. Fold in coconut. Pour into pan.



Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and top springs back when lightly touched. (Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't overbake. It took my cakes about 30 minutes to bake.) Place on wire rack to cool.

While cake is cooling, make caramel topping. In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, butter & milk. Boil for 3 minutes.

Using chopsticks poke about 20 holes in the warm cake. (Very important to use chopsticks and not the end of a wooden spoon like I did or you will end up with big holes in it like my cake.)

Add vanilla to caramel topping and slowly pour over cake, spreading evenly if needed. (I cooked this topping for 7 more minutes but it still wasn't "spreadable". I took it off of the heat and sat the pot in cold water, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. It thickened right up to a silky consistency of caramel sauce.)

Total cost: $4. 17

The verdict: My son loved it, although he said that it was really sweet. My husband thought that it would be better if it wasn't so sweet. I would definitely use the caramel topping on other cakes - it would be great on an apple cake, apple sweet rolls or even apple pie. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is a simple meal that's quick and easy to put together. Great for using leftover or rotisserie chicken.

My family really liked this casserole. I served it with Spanish rice as a side but next time I might add the rice inside the tortillas. Be careful when choosing the enchilada sauce...not all are labeled "hot" but they might end up being spicy like the one I bought. Read those ingredients!



Chicken Enchilada Casserole

8 lg. flour tortillas
2 C. cooked chicken, shredded
8 oz. bag of "mexi" cheese
1 lg. can of enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350*

Pour 3/4 C. enchilada sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
Divide the shredded chicken evenly among the 8 tortillas.

Top with shredded cheese - eyeball enough to cover the chicken.

Roll up filled tortillas and lay seam side down into the baking dish.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over top of the tortillas.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is bubbling.



I apologize for the not-so- pretty pictures but everyone was starving and ready to eat! lol!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Low Carb Zucchini Pancakes

I love zucchini! This recipe is sort of a play on hashbrowns. These little pancakes are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.



Low Carb Zucchini Pancakes
makes 5 silver dollar - sized pancakes

1 baby zucchini - shredded with skins on
1 small egg
1/2 tsp of seasonings of choice - I used Montreal Steak Seasoning (make
sure there is no sugar in it) & red pepper flakes

Shred zucchini and place between two layers of paper towels to blot out the water from it.
Beat egg
Stir zucchini and seasonings into egg. Mix well.
Drop by tablespoonful into a large frying pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Cook over medium high heat until the egg has firmed up on the bottom and is light brown.
Flip over and continue cooking until light brown.
Serve immediately. These do not hold up well over time.
Top with salsa and/or sour cream, if desired.



I'll let you in on a little secret...

See those pickle spears peeking out in the top picture? This is one of my very favorite low carb snacks.

Roast Beef & Cream Cheese Wrapped Dill Spears

2 piece of roast beef - sliced thin
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 whole dill pickle, cut into 4 spears

Spread cream cheese over both slices of roast beef.
Cut each slice of roast beef in half, making 4 slices of meat.
Place a pickle spear on each piece of meat.
Roll up, wrapping the roast beef and cream cheese around the spear.

Low Carb Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu

My low carb version of  Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu does not contain any type of breading and there's no sauce. It uses baked chicken, deli ham and Swiss cheese so there no long cooking times.

While I love the original version of this dish, this is definitely right up there with it!



Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu
makes 1-2 servings

2 slices deli ham, sliced thin
2 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 C. shredded cooked chicken

Lay ham flat.
Place the swiss cheese on top of the ham
Stack the chicken pieces on one end of the ham.



Roll up jelly roll style.
Secure the bundles with toothpicks.
Place bundles in pie pan.
Bake at 350* for 15 - 20 minutes, until cheese is melted
and the meat is warm.
You can also take a shortcut and microwave the bundles
until warm.
Serve with Ranch dressing for dipping.

Menu Plan Monday (on Tuesday)

I'm running behind...as usual.

Here are my meal plans for the week. Once again, if things get busy, the meals might get switched around. I will post the new recipes that I try.

My Low Carb Menu

Monday - chef salad

Tuesday - inside out chicken cordon bleu bundles

Wednesday - grilled pork tenderloin, steamed cabbage

Thursday - roast beef w/ peppers and onions

Friday - pizza burger w/ sauteed zucchini

Saturday - taco salad


Family Menu

Monday - pizza

Tuesday - chicken enchilada casserole

Wednesday - grilled pork tenderloin, fried noodles

Friday - spaghetti pizza

Saturday - pork stir fry, rice & homemade egg rolls



Come back throughout the week to check out some new desserts that I'm trying out on my family. 

Check out Orgjunkie.com for more great menus on Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Low Carb Chicken Salad

I've been making this recipe ever since I started low carbing years ago. I love it. It's simple, yet full of flavor.

I usually use salad that consists of different greens. I could've sworn that I bought a bag at the store but after searching for it, I only came up with your typical bagged lettuce, cabbage and carrots...so that's what I used. It's delicious either way. 



Low Carb Chicken Salad

2 C. salad
grilled or baked chicken breast
5 whole white mushrooms - cremini mushrooms work, too
1/4 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
black olives, sliced - I used 4 sliced up
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning  - be sure to check that no sugar has been added
red wine vinegar & olive oil salad dressing*

Chicken & Mushrooms

Shred chicken breast and add to a medium frying pan. Slice mushrooms and add to the pan. Stir in minced garlic and steak seasoning. Drizzle with enough olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking while cooking. Cook over medium-high heat until the mushroom are soft. Remove from heat and immediately top with shredded cheese. Leave everything in the pan until the cheese melts.

To Plate:

Place lettuce on a big plate. Top with sliced olives. Top the olives and salad with the chicken & mushrooms. Drizzle the salad dressing over the top.

Red Wine Vinegar & Olive Oil Salad Dressing:

1/4 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1 -2 packets of Sweet N Low or Splenda, to taste - to remove bitterness
2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake well.

Enjoy!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Low Carb Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers

Today was the first day of my dive back into low carbing. I've written my menu for the week in my previous post.

A member from FamilyCorner.com posted the low carb sloppy joe stuffed peppers that I made for my dinner tonight. This dish was full of flavor and very good. I didn't eat a lot for breakfast and lunch today so I decided to eat one whole green pepper and the filling. The original serving size is 1/2 of a green pepper with filling for 4 carbs. I didn't use quite one pound of ground beef so I probably have enough filling left over to stuff another whole pepper. I'm going to cook the pepper tomorrow, then stuff it and stick it into the freezer for when I need a quick lunch or dinner. This recipe is a keeper!



Low Carb Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers
1 pound ground beef
1 ounce onion, chopped, about 2 TBSP
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce  - I used Hunts
1 teaspoon granular Splenda - I skipped this
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinergar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt -I skipped this
1/8 teaspoon pepper

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded - I just
sprinkled a little bit on top of my peppers

3 green peppers, halved lengthwise

Brown the ground beef, onion, celery and garlic; drain fat.

Stir in all remaining ingredients except the cheese and green peppers.

Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, parboil the peppers in a little boiling water 3 minutes; drain. To shorten baking time, I cooked mine for almost 8 minutes.

Place peppers in a baking dish. Stir half the cheese into the hamburger mixture; fill peppers with meat. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350ยบ 15-20 minutes (5 -10 for me) until hot and bubbly and peppers are tender.

Makes 6 servings

Can be frozen

Per Serving: 306 Calories; 21g Fat; 23g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 4g Net Carbs

Click here to see the original recipe.

Menu Plan Monday

For a while, I will be adding a family menu + my low carb dinner menu.

Family Menu

M - hot meatloaf sandwiches - turned into homemade spicy chicken sands because we were shopping later than expected
T - pork soulvaki, spaetzles,  & corn
W- chicken tacos & rice
H- skirt steak, salad & another side
F - pasta & sauce
A - grilled chicken, chicken rice, salad & green beans

Low Carb Menu

M - sloppy joe stuffed peppers
T - pork soulvaki, sauteed fresh green beans & cucumbers w/dressing
W - grilled chicken salad - grilled chicken, mushrooms & cheese over salad
H - skirt steak, grilled zucchini & salad
F -mexican omelet
A - chef salad

 For lots of great inspiration in menu planning, check out Menu Plan Mondays.

{Edited:  This is going to be one of the those crazy weeks where I rearrange the menu. To me, it really doesn't matter what day we eat the listed recipes, just making the menu and shopping for all of the supplies, really helps me out!}

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chili Cheese Dog Tortilla Sticks

Yesterday I had to come up with a snack for my husband to eat while he was watching his JETS advance in the NFL playoffs. (insert boo, hiss and gag here since my Steelers didn't make it).

Since I usually go shopping on Sundays, there wasn't a whole lot left in the cupboards or frig.

I had chili on the stove cooking for dinner and a few hot dogs in the freezer--chili dogs came to mind but there wasn't any hot dog buns. I managed to dig up a pack of soft tortillas. I needed a "holder" for the chili and dogs so I figured that the tortillas would work.



These little sticks became a big hit with my family. I wrapped up what was left and stuck them in the freezer. They will work for a quick grab for lunches for the kids or for my husband.

Chili Cheese Dog Tortilla Sticks

8 boiled hot dogs
8 small soft tortillas
chili
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped onion

Layer the ingredients of your choice onto 1/2 of the tortilla, starting with the cheese, then chili, onions, and then ending with the hot dog.



 Do not over fill the tortillas or they will not stay closed. Start rolling up from the full side, making sure to tuck in the sides half way through.

Place the tortillas, seam side down, into a hot frying pan. Cook just one or two at a time so that you will have plenty of room to turn and brown the sticks on all sides. Watch the sticks carefully because they will brown very quickly. Remove to a plate.



Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and freeze to warm up in the microwave.

Wrap leftovers in foil and freeze to warm up in the oven.

These sticks can be sliced into pieces for little appetizer bites.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Before Christmas, my son discovered a chocolate chip pie on a menu where we were eating. He knows that I refuse to pay $5.00 or more for a slice of pie so he asked me if I would bake something like this for him. I forgot all about it until he mentioned it last week. I searched online and through a couple of cookbooks that I have here, but nothing grabbed me. All of the recipes called for nuts. Even though my family is "nutty", they are not big fans of nuts in desserts. I found a 1/2 bag of Heath Toffee Chips in my cupboard so I used them in place of the nuts. The results were extremely good.



Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated 9-inch pie shell, slightly prebaked*
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee baking pieces

Toppings:

ice cream or whipped cream, optional


Directions for Prebaking Pie Shell:

I like using a 10" pie pan to hold a 9" pie crust when making a pie like this. It leaves room at the top of the pie plate to hold
whipped cream or another topping.

Preheat over to 425*

Place the pie crust into the pie pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake for 7 minutes or until very lightly browned.


Directions for Pie:

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In a large bowl, whip eggs until light and foamy.

In a seperate bowl, stir together the sugars and flour. Spoon the dry mix into the eggs a little at a time until well blended.

Mix in butter. Continue mixing untill smooth.

Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces. Spoon into pie shell.

If using a deeper pan like I do, bake for 45 mintues or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. If using a regular
pan, it will probably need to bake for 5 - 10 minutes more.



Cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped
cream.

While this pie is delicous served plain or just with whipped cream....why stop there?!?

Check this out...



MMM!!!  It's out of this world topped with chocolate ice cream & drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrups.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

I was so lucky to grow up in a town full of different ethnicities. That's were I found my love of Italian, Greek, Polish, German & Slovak foods. We grew up celebrating all nationalities with different street fairs & church events that always included homemade food.

One of my favorite soups from these events is Pasta e Fagioli. Until now, my family wouldn't touch it because it had beans in it. Once I decided that I was going to try a Rachel Ray recipe for this dish, I knew that I would have to make some changes in it for it to work for everyone in my house. Her recipe was simple so it wasn't hard to make some changes and additions to it. We ended up with a hearty, delicious soup.



Pasta e Fagioli (my changes in blue)

    *  2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped - I subbed 1 lb of boneless pork steaks, cut into tiny      pieces.
    * 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
    * 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
    * 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
    * 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    * 1 small carrot, finely chopped - I grated the carrot into the soup
    * 1 rib celery, finely chopped - I grated the celery into the soup
    * 4 large cloves garlic, chopped - I used 2 1/2 TBSP of minced garlic in olive oil
    * Coarse salt and pepper
    * 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans - I did not add the beans to the soup. Instead I warmed them and added them only to my dish.
    * 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes - I used 1 lg. can of crushed tomatoes
    * 2 cups water
    * 1 quart chicken stock - I used 32 oz of chicken stock
    * 1 1/2 cups ditalini - I used 3/4 of a lb.
    * Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
    * Crusty bread, for mopping

Directions

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. (pork in my recipe)
Brown the pancetta (pork) bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.
Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
Add beans(no!), tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.
Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.
Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. (this took about 12 minutes)
Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks.
Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet.
Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.
I spooned some beans into my bowl before the soup.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese.
Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

**I will be making this again soon. The only changes I will be making is to sub dried herbs for the fresh ones. My husband was not found of the Rosemary pieces in the soup. 

Leftovers should be refrigerated. Add more chicken broth and crushed tomatoes the next day before heating thoroughly.

Some New & Exciting Changes Coming Soon!

I have had so much fun with this cooking blog over the last year. I love trying new recipes. Unfortunately, my waist line does not like what is happening from all of the goodies that I have been cooking.

After giving it a lot of thought, I've decided that I am going to divide my blog into 2 sections, per say - one half of it will continue to show recipes that I am trying out for my family and the other half will showcase my low carb adventures.

I've decided that it's time that I buckle down and get serious about losing weight. I've done low carbing before and it works for me. (But the devil on my shoulder constantly reminds me of how much I LOVE to bake sweets!)

I figure that posting my experiences along the way will help to keep me honest. I will post about low carb dishes as well.

My family, on the other hand, will not be low carbing with me. I will continue to cook regular meals and desserts for them....and hopefully add some new, healthy foods along the way!

I hope that you will continue on this journey with me!

Hugs,
Tami

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chocolate Chess Pie

Before we moved to NC, I'd never heard of Chocolate Chess Pie. My family and I ate lunch at Golden Corral one day shortly after moving here. That is where we discovered this delicious chocolate pie. It quickly became of favorite of ours.



I've tried several recipes for this pie - some coming close to what we were happy with but none of them ever hit it right on the head...until now. I cannot take credit for finding this recipe. A few months ago I posted a request for recipes for this pie on "The Idea Box". This website is run by my friend, Amanda, from Amanda's Cookin'. Amanda was looking for new dessert ideas and asked if I had found the recipe that I'd been looking for. She found the recipe that I am blogging about today and posted it for me. In fact, she posted two links. I opted to try the recipe that had a picture to go along with it.

I had everything on hand to make it so I printed out the recipe and headed into the kitchen. I used a refrigerated pie crust (I can hear some of you gasping right now!) to make things easier. The pie filling was very quick and easy to mix up.

I didn't make any changes to the original recipe. The recipe calls for a 9" pie pan. Before Christmas, I won a 10" pie pan that I wanted to try out. I stretched the premade crust to fit the pan anyway thinking that if it shrunk, I would use the extra room at the top of the pan to hold the homemade whipped cream.(Oh yeah, an extra treat!)  I pre-baked the crust at 400* for 7 minutes - until is was just barely turning a light shade of brown. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool while you are making the filling.



Make sure to turn the oven down to 325* for the pie.

Chocolate Chess Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 partially 9-inch baked pie crust

Preheat oven to 325*F degrees.
Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt.
Blend in milk.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
Add butter and vanilla, beat until smooth.
Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
Bake in 325* oven for 55-60 minutes - since I used a bigger pie pan, my pie wasn't quite as deep and it only baked for 45 minutes. 



Cool the pie completely before topping with whipped cream.

Homemade Whipped Cream

2 C. heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

I dumped all of the above ingredients into my Kitchen Aid mixer and used the whisk to beat it. You can also use a hand mixer to mix it. I usually chill the bowl and beaters really well if I'm using a hand mixer. It helps to speed things up a bit.



To Cover Pie

Spread the whipped cream across the top of the pie. Add remaining whipped cream to a plastic bag or icing bag and pipe "rosettes" around the outside ring of the pie.

Drizzle the top with chocolate syrup.



The pie can be eaten immediately or it can be refrigerated. I like it best when it is cold.

It's been so cold here the last few days with temps down in the low 20s. I covered our pie with the pie plate lid and sat it outside on our grill. Within 20 minutes it was very cold (and delicious!)



I will definitely make this again. In fact, my son is already begging me to make it again. He loves it!



Don't ya just want to stick your finger into the whipped cream and lick it off?
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