Thursday, October 8, 2015

So Easy Broccoli Soup

While I tried to come up with a better title, the one seemed to perfectly describe this soup recipe. It was just that — so easy. There's no step-by-step directions for this soup recipe as far as measurements.

Several times before heading out on a road trip (sometimes unexpectedly), we've had unused vegetables in the fridge. Not to waste them, I've usually blanched  and frozen them; usually green beans and broccoli.

That said, I had two bags of frozen broccoli that and a friend suggested I make fresh soup and crockpot broccoli soup seemed a great idea — and an easy one too (did I mention that earlier?). 

An online search, as always,  produced so many recipes that included milk and/or cheese. My goal was a simple vs. rich soup (as in less fattening). As many of you know through previous posts, we're cutting calories and using a lot of South Beach (diet) recipes from our collection. Alas, this one was not in any of the recipe books.

Here's what I did:
Took the frozen broccoli from the freezer and got the crockpot from the pantry.

Sliced a small onion then sauteed in a TBSP of olive oil adding in a couple TBSPs of chopped garlic. Removed onion and garlic from pan when softened and put into crockpot.

By then, the broccoli had  started thawing but it needed a quick rinse under cold water to separate the florets. The florets were drained and put in the pan where the onion had been cooked to roast it a bit. I had to do this in a several batches.
Then the broccoli went into the crockpot. 
Next came spices — all approximate measures, which can be increased or decrease according to taste: 

1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 TBSP cilantro
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt
Low-sodium chicken broth (1 carton)

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley would also work well. 
I set the crockpot on LOW and let everything cook all day. The softer the broccoli gets, the easier it is to puree. Putting the hot soup mixture into a blender would be a challenge, so I used an immersion blender and pureed in the crockpot. 

Adjust seasonings to your taste and enjoy.

This soup will keep refrigerated several days — we'll enjoy it for lunch now that cooler fall days have arrived.

What's your favorite recipe(s) for leftover veggies?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Window Dining

It's wonderful to have skilled and creative family members, and especially great when their talents result in a very lovely gift. This bistro table was made by our son-in-law Paulo and personally delivered from PA to NH last week. We are so happy with it.

We bought a pub-style dining table after relocating to NH and also bought 6 chairs with the plan to some day get another small table. After looking around and not finding anything that would fit our space, Grenville contacted SIL. He sent information on the table size we needed and included a photo of the espresso and black chair colors.

This is a perfect window seating where we enjoy breakfast and afternoon coffee while viewing the Nashua River.

Fairly soon this area will be showcasing fall colors — and we'll be sitting and enjoying the colorful view — our thanks to Paulo.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Funnies

Not sure WHY these shoes were by the curbside in the parking lot of a local business, but there were no cars nearby and no shoe less pedestrians.

No caption came to mind — any fellow bloggers have one?

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

We are keeping all those in the potential path of Hurricane Joaquin in our thoughts and prayers. Three years after Superstorm Sandy, the east coast is facing potentially historic rainfall and flooding as some areas could receive up to 10 inches of rain. Governors in our home state of New Jersey as well as Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina have issued a State of Emergency; other states may follow as Joaquin turns to the east coast this weekend. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

In our battle of the bulge, we've been re-sampling old favorites and trying new recipes in our collection of South Beach Diet books

We enjoy cooking at home and always include veggies and fruits in our meals, but are learning that the problem was too much of these good things.

We've tried this recipe twice in recent weeks and while the ingredient list may seem long,it largely includes pantry spices we had available. When combined, these spices make up a version of tas al-hanut, a spice blend that's widely used on Moroccan-style meats and fish. Mixing the spices with extra virgin olive oil for a wet rub the chicken a rich, exotic taste.

This recipe serves 2.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken, Summer Squash & Green Olives
  • 4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 lb summer squash, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 C pitted green olives
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley or cilantro
  1. Pound chicken breasts between sheets of waxed pepper to 1/4-inch thick
  2. Mix spices (cumin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, salt) together in a small bowl. Finely grate lemon zest from lemon into spice mixture. Squeeze 1 TBSP lemon juice from lemon and add to spice mix.
  3. Add 3 tsp of oil to spice mix and stir to combine. Spread mixture on both sides of chicken breasts.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and ad chicken. Cook, turning until blackened on the outside and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  5. Add remaining 1 tsp olive oil to the skillet and return to medium high heat. Add onion slices and cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add squash, olives and 2 TBSP water, season with additional salt and pepper. Cover and cook 4-5 minutes until squash is tender.
  7. Remove pan from heat, squeeze a little more lemon juice over chicken and vegetables, sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
Not only was this an easy recipe, but it was delicious too —just ask Grenville!

Anyone else also trying to shed very unwanted pounds. If so, what works for you, besides not eating, of course.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Funnies

What do you think — does this photo show a key person or someone who's keyed up ?
Yes, this is an actual shot of someone's many key ring(s). The photo is a bit fuzzy as it was taken at a recent public meeting using a cell phone. 

Can you think of any other wording to fit the photo?

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Smoked Salmon Scramble

Smoked salmon and cream cheese are a classic combo that's usually served on a bagel. This recipe has the combo warmed up with the addition of scrambled eggs for a delicious and healthful breakfast treat!

We are both salmon fans so this South Beach recipe was a great "find." The only "problem" is that smoked salmon can be costly, so it won't be a regular breakfast meal — but it's a wonderful and (did I mention) delicious weekend treat. This recipe makes 2 servings.

Smoked Salmon Scramble
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 oz smoked salmon cut into thin strips
  • 1 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped chives
  • Freshly ground peppercorns (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add eggs and allow to set (10 seconds).
  3. Sprinkle salmon, cream cheese and chives over eggs.
  4. Scramble until just cooked, about 1 minute. Season to taste with pepper.

Photo courtesy of South Beach Quick and Easy Cookbook (because we ate ours too quickly).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Funnies

Wonder if this driver was Movin' In or Movin' Out ?

Either way, this pick-up was fully loaded. Just hoping those mattress stayed upright for the entire trip.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hanging Around

No, it's not Spider Man, but a window washer outside our 5th floor apartment which is located in a former textile manufacturing mill in NH.
The window washing is an annual maintenance service provided by the management. This was the first time we were able to watch this professional at work. He was suspended from lines on the building roof.

And, clean windows mean we can get to view scenes like this just outside our oversize windows. 

Same scene as seen on a different day and this time in color.
This view shows the Nashua River looking towards downtown (Main St) Nashua. To paraphrase Richard Gere in Pretty Woman — we like the high floor as  "It's the best."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sucking It Out

FYI — The post title refers to getting the air out of freezer bags.

A vacuum sealer is in the “Don't want or need” category in our very downsized apt kitchen. Many folks use these sealers, but buying one would mean storing it and buying special bags, more costly than using store-bought freezer bags.

So, how to get all most of the air out of a freezer bag before freezing?

CAUTION — This procedure does not apply to packages holding any sort of meat, poultry or fish. These can harbor pathogens and parasites, such as salmonella. Sucking the air out of bags with these items inside could result in inhaling some of these microbes and infecting yourself. Don’t take the chance.

OK, so it's clear that this procedure applies to things like baked good, veggies, fruit and it's not new. I heard about it can't recall when and have been using it the past couple of years (or more). And, you also also need to save freezer space by using a freezer bag vs. container. 

Let's get started: all you need is
a plastic straw. 

First, press out as much air as you can by hand, then insert the straw in a corner of the bag and seal the bag around it. Suck the air out through the straw until you see the bag collapse around the contents. While maintaining suction, pull slowly pull out the straw and quickly seal the bag, then freeze. It's as simple as that.

Here’s another procedure (which I haven’t tested): Submerge the freezer bag in a bowl of water and then seal it. The pressure of the water supposedly pushes out the air and molds the bag around the food. This method requires less huffing and puffing. Be sure to dry the bag thoroughly before putting in the freezer.

Either one of these methods can reduce the amount of air in freezer bags, which keeps frozen foods better and help reduce freezer burn. And who doesn't like those benefits?

Do you have a method for "vacuum-sealing" freezer bags that works for you? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

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