Sunday, November 30, 2008

1 Recipe #40: Farfalle with Eggplant & Tomatoes

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Farfalle (Bow-tie Pasta) with Eggplant & Tomatoes

1 medium-sized eggplant, cubed into 1/2" pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 c. tomato sauce (NOTE: I recommend using a simple tomato sauce like "Classico Tomato & Basil," which has zero added sugar & is very low in fat.)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 scallions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 medium-sized bay leaves
juice of 1 lime
1/2-1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c. water
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, (i.e., the kind that's not packed in oil), sliced julienne
1 c. farfalle (bowtie pasta)
Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top) (Vegans can substitute sharp-tasting, vegan imitation cheese.)

Directions: Sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat for a few minutes, or until translucent. Then add garlic & scallions. Stir on occasion to avoid browning. Then add eggplant & tomato cubes, water, lime juice, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, dried basil & oregano, & bay leaves. Cook for about 15-20 minutes to reduce liquid, stirring constantly.

In another sauce pot, boil water, adding a drop of olive oil. When water has reached a rolling boil, cook farfalle/pasta for 11 minutes (which will give you a perfect "al dente" texture), drain, & then set aside.

Pour pasta into a bowl, add eggplant tomato sauce & garnish with sun-dried tomatoes & parmesan. That's it. Eat & enjoy!

0 Recipe #39: Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

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Here's my own quick & easy recipe for pumpkin pie spice mix. Why go to the store when you can make it from what you already have in your own kitchen. The total prep time is less than 5 minutes!

This spice mixture is really versatile; it can be used for both sweet & savory dishes. (Its use doesn't have to be limited to just pumpkin pie! :-D) Some healthier uses (other than pies, cakes, cookies, & custards!) include baked apples & pears, fat-free/sugar-free apple tarts (recipe is forthcoming), acorn/butternut squash dishes, & root vegetable casseroles.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

4 parts ground cinnamon
2 parts ground nutmeg
1 part ground ginger
1/2 part ground allspice
1/2 part ground cloves

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If you're making a large quantity for future use, I would recommend storing the mixture in a labelled, airtight container. I like to use glass Mason jars, because they keep spices a lot longer than other types of storage materials & won't react with the ingredients, unlike plastic.  If you are making only a little bit, you can store the spice mixture in an empty glass spice container with a shaker top lid.  In general, it's best to store spices in a dry, dark location.

0 Recipe #38: Avocado Soup

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Here's my own take on avocado soup. It can be served hot or cold, although on a cold day, I know which way I'd rather have it. ;-)

As a cold soup, it's cool & refreshing, especially in warmer weather. As a hot soup, it's smooth & tangy, & does a good job of warming the cockles. Either way, it's extraordinarily creamy-tasting (without having to resort to using any cream or added oils) & is very good for you as well!

As many of you probably already know, the avocado is actually considered to be a fruit & not a vegetable (just like the tomato), & contains 25 nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, fiber & unsaturated fats. They are also naturally sodium-free, contain no trans fats and are low in saturated fat.

Those of you who have zero time to cook will especially love this recipe. Not only is it easy to make (Hello, it's practically idiot-proof! 8-) ), but it takes only a few minutes (i.e., 10-15 minutes tops!) to prepare from start to finish. Basically, you just chop up the ingredients (& at that, there are only 3 things that actually need chopping!) & then toss it all into a blender. No fuss, no muss. Gotta like that!

OK, so here it is. The first recipe posted in -- GASP! Could it be true?! -- almost 7 months! Drum roll, please. Da-da-da-dummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..........

Avocado Soup

1 chilled (seedless) cucumber (about 16 oz.) (If you can't find seedless, regular cucumbers are just fine to use too!)
1 (6-8 oz.) firm, ripe Haas avocado
2 scallions
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves (or, if fresh not available, use 1 tsp dried)
1/2 c. well-shaken chilled nonfat/lowfat buttermilk
1 c. cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. lime juice
fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Directions: Cut cucumber coarsely into small 1-1.5" pieces. Half avocado lengthwise, then pit. Score avocado flesh into quarters, & then peel. Toss avocado pieces into blender. Roughly cut white part of scallion & toss into blender. Thinly dice dark green parts of scallion into thin rounds & put aside; reserve as garnish. Toss in all remaining ingredients. Blend together all ingredients 1 to 2 minutes. Chill soup, uncovered, 15 minutes. Or, if making hot, heat soup in microwave 1-2 minutes. Garnish soup with green scallion slices and a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve & enjoy!

Yield: 2-4 servings (although I can easily eat the whole darned thing as a meal & then some! 8-) )

Chef's Notes: This recipe tastes best with firm, ripe Haas avocados. Substitute at your own risk. ;-)

0 Coming Up Next: Some Soups For Winter

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Yeah, I know it's been forever & a day since the last time I posted here, but those of you who've patiently stuck by this blog through thick & thin will be well-rewarded for your readership loyalty today. 8-)

Since the weather's starting to get a lot colder here (& in many other parts of the USA & the rest of the world!), I've decided to post a number of soup recipes to help take the chill out of winter! So warm yourself by the fireplace & get ready to have a tasty bowl of soup!

From my kitchen to yours,

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