Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick and Easy Asian Style Salad

Do you ever have those nights when you are craving veggies like crazy and you don't feel like cooking a big heavy hot meal?  Or it's a warm summer night and you don't want to heat the kitchen up by cooking something in the oven?  Or maybe you just want something light and healthy and quick before you run off to your next family thing of the evening...

Tonight I was craving the veggies, and we had a bunch of good produce in the fridge from our Bountiful Basket that we picked up on Saturday.  This time we ordered the Asian pack with it, so my wonderful husband has been having some fun experimenting with different stir fry recipes and we've been enjoying the different flavors. Tonight I was trying to decide how to make a quick dinner that would satisfy my veggie craving and also feed my hungry bear of a husband.  He had a headache tonight and wasn't feeling so great, so it was up to me to make sure something made its way to the table.  Salad to the rescue!  It seems silly to write a recipe for a salad, but here we go.

Asian Salad

1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped into thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide)
2 carrots, chopped fine
2 ribs of celery, chopped fine
a handful of sugar snap peas
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 avocado, peeled and diced small
sesame ginger salad dressing.  We used Newman's Own, but you can also make your own pretty easily.

Dressing suggestion:

1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/3 c rice wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c soy sauce

Whisk together til well combined.  Pour over salad when ready to serve, toss well to coat everything and then serve.

We got a head of romaine lettuce in the basket on Saturday, and we already had half of a head left from before Saturday, so it needed to be used up before it all went bad.  I used the half head and chopped it into thin strips and then added some carrots, celery, green onions, and snap peas, and then a chopped up avocado (I cut it up pretty small so hubby wouldn't notice it so much--he's not a huge fan of the avocado for some strange reason).  Then I just tossed it in some dressing and served it all along side some pan fried potstickers (which I got from the frozen foods section of my local Costco--cheating, I know, but let's be honest, potstickers are a big pain to make from scratch unless you have a party of 20 people hanging out at your house for the night and you all make them together).

We loved it and it felt good to have something fresh and light for dinner.  It was also quick and easy and ready by the time the potstickers were done cooking on the stove.  I had dinner done in about 10 minutes!

So that's what we had for dinner tonight.  What did you make for your family?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Today was rainy.  Very, very, wet and rainy.  At first I was kind of disappointed because it was so warm a couple days ago and I loved having the sun shining and being able to wear short sleeved shirts without worrying about a jacket.  I love Spring, it is my favorite season, but mostly I just love the sunshine of it, and the blooming flowers and green grass and trees, and the birds and because I love it so much I'll mention it again, the SUNSHINE.  After a bit of accepting the fact that it was going to rain and I would just have to deal, my husband saved the day and my mood by suggesting we have soup for dinner.

We had some broccoli in the fridge that needed to be used (and I guess he decided afterall that he wasn't going to make Chinese style beef and broccoli with it), so he suggested I go to one of the fancy grocery stores on my way home from the hospital and get some good quality sharp cheddar and make broccoli cheddar soup tonight.  Umm.... do you have to ask me twice?  I love broccoli cheddar soup! And I love ANY excuse to shop at our local "gourmet" grocery store (this is Utah, where it can be VERY hard to find unique and high quality meats, cheeses and produce--you have to search for a bit, so when this store opened my foodie heart was THRILLED).

**Warning, blatant tangent begins here** Seriously, people, I could get myself into serious trouble here.... they have a cheese counter, totally dedicated to high quality cheeses, and a nice bakery with yummy artisan bread, a fantastic seafood counter, and a meat department with all kinds of amazing meat options.  The produce department is huge, and everything is ripe and the right color (I know, that sounds weird to be excited about, but it's hard to find here sometimes), and you can get all kinds of different ethnic foods and things.  I could spend hours and lots of money at this place if I am not careful.

So... back to our regularly scheduled blog post... the soup.  I've tried making this before and to be honest, while it was good, it wasn't great.  I tried too many variations and should have stuck more to the basic idea of the recipe.    So here is the new version, and I hope you like it.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

2 15 oz cans of low sodium chicken broth or stock (about 4 cups)
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 c all purpose flour
8 oz good sharp cheddar cheese, grated (trust me guys, its worth getting the good stuff--the flavor is oh so much better)
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets, and stems chopped up fine
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper, and black pepper
1/2 c milk

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and then add onions.  Saute onions in butter til soft and translucent.  Stir in flour, and mix til flour is absorbed into butter and all is combined well.  Add chicken broth or stock, and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, and then add your cheese and half the broccoli, and all of the carrots.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, and then add the rest of your broccoli.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve hot with more cheese on top and if you like, a dollop of sour cream.  We ate ours with sliced roasted garlic artisan bread.


P.S. I realize this post got kind of long.  I guess I have been needing to blog for awhile, and I had a lot to blab on about today.  Sorry!  Hope the recipe is worth the random babble.  If not, feel free to skip the babble and go straight to the recipe--it's a good one, I promise.

Thanks for your patience!

I appreciate you all bearing with me while I was away for awhile.  I am now recovered from my c-section and life is getting a bit easier.  My son is still in NICU (and will be for about 6 more weeks), but he is doing well and for the most part is stable.  So while I am still making multiple trips a week down to the hospital, I am beginning to get back into the swing of cooking again.

I think I have finally gotten tired of frozen foods and short cuts again, enough that I am willing to put forth the effort to make things homemade again.  Don't get me wrong, I always prefer homemade from scratch over quick fix boxed or frozen meals.  I just haven't had the energy or brain power to come up with menus and dinner ideas for awhile.  Too many other things going through my head recently (like the health and welfare of my premature baby boy) and not enough energy to spend the whole day at the hospital and then come home to figure out what groceries to buy and put together for dinner.

So I appreciate very much that you all have given me the time needed to get back into my groove, so to speak. I was lagging a lot anyway before the c-section because of the low energy due to pregnancy, but I think most of the fatigue is really starting to wear off and my energy is coming back up to normal levels and I am ready to cook again for awhile.  I may have to beg your pardon again when our baby boy comes home in a few weeks, but hopefully not for too long.

And now....let's get started again!  I am going to post another recipe tonight, and I think you'll all enjoy it.  It's good for those Spring days when the weather can't quite decide if it wants to be warm or cold, and I bet your whole family will love it!

Happy Cooking!