Cream Of Broccoli Soup

3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 inch)
2 lb. broccoli, cut into large florets
1 quart / 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
12 ounce evaporated milk (1 can)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons flour
salt
fresh ground pepper

In bottom of large soup pot, saute garlic and celery in butter over medium heat until softened but do not brown. Add broccoli and chicken stock (stock may not cover). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until broccoli is quite tender, but not cooked to mush, about 20 minutes.

Puree broccoli and broth in food processor. If desired, remove a few pieces of broccoli before pureeing and add back in when finished. Pour puree back into soup pot. Blend half the evaporated milk and flour separately. Add flour/milk mixture to soup along with cheddar cheese, reserving some cheddar cheese for garnish. Bring soup barely to a boil while stirring. Soup should now have a moderately thick consistency. Add remaining milk, mixing with more flour if necessary to bring soup to desired consistency. I personally don’t find more flour necessary. I also enjoy a thinner cream soup.

When soup has thickened, remove from heat or put on VERY low heat so that milk doesn’t ‘break’. If necessary, gently reheat small batches in saucepan or in microwave. Soup will keep for 3-4 days in refrigerator. Makes about 8 servings.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

2 eggs
1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour (I use a 1/2 and 1/2 blend of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix eggs, bananas (about 3 bananas), oil and milk in large bowl until well blended. Mix dry ingredients separately in large bowl. Add wet ingredients; stir just until moistened. Grease loaf pan; fill with batter.

Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

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A variation from kraftfoods.com – combine the dry ingredients for a bread mix and give it as a gift:

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Mix

Makes: 1 loaf

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 disposable 9×5-inch foil loaf pan

Place all dry ingredients in 1-gallon sealable plastic bag; seal bag. Place bag in loaf pan. Place in decorative gift bag. Pair wrapped bread mix with tea towels for a great hostess gift.

Attach the following preparation directions to bag:

Preparation Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 2 eggs, 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas), 1/3 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup milk in large bowl until well blended. Add bread mix; stir just until moistened. Grease foil loaf pan; fill with batter.

Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Meatloaf

4 slices white bread
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 garlic cloves
2 stalks celery
2 carrots, scrubbed
1/2 cup fresh parsley (or 2 tablespoons dried)
1 large egg
3/4 cup ketchup
4 teaspoons dried mustard
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 °F. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse bread until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl and add ground beef. Place garlic, celery, carrots, and parsley in food processor until finely chopped (you may want to cut the celery and carrots down a bit before processing). Mix the vegetables into meat mixture. Add egg, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons dried mustard, celery seed, salt, and pepper. Combine thoroughly, using your hands. Place in a loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup ketchup, remaining 2 teaspoons mustard, and brown sugar. Whisk until blended. Brush mixture over top of meat loaf. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch drippings and transfer to oven. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reaches 160°, about 1 1/2 hours.

Let meatloaf stand about 15 minutes before slicing. Makes about 6 servings.

Okay, I basically stole this recipe from you-know-who (initials M.S.). Still, I have refined the recipe and simplified the directions a bit (she loves to make things more complicated than they should be). This is a very hearty, moist meatloaf with a great ketchupy crust. Nothing says “I love you” better than a big slab of animal product for Valentine’s Day, right? 🙂

Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

Enjoy with this version of a Waldorf salad.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Waldorf Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups very thinly sliced celery
1 1/3 cups red seedless grapes, halved

Romaine lettuce leaves
Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

Whisk mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Add cherries, apples, celery, and grapes; toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange lettuce on platter. Spoon salad over. Top salad with candied pecans.

Makes 6 servings

Tempeh Tacos

1 pound tempeh (2 8-oz packages)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons tamari
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder or Mexican seasoning
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12 taco shells or tortillas

Taco fixings:

Shredded lettuce
Sprouts
Salsa
Feta cheese
Avocado slices

Crumble or chop tempeh into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the tamari, the lime juice, and the chili powder in a small bowl and pour this marinade over the tempeh. Let stand 10 to 30 minutes. The longer time allows more absorption of the flavor.

Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add the marinated tempeh and keep mixture moving in the pan until tempeh turns golden brown. Add chopped cilantro just prior to serving. Warm taco shells according to directions on package. Fill taco shells with tempeh mixture and your favorite fixings.

Preparation time: 30 minutes to marinate, 5 minutes to assemble tacos.

Makes 6-8 servings

Chicken Paprika With Dumplings

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. dry white wine
8 ounces dairy sour cream
1 Tbsp. cornstarch or flour

dumplings (alternatively, use your own recipe or a mix):
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

Add chicken, seasonings, broth, and wine to crock pot. Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Shortly before serving, turn to high and stir together sour cream and cornstarch. Stir into crockpot and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

For dumplings, beat 3 eggs; add 1/3 cup water and 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat with spoon until smooth. Drop from teaspoon into boiling salted water and cook until dumplings rise to the top, about 10 minutes. Serves 6.

A couple notes — you can use bone-in chicken for this recipe as well. Be sure to remove skin and fat, but the cooking time will be the same. Also — for the love of God — do not use wheat flour in your dumplings! I tried it and it was awful. Dumplings are supposed to be salty, starchy, doughy, and should contain NO nutritional value.

Blueberry Pie

for the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
pinch of salt
1/3 cup ice water

for the filling:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pints fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
2 tablespoons butter

To make the crust, place the flour, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the ice water and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough 4 or 5 times or until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, if possible, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out one ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Fit the dough into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

Place the brown sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a medium-size bowl and toss with the blueberries. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie plate. Dot with butter. Roll out the second round of dough and place over the filling. Crimp the edges together, sealing the bottom and top crusts. Trim around the edges of the pie to neaten up the crust. Make three to four slits on top with a shart knife for the steam to escape while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until the crust is brown and the blueberries are bubbling, another 40 to 45 minutes. Serve the pie warm.

Spring Rolls

1 1/2 – 2 inch sliced ginger, julienned (about 2 tablespoons), or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry ginger
6 shiitake mushrooms
2 stalks celery, julienned or diced
1 large carrot, juilienned or shredded
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
3 ounces firm tofu, cut into small cubes or julienned
2 green onions, diced
1 tabespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil (can be omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
12 spring roll or eggroll wrappers
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Stir fry fresh ginger and mushrooms in wok or very large skillet over high heat (if using dried ginger, omit). Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add celery, carrot, cabbage, tofu and green onions; stir-fry about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, salt, sugar, dried ginger and white pepper; mix well. Remove wok or skillet from heat and let cool.

Lay 1 wrapper on work surface with 1 corner toward you. Cover remaining wrappers with damp cloth to prevent drying. Place 1/3 cup vegetable mixture in a line across center of wrapper. Fold bottom corner of wrapper over vegetable mixture. Fold in left and right corners. With a pastry brush or small spoon, brush top corner and side edges of wrapper with cornstarch solution. Roll wrapper to form a tight cylinder. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

You can bake or steam the spring rolls. To bake: spray a baking sheet with PAM, place rolls on baking sheet and lightly spray the rolls with PAM. Bake at 400 F until golder brown, about 10 minutes. To steam: place bamboo steamer over boiling water. Place spring rolls in steamer, cover and steam until done, about 10 minutes. Spring rolls can be refrigerated before cooking for a few hours. Lay flat and cover with a damp towel.

Serve with sauce of your choice. Try sweet and sour, hoisin, or soy sauce mixed with a little chili oil. Makes 12 spring rolls.

Sesame Chicken Sticks With Sweet & Sour Sauce

4 chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1 tablespoon natural yogurt
2 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 1/4 ounces grated parmesan

sweet and sour sauce:
1 tablespoon. cornstarch
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup caster sugar, or white sugar if you don’t have caster
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. chicken stock powder (can be omitted)

Mix the chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, yogurt, and curry powder. Toss the chicken strips in marinade and refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 4 hours, preferably 24, occasionally tossing.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine cornflakes, sesame seeds, and parmesan. Remove chicken from marinade, shake excess, and roll chicken in cornflake mixture. Bake on greased tray in single layer (close together is okay) for 20 – 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the vinegar and cornstarch. Combine with remaining ingredients plus 1 cup water, stir over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Serve chicken and sauce hot. Sauce can be reheated in microwave.

This stuff is good. Really, really frickin’ good.