Tag Archives: Quick & Easy

Roasted Green Chilis & Bittman

Bittman Salad No. 25

I’ve been so busy lately, I barely have time to procrastinate which confirms what I’ve always suspected:  planning is but a series of decisions about what not to do so that I can do what I’d like.  Sometimes this is simply not doing anything — or anything significant, that is.  In the case of my food life, that means I’ve come to a complete standstill baking my way through Peter Rhinehart’s The Breadbaker’s Apprentice.  Although I’m not a foreigner to bread baking, it isn’t something I’ve ever done routinely, and so any excuse not to keep the original pace I set along with others in the BBA Challenge group keeps me from taking on the next recipe.

I suppose I could blame my delay on Bittman and his salads.  After all, the hottest time of the year is finally drawing to a close here and so the ease of throwing a salad together after a very long day would keep most people from baking anything.  Or perhaps it was that last gas & electric bill reflecting three completely decadent days of central air-conditioning.  Honestly, I’ve slowed down on my salad production as well.  Although I still cook most evenings, we don’t get around to eating until nearly 8pm, so the idea of photographing any of what I prepare doesn’t compete with flopping on the sofa, visiting with the resident menfolk, and staring at the television.  No, the serious cooking usually happens on the weekend now, and last weekend seemed to feature roasted green chilis, or what are known as Anaheim chilis.

I love them.  I love their glossy bright green color, the fresh crunch of a bite right from the raw chili, and the smoky aroma that fills our house whenever I roast them on the stove.  Also known as California Chilis, Anaheims are featured in  chili rellenos.  They’re especially good added to anything with cheese or eggs.  I usually keep a can or two in my pantry, but they’re so easy to make I usually also have a few fresh chilis around.  Occasionally they sit on the counter longer than I’d planned and turn red.

Planned…yes, there’s that word again.  I won’t tell you what I planned not to do last Sunday as I wallowed in my favorite room in the house, but I did make Bittman Salad No. 25, a Fresh Creamed Corn & Green Chili Casserole, some Pan Roasted Red Potatoes with Green Chilis and Onions and a Roast Chicken that sadly did not benefit from green chilis.

Let me know if anyone has made ice cream with green chilis and I’ll be first in line.

Continue reading

Cool Zucchini Soup with Lemon-Cumin Shrimp and Cilantro Creme

Cool Zucchini Soup with Lemon-Cumin Shrimp and Cilantro Creme

I’d like to believe the weather we’ve been enjoying is here to stay, but I know our small slice of Paradise much too well. Instead of the often sweltering heat we experience in August, we’ve been treated to grey skies, cool, moist breezes, and yesterday, fat drops of rain that teased us late in the afternoon. It’s only a matter of time when vacations become a fleeting memory, kids are back in school, and freeways are once again jammed with rush hour traffic that it will get hot here and stay that way well into October. The heat saps one’s energy after a long day and making dinner usually isn’t high on the priority list, unless it’s something easy to make, cool, and satisfying.  The added perk is that it’s healthy.

This soup’s for you on those evenings. It’s creamy without being full of fat-laden calories as long as you go easy on the cilantro creme. Make extra, because it’s even better the next day.

Continue reading

Spicy Shrimp Salad

<alt img="Spicy Shrimp Salad"/>

I’d love to say it’s salad weather here, but if you are fortunate to be a resident of San Diego, then you know that not only have we been experiencing the typical overcast weather we lovingly refer to as May Grey, but are definitely headed into a serious June Gloom.  Although I am one who doesn’t need the sun shining each day, the marine layer is extremely thick right now, and temperatures have been in the low 60s.  It’s more like sweater weather and is quite gloomy.  In fact today, it’s been drizzling all morning, and I can’t help but wonder about the outcome of  outdoor plans made by those who expect our normally perfect weather, and are now disappointed.

We are salad lovers, and that means salad is a year round treat regardless of the weather.  Recently, my husband said he needed to lose a few pounds, so that usually translates to salad for dinner with no carbs on the side.  That doesn’t mean I make more salad than I normally would.  Instead, it means I’m able to try new combinations of flavor, adding more ingredients, and warming it up a bit with something cooked.

I’ve heard others mention they don’t care for warm salads, and far be it from me to criticize someone’s taste for salad — with the exception of the “canned pea-Velveeta cubes- smothered in Miracle Whip” concoction which leaves me nearly speechless.

This shrimp and spinach salad has more than one kind of “heat.”  If you’re not one for cooking your salad ingredients, then consider what chili heat can do for your taste buds.  It’s satisfying and healthy.

Continue reading

Cream of Greens Soup: Dandelions, Spinach, and Arugula

Earth Day Soup

When I think of Earth Day, I think more about how I was raised instead of an event marked on a calendar that occurs once a year.  I guess my mother was green before her time simply because she needed to be frugal with her earnings.  But that’s not all.  Her common sense was what was really at work.  If you’re a single mother who works split shifts and have three children under the age of six, you put all of them in the tub at the same time and teach them that the water cannot rise above their belly buttons.  Absolutely no showers, ever.  You rinse your two girls’ very long hair with a tablespoon of  apple cider vinegar mixed with water they wished was warm instead of shockingly cold.  You nag your children incessantly until they understand that lights are turned off when not in use and that electricity costs money — which sadly does not grow on trees.  You make your children’s clothes, and as much as your younger daughter may not love the idea, pass the older daughter’s clothes down once outgrown.  You make shorts from cut off pants, either outgrown, or made possible by knees that have worn through.  You purchase less of everything and teach them how to take care of what they have, because if they don’t, they’re not getting anything new.  You make popsicles from koolaid poured into ice cube trays and dole them out over a few days like they were gold nuggets.  You remind them to bring home from school each day, not only the brown bag their lunch was in, but the baggies their chips and sandwiches were stuffed in to.  You teach them to clean their plates at meals, and never, ever to waste food.  Ever.   Or else.

And you teach them how to eat their vegetables — especially the green ones.

In celebration of Earth Day and smart, frugal moms everywhere who were green long before it was the cool thing to do, this soup is for you.  It’s healthy, and made with a bit of this, and a bit of that from my vegetable drawer.

Continue reading

Easy Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

After that last recipe filled with butter, I felt I needed to post something much, much lighter.  Now I understand that the idea of vegetable soup may not send you into a food swoon, but it is something we enjoy, and this particular recipe is easy, quick, and can be easily adapted to include any vegetable you’d prefer instead of those listed in the ingredients.  Actually, it’s quite nice with the addition of chicken, or beef, or beans as well.  If you’d prefer pasta or rice, that can be added also.

The weather is right for a nice bowl of soup that isn’t loaded with calories, and can be whipped up when you need it.

Does my 15-year-old love it?  Probably not, but he eats it or else.  Actually he’d prefer that it has meat in it, or at least some pasta.  If I serve it with a salad he enjoys as well as garlic bread, it will keep him interested.

“Mediterranean Vegetable Soup” is from Rosie Schwartz’ Whole Foods Guide, a fabulous book that contains more than just recipes.  It’s a source of information about phyto foods or phytochemicals and their positive effect on our bodies in fighting cancer and other illnesses.  No, I don’t work for the publisher, and I don’t know Ms. Schwartz.  I’m not trying to sell anything and don’t get perks from mentioning this particular book.  I’m just someone who enjoys sharing something I find worthwhile and know that as much as I enjoy it, I hope others will as well.

Occasionally, I will compare one of these recipes with something similar from another cookbook or magazine just to check on the fat content.  In this recipe, it’s not even a consideration.  But I’m always pleasantly surprised that these recipes hold up.  They’re tasty and good for us.  They help me get through all the other recipes I make which aren’t always as healthy as I’d like!

Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. zucchini, chopped
1 c. green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes with juice, pureed
5 c. vegetable broth
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 c. chopped spinach or Swiss chard
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a  large pot over med heat.  Add the onions and garlic, sauteeing until they are soft.  Add the carrots, celery, and zucchini and cook, stirring to make sure they are not becoming too brown — about 10 minutes.  Add the green beans, can of tomatoes, veggie broth, basil, parsley, and seasonings.  Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer covered about 30 minutes.

Stir in the spinach or chard and cook an additional 20 minutes.  Check seasoning and grate some fresh Parmesan over each bowl before serving.

Notes: Rosie says that this makes 6-8 servings and that each serving is less than 80 calories!  That’s amazing.  The soup is filling and flavorful.  I tried it with chard this time, but spinach is really great tasting.

  • If you’re really wanting more substance, add a 14-oz. can of drained, rinsed cannellini beans.  They’re really tasty in this!
  • And if you’d like to add pasta, it works best if the pasta is cooked al dente and added toward the end just to heat it up.  I add it when we have left over pasta.
  • If you want to spice it up a bit, shake over some dried red pepper flakes.
  • Shred left over chicken breast and add it at the end to heat it or saute one chicken breast when you’ve just begun the soup.  Let it cool, shred it into bite sized pieces and add them at the end.
  • Ground sirloin even works.  Make sure it’s completely browned through and through and the juices are drained.  Add the meat at the end.