Monday, November 28, 2011

Tangy Broccoli Pasta Salad

I'm back from California, had the day off from work, and am sitting here nibbling on this fabulous salad I just made, that I can't believe I've never posted. If you like sweet and tart combinations, this is a salad you should try. It's a party for your tastebuds. It's vitamin packed, easy to put together and will keep in your fridge for 3-4 days.

Tangy Broccoli Pasta Salad

8 slices turkey bacon cooked
12 oz broccoli florets cooked, cut into bite size pieces
1-1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta (I use Dreamfields low carb)
1/2 cup scallions cut 1/2 inch
1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted and halved
1/3 cup raisins
2 roasted red peppers cut into 1 inch slices (I use Pastene in a jar)
4 oz goat cheese crumbled (optional)

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. In large bowl combine salad ingredients (from bacon to red peppers). Set aside. To prepare dressing, whisk all ingredients in medium size bowl. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture, toss and top with goat cheese if desired. Refrigerate and serve.

This salad is a great side with burgers, fish and chicken. It's also a crowd pleaser at pot luck dinners (I can't tell you how many times I've been asked for the recipe) and it works for me anytime as a lunch, dinner or snack.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Some of the best recipes happen by accident. I had three over-ripe bananas that I'd been saving to make my favorite banana bread. And when I went to put my ingredients together tonight I realized I had no AP flour. But I did have whole wheat flour stashed away in the freezer and thought maybe I could do something with that. I grabbed one of my go-to cookbooks and found exactly what I was looking for. King Arthur Flour has a book that is quite fabulous. It's called Whole Grain Baking and has many recipes that are simple, tasty and the end results don't taste dry or grainy. Their banana bread is one of those. This bread is moist, tender and decadent. Only you'll know it's made with whole wheat flour.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
Adapted from Whole Grain Baking

The original bread was called Easy Banana Walnut Bread- I omitted the walnuts and added semi sweet chocolate chips . Use a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

1 stick unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas mashed
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch pan. I used PAM.

With hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add the mashed bananas, honey and eggs, mixing until incorporated. King Arthur says to beat until smooth, but I like my bananas a bit chunky so this is when I put my mixer away and use a wooden spoon or spatula, and try to keep my bananas in chunks. Now stir/fold in the flour and chocolate chips. Combine and don't over mix.

Bake the bread for 50 minutes. Lay a piece of foil over the top of bread and bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove from baking pan to finish cooling on wire rack. Doesn't that loaf look gorgeous?

This bread is delicious on its own, but even better with cream cheese or peanut butter. I think you know which direction I took.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Super Fast and Fresh

Cooking Light has a series called Super Fast 20 Minute Cooking and I recently re-mixed their Spinach, Pasta and Pea Soup recipe from the October '11 issue. This soup is indeed quick. And I love the lemon, the small hint of oregano (a spice I rarely use), and the massive amounts of garlic and scallions I added. Plus the addition of a shredded rotisserie chicken breast made this the perfect, quick fix that got me through the first day of a miserable cold.

Spinach, Pasta, Bean and Chicken Soup
Inspired by Cooking Light

1 T extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves chopped
4 thinly sliced scallions
4 cups fat free, lower sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 cup broken pasta- I used linguini, Cooking Light used orzo
1 lemon zested- Cooking Light called for 1 T of zest and I just didn't have another lemon
Juice of 1 lemon -Cooking Light called for 1 T of juice, and that didn't seem enought for me so I used the whole lemon
1 15 oz can cannellini beans rinsed and drained -Cooking Light used chick peas
1/2 tsp dried oregano -Cooking Light used 1 T fresh oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp lemon pepper- my contribution
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes- my contribution
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 6 oz package fresh baby spinach
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Breast meat from a rotisserie chicken shredded- my contribution

Heat a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add garlic and scallions and cook for a minute or two. Lower heat or remove pan from heat if garlic begins to burn. Back on the heat, add chicken broth and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta, lemon rind, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and cannelini beans. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Lower or turn off heat. Add chicken, lemon juice and spinach. Cover and serve when spinach is wilted. Top each serving with a few tablespoons of cheese. And if you're really ailing, I think a dash or two of hot sauce in your bowl might be a good thing.

Here's to a healthy winter season with lots of recipes and remedies that will get us through the sniffles and actual illnesses. And a very happy Thanksgiving to all. I'm looking forward to spending my time eating and enjoying life with Lori next week.