Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sweet and Sour Kraut and Weiner Soup

I've been watching my wallet lately and trying to use EVERYTHING in my fridge before it spoils. It seems that so many of the recipes I'm posting lately are created with frugality in mind. Sometimes they're exciting, and sometimes, well not so much. But this little dish which I adapted from a facebook recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen is just too good to not share. Kalyn made a Leftover Corned Beef and Sauerkraut Soup and it seemed like it was something I could sub with my leftover low sodium frankfurters and half a jar of sauerkraut. Some people are not fans of sauerkraut, but I certainly am. Being a New Yorker I wouldn't think of having a hot dog without it. So with that said, let's get to the recipe.

Sweet and Sour Kraut and Weiner Soup
Inspired by Kayln's Kitchen

1 large onion chopped
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 can low sodium, low fat chicken broth (14.5 oz)
1 can low sodium, low fat beef broth (14.5 oz)
1 can petit diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 large dried bay leaves
2 cups sauerkraut, drained but not rinsed (I used bottled, not canned)
4 or 5 frankfurters sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tsp Splenda Brown Sugar Blend or 4 tsp light brown sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
fresh ground pepper to taste
Grated swiss cheese for serving (I like the lower sodium Alpine Lace)
Extra balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Homemade croutons for garnish (see link below)

Heat olive oil in soup pan and add the onions. Cook on medium low for about 5 minutes. You're looking to soften them and not really brown them. Add your garlic and celery salt  and cook 2-3 minutes more.

Add your chicken stock, beef stock, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves and simmer on low for 30 minutes. I covered my pot. While soup simmers, drain the sauerkraut in a colander. Do not rinse it.

Get out your prepped frankfurters. When sauerkraut is mostly drained, squeeze out any remaining moisture with your clean hands. Lots of moisture comes out but the briny flavor remains. Chop the kraut into smaller pieces and add it, along with the franks, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to the soup pot. Stir to combine and add a bit of water to soup if it seems thick to you. Simmer 15 minutes more.

While the soup is creating delicious aromas in your kitchen, why don't you make some homemade croutons for a garnish? They're quick and add so much flavor and texture to the final meal. Here is Ann Burrell's version of garlic croutons that I make all the time. Only now I add a T of unsalted butter to the olive oil mix, and are they ever so good! And when you're being frugal, a little bit of butter goes a long way when it comes to taste.

Top your soup with the shredded Swiss cheese and a bit more balsamic vinegar. Stir until the cheese melts and now add the yummy croutons. You should get about 4-5 servings. Hope you enjoy, I certainly did!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

There was a recipe being shared on facebook last week that caught my eye. It was Amish Cinnamon Bread posted by Torri Camp Gayle. I really couldn't tell what her finished bread looked like because the slice was slathered with cream cheese, but I loved the ingredients and had some buttermilk in my fridge (my new favorite ingredient for everything) and decided to make a loaf. I used a medium size loaf pan and am rather happy with the results, although I'd love to get some more swirl action happening within the bread. Here's the recipe:

Amish Cinnamon Bread
credit to Torri Camp Gayle

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar (I used Splenda no calorie)
1 large egg
1 cup low fat buttermilk
2 cups flour (I was at the end of my AP flour so added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour to make the 2 cups)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (my addition)

Cinnamon Swirl and Topping
1/3 cup sugar (I used Splenda no cal)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Prepare loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Mix together the Cinnamon Swirl and Topping mixture and set aside.  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Now we're ready to rock and roll. Cream butter, Splenda and egg until combined. I mixed this for about 2-3 minutes with my trusty hand mixer.

Now add the buttermilk, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined, but don't overmix. You don't want a tough bread. Pour half the batter into your prepared pan and sprinkle 3/4 of your sugar mixture on top.

Top with the remaining batter, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture. Take a knife (or maybe a wooden skewer would do the trick) and make swirls back and forth in the batter. Mine ended up looking lumpy.

So I patted it down with my clean hands.

I wasn't thrilled (it was still lumpy), but in the oven it went for 45-50 minutes. And I must say it's a super tasty bread that needs a bit of a face lift.

My friend Aurora had a good idea to solve the lumpiness. Do the swirling before you add the second layer of the batter. I'm even taking her idea a step farther and suggesting you make three thin layers of batter topped with the 1/3 each of the cinnamon mixture and only swirl the bottom two. That's what I'm going to try next! Any other suggestions are more than welcome. I know I have some seasoned bakers reading every so often, so if you're out there- share any secrets you may have, before I make this again. All in all, this was a simple, tasty recipe that just needs a little tweaking. And once it was cut- you'd never know it needed plastic surgery. A very good recipe that I think would also make an awesome bread pudding!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zucchini and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

It's that time of year again, and I love it! Zucchini is in abundance and it's cheap, cheap, cheap. So last night I made a super duper meatloaf with lean ground sirloin, some fatty sweet Italian sausage, zucchini, cheese and of course spices and seasonings. So delish, I must share. And it's so simple it's almost embarassing.

Zucchini Meatloaf
Inspired by summer produce and a fridge clean out

1 medium size zucchini
1 lb ground sirloin
2 links sweet Italian sausage uncased
1 egg
2 T milk
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1 T dried minced onion
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used store bought seasoned Italian)
2 slices mozzarella string cheese
2 slices Velveeta cheese
Marinara sauce

Grate your zucchini and place in a large bowl. I squeezed out some of the liquid but wasn't really that concerned because I like my meatloaf to be juicy and moist. To the zucchini add the egg, milk, oregano, minced onion, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce and bread crumbs. Mix and add the sirloin and sausage.

Remove from the bowl and pat down your mixture on a flat surface. Grab some cheese out of your fridge and place in the center of your soon to be loaf. I would have gone with all mozzarella, but came up short so added some Velveeta cheese which actually delighted me because it really is a fabulous melting cheese and made the final dish so tasty.

Roll the loaf up and place in a cooking sprayed baking dish. Top with your favorite marinara sauce and bake for 1 hour.

Let sit for about 15 minutes and slice. Doesn't that look good?

And if you like to bring your lunch to work with you, a slice of this cheesy little zucchini filled meatloaf makes a super sandwich. One minute in the microwave, a little extra sauce and you're all set.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Focaccia Bread with a Three Cheese Filling

My local market has the most delicious artisan breads and I rarely buy them because I'm either dieting or watching my wallet. But today I just flipped when I saw this work of art- a tomato rosemary focaccia bread that jumped into my cart before I knew what happened. Focaccia bread is great with any meal, but I decided to make it my entire meal. Those lazy, hazy days of summer are here, and I do admit I get lazy. So I cut this little lovely in half and slathered it with 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan and a handful of shredded mozzarella.

Put the top back on...

Wrapped it in aluminum foil and baked it for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Here's the result, minus two pieces.

Ooey, gooey, cheesey and just what this lazy, hazy gal wanted for dinner.


That was the first slice. The second one just disappeared. This was simply delicious and there's enough left over for breakfast and/or lunch. If I weren't being such a slug, I would have sauteed some sausage and added that to the cheese mixture. And that could still happen because I have some sweet Italian sausages defrosting in my fridge. Thanks to all the artisan bakers out there, you are much appreciated!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No-Bake Cream Cheese Pudding Cake

This is a re-mix of the ice box cake I made a few weeks ago. The concept is similar, but I made it smaller in an 8 x 8 inch glass dish. I didn't have enough graham crackers to make the big one and after visiting the market way too many times over the weekend I decided I'd make do with what was on hand. I also eliminated the peanut butter and cool whip and gave 8 ounces of low fat cream cheese star billing. Plus I used white chocolate instant pudding this time and had some filling left over which was great mixed with fresh fruit for breakfast or intermittent snacks. And of course I thickly slathered this decadent little cake with Diane's super rich chocolate frosting. Here's what you need to get started:

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Filled No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake

13 chocolate graham crakers
2 boxes (1 oz each) Jello sugar free/fat free white chocolate instant pudding
3-1/2 cups fat free milk
8 oz neufchatel cheese at room temp
3/4 cup mini chocolate semi sweet chips

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
dash of salt

Get out your pudding. This is what I used:

In large bowl mix pudding with milk. I use a small hand mixer and whirl for about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens a bit, scraping down the sides to get every last bit of goodness combined. Now add the softened cream cheese and blend for another minute or two. Taste it, it's creamy and cream cheesy.

Time to add the mini chips.

And fold them into the cheese/pudding mixture.

Set this aside and let's get ready for assembly. In an 8x8 inch dish, spritz a little cooking spray around bottom and sides and place 4 and 1/3 chocolate graham crackers on the bottom, so they look like this:

Cover the top of the crackers with enough of your pudding mixture so all the crackers are covered. Layer another 4 and 1/3 crackers on top of the pudding mixture. We're building a masterpiece for sure.

Cover the second layer of crackers with enough pudding to make sure crackers are going to be soaking up the decadent pudding mixture and top with your last 4 and 1/3 graham crackers. We're ready to frost this baby. Most exciting part of the dish!

In medium size bowl combine all frosting ingredients and pull out that hand mixer one more time. Combine all ingredients until smooth.

Cover, no slather your cake liberally with this most heavenly frosting. Lick the spoon of course and cover your cake with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 12 hours, slice and enjoy with or without some whipped cream.

 So now you've got a little bit of pudding/cheese mixture left over, what're you gonna do? I made a fabulous fruit salad and used a dollop or two as a garnish. But this little mixture has legs and I discovered you can serve this creamy, white chocolate pudding with French Toast. I did that and it deserves a post of it's own. I will take some pics and post the French Toast next time I'm making cream cheese pudding again. Lovin' all the pudding possibilities!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Frittering Away a Saturday Afternoon

A few days ago Tamara M, an internet friend of mine posted her tweaked recipe of onion pancakes that she saw on Just a Pinch posted by Toni T. I gazed lovingly at her pictures and read the recipe and knew it was going to be the way I was going to spend my Saturday afternoon. I had to have these crispy, crunchy morsels of chopped onions and seasoned batter. These gals call them pancakes, but to me they are fritters. Crispy in certain places and chewy in others and knobby and free formed all the way. So as you can see, I frittered away the afternoon and am O! so happy I did. Here's Tamara's recipe with a bit of tweaking from me:

Onion Fritters
Makes 12 to 15 small to medium size fritters

2-1/2 cups chopped onions, about 1/4 inch
3/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 T Splenda no calorie sweetener (sugar will work too of course)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup fat free half and half
canola oil for frying

Clone Recipe for Outback's Bloomin' Onion Dip
From the internet, Tamara's suggestion as well and boy is it good!

1/2 cup mayo (you know I use the light)
2 tsp ketchup
2 T horseradish
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper

To make the dip, combine all ingredients with a small whisk and set aside in fridge while you're assembling the onion fritters.

To make the fritters, chop 2 medium onions which should give you the 2-1/2 cups necessary. In medium size bowl combine your dry ingredients (AP flour to kosher salt). Mix with a whisk or fork to combine and add your buttermilk and half and half, and then onions. (Although neither Tamara or Toni used buttermilk, I had some in my fridge and decided I'd give it a try. Love the tang, and next time I will use buttermilk only and see how that turns out.) By the way, your batter will be rather thick.

In large saucepan on medium/high heat add enough canola oil to cover bottom of pan, and then some. Maybe about 1/4 inch coverage all around. Place Tablespoons of the batter in the oil and saute for about 2 minutes on the first side. You'll know when to turn them over when you see the edges getting slightly brown, like this:

Flip them over and cook another 2 minutes or so on side two. Looking and smelling good already.

Drain on paper towels and serve. I made mine in 2 batches and kept the first batch warm in a low oven.

Give these a try with the Outback sauce. Or serve them with any type of sauce you like with your fried onion rings. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

And I'm now realizing it's going to be football season in a bit. This is great game food, and you'll want to make extra. Thanks Tamara and Toni, great recipe!