Monday, January 19, 2009

Cheese Biscuits and "Orange Soup"

I guess we had an orange theme this weekend. On Friday night, the girls and I ended our long week without VeggieDaddy, who was out of town for work, at our favorite chinese restaurant. We ordered our usual: one order of sesame tofu (served with broccoli and covered in a yummy orange sauce) and one order of steamed tofu (no sauce). On Saturday, we went to the Farmer's Market (which has moved inside University Mall for the winter) and picked up some great baby carrots, along with some yummy cheeses (VeggieDaddy traded a couple of his homebrews for some of the cheese). On Sunday morning, we made the cheese biscuits below and made egg biscuit sandwiches. While the girls and VeggieDaddy made the biscuits, I put the soup on the stove for lunch. AND, clementines have been ingested daily. All in all, alot of orange foods for one weekend:)

Cheese Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
6 T shortening
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese

1. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
2. If you have a food processor with a dough blade, just cut the shortening in 1/2 inch chunks into the flour and then process for 30 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, get one. Just kidding, just cut or rub in the shortening until shortening is well-combined throughout.
3. Stir in the milk, and once mixed in, add the cheese, then knead lightly.
4. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick.
5. Cut the dough with an upside-down pint glass, or a circle cutter, if you're fancy.
6. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

Side note on this recipe: this is based on a recipe from The Treasury of White Trash Cooking, by Ernest Matthew Mickler and Trisha Mickler, a classic given to me by some friends when VeggieDaddy and I first moved in together. Thanks ladies!

Butternut Squash Soup

I called this soup "orange soup" because it sounds alot more appetizing to a 4 year old than squash soup.

2 ribs celery, chopped (including the celery leaves)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 T olive oil
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I buy Trader Joe's precut)
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 t cumin
1 t sage
1 t turmeric
Pepper to taste
4 cups water

1. Cook the celery, onion and garlic over medium heat in 1 T olive oil until softened.
2. Add the squash, potato and spices and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
3. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cover.
4. Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash and potato are softened.
5. Puree in a food processor until smooth.

Have a great week! If we get a "snow day" tomorrow maybe we will come up with some special inauguration day recipes!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Finally, something they love

It has been almost two months since I have posted to this blog. The silence has not been for a lack of cooking. More a lack of appetite. The girls have both become supremely picky! I am not, nor as far as I can recall, have I ever been picky. So I honestly don't get it. How can they go from loving all kinds of food - Indian, Thai, spicy, etc. - to only macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly (with crusts removed and only if cut into the preferred shape of the day!)? Yes, I am exaggerating a bit - they still eat raw or steamed plain tofu by the pound, and plain pasta with butter is a popular choice, but these aren't real great blog fodder. So, when I threw together a zucchini soup for them this past weekend (and a risotto and stuffed pepper for VeggieMommy and Not So VeggieDaddy) and they both LOVED it, I knew I needed to come back to this blog - if for no other reason than to record the recipe for future reference, although it will likely be months before they love it again:)

Creamy Zucchini Soup

• 1 leek, sliced
• 1 ½ T olive oil
• ¾ cup carrots, coarsely chopped (I use baby carrots and just slice)
• 1 ½ t garlic
• 2 t parsley
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 large zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• ¼ cup cream

1. Sauté the leeks in the olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the carrots, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper and let cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until leeks just begin to brown.
3. Stir in the zucchini and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, but don’t let the zucchini start to brown.
4. Add enough broth just to cover the vegetables. After the mixture comes to a gentle boil, turn down to a simmer and cover.
5. Stir occasionally and continue simmering about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are softened.
6. Puree in a food processor.
7. Return to pot and stir in the cream. This step can be skipped if you want to keep it vegan or lower in fat, but most little ones can use the extra calories! Ladle into bowls and serve it up.

This soup is good enough to serve the whole family (although you may need to make in a greater quantity), but we had planned a risotto (which the girls would normally enjoy) for dinner, and only made the soup when our 4 year old started groaning loudly that she DOES NOT like risotto. So, briefly, here’s a yummy risotto and stuffed pepper for less picky VeggieKids.

Stuffed Pepper
• 1 cup reconstituted Textured Vegetable Protein (“TVP” is available at most grocery stores. The dried granules come in a bag. Follow the directions on the bag – just add boiling water. It makes a great meat-like substitute – I love using it for sloppy joe’s.)
• 1/3 cup goat cheese
• 1 garlic clove, diced
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 cup red pepper sauce*

1. Mix the TVP, goat cheese and garlic clove in a small bowl.
2. Carefully cut around the stem of the bell pepper and remove the seeds and fleshy parts from the inside. Place the pepper in a small baking dish.
3. Pack the TVP mixture tightly into the bell pepper. Replace the cap. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.
5. With the risotto, one-half pepper per person is sufficient. Carefully slice in half and drizzle with sauce.

*You can either use store-bought sauce or make your own. To make your own, puree two roasted red bell peppers (Either roast one pepper in the oven or use a jar of roasted bell peppers packed in olive oil) with some olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil and parsley. Add cream or some milk if you like it creamy, or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Zucchini Pesto Risotto

• 2 T butter
• 2 shallots, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 cup + 2 T risotto
• 2 T pesto
• 1 large zucchini, cut in ½ inch cubes
• 2 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
• 1 T lemon juice
• 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. I use my awesome-can’t live without- rice cooker for this but you can also make it on the stove although I make no guarantees (not that I ever do).
2. Set the rice cooker to regular and melt the butter.
3. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until shallots begin to soften.
4. Add the risotto and stir to coat. Cook until white spot begins to show on the risotto grains.
5. Stir in the pesto and zucchini. Add the broth and water.
6. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until most of the broth and water is absorbed, but risotto should not be mushy.
7. Add lemon juice and parmesan cheese, and serve.