Tuesday, March 15, 2011

White Bean Soup with Sautéed Shrimp and Garlic Croutons

I think this is by far one of the most complicated recipes I've made since cooking on my own. The most daunting meal I've ever made was making my first turkey for Thanksgiving! That was just an odd experience, but it was well worth the fuss and muss. This is what that recipe was all about. Time. It took a long time and careful watching, but gosh it was worth it!

It's so nice to make pretty much every layer of a meal homemade. Of course I can't conjure up shrimp on my own, but the soup and croutons were all me. That makes me proud. Someone award me a gold star!

The soup was delicious and creamy. It was perfectly seasoned, even though I didn't have a cheesecloth to bundle my herbs and I used dried instead of fresh. The shrimp although I can only use frozen here (landlocked = lack of fresh seafood) was juicy and succulent. The garlic croutons were full of flavor, crispy yet chewy. Ahhhh I could live off those croutons! I'll never buy stuff from the store again! :)

If you cannot find dry cannellini beans you can use either white navy beans or great northern beans.

Basic Beans
from Fine Cooking Magazine, January 2004

1 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans, sorted through and rinsed
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 to 3 sprigs fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and flat-leaf parsley)
1 tsp. kosher salt

Wrap the bay leaves, garlic, and herbs in cheesecloth and tie with twine. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches (about 2 quarts). Add the herb bundle and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are tender (try biting into one) but not splitting and falling apart, 1 to 2 hours depending on the type of bean (check occasionally to be sure the beans aren't boiling and are covered with liquid; add water if needed).

Discard the herb bundle. Add the beans and their cooking liquid immediately to the soup recipe, or let the beans cool in liquid and refrigerate for up to three days.

White Bean Soup with Sautéed Shrimp & Garlic Croutons
from Fine Cooking Magazine, January 2004

Cooked cannellini beans
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; plus 1 tbsp. for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 inner rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
2 1/2 cups 3/4-inch diced country bread or baguette (about 6 ounces)
3/4lb. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, and patted dry
Pinch cayenne

Cook the cannellini beans following the Basic Beans method above.

Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 tbsp. of the oil, along with the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and start to brown, about 7 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid (there should be about 4 cups liquid; if not, add more water to equal this amount) and half the rosemary. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a bare simmer, and cook for 30 minutes so that the beans soften a little more but don't break up.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the beans and set aside. Working in batches, puree the remaining beans and all of the broth in a blender. Transfer the pureed soup and the reserved beans to a clean saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Thin with water, if necessary, to get the consistency you like.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and the bread cubes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until the bread starts to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the remaining garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute, tossing well. Transfer to a large plate.

Season the shrimp well with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the shrimp to the skillet and saute, stirring often, until the shrimp is firm, pink, and slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Ladle the soup in large, shallow bowls and dust with a pinch of cayenne. Garnish with a few croutons, a portion of the shrimp, a sprinkling of the remaining rosemary, and a drizzle of oil.

Recipe says it serves 4, but could easily serve 6.

Weight Watchers Points (per serving, serving 6): 10 points

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mocha Crinkles

So for the past few weeks I've been craving something sweet and chocolate and wanted to make something. I'd recently picked up some cocoa powder to make souffles. Of course I had to find other means of using up the cocoa before leaving for Alaska. I found this super easy recipe in a cookbook my boyfriend's family had gotten me a few Christmas' ago. I love this book. Almost every recipe has a picture. Who doesn't love pictures?! I'm one of those people who likes to know what my food is supposed to look like when I'm done, hehe.

I was disappointed in myself for not reading all the way through the recipe first before getting started. Why was I disappointed? It calls for the dough to be refrigerated for a few hours so you've been forewarned! Now don't go and try to pass the fridge step, it won't be the same! Letting the dough chill for a bit will make it easier to roll into balls.

They're not overly sweet and really the coffee flavor is very light. They stayed nice and soft and were chewy on the outside. I was a little weirded out by the black pepper in the recipe, but I stuck it in anyway! I'm not sure what 1/8 tsp. of black pepper really does for these cookies, but who cares? They were yummy! I'm pretty sure these will be on the list for the holiday baking.I'm a sick sick woman aren't I? Already planning my holiday baking...

Mocha Crinkles
adapted from The Cookie Bible

1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tbsp. egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp. instant espresso or coffee granules
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat sugar and oil in a medium bowl. Mix in sour cream, egg whites (or egg) and vanilla. Set aside.

Mix flour, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, salt and pepper in another medium bowl.

Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; mix well. Refrigerate dough until firm, 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Pour powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets 10 to 12 minutes or until tops of cookies are firm to touch. (Do not overbake.) Cool on wire racks.

Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies (depending on the size you make them).

and for the close up...


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pilgrim's Potato Chowder

I don't consider myself a soup person. Although I will eat it, it's definitely not something that I crave. My mother subscribes to Paula Deen's magazine so I always take the opportunity to browse through them. Pretty much anything the Queen of Butter cooks up looks and sounds delicious. I stumbled across this chowder and it seemed interesting. Something along the lines of a potato soup, and let me tell you I love potato soup! Especially with the little dumplings on the top!

This is an easy peasy recipe that's full of flavor. It's thick and warm and perfect for the cooler rainy days we've been having lately. Of course you can control the thickness with some water or broth, but I let the recipe lead me. It's stick to your ribs good, especially with some buttered bread!

Pilgrim's Potato Chowder
adapted from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007

1 pound of Yukon gold potatoes, cubed and divided (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, reduced sodium-fat free
1 cup carrot, sliced rounds
1 (11oz.) can corn, drained
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup half-n-half *
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cups grated Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese

* = if you don't have half-n-half melt 1 tbsp. butter in 1 cup of milk

Combine half of potatoes with broth in saucepan with tight fitting lid. Bring to boil and simmer about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Mash potatoes with a fork; stir in remaining potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, onions and next 3 ingredients. Cover, simmer until vegetables are tender.

Dissolve flour in 1/4 cup half-and-half; stir into chowder with remaining half-and-half and parsley. Cook, stirring over medium heat to thicken slightly. Serve topped with grated cheese.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Weight Watchers Points (per serving): 9 points

*I am in no way affiliated with the websites/companies linked. I was not paid to use or advertise their products. I am not earning profit from linking the items. These are items that I personally pay for (WW subscription and produce linked) and will not be reimbursed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shrimp with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Tell me, how can you not want to dig into this deliciously colorful dish? The best part? It's VERY quick! Okay that's not the BEST part, but it's close!

I haven't cooked anything recently that made me just go "Oh My --- Gosh!" when I take a bite. THIS is it. This made me excited to eat! This made me dribble a little on my chin while cooking...

I had to buy FROZEN shrimp here in Indiana. The only fresh seafood they had was fish (blargh!), crab, and some pre-made cake....patty things that disturbed me. After complaining to the boy about not getting fresh seafood I chucked two frozen bags in my cart and pouted awhile after coasting away to find the next items on my shopping list.

There's nothing complicated about it. It's simple flavors. I finally get what the foodies on the Food Network always go on and on about. You know what I'm talking about. That fake "oh my this is so good" remark they always make over and over again. Then they go on to describe each thing and I get annoyed (mainly because I can't enjoy it with them), but I get it now. As you eat all different components in this dish it's an explosion of flavor! A simple garlic sauce, nice golden zucchini, cherry tomatoes that sweeten as you cook them, and the shrimp? Amaziiiinnnnng! I'll be honest, I had my doubts about my shrimp as we're in a landlocked state.

Okay okay I'm going to start gushing, let's get on with it!

Shrimp with Zucchini and Tomatoes
adapted from Weightwatchers.com

1 tbsp. olive oil, extra-virgin, divided
2 medium-small zucchinis, cut 1/4" thick
12oz. medium sized shrimp (peeled and deveined, cut tails off if desired)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (I love Nature Sweet)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup water

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add zucchini in a single layer; increase heat to high and cook until bottoms are golden, about 2 minutes. Flip zucchini and cook until golden on other side, about 2 minutes more. Remove zucchini to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Heat remaining teaspoon oil in same skillet.

Add shrimp; sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper; sauté until shrimp are almost just cooked through, about 1 minute.

Stir in garlic and water; sauté, stirring to loosen bits from bottom of pan, until shrimp are cooked through and tomatoes are softened, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

Return zucchini to skillet; toss and serve.

NOTE: If you have a lot of liquid in the bottom of your pan you can add a little flour, turn up the heat to a boil then reduce heat and let it simmer until thickened. Add thickened sauce before serving for more flavor.

Serves 4.

Weight Watchers Points (per serving): 3
By using the smaller shrimp you will get more and make your plate appear fuller.

*I am in no way affiliated with the websites/companies linked. I was not paid to use or advertise their products. I am not earning profit from linking the items. These are items that I personally pay for (WW subscription and produce linked) and will not be reimbursed.