Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Here we are, at that point in the semester where everyone's tired, burned out, and basically over it. Myself included, in some respects. Turns out, writing a literature review for a dissertation is not nearly as much fun as it sounds like. I have 47 pages of crap that I am determined to whip into shape sometime this coming week. I told my advisor I'd have Chapter 2 in its entirety to him on November 1. While he doesn't really keep track of these deadlines, I do (it's kind of our running joke); deadlines cause me to lose sleep, have nightmares (usually about plane crashes), and dang it can Daylight Savings Time end soon? It's dark outside until 7:30-7:40 a.m. and I can't bring myself to crawl out of my nice warm bed to go to the gym when it's dark and cold outside. My triathlon training is suffering. I had a nice swim with Liz today - 40 laps in 50 minutes, thank you - and I've been sitting at a computer all day trying to edit the aformentioned 47 page lit review. And feeling like a slob because I've only run once this week. Blah.

Anyway. Despite being tired all the time and frustrated with this chapter, I - believe it or not - still have to eat. I have been craving pumpkin soup all season, and I have to tell you about the pumpkin soup I made last night. It was di-vine. It was warm, and earthy, and Thai-ish, and made me feel good all over. I stole the recipe from somewhere online but swapped out a couple of ingredients. Here is:

Thai Pumpkin Soup
some olive oil
about 1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic
some red chili flakes
some ginger
some salt & black pepper
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 about the same size can of low-fat coconut milk
some chicken broth

Heat the oil, sautee the onion, garlic, salt & pepper, and chili flakes. Add the ginger when the onions are tender, heat through. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir together. Once it's well combined and before it comes to a boil, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor (or whip out the trusty immersion blender) and puree the hell out of it. Pour back in the pot, simmer for 15 minutes. Top with cinnamon.

I ate so much of this soup that I didn't even need a piece of bread or anything else that usually accompanies soup, but I did have my leftover today with a grilled cheese sandwich and it was yummy! I also think the soup would be a great stir-fry sauce. I tasted a sample with honey and cinnamon, and thought the honey made it delicious as well. But, I put honey on just about everything, so you may want to ignore that.

Either way. Go make the soup and enjoy on a cold fall or winter night. Or in the summer when you miss fall. It's great for Halloween since it's orange.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best Bean Dip Ever

That's Loren, one of my dearest and best friends, with her ah-mazing bean dip. She's part of the Auburn crew, and we have many, many happy memories together. I also have several dip recipes thanks to her. Her corn dip is a tailgate staple, and I'm anxiously waiting on her to share the recipe for pumpkin crisp, which will be on my LBDelicious Thanksgiving Blog Special. What's that, you ask? It's the blog I will do to highlight my first attempt at a full-out Thanksgiving dinner - full sized turkey and all - this November. Lindsey is going to Illinois for turkey day this year, so my cooking-partner-in-crime won't be sharing the kitchen with me as she did last year. Unless somebody else wants to come over, it'll be all LBDelicious this Thanksgiving.

Enough about me. Back to Loren and her dip. It was served cold, and was perfect with tortilla chips. Here's the super simple but incredible recipe:

Loren's Bean Dip
1 can black beans
1 cup salsa
chopped green onions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoon cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Mix together. Chill. Eat with tortilla chips.

I think she made this for Bunco night. I'm glad there were leftovers for her to share with us.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Broccoli Soup

Even though fall weather in Lexington reminds me that a harsh, cold winter isn't far away, I absolutely love the fall weather here. If you're one of my friends from Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, or South Dakota (you know who you are), then go ahead and laugh at the fact that Kentucky winters are nowhere nearly as brutal as anything farther north, and I'll laugh at you when you're suffocating in the "Lexington humidity" this summer.

I digress. Fall's always been one of my favorite seasons, though growing up in Alabama, we didn't so much have "fall" as we did a week of cooler weather in November somewhere between summer and winter. With legitimate fall weather comes many culinary desires - I crave the warmth of pumpkin, nuts, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, which means I'll be making a pumpkin soup before too long. In the meatime, and since Rose bought a bunch of fresh broccoli this week, I made a delicious and insanely healthy broccoli soup for dinner last night. It's not a cream-based soup, which cuts out tons of fat found in traditional broccoli-cream soups. Anne will have to verify, but I think it may be vegan friendly, if one uses vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Based on a Rachael Ray recipe, here is:

Fresh Broccoli Soup
lots of fresh broccoli florets with parts of the stems (I think I used about 5 cups? not sure though)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme
couple splashes of Tabasco sauce
4-5 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock
freshly ground black pepper
good amount of salt

In a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Sautee onion and garlic with salt and pepper and thyme and Tabasco. Add broccoli and chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook until broccoli is tender. With an immersion blender (or in a food processor or in a regular blender), puree the hot soup mixture. Be careful and don't burn yourself, as I often do. Return pureed mix to pot, salt again liberally to adjust seasoning, simmer for 15 minutes. Top with cheddar or mozzarella cheese, and a pat of butter if you're feeling so inclined, and serve with:

Mozzarella Cheesy Bread

1 flour tortilla
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Place cheese in the tortilla, fold in half, and heat up in the pan, flipping once, until cheese is melted. Cut into pieces and use to dip in the soup.

I was beyond frustrated last night when I tried to puree the soup mixture in our blender, and all the broccoli-flavored watery goodness started spilling out of the bottom before I even got it on the stand to puree. After saying several curse words and scaring Smokey, I brought out the immersion blender which scared poor Smokes even more (not that I blame him; I, too, am scared of the immersion blender) and it worked just fine. If I was making the soup at Casa Milam, I would most certainly instead used my trusty KitchenAid Food Processor, my favorite countertop kitchen appliance next to the Melitta Mill & Brew. It never spews broth out of its orifices, and it results in the most amazingly textured everything. But. In A-50, we have little counter space, so the KitchenAid lives at Casa Milam. Along with my trusty KitchenAid hand mixer, and LeCreuset stock pot. And my fiance. Sad.

Anyway. Go make broccoli soup. It's low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat, high-fiber, and green. Delicious.