Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Zucchini-Potato Pancakes... Sort of

We've eaten this recipe before, but I don't see a recipe on my blog for it. Hmph. Laziness is keeping me from posting the details of the recipe. The gist of it is that you shred equal parts potato and zucchini, add egg, onion/scallion, tarragon, salt and pepper. Lightly fry as pancakes. It's a variation on latkes, and the last time I remember our making this, they were GREAT!

Tonight was a more frustrating experience. Tasted great but more trouble than they were worth. I should have had another meal of the pumpkin soup. :P Since the recipe is a Weight Watchers recipe, it doesn't call for much egg. I ended up adding eggs, which of course means that the ones I made are not 2 points per serving (a serving being 2 pancakes). So much for that controlling my food thing. Even after adding the egg to make the mixture hold together, the pancakes were still pretty flimsy when I would flip them. In other words, what started as a pancake which looked like it would hold its shape ended up being a pile of shredded vegetables. I had a plateful of fallen pancakes before Aaron came home.

Fortunately, I had not exhausted the supply of "batter" by the time he arrived. I handed over my spatula and refused to do any additional work on the dinner. Aaron asked if I wanted a different job, and I angrily refused that too since I had been listening to increasing levels of whine from a certain adorable 2.5 year old for the previous hour. While Aaron saved dinner, I watched the end of Toy Story with Caleb.

All of this frustration does have a happy ending. Caleb ate many of the pancakes, which is not terribly surprising. Ellie ate more than one serving, which is a huge surprise, and had applesauce (another surprise as she has been rejecting applesauce this month). And she looked at me in the middle of dinner, and unprompted said "This is EXCELLENT!" in a perfect imitation of her brother's usual food praise.

Tuscan Pumpkin-White Bean Soup

I seem to have hit a streak of good cooking this week (tonight's dinner excluded, but that is for a later post maybe). Anyway, this recipe is from last night's dinner, and I am SO very glad I made more than a single recipe of it. I note my changes in parentheses as seems to be my habit here.

Tuscan Pumpkin-White Bean Soup
From Weight Watchers - 2 points per serving
Serves 6

1 spray olive oil cooking spray, enough to coat pot (it was a long spray)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (I used 2 green onions and 1/2 a large yellow)
15 oz. canned pumpkin (I roasted a pumpkin and pureed the pulp)
3 1/2 c. fat-free chicken broth (I used veggie bouillon)
15 1/2 oz. canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1/8 tsp. table salt, to taste (not sure I salted)
1/8 tsp. black pepper, to taste (didn't measure)
6 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (skipped it)


  • Coat a large soup pot with cooking spray and set over medium-low heat. Add onion, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

  • Stir in pumpkin, broth, beans and oregano; simmer 8 minutes.

  • In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. (Note: Make sure not to overfill blender in order to avoid splattering.) Return soup to pot and reheat; season with salt and pepper. Instead of following these instructions, I used my immersion blender as it is far easier than transferring a soup back and forth

  • To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese. Yields about 1 cup per serving.
We had to cut Caleb off after 3-4 bowls of soup. That translated to 2 cups of soup, at least. Ellie even ate this soup, despite being much more interested in the herb bread I baked (have I mentioned my love of the so-called "5-minute artisan bread?"). Aaron thought it was one of the best meals ever, and I agree. The beans make for a thicker soup, as though you have added cream. The pumpkin has a different flavor from butternut squash (also a tasty soup), maybe more complex or richer? All I know is that I had leftovers at lunch, and I'm looking forward to another serving tomorrow. :) I think I may send some with Caleb to school tomorrow too... though that does require sharing on my part.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Southwestern Corn Skillet - More yummy food!

Today is Sunday. I teach on Sundays. I love teaching. Despite this love, I come home pretty tired... no, I come home basically exhausted and in need of recharging. Cooking doesn't necessarily help me recharge when I feel completely spent. Nevertheless, I swore to be in control of my food this week. I am struggling to be in control, but I decided to keep struggling today. As I sit here rather bleary-eyed, I really am glad I decided to keep struggling. Another successful new recipe, and it's vegetarian!

Southwestern Corn Skillet
From Weight Watchers - 2 points per serving
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. corn oil (I used olive)
1 onion, chopped (I used both a yellow and 2 green onions)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I skipped this for the kids' palettes. I'm sure Aaron and I would like it)
10 ounces of corn kernels
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used peppers that were red and green at same time)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used grape 'maters, sort of quartered)
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
3/4 tsp. salt (skipped it)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper (didn't measure)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion, garlic, and
jalapeño pepper. Saute until softened, 3-5 mins. Add the corn, zucchini, bell pepper, and cumin; saute until softened, 7-8 mins. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and saute until just warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro, salt and ground pepper.

1 cup = 1 serving

Notes from Jen:
I doubled the recipe. I added 2 cans of black beans to the doubled recipe. If you do a single recipe, just add 1 can. The cookbook suggests using this skillet for soft tacos by mixing in ground turkey breast, which I think sounds fantastic. Oh, and the original recipe suggests serving over rice, and we skipped it because I didn't bother to start the rice. We sprinkled shredded "Mexican" cheese on top (some kind of cheddar blend). Aaron described it as a dry chili. I thought it was like a dry salsa. It is surprisingly filling. Caleb had 2 good size servings. Ellie was tired and cranky, but she enjoyed the little bit she tried.

Lots of ingredients and lots of chopping, but definitely worth the effort!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Spice Roasted Butternut Squash - Nom nom nom!

Tonight brought a new recipe to our house, and I would give it a mostly successful rating as 3 out of the 4 of us liked it. Also in its favor is its simplicity in terms of preparing it. AND it's a Weight Watchers recipe, so I feel really good about eating and serving it.

Spice Roasted Butternut Squash
From Weight Watchers - 2 points per serving
Serves 6

1 spray cooking spray (yeah, I don't measure)
2.25 pounds butternut squash, fresh, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks (mine was slightly larger)
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala - supposedly you can get this spice mix at large supermarkets. I went to a local Indian grocery store. It is essential to the recipe and well worth it.
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I guesstimate)
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste (I guesstimate)
3 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped. Again, fresh is worth it. Often I use dried spices, but this was really yummy with the fresh cilantro.

Preheat oven to 400. Coat a large nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. NOTE: I was out of spray tonight. I put down a piece of foil, drizzled a small amount of olive oil, and spread it with a pastry brush.

Place squash and onion on prepared baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with garam masala, salt and pepper; toss to coat.

Roast, tossing about halfway through cooking, until squash and onions are tender and slightly browned, about 25 minutes. NOTE: I didn't toss halfway and just set the oven timer for 25 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter or bowl and sprinkle with cilantro; toss to coat. 3/4 cup = 1 serving.

Bon appetit!

No Squash, Kale!

Last night I decided to roast a sunshine kabocha squash as part of our dinner. Sunshine squash look a lot like short pumpkins.

Check out the squash in the upper left - those are the sunshine kabocha squash. The others are (from left to right): Sweet Dumpling, Thelma Sanders' Sweet Potato. Bottom row: Muang (a Thai variety), mini pumpkins, and Pink Banana. Thanks to Prospect: A Year in the Park for the picture and labeling!

Anyway, I roasted the squash - cut it in half, scooped out the pulp and seeds, sprayed with olive oil spray and sprinkled some black pepper on it. Yum yum. Aaron and I loved it.

The kids?

Yeah, no go on the squash. Caleb tried a piece. He chewed it so much that he no longer liked it. Ellie wouldn't touch it. *sigh* Caleb asked "How many pieces do I need to have?" I told him he didn't need to eat more of it. In fact, I said:

"You don't need to have more squash. You can eat your kale instead."

His response?

"KALE??? YUM!!!!!!" (munch munch munch)

I am not giving up on the squash, but how delightful that he chose a dark green leafy. :)