Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

There are two days remaining in the month of January and I cannot describe how happy I will be to see this month end. And, only 28 days afterward, I will be even more joyous to say goodbye to February.

We’ve had yet more snow, and another storm is predicted for this weekend. Thankfully the temps are now up in the high 20’s rather than in the mid-teens (as last week), but it’s simply a depressing time of year. I go outside to take short walks because I just cannot stand being indoors, but my exercise is relegated to the exercise bike (“biking to nowhere”). And despite keeping a relatively regular schedule of using this, and logging in 12-14 miles at a time, I still feel as though I am carrying around this past holiday’s goodies around my waist.

A lovely feeling, it is—dim, sluggish, heavy… SPRING! WHERE ARE YOU?!?!??!

Cold days call for hearty meals. Jack is still babying his cracked tooth, so I made chili the other day. Pumpkin chili. I really had intended to make this only once, because I need to continue to use last autumn’s windfall of pumpkins, but this recipe will be added to the ever-growing list of fresh pumpkin recipes that I want to repeat. It looks like I will need to harvest a lot of pumpkins next year and, the way it usually goes, the upcoming fall pumpkin crop will probably be light.

This recipe was posted by Triathlon13 on the Cooking Light food forum when I asked for ideas to use fresh pumpkin. She wrote that she adapted it “quite a bit to what we like”, and I did that to her recipe as well (and also to reflect what was on hand in my pantry). I love beans, but they do not love me, so I didn’t use as much in the chili as I would have liked. Also, I garnished with shredded lowfat cheddar, diced avocado, and a drizzle of sour cream thinned with skim milk.

It is a very good chili and the chunks of pumpkin add a nice (really, not at all odd) texture and flavor.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Servings: 6-8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions -- finely chopped

1 large bell pepper -- finely chopped

2 medium jalapeno pepper -- minced, optional

6 large garlic cloves -- minced

1 pound ground turkey

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

14 1/2 ounces tomato sauce

8 ounces diced green chilis -- (canned)

3 tablespoons chili powder (I used a mixture of medium-hot and ancho)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

16 ounces pumpkin – fresh; peeled, seeded, and chopped into 3/4" pieces

15 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot, then sauté the onions through garlic over a medium-low flame until softened.

While the vegetables cook, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and cook the ground turkey, browning well. Do not rinse out the skillet. Remove the ground turkey to a cutting board (do not rinse out the skillet) and chop into smaller pieces.

Add the chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping loose the browned bits of turkey in the pan. Pour this into the softened vegetable mixture. Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chilies, and seasonings. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the pumpkin, stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium and simmer for 40 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

Using a potato masher (or a sturdy wooden spoon), mash the pumpkin chunks a little. I did about 10 "mashes" through the pot. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the black beans, stir, and cook (uncovered) for 10 minutes.

Serve garnished with sour cream, chopped avocado, shredded cheese, minced onion, etc.

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Per serving: 333 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (25% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 60mg Cholesterol; 693mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 3 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Adjust hot peppers or add hot sauce to desired heat level.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crockpot Thai Chicken

About 15 years ago I bought a crockpot. Not to cook with, but to anneal glass beads because I had taken a class and the process of glass bead making was my creative distraction for a few years. Annealing is the process of cooling glass slowly. I would form the beads on metal rods over a flame, then push them into a crockpot of warm vermiculite for a day to very slowly cool. But eventually life took over and I found less and less time to make glass beads (I was also never terribly comfortable with lighting the gas torch, always being afraid that something would explode or I would catch my clothes on fire…).

A few years ago I dug out the crockpot again to make a pulled barbequed chicken. It was a great recipe, but I never think to use the crockpot because I have a mindset that these slow-cooker recipes are for busy Moms who are at work or shuttling children around and need to make easy meals for their families.

I am reconsidering that stand.

A few days ago Jack cracked a tooth and it will be a few weeks until he can have it repaired, so I have been making “soft meals”. Most of said meals featured ground turkey (meatloaf, chili, spaghetti w/ meat sauce, etc.) and, although I was able to fill in around these with macaroni & cheese, Indian veggie curry, broiled tilapia, etc., I wanted chicken. I came across a crockpot recipe describing the chicken as “falling-apart tender” and decided to give it a try. In my inbox had recently received a recipe for Crockpot Pad Thai and used this recipe as a base to make Crockpot Thai Chicken.

Falling-apart tender is a perfect description of how this chicken in this dish turned out. I cut some vegetables and placed them in the slow cooker, then added browned chicken breasts that had been cut into large pieces (about 2-3 ounces each, since I have a bag of monster 10-12 ounce chicken breasts in the freezer). Over this I poured a sauce comprised of a very good mixture of chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and garlic. The chicken and vegetables cooked in this, on high, for 4 hours and the result was utterly delicious. I served it on steamed basmati rice, then squeezed some lime juice over and chopped peanuts. Cilantro would have made a great addition, but I had none. :(

I have to admit that the sweet potatoes and the bell peppers became very soft, but the carrot and white potatoes stayed nice and firm. I’ll just have to play with the types of vegetables used, but I really enjoyed the flavor of the sweet potatoes (even though they somewhat disintegrated) so I’ll keep them in. As I was preparing the vegetables, I only weighed them instead of measuring. I figured that I would be adjusting the recipe, not posting it yet, but it turned out so well that I’ll just come back in the future and add the measurements in addition to the ounces.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Crockpot Thai Chicken

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 tablespoon olive oil

20 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut in large hunks, about 8 total

12 ounces sweet potato -- cut into 1 1/2" pieces

10 ounces white potato -- cut into 1 1/2" pieces

6 ounces onion -- cut into 1" pieces

6 ounces carrot -- cut into 1" pieces

10 ounces bell pepper -- cut into 1" pieces

1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 large garlic cloves -- minced

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce -- optional

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Heat the olive on in a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces on top only.

Mix the vegetables in the crockpot. Place the chicken pieces on top.

In a small saucepan, bring the broth through optional Sriracha sauce to a boil. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours.

Note: If you want a thicker sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of water and 1-1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a small cup and add, stirring, to the crockpot mixture when there is about 5 minutes or so of cooking time remaining.

Before serving, stir in lime juice. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

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Per serving: 402 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat (1g Saturated); (17% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 82mg Cholesterol; 1067mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Sunday, January 23, 2011

“Sausage” and Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin

I am freezing. We have had a few horrible days of frigid weather, lows near 0 and highs not out of the teens. When I came downstairs to make breakfast this morning, the kitchen was at 51 degrees. The radiators are cranking out heat, but it seems way colder than the 64F to which the thermostat is set. My nose is cold. We have to reheat our meals in the microwave when we’re halfway through eating. And it’s only January… *sigh*

This makes me question our desire to retire to the north coast of Massachusetts. Shouldn't old folks go south???

No wonder that I still have the Christmas tree up. Its lights sparkle in the corner during these long, cold evenings and it makes me happy. I suppose that I will make motions to start taking it down later this week sometime, and I plan to have it totally disassembled by February 1st, but I’m only doing it grudgingly.

No surprise, then, that our dinners lately have been cooked in the oven; baked stuffed pumpkin, oven-“fried” chicken, meatloaf, pizza, etc. Anything for a little extra heat.

My pumpkin crop of 2010 was a very good one, and I still have about 16 smallish pumpkins in the basement. Since eating a pumpkin once a week would take us several weeks, I decided to get on finding and trying out some recipes that feature fresh pumpkin. I love pumpkin, but once spring arrives (oh, please make it soon!) I would like to be focusing on other, more seasonal veggies.

The idea for this dish originated from a Dorie Greenspan recipe but I made several changes and will now claim it as my own.

The pumpkin was cut, de-seeded, and the stringy stuff scraped out (as though I was preparing to make a jack o’ lantern) then filled with a mixture of brown basmati rice, “sausage”, shallot, spinach, and cheese and baked. What an absolutely delicious meal this was, hearty and warming on a cold winter evening.

I have “sausage” in quotes above because I used Morningstar Farms Sausage-style recipe crumbles. I know I have mentioned them in earlier posts, and we are in love with them. Really. I use these in soups, on pizza, in any recipe that I would use crumbled Italian sausage, and with 1/6 of the fat of the “regular” Italian sausage I can use as much as I want. Sub regular, browned and drained Italian sausage if you so desire.

I’m going to experiment with this recipe next time and add chopped mushrooms and/or finely chopped red bell pepper (sautéed with the shallots), and I think that sprinkling each serving with chopped, toasted walnuts would be great.

It was, all said, an easy recipe and I am very glad that I have more pumpkins to try some variations with.

* Exported from MasterCook *

“Sausage” and Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 1/2 pounds pumpkin -- (small cooking pumpkin)

2/3 cup brown rice -- cooked without salt or fat (I used brown basmati)

1/4 cup chopped shallot

3 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 cup Morningstar Farms Sausage-Style Recipe Crumbles

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

2 ounces Jarlsberg cheese -- shredded

1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable stock

2 tablespoons skim milk


Cook the rice and cool slightly.

Cut the top off of the pumpkin, like you are making a jack 'o lantern. Keep the knife at a 45-degree angle so the "lid" will stay on top during cooking and not fall onto the filling. Remove the seeds and scrape the inside with a spoon to get rid of the stringy stuff. Season with ground pepper and set on a baking sheet that has been covered with foil and sprayed with cooking oil spray.

Preheat the oven to 350F

Over low heat, sauté the shallot in a large nonstick skillet (add some olive oil to prevent sticking, if necessary. When the shallot softens (about 2 minutes) add garlic and continue to sauté for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted. Add seasonings, cooked rice, sausage crumbles and mix. Stir in vegetable broth then cheese.

Spoon the rice mixture into the pumpkin to about 1/2" below the top (this filled a 2-2/1 pound pumpkin nicely). Pour the milk over top, cover with the pumpkin "lid" and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes and remove the cap. Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the pumpkin, when pierced with a toothpick, is soft. Remove from oven and allow to sit on the sheet for 5 minutes (if there is liquid on top of the pumpkin filling, use a small spoon and mix it in the top layer a bit).

Slice the pumpkin into wedges and serve from the baking sheet, or use 2 heavy, large spatulas to transfer the cooked pumpkin carefully to a waiting cutting board or serving platter.

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Per serving: 704 Calories (kcal); 16g Total Fat (5g saturated); (19% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 102g Carbohydrate; 26mg Cholesterol; 1354mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 5 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Isn't this pretty? And delicious, too!

I will definitely add some red bell pepper next time for color, and perhaps up the quantity of spinach as bit as well. I can't wait to make this again (and keep the oven on for a bit of heat as well!).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous

The holidays seemed to fly by again this year. I didn’t post a single entry here for over a month because there was so much else to do, but during these long winter nights I am documenting each cookie/ cake/ candy recipe I prepared. With any luck, in November I will remember that I did this and post the recipes and my reviews. The grand total was 17 different types of cookies, four of candy, a cake and a tart. And that is why I didn’t have the time to post my baking adventures this past year.

We are now in mid-January and since I’ve rid the freezer of those leftover treats, I am now ready to get back to my usual healthy eating.

I found the following recipe in the December issue of Real Simple magazine. I made a few changes, and both Jack and I enjoyed this for lunch one cold winter day. The recipe below highlights my changes in blue. In my opinion, the additional cumin, the crushed red pepper, and the almonds are absolutely essential.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 25m | Total Time: 35m


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (I used 2 teaspoons) and then added
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (unless you like spicy food, though, I would suggest 1/4t)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (I used canned, diced tomatoes)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed *
  • 1 head cauliflower, rinsed and separated into pieces (about 14 ounces)
  • I added 3 ounces diagonally-sliced carrot
  • 1/2 cup raisins (ick. I didn’t add these—I hate cooked raisins!)
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat couscous)
  • ¼ cup slivered, toasted almonds


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes (crushing with your hands as you add them, obviously not necessary if you use canned diced tomatoes) and their liquid, chickpeas, cauliflower, raisins, and ½ cup water (I used vegetable broth) and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Fold in the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of hot tap water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve with the stew, and sprinkle almonds over top.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

We are at the beginning of yet another winter snowstorm (enough already! But… it’s only January…) and I am hoping to get through the next week or so without having to go out to the store. It’s a little dicey on the milk front, but I think that we will have enough to eat otherwise.

Honestly, it’s not as though we’re expecting a huge amount of snow (and I’m remembering the 2-1/2 feet we got in 2 days last February), but I washed the car recently. :) It’s a black car, and looked grey for the holidays because the temps were too cold to even think about dragging the hose outside.

Anyway, this is soup weather. A friend posted a recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Fresh Rosemary the other day, and I though I’d give it a go.

She did remark, however, that she thought the soup was a little bland. My first inclination was to add a diced chipotle pepper, sub lime for lemon juice, and add some fresh cilantro in lieu of rosemary. Alas, I have no fresh limes or cilantro on hand. I did have a half lemon in the refrigerator, so I used that and made a few more changes.

Jack and I both thought that it was excellent soup, thick and very flavorful. I garnished with a swirl of thinned sour cream and some smoked paprika which I have to say is essential. Because I didn’t want to heat the big stove, I halved the recipe and used my toaster oven to roast only a pound of sweet potatoes. Not a good idea, I would have loved to have the leftovers tomorrow.

The original recipe used a crock pot, but I made it on the stovetop. Here is my version:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 pounds sweet potatoes -- peeled, cut in cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion -- chopped

1 medium carrot -- chopped

1 stalk celery -- chopped

2 large garlic cloves -- finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary -- chopped, or 1/2 tsp dried

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme -- crushed

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper -- (or 1/2 teaspoon for more spice)

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

3 cups low-salt chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese

2 tablespoons skim milk

smoked paprika

In a bowl, mix the sweet potatoes with half the oil and half the salt. Spread the sweet potatoes on an oiled baking sheet and roast at 450F for around 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, heat the rest of the oil at medium heat in a skillet. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chopped rosemary, crushed thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the rest of the salt and cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the broth, water, and roasted sweet potato cubes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

In a food processor or blender (or, best, an immersion blender), puree the soup until thickened. Add water to think to desired consistency, if desired.

In a small cup, whisk the sour cream and milk together.

Divide the soup between 4 bowls, using a spoon place a swirl of the thinned sour cream on top, and sprinkle with smoked paprika.


"6 cups"

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Per serving: 297 Calories (kcal); 11g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (28% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 48g Carbohydrate; 4mg Cholesterol; 391mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

A thought… I have a lot of pumpkins in the basement (2010 was a very good pumpkin harvest in the garden) and I just may try this soup next using pumpkin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Potato & Kale Soup with "Sausage"

Happy New Year!

I've been absent for a while (holiday madness, among other lame and not-so-lame excuses), and will try to be better about posting.

While on vacation seventeen months ago (yes, I remember exactly when) our vegetarian friend Karla :) prepared a strata for breakfast and used a product I had never seen before, sausage-style recipe crumbles from Morningstar Farms. Breakfast was delicious, I thought that this imitation sausage tasted very much like the real thing, but I simply could not find the product in any stores. I looked in every grocery store around our area and also when visiting my parents and while on vacation, but nothing. I made it a habit over the past months to look for these, occasionally, while grocery shopping. And a few weeks ago, a Christmas miracle, I glanced in the freezer case in WalMart without much hope and saw, stacked on a shelf, a beautiful halo of gold light shining around a certain green package—the “sausage” crumbles I had been searching for!

A joyful time it was, indeed. In deference to others who may have been searching for the exact same thing, I held back and limited myself to 10 packages.

Textured vegetable protein, having the same taste and texture as crumbled Italian sausage, but with a mere 2.5 grams of total fat and no saturated fat per 2/3 cup serving? How can it be? Magic. There can be no other explanation.

Our favorite way to eat this (so far) is on pizza, but I made a soup today that was incredible—hearty and delicious. Also this is one of the very few soups that my husband deems “excellent”.

Sorry, Jenni, it has kale in it. But you can sub spinach, I’m sure. ;)

Chunks of potato and greens join the “sausage” in a thick broth spiced with ground chipotle. And cheese on top. Perfect for a winter meal. And really, perfect for any time because not only is this soup low in fat, it also contains 6 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein, plus a nice 24% chunk of your total calcium requirement for a day, 145% of daily vitamin C and 102% of vitamin A.

Oh when will there be a delicious brownie to equal these nutrition readings? Hmmmm?

* Exported from MasterCook *

Potato & Kale Soup with "Sausage"

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion

2 medium garlic clove -- minced

8 cups low-sodium defatted chicken broth

24 ounces white potatoes -- peeled and chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs -- crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- (can sub smoked paprika for less spice)

3/4 pound kale -- washed, thick ribs removed, and chopped

1 1/2 cups Morningstar Farms Sausage-Style Recipe Crumbles

2 ounces Parmesan cheese -- grated

Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or onion is tender and golden. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Stir in broth, potatoes, salt, and herbs and cook, partially covered, until potato is tender.

Using a potato masher or a large wooden spoon, partially mash the cubed potatoes in broth. Stir in the chipotle pepper then the kale. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer (partially covered) for 8. Add the "sausage" and stir. Cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium-low heat.

Divide soup between soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan and, if desired, ground black pepper.

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Per serving: 289 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat (2g Saturated Fat); (25% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 7mg Cholesterol; 1574mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates