Thursday, January 28, 2010


It's all Missy's fault.  She's got me on a soup kick.  She sends me reports of the tasty weight watchers soups that she makes, and that makes me want soup.  Last week I made the Asian-style vegetable soup.  I still had some veggies left over, however.  In yesterday's newspaper, there was a minestrone recipe.  It would use up my leftover veggies and I had almost all the other ingredients, sort of, so I decided to make it. 
The recipe called for sauteeing the veggies and then adding the remaining ingredients.  I didn't do that, and left out the olive oil.  I chopped up cabbage, a bit of bok choi, some carrots, celery, a small onion, and a bit of garlic.  I dumped that into a soup pot and added beef broth, two 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes and two cans of garbanzo beans (the recipe called for different types of beans but that was what I had) and some italian seasoning.  I skipped the pasta - for some weird reason I don't like pasta and beans together.  I also skipped the spinach, since i had added so much cabbage and bok choi.  I let it simmer for about 45 minutes.
It is pretty good.  It's not as rich or salty as most minestrone, and was thinner and chunkier.  I liked having more beans and no pasta.  According to my calculations, a huge serving would have two weight watchers points, in case you care.*

*I don't care at the moment - I'm not letting myself stress about my weight until I'm officially out of work.  Then I'll have more time to cook healthy foods, watch what I eat, and exercise. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rice Pudding

I had a rice craving a few nights ago, but it passed and I was left with some leftover rice.  I decided to make rice pudding.  I've made it before, using recipes where you cook rice in milk, but I wanted a recipe that started with leftover rice.  A quick search of the internet led me to this recipe, which is seemingly very popular based on the rating and number of reviews.
In the recipe, the rice is cooked in water and then cooked in milk.  I used my leftover rice instead, and cooked it in a mixture of milk and half and half (I ran out of milk).  It's pretty rich, with equal parts milk and half and half.  I added Splenda instead of sugar when it was almost done.  (It's kind of silly not to use sugar, given how much half and half is in there, but oh well.)  It seemed like nothing happened for a while and then all of a sudden it thickened rapidly. At that point I had to start stirring it more frequently.  At the very end, a mixture of beaten egg and milk is added and the mixture is cooked for 2 minutes and then removed from the heat.  Vanilla, butter and raisin are added and the pudding is allowed to cool.  I left out the butter since there was already enough butterfat in there, and used yellow raisins since that's what I had.  I put a piece of saran wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming, and then let it cool in the fridge.  The pudding was very creamy and rich when warm, and was even better when cool.   It didn't have the grainy texture it gets when the rice is cooked in milk.  It was most tasty and I will be making it again, although I probably won't use as much half and half.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Roast Beef

Pak N Save had round roasts for $1.79/lb today.  That means only one thing - it's time for roast beef!  I LOVE roast beef.  It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold, but it does have to be nice and rare, with a hint of salt.  Even when I was mostly vegetarian back in grad school, ever so often I'd get a beef craving and go get a roast beef sandwich.  I like to make a roast on Sunday, so I have lots of leftovers for the week.  It's tasty when reheated, in salads, burritos or wraps, sandwiches, and, if you get really bored of it, use the leftovers in soup.  My coworkers always gave me envious looks or comments when I would bring it in for lunch.
Fortunately, it is easy and inexpensive to make.  I usually use round roasts, which tend to be pretty cheap and have good flavor, but this method works for other lean cuts of beef too.  Look for one without a lot of internal fat.  The round roasts sometimes have a layer of fat on the top. That's ok.   If it's really thick, remove it.  If it's not so thick or if you are feeling lazy, just leave it.  Rub the roast with a little bit of olive oil, and then rub it with a little bit of salt and pepper, or a herb blend.  Sometimes I use thyme, or a beef rub that I have. Today I was out of thyme, so I used some herbes de Provence (thyme, savory, fennel, basil, and lavender).  For a garlic flavor, make little cuts in the roast and insert slivers of garlic.  Preheat the oven to 500F.  Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan and put it in the oven. After 15-20 minutes, lower the temperature to 250F and cook until it's done.  (I like it rare but will cook it a bit longer if people other than me will be eating it.).  The low temperature keeps it nice and tender.  It usually takes about an hour to cook a 3-4 lb roast in my oven, but mine's fast since it's a convection oven.  Use a meat thermometer to be safe.  When it's done, take it out and tent it with foil for 15 minutes or so before slicing.  This helps keep it moist. If you want to slice it really thin for sandwiches, it helps to chill it in the fridge first.
Today's roast was nice and tender, and had good flavor.  The herbes de Provence are pretty herbal smelling, so when it was cooking I was afraid it might tasty soapy from the lavender, but the flavor didn't really permeate too much.  The cats liked it too, which is a sure sign that it's not over-seasoned.  However, the roast was completely overshadowed by the sweet potato rolls, which were hot out of the oven.  (No, I wasn't being Martha Stewart - I had some frozen dough left over from when I made them in November.)