Sunday, September 27, 2009

After Dinner Thoughts

East African Pea Soup - a WINNER!!! We really liked the soup. And, after I used my hand blender it was very much like split pea soup in thickness. There was a slight similarity in taste. With the spices it had a nice "tang" to it. The cinnamon and cloves made it somewhat sweet, without being over sweet. And, the cayenne and other pepper gave it just enough kick. Definitely a keeper. We all liked it. As an aside, I don't know why I haven't used my hand blender before today. I will certainly use it more in the future - what an easy tool! I made the soup up to adding the peas yesterday afternoon because I wanted the flavors to meld together. I am really glad I did that. It not only made today easier, but I do believe it made the soup even better than it would have been. Kind of like chili on day two - always better!

The bread was really good too. I picked up the Companion multigrain rolls at Dierbergs, and I highly recommend it. We warmed the rolls for about 15 minutes in a 350°oven. The result was a nicely warmed roll with a crunchy exterior - not hard - easy to bite, with a soft interior. Yummy.

Mom's chocolate meringue pie was quite good too. It was a bit too rich for me, but that's because I really am not big on dessert. I'm sure Michael will enjoy it tomorrow.

I want to include a word of warning to anyone who uses turmeric. This is the second recipe I have used it in. It really is a great spice! However, be very careful of what you wear when using it. It stains clothes (and plastic utensils) easily. Last time I used it I got some on a white tee shirt. I ended up dieing that shirt to cover the stain. I also used a blue cooking spoon as I was stirring the soup; it is now easy to tell how deep the soup was because it is dark green to halfway up the handle. So, while turmeric is a really good spice it also easily stains stain-able items. Be careful with it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Soup Weather!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE soup! Mom, Dad, and Michael do too, thankfully. We all also really, really like split pea soup. And, while I would be perfectly happy to make a big batch of split pea soup, I feel like changing it up a bit. So, when I found a recipe for East African Pea Soup (not exactly split pea, but similar), I thought - this is it!

We'll see, though, because it does call for an array of spices that will be new/different/exciting for my folks. The recipe calls for onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, tomatoes, sweet potato and frozen green peas. This sounds very much like the taste sensations I experienced at an Ethiopian restaurant in Washington DC (I think it was Dukem). The food at that restaurant was quite different than anything I had had before and it was absolutely yummy!

Michael and I walked the Alzheimer's Memory Walk at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville today. Our team, Team Bob in honor of my Dad, walked a 3-mile course. We had 15 adults, 2 youngsters, and 1 dog on our team. It was a great morning for such a walk! This is the first time we have participated in this event and are already planning for next year. We lucked out too - it didn't start raining until long after we had left. The photo is of our team - aren't we a good looking group?

Anyway - for dinner tomorrow I also picked up some multigrain bread, because I don't have the energy to track down any teff, an ingredient necessary to make injera (Ethiopian flat bread). Mom is making a chocolate pie. Hopefully everyone will enjoy dinner. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

After Dinner Thoughts

So - the cheesy pizza pasta was good. Mom and Dad really did enjoy it, although it seemed more like a lasagna than a pizza pasta. I ended up adding carrots, celery, and garlic to the mix. This makes a huge amount of food - lots of leftovers!

I also decided to make diet soda cupcakes (a regular weight watchers recipe). I used yellow cake mix and diet cream soda. We used fat free cool whip for the topping. These were tasty!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ahead of the Game!

I've been having a terrific craving for pizza. I'm pretty sure it was prompted by this "Healthified" Cheesy Pizza Pasta recipe I came across last week. In actuality, this recipe was delivered to one of my email addresses. Yes, I have more than one email address - I bet lots of other people do too. I have my work address, my personal address, and my personal business address (pba). The pba is the one I use for special offers and to place online orders - it allows me to be fairly anonymous and it keeps my other addresses from being cluttered up with unnecessary mail. (Okay it's impossible to completely avoid unnecessary mail, but you do what you can.)

Anyway, I'm trying to remember why these EatBetterAmerica emails are appearing in my pba. I know it's because I signed up for a free sample of something, I just can't remember what that was. I guess it doesn't really matter, but if you want to get on the mailing list, visit and you too can have "healthified" recipes sent your way. They even have a place to send your recipes in to have them "healthified." I haven't tried this, but it could be an option. Oh - and as an added bonus they also offer $ off coupons on lots of grocery items.

So, I found this cheesy pizza pasta recipe, set it aside, and had the presence of mind to note needed ingredients on the grocery list before Michael went to the store today! Yay - I don't have to stop anytime this weekend!!! This recipe calls for multigrain rotini, lean Italian turkey sausage, an onion, fresh mushrooms, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, dried basil, turkey pepperoni, and reduced fat Italian cheese blend. I'm okay with just about everything in the recipe except the turkey ingredients. I am going to just drop the pepperoni altogether and I'm replacing the turkey sausage with Gimme Lean ground sausage style veggie protein. This Gimme Lean product is meant to be used as you would any regular ground sausage. I've not used it before, but my friend Amanda tells me Gimme Lean is pretty good stuff. They also make a pepperoni, but I don't have any on hand.

I may still have to visit the grocery, however, because I don't yet know what's for dessert. My friend Jan sent me the tofu chocolate pie recipe below; she raves about it. Jan's not a vegetarian either, she just likes to eat healthfully. I might try it, if I get to the store.

AB's Chocolate Silk Pie
12 oz silken tofu
2 cups chocolate chips
1/3 cup coffee liquor (chocolate and orange would work well, too)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
1 graham cracker crust (chocolate, if available)

Place tofu and honey into a blender or food processor.
Melt chocolate chips and coffee liquor together until smooth in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over tofu and whizz/blend the mixture until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Pour into a pie crust and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serves 10.

I don't know how may ww points everything is yet, but I do know that the cheesy pizza pasta is 6 points per serving with the turkey ingredients, so it's got to be less with the Gimme Lean. Anyway, I'm happy to know what I'm making this Sunday. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

After Dinner Thoughts

Well, dinner was scrumptious! That orzo salad is a real winner. Quite easy to make, too. I added pine nuts and fresh lemon juice to the original recipe. We all really really liked it. That's a good thing since I made a double batch of the salad in order to have leftovers (lunch for work tomorrow).

I was a little worried about the combination of baked sweet potatoes and the orzo salad, but they actually worked quite well together. Mom, Dad, and I all really like sweet potatoes so this was a hit of a dinner. The peach pie that Michael made was mighty tasty too. He added pecans to it for a new taste sensation.

While I was at my parents' house this afternoon my Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Bill came by for a visit. I had called earlier and asked if they wanted to eat dinner with us, but they had just finished lunch and said it wasn't going to work out for them. Right before they finished their visit, Aunt Carolyn took a bite of the orzo salad, though, and I think was surprised by how truly yummy it was. Uncle Bill said to remember to invite them again and I will! They know, however, that there will be no meat, which is, I think, a bit startling for them.

All in all we had a very nice weekend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's For Dinner

So, today is my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary! The whole family will be going out for dinner this evening. This includes my sister Cindy, her husband Dave, their sons Chris and Tommy, my mom Dottie, my dad Bob, my husband Michael, and myself. We're going to Andria's, a really good steakhouse that was started by a family friend and his wife (Sam and Mugs). Yeah, I know - me in a steakhouse. I've already planned what to eat: a small salad to start, then the grilled portabello mushroom appetizer with a small baked potato for my entree.

Tomorrow is Sunday and dinner is planned! We're going to have Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette from Cooking Light. I'll make it just a tiny bit lighter by using water-packed or dry-reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes instead of oil-packed. I'll also squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice into the salad to brighten it up a bit. Sounds yummy! With my adjustments I figure one serving of this recipe equals 6 Weight Watchers points.

We're also going to have baked sweet potatoes. To bake sweet potatoes:
  1. wash them well
  2. cut the ends off
  3. bake them in a 400° preheated oven for 40-60 minutes.
Be sure to leave the skin on the potatoes. Also, either wrap them well in aluminum foil or place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Otherwise you'll find a mess in your oven from the sugars dripping out of the potatoes as they cook. These are so easy to make and yummy to eat, and only 3 Weight Watchers points.

Michael is making us a peach pie for dessert. He won't actually be with us for dinner since football season is now in session. In fact, I won't share another Sunday dinner with him until next spring (or unless there is a special event or somehow a Sunday without football). One-sixteenth of a peach pie is around 4 Weight Watchers points - one-sixteenth is half of what you might normally eat for a serving of pie. This works fine for me because I am not a big sweets eater. Mom and Dad will be happy though. After dessert is over, I'll split the leftovers to leave some with my parents and some to take home - Michael can have it later.

So, I think we're going to have a pretty good Sunday dinner. And in honor of Michael - go Raiders (although they are playing Monday night not Sunday). Oh - and Monday is our 18th Wedding Anniversary. Wonder how we'll be celebrating? I think Michael said something about making spaghetti and staying home. Sounds good to me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

After Dinner Thoughts

So, we enjoyed the Portobello-and-Zucchini Tacos, although they were a bit messy/juicy.

Instead of the black bean and corn salad, I made Bean and Corn Casserole with Tortilla-Crunch Topping from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics cookbook (page 137). I changed recipes because my husband, Michael, really doesn't like vinegar of any kind, and all of the Black Bean and Corn Salad recipes I'm aware of use some type of vinegar.

The Weight Watchers recipe calls for ricotta cheese, which I didn't have on hand, and I didn't want to go to the grocery. So, I searched for an alternative and I found a few tofu substitutes for lasagna recipes. Well, I had tofu on hand, so I adapted a recipe to fit my needs (I wasn't needing Italian seasonings). With my adaptation the Weight Watchers points value went from 7 points per serving to 5 points per serving. Here's my adaptation:

Tofu Ricotta Substitute
1 package extra firm tofu
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1- Using your hands, crumble tofu in a large bowl
2- Add lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper
3- Mash everything together until no tofu chunks remain and mixture is more the consistency of ricotta (about 2 minutes)
4- Add oil and nutritional yeast and mix together using a fork
5- Set aside until needed in recipe

I just omitted the basil and oregano from the original recipe. I'll use the tofu ricotta substitute again. The casserole was TERRIFIC, if I do say so myself. Michael also made some fresh guacamole that was delicious as always. We put the guac on the tacos and added some fresh salsa on the casserole. Everyone was happy. My total dinner points = 12 (5 for the taco, 5 for the casserole, and 2 for the guacamole); not too bad.

My dad was really happy, though, when he got to eat some of the leftover pecan pie my mom made yesterday. Dad has a huge sweet tooth!

I've got to try to remember to take my camera with me to have some photos to share.

Saturday (9/12) is my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary! The following Monday (9/14) is Michael and my 18th Wedding Anniversary. We'll have some celebrating to do next weekend. However, since football season starts in earnest next weekend, we won't be seeing much of Michael on Sundays for awhile. He enjoys watching football with some of his longtime friends; I must admit I enjoy his watching football with them instead of me too.

A friend of mine, Amy, was my inspiration for starting this blog. She hosts Vintage Cookbooks, where she shares her collection "with the unsuspecting public." Amy has asked me to be a guest blogger on her site next Sunday. I'm already fretting about out what to wear...

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Welcome to The Sunday Cook. Why? Because I love to cook, however I usually only cook on Sunday when I make a special dinner for my parents.

For several years now I have done my prep work at my house and then taken all the ingredients to my parents house to actually cook the meal. Soon (yay! - we've been talking about this for a few years now) we will combine our households and I won't need to transport any part of the meal from one house to another. We're building an addition onto our house! There will be a master bedroom, master bathroom, and a four season room added onto the back of our house specifically for my parents. We'll share the kitchen, laundry, dining area, and family/living/great room (it's only one room - call it what you will). I'll share our progress as we get it all underway. I'm just thrilled that we have actually hired a designer/architect.

Anyway, this blog is not about the home addition - it's about the food. While I am not a complete vegetarian, I'm pretty darn close. I will eat eggs, cheese, fish, and rarely poultry (and that is increasingly rare). I will use milk products only when I cannot find a soy or other substitute. For example, today I couldn't find a light cream or other substitute, so the recipe also allowed evaporated milk - I purchased a fat free evaporated milk. An interesting aspect to Sunday dinner is the fact that my parents are not vegetarians. They are good sports, though, and thoroughly willing to eat vegetarian at least one day each week!

Here's how Sunday dinner comes about: I start looking for a recipe the Friday evening before the Sunday dinner. Sometimes I know what I will cook early, usually I know what I will cook Saturday night and will then need to stop by the grocery Sunday morning. I'm getting much better at figuring it out earlier. One day I may actually have it figured out before Thursday (when my husband does the majority of our grocery shopping). That will be one delightful day - when I don't have to go to the grocery because my husband was able to pick up any needed ingredients on Thursday.

I had been posting the links to the recipes I use on Facebook, and began to wonder if my fb friends think I only think about food, since it's what I post most about. I guess I do think about food quite a bit - I'm always on the look out for new recipes and new ingredients. Oh - and another complication to what we have for Sunday dinner: I'm a weight watcher. I've lost 15 pounds so far and am determined to lose even more. It's taken me seven months to lose those first 15, I certainly hope I get the next 15 off a little quicker than that. I also exercise six days a week - that helps a lot!

Last Sunday I cooked Penne with Porcini Mushrooms and Beer-Stewed Artichoke Hearts. It was okay, but a bit bitter. I don't think I'll cook it again, but I will certainly consider the method again. I also made a Pineapple Cheesecake Pie that was absolutely divine (and I did lighten it up - I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and plain light soy milk). I will make that again. Everyone LOVED the pie!

This Sunday, I am making a Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie to take to my sister's house (yep - we really liked that pineapple cheesecake pie, now I'm making a similar pie with pumpkin); again I will lighten it up as much as I can - this is the recipe that will have the fat free evaporated milk in it. My sister is hosting a double birthday party for both her mother-in-law and her father-in-law. I'll be taking our parents over there for the party.

I find it kind of amusing that for my first post as the Sunday Cook, I'm not actually cooking on Sunday! However, since this is Labor Day weekend, I will be cooking Monday night dinner for my parents.

Here's what we are having:
Portobello-and-Zucchini Tacos
Corn & Black Bean Salad
Fresh Guacamole (homemade)
Fresh Salsa (store bought)
Baked tortilla chips (store bought)

Yum! I'll let you know how it all turns out.