Category: Weight Watchers

Creamy Zucchini Soup with Parmesan and Cherry Tomatoes or Back Porch Gifts are Best

Creamy Zucchini Soup with Parmesan and Cherry Tomatoes or Back Porch Gifts are Best

Food-Soup, Zucchini

Fresh sliced cherry tomatoes are hidden at the bottom of the bowl for a surprise.

There may be more recipes for zucchini than anything else at this time of the year.  Long gone are the tiny, tender and sweet pencil-slim squashes of early summer.  Here now are baseball-bat sized –could I say clubs?–appearing on back porches, in countless loaves of bread, stuffed and broiled, or any of the above.

My basil died while I was gone.  Market had plants 3 for $10 this week. I’m starting over.

Since zucchini is my favorite vegetable, perhaps after asparagus… or maybe green beans…I just don’t care.  I’ll buy or take all I can get and never be tired of it.  Shredded, mixed with egg, onion, and a bit of flour, it’s a supper pancake served with grated cheese.  Slit open, scooped out — the moist innards sauteed with onions, garlic, and pepper–and refilled, I’m thrilled to stick it under the broiler under nearly burned and definitely crispy.  But what I really love to do is make soup.  Any kind. Especially with lots of fresh herbs  Which you knew.   (And the new soup book, Soups & Sides for Every Season truly is done! Available through amazon.com. (edited September 18, 2014)

If it’s a warm day, start early, and chill this soup.  Serve it from a pitcher under the trees in the yard with an icy-cold glass of rosé or pour it into a thermos to take to the park.  Warm it briefly and serve it in the dark of the cool basement watching “The Newsroom.”

Flowering dill.  If you live where dogs take a lot of walks, wash your herbs carefully!

Maybe you’ve been lucky and found some zucchini that somehow–perhaps anonymously– made its way onto your back porch.  As did I yesterday. Actually, I did know mine was from my Victory Garden next-door neighbor.  If not, grab an inexpensive basket full at the market.  Here’s how:

Saint Paul Mac-Groveland bounty

creamy zucchini soup with parmesan and cherry tomatoes

This simple, herb-filled soup is lovely hot or cold (see Cook’s Notes) and contains a surprise of fresh tomato added to the bowl just before serving. The tomato cooks slightly in the hot soup or provides even more textural contrast in the cold.  Along with some sliced fresh vegetables or whole wheat toast, this is a complete summer meal.  While it does contain some half and half and grated Parmesan, the calories are fairly low if you’re serving no other protein.

For vegan option, use vegetable broth and omit cheese and half and half.

               8 servings             3 Weight Watchers Points Plus              160 calories

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh basil, dill, and thyme, minced plus extra julienne basil for garnish*
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup each grated Parmesan cheese and half-and-half or light cream (omit for vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, assorted colors (can used chopped larger tomatoes)
Briefly heat (30 seconds) 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and olive oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots; season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Stir in basil, thyme, parsley, dill, and bay leaf.  Let cook, stirring often, 5 or 6 minutes or until softening, adding garlic during last minute or two.
 

 Add zucchini and potatoes; heat through.  Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender–another 15 minutes or so. Remove bay leaf. 
 
Using an immersion blender, puree in pot or very carefully pulse in batches in a blender or food processor and return to pot. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Stir in Parmesan and half and half, if using, and warm through.  Do not boil. 
 
Add a few fresh sliced or chopped tomatoes to each bowl; ladle soup over tomatoes.  Garnish with reserved basil.  Serve hot.

*Most any one herb or any combination will work if you don’t have all three in the garden.

Cook’s Notes:  For cold soup, let come to room temperature after adding cheese and cream, if using.  Chill for 8 hours or overnight, and garnish with tomatoes and basil when serving.
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For more great zucchini recipes, download  Lydia Walshin’s gorgeous new little and delightful zucchini ebook:
 
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Two-Dog Kitchen
 
At our Colorado house, Tucker (75 pounds) in neighbor Mike’s loving lap.
Sing a new song,
Alyce
Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

A cool and rainy spring in Saint Paul keeps me cooking indoors.  Typically I’d be raking together a salad while Dave grilled chicken or salmon.  Instead, just back from our happy daughter Emily’s graduation from seminary at Princeton, I’m slaving over a hot stove.  Well,  not really.

Here is Emily with her proud parents.  We sang in the choir! Go, Emily!

I will say that once I decided to make and blog some Asian noodles, they were everywhere I looked online.  Like this version from FOOD AND WINE.   I ignored all that and forged ahead.  Hmph; great minds think alike, etc.

If you’re looking for something luscious, filling, and healthy for dinner with plenty leftover for a cold lunch or tomorrow’s dinner, this is your meal.   The short story is that you cook up some noodles with snow peas, asparagus, and shrimp.  You stir in all kinds of things to make it taste good, and let your family or guests choose their toppings — a variety of chopped vegetables, sesame seeds, lime and nuts– at the table.

OR:  Add just the vegetables and “sauce” ingredients (skip the shrimp), along with the peanut topping, and you have a great side for meats you might be grilling for Memorial Day.  I picture this with  salmon, pork chops, or chicken, perhaps those that have been lolling around in an Asian marinade before grilling.

Try this photo recipe:  (Ingredients are in bold type.)

 
sesame-shrimp noodles with fresh vegetable toppings

4 servings
8 Weight Watcher’s Plus Points per serving

Place 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a small skillet over low heat and toast, stirring occasionally, for several minutes until light brown.  Remove from heat; pour into a small bowl and place on table.  Chop 1/4 cup plain peanuts, scoop into another small bowl, and place on table.

Pour 2 tablespoons canola oil into the skillet over low heat and add 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic.  Cook a minute or two or just until garlic begins to color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 5-6 quarts of salted and peppered water to boil for the pasta.  While it heats, chop 1/2 cup each bok choy, fresh cilantro, scallions (green onions), and cucumber.  Chop all of one red bell pepper.  Cut a lime into wedges.   Place the vegetables and the lime wedges side by side in a large bowl or in separate small bowls and put them on the table by the sesame seeds and peanuts.

 
To the by now boiling water, add one pound whole wheat linguine (I like Whole Foods 365 brand best) and cook for about 7 minutes.   Stir in 3/4 pound (12 ounces) fresh peeled and deveined shrimp, a cup each of stringed+ fresh snow peas and chopped fresh asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp is firm and pink and noodles are nearly tender.

 
  Drain pasta, shrimp, asparagus and peas.  Pour back into the pot and, while hot, stir in garlic-ginger oil,  a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, 1/4 cup  soy sauce and 1  tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of Sriracha,  and the juice of one lime.   Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more Sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, or lime, if needed. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold in shallow pasta bowls; pass fresh vegetables, extra lime slices, soy sauce, and chopped peanuts so that guests can add what they’d like at the table.

Cook’s Notes: 

+Destringing snow peas  If you don’t destring your snow peas, you’ll be flossing (without meaning to) during dinner. 

If you have a vegan or vegetarian in your group, cook the shrimp separately and place it in a separate bowl on the table.  You could add sauteed tofu, if desired, or 2 -3 tablespoons peanut butter to the soy sauce mixture.

If you have leftover cooked chicken, you can add sliced chicken with the garlic-ginger oil instead of cooking shrimp with the noodles.

Vegetables are very interchangeable; please add what you have or you like.  For instance, julienned carrots could be used instead of asparagus or sliced celery in place of the snow peas.  

My lilac are in bloom–finally.  But it’s too cold and rainy to go enjoy them.  Hopefully tomorrow!

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Mango

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Mango

Most people, when they decide to make salad, just make a salad.  A quick opening of the refrigerator door.  A glance at the counter.  A whisk and a shake of vinegar and oil.  I love almost every salad I make (surely I should be thinner) and Dave does, too.  With a couple of exceptions, I rarely repeat one, though I am crazy about fresh spinach with lime vinaigrette.  And, maybe even more, green beans and mushrooms with tarragon.  Or Caprese with bacon….  Well.

But this Nigella Lawson salad had us hooked from the very first time we ate it.  I saw the recipe somewhere and that was that.  It’s definitely addictive.  To say nothing of healthy.   Unlike most things I make,  this is one I typically make just like the recipe says.  Asian-inspired anything pushes me toward conventional wisdom and written-out recipes, though I do see myself peeking out from around the soy sauce now and again lately.  For instance:  yesterday I ran out of mint (the only herb called for in her version), but had cilantro and basil. I also had a great mango calling, “Alyce, Alyce.”    You can look at the original version here where I blogged it for Dinner Place.  Shrimp,too, instead of chicken, is scrumptious. Wow!  Add some cooked jasmine rice (ok, brown rice if you must) for a larger, more filling meal.

While this meal contains a whole jalapeno pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper (Nigella’s named a Thai bird chile), it is not terribly hot at all. (I don’t like really hot food just like I don’t like really salty food; I only taste hot or salty then.) It’s just flavorful.   Make just a little with the heat and try some if hot peppers are things you don’t eat.

The sad, but beautiful snow dance of the lilacs in my south garden.  Two of them will not survive.

If you’re watching your P’s and Q’s calorie or healthwise, this salad has your name engraved on it.  It’s one that fits both the South Beach and Weight Watcher profiles with smiles all around.   If you aren’t worried about  intake, you should make it anyway.    By the way, I made this for a group of music friends the other day–right after this last heavy Saint Paul snowstorm– and one of them brought cuties mixed with peach yogurt and chopped walnuts as our dessert.  Nice! Try this:

vietnamese chicken salad  with mango
 4+ generous servings    7 Weight Watchers Plus Points

Ingredients:

  • 1 jalapeno, minced very finely (no veins or seeds)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • Freshly grated black pepper 
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 12 ounces (3/4 pound) white cabbage, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded, julienned, or grated
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breasts, shredded, or cut into fine strips (can sub cooked shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup each chopped basil and cilantro (plus a little cilantro for garnish)
  • 2 mangos, peeled, seeded, and chopped 
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 scallions sliced very thinly (white and green parts)
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

In a medium, stirring with spoon, combine the chile, garlic, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, onion,  black and red peppers; set aside for 1/2 hour. to a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, chicken breast,  basil, cilantro and mangoes, tossing with tongs. Pour cabbage mixture over the dressing, tossing with tongs, slowly and patiently so everything is coated. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve on a flat plate topped with almonds, scallions, and cilantro for garnish.

Cook’s Notes:  If you’re not going to eat all of this salad at one meal, store the vegetables-fruit and dressing separately; otherwise it can be soggy.

Weight Watchers Notes:  Skip almonds to subtract a point or cut back on chicken portion; do not cut sugar–it’s necessary for the dressing.
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DINING OUT FOR LIFE : DINE OUT/FIGHT AIDS

LIST OF RESTAURANTS DONATING PORTION OR ALL OF THEIR INCOME TODAY!

http://www.diningoutforlife.com/minneapolis

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Food Needed:  Cheyenne River Reservation Episcopal Mission–9 congregations in 2 counties

Elderly, Disabled, Grandparents raising children need food. 

Solo Episcopal pastor on the reservation tries to help, but is out of resources.

Please read and help if you can?

Friend them on fb, too!

Sing a new song!  Come, Spring, Come!

Alyce

Baby Kale and Chicken Salad–10 Minutes to Dinner–296 Calories

Baby Kale and Chicken Salad–10 Minutes to Dinner–296 Calories

It is snowing, sleeting, and blowing in Saint Paul.  Again.  I mostly don’t mind it.  As long as I don’t have to drive.

When I came home from the market today, it was pouring tiny bits of frozen rain–treacherous.  I got the groceries up the slippery steps and emailed my boss I was opting out of a dinner meeting.   She agreed and canceled it.  Phew.  By then the biggest snowflakes I’d ever seen were flying like big crystal kites colliding over and over in a  shivering maelstrom.  My little warm kitchen never looked so good.

My welcoming committee.

Yesterday, however, was a gorgeous day with little time for cooking.  A day to say, “I need to use those last couple of pieces of chicken and, oh, those mushrooms shouldn’t really see the morning light.  And it needs to be done pretty quickly because I have to go to rehearsal.”  (Even if you have to cook the chicken thighs, it’ll only take another five minutes.)

In the frig was a container of baby kale  — a popular blog search on More Time —  and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary with it.  I ended up with an attractive salad with a little warmth.  Dave added some Triscuits and blue cheese; I ate just the Triscuits to watch my p’s and q’s.  Here’s how:

baby kale and chicken salad — 10 minutes to dinner

3-4 servings    296 calories or 5 Weight Watcher Points per serving

 Ingredients:

  •  4 3-ounce pieces grilled or rotisserie chicken
  •  1 Tablespoon olive oil, Kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
  •  2 cups fresh vegetables (nearly any will do–see below for mine)
  •  1 cup baby kale
  • 6-7 cups fresh greens
  •  1/2 lemon
  • Sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sliced or blanched almonds.

To a 10-inch skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper along with a pinch of crushed red pepper; heat over medium flame for a minute or so.  Stir in 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped asparagus, 1 peeled and thinly sliced carrot,  1/4 cup each chopped onion and red bell pepper.  Let cook down 4-5 minutes;  add a chopped clove of garlic.  Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.  (Most chopped fresh vegetables you have would work; these are the ones I had on hand.)

Add a cup of baby kale.  (Could sub spinach.)  Stir and let cook a minute or two.  (This cooks down a lot; you could add more if you like.)

Meantime, toast 2 tablespoons sliced, chopped or blanched almonds (or walnuts) over low heat 4-5 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss 6 cups fresh greens or fresh spinach with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a good sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Line the perimeter of a large platter with the greens, leaving some room at the center.  Spoon out the cooked vegetables onto the platter in the middle and top with three or four pieces of cooked chicken, in this case thighs I had cooked earlier.  (I warmed them briefly with the almonds just to take the chill off of them, but you could of course eat them cold.)

Top with toasted almonds.  Drizzle salad with a tablespoon or so of sherry or red wine vinegar.
Dave liked a little blue cheese dressing with his.  I liked it without. Blue Cheese dressing is about 80 fat calories per tablespoon.

MAKE A BIGGER MEAL:  Serve with whole wheat crackers and cheese or a piece of whole wheat toast and butter if you’re starved.   Or:  add 2 cups cooked brown rice to the salad for an additional 109 calories per serving. Toss the cooked rice in with the vegetables as they cook or add at end.

Sing a new song; stay warm,
Alyce

SWORDFISH WITH GINGER-ASPARAGUS RICE AND MANGO SALSA ON DINNER PLACE RIGHT NOW:

Bloggers Against Hunger:  The Results