Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Chick Peas

I’ve had this recipe on my ‘to do’ list since last week but was missing the fire roasted tomatoes. The wine guy picked up a can of the tomaters so I’m back in the soup making business.

I would have preferred roasting the peppers on the grill. But, Michigan’s mid-thirties temp forced me to go with plan B. The oven. Roasting the peppers is easy. Removing the skin, pulp and seeds is the messy part. Thank you Wine Guy for doing that part for me.

Here’s what you need to make this kick-butt soup with just a hint of hot.

  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth  (no sodium)
  • 1 can crushed fires roasted tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used the kind in a jar)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • Chopped green onions and roasted chickpeas (for garnish)

Roast peppers in oven at a 450 degree setting. Cook until charred black. When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, pulp and seeds. Do this over a bowl so you can reserve all the yummy juices for the soup stock.

Don’t get in a tizzy if a few stray seeds are left on the peppers. They add additional flavor to the soup.

Prep the onion, potatoes, and green onion and set aside. Add oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and yellow onion to a large soup pot. Cook onion over low heat until caramelized. (20 minutes, stirring often).

Add garlic, dried herbs, 1/2 teaspoon slat and pepper to the onion mixture. Stir until mixed, then add tomatoes, potatoes, vegetable stock and 1 medium size chipotle pepper. No need to dice the chipotle, it will be emulsified later. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Stirred peeled red peppers and juices into the soup stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat down until soap is simmering.

Remove soup from heat and blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Return pot to heat and simmer for 15 more minutes, until thicken. Taste test. If needed, add additional salt or pepper.

If you want to kick up the level of hotness a notch or two, add a few red pepper flakes. I tend to like a more medium level of spiciness, but if you’re game, go for the heartburn!

Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with green onion and roasted chickpeas. I used pre-roasted chick peas, but you can roast your own (see recipe).

Here’s the down and dirty about this soup’s calories. They’re low, like 88 calories per cup low, and packed with a powerful punch of vitamin C. This soup is also a good source of iron, dietary fiber and vitamin A, not to mention low in unsaturated fat and cholesterol.
Freeze in portions and thaw as needed. This recipe will serve up to 8 people

Chicken & Dumpling Soup

Last week my grandson, Carson, expressed to me his love of Cracker Barrel’s chicken & dumplings. He asked if I could make them. I said, “Not only can I make them, I can make them even better!” This was last night’s dinner and it scored big points with him.

After five bowls of soup (yes, five!!) and a slice of buttered bread, Carson affirmed with great certainty that this was his new, MOST favorite dish. That put a big smile on my face as I thought it was pretty awesome tasting too.

I was going to use a biscuit mix to make the dumplings, but as usual, I had none. The alternative was to make my own from flour which is a messy task. In the end, I’m glad I did. They were bite-size and more noodle-like in texture and taste.

Prep time took about 30 minutes and cook time 15 minutes. The finished soup yielded a rich, creamy base with just the right amount of seasoning.

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound diced chicken meat, pre-cooked (I bought a roasted chicken from the grocery deli)
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 carrot , diced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) low fat condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tablespoons “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 quart chicken stock (low-fat, low-sodium). I like the paper container from Swanson.
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas (optional)

Dumplings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ice water, about 3/4 cup

 How To

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat, adding oil, butter, veggies and bay leaf. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add flour to veggies and cook for 2 more minutes. Gradually add the broth, stir and bring to a boil.Once broth comes to a boil, add the pre-cooked chicken to the pot and stir. Add the canned soup to the pot and whisk until well blended in the stock.

Prepare Dumplings:

Dust a generous amount of flour onto a clean work area. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Gather into a mound and drizzle a tablespoon of ice water in the center of the mound. Using your fingers, knead the dough mixture up against the sides of the bowl. Gradually incorporate all of the ice water. Continue to knead dough and shape into a ball.

Roll out dough on flour work area until it is 1/8″ thick. Allow dough to set for a minute or so before cutting into dumplings.

Cut dough into one-inch wide strips. Tear off 1/2 inch pieces and drop into the simmering soup stock. Make sure the dumplings are totally submerged in the stock. Do not stir the stock. Use the tip of a spoon to push any rebellious dumpling down into the soup.

Reduce heat to medium low. Cover pot tightly and cook dumplings until they float and are no longer doughy (about 5-6 minutes).

Remove cover and add peas and remove pan from heat.Stir chicken and dumplings to thicken sauce and serve in warm shallow bowls with a side of hard-crusted bread for dipping.

Sauteed Kale & Garlic

In a pursuit to lower cholesterol, I’ve been forced to introduce food types into my diet I wouldn’t normally consider. Kale is one of them. I’ve used kale to make protein shakes and stuff pasta shells , but I’ve never tried it as a salad or side dish.

Everything I have read about kale gives it a thumbs-up. In fact, it’s being called the new beef because of its high protein and iron value.  One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. And it doesn’t end there. It helps to lower cholesterol, aids in digestions, filled with anti-oxidants and loaded with calcium. It packs a powerful punch in the nutritional arena.

Here is a quick and easy way to incorporate kale into a meal as a green side dish. Just be sure you are using fresh kale. Droopy, saggy leaves is an indicator the kale has seen better days.

The same is true of garlic gloves. If they feel and look rubbery, don’t buy them.

Vegetable broth is a great liquid to use when sauteing vegetables. It’s adds nutritional value with no calories or fat.

The ingredients for this side dish are simple and the total cook/prep time is 15 minutes. You will want to serve hot, though leftovers could be reheated on the stove top.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound kale leaves coarsely chopped (you can use the stems if you like, but I find them a little to bitter and fibrous for my liking. Save them for soups.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste

Rinse kale, remove stems. With a knife, remove the stem portion the runs up the back side of the leaf. Coarsely chop the leaves and set aside. Crush the garlic cloves, remove skin and dice.

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until tender, but not browned. Turn heat up to high, add the vegetable stock and kale and toss. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove cover from pan and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often. Season and add vinegar. Plate and serve.

 

Fun & Tasty Fiber Foods

Last week I had my annual health physical. The good news: I’m six feet above ground. The bad news: I might not be if I don’t get my cholesterol under control. I can’t rely on medication alone. So, needless to say, it will take some initiative on my part that includes both exercise and additional fiber in my diet. These will be my front-line weapons in bringing down the enemy (that being high cholesterol).

Roasted Chickpeas

Most of us have seen a pre-printed handout listing high fiber foods. It typically includes grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and bran cereals. But there are many other foods and snacks never suggested. If you’re like me, you sometimes need a break from traditional high fiber foods. I’d like to share three snack foods you probably won’t find on a high-fiber diet handout.

Roasted Chickpeas (pictured above)

The sole ingredient is chickpeas which are low in calories, high in fiber and zero cholesterol. Not to mention they are downright filling. I find it hard to finish an one ounce serving, which is roughly a scooping handful. Oh, and let’s not forget the iron and calcium you find in these little guys. Toss some in your salads instead of croutons, or add to roasted red pepper soup for a little crunch.

I will get a recipe posted soon for soup along with a Mediterranean arugula and roasted chickpea salad (Yum!) that pairs wonderfully. BTW, a one ounce serving of roasted chickpeas is just 102 calories with 18 fat calories.

You can roast your own or purchase pre-roasted. I like the pre-roasted because they are always on hand. Nuts.com sells a one pound bag for around $4 bucks.

Here’s an awesome roasted chickpea nacho recipe from Becca over at Amuse Your Bouche blogspot. Shes uses cilantro which I am not fond of so I substitute with chopped spinach leaves. You can also use parsley or basil.

Photo credits to Becca at Amuse Your Bouche

Veggie Chips or Veggie Sticks

Who would have thunk dried veggies could taste this good! But they do. In my opinion, they claim the upper-hand over potato chips because they are made with hydrogenated canola oil rather than shortening or lard.

Calories are slightly lower than baked potato chips and usually contain less salt. Veggie chips or veggie sticks, particularly carrot (10% RDA of Vitamin A), are a healthy snack food choice when eaten in moderation. I purchase mine from Nuts.com and the fiber per serving averages between 8-12%. That’s not bad for a snack food. Plus, zero cholesterol.

Nuts.com has one of the best selections of veggie chips/sticks and at reasonable prices. And no, I don’t work for them :)

Veggie Sticks

Veggie Sticks

Sun Dried Tomatoes

It’s best to stay away from oil soaked sun dried tomatoes, especially if you’re calorie counting. Minus the oil, you save 40 calories per serving and 45 fat calories.

Once again, Nuts.com gets my vote. A yummy one pound of sun dried tomatoes (no oil) is around $5 bucks. A serving size is 0.5 ounces which is 3 nice size pieces. The tomatoes are flavorful, wonderfully chewy (think beef jerky) and a mere 30 calories per serving with zero fat and 10% of RDA Dietary Fiber. Each serving contains 32% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C and 6% iron. That’s one heck of a healthy snack.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

So, when you’re looking for high-fiber options, here are three easy snacks to consider. Of course none of these snacks should replace raw vegetables, but they are a nice alternative when you need a change from carrot sticks, broccoli/cauliflower florets, or celery.

 

 

 

Crabby Crescent Appetizers

While my computer techs were upgrading software, I took advantage of the down time and prepared an appetizer for some guests my husband was hosting from work. As usual, I did a scavenger hunt of the pantry and fridge. The two cans of crab meat caught my eye. Many of my Blimpy Girl recipes are about the challenge of creating something from nothing while keeping caloric intake to a minimum. There are times of HURRAH along with many OOPSIES. This was a HURRAH with minimal prep time.

How many this serves will depend on how you plate it. Recipe easily makes 16 crescent balls with left-over filling (enough for at least 4 Crabby Patties).

As a first course, plate as shown in the above picture. If serving as an appetizer, display on a platter, drizzle with sauce and call it a finger food.

I prefer to serve this dish hot from the oven, but it does hold up to serving at room temperature. Letting the dish cool a minute or two before serving will bring out the full flavor of the crab. Don’t ask me why, it just does.

Prep time is around 15 minutes; bake time is 13-14 minutes. You can prepare ahead, cover and store in fridge, to pop in the oven just before guests arrive.

Here’s what you need to whip up a batch of these Crabby Crescent appetizers.

  • Two 6-ounce cans crab meat, drained (save and freeze the juice for a future dish)
  • 2/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (finely grated type)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (if you have parsley, use 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • (2) wedges of Laughing Cow Swiss cheese wedges (consider this a wet ingredient)
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijonnaise mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons each: finely shredded carrots, finely diced zucchini, finely chopped onion, finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon reserved claim juice from the cans of drained clam meat
  • 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Add all the dry ingredients into a medium size mixing bowl. In a smaller mixing bowl, blend the wet ingredients until nice smooth.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and fold until you have a paste.

Form the paste into small balls. You will need 16 balls and should have enough paste left-over for 8 small crabby patties. Open the can of crescent rolls and separate. Cut each triangle in half. You need 16 crescent triangles.

Gently fold the crescent triangle around the Crabby ball. Roll in you hand to seal all the edges. Place the balls on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. Form small Crabby Patties with the leftover paste.

Bake in 375 F degree oven for 13-14 minutes. You want  a light brown crust on the crescent dough.

Now for the sauce (the yummy part):

  • 2 heaping tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (more or less to your liking)

Whip the sauce until smooth and then spoon drizzle over base of plates and the rolls/patties.

Let’s talk calories. The mini Crabby Patty is in the neighborhood of (you’re not going to believe this!!) 20 calories each. The drizzled sauce adds 5 calories.

Each crescent covered crab balls is 75 calories. The dish pictured above with sauce (two rolls, one crab patty) is 175 calories.

You can forego the crescent wrapped balls and opt for three mini crab patties (with the awewome sauce) for a whooping 75 calories. LOVE< LOVE< LOVE!! This dish received the Wine Guy’s seal of approval. He had two helpings at dinner last night.