Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

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Confession: I’m on a soft-goat-cheese + soup kick.

It started with my Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese when I decided to use goat cheese to make the soup creamy. In the past, I’d been adding milk or yogurt to vegetable soups (see Creamy Cauliflower Soup). Then I found that herbed goat cheese is richer and the herbs add a lovely flavour. True, it’s also caloric but, when you’re making a quart or more of soup, the amount per 1 cup serving (roughly 20 calories) isn’t going bust your diet.

And this soup has two great pluses:

  1. It’s delicious hot or cold so I also use it as a drink at dinner rather than water. More vegetable intake and refreshing!
  2. It yields 2-3 cups of homemade chicken-vegetable stock that can be used in other recipes. Yum!

P.S. The soup in the photo also included a zucchini and leek because they were hanging around in my vegetable bin, but just cauliflower and regular onion would be just fine.

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Roasted Radishes

dsc01559Many, many thanks to Christine at The Perky Poppy Seed blog for discovering that radishes roast so beautifully. As she says,

When you roast a radish something happens to that in-your-face-bold radish taste. The radish becomes an elegant vegetable, with a mild delicate taste. Roasted radishes are lovely on their own or in a salad.  I like mine on top of a spinach salad with a bit of of lemon zest and a nice simple vinaigrette.

After reading her post, I bought 3 bunches of radishes (on sale—extra bonus), roasted them, and they were delicious! I had no idea that your could roast radishes and, probably, daikon as well.

This blog has her recipe, adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook, and her lovely photos. (Stars are mine.)

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (but without the cream)

Thick and delicious!

I’m not a winter person, but I sure do love the warm soups and thick stews that come with the season. This particular soup happened because I found discounted mushrooms whose best days were behind them, and bought 2.5 lbs. Believe me, that’s a lot of mushrooms. But I have a motto for situations like this.

When in doubt because of quantity and/or quality, make soup!

So I did, and this soup turned out to be the best mushroom soup I’d ever made: delicious, thick, comforting, low in calories, and a cinch to make. What makes it creamy? Using as little liquid as possible…

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Happy Thanksgiving and Check It Out! (5)

First, to my American readers, may you have a wonderful holiday with lots of terrific food and great company!

For those of you dieters who aren’t American and for those you dieters who will have to return to real life tomorrow, here are  interesting recipes that focus on vegetables and beans plus an article about our food preferences.

The Carnivore’s Guide to Vegetables by cookbook writer, Marc Bittman. Bittman is great at providing a recipe and then showing different ways to alter to suit you, family preferences, what’s in your fridge and so on. Here are four recipes, each with variations.

40 Magnificent Mushroom Recipesat the Wise Bread web site, is a compilation of recipes and great ideas for using mushrooms—for example, Vegan Mushroom Risotto, Mushroom Paté, and Mushroom Tikka Masala. Yum!

Beans, beans, and beans! Martha Rose Shulman at the New York Time has two great-looking bean recipes: Three-Bean Soup and Rainbow Quinoa Salad With Fava Beans and Herbs. I haven’t had a chance to try them, but her recipes are always good and reliable.

Finding New Tricks To Get More Satisfaction Out Of Low-Fat Foods, an article from NPR that reports on an interesting study about the thickness and creaminess of foods and how they affect our taste buds and appetite.

 

Check It Out! (4)

It’s been months since the last Check It Out! post, and I apologize for taking so long. My  summer laziness just dawdled its way into fall. But do not think that lack of writing means lack of collecting.  All along, I’ve been accumulating interesting articles on food, cooking, diet, etc. for your perusal.

Does your pumpkin overfloweth? Here are 34 pumpkin recipes, gathered from around the Internet—from Pumpkin Spice Latte, to Pumpkin Overnight Oats, to Comforting Pumpkin Quinoa (gonna check that one out, for sure). A great resource!

Don’t throw out food scraps! Who knew that you can shine shoes with banana peels or save money on bird feed by offering chirpers leftover rice instead?  This article contains 12 such useful tips plus a video on how to compost kitchen scraps.

The 411 on cantaloupes and germs. Find out why cantaloupes and not, say, apples or bananas, have been responsible for at least 36 outbreaks of listeria or salmonella since 1990. Includes tips on preventive washing and cutting.

Fruits and veggies fight the blues. New research has found that seven portions of fruits and vegetables per day are optimal for improving mental well-being. With each portion being 80g or 2.5 oz., that’s a mere 560g or 1 lb. 1.5 oz. of produce to keep you cheery and smilin’.

(A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven

Dear fellow-dieters,

Here’s the bad news. My weight has been gradually inching in the wrong direction (along with my hips!) even though my thyroid is fine and I’m tracking my food, staying within plan, and exercising 3-5 days a week.

So, yesterday at the WW weigh-in, I brought in my food tracker so the leader could see that I was a faithful dieter who should be losing weight. The diagnosis? Too many carbs among the fruit, cereal, and baked goods that I ate.

Some people, the leader said, can’t throw off carbs easily, adding that she was one of them and I was clearly another. I can’t print here what I thought about that (several not-nice words came to mind.). But I clearly need a carb-rev-up button. Is there anyone else out there who considers their body Enemy Numero Uno?

The solution = vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables.

The creative wheels began to turn, and I remembered those Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds. Why not add that wonderful spice blend to cooked, mashed winter squash instead? The result was a vegetable

  • Lower in calories/carbs than sweet potatoes
  • As filling as sweet potatoes
  • Equally delicious!

Voilà! (A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven. Truly.

Yours in the uphill climb,

Claire

P.S. Re the photo: I was trying for a sprinkled paprika topping, but got a little carried away.

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Pumpkin-Spaghetti Squash “Kugel”

Only 1 WW point!

Aren’t leftovers nature’s way of improving human creativity?

That was my take on 1½ cups of leftover pumpkin purée.

Gotta do something other than painting the walls with the stuff.

Hit the creativity button!

1) I remembered my recipe for Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel. (Revised January 21, 2014.) 

2) Just by coincidence, we also had spaghetti squash leftovers.

Clearly, fate was trying to tell me something. Even better, I was listening for once!

Some thoughts on this ersatz kugel:

  • It tastes just like pumpkin pie but doesn’t have the same texture. I left the spaghetti squash strands as is, but you could purée them to have a smoother texture. That would make this dish a terrific, low-cal version of the real thing.
  • The WW point count of this dish is 3 points for the eggs + 2 points for the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend = 5 points. Next time I’ll just do ½ cup of the Blend and eliminate the Splenda regular artificial sweetener. That will enhance the brown sugar flavour and add only 2 more points.

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Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds

How do you feel about persnickety recipes?

You know—the ones that require extra time because they have a special presentation and/or taste. Some people love fiddling around, but I’m not one of them. Life is short, I say, and I refashion recipes to make them less finicky.*

Interesting to make, fun to serve, and delicious!

So…what exactly was the siren call that prompted this creation? Well, we were having a guest for dinner, but I’d really chalk it up to my love for sweet potatoes as compared to white potatoes: their taste, their lower WW points, and their **lower glycemic index (important for those of us who are pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes). Plus the presentation intrigued me.

And, I’m happy to report, these rounds are truly keepers! Bite down. First, you hit the sweet crunch of sugar mixed with a complementary hot spiciness. Yum! Then you’re into the creamy sweetness of the potato itself. Yum, yum! By the way, I did sprinkle these with green onions, which happily added to the crunch and complex flavour of the topping, but only just before serving and, alas, there was no time for a photo.

Oh, and they look very impressive, don’t you think?

*Want to make a really easy version of this recipe? You could add the spices to mashed sweet potatoes or make a Spiced Sweet Potato Bean Bake with Green Onions for a low-cal lunch or snack.

**Want to know more about the nutritional value of sweet potatoes? “Are Sweet Potatoes Just Orange-Colored Regular Potatoes?“is a great article.

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Steamed Cauliflower: Variations

First of all: Many thanks to Jeff from jeffs kitchen for this post.

Jeff had read the cauliflower-tasting story from my post, Can Our Tastebuds Have Orgasms?, and clearly felt sorry for the spouse who ate the cauliflower I had served plain. Why plain? Because I thought that beautifully fresh cauliflower would taste great on its own.

And it did! To me, that is.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a great comment on that post with ideas for spicing up the cauliflower that I want to pass on to you.

Jeff steams his cauliflower whole, but you could also steam florets or roast them (see Roasted Veggies Redux) using these spices.

How to Steam a Cauliflower Whole

  1. Cut out the core from the bottom of the cauliflower.
  2. Place the head in a large cast-iron pot.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of boiling water. (You can also add flavours to the water—see below.)
  4. Sprinkle spice generously over the cauliflower head (see possibilities below).
  5. Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
  6. Cover pot and steam for 10-20 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the size of cauliflower and how soft you prefer it.

Jeff’s Spice Possibilities:

  • Allspice: Also add 1 tbsp. coconut milk to the boiling water.
  • Curry: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • Garam masala: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • A good quality paprika: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water. According to Jeff, “I’ve experimented with smoked paprika, and it tastes like I did it in a pot on a grill. The paprika adds a layer of flavor, and using smoked paprika adds yet another layer.”

I can think of other variations such as using cumin or fresh dill. Have you done something interesting with cauliflower that you’d like to share?