Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom-to-be

BLT with Avocado Spread January 26, 2014

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The BLT with Avocado Spread recipe from Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix (which I continue to work my way through) is one of the cookbook’s simpler recipes, which made it ideal for a quick Saturday lunch at home. Already a fan of bacon, the addition of avocado to the BLT only upped my interest level.

 

Originally I had intended to make these sandwiches on MLK Day, but my plans for the holiday went awry when I passed out at my doctor’s office while the nurse was drawing blood. (I really do not like needles.) So the avocado I had bought, which was already pretty ripe, sat in the refrigerator for the rest of the week. It had a number of brown spots when I cut into it yesterday, but I was able to scoop out enough avocado to make the spread stretch over 3 sandwiches (2 for John, 1 for me).

 

With it being January, the store-bought tomato was not as fresh and flavorful as I would have liked (when are supermarket tomatoes fresh and flavorful, though?), but I did enjoy using romaine leaves from my brand-new CSA, picked up for the first time on Wednesday. Hooray for local, seasonal produce!

 

To lower the Points value of the sandwich, I used light bread and center-cut bacon, which dropped the PointsPlus value to 5, according to my calculation. I find center-cut bacon to be just as tasty as regular bacon, and I prefer to have fewer fatty, chewy bits. The light bread, however, did affect the overall quality of the sandwich. A richer bread would have elevated the sandwich above average. As I made it, the sandwich earned 3 stars. I enjoyed the avocado spread, but as John commented, guacamole or even plain sliced avocado would have been better. Neither of us like too much citrus with our avocado.  Yet BLTs are meant to be tinkered with, and the basic concept of this sandwich is a winner.

 

Comfort Food Fix recipes made: 6
Comfort Food Fix recipes still to make: 147

 

BLT with Avocado Spread

1 very ripe avocado
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon, preferably nitrate-free
8 slices whole-wheat bread
4 medium leaves romaine lettuce
2 ripe medium tomatoes, sliced

1. Peel and pit the avocado. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lemon juice, salt and black pepper.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning two or three times, to the desired doneness, about 8 minutes for crispy. Drain on paper towels.

3. Toast the bread.

4. To make the sandwiches, spread 1 tablespoon of the avocado mixture on each slice of toast. Place 2 pieces of bacon on half the pieces of toast, then top with a folded lettuce leaf and 2 slices of tomato. Top with the remaining toast. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich). Per serving, 8 PointsPlus.

 

Sloppy Joe Stir-Fry Slaw (New Recipe #88) November 25, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 7:47 AM
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Back in September, I had to put my blog on hiatus during the back-to-school deluge of work. While I was not posting during that time, I did manage to keep cooking (for the most part), and I even tried out a number of new recipes (on the weekends). Many of the new recipes I attempted during that period were short on required ingredients and time, including the Hungry Girl’s Sloppy Joe Stir-Fry Slaw. Rereading the recipe two months later, I am a little surprised that I ever picked out this recipe to make! The word “Manwich,” if I were in a normal state of mind, would have kept me from reading any further in the recipe and certainly from actually cooking it. Yet cook it, I did.

 

The best part of the recipe, by far, was its quickness of preparation; the Sloppy Joe mixture was hot and ready to go within 15 minutes. I served the slaw on whole-wheat slider buns with Baked Kale Chips on the side. The recipe was not a successful one, however, as neither I nor John liked the flavor of the Sloppy Joe sauce, which unfortunately pervaded the entire dish. Even the presence of broccoli slaw, which I love, was not enough to save it.  We gave the recipe 2 stars, and I doubt I will ever make it again (unless addled by beginning-of-school-year-brain, of course).

 

Sloppy Joe Stir-Fry Slaw

8 oz raw lean ground turkey
One 12-oz. bag (about 4 cups) dry broccoli cole slaw
1 cup Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce

1. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add turkey and use a spatula to break it up. Cook and crumble until browned and fully cooked, about 8 minutes.

2. Add slaw and sauce to the skillet and stir to mix. Continue to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is hot and slaw has softened.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup). Per serving, 3 PointsPlus.

 

Curried Lentil and Rice Salad (New Recipe #82) October 27, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 3:07 PM
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Lentils are little, tasty morsels of nutrient-rich food. Yet I rarely eat them! Why? It’s not for lack of appeal, but rather for the simple fact that I have very few lentil recipes in my repertoire. And the few I do have are soups – until now. This lentil salad recipe from the WeightWatchers 15 Minute Recipes magazine is destined to be a part of the regular meal rotation in the Pierce household.

 

When reading through the recipe prior to making it, I was worried about the curry and vinegar being too strong. As a result, I decided to halve the dressing. This move indeed kept the salad from being too vinegar-y, but it also made the lentil-rice mixture a little dry. Next time, I may aim for ¾ of each of the dressing ingredients and see what results.  The recipe below includes the original ingredient amounts.

 

To boost the protein of the salad and turn it into a complete meal, ready to be packed for a weekday lunch, I mixed in cubed, cooked chicken breast. I found the salad tasted best at room temperature, but it is also good chilled.

 

With or without the chicken, the salad was delicious. John, especially, raved about it for days afterwards. Two months later, he still asks me when I am going to make it again! The recipe earned an enthusiastic 4 stars from us both.

 

Curried Lentil and Rice Salad

1 (8.5-oz) pouch microwaveable precooked basmati rice
½ cup golden raisins (I plumped mine before adding them to the mixture.)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 (17.6-oz) package refrigerated precooked lentils (I found this at Trader Joe’s.)
1 TB curry powder
2 TB roasted garlic rice vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil

1. Microwave rice according to package directions; place in a large bowl. Add raisins and next 3 ingredients; toss gently.

2. Combine curry powder, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Slowly add oil, stirring with a whisk.

3. Pour dressing over rice mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately, or cover and chill 2 hours.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup). Per serving: 5 PointsPlus.

 

Creamy Tomato Soup (New Recipe #80) October 14, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 7:54 PM
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Oh, how I have missed this blog! When I launched Being Mrs. Pierce in January, it was simply a way to document the 40 (later amended to 100) new recipes that I intended to try in 2013. As the weeks and months passed, however, I discovered a deep love of writing–and cooking–that I never knew I had. My time cooking in the kitchen and writing on my laptop became sources of joy for me, with Being Mrs. Pierce the link between the two.

 

Yet cooking and writing are my hobbies, not my career. And my elementary school teaching career once again took over my life in a big way in mid-August. Life became a day-to-day survival test; my blogging (but thankfully not my cooking) never could work its way to the top of my to-do list. With having today, Columbus Day, off from work, I finally managed to sit down and do a little writing. And wouldn’t you know? Today for lunch I unknowingly made the exact same recipe that was next on my blogging backlog from August: Ellie’s Krieger’s Creamy Tomato Soup.

 

My mother-in-law, Loveta, was the first one to try this recipe from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger. I had taken the cookbook down to Menard over the summer, and she picked out the recipe as one that sounded appealing to her. After she raved about the results, I also wanted to give the recipe a whirl.

 

I used my 3.5-quart Dutch oven for the soup, which was the perfect size. I used regular diced tomatoes the first time I made this, but I used fire-roasted ones today. The fire-roasted tomatoes added a flavor boost to the soup, so I plan to use them again when I make this soup in the future.

 

Here’s the soup, ready to be transformed from chunky to creamy:

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For the first time, I used the immersion blender that John and I received as a wedding gift. I made an assortment of splatters all over my counter as I learned the feel of the appliance. (I did much better with the blender today; I only counted 2 splats!)

 

Here’s the soup, post-puréeing and with the cream:

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For today’s version, I sautéed a cup or so of sliced fresh okra that Loveta brought me from Menard’s community garden this weekend. After puréeing the soup, I stirred in the cooked okra for a veggie boost. I am so glad that I followed Loveta’s advice and added this step! The okra made for a tasty addition; next time I intend to double the amount of okra.

 

Not having fresh chives on hand, I served the soup without them. It was still delicious! I gave the tomato soup 4 stars, and even John, who typically is not a fan of tomato soup, admitted today that he genuinely liked–and not just tolerated–the soup. It may have helped that I served the soup with grilled ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches which turned out rather scrumptious. Ah, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a rainy day spent at home. I love the simple things in life (and having a few extra minutes to blog about them).

 

Creamy Tomato Soup

1 TB olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Two 14.5-oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes (I recommend fire-roasted)
2 TB tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 TB heavy cream
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 TB chopped fresh chives

1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

2. Working with about 1 cup at a time, purée the soup in a blender until smooth and then transfer the purée to another pot. (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender.) Stir in the cream, sugar, salt, and white pepper. Serve garnished with the chives.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1½ cups). Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.

 

Corndog Millionaire Muffins (New Recipe #73) August 17, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 12:44 PM
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When my husband introduced me to Hebrew National’s 97% Fat-Free Beef Franks, I rediscovered an appreciation for hot dogs. We now enjoy turkey chili dogs on a fairly regular basis, usually as either a weekend lunch or quick weeknight dinner. I’ve also been on the lookout for recipes using the beef franks, so when I came across the Hungry Girl’s Corndog Millionaire Muffins, I was just curious enough (while also feeling somewhat trepidatious) to try them.

 

I set out to make this recipe for dinner one evening. Earlier that morning, I had made my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins using foil muffin tin liners. In an attempt to be economical, I used the paper liners that had been between the foil ones for the corndog muffins. This was an utter failure! The corndog muffins stuck to the paper liners like gum sticks to hair. John and I attempted to scrape as much of the corn muffins from the paper as we could, but a fair amount of each muffin was irreparably lost. I should have used foil liners AND sprayed them with cooking spray. Oops!

 

Apart from the liner issue, the muffins were surprisingly good and earned 3 stars. They also hold up well leftover. For an interesting twist on an American classic, I would happily recommend these corndog muffins.

 

Corndog Millionaire Muffins

7 Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks (or another brand of nearly fat-free hot dogs with 40-45 calories each)
1 cup canned cream-style corn
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
½ cup fat-free sour cream
2½ TB Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
2½ TB granulated sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Combine flour, cornmeal, Splenda, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix together corn, egg substitute, and sour cream. Stir thoroughly. Add contents of the small bowl to the large one, and stir until completely mixed.

3. Cut 2 hot dogs in half, leaving you with 4 cocktail-sized franks. Cut each of the halves into 6 pieces, leaving you with 24 “coins.” Set aside. (You’ll use these to top the muffins.)

4. Chop the remaining hot dogs into very small pieces. Add those to the large bowl, and stir until they are integrated into the batter.

5. Line 8 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute batter among the 8 cups. Top each muffin with 3 of the hot dog “coins.”

6. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool and then enjoy!

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 muffin). Per serving, 4 PointsPlus.

 

Corn and Bacon Chowder (New Recipe #65) August 8, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 6:57 AM
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It’s August in Dallas-Fort Worth, which means the temperature is soaring above 100 degrees most days. With that level of heat, soup is usually furthest from my mind when I am thinking about what to cook for dinner. However, corn is a summertime vegetable, so this WeightWatchers recipe for corn chowder sounded surprisingly appetizing. An added plus: John loves corn chowder. This fact, though, also meant that I would have a tough critic on my hands. I just hoped this recipe would be up to snuff!

 

Instead of using a store-bought vegetable mix, I made up my own with some celery, onion, and red bell pepper that I already had on hand. My one mistake (which led to another mistake, unfortunately) was that I forgot to thaw the frozen corn ahead of time. While this did not make too much of a difference for the corn that was sautéed in the Dutch oven, it did have a major impact on the corn that was to be blended with the milk. I did not think twice about putting the frozen corn kernels into the blender and then adding the milk. As a result, the milk essentially froze and I quickly had a solid mass in my blender. I felt incredibly daft at that moment! I ended up having to dump out the contents of the blender and start again. This time, I first thawed the frozen corn in the microwave by itself, and then I added the milk to the room temperature kernels. Unsurprisingly, it all worked much better that way.

 

While not as rich as many a corn chowder, the recipe still turned out great. Both John and I gave it 3.5 stars and would like to have it again in the future. John, however, would like me to omit the celery next time, as he’s not a celery fan.

 

Corn and Bacon Chowder

2 bacon slices
½ cup refrigerated prechopped celery, onion, and bell pepper mix
2 (16-oz) packages frozen baby gold and white corn, thawed and divided
2 cups 1% milk, divided
3 oz reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about ¾ cup)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble and set aside. Add celery mix and 1 package corn to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Place 1 package corn and 1 cup milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add puréed mixture to vegetables in pan; stir in 1 cup milk, cheese, salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper. Cook over medium heat (do not boil), stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Ladle chowder into bowls. Top with reserved crumbled bacon. Sprinkle with additional black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup). Per serving, 6 PointsPlus.

 

Garden Tuna Melt (New Recipe #59) August 2, 2013

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A friend gave me a copy of Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix cookbook a while back. Despite being an enthusiastic fan of Ellie Krieger, the cookbook sat on my bookshelf, unused, for months. Last week, I spontaneously added it to my stack of books to take to Menard with the hope that I would finally sit down with it and give it the attention it deserved. Luckily, I did just that during my visit with my in-laws, and I find myself fired up to try a host of new Ellie Krieger recipes now that I am back home.

 

First on the list: the Garden Tuna Melt. I must thank my husband, John, for getting me interested in tuna melts. He occasionally orders them in restaurants, and every time he does I find them surprisingly appetizing. Ellie Krieger’s tuna melt recipe was interesting to me because of the addition of vegetables to the tuna mixture. It also was a relatively simple recipe, which I decided last night would be an ideal one to try after a day of car travel.

 

The recipe calls for very little mayonnaise (and an even smaller amount of Dijon mustard), so the tuna mixture was not very creamy, as seen below. Next time, I plan to up the mayo/mustard slightly in order to achieve a creamier texture.

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For my tuna melt, I followed the recipe exactly. For John’s, I doubled the amount of cheese and added a top slice of toast, making his a true sandwich. We both liked the tuna melts; I gave mine 3 stars and John gave his 3.5 stars (the more cheese, the better, apparently). The fresh parsley is a must in the recipe, as it provided a burst of fresh flavor in each bite.

 

Garden Tuna Melt

Two 6-oz cans or pouches light tuna in water, drained
2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, finely chopped (2 oz)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1 cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 TB mayonnaise
1 TB Dijon mustard
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 slices whole-wheat bread
4 thin slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese (2 oz total)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, spinach, bell pepper, carrot, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper. Place the bread on a baking sheet, divide the tuna mixture among the 4 pieces of bread, and top each with a slice of cheese.

3. Bake until the cheese melts and the edges of the bread are toasted, 6 to 8 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings. Per serving, 7 PointsPlus.