Monday, February 1, 2010

Week 1, Day 1: Asian Black Bean Soup and Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Shopping went okay, despite bringing a "helper" . . . I found everything relatively easily, with the exception of edamame. Anyone know where in the grocery store to find it? I want to serve it with Friday's dinner.

Tonight's dinner recipe was given to me by my old roommate, Becky McCollaum. She earned the nickname "Becky Crocker" as she made some amazing things in our little kitchen at SUU. I think I can say she is the heart of our little group of roommates--she's the one who keeps us all in touch. She's incredibly intelligent and very talented in a huge range of areas (nursing, shooting, belly dancing, skiing, car maintenance, etc--oh, yeah, cooking!) and is a loyal and loving friend. In the last 10 years (holy cow! has it been that long since we met?!) she has become a world traveler, and I will be making several of her recipes from around the world. She inspired this challenge in more ways than one, so I thought it fitting to start with one of her recipes.

Asian Black Bean Soup

2 tsp vegetable or olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp chopped scallions

1. Heat the oil in a 4-5 quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, beans, soy sauce, red pepper, coriander3/4 cup water. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.
2. Puree about 3/4 of the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the orange juice. Simmer the soup 5 minutes.
3. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and serve topped with the sour cream and scallions, or serve the soup over 1/2 cup cooked rice.

The Verdict: 5 thumbs up! Everyone in the family ate it and liked it, and we got rave reviews from our toughest food critic, Isaiah.

Things I would change next time: I served it over rice tonight because as it was cooking, I realized it wasn't going to be enough on its own to feed the whole family. If I were making it as a soup on it's own, I would fully double the amount of chicken broth since the texture was pretty thick. Or cook it less maybe. Adam suggested adding chicken.

Anyway, the flavor was awesome, and the sour cream and green onions were really good with it, too.

Our dessert recipe comes from another long-time friend, Melissa Yoder. We know each other from the college married ward Adam and I attended when we were first married (you know, back in the days when I really couldn't cook). She is one of the most beautiful, creative women I know. And so funny. Just read her blog, you'll know what I mean. I will also be featuring several of Melissa's recipes, which I believe were on the menu for the blessing of her littlest one, Luke. (By the way, she has adorable children!) I don't know how she made so many delicious dishes and entertained so many people just weeks after a traumatic birth, but what can I say, she's amazing!

Miniature Lemon Cheesecake Tarts

1 pkg Betty Crocker Sunkist lemon bar mix
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
powdered sugar, if desired
lemon or raspberry pie filling, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place miniature paper baking cup in each of 36 to 48 miniature muffin cups. Divide Ready-Mixed Crust (dry) evenly among muffin cups (1 to 2 tsp each); press in bottoms of cups, using back of measuring spoon. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until very light brown. 2. For smoothest filling, beat cream cheese and 2 eggs thoroughly in medium bowl, using electric beaters; stir in Filling Mix, water and remaining egg until smooth (a few tiny lumps may remain). Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full (about 1 tbsp each) with cream cheese mixture.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until firm. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. For best flavor, refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Top each with 1/2 tsp pie filling. Store tightly covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours, or freeze tarts tightly wrapped in airtight container up to 4 months.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft.): For best results, use 48 miniature muffin cups. Bake 22 to 26 minutes.

What was that? Hmmmm? I can't hear you. Did you just say that lemon cheesecake isn't Asian? What do you mean? Of course it is! They have all kinds of desserts at the Mandarin Buffet, why not cheesecake? Okay, okay. I just wanted to have dessert. And it's family night, so I knew I'd be making one anyway. So, I killed two birds with one stone and made Melissa's recipe.

I learned a couple of lessons while making these cheesecakes. One is: Pay Attention and Follow the Recipe. The other is: It's Okay to Experiment and Not Follow the Recipe. Ha ha. Yeah, I messed it up. But it still tasted amazing. So there.

See, I'm really tired. Max hasn't been sleeping well. And when I started cooking this afternoon, I had a massive headache. And four noisy children (mine plus a neighbor) and an annoying dog running through the kitchen every few minutes. I started out with not enough muffin cup liners. No problem, I'll just make some without liners. Except that I got about 10 cups full of crust before I realized I hadn't greased the cups. So I dumped out the crusts, washed the pan, and started again. And then, there I was merrily going along, mixing and measuring and pouring and dang it! I realized I'd put the filling into the crusts--and I hadn't baked the crusts. At that point it wasn't just my head aching, and I just popped them in the oven. But I was immensely surprised and pleased to find that they turned out delicious anyway! Probably not the way they were supposed to be, but who cares. (I'll admit, I ate at least a dozen, they were that good. And Melissa, I stupidly inhaled while taking a bite. Even though I'd read your warning! Sheesh.)

The Verdict: 4 thumbs up, 1 thumb medium (I think Max would have given two thumbs up if he could have. He is a big fan.)

So there you go, Day 1 down, only 19 to go!

P.S. At the end of the week, I'm going to link you to the recipes in Google docs so you can print them out in convenient 4x6 cards! But if you just can't wait until then, it works to copy them off here, too.


Wecare4much said...

I buy my edamame in the freezer section. I've never found it in another form in the sticks. My kids really like it.

Suzy said...

Sounds wonderful! I've always been told to find edamame in the freezer section but have yet to see it there. In my store it is in 3 places: veggie cooler, sushi bar, and natural/organic section. GL finding it.

Kel said...

Both look great. We are big black bean eaters, so I will have to give it a try. How many cans of black beans? (I see "e".) I do miss some good Becky Crocker meals!

Becky said...

I was a little nervous about this recipe, just because its black beans and not everyone (ie my dad) likes black beans. I am so happy your family likes it because it is really pretty healthy too (and I love it myself)!
And as others have posted, Edamame is in the freezer least at Smith's it is. I also found it in the pods and shelled. With little kids, I might lean more toward the already shelled variety.

Rachel said...

Whoops, thanks for catching that, Kel! It's 3 cans.

Thanks, girls! I'll check the freezer section today.

Crafty P said...

mmm, sounds so yummy! I will give this a go during lent. wondering how my kids will react.

I know I'd have to grab some coriander- do you think it's necessary? 1/8 of a tsp is sooooo little.

ps. tip for you as I saw it's Asian week. If you buy ginger root, you can store in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag in the freezer! you'll always have fresh ginger whenever you need it!

The Yoder's Four said...

Rach! You are so sweet saying all those nice things about me. I'm glad you liked the cheesecake things. They are tricky to get right because they are so small. I overbaked half of mine. I think next time I'll just do them as bars in a big pan to save some of the hassle.

Sorry you're so tired! Luke is making me hold him all night long lately. Kids!! YAWN!