Saturday, April 3, 2010

Big Family Dinner #4

We had so much fun hosting our friends and their kids this week at dinner.  If I say so myself, this was one of my best dinners yet! Got rave reviews from all of the men at the dinner.  No original photo's this week, Sophia has her camera in Washington, D.C.  Here was this week's menu:

Grape juice
Celery and Potato Soup (recipe below)
Green Salad with Hearts of Palm, Avocado, Pepitas and Red Peppers
Perfectly Roasted Catalina Chicken (recipe below)
Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with a Hint of Honey (recipe below)
Brazilian-Style Kale
Soy ice cream from Trader Joe's

Celery and Potato Soup
Based on a recipe I found on The Daily Green. Read more:  Creamy and rich, yet low calorie and healthy, this nourishing celery soup took center stage.  Makes12 servings-enough for dinner and leftovers!

1 large bunch celery with leaves (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
8 cups vegetable broth (2 boxes)
5 medium all-purpose potatoes (about 2 3/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cups water

Trim ends from celery stalks. Slice celery stalks and leaves crosswise into 1-inch pieces; transfer to colander. Rinse and drain well.

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery and leaves, onion, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until celery is soft but not browned, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, potatoes, and water to saucepot; cover and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

With a handheld immersion blender, blend very well until pureed.  If serving immediately, ladle soup into a tureen or bowls. Or refridgerate soup and save for later!

Perfectly Roasted Catalina Chicken
This is one of those incredibly easy and fast crowd pleasing dishes. I can't say that it qualifies as a "Healthy Girl's Kitchen" recipe, but as long as I'm serving it with lots of other healthy dishes, I'm okay with it.

1 large bottle Catalina Salad dressing, non-fat if you prefer
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 jar apricot preserves
as much chicken as you need for the crowd you are feeding--skin on/bone in chicken breasts and thighs/legs (1 pound of chicken per 2 people)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, prep and dry chicken. Place chicken onto aluminum foil lined cookie sheets or a roasting pan or glass baking dishes. Rub olive oil onto chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper. Bake chicken at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

While chicken is baking, in a bowl, mix dressing, soup mix and cranberry sauce.  After chicken has cooked for 25 minutes, remove chicken from oven and turn oven down to 350 degrees.   Pour sauce over chicken (if there is leftover sauce, you can heat it and serve it like a gravy).  Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with a Hint of Honey
lots of carrots
lots of parsnips
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel carrots and parsnips. Cut carrots and parsnips into long strips of roughly equal size. Onto a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil spray, arrange cut veggies in a single layer. Lightly spray veggies with more olive oil spray and then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Roast veggies for about 45 minutes, but keep turning them over and moving them around every 20 minutes. They are done when they start to get crispy and brown on the edges.

Remove from oven and very lightly drizzle honey over the carrots and parsnips.

Transfer to a serving bowl but do not cover or they will get soggy. Can be served immediately or later at room temperature. Great cold as a leftover too!

Brazilian-Style Kale
at least 1 1/2 pounds kale, washed, dried and removed from tough stems
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Chop the kale into fairly small pieces (about 2 inches).

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add the oil to the skillet and let it heat for a few seconds.  Place the kale and garlic into the hot skillet.  Cook over high heat, stirring and turning almost constantly, until the kale begins to wilt and brown (anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes).  The kale will substantially reduce in size.

Season with salt and pepper and add the red wine vinegar.  Serve immediately (I did prepare this a little ahead of time and put it into a covered serving bowl--it was great).
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