November 2007


I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Now that we’re fully into the cold weather season, I’ve been trying to make more soups. I’d been dying to try out my new immersion blender given to us as an engagement gift, so last weekend I put it to good use in a soup that appears in this month’s Cooking Light.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was to turn that baby on and watch the chunky liquid turn smooth right before my eyes! Immersion blenders aren’t necessary cooking tools. A regular old blender will do the trick the majority of the time, but immersion blenders definitely save time and create less mess.

The soup below is awesome. I was a little turned off by the recipe at first because of the fennel (licorice-tasting vegetable), but interestingly enough, you can hardly taste it in the finished product!




2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 thyme sprig
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (or soup pot) over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add fennel; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add broth, tomatoes, and thyme to pan; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 35 minutes.

Remove pan from heat; cool 5 minutes. Discard thyme sprig.

Place half of tomato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until almost smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining tomato mixture.

Note: If you are using an immersion blender, puree the mixture and disregard the paragraph above.

Stir in salt and pepper; keep warm.

Bon Appetit!

Thanks for taking the time to read Hillman’s Helpings!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings



I was never a HUGE fan of the great American comfort foods – mac & cheese, meatloaf, green bean casserole… But I had a new found love for chicken pot pie when a college friend ordered it at a local D.C. restauarant called Daily Grill a few years back. This monstrosity came out of the kitchen – my friends and I were blown away by its size (and questioned whether the little girl sitting in front of it could eat the whole thing).

I came full circle earlier this week when I decided to make a Cooking Light recipe for Chicken and Root Vegetable Pot Pie for some friends. I have to say, this recipe doesn’t taste LIGHT at all, is really tasty and it’s pretty easy to make.


Serves 8


3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled baking potato

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root)

1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices parsnip

1 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces), divided

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (you are going to need more, but keep adding to taste until you are satisfied)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed


Preheat oven to 400°.

Bring broth to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add peas and next 5 ingredients (through onions) to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 minutes. Add chicken; cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl.

Increase heat to medium. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place all but 1 tablespoon flour in a medium bowl; gradually add milk to bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broth; cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon flour on a work surface; roll dough into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place dough over chicken mixture, pressing to seal at edges of dish. Cut small slits into dough to allow steam to escape; coat dough lightly with cooking spray. Place dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until pastry is browned and filling is bubbly.

There will be no Hillman’s Helpings next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings


Making a piece of chicken or fish on a weeknight is daunting enough for some people. Imagine having to put a whole dinner thogether! Rather than just roasting asparagus (which is a perfectly OK side, I’d like to add) or cooking up some rice (which takes longer than one might think), why not be little inventive with your side dishes – a little flavor can go a long way (and fill you up)!

Take a look at the sides below, and some of the sides I have on my blog and you’ll have some great ideas!

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter – From Cooking Light
Serves 6


40 asparagus spears, trimmed (about 2 pounds)

Cooking spray

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until tender.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook for 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Drizzle over the asparagus, tossing well to coat. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Fries!
Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Scrub four sweet potatoes and cut them into “fries.” Try to make them all the same thickness to allow for even cooking.

I leave the skins on but you can peel them off if you want.

Place them on the foil-line baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil on them. Toss to cost. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them.

Bake them for 35ish minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, so that the fries don’t stick to the foil.

Remove them from the oven and toss with chopped parsley.



Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

This was literally out-of-this world and was super easy! It’s another Cooking Light recipe!

Bourbon-Glazed Salmon
Serves 4

3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
Cooking spray
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish and marinade to pan; cook fish 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place 1 fillet on each of 4 plates; drizzle each serving with about 2 teaspoons sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions and 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds.

I’m going to try and start posting more frequently, so keep checking back! This dinner last night was awesome and was so easy!

Shrimp Pad Thai
Serves 6

8 ounces wide rice stick noodles (Banh Pho)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
3/4 cup (1-inch) sliced green onions
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Place noodles in a large bowl. Add hot water to cover; let stand 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Combine ketchup, sugar, fish sauce, and pepper in a small bowl.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove shrimp from pan; keep warm.

Heat 4 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add eggs; cook 30 seconds or until soft-scrambled, stirring constantly. Add sprouts, green onions, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add noodles, ketchup mixture, and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until heated. Sprinkle with peanuts.


Sorry I missed last week – sometimes I’m too busy to think of something good to send to everyone!

I’m super excited about this issue because it has two of my favorite desserts! The first are mini-cupcakes that my mom has been making for years. When I got my first apartment, one of my aunts gave me a hand mixer. I think I might have made these cupcakes (or banana bread) that day!

The second recipe comes from my friend Allison. She made them for a holiday party we had last year and I just loved them!


Makes About 60

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine 8 oz. cream cheese (1/3 less fat), 1 egg, 1/3 c. sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt. Stir in 1 package of chocolate chips.

In another, larger bowl, combine 1.5 cups flour, 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. cocoa, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt.

Add 1 cup of water, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, 1 tsp. white vinegar, 1 tsp. vanilla.

Beat well until it is a uniform consistency.

Fill mini-cupcake tins with liners.

Fill the liners halfway with the chocolate mixture and drop 1 tsp. of the cream cheese mixture on the top of each.

Bake for 10-11 minutes or until done.

For a festive approach, use food coloring to color the cream cheese mixture. I mixed red and yellow together last weekend to make orange filling! A great Halloween treat

Bon appetit!


OK these aren’t really eyes, but I think they look like them!

These are cute, fun snacks that take no time to make, although it is nice to have a friend there to help. 🙂

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Lay out a bunch (50?) of butter crisp pretzels on a baking sheet covered with foil. Place an unwrapped Rolo on top of each of the pretzels.

Place the baking sheet (with the pretzel/Rolo combo) in the oven for 3 minutes.

After removing the baking sheet from the oven, press one M&M into each of the Rolo’s. Let them harden for at least an hour.

What a fun treat!

Hope you enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings! Have a great day.


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings


Dips are great, fun to serve and easy to make. I was frantic last Friday night because we were having a couple over for dinner and by 6:30 p.m., I hadn’t yet decided what I was going to make nor had I gone to the grocery store!

For our appetizer, I looked up this simple recipe for spinach artichoke dip – all I had to do was mix a whole bunch of ingredients together and bake it for 30 mins. How easy is that? And do you know what was the icing on the cake was? It turned out fabulous!




2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 (13.5-ounce) package baked tortilla chips (about 16 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and next 6 ingredients (through spinach) in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve with tortilla chips and a thinly sliced baguette.

Make this dip at your next party!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings