Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curried Lentil Soup

I have been reading Bon App├ętit every month for as long as I can remember.

One of the recipes this month that caught my attention was this Curried Lentil Soup.  A HUGE pot of lentil soup to eat for lunch all week seemed like the perfect end to a cold November. 

The article about this lentil soup was written by Molly Wizenberg, the writer of Orangette.  She describes her search for a great lentil soup recipe.  She stumbled upon this soup at Picnic in Seattle.  Chef owners Anson and Jenny Klock have perfected their lentil soup recipe with trial and error.  One of Anson's techniques includes adding pureed chickpeas instead of  a stick of butter.  The chickpeas add the richness of cream or butter without all the fat.  

This soup is deliciously comforting and wonderful for leftovers. 

The curry powder was not overwhelming and the lentils stood out as the star.  I undercooked the lentils a bit, so they still had a good bite. 

If you have never liked lentil soup I think this recipe will change your mind!

Chop all your veggies before you start because this soup moves fast!

Saute your veggies with a good amount of salt and pepper.  The soup base is water, so you don't have to worry too much about adding too much salt.

 I couldn't find French Green Lentils, which the recipe called for, so I used brown lentils.  These lentils tend to overcook so be careful with your cooking time.

Saute veggies with curry powder until fragrant.  The mixture will seem quite dry.

 Chickpea puree - almost looks like hummus, right?

Add chickpea puree, butter, and additional water (if needed) to the cooked lentils.

Serve with green onions, lemon wedges, and crusty sourdough bread.

Such a yummy soup!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Green Monster

I finally gave into the Green Monster.

I follow Oh She Glows and read about the Green Monster about a month ago.  

My first reaction to this smoothie concoction did not involve mouth watering sensations.  I was not even slightly interested in making this smoothie.

However, a couple weeks later I landed upon Oh She Glow's sister site, the Green Monster Movement.  Oh She Glows started a new website because so many people had contacted her about their own Green Monster experience!  Over 200 people have posted their own version of the Green Monster.

Okay, Green Monster, you got my attention.

I decided to give this smoothie a shot.

This smoothie is a combination of almond milk, spinach, flax seeds, banana, and ice.  Sounds delicious right?

Sarcasm aside here is my smoothie testament:  Amazing!  The banana disguises the spinach into a delightful treat.  This smoothie has been part of my breakfast for the past 2 weeks!  

Check out the health benefits below:

Vegetable and Fruit servings combined into one drink to start your day off right
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Vitamins A, B, and C, E, & K
Spinach (too many health benefits to list - check them out here:  Health Benefits of Spinach)
Flax Seed (also too many health benefits - check them out here:  Flax Seed Health Benefits)

Well, I hope I have convinced you to give this smoothie a shot!  Find the recipe after the break below.

The healthy foursome...about to be demolished by my blender

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is Cranberry Sauce.  There are so many variations of Cranberry Sauce that it is hard to choose just one!  Many cranberry sauces use additions like ginger, apples, maple syrup, and more, which add additional flavor and zing to the traditional Thanksgiving side dish.  

I decided to make Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel from Epicurious with a few adjustments.  I reduced the amount of sugar so the sauce retains the tartness from the berries.  2 Cups just seemed like too much!

This Cranberry Sauce it versatile and can be paired with a lot of foods - I have a few ideas!

Turkey (I know not sooo creative)
Crostini topped with Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce
Angel Food Cake or Pound Cake topped with Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Sandwich with Cream Cheese and Cranberry Sauce
French Vanilla Ice-cream topped with warm Cranberry Sauce
Biscuits or Toast topped Butter and Cranberry Sauce
Pancakes topped with Cranberry Sauce
Scone Batter mixed with Cranberry Sauce prior to baking
Mixed into a Salad Dressing - in place of honey
Cranberry Chicken Wings
Pork Chops topped with Cranberry Sauce (in place of Apple Sauce)

oh the list goes on and on!

What do you like to eat with your leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Simple Ingredients = Amazing Cranberry Sauce

Simmer orange peel, cloves, and cinnamon to infuse the wine with the Holiday flavors!

Let your cranberries burst over the heat!  You don't have to wait till they all burst though!  Whole cranberries gives your sauce extra texture.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers and Zucchinis

Trevor and I stayed in for a date night on Friday!  I decided to make stuffed vegetables for a healthy way to start our weekend.  

 Tons of veggies and lean turkey (accompanied with a bottle of red wine) was the perfect end to our long work week:) and a great post workout meal! 

After dinner we watched a few episodes of Boardwalk Empire, a new show on HBO.  We also love True Blood and can't wait for next season!

I added tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and basted the veggies while they cooked with the sauce.  For our second helping we spooned the leftover tomato sauce on top of our stuffed veggies, which brought the whole dish together!  Next time I think I will make a tomato/basil/sour cream sauce to serve with the stuffed veggies.

Happy Monday!

 Lots of healthy veggies!

Saute for a couple of minutes 

 Add ground turkey and break up into small bites

 Once the turkey is beginning to form bit size pieces, although not fully cooked, add rice, cheese, and tomato sauce and remove from heat

Stuff your veggies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buckwheat Groats and Vegetable Salad

I am not sure about you, but I have such a hard time deciding what to eat for lunches.  I love sandwiches, however they become repetitive day after day.  

On Sundays I try to make a huge pot of something for dinner, so I can eat the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.  

I have been on a health kick lately (oh yes Green Monster, you will be in an upcoming post) and I have been interested in trying out new grains.  I perused the grocery store and landed on buckwheat groats, mainly because I have never heard of this grain before.  Who chooses a name like groats anyways?  They have a ton of fiber and protein, so I gave them a shot!

I took all the veggies in my fridge, a block of feta, and a can of garbanzo beans and away I went.  This is an extremely easy salad to make in large quantities.  I still can't say if I liked it better warm or cold.  It's like my life long debate as to whether pop tarts are better toasted or room temperature.  Well maybe not soo similar :)

Right before I served the salad I tossed it with my homemade salad dressing, which added a nice kick of flavor.  

I think this salad has convinced me to continue to try new grains!

Some of the yummy and healthy ingredients!

Before the roast...

After the roast...

My first time cooking this healthy grain!

My second bowl :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rosemary Lemon Focaccia

I have always thought of bread as being out of my league.  My family never made bread growing up and the families who did owned a bread maker.  San Francisco provides endless varieties of wonderful bread and thus I am rarely tempted to pursue the art of bread-making myself.

 Niky brought home rosemary from the grade school she student teaches at in the Tenderloin and she gave the beautiful herb to me!  The first ideas that popped into my head included pork chops, lamp, chicken, etc.   However, after poking around a bit on Epicurious I decided to make Rosemary Focaccia.  

I altered the recipe a tad by reducing the amount of flour (per the reviewers' suggestions), using fine instead of course sea salt, and infusing the olive oil with rosemary and lemon zest to enhance the flavors.  Also, I hand mixed and kneaded the bread, which was worrisome since the recipe required a standing mixer (not in my budget right now).  I should have never worried at all. 

This bread was incredibly easy and satisfying.  I have never eaten warm Focaccia straight out of the oven before and I am not sure if I can go back.  The bread was airy and light and the rosemary was not overpowering.  This is a must have recipe, especially for the Holidays, and a great crowd pleaser!

Let the yeast and the warm water sit until the water becomes creamy.

Mix the flour, water, oil, and salt together with a fork....or if you are not old school like me :) use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer.

 Knead, knead, knead!

 Wait, wait, wait...

Whoa....about to explode!

 I should have made extra infused oil for dipping!

If you think you placed too much oil on top, don't worry because the bread will soak it up while its' cooking.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kale and Roasted Tomatoes over Wild Mushroom Polenta

Some of my favorite meals include polenta.  My family grew up topping cheesy polenta with red meat sauce and parmesan.   Polenta is also great with Chicken Cacciatore or grilled and dipped in marinara.  This possibilities are endless.

This dish is quite versatile:

If you don't like kale: Use chard, spinach, or another green.
If you don't like cooked tomatoes (like my weirdo bf, Trevor):  Use caramelized red onions, roasted bell peppers, or another veggie that adds color
If you want more fat: Add more cheese to the polenta and on top 
If you want meat:  Add spicy italian sausage to the kale 
If you want to add protein (without adding meat)?  Add beans to the kale
If you don't like mushrooms:  Try adding roasted garlic or herbs or nothing but cheese to the polenta