Hearty Lentil Minestrone

I’m not sure if any of you have the same problem that I do, but seem to always wind up with bits and pieces of vegetables, pasta, grains, etc, lying around my refrigerator and pantry after I’ve used up a portion for a recipe. One of my ongoing goals is the fight against food waste… I’m better than I used to be, but I still tend to wind up with veggies that go bad, or jars with small amounts of grains in my pantry that sit there for months. Not only wasteful, but bad for my budget as well.  This soup is the perfect solution. Not only is it delicious, but it is perfect to use up some of those odds and ends! This recipe comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks Love Real Food. Written by the author of the fabulous vegetarian food blog “Cookie and Kate”, it’s one of those cookbooks that I flipped through and wanted to make all the recipes immediately. I’ve tried several so far, and have been impressed with all of them. Not only are they delicious, they are healthy as well!

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I really try hard to always make a healthy lunch to bring to work during the week, and especially in the colder months, soups are the perfect thing. They last all week, are on the healthier side, are cozy and comforting, and are one of those meals that seem to improve as the days go by. Also, seeing as Ron doesn’t like soups or stews, making them for myself for lunch during the week is the perfect way to satisfy my pretty much daily soup craving.

Hearty Lentil Minestrone

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup butternut squash, chopped (or other seasonal veggies)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
3/4 cup lentils (green or brown)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pasta (orecchiette, elbow or shell), whole wheat or regular
1 15-oz can great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped Kale, curly or lacinato (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur), ribs removed
2 teaspoons lemon juice, more to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan (omit if Vegan)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven (or soup pot), over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt, and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the veggies are softened.
  2. Add the butternut squash, garlic, oregano and thyme, and cook for a couple of minutes until you can smell the garlic and herbs, stirring often. Then add the water, vegetable broth, tomatoes with their juices, lentils, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over medium high, and once boiling, lower to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While simmering, cover partially with a lid.
  3. Uncover pot, and add the kale, pasta, and beans. Simmer for another 20 minutes until the lentils are tender, and the pasta is al dente.
  4. Turn off heat, and remove the bay leaves. Add the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan if you’d like!

Source: Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor

Notes:

This soup can be varied in so many ways to make use of what you have in your fridge/pantry. Don’t have great northern beans, use cannellini or chickpeas! Don’t have butternut squash? Use potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, etc. You could throw in some fresh tomatoes along with the canned, or corn, or peas if you want. If you don’t have kale, I bet Swiss chard or spinach would be a good substitute. Don’t have lemons? I bet a couple teaspoons of red wine vinegar would work instead. Seriously, this soup is so versatile!

 

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

Smashed Potatoes with Jalapenos

Hello friends! Long time no see! I’ve missed this space and really hope to get back to my regular posting soon!

I just had to tell you about this fabulously simple side dish which Ron told me was the best thing I’ve made recently (don’t worry- he did preface that comment with, “you make a lot of delicious things, but…)  When he says that, I know a recipe’s good. This comes from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, and was in a recipe spread inspired by Austin, TX (where we just spent a long weekend visiting Ron’s brother and wife, coincidentally). This recipe is so simple (my favorite kind), and just required a few ingredients. I foresee this becoming a staple in our household!

Smashed potatoes with Jalapenos

Smashed Potatoes with Jalapenos

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 lbs fingerlings or small potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1 jalapeno, sliced thinly into rounds (seeds removed, if desired)

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (thinly packed), chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easy cleanup). Toss potatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes, turning once. Potatoes should be done when they can be pierced easily with a fork.

2. Let potatoes cool slightly, and then gently flatten them so that they still hold together, but are slightly smashed. ( I used a fork to do this.)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, and whole grain mustard. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, until emolsified. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the potatoes, jalapenos, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: Bon Appetit, July 2014

 

 

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Hello friends! I’m sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately! I had every intention of getting some posts up this weekend, including a Super Saturday post, but unfortunately I was infected with a terrible summer cold and was down for the count most of the weekend. I totally blame my boyfriend for getting me sick!!! I’m on the mend now, not 100% but waaaaaaay better than yesterday when it hurt to even get up off the couch. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to get back to posting more often. I have to finish sharing my recipes from vacation, and some things I’ve made since I’ve been back! Also- if you look on the right side of this page I decided to add a new feature- my weekly menu! If you need some inspiration, or if you are like me and just like to see what other people are eating, now you can! I’ll link to those recipes that are available online so you can check them out if you want! I’ll also include what I’m having for lunch as well, if you need some lunchbox inspiration.

So this was a super-simple appetizer that I made on vacation, inspired by the cover of the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living. She calls for grilling the bread, which would be awesome, and also for a loaf of rustic ciabatta bread. Because I was on vacation, and was limited in what the local grocery store carried, I used smaller ciabatta breadsticks. They worked out wonderfully, but feel free to use what you have, whether it be the breadsticks, a loaf of ciabatta, or even baguette slices.

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Rainbow Tomato Crostini

Ingredients:

3 ciabatta breadsticks, halved lengthwise (or a regular ciabatta loaf if you’d like)

1-2 cloves of garlic, cut in half

Multicolored tomatoes (I used 1 large red, 1 large yellow, and a medium-sized green), thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place breadstick halves on a baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Bake about 5-10 minutes until lightly crispy.

2. When toasted, remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then rub with a garlic clove.

3. Layer on your tomatoes, arranging by color. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Carefully cut into smaller wedges, and serve.
Source: adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2013

Bean and Corn Salad

Hello all! I hope that everyone has been having a great long weekend! It was a fun one for me- especially since I went to a party on Saturday to celebrate my best friend’s 30th birthday!! It was so much fun just hanging out, eating yummy Mexican food (she had it catered by a local Mexican place), and even trying my hand at busting open a pinata! That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever done- even when I was a kid. It was totally disorienting, and I’m sure that I looked like a fool as I awkwardly stumbled around swinging a bat.

I’m still trying to get back in the swing of things, and I definitely need to get back to regular posting on the blog, and sharing yummy recipes with you! This bean and corn salad was something I threw together for one of our potluck nights on vacation. I had an idea in mind of what would be going in it, as I’ve had similar salads in the past. I debated whether or not to cook the corn, or leave it raw, and you can definitely do either. The salad is very versatile, so you can work with what you have! Don’t have scallions? Use red onion! Don’t have lime juice? Use lemon! Have red or green bell peppers you want to use up? Chop them up, and throw them in there! Want it spicier? Leave in the jalapeno seeds! Whatever floats your boat 🙂

 

Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

3 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. When hot, add corn kernels to skillet, and saute, stirring frequently, until cooked, and starting to char a bit- about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the rinsed and drained beans, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and scallions. When cooled down, add corn. Mix in lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or let sit for a little while to let flavors meld together!

Source: Original Recipe

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Oh, how I love banana bread. It’s such a comfort food. It’s one of the things my mom would bake regularly for us growing up, and she was always, and still is always trying out new banana bread recipes. There are just so many out there to try… you could probably make a new one every week for a year or a few, and still not run out, and based on the amount of bananas I have in my freezer, I might just be able to do that 🙂 I love to try new recipes as well, but my favorite banana bread will always be the simple one- unadorned with chocolate chips, or candied ginger, or seeds, or nuts. This classic banana bread recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook is just my cup of tea. I did make a couple of adjustments (leaving out the sesame seed coating, opting out of the addition of nuts and orange zest, reducing the sugar slightly, and adding a bit of espresso powder), but I stayed pretty true to the classic. The addition of coffee adds a little depth, but not overwhelming coffee flavor, and also adds to the moisture level. I love that half the flour is whole wheat (I used white whole wheat for a subtler flavor), so that I can feel a little better about eating this… that said, this is definitely a treat- I mean, look at the amount of butter! This is certainly not a health food 🙂 This does make an excellent breakfast treat every once in a while though, a great mid-day snack, and even a great dessert. I’m sure this won’t be my first and last banana bread recipe on this blog, because I have inherited my mom’s desire to try out every banana bread recipe known to man, but this is a great one that I will come back to again and again.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp espresso powder

1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 bananas)

1/2 cup strong, black coffee

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and coffee.

3.  Add the melted butter and brown sugar to a large bowl, and whisk together. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the vanilla, and whisk together. Beat until a little lightened in color.

4. In another bowl, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and espresso powder. Mix or sift together until well blended.

5. Alternate adding the banana mixture, and the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. I added about a third of each mixture at a time. Mix gently after each addition, until all is added, and the mixture is combined. Don’t mix too aggressively, or the bread will toughen.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, let rest in pan for 10 minutes, the remove from pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: barely adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

Here are some other banana bread recipes I would love to try out:

Banana Oatmeal Bread from Serious Eats

Crackly Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Jacked-Up Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping from Orangette

Banana-Coconut Bread from Orangette

 

Fresh Corn Pancakes

These are my favorite pancakes in the whole world. Decadent, buttery and bursting with the flavor of corn, they are perfect for the summer as a breakfast, or a side dish. You can serve them with maple syrup, sour cream and salsa, topped with more butter, or just plain (which is how I like them). They are definitely a treat, and I do want to find a healthier version of corn pancakes or fritters that I can eat more often, but every once in a while, you need some decadence in your life. These do use quite a few dishes, but they are quite easy to make, and other than the corn, which you’ll want to pick up fresh, the remaining ingredients are probably already in your pantry and refrigerator.

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Serves 4 (Makes about 12 pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

3-4 ears of corn (enough to measure 2 cups of kernels)

3/4 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

1. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar to a large bowl and whisk together.

2. Cut off kernels from corn, until you have 2 cups. Scrape the pulp from the corn cobs with the back of your knife, and add it to your blender. Add the milk and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels to the blender with the pulp, and blend until smooth. Strain the corn/milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a separate medium bowl. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and cooled butter to the corn/milk mixture and whisk together.

3. Add the corn/milk mixture to the bowl with the flour and add the remaining corn kernels as well. Whisk together, just until combined.

4. Heat a large heavy pan, nonstick skillet, or griddle over medium-heat until hot. Grease with oil, and cook pancakes in batches, using 1/3-cup batter per pancake. Cook about 2 minutes on first side (until bubbles appear on the surface, and the bottom is golden-brown). Flip and cook another minute on the other side. Grease between batches if needed. Serve with desired accompaniments.

Source: Gourmet Magazine, July 2009