Friday, December 17, 2010

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Soup

This is one of my favourite recipes from Elsa at Simply Recipes. Especially because kale is so healthy for you, not to mention always inexpensive, and yet challenging to find ways to incorporate it into one's diet easily (and tastily). Something with the process of cooking the greens in the squash, tomato, onion, garlic and broth base really helps to extract the bitterness from the kale. And it smells up your apartment something delicious.

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Soup
from and ever-so-slightly adapted

1/2 lb of white beans, soaked overnight
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups water

4 - 6 cloves of garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes (if there are no ripe tomatoes at the supermarket, definitely swap them for a can of whole tomatoes -- add them after roasting the vegetables, before pureeing)
1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1" pieces
3 carrots, chopped
Olive oil

4 - 6 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped into 1" pieces
1 bay leaf
2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large pot, soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse, then cook beans with water and baking soda for about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, combine garlic, onions, tomatoes (if roasting; if using canned, add before puréeing), and half the chopped squash and carrots. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet. Toss the remaining squash and carrot in a teaspoon or two of olive oil and arrange next to the other vegetables on a baking sheet. (The reason for doing this is you'll purée the onion/garlic mixture but want to reserve some carrots and squash for the soup. It saves picking out pieces with tongs later on. Been there, done that.)

Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes, checking halfway through to toss if necessary.

When vegetables have roasted, bring vegetable broth to a simmer on the stove (a good time to add canned tomatoes and their liquid, if using). Add the garlic/onion/carrot/squash mixture to the broth and simmer for a minute or two. Using a handheld immersion blender, blend the soup, or allow to cool for a minute or two and blend in a blender in small batches. Return to the pot and bring back to a simmer.

Add the kale, bay leaf and thyme, and bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid (there should not be much) and the carrot and squash. Cook for an additional few minutes and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goulash Soup

It's been a while since I've posted, but that's because a few exciting changes have happened since I blogged last. I was offered a job at an agency in Boston and moved up here last week! But now, my kitchen stuff is unpacked, I'm settled into my new job, and figuring my way around my new kitchen.

So my days of freelancing and idling around my apartment cooking up tasty treats have come to close, but now that I'm adjusting to life entirely on my own (it's the first time I've ever lived in an apartment by myself), I think there will be lots of alone time for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

Since it's been seriously cold outside (27 degrees today when I checked around 4pm), I've been wanting to christen the stove by cooking up a big pot of soup. So, I put on this Scion sampler I've had lying around for a few years (found it in the trash at my last full time job) and got to work preparing one of my favourite stand-by recipes, Hungarian Goulash soup.

I think this recipe originally came from watching a Food Network episode years and years ago where they'd visit some expert and get her family recipe. Since there are about as many versions of Goulash Soup as there are Hungarians, it should come with the disclaimer that I'm not Hungarian. In fact, I have scrawled in an old journal the goulash soup recipe told to me by our Hungarian family friend, Dodie, but I've actually never tried to prepare her version. Here's mine.

Goulash Soup

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tbsp butter
flour, for dredging beef
1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
pinch of caraway seeds
1 carrot, diced (optional, I threw this in tonight because I had some carrots on hand)
1 potato, diced
1 Italian bell pepper, diced
4 - 6 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste

Cut beef into 1" pieces and dredge lightly in flour.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, then add paprika. Cook paprika for a few minutes, adding butter, until paprika is well incorporated into onions.

Add beef, followed by caraway seeds, and brown the meat on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add carrot, potato, and bell pepper, followed by the beef stock, bay leaf and tomato paste.

Simmer for at least an hour, preferably 2, over low heat. The lower the heat and the longer you can cook, the more tender the meat.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Goat Cheese, Spinach and Apple Tart

My friend Ellie recently went apple picking somewhere along the Hudson, and since my Saturday Pilates class conflicted with the timing of the day trip, I asked for a few apples and promised a homemade baked goody in return for the fruit. Initially I was going to try my hand at something sweet, but was having visions of something combining apples and goat cheese. A little Googling later, I came across this recipe on a site from the UK that sounded pretty heavenly, although described using the metric system. So, I present to you my version of this savory treat, which is in many ways more a quiche than a tart, due to the eggs and cream. But, it's delicious, and a great warm treat for a cold November day.

Goat Cheese, Spinach and Apple Tart
makes one 10" pie


2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6 to 8 tbsp ice water

Before starting this endeavour, make sure you have a bit of time to dedicate to this process. This is a good project when you are multi-tasking other chores around the house, and certainly make dough well ahead of time since it needs at least an hour after combined to hang out in the fridge getting nice and cold.

First, dice the butter into a bowl or tupperware container and stick into the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes, up to an hour. (A minimum of 15 minutes is fine though.) Then in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Get the ice water ready; a few ice cubes in a bowl of cold tap water is good. Now, add the ice pieces to the flour mixture and using a dough cutter, begin to incorporate the butter into the flour. You should work fairly fast, as the key to success here is allowing the butter to stay as cold as possible.

When you've made small pea-sized pieces of buttery dough, still large enough to see the butter, but fairly well incorporated with the flour, begin to add the water, one tablespoon at a time. I used about 7 tablespoons, maybe 8, to make the most recent dough. (And if you're not making a savory tart, omit the nutmeg.)

Combine the dough into two large balls and flatten into a disc about 4 - 5 inches in diameter. Cover in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight.

This makes enough dough for two tarts, or one pie with a crust on top. So now you can make another tart or pie later on! Just keep the second one in the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge a few days before you're going to use it.


1 tsp olive oil
1 lb spinach, thoroughly washed and stems discarded
1 clove garlic
1 dash red pepper flakes
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into thin slices
3 eggs
4 - 6 oz. goat cheese
150 ml (about 2/3 cup) cream (I used light cream, you could use heavy cream)
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh marjoram (I used 1 tsp dried)
4 spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper

If your dough has been in the fridge for more a night, allow it to come to room temperature, about an hour. You only need half of the aforementioned dough recipe to make the crust for this tart. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

On a floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle, about 12" in diameter. Put in a 10" pie pan, cover with parchment paper and 1 lb of beans, and bake for 15 minutes. After cooking, remove parchment and beans and allow to cool for a bit (which will happen as you prepare the rest of the filling).

Once the crust gets into the oven, you can get started on the filling, washing and preparing the spinach for cooking, if you haven't already.

In a medium-sized pan, gently heat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic, as well as a few red pepper flakes. Add the spinach and wilt, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, and drain in a sieve. Once spinach has cooled a bit, you'll want to press the spinach through the sieve to remove as much excess water as possible.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 eggs. Crumble in the goat cheese, then add the cream and whisk together. Add the parsley and marjoram.

The crust should be well cooled at this point, so now's a good time to peel and core the apples, slicing them into thin slices and placing on the bottom of the crust (should be about 2 layers of thinly sliced apples).

When the spinach has cooled a fair amount, use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid before adding to the cream and egg mixture.

Add the spring onions to the spinach-cream-egg mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture over the apples into the crust.

Bake in an oven heated to 350 F for 15 minutes.

Makes one 10" pie, 8 small slices or 6 larger slices.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turkey Chili with Zucchini and Bell Pepper

I read Real Housewives star Bethenney Frankel's Naturally Thin over the weekend and came across this recipe for a turkey chili which I thought sounded really good. I make an amazing chili in the winter using my mom's ground pork-and-beef tried-and-true recipe, which is hearty and delicious and full of flavor, albeit high in fat and calories. I tried to make a turkey chili a few years ago using a recipe from Shape, but it came out rather bland and unappetizing (waaaaaay too many vegetables for my liking). So I thought I'd give this a go.

I made a lot of changes to this recipe since the ingredients listed in her book made one serving (who wants to go to the trouble to make one serving of anything, besides maybe a sandwich?), and added some of the spices and herbs that go in my mom's recipe. So, here is my variation on hers!

Turkey Chili with Zucchini and Bell Pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 lb ground turkey breast (what I got with the supermarket came with a bit more than a pound, so I used all of it)
28 oz. puréed canned tomato sauce
1 zucchini, diced
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Bring oil to medium heat in a large soup pot. Sautée onion and garlic until onion is translucent, then add celery and carrot. Cook for another minute or so, then add chli powder and cumin. Cook for about a minute to bring out the flavor of the chili powder and cumin, then add 1 red bell pepper, diced, followed by the ground turkey breast, breaking up the pieces of turkey as you go. Allow the turkey to cook for a bit, browning, then add the tomato purée.

Bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes and add the diced zucchini. Cook for about 20 minutes, add the pinto beans, allspice and oregano, and cook for at least 20 minutes, longer if you have the time. This is almost as delicious as my mom's super fatty traditional chili!

Spinach, Tomato and Chickpea Stew

I made this the other week to have on hand for lunch and dinner, and I think it's one of my healthiest, cheapest and easiest recipes to prepare. I originally found the recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from a friend, and I can't remember the name of the book! So please, don't sue me. I add chicken to this to bulk it up, and it makes about 3 servings, possibly 4 if you're eating a salad along with it or another side. I like to top if with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese if I have it on hand. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it at any time of the year, substituting fresh or frozen ingredients depending on the time of year (baby spinach and cherry tomatoes instead of frozen chopped spinach and canned tomatoes, for example). Which means that if you keep the frozen ingredients on hand, this is a quick and easy dish to prepare when you've got nothing else in the house.

Spinach, Tomato and Chickpea Stew

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion or 1/2 white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 2 tsp sweet paprika
pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach or 4 cups baby spinach
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, cored and diced, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
sherry or wine wine vinegar to taste

Cook the chicken thighs, about 20 minutes, either on the stove or in the oven. Remove from heat and cool.

In a pot, heat oil to medium and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, then add paprika, cayenne and coriander. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and add chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. While chickpeas are cooking, remove chicken from bone and shred. Add to the stew and simmer for an additional 5 - 10 minutes. Add a bit of sherry or white wine vinegar (just a dash or two) and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Minestrone Soup

I may not have created a truly perfect Minestrone, but this recipe I'm slurping down on a cool fall day has come pretty darn close.

It's based off a recipe from Simply Recipes, one of my favourite food sites out there, in terms of sheer simplicity and wholesome dishes. But I played with a couple of things, in part because I couldn't be bothered to track down the salted pork it calls for (plus I find sometime too much pork in a soup dish to be rather unappetizing). The only thing I might do differently in the future is to use a bit more white beans; I personally am a big bean lover and would like to have even more floating around in the soup. But that small point aside, this soup is hearty and bold, with just a hint of smokiness coming from the bacon used in the onion-celery-carrot base. Delicious, and yields so many servings, I have lunches for at least 5 days and 2 servings tucked away in the freezer.

Minestrone Soup
(makes about 8 servings)

1 1/4 cup Great Northern beans, soaked over night and rinsed (about 1/2 lb, could use even more if you love beans like I do)
6 cups water or chicken or beef stock (I used 2 cups water and 2 packets of Herb's Ox beef broth seasoning)
1 bay leaf

2 strips bacon, diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 head of Savoy cabbage, cored and cut into thin strips (about 1/4" thick and 1" long)
1 15 oz. can Italian whole tomatoes, chopped
1 potato, diced
1 zucchini, diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 rind from a block of Parmesan cheese (about 2" long and 1" thick)
Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

In a large saucepan or stock pot, combine beans, water or stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.

In a separate stock pot, render bacon over low heat. Add diced onion and cook until translucent. Add celery, carrot, cabbage, tomatoes (and juice), potato and zucchini. (I add these as I'm finished chopping each one in sequence, allowing each to cook a little before adding the next ingredient, putting the lid on to allow the cabbage in particular to begin steaming.)

Add 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetable) and cook about 20 minutes. If you have a chunk of Parmesan cheese on hand, chop off the hard rind and drop it into the broth. It helps the soup to thicken and adds wonderful flavor, plus is a great way to use a typically unused piece of the cheese!

Towards the end of the 20 minutes, transfer about half the beans and liquid into a blender and purée (do this in small batches as hot liquid in a blender expands and can cause quite a hot mess). Add the puréed bean mixture into the soup, along with the remaining unblended beans and liquid. Simmer for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, adding any additional herbs you like (the original Simply Recipes recipe calls for parsley, which I omitted because I didn't have any on hand).

Serve with Parmesan cheese. I had some Italian sausage in the freezer that needed to get used up, so to the unfrozen servings, I cooked the sausages, blotted them with paper towels to get rid of some of the excess grease, and added them to the soup as well for a little additional sustenance.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lemony Lentil and Spinach Soup

This is one of my old standby recipes, something I like to make when the weather is just starting to get cold, but also when I feel like going very healthy and very cheap. I first started making this recipe in Spain -- before leaving to go to the English teaching program in Barcelona, I tore a bunch of recipes out of some issues of Shape magazine I'd purchased during the previous year, and set to work trying out a variety of healthy dishes. Which, looking back on it, was kind of an accomplishment, since a lot of the ingredients were hard to find in Spanish supermarkets. But not this recipe. Lentils are a Spanish staple, and frozen spinach and lemons were not hard to come by. As the years have gone by, I've added some chicken meat to the dish to make it a bit heartier; Shape's original recipe called for pairing the soup with a poached egg, but it's a lot of work to go through that every time you want to eat a lunch. I've brought this in for a work lunch countless times, and as it's on the lighter side of food, have often paired it with a 1/2 cup of lowfat cottage cheese and piece of fruit to help make it a little more substantial. Did I mention it is a breeze to make and pretty easy to clean up? Here you go. Cheap, healthy as can be, easy, and no mess. Every cook's dream.

Lemony Lentil and Spinach Soup (with chicken)

1 tsp butter or olive oil
2 small carrots, diced
1 - 2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb lentils (half a bag, usually)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
3 cups cold water

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
12 oz frozen spinach
1 - 2 lemons, juiced (to taste)

4 chicken thighs, cooked and meat removed and diced

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or olive oil, then add carrots, celery, onion and garlic, and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add lentils and 3 cups of cold water, plus salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. When it's boiling, reduce heat for a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. (I usually cook the chicken thigh, skin removed, during the same time, first in a tsp of olive oil on the stove to gently brown, then in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.)

After 25 minutes, remove bay leaf, and pour contents of saucepan into a large soup pot. (If you're preparing the chicken, it should be done by now. I'd remove the pieces from the pan to allow them to start cooling so they can be added to the soup later.) Add the chicken stock, and turn on low heat.

As soup combines and warms, thaw spinach. (I don't have a microwave, so I tend to do this using hot water in the sink.) You don't have to totally thaw it, but you do want to get it a little less frozen solid so that you can squeeze the excess water out before adding it to the soup. Add the frozen spinach to the soup and combine, bringing soup to a simmer.

Prepare chicken meat and add to soup, followed by the lemon juice. The soup at this point really does not need to cook for much longer, just long enough to combine the flavors and heat through.

Nutritional info (for 4 servings): 383 calories, 8g fat, 2g saturated, 44g carbs, 36g protein, 18g fiber

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kasha With Vegetables

I wish I could sing from the rooftops about how much I love kasha. I was first exposed to it at a restaurant in the old Jewish section of a small Czech town that I visited when I was interning at an agency in Prague. All warm and rich and mildly nutty, I think it's a sadly overlooked grain that is equal parts delicious and healthy. So here is the world's easiest recipe, taken straight off the box, and slightly refashioned with exact ingredient proportions. If there are other suggestions for delicious things that can be done with kasha, I would love to know. While I enjoyed a serving of this yesterday with a chicken thigh, I feel like it could be a great side salad at a party for a couscous-type salad during the colder months.

Kasha with Vegetables
serves 4 (or 6, as a side dish)

1 cup kasha
1 egg
2 tbsp butter
2 cups water or chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic
2 carrot sticks, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
15 button mushrooms (although I'm sure crimini would taste splendid here), sliced
1/2 bell pepper (red would be prettier, but green was on sale), diced
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley

(I followed the package's instructions slightly incorrectly but everything turned out fine.)
In a saucepan, heat water, butter, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Lightly beat egg in a bowl. Add kasha and stir to coat kernels.

In a medium-sized skillet or saucepan, add egg-coated kasha. Cook over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until the egg has dried on kasha and the kernels separate.

Quickly stir into the boiling liquid. Cover tightly and simmer 7 to 10 minutes, until kasha kernels are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in the medium-sized skillet, gently heat oil (I actually used about a tablespoon of the juice and oil that was leftover from cooking 4 skinless chicken thighs in a half tablespoon of olive oil) and add the garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add bell pepper and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the cooked kasha and stir. Heat through, and add the fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional info (for 4 servings, including about a 1/4 tbsp of olive oil that was in the juices added to the vegetables): 229 calories, 9g fat, 8g protein, 6g fiber

Monday, September 20, 2010

Turkey Sausage with Kale and Cannellini Beans

I'm always on the lookout for recipes with kale. Let me clarify -- good recipes with kale. I know it's one of those "power vegetables" you hear hyped, but I've had it in soups and sautéed and found it pretty miserable. (I found a fantastic kale and roasted veggie soup on Simply Recipes that I love, but there's just not quite enough chill in the air to justify turning on the oven for too long right now.) In an issue of Prevention last year (I had a random subscription to Prevention -- long story) they had a great article on how to deal with greens, and the most illuminating pieces of information were to fully remove the tough, bitter stalks as well as to really simmer for quite some time to help break down the leaf's bitterness. So, I modified Fitness's instructions to only let the kale steam for a few minutes; I think kale needs closer to 20 in a covered pot on low heat, and the additions of tomatos also helps to counteract the naturally bitter taste of the green. This recipe will make 3 good-sized servings, which would be great on top of brown rice or tossed up with a little whole wheat pasta and some parmesan.

Turkey Sausage with Kale and Cannellini Beans
(adapted from Fitness)
serves 3

2 chicken or turkey sausages (I used Al Fresco's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, $5.99 for a package of 4, and froze the other 2)
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, stems removed and cut into 1" thick strips
2 tomatoes, diced
1 15 oz. canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbsp fresh)
salt and pepper

Brown sausage over low heat in a large nonstick pan, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add 2 tsp olive oil to the pan and allow it to gently cook for 1 minute. Add the kale and gently toss in the oil, then add 1 tbsp water and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and toss. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the beans and toss. Add the balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Continue to simmer uncovered for a minute or two to bring the flavors together.

Serve on brown rice, or mix with whole wheat pasta, a teaspoon of olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Nutritional information: 356 calories, 10g fat, 42g carbs, 27g protein, 10g fiber

Southwestern Orzo Salad

This is the salad I've been eating for the past few days -- it's kind of a variation on a lot of other salads I put together, as it combines lots of flavours I like, plus has plenty of protein and fiber. I had orzo on hand, not to mention lots of the other ingredients (half a pint of cherry tomatoes, for example, from the roasted beets salad earlier in the week), so when I came across it in Fitness, I decided to give it a shot.

Southwestern Orzo Salad
(adapted from FItness)
makes 4 servings

1 cup orzo
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cucumber, seeds removed and diced
1 green or red bell pepper (I used green because they're always a lot cheaper)
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 lime
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
chili powder
red pepper flakes

Cook orzo according to package directions, but err on slightly less time than the package calls for.

In a mixing bowl, combine halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, diced bell pepper, corn, black beans, feta cheese, cilantro, and lime juice. Add cooked orzo (allow to cool for at least 5, but don't cool with tap water. I think one thing that makes this recipe nice is that the warm orzo helps extract the flavors from the fresh ingredients, allowing the cilantro to slightly wilt and the cheese to soften and incorporate slightly into the dressing) and combine.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard in a separate container. Pour over salad mixture and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste, then a dash of cumin, coriander, chili powder and red pepper flakes, and toss again. This makes 4 big servings, which I ate with a slice of sourdough bread topped with cream cheese and some smoked salmon I received as a gift -- not a normal pairing (and not one I would really recommend) but since this is not crazy calorie-wise, you could certainly eat a small bit of chicken breast or other pairing if you wanted more food intake at a meal.

Nutritional information: 310 calories, 9.1g fat (4.7g saturated), 44g carbohydrates, 15g protein, 9g fiber.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lunch: Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

In keeping with my newfound desire to add some new recipes to my repertoire, I came across this salad recipe in the July 2010 issue of Self and decided to give it a try. I am a huge fan of beets, although I don't eat them very often, but after a delicious meal my friend Maya prepared when I was visiting Minneapolis a few weeks back that included a beet and Swiss Chard stir fry and a raisin-infused quinoa, I vowed I would do something again with the mighty beet before the month of September was up.

So here I am, in my kitchen, with beets roasting in the oven and some chicken thighs simmering on the stove. As I was preparing the beets for their roasting, I couldn't bear to part with the beautiful greens and quickly Googled to see if they're edible (they are) and what I could do with them. I found a recipe on one of my favourite sites, Simply Recipes, and decided to give a whirl. I bought 4 chicken thighs yesterday for $1.93 and thought I'd omit the bacon fat from the recipe and just use a leftover teaspoon or so to prepare the beet recipe. The chicken is simmering -- bone in, fat off -- in a half tablespoon of olive oil, prepared using juice from half a lemon, some Mrs. Dash's seasoning, a bit of salt and pepper, and a bit of ground thyme.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
(adapted from Self magazine, July 2010)

16 oz (about 4) medium golden and/or red beets (I opted for red)
2 cups arugula (I have red leaf lettuce on hand, so that's what I'll be using)
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (I have cherry tomatoes on hand)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly shaved
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

The dressing called for in the recipe calls for grapeseed oil, which I don't have, plus sherry vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and dark sesame oil. I made a dressing with 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and a 1 tsp honey, and used about 2 tsp on the portion of the salad I made. (I created a 'base' of tomato, fennel and beets, which I divided into 4 portions, 3 of which are now in the fridge, which I'll combine with the cheese, lettuce and dressing when I eat it next.)

Beet Greens
(adapted from Simply Recipes's Beet Greens recipe)

1/2 pound beet greens (I used the tops from a bunch of beets, it was probably a little less than 1/2 pound)
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup of water
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
1 - 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. I used a small amount of the fat remaining from cooking the chicken in olive oil. Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar, and serve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday: Dinner

Tonight for dinner I made a new recipe from the September issue of Fitness magazine: Peanutty Thai Noodles with Sugar Snap Peas. I've been feeling like I need to introduce some new recipes and foods into my diet, and this seemed like an easy way to experiment with rice noodles. And it was! Preparation was super fast, the only changes I made to the recipe were to half the ingredients since the package of rice noodles I bought was 6 oz instead of the 12 oz called for. In the future, I'd probably stick to just make 6 oz as it yielded a huge amount of food, enough for dinner tonight, plus two more servings for future meals. And it's hearty: the chicken broth, peanut butter and soy sauce mixture cooks down and the just-cooked rice noodles absorb the nutty tang so that it feels quite rich and savory, with the cilantro and lime juice adding a wonderfully bright contrast. I ate a third of what I prepared and am stuffed. I also had half a zucchini I needed to use up, so I sauteed that in a teaspoon of olive oil along with half a tomato I had and a clove of garlic, plus a dash of oregano.

Peanutty Thai Noodles
(adapted from Fitness magazine)

6 oz thin rice noodles
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I only had Herb's Ox chicken broth on hand so I definitely did NOT have a low-sodium version of this meal)
2 tablespoons peanut butter, chunky or creamy (I used the creamy version of my favourite brand, New York'sPeanut Butter & Company)
1.5 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 lime

Soak the rice noodles in hot water for 10 minutes; drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together chicken broth, peanut butter and soy sauce and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add the sugar snap peas and simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for an additional 3 to 5 mintues until the peas are tender and the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

400 calories, 10g fat, 22g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 14g protein

Chicken Salad with Egg, Avocado & Tomato

This is a family favorite that my mom makes. If I ever get a new digital camera (my latest one was destroyed at a wedding in Calistoga when someone knocked over a candle, spilling wax all over the lens... ugh!), I'll put up a pic of the pretty way my mom puts together the plate with a serving of chicken salad served on top of red leaf lettuce with alternating wedges of tomato, avocado and hard-boiled egg around the edges.

Chicken Salad (2 servings)

2 cooked chicken breasts (I prepared mine with 1 tsp of olive oil, some Mrs Dash's seasoning, fresh parsley and lemon juice)
1 celery stalk
1/2 red onion
1 tbsp chopped capers
1 - 2 tbsp lowfat mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Dice the chicken, celery, red onion and capers and mix together with the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Serve on top of red lettuce with alternating wedges of tomato, hard-boiled egg, and avocado (in 1 serving, 1/2 a tomato, 1 egg and 1/4 avocado). Drizzle with red wine vinegar vinaigrette (2 tsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 clove garlic, salt and white pepper).