Monday, October 31, 2011

Greens and Beans

Well... It's safe to say I'm officially sick.
It all started with a sore throat.
I pumped my body full of echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, goldenseal and some crazy mushroom extract. I drank fresh vegetable juice and sipped on tea.. and drank my weight in water.
I peed alot.

Apparently my immune system is on vacation because I now feel like I've been hit by a truck..  Runny nose, chest congestion, sinus pain and all that other nonsense that comes with having a cold.

When I'm sick I crave hot ginger tea with honey, carbonated water with lemon, epsom salt baths, blankets, and simple comfort food.

Greens and beans is my go to meal when I'm feeling sick or in need of a nutritional boost.

It's got all the good stuff: kale, onions, garlic (LOTS of garlic), cannelini beans, crushed red pepper, and a rich vegetable broth. Although I try to avoid dairy when I have a cold, a nice dusting of grated pecorino makes it all the better!

Greens and Beans (serves two)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 large bunch of kale, stem removed, rough chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 T. finely chopped garlic
1 15 oz. can cannelini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
4 c. vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated pecorino romano (optional, but delicious)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion along with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook 3-4 minutes until onion becomes translucent.  Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and beans and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in the kale and broth, cover and cook until kale is tender, about five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve piping hot with a dusting of pecorino romano and a drizzle of olive oil to seal the deal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

French Lentil Soup with Kabocha Squash and Fennel

Normally I'm a butternut girl.

Butternut soup. Coconut butternut curry. Butternut risotto. Butternut pizza.

I love me some versatility.

Fortunately, there are so many varieties of squash available this time of year.. buttercup, delicata, carnival and hubbard.. just to name a few.

This time around I snatched up a kabocha squash and scoured the internet for a recipe.

Kabocha is the generic japanese word for squash, but refers most commonly to the squash of the buttercup type.  The exterior is bluish green and the flesh is deep yellow.  It has a rich, sweet flavor and is often dry and flaky when cooked.

I had been craving a lentil soup for awhile and was psyched to come across this recipe from Heidi at 101 cookbooks.  I picked up some fennel, leeks and ginger and got to work.

French lentil soup with kabocha squash and fennel (serves 4)

1 1/2  lb. kabocha squash
1/2 c. water
1 T olive oil
1 c. french lentils
5 coins ginger, 1/8" thick
1 whole star anise
6 c. water
1 t. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1 leek, sliced
1 fennel bulb, medium dice
2 c. collard greens, thinly sliced into ribbons.  (kale or chard would work well too)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the top third of the oven.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.
Oil and salt the squash and roast cut side down (in a rimmed baking pan) with the 1/2 cup / 120 ml of water poured into the pan. Roast until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. When cool enough, scoop out cooked squash and set aside.
In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, ginger, star anise and water. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
In a large stockpot combine the olive oil, onion, leeks, fennel and additional salt. Cook covered over low heat until vegetables soften, about 7 - 10 minutes.
Remove the star anise and ginger coins from the lentil sauce pan, then add the lentils, lentil broth and squash to the vegetables in the stock pot. Stir well and cook for another 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to blend. Add collard greens during the last five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning here with more salt if needed.

I topped these with some homemade garlicky croutons, per Heidi's suggestion. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

gingerbread cookies

I totally realize that gingerbread men are usually a treat eaten around the holidays, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I'm not into the whole Halloween dessert thing, like homemade candycorn or making cookies that look like bloodshot eyeballs or witches fingers.  That just doesn't work for me.

Chewy cookies tasting of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and molasses. That's what works for me.  A semi-healthy treat made with whole wheat flour that is totally vegan.  That works for me too.

Nine times out of ten I have all of the ingredients for this recipe kicking around the house, which is perfect for those times that I want crave something sweet but don't have the energy to make something more elaborate. 

Switch up the cookie cutters if you're not ready to see gingerbread men dancing around your kitchen.  You could do gingerbread circles or stars or whatever. But what fun is that?? 

Really, it's my only cookie cutter so I just roll with it.

This is a pretty basic cookie recipe.

Combine the "dry" ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder.)
Whisk together the oil and the sugar.
Add molasses and milk to the sugar/oil mixture, and whisk until combined.

Roll out the dough

Cut out cookies and place em on an oiled sheetpan to bake.

Gingerbread men orgy!
I used this recipe from the post punk kitchen, but made a couple of changes..

Gingerbread Cookies

1/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup almond milk
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
In a large bowl beat together oil and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add molasses and almond milk. The molasses and almond milk won't really blend with the oil but that's ok.
In a seperate bowl, sift together all the other ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches. Mix together with a firm spoon or spatula until well combined. You should have a pretty stiff dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or up to 3 days in advance. (If you chill longer than an hour you may want to let it sit for 10 minutes to loosen up a bit before proceeding).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease your cookie sheets.
On a floured surface roll you dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. You can do this in 2 batches if you don't have the space. Cut out your shapes with your cookie cutters and gently place on cookie sheets (if you are using them to decorate with remember to cut a hole with a straw or something before baking). Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Multigrain Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

I really need to start eating pancakes more often.

Especially when they are chocked full of the good stuff.  Local eggs, organic yogurt, local apples, and a blend of whole wheat and barley flour to give them some personality. 

Top them with pats of unsalted butter and a generous pour of real maple syrup.

Make a strong pot of coffee or tea. Or better yet, make some mulled hot cider. Maybe throw in a shot of whiskey. I won't tell anyone.

Share these with someone you love.  Or eat them all yourself (not in one sitting, although according to my husband it can be done).

Adapted from this recipe from smitten kitchen.  I swapped out the lemon and blueberries for apples and cinnamon.  This is my new go-to pancake recipe, so next time I may try replacing some of the whole wheat flour with another alternative flour, like millet or quinoa flour just to switch it up a bit.

Multigrain Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (makes 10- 4" pancakes) 

2 eggs
1 c. whole milk yogurt
2 T. almond milk (cows milk or any other alternative milk will work)
3 T. butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. unbleached wheat flour
1/4 c. barley flour
2 T. organic sugar
1 T. + 1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 apple, peeled and diced (about 1 c.)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Heat half the butter in a small pan over medium heat. When it has melted, add it to the other half of the butter and stir until melted.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt.  Add the butter, vanilla and milk.  Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Pour the dry mixture into the wet and stir just to combine.
Heat a cast iron skillet or non stick pan over medium low heat.  Swirl a little butter around the pan and ladle a scant 1/4 c. batter at a time, leaving a bit of room between each pancake.  Flatten the pancakes out a bit with the back of a spoon and scatter some apple pieces on top of each one. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side, or until bubbles form on top and the pancakes become dry along the edges. Flip and then cook for an additional 3 minutes on the other side.  Transfer pancakes to a sheetpan and place in the oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with butter and maple syrup or whatever works for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pizza with Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage

Another unconventional pizza.

No sauce. No mozzarella.

Not that there is anything wrong with that...

I just like to pimp up my pizzas with fresh seasonal ingredients.... shaved asparagus pizza in the spring and toppings like corn and zucchini at the peak of summer.  With the copious amounts of butternut squash kicking around the house (I swear I ate it at six different meals the past week) and a fierce craving for pizza.. this little gem was born.

This can come together really quickly if you have some pre roasted butternut squash on hand.  I like to roast a bunch up and use it to make a quick salad or pasta dish... or give it to my dogs for a little snackaroo. 
If you don't have any on hand, you just need to peel it, cube it, toss it with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it for 25 minutes or so at 425 degrees.  The most labor intensive part is the peeling and chopping, but with a good peeler and a sharp knife you should have no problem.

Now... onto the caramelized onions.. They take a little bit of time, but most of it is hands off (with the exception of an occasional stir).  They cook down like crazy so I use alot more than I think i will need. Three cups of sliced onions will yield roughly 1/2 -3/4 c. of caramelized onions.  With this pizza, the more onions, the better!

For the cheese I used nettle meadow farms fromage blanc.  It's very neutral flavored, almost like a chevre but not as creamy.. but not in a bad way.  They are a little pricy, but I like to buy their cheeses because they are local and freaking delicious.

Pizza with butternut squash, caramelized onions and fried sage (makes 2- 10" pizzas)

1 batch of thin crust pizza
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 c. sliced onion
2 c. fresh spinach
3-4 oz. fromage blanc, chevre (goat cheese) or feta
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano or parmesan
8 sprigs of fresh sage
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Place peeled, chopped butternut squash on a sheetpan and drizzle with 2-3 T. olive oil, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
Roast for 20-25 minutes until fork tender.
Meanwhile, heat 1-2 T. olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat.  Add your onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir onions every five minutes or so.  If they begin to stick you can add a splash of water and continue to stir.  Cook the onions for 20-25 minutes until they turn a medium shade of brown.  Set aside.
To fry the sage, heat 1/2 T. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the sage and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

To prepare the pizza, roll out the crust. Drizzle 1/2 T. olive oil on the crust and spread out with your fingers. Add the spinach, followed by the onions, butternut squash, and fromage blanc. Bake according to the thin crust recipe above, or until the crust is browned. Crumble the sage and scatter it over the pizza along with a dusting of pecorino romano and salt and pepper, to taste

...up close and personal...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Millet Muffins

I like to call 'em birdseed muffins..

Millet is a delicious grain that, in my opinion, is under appreciated.  It's a whole grain, chocked full of fiber and magnesium and is gluten free.
You can cook it up as a breakfast porridge and top it with fruit (fresh or dried), nuts or seeds and your favorite milk and/or sweetner, much like you would with oatmeal.  It can be used as substitute for rice or ground to a flour to be used in baked goods. I like to throw some whole uncooked millet into my breads and muffins for a little crunch and texture.

I've been trying to add more alternative grains to my diet... like quinoa, amaranth and farro, so I bought a crapload of millet and searched the internet for something fun and healthy to make.

I came up with these muffins from Heidi Swansons recipe sampler over at 101 cookbooks.

Yeah, the recipe calls for a stick of butter...but they also have yogurt, honey and whole wheat pastry flour.  Much, much healther than a muffin made with white flour, sugar and vegetable oil.

When you tell your friends you are eating a millet muffin, they will think you are super healthy and awesome.

Millet Muffins (makes 1 dozen muffins)

2 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 c. millet
1 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt because it's delicious)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. barely melted butter
1/2 c. honey
grated zest and juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. In a large bowl combine the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, honey and lemon juice/zest. Add the wet to the dry and mix until everything comes together (don't overmix). Add 1/4 c. of batter to each muffin tin.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cracks just begin to form. Let cool for five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Butternut and root vegetable soup

It may look like baby food.

It's not.

It's soup.

Soups are one of my favorite fall/winter time dishes.  Throw a bunch of vegetables/ beans in a pot. Add some stock. Cook it while you snuggle on the couch, drink wine and facebook stalk people from your past.

In no time you'll have a bowl of piping hot deliciousness. 

This soups has fall written all over it.  Look closely.

Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips... some stock and a little onion and thyme.

The great thing about soups is that they can be made with whatever you have lying around the house.  I just happened to have all of these vegetables on hand. Don't like parnips, leave 'em out. No broccoli, so what.. I just added it to bump up the nutritional content.

Butternut and root vegetable soup (serves 2-3)

2 c. butternut squash
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large parsnip
1 medium potato
3 medium carrots
1 small onion, diced
1 c. broccoli floretts
vegetable stock (or broth)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. dried thyme, or more to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel the carrots, potato, sweet potato, parsnip and butternut squash and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and sautee 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the carrots, sweet potato, potato, parnip, and butternut squash, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add enough vegetable stock to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes). Add the broccoli, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.  Scoop vegetables, along with a little bit of the cooking broth into a blender and blend until creamy, adding additional broth if the soup seems to thick.  Pour into a separate soup pot, and repeat with the remaining vegetables. You may not use all of the broth, depending on how thick you like your soup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and reheat if necessary.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roasted Roots

Yup. Fall is officially here.  When squash, apples and brussel sprouts push out the corn, zucchini and peaches I know it's time. 

I'm breaking out the red wine, drinking cider and eating apples like they are going out of style, and trading in light summer dishes for more hearty comfort foody delights. 

Root vegetables are in abundance right now... potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabeggas, along with squash and pumpkins.

Not only are they nutrient dense, but they are cheap, filling and they can kick around the house without dying or rotting in a couple days which is nice with my erratic schedule. 

You can mash 'em, make soup, throw 'em in a salad, or roast 'em up (my preparation of choice).

Roasting concentrates the sugars and makes them taste like candy.

Not really candy. But, they taste dee-licious.

Roasted Roots (serves 6 as a side, 3 as a main)

2 medium carrots
1 large parnip
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 medium yukon gold potato
1 medium turnip
1 medium rutabegga
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. fresh chopped rosemary and/or thyme
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425.
Peel all your vegetables and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (try to make them all around the same size so they cook evenly). Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with rosemary and/ or thyme. Season with salt and pepper.. I would go with 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. black pepper to start (you can always add more later when the roots are fully cooked). Spread onto a sheetpan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender and lightly browned. 

* you can use any type of root vegetable you like... beets (golden or red) or butternut squash are also super tasty.

* this is great as a side dish. I decided to make it the star of the show and served it with some roasted brussel sprouts and quinoa 'cause that's how I do.