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Soup

Now that the wonderful burst of Spring that the Midwest saw last week is over, let’s talk soup. Broccoli soup that is.

I have to admit that upon reading this recipe I didn’t think “Man, I need to go out and buy some broccoli to try this soup.” I mean who gets excited about pureed broccoli soup anyway?

My thought process was more like, “I have leeks and thyme that I need to use. What can I make?”

Fortunately, it did not disappoint, especially with a fresh loaf of crusty French bread.

Adapted from Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter (I used yogurt butter.)
  • 3 cups chopped leeks (white and pale parts only, about 3 leeks)
  • 6 tsp chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1.5 lbs broccoli crowns, chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

  • Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add leeks and 4 tsp thyme, then sauté until the leeks are almost soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Transfer 1/2 cup leeks to small bowl; reserve.
  • Add broccoli and 4 cups broth to pot; bring to boil.
  • Cover; boil until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Puree soup in blender until smooth.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with chopped thyme and reserved leeks.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 110, Fat ~ 2 g, Carbohydrates ~ 19 g, Protein ~ 7 g

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Last fall I was lucky enough to get a free year subscription of Bon Apetit. I am always looking at cooking magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, but I try not to buy them unless I see a really compelling recipe because I know that once I get them home it is quite unlikely that I will actually read them.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to read. I especially like magazines because they are low commitment. You know, unlike the two books that I have had in progress since last winter. But we have such a backlog of magazine reading to do that even these short reads seemed like a daunting task.

Finally, I broke down and decided to start whittling down the pile. On our way to the ski slopes last weekend, I decided to go through all of our cooking magazines and…

…wait for it…

 …menu plan.

Crazy concept around here. First up: Black Bean and Butternut Chili.

Adapted from Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves elephant garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2-14.5 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 lb. black beans, dry
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced (Optional, these are pretty spicy!)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • Sour cream and cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Lightly spray a heavy pot with olive oil spray, then cook onions over a medium-high heat until they begin to lightly brown.
  • Add garlic and cook for about one more minute.
  • Stir in chili powder and coriander and continue to cook for one more minute.
  • Add tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, oregano, and 10 cups of water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about two hours or until beans have softened.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add butternut squash. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Serve with typical chili toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, and cornbread (or better yet yeast-rised cornbread).

 Servings ~ 15 -1 cup servings
Calories ~ 162, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 30 g, Protein ~ 8 g

Let’s talk about the real reason that I did not cook anything last week.

Settle down, it is not that exciting. Two very minor setbacks collided causing kitchen use to grind to a complete halt.

Problem #1: See all that clutter on my counter?

It could have easily been piled up in one corner of the counter, but what you are looking at are carefully stacked, organized piles of “to do”. Combining the piles was not an option.

That doesn’t look organized to you?

Those piles have clear visual signals to my eyes: “to read”, “to file”, “to pay”, “to mail”, and “to keep for long enough on the counter that you eventually feel absolved of all responsibility to do any of the former”.

I think that last item should be relabeled “to trash”, but let’s not worry too much about semantics.

Problem #2: Way too many masks on the counter.

Chris has a mask problem We have a mask collection, so naturally while we were on vacation, we collected a few new treasures to compliment the 18 fine specimens that are already hanging on our walls.

Hold it! You have 18 masks hanging on your walls?

That’s right folks. They decidedly take up more wall real estate than anything else we own. Thankfully only 9 of them are visible from the living room. It would terrify most small children.

Anyway, these two guys and their third rafiki spent all of last week on the only bit of counter space not already being used in our complex paperwork organization scheme (hidden by Chris in the photos).  

Technically, I could have just moved three items off of our counter and had plenty of space to cook, but trust me, it seemed like an insurmountable task. Instead we survived for a week on dinners of mashed potatoes topped with ketchup and barbecue sauce.

Thankfully, our kitchen is back to normal now and we can resume eating actual meals.

Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, 12 to 16 ounces each, cooked and shredded
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I used fat-free reduced sodium broth.)
  • 12 ounces shiitakes, stemmed discarded, caps sliced thin (I substituted baby bellas.)
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • Sauté the leeks, ginger and garlic in a light spray of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until the leeks soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the water and broth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and chicken to the broth mixture and simmer for several more minutes.
  • Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, chile oil, sesame oil, and cilantro.
  • Serve.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 108, Fat ~ 3.6 g, Carbohydrates ~ 9.7 g, Protein ~ 10.4 g

Do you get much snow where you live?

I would typically say that we do not get much snow here, but this winter may prove me wrong. We have gotten measurable snow at least three times so far this season and if this trend continues it will likely be our snowiest winter in Southern Indiana to date.

“Much snow” is a pretty relative thing, isn’t it? Chris saw snow falling from the sky for the first time about four years ago whereas I just always remember having snow.

I was lucky enough to witness Chris’ first snow day from school while we were at Purdue.

He literally went out to play in it. Well, he took his monster truck of a Jeep out in the snow anyway.

Chris had a lot of newish cold weather experiences that year. He had been snowboarding before, but wasn’t exactly a snowboarder until that winter. He went for his second ice skate. You get the idea.

This is a picture of Chris and I during his second ice skating experience…my nose looks a bit cold.

Do you prefer a white Christmas or do you like for it to be warm enough to eat Christmas dinner outside? Chris and I are definitely split on this one!

Adapted from Peasant Cuisine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 medium head of bok choy, washed and chopped (stalks and leaves)
  • 64 oz vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  • Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and carrots using a bit of olive oil sprayed into the bottom of a large pot until the onions turn transparent.
  • Stir in the bok choy and continue to cook until it begins to wilt.
  • Add vegetable broth and soy sauce, then simmer until the carrots become tender.
  • Optional: Stir in some soba noodles to make it a meal, just be sure to stir them in one bowl at a time so that they don’t become soggy.

Servings ~ 6
Calories (without soba) ~ 62, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 11 g, Protein ~ 4 g

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we have returned to the reality of having to feed ourselves every day. ::Gasp::

This has become more and more challenging with our lack of daylight as we approach the winter solstice.

Only 21 days until things begin to look brighter! ::haha::

In addition to the early sunset resulting in crummy photographs, there is also the issue of not feeling very inspired to make dinner at all when it looks like bedtime outside before I even leave work.

So what does this mean? What is the point of this table?

It is dark out when I leave for work. It is dark out when I get home from work. Motivation is at an all-time low.

Moving all of Indiana to the Central Time Zone would at least allow me to have daylight on one end of my day. Clearly, even the Indiana “experts” do not know what time it should be here. Notice the shifting time zones over the past 92 years.

In spite of my dissatisfaction with our time zone, I knew that it was time to end our streak of “grazing” dinners and make some real food. Asian Lentil Soup, here we come!

I bookmarked this a while back, but I never managed to get all of the ingredients on my grocery list at one time. With the temperatures dropping quickly, I knew it was time. Chris and I had a run planned for last night, and I had a feeling that warm soup would hit the spot after our cold, windy, flurry-filled run.

The result: Another win in the weekday meal department. Easy to make. Minimal prep/cooking time. I bet we see a repeat of this dinner within one week.

When I came home from work, I quickly chopped and sautéed the veggies, then dumped all of the ingredients into a big pot. I turned up the heat and brought the soup to a simmer as I got changed into my running clothes. As we were about to leave the house, I turned the stove off and covered the pot of soup hoping that the lentils would soften while we were out.

Just as I had hoped, the soup only needed a little re-heating when we returned from our run, then we were good to go! This was the perfect dinner after our coldest run of the season so far.

From Kath Eats Real Food.

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
  • 2 celery stalks, matchstick cut
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 bunch bok choy, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup lentils, dry
  • 28 oz chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp  minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Sauté carrots, celery, bell pepper, and chopped stalks of the bok choy in oil until tender.
  • Add all other ingredients, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 151, Fat ~ 4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 22 g, Protein ~ 9 g

Sunday morning Chris surprised me with pink potted tulips and half of a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream chocolate bar. It was the perfect Valentine gift for a girl like me. Hopefully the tulips will last long enough for me to put the bulbs in the ground in the spring. I always hate getting cut flowers because it makes me really sad when they wilt. Hershey’s Cookies and Cream chocolate bars are just about my favorite candy. At about 200 calories per bar and full of white choclate-y goodness and bits of oreo-like cookie, they can’t be beat. 

We did not do a very good job of making a grocery list this week. Combine that with a cooking failure, we cooked something for a pot-luck that was so bad that we didn’t even keep it for ourselves, and it was slim pickings at our house yesterday. After scouring the internet for some time, I adapted a Nepali soup recipe to the ingredients that we own and it turned out great, although nothing like the original recipe. We also made some Nepali bread to go with it, but I will write that off as another cooking fail. 

Curry Infused Creamy Tomato-Lentil Soup
Ingredients:

  • Canned Tomatoes, 3.50 cup
  • Lentils, dry, 140 gram(s)
  • Milk, canned, evaporated, ~ 8 fl oz
  • Ground Coriander, 3 tbsp
  • Ground Cumin, 1 tbsp
  • Tumeric, 1.5 tsp
  • Onions, raw, 1 small
  • Garlic, 1 tbsp
  • Cayenne Pepper, 1 tbsp
  • Basil, 1 tbsp
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  • Wash lentils thoroughly. Place in a pot with 3 cups water and 0.5 tsp turmeric. Cook, partially covered, until very tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Drain lentils.Combine lentils and 1 cup water in a deep pot. Add the tomatoes, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and the remainder of the tumeric and bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and cook, partially covered, 10 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and evaporated milk and simmer for several minutes longer.
  • Puree entire mixture in blender until smooth.
  • Return to pot, simmer until thickened to desired consistency.
  • Garnish with parmesan, basil, and Sriracha (optional).

Makes 4-6 servings
(Based on 6 servings) Calories ~ 157, Fat ~ 4.4 g, Carbs ~ 27 g, Protein ~ 11.6 g 

This stuff was killer. We finished it all before I could even pack some up to save for lunch today. Even with his discriminating palate, Chris thought this was good enough to serve to other people!

After being inspired by another blogger, I decided that tonight was the night to try cooking Ethiopian food. I picked two dishes at random based on what ingredients we had on hand. The first one was Yetakelt W’et which is a spicy vegetable stew. The second dish was a lentil based dish called Mesir Wat. Both of these are served over Injera, an Ethiopian bread that is similar to a buckwheat pancake. In order to make the Yetakelt W’et, I also had to make Nitter Kebbeh which is basically a spice infused African version of ghee. During the cooking process I was fairly sure that Chris would like the Mesir Wat because it was fairly hearty and spicy. I was not so sure about the Yetakelt W’et, I figured he would write it off as a pot of veggie stew. I was wrong on that one. Chris raved about that spicy veggie stew and the lentil dish.

The first thing that I made was the Nitter Kebbeh because I needed it to start the Yetakelt W’et. I combined many recipes to finally arrive at something that I had all of the ingredients for. Here is the final product:

Nitter Kebbeh
Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp dried basil

Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to a boil 
  • Add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer
  • Gently simmer, uncovered, on a low heat for about 30 minutes
  • When the surface becomes clear, pour the liquid through a cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container
  • Discard the spices and solids

Yetakelt W’et
Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup niter kebbeh (ghee, or any other clarified butter could probably also be used ina pinch)
  • 1.75 cups canned green beans
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 6 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1.75 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley

Directions:

  • Saute the onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, and paprika in the Niter Kebbeh for 2 minutes
  • Add the beans, carrots, and potatoes and continue to saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the vegetable stock
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and mix in the parsley
  • If the stew tastes acidic or not sweet enough for your taste, sweeten to taste with a sweetener of your choice, I used a little bit of Splenda.
  • Serve with injera

Number of Servings: 8, Calories ~ 135.9 per serving

Mesir W’et
Ingredients:

  • 140 grams dried lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ts Garam Masala
  • 1 Tb berbere OR an additional 1 Tb paprika OR 1 Tb cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying  

Directions:

  • Soak lentils for at least an hour in water
  • Drain and rinse lentils and set aside
  • Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions turn clear
  • Add broth or water
  • Add spices and tomato paste and bring to boil
  • Add lentils and turn down heat and simmer until lentils are tender the broth thickens
  • Serve with rice, Injera bread or pita bread

Number of Servings: 4, Calories ~175 per serving

Injera (based on a recipe from Branny Boils Over – http://brannyboilsover.com/?s=injera)
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup diet tonic water
  • 1.5 cups water

Directions:

  • Combine dry ingredients
  • Add tonic water, water, and vinegar and whisk until smooth
  • Preheat a nonstick skillet and spray with olive oil
  • Ladle 1/4 cup of batter unto the heated pan and swirl the contents to spread the batter all around into a thin circle
  • Cook over a low heat until top surface is no longer shiny, do not flip
  • Cool on a rack

Number of Servings: 4, Calories ~170 per serving