Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumny Cauliflower Soup

I woke up early today to get my house ready for babysitting a 10 month old.  After unplugging all the plugs, barricading the plants and breakables, and vacuuming up all the swallowable debris.  I deemed the house sufficiently baby ready and ended up with a little time to spare.  I probably should have used that time to do some sort of exercise or read scriptures, but instead I decided it was going to be soup making day.  The weather here is beginning to turn into a crisp chilliness that makes you crave soup, hot apple cider, and candles that smell like cinnamon. So I took a peek in my fridge and saw that I had two heads of cauliflower that needed to be used in......soup!

So here is what I came up with, and I must say it is the best darn cauliflower soup I have ever tasted.

1 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large chunks
1/2-3/4 c. white wine
4 c. vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp.dry
1/2 t. fresh ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

*for 8 servings
Start off heating the olive oil in a large pot over high heat.  Add in the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are softened, stirring often so they don't brown (about 5-10 mins).  Once, onions are soft and you can smell the garlic, deglaze the pot with the white wine and then let it reduce to cook out the alcohol, make sure to scrape up the good bits at the bottom of the pan.  When the wine has cooked down, add in the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat down to med-low.  Simmer for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  Pull out the bay leaf and the stick from the rosemary (the leaves will have fallen off unto the soup) and transfer to a blender.  Blend that yumminess until it is velvety smooth.  

There you have it.  This is basically the easiest soup recipe ever.  The final product is thick and creamy and warms you right up on a chilly day.  I love how rich and creamy this soup tastes without having to worry about the calories you would normally get from a cream-based soup.  I hope you try it out and love it.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fast and Easy Potato Lentil Stew

We spent the weekend in Phoenix with J.R.'s sister and her family.  What does this mean?  Well I'll tell you what it means: An empty fridge upon our return.  So when I finally remembered that food is an essential part of functioning around 1 o'clock in the afternoon yesterday, the choices were slim.  And what do you do when choices are slim and you have just finished reading the "Hunger Games" books?  You make a stew.  So I scavenged through the cupboards and found lentils, potatoes, and vegetable stock.  Eureka!

1 T. oil (I used grape seed oil this time)
1 yellow onion diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and medium diced (about 1 centimeter cubed)
4 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cans of lentils, or 3 cups cooked lentils (drained and rinsed)
salt and pepper to taste

So this is really easy: You heat the oil over med-high heat in a pot.  Then add in the onion and potatoes.  Once the onion is softened and translucent, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Pour in the vegetable stock making sure to scrape up any yummy brown bits and reduce heat to med-low.  Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are softened to about potato salad consistency.  Add the lentils in a couple minutes before the potatoes are done just to heat through.  That's it folks.  It is fast, filling, good, good for you, and a great way to stretch a buck.  I ate mine with some delicious toast we had left over from the previous week's whole wheat multigrain bread recipe.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Monkey Style Vegan Brownies

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Lately, I have been focussing on trying to reduce sugar and other processed sweeteners from my diet.  This has led me to revamp my original vegan brownie recipe to get rid of the sugar and bring in the bananas :)  I made these last night for dessert and they turned out great, so I decided to share.

3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ancho chili powder (to amp up the chocolate flavor)
3/4 c. ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
Serving size is one 2x4 inch brownie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add in all of the we ingredients and whisk until incorporated.  Once incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth into an even layer.    Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the baking dish.

Once the brownies are done baking, place them on a wire rack and tent loosely with foil.  The trick here is to keep them as moist as possible.  Let the brownies cool for 15-20 mins before eating.  Make sure to store these in the refrigerator since they have banana in them.  I like to put my brownies in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to warm them up before eating.  These brownies are moist and fudgy with the perfect level of sweetness and the slightest hint of banana.  Makes 8 huge brownies.

J.R. and I were both busy in the kitchen tonight and didn't realize that our cats (mainly Champ) had found a roll of toilet paper and proceeded to do their best to destroy it.
J.R. presenting the evidence, you can also see bits of
toilet paper all over the living room floor
in the background.

Champ's mug shot with exhibit A.  He is also not supposed to be on the table and he knows it.  So this is his, "oh crap, I'm caught!" face.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Going Bananas for....Bananas

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I have been seeing a new trend popping up online where people take frozen bananas and puree them into banana ice cream.  It looked interesting so I decided to give it a try and fell in love.  Here is my technique for how I have made this simple treat my own:

1 c. frozen banana slices from ripe bananas (brown spots are a good thing here)
2 T. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder (optional)

Slice the bananas into 1/4 inch coins, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid.  I like having bananas at the ready, so I usually slice up an entire bunch of bananas and keep them in a bag in my freezer.

Add the bananas, cocoa powder, and ancho chili powder in a food processor and let it rip until the mixture reaches an ice cream consistency.  Sometimes the bananas will clump into a ball in the food processor.  If this happens, just squish them down with a spoon and continue processing.

That's it!  I like mine topped with toasted almond slices.  My husband likes his with marshmallows because he says it takes like rocky road ice cream.  The best part for me is that the banana ice cream is so reach and creamy that a half cup serving is more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

*2 servings not including almonds

Fun Fact:
Banana peels have many useful uses
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Using Up Veggies and Creamy Polenta

I went a little crazy at the farmer's market in the last couple of weeks and ended up with a fridge stuffed full of fresh produce that needed to be used up.  So I threw a bunch of it together in a wok and the result was pretty darn tasty:

1 c. yogurt whey or skim milk plus 1 c. water
1/2 c. polenta
1/4 c. parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 t. olive oil
1/2 onion, medium sized slices
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch of beet greens, washed and chopped into large pieces
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped into large pieces
1/4 c. vegetable stock
3 tomatoes, large dice

Start by boiling the water and yogurt whey in a medium sized pot.  Whole the water is coming up to a boil, chop up your veggies and begin sautéing the onion on the olive oil on medium-high heat.  When the onions are translucent, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant then deglaze with the veggie stock.  Add in the beet greens and kale and cover with a lid.  Turn heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

When the water/whey liquid starts boiling, add in the polenta and whisk constantly for 3 mins.  After 3 minutes, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid.  Allow the polenta to simmer on low (stirring occasionally) for 30 mins until thick and creamy.  Stir in parsley and parmesan just before serving.

Once the greens are softened, remove lid, add in tomatoes, and allow any liquid to cook out.

Based on 4 servings
Serve the sauteed greens over the polenta.

A couple of notes:

  • I saved the stems of the parsley, kale, and beet greens to use in a green monster smoothie later.  A great way to use the whole veggie.
  • Quinoa would also be a great with the sauteed greens if polenta isn't your thing or if you want more protein in your starch.
  • This is a great use for the leftover yogurt whey that you get when you make greek yogurt.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Whole Wheat Multigrain Bread using Yogurt Whey

I made this week's bread with yogurt whey from my yogurt recipe, all whole wheat flour, and substituting olive oil for the butter.  It turned out great!  Here is the updated ingredient ratios if you have some yogurt whey to use (the process is the same as in the original multigrain bread recipe):

Based on 22 slices per loaf
1 1/4 c. seven-grain hot cereal mix 
1 1/2 c. boiling water plus 1 c. yogurt whey
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
4 1/2 c. whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 T. table salt

There you have it.  The calories are the same as the original recipe, but you get a little more bang for your buck with added protein from the yogurt whey, harder for your body to break down because of the whole wheat, and a better kind of fat from the olive oil.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pineapple Fried Quinoa

I basically have been hanging out with the same crowd of people since high school.  Our lives have certainly become more busy and hectic over the years and girlfriends/boyfriends and spouses have been added into the family, but we still manage to meet up every Monday for "wing" night.

Wing night started in high school where we would basically go out to this one wing place and eat wings, simple.  Well we finally got sick of going to the same place all the time, so we started changing it up.  Wing night at Thai, wing night at Mexican, wing night at Greek...... for some reason we never thought/wanted to change the name.  So wherever we go or eat, it is still wing night regardless.  

This week, wing night was at Chez Blackham and we had Chinese-ish.  One of the dishes I made was pineapple fried quinoa and it was delicious.

1 carrot, diced small
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 T. sesame oil
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and dried
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. vegetable broth, plus 1/2 c. water (can omit the veggie broth for all water)
1-2 T. low-sodium tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
Siracha to taste
2-3 egg whites scrambled (or more if you are crazy into eggs)
1/2 c. pineapple, large dice
1 green onion, sliced small
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Get Cookin':
Heat sesame oil in a pot over med-high heat.  Add in the carrots and onions and saute until onions are translucent.  Add in the quinoa and garlic and toast until you can smell the garlic, stirring constantly.  

Deglaze the pan with the veggie broth/water and allow the concoction to come up to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15-18 minutes until cooked through.  While you are waiting for the quinoa to cook, place the egg whites in a microwave safe bowl and cook for one and half to two minutes.  

ooooo look at that dietary fiber!
When the quinoa is done cooking, fluff with a fork and add in the rest of the ingredients (tamari, siracha, egg, pineapple, green onion, and sesame seeds).  

Lastly, and most important, enjoy the yummy!