Archive | March, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup for Spring

30 Mar

Sometimes the soup blog is the perfect iteration of all of my planning tendencies (I actually made this soup last Sunday) and procrastination capabilities (I’m posting it on Wednesday of the following week and have to look at the picture to see what ingredients are in there). And this is why we blog about soup…. it apparently is the yin and yang of everything.

Right now we’re having yin and yang weather in DC… we had a few beautiful spring days where flowers came out, cherry trees bloomed and wearing flip flops was no longer crazy, and now we’re back to a gray week in the 40s with looming rain. Not my favorite temperature, but midterms mean I can’t play outside anyways and a head cold was keeping me out of the loop… this soup helped with all of those things, so without further ado!

Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup

  • In a side saucepan, put on water to boil your  noodles
  • In your soup pot, saute 6-8 cloves of garlic in olive oil
  • Add 4-6 chopped carrots, adding two yellow squash and a zucchini when the carrots begin to sweat
  • When zucchini is still fairly firm, add in two handfuls of kale sliced into thin pieces and mix in, replacing cover to keep in moisture
  • After about 3-5 minutes, add in 1 or two chopped red peppers and a generous handful of parsley
  • When veggies are almost all the way cooked, add in your chicken (I had roasted a chicken the day before, so I just pulled it off the bone… a rotisserie chicken or chicken cooked on the side would also work), almost all the way cooked noodles (I used bowtie pasta and just drained it 2 minutes before ) and the cook time was so be over) and chicken broth (I used broth infused with lemon from the chicken I roasted the day before)
  • Bring to a low simmer, adding in the juice of 2-3 lemons to taste and more parsley, salt and pepper as necessary
  • Enjoy!

Farro with kale

22 Mar

Alayna, are you so jealous of my well versed grain cupboard?

Hello Farro. Alayna asked what vegan meal I was going to make this week and I told her something that involved farro. She said What’s farro? And I said, that was exactly the response I was going for. As I mentioned earlier, one aspect of the vegan challenge for me is exploring whole grains, as we did with vegetables for soup. I feel like I have conquered bulgur- and now I’m moving on to the next thing. I actually had to go to two food stores to find farro, which was a pain because it was 9pm post-Poetry class so I wasn’t all in the mood for wandering the Whole Foods of Manhattan but alas, these are the things I do for my masses upon masses of ladles.

A little bit about farro. It takes about 45 minutes to cook. Like brown rice. You know what’s something I am discovering? 45 minutes isn’t actually that long. If you put the farro in boiling water, then turn it to simmer, right when you get home– then you go and putter around, it actually doesn’t set your eating time back. Writing that out I realize that sounds like incredibly obvious advice, but I have a tendency to get home and spin around in some weird whirlwinds for 30 minutes. So realizing I can put the thing on the stove or in the oven the moment I get home pre-spazzing out, well it’s just time efficient. Anyway, nutrition. There actually isn’t a lot written about farro. But lets see.

Well look at that! Farro is the oldest grain in the world. Didn’t realize I was eating great grandma last night. It was very popular in Biblical times. Awesome. Now it’s sort of popular in Italy and the Middle East. But I think circa Jesus and crew was farro’s real hay-day.  Farro is a whole grain that is an excellent source for complex carbohydrates. Additionally, farro has twice the fiber and protein than modern wheat. Different than some other whole grains, a carbohydrate in farro called cyanogenic glucosides has been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar levels. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat, making it more easily digested.

Slam dunk! So anyways, I cooked this farro and tossed it in a pot with sauteed kale and broccoli in broth. And it was delicious. One serving (a BIG serving) had 10 grams of protein. Woot woot. Farro, welcome to my blog. And to my heart.

Farro with kale

  • Put 1/2 cup of farro with 1 and a 1/2 cups water and a tspn of salt over high heat, when boiling turn to simmer, cover, and have it sit for 45 minutes
  • Putter around
  • Saute an onion with some salt in olive oil
  • Add a bunch of kale (I literally put in an entire bunch and ate this meal by myself. That sounds excessive writing out, but remember how small it gets when it cooks!) Add some more salt
  • When kale start to shrink down at brocilli and about 2 cups of veggie broth (or chicken, I mean like, whatevs). Put on simmer and let sit for about 20 minutes
  • Throw in farro and mix it all around. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Put in your bowl and enjoy. If you aren’t crazy vegan parm cheese is a very nice addition.

Black and White Bean Soup

16 Mar

So, I just got back from Spring Break in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning, and I’m not going to lie, it was a much needed vacation. Between classes, interning, family emergencies and trying to maintain the rest of my ‘real life’ (aka, friends who are and are not in my grad school program) my gas tank has pretty much been on empty since classes started in January. The only evidence you need is the fact that I’m the only person I know who goes to the Caribbean to get a fever and a chest cold. So by the time I got back I was ready for something hearty, full of veggies and heavily spiced… something that was essentially veggie fajitas but in soup form. Most people will probably want to scale back on the amount of spice I put in this soup since 1) I love spices and 2) I couldn’t taste anything due to congestion, but it was delicious and I highly suggest making it when you have a cold but not the right ingredients to make lime soup. And as a bonus, yes Mary, it is vegan. I can do it too!

Black and White Bean Soup

  • In a crock pot cook 1 cup dry black beans and 1 cup dry white/navy beans under about six cups of water in your crockpot for 6 hours on high with a generous helping of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg (alternatively you can use canned beans and add water later, although you will want to drain and rinse them before putting them in your soup!)
  • In a separate soup pot, saute 6-8 cloves of garlic and one small yellow onion with a generous helping of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg until translucent
  • Add as you chop 4-5 carrots, 2 zucchinis, 1 yellow squash, 4 portabello mushrooms, several generous handfuls of swiss chard and 2 red peppers and cook covered on low
  • When veggies are mostly cooked through, add beans and their water. Add a generous helping of salt, black pepper and more spices if you are a congested beast who can’t smell or taste anything and simmer for about another ten minutes
  • Sit back and enjoy your beans!

Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro

11 Mar

Alayna is still in the Dominican Republic, so you’re left with me and another vegan mash. What a great Sunday New York Times Magazine last week. There was an article about some old, squirrely rich guy obsessed with longevity and eating a strict diet that is primarily “plant-based that’s low in animal fat while still allowing for protein sources beyond legumes.” He also eats smoothies composed of orange and banana peels (because their skins are closest to the sun they have the most energy. Duh.) AND our favorite, Mark Bittman, gave us four soup recipes which he said, “is all we’ll ever need for infinite variations.” Which means that this here blog you’ve been reading for the past 2+ years, these are those infinite variations. Which also means the variations are, as he clearly says, infinite. Which means this blog will never ever end.

I digress. I gave a gchat shout out looking for good vegan cook books because the one I bought that was from “Good Housekeeping,” is awful. Awful like most the recipes involve microwaves. (I don’t own a microwave and I don’t plan to.) And there are all these recipes with vegan bacon and vegan meatballs and the likes. I don’t like when vegan things pretend to be meat things. It’s like vegan-drag. It’s like be your own thing, you don’t have to try to copy the meat thing. I don’t know, it irks me.

These are the vegan cookbook suggestions I gathered, please let me know if you have any others or especially like one listed here. I’m open to suggestions before my big Strand visit next week.

-Skinny Bitch (I have flipped through this and the recipes sound fine but the title is just so completely irritating I really just don’t want to support it.)

-Vegan Yum Yum (it’s a blog, better yet.)

-Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (not vegan but close and I really have loved him recently so there is that.)

In other news, I was in the kitchen at work yesterday and there were left over bagels and cream cheese from a meeting. A girl came in an exclaimed that she just Googled Philadelphia cream cheese to see if she could eat it as a vegetarian. She was excited to find out she could indeed. Then she explained that she used to be a vegan until she kept getting really sick for long periods of time. Let me clarify she wasn’t talking to me. I was creepily lurking by the vending machine, she was talking to someone else in the kitchen. That is the sort of eater I don’t strive to be. The idea of Googling Philadelipha cream cheese to see if you can eat strikes me as depressing. You should eat based on how you feel after you eat those foods, not because of Google. And a vegan who keeps getting sick just sounds so annoying. Like those people who are late for everything and make you wait around forever and then they aren’t even fun when they get there. We all have those friends right?

So that’s my weekly rant. Alayna will be back next week. In the meantime, all you hungry fools get is my vegan sweet potato recipe. Which though is a side dish, IS amazing

Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro

  • Heat oven to 400 F, spike sweet potato with fork several times, put on baking dish and put in oven for 50 minutes
  • Enjoy a nice glass of wine…
  • Pull out sweet potato drizzle a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, generous with the salt, squeeze half a lime, and sprinkle with cilantro.
  • Mash it together.
  • This is going to taste so much better than you think. I just wish I could watch you take that first bite and be all like, Dannng.

Bulgur Stuffed Peppers

1 Mar

Gavin, distracted from his DELICIOUS pepper, concerned for Kurt Douglas during his Oscar night rambling.

Gavin did not hide his groan when I told him I was going to make vegan stuffed peppers for dinner. But I did not budge because this was my first vegan challenge dinner and I wasn’t going to let his belief that eat meat = get full get in my way.

He basically freaked out over this meal. I mean freak out in a positive way. Ask him. I know I have a tendency to exaggerate most of everything I’m talking about, but I’m totally not right now. He confided afterwards that his expectations were only to “like the meal enough,” and he didn’t think he would be full. What happened is that he “loved the meal as a meal, not just liking it OK as a vegan meal.” And he was totally full.

This stuffed pepper recipe is a home run and it’s really, really packed with fiber. What’s a healthy combo? Fiber and protein. Ask Eileen, she’s been telling me about it. So this is a nice combo- and something you wouldn’t think about from a vegan meal, at least I wouldn’t. Also, for the sake of staying mindful of protein I computed it and it turns out one serving has about 20 grams of protein. To put that in perspective, a steak has a little over 30 grams of animal protein. The recommended daily protein intake is about 50 grams.

Also, a note on bulgur; easy and delicious. It reminds me of if quinoa meets rice. A little research on bulgur, it’s a cereal made most often from durum wheat. It’s a whole grain. Bulgur is common in Armenian, Kurdish, Assyrian, Turkish, Indian and Mediterranean dishes. And stuffed peppers…

Bulgur Stuffed Peppers

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • Core 2 green peppers, cut off the tops and place them in oven for about 15 minutes to soften them up
  • Meanwhile heat a tbsp of olive oil in a big saute pan and add 1/2 a red onion, sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, let sit for a few minutes and add 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • Meanwhile add 1/3 of a cup of bulgur (or however much you want) with double the amount of vegetable broth. Have it boil and then turn the heat to simmer, cover, and set a timer for 12 minutes
  • Add 2 handful of chopped carrots to saute pot, let them soften for 10 minutes. Add 6 oz. of diced tomato, 1 handful of frozen corn, 6 oz. of black beans (all of these measurements are like, so whatever you want), add generous shakes of thyme and cumin- let this simmer.
  • When bulgur is finished drop it into saute pan and add big handfuls of spinach. After a minute of two- when the spinach is wilted- turn off heat and scoop this into peppers. Fill the peppers up.
  • Put back in the oven for about 30 minutes or just when the peppers are starting to blacken.
  • Pull out and enjoy this feast!