Kale Soup

Link to Kale & Chickpea Soup from Budget Bytes

We love this vegan soup recipe, and have been trying variations on it for months. I like to make this on week nights, because one recipe makes two dinners for the two of us – which means when I get home from work the next day, all I have to do is heat up the leftovers for a great meal. We often eat this with some bread on the side, but the beans and potatoes give it enough bulk to keep you full and happy.

I’ve made some changes to the original recipe, so I’m writing out my version for convenience’s sake:
– We don’t eat canned foods because of concerns about BPA, so I use Pomi chopped tomatoes, which come in a BPA-free carton. Half the 750-gram carton is perfect for one recipe of this soup. When tomatoes are in season around here, I’ll try using fresh ones instead.
– I also use dried beans instead of canned. I’ve been using pinto beans instead of chickpeas; they’re much easier to cook, and the texture is great in this soup. I prefer to soak them overnight before cooking, but have also had success quick soaking them. (Here’s a useful tutorial on both methods.) I find the pintos take about 30 minutes to cook once they’re soaked.
– If I forget to soak the beans, sometimes I just add more potatoes to make up for it.

    Ingredients:

– 1.5 c dried pinto beans, soaked
– 1 onion
– 2-3 cloves garlic
– 1 large potato (russet or Yukon gold)
– 13 oz. chopped tomatoes (about half a package of Pomi works)
– 1 bunch kale, washed
– 8 cups vegetable broth
– 1 tsp curry powder
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 2 tsp salt (ish – it will depend on how much sodium is in your vegetable broth)
– 1 bay leaf
– EVOO
– black pepper to taste

    Materials:

– large pot for holding soup (6 qt) with lid
– smaller pot for cooking beans, also with lid
– colander or strainer for beans
– cutting board, knife, garlic press

    Directions:

1. Place the beans in your smaller pot, cover them with water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until they’re tender (30-60 min).
2. While beans cook, chop the onion and press the garlic. Place them in your larger pot with EVOO and cook on low to medium heat till onions are translucent (5 min).
3. Rip the kale leaves off the stems and into small pieces. Add them to the onions and cook until wilted, about 5 min.
4. Cut potato into small pieces (1 inch or less).
5. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, potatoes, bay leaf, curry powder, and oregano to the soup pot.
6. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are fully cooked.
7. Whenever beans are done, drain them and add them to the soup.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving.

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February 16, 2013 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Link: Avocado Pasta Sauce Recipe

Link – Avocado pasta sauce from Oh She Glows

Oh my God, did we love this recipe!!! We doubled it for a pound of linguine. It’s one of those meals that makes me consider going vegan, because it is perfectly delicious without any animal products at all. (Although some Parmesan Reggiano would go great with this). Seriously, I have a fettuccine alfredo obsession, but this totally curbed it without the stomachache that usually follows eating pasta slathered in dairy. This will definitely become a staple recipe in our house!

Notes- I don’t have a food processor, so we put all the ingredients in a bowl and mashed them with a wooden spoon before blending it with an immersion blender. It worked perfectly, and the immersion blender is SO easy to clean. :)

January 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm Leave a comment

Link – Lentil Tacos Recipe

Lentil Tacos recipe from Budget Bytes

Last semester was my first semester as a full-time high school teacher, and while I’ve grown a lot professionally since August, my diet has gone into the toilet due to overworking myself. We pretty much lived on takeout and frozen meals from August through December. My new goal is to try at least one new recipe a week. This is the one I made tonight.

I liked this recipe because it was easy (the most challenging step is slicing an avocado), vegetarian/vegan, healthy, and cheap. It turned out well – BF especially loved it, and it reminded me of the tacos my mom used to make up growing up, with a pound of ground beef and a yellow seasoning packet. However, it took a LOT of very simple steps (cooking lentils, sautéing onions, toasting tortillas….) so this wasn’t a quick meal. It did leave us with plenty of leftovers – possibly too much, in fact, so I will probably half the filling next time. Also, I used half as much cayenne, used store-bought salsa instead of homemade pico, substituted TJ’s cilantro/chive yogurt dipfor sour cream, only one avocado, and would double the salt next time.

January 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm Leave a comment

Oven-baked Hashbrowns

I love living in a college town, except for on game days. Whenever we have a home football game, this town is overrun with football fans. We usually plan ahead by grocery shopping the day before and just barricading ourselves at home all weekend, and that usually works.

However, one post-game Sunday during this past fall semester, I was fiending for some hashbrowns from Waffle House (covered, of course) and convinced BF to get up and take me. We were hugely disappointed when we got there and saw a line of hungover football fans that stretched out the door. Luckily, this Waffle House was down the street from a Trader Joe’s, so we decided to try and make our own hashbrowns at home instead.

We got a 20-oz bag of their shredded frozen hashbrowns (I guess they are considered Southern-style), some pre-diced white onion, and some shredded cheddar cheese. BF cooked them according to package directions in a skillet, but this didn’t work well – we ended up with a skillet coated in burned potato starch and a pile of warm, mushy, non-crispy potatoes. We wondered if they could be prepared in the oven instead, and after some trial and error, came up with this recipe. It takes a long time, but is very easy to put together and clean up afterwards.

Oven-Baked Hashbrowns

Ingredients:
20 oz frozen shredded hashbrowns
Diced onion (either a whole onion or one container of the pre-diced kind, to make it even easier)
1/3 cup EVOO, plus another 1/2 tablespoon or so for greasing the pan
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper
Shredded cheese (optional)

Materials:
“Half sheet” size cookie sheet (about 1 by 2 feet) with a lip
Spatula
Large mixing bowl

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Pour hashbrowns into mixing bowl and break apart if necessary. Add onion, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper (I do 16 turns of the pepper mill). Stir until well mixed and fully coated.
3. Grease the cookie sheet well with olive oil, including the sides.
4. Pour the hashbrown mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread evenly, making sure the corners have a lot in them.
5. Bake for 57 minutes. Let cool 1-2 minutes and serve (they cool down REALLY quickly)

Optional – If you want to add cheese, remove the hashbrowns after about 45 minutes, sprinkle the cheese on them, and bake for another 12-15 minutes.

December 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

Link: Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta Recipe

Link: Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta Recipe

We tried this last week, and it was not only super easy, but also really good. We will definitely use this as a quick weeknight meal in the future (I think we’re going to have it again tomorrow…)

I substituted a few handfuls (maybe 2 or 3 cups?) of fresh baby spinach for the frozen spinach. I just put it in the colander before I poured the cooked pasta into it, so the spinach was hot and wilted. I used 15 ounces of store-bought ricotta instead of 16 ounces of fresh, and used whole-wheat spaghetti, because that was all we had in the cupboard. I would recommend adding salt and pepper to the sauce before you add the pasta to it, and will try to use a flat pasta next time.

Continue Reading August 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm 1 comment

Mac, Cheese, Spinach, & Peas

Since I  first posted my recipe for mac and peas, I’ve made a lot of changes. I’ve found, for example, that that tossing the pasta with the butter and flour, rather than layering it on top, makes for a creamier/thicker sauce. I’ve also given in and added more cheese to the recipe, since I always ended up adding extra to the top anyway….

I also made a major change to the vegetable content of the casserole. I originally added peas because BF loves them, but as much as I tried to love mac and peas, I kind of hated having those sweet little interlopers bursting every time I took a bite. I decided to try only puting peas in one half of the casserole (for him), and used fresh spinach (my favorite vegetable) on the other half.  It was a great way to add some veggie interest without those peas popping every time I took a bite. BF ate from the pea side, and I ate from the spinach side, and both of us were happy!

So, here’s our new favorite version of this recipe. Follow my instructions to make a casserole with half spinach and half peas. If you aren’t as picky as we are, you could double the amount of spinach and peas and use them throughout the whole casserole instead.

Mac and Cheese with Spinach and Peas

Ingredients:

– 1 lb whole wheat elbow pasta
– About 1 cup frozen peas
– About 1 cup fresh baby spinach
– 2 cloves garlic
-2.5 cups 2% milk
-3 tbsp butter
-3 tbsp flour
–  3.5 cups shredded cheese (we like using combinations of cheddar, colby jack, gruyere, Swiss, and parmesan, depending on what’s available)
– ½ c whole wheat breadcrumbs (ish – I just eyeballed this)
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp mustard powder
-Black pepper (approximately 1/2 tsp)

Materials: 

– Big baking dish (my 4 qt dish had plenty of room)
– Garlic press (or a cutting board and knife)
– 2 medium prep bowls (1 to hold your cheese, another to hold flour, salt, pepper, and mustard)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the baking dish with a little butter or olive oil.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water to where you would normally give it another minute or two, and drain in a colander.
  3. While pasta is cooking, combine flour, salt, pepper, and mustard in a prep bowl and mix well. Press garlic into the flour mixture and mix well.
  4. Return drained pasta to the pot and add 1 tbsp of butter; mix until coated. Add the flour mixture and stir until pasta is coated pretty evenly.
  5. Layer one-third of the pasta into the bottom of the baking dish, On one side of the casserole, top the noodles with a single layer of spinach leaves; on the other half, top generously with frozen peas.
  6. Fleck the casserole with about one-third of the remaining butter, and then pour about one-third of the milk over the casserole. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese.
  7. Layer another one-third of the pasta on top of the cheese, then repeat the layer of spinach and peas.
  8. Fleck with another one-third of the butter, pour another one-third of the milk over the casserole, and top with just under half of the remaining cheese.
  9. Layer the rest of the pasta on top, then top with another layer of spinach and peas. Pour the remaining milk over the top of the casserole.
  10.  Layer the rest of the cheese on top, then top with a layer of breadcrumbs and fleck with the remaining butter.
  11. Bake around 30 minutes, till the casserole is bubbling and the top is browned. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

August 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Link: Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

Link: Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

BF and I officially moved in together today, and I wanted to make something special to celebrate. He’s a vegetarian, and I love pasta, so fettuccine alfredo seemed like a good celebratory, indulgent meal.

I had never made real alfredo sauce before, so I found this recipe online. It actually turned out perfectly, even though it was my first try. It’s super easy – you melt butter, stir in cream, heat to a simmer, then toss that with pasta, then toss it with grated Parmesan. I was skeptical when I mixed the pasta and sauce together and appeared to have way too much liquid, but once I added the cheese, it was the perfect consistency.

I only made two changes: I added a clove of minced garlic to the butter while it was melting, and I used regular durum fettuccine (because the grocery store didn’t have any whole wheat noodles, which would have been my first choice). I served this with a side of baked zucchini and some sparkling riesling. We intended to have tiramisu for dessert, but had absolutely no room left! It was a rich, filling, elegant meal that was definitely fitting for celebrating our first night in our new, shared home. 

Continue Reading July 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

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This is a cooking blog by someone who is not particularly good at cooking. I'm a lazy person who aspires to make simple, awesome, healthy food at home.

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