Friday, January 30, 2015

Potato-Leek Soup

I'm sure the last thing many of you want to see is more pictures of giant piles of snow. But guys we got almost two feet of snow! I have been on the island for hurricanes and average snow storms before but for the first time we were truly housebound with snow piling up our front door and sticking to every window. It started Monday night and a bulldozer came down our road to start the clearing Wednesday morning. Like many others, we had the tub filled with water and candles and batteries at the ready but happily the lights stayed on.

While hunkering down, Nick and I took turns in the kitchen. He made rice, beans, and kale while I soaked some overnight oats, roasted carrots, and made some soups. Here is a simple and yummy potato leek soup. Unlike many potato soups it is not dense or sticky and the buttermilk gives it a good tang.

Potato-Leek Soup
adapted from Serious Eats

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, rinsed and roughly chopped 
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock (sub vegetable if you'd like)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (about 3/4 pound) 
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 lemon, juiced
Sliced chives, scallions, or fennel fronds for serving

Heat butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until melted. Add leeks, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add stock, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are fall-apart tender, about 15 minutes.

Add heavy cream and buttermilk to pot. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until completely smooth or, working in batches if necessary, transfer soup to a blender. Slowly increase blender speed to high and blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Return soup to the pot. Whisking frequently, bring soup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add lemon juice then season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with chives, scallions, fennel fronds, black pepper and olive oil.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Carrot-Banana Super Baby Muffins

We're here on an island awaiting the storm and counting the hours until the power goes out (that is really my least favorite part so I'm unrealistically hoping everything stays on). We are all preparing in our own ways - Nick is reading articles like this on his computer and laughing out loud, Dylan is turning out all the lights and carrying around the cheerfully decorated glass vase and candle he brought home from preschool, I'm cooking like a crazy person, and Gray is running around without a shirt on. We got this.

A couple of mornings ago the boys and I baked these mini muffins in a spontaneous 6:30 am breakfast moment. We developed the recipe as we went and they turned out to be one of the best muffins - flavorful, moist, and full of good stuff. I froze half of the batch for future snacking which just makes me feel so prepared for the blizzard - hello I have 18 mini muffins frozen, what could go wrong!?

Carrot-Banana Super Baby Muffins
makes 36 mini muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut 
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a mini muffin pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, flax seeds, and coconut.

3. In another bowl, combine the banana, honey, vanilla, and egg and beat with a hand mixer until combined. Mix in the shredded carrots.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined.

5. Fill the mini muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you use a regular muffin pan, bake for 20 minutes; this makes 12-regular sized muffins.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spicy Bowl of Greens & Noodles

I'm obsessed with planning a last minute family trip. My criteria are - direct flight from Boston or Providence, warm, small person friendly, and affordable. I could spend days reading trip adviser reviews and looking at photos of hotel pools (conclusion - they all look the same). This trip may not even happen but perhaps just the idea of it is enough to get me through the endless string of 20 and 30 degree days. But beware, if I see you in the grocery store this afternoon I'll definitely ask for your advice on where to go.

In the meantime all is not lost - we are cooking and eating well over here. January is the season of light warming fare so here is a noodle bowl that perfect represents that theme. Maybe you're on a cleanse or just trying to shake off the Christmas cookies but in either case this meal is for you.

PS. This is a good weekend or after the kids go to bed meal as you want to take your time with the recipe.

Spicy Bowl of Greens & Noodles
From Susie Middleton's Fresh from the Farm
Serves 4

Kosher salt
8 ounces dried udon noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine or sherry
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 ounces)
5 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste *this is where the heat is coming from so leave out for kids
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (sub vegetable if you'd like)
5 1/2 to 6 cups coarsely chopped Tuscan kale (aka Cavolo Nero, Lacinato) leaves (5 to 6 ounces after ribs removed, from one 9 to 10 ounce bunch)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (all parts), for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. (They will be tender in a little less time than most package directions indicate.) Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, and let dry a bit. Transfer to a bowl and toss with a big pinch of salt and the sesame oil.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, lime juice, rice wine or sherry, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the ginger. Set aside.

In a large (5 to 6 quart) Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, creminis, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are well softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the shallots and mushrooms are shrunken and lightly browned (the bottom of the pan will be brown, too), another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, chili-garlic paste, cinnamon, and the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover partially, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the kale leaves, stir, cover partially, and cook until the kale is tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Remove the pot from the heat, add the soy mixture, and stir.

Arrange the noodles in four large wide or deep soup bowls. Use tongs to arrange a portion of the kale in each bowl, then ladle the remaining broth and soup ingredients into each bowl, distributing evenly. Garnish with the sliced scallions and serve right away while very hot.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Coconut

Whenever I take the boys grocery shopping the majority of the trip is spent negotiating over items they would like to either bring home or eat right away in aisle 3. Fruit leather, apple cider, popcorn, crusty baguettes, dried mango, bulk bin gummy bears, and this chocolate pudding are the most sought after items (not to mention the tiny plastic trinkets in the "birthday party" aisle). Some days we take something from this list home and other days we don't.

The chocolate pudding request is the favorite this month which inspired a homemade pudding with coconut sugar and bittersweet chocolate. Like almost any dessert I can think of, I like it topped with a hefty scoop of whipped heavy cream and a toasty mix of large coconut flakes and slivered almonds. This pudding is chocolatey, not overly sweet, and super thick. Needless to say, a little goes a long way and after a little trial and error I found these 4 ounce canning jars are the perfect serving size.

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Coconut
makes 8 to 10 small cups
1 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Whipped heavy cream and toasted large flake coconut and slivered almonds for serving

1. If your coconut sugar has large crystals whiz it in a food processor until fine to create a smoother pudding (this isn't essential). Next, whisk coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk egg yolks, milk, and cream in a large bowl. Gradually whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.

2.Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, whisking, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.

3. Divide pudding among 8-10 small jars or bowls and chill at least 2 hours. Top pudding with whipped cream and toasted large flake coconut just before serving. A little goes a long way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moroccan Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

We spent much of the frigid weekend on the frozen ponds around the island. Nick and Dylan skated together while Gray and I either slid around in boots, followed friendly dogs, or coasted across the ice in a small sled. By Sunday afternoon the word was out that the ponds were perfect for skating and I'd guess there were about 50 people all enjoying it together with cars packed along the back roads. We would go out for a few hours then part of us would head home for a nap, meal, or fire and the other part would stay on for a bit longer.

We ate a lot which seems appropriate with the energy spent enduring cold and exercise. This soup was a highlight because of its simplicity and unique toppings. I a new to topping a soup with chopped dates but it's something I'll do again. The boys especially loved the date sprinkle so we quickly ran out and moved on to topping the leftovers with raisins - also yummy.

Moroccan Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato
serves 6-ish

For the soup:
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups dried lentils (I used a mix of red and green)
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lemon

For serving:
Chile flakes
Lemon wedges
Chopped dates

1. To save time and accommodate small mouths, chop all the vegetables in a food processor. First, whiz the carrots and celery together until they are nice and small - set aside in a bowl. Next, whiz the onion and garlic together and again set aside. Finally, whiz the sweet potato.

2. While your food processor is chopping, heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, cumin, and cinnamon and saute for 3 minutes.

3. Add the lentils, sweet potato, and stock then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partly covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the soup is creamy and the lentils and sweet potato are cooked through.

4. Finish the soup with another 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the juice for 1 lemon. To serve, top bowls of soup with chopped cilantro, chile flakes, chopped dates, and a squirt of fresh lemon. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Granola Waffles & Chocolate-Date Milk

Our family holiday card may be sealed in a Valentines Day envelope this year. For some reason this simple little square has proven practically impossible to get in the mail. There was the order error (oh thanks for sending us just 2 cards!), then the printing backwards oops, and finally the old square envelope debacle. But really, it was always meant to be a New Years card so I feel like anytime in the month of January is fair game (but I still may draw a big heart on the back for good measure). I'm sharing it here just so I can say it's been sent! and relax.

We had time over the holiday break to cook a lot and I did my fair share of holiday eating. Things like roast chicken, green curry noodle pots, chicken tinga tacos, chocolate-orange cake, and an (ultimately disappointing) whole roasted cauliflower hit the table. The cauliflower was the only real flub so I'm calling our 12 days of straight eating a success. One of the best parts of the break was our relaxed mornings. I forget how luxurious a slow morning at home is until I have one. We discovered two new breakfast recipes for these kinds of mornings - Granola Waffles and Chocolate-Date Milk.

^Holiday break = looking up a lighthouse.^ 

The Granola Waffles are inspired by a sidebar note I read in my Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook (which is my go to resource for classics like waffles and cornbread) which suggests making "nut waffles" by sprinkling 2 tablespoons of coarsely cut or broken toasted nuts over the batter as soon as it has been poured into the iron. What's better then nuts? Granola. We've done this with pancakes too and it is delicious both ways.

Granola Waffles
makes about 8 waffles

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granola

1. Pre-heat waffle iron while you make the batter.

2. Beat the two eggs in a mixing bowl then add in all the remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth (this is a thin batter).

3. Pour batter into hot waffle iron and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of granola over top. Cook, eat with maple syrup, repeat.

The Chocolate-Date Milk is essentially a healthy answer to chocolate milk. To this day, at 33 years old, Nick still orders chocolate milk when we go to the diner for breakfast. Dylan has quickly followed in his footsteps.

Chocolate-Date Milk
makes 1 large or 2 small cups

1 cup cow or nut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 dates

Simply whiz in a blender and enjoy cold.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January Gentle Food Cleanse

Tomorrow it's back to real life and less butter so join us for January's Gentle Food Cleanse! A few lovely notes from last session's participants:

"I feel so much better, so in control and the best part is: 13 pounds lighter thus far. I am eternally grateful to you for showing me the way."

"I look better, leaner and my skin is awesome!!!"

"I feel like I am cooking more then ever and learning about new foods which is pretty cool."

21 Day Gentle Food Cleanse 

Length: 21 days

Cost: $200

When: January 19th - February 8th (must enroll by January 12th in order to get properly set up)

Where: From wherever you are 

Goal: Over the 21 days you will slowly remove unwanted foods from your diet (like alcohol and processed foods) as you focus on supportive foods (like green vegetables and healthy fats). Every three days you will receive important information on the health benefits of these supportive foods and simple but exciting recipes to go along with them. You will have a personal calendar to keep you organized and prepared. This is an intense program but those who commit to it learn a lot about their bodies and see real results in terms of weight loss and increased energy.

Your program includes...

  • e-mail exchange every 3 days plus support in between
  • recipes that are healthy and simple to prepare
  • coaching and support to help you make dietary and lifestyle changes
  • simple but informative handouts that will increase your nutritional knowledge
  • personalized 21 day calendar outlining the removal and focus phases
Sound interesting? If you'd like to sign up or learn more email me!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Caesar Salad with Root Vegetable Croutons

The other day Gray and I were running errands and spontaneously decided to stop by Green Island Farm to pick up some fresh veggies from the farm stand for dinner. We grabbed carrots, sweet potatoes, and eggs but the real highlight was farmer Roy holding little Gray and walking him all over the farm to visit the hundreds of noisy chickens. A sweet baby-holding farmer that allows mama to pick and pack veggies with two hands - total score. 

Later that day, I couldn't stop thinking about this soup (wow, I really made that 5 years ago!?) which is topped with "sweet potato croutons". I decided to experiment with a mix of root vegetable croutons on top of caesar salad. I made this big bowl for lunch (using two heads of romaine) and ate it all myself.  My only regret is not frying up an egg to slide on top.

Caesar Salad with Root Vegetable Croutons 
serves 2

2 heads romaine lettuce
1 garlic clove
1 anchovies fillet
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 a lemon, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups peeled and finely diced root vegetables (I used a mix of carrots, sweet potatoes, red beets and golden beets)
Kosher salt and black pepper

First, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss in the root vegetable cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer. Let the veggies sit and get crisp, toss and allow to sit again. Repeat this process until they are tender and browned all over, about 15 minutes. 

To make the salad dressing, smash the garlic clove and rub it around the inside of a large salad bowl. Put an anchovies fillet in the bottom of the bowl, top with mustard, and mash with a fork to form a paste. Squirt in lemon juice, add whisk while you stream in olive oil (add enough olive oil to make a consistency you like).

Finely shred the lettuce and toss it into the bowl - sprinkle over Parmesan cheese and mix well. Taste for salt and pepper. Lastly, layer on root vegetable croutons.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Muesli

Most mornings I have a bowl of muesli for breakfast, typically with yogurt, and a big cup of coffee. After scooping pound after pound of the Swiss breakfast from the bulk bins at our local market I realized it was high time to make my own and happily, the process and recipe couldn't be simpler. 

We are usually up a good hour (at least) before sunrise so I'm especially enjoying our newly decorated tree during those early morning hours when I feel like we are the only people awake in all of America. If you look closely, our tree perfectly describes our family life right now. There are no ornaments on the lower third (for fear of one year old consumption), the silver garland is pulled off in most places, and all the ornaments are three or four to a branch (apparently Dylan is into the layered look this year). It's so sweet and anything but perfect.

Winter Muesli
makes about 4 cups

2 cups classic rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
Milk or yogurt for serving

Using your hands, simply toss everything together in a large bowl. Be mindful of the sticky dates as they tend to clump together but once everything is in contact with the oats the clumps will loosen up. Muesli can be eaten with milk like a traditional cereal, sprinkled over yogurt, or soaked in milk overnight to soften up its texture. I like it all three ways. For those who like a little sweetness, simply drizzle over some honey or maple syrup.

A large mason jar filled with muesli, tied with a ribbon, and small recipe card attached would make a great gift for those left on your list (especially beloved teachers and neighbors). Because muesli is gluten free (if you purchase certified GF oats), vegan, and easily adapted to be nut free (substitute walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds) it works for everyone. If you want to make a few personal mixes some additions that I especially enjoy are dried unsweetened cherries, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

Here are a couple humble holiday shots of our home via my instagram.

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