eric’s chicken noodle soup

On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants.

As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura’s husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!

Ingredients:

Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)

rice noodles

onion

garlic

olive oil

red pepper flakes

tarragon

marjoram

basil

salt and pepper

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 7.33.39 PMStart by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.

IMG_5197Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.

IMG_5199Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5200Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!

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butternut squash ravioli w/ browned butter, sage, & balsamic reduction

It is officially Fall in New England. The telltale signs are clearly present: cooler temperatures, an earlier sunset, turning leaves on trees and smalls piles of them on the ground, pumpkins on porches, people rushing by with pumpkin spiced lattes wearing sweaters, flannel, scarves, and, my favorite, the puffy vest! It is my absolutely favorite time in Boston. My wavy hair dislikes the heat and humidity of the Summer, the Spring is always so busy as a teacher trying to get through everything before the end of the school year, and Winter is beautiful and cozy and filled with snow-time activities but the darkness usually gets to me by the end of January. Fall is simply the best. The weather, the clothes, and the food are some of my favorite things. This recipe was first introduced to me by my friend, Lauren, and has since become a fall staple.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup of brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter

4-6 sage leaves

nutmeg, salt, pepper

Olive Oil

1 package frozen or fresh ravioli

Parmesan Cheese

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Start by peeling and scooping the seeds out of a butternut squash. Then dice it up into 1-2 inch cubes.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.43.36 PMLay the butternut squash in a casserole dish. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.43.50 PMDrizzle with olive oil, Sprinkle generously with pepper and nutmeg and a dash of salt. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Take out the butternut squash and toss making sure all of the squash is coated in the oil and spices. Place it back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, until the squash is cooked thoroughly.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.04 PMMeanwhile, add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.16 PMIn a small frying pan, melt the butter and brown, toss in the sage and simmer 5 minutes or so. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.37 PMPrepare the ravioli according to the package. When all ingredients are done, toss together: ravioli, butternut squash, sage and butter sauce, and balsamic reduction into a bowl.

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Plate and top with fresh Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!!

mango cucumber salad

David has been outside this morning picking out the field of dandelions that plague our yard and pruning back the holly and juniper bushes.  Spring cleaning is up and running after a quick trip to Lowe’s to buy some pruning sheers, gardening bags, and gloves. While David enjoyed his zen-like garden work, I threw together a salad that reminds me so much of the Spring/Summer weather we are heading into.

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First you start by cleaning and de-stemming some watercress

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Peel, slice, and dice a mango

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Cube up some avocado and also cube up half of a cucumber and toss together in a large bowl

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Once all of your dicing and chopping is complete, it is time to mix up the dressing. Use 3 teaspoons of fish sauce, zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime,  1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.  Combine in a bowl.

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Then drizzle dressing into salad right before serving, toss together, and enjoy a tropical treat.

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vidalia onion & wild rice soup

My guilty pleasure is going to Panera Bread on a Saturday morning with David and ordering a cup of their french onion soup and a bowl of their macaroni and cheese.  It is so deliciously bad.  We have to stop ourselves from doing this every weekend.  It has become so routine that we are starting to recognize other routine customers!  There is this adorable old lady that drinks a hot coffee and eats buttered toasts in her booth before taking a nap and a little family of three that come for lunch and share soup with their toddler.  And, there is us.

This weekend to avoid our habit, I decided to make onion soup at home.  How difficult could be right?  Heading over to my go to cooking blog smitten kitchen, I located her vidalia onion soup with wild rice and got started!

When the recipe was completed, onions sautéed, herbs dipped into the broth, crostini baked, it was clear that we made the right choice to do it ourselves at home. AH! I cannot describe how delicious this was.  The blue cheese on the crostini added a nice bite to the soup and the herbs (which I tied together with twine and mixed in for 5 minutes forgoing the cheesecloth bundle in the recipe) made the broth incredibly flavorful.  Instead of heading to Panera, I am looking forward to enjoying the leftovers today and tomorrow.

butternut squash & black bean enchilada

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a vegetarian dish she prepared from Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Knowing that David and I were departing on the road of vegan-ism, she passed along the recipe for butternut squash & black bean enchiladas.  

Finally, after the holiday mayhem settled down, I found myself back in the kitchen tonight wondering what I should make for dinner.  It is so cold outside that I wanted the meal to be cozy but I wanted to make sure the meal focused on the veggies.  Her recommendation came to mind and I got started on the enchiladas.  The recipe was super fast and easy to prep.  Within 40 minutes, it was complete and ready to eat.  Much of that time was used to roast the butternut squash so don’t shy away from this meal, it truly is a simple recipe for someone who doesn’t mind using their hands to assemble these delicious “cheesy” enchiladas.

What do you need:

1 Greek Yogurt or Soy Yogurt (to keep it vegan)

2 jars of spicy red salsa

1 package of cheddar cheese OR Diaya “cheese” (to keep it vegan)

1 can organic black beans

12 oz chopped butternut squash

1 yellow onion, chopped

olive oil

salt & pepper

Tortillas (vegan can be found in the groceries stores too!)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 and roast the chopped butternut squash with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.  When cooked through, mix into a bowl with the black beans and onions.  Take about a tablespoon and half of this mixture and roll it in the tortilla placing it seam side down.  I used a 4 quart pyrex baking dish.  Once the dish has the rolled enchiladas, mix together the the salsa and greek/soy yogurt.  Pour this over the enchiladas and top with the cheese/daiya.  Bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Enjoy a delicious, flavorful, and simple meal!

new year’s resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are a funny thing.  Each year we make a series of promises to ourselves.  It is a quirky tradition that I eagerly embrace as though the opportunity to remake oneself only comes once a year. There is something magical about being able to thaw out the “good side” of yourself just in time for the new year and just in time for that “good side” to finally end its hibernation.  Good bye to the “bad side.”  The side that snacks at night, the side that gossips, the side that chooses to be selfish can finally be overcome this time of year by the strength of one’s resolutions.  Of course, I am not naive and know that resolutions can also become empty promises and that habits are the hardest to change.  Yet, I believe today is the day make and believe in my the promises, to remind myself of the magic of New Year’s Eve, and to finally thaw out my inner potential that will help make 2013 another great year.

2012 was a spectacular year: Obama was re-elected, we moved out of our tiny apartment and we bought our first home, my nephew was born (and added himself to an already amazing family of brother, sister-in-law, and little niece), my best friend got married, I went to Costa Rica, made new friends, enjoyed “old” friends, spent much needed time with family, celebrated my one year anniversary with David, and so much more.  It will be bittersweet to say goodnight and goodbye to such a good year, but I am looking forward to all that 2013 will hold! ;)

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the resolutions:

1. Veggie Belly: Since taking the vegan pledge about one month ago, I have felt more lively. It is not as hard to be a veggie belly as I thought.  While I took a few days over the Christmas week to “treat” myself to holiday traditions, I am renewing my pledge to focus on veggies, my health, and my spirit. Only by balancing these alongside the day-to-day will everything else settle into place.

2. Appreciate and Foster Relationships: Having a birthday the day after Christmas teaches me a great deal about friendships.  The 26th is the nation’s post-holidays “coma” day. A day when most people can finally take the breath they have needed since Thanksgiving. Some friends call to wish me a Happy Birthday.  Each year, I am always SO surprised by this and happy to receive calls from loved ones.  This year in particular I want to make sure I honor each relationship in my life and foster them more with the gift of some TLC.

3. Save Money: Ah…this one is important. While David and I are blessed with our life together, it is always a good practice to save for a “rainy” day.  Therefore, it will be my prerogative this year to begin saving money in a conscious and consistent way.

4. Be Crafty: Nothing is better than homemade from food to a wooly hat. My friend, Skye, and her friend, Ashley, are crafting divas.  They knit, sew, cut, paste, dream, and create.  And, they have a ton of fun doing it. There is a kernel deep inside of me that wants to participate in these hobbies and crafts and therefore I am going to let this kernel grow and see what becomes of it.  Get ready world…I am going crafty!

I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that your resolutions help you stay focused, happy, and healthy in 2013.

red curry and vegetables

This evening, David and I tried a new vegan recipe adapted from the truffle honey blog.  When I am “cooking” in the kitchen, David is less a sous chef and more of an emergency responder.  Without fail there will always be some minor or major disaster in the kitchen from exploding pots to fires. I would not be cooking if I was not also making a GIANT mess of something.  At first, this was a source of great anxiety and discouragement. Why couldn’t I flow through the kitchen? Why did I cut my hands with the chopping knife? Why did I light paper on fire while reading the recipe? Why did I burn rice? Why did the pudding explode on the stove-top? Perhaps it is because I lack overall patience in my life and watching a pot doesn’t make it boil faster….so why not crank up the heat?  These messes and disasters have now become a way of life and David is quick off the couch when he hears, “Ah Help!”  Without any questions, he scans the room first for my safety and then proceeds with his rehearsed crisis management skills. Tonight, I threw red curry on the floor while sautéing onions, chopping veggies, and trying to use my body to shield the dogs from the paste on the floor. In an odd way, in the midst of the disaster we have established a rhythm to quell the incident and move on towards meal time. As Julia Child once said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” This dish was delicious, disaster and all!

Saute onions in oil with garlic until translucent and fragrant 

Julienne peppers, carrots, Shitake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots

Cut a large handful of snap peas in half

Once onions are cooked through add two tablespoons of red curry paste

Add one can (14 oz) of unsweetened coconut milk, bring to boil, add in vegetables and simmer on medium-high covered for about 8 minutes. Then serve with brown rice and toasted naan. 

Vegan Pledge

Today, Monday, November 26, 2012 ,David and I are officially starting an entirely whole-foods, plant based diet. Yes, you might think this is a radical approach to cut meat, dairy, and all foods that “had a face or a mother at some point” from our diet, but I am excited for this endeavor.  It most definitely will not be easy.  David and I have grown accustomed to eating meat and are too addicted to mac n’cheese. In the one year since we married, we have each gained 10 pounds of what I like to call “comfy weight.”  But, really this means that while we try to cook home most nights, we often ditch our own kitchen for something more convenient out of doors. David in particular has been categorized/demonized as a carnivore extraordinaire. Just the very idea of David eating veggies over meat will have many family and friends scratching their heads. Isn’t he from the South? Doesn’t he love his ribs, chicken wings, steaks, and burgers? Does he even eat vegetables? Ah, but little do the naysayers know that in fact this “carnivore” is a herbivore at heart. I will not be taking David down the path to vegetarianism kicking and screaming.  Rather, he is coming willingly especially after a Thanksgiving weekend in which he ate as much meat as physically possible (just shy of getting meat sweats) before this sudden and abrupt halt starting today.

Why now?  Well, why not!  Perhaps we do not want to be totally cliche by making this into a New Year’s resolution that people will inevitably be expecting us to break two weeks into the new year. Or perhaps we know that if we don’t start today then tomorrow will just never come. There is no better day then today the old saying goes. On Friday night we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and realized that we have a great deal of information at our fingertips that has pointed us to the same conclusions made in this film. We have seen countless other documentaries, read books, blogs, and have noted that most of our doctors are vegans or vegetarians. Dr. Oz is a vegetarian, my father’s cardiologist is a vegan and my doctor has often discussed with me taking the same pledge to plant based eating as each of the individuals. So here I am making it. For some reason the commitment feels more validated when I write about it on the blog. As though each one of you will help hold me accountable or at least my writing about it will hold me accountable to it. Gorging myself on Thanksgiving and feeling bloated, full, and tight in my clothes afterwards also helped with the decision!

Yesterday was our “last hurrah” in the animal protein world. We went out for a delicious post thanksgiving brunch. Eating those eggs hit the spot.  I have always loved eating brunch and devouring as much coffee, potatoes, and eggs benedict as humanly possible. This time though I thought I would be sad as I said good-bye to my delightful, full-fat and protein rick brunch but I wasn’t.  I was actually excited to get the meal over and to start on my new path with David to more wholesome and nutrient rich eating habits. And with the last swallow, the pledge began.

Of course sticking to this pledge will require a great deal of work: planning meals, educating ourselves on the nutrients we need, and just plain ignoring/changing our old eating habits. Thankfully, I am not doing this alone. David and I will “struggle” through this dietary shift together and hopefully be lean, green, fighting machines on the other side!

Here are some helpful blogs we will be using during the transition:

Smitten Kitchen
Skinnytaste
Eatliverun.com
PostPunk
VeganYumYum
101 Cookbooks
Oh my veggies
http://herbivoracious.com/

thanksgiving eats

Thanksgiving this year at the new house has been primarily stress free. Yes, there have been a few times when the holiday has gotten the best of me: a broken glass, mud on the wood floors, getting lost on our way to Walden Pond.  But overall I declare this Thanksgiving holiday at our house to be a success.  Especially when we end the day with a hilarious game of Apples to Apples!

weeknight pasta with pancetta and peas

One of my favorite meals to cook on a weeknight comes from The Newlywed Cookbook which we received as a wedding gift from our registry with Crate&Barrel.  When we added this book to our registry, we had never in fact seen it nor browsed its recipes.  Rather we fell in love with the cuteness of such a book title (yes, we judged a book by its cover). Luckily, it turned out to be a major hit!  This recipe in particular has been in the family rotation quite often. With simple ingredients it is hard to avoid whipping this up every week! Pancetta, linguine, white wine, sage, bread crumbs, garlic, and olive oil combine in this dish and unleash a delightful and delicate flavor profile.