mezzaluna spinach soup

Not only is the school year coming to a close which is a whirlwind time but for the past two weeks, David and I have been fighting off a nasty cold. Our evenings have been consumed with sneezing, coughing, and trying to go to bed early. Yet, with the piles of grading calling to me from my work bag, I have tried to balance my need/desire for rest with the never-ending task of providing students with feedback on their assignments.  This has left dinners in a black hole. Last week, we simply pillaged our pantry. Which allowed us to eat through stocked items and goods that should have been eaten earlier but which also meant that we ate too many cheeseburgers and random meals for people trying to reinforce their immune systems. Finally on Sunday, there was (a) time and (b) ability to go grocery shopping. The only dilemma that remained was our low energy. We decided that since there was still a chill in the evening air that soup was probably our best bet. It would warm us up, include healthier ingredients than our depleted pantry, and would be quick and easy to pull together. This giant bowl of soup has sustained us thus far and hopefully after this week, we will both be in a place to rejoin the living.

1 box mezzaluna tortellini pasta

1 can 28oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups vegetable stock

1 can white beans

1 bag of baby spinach

1 onion diced

3 garlic gloves diced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese

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In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent. About 3-5 minutes.

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Add the broth, spices to taste, diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and beans and simmer with a partially open lid until pasta is cooked to al dente. Add in a stir spinach until wilted.

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Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

asian roasted brussels sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts.  It could be because those little cabbages are super cute but the flavor always hits the spot. They could be cooked in any fashion and I would probably enjoy them. Recently at my friend Rodney’s house, he roasted them with some Asian flavors and this really enhanced this side dish for me. Prepared this way, they were so light and fresh. In an attempt to replicate this dish, I roasted some Brussels Sprouts last night and have now found my latest obsession. Seriously though I crave them now at every meal!

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, cut in half

juice of half of lemon

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of water

red pepper flakes

1/4 suagr

1 garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 400.  On a roasting pan, toss the sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Lay the sprouts soft side down so that they really roast up and darken. Bake them for 20-25 minutes. In a bowl, toss together the vinaigrette ingredients. When the sprouts are done, toss them with the vinaigrette and serve.  It is seriously so easy and insanely flavorful!

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vegetable barley soup

Last night David and I were set to watch a marathon of Homeland.  Finally realizing that our local library could save us a great deal of time and money, we have started to borrow television series instead of splurging on them ourselves. We donned our pajamas and curled up on the couch together each with a big bowl of our vegetable barley soup.  Covered in blankets, we enjoyed both the warm meal and the good drama.  Of course, being pregnant meant that our “marathon” of Homeland episodes was actually just one for the night as the meal combined with my sleepiness were the perfect combination for an early bedtime!

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Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves diced

4 onions diced

6 carrots diced

4 parsnips diced

6 celery sticks diced

1 cup of barley

1 bunch of kale, washed and torn roughly

2 cans of 28 oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups of water

red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt

Cook the barley according to package. In a large dutch oven or deep soup pot, heat olive oil  and add the garlic. Toss together until garlic is fragrant. Add all of the vegetables (carrots, onions, parsnips, and celery) and mix together.  Add spices. I went heavy on the red pepper flakes and pepper to ensure ultimate flavor. Cover the vegetables and left cook for about 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Once the vegetables are translucent and cooked through, add the diced tomatoes and water. Bring to boil, and then simmer together for 15-20 minutes. Add in the kale and the cooked barley.  Enjoy!!

fresh bruschetta

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On snow days, I am all about comfort food. Give me macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, or a hot minestrone soup. My belly demands the warm comfort of rich, savory foods. This last storm though was a little different. While David shoveled us out of almost twelve inches of snow, I diced up some tomatoes tossed them with some oil and vinegar and toasted a baguette.  Dinner was light, cool, crisp, and clean and the bruschetta was just delicious (even if it wasn’t my usual macaroni and cheese)! I  burnt my finger a little while toasting the bread because I was over-zealous is my desire to eat this up immediately, so be careful when you flip the toasts.

Ingredients:

2 cartons of red cherry tomatoes

2 cartons of yellow cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

garlic

basil

salt

pepper

red pepper flakes

baguette

In a frying pan, toast 5-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil until they are golden brown. Transfer the garlic and oil to a medium size bowl.  Slice the tomatoes in half length-wise and add them to the bowl. Bunch basil together on a cutting board and slice into thin strips, add these as well to the bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and red pepper flakes into the mix. Toss in about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix everything together and taste.  Add whatever you feel you want more of.  Set aside to let the bruschetta juices mix together and become amazing. Then slice the baguette. In the same frying pan that you browned the garlic, add a tablespoon of butter and place the slices of baguette into the frying pan to toast. Flip the toasts after 1-2 minutes to brown both sides (add more butter if necessary so as not to burn the toast). Transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy!!

vegetable chili with quinoa

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On New Year’s Eve, David’s co-worker invited us to her home for an afternoon shindig. It was really nice to spend time with his work friends who are collectively hilarious and welcoming. While chatting around the kitchen island, we snacked and shared various stories.  A few soups were also served to keep everyone warm on an otherwise quite cold afternoon. David enjoyed his vegetable chili so much that he asked for the recipe and we immediately replicated it for ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!! Not one for leftovers, David has been enjoying this meal over the course of a few days.

2 28oz cans of diced tomatoes

2 14oz cans of black beans, rinsed

1 cup of quinoa

1 onion diced

1 red pepper diced

4 carrots diced

4 garlic cloves diced

2 tablespoons cumin

4 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

In a large pot heat olive oil and saute the onions and garlic for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. When the onions and garlic are translucent and fragrant, add the cumin and mix in for another minute. Pour in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot for about 10-12 minutes. Uncover the lid and stir all of the ingredients. Add the red pepper and carrots and cook on medium low heat for another 4-5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!!

pappardelle with pumpkin and caramelized onions

On Saturday morning, we woke up to find that our furnace had stopped working. David headed up into the attic (that’s right our furnace is in the attic!), to see if the pilot light went out.  Forty minutes later, we still could not figure out how to get the furnace moving again. It was chilly but not cold…yet. The repairman explained that the part we needed was probably the pressure switch and that we would need to hold tight until Monday when he could get one to us. Looking out over the prospect of a cold weekend in which the temperature was low and falling was grueling. Bundled in every warm article of clothing we had, we baked breads and roasted chicken in an attempt to keep the kitchen warm. At night, we snuggled the pups in bed but even their little fury bodies were not enough to keep us really warm. At one point we even had to tuck Buster and Bella in under the covers because they were shivering!

Clearly, we needed something to keep us positive as we waited for Monday and the furnace to be repaired. Out from under the snugly covers I headed into the kitchen and cooked a hearty pumpkin pasta to warm our tummies until the furnace could warm our limbs. This buttery pappadelle with pumpkin and caramelized onions recipe was delicious and subtle. I would recommend trying it out whether your furnace is out or not!

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zucchini pizza boat

We have been noshing on left-overs this week.  Last night we were in a predicament. We still had some left overs but there were not quite enough to pull together to call a “full meal.”  To supplement dinner with something cheap and cheerful, I made some quick and easy zucchini pizzas.

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Preheat the oven to 350. Then cut the ends off of a clean zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half, and then slice the zucchini in half length wise.

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Your zucchini halves should look something like above once you scoop out a little of their middle section with a spoon.  This lets you use more sauce and cheese later.

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Brush the zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with spices. I used oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

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Transfer to a baking sheet and top with your favorite tomato sauce.

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Add some fresh mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or when cheese look nice and melted and zucchini is soft.

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And enjoy a little “pizza.”

curried kale with toasted coconut

our friends Laura and Eric are staying at our house while their new house is renovated (I probably mentioned this before). One of the perks of having them here is that at dinner time, we share the prep, cooking, and clean-up.  Laura was the master chef last night as she whipped up this recipe and I was happy to photograph her kale dish and mark it down for my own repertoire. I have to admit, it was quite delicious!

IMG_4283Start by sprinkling some coconut flakes on to a baking dish. Bake in the oven at 350 for 3-4minutes or until the coconut is fragrant and just barely starting to get a toasted brown color

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Cut up two onions and 3 cloves of garlicIMG_4285

Saute the onions in a deep-sided pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once they are translucent, add in the garlic for another 2-3 minutes.
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Add in 4 teaspoons of curry powder and mix well. Simmer here for 2-3 minutesIMG_4287

Add in the kale (that has been cleaned and deveined). Along with 3/4 cup of water to help the kale cook down. (If you need to you can add more water, but you don’t want it to get to watered down try to limit the water to no more that 1 1/4 cup).  Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes. IMG_4288

The kale should begin to wilt down.  Continue to add more kale until a complete two bunches have been used. IMG_4291

Set the table perhaps? (I just thought ours looked really pretty and casual that night)IMG_4292

Once the kale is cooked, transfer into a serving bowlIMG_4293

Sprinkle the kale with the toasted coconut and serve. Enjoy!

panzanella salad

The other night David and I settled down to a dinner of panzanella salad. I was inspired by smitten kitchen’s summer’s last hurrah panzanella. The home made vinaigrette she designed was delicious and so simple.  It will clearly become a dressing staple in our house.

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For the vinaigrette
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

The salad itself is super easy. I followed smitten kitchen mostly.  But, really this salad could consist of anything in your crisper.  We added yellow and orange peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, onion and grilled a chicken breast. We skipped the capers (David is not a fan of these), and we topped it off with some delicious smooth goat cheese. This would be a great salad to bring to a cook-out.  Filling from the homemade bread croutons and satisfying, it was a delicious recipe that smitten kitchen posted and that can be easily adapted.

kale salad with homemade dressing

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I am obsessed with this kale salad. This week alone David and I have devoured tons of kale.  This salad is so good that as we wait for the main dish to prepare we snack on the bowl of salad, stealing a leaf here and there until dinnertime.  At the kitchen table, we pile the dark, leafy greens onto our plates and savor the flavors. Yes, we need to curb our excess binging on this salad but overall it is full of yummy green nutrients and a raw diet delight. And, I am happy this is our new snack instead of those pesky potato chips that seem to find their way into our cupboard. As I plop one leaf into my mouth at a time, I imagine preparing this treat for friends and families and contemplate when I could host my next dinner party to showcase this dish…

1 bunch of Kale

1/3 cup Olive Oil

Juice from 1 Lemon

4 garlic cloves diced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup of toasts bread crumbs (I use panko)

parmaggiano romano cheese

To Make:  Toss the oil, lemon juice, and spices in to a large bowl.  Tear the kale leaves off the stem, discard the stem, wash and toss into the bowl of dressing. Toss the salad together so that everything is evenly covered.  Let kale and dressing sit at room room temperature for 10-30 minutes. In a small frying pan, add the garlic cloves, and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over low heat and saute until lightly browned and then add the bread crumbs and stir in until toasted. Once bread crumbs are a little brown (toasted) looking, toss into salad and mix together. Finally shake your desired amount of cheese onto salad and serve. Voila! AMAZING.