Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2011

Chipotle Potato Soup with Bell Pepper Salsa

There is something about a creamy and spicy soup that just warms your tummy and your soul. It is still bitter cold here in Buffalo and I am trying to look on the bright side of this brutal winter, by enjoying that I can still cook hearty and hot, wintry dinners. I know soon when the warm weather is upon us, I will miss the hot soups and stews, one of my favorite things about the winter months.

This soup brings a nice kick of smokey spice from the chipotles, it’s comforting, thick and creamy, three things that just really make winter dinner satisfying, to me. The great thing about this soup and the fact that most of the creaminess comes from blending the potatoes, is that it can easily be made vegan. Go with vegetable stock over chicken and you can either skip the milk altogether or use a non-dairy milk like plain unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk. Then just skip the cheese or top with your favorite vegan cheese. I used local, pasture-raised whole milk that we bought at Farmers and Artisans, one of the few milks I have ever tasted that is actually good enough to enjoy a glass of (in my opinion). There is only a cup of milk and a cup of cheese in the entire pot of soup, so don’t even feel the littlest bit guilty about it. On the other hand, if you have no guilt and really want to indulge, you could go with a cup of heavy cream instead of milk and maybe even some crispy bacon on top, why not right? Either way, before the warm weather shows itself again, you need to make a pot of this soup and not only remember, but enjoy the lovely things about the winter that we will all surely miss in the heat of July or August. Trust me, we all miss it, even just a little.

Chipotle Potato Soup with Bell Pepper Salsa
serves 8

Bell Pepper Salsa

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt , to taste

In small bowl, mix together bell peppers, cilantro and onion. Squeeze lime over. Gently stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

Chipotle Potato Soup

2  1/2 – 3 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (this soup is spicy, go with less chipotles if you don’t want all the heat, you can always add in more)
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 cup organic whole milk (you can either skip the milk and add an extra cup of stock or use a non-dairy milk and skip the cheese, to make this soup vegan)
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pan of salted water over high-heat, bring the potatoes to a boil and then drop the heat to simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Drain.

In a large stock pot, over high heat, sauté onion, bell peppers and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes, add the chipotle chiles and the chili powder. Lower heat to medium; continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, stock and milk (if you are using it) to the stock pot. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and let the soup cool about 5 minutes.

Purée with immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender*, until smooth, gradually adding cheese. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Ladle the soup in large serving bowls and top with shredded cheese and the bell pepper salsa.

* When blending hot soup in a blender, do so in small batches, filling the blender pitcher only about halfway. Put the lid on, but remove that small cap in the lid (if you have it) and hold the lid down tight with a towel, otherwise the steam will cause the lid to explode off, spewing hot liquid everywhere. This has never happened to me, but it can, so be careful.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Chickpea Croquettes (Gluten-Free) with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

I love chickpeas! There is so much you can do with them. A spicy hummus, roasted for a snack, throw them in a curry, in a pasta dish, on a salad, etc. They are a wonderful protein-packed ingredient that works great if you are vegan or vegetarian or is the perfect substitute for your weekly meat-less dinner. In our house we eat vegetarian most nights so I always have at least 4 or 5 cans of chickpeas and a pound or two of dried chickpeas in the pantry. The ideas on what can be done with them just keep coming and each is better than the last.

These croquettes are surprisingly easy to put together considering how fancy and intimidating they may seem. They mix up quickly and cook up just as swiftly and conveniently. Some croquettes and patties have a tendency to fall apart when they hit the pan, but these are very durable. Place the dollop in the pan and leave it be, don’t move it around or continuously press it, just let it cook and brown up. Don’t try to go bigger, as they may start to lose their structure. After the first side begins to brown, flip it over and allow the other side to cook, that’s it. So easy. You can have some fun with the ingredients, try a beautiful red bell pepper for some color, add shredded zucchini, red onion, etc. You can play with the spices and the flavor profile, serve them plain as an appetizer, over rice, or on baby greens for a meal. Top with different sauces or salads. Have fun with this recipe. I decided to serve these over baby greens tossed in a light balsamic vinaigrette and I topped them with a citrusy cilantro yogurt sauce. This sauce can also be as difficult or easy as you wish, have fun with that, too. Obviously skip the yogurt sauce if you are vegan and if you aren’t gluten-free and don’t wish to buy chickpea flour, you can simply substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

This is a simple and healthy weeknight dinner that satisfies that urge for crispy fried food without tipping your scale. Though I would hardly called these fried, they are cooked in just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and are perfectly crisped without the greasy sludge.

 

Chickpea Croquettes (Gluten-Free) with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

1 handful fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 cup of greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

To make the sauce, combine the cilantro, lemon juice, minced garlic and yogurt in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Chickpea Croquettes
adapted from Vegetarian Times. makes 8 patties

1 cup chickpea flour
3/4 cup hot water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
4 scallions, chopped
1 medium carrot shredded
1 habanero or jalapeno, minced (I left the seeds in)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowl, add flour, water, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Add more water if needed. Stir until well combined. Add in chickpeas, carrots, scallions, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro. Stir well.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil, over medium heat. Scoop (approximately) 1/4 cup dollops of chickpea mixture into skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. If the dollop is too much of a mound you can lightly press it down with the back of your spatula, just don’t press too hard. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. With a spatula, flip the patties and cook 3-4 minutes more. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture (the finished croquettes can sit on a baking sheet in a 200º F oven). Serve two croquettes over field greens, topped with the yogurt sauce.

Read Full Post »

Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs

 

Yes, yet another pasta dish. I am a pasta-aholic, I can admit it. I cannot get enough of the stuff and I am always excited to try out new recipes. The possibilities really are endless and it’s rare that I meet a pasta dish that I don’t love. This recipe is no exception. I came across it a while back and couldn’t wait to try it with a few subtle changes. Even with the bacon and cheese, it is still very light and healthy pasta dish. See you can have your bacon and eat it, too!

The subtle crunch and bold flavor from the fennel is so wonderful and the heat from the chilies is what I live for in a spicy dish. The original recipe calls for red jalapeños, though I could only find green, I think the red would have really been nice for a pop of color. It also called for seeding the chilies, but I left them in, when I tasted the peppers while I was cutting they didn’t have too much heat, and I really wanted a good kick. It is rare that I find something to be too spicy. If you want a more subtle spice, certainly leave the seeds from the chilies out and you can always make it spicier at the end, if it needs it, by adding in some red pepper flakes. The recipe also called for adding in crushed fennel seeds untoasted, I felt like toasting the whole seeds first would give a much better flavor by releasing it during toasting, not only did it taste great, the house smell amazing. Additionally, the original recipe called for pancetta instead of bacon. Since we buy all of our pork from Sojourner Farms, a local pasture-raised farm, I decided to use some of the delicious bacon that we purchased from them, instead. I would advise not to substitute dried herbs for the fresh stuff in this dish, it would surely be missed. It is also important to use a low-sodium broth, as you will reduce the broth down and you will also be getting some salt from the bacon (or pancetta), you can always add more salt to taste, before serving. I am a big fan of using the pasta water to thicken and bring back liquid to a pasta dish, just go slow so you don’t add too much, but don’t leave this step out, it can make or break a dish without sauce, like this one. Obviously, I also changed the original recipe by substituting gluten-free spaghetti, if you aren’t gluten-free you can use whatever your favorite pasta is, a nice whole-wheat spaghetti would be great, I am sure.

If you wanted to make this vegetarian you could easily leave out the bacon and use a vegetable broth instead of chicken, you may just want to add in a bit more fresh herbs to bump up the flavors. It would still be very tasty and hearty.

 

Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs
serves 8
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

6 slices of farm fresh local, pasture raised bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large jalapeño chiles, finely chopped – remove seeds if you want less heat
2 large fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, cut into thin wedges with some core attached
1 1/2 cups low-salt organic free-range chicken broth
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
11/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 pound gluten-free organic brown rice spaghetti (or whatever your favorite pasta is, gluten-free or not)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Toscano cheese, divided

Toast the fennel seeds in a large dry skillet over high heat, until slightly brown and fragrant. Remove the seeds and set aside. Sauté bacon in the same large skillet over medium heat until golden and a bit crispy. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the bacon drippings in skillet. Add garlic and chiles; sauté over medium heat 1 minute. Add the fresh fennel; cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Mix in broth, 2 tablespoons parsley, lemon juice, and the toasted fennel seeds. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until fennel is very tender, 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta until tender; drain. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta back to the pot or a large serving bowl.
Uncover skillet with fennel mixture and return to high heat. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add fennel to pasta. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup cheese, and pancetta. Add cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if it’s too dry. Toss pasta; transfer to serving bowl if it was in a pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley over. Serve with cheese.

Read Full Post »

Gluten-free Breakfast Bars

I am always looking for different easy breakfast options. Since I don’t eat processed and packaged foods, breakfast can be tough sometimes if I don’t feel like eggs, a smoothie or fresh fruit and yogurt. If I don’t plan ahead and have some homemade baked goods or some fresh bread to toast up, my options can be a bit limited since I don’t eat most cereals and I never eat packaged cereal bars or things of that nature. I came across a great post on The Kitchn in January that featured “10 Vegan Breakfast Ideas“, though some of the recipes contain things I can’t eat, the first post was about breakfast bars and it had a link to two different recipes. The one that caught my eye was for Gluten Free Breakfast Bars, another great recipe from Elana’s Pantry. They looked incredible and surprisingly I had every last ingredient on hand in my pantry and I always do. This made me so excited since besides muffins, if these turned out as good as I had imagined they would, I knew this gave me another great breakfast option and additionally another great travel breakfast item.

Sure enough, these were just as incredible as I had imagined. I changed up the recipe slightly by substituting dried cranberries for the raisins and adding ground cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg. I couldn’t resist adding the spices and they were just perfect in there. The crunch from the nuts and seeds was so perfect. The original recipe mentions just using the seeds and nuts raw, untoasted since that made it even easier, so that is what I did. They still had a perfect nutty crunch.

It should be noted that after I let the pan cool for a while and went to cut in, the pieces came out very easily but were a tad bit crumbly. I decided to put plastic wrap over the pan and refrigerate the rest. When I cut the remaining bars the following day, they stayed together much better and were far less crumbly. After spending a little time on Elana’s blog I am learning there are lots of different almond flours available and a lot of people prefer buying online to get the right one, so I am curious if a different almond flour changes the way the bar is held together. I will have to experiment with that. Another note on this recipe is that wherever I can in recipes I buy organic ingredients. Many of the items in these bars are organic, I just thought it may be a bit redundant to continuously post that.

Gluten Free Breakfast Bars
adapted from Elana’s Pantry
Makes 12-16 bars

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup almond slivers
¼ cup dried cranberries, unsweetened

Preheat  oven to 350º.

In a small bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, combine grapeseed oil, agave and vanilla.
Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix in coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond slivers and cranberries.
Grease an 8×8 baking dish with grapeseed oil. Press the dough into the baking dish, wetting your hands with water to help pat the dough down evenly.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting. I found they were a bit crumbly even after cooling, so I allowed it to cool overnight in the fridge and then cut the pieces, it held together much better.

* None of the nuts and seeds in this recipe are toasted.  This keeps it easy and fast, you could certainly toast them if you wish, it’s just an extra step before you start.

 

Gluten-free Breakfast Bars

Read Full Post »

Citrus Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds

 

I have sung quinoa’s praises many, many times on this blog, so I think you know by now how I feel about it. It really is a super food and incredibly versatile. This salad caught my eye while I was searching the web last week, looking at recipes. I couldn’t wait to make it as a side for dinner and to enjoy the leftovers throughout the week for lunch. I ended up doubling the recipe so we had extra for leftovers.

This salad has a bright and sunny taste to it and it was the perfect side with the grilled pork steaks from Sojourner Farms that we were making. It was even more perfect being that it finally warmed up a bit here. It was a balmy 42º when we were getting ready to start dinner last night and rather than heating up the oven and cooking inside, we decided it would be the perfect night to fire up the grill. Honestly, it felt a bit like a heat-wave, it has been such a brutal and frigid winter here. I am actually calling “Uncle” on the 2010/11 Winter season, officially here and now! I am done, I want to see the sun, some lovely flower buds and the beautiful green grass and trees. We have been buried since early December in so many feet of snow. Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow and I still, after all these years of living here, get excited with each and every flake that falls and even the major storms, but this year I have hit my limit. Thankfully Spring is just around the corner and with the Spring comes more green and more fresh produce, which I am equally missing.

Oranges and other citrus are in season right now, but I have never been a big orange eater. However, I have been trying out different types of oranges and tangerines and I am liking them more each time, I particularly like them in dishes instead of just plain. The tangerines in this salad were perfectly juicy and sweet but not too overpowering. You could certainly use your citrus of choice, oranges would be just as good. The fresh scallions and parsley were both perfect, I changed the original recipe a bit by adding garlic and adding a bit more sriracha, since I like spicy, though even with increasing the sriracha it was still a very subtle spiciness, not intense by any stretch of the imagination. This salad is best served room temperature and it was perfect with the grilled pork and green beans with pine nuts that I also made. This salad was great as a side, but would also be great as the main dish or an appetizer. Additionally, it would be a nice vegan dish to bring to a party. If you double the recipe as I did, just top each individual serving with the toasted almonds and keep them on the side, this way they won’t lose that lovely crunch by sitting in the fridge with the salad. Just top each serving individually as you serve them.

Citrus Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds
Serves 4
adapted from Cooking with Amy

1 tangerine, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (remove as much of the membranes as you can)
1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed well
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
1/2 lemon, preferably organic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
1/2 tablespoon sriracha, or more to taste
2 tablespoons thinly sliced toasted almonds

Toast your almond slices ahead of time and set aside.

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, then toast it in a dry medium saucepan, over medium heat for a few minutes until it is fragrant.

Add the water and salt to the quinoa, and bring to a boil over a high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature quicker, while you prepare the salad.

Before cutting the lemon, finely grate the zest and then squeeze the juice into a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic, scallions, parsley and sriracha. Once the quinoa has cooled and is room temperature add in the quinoa and tangerine pieces, season to taste with salt and top with almonds and a bit of fresh parsley just before serving.

Read Full Post »

Chocolate Chip Brownies (Gluten-free)

I came across this recipe while on my cleanse last month, and I wished I hadn’t at that time, because it was all I could think about for the last day or two of the cleanse. I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had almond butter on hand from smoothies and other recipes during my cleanse and I had really fallen in love with it. So versatile and there so many recipes it will work in, plus it is super tasty on its own on a spoon, just like old faithful, peanut butter. I had an amazing gluten-free brownie a while ago at the Lexington Coop and had been looking around online for a similar recipe using those ingredients. I came across this recipe on Elana’s Pantry, a wonderful gluten-free blog that features so many great recipes, many of which are made with almond flours and almond flour butter, etc.

These brownies are not only the best gluten-free brownies I have ever had, I think they are the best brownies, period. My husband couldn’t get enough and couldn’t stop raving about them, he said they were the best had ever had, too. He is such a good gauge for these types of recipes, since many times what I think is good, really isn’t, since it’s been over 6 years since I have had gluten and the original versions. When he can’t get enough and says it’s the best ever, I know I have struck gold. I cannot wait to make these again, maybe with nuts or coconut, even.

Whether you can have gluten or not, you need to make these brownies. It’s not only amazing that these are gluten-free but I cannot believe that there isn’t any flour in them. Not only are they a lovely protein-packed, healthier version of a classic dessert but they are just plain perfect!

Chocolate Chip Brownies (Gluten-Free)
Makes about 24 brownies
Recipe via Elana’s Pantry

1 (16) ounce jar organic almond butter, smooth roasted (if it is salted only add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt)
2 local farm fresh brown eggs
1 1/4 cups agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips 73% cacao

Preheat oven to 325º. In a large bowl, blend almond butter until smooth with your mixer or a hand blender. Mix in eggs, then add in agave and vanilla
Blend in cocoa, salt and baking soda, mix well, then fold in chocolate chips. Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish. Pour batter into dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes

Read Full Post »

Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

As you can probably tell from reading my recipes, we eat very little meat in our household. We aren’t vegetarians, but I would say we are mostly vegetarian. I consider myself to be a conscientious omnivore, I do eat meat occasionally, but only meat that I know where it comes from, how it was raised, what it ate, etc. At this point the only meat in our house comes from a local farm where it was all pasture-raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals. We have visited the farm, we have seen the animals and we have shaken the hand of the man who does it all. This is the only way I will ever buy meat for our home. It feels right. This fall we shared a pig with my parents. We have more pork that you can even imagine in our freezer. At home I would say we probably enjoy pork once or twice a month and chicken once a month. I have a good supply of this wonderful ground italian sausage that is unlike anything you can ever imagine. So tasty, sweet, subtly spicy and not too greasy, it is perfect. Without the ability to make patties and throw them on the grill (it is WAY too cold for that), I was trying to think of some winter friendly ways to enjoy the sausage. I thought a nice hearty soup would be perfect. I was torn between a tomato-based vegetable pasta sausage soup but then I thought something creamy and hearty sounded even better (though I plan to make that first soup soon).

This soup was really incredible, spicy and creamy with a nice green crunch from the spinach. The fresh herbs were wonderful, though dried will do if you can’t find fresh. I wanted it to be nice and brothy and wanted more servings so I used about 7 or 8 cups of chicken broth, you can certainly go with less, 5 or 6, if you want it to be a chunkier and less brothy soup. I also decided to go with half and half versus heavy cream to keep it a bit lighter per serving, but heavy cream would certainly be delicious and with less broth you would have a nice thick soup, just a bit fewer servings. Oh and the freshly grated parmesan cheese on top really sets this soup over the edge. It is the perfect finishing move.

*I am not at all crazy about the photo of this soup, it was hard to photograph with all the lovely bits, and I forgot to put the cheese on top for the photo, but you get the idea.

Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of ground Italian pork sausage, local, pasture-raised and free from hormones and antibiotics
6-8 cups of organic chicken broth, low sodium
5 small russet potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes with the skins still on
1/2 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of organic half and half
2 cups of coarsely cut spinach
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion gets soft. At this point add the Italian Sausage and cook until its browned. Our sausage isn’t very greasy so I didn’t need to pour any out, if your sausage produces a lot of grease pour some off before adding the soup.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat add in the chicken broth, potatoes, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

After the soup has been simmering add the sausage, onion and garlic mixture and cook another 5-10 minutes. After it is done simmering, add in the half and half and stir. Reduce the heat and be sure it doesn’t boil. Cook another 2 minutes. Taste the soup, add more salt and pepper to taste. More red pepper flakes if you want it spicier.

Remove the soup from the heat, add in the spinach and cover. Let it sit for an additional 3-5 minutes until the spinach is cooked.

Ladle the soup in your bowls and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: