02 April 2017 Yogi Tea

2017-Apr-02_FourNightsAWeek_0583I’ve become a huge fan of the site, Find What Feels Good and Yoga With Adriene over the winter months. If you haven’t discovered Adriene Mishler and her YouTube videos, I think you are really missing out on a great way to build a home yoga practice.  Adriene also shares “off the mat” tips and this morning her recipe for Yogi Tea popped up.  

While I enjoy an occasional cup of Chai, I like to forego the milk (or milk substitute) products and cut out sugars.  In my opinion, this tea was totally enjoyable as is without adding either milk or sweeteners. And it filled our home with a warm and spicy aroma. In the YouTube video, the explanation of why each ingredient was selected and how it might affect digestion is shared, but I just enjoyed the warmth and comfort from the brew.  I hope you do, too.

This recipe is the one I played with. It was posted on Organic Authority and adapted from Yoga Yoga. After you play with the recipe a bit, you can tweak the ingredient amounts suggested to suit your own taste.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamom pods (split the pods first)
  • 8 ginger slices (1/4 inch thick, no need to peel)
  • ½ teaspoon organic black tea leaves (I used 1 teabag)
  • Milk (dairy or non-dairy) to taste (my preference – didn’t use)
  • Honey to taste (my preference – didn’t use)

Method

  1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil.
  2. Add cloves and boil for one minute.
  3. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Cover and boil for 30 minutes (or longer).
  4. When ready, remove from heat, add black tea and let cool. Strain tea. (I added the teabag after boiling the spices together for about 3 minutes and then added the teabag, and steeped the tea at a low simmer for about 30 minutes).
  5. Add milk and honey to taste.
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23 March 2017 Spinach, Tofu & Sesame Stir-Fry

2017-Mar-23_FourNightsA-Week_0522Recipe created by Martha Rose Shulman.

The New York Times Food and Cooking sections are a great resource for home cooks whether adventurous or not.  As a subscriber, I receive a couple of weekly newsletters from the Times and this one caught my eye for its simplicity.

This recipe, Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry, comes from Martha Rose Shulman, one of the Times regular contributors, popped up recently and turned out to be quite quick (15 minutes!) to prepare. (And a bonus for subscribers, the recipes can be stored online in a personal recipe box).

Ms. Shulman makes a couple of serving suggestions – one of which is to use the stir-fry as a pita filling. Next time, I’ll try that!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (I substituted coconut oil)
  • ½ pound tofu, cut in small dice (firm!)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  •  Soy sauce to taste
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed (use fresh, readily available)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

METHOD

  1. Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok, and add the tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu is lightly colored, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and stir-fry until the spinach wilts, about one minute. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
  2. Using tongs, transfer the spinach and tofu mixture to a serving bowl, leaving the liquid behind in the pan or wok. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and add more soy sauce as desired. Serve with rice or other grains, or noodles.  You may also use it as a filling for whole wheat pita bread.

Cornmeal-Lime Cookies

2017-Mar-12_fournightsaweek_0494Original Recipe found in: Chang, J. Flour: spectacular recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. (2010). San Francisco: Chronicle. p 118-119.

Joanne Chang says “Eat Dessert First” and frankly if my metabolism were a bit different, I would definitely follow that advice! Today I was looking for a cookie with a little bit of a spring hop to it (New England’s March weather is featuring 12-18 inches of snow starting in 24 hours). This delightful cookie has the crunch of cornmeal and the refreshing bite of limes.  I highly recommend Joanne Chang’s cookbook as Joanne offers lots of great baker’s tips to get things just right. And, if you’re in the Boston Metropolitan area, be sure to stop by one of the Flour Bakery’s cafe sites – be ready to be amazed.

Ingredients

For the cookie:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  •  2 TBSP finely grated lime zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup medium coarse yellow cornmeal (I used the polenta I had on hand)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

For Lime Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest

Method

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle. Add the lime zest and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to release the lime flavor. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. On low-speed slowly add the flour mixture and then mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.
  4. Drop the dough in scant 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment), spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes (I found I needed to pull the tray out at about 15 minutes, so keep your eye on the bake) or until the cookies are pale brown on the edges, still page in the center and just firm to the touch in the center. Be careful not to overbake the cookies and let the top brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool to room temperature or just a bit warmer before glazing.
  6. To make the glaze: while the cookies are cooling in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, water, lime juice and lime zest until smooth. Your should have about 1/2 cup.
  7. Brush the cookies with a thin layer of the glaze then allow the glaze to set for about 10 minutes before serving or storing.
  8. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week (Trust me, bake the entire batch!).

Yield: 14-16 cookies


02 March 2017: Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Apples and Walnuts

2017-mar-02_fournightsaweek_0462Adapted from Wholefully.

We love eating Brussel sprouts and usually steam them as a vegetable side dish.  Recently I started seeing shaved Brussel sprout salads, and when, to my great delight, I spotted a bag of sprouts already shredded…. well, I couldn’t resist. Here’s a vegan nod to this dish created by Cassie Johnston at Wholefully, a great resource for healthy eating.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts (if you can score pre-shaved ones, you will save yourself the scariness in Step 1 below)
  • 1 medium tart apple (Granny Smith)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Vinaigrette  2017-mar-02_fournightsaweek_0476

  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Trim the ends off the Brussel sprouts. Using a sharp knife or the thinest blade on a mandoline slicer (and a no-cut glove), slice eat sprout thinly. (you can skip this if you find already shaved Brussel sprouts as I did in our local Whole Foods Market).
  2. Slice the apple and red onion in the same manner. Combine in a large bowl.
  3. Toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about two minutes. Add to the Brussel sprout mixture. Toss to combine.
  4. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cassie recommends doing this in a jar with a tight fitting lid, I used a measuring cup and small whisk. Pour over the Brussel sprout mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


23 Feb. 2017: Quinoa Bowl with Tahini Dressing

2017-feb-23_fournightsaweek_0439I happened on Martha Stewart’s PBS cooking show recently, and was impressed that the recipe she prepared was not so ridiculously complicated that it required a team of sous chefs to get it to table.  So as I was searching for something to cook this week, I migrated over to her website and found this Quinoa Bowl.  Delicious and not difficult for home cooking!  Thanks to Wendy at Tutto Bene for the Barista Pinotage recommendation.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of broccoli, florets with tender stems (halved if large) 2017-feb-23_fournightsaweek_0451
  • 1 red onion (8 oz) cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 cups packed mint leaves, plus more for serving/garnish
  • sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, and lightly toasted sliced almonds for serving

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss broccoli and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping vegetables once, until golden brown and tender (about 25 minutes).
  2. In a small pot, bring quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 14 minutes. Turn of heat and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Combine tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and mint in a blender. Blend until smooth; add 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  4. Serve quinoa topped with roasted vegetables, avocado, and cucumber and sprinkle with almonds and mint with dressing on the side. (Serves 4)

 


19 February 2017: Red Curry Vegetable Soup

2017-feb-19_fournighsaweek_ingredientsLiving in a diverse community such as Lowell, MA, I sometimes find that I’ve taken for granted all of the ethnic flavors that are available to us here.  With one of the largest Southeast Asian populations in the United States, we’ve been so fortunate to experience some fantastic foods and flavors, and even the mainstream grocers carry many ethnic foods.

This curry-flavored soup comes from Vegetarian Times, one of my favorite sources for non-meat based meals.  The magazine encourages cooks to substitute whatever might be available for both the cauliflower and green beans; however, in the dead of winter, access to either of these veggies in not a problem. In almost all cooking, I use either olive oil or coconut oil; I substituted the coconut oil for canola in this recipe. 2017-Feb-19_FourNighsAWeek_soup.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP canola oil (I substituted coconut oil)
  • 12 oz cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (3 cups)
  • 4 large green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1 TBSP Thai red curry paste
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes in their juice
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 6 oz green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used thawed frozen beans)
  • 1 TBSP lime juice

Method

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and white parts of green onions. Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown. Add curry paste, and saute 1 minute more.
  2. Add broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk and green beans , and simmer 5 minutes, or until beans are tender.
  4. Stir in lime juice and remaining green onions. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Note: the nutritional information for each serving (6) can be found on Vegetarian Times’ webpage for this recipe.


27 January 2017: Slow Cooker Chicken and Apple Stew

2017-jan-27_fournightsaweek_0363Every couple of weeks I like to break out my slow cooker. This week, I found a recipe on WholeFoods Market that used chicken thighs; they stand up to long, slow cooking without loosing any of their moist flavor. I’ve owned a couple of slow cookers over the last 30-plus years, starting with a one-piece Presto that made cleaning up a nightmare.  My current version is a round All-Clad 4-quart model with a black ceramic insert and 3 temperature settings (All-Clad’s newest version has an additional one: high start/low finish). Be sure to read the instruction manual carefully in order to avoid ending up with a cracked insert. 

I did make one adjustment to the recipe: since I buy my poultry at organic markets where I can be assured of the quality (no antibiotics, thank you), even thighs can be pretty pricey. I used half as much poultry as the recipe called for and didn’t miss the extra one bit. The link to Whole Foods Market’s original recipe is here.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 1 lb.)
  • 3 firm, sweet baking apples (like Braeburn or Gala); peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges each
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (10 oz each), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 TBSP fresh (yes, it’s worth it) sage leaves
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Method

  1. Toast fennel seeds in small skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 2 mins).
  2. Cut chicken thighs in half.
  3. Add chicken, fennel seeds and ALL the rest of the remaining ingredients to a slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook until chicken and apples are very tender, (6-7 hours on LOW or 3-3.5 hours on High)
  5. Serves 6-8

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