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

23 January 2017: Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa

2017-jan-23_fournightsaweek_0351It’s Meatless Monday! We both love stuffed peppers, but I’m not a huge fan of the ground meat and tomato sauce stuffing. This recipe uses quinoa along with chopped veggies seasoned with cumin and cinnamon.  In place of stuffing full peppers, I split them in half – still delish! Visit Whole Foods website for the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 7 bell peppers (1 cored, seeded & chopped; tops removed and reserved if you are filling the peppers upright, just core and seed the remaining 6)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 pound baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse & cook according the package directions ahead of time)
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring 2017-jan-23_fournightsaweek_0345 occasionally until transparent, 8-10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes more.
  2. Add carrots and chopped peppers, cook until just softened, then add parsley and spinach (in batches if needed). Let spinach wilt then stir in cinnamon, cumin, and cooked quinoa. Toss gently to combine. Add salt, pepper, and cashews (if using) and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside to let filling cool to just warm.
  3. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.
  4. Divide quinoa mixture evenly among remaining 6 bell peppers (or 12 halves), gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. Top each pepper with its reserved top then arrange them upright in prepared pan.
  5. Cover snugly with foil and bake until peppers are tender and juicy and filling is hot throughout, about 1 hours. Transfer to plates, and serve.

17 January 2017: Indian Red Lentil Soup

2017-jan-17_fournightsaweek_0242It’s cold and damp and definitely a good night for soup! This recipe comes from Whole Foods Market. No kale, no problem – I used spinach in place of the kale this time around.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded kale (I used baby spinach)
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Method:

  1. Heat a sauce pot over medium heat until hot. Add cumin and toast 1 minute or until aromatic. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown and stick to the pot, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and cook 2 minutes longer,  stirring frequently. Add lentils, broth, 2 cups water, coconut milk and lemon juice; bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in kale and salt.

30 December 2016: Green Goddess Glow Bowl

2016-dec-31_fournightsaweek_0175Adapted from Glowing Fridge Green Goddess Glow Bowl.

I recently discovered a great resource for vegan and plant-based eating, The Glowing Fridge. Shannon, the author of this site, has lots of great ideas – including recipes – for anyone making the change to a plant-based diet.  One of the series of recipes Shannon has developed, the Glow Bowls, are variations on bowls of grains and veggies that can lead to endless variations.  After trying the Green Goddess Glow Bowl, I know I’m inspired to include more plant-based cooking in the coming year.

Since I usually have the Kripalu House Dressing (or variation thereof) on hand in my fridge, next time around I’ll probably use that in place of the dressing recipe* cited. This is just my personal preference for a bit of cayenne and chile powder.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or 1 TBSP coconut oil – which is what I used)
  • 1/3 of an onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup edamame, frozen (take out of the pod if you bought edamame pods)
  • 1 zucchini, chopped (true confession: I walked out of the food store without the zucchini so I used more kale here)
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing*:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup or agave nectar
  • sea salt, to taste

Method

  1. In a medium sized pot, add quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable broth (here I used coconut oil instead) and saute the onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the frozen edamame and zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the kale last and cook about 1 minute or until softened (this took longer for me – and I needed to cover the pan). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
  3. Prepare the dressing in a small bowl by adding all of the ingredients and whisking until smooth. I found I needed to add a small amount of water to loosen the tahini.
  4. Scoop the quinoa into a bowl, top with the vegetable mixture and drizzle on the dressing.

 


19 December 2017: Quinoa Vegetable Soup

2016-dec-19_fournightsaweek_0163Adapted from Whole Foods Market Quinoa Vegetable Soup.

Having adopted more mindful eating this year, I’m always looking for satisfying soups and salad mains that don’t load on lots of calories. This soup, courtesy of Whole Foods Market, not only makes use of more seasonal vegetables (like turnips), but is quite tasty – and low in calorires (110/cup). With a 20-minute cook time, it comes together quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP expeller pressed canola oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large turnip, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (I used red quinoa for variety)
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth (vegetable broth substituted)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. In a large sauce pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic and cook 6-8 minutes or until golden and soft. Stir in tomatoes, bell pepper, turnip, quinoa, broth, 1 cup water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley.

 


13 December 2016: St. Lucia Buns

2016-dec-13_foodblog_0138Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Both of my great-grandfathers were bakers; if that’s an inherited trait, I’m officially thanking them both here for instilling in me a love of yeast and flour. Working with yeasted doughs and breads is quite satisfying, and it has been something I’ve dabbled in since high school.  

I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website recently and decided to try it out. Eggy and not too sweet, I’ve put some of the dozen buns aside for Christmas breakfast. And, as an extra bonus, the smell of baking dough has filled our apartment.

Ingredients – Buns

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur recommended)
  • 1 TBSP instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (1 will be separated)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients – Topping

  • 1 large egg white (reserved from dough) mixed with 1 TBSP cold water
  • OPTIONAL coarse sugar (pearl sugar recommended)
  • OPTIONAL golden raisins

Method

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat (or microwave safe bowl in the microwave), heat the milk and saffron to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Set the mixture aside to allow the butter to melt and cool to lukewarm which will be about 30 minutes time.
  2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, flour, potato flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Separate one of the 3 eggs and set the white aside to use in the topping.
  4. Pour the lukewarm mix/butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Now add the two whole eggs + the 1 egg yolk and the vanilla. Mix to combine and then knead (use the dough hook) for about 7 minutes by mixture (or if you’re a purists, mix for 10 minutes by hand) until the dough is smooth and supple.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour until it’s quite puffy (but it doesn’t have to double in bulk).
  6. Gently deflate the dough (give it a punch, it’s okay) and divide it into 12 equal pieces. If you use a scale for this each piece weighs about 92 grams or 3 1/4 ounces.
  7. Shape the dough into rough logs and let rest covered for about 10 minutes.
  8. Roll each log into a 15 or 18 inch rope; shape each rope into an “s” shape by rolling the ends into opposing coils. If you are using raisins, you can tuck a raisin into the center of each side-by-side coil (I skipped the raisins).
  9. Place buns on lightly greased sheet (or on parchment) leaving about an inch between each piece. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. While dough rises, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Brush each bun with the egg white/water mixture. Sprinkle with coarse pearl sugar if desired.
  11. Bake buns until golden brown (about 18 to 20 minutes). King Arthur Flour recommends tenting the raising with foil for the last 3 minutes to prevent the raisins from burning (which is yet another reason I skipped the raisins).
  12. Remove the buns from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

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