butternut squash soup

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Ok, so I’m pretty obsessed with this butternut squash soup. In the past month or so, I’ve made three full batches. For myself. But when the weather’s as dreary as it’s been these days, soup really is the best comfort food. I eat it by the bowlful or if it’s super gloomy outside, with some grilled cheese sandwiches (dill havarti on pumpernickel, it’s the best).

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Use the best, freshest ingredients and you can’t go wrong. The soup does require some prep work and chopping but it’s well worth it. I freeze half the batch so that it’s always there whenever my butternut soup craving hits. Mmm… I love winter!

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Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 (32-ounce) container vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup half and half, optional

(1) Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the olive oil and butter. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until translucent.
(2) Add the chopped apples, butternut squash, and garlic. Saute for another 10 minutes until the squash begins to slightly soften.
(3) Pour in the broth then add fresh thyme leaves (discard the stems) and cayenne pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove from heat.
(4) Puree the soup, in batches in a blender until smooth. Be very careful when pureeing the hot mixture to start blending slowly and let the steam vent.
(5) Return to Dutch oven and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring back to a simmer and stir in the half and half for a richer consistency (I usually find it doesn’t need it though).
 

Makes 8 servings

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kale chips

Is there any better chip than a kale chip…

Besides a potato chip. Or a tortilla chip. Pita chip, poker chip… oh, chocolate chip! So well yah maybe kale chips don’t exactly scream mm YUM, yes please! but they’re actually quite tasty, crispy snacks. If you like roasted nori sheets (which I love) then you’ll probably like these. They really are a nice go-to fix when you’re in the mood for a salty snack. In fact, not to brag, but they were quite the success at the Fourth of July party I went to last night… just spreading the gospel of kale chips everywhere I go. Like a vegan Jesus. Again, not bragging.

Not to mention they’re so much healthier than most other snacks that go crunch (I’m lookin’ at YOU, salt & pepper kettle chips!). Packed with beta carotene, vitamin C and K, calcium, and definitely the trendiest green right now.

So indulgence wise, there really is no better chip than a kale chip.

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Edamame Fried Rice

The one thing I’ve realized about living in the City is learning to live on a budget. Which is difficult when there’s so much to do and even more to EAT! While I love indulging in take-out Indian food and sushi, sometimes it’s necessary to buckle down… especially after seeing the long string of restaurant charges on my credit card activity.

One of the easiest things I like to make is hibachi-style fried rice. This is a variation I learned from my mom who makes it very simply with carrots and scallions (sometimes just carrots). I like to add a little extra green with peas or in this case, edamame! I make a ton so I can pack it for lunch or reheat it for dinner for the week to come. Here’s to full bellies and fuller wallets!

Edamame Fried Rice

  • 2 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ¾ cup scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked, shelled frozen edamame, thawed (or green peas)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten*
  • 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • freshly cracked pepper

(1)  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes.
(2)  Add another tablespoon of oil and the rice and cook on medium-high heat, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
(3)  Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled.
(4)  Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, add the edamame and stir.
(5)  Then add soy sauce, sesame seeds and pepper to taste. Incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

*Replace the eggs with extra firm tofu for a vegan meal! 

Makes 4 servings

 

Olé y’all!

My sister Christine is the Queen of Mexican food. When we’re both home, we usually have Fiesta night at least once a week. To be honest, I never really craved Mexican food until recently (I’m more like the Queen of Sushi) 🙂 But this Tofu Taco recipe courtesy of my friend Alyssa is one of my all-time favorites. It will have everyone, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, screaming ‘Olé!’

Watch as something pale and bland like tofu transforms…

into an incredibly flavorful entree. Mmm-mm… muy bueno!

Tofu Tacos

  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 15 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled (about 2 cups)
  • ½ large white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I use pasta sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 10 tortillas (corn or flour)
  • toppings (i.e. lettuce, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream)

(1) Sauté the tofu in oil for 4-5 minutes until browned, then add onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook until slightly softened. 
(2) Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and soy sauce. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and water; simmer over low heat.
(3) Heat tortillas in a heavy, ungreased skillet, turning each from side to side until soft and pliable. Take the tortilla off the heat and place a small amount of the tofu mixture in the center of each then fold the tortilla in half.
(4) Garnish with whatever toppings you desire.

Makes 10 tacos

I’m also incredibly excited because Christine shipped me my cowboy boots, which I received today! NYC is about to get some southern style y’all.

kale, it’s what’s for dinner.

the first week i was home, i ate nothing but junk. junk junk. like rice krispy treats and gummy worms and cheesy nachos, junk. it’s hard when you shift from my rather meager pantry to Mama Choo’s overflowing, snack-stocked one to not over-indulge. every time i come home, i open the pantry door and exclaim ‘CORNUCOPIA!’ before devouring such goodies as mentioned above (think charlotte’s web, when templeton goes to the carnival). afterwards, i feel so happy… for about 30 minutes.

then i feel as though someone has just punched me in my stomach’s face and realize i’m getting too old to treat my body this way. so to reprimand for that week of ickiness, i made this dish which incorporates whole grain spaghetti, sautéed kale and cannellini beans. yes, it’s meant to be healthy but it’s also super delicious! if you’re vegan, the recipe can easily be adapted with the omission of the parmesan cheese but i kept it cause, a little indulgence now and then never hurt anybody.

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
adapted from Bon Appétit

  • 1 pound kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut
  • crosswise into ½-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • ½ pound spaghetti (I use whole grain)
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese

(1)  Rinse and drain kale.
(2)  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
(3)  Add sliced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and pinch of salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
(4)  Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.
(5)  Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking liquid.
(6)  Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pan. Add cannellini beans, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry.
(7)  Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes 4 servings

do you have a go-to, feel good meal?? share it with me!