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Easy Red Lentil Soup

Nonna's Smoky SauceI cook when I’m procrastinating. Last month, when faced with 8 projects and very little time in which to complete them, I just had to make soup one morning. I saw this jar of Nonna’s Smoky Sauce from City Saucery, grabbed a bag of red lentils from the cupboard, and decided to see what would happen.

Served over steamed kale and topped with a spoonful of goat cheese, the result made for a delicious lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 24-oz jar tomato sauce of choice

Directions: 

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Sautee onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add red lentils, stir to coat. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add sauce and stir. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Do you procrastinate? What do you do when you “should” be doing other things? 

What to Make this Weekend: Lucky Lentil Soup

Happy LentilsHappy Friday! Hope your 2015 is off to a great start. Traditionally, there are certain foods eaten on New Years Day that are thought to be “lucky.” I like to extend that to all of January. I really feel like this first month of the year can set the tone for the months to come. Here’s the lentil soup I made to enjoy yesterday.

This soup features lentils-round foods are thought to attract money because they resemble coins-and greens because, well, green = money. Money soup! It also happens to be full of protein and fiber to help you stay full (helpful if you’re trying to stick to a weight-loss goal) and plenty of vitamins A, C, D, and K plus B-vitamins like folate and B-6 as well as iron. The potassium in this soup can also help with hangover headaches and muscle cramps leftover from dancing on New Year’s Eve. It also happens to be delicious. My favorite way to enjoy this is with a poached egg on top-the added protein, omega-3, and choline make it a good “brain food” for the dead of winter.

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 8-oz container sliced white mushrooms
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
1 tsp herbes de Provence (or a mix of rosemary, oregano, and thyme)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, carrot, and celery until soft.
Add mushrooms and herbs. Cook until just beginning to get soft, about 5 minutes.
Add broth or more water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add kale a little at a time, stirring in until wilted. Add more broth or water if needed.
Add lentils. Cook for another 5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot. Top with a poached egg if desired.

***

Some other things you can make this weekend:

Here, from Food 52,  are some creative uses for (leftover?) champagne you may have from New Year’s Eve. People actually end up with leftover champagne?

If you’re totally over alcohol and thinking about what the hell you’re going to eat for dinner in these first weeks of 2015, they also have a great round-up of weeknight recipes.

Since my mom’s birthday is coming up next week, I’m visiting the family Sunday for a little celebration. I will not subject their collective palate to my attempt at making a birthday cake, but this S’mores Cake in a Jar recipe from How Sweet It Is sounds like it would be fun to try. I don’t care if it’s from 2011 and mason jars as serving vessels are “out”—let me have my nostalgic mason jar moment.

What are you up to this weekend? Any cooking on the agenda?

What to Make This Weekend

This weekend, a lot of us are taking a little break between festivities, maybe banking some sleep  in anticipation of New Years Eve? I’m also sure I’m not alone in being surrounded with a wealth of leftovers. As far as food is concerned, my family goes all out on the holidays. Exhibit A:Christmas Ham

Nothing says, “Merry Christmas” quite like a ham in a laundry basket. My mom brought this over to my aunt’s as an addition to the standing rib roast and multitude of sides also on the menu for the day. Naturally, there is a lot left because we had enough food to feed, like, 50 people instead of 20. Ham is a lot leaner than many other holiday meats, but it can be high in sodium. That actually makes it great, though, for adding flavor to foods that would otherwise be a little bland. A little can go a really long way. I think my favorite thing to do with leftover ham is put the bone in soup. That still leaves quite a bit, though. In case you don’t have a pet lama to pawn extra ham off on, here are a few other things you can do with the leftovers:

*Ham Bone Soup. Check out this awesome Pinterest page—so many ideas!

*Ham on Rye. Sorry—I’ll take any excuse to make a Bukowksi reference. Whole wheat bread would add more fiber to your sandwich to to get your digestive system kicking after the holiday sluggishness, but you could say f*** it and do a Cuban sandwich.

*Green Eggs and Ham: Rachel Ray’s take is adorable, but for a healthier twist, try poached eggs over sautéed spinach and  sliced ham. An Ezekiel sprouted grain English muffin would make a nice side.

Have tasty weekend!

What are some of your favorite ways to use leftovers?

Giveaway: What to Make this Weekend

Friday, wow! That happened fast. Thinking about what you’re going to cook this weekend?

I, for one, am still craving tomato sauce, tomato-based soup, and all things involving sun-dried tomatoes. I really hope this doesn’t mean I have some illness that my body has begun craving lycopene and other antioxidants in tomatoes in order to combat. Maybe I’m just into the color red—who knows? Given then this is the extent of my holiday decorating, it’s probably that I could use a little burst of color:

christmas decoration 2014

Either way, the pasta dish I made other night totally hit the spot. I do not have a picture, but it involved chicken, kabocha, and red kale in a tomato sauce, which was essentially homemade marinara mixed with non-fat ricotta and roasted garlic. I still also have a batch of eggplant lentil soup in the freezer that I can’t stop thinking about. Thank god for canned tomatoes.

tr_logoThe folks at Tuttorusso Tomatoes would like one of you to enjoy some tomatoes too! One lucky reader will receive a kit that contains several varieties of canned tomatoes, plus tomato paste, a wooden spoon, an apron, and recipes.

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me your favorite tomato-based recipe! 

I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Have a great weekend!

If you want to make any non-tomato things this weekend, here are a few things that caught my eye on the inter webs this week:

 

Warm Winter Salads

kale saladI know it’s not technically winter yet, but it sure feels like it outside! As the seasons change, it makes a lot of sense to change up our diets a little to help us adapt to the shifts in light and weather patterns.

One of my favorite stereotypical dietitian/nutritionist habits is my daily salad. It’s not a strict rule, but I do love having a big salad for lunch. It’s filling and delicious and also happens a great way to use up leftovers. The mad scientist side of me enjoys trying new flavor combinations, while my Type A side finds comfort in returning to old favorites. I also enjoy the energy boost I get from the mix of protein and fiber, not to mention all the super-food facets of the various ingredients. The mix of colors is also visually appealing, which I think goes a long way in perking you up in the middle of a hectic day.

During hot weather, a cold, crisp salad is a pretty natural choice. When things cool down, though, most of us find ourselves craving warm foods.  Carb cravings are also common during fall and winter, as our body struggles to regulate our mood and energy levels. Creamy soups and hot sandwiches and pizza start to look a lot more appealing than, say, mesclun greens. This is where warm salads come in. Essentially, it’s a salad that you serve warm. You can toss freshly cooked ingredients in with the raw greens or zap the whole bowl in the microwave if you prefer (confession: that’s what I usually do because I’m lazy/busy). Here are a few tips for creating a nourishing, satisfying wintertime meal.

*Stick to heartier greens. Kale (or baby kale) and arugula are a few of my favorites. Spinach can also work.  Basically, if you would eat it raw or cooked, it will likely translate well. Just steer clear of more delicate greens like mesclun, which are not that enjoyable when wilted.

*Keep it seasonal. In the fall and winter, foods like roasted cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and squash are delicious in salad. Pears and apple are great in sweeter salads. Enjoying produce at its peak will help you get into the spirit of the season and appreciate the present moment, even when you’d rather be frolicking on the beach.

*Pick a protein. Aside from satisfying hunger, the tryptophan in animal sources of protein like meat, fish, and eggs helps keep our mood steady-great for managing workday stress and the winter blues. This may not be everyone’s taste, but I love using chicken sausage for a change of pace sometimes. Vegetarian sources of protein like tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans are great on salad. They also provide plenty of fiber plus other important nutrients.

*Dress it up. Though you could do simple oil & vinegar, warm salads are great with a little creamy dressing drizzled on top. Just keep it simple. For example, a simple miso-tahini dressing made of miso paste, tahini, apple cider vinegar, and a little water adds a ton of flavor without being too heavy. Hummus can be another tasty topping.

*Pick one add-on.  Allow yourself one “extra” item that you really enjoy. This will help you feel satisfied without overdoing it. Just remember that a little goes a long way. A few of my favorites are sliced avocado (about 1/4 of a whole) goat cheese, and hemp seeds. 2 tbsp of dried fruit, nuts, or pumpkin seeds can also be nice. Maybe you want to mix in a little brown rice or quinoa? Sometimes I might add 1/4 cup of cooked lentils if I need a little bit of carbs to round out the meal, or a hard-boiled egg if I’m craving more protein. Whatever fills in the blank for you!

 What are some of your favorite cold-weather meals? Any favorite salad toppings? 

3 Things to Make This Weekend

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? If you’re anywhere in the northeast, you’ve probably been making lots of small talk about the freezing weather, but it’s supposed to “warm up” a bit for a few days—in the 40’s and mostly sunny here in NYC. I’m not planning to do a ton of cooking, as I’ll be working at the hospital through Monday, but here are a few things for you to try.

golden milk 1.) Golden Milk. Bone-chilling days call for warming drinks. And no, for once in my life, I do not mean bourbon. I’ve been using turmeric and ginger potions as a col remedy for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about golden milk. Basically, you slowly boil some milk and add turmeric and ginger. Then you grind a little black pepper on top, sweeten with honey to taste.  This post from Fresh Bites Daily gives a pretty good background—and recipe. I like to use organic low-fat milk, but you can definitely use coconut milk or almond milk if preferred.

2.) Have you tried my eggplant lentil soup yet? I’m obsessed with it. Try it with a poached egg and some feta or goat cheese on top. Perfect cold-day comfort food. I like to add a little steamed kale or spinach (aka—greens that have been zapped in the microwave) for a little color, fiber, vitamin boost.

3.) This baby kale breakfast salad from How Sweet it Is. This is what I think of when I think of brunch. And by brunch I mean the kind I will never know because it involves sleeping past, like, ten a.m., but I would totally make this for lunch-called-brunch. Champagne optional. I know I’m a dietitian and all, but there is absolutely room in life for salad with bacon and poached eggs on it. If your arteries clench up just thinking about it, you could always, like, skip the baked-in-butter croutons and use olive oil instead of bacon grease in the dressing. Whatever makes it work for you.

Have a lovely weekend!

What are you planning to make this weekend? What do you think of when you think of brunch? 

 

Eggplant Lentil Soup

When the temperatures drop, I crave tomato-based soups and sauces like crazy. Perhaps it’s some misplaced longing for summer? I refuse to buy fresh tomatoes once they’re out of season because it’s kind of like dating a blander version of that ex you’re not over: Just not the same, no matter how much wine you drink.

tr_logoCanned tomatoes are the perfect solution, and I always stock up once I’ve adequately mourned the end of the summer season. When the folks at Tuttorosso tomatoes sent me a bunch, it was the perfect excuse to make an updated version of an old idea. This Eggplant Lentil soup will keep you warm on many a lonely winter night, especially since it makes, like, a billion servings. Or ten.

eggplant lentil soupEggplant Lentil Soup

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed, peeled, or diced tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 2o minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft and onion is translucent.
  3. Add spices, zucchini, pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften and then add wine. Raise heat and bring to a boil for one minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Add lentils and cook on low another 15 minutes.

What foods do you refuse to buy out of season? Any favorite soup recipes? 

3 Things to Make This Weekend

Happy Friday! What are you getting into this weekend? I have plans for yoga, birthday dinner with old friends, and a food photo shoot for a project. I’ll be doing a little cooking for said project, but otherwise, I plan to keep things pretty simple in the kitchen. I do intend to play around with the produce from my latest Farmigo haul, though.  

Siggi1.) Hot chocolate with red wine in it from Yeahimmaeatthat. So, wow. You’re probably best sipping this from a small glass than slurping from a mug, but I mean that in the best way possible.

2.) Skyr. The other day I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Siggi of Sigg’s yogurt and a roomful of dietitians. After telling his story, the very charming Siggi demonstrated how to make our own Skyr (Icelandic for “very thick yogurt” or something thereabouts). You could go through the proper (though not very complicated) steps, or you could also just strain some yogurt over cheesecloth in a colander overnight and—hooray!—end up with some very thick yogurt. From there, the options are endless. The thick yogurt is yours—do as you like with it.

3.) Savory oatmeal. No time like a weekend to try something a little different.

 

Traveling this Week? What to Eat to Clean the Fridge

IMG_8047Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. I’m hitting the road after work myself on Wednesday. I’ve just accepted that it will be hectic and that stressing about it will only make it feel worse. I may not be able to control traffic or crowds, but I can plan my meals to make good use of the odds and ends in the fridge. Using up all the perishables before a trip is oddly satisfying. Here are a few of my favorite things to make when trying to clear out the refrigerator:

  • Kitchen-sink salads with all kinds ingredients—Let your tastes buds (and what’s available) be your guide.
  • Omelets—I’ve thrown in everything from last-legs greens, grilled chicken, and roasted vegetables. Have fun coming up with new combos.
  • Soup—Great for using up vegetables. You can always freeze leftovers.
  • Quiche—Another great use for veggies and eggs that you can freeze if you like.
  • Stir-Fry or Pasta—Never underestimate the power of leftover noodles and veggies.
  • Smoothies—Throw in whatever damn fruit and/or veggies you have on hand with some yogurt or milk.

Check out some of my other favorites on my Recipe page. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some oats to pour into that almost-empty peanut butter jar. Breakfast is served.

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? What do you eat when you need to clean out the fridge? 

 

 

3 Things to Make this Weekend

Yikes—it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving! Actually, this means almost nothing to me since I am not cooking anything. I am, however, stressed as hell about traveling Wednesday after work—me and everyone else. So it goes. There will be a lot of deep breathing going on.

Needless to say, there will not be a ton of cooking going on, but here are a few easy recipes if you’re itching to try something new but don’t want to sesame roasted broccoli make a big effort over the next few days.

1.) Deep-Dish Pancake a la Kath. I finally figured out what to do with the bag of Kodiak Cakes mix in my cupboard. I’ve been taking 1/3 cup mix, 1 tbsp ground flax, 1/8 cup pumpkin, 1/4 cup cranberries, and a dash of pumpkin pie spice and mixing it with 1/3 cup water in a ramekin or bowl. 2-3 rounds of 45-second intervals in the microwave and breakfast is ready. I love it topped with ricotta (mixed with more pumpkin). It’s also great with a few of those Trader Joe’s peanut butter chips thrown in the batter.

2.) Seasame-Roasted Broccoli. I don’t really have a formal recipe for this, but I just wanted to talk about how delicious it is. All you do is chop broccoli into florets and toss with sesame oil. Roast at 400 degrees F until crispy, ~40 minutes.

3.) A hearty oatmeal breakfast. Here are some of my favorites—also great to make on Sunday night to bring to work the next day!

Are you cooking for Thanksgiving? Any recipes/foods you’re planning to make this weekend? 

 

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