Friday, March 30, 2012

Thai Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

I'm a very goal oriented person. If I set one I will try my darnedest to meet it.

When you're in your mid-twenties, you feel like everything is at your fingertips, but that's a little overwhelming. I have a laundry list of goals I want to accomplish, but where do I begin?

Back in November, while daydreaming in one of my classes I wrote a list in the back of my planner, titled 'What I Want to Do.' Many of these goals were food related (no surprise there) while others aimed a bit higher.

I pulled out that list today because I wondered if I had met any of my goals thus far. The verdict?

Just one so far: reach a 1,000 pages/month. This month I've actually doubled that, which to others may seem like such a small accomplishment but for me it's huge. It is so important to not overlook the little everyday steps we take towards our goals.

And while it seems kind of late to be making any sort of resolutions, better late than never I always say. I'm resolving to make more everyday goals. It is the only way my world sized dreams will ever come true. At the very least it's a hell of a lot better than sitting still, overwhelmed by uncertainty and doubt.

My first everyday goal?

Make a soup of each color of the rainbow.

I'm sure this goal is high up on your list as well. Right between lose 5 pounds and learn how to save money. Right...

Sure, it's a little out there, but to me it makes sense. Soup is one of my favorite things to cook and it's the easiest dish to practice recipe development. Lately I've really started weening myself off being totally dependent on recipes and taking baby steps of my own. I had incredible successes with these two soups, so my confidence is growing.

In terms of photo opportunities, brightly colored soups are full of promise. Some of my favorite pictures were of this little beauty and my Thai carrot and sweet potato soup was no different.

It is the epitome of orange with tiny flecks of green from the cilantro and jalapeno. Speaking of jalapeno, this soup is not for the faint of heart. It packs a spicy punch, aided by the generous addition of two jalapenos with all their seeds.

And my friends, these peppers were quite seedy. What kind of thugs do we let our peppers hang out with these days? Sheesh.

But if you're a total weeny when it comes to spice you may want to omit the jalapenos or at least lose the seeds. You are defined as a weeny if you find black pepper on pot roast, a 1 spice level at an Indian restaurant or most medium salsas to be too spicy.

Yes Lisa, I'm talking about you. No hard feelings, right?

This soup is actually pretty humble and does not include any off the wall or out there ingredients. Just peeled carrots, sweet potatoes, a chopped onion and a little garlic. And of course, one of my most favorite ingredients.

Peanut Butter.

Yum.

So I can check orange and green off my rainbow soup challenge and I have five left to go. Which color do you think I should try next?

And I encourage you all to start making everyday goals for yourselves. Because on that little list I made in November the bottom line thing I wanted to do? No matter how small?

Take chances.


Thai Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup 
HTIC Original

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 jalapenos, sliced with or w/o seeds
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 t. salt
3 T. peanut butter, smooth or chunky
2 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
Juice 1 lime
1/4-1/2 cup loose chop cilantro
Toasted coconut and green onion for garnish

1. Heat 1 t. oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until onion has softened and started to brown slightly, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Add sweet potato and carrot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato and carrot should get a little brown on one side or another.
3. Add jalapeno and salt and stir to combine ingredients. Cook for about a minute and then add 6 cups of water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until carrot and sweet potato have softened.
4. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and cilantro and stir to combine. Let cook for about 2-3 more minutes then remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or standard blender, blend the soup to desired consistency. I used a standard blender and blended my soup in two batches. Be careful because the soup is very hot!
5. To serve top each bowl with 1 T. chopped green onion and 1 T. toasted coconut. Admire how pretty your bowl is and enjoy!
Per Serving(8) Calories: 155, Carbs: 19, Fat: 5, Protein: 3


What I'm Listening to Today
I Try: Ben Taylor
Just For You: B. Reith
Talk To Me: Blue Foundation

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roasted Broccoli and Kale Salad

If any of you follow as many food blogs as I do, I'm sure you've heard of Heidi Swanson's infamous kale salad. It's a rather humble dish comprised of sesame oil, kale, coconut and farro. But often it's the most humble and simple things in life that make it so sweet.

I've had Super Natural Every Day sitting on my desk for the past few months and for some reason haven't made the time to look at it. What a dummy head I am, because the book is beyond fantastic. As always Heidi's pictures are phenomenal and her flavor pairings are simple, but leave you staring at the page aghast. Why haven't I thought of these?!

All the good things I heard about this recipe were true and then some.  If this doesn't make kale converts out of every last stinking one of you, there is no hope. You should stop trying to pretend to like kale and move on.

This is the kale dish that changes everything.

Kale and broccoli make a good pair don't you think? I can not get enough roasted broccoli. It is Zeus of the cruciferous vegetables. All others should bow down to it.

And if broccoli is Zeus, then kale is Juno, the perfect compliment and ridiculously beautiful. Not mean like Diana Ross though...

Heidi mentions that when roasted, kale has hints of banana and she's right. That's why coconut works so well in this recipe. Ideally you should use unsweetened flakes, but I used sweetened shreds and the whole sweet and salty banana thing totally worked. Like some tropical drink but a lot less boozy and more vegetably (pssh, definitely a word btw).

Also if you love kale chips, the edges of the kale leaves get a little crispy and offer a nice crunch along with the toasted coconut. You can also throw in a few marcona almonds if you're so inclined.

Actually, that's not a request. I demand you do this. How have I gone 24 years without tasting a marcona almond?? They are not just another almond. They are the almond.

Apparently I'm for making end all statements today. Get used to it.

This salad pairs great with any kind of grain, but as I've mentioned before I have a major middle school crush on farro. It can do no wrong and I really should have a garbage can sized bin of the stuff in my pantry.

Normal, right?

So again, if you're convinced that there's no kale dish out there you like, it is imperative you try this salad before you give up hope. You may have just said to your husband, wife, roommate, cat, dog, open empty air that you'll never like kale.

But my friend, never say never.

Pssst...it's Wednesday, so you know what that means. Check out WIAW after the recipe!


Roasted Broccoli and Kale Salad 
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day (I added some broccoli, used sweetened coconut and Asian Stirfry Blend Oil instead of sesame oil)

2 trees of broccoli, stems peeled
2 cups raw kale, chopped
1/3 cup Asian Stir Fry Oil (or olive oil in a pinch)
2 T. soy sauce
1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup cooked farro or other grain
3-4 marcona almonds for garnish (optional, but not really)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut broccoli into bite sized pieces and spread on a large cookie sheet. Add kale and mix in with broccoli using your hands.
3. Drizzle the veggies with oil and soy sauce. Mix the vegetables around with your hands or a spoon to coat.
4. Sprinkle vegetables with coconut and bake in oven for 15-18 minutes or until coconut has browned and the kale leaves are crispy.
5. Serve the vegetable mixture over farro topped with marcona almonds. Enjoy!
Per Serving (4) Calories: 305, Carbs: 28, Fat: 22(mostly monounsatured which is good!), Protein: 7




Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey, five spice powder and marcona almonds, baked doughnut toast with cookie butter, pear, OJ and coffee
Lunch: Roasted Broccoli and Kale Salad
Pre-Run Snack: Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. Cut 30 seconds off my time!
Snack: TJ's Dark Chocolate with Raisins and Pecans. Like Chunky Bars, which I used to eat ALL the time!
Dinner: Dewey's Harvest Salad w/o Bacon, Socrates Revenge and Edgar Allen Poe Pizza

What I'm Listening to Today
Begin: Brendan James
Never Say Goodbye: Blake Aaron Guthrie
Fooled Myself: Angus and Julia Stone

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

'I Can't Believe It's Not Bacon' Maple Doughnuts

When I was a kid my dad used to make pancakes and turkey bacon nearly every weekend. I would always eat my pancakes the same way, in bite sized pieces each topped with a morsel of bacon. There are few greater pairings that exist in the food world.

Since I've turned vegetarian I have to say bacon is the number one thing I miss. While there are perfectly acceptable chicken and beef substitutes, it is impossible to replicate fatty crispy bacon using soy. I don't care what you say, it just isn't going to cut it.

So last week when I had an insatiable craving for syrup and bacon, I thought all hope was lost. But then a terrifically strange idea popped into my head. Bacon is so addicting because it's crispy, incredibly savory and packs a salty punch.

You know what else shares those three characteristics?

Baked cheese.

You know, like when you make a grilled cheese sandwich and some of the cheese oozes onto the pan and gets a little burnt. Don't even pretend like that isn't the best part of a grilled cheese. I'm not going to lie, I purposely smash my grilled cheese sandwiches so I have a nice golden cheese crust on the bottom. o.m.g.

So, I know it sounds totally wear your underwear on your head for a day bonkers, but I decided to make a Parmesan 'bacon' crust for a maple glazed doughnut. This was a real sink or swim moment ladies and gentleman.

I first whipped up a batch of doughnuts chock full of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and maple syrup. These dough babies are pretty dense, but incredibly moist. I find baked doughnuts have a tendency to be a bit dry and chewy, but not a problem here.

Doughnutty goodness without all the mess of frying oil. How great is that?

To make the 'bacon' crumb throw a small handful of Parmesan cheese onto a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until its got a nice tan. Scraping it off the pan might take a little muscle and don't worry if it breaks into a thousand pieces. It's going into the food processor anyways.

Joining your crispy cheese bits are maple toasted nuts, a little brown sugar and sprinkle of sea salt. A few quick pulses please and voila!

You have 'I can't believe it's not bacon' coating for your doughnuts!

Lather up your doughnuts with a good layer of maple syrup and dive them headfirst into your bacony coating.

Come on in, the, er, bacon is fine.

I'm not going to lie I wish I had a camera to capture my face while I took my first bite. I'm sure I looked terrified, like I do at the doctors before I get a shot. I was convinced the doughnut was going to taste like cheese and ew, who wants that?

But wowzers, these doughnuts shocked the socks off me. The 'bacon' coating is the perfect substitute for the real thing. I was instantly taken back to my 8 year old self, pajamas and all, happily cramming my mouth full of bacon topped pancakes.

Don't you love it when experiments work out? I'm planning on using my baked cheese to replace bacon in a whole set of other recipes. I sense a B.L.T. in the near future...


'I Can't Believe It's Not Bacon' Maple Doughnuts 
HTIC Original

Doughnut
1.25 cup AP flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 egg
4 t. butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1.5 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. ginger

1. Preheat oven to 325. Coat a doughnut pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
3. In a small bowl whisk together milk, yogurt, egg, butter, sugar, syrup and vanilla. Slowly add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Spoon mixture into a large plastic bag and cut one corner of the bag with scissors. Squeeze the dough into the doughnut pan, using the bag like a pastry piping bag.
5. Bake doughnuts for approximately 12 minutes or until the doughnut springs back when touched.
6. Cool on a wire rack. Wait until completely cool before glazing and topping.


'I Can't Believe It's Not Bacon' Topping
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup almonds
1.5 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. maple syrup
1/2 t. sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread cheese in a thin disc on a baking sheet. Cook for about 10 minutes or until browned. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine nuts with 1/2 T. of brown sugar and maple syrup. Spread on baking sheet and bake in 350 oven for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye out on these because they can burn really quickly.
3. Add Parmesan, nuts, the rest of the brown sugar and sea salt to a small food processor. Pulse until you have a fine crumb mixture.

To Assemble
1. Fill the bottom of one pie dish with maple syrup. Spread the bacon topping in a separate pie dish.
2. Dip both sides and the edges of each doughnut in maple syrup.
3. Dip both sides and the edges of each doughnut in the bacon topping, making sure to coat as much of the doughnut as possible.
4. Place on a parchment paper lined plate and enjoy!
Per Doughnut Calories: 400, Carbs: 62, Fat: 12, Protein: 11 **Definitely a treat!**


What I'm Listening to Today
Vaporize: Broken Bells
Astigmatism: Astronautalis
Tatted Lace: Alela Diane

Monday, March 26, 2012

RPM: Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs

My spring break officially ended today. Which normally would seriously depress me, but I have some exciting news to share.

I poached eggs last night and they were perfect.

What? Not the sort of news you were expecting? Maybe something more along the lines of I won a million dollars, bumped into the love of my life on the street or learned Spanish in my sleep last night? Well sorry to disappoint, but this is awesome news to me.

This month's Bon Appetit has a section devoted to eggs which puts a big fat 'I hear the ice cream truck' sized grin on my face. Eggs are one of my favorite foods and I think I've mentioned before they are reason number 1 it would super difficult for me to be vegan.

I have never tried to poach eggs before because its one of those skills everyone gives you the pity look and head shake when you say you're going to try it. You all know what I mean right? The person just stares at you, muttering under their breath 'you poor thing, you have no idea what you're in for.'

Well obviously those people didn't have Bon Appetit in their corner, because my poached eggs were a cinch. Aside from hard boiled eggs, I think its the easiest way to cook an egg. No staring at the edges of the eggs waiting for them to curl ever so slightly, no messy pan to clean, no holding your breath as you flip your egg and say ten Lord's Prayers that your yolk doesn't split.

Instead you boil some water in a pot, swirl it up real good, drop an egg in the middle, keep it spinning around in the water for a few minutes, then fish it out with a spoon. Done and done.

If you're still not convinced there are two secrets Bon Appetit offers. First, is to let the egg sit in a bit of white vinegar before dropping it into the water. The vinegar tightens the white of the egg so it doesn't drift apart like wafts of smoke. Second, dropping the egg into the middle of a vortex shapes it into the nice round shape we're used to seeing at restaurants.

Maybe I was a short order cook in another life...

If you're lucky and you're my roommate you can enjoy your perfectly poached eggs on top of sweet potato hash with a heavy garnish of avocado and cilantro. I think we both cleaned our plates within one commercial break...on fast forward...

Treat yourself to some brunch for dinner and start your week off with a smile. Who knows, maybe all that other exciting news will come true.

A girl can only hope :D


Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs 
Adapted from The Simple Art of Eating Well 

1 onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup frozen or fresh corn
15 oz. can of beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 jalapeno (seeds if you like heat, none if you don't)
1 T. ground cumin
3/4 cup water
1-2 eggs
4 T. white vinegar
Cilantro, avocado and lime juice for garnish 

1. In a large skillet heat 1 t. oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
2. Add sweet potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes or until potato has browned slightly. Add beans and corn and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add cumin and jalapeno and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute, then add water, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until water has been absorbed by potatoes and remove from heat.
4. To poach egg: crack egg into a clean bowl. Combine with 2 T. vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Using a whisk stir the water vigorously until there is a funnel in the middle. Gently slide the egg and vinegar into the water and keep stirring the water around the edges of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.
5. Put egg on top of a bowl of hash and sprinkle with as much cilantro, avocado and lime juice as you like. Enjoy!
Per Serving (4) Calories: 332, Carbs: 44, Fat: 13, Protein: 16 


What I'm Listening to Today
Cold Blood: BirdPen
When I Come Home: Blue-Eyed Son
Sore Eyes: Brandon Heath

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Stuff

1. Before I left for South Carolina I got my Abe's Market Sample Box in the mail. I actually found out about Abe's by one of those annoying Facebook sidebar advertisements, but I'm glad it was there! Abe's is an online store that sells "natural products for thoughtful shoppers." It's pretty great, you should check it out!

2. Love this post @ Naturally Ella. It's so easy when you have a blog to become completely addicted to technology and forget about real life.


3. I feel like Joy Wilson and I would be great friends. I think she needs to come over to the midwest so we could gab about anything and everything cooking related.

4. I have had the hiccups for the past hour and I'm going insane. I have a sure fire way to get rid of them, but I'm too lazy to get up and get a drink of water. Did I really just admit that??

5. Shame is a powerful motivator. Hiccups officially gone.

6. I tried a Two Mom's In the Raw bar the other day and it was absolutely delicious. The girl at Starbucks said it reminded her of birdseed and well...it kind of did, but in a good way. Does that make me a bird then? If so I call dibs on owl.

7. I love this Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream photo spread @ A Thought For Food. Why doesn't Jeni have a store in Cincinnati?!

8.  Speaking of birds, I'm totally obsessed with birdcage lights all of a sudden. I saw a few in a cupcake shop in Greenville. Now I want to fill my apartment with them. Totally normal, right?

9. What did everyone think of The Hunger Games?

10. After a week break I'm getting back into the kitchen. I have some great things planned so be sure to stop in and visit!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jalfrezi Paneer

Greetings from South Carolina everyone! I'm here visiting one of my best friends Jen and it is so nice to get a chance to relax. So far we've explored downtown, spent time by the pool, noshed on some super tasty cupcakes and have become completely obsessed with Downton Abbey.

Anyone else in love with this show? Why aren't Mary and Matthew together??!! No spoilers please, only a little bit into the second season.

Don't think we haven't made time for some cooking. There's always time for that. Especially when the cooking includes homemade cheese.

I've tried my hand at homemade ricotta, which follows the exact same process as paneer. We tossed the cubes in a tangy Jalfrezi sauce and cut vegetables including zucchini and peppers. Throw the mix on top of some rice and dinner is served!

Go grab yourself a jar of zesty Jalfrezi, pull up Downton Abbey on Netflix and prepare yourself for a great night :D

And don't forget to check out another installment of WIAW! I can't believe another week has gone by...time moves so fast. 


Jalfrezi Paneer

4 cups whole milk
2 t. lime juice
1 zucchini, cut in half moons
3 bell peppers, rough chop
1/2 jar prepared Jalfrezi sauce
1 cup rice, cooked your preferred way

Paneer
1. Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
2. Add lime juice and stir continuously for up to five minutes until large curds begin to form. If the curds are reluctant to form, add more lime juice. You'll know things are right when the whey has cleared.
3. Remove curds from whey and place in a colander. Tie up edges of cheese cloth and hand from the facet head for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes squeeze out as much liquid as possible and hang for an additional 30 minutes.
4. Remove cheese cloth and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until firm.

Jalfrezi
1. Heat 1-2 t. of oil in a medium saute pan. Cube paneer, add to pan and cook until all sides have browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large saute pan, heat 1-2 t. of oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add paneer and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add jalfrezi sauce, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
3. Spoon over rice and enjoy!
Per Serving (4) Calories: 294, Carbs: 37, Fat: 12, Protein: 11



Breakfast: Everything Kale Breakfast Sandwich, OJ and Coffee
Snack: Banana
Snack: Pistachios
Dinner: Jalfrezi Paneer
What I'm Listening to Today
Holiday: Albert Hammond Jr.
The Ocean: Alela Diane
The Thief and The Heartbreaker: Alberta Cross