Split Pea Soup with Ham

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If the Snuggie could be duplicated in food form, it would be this soup. Warm, comforting and nourishing, this soup makes the most of some very humble ingredients. We are using some leftover Thanksgiving ham to create a healthy and hearty soup for this week!

Split Pea Soup with Ham

  • 1 pckg. dried, green split peas (about 2 cups)
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 organic carrots, peeled and cut into small, half rounds
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium store bought
  • 1 pasture-raised cured ham steak or 2 cups leftover ham
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
  1. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Chop ham steak into 1/2″ cubes and add to pot. Stir well and cook 1-2 minutes. Remove about 1/2 of the ham and set aside.
  4. Add chicken stock and split peas. Stir well.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until peas are soft. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Use an immersion blender (CAUTION: soup is hot!!!) and blend the soup to a creamy consistency.
  7. Return reserved ham to pot and cook on medium/low heat until soup is thick and creamy (another 20-40 minutes).
  8. Serve immediately. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
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Deviled Eggs with Shrimp

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Most of the time, I leave sacred holiday food alone. I mean, why mess around with something you know is good? My family loves deviled eggs and they are mostly purists–nothing fancy, nothing crazy. But this year, I tempted fate by offering a variation on our usual deviled eggs featuring fresh, locally caught shrimp. We purchased the shrimp from Locals Seafood, a terrific, local company that brings us fresh, North Carolina seafood several times a week. The result was very tasty and beautiful!

A note about the shrimp shells. Use the opportunity to make some homemade seafood stock! Get double benefit from poaching the shrimp by reserving the poaching liquid, adding back in enough water to make a quart of liquid (or so–you don’t have to be exact). Add the shrimp shells, two stalks of celery , peppercorns and 1/2 onion. Simmer for 45 minutes, strain and let cool. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Deviled Eggs with Shrimp (makes 12 egg halves)

  • 12 medium raw shrimp, shells on
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Put the shrimp, one sprig of dill and the lemon in a saucepan and cover with water. Heat shrimp over medium high until shrimp is pink and opaque. Do not overcook.
  2. Drain shrimp, let cool and remove the shells (save the shells for making seafood stock!).
  3. Leave shrimp in the refrigerator until you are ready for them.
  4. Put the eggs in the saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, then cover, turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Drain the eggs and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave the eggs in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so.
  6. Peel the eggs. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and pop the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Move the empty whites to a serving platter.
  7. Mash the yolks with a fork. Mix with mayonnaise, salt and pepper until smooth. Add more mayonnaise if needed. Scoop the egg yolk mixture into the egg white shells or use a piping bag, if you want to be fancy.
  8. Just prior to serving, top each deviled egg with one poached shrimp and a small piece of dill.

Roasted Chestnuts

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You know the song, right? It’s called “The Christmas Song,” but most of us know it as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” I have heard that song all my life, but I had never eaten a chestnut. I figured they were like walnuts or something, and couldn’t figure out how in the world a nut got an entire Christmas song to itself. I mean, I get peppermint having a song, or even gingerbread. But chestnuts? Clearly, some political move from the chestnut lobby.

So when our Produce Box arrived last week with a bag of chestnuts from a local farm, I thought it would be a good time to see what all the hype was about. I decided to make a chestnut sausage stuffing for Thanksgiving and to prep the chestnuts, I would roast them not over an open fire (torrential rain here), but in the oven. I was a bit intimidated by the whole “cut an x in the nut shell or it will explode” business, but it all turned out well. I have a little serrated paring knife that worked very well at cutting through the shell, and nothing exploded inside my oven (which is good because calling a repair person the week of Thanksgiving is a good way to end up with a dinner of grilled cheese).

After cutting the X into each shell, I put the nuts (cut side up) in a cake pan and popped them into a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Here are the before and after photos:

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I let the roasted nuts cool for 10 minutes before peeling them and that was ample time. The nut shells came off quite easily and were tossed into the compost bin. I tasted one of the warm nuts, and couldn’t believe how meaty it tasted. Wow! I tried another one in case the first was some kind of abberation. Delicious! It took a great deal of self-control not to eat all of them and adjust my stuffing recipe to suit pecans. In fact, the next time I see them offered by The Produce Box, I am going to order more. Talk about great football snacks!

So now when I hear “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” this holiday season, I will have a better frame of reference. And I’ve tried a new local farm product this week, too! Hope the rest of the chestnuts make it to Thursday 🙂

Roasted Chestnuts

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. With a sharp paring knife, score an “x” on the flat side of the nut, cutting through the shell.
  3. Put the nuts, cut side up, in a roasting pan or other shallow, oven-safe pan.
  4. Roast the chestnuts for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let nuts cool for about 10 minutes.
  6. Peel the shells from the nut meat and discard the shells.
  7. Use the nuts immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

Cranberry Apple Chutney

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I love cranberries, and Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without homemade cranberry sauce. It is so easy to make, and can be prepared ahead and parked in the refrigerator for several days. Usually, I make a cranberry-orange sauce. And usually, I remember to take it out of the refrigerator before dessert 🙂 This year, we changed things up just a bit, using some of the local apples we received in our Produce Box to make a spicy chutney instead. This chutney is sweet,savory and spicy all at the same time. It will pair well with turkey, but I’m betting it will also really rock a pork loin roast (note to self: get a pork loin roast!). I think it will also be fabulous on a turkey burger or on a sandwich. Endless possibilities!

Cranberry Apple Chutney (makes about 4 cups)

  • 12 ounces fresh, organic cranberries
  • 2 large tart apples (like granny smith), cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 1 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed, organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  1. Heat the cane sugar and water in a large saucepan to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients except the nuts, stir well and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer the sauce for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Sauce should be thick and jammy when done.
  5. Add the chopped pecans and serve warm or cold. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Spinach in Pumpkin Curry

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We’ve received a lovely dose of frigid weather this week, and it has us craving hearty, hot meals. This dish is perfect cold weather comfort food–hot, hearty, nourishing and healthy. I wouldn’t normally associate a vegan stew with stick-to-your-ribs winter fare, but this fits the bill and is on our list of make again meals. The combination of pumpkin, spices and coconut milk makes a rich base for red lentils, flavorful sweet potatoes and fresh spinach. You could thin this out a bit and serve it as a soup, but we prefer it thick like a stew. You could also substitute butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and chard or kale for the spinach. Don’t let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this. Most of the list is spices and the whole dish comes together very easily in one pan!

A note about red lentils: Red lentils are smaller than other varieties and will dissolve into a sauce if cooked for long periods of time. If you use a larger, thicker variety of lentil, adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Spinach in Pumpkin Curry (serves 4)

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground, black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 cup dried, red lentils
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, washed and trimmed of stems
  1. Mix the first 10 ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a deep skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan and stir well, coating the potatoes with the oil.
  5. Pour the pumpkin curry mixture over the potatoes, stir well and reduce heat to medium low. If the sauce is too thick, add 1/2 cup water and stir.
  6. Cover the pan and simmer the potatoes for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water if needed to keep the sauce from sticking.
  7. Add the lentils, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but not dissolved, and spinach is wilted.
  9. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary for your palate.
  10. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Sun Dried Tomatoes

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Kale is like that popular kid in school who got so much positive attention that other kids starting hating him, just because. You know what I’m talking about, right? Well, kale can be kind of like that–so good and so talked about that people get irritated before they have even tried being friends. Kale is one of those trendy food fads that is sticking with us for the long haul, though. It is just so good and so good for you that it’s hard for me to just roll my eyes at the popular kid and walk away. Kale, I’m saving you a seat at my lunch table.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it sounded like a terrific recipe to try now, when we are trying to increase our running mileage. It is hearty, but doesn’t leave you with regret, and it is packed with fall goodness. It’s a perfect dinner the night before a long run, and I’m betting it makes great leftovers (although we ate the whole thing, so I don’t know for sure). It is also a super quick recipe to make–which is good because weeknights are complicated enough. I’ve made some very minor modifications to the original recipe and doubled the amounts to make enough for a family, but this is fairly similar to the original.

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Sun Dried Tomatoes (makes 4 servings)

  • 16 ounces dried, organic pasta
  • 1 bundle of organic kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 dried chili pepper chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Put a pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta.
  2. When pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until almost done. Add the kale to the pot, stir well and cook another 3 minutes or until kale is wilted. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  3. While pasta is cooking, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove bacon to some paper towels to drain.
  4. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan and return the pan to medium heat.
  5. Add the onions to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  6. Reduce the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Stir well and heat through.
  7. Add the drained pasta/kale mix and the pasta water to the skillet. Heat through and toss all ingredients together.
  8. Serve topped with crumbled bacon, cheese and a drizzle of lemon juice.

Week 49 Budget and Menu

Thanksgiving (or also Thanksgivukkah) is right around the corner and we are prepping for some serious cooking at our house! In light of the food fest that will occur next week, we’re keeping it a bit on the light side this week, and focusing quite a bit on some new vegetarian dishes.

What are you eating this week?

Budget [$55.13]

  • The Produce Box (organic spinach, organic kale, collard greens, country ham, sweet cabbage, organic sweet potatoes, broccoli, chestnuts): $31.00
  • Trader Joes (organic white beans, organic onions, curry simmering sauce, organic vegetable stock, bacon, rolls): $24.13
  • Mae Farm (sausage): $10.00

 

Menu

  • Wednesday–Out for dinner
  • Thursday–Broccoli, Spinach and White Bean Soup, rolls
  • Friday–Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Saturday–Curried Red Lentils with Sweet Potato and Spinach
  • Sunday–Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples
  • Monday–Collard Greens, Field Peas and Corn Bread
  • Tuesday–Leftover Buffet

Superfood Breakfast Smoothie

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Game on, breakfast! We’ve been working to perfect our morning smoothies to enhance their nutrition density and help us fuel up for our long runs. By George, I think we’ve got it! This smoothie has the taste and texture of ice cream with just a few healthy ingredients, plus the added benefits of maca powder and chia seeds–two superfoods that help with hydration, stamina and hormonal balance. Did I mention it tastes like ice cream? Yep. For breakfast. Seriously, we eat our smoothies with a spoon, they are so thick and ice cream-y.

These smoothies feature two superfoods–maca powder and chia seeds. Here’s a bit of information on each:

Maca Powder

This is our first attempt at using maca powder as a nutritional supplement. Maca powder is an Incan superfood sourced from a root grown in the Andes mountains of Peru. It is known to be high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. Maca also contains two essential fatty acids and is very high in fiber. Apparently, maca powder stimulates the endocrine system, which controls hormones, and it is thought to be a good hormone regulator for both men and women. Initial studies indicate that taking regular, small doses of maca powder can help significantly with hot flashes and hormonal fluctuations experienced in early menopause. There are also legendary stories about maca’s effect on the virility of men, but these have not been found to be true in scientific studies.

To be eaten, maca powder really needs to be mixed with something. I tried tasting it by itself and…well…it tastes like a dried root would taste. In the smoothies, though, you can’t taste it at all, so that’s an easy solution!

I can say that for me, I noticed a substantial increase in energy after my first smoothie with the maca powder. Rather than inheriting some Incan super power, I think I may be low in my B vitamins, but whatever works! I notice that I definitely have more energy in the morning and have cut back my caffeine consumption considerably. Maca is a keeper!

Chia Seeds

I’ve posted about chia seeds before with our chia pudding experiments this summer. Chia seeds are pretty incredible. They have tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. And they absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid, making them wonderful for folks trying to stay hydrated. I’ve never noticed any immediate improvement in my health or well-being when taking chia seeds, but I definitely feel fuller for longer after eating anything with chia in it.

We’re adding chia seeds to our smoothies to add some protein and help us stay hydrated as we add miles to our runs. If you are exercising a great deal, hydration begins before your workout. Like, days before. I’m pretty terrible about remembering to drink water, but I am trying to be more mindful (an alert on my phone helps). And staying hydrated helps keep your skin healthy looking and clear as well!

Here is our recipe for Superfood Smoothies. You could easily add spinach, kale or other greens and change it up the way you like! The goal is to use frozen fruit to get that thick, ice cream like texture. The yogurt adds protein and some thickness, which I like, but you could leave it out with no problem.

Superfood Breakfast Smoothies (makes 2 smoothies)

  • 3 cups frozen fruit (we use a combination of mango and berries)
  • 4-6 ounces yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of organic, raw, maca powder
  • 1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
  • 2 cups organic, unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a high powered blender (Vitamix or Nutribullet work well).
  2. Blend on low, then switch to high until all fruit is pulverized and incorporated and the mixture is thick, like ice cream.
  3. Serve immediately.

Tutorial Tuesday #11–Stocking a Winter Pantry

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Stock your pantry with dried beans for a winter of high protein soups, stews and salads!

We recently participated in a food drive with our Girl Scout troop, which gave me a great opportunity to clean out my pantry and do some restocking for winter. I haven’t been very good at stocking the pantry–choosing instead to buy what we need just for the week. Part of this is that we’ve been tracking our weekly spending along with our weekly menus. This feature (the budget component) will be going away with the new year. As we stock up on local ingredients and freeze/can for the future, it’s harder to capture those budget amounts in what resembles a weekly budget.

So this all gave me a great opportunity to plan for several months worth of clean eating. We will still purchase our local fruits, vegetables, breads, eggs, cheese and meat from our farmer’s markets or CSA. But what about those staples that can take a collection of veggies from isolated ingredients to a meal? I created a list for us to live on over the next few months and turn some of those holiday leftovers into delicious dishes.

This is a list of everything I want to have access to over the winter. This is a big list and I had to divide it up between two shopping trips.

  • Dried, organic beans (white beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans)
  • Dried, organic peas (red lentils, green lentils, green split peas)
  • Dried, organic vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, hot peppers)
  • Dried, organic fruits (dried tart cherries, cranberries, figs, ginger, raisins)
  • Dried, organic pasta (hearty shapes like bucatini, casarecce, galleti)
  • Raw nuts (almonds, cashews, black walnuts, pepitas, pecans)
  • Dried, organic seeds (chia, flax, sesame)
  • Organic stock (vegetable, chicken and beef)
  • Organic whole grains (steel-cut oats, rolled oats, barley, rice, quinoa)
  • Ground grains (whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, almond flour)
  • Sweeteners (organic cane sugar, organic coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, local honey)
  • Spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, smoked paprika)
  • Baking supplies (organic baking powder, baking soda, dark chocolate, raw cacao powder, chocolate chips, yeast)
  • Canned foods (coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato paste, sustainable caught sardines, sustainable tuna)

What would be on your winter pantry list? Do you stock up or buy as you need it?

Spicy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal

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I love steel cut oats on a chilly morning and I really love chocolate. This spicy chocolate pecan oatmeal tastes decadent, but is actually super healthy. You could leave out the maple syrup for an even healthier version. We used raw cacao powder, which I like better than processed cocoa because it has so many antioxidants and a richer taste.

Spicy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1cup steel cut oats
  • 4 cups organic, vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw, organic cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried, ground cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon dried cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  1. Add the first 5 ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker. Stir well.
  2. Cook on the lowest setting (I use the “keep warm” setting on mine), cook oatmeal 7 hours or overnight.
  3. Stir well (the cacao may rise to the top– just stir it back in) and add additional almond milk if the oatmeal is too dry.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.
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