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Archive for the ‘Soups and Stews’ Category

From now on I think I am going to substitute “K” for every word that traditionally begins with the letter “C”. JUST KIDDING, but I digress.

After falling head over heels for Dr. Kracker’s Klassic 3 Seed, I have been on the hunt for their Cherry Semolina variety. I love fruit/nut breads and when I found a cracker with those qualities, I knew I had to try it. I finally located the Dr. Kracker Cherry Semolina and wanted to pair it with something cool and creamy. The first thought that came to my mind: avocado. Chilled soups are easy to make and fitting for warm weather. I’ve only ever made gazpacho, but the idea of a chilled avocado and cucumber soup on a warm day (We had 80 degree weather today!! Wasn’t it SNOWING last week?!)  sounded extremely appealing. After reading through dozens of recipes, I decided on one I found in Country Living that sounded dynamic with elements that were both cool and spicy.

Into my blender went:

1/4 seedless English Cucumber, chopped

1/2 Hass avocado

1/2 shallot

1 TBS plain greek yogurt

1 TBS mint leaves

Juice of 1/2 a lime

dash of salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne

1/2 cup cold water

I blended the mixture at a low speed until it was well combined and then let it sit in the fridge for over an hour to throughly chill. I topped my soup with red bell pepper,  Roma tomato and feta cheese. The toppings were ESSENTIAL! They gave the smooth puree texture and made the dish exciting. Feta is creamy and slightly salty, which enhanced the avocado. The tomato and red bell pepper segments gave my dish texture, added water and balanced the heat from the cayenne. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the avocado blend as much if I didn’t add these; I would have been bored eating the cool/spicy cream. I really enjoyed the combination and it tasted like a wonderful guacamole  soup. I liked the crackers with it and went back for more, but I think next time I’m going to have it with blue corn chips. These crackers would be better with goat cheese or plain hummus.

All around this was easy to make, fun to eat and delicious. I will surely make this again in the warmer months, especially if I am craving a little Fiesta Food :).

Keep Kool Cool,

Nora

Do you like cold soups? What is your favorite?

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I woke up this morning with absolutely NO appetite; very strange for me. I’m never starving when I wake up but almost always want a big bowl of oatmeal or granola to start my day. Today, the very thought of oatmeal, or anything sweet for that matter made me cringe. I had a slight headache and stomach ache, and could only imagine that something sweet would add to my yucky feeling.

Why was I feeling like this? Well, last night after dinner I was full and content but the sweet-tooth fairy told me that it was time for dessert. I wasn’t craving anything but went for an old stand by: Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Chunky Apple Sauce, Peanut Butter and Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs. I was watching TV as I ate this and before I knew it, it was gone. I decided I wanted a bit more and fixed myself a second bowl, this time using Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Galaxy Vanilla Almond instead of Peanut Butter and Cacao Nibs. About half way through the second bowl I was feeling uncomfortably full but refuse to waste, so finished it. I did not leave myself enough time between eating and bed to digest and it resulted in a “yucky” feeling morning.

I had to get to class, and never go breakfast-free, so I made myself a bit of a light and savory breakfast, aka a Green Monster. Into my blender went 1 cup vanilla soy milk (I like using almond milk better, but had to finish this carton off), 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop Chocolate Amazing Meal, 2 huge handfuls of baby spinach. I used the apple sauce jar (ELR style) that I conveniently polished off last night as my “to-go” cup and headed out. I think I was a bit dehydrated (maybe last night too…should have had WATER instead of extra dessert, oy!) and I drank a few glasses when I woke up. Thankfully my headache and stomach ache were gone a few hours later, and my appetite returned.

For lunch I had a normal campus-dining hall large tuna salad complete with artichokes, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, snap peas, carrots, spinach, balsamic vinaigrette and a few dashes of hot sauce. I love the combination of artichokes, cauliflower and tuna, it has such an Italian feel. If I was able to get a few olives and peppers in there it would have sealed the deal.  I also had a big and crisp Empire Apple on the side. I can’t wait for apple picking season, I have to say I am pretty obsessed with all varieties of this fruit.

Later in the afternoon I reclaimed my sweet tooth with a new favorite combination at Starbucks: Grande Decaf Cappuccino with Sugar Free Hazelnut. Yes, I know the sugar-free flavors aren’t particularly good for you, but they just so delicious every once and a while :). I was actually craving an Awake Tea Soy Latte, but I have kept up during Lent with the “no caffeinated beverages” ordeal. I had a few slip-ups here and there, but I feel AMAZING being caffeine free. I swear I am a whole new person. I love coffee so I still drink decaf but I feel more refreshed and energetic all the time!

Speaking of Lent, IT’S ALMOST OVER, which means Easter is coming up! I’m heading home for a big family get together on Sunday, and hopefully will be cooking up something fantastic to share with my family! I have been thinking of some type of sweet bread, rosemary bread, an asparagus dish, a root vegetable dish, and something lemon/blueberry for dessert. Decisions, decisions.

For dinner I was supposed to go to Sedar with my friend but she wasn’t feeling well, so AGAIN I did not go. She has promised to cook a traditional Kosher meal with me later in the week, so at least I can look forward to that (hopefully!). I wanted to keep dinner light and simple tonight, and decided to make use of the second half of my celeriac and leek. It is still a bit cold out (but won’t be for long!!!) so I decided to make a Leek and Celery Soup topped with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Lemon-Thyme Cream. Well…this was a bit more of an “experience” than I had hoped for. When I went to remove the blender from it’s base, my soup came out of the bottom! All of my pretty visions  died. All I wanted for dinner was a nice soup and here it was all over my counter, and BURNING my hand. I managed to save 3/4 of it, garnish it how I wanted and try it’s deliciousness, but it was a sad, sad cooking experience. Maybe my blender just wasn’t meant to be used twice in one day? No more green monsters for a while :(. On the side I had some a simple salad with spinach, red peppers, olive oil-herb roasted carrots, cucumber, sprouts, goat cheese and apple-cranberry chutney.

I can’t decided if dessert is in my future this evening but I have learned a very important lesson: listen to your body not your habits. I get so in the habit of having dessert every night that I often don’t realize if I’m actually in the mood for it. Usually if I am full, I can have a piece of chocolate and be done. Last night was a combination of wrong choices:  not hydrating properly and the decision to mindlessly eat dessert even though I was not craving it. I felt so off today, and it goes to show that the foods you eat really do influence the way you feel. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully tomorrow my breakfast concoctions will be back on track :).

Savory NOT Sweet Dreams,

Nora

Any ideas for “spring” side dishes and desserts that I could make for my family for Easter?

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Everyone has a particular food that triggers memories of a certain time or place in their life. Growing up every Halloween my mom would make a slow cooker chili. The house smelled fantastic! A culmination of chili powder, cumin, onions, peppers, tomatoes, beef and beans…OH MY! It was always cold and dark on those nights and an overflowing bowl of chili topped with melted cheddar cheese and a glass of apple cider was the perfect start to prepare my brother and me for the bitter air. This dish sums up October for me. It gives warmth, love and memories that can never be replaced. Now that I am living on my own, I requested this recipe from my mom. I finally made it one of the first days that it fell below 40 degrees this season. The aromas were the same and made me feel safe and secure. In hopes that it might provide some comfort to you this fall, I want to share the recipe with you:

Mary’s Chili Recipe

1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef ( I use 95% Lean)
1-2 onions (Diced)
1 green pepper (Chopped)
1 TBS cumin
2 TBS chili power
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder (season to taste)
1 TBS hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco)
1 32 oz. can chopped tomatoes with liquid
1 jar of salsa
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can of great northern (white cannelloni) beans
1 15 oz. can of butter beans (lima beans)
1 large can of light red kidney beans (32oz?)
1 large can of dark red kidney beans
1 cup of beer or wine
Olive oil
Crock pot
Shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar Cheese or Taco Seasoned Cheese

Add small amount of oil oil to grease a frying pan add beef, cumin, cayenne and chili power. Brown beef. Add onions and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Drain any grease from pan. Place in the bottom of a crock pot.

Drain beans in a colander to remove liquid. Run water over beans. Drain. Add to crock pot.

Add tomatoes with liquid to crock pot. Add beer or wine. Add hot sauce. Season to taste.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or on medium 2-4 hours.

Before serving check seasonings, you could add more hot sauce or beer/wine if more liquid is needed. Chili is a recipe that can be altered to the cook’s preferences for mild or hot seasonings, Cumin is key. You could increase the amount for a more savory flavoring.

Ladle into bowls, top with shredded cheese. Serve with green and red hot sauce.
Enjoy!~

–Straight from my mom’s email!

Love The Power of Food,

Nora

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As my work load and commitments increase, I find myself struggling to find time to make my favorite “home-cooked-meals”. My roommate and I have been cooking as much as possible because the thought of another salad or sandwich for dinner leads to a melancholy air in our quaint apartment. Luckily, we share the same love and attitude about food, recognizing the importance of a good meal. In our desperate search, we found a recipe for a “Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili”, PERFECT for the fall. We discovered it in her Bon Appetite cook book (unabridged dictionary sized), and were excited to find a simple recipe that seemed like a fresh take on the traditional chili. We served the chili in over sized mugs with toasted sourdough baguette pieces for dunking. It was hearty, and soul soothing: a meal that could make all of your daily stresses disappear. Needless to say after clean up we found ourselves full and comfortable, wrapped up in blankets on our couch. What a perfect end to a long day.

The recipe is found on epicurious.com:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Black-Bean-Chili-with-Butternut-Squash-and-Swiss-Chard-234146

Wine Pairing: This spicy yet semi-sweet (form the butternut squash) meal is perfect with a dry Gewurztraminer. It calms the heat and provides a nice balance.

Try it out! I promise it will not let you down.

Savor The Fall,

Nora

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The start of my senior year of college has been filled with flurries of articles, and reunions with friends that I have not seen in months. It has kept me away from my blog for a few days, but things are starting to become more normal and I have many foodie thoughts to share(beware!)! The first thought I am going to share: I LOVE THE FALL! The air is crisp, the leaves are brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow and the food…comforting and warm. I am a sucker for warm hearty meals on cold days. My favorite warm meals are crock pot dinners. Whoever decided to create a machine that you can put a variety of ingredients in for 7 hours and magically transforms them into the most scrumptious meal you’ve ever eaten, should be given an award. I love the flavors that culminate when you place a variety of sweet vegetables and meat in one pot for an extended amount of time. Carrots, tomatoes and onions bring out the best in beef and a simple potato can make the meal so hearty and rich. It is the perfect no-hassle (and healthy) dinner to warm you on those dark, cool fall nights.

I have been looking through some food for fall 2009 magazines and they are all featuring warming comfort foods. It is only September but it is starting to get dark earlier and the chill has already started to sink in. I’m looking forward to making some soul warming meals and pairing them with good bread and wine. This weekend the bakery is featuring their new fall bread “Apple Cider Golden Raisin Bread”…oh the endless possibilities.

Bring on the squash, apples and root vegetables!!!!

Nora

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