Some Bowls.

002Bowls of minestrone- veggie soup for lunch.

024.JPGTrader Joe’s whole milk maple brown sugar greek yogurt mixed with two scoops of Aria vanilla protein powder  = a cake batter consistency that I’m really enjoying.

087.JPGAn incredibly awful looking protein mug cake with peanut butter. (mix chocolate protein powder, baking powder, egg whites, cocoa powder, vanilla etc. in a mug.  microwave until cooked.  top with peanut butter and greedily stare at real cake)

 

Next week I’ll probably prep some burrito bowls to be eaten throughout the week. I still haven’t quite figured out what a smoothie bowl is, but they sounds pretty trendy.  For some reason when it gets colder I just want to dig into a big bowl of hot food; it doesn’t have to be nutritious, or particularly tasty.  Just hot and plentiful.

That’s not a great plan when Mister and I have vacation planned in a few weeks, and this belly needs to be seen on the beach.  Yikes.

What’s in your bowl?

 

Meal Prep and a Prepped Meal

Two nights ago I made up a big batch of bean and kale soup to eat for lunch throughout the week.

Super simple, and I like making the effort to eat less meat-centric meals more often.

  • sauteed garlic and onion in olive oil
  • added kale, red beans and white beans, sage
  • add vegetable stock, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • simmer as long as you want

Then last night, in an effort to honor Chanukah and stay on the lighter side of things, Mom made a twist on a latka involving a cast iron skillet and shredded zucchini.  (Along with brisket of course)

Shredded zucchini, potato, egg, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, Parmesan (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other things) were mixed together after the zucchini and potato were properly drained. Then they were squished into a hot, oiled pan and crisped up a bit before being put into the oven for finishing.

Its always nice to have a meal cooked for you, especially on a holiday.  Along with the franken-latka we enjoyed this really great wine that my sister had picked up for my birthday.

 

Food always tastes better with wine, right?

While a lot of people are gearing up for Thanksgiving, I started indulging a little earlier.

This past weekend Mister came down to Westchester so of course there were the requisite downstate bagels and pizza; there was also cheese, cupcakes, cake, and a list of snacks.

Saturday morning, we went to Mount Kisco Bagel Co. pretty early.  The last time we went closer to the afternoon, the line was out the door and lets just say Mister and I aren’t exactly patient people.

We are huge fans of black and white cookies, so when we saw a black and white cupcake on display, I eagerly added that to our order.

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Oh yea, we ate that thing of beauty in the car within minutes of leaving the parking lot.  Moist, buttery cake topped with thick icing.  [then we went home and ate bagels, no regrets]

Saturday afternoon, we ran some errands and found ourselves hungry enough to navigate Stew Leonard’s for some food to take home.  Thankfully, this wasn’t Mister’s first trip to Stew’s, because seriously that place is overwhelming on my fiftieth time going there; there is a lot going on.

We picked up some really good food from their hot bar, and a bowl of fruit for good measure.

Saturday night, we headed to Stamford for a birthday party.  Mister’s brother had ordered Dinosaur BBQ, and we were responsible for providing the cake.

I’ll admit, I panicked a bit; I wasn’t familiar with any bakeries in the northern Westchester or CT area.  The last thing anyone wants to do is bring a bad cake to a party.  Everyone remembers bad cake.

Thankfully, I read a ton of yelp reviews and settled on The Pastry Corner in Mt. Kisco.

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Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It was really great, and the staff of the Pastry Corner were all genuinely nice to deal with.  Highly recommend.

Sunday, I was a sleepy monster.  All the carbs, and lots of barking dogs running around made me feel like a bloated sweat pants monster.  But we pushed through that for some pizza before Mister headed back to Albany.

We went to Pelham Pizzeria, which is my favorite for slices near Mom’s house.  This was the first time, however, that I ordered something other than pizza [well I mean, I addition to the pizza I scarfed down, don’t worry. ]

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I got Escarole and Bean soup to go, and ate it for a late dinner last night.  They packed it with some Italian brea, and I added some Parmesan on top.  This was really good stuff, with little chunks of pancetta and a surprisingly complex broth.

I could have easily eaten the entire quart, but thankfully I forced myself to save half for lunch today.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to focus a little more on healthy eating before the gluttony of Thanksgiving.

Trader Joes: Pumpkin Soup

Trader Joes is fantastic in every way, so much so that I’m willing to overlook some of their errors [i.e. cookie butter fiasco ].  They are also very gracious about accepting returns if its something you’ve only partially consumed and really couldn’t handle.

This was only a small bump in the long road of previous goodness; Trader Joes Pumpkin Soup.

Its sold in a small carton (sorry I threw it out before taking a picture), two servings to the carton.  I picked it up a few weeks ago and it had been sitting in my office kitchen, waiting to be consumed as a backup meal.

That day finally came and I was excited for some warmth and spice…the carton definitely said something about ginger and maybe even cinnamon?

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Popped the whole two servings into a glass bowl, microwaved for 2 minutes and thirty seconds and then carefully carried it to my desk.

Its bland.  Really thin.  And I’m pretty sure someone snuck coffee grounds in here.

You know that feeling when you hit the bottom of a bad cup of coffee (or the kuerig hasn’t been cleaned in a while) and there’s that little swirl of coffee grounds?  I’m pretty sure that’s whats hiding in my soup.  TJ will probably claim its those illusive spices, but they’re tiny little crunchy nibs of junk.  I don’t like this one Mister Trader Joes.

Fortunately, their pumpkin season is almost over and we’re approaching Peppermint everything in the store.  I do appreciate how the store commits to a seasonal theme and really runs with it.

Soul Food

I’ve posted, more than once, about cooking being a comforting experience.  I like taking the time to focus on choosing ingredients, figuring out what I’m doing, chopping, dicing, stirring, watching.  Its 10, 20, 45 minutes to focus on something outside of your own head.  Sure there is laundry to be done, of course there is probably a bill that needs to be paid, or a schedule to stress over; but for those previous minutes just focus on the one recipe at hand.

Thankfully, yesterday I had the time to tackle two recipes.  I went my usual route of Google-ing various ingredients or themes that sounded good, found a few recipes and then never looked back at them.  I don’t measure, I don’t second guess; this makes it nearly impossible when people ask me for recipes, I apologize in advance.

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

Beef & Butternut

Beef & Butternut

I diced up about half of that onion, and sauteed that and garlic in some coconut oil. I’m making a serious effort to cut down on anything refined, artificial, processed etc. Whole foods, clean, primal, paleo; whatever you want to call it, I feel better about my body when I know exactly whats going into it about 80% of the time.
This is why I went with the organic, pasture finished beef that seemed like the best choice on the shelf. The beef was added to the pot once the onions were just softened a bit.
Browned the beef, then added diced butternut squash, canned tomatoes, carrots, and a splash of chicken broth.

Beef & Butternut

Beef & Butternut

Again, I tried to choose the better options from the shelf.
Mixed everything in the pot with some chili powder, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder. Covered it with a lid and let it simmer while I started on my second recipe.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

I wanted a lot of flavor, but a relatively simple soup. So I diced/minced/sliced a bunch of shallot, onion, garlic, and ginger to be sauteed in coconut oil. Once they were fragrant, I added thinly sliced zuchinni and a bag of matchstick sliced carrots (these are my favorite shortcut of all time). I let those soften just a tiny bit, before adding chicken broth.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

I know I can make chicken broth on my own that would be less processed/healthier/better etc. etc. but those words are subjective and I’m not living in my own kitchen so time and space are more valuable commodities right now.

While the soup was simmering, I shredded a rotisserie chicken (“all natural”, purchased cold) into the pot.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Added a dash of Five Spice, some Braggs Liquid Aminos, and the juice of two lemons. Then simmer, simmer, simmer, simmer.

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These two pots yielded a lot of food. Some will be taken straight to the office, some eaten for dinners, and maybe some frozen if necessary. But I got to focus on just cooking, just stirring, just chopping for about an hour, which will result in quick meals throughout the week. Win-Win.

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Surprising Soup

Woah Panera, woah. Where did this come from?

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Lentil quinoa bowl with chicken.

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So much flavor. And protein. And a perfect balance of textures melded with the broth. It was perfectly hot enough, and a giant bowl that is weighing down my stomach just enough to make my walk to the train a little slower.

There are so many food options in NYC, there are so many appointments and subways to be caught too. So we wanted fast, reliable, sit down. And this was so surprisingly worth it. I’m sure I’ll get loads of flack for this, but my mouth approved.

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After Christmas Soup

After looking through some past posts, I feel like I should rename this blog things from Trader Joes that I cook in my Creuset dutch oven. Seriously, that yellow blessing gets a lot of use. Thankfully she is photogenic.

Tonight I cooked Italian Turkey and Orzo Soup, which I’ve since renamed Christmas soup. This recipe from Cooking Light created a vibrantly red and green soup that was just filling enough.

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Ground turkey, olive oil, garlic, sliced mushrooms, and Penzys Italian seasoning. Cooked for a bit and then joined by chicken broth, water, diced tomatoes, salt, some more random seasonings from the pantry. Boil. Add orzo and spinach.

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Yum. Slippery orzo, lots of protein-rich ground turkey, flavorful broth. I added extra olive oil in the beginning which definitely created a satisfying broth, the only thing Mister and I agreed is that it needed more salt.

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I topped mine with some shredded parmesan, and more salt. Good thing I don’t wear any rings because with the amount of salt I would prefer (and the wine instead of water I’m drinking with dinner) my fingers will probably be little puff nuggets. Oh well….the Christmas soup was pretty worth it. I ate two bowls. A third is packed for lunch tomorrow.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

I had two sweet potatoes in the pantry and an overwhelming cold.
So I started looking up recipes: soup, sweet potatoes, spicy.

I found a recipe for “Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup” on Epicurious and decided to grab the rest of the ingredients while at the supermarket.

I followed the recipe like a guideline, using two peeled sweet potatoes, half a dozen unpeeled red potatoes, a package of linguica, chicken broth, spinach, onion, garlic.

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I brought it to a boil, then simmer, before popping the whole pot in the fridge while I picked mister up from work and then we ran an errand. Once back home I brought it back up to temp, added the cooked sausage, and a handful of spinach.

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After one or two stirs it was done.

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This stew like soup is perfect; the spicy the sausage, the broth steeped with garlic and onion. I added thyme, parsley, and a bit of ginger on a whim. It was exactly what I wanted.

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Topped with a sprinkle of sea salt, I had three bowls before I remembered self control.

The Enthusiasm Continues

The kitchen madness has continued. Through dinner and was only reignited during the rainy morning.

Last night I indulged Mister with some chicken and biscuits (aka chicken and dumplings…is this all the same dish?)

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I pulled down the trusty crueset and started by browning chunks of chicken with diced onion.

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To this I added mixed frozen vegetables, and the gooey, gelatinous goodness of Campbell’s condensed soup. There is something so soothing about this thick, reliable substance. Maybe it’s the preservatives, or the chemicals, but sometimes the comfort derived from a Campbell’s casserole just feels perfect. It settles over everything in a gentle, even coating; coaxed along with a few stirs and a cup or so of water.

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While that is heating through, I mixed up some Bisquick with water.

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The trick here is to add a bit of seasoning not only to the soupy mixture but the biscuit dough as well. I like garlic and paprika, a dash of salt and pepper. Then glob it onto the top of the bubbling soup. I try to leave spaces, crevices almost like rivers, to allow for easier serving.

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10 minutes uncovered. 10 minutes covered. Eat.

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It’s so classic, easy. Inexpensive and satisfies your stomach on a deeper level. Like hot cocoa after sledding, a bowl of this sticks with you in all of it’s gluey goodness.

Falling for Autumn

Saturday was cold and rainy. I passed the time thinking about steamy casseroles, soul soothing soups, and spicy scents filling my oven.

I wrote down some ideas, printed out a handful of recipes. They were put on hold until today when I had the time. Cooking deserves time when you want it to comfort and soothe. Zapping a nutritious meal into being in moments is always possible, but sometimes the act of mixing and creating is more therapeutic.

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I started with a simple bread in the bread machine. I had too many ideas and too little counter space to focus on just the bread, so the lovely gadget filled my kitchen with a luscious smell while I moved onto my other projects.

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I wanted a soup that was filling and luscious. Fresh sage and onion mingled with butter until fragrant. These were joined by butternut squash (pre diced by Trader Joes), chicken broth (found in the pantry), some apples, and some tofu (I wanted silken but TJs only had extra firm today).

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Letting that simmer while covered I pulled out another pan for project number two. (three counting that bread)

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My friend made an inspiring quiche while I was at her house over Labor Day weekend so I borrowed the recipe. I bought all the ingredients with the best intentions and then got distracted. Cottage cheese got subbed instead of ricotta. Peppers were added instead of spinach.

Spraying a pan with cooking spray, I softened onions and some frozen peppers. Once cooked, I put those in a pie dish (also coated with nonstick spray). In a seperate bowl I whisked egg whites, three eggs, half a cup of cottage cheese, some random seasonings and a handful of shredded cheese (it was the assorted kind from Trader Joes). Baked at 350° for about thirty minutes it looks great.

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I’ve still got the spinach and ricotta for the next one. The goal is egg for breakfast, soup for lunch.

Remember that soup I started? While the eggs were in the oven I used my kitchenaid immersion blender to purée that goodness. The sage was the best decision. It made the soup savory in an intense way that played well with the ginger and cinnamon I had liberally added.

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I hope this cooking spree keeps up long enough to sustain me through the impending cold. It’s like an expecting mother nesting for her child to be, the cold inspires me to settle in with a ladle and a crockpot.