Braised Beans and Leeks

I love soup.  I make one massive pot of soup/week once Fall hits and never turn back until the Spring flowers start to show their faces.

Soup is comforting.  It’s warm when the weather outside is cold.  It’s perfect.

I had been on a bit of a chili kick when I decided to switch it up and made this soup from Good Things Grow.

I changed the recipe slightly by adding in a few chopped slices of bacon.  What can I say?  I love bacon.  You can, obviously, keep the meal vegetarian and skip the bacon, but I think it added a great smoky flavor.  Pancetta would also be a delicious addition.

The dish is time consuming between soaking the beans overnight and braising the soup in the oven for 3 hours, but its worth the wait!  You could also buy canned beans, but I think the beauty in these types of dishes is the actual time it takes to make them.  The flavor you get after simmering for 3 hours is going to be much more complex than a quick 30 minute simmer.  But, as always, do your thing.  Not everyone has 3 hours to set aside on a Sunday….it was a lazy weekend OK!?

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Italian Wedding Soup

I’m no Italian, but oh-em-gee do I love meatballs.  Since my lapse in ground beef eating I’ve been forced to seek healthier alternatives to the traditional beef, veal, pork mixture, and this one my friends is darn good.

The recipe from Good Life Eats is amazing.  With simple ingredients- it’s a great option for a cheap, comforting meal on a cold day.

You’ve got veggies, and more veggies, a flavorful broth, and meatballs!  Easy Peasy.

I’ve made turkey meatballs before [I substituted turkey for the chicken in the recipe], and they’re always yummy.  Sure, the fat from the traditional ingredients lends a much deeper flavor, but I think you can still get great tasting meatballs with a dose of quality cheese [I use Romano] and herbs.  I essentially make them the same way you would traditionally [spices, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese] except…you know…without beef.  I find turkey is better than chicken because there is a bit more fat to hold them together, but that’s just me.

It may seem sacrilege, but this way healthier and just as tasty.  Plus, who doesn’t love soup? [sorry for the lame picture :/ ]

P.S.- Happy Friday!  It’s almost the weekend!  Do something fun…with friends…and soup…

Sunchokes

I follow a lot of blogs.  Many of them make me feel like an awful dresser, and like an awful photographer.  Others make me want to steal their children because they’re so freaking cute.  One of said blogs is Cannelle et Vanille.  Just look at those pictures!!  Absolutely beautiful.

It was on this blog that I first read about sunchokes.  I had never even heard of them, and sort of cast the recipe aside as yet another thing I would never be able to make from that blog.  Then, about a week ago, I walked into The Good Earth a completely unsuspecting shopper and I saw them!  I didn’t know what I was going to do with them- I couldn’t even remember the blog which I originally heard about them- but I knew I needed them.  [cue the post about tofu, I impulse buy a lot]

After letting them sit in my crisper for a week+, I decided it was high time to do something with them.  Sure, it was Superbowl Sunday, and I had a host of other things I needed to do/clean/make, but I had been pushing this aside for far to long so sunchokes it is!

I did a few quick searches on the blogs I might have seen a sunchoke recipe on, and came up with these two from Cannelle et Vanille and Green Kitchen Stories

With those recipes at hand, plus the reassurance from the people at The Good Earth, I decided soup was the way to go.  As it turns out, sunchokes really are excellent additions in pureed soups because of their creamy texture.  The one I ended up making was a combination of the two above- here’s my recipe:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 leek, diced

1 clove garlic, finely diced

~1 lb sunchokes, peeled and diced

1 potato, peeled and diced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp dried rosemary***

vegetable broth

Tip: After you peel the sunchokes, immediately place them in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning.

Heat olive oil in a medium pot and add leeks and garlic.  Saute a few minutes until softened.  Add potato, sunchokes, rosemary, lemon juice, and s&p to taste.  Saute another 5 minutes and add enough vegetable broth to cover the mixture in the pot [I probably used a cup], bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Transfer ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.  EAT! [makes 2 servings]

**I had a problem with my blender not chopping the dried rosemary.  This could have been caused by one of two things: 1.) our blender sucks [true] or 2.) it’s possible dried rosemary is not easily blended [true?].

The result was a creamy soup [without any cream! Amazing.] rich in flavor [especially considering it’s bland color].  I have to admit- I didn’t actually taste a piece of the sunchoke before I made it into soup so I can’t exactly pinpoint a flavor.  The soup, however, had a nice contrast between the acid lemon, and the earthy rosemary and leek.  I’m assuming the sunchoke added that bit of a nutty flavor I was getting as well.  I clearly need to buy more to investigate 🙂

Here’s to hoping you can find some sunchokes before the season is up!

I have a couple catchy numbers for ya to celebrate the end of the work week.  It’s ok to dance, no one’s watching…hopefully.

Walk the Moon, “Anna Sun”

Alabama Shakes, “Hold On”

Mmm, healthy

I’ve mentioned how our eating habits on the roadtrip were less than spectacular.  So UN-spectacular in fact that mentions of soup diets and detoxes became pretty regular.  Totally worth it.

Unfortunately, detoxes and juice diets are impossible for me due to my general preference for solid foods.  Crazy, I know.  Not to mention it’s too much work and too expensive for my taste.  So, I’m eating healthy and trying desperately to remember what portion control is.  Revolutionary, no?

The thing is- I actually enjoy eating healthy foods.  That brussels sprouts recipe below? I wasn’t exactly forcing myself to eat a whole package worth of sprouts.  I think it has to do with the fact that I was never forced to eat them as a child.  I don’t have any brussels sprouts horror stories.  My parents didn’t like them so we never ate them.  I can tribute this vegetable love affair to my grandmother- she’s the one who got me into them.

Now, the trick is making sure I eat more of the healthy foods and less of my other favorite food group: desserts.

Anyway, my pictures of said healthy foods have been few and far between but here is a list of some healthiness I’ve been dishing up this week:

Some roasted tofu and veggies from Hipsterfood.  I’ve found that when it comes to tofu you really can’t skip the pressing step of any recipe.  I usually press it for about 30 minutes- it helps to create a better texture when you cook it.

I also used another recipe from Hipsterfood for roasting brussels sprouts to eat with my lunch one day.  Seriously, just try them.  They’re delicious.

A Vegetable Tamale Pie.  It packs some fiber and protein and a bit o’ veggies with the tomatoes, salsa, and corn.  Plus, its extremely easy to make, especially if you use pre-meade polenta and canned beans.  I would suggest using a flavored polenta because that part was a little bland.

Babaganoush! This soup is totally amazing- it will become a recipe repeat very soon.  I’ve had it at lunch a few times this week, and it’s extremely filling from all the fiber in the eggplant.

A batch of turkey and bean chili similar to this one [this also makes for some great leftovers]

Roasted tomato soup.  So all the cheese might not make this a superstar in the health realm, but all those antioxidants and vitamin C in the tomatoes had to balance it out, right??

A turkey sausage and vegetable fritata similar to this recipe.  Fritatas are super versatile and can be made with pretty much any vegetables in your fridge and herbs you have on hand.  Plus they’re a great post-workout meal with all that lean protein!  You can always sub in some egg whites if you want to reduce the calories, but it’s already pretty low in cals so I usually just go all egg.

I also made a double batch of steel cut oatmeal over the weekend and had it for breakfast twice this week.  It’s super easy and convenient if you’re rushed in the morning.  I follow the directions on the Quaker Steel Cut Oats container, mixing half the liquid as water and half as almond milk.  Then, once it’s cooked I add in a healthy dose of cinnamon and a sprinkle of Truvia [or honey].  Just re-heat it in the microwave and give it a good stir!

I think another batch of my granola is in order too.  It served me well on the roadtrip, and it was so easy to make that buying granola seems silly.

It also makes things better if you listen to Spirit.  Just a suggestion 🙂

Here’s to hoping all this healthy eating will pay off soon- those 5 pounds I gained are not ok.