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recipe link: Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro

7 Dec

My spouse tasted this when they were handing out samples at Wegmans and came home talking about how good it was. I was a bit skeptical, but I have to admit, he was right. It’s fantastic. 

Spaghetti Squash with Pomodoro Sauce

I’m seriously considering making everything with pomodoro sauce from now on.

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recipe: tomato salad

11 May

Now that the garden is getting underway, I am itching to make delicious fresh vegetable dishes and sit around admiring the bounty from our little plot–but unfortunately, the pickings are still slim out there.

Today, I decided to scratch that metaphorical itch with a fresh-tasting, if store-bought, alternative: a tomato salad based on supermarket Campari tomatoes and the bits and pieces I could gather from the garden. You can throw in anything you want here; if you are a fan of a different herb, add it or replace the basil with it. If you like cucumber in your tomato salad, put that in too. This is more of a concept than a recipe.

Tomato Salad

1 package Campari tomatoes (I used a 1-lb package, but it’s flexible)
handful of basil leaves, torn into small pieces
3 large spring onions, white and light green parts only
pinch of salt
fresh-ground pepper
drizzle of olive oil

Wash and quarter the tomatoes. Toss briefly with the remaining ingredients. Let stand for a few minutes.

A few serving ideas:
* top with grated cheese (Parmesan, provolone, Gruyere–whatever floats your boat) or mix in small pieces of mozzarella;
* pick the baby lettuce leaves that are starting to grow in your garden and serve this salad on top;
* chop the tomatoes a bit smaller and serve this salad on rounds of toasted bread;
* use the tomato salad as a combo sauce/garnish for grilled or broiled fish;
* use the leftovers (if you have any) as the basis for a quick frittata.

just a thought about gardening

1 Apr

Spring is on the way…and if you have a garden or a sunny porch that could hold some pots, there’s no better way to get healthy, chemical-free, local produce and some exercise at the same time! Everything you can grow is good for you–at least, I can’t think of any exceptions–and it’s a wonderful stress reliever, too.

If you want to drool over some gorgeous artwork and think about buying some heirloom seeds (which are NOT necessary for gardening, but some of the plants are oh-so-pretty), check out Baker Creek. Their catalog is gorgeous.

recipe: Hybrid Garlic or Onion Soup

1 Feb

I have made a bunch of new soups in recent weeks, and some of them were…well…transcendent is the word that leaps to mind, but I don’t want to commit hyperbole here. Anyway, the two that I liked best were the Cheddar Parsnip soup from the Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook and the 44-clove garlic soup from Smitten Kitchen.

I’ve come to realize that the soups I like best have a few things in common that are easily reduced to a couple of basic elements, which you can then mess with as much as you like! I hereby provide you with the “base recipe” for healthy, delicious, creamy soups (which just happen to be incredibly good winter comfort food). The basic idea is that, instead of thickening with cream (which SK does, by the way, but which is not needed), you puree your creamy vegetables to thicken the soup.

You need:
* some kind of aromatic/spicy vegetable: onion, garlic, shallot, or all three. I use a lot of this–maybe 3 cups of onion.
* some kind of broth (chicken is classic, but you can use whatever you have)
* some kind of spices or herbs (for winter: thyme, dill, or chives are delicious)

and you may want to add:
* a smooth vegetable to puree (parsnips, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes)
* some kind of sharp cheese

The basic procedure is this:
1. Cook your onions/garlic/whatevers in a teaspoon of olive oil until they’re tender, or almost tender.
2. Add broth–the amount depends on your other ingredients. I usually just eyeball it and fill the pot about 2/3 full.
3. Add any other vegetable that you want to puree–the “smooth” vegetables listed above will create a smoother soup, but you can add broccoli, asparagus, peas, etc., to make a cream of vegetable soup that is much better than Campbell’s!
4. Simmer until vegetables are soft.
5. Puree in batches (carefully–hot liquids can be difficult in a blender!
6. Return to pot. Reheat. Add your herbs or spices.
7. If desired, add in some cheese and melt it. Parmesan, Gruyere, or Manchego are all highly flavorful choices that make your soup much more interesting without adding much fat or calories, because you only need a little.
8. Taste and add salt or pepper if you need it. If you’ve used packaged broth, you probably won’t want more salt.
9. Serve. Gasp with amazement that it is not loaded with cream or white flour.

This is creamier and thicker if it contains more vegetables. So load it up! It’s very healthful and incredibly satisfying when it’s cold outside. I like to serve these kinds of soups with a salad or sliced fruit and a slice of whole-grain homemade bread.

Sneaky tip that I haven’t tried yet but I plan to use this week: this would also make a great base for a casserole (whatever you’ve been missing because you didn’t want to eat a can of cream of mushroom soup) or, in smaller amounts, a good sauce for poultry or vegetables.

I plan to make a big batch this week of a basic cream-of-onion soup, using this method, and freeze it in smaller packages to use for cooking. It should freeze beautifully because it doesn’t contain milk, which sometimes separates in the freezer.

recipe link: Broccoli Soup

9 Oct

VeganDad has a great broccoli soup for a night when you just want something simple, hot, and easy to cook. I really like this soup and I think we will eat it often. I made it with dairy–skim milk–but I am going to try coconut milk next time. Enjoy!

it’s gardening time!

26 May

The single best way to get nutritious, locally-grown, pesticide-free produce is to grow it!

And it’s that time of year. My squash plants have baby squashes on them. My tomatoes–some of them–are getting flowers. My herbs have taken off. Lettuce is growing. We’ve been harvesting radishes for over a month! The mulberry tree is producing tons of berries.

So this is just my little reminder to you that things grown in your yard [or on your porch or windowsill] make a great addition to a healthy diet, and they taste fabulous. Even if you just have space for a single planter, some fresh herbs will liven up your cooking without adding salt, fat, or many calories!

summer food: part 1

4 May

So the heat is rolling in where I live; a young PCOS-sufferer’s thoughts inevitable turn to…tomatoes. And cheese. And, you know, other summer food.

Without further ado, I bring you: my summer food solution, which I reach for at least once a week when it’s hot. My family loves it (especially my kids–ages 3 and 1), and it’s easy, quick, and cool.

Choose the items you like; add anything that strikes your fancy or that is waiting impatiently in your fridge; arrange artfully on a few plates or on a platter; plunk in front of your hungry family; and eat! (Optional: wear a French scarf because it’s so European.) Try to choose from each category to make it a balanced meal; I usually try to skew toward fruits and vegetables because the presentation means that my kids are happy to eat them.

Fruits/Vegetables: grapes; strawberries; slices of kiwi; pineapple chunks; orange sections; lime or lemon wedges (my husband and kids will eat these like oranges….I think it’s crazy); carrot sticks, pepper strips, cucumber or tomato slices; leftover steamed or roasted vegetables.

Proteins: cheeses; lean deli meats, like turkey or chicken; nuts (I especially love Marcona almonds); hummus; tuna salad; hard-boiled eggs; if you’re feeling decadent, good salami or other charcuterie.

Grains/starches: whole wheat pita bread triangles (I toast them; so good with hummus!); homemade bread of any kind; popcorn; whole wheat crackers or rolls; leftover salads such as tabbouleh, pasta salad, etc.

Dips: salad dressing for vegetables; olive oil for dipping bread (especially with cracked pepper and a sprinkle of freshly-grated Parmesan).

This is a filling, lovely meal. The more vegetables and fruits you include, and the healthier your other choices, the better it is for you; at its best, this is a delicious, healthy dinner! It’s very hands-on, so it’s fulfilling in a sensory way; it’s also convivial and great for casual entertaining. And, as I said, it’s cool.