The Kitchen Sink

For the love of food, life and everything in between.

Month: November, 2013

Basic Vegetable Soup

Being the planner that I am, I have already begun to think about the things I will create using the leftovers from the big Thanksgiving meal.

Undoubtedly, a turkey sandwich (with all the fixin’s) will soon follow the big day. 

In our household, traditional stuffing (made with real butter and fiber-lacking, sodium-rich prepackaged bread stuffs) and cranberry sauce (yes, white sugar, I am looking at you) have their place at the table for certain. This year I wanted to challenge myself to come up with a few post-Thanksgiving dishes that could easily translate to weekday lunches and  be one that I could feel good about eating. 

First one up: Turkey Soup

This soup base is so simple it’s almost comical. But the beauty in this one pot dish is that it can play host to a variety of ingredients and could even be beefed up (quite literally) to make for a hearty dinner time meal. It could also be paired with a crusty, hearty slice of bread or alongside that infamous leftover-inspired turkey sandwich. 

I make this base – or some variation of it – quite often, as a way to fit in my vegetables on days when a salad just won’t cut it. The add-ins are nearly endless.

For protein sources think:

  • Left over turkey
  • Chicken
  • Ground turkey
  • Any variety of beans

For a thicker, more stew like consistency add in:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Low sodium canned crushed tomatoes

 For additional vegetables try: 

  • Chopped kale or spinach leaves
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Sauteed leeks
  • Corn
  • Roasted potatoes – I like red the best

Other miscellaneous add-ins:

  • Cooked pasta noodles or shells

 

Very basic vegetable soup

 1 bunch of celery, about 10 stalks, trimmed and diced, reserve leaves from 1 or 2 of the stalks and chop, setting aside.

7-8 medium-large carrots, peeled and diced

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1/3 cup water

48 oz fat free, low sodium chicken broth

1 tsp olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all vegetables as directed. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering hot, add garlic and onions and a dash of salt and saute about 3 minutes. Add celery, carrots and water and cook about 5 minutes from the time the water starts to boil. Add in broth and stir well. Add in celery leaves and sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are fork tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper as desired.

Add in any combination of the suggested add-in’s or create your own! I’d love to hear any other ideas.

Roasted Pumpkin

I’m going to admit a blunder of sorts. You see, I had every intention of bringing you, my readers, a fall full of pumpkin-y goodness. So much so that by now you’d be thinking can she cook with something over than that giant orange so-quintessentially-fall staple?

And although I’ve eaten my weight in pumpkin over the past two months, very minimal accounts of this have actually made their way onto this space. Maybe it’s because I was too busy popping roasted pumpkin into my mouth like candy.

       

       

Or maybe it’s because I was so fearful of overdosing on pumpkin I actually ended up appearing as though I’ve been living a pumpkin-less fall. And that, is one heck of a lie.

So before I dive into a season of molasses and ginger and peppermint and yule tide I’d better get my favorite – and coincidentally, most simple – pumpkin recipe up for sharing.

And just in time for T-day! T-day? Really? I just went there. And it is 100% Alton Brown’s fault as I’ve spent the past few nights watching his turkey themed Good Eats re-runs, for reference, there are about four. Who knew a guy could talk turkey so many different ways?

I digress.

If you are looking for one more side dish to dress up the table for this Thursday, I’m highly recommending this dish.

Roasted Pumpkin

Ingredients

1 sugar pumpkin, scooped clean (seeds+guts removed) and cut into (approximate) 1-inch cubes*

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

dash of salt

non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper. Place cubed pumpkin, skin side down onto baking sheet and spray with a light coat of non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and bake for 30-35 minutes until pieces are easily pierced with a fork. Remove skin prior to eating.

*All the more power to Martha Stewart and her ability to peel the pumpkin prior to baking. I had very poor luck with this on my initial attempt and so I opted for skin on. Once baked, the skin peels of pretty seamlessly. Though it does make for a bit of messy eating!

Peanut Butter Granola Yogurt Bowl with Peanut Butter Banana Frosting {for one}

Granola has been sending me subliminal messages lately.

It’s popping up on my instagram feed. Daily.

It’s filling up jars on pinterest in all its DIY gifting glory.

The crunchy leaves and twigs and berries of the forest tell me to go home and make granola. Or at least that’s what I’m choosing to hear as I bound over rocks and moss following the blue blazen trail on yet another weekend hike.

You’re probably thinking, this girl should really hit the cereal aisle and get herself a box of granola. And you’re probably right. I probably should. And I absolutely could.

But I don’t want granola from a box. Not when I could be in the good company of toasted oats in my very own kitchen.

I’m also slightly fearful of the short time it would likely last in my cupboard. You see, granola is just one of those foods I cannot seem to handle. I don’t want a serving. I don’t want a handful. I want more. And so it goes, I usually go without. It’s just one of those foods for me. And with every handful comes a hefty amount of calories from fat and sugar, particularly if we are indulging the in the store-bought variety.

The idea for today’s breakfast is two-fold.

Last week I was doing a bit of research for an upcoming trip I’ll be making into the city and decided I would finally venture to Chobani SoHo. I was amused as their take on something as commonplace as the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With all the fixings already in my cupboards, I made a mental note to do a little experimenting of my own.

Come Sunday morning, I scrolled through a few of my favorite blogs before emerging from the covers and starting my day. Is it incredibly bizarre that it still amazes me that by sleeping until 7AM on the weekend means I’ve slept in for 3 whole hours longer than my average work day?

Anyways, I was over at Best Friends For Frosting and I came across this recipe for peanut butter granola with grape jelly frosting.

With the seed already planted for PB&J, and my desire for granola still lurking I scuffed into the kitchen.

Because this recipe only serves one, once the granola is gone, it’s gone! No temptation for stealing a second (or third, or fourth) handful but with all of the warmth and sweetness I had ever desired. Why had the idea of granola for one escaped me until now?

Peanut Butter Granola Yogurt Bowl with Peanut Butter Banana Frosting {for one}

 Serves 1

Ingredients:

For the peanut butter granola:

1/3 cup old fashioned oats

1 tsp honey

1 TBSP smooth (or chunky) peanut butter

pinch of salt

1 TBSP chopped, dried, cranberries

For the yogurt:

1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt of your choice

2 tsp grape jelly

For the peanut butter banana frosting:

1/2 of a small banana, mashed

1 TBSP smooth peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small round ramekin with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients for the peanut butter granola in a small bowl until combined and mold into the ramekin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

While granola is baking, prepare yogurt by mixing jelly into plain yogurt in the serving bowl and set aside.

With a fork, vigorously mix mashed banana and peanut butter together and set aside.

Once granola is done baking, pour over yogurt and top mixture with peanut butter banana frosting.

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower & Broccoli Bites

As the forecasted high seems to dip a bit lower each day, I find myself less inclined to snack on fresh veggies. Though all summer long I crunched away on red pepper sticks and carrot slices (with the occasional side of blue cheese dressing to make things real exciting); now I find myself returning home from work in what feels like the early evening with a rumbling stomach, chilly bones and an appetite seeking warmth.

 

Of course. most times it is not early evening, only late afternoon, but smokey grey shadows of wood stoves drift lazily out of chimneys against skies as black as cast iron. The sweet and thick aroma of colder days settles over the town and my mind remains confused, swearing I should be well on my way to making dinner already.

 

But I recall sunnier afternoons after work, riddled with humidity, spent jogging along the pastures overlooking the river where raspberries grew wild and the horses white tails flicked the pesky flies away in what seemed to be in perfect harmony with the tunes that filled my headphones.

 

Priorities of this seasonal change have included winter running gear, warmer blankets, woolen sweaters, many cups of hot tea and now, roasted vegetables.

Winter squashes serve as the shining stars to many dinners, but it’s their less starchy counterparts that really make my heart sing. Some days it’s as simple as a bag of steamed mixed vegetables, other days it’s a heaping pile of steamed broccoli seasoned with smoked paprika or covered in a light blanket of parmesan cheese. But today, after a long walk through the woods an idea filled my mind without warning.

 

Dark charcoal clouds piled high in the sky and remaining leaves seemed to tremble, there must be a storm coming, I thought to myself. I ducked inside with a recipe brewing in my head, the bag of baby carrots stared at me bleakly from the crisper. I fired up the stove filling the house with scents of roasted garlic chasing away the blustery day that had so quickly descended upon on us.

  

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower & Broccoli Bites

Serves 2

1 head of cauliflower, stems removed with florets chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/2 medium head of broccoli, stems removed with florets chopped into bite-sized pieces.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 TBSP Buffalo Wing Sauce

salt and pepper as desired

 Preheat oven to 400F and line a a baking sheet with non-stick spray or tin foil and set aside. Wash and trim florets of broccoli and cauliflower and spread in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle minced garlic over the florets.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, stirring the florets around and then drizzle with buffalo sauce. Return to oven for 2 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Apple Ricotta Breakfast Pizza

This daylight savings time change business is doing funny things to me.

 

For one, thank you to the weather channel for saving me from the confusion of why the microwave and my phone were telling me two different times. Despite numerous reminders at work, in the paper, on TV (ahem, weather channel) and my best efforts, Saturday night I collapsed in to bed without managing to set a single clock back.

Being the planner that I am, this act of negligence could very well surprise you.

 

With clocks reset and my appetite adjusting to a slightly later dinner hour, I felt that I was taking all this change in stride.

I think I recall once hearing that daylight savings time was correlated with an increase in the number of heart attacks. Now that’s a scary thought.

Anyways, without rhyme or reason, I awoke at midnight last night, a solid 3 hours after I’d settled under the covers, and I was wide awake. I thought for sure it was my usual waking time of about 4 AM. I got a drink of water and thought I’d drift back to sleep. I tossed and turned and finally decided to check instagram. Here’s where things went awry.

 

My stomach began to grumble and my mind raced with dinner ideas and breakfast ideas and get this, Christmas gift ideas. I pushed the thoughts out of my head but they persevered.

 I finally broke out my iPad and started making notes for myself to review at a later date.

With light pouring in through frosty windows this morning, I awoke, slightly less rested than I would have liked, but energized with ideas to fill my day. The main motivating factor? Putting thought to practice with this breakfast pizza.

 The apples lend a sweet flavor, cinnamon brings warmth and the pita crisps up making the perfect foundation for melted ricotta. I can’t think of a more welcome scent to chase out chilly mornings than sweet, baked apple.

Apple Ricotta Breakfast Pizza

Serves 1

1 pita pocket

1/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese

2 tsp raspberry preserves

1/2 of a medium apple, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness with a mandoline

a dash of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven 400 F and line a baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper. Top pita with ricotta cheese and jelly, mixing together and spread a thin, even layer over the surface of the pita, leaving a 1/4 inch crust around the edges.

Layer with apple slices, starting with the largest slices, slightly overlapping in a circular pattern until a layer covers the entire pita. Dust with cinnamon and bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool for about 1 minute before cutting and serving.

Weekend in photos. Mount Norwottuck & Horse Caves

This weekend I tried something new. 

And I absolutely loved it.

 I’ve always felt at peace walking through the woods. Scavenging for rocks, acorns, brightly colored leaves and moss. A sort of treasure hunt without a real purpose. The woods seem to have a way with me. Kind of like the ocean but much, much different.

There are lots of wooded trails I can access just by traveling down the road from my own front door, but this weekend I was lucky enough to travel north into Mount Holyoke Range State Park.

Though the peak of fall foliage has passed and we continue full steam ahead into the holiday season, the woods continue to offer a unique and magnificent beauty. The sun speckles the forest floor as we haul ourselves over dips and peaks, at times the journey seemed to take us straight up to the heavens only to catapult us into a valley that would no doubt require yet another rocky climb. The views, at all times, breath taking.

“Hiker’s coming through” shouted one woman, a member of the trail works team. I’m a hiker. I turned this thought over and over again in my head. I didn’t feel like a hiker. Instead I felt awe and peace and excitement and exhaustion sometimes all at once and at other times, breathing deep, with trembling legs I bounded over unsteady rocks and up the next incline, like a highway’s trail for run away trucks.

 

The landscape changed as we wound our way 4 miles deep into the range. From white birch to pine, wet leaves to gravel trail. Sun lit warmth to chilled air that seemed to breathe off jagged edges of the horse caves.

 

Each face we passed, gleaming with sweat, smiled at us. Exchanges about the beauty of this November day were cultivated and shared.

 

8 miles, 4 hours and 1778 feet of elevation later, we emerged out of golden leaves to the parking area. A stillness from the busy life remained on the winding road and farm lands that dotted the perimeter of the park.

We traveled home. Achey and sore. Ready to embrace hot tea and a home cooked meal. As tired as my body told me it was, my mind felt renewed.

 

I’m hooked on hiking.