Monday, November 29, 2010

Lentil and Black Bean Vegetable Soup

As promised here is soup #2 of the winter season. I made it quite a while ago now (nov 19) and as usual I didn't write down what I put in it! So let's see how my memory will serve me today. Usually when it comes to soup I go light on the seasonings and stick to the basil, bay leaf, rosemary variety. That's just how I like it. This time however I went for the cumin, garlic, coriander, chili flavours. While still mild in flavour it was just different enough to make this soup a little bit more exciting.

What also made this soup exciting was that I literally emptied my crisper and made a dent on my pantry while making it. I was just grabbing veggies, cans, and jars left right and center. To my pleasant surprise it turned out rather delicious and not so surprisingly, very hearty.

Lentil and Black Bean Vegetable Soup

1 carton vegetable broth
1 can of stewed tomatoes
water (about a tomato can full)
1 can black beans
red lentils (1/2 cup?)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 crown broccoli, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 can corn
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped
garlic powder
dried chili pepper
cayenne pepper

1. Heat broth, stewed tomatoes, and broth on medium-high until a simmer is reached.
2. Add all veggies (except for kale), black beans and lentils.
3. Once a simmer is reached, reduce heat to medium-low and add spices. I don't remember the measurements but it was about 2:2:1 for cumin to garlic powder to coriander. I just sprinkled them on there. Then the chili pepper and cayenne pepper is to your own taste. Depends on how hot you like it!
4. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until the lentils and squash are soft.
5. Add the kale and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

This soup is very thick and hearty. Almost like a chili. I added some black pepper and crumbled goat cheese on top. I suspect cheddar would be fantastic as well.

Yup, that is me eating in front of my computer. Not as much of a regular affair as it used to be (a positive thing I think).

I have quite the lineup of food photos for you. I don't think this one post a week deal is nearly enough to handle them. Hopefully I will be able to post some more as the term comes to an end and the Holidays begin!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Breakfast

I Love Breakfast. It is my favourite meal of the day. During the week my breakfast doesn't vary too much but on the weekend I like to switch it up a bit. With usually no time limits I am able to make pancakes or french toast or something more elaborate like that. On Saturday morning I laid in bed with my laptop watching tv (a very relaxing feeling by the way) thinking about what to make for breakfast. I knew I wanted something different to start my day.

I headed over to Oh She Glows because I am always envious of her breakfasts. I saw her recipe for a Grilled Cashew Butter and Blueberry Sandwich. Now, here is the problem. I took a week off from peanut butter. Hard to believe but I went 4 days without it! (ok so I failed at making it a whole week..but baby steps!). This was only accomplished because I didn't actually have any in the house (the only way this could be accomplished). I liked the grilled sandwich idea but I wanted to throw some eggs into the mix, and had to make a substitution for the peanut butter. This resulted in a Goat Cheese and Jam French Toast Sandwich.

Goat Cheese and Jam French Toast Sandwich

2 slices of bread
soft unripened goat cheese
jam (I used pomegranate berry)
1 egg
splash of milk

Spread the goat cheese on one slice and the jam on the other. Put the slices together like a sandwich (these are very complex directions, so pay attention ;). Beat the egg with some milk in a bowl. Dip each side of the sandwich in the egg mixture and place on a medium-heat pan. After a few minutes (peak to see when it is nice and browned), flip the sandwich (being careful that the two sides down separate) and cook the other side.

This sandwich was soft and sweet and wonderful. I felt like I was eating dessert for breakfast. I think I would prefer the edges more toasty next time so maybe baking it would be better?...hmmm. Has anyone ever had baked french toast? Is it crispier?

Looking at the weather for the week it is going to be rainy, then cold, then possibly snow for the first time this season here in southern Ontario :). I guess this means I should share another soup recipe soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegetable and Chickpea Soup

Better late than never is what I say. Actually, that saying is totally not me as I don't like to be late for anything. But in this case, posting this recipe later than I anticipated is much better than never posting it at all. This was my first soup of the fall/winter season and it was quite a success. I still have some in the freezer which will be much needed in the month to come I am sure.

It all starts with a pot.

I love this pot. Not only because it was a fantastic deal at the time but it was the first pot/pan I ever bought for myself. It consistently provides me with fantastic soups, stews and sauces. Obviously due to the pot itself.

Then you need some ingredients. This is what I used (I ended up not using the stewed tomatoes and also added kale and spinach).

You have to use your muscles a bit and chop until you cannot chop anymore. I hate chopping carrots SO much. I especially hate chopping baby carrots, but I needed to use them up.

Let the soup making begin!

Vegetable and Chickpea Soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 onion, chopped
carrots, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 cartons of vegetable broth
1 can of chickpeas
potatoes, cut up into bite sized pieces
1 stalk of kale, chopped
chopped spinach (I used frozen nuggets - about 8-10)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes.
2. Add the carrots and zucchini and saute until soft. The zucchini could also be added later so they maintain some structure but I like it when they are mushy in the soup.
3. Add vegetable broth and chickpeas. Once the broth begins to boil reduce to medium-low so the soup is simmering and add the potatoes and the spices. Cover.
4. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes and then add the kale and spinach. Cover.
5. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

This soup made some delicious lunches all week!

It was especially good with some aged white cheddar on top. It was great to kick off soup-season with a win and I look forward to some more successful creations.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Back!

A week since my last post, I made my way home from Montreal, only to travel to Toronto just a few days later for 4 days. Finally I am home and back to normalcy.

Montreal was fantastic! We had some interesting living arrangements but had a great time at the course. I love the city and want to visit again in the winter becuase I think old Montreal would be beautiful covered in snow. To save some money we took a trip to the grocery store upon arrival. I sustained most days off of hard boiled eggs, bread, cottage cheese, peanut butter, apples, bananas, and oatmeal (how exciting, haha). Can't say I came up with any novel recipes with that grocery list.

We did manage to have a few nights out for dinner. The highlight of our dining experiences was Gorgio's in Old Montreal.

Not only was the restaurant in a dungeon with an interesting history, but it was BYOW with no corking fee, and had a menu consisting of $10 pizza and pasta. I had pizza with pesto, provalone cheese, peppers, onions and sausage. The crust was thinner than I prefer but was delicious none-the-less.

The building was an old schoolhouse and then was used to store the firs for the Hudson's Bay Company. Pretty cool I'd say!

The wrestling that was on TV ruined the atmosphere a little bit

Down the street from our hostel was a restaurant O.NOIR which I have heard about but never seen. No one was daring enough to go with me but I DEFINITELY want to go to Toronto location sometime in the future. There was also a frozen yogurt shop down the street called Yeh! It was a great concept! They had tons of flavours to choose from and it was self serve. You could mix whatever flavours you wanted and then you paid by the weight. They had every topping you could ever want including fresh fruit! It was a nice change from our usual TCBY fare.

Clearly I didn't go for the fresh fruit

After a very long trip back from Montreal I had a few days to recover from the severe lack of sleep that resulted from staying up until 3 am and waking up at 7 am the last few days in Montreal. Then it was time to head to Toronto to attend a conference. Across the street from the conference there was a gourmet burrito place that we tried for lunch one day. It was called Z-Teca.

Now as you probably know, I LOVE burritos. This place had a really neat concept and tasted very fresh and somewhat healthier than your usual burrito. I had a vegetarian burrito with roasted tomatillo & jalapeno salsa which was delicious.

This photo is a little unappetizing. Burritos just don't photograph well (that's my excuse anyway)

There was something missing however and it is hard to put my finger on it. It probably was a combination of using regular black beans instead of refried beans and the slight under-grilling. I would have liked it to be a bit crisper. While not better than Burrito Boyz, still better than any burrito I have made (see rice paper burrito fail).

On our last night in Toronto we walked along Harbord St. in attempts to find some good pizza. We found it at a place called Pizza Gigi. Great price and fantastic pizza! We ordered a whole pizza but the pre-made slices looked to-die-for. I see this place being a great late-night stop after a night out. The man that made ALL the pizza's (we witnessed TONS of phone orders while waiting for our pizza; a very popular delivery place I suspect) was grumpy and Italian, which is probably how it should be.

With all the eating out the last couple weeks I was looking forward to cooking. I made a nice big pot of soup today which will last me all week I am sure. Keep an eye out for the recipe!