Archive for the 'healthy' Category


Winter Chicken Noodle Stew

I’ve gone back and forth about whether to post this one. For the past couple of months, I’ve shared recipes that I absolutely love: chicken korma, Turkish lentil soup, cashew chicken chili, etc. But food blogging isn’t just about the rock stars, right? Not everything we make or eat is off-the-charts fantastic.

Take this winter chicken noodle stew, for example. It’s hearty, warm, incredibly healthy, and pretty quick to put together. It could have used a squeeze of lemon juice, or something else to add a bit more zing. Red pepper flakes, perhaps. All in all, it was a good solid stew. But it wasn’t a 10. It wasn’t even an 8.

OK, I admit. I wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out. Jeff claimed to like it a lot. He enthusiastically ate several bowls of it. Both of us agreed that the Parmesan is essential. It adds a bit of saltiness that’s very much needed.

This a is a very thick stew, not at all like the chicken noodle soup most of us are used to. The mix of carrots, parsnips, onions and celery create subtle flavors. If you like subtle, you will like this stew. Will I make this again? Perhaps. But it’s not at the top of my list.

Winter Chicken Noodle Stew
barely adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003

12 ounces boneless chicken thighs (about 4 pieces)
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts halves (about 3 pieces)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 large celery stalks, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 small onions, roughly chopped
3 1/2 cups water
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 pound wide egg noodles
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half the chicken. Cook, turning occasionally until chicken is browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat steps with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Place carrots, celery, parsnips and onions to the pot or Dutch oven. Add the water, broth and rosemary. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly tender, about 10 minutes.

In another pot, cook noodles until al dente according to package instructions. Drain. Stir noodles, parsley, reserved chicken into pot with vegetables. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt better in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir until golden, about 1 minute. Add chard. Cook, turning every now and then until tender, about 5 minutes. Divide the chard among six bowls. Ladle stew on top. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 6.


Honey Oatmeal Bread

Two years ago, homemade bread was a weekly ritual around here. Well, maybe not weekly, but I made it A LOT. Whole wheat bread, no-knead bread, baguettes, flatbread, ciabatta, rye breads, quick breads. Bread baking was therapy for me after a stressful week. It’s one of many things that fell by the wayside when little Gabi was born.

I still bake bread, but very rarely. When I do, I savor everything about it: the feel of the dough, the smell as it bakes. And of course, the first bite.

This oat bread comes from the King Arthur Flour’s book on whole grain baking — one of the best tomes on bread baking. This bread has a mild sweetness to it, thanks to the honey. The oats are slightly nutty and dissolve into the dough. The loaf is moist. The crumb is tight enough for sandwiches. However, I highly recommed a pat of melty butter and raspberry jam.

One of the keys to good bread baking is knowing just when to pull the loaf from the oven. The people at King Arthur make this easy. Poke an instant read thermometer into the middle of the loaf and pull it out when the temp reaches 198 degrees F. Do this with any loaf you bake and it will save you lots of heartache.

Honey Oatmeal Bread
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey
1 cup (4 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place the boiling water, oats, butter, salt and honey into a medium bowl (use bowl of your stand mixer if using), stir, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Combine the rest of the ingredients with the oat mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer. Knead by hand or with dough hook until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour. The dough should be doubled in bulk.

Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Gently deflate the dough. It will be sticky so oil your hands. Shape the dough into a 9-inch log. Place into the pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until it has crowned over the rim of the pan, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Near the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Uncover and bake the bread for about 45 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The bread is done when it’s golden brown and an instant-read termometer inserted in the center register 190 degrees F. Remove it from the oven, and after a  minute or so turn it out onto a rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired. This will keep the crust soft. Cool the bread before cutting it.


Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Croutons

I have Georgina to thank for this one. She has fabulous food sense. She KNOWS what to do with parsnips. She has A ZILLION ideas for kale. She’s passed along a half dozen recipes that have become favorites around here. She’s mentioned this concoction, what, a half dozen times in the past three months? And it’s taken me this long to make it.

It was inspired by Deb on SmittenKitchen. Georgina then made her own version using Brussels sprouts instead of asparagus. I made it tonight, using pinto beans rather than white or cranberry beans that Deb used, simply because I had them already.

This would have been a super-quick meal had I not chosen to use dried beans. Canned beans — white, pintos or red kidney beans — are perfectly acceptable. In fact, I’d say preferrable because they’re faster and just as good as dried.

This was perfect for a Friday night — after a week of deadlines for Jeff, a radio interview and the beginnings of about four stories for me. I took comp time and left work early today. Snow was falling. I stopped at the grocery store before picking up Gabi and did some prep work quartering Brussels sprouts and slicing bread into croutons.

The meal came together in less than 10 minutes. The kitchen smelled of chorizo, and that’s always a good thing. We had whole almonds on hand — they’re worth buying for this if you don’t have them. Jeff and I ate this with a bottle of red wine. It was sort of Spanish, sort of seasonal, sort of  nothing like we’ve ever had before. It was wonderful. Thanks G!!

Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo and Croutons
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound Brussels sprouts, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces chorizo cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups 3/4-inch bread cubes from a baguette or country bread loaf
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup cooked beans (such as cannelini, kidney or pinto)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Start cooking when you’re about ready to eat. Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan until very hot. Add all the ingredients except the beans, salt and pepper. Cover and saute over high heat for about 5 to 6 minutes, tossing or stirring the mixture a few times, so it browns and cooks on all sides. Add the beans, salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve.

Serves 4.


Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup

I’m absolutely smitten with this soup. It’s the perfect cold-weather food, the kind that infuses your soul. It can cure whatever ails. At least, that was our hope last weekend. The three of us have had colds since October it seems. Gabi’s friends at daycare share with her, and she shares with us. It’s about to drive us mad. On Saturday, Jeff suggested a big batch of lentil soup and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Sundays at Moosewood — a cookbook I bought in college. Some of its pages are splattered.  Notations throughout the book mark my first experiments in the kitchen.   I’ve adapted the lentil soup here and there, adding more spice, more zing, and replacing fresh tomatoes with canned (it is winter, after all). The result is a thick, almost stew-like soup. The combination of onions, garlic, lentils, bulghur, tomatoes, parsley and spinach is truly addictive. I use a lot of rosemary here. Use more or less, according to your taste. A squeeze of lemon at the end enhances it all.

I made a double batch of this on Saturday. I’ve been known to triple the recipe and put half of it in freezer bags. My freezer and I have become best buds this past year. I’ve come to learn that good food doesn’t have to be made TODAY. It could be made last month. In the case of this lentil soup, it could be made six weeks ago, thawed, heated, and inhaled.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this soup.

Continue reading ‘Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup’


Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Pumpkin Seeds

A couple pounds of beets landed in our kitchen last week. Yep. Two bunches of my least favorite vegetable. I spent part of the weekend trying to cook through our CSA box — arugula, bok choy, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, garlic, lettuce and beets. I hate wasting any of the produce we bring home. Don’t get me wrong, beets aren’t all bad. I love beet greens. And really, I don’t mind beets, I just don’t love them. Jeff, however, strongly minds them.

There were several kinds of beets here — golden beets, small maroon beets, mid-sized pink beets. I would happily make this salad again. The beets become soft, sweet and gorgeous when tossed in  honey, sherry vinegar, olive oil and sliced shallot.  Roasting them really brings out their color. Here, they’re served with peppery arugula, salty feta and crunchy, roasted pumpkin seeds. This one got a thumbs down from Jeff, but a thumbs up from me.

Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Pumpkin Seeds
Earth to Table

2 bunches beets (about 4 pounds), mixed colors if possible
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons local honey
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup packed arugula leaves
1/4 cups roasted pumpkin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the greens from the beets, leaving a stub of green on each. Scrub beets and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt. Place them in a roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover tightly with oil and roast until the beets are fork tender, about 40 minutes. (The roasting time will depend on the size and type of been, so check them early and often). Remove the foil and allw to cool. Peel beets by slipping the skins off with your fingers. Slice beets into wedges and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining oil, vinegar, honey and shallot. Stir in beets, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.

Drain dressing from the beets and place them a platter. Sprinkle with feta, arugula and pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and pepper.


Gumbo Z’Herbes

This isn’t your typical gumbo. It has no okra, no shrimp, no andouille. This is a greens dish. I don’t know about you, but some times I crave meals like this.

The history of this gumbo is interesting. Catholics in Louisiana traditionally served it during Lent, and particularly on Good Friday when they were to abstain from meat. It typically has seven types of greens for good luck — mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach and parsley. As time went on, Louisianans began sneaking in meat for added flavor. Some used seafood. This recipe calls for smokey ham.

This gumbo is a tonic. The greens — several pounds of them — cook down until they’re soft and silky, and then infuse your body with just about every nutrient and mineral imaginable.  Hot sauce is essential here. Even if you’re not a fan of heat, add a shake or two to your bowl and see what you think. It adds an extra layer of favor.

If you can’t find all the greens listed here (because they aren’t always available), don’t fret. Just add more of the other greens to compensate. Do try, however, to maintain the ratio of bitter and mild greens. The mix of  sweet and pungent makes for a more complex, though subtle, flavor. No matter the combination, however, this should turn out great.

Continue reading ‘Gumbo Z’Herbes’


Warm Black Bean and Vegetable Wraps

I love to cook the most when the season changes. Or maybe that’s when I love to eat the most. Either way, I get excited about making something as simple as wraps.  End-of-summer zucchini, butternut squash, bell peppers, onion and black beans held together with melty pepper jack cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. If I were forced to become a vegetarian, I wouldn’t mind if I could have food like this every day.

I made these yesterday afternoon while Jeff was on one of his final marathon training runs and Gabi was down for her afternoon nap. Jeff and I shared one after he came home from the park. Then we stashed the rest in the fridge for lunches this week.  Today at work, we took them out of the foil, wrapped them in paper towels and nuked them for about 45 seconds. Yum!!  They’re even better with two or three spoonfuls of store-bought salsa.

Warm Black Bean and Vegetable Wraps
The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced red or yellow bell peppers, or both
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes zucchini
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash
1 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (packed) grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese
4 9- to 10-inch-diameter flour tortillas (burrito size)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add all vegetables and saute until crisp tender, about 8 minutes. Mix in cumin and saute until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Place beans in large bowl, mash coarsely with fork. Mix in vegetables, then cheese.

Place tortillas on work surface. Spoon 1/4 of filling down the center of each, sprinkle filling on each with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Roll up tortillas, enclosing filling. Arrange wraps seam side down, on baking sheet. Cover wraps with foil. Bake until just heated through, about 10 minutes. Cut each in half.

Makes 4 wraps.


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