Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

soup

Come on.

I know you love this soup.

I know that you tense up when you see it on the menu, or in a beauteous, hot cauldron in a cafeteria, or dining hall (such as mine for the two years I was a dining-hall-goer). It’s so good, but is basically, really, just cheese-drenched broccoli, and very little broccoli at that. I personally love this soup, but also have a bit of a problem eating essentially just cheese for dinner, cause my stomach is like “Hey, where’s the rest of the stuff?”. So I added more stuff to see what would happen. And let me tell you, it tastes just as good, and alas, not that expensive to make.

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with other Stuff in it

1 drizzle of olive oil

1 bunch broccoli

1 small onion, chopped

2 Cloves of garlic

1 cup shredded carrots

2 medium red-skinned potatoes, diced

1 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar

1 teaspoon Teriyaki sauce

1 Cup of skim milk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Separate the stems and the florets from the broccoli. Trim and discard the bottom of the broccoli stems.  Finely chop the stems and coarsely chop the florets and set aside separately.

Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the broccoli stems, onions, carrots and potatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, 7 to 10 minutes- then add garlic. Add broth, salt, teriyaki sauce, pepper, and nutmeg, and then reduce to a simmer.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted, and then add flour, forming a roux.  Slowly pour in milk until thickened. Slowly pour into vegetables and broth and allow simmering until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, combine the reserved florets and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and continue to steam until the florets are bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the entire contents of the pot with the florets to the soup Stir to combine and remove from the heat. Garnish with basil, or whatever you like!

Big Moves, Small Budgets

Big Moves, Small Budgets

I moved across the country with a man who wears a Flamingo shirt.

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The buffalo, however, stayed right where he was in South Dakota.

The feeling of freedom is hard to describe. Right now I am young and the world is my oyster. Once I felt that college diploma in my hand, I knew there was nothing holding me down in Rhode Island. It was time to go exploring this big, bad globe. Only, there was a boy I really liked, so he joined. Our trip was incredible. We saw a whole lot of this beautiful country (America- yes, it really is beautiful).

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 How’s this for some true American Food??

 

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And now, we are trying on a different coast.

We are both serving with Americorps in Tacoma, WA, and though we get to share a tiny, one room apartment (but hallelujah, big kitchen!), we make next to nothing. We have both gone through the terrifying (though for me, should be familiar) process of applying for SNAP benefits, and have been really trying hard to make our food budget work. This year is going to be the ultimate struggle for me as a foodie, but I am excited too, because I think I can rise to the challenge. Whether is saving vegetable scraps and freezing them to make broth, picking lavender, rosemary, wild blackberries, and apples, or doubling our benefits at the Farmer’s Market, we are making the best of it. So far, I love this city and all it has to offer me- and maybe living on a budget doesn’t have to be bland. With that being said, it is looking like this blog will shift gears a little bit, to be more focused on cheap, affordable, easy, and healthy recipes.

I want to leave with a link to an amazing free cookbook (the PDF is free!) which emcompasses all of these aspects. Leanne Brown studied Food Systems at NYU and thinks people should have good food every day. She created a cookbook “Good and Cheap” which is is a collection of recipes for people with limited incomes, particularly those on a $4/day food stamps budgets. And it is awesome! Here is the link to the PDF

 https://8b862ca0073972f0472b704e2c0c21d0480f50d3.googledrive.com/host/0Bxd6wdCBD_2tdUdtM0d4WTJmclU/good-and-cheap.pdf

or you can visit her website http://www.leannebrown.com

Let the taste of my new life begin.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Probably the best part of being a nutrition major is that a required course is a lab in which you play with food. Sometimes it is boring, such as  concocting starch pastes and racing them down a plastic sheet to see which was most viscous. Or when we cooked broccoli for three hours….

Like, what?

Mostly though, we would walk in and our professor would say something like “we are having a whole-grain feast today, no lab report- yay!” or “today we are making pizzas, just for shoots and giggles!”. Needless to say, this “lab” has provided me with some of my favorite-ever recipes- including these scrumptious peanut butter bars. This recipe uses olive oil as a fat, which sounds “eh”, but works.  I would say these are a good desset or breakfast or whatever your fancy. The chocolate chips are my addition because chocolate. Thanks URI Foods lab! I’m going to miss your weirdness!

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup loosely-packed brown sugar
1 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp 1% milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, oats, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Blend together the olive oil, peanut butter, egg and milk in another bowl, using a fork or whisk. Make an indent in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, combine the ingredients together. Press the mixture into a 9×9 inch non-stick baking pan and bake for 14-15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Cool in the pan. Cut into 16 bars. Place on a plate and serve.
*ADD: Chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts, peanut butter chips, other delicious things
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Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

Hello there.

I’d like to show you some pictures of a place I went a while ago.

I’m not going to talk much.

These pictures speak for themselves.

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If this meaty picture doesn’t peak your interest, then I’m not really sure what will.

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It’s Oaxaca Mexico, a place I have since dubbed “delicious food capital of the world”.

These fresh markets were everywhere.

And I ate crickets.

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This was an organic farmer’s market we visited upon our first day there.

Have you ever had beet, carrot and orange juice? Well, you should!

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Salad with fresh grapefruit and orange. I think these colors say it all.

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Heaps of cafe con leche was consumed. These people know how to make their coffee!

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A delectable tostada with fresh greens from the farmers market. Fresh juice squeezed right in front of me.

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For desert, a toasted coconut muffin.

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Aaand of course, more cafe con leche.

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There is a little fire going on under that stone, and when this Zapotec woman grinds the cocoa beans and adds just the right amount of sugar, it melts and begins to glisten- making fresh, still warm chocolate. That was probably one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.

It is so so wonderful to travel, and to be able to experience the taste of a place.

I hope I get to do this often in my life.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Everyone is taking pictures of their food these days. It seems to me that the human pre-meal ritual has switched over from saying grace and praising god, to hashtagging, gramming and showing the world how beautiful our meals can be. Snap, filter and post, so that the world will know of your delicious chow.  I may not have an iphone, or an instagram for that matter, but this is not actually a technological phenomenon that bothers me. I kinda like it.

People appreciating their food? I’m ay okay with being in that large club.

I sort of found myself wishing it were easier for me to share my breakfast this morning, because it felt like so much more than breakfast.

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After a great night out in Newport, RI with this pal, one of my oldest and dearest friends, I found myself on my porch this morning, eating eggs, looking out onto the hazy ocean, smiling and loving life.

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And so, this isn’t just a quick pic of my breakfast, it is a small documentation to the immense happiness and contentment that is my life. What I would really like to say is that I am grateful to be eating and feeling well, appreciative of my beautiful friends and loving family and more than thankful to be living on this tiny island by the sea.

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I think that’s what all the  instagrammers are trying to say. Look at how lucky I am world. Amen!

Banana Blue Muffins

Banana Blue Muffins

Oh Hello. I know it has been a while. Ok, ok, it has been over a year since I have posted. Guess what? If you don’t know me, I’ll just tell you that I am a consistently inconsistent person. Always have been, always will be.

A lot has happened since I last wrote, including but not limited to: completing a half marathon, spending two weeks in Mexico, completing another year of school, turning twenty-one, landing a job at a hospital, climbing Mt. Washington, becoming one of those people addicted to smoothies, and writing many, many, bad pop songs on the guitar.

Lately I have been pretty into taking run of the mill baked goods and making them into something that could be a hearty breakfast. I love having pastries for breakfast, but I find I usually get really hungry within an hour or two of eating them. So I try to make baked goods with a bit more fiber, protein to help keep me runnin’ until lunch. Some of my experiments have been good (like these), some have been bad (like the time I made chocolate chip cookies and just completely omitted the butter).

Its been a good year, and what way to bring myself back but with Banana Blueberry muffins (yes, these are also an experiment).

Anyways, these will fill you right up and are tasty to beat.

Promise I’m gonna try to stick around. I really am.

Banana Blueberry Muffins
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt (not greek, if you can!)
1 tbsp. low-fat milk
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Zest of one clementine, or 1 tsp orange zest*
One carton of fresh blueberries (washed and patted dry).

*Orange zest is kinda my thing, I put it in almost everything I can, so you could definitely omit it here.

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mash bananas and combine with all wet ingredients. Stir dry mixture into wet 1/3 at a time, mixing until just combined. Fold in blueberries with a spatula and distribute into 12 muffin tins, either greased or lined with papers. Fill muffin tins to the tops (the muffins with deflate a bit shortly after you take them out of the oven). Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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What’s that? It’s not healthy anymore ’cause I put butter on it? Butter is good for the soul. Haters gon hate.

African Peanut Stew

African Peanut Stew

I was babysitting my favorite little friend Annie and  caught scent of something delectable-smelling coming out of her mother’s kitchen. Upon investigating, I found the dish she was preparing contained a few of my favorite things: chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and peanut butter. What a combination! I had the recipe copied and vowed to make it the very next day. I did, and it is delicious! I gave some of it to my room mates and they were skeptical of the peanut flavor, but turns out it is very subtle and sweet, and they loved it.

African Peanut Stew (Thanks Jackie!)

2 Tbsp of Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onion
6 cups of cubed sweet potato
1 Tbsp of cumin
2 15oz. cans of chickpeas
24 oz vegetable broth
28oz diced tomatoes (canned)
Salt and peper to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large pot and sauté onions for 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. I like this with avocado and parsley, my friend Kevin likes it with hot sauce!

College Pancakes

College Pancakes

Yes. There are such a thing!!! Breakfast lovers unite!

My room mates and I always joke about being the most elaborate breakfast cooks of all the  kids at our university. In the morning, we may be bleary-eyed and un-eager to get started with our day, but we never fail to turn out french-press coffee and something delicious. We have been known to whip up smoothies, scrambled eggs with spinach and buttered toast in ten minutes.

It’s because breakfast rules. It is really the most important part of your day, mostly because it sets the tone for your day.  Starting your morning with a pop-tart? Eh. You’ll probably feel pretty hungry in like 4 minutes. These? These bad boys fill me up for hours and give me the energy to tackle Human Anatomy (well, kinda).

That’s why I love these pancakes. They may be a bit different from your run-of-the-mill white flour pancakes, but they are still delicious.They also help you use-up those unappealing brown bananas that you are never going to eat! 

Whole-Wheat Banana Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon of cinamon
1/4 cup of walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup of skim milk/almond milk/soy milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas, one for mashing into the batter and one for chopping
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
non-stick cooking spray

In a small bowl, combine first five ingredients. In a larger bowl, mash 1 banana and mix with egg and milk. Add extract. Stir in flour mixture to banana mixture and add chopped banana and frozen blueberries. Pour 1/2 cup of mixture into hot pan coated with non-stick oil on medium heat. Cook for two minutes on each side, or until browned.  Serve with maple syrup and fresh berries.

(This probably makes about 6 pancakes, so I usually store the batter covered in the fridge for up to a week.)

Fiber and protein, comin’ right up!

Christmas Dinner Tradition

Christmas Dinner Tradition

I have never been that big of a Christmas fan, I’ll admit. I am more of an enthusiastic Thanksgiving celebrator (try to imagine why!!). Sometimes I think during christmas we tend to focus on what stuff we get from other people, and stress out too much about what we have to buy for them. Thats why I call it the festival of consumption. I think Christmas should be about family and recognizing that you have the  gift of living every day! Call me corny, but its true. Christmas is so much better if you think of it this way.

Anyways, every year my parents, my sister and I sit down to a meal of tortilla soup after coming back from our town’s Christmas pageant, followed by an evening in front of the fire eating fudge and watching its a wonderful life. Now THERE is a movie that embodies the true spirit of Christmas.

Why tortilla soup? Well its definitely not your typical Christmas ham, but my family and I have been eating it every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The soup takes a while to make, but it is so worth it, and after a cold night it really warms the soul (not to mention my Momma is an excellent cook).

Nevertheless this soup is delicious any time of the year. It is also really fun to eat because you can top it with a bunch of different fixings, and you get to scoop it all up with crispy, home made tortilla chips (which we always seem to polish off before the soup even hits the table). Every time I taste it, I remember how important my family is to me. I suppose that is one of the great things about food: that really, it can be so much more than food.

Merry Chowing!!

Tortilla Soup (adapted from an Alice Waters Recipe) :

For the tortilla chips:

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1/2 cup canola oil

For the soup:

1-1/2 quarts chicken broth

1 chicken breast (with skin and bones)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Anaheim green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 3 small canned whole tomatoes, diced with juice included)

1 dried chipotle chili, seeded

Sea salt to taste

In a small heavy-bottomed pan fry the corn tortilla strips in canola oil over medium-high heat. Fry the tortilla strips in small batches until golden brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn the tortilla. Drain on paper towels and season with sea salt.

In a medium pot, heat the chicken broth to a simmer, add the chicken breast and cook at a bare simmer until the chicken is done, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer the chicken breast to a plate and let it cool. Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the breast meat. I like my tortilla soup a little chunky so shred the meat to your preference.

In a large heavy pot, cook the Anaheim green pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Pour in the hot chicken broth then add the tomatoes and dried chipotle chile. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Cut up chicken into bite size pieces and add to soup. Cook for 5 more minutes. Let cool and serve with whatever garnishes you choose!

Garnishes I like: Avocado slices, Fresh lime juice, Sour Cream, Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Onion, Cheddar Jack Cheese and Fresh Radishes

Artichoke and Kale Frittata

Artichoke and Kale Frittata

After last saturday’s trip to the farmer’s market, I found myself with a carton of fresh eggs and a huge bunch of kale. I also had a bunch of ricotta cheese leftover from a lasagna I made and had no idea what to do with it. Lo and behold the wonderful world of the internet. Enter these items in on google, and your’e going to find some inspiration. I love fritattas and quiche ( its a mutual love I discovered with one of my dear friends Abby our freshman year of college  because it was the only thing they seemed to cook right in the dining hall). Not only is this a great breakfast, but a great, satisfying snack to eat anytime.

And one last thing before I show you the recipe. Eggs produced in an environment where the little chickens are loved are SO much more tasty than eggs from sad chickens. You can immediately see it in the rich color of the yolks, and you can most definitely taste it in your dish.One time I made these amazing coconut cupcakes with local eggs where the cake was supposed to be white, and it turned out to be a gorgeous yellow color!!  I always try to buy local eggs, it supports your local farmers and they are usually not much more expensive than the grade A jumbos you can pick up at the corner store.

Artichoke and Kale Ricotta Frittata (yes, that rhymes)

Olive oil (for pan coating)
4 eggs, beaten
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 oz of parmesan/pecorino romano cheese
1 cup artichoke hearts (pre-cooked)
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped

(1 bunch of kale is pretty vague, if you like a lot of kale, put it in!!)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a cake pan lightly with olive oil (it helps to have a spring-form pan but I didn’t and it still came out fine). In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, grated cheese and ricotta. Roughly chop the veggies and add to the cheese/egg mixture. Stir until combined. Pour contents of bowl into the greased cake pan and cook until firm, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on a wire wrack for 5 to 10 minutes and serve. This fritatta tastes great with a little garlic aoli on top!!