Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Belated Thanksgiving Post

Hello friends,
Sorry I haven't written in a while (thanks to Lizzy for the overly aggressive gentle reminder), I've been quite the busy girl!  Over the past week I've had a trip to Pittsburgh for work, enjoyed time off with friends and family, and been working like a crazy lunatic!

Now that I've had some time to catch my breath and catch up on my work, I figured I'd catch you up on what I've been up to.

It started with a lovely Thanksgiving with my family.....

(Note my 92 year old grandpa passed out at the head of the table in the background.  I love it!)

And here, we have a lovely shot of my deliciously packed 5th 1st plate of food.

Featured: In counter clockwise order, a toasted pecan roll from Cheryl Anne's bakery, delicious white meat turkey (yeah...thats skin you see, so sue me), spiced butternut squash, roasted fennel and mint salad, my uncle's delicious homemade cranberry sauce, and there's some stuffing hiding somewhere.  YUM!

Thanksgiving dinner was great.  I love spending time with my family, eating massive amounts of food, and sitting in front of the TV watching football (this year, the Pats!).

After dinner, we settled into our food comas and tortured each other sat around on the couch.

Later in the week, once my jeans started to fit again, I hung out with some high school friends and spend some quality time with my boyfriend who was home from LA for the holiday's.  I made my first trip to Frog Pond on Boston Common for some ice skating (so cheesy, I know).

All in all it was a great holiday.  Now, back to the grind.  I've yet to go food shopping for the week but I'm hoping I get out of work with enough time to make a trip to the store tonight.  I promise I'll be back in action cooking up soup a storm in no time!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Souped Up Sunday

When Friday at 5:30 came, I couldn't have been more excited for the weekend.  This past week was a total nightmare filled with late nights, early mornings, and lots of client meetings so when "the bell" rang at 5:30, I was out the door enjoying a relaxing dinner with friends.  

Saturday morning, I was up early and off to the gym.  After a long workout, I met my friend Alexis downtown for a late lunch at Stephanie's on Newbury and headed back to my apartment to hang before a night out with the girls.  

After a quick photo session, I met two of my friends Shannon and Jackie at Vlora Restaurant for a low key dinner.  We then headed to Cactus Club (dedicated to Jill and Libby) for some after dinner drinks.

....and shots.

Needless to say, I was a bit sluggish this morning.  I dragged my butt to the gym, and headed home to make some Sweet Potato, Chicken, and Barley soup.  And it was deeeelish!  

Sweet Potato, Chicken, and Barley Soup

3 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 parsnips, peeled and grated (I sliced mine)
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (I used a little under a cup)
10 cups chicken broth (I used about 8)
2 bay leaves
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

(Sorry for the sloppy ingredient shot)

Heat a stock pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots.  Saute' for 5 minutes.

Add the parsnips, barley, stock, and bay leaves.  bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes and chicken and simmer for 20 minutes longer.  Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove from the heat and stir in the dill, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

This soup is so good and so perfect for a cold fall day.  I can't wait to eat a big bowl for dinner, and bring the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Happy early Thanksgiving everyone - and here's to a short week!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spinach, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

A few weeks ago I was in the mood for something super comforting so I decided to venture out and make Smitten Kitchen's Spinach, Sausage & Sweet Potato Soup...with a few of my own alterations of course.

This was so good, so warming, and even better the next day as the flavors had some time to marry together.  I was very pleased with the outcome of this soup and will definitely be making it again!  This time I'll use some spicier sausage, but knowing I was sharing my first batch with my roommate who hates all things spicy, I toned it down and used turkey linguica instead of regular linguica or chorizo.

Makes 8 servings

3 tablespoons EVOO (how rachel ray of me), divided
1 10 - 11 oz fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 lb white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick
6 cups low salt chicken broth
1 9oz bag fresh spinach

Heat 2 tbs oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes.  Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain.  Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes.  Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Using a potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot.  Add browned sausage to soup.  Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tbs of oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide among bowls and serve.

This was so good it barely lasted me a lunch or two that week.  I can't wait to make it again...maybe this weekend...hmmm...

PS - sorry for the fresh pedicured toe shot along with the soup.  Cute color though, right?!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blogger Q&A

Anne from Your Kind of Salad tagged me for a Wednesday Blogger Q&A.  Here goes nothin'...

1) What's the worst job I ever had?
Wow, this one is a tie between babysitting and getting pooped on by a little rug rat and lifeguarding the early shift in college at the local JCC.  From 6am (wake up was around 4:45) to 10am, I would sit and watch the elderly folks do their water aerobics and jazzercise in the shallow end.  No diving!  Not only was I tired and cranky, but was offered many a date with "their cute Jewish grandsons...".  Shoot me, shoot me now.

2)  What was the first food blog you ever read?
I'm not 100% sure about this one.  Does food network count?  It all started when I would google random recipe's for things and stumble upon an interesting recipe on a blog.  I must say though, the first blog I actually started following was The Clean Plate Club.

3) You're cooking for the dreamy Tom Colicchio, what do you make him?
Hmm...good one.  I think I would probably have to make him my homemade Jewish chicken noodle soup with fluffy, perfectly round, matzo balls.  It is my absolute favorite thing to make and I must say, my absolute specialty.  Eat up Tommy, my Jewish grandma says so!

4) Ice Cream: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate.  Definitely Chocolate.  Although I am way more of a salty, crunchy, snacky, chip kind of girl, I always go for Chocolate.

5)  Exercise: Love it? or Do it for Health only?
Normally I love exercise.  I love to run and spin and sweat and just feel good.  Recently though, I've been in an anti-exercise rut, mostly due to work keeping me late and being too tired to wake up in the mornings. But, I'd say I love it.  (How's that for motivation?)

Instead of tagging another fellow food blogger, answer this question in the comments section....(Alicia, I copied you....)

If it was your last meal on earth, what would you eat?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

Anyone of my friends will tell you how much I love Spaghetti Squash.  I make it all summer long, and love it during early fall when its particularly in season.  At the food store last week I picked one up and even though its not at its peak season, I figured I could always put it to good use.

I experimented last night on my new Cuisinart Griddler (purchased by my lovely Jewish mother from Rue la la...I suppose thats a story for another day) with this fantastic recipe I found online.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

1 Small - Medium Spaghetti Squash (you want 2.5 - 3 cups)
1 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
Black pepper to taste
Nonstick spray and/or butter for the pan
Sour cream or yogurt for the top
Salsa for the top

To bake the spaghetti squash, preheat the oven to 375.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Bake the halves face-down on a lightly oiled tray or baking dish for about 30 minutes or until the skin side of the squash can be pierced with a fork.  You don't want the squash to be too soft, it will continue to cook in the pancakes.

Let the baked squash cool, then scoop it out of the skin, place it in a strainer and squeeze out some of the juices to try it a little.  

Place the squash in a medium-sized bowl and separate the strands a little with a fork.  Use the fork to mix in the onion, flour, and salt, and then to beat in the eggs.

Place a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, spray it with nonstick spray or butter.  Add the batter in 1/4 cup amounts to make 2 1/2 inch pancakes.

Cook the pancakes until golden brown on both sides.  These can be turned more than once, you want to get them really well done on the outside.  The finished result should be tender and light, but crisp.  I cooked mine for about 20 minutes.

Serve hot, with our without toppings.

I served mine with a random mish mosh of seafood (shrimp, scallops, and pan seared tuna) and some lemon and garlic sauteed spinach.  

The pancakes were delicious...and made me sooo full!  I enjoyed a few leftovers for lunch today and a few more for dinner tonight.  Yum.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spinach & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Last weekend as I was shopping for the week, I noticed a sale on Acorn Squash so I picked one up as I've been wanting to try this recipe from http://yourkindofsalad.wordpress.com/.  Realizing I didn't have the necessary ingredients for the above recipe, I adapted with what I had on hand.  I must say the end result was delicious and perfect for a cold November weekday evening.

1 small/medium acorn squash halved and de-seeded
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup of dry quinoa
2 Tbs of tomato sauce
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion 
1 cup spinach 
1 Tbs cream cheese 

Pre heat oven to 375
Spray squash with some cooking spray, spray butter, or olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in oven for 30 minutes.

While the squash is baking....

Combine quinoa, chicken broth, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, salt, pepper in medium sauce pan until boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer until all liquids are absorbed.  

Once all liquid is absorbed, turn off heat and add spinach until wilted.  Add cream cheese and stir until melted.  Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Remove squash from oven, should be fork tender, not mushy.  Add mixture in squash and top with some shredded cheese.  I used yellow cheddar because its what I had.  Put back into oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

...And devour.  

Funny, I was so full from the first half (and from eating almost half the cream cheese quinoa mixture before it made it into the squash) that I brought the leftover half to work the next day for lunch.  If you're ever looking for an awkward way to NOT impress your co-workers, bring in half an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and spinach.  Definitely did the trick for me ;)

Tomato, Butternut Squash, and Herb Soup

Seeing as this is my first post on my first and fabulous food blog, I figured I had better start with a recipe that would WOW you.  (or at least one that will make you check back for more food fables)  Anyway, the following recipe comes from my most favorite place in the entire world, the http://www.newenglandsoupfactory.com/.  For my birthday, my boyfriend gave me the New England Soup Factory cook book (how cliche' right?! ...jk jk) and I decided it was time to give it a go.  Today was a beautiful, yet windy, fall day and I decided this hearty soup would be the perfect treat.  

3 Tbs Butter
3 Whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 Lbs butternut squash, peeled and cute into large chunks
2 cans (14 oz each) whole tomatoes
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken)
1 cup sherry
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and butternut squash.  Saute' for 10 minutes.  

Add the tomatoes, stock, and sherry.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer until the squash is tender and soft, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the basil, cilantro, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Puree in the pot using a hand blender or in a regular blender working in batches until smooth.

...and Voila! Yumminess in an instant!  This was perfectly thick, hearty, and flavorful.  I almost had to serve it in one of the million bagillion soup factory take out containers I have just for the full experience (don't worry, I refrained).  Delicious!

**This recipe makes 12 servings and I am now swimming in soup.  While that normally would be my dream, I fear I may turn into a tomato shaped butternut squash before finishing it all.  Next time I make this recipe, I'll definitely be cutting it in half.  Anyone want some soup?? :)