In which I get flack for serving “too much soup and vegetarian food”

Potato&Leek_Soup_Vegetarian_IMG_0190Here’s how things went tonight, when I served potato and leek soup:

Rose: I DON’T LIKE THIS SOUP!!!
Me: Then you can have bread and butter, and zucchini. I think the soup is really good. Shane, what do you think?
Shane: The soup is really good.

(1o minutes elapse during which Shane doesn’t appear to be eating his soup, at all)

Me: Shane, do you really like the soup or were you just saying that.
Shane: The soup is good, it’s just that soup isn’t really my cup of tea.
Me: I know, but I thought you might like it because it’s potato based.
Shane: Because I’m Irish? That’s like going to Ireland and having someone assume you like big hamburgers.
Me: Actually, I thought you might like it because you like potatoes.
Shane: I like sausage soup… and meat soup.
Me: “Meat soup?” Seriously?
Rose: Yeah, mom! Why you’re making so much soup… and vegetarian food lately?
etc…

The above conversation might not sound like much of an endorsement, but I assure you this soup is quite tasty and really hits the spot on a cold, cold night. Particularly if you don’t mind soup, or “vegetarian food” for dinner.

• Vegetarian Potato & Leek Soup •

5 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, stringy roots, tippy tops, and tough outer parts trimmed off
2 large potatoes (about 1.5lbs), peeled
4 cups water and 1 tablespoon Vegetable Better Than Bouillon (or 4 cups vegetable broth)
1 parmesan rind
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the leeks, halve lengthwise and chop into 1/2″ pieces. Put leeks into a salad spinner and wash thoroughly, leeks can be pretty dirty. Make sure to separate the pieces so that all the dirt gets out. Spin to remove excess water.

Melt butter in a medium to large saucepan or dutch oven. Add leeks and cook until soft. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into inch-ish sized chunks. You don’t need to be precise, larger chunks will just take longer to cook.

Add potatoes to leeks and cook for a minute or two. Add water and Better Than Bouillon (or broth) and parmesan rind. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are very soft.

Remove parmesan rind and blend soup (in the pot) with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Red, white & green

Gnocchi_IMG_0184This is one to bookmark for busy weeknights. Frozen potato  gnocchi (from our local Italian market) with Marcella’s Famous Sauce, a quick pesto, and an easy vegetable side.

The photo shows my plate. Shane mixed his pesto and red sauce, and Rose opted for red sauce only. I like a meal that can please everyone.

It’s helpful to keep a batch of Marcella’s sauce in the freezer whenever possible. It’s also easy to make if you’ve got 3 minutes to bung everything in the pot and 45 minutes to simmer the sauce.

For the pesto, I used the remainder of a bunch of fresh basil, a handful of raw cashews, a pile of grated parmesan, a pinch of salt and several glugs of olive oil and just blended it up.

Zucchini rounds sautéed in butter goes over well in our house, and takes no more than 10 minutes to prep and cook.

Go simple!

Soup & such

SoupNSuch_IMG_0182My aunt Gail gave us some soup a while back, which I defrosted tonight. “It’s got all kind of things in it” is what she told me.

It sure does! Lentils, coconut, squash. Curry, perhaps? Mustard seeds, maybe? I’ll try to get the recipe for you. It was delicious, complex and unexpected.

I’d made Rose some pasta cooked in broth just in case, but the self-professed loather of soup and coconut, preferred the soup!

For the mister—who isn’t much of a soup-as-a-main-course guy—we had prosciutto & mozzarella to substantialize the meal. Bread and salad rounded things out nicely.

Tune in later for the soup recipe!

All hail the new chicken dish

Chicken_Baked_IMG_0174Chicken baked in creamy tomato sauce is from the Dinner A Love Story book. I’ve been meaning to try it for a while and finally did tonight. Rose ate a huge helping without comment, and Shane devoured the rest.

Perhaps they were just really hungry? I think not.

Since I don’t eat chicken, I doctored up some leftover pasta e fagioli from a recent takeout meal. It was okay, but not as good as this recipe.

• Chicken Baked in Creamy Tomato Sauce •
original recipe from Dinner A Love Story 

3-4 boneless (we use skinless) chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can chopped tomatoes, we use San Marzano
3-4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
a large handful of basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

parmesan or pecorino for sprinkling (optional)

In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, brown 3 to 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts over high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes a side. Remove breasts from pan. (They do not have to be cooked through.) Turn down heat to medium-low and add onion and garlic. After about 2 minutes, stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in mascarpone and basil and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts back to pan, immersing them in sauce. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan or pecorino if desired.

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Soft cooked eggs & heart cake

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If Rose keeps on buying Beanie Boos, I think I might as well go ahead and realize my life-long fantasy of opening a bakery.

We’ve been insisting she buy the Boos with her own money. Seemingly, this would mean there’s a limit to how many she buys. But every time we think she’s out of cash, she comes up with another $7 from who knows where. It’s like she’s got a secret ATM in her room. Maybe we should put her in charge of our finances too.

Today was Sweetly’s birthday. Sweetly is a Valentine-themed Boo, so naturally we had heart cake. I made a batch of my sister’s famous brownies, cut one into a heart shape, and frosted it with whipped cream. I managed this because Rose entertained the baby while I made the brownies (yessssss!)

After back-to-back play dates and Sweetly’s party, I wasn’t particularly inspired, nor did I have much energy for making dinner. We had soft boiled eggs in shot glasses (because we don’t own egg cups), buttered toast fingers, bacon (not pictured) and salad.

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Stir fry with coconut noodles

Chicken_Cashew_StirFry_IMG_0146Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home. Chicken Ginger and Cashew Stir Fry with Coconut Noodles is a great one-dish meal. It’s also non-squeamish vegetarian-friendly, as you can easily pick out the chicken pieces.

We all agreed that it was a lovely change of pace, and very tasty, but that the noodles were too short. I will make this again with longer noodles so that we can devour it more efficiently.

The original recipe can be found in the book, or translated into US measurements here. I mixed it up a little and halved the amount of noodles and chicken, but kept the vegetable amounts the same. I also added a red pepper and a head of baby bok choy since I was in too much of a rush to google “mangetout” and find out that that’s how you say “snow peas” in Irish/French. I also didn’t drain the noodles, just added them, yummy coconut broth and all, to the stir fry.

Misplaced ambition and turkey burgers

TurkeyBurgers_Lentils_IMG_0136It’s school vacation week here in NYC. I had a great idea early yesterday morning, when I was feeling optimistic and ambitious about the week ahead. As I sat on the rug with the baby, I perused some of my cookbooks and decided to make dinner from a different book each night.

And then 10am rolled around, and I was already totally overwhelmed by having to manage two kids at the same time, and it was only day 1 of school vacation. True, I’m a total wuss in the parenting department.

Still, over the course of the day, I did manage to pull together dinner from the Dinner A Love Story cookbook. And that’s as far as I got. Tonight we ate at the coffee shop, again.

But back to yesterday’s pretty successful dinner. I made the turkey burgers from Dinner A Love Story, which Shane said were better than my usual turkey burgers. This is fantastic news since all you do for these better burgers, is add a tablespoon of any kind of barbecue sauce to your ground turkey, and voila.

I also made Dinner A Love Story‘s beluga lentil soup. Except that I couldn’t find beluga lentils and used greek lentils. Also the soup cooked for too long so that it was no longer soup, just lentils. Regardless, I recommend the recipe, it’s really delicious even if you get it wrong.

Of course there was salad, and those new oven fries too. Here are the fries:

• Shane’s Easy Oven Fries •
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel as many russet potatoes as you want and cut them into chunks. The chunks should be about 1 inch by 1.5 inches, but you don’t have to be neurotic about it, just make them somewhat consistent. Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for no more than 10 minutes, you can be pretty laid back about this too, 5 minutes is fine too, just don’t let them get mushy. Drain the potatoes and toss with a good amount of vegetable or peanut oil until well coated. Sprinkle with salt. Lay them out on a baking tray, don’t crowd them, and bake, flipping them around from time to time until they are browned all over. Drain on paper towels and serve. 

Note: If you want to get totally decadent with these, use goose fat instead of oil. This is how the recipe originated, but Shane developed this vegetarian version one day when we were out of goose fat.

Ad hoc Shane

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Shane doesn’t really do ad hoc dinners. Suffice it to say, he wasn’t too thrilled when I woke him up at 6pm and asked him to make dinner. Nor was I thrilled when he offered to make me salad and rice for dinner (since he and Rose would be having steak).

Not to worry, rice and salad was just the tiredness talking. He and Rose did have steak, but there was also pasta, a yummy made up succotash-ish dish, and salad too. Works for me.
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