Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chickpea and Lettuce Soup

I have had the majority of 2 heads of lettuce sitting in my fridge waiting to be cooked into something tasty. However, I'm not much of a salad person. So what on earth can you do with that much lettuce? Luckily, I found this Chickpea and Romaine Lettuce recipe. I also had all the ingredients- it was fate!

I read the recipe a few times and decided I'm going to make a few changes. I have some celery that is nearing the end of its shelf life, I only had one tomato so that was just going to have to work, and I'm trying to add more protein in my diet so a chicken breast would supplement the chickpeas nicely.

I start prepping the ingredients. Chop up the onion, celery, and tomato. I measure out the spices: turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. They are such lovely colors! I was going to take a picture but I spilled the garlic powder over other colors... not so pretty. I've never used turmeric before and I was excited to try it! I defrost the chicken (1 chicken breast, about 20 minutes soaking in cold water before it was soft-ish) and diced that up. Wash and slice up the lettuce into ribbons. Now, I'm ready to cook!

Add the onion and celery into the pot, let it get a little soft, stir in the spices, then add in the chicken.  Now I didn't really know when to add the chicken, but it seemed right. It could absorb the spice flavors, release some of its juices into the bottom of the pot, and be able to saute instead of boil. Once the chicken was mostly cooked I mixed in the tomato and let that cook up for a few minutes.

Then I added in the broth and water and let it cook for a few minutes, then added the lettuce. I dropped several handfuls of lettuce into the pot letting it wilt into the soup. The soup had a nice kick to it (in an Indian food spicy way, not a salsa way) and the broth was a nice rich yellow-y orange color. The lettuce was similar to a cabbage rather than a kale or spinach. I'd make the recipe again and try it with those other green veggies.

I actually had a lot of broth left in the pot that should have been doled out.
The recipe calls for cooking the pasta in a pan, saute style, then letting it cook in the soup for a few minutes. I don't like soggy pasta and made enough of the "base" for several meals so I cooked the pasta separately in an amount that I would be eating for that meal. If I'm bringing soup to work I'll bring rice (rice doesn't get mushy like pasta does...) in a separate container, heat soup and rice up, then combine before eating. That's just me though, I know it doesn't bother most people... :)

Note, I like my food a little spicier, the amounts I used are in parenthesis, but start little and add more. You can always add more, its much harder to take out the spice.

Chickpea and Lettuce Soup
Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1/4 onion)
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (1/2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (3/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (1/2 tsp)
1 chicken breast
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 tomato about the size of my fist)
2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 15 oz can)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups water (2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound vermicelli, broken in half
1/2 head romaine lettuce (about 2/3 pounds), shredded (about 5 cups)
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, let it cook, add seasonings (approx 5 minutes), add diced chicken, stir some more, stir in the tomatoes (approx 5 minutes)
  2. Add the chickpeas, broth, water, and salt. Boil then simmer.
  3. Cook pasta according to instructions (at the same time as step 2)

Happy eating!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pot Roast

Today, I made my first pot roast. I found Pioneer Woman's pot roast recipe and I just had to try it! The only changes was that I made a smaller portion, added mushrooms, and only used rosemary. I also made a lovely side of garlic mashed potatoes. 

This recipe had very minimal prep work which was awesome: halve the onion, cut carrots into big chunks, and I quartered the mushrooms. 

Brown the veg and the seasoned meat. "Browning" just means to put the item into a really hot pan with some hot oil for a minute or so. You are literally looking for the ingredients to just turn a little goldeny brown, we don't want to cook the ingredients yet. 

De-glaze the pan, aka get the yummy bits off the bottom. I didn't have too much stuck to the bottom of the pan but I did use a little beef broth and let that bring up the little bits. Put into the oven and let is slowly cook for 2 hours.

My mother used to call veggies "Nature's Candy" (...right). But the sweet flavors that come from these roasted veggies, wow! Rich and soft with a slightly firm texture, not at all mushy like they can get in a some beef stews. And the onion! So tender and yummy!


Any changes? I would add extra carrots and onion (so flavorful and yummy!!). Maybe add potatoes. I'd use a little less broth and/or turn some of the broth into gravy because its delish!!

I would also find a way to contain the rosemary leaves. I've never cooked with them before, I thought they would soften and become one with the meal. They do not. They maintain their pine-needle texture and you pick it out of your mouth in a not very attractive manner (at least I did...)

Otherwise, this recipe is here to stay and perfect for a hearty meal. I bet this would be good in a slow cooker too. 

Pot Roast
Makes approx 3-4 servings 


      2 lbs Chuck Roast
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 of a big sweet onion (cut in big chunks)
2 big carrots (big chunks, peeling is optional)
4-5 button(?) mushrooms
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
½ tsp dried rosemary

Heat some oil in a pot (or dutch oven, I don’t have one...yet!)
Once the pot is VERY hot, brown the onion (1-2 min)
Put onion on a plate
Add more oil if needed, brown the carrots (again, 1-2 min)
Put carrots on a plate
Add more oil if needed, toss the mushrooms around in the pot (about 1 min)
Add mushrooms to the plate
Salt and pepper both sides of the meat
Add more oil if needed, brown meat in the pot.
Deglaze pot with a few splashes of the broth

Put meat into an oven safe container with a lid. Cover 1/2 of the way with the broth. Add onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Sprinkle the rosemary all over it, make sure some of it goes into the broth too!

Cover and roast at 275 degrees for 2 hours.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

I love blueberries. I remember making "jam" when I was camping with my family, my cousins and I would spend several hours picking berries from the nearby bushes and then mashing them up with a rock. We added sugar packet upon sugar packet in the violet staining, muddled, clumpy mess. Then it would be spooned into a jar and given to our grandmother... who knows if she actually ate it. Honestly, I hope she didn't, I can't remember if we washed the rocks or rinsed them off in the lake before pulverizing the lovely ripe berries.

My grandmother also made the best blueberry pie for my birthday too... So, blueberries have a special place in my heart. I've been looking at different recipes, always searching for that perfectly textured muffin. This is a combination of 2 different recipes.  One is based of Cooks Illustrated (found here) and the other is from The Cookie Scoop blog (found here). 

I really loved the idea of a blueberry compote, (practically blueberry pie filling!), mixed into the muffins, so I wanted to incorporate that step. The recipe called for 1 cup of blueberries with 1 tsp of sugar, heat over medium heat and then mash down as they heat up, let it cook until its reduced by about a 1/4 cup. I just dumped a bunch of berries into the pot, I figured I could use the compote on toast or an English muffin if I had that much left over. I also had a few raspberries that I threw in mix. :) Love berries. I let it cook down until it smelled so yummy and was thick and jam-y. While the berry mixture was cooling I started on my muffin batter. 

I mixed the dry ingredients together and then mixed the wet ingredients in another bowl. Now, muffin batter is very delicate, do not over mix. Mix until JUST combined and not a moment longer. Combine the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients, and add the berries in. 

Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins, fill about half way. Then add a spoonful of the compote into the middle, and cover with more muffin batter (until 2/3 filled). These muffins don't rise too much. Bake about 15 minutes or until the tester toothpick comes out clean.  
These are denser muffins, almost a biscuit type texture. Imagine the muffin heated in a pan with some butter?? Yum! And the compote was essentially blueberry pie filling - I would (and maybe did) eat this with a spoon!

Both recipes had glaze or sugar crunch toppings which I didn't do because I lacked the ingredients. 

These muffins freeze well too.

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 9-12 
Spoon batter & compote into prepared tins
1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg slightly beaten
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup milk (I used light cream because that was in the fridge)
A few tbs of Lemon juice 

Heat 1 cup of berries with 1 tsp sugar on the stove. Mash the berries as they heat up until they are broken down and the mixture is thick and gooey and reduced down to about 1/4 cup. Transfer into a bowl and allow it to cool. (My berries were frozen so it took about 10-15 minutes for this step)

Mix sugar, flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl
Combine egg, apple sauce, milk, and lemon juice
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients
Stir in the rest of the berries

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tins about 1/3 filled, put in a healthy spoonful of the compote, and top with some more batter.

Pop into the 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 
Let cool on a rack!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Ready to heat and eat!

Tonight I needed to use up the last of my cabbage, the lots of tomatoes, and celery I've been accumulating. I found a Stuffed Cabbage Casserole recipe online. Essentially its layers of tender cabbage and a yummy mixture of rice, ground chicken, tomatoes, and seasonings. So I took this idea and made some changes due to the surplus of veggies floating around my kitchen.

This will probably make enough for a 9 x 13 pan or enough to serve 4-6. I split mine up into single serving containers that I can freeze.

I only had 1/2 a head of cabbage so my ratio was off. I'm going to use the rest of the rice mix in a salad!

Oh...I also ate the baked section and forgot to take a picture... So you'll have to settle for the picture of the unbaked casserole!

  • 2 small Carrots
  • 2 stalks of Celery
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 1 lb Ground chicken
  • To taste: Oregano, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, S&P
  • 1 pint halved Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2-4 oz Tomato paste
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • Shredded cheese (I didn't use cheese)
Heat oil in a pot (Use a pot because the mixture gets hard to stir in a frying pan)
Saute carrots, celery, onion (used the lovely, lovely food processor to chop them up!!)
Add ground chicken
Seasonings: Oregano, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes (about 1 tsp each)
Add sliced cherry tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you have, canned diced tomatoes are fine too)
Add some tomato paste (or tomato sauce, I happened to only have paste in the cabinet)
Stir it up and let it all cook together (tomatoes should sort of dissolve into the mix)
Mix in 2 cups (or so) of cooked rice

In a separate fry pan, wilt the cabbage and season with some salt and pepper

Layer lettuce and the meat/rice mixture twice
Top with cheese
Bake at 350 until it starts to bubble then take off the foil and let it get golden on the top!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cabbage Soup

I am part of a farm share program, so each week I get lots of veggies that I try to to use up in a creative manner. However, my go-to creation? Soup.

I just love soup. It is so versatile and you can put almost anything into it and it will be good. So today I  set out to use up some of the lonely veggies that were sitting in my fridge.

Oh, I also received a beautiful Cuisinart food processor for Christmas this year. Any excuse I have to use it, I use it. That said, I put some onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms through the grater section of the food processor. I am still in awe of how fast it chops things.

Next sauteed the veggies and some seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano) in some oil in a big soup pot for a few minutes. I also had some potatoes from the past 2 weeks of veggies, so I needed to start using those up, so added in some diced potatoes.

Now for the star (and mystery) ingredient: Cabbage. I have never cooked with cabbage and I don't think my mom has made it for me before. I researched it a little, its in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, its green and leafy so I figured it would be similar to cooking with kale, chard, or spinach... So I wash it, chop it up into ribbons, and find it has a stem in the middle! So I cut the stem out and into the pot it goes!

Soup does its flavor blending thing on the stove for probably half hour. (And I found about half a cup of rice in the fridge, so that went into the pot too).

As one of my friends the other day said, "Soup is the tea of food." Enjoy!!

Next time, I would include some chopped chicken or a can of beans (white beans or chick pea) for a more filling soup. And maybe some red pepper flakes.

FYI: Generally when I make soup, I just keep adding to it, and have huge vats that I can freeze. BUT potatoes get funky when frozen.

1/4 (?) Onion
5 Smaller Carrots
3 stalks Celery
4 little Mushrooms
1 tsp Oregano, Garlic Powder
S&P to taste
4 small Potatoes (diced)
1/2 head of Cabbage
8? cups of chicken broth

Saute first 6 items. Add in the rest of the ingredients.

Makes approx 6-8 servings.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I'm impulsive and decided to start a blog.

Pretty typical, I'm going to be writing about food, things I've been cooking or baking, and anything else that catches my fancy!