Posts tagged ‘roommate’
My roommate dinner this week turned into a kitchen therapy project this week. We made a 3 course meal together, and still had not talked through all of our thoughts and ideas after 3 hours of work and chatter. We say this to each other often, but I am so thankful to have a great roommate to process life with. I so value her thoughts and opinions, and am glad for the time we take each week to slow down and reflect on what is going on in our lives. Our conversations are not blog worthy, but our meal definitely was!
We began with my brain child: roasted potato and cauliflower soup. I had been day-dreaming about this soup from the moment I received my Boston Organics box. Many people are confused of what to do with cauliflower because it can be rather bland on its own, but that is what I love so much about it! It can soak up spices, hide in dishes, or come to life on its own depending on how you prepare it. I decided to use the cauliflower as a way to add “creaminess” to a traditional potato soup without all of the extra fat of cream. The soup definitely needs some tweaking, so I will post this as an outline rather than a real recipe. Please, take and run with it and let me know what you come up with! I roasted about a pound, or a bit more, of small white potatoes, seasoned lightly with olive oil and kosher salt for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I then added a full head of cauliflower florets, turned the potatoes, and let everything roast for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I peeled 6-7 cloves of roasted garlic and added them whole to a stock pot with a bit of vegetable broth. I added the vegetables straight from the tray into the pot, covered everything with the rest of a 28-oz carton of broth and a sprig of fresh rosemary and let it boil for a while. I used the immersion blender to create a smooth soup, and added 1 cup of skim milk (though unsweetened almond milk would work if you are intolerant or vegan) and 1 cup of water for a more liquidy consistency. After the first taste test, I wasn’t happy with the flavor balance, so I added a heaping spoonful of Dijon mustard and a heavy handed shake of paprika. A pinch more of salt and pepper and I was finally happy! Not bad for my first recreation! For a more traditional, and more complete, potato soup, check out this recipe from Rufus’ Guide.
Next up: homemade bread and salad. I was emailed this recipe by living learning eating a few weeks back, and was so excited to finally try it! It is a Honey Whole Wheat Bread, and is so soft and wonderful. It was my first attempt at free form bread (confession: I usually cheat and use a bread maker) and I was surprised at how easy this was. Hopefully she will post the recipe soon, but if you request it she will likely send it your way! Served alongside a simple salad of butter lettuce and arugula (both locally grown and gotten from the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition’s market!) An excellent way to round out the meal.
Our night was perfected with classic apple pie. We used recipes from Whole Foods for both the whole wheat pie crust as well as the apple filling, and both were delicious! We are enjoying sugar again, but still both found this filling a little too sweet. We are convinced that a sugar-free apple pie would be just as good, especially after the great single serve apple crisp results! I feel some experimenting might be happening in our future…
Question: What is your “therapy”?
There is nothing better in the fall than apples, especially in New England. They are incredibly cheap at the local grocery store, crisp, fresh, and so much sweeter than their available year-round cousins. I am hoping to go apple picking soon, but the 6-lb bag I purchased for $6 the other day should hold me over until then! Anyone who follows my blog regularly may be confused to see a dessert recipe up here. Why is that? Oh yeah, my crazy roommate and I decided to give up sugar for three weeks, and we are smack-dab in the middle of it! Neither of us have huge sweet tooths, but there are just some days when you want dessert. My roommate, sick with what might be my cold (sorry!), had a rough day and was really in the mood for a baked treat. I told her to forget the sugar fast and take a day off, but she is stronger willed than I! I admire her determination and fierce commitment, and so I told her I would experiment with a sugar-free apple crisp.
The results surprised even me. Maybe our tastes are changing, or maybe fall apples really are that sweet, or maybe this recipe is really that decadent without an ounce of added sugar! There are two versions – the original, and then our second recreation during our roommate dinner. Both are excellent, the full-fat version being slightly more decadent and the applesauce version just a little sweeter. Try one or both and let me know what you think!
Question: What is your favorite recipe for fall apples?
Sugar Free Single Apple Crisp
1 apple, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter (melted) OR 1 1/2 tbsp applesauce
1 tsp butter (chopped into small squares)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp chopped almonds
4-5 tbsp oats
In a large ramekin or small loaf pan coated with cooking spray, combine chopped apple, cinnamon, and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, mix melted butter or applesauce and the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the apple mixture. Dot with the butter squares. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes until fragrant and slightly crisped.
This all began 2 1/2 weeks ago with a roommate outing to the local Asian grocery store. We were there to look for bamboo for a housewarming gift, and picked up a few fruits and veggies and some green tea since they were so cheap. As we were perusing the produce section, a tiny lady with a cart of the most gigantic melons we had ever seen rolled past us. Marie was immediately intriguied, “Oooh, I wonder what those are!” She followed the mystery melon and read the sign posted “Winter Melon, $0.12/lb”. We continued our bamboo hunt and made it all the way to the cashiers, but Marie couldn’t get the winter melon out of her mind. A steal at $0.12 a pound, she figured we would have fruit for a week even if we bought the smallest of them. Not to stand in the way of an adventurous spirit, I agreed to buying one. Smallest one? I could hardly carry this thing out to the car! It must have weighed at least 15 pounds!
We returned home and Marie, still beaming with adventure and excitement, immediately hopped on Google. To her dismay, she found out that the winter melon is the blandest of all melons and is most commonly used in traditional Chinese cooking to make soup. Soup that is flavored with chicken and ham hock and all sorts of other mystery ingredients to give the melon a bit of flavor. Too bad we are both vegetarian…
The melon then sat in our kitchen for 2 weeks. We finally decided to tackle it during our innagural roommate dinner. We would make soup, and we would find flavor in non-meat sources! Marie found a recipe for vegetarian noodle soup online and printed it out. (We heavily adapted it, and I don’t know the original source… Marie, maybe you could comment and fill us in!) Our adventurous spirit was again re-kindled.
We took a knife and split the melon, finding that the inside looked suspiciously like a gigantic cantaloupe. We scooped out the seeds and cut it into wedges. We cut the rind off each wedge, and then sliced them into smaller strips. Needless to say, that took a long time. Long enough to give us both hand cramps from clutching the knife. Long enough to once again dampen the flicker of adventure. We looked at the growing pile of winter melon slices and wondered aloud if the final product would be worth the work.
While Marie sliced the last of the melon, I cooked a few packs of rice sticks that I picked up at the Vietnamese grocery store near our house. I also got to work on the soup base – scallions and garlic with some green chiles for heat, sauteed in chili oil for even more heat. We used the water that the noodles cooked in and 2 cups of vegetable stock, and then added in our winter melon. We quickly realized that there was no where near enough liquid if we truly wanted a soup! We added water 2 cups at a time until we could at least see the water level, even though the melon was no where near covered after 10 cups! We salted the soup, covered the pot and then waited for it to boil…
Checked a few times…
Still not boiling…
After a good 20 minutes or so, it finally began to boil. We let it boil for a few minutes until the melon started to become translucent, and used this time to poach a few eggs to go on top.
We each filled a bowl with rice noodles, topped it with a generous serving of soup, added our poached egg and headed to the table with trepidation. After all that work, we hoped it would be good! First bite… mediocre.
We added some cilantro, some salt, some red chili flakes… and then magic happened. With a little extra seasoning, the soup took on a new life. The cilantro added a nice freshness, and the melon hung onto the spiciness of the broth to give a bit of kick. The best decision of the whole meal was to serve a poached egg on top! We both enjoyed the rest of our bowl, and I even went back for a bit more winter melon.
It better have been good because we made a lot! We could now feed an army with soup…
We filled all of those Tupperware with leftover soup. Guess we both have lunch for the week!
This meal was definitely an undertaking. The recipe for the soup is posted below, but it is not for the faint of heart! The winter melon took us a half hour to prepare, and the soup took another half hour to cook. But we had two sets of hands, and many hands make light work! If you are bold enough, or just plain crazy, to explore your Asian market and set out on a winter melon adventure, then give this soup a try! It is healthy, a fun experiment, and really cheap. (Marie and I estimated the total cost to be $7, and we have at least 14 servings!) It is worth the hard prep work if you are up for an adventure!
Spicy Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup
makes 14 servings
Large winter melon, seeded and cut into strips
2 cups of snap peas
Bunch of scallions, whites minced and green stems roughly chopped (keep separate)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 tbsp chile oil
2 cups vegetable broth
10 cups water plus more for noodles
2 packs rice noodle sticks (or noodle of your choice)
salt to taste
freshly chopped cilantro
red chili flakes to taste
poached egg per serving
Seed and slice the winter melon. Rinse well in cold water. In the meantime, prepare noodles according to package instructions. Save the water that the noodles cooked in. In a large pot over medium heat, sautee scallion whites, garlic and chiles until aromatic. Add the noodle water (but keep the noodles separate), vegetable broth, and winter melon. Cover with 10 cups of water and add a generous pinch of salt. Add snap peas and carrot slices. Cover and allow to come to a boil. Once boiling, add the scallion greens and a pinch more salt. Stir well. Allow to boil for 5 minutes or until the winter melon is translucent. Place noodles in the bottom of a dish, and top with winter melon, veggies and broth. Serve with chopped cilantro, red chili flakes, and a poached egg. Soy sauce and other sauces may be good for added flavor as well.
Marie and I finally fulfilled one of her life goals: to make homemade granola. A small and silly goal, but exciting none-the-less. We both love granola, whether it is mixed into yogurt for a post-run snack or dessert, or sprinkled on top of our oatmeal for breakfast. And we both just realized how much oatmeal we go through…
Yes, we did eat that in the course of 5 months. Make that 4, since we were both gone for a month…
Granola can be great, but it can also be a sneaky source of calories and sugar. A half-cup serving of store bought granola has 160 calories – and a half cup isn’t much! It also has so much sugar that I can’t even eat certain brands! Homemade granola is still calorie dense, but it is much easier to control how much fat and sugar you are adding, and it remains all natural. Watch out for low-fat and low-sugar products, since they usually contain filler and not-so-good for you additives to keep the taste the same!
This will likely be the first attempt of many. We used a recipe I had archived in my documents from an old NY Times article, and it has a great, fall flavor. We thought it had the perfect amount of sweetness, the right amount of cinnamon and maybe a bit too much nutmeg, and the hazlenuts and almonds add great crunch. We thought it was perhaps a bit dry, maybe the fault of the coconut or oat bran. Still my go-to granola recipe for now!
Granola cravings really seem to strike busy med students around the same time! Check out Baking with Em & M for their Cinnamon Granola. Also check out this recipe at Clean Eating Chelsey for a quinoa granola I have been dying to make for a long time. Maybe that will be Marie’s newest life goal. (Or maybe the IronMan competition she has always wanted to do! Obviously on the same playing field, in terms of life goals ;))
Question: What is a goal recipe you have for the kitchen?
Yields about 4 cups
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds, coarsely ground
1/4 cup coconut, flaked (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used hazelnuts and almonds, but I would do all hazelnut next time!)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
scant 1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey, plus 1-2 tablespoons for drizzling
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 cups raisins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together oats, bran, wheat germ, ground flax seeds, coconut, chopped nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, and raisins. In a smaller bowl, combine honey, oil, and vanilla. Heat on medium power for 30 seconds until honey is very smooth. Pour slowly into the dry ingredients. Spread the granola into a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit more honey to create clusters. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Allow granola to cool on the sheet and store in an airtight container.
Roommate dinners will soon be back in full swing! I am so looking forward to these – we don’t simply share a meal but life together as we sit and talk for hours at the dining room table. I don’t think either of us realized how much we valued these times together until we no longer had them! Ten weeks apart over the summer meant 5 hours of non-stop chatter in the car as we drove back to Boston after completing the NYC triathlon.
This dinner was the brain child of my lovely roommate, a really good cook despite her lack of confidence as such. It has been so much fun watching her grow and experiment in the kitchen over the past year! She made this for us and her sister, brother, and his fiance in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan the night before our triathlon. Limited in both space and spices, the meal still turned out wonderfully and was great pre-race fuel. I hardly changed anything when I made it again this past week in Boston. You could call it a stewed quinoa, or a quinoa and greens pilaf, or a use-up-those-veggies one-pot meal… no matter what you call it, it is really simple, tasty, and healthy! Some of the liquid from the tomatoes cooks into the quinoa, giving it more flavor. The veggies can be subbed for what you have (spinach for the kale, +/- broccoli, less onions, more carrot – whatever you would like!) You can also kick up the spiciness with a bit of Sriracha sauce, or leave it out for the more faint of heart (you can tell I like my spicy food!). Even better – one pot means easy clean up. Basically, there is no way to go wrong with this one. Learn from my roommate and try something new in the kitchen tonight!
Question: Who does most of the cooking in your house?
Marie’s Stewed Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
28 oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 2/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped carrots
3/4 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch kale
Mince the garlic and the onions. Sautee in olive oil in medium heat until the onions become soft. Add the carrots and tomatoes. Add the quinoa and allow to absorb the liquid from the tomatoes. Top with 1 2/3 cup water and season with red chili flakes. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until quinoa is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Before it is fully cooked, add the washed and chopped kale (or greens of choice) and allow to wilt in. Season to taste with nutritional yeast (optional) and salt. For extra spice, add Sriracha sauce after serving.