Posts tagged ‘winter’
46F was our high today. With sprinkly rain and gloomy clouds. On April 23. That is cold, friends! Winter has not seemed to get the memo: GO AWAY. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing, the clocks have changed, and my sweaters are looking worn and tired. I have a new spring dress that is begging to be worn. The weather is just not cooperating with me here! Where is SPRING?
The only thing that can make a dreary and cold day better is soup, and this one hit the spot! This soup was inspired by a recent trip to the Asian food market. I was excited to see inexpensive Kabocha squash, so picked one up along with a bag of baby Bok choy. As I paid for my purchases, the squash rang up as “Japanese pumpkin.” And the idea for what would become of the Kabocha squash was born: miso soup! The bok choy and the squash seemed to be natural soup add-ins, and the mushrooms were a last minute thought to add texture and more body. Tofu would also be a natural addition, but I did not have any on hand and do not always love how soggy it gets in leftover soup. I used a “minute miso” paste to create this soup, which made prep minimal. I have never worked with real miso paste, so am not quite sure what modifications that would add, but most bottles come with general instructions on how to create the basic miso broth! Overall, this soup comes together in 35-40 minutes, with most of the cook time added from the roasted squash.
Is your town’s weather uncooperative as well? Then give this soup a try!
Kabocha, Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Miso Soup
Vegan, serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as starter
1 clove garlic, minced
8-oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
6 heads baby Bok choy, stems cut off with leaves roughly quartered and separated
1 kabocha squash, sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup miso paste
4 cups hot water
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
Half the kabocha squash, and then cut into slices. Toss lightly with half of the sesame seed oil, then lightly salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in garlic and remaining sesame seed oil. Add the soy sauce, then cook until half of the liquid is absorbed. Add the bok choy, then turn off heat.
Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a kettle. Measure out 1/4 cup miso paste and add to a large 4-cup measure. Add boiling water to bring the total volume to 4 cups. Stir, then pour over the vegetable mixture. Stir the greens until they are well wilted.
Once the kabocha squash is finished roasting, remove from oven and gently peel back the skin with a fork. Cut into chunks and add to soup. Bring soup back to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir and serve warm.
If seasons had personalities, I have decided that winter is mean and spiteful. It always decides to dump 18 inches of snow on you when you least expect or want it, canceling flights and travel plans and trapping you inside! Then you are cooped up and cold from all of the snow shoveling, there is nothing to stand between you and your insatiable carb-y comfort food cravings. Not like this happened to me recently or anything…
Comfort food does not have to be a diet deal-breaker, however. Take this rice bowl inspired by Post Punk Vegan Kitchen for example! The brown rice provides a starchy base to give the dish a healthy weight. The black-eyed peas and soy chorizo come together to give the warmth and heartiness that marks all good chilis. The original recipe doesn’t call for the chorizo, but I splurged at the grocery store in my pre-blizzard stocking up. I love the added flavor and texture that it gives the beans, which I successfully cooked in my slow-cooker! (Seriously, this trick is life-changing. Play around with this tutorial. You may never buy canned beans again!) The greens add volume and nutrition that is missing from many comforting favorites. My favorite part, however, is the hot sauce! I interpreted the sauce to use what I had on hand, and I could literally eat this from the food processor. I love anything spicy! There is so much flavor and heat to this dish that you don’t miss the cheese that marks many heavy winter favorites.
You can’t get me, winter blues!
Question: What do you crave when it is cold and snowy?
Spicy Winter Greens with Black Eyed Peas and Rice
inspired by PPK, serves 4-6
1 cup black-eyed peas, cooked in 4 cups water with 3 bay leaves for 5 hours on low in a slow cooker
1 package soy chorizo, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp liquid smoke (optional)
Crumble the soy chorizo into a hot frying pan and brown. Add the drained cooked beans, chopped parsley, and liquid smoke and stir.
1 lb bunch collard greens, stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
Saute red onion in olive oil until soft. Add half of the greens and all of the water and heat until wilted. Add the other half of the greens. Season with vinegar, garlic and salt. Cook over medium heat until greens are soft and water is evaporated.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot
1/3 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
Drain cashews. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
Fill bottom of bowl with 1 serving cooked brown rice. Top with greens and beans. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp hot sauce. Enjoy!
My friend must know me really well. I check in on her dogs every once in a while if she and her husband are out of town, and in turn am always offered produce they have in their fridge that they want to make sure gets eaten! So I think I get the best of all ends of the deal: I get my puppy fix by playing with two adorable dogs for a bit, and then get to take home fruits and veggies as I leave? Yes, please!
This time my payment was a giant head of green cabbage. I can tell I am getting older because of how much I have grown to love this vegetable. As a kid, I associated cabbage with the boiled stuff you picked at on St. Patrick’s Day. Bland, soft, and generally not my favorite. Now, I know that cabbage is great sautéed with fennel, pickled with apple cider vinegar, or added to stir fries. Thanks to Chelsey, I have one more way to enjoy it: roasted. I followed her recipe closely, but wanted to spice it up a little bit. I added some garlic powder and apple cider vinegar in addition to the olive oil, salt and pepper that she called for. Also, I decided to make a quick mustard vinaigrette, and have never been happier. I combined a tablespoon each of Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil and poured that over my portion of cabbage. I enjoyed bowls upon bowls of this for lunch over the past week, along with some leftover burek that my friend brought for dinner while visiting. It’s like eating a salad, but more warm and comforting – delicious for the still chilly winter air. My roommate stole a bite and liked it enough to get her own head of cabbage – that should be convincing enough to convert some new cabbage lovers out there!
Isn’t it nice that, no matter how old you get, your mom will always be your mom? She still spoils me with carloads of groceries despite my no longer being a starving college student. She still buys me pumpkins and decorations for my apartment despite seeing the house only once a year. She still cleans and re-organizes, all while she overflows with homemaking tips, despite the fact that I have moved far away from home. Thank goodness for visits from your mom to help get the apartment back in order!
My mom and I had planned to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, but a pesky Noreaster got in our way. Boston was spared from the snow, but still got some crazy rain and wind, canceling the 5K. We made the best use of our indoor time, though! We rearranged the kitchen, finding homes for everything to keep us better organized. We cleaned and organized the whole apartment – kitchen, dining room, living room, front porch, both bedrooms… hardly a corner in the house was left unturned. We decorated, putting together a fun fall centerpiece with fresh flowers from Trader Joe’s, a small pumpkin from home, and a flameless candle. We also cooked and enjoyed great food throughout Boston, but that is a post for tomorrow! Some views of my newly organized kitchen…
The best home improvement we made this weekend: our windows! Our windows are old and rattley, and the draft can change the temperature of a room by more than 10 degrees depending in which corner you are standing! We went through and cleaned all of the sills, fixed the blinds, and then shrink wrapped them for winter. This stuff is seriously magic! The wrap is held up by double side tape, and then you use a blow dryer to literally shrink the plastic into place. Because it is so taut, it is barely visible that there is anything covering the windows! That is, until your hand is blocked from adjusting the blinds… I’d rather be stuck with one window covering position than deal with drafty windows and expensive heat bills all winter! Our final plan for warming up the apartment (besides continued soup making and bread baking, of course) is to make a draft stopper snake! I plan to take an old towel and stuff it, and may get creative enough to make it into a sock monkey or dog of some sort. Of course I will be back with photo updates if that crafty project does turn out!
Question: What home improvements have you made lately?
There is currently a battle of will going on at my house. Jen and Marie vs. the cold, cold apartment. The apartment is winning, but we refuse to give up… yet. We could turn the heat on, but it just seems so soon for that! Boston obviously missed that memo – we saw our first few snow flakes this evening! Instead of admitting defeat, we are covering our windows with the insulating plastic wrap, wrapping ourselves in blankets, drinking copious amounts of tea, and finding every excuse to stand near the stove or oven for long periods of time…
This Thai Carrot Soup is that excuse. Serve it with some homemade bread or dinner rolls, and you have two of your bases covered! I planned on making this recipe from Frugal Feeding to use up some of the huge carrots I got in my Boston Organics box. I quickly realized that I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and wasn’t willing to step into the freezing rain (and for anyone unfamiliar with New England, this doesn’t mean cold rain, it literally means frozen rain drops) to go to the store. I improvised a bit, but the soup was still tasty! Some changes I made: I substituted lemon juice for the lemon grass, chili flakes for the red chilis, and left out the cilantro. I added some toasted coconut to the top, which ended up balancing out the kick to the soup in the absence of the cilantro. Spicy and warming – the perfect cure for a cold apartment.
Even better – soup makes a perfect “frozen dinner,” essential for busy nights when you are starving and don’t have time to pull together a proper meal! Having frozen leftovers on hand has helped me avoid the typical student pizza deliveries or sad pasta dinners that plague many of my busy friends. Soups and chilis tend to freeze well, but rice has not given me as much luck.
Question: What are you cooking to stay warm as the weather begins to chill? What leftovers have you successfully, or unsuccessfully, turned into frozen meals?