Hurricane Sandy Aftermath and Spicy Rice Noodle Soup

Thank you for all your texts and emails yesterday. We were not very affected by Hurricane Sandy except for some rain and heavy wind. From the looks of it, poor New York and New Jersey took the brunt of the storm. My sister sent me some crazy pictures of the flooding in Manhattan. Here’s one, courtesy of her friend Sam.

This is of her hospital, NYU, which was evacuated late last night. She luckily wasn’t working but many of her friends were. Good thoughts go out to everyone dealing with the aftermath.

This morning here in Boston it’s bright and sunny.

But yesterday, with the winds whipping and the rain pelting the window I started thinking about soup.

I stumbled upon this recipe on Foodgawker which I used as the base for my own recipe. I added a bunch of other ingredients I had on hand following an aimless wander through the grocery store after subbing a yoga class last week.

Don’t let the length of the ingredients list deter you. It seems long but it’s a lot of dashes of this and handfuls of that. This soup is stupid simple to make and takes no more than 10 minutes. Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.

Spicy Rice Noodle Soup (gluten-free, vegan)

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced into half moons

1/2 block of extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2″ cubes

2 tablespoons minced garlic

pinch of red pepper flakes

7 cups vegetable broth

1/4 package of rice noodles, I used the Thai Kitchen brand stir fry noodles

1 tablespoon tamari

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1-2 teaspoons sriracha

1 can water chestnuts

big handful of mung beans

big handful of mini mushrooms

big squeeze of fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 green onion, chopped

————

Heat oil over medium high heat. Saute onions for 2-3 mins until they start getting soft. Add in tofu and saute until browned, 2 or so more minutes. In the last minute add garlic and red pepper flakes.

Pour vegetable broth over the onion mixture. Add rice noodles, tamari and miso paste.

Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat until noodles are soft. These noodles cook fast so you probably won’t need more than 5 minutes.

While noodles cook in the soup, place some water chestnuts, mung beans and mini mushrooms in a big soup bowl. Ladle soup over the chestnuts mixture. Top with lime juice, rice wine vinegar and chopped scallion.

Enjoy!

Weekend Eats and Travels

More wind and rain but otherwise nothing significant to report here. Except the elevator in our building is making quite a raucous and it’s driving me CRAZY! I’m now hiding out in our spare bedroom to get away from the constant screeching.

Before all the wild weather started yesterday we had a lovely weekend.

On Friday night we went to dinner with some friends, Kristy and Erik. Kristy and I worked together when we were both living in Sacramento many years ago. We both happened to move to Boston within a month of each other and wanted to set up a double date now that we’re both settled in Boston.

Kristy made reservations at a place called West Bridge in Cambridge. The food was good, but rather expensive for the portion sizes. The company was wonderful.

We started with cocktails.

Then onto apps.

I had the mushrooms and sunchokes. It had some kind of yogurt sauce. The sunchokes tasted amazing. I plan to pick some up soon and find something to make with them.

Michael’s app was quinoa and carrots, which sounds boring but was actually incredibly flavorful. I snuck many bites of this dish.

He had the monkfish for his entrée which he raved about.

I had the farro. I am a huge fan of farro but don’t make it at home because it’s not gluten-free so whenever I see it on menus I gravitate toward it. The flavors of this dish were good but it was overly salted which was a bummer because otherwise I would have eaten the whole thing.

Afterward we went to a brewery across the street and the boys talked for many hours about the Broncos (they are both from Colorado).

On Saturday Michael, Eli and I took a drive to Cape Cod. One of the things we were most excited about when moving to the East Coast was its proximity to great weekend trips. Neither of us had ever been to the Cape so we thought we’d check it out before winter hits.

We drove all the way to Provincetown or P-Town. It’s pretty much what I expected. An adorable, quaint beach town with lots of restaurants, coffee shops and tourist-y stores. I wish we had been able to stay the night. I would love to have spent more time exploring the other towns on the Cape.

P-town also has a large gay population and they really got into the Halloween spirit. They almost put the Castro to shame, almost. It was such great people watching.

We also went to the beach where Michael proceeded to show me how to skip rocks. Epic fail! I couldn’t stop laughing as I sunk one rock after another.

It only took us about an hour and a half to get back but we were starving when we got home. We made the best sweet potato, brussel sprout tacos. I took approximately zero pictures of the meal but when we make them again I’ll share with you all. Don’t worry, it’ll be soon.

Off to figure out how to get down to Allston in the rain.

For those local folks reading, I begin teaching at All One Yoga this week.

Vinyasa All Levels on Thursdays at 4:30 and Power Yoga All Levels Saturdays at 10:30. Come join me!

Waiting for Sandy

We’re patiently waiting for Hurricane Sandy here in Boston. Looks like we’ll be outside the direct path but it’s already very rainy and windy. We bought a flashlight and some extra water to be safe. Then did what we usually do on rainy Sundays, made a big pot of chili for dinner and turned on football…

Hopefully we won’t lose power and I’ll see you all back here tomorrow with a recap of our trip to Cape Cod and our weekend of eats.

If you’re on the east coast, stay dry and safe.

 

Little Bits of Random 3

In celebration of the weekend, I present Little Bits of Random 3.

We’ve been getting outside as much as possible lately to soak up the last of the warm temps and the stunning colors.

Fall colors are in bloom all over the city now.

Dusk on the river.

One very happy puppy after a long ball throwing session.

Guy loving up on Michael.

Family meeting.

Eli on his third run of the week in Jamaica Plains.

Sunset looking west off the Mass Ave bridge.

Skyline at dusk.

Have a lovely weekend.

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Getting saucy

Yesterday I alluded to two of my favorite sauces to accompany my dinner bowls. I’ve mentioned my love for sauces before. I think salad dressings and sauces make a meal so I am constantly creating and experimenting with new flavor combinations.

This peanut sauce is unbelievably delicious. I’ve been making it forever and we eat it over vegetables, quinoa, beans, sweet potatoes, just about anything. I’ve never found a bottled peanut dressing or satay sauce that’s this tasty…and I’ve tried them all!

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Sauce

2 tablespoon unsalted peanut butter, I use the freshly ground peanut butter from Whole Foods

1 teaspoon sriracha

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, in most my recipes you can sub this out for any type of vinegar, in this recipe I would definitely use rice wine

1/2 tablespoon peanut or olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1-2 tablespoons warm water

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

————

Place peanut butter, sriracha and garlic in a bowl.

Using a fork, mix in vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and tamari.

Add water to thin out.

Mix in salt and sugar.

If the sauce is still too thick, taste and then decide what liquid to add more of. Sometimes it needs more lemon juice, sometimes more vinegar, sometimes just a little water.

The second sauce we eat a lot of is more of a salad dressing. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be obsessed with ranch dressing but began to eat less of it after taking a closer look at the mile long ingredients list.

One evening I was lamenting the loss of my beloved condiment when Michael suggested we just make our own. His mom used to make a version for him and his siblings when they were growing up as an alternative to processed, store-bought salad dressings. So he pulled out the ingredients and got to work. Imagine my surprise when all of 4 ingredients were mixed together to create the loveliest ranch dressing I’d ever had. I’m not sure why he kept it a secret for so long.

Vegan Gluten-Free Ranch Dressing

2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, we use the veganaise brand

1 tablespoon unflavored almond milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

————

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until smooth.

Every once in a while I’ll add a little fresh minced garlic but usually I keep it really simple.

I’m pretty sure that adding some sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle powder or hot sauce would create a great spicy ranch but I just thought of it and unfortunately I’m sitting at a Starbucks and can’t recreate right now to confirm for you. I’ll report back.

I love this simple salad dressing; it tastes amazing with dinner bowls, roasted potatoes or taco salads. A little goes a long way.

Both these recipes yield enough for two servings. They will keep in the fridge for a day or two in a tightly covered container but are best eaten the same day, especially the ranch.

Now, go get saucy.

Enjoy!

Healthy Dinner Bowls

Last night as Michael and I ate dinner he asked why I hadn’t posted any of my ‘dinner bowls’ yet. Honestly, a part of me thought they were too simple and lacking in creativity, they also seemed sort of boring. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

It’s the simplicity of these dinner bowls that makes them so appealing. They’re what we have when I don’t feel like cooking, what we gravitate toward when we get back from a long trip, what we eat when we need a good dose of veggies and protein and fiber. They pack a healthy punch and leave you feeling good full, not gross full as my sister sometimes calls it. So why keep them all to myself?

The formula for these bowls is simple. Pick a protein, grab some veggies, make a sauce.

I usually use beans or lentils as our protein: black beans, red lentils, kidney beans are some of my favorites. Tofu or tempeh would work well here too.

While the beans or lentils cook, I steam or roast whatever vegetables I have on hand. That is my favorite way to make vegetables but you can saute or braise or use frozen veggies if you prefer. This recipe is so versatile, we used the leftover autumn vegetable hash in Monday’s bowl.

Then I make a sauce. Sometimes it’s a simple mix of oil and vinegar, other times my miso dressing or plain salsa.

Below are just a few sample bowls for you. I will do a separate post on the sauces tomorrow.

Black Bean, Butternut Squash Dinner Bowl

3 cups black beans, I made my own but feel free to use canned

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

salt to taste

1/2 butternut squash, diced into 1/2″ pieces

1 bunch of kale, destemmed

1 jar of salsa, whichever kind you prefer

1/2 cup vegan ranch dressing, recipe to come

Chives as garnish

————

Warm black beans on the stove top. Add cumin, chili powder, vinegar and salt.

Dice squash and place on sprayed cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 375. Toss once half way through.

Steam kale for 3-4 minutes until it just starts to get soft.

Pile everything into a big bowl, top with salsa, ranch dressing and chives.

This makes two very large portions.

 

Red Lentil, Kale Dinner Bowl

3 cups cooked lentils, I used red lentils but green lentils work just as well

1 bunch kale

1 carrot, cut into coins

1 zucchini, diced

2 cups autumn vegetable hash, optional but if you have some leftover it’s really tasty in this meal

1/2 cup peanut sauce, recipe to come

Chives as garnish

————

Cook lentils according to package directions.

Steam kale, carrots and zucchini.

Pile lentils and veggies into a bowl. Top with peanut sauce and chives.

Makes two very large portions.

Michael had his ‘bowl’ on a plate but you get the idea 🙂

As you can see, there are endless combinations to these bowls and they only take a few minutes to create. Just as fast as takeout but infinitely more healthy.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chicago, Family and Breakfast Pumpkin Quinoa

Hi Blogging Friends,

I’m back. It feels like a very long time since I last posted even though it has only been a few days. I got back from Chicago last night after hanging out with my family. We spent some to with my Apu who just moved into nursing home, made sure my Anyu was settled at home and celebrated my mom’s birthday. It was a busy weekend of visits and errands but we managed to squeeze in a little fun and food.

Just a few highlights:

Happy Birthday chocolates for my mom!

A run, coffee and the Mt. Prospect farmers market with my sister. We laughed after we took this picture because no matter where we go we end up doing the same thing. Running, walking, coffee and farmers markets. Morning workouts with my sister are one of my favorite things ever. It’s always so fun to laugh and talk and get a sweat on at the same time. Plus the soy latte reward at the end of course.

We ran lots of errands as well. Nothing at Costco is small. I couldn’t resist this bag of Popchips but it’s about as big as my upper body.

I also got a cooking lesson from my Anyu. She doesn’t even use a cutting board; she just chops the onion into perfectly thin slices right into the pot! Much to learn still.

Visiting with my grandparents and my Aunt Mary.

And, by far, my favorite picture from the weekend. US Weekly knows no bounds. It’s trash captivates women of all ages, ha.

This morning I woke up feeling sort of blah. I’m not sure if it was the king size bag of Popchips or the travel but there was only one remedy…get moving. Eli and I went out for an early morning run along the river.

The sun coming up over the skyline. So pretty.

Then something healthy for breakfast.

First and foremost I apologize for the photos. I was really hungry after my run so I didn’t try to make the photos pretty, I just snapped as quickly as possible and ate. I suppose that’s the great thing about these breakfast quinoa recipes, they are so fast, especially if your quinoa is pre-made although mine wasn’t and it was still ready in less than 20 mins.

Breakfast Pumpkin Quinoa

3/4 cup of cooked quinoa

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of allspice

dash of powdered ginger

1-2 tablespoon sugar, to taste

handful of cashews

————

Cook quinoa according to package directions or use my perfect quinoa recipe.

In the meantime, mix pumpkin puree and spices together.

Add quinoa to pumpkin puree. Add in cashews and sugar. Mix.

One note about the sugar: many people are very against white sugar. Feel free to use agave or maple syrup in its place. I’m of the camp that moderation is key to all ingredients so I don’t shy away from using a few tablespoons in my recipes but feel free to substitute whatever works best for you.

This picture obviously sucks of the quinoa but it gives a nice view of the trees changing outside our living room window.

Such a filling and tasty breakfast. Chases the blahs straight away.

Have a great Tuesday.

Autumn Vegetable Hash for a Rainy Friday

As promised, today I set out to recreate a vegan version of this hash dish from our dinner party last weekend for you.

But first I went to a really wonderful mid-day yoga class. I’m usually a vinyasa girl and this was labelled as core vinyasa but was more of an Iyengar class. Slow transitions, lots of thoughtful cues and some long-held twisting postures at the end of class that felt amazing after a week of running and power yoga. Just another reminder to switch up your routine from time to time. I really didn’t need another fast paced, sweaty class this week. I love when the universe’s common sense is better than your own.

After class I headed over to the Copley Square farmers market. I needed parsnips, carrots (we managed to go through a 5 pound bag of carrots in a month!), and lemons. Apparently lemons are not in season yet, I had to do a drive by to Trader Joe’s afterward. Then I came home to chop. Inga warned me when she sent me this recipe that it’s a lot of chopping, she was not wrong. But, on a rainy afternoon, I recommend putting on some music, getting out your biggest cutting board and best knife and rolling with it. It’s worth the effort.

Autumn Vegetable Hash with Rosemary Vegan Butter Sauce

Inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe here. I halved this recipe but if you follow the original amounts you’ll easily be able to serve 8 side dish portions.

2 big parsnips, chopped

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 potato, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt to taste

1/4 cup of vegan butter, I used Earth Balance

2 springs rosemary

juice of 1/2 a lemon

————

Preheat oven to 400.

Chop all vegetables into small 1/2 inch pieces. I’m a fan of leaving the skin on carrots and parsnips but definitely peel the butternut squash before dicing.

 

 

These were some crazy purple and orange carrots, so pretty.

Once everything is chopped, place on 2 cookie sheets and mix with olive oil and salt. Make sure the oil is spread over all the vegetables evenly. Ina’s recipe calls for a lot of oil that I found unnecessary but if you want to use more feel free.

Side note: don’t do what I did and try cramming everything on one cookie sheet. It steams the veggies instead of browning them. After 45 minutes I finally relented and split them onto two sheets and they browned up quickly. It doesn’t pay to be lazy!

Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes. Then add the garlic. Roast for another 10 mins. (To be fair I roasted mine for well over an hour because of the steaming issue, so I’m using Ina’s recommended timings, but watch for the veggies to get golden brown and use your best judgement on timings based on your oven.)

While veggies are roasting, melt butter in a saucepan. Add in springs of rosemary. Let rosemary simmer in the butter until the leaves are crispy. 5 minutes or so.

Remove rosemary.

Add in lemon juice and drizzle the butter over a big plate of the hash.

 

I swear it’s not burnt, those pretty purple carrots aren’t so pretty once they’ve been roasted 🙂

This dish feels like the holidays to me. It would be great as a mashed potato alternate at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I don’t eat eggs but I imagine this would also be really good as a breakfast hash with an egg or two on top. Michael, did you get this far? Please use leftovers now that you’re staying in town!

I’m off to Chicago to celebrate my wonderful Mother’s birthday and to give some love to my grandparents and aunt. Hope you all have an amazing weekend.

Enjoy!

 

Dinner Party Puzzle

Last weekend we were invited to a dinner party at our new friend’s home. There were four couples in total and a lot of dietary restrictions. We were a difficult group to cook for and finding recipes that fulfilled all our needs was probably a bit like a frustrating crossword puzzle.

But, our hosts Inga and Jason did a fabulous job of creating a variety of dishes that catered to all sorts of diets: vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. I obviously know a lot about most of the aforementioned, but soy-free is new to me. I didn’t realize it was in everything until my friend Amanda pointed it out. Soy in cooking spray? Who knew!

Despite the tricky puzzle, the food was divine. The meal started with assorted breads, cheeses and wine. Then we had a spicy and flavorful vegetarian carrot ginger soup. I’ll have to recreate it at some point, it was the perfect fall soup.

Next up, salad and a root vegetable hash that was so good I asked for the recipe so I could recreate here and attempt to make it vegan. There was also fish for those fish eaters in the group.

Dessert was brownies and ice cream for most.

It was a really fun night spent chatting around the table.

And later in front of a big fire.

Although four of the eight are co-workers, they did a really great job of leaving the shop talk behind. There were lots of how we met, where we’ve lived and pets we love stories; my favorite kinds of nights.

All in all it was such a fun night getting to know some new friends and eating tasty food. Thank you Inga and Jason.

Recipe to follow tomorrow, I have to pick up the ingredients first.

Have a great Thursday.

Pumpkin Acorn Squash Soup

If I’m not tweaking someone else’s recipe, I’m developing my own. Although recipe development seems really high-tech and makes me sound way cooler then I am. In truth, I’m not that high-tech or cool, the process is pretty simple and goes something like this:

1.) What do I feel like eating? Some days this is clearer than others. There are days when I sit around for a long time trying to decide what I feel like. Those are often the days you get smoothie recipes. 🙂

2.) What do we have in the house?

3.) Based on what we have, what looks interesting and inspiring on Tastespotting, Foodgawker, Epicurious or other food blogger’s sites?

Then I pull up a word doc and start writing out an ingredients list. Then I cook. If the recipe turns out worth sharing I then write the directions out for you all, adjusting the ingredients to match how I made something. If the recipe sort of sucks, you get pictures of my dog!

Today the recipe did not suck, in fact, it was down right tasty. And I’m sorry that you’re getting another pumpkin recipe but you can omit it if you’re all pumpkin’d out. I just happen to have 1/2 a can leftover from the smoothie yesterday. I also used the other 1/2 of the jalapeno from Monday’s juice as I try to use up what’s left in the fridge before Michael leaves for London for work and I head to Chicago for my mom’s birthday weekend.

Pumpkin Acorn Squash Soup

1 acorn squash, roasted, fleshed scooped out

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 apple, cored and chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeño, diced

1/2 can pumpkin puree

4 cups veggie stock

1 tablespoon cumin

1 bay leaf

salt to taste

————

Preheat oven to 375.

Carefully cut the acorn squash in half.

Scoop out the seeds, lay face down on a sprayed cookie sheet and prick with a fork a few times. Roast for 30 minutes or so until a fork can slide through easily.

In a stockpot over medium high heat, saute apple, celery, onion and jalapeno in olive oil until tender.

Add vegetable stock.

Scoop squash out of skin and add to the pot with the 1/2 can of pumpkin puree.

Add cumin and bay leaf. Let soup come to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.

Salt soup and remove bay leaf.

With an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. You can also do this in batches in a blender or a food processor.

This soup has the perfect balance of earthiness from the squash, sweetness from the apple and spiciness from the jalapeno. I serve with pepitas, sunflower seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!