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Archive for November, 2011

Another global food tour! Before there was the turkey dinner, there was an Indian inspired lentil, sweet potato, coconut soup…kind of like the traditional mulligatawny soup. With many cans of Trader Joe’s light coconut milk in our cupboard, I stumbled upon a Lucy Waverman recipe that gave me some inspiration and I knew right away how these cans of creamy liquid would be used.

Indian Lentil-Sweet Potato-Coconut Soup (Adapted from Lucy Waverman’s A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

3 cups sweet potatoes, chopped

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 cup red lentils

1 can (400 ml) light coconut milk

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 lemon, juiced

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and add onions and saute until they soften. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and saute for about 5 minutes. Add ginger, cumin, coriander, and curry powder and saute until fragrant. Add lentils and stir to coat spices. Add coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until soft and lentils and soup thickens. Puree soup and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving add lemon juice.

This soup was even better the next day after all the flavors sat together so I would suggest making it the day before you want to eat it. The last dinner out before turkey day took place at a Rosa Mexicana, near Union Square. I was meeting some wonderful T.O. friends for dinner in the city and this restaurant was at the perfect location. I had heard mixed reviews so I was definitely more excited for the company than the food. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

Table side guacamole

The restaurant itself had such a fun vibe and fancy atmosphere…I quite enjoyed it and think it would be a perfect place for after dinner margarita’s and guac. And it is the famous table side guacamole that we started with.

Guacamole with tortilla chips and two salsas

The guacamole was really fresh and the accompanying red and green salsas were so delicious! The tortilla chips were nothing special (unlike Fonda’s delicious homemade chips and soft corn wraps). We all ordered the signature pomegranate margarita to go with our meals and let me tell you, this was one of the strongest margarita’s I’ve ever had! For our mains, two of us went with the salmon as the description on the menu sounded so interesting.

Grilled salmon over black beans with zucchini and roasted corn with tropical mole sauce and fuit salsa

The salmon was cooked well, the black bean and corn cake was quite tasty and I absolutely loved the flavor of the sauce. Both my friend and I really enjoyed it. The other entree of choice at our table were the steak tacos which I was told were also a hit. So, while Rosa Mexicana is definitely more expensive than necessary, it’s a good place for fun Mexican food and very strong drinks!

On Friday, the day after thanksgiving, Adam and I felt we needed a break from turkey before we began to eat it all week long. Craving pizza, we headed to the West Village for what I had heard in the blog world and from my foodie friends was the best Neapolitan pizza in the city…Keste. The second we walked in and saw the many pies on other diners table, we knew we were in for something special.

Regina Margherita: tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil

The Ortolano: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms, basil, and extra virgin olive oil

Both pizzas were delicious! The crust is absolutely perfect…seriously perfect! The sauce…deliciously sweet and fresh. Our favorite was definitely the regina margherita because you would really taste the sauce and we liked the buffalo mozzarella better than the fresh. But you really can’t go wrong with any pie here! Our one mistake was that we ordered a salad to start…don’t do it. Stick with the pizza here…trust me! It really was the best Neapolitan pizza I’ve ever had (beats out old Toronto favorites that will go unnamed), and different than Pauli Gee’s (which still wins for most interesting pie).

As you can see, we didn't like it at all!

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Not only was it our first American Thanksgiving, but it was actually our first ever real thanksgiving. You see, we didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada…it’s really not such a big holiday there. So being as it is a HUGE holiday here and we really do have a lot to be thankful for, we decided to jump right into the holiday spirit and go all out and cook up a big, traditional thanksgiving feast.

Our festive table

Who better than to share this with than our foodie friends (AKA, the best roasted potatoes ever chefs!) who we are very thankful to have as friends. So, I went all out and everything served at this dinner was homemade. Starting with the bread, a favorite and always impressive recipe, it’s deceivingly easy. Based off this no knead bread recipe, you can really customize it any way you’d like.

I substituted one cup whole wheat flour for the regular flour. I have gone all the way healthy and done all whole wheat but it’s definitely better with some good old A.P flour. To go with the bread, I wanted some sort of spready type item. What better than to get in the thanksgiving spirit and use a seasonal recipe from a cookbook author I am very thankful for…Bonnie Stern. As you will soon see, I also owe her thanks for a delicious turkey..but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Spread (Adapted from Bonnie Stern)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in chunks

1 head garlic, top cut off

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbs honey

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1/4 tsp adobo sauce

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 and toss together squash, carrots, 1 tbsp olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper and place on parchment lined baking pan. Squeeze 1 tbsp honey over top.  Brush top of garlic with some of the oil and honey and wrap in foil. Roast garlic, carrots, and squash for about 45 minutes until tender. Squeeze out garlic pulp and puree with squash and carrot mixture 1 tbsp olive oil, and adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

The 13 pound roast turkey

This bird definitely was the star of the show. For my first turkey cooking experience, it went fairly smooth. And Bonnie Stern is to thank for her easy turkey recipe that I slightly adapted. Simply seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper and stuffed with fresh sage, thyme, onions and garlic. I think the secret was to roast it breast down for the first 30 minutes and then flip it (which was quite interesting) and continue to roast for another 2 hours. A meat thermometer was also key.

Our lovely dinner guests...bravely carving the turkey.

To go with the bird we had quite the spread!

The spread!

The full plate of homemade goodness! turkey, cranberry sauce with orange zest, honey and rosemary roasted sweet potatoes, stuffing (courtesy of our guests), gravy, roasted cauliflower, thyme sauteed green beans

While everything was delicious, I did have some favorites (besides the turkey of course). Our friends stuffing was simple but delicious. Traditional celery, carrots, and onion with toasted bread and spices…covered in homemade gravy it was SCRUMPTIOUS! My other favorite was cranberry sauce, which for me, is the reason to have turkey in the first place. I simply boiled a package of fresh cranberries with apple cider, sugar, and orange zest and let it simmer until it was nice and thick. I think I will be eating this on everything for the next week! And lastly, the cauliflower. Based off this recipe from the NY times: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9406E0D61E30F93BA25750C0A96F9C8B63 the only change I made was to roast the cauliflower with a little oil, s &p, instead of pan frying it.

Adam doesn’t normally like cauliflower but he really liked this dish. A great way to convert those cauliflower haters! After a nice long stretch break, we were ready for dessert. I had been looking forward to this pumpkin cheesecake courtesy of my dinner guests and let me tell you, it more than lived up to the hype!

Pumpkin cheesecake with graham cracker and gingersnap crust and sour cream topping

Creamy, light, not too sweet, despite being stuffed we all managed to have seconds! Recipe please? We will now be dining on leftover turkey for a while (not that I’m complaining!) Stay tuned from some turkey soup!

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It all began with dinner Saturday night with more good friends from the T-dot. Feeling the usual pressure to show them a good dinner, I chose  Surfish, a Park Slope Peruvian restaurant I’ve heard great things about…and the chef was on Chopped champions! I thought I could not go wrong with this choice. And I half didn’t. The dinner was off to a rocky start when we arrived for our 7:30 reservation and were seated in the “heated” patio. I use the term “heated” lightly because it was really cold! And when I made the reservation, no one informed me that this could be an option, which I think is poor service on their part. Luckily, there was a table finishing up and after ordering drinks, we were moved inside.

These complimentary plantain chips, blue corn chips, and delicious crunchy corn pieces were a good move in the right directions. And when our ceviche and soup appetizer arrived, I was even happier. I had heard amazing things about Surfish’s ceviche, and it did not disappoint.

Creamy cauliflower soup with tofu, miso, and shitake mushrooms

Trio of ceviches: Salmon, tuna, and white tuna

The soup was also so rich and creamy and perfect for a cold night. Unfortunately, here is where things started to go wrong again. After clearing our appetizers and waiting a very very long time, our waitress came and cleared our cutlery and asked if we were ready for dessert…now this was kind of funny considering we were still waiting for our mains! Finally, the kitchen got things straight and our mains arrived.

Mahi mahi with cauliflower puree, bok choy, and tempura beets

Something just didn’t taste right about the mahi mahi…I thought it was overcooked and dare I say, a tad fishy tasting. The sides were very good, but not good enough to make up for the star of the plate. If I were to go back to Surfish, I would definitely go for a large order of one of the ceviches and a soup…it seems they shine in their tapas section much more than the larger plates. Still a fun night with amazing company…which continued a mere 12 hours later at Locanda Verde for brunch. Now this restaurant was a HUGE hit! I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many “mmmms” at a table before.

Sheep's milk ricotta with truffle honey and burnt orange toast

Every table seemed to have this brunch appetizer and let me tell you, YOU HAVE TO ORDER THIS! It should be a rule at Locanda Verde because the flavor and freshness of ricotta was something I’ve never experienced before. With the slightly burnt orange toast, oh my gravy! Adam and I decided to go with halvsies (and I mean split down the middle exactly) with a sweet and savory item…a good decision on our part.

Zucchini frittata with roasted tomato, basil, and goat cheese

Lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberries and meyer lemon curd

The frittata was perfectly cooked with deliciously creamy goat cheese and the pancakes were so light and airy and went very well with the extra ricotta still on the table. Our four other friends also thoroughly enjoyed their meals and this is one place where I will definitely have to break my “never go to the same restaurant twice” rule.

Sunday evenings dinner out was not a restaurant…but it very well could have been with the quality of food that was had! My food loving (even as much as me if you can believe it) friends invited me over for a meat and potatoes meal…but this was no ordinary meat and potatoes.

Hanger steak with oven roasted potato wedges

The steak was perfectly cooked, seasoned with asian flavors and these potatoes were the crispiest, oven fried potatoes I’ve ever had. Maybe they will post the recipe???? I was told the secret was to soak the potatoes for 10 minutes in warm water before baking and then bake covered for the first 10-15 minutes so the potatoes can steam and then uncover, and flip half way.

Don’t worry, we still got our greens in the form of a very light and fresh, shredded romaine Caesar salad. Thanks friends for an amazing meal!!! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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Sometimes you just crave some fresh vegetables…but salad need not be only made of boring romaine lettuce. After eating that amazing kale salad at Northern Spy, I wanted to try to re-create something similar. I stumbled across this recipe and ran to our grocery store (actually, Adam ran to our grocery store) to pick up the necessary ingredients. It was pretty darn good!

Kale and brussels sprouts salad

If you’ve never worked with kale before, do not be afraid. While this giant leafy green may look intimidating, I promise you can handle it. Simply pull the leaves from the large stems, wash very well, and prepare however your heart desires (like my previously posted kale chips). Now salad alone does not a dinner make, so keeping with the fresh and healthy theme, we went with a favorite salmon recipe: Giada’s Salmon Cakes. Due to sheer laziness, the only thing I changed was not to bread them in extra breadcrumbs and I used panko instead of the saltines.

Salmon cakes with kale and brussels sprouts salad

I’ll tell you they are definitely better when breaded and worth the extra step but still delicious. DO NOT skip the sauce…it really makes the dish in my humble opinion.

I must tell you about two delicious  restaurants I visited in Park Slope this past week. The first was for a very special date night with my husband. We can both get very busy, but I think it’s important to break from the same work, dinner, tv, sleep routine and get out sometime…just the two of us. So, last week we made reservations at a Mexican restaurant that has been on my very long list of restaurants to try for a while. Fonda has a great deal for happy hour…$5 dollar guac for two (that’s normally $10) and cheap margaritas and beer. And let me tell you…this guac was definitely built for two and some of the best we’ve ever had. What also made it so good was the homemade, soft, mini corn tortilla’s it came with.

Guacamole with all the fixings

Despite being stuffed with avocado, I couldn’t miss out on the chicken enchilada’s with mole poblano sauce. Having never tried mole before, I really didn’t know what to expect.

This sauce was so complex, filled with nuts, chilies, spices, and served over tender chicken stuffed corn tortillas, I was very sad I couldn’t finish my plate.

Adam's entree: Grilled snapper with passionfruit sauce, roasted potatoes, asparagus and red peppers

Adam’s fish was also really really good…the potatoes underneath were so addictive and the sauce was sweet/savory/fruity…a very unique combo. Definitely a date night success!

The other new spot was Bogota Latin Bistro, the perfect place for a girls night out. After the complimentary plantain chips and assortment of house-made sauces, we were off to a good start! The menu has some really interesting sounding dishes and it was very hard to choose to make sure my dining partner and I had the best and most authentic experience possible. Our waitress was super helpful and our two appetizer choices were spot on.

Goat cheese empanada with house-made chipotle sauce

Patacon Con Todo: Flattened fried green plantain topped with shredded skirt steak, chicken, guac, and queso blanco cheese

Both were so good but so filling! I don’t know that I would order the patacon again…definitely happy I tried it but it was a bit much for me. The goat cheese empanada on the other hand…that was a keeper. I was in the mood for fish and what I really liked was that you could pick any two sides to accompany you main and they had such a variety of interesting choices. I went with the sauteed kale (definitely my fave vegetable of the moment) and steamed yucca, which is like a sweet potato.

Jalapeno grilled catfish with steamed yucca, kale, and fruit salsa

There were so many other interesting sounding dishes on the menu and tons of vegetarian options too…I think I may have to break my rule and return to this resto again!

After a busy week, I was ready to spend some time in the kitchen, and a big Shabbat dinner was the perfect excuse. For some reason, I was in the mood for a stuffed chicken breast…I’ve made mushroom stuffed chicken breasts before but we had an abundance of apples in our fruit drawer and after some internet searching, I came across this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Apple-Currant-and-Caraway-Stuffed-Chicken-Breasts-106360 I left out the caraway, subbed panko for rye crumbs and dried cranberries for currants. The stuffing was delicious but I have to tell you, stuffing the chicken didn’t go exactly as I had planned. I could not for the life of me cut the pocket the recipe wanted me to. After getting stuffing all over the counter, I took a different approach. I cut the chicken down the side lengthwise and opened it like a book, placed the stuffing on one side and folded it over. In fear of the stuffing falling everywhere when pan frying, I just baked it in the oven and then made the sauce separately. It was still delicious (just maybe not as pretty) and we had extra stuffing to serve on the side. Roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic and olive oil were a nice compliment to the sweet stuffing. The other side was just as star worthy as the chicken…the double stuffed sweet potato.

Apple stuffed chicken, balsamic roasted brussels sprouts, double stuffed sweet potato

Double Stuffed Sweet Potato

1 sweet potato

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

sprinkle of cinnamon

sprinkle of chili powder

Candied pecan topping

1/3 cup pecans halves

1 tbsp butter/margarine

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp chili powder

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potato and pierce with fork and bake in oven until tender, about an hour. Cut in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the inside, leaving a little of the flesh in along the outside so that you have a sturdy sweet potato shell. Mash flesh with maple syrup, cinnamon, chili powder and stuff back in the two sweet potato shells. For the pecan topping, preheat a skillet over medium heat and melt butter or margarine. Add pecans, sugar, chili powder and salt and cook until sugar is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a cookie sheet to cool. Chop and top sweet potatoes with pecans. Bake stuffed sweet potatoes in oven for about 10 minutes.

These were a nice change from our usual roasted sweet taters and the seasonings for the stuffing our endless! Thanksgiving planning is now underway…these Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes would actually be a good addition to any Thanksgiving menu. What are your fave Thanksgiving dishes? Gearing up for my first American turkey day!

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This past weekend, my very good friend Ilana came to visit in Brooklyn. You know what that means…a lot of good eats! But I think this one tops out as the most indulgent yet…after she left I realized I didn’t eat one fruit or vegetable all day Saturday (unless you count one spear of deep fried asparagus and half a roasted tomato!) But let’s back up one minute. Anticipating a fantastic weekend of eats, Adam and I created a delicious and healthy vegetarian meal before our guests arrival. I used this stuffed squash recipe and just substituted soy ground round for the turkey:http://aggieskitchen.com/2009/10/19/stuffed-acorn-squash/

I used a hubbard squash because that looked the best, but really any squash would be delicious. Now onto the weekend eating marathon! First night dinner was at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try in the East Village….Northern Spy Food. After waiting an hour to be seated (which wasn’t so bad as we found a lovely wine bar called Terroir near by that I’d highly recommend), we immediately ordered two appetizers to share for the three of us.

Kale salad with cheddar, delica squash, almonds and pecorino and crispy potato gnocchi with brussels sprouts

The kale salad was absolutely delicious…one I will soon be trying to recreate. And the gnocchi…we all couldn’t believe how tender and light they were on the inside and crispy and delicious on the outside. We all agreed that next time, we would order these two dishes as our main meal. But don’t get me wrong…the entrees were quite good as well.

Long Island striped bass with cranberry beans, bok choy, and red peppers

Roast chicken with swiss chard, freekeh (like wheat berries), and pumpkin

Adam and I went with the fish upon high praises from our waitress. That puree it came with was out of this world…like the world’s best hummus and mixed with the sweet peppers…words can’t describe. Ilana’s chicken was super moist and rich and quite the large portion. I say this is one of my new fave restaurants in this food filled city! While we were all pleasantly full, if you’ve been following my blog long enough you know there’s always room for ice cream…especially when it’s big gay ice cream!

Very happy to be back at Big Gay!

The classic salty pimp did not disappoint and Ilana was also in heaven. It’s a really good thing I live a subway ride away from this place! The next morning, we had plans to meet some friends for brunch in Park Slope. The location…Stone Park Cafe. An American restaurant with southern twists…and it was the southern part of the menu that I was drawn to.

Creamy grits topped with cheddar cheese, scallion, poached egg, and shrimp

It was my first “shrimp and grits” experience and I can tell you…these were good enough that it will not be my last. Such a comforting breakfast with the creamy grits, melted cheese, and gooey yolk. This brunch held us over throughout a lot off walking! But come 3:30 and we were craving some sort of snack. I had wanted to take Ilana to the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene and what perfect timing!

Dough at Brooklyn Flea

The last time Adam and I were at the Flea, this fried dough stand was sold out. This time, we were in luck! Dough makes AMAZING doughnuts in very interesting flavors like passion fruit with cocoa nibs and dulce de leche…and it was this flavor that we were after. Sadly, they were all sold out but our two doughnut choices were still good. We went with the classic glazed doughnut and cafe au lait. And being the nice wife I am, I brought home a blood orange doughnut to Adam (one of his favorite fruits).

Cafe au Lait

Blood orange topped with a candied orange slice

Now I can’t remember the last time I had a doughnut, but I still know a good one when I have one and these were some of the best. They were so fresh and the flavor really came through and they melted in our mouth upon first bite. After more walking and some gossip girl watching, we were ready for our next eating experience. I normally really research every restaurant I go to and especially when I have visitors…I want to give them the best food experience possible. But this dinner was kind of on the whim. We really didn’t know what we felt like but I stumbled upon Barbone, an Italian restaurant in the East Village, while reading my Zagat. The reviews were good, we were in the mood for Italian, and our friends we were meeting were in as well. This cozy restaurant was a fantastic new find! Very reasonably priced, delicious homemade Italian food…I highly recommend it. We shared three appetizers to start:

Calamari topped with bread crumbs

Roasted tomatoes with pesto/ricotta mixture and fried asparagus spears

That pesto ricotta mixture was out of this world! The asparagus really wasn’t anything special, but it did help to give me one vegetable that day! The calamari with breadcrumbs and lemon was so different than any other calamari I’ve had before and I would definitely go for it again! The pastas on the menu sounded amazing so we all went with one of the handmade pastas.

Ilana's gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce with parmean bowl

My parpadalle with short rib ragu

Both were just solid and flavorful pastas. A great new find! You would think this is where the eating weekend ended…but we still had one last morning together which meant one last brunch. Ilana could not stop talking about the 9 dollar orange juice at Norma’s, so this is where we shared our last meal together. Norma’s is located in the Parker Meridien hotel and is definitely more of an upscale brunch (if you couldn’t tell by the 9 dollar glass of orange juice…though it is fresh squeezed and refilable). The menu at Norma’s is over the top with ginormous portions…there wasn’t one person finishing their meal! We were both surprisingly still full from the day before (I know that’s hard to believe) but still managed to put a good dent in our huge frittatas! For some reason, my camera seems to have lost the picture but let me tell you…these were huge frittata’s topped with shrimp, roasted tomatoes, and spinach. It was very good but was it worth the price tag and 7 dollar coffee? Not sure. Ilana definitely enjoyed her orange juice and the table next to us had pancakes and waffles that looked incredible. So maybe I’d come back for a special occasion one day.

I had such a fantastic weekend with Ilana and am still semi-full!! Can’t wait for her next visit! Now it’s time to go and eat a salad and fresh fruit!

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Post Marathon Eats

So as you can imagine, I was quite hungry after running for 4 hours and 24 minutes! Right after crossing the finish line I was kind of in a daze, slightly nauseous, and trying to comprehend the fact that it was actually over and I had in fact just run a marathon. I was handed a bag of goodies and immediately downed an apple and some pretzels…but I was mostly focusing on trying to walk and find my family. After getting some warm clothes and making the trek back to our hood, the extreme hunger set in and I needed food fast!

The perfect greasy slice of NY pizza!

The first place we came to was a tiny takeout pizza place and it fit the bill perfectly! The crust was thin and crunchy on the bottom, topped with the right amount of cheese and sauce…it held me over until dinner (which was only a mere hour and half later!) I’d been to Rosewater for brunch before and had heard amazing things about their dinner. This was the perfect opportunity to try it. Upon seating we were greeted with a basket of some of the best bread I’ve ever had. Salty on the top, chewy, and very fresh. With herb olive oil and sea salt for dipping….good olive oil really is something special! Adam and I each ordered an appetizer:

Pumpkin soup topped with toasted cashews and creme fraiche

Fried goat cheese salad

My pumpkin soup was so rich and creamy and the toasted cashews added a really nice crunch. The bread was perfect to soak up every last drop. Adam’s goat cheese salad was also good…not amazing but I mean, it’s hard to go too wrong with fried cheese! There were three mains ordered at our table….our server highly recommended the hiramashi, which she described as a meaty white fish similar to swordfish. So Adam and I trusted her with our entree, my mom went with the other fish of the day and my dad chose the chicken.

Grilled hiramashi with sauteed escarole and wild mushrooms

Pan seared tilefish with fennel salad

Roasted chicken with greens and potatoes

We all really enjoyed our dishes! Both fishes were perfectly cooked and the chicken was super moist. We were all super hungry…I have to give my family lots of credit..marathon spectating is very hard work! They basically walked/ran all over the city to try to catch me three times along the route! Highly impressed! So…we also decided to share three sides:

Sides to share: Kale with chili flakes and garlic, collard greens topped with bread crumbs, navy beans

I love well cooked greens and these were spot on. The beans were like an upscale version of traditional baked beans and were super comforting and delicious. My one complaint of dinner was that I found the food a little on the salty side…maybe they did it on purpose to replenish my sodium levels?

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As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, I start to crave soup and this Moroccan bean, squash, and swiss chard soup was just what I was craving after the crazy October snow storm that blew through NY. I used an Ellie Kreiger recipe as a base but wanted to change up the flavors a bit to something warm and sweet.

Moroccan Bean, Squash, and Swiss Chard Soup

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 butternut squash, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp corriander

salt and pepper to taste

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 bunch swiss chard, chopped

enough chicken or vegetable broth to cover

2-4 tbsp peanut butter

Heat a large pot over medium high heat and add olive oil. Saute onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, and squash until softened. Add seasonings and saute until you can smell them. Add stock and beans and tomatoes and bring to a boil and simmer until everything is tender. Add swiss chard and cook until wilted. Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter.

The peanut butter really adds a richness to this dish. I needed something to serve with this soup as soup alone is definitely not enough for my large appetite. Cornbread fit the bill…not just any cornbread…pumpkin cornbread! I used this recipe here:http://iowagirleats.com/2010/12/14/im-totally-justifying/ The pumpkin really added a moistness and even Adam, who’s not the biggest pumpkin or squash fan (which is really terrible when I am currently obsessed with it!) loved the cornbread. It really adds a nice flavor and busts all myths about cornbread being dry.

What’s a carb loading week without some pasta, right? I picked up this fantastic looking package a while ago from Trader Joe’s and was so excited to finally cut into it! I wanted something to mimic the already lemony flavor (you could honestly smell the lemon when the pasta was boiling). I had green beans and tomatoes in my fridge so I totally went with the flow on this one…no recipe used AT ALL! I heated some (okay, more than some!) olive oil and sauteed a couple cloves of garlic. Then added the green beans and grape tomatoes and a little pasta water to bring it all together. Finished with salt and pepper and lots of parm, it was quite good if I do say so myself!

Lemony ribbons of goodness!

To go with the pasta, I made some baked tilapia. Roasted at 400 and topped with olive oil, more lemon flavor in the form of lemon zest, garlic and salt and pepper. Cooked for about 8-10 minutes until it flakes. The mild fish went very well with the lemony peppery pasta.

The Friday night before the Marathon was like any other Friday night…minus the wine! (No drinking before the marathon…I wanted to be as hydrated as possible!)  Challah this week came in the form of a beer-rosemary bread courtesy of my good friend, Bonnie Stern. (If you can’t drink it, might as well bake with it). This bread was so easy to prepare and is really delicious. And if you have of fear of baking with yeast, you’re in luck! This contains ZERO yeast, uses one bowl, and no kneading required. So no excuse…make this bread!

Moist and Delicious!

Beer Bread With Rosemary (From Bonnie Stern’s Best of Heart Smart)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

1 1/2 cups beer

Topping: 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, 1/4 tsp coarse salt

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a bowl. Stir in beer until dough comes together. Spread in a non stick  loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Brush with oil and sprinkle with rosemary and coarse salt. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 80 minutes.

The bread served good purpose with the main course, Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. I’ve made this recipe before, but for some reason it was a lot soupier than last time.

Soupy Jambalaya...but still quite tasty

It still tasted good, but was a bit more watery than the last time I made it. But the bread was perfect to soak up the extra juice. The changes I made from the original was to use chicken sausage in place of the shrimp and saute it first, no bacon, and I added corn.

So as you can see, I had lots of good food fuel for the weekend…and it pushed me to run the ING NY Marathon in 4 hours and 24 minutes! I was quite happy with this time and am still getting over the excitement. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s over! I’m still trying to process that I actually ran a marathon! It was such an incredible experience and I couldn’t get over the support and encouragement of everyone watching. As I’m still getting over the exhaustion and excitement, stay tuned for a review of an amazing post-marathon dinner! I will leave you with a picture recap of November 6th, 2011 (AKA The Big Day!)

Adam's Blog Debut! Getting ready to spectate!

At the starting line

That's me in the colorful shorts and white shirt

Finished! Very cold, sore, tired, and happy!

 

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