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Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

Going Green: Breakfast Edition

In Breakfast, Oats, Quick Meal, Quinoa, Salad, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Part of ANY well-balanced meal.

Part of ANY well-balanced meal.

We all know the importance of filling that 5-a-day veggie quota.  However, many a day may come and go without coming even close.  Even with a fridge full of produce, I’ve found myself on some busy mornings running out the door eating a rice cake for breakfast, followed by a sandwich for lunch.  By the time dinner rolls around, I’ve realized I haven’t eaten any veggies, let alone some leafy greens.  As a result, I’ve been making an effort at breakfast time to include leafy greens and other green vegetables.  With a little preparation, ingenuity, and thinking outside of the box, here are 10 of my tips and tricks for incorporating a healthy start to the day.

  1. Smoothies

    More of a trick than a tip.  Make your favorite fruit smoothie.  After everything is combined, add 1-2 cups of greens – kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, even lettuce – and blend until combined.  I also like to add mint and/or raw cacao to cover up any bitter taste.  You can also try my protein-packed green smoothie.

  2. Pancakes
    Apple, Pumpkin, and Kale Oat Pancakes

    Apple, Pumpkin, and Kale Oat Pancakes

    Make your favorite pancake batter.  Then blend in a cup or two of leafy greens.  My new fave for fall: 1/2 cup oats, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin, 1/2 chopped apple, vanilla/cinnamon to taste, 1 cup kale.  Blend all except kale.  Once combined, add kale and blend for a few seconds.  There’s the batter, cook like normal pancakes.  You won’t even taste the kale, trust me.  Great for kids and kids at heart.

  3. Pesto/creamed greens

    Using your favorite pesto recipe, substitute some or all of the basil for spinach, broccoli, broccoli robe, kale, you name it.  Get creative.  I’ve made one with spinach, garlic, chickpeas, and nutmeg.  Use on toast, in an omelet, or to make savory oatmeal (think risotto).  Same applies to creamed spinach.  When you’re making dinner, double up so you have some leftovers for breakfast.  You can also use Indian-style spinach (saag) to spice things up.

    Leftover creamed spinach is great the next morning.

    Leftover creamed spinach is great the next morning.

  4. Soup

    This is a new one for me.  A couple times a week I start the morning with a miso-based soup.  I boil some water with whatever greens I have – raw or leftover sautéd (I really like bok choy).  Once warmed up, I add chickpea miso (since I have some soy intolerance) and stir for another minute.  To make it a complete meal, I’ll add some leftover grains and/or beans.  Maybe even some poached eggs.

    IMG_0613

  5. Salad/Slaw

    Not just for a light lunch.  Have a side salad with your eggs.  This can be as simple as arugula and lemon juice.  Add an avocado or nuts.  Really easy.  Same with coleslaw.  If you make some for dinner or over the weekend for a bbq/tailgate, just add a big scoop to your plate.  It may be weird at first, but you’ll feel much better later in the day for being 20-40% done with your veggie requirements.

    Arugula with avocado and lemon juice.  Paired with a quinoa omelet.

    Arugula with avocado and lemon juice. Paired with a quinoa omelet.

  6. Quiche/egg cups

    A little more obvious/traditional.  Make a crustless quiche with lots of sautéed greens.  This will last 3-ish days in the fridge.  You can also pour the batter into muffin tins and freeze for pre-portioned future meals.

    Spinach, mushroom, goat cheese.

    Spinach, mushroom, goat cheese.

  7. Omelets

    A stand-by.  Use any kind of fresh greens.  Ever try an arugula omelet?  It’s really good.  You can also shave some broccoli florets and save the stems to roast for another meal.

  8. Breakfast grilled cheese

    On toast or a bagel.  Add greens to your cheesy sammie.

    IMG_1034

  9. Side of sautéed veggies.

    You can make them fresh in the morning, or you can take leftovers from the day before.  Some mornings I sauté 3-4 big leaves of kale and share them with Rocco while I prepare the rest of breakfast.  It can be as simple as some water/olive oil, or you can add garlic and herbs.  You can also finish with a miso sauce – 1 tbsp miso paste added to a cup of water, add to pan once veggies are cooked.

    Munching on some greens.

    Munching on some greens.

  10. Leftover roasted veggies

    Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, you name it.  If I have leftovers, they are sides or appetizers for breakfast.  Same principal as the sautéed greens.  While I prepare the rest of the meal, I unload 1-2 cups of roasted veggies on Rocco’s tray, and I nibble while I’m cooking.  Broccoli stems are a particular favorite.

    Roasted cabbage.

    Roasted cabbage.

Those are some of my go-tos.  I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.  Who doesn’t want to be more more Green?  Especially first thing in the morning.

Everyone’s Got a Sunday

In Breakfast, CSA, Fruit, Potato, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on October 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

No matter how busy somebody may be, there’s usually one day of the week that affords a little extra downtime.  This day may be used to run errands, get chores done, or sit on the couch and basque in the wonders of reality TV.  For the “traditional” Monday-through-Friday-9-to-5 adult, this tends to be Sunday.  It’s the day for grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, spending time with family, watching football, and nursing a hangover with bloody Marys.  While I participate in some of said activities on most Sundays (not all, and not every), I find these days to be just as busy as Saturdays.  They are simply one of the 8 days a month to squeeze in a social rendezvous or attend the obligatory celebration.  At this point in my life, I don’t get any chores or errands done on the weekends.  Instead, Wednesday is my new Sunday.

While everyone is complaining about Hump Day and looking forward to the weekend, Wednesday is the culmination of my weekly routine.  It’s my day to stay home, and with the exception of a barre class at 5:45 in the morning, the only appointments made are with my to-do lists.  When Rocco naps, I get more done in those 2-3 hours than all Sundays of the month combined.  On a good day, I can wash/fold 2 loads of laundry, load/set/unload the dishwasher, roast veggies, prep for dinner, bake something, and watch an episode of Real Housewives or the Chew.  On a great day, I can shower and take a nap.  CSA distributions are on Thursday, so my biggest food priority is prepping the kitchen for the next day’s bounty.

Wednesday is for cleaning out the fridge.
Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

While I prepare lunch, I pull out all the veggies that are left from last week.  This gives me a chance to think about how to use them so that when the clock strikes one, I hit the ground running.  Leafy greens turn into salads or smoothies.  Roastable veggies are great little somethings for Rocco to munch on after his nap.   However, sometimes there are some odd ones at the bottom of the crisper drawers.  Yesterday, it was celeriac.

The culprit.

The culprit.

When I performed my weekly ritual yesterday, I was left with a small head of lettuce (lunch for Thursday), a bunch of carrots (roasted), some broccoli stems(roasted), 2 leeks, and 2 celeriac bulbs.  I was also still slowly chipping away at 6 lbs of apples, but that’s an issue for an entirely different post.  While I knew what to do with the rest of the produce, this ugly root vegetable staring me in the face was one I knew about but never actually prepared.  I figured I could use it for a soup, along with the remaining leeks and potatoes from Thursday.  I quickly googled celeriac so I know how to clean/cut it, and I actually came across a recipe on the NYT website for a pureed soup using celeriac, potato, leek, and apples.  What a coincidence – all the ingredients I wanted to use, plus another way to incorporate some apples.  With the addition of a carrot, it was time to attack this ugly beast.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but it was a good guideline for my first attempt with an unfamiliar food.

 

Celeriac, Potato, Leek and Apple Soup

Adapted from The New York Times

3 tbsp EVOO
2 bulbs celeriac, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into half moons
3/4 lb potatoes
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 apples, cored and diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 quart vegetable broth
1 quart water
~10 leaves fresh sage

Leeks soaking in water.

Leeks soaking in water.

First thing’s first – I had to get those leeks cleaned.  I find the most effective way is to slice the leek in half lengthwise, then cross slice into half moons.  Place the leeks in a bowl of water and prepare the other ingredients.  When the other veggies are prepped, transfer the leeks to a towel (I use an old beach towel) and rub off any excess dirt. Then it was time to clean and slice the celeriac.  I cut off the ends, sliced in half, then into quarters.  I used my knife to cut off the skin instead of peeling with a vegetable peeler.  Then I rinsed the flesh to remove the little bits of dirt left. IMG_0646 Then I peeled the potatoes.  I forgot that this variety was a really pretty red fleshed spud.  I also forget it had a slightly spiced taste to it.  This actually worked in my favor for the soup. IMG_0647 Next came carrots and apples.  I peeled the former, but not the latter.  All the veggies went into the pot with some olive oil, ready to be sautéed for 5 minutes with some salt and pepper. IMG_0648   Once the vegetables were soft and the leeks reduced in size, I folded in some fresh sage, sautéed another minute, then added the liquids.  I also added some more salt, because potatoes absorb a lot of salt. IMG_0650 Once it came to a boil, I reduced to a simmer, and covered the pot with a lid, leaving 1/2 inch gap from edge of the lid and the pot.  The soup would probably have been done in 30 minutes, but I let it cook for about an hour.  Then I pureed it with an immersion blender. IMG_0652   I was debating whether or not to strain the soup through a mesh sieve, but I opted to serve the soup as is.  I realized half way through I had forgotten to take a picture, so here’s my ugly picture of half eaten soup.  Seems appropriate.   IMG_0655 Grilled cheese accompanied Nick’s bowl, but I opted to just have the soup with a side glass of white wine.  The soup as really delicious and had a lot of complex flavors and textures.  Nick said it had an Indian flavor to it, which makes no sense to me because the only seasoning was salt, pepper, and sage.  Perhaps because it was spicy?  The consistency was good, but a little stringy.  I don’t know if the cause was the celeriac, or maybe the skins from the apples, but next time I think I would use my Vitamix to really pulverize the pulp. I had the soup again this morning, and it was equally delicious.  For Rocco, I poured some into a straw-style sippy cup, and he loved it!  However, after 5 or so instances of having to unclog the straw, I strained the remainder of his portion through a sieve.  He gulped the rest up and mommy got to drink her coffee in peace.  Just what I needed to start off my week.

Has it Really Been (Almost) a Year!!??

In CSA, Fruit, Holiday, Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Nuts, Party, Pizza, Sweet Potato, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Whenever I meet somebody new, while talking and getting to know each other, we inevitably talk about food.  Sometimes, the conversation will go something like this:

New Person (NP):  I love food, but I hate cooking.  The closest thing to a homemade dish I’ll make is something frozen from TJs.

Me:  It’s not that hard.  I find it easier if I do A, B, and C. (More tips ensue).

NP:  Those are great ideas.  Do you like to cook?

Me:  I do!  I even have a food blog…

NP:  Really, what’s it called?

Me: Lauren Likes to Cook.  Although, it’s been months since I’ve written anything.

NP:  You should write something new!

Okay, so not verbatim, but you get the idea.  The last time this happened, I decided to look back at my homepage and see how long it really has been.  Turns out, it was last October.  Now I know my life has different responsibilities than when I started this journey, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  This blog, the manifestation of my love for food, had been pushed to the back burner.  What, you say, has made its way to the forefront of my to-do lists?  Well, a lot happened this past year.

After 7 years (9 for Nick) of living in Brooklyn, we finally made the move to the ‘burbs.  We staged and sold our condo, moved in with my in-laws, bought a new house, and fixed/furnished the bare necessities of our new space – all while caring for an infant (who is now a bonafide toddler).  Spruced in with some firsts and milestones, here are some highlights (warning – there are a lot of baby pictures):

  • October 2013

    Rocco's First Halloween!  Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

    Rocco’s First Halloween! Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

  • December 2013
    Rocco's first solid food - Avocado

    Rocco’s first solid food – Avocado

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

  • January 2014 – Coldest and longest month ever.

    Running redefined

    Running redefined

  • February 2014

    Best Valentine's Day Gift - a juicer!

    Best Valentine’s Day Gift – a juicer!

  • March 2014
    We moved!

    We moved!

    New workspace.   Boo for Electric cooktop.

    New workspace. Boo for Electric cooktop.

  • April 2014 – The end of my 20s.  Starting my 30s off as a Lush.
    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

New Kitchen Floor.

New Kitchen Floor.

First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation

  • May 2014
    First Mother's Day

    First Mother’s Day

    Starting my First Garden

    Starting my First Garden

    A garden grows in Garden City.

    A garden grows in Garden City.

  • June 2014
    Rocco Turns 1!

    Rocco Turns 1!

    New CSA

    New CSA

  • July /August 2014 – Beach vacations
    Playing on the beach

    Playing on the beach

    Summer Corn

    Summer Corn

    First backyard BBQ

    First backyard BBQ

  • September 2014
    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Anniversary Dinner.

    Anniversary Dinner.

  • October 2014 – Back to Apple and Pumpkin Season!
    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Lots of Apples

    Lots of Apples

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Slow cooker stew with what else - Apples!

    Slow cooker stew with what else – Apples!

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

There you have it!  Pictures worth thousands of words.  Now that life is a little less hectic and routines are rather consistent, I’ll have more time to blog about what’s cooking.  In the meantime, some more photos of last year’s concoctions.  Happy drooling!

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Margaritas

Margaritas

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet potato gnocchi

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules

Rocco eating dried Mango

Rocco eating dried Mango

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

Typical Lunch

Typical Lunch

Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Crustless quiche for Passover

Crustless quiche for Passover

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Drunk kale quesadillas

Drunk kale quesadillas

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails.  Very healthy.

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails. Very healthy.

More roasted veggies.

More roasted veggies.

Nicoise salad.

Nicoise salad.

Roasted cabbage

Roasted cabbage

Rocco's story time choice - Eat to Live.

Rocco’s story time choice – Eat to Live.