Green Soup: Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

I’m a firm believer in balance.  Not like the yoga type.  I tried yoga, really I tried.  I just can’t do it.  I was thinking balance more in the dietary sense.

This weekend I went to the Taste of OC festival.  To say I ate a lot is probably the biggest understatement ever.  It was amazing.

Ribs. Fried Pig Ear.  Shrimp and Lobster Grinder. Italian Ice. Broken Banana Cream Pie. There were probably other things too.  I can’t remember since I was in food coma the second half of the afternoon.

Sometimes, you can only take so many rich, heavy dishes.  Sometimes you need something green, healthy, tangy and light that includes zero sugar.

Something like this:

Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 cups broccoli, chopped

2 cups spinach
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
garbanzo beans, optional

In pot, heat oil and cook onions until translucent.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add broccoli and spinach and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool a little bit.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Stir in greek yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with garbanzo beans if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

Easiest meal ever? Probably.

Tastiest? Pretty close.

I have no doubt in my mind I’ll be ready for an enormous meal soon (even though I think I’ve sworn off food festivals for all of eternity… or maybe just until the end of the month?).

In the meantime, I’ll stick to the green stuff for a bit.

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

This pear crisp saved my dad’s life.

True story.

That cookies and cream ice cream from Thrifty sitting next to it…  That did nothing for him.

But the pear crisp? Bonafide hero.

Let me tell you why.

Last Sunday, I saw my dad about to serve himself some of this peachy, puddingy-looking dessert a family friend brought over.  I had seen it sitting in the fridge for a loooong time, uncovered, not looking too hot.  I get closer, I see that it’s gray.

Now, I’m all for consuming everything and not letting anything go to waste, but your peach dessert should not be gray, nor should it be fuzzy.   I made him throw it away.  I’m sure we can imagine what the results would have been if he consumed that…

But LUCKILY, this guy saved the day, and you can too.

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

6-7 pears, sliced (you can leave the peel on)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 flour (or corn starch), for the filling
1 cup flour (for the topping)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Combine sliced pears with sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 cup flour.  Put in a greased baking dish.

Make crumble topping by combining 1 cup flour, brown sugar, oats and butter.  Use your fingers break up the butter and combine it with the dry ingredients to make small clumps.

Sprinkle with crumble topping.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the pears are bubbling.

Serve warm with ice cream and thank goodness you won’t be calling the diarrhea hotline.

Spinach-Quinoa-Peach Salad with Honey-Sage Vinaigrette, My Type of Salad

You know how they say people have types?  A type of guy or girl they always date or crush on.

You know what I mean.  You probably have a type.

I like to think this is my type

But realistically, it’s usually some goofy-looking, bearded guy…

I’m not the best at that whole guy thing so instead, I’ll stick to food.

In that department, I most definitely know my type, and this is my type of meal.

I like things that don’t seem to make sense together.  I guess that’s true for guys as well, but let’s stick to the topic at hand:

This salad combines sweet, salty, warm, cold, soft, crunchy and creamy.  If it were a lady it would be that cute, quirky girl that gentlemen seem to pine over in movie.  You know the type:

But in life, it’s just a delicious lunch.

Spinach-Quinoa-Peach Salad with Honey-Sage Vinaigrette

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 peach, sliced
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa with one cup of vegetable (water and salt works too).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime prepare the salad and dressing.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, peach slices and goat cheese.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, sage and salt and pepper.

Once the quinoa is ready, fluff it a bit with a fork, pour hot quinoa over the salad, quickly pour the dressing over the mixture and toss to combine.  The spinach will wilt slightly but still stay fresh and delicious, giving this salad the perfect combination of textures.

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish.

So whether you’ve found your type or, like me, have no idea what your type actually is, just make this salad.  Chances are it’ll be your type too.

Fig-Honey Cornmeal Cake

I have something for you, and I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.  It’s simple and sweet, with a bit of a rough texture.  No, I’m not talking about your perfect man.  I’m talking about cake.

If you were here, I’d serve this to you with a cup of tea.  Better yet, I should plan a tea party around this cake.

Who wants to come?

The lovely thing about this cake, aside from the fact that it involves figs and honey, is how quick and easy it is.  You can make the whole thing in less than half an hour.  And that’s exactly what I did this morning.

Fig-Honey Cornmeal Cake

1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup honey (plus more for drizzling)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6-7 fresh figs

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.  Set aside.

Slice figs into wedges (about 6 wedges per fig).  Arrange figs onto prepared baking pan.  Set aside.

Combine egg, honey, and olive oil in a medium bowl.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine with cornmeal.  Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients.  Fold together until just combined.

Then pour the batter over the figs.

Gently spread the batter around.  It’ll just barely cover the figs.

Place in the oven and bake until golden brown.  In my oven it took about 13 minutes.  It cooks very quickly!  So check it after 10-12 minutes.

Once it’s out of the oven, allow to cool.  Turn over onto a plate and drizzle with additional honey

and serve any time of day!

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Let’s take a break from the usual sweets I present to you on this blog.  Instead, I’ll show you some real food.  As in a real meal.  Are you pumped?

Thought so.

This weekend, I met my neighbors for the first time when I went across the street to ask if they could spare a wood pallet.  They could, more on that later…  But in addition to giving me a wood pallet, my neighbor showed me her vegetable garden and gave me two huge bags filled with tomatoes and an assortment of squash.

If you know me, you could only imagine how excited I was, especially after being cooped up in the vegetable desert that is my parents’ house.

So my first creation with these delightful vegetables:

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
4 good sized zucchinis
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
5 tomatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
few ounces of queso fresco or queso cotija

In a sauce pan, combine quinoa and broth.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and cook until translucent.  Add red pepper and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until tomatoes have cooked down.  Then add the quinoa, turn off the heat and stir together.

If you choose to stop here, you can have a wonderfully delicious and healthy quinoa side dish that I’m guessing would be amazing served over some sauteed kale.

Or you can continue.  Slice the zucchinis in half, length-wise and spoon out the center (I actually diced up the stuff I spooned out and added it to the quinoa mixture.  No waste!).

Fill the zucchini with quinoa mixture and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of your zucchini times may differ). I used the toaster oven, because it’s hot and who wants to turn the oven on when it’s 90F degrees out?

Take the zucchini out of the oven, sprinkle with cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Oh but wait! One last thing… If you decide to put whipped cream on yesterday’s Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

It is divine.

Colorful Quinoa Salad

I’m in the life stage where I’ve graduated and living with my parents again.  I somehow managed to skip this step when I graduated the first time around by going to India then grad school.  Since moving back home, I’ve made one major observations:  my family eats a lot of meat and very few vegetables.

I’m going nuts.

I offered to cook all meals for my parents.  They said no, because they would pretty much be exclusively meat-free meals.  So basically, I’ve given up on trying to get them to eat healthier.  Instead, I’m making stuff for myself and sharing leftovers.

Yesterday, I made a quinoa, bean, vegetable salad.

Surprisingly, everyone liked it (even though once they claimed to not like quinoa).

Colorful Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup black beans
1 red pepper, diced (I used about 5 multicolored sweet mini ones)
1 mango, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 4 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes with some salt.  While the quinoa cooks dice your vegetables.  Place edamame, black beans, red peppers, cucumbers, tomato, mango and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.  Once quinoa is done and slightly cooled, add to the mixing bowl with vegetables, pour in the lime dressing and mix.  Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4-6.

So I guess this is my new strategy: make healthy, tasty (to me) things I like and hope they’ll eat it as well.

Off to the gym I go! Have a great day!

Banana Breakfast Polenta

I’m starting to get desperate.  My life without oatmeal, not just any oatmeal but oatmeal made with big chewy rolled oats, is sad.

Okay, I’m being dramatic, but I do miss oatmeal.  Last night, I was trying to figure out what to do with a very ripe banana.  Normally, when I’m at home, super ripe bananas are exciting because they mean extra sweet oatmeal or smoothies.  Here, without oats or a blender, I was sort of at a loss.

Then I had an idea, it cooked in my brain overnight at this morning I tried it.

Polenta for breakfast, which for me means something sweet.

It’s pretty tasty and pretty easy to make!  Worth a try, right?

Banana Breakfast Polenta for One

1/4 cup cornmeal (aka polenta)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or more if you’d like)
1 ripe banana, thinly sliced
garnishes such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts, maple syrup, etc.


In a small sauce pan, combine all the ingredients.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, once it’s boiling lower the heat to low.  Stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes.  Put in a bowl of plate, garnish and serve.

Not the same as oatmeal, but sometimes we all should try something new.  Fun new way to start your day!

Have a good one and Happy Mother’s Day!

R.I.P. Ipod

My nano is a goner.

As a result of my dead ipod, I went to the gym music-less today.  It wasn’t too bad at first because they play loud pop music in there anyway for example this came on:

So that was fine, until a woman decided the music was too loud for her so she turned it off. Boo!

She was polite enough to ask me if it was okay, but sadly my Italian is good enough to understand what she said but too bad to know how to say “can you just turn it down instead of off?”

The next half hour of my workout was in silence. Woh woh… Not as fun, but the 45 minutes went by pretty fast.  Apparently I have a lot on my mind.

On the bright side, there was basically no one there when I got there!  It was lovely since that place is pretty small.

After the sweaty work out and a shower, I made lunch.  This meal was a crazy mish mash of things that probably don’t really go together, but I sorta loved it.

Tuna Salad + Curried Potatoes with Peas (Aloo Mattar, sorta) + Green beans

Delicious!  I’ll be making those potatoes again. Super tasty and went great with the green beans.  Tuna salad (made with a small can of tuna, mustard, lemon juice, capers, onions, salt, pepper and a handful of garbanzo beans) surprisingly wasn’t bad when mixed with the curried potatoes.  But then again I’m generally a fan of mixing everything on my plate together.  I seem to have this idea that it heightens all the flavors.

True or False? Who knows!  Probably all in my head…

Enjoy the weekend!

Pasta alla Puttanesca

I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’ve never been a big fan of pasta.

It just was never that exciting.  UNLucky for me, I’m spending the next few months in the land of pasta.

But as the saying goes… When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

So I’m trying, and here’s my experiment.  Pasta alla Puttanesca, which I guess literally means “whore style pasta.” It’s not a Roman recipe originally, and I like to think I’m not a whore, but why not give it a shot.  While I’ve never been a big fan of pasta, I’ve always loved sauce (or “gravy” as they call it on The Sopranos) and more importantly I love olives.

I have no idea if this recipe is anywhere nearing authentic, but I read the basic ingredients of Pasta alla Puttanesca, took a quick trip to the grocery store and came up with this:

To be honest, it was delicious. And to be even more honest, I didn’t measure these things.  So these are estimates of how much I used.  If you give it a try, add stuff and keep tasting and adding more until you like the flavor.  After all, who cares about authenticity if it doesn’t taste good to you? (At least in your own home)

Puttanesca (ish) Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced (apparently the original version doesn’t include onions)
2 gloves of garlic, minced
2 cups tomato puree
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1 cup sliced olives
3 tbsp capers
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of fresh italian parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add tomato puree, tomato paste, basil, olives, capers, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in parsley.  Simmer for another 15 minutes or so, really the longer you simmer it the better.  If your sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

And enjoy I did, standing at my window, admiring the view

Off to Florence for the weekend!  Be back with pictures!

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Discovering Indoor Exercise and Roasted Vegetables

As much as I hate to admit this, being at my parent’s house was driving me crazy.  For some reason, being there makes me the most sedentary person on the planet.

Example: I watched every episode (5 1/2 season) of How I Met Your Mother in the nearly 3 weeks I was home.  Hilarious show! But that’s wayyyy too much TV.

The truth is, I feel better when I’m more active.  I like walking places and working out.  It just makes me feel better about myself.

So now that I’m in Ithaca, I’m trying to find ways to feel better about myself and my health… despite this:

I won’t lie.  The weather here can be terrible.  I walked to meet up with some friends and my toes were numb even though I was wearing tights, thick socks and snow boots.

But to keep myself moving, I present to you, my home gym:

Real state of the art, right?

Lately I’ve taken to doing circuits while watching episodes of last season’s The Biggest Loser.

Circuit 1: 25 Step ups
Circuit 2: 20 crunches
Circuit 3: 25 jumping jacks
Circuit 4: 20 bicycle crunches
Circuit 5: 25 bunny hops (back and forth over my computer charger)
Repeat

Not the most exciting work out ever but definitely better than sitting and doing nothing.  I’ve also recently discovered ExerciseTV online!

I made another discovery.  It’ll revolutionize lunch (or dinner… for me, at least).  Okay so I didn’t really discover it.  Rather, it’s new to me.

Roasted Broccoli

Who knew it could be so delicious.

What you need:

  • Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, etc.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • baking sheet
  • oven preheated to 400F

Combine broccoli, other vegetables, olive oil, balsamic vinergar, salt and pepper.  Put it all on a baking sheet like such:

Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes.

Makes a wonderful side dish.  I’m so pleased!  Last night I went and bought more broccoli just so I could have it again.

Definitely recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

Off to try to get some work done, or at least move myself a bit.  Have a wonderful day!