“A Simple Snow Day Soup to Melt the Ice & Warm Your Heart”

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This is for all you Mid-Westerners out there…those of you who have to get up in the dark to feed your livestock, milk the cows, feed the hens…every harsh winter day. This winter has been especially cold & snowy for one of my favorite bloggers, Cecillia, at thekitchengarden. She just writes the best stories about her “farmy” in Illinois. Go by for a visit….she is my warm, cozy, lentil soup inspiration.

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It is a simple enough soup that I conjured up on the one & only real “snow day” experienced this winter here at Fifth Avenue North. I, of course, loved every flake that fell, lightly covering the sidewalks & streets. There is something so beautiful about walking in the dark as snow flakes fall under city streetlights. I did not have to care for any sheep, cows or piggies. I just walked the dog leisurely and wandered aimlessly…heading home when I got too cold to enjoy a bowl of “Snow Soup”.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 cup chopped onions, 2 cloves garlic smashed, 2 carrots sliced, 1 (28 oz/two 14 oz) cans Fire-Roasted Tomatoes with juice, 4 cups low-fat chicken broth, 1 cup dried sprouted lentils, a generous handful of baby spinach leaves or chopped kale, kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

(All items I had in my pantry, we do not drive to the store on our “snowy day” here in Nashville, TN!)

        Carrots & onions in olive oilFire-roasted Tomatoeschicken broth

1. Saute onions in olive oil until slightly softened. Add smashed garlic cloves & cook 1 minute.  Toss in carrots & stir. Add can(s) of fire-roasted tomatoes & chicken broth. Bring to a low boil.

Sprouted Lentils

2. Stir in lentils. Cook on simmer for a 30 minutes, stirring every so often just until lentils are softened. (Add more broth or water if soup gets too thick for your taste.)

Lentils                    stir soupspinach

3. Toss in the spinach or kale & cook just until greens are wilted. Serve hot with “Parmesan Cornbread Croutons” (recipe to follow)

Snow soup with croutons

“Parmesan-Cornbread Croutons”

Ingredients: 2 cups self rising yellow cornmeal, 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk, 1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a flat baking pan. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, spread in prepared pan, sprinkle with shredded Parm & bake until golden brown & puffy, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven to cool on a rack. When cool, cut into croutons to top off your soup.

                      ingredients for cornbread croutonsParmesan Cornbread Croutons

Parmesan Cornbread CroutonsOutside there were no blizzards, nor banks of snow, no waiting animals or chores to be done. I sat quietly, eating my Snow Soup, looking out my window sending warm thoughts to all the folks on all the “farmys” in the Mid-West this night.

Stay warm, Spring is near.

“Hola! Granola” (A Gluten-Free Swimsuit Crash Course)

Hola Granola

 I was in Quintana Roo, Mexico at the beach recently. Meaning I lived in my swimsuit. Lounging on  the beach, daily snorkeling in the turquoise sea, swinging carefree in a hammock every afternoon….did I say I lived in my swimsuit?

 Ay Dios Mios!

Need I say more?…..

gluten free granola

Yes! Upon checking out a few post vacation photos taken of me by my traveling companion, Terry M, it is now definitely “Hola! Granola” time for me!

This recipe is easy, gluten-free and has a few special ingredients…dried white peaches, pepitas, Quinoa & molasses along with a splash of fresh lemon juice to brighten all the flavors.

Here is what you will need:

3 cups Gluten-Free Oats (Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup each – dried White Peaches (Trader Joe’s), dried Cranberries, unsweetened Coconut Flakes or Shreds, Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Quinoa (I used a tri-color, but any will be fine)

 1 cup slivered Almonds,

1/4 cup Honey  + 1 generous Tbsp. Molasses mixed together with the juice of 1/2 lemon & 1/4 cup olive oil

Sprinkle of Sea Salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large mixing bowl toss together the Gluten-Free Oats, slivered Almonds, Pepitas & Quinoa. Drizzle the Honey-Molasses-Lemon Juice-Olive Oil mixture over and toss until ingredients are well coated. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake another 10 minutes & stir again. After 20 minutes remove the pan from the oven &  add the dried  fruit & coconut to the pan and toss together well. Bake another 20 minutes. “Hola! Granola” should be a medium-light golden brown. Remove pan from the oven to cool completely to “crunch up” before storing in glass jars with tight-fitting lids.

This recipe does not come with a money-back guarantee, but if you eat this every morning with some fat-free or low-fat Greek Yogurt (high in protein), carry a little bag  around to munch on for a mid-day snack, and take a lots of long walks “Hola! Granola” will no doubt be very effective as a “Swimsuit Crash Course” whether on a Mexico Beach or just lounging in your backyard.

Try it and let me know how it is working.

Dive In

It’s almost Spring. Adios Winter!

 

“Rustic Ratatouille Tart for the January Dark” (Gluten Free)

rustic ratatouille tart

“The days are short, The sun a spark Hung thin between The dark and dark. (Poem by John Updike, “January”)

January has been a month of extreme cold & many sunless days. It has been a month of long days for me on photo shoots..arising before dawn and returning home way after dark. It has been a month to test the hearty, tire out the tireless and make us all yearn for lighter times.

In January I crave homey foods such as rich hot soups, winter greens salads with crusty homemade croutons, roasted vegetables of any kind topped with crumbly cheeses.  Comfort foods that are easy to make but complex in flavor…dishes that I can whip up from whatever is in the pantry & refrigerator at any given time…dinners that require no grocery runs or long lists of ingredients.

Ratatouille Tart

This gluten-free “Rustic Ratatouille Tart”  is one such dish. It is quick and easy, full of roasted vegetables encased in a whole grain crust and topped with a good feta cheese…a pretty perfect meal for a dark winter evening.

Ingredients: Grape or Cherry tomatoes, Squash of any type, Onions, Bell Peppers, Garlic Cloves  (or use whatever you happen to have on hand such as potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, etc.) cut vegetables into bite size pieces except for tomatoes & garlic cloves

Olive oil, Herbs de Provence (recipe for making at home here)  or Italian Seasoning, Salt & Black Pepper

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère Cheese

1/2 cup good quality Feta Cheese

For whole grain pie crust: 1 1/4 c.  King Arthur gluten-free whole grain flour blend + 1/4 tsp salt +  7 tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces + 1 cold egg

1 egg + 1 tbsp water whisked together for brushing on crust before baking

whole wheat crust & vegetables to roast

Directions:

1. For pie crust mix flour & salt together in a food processor. Add cold butter cut into small pieces. Pulse until mixed somewhat. Add 1 egg to processor, pulsing as you add, until dough forms into a ball. Remove from processor, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic & chill until ready to roll out. (This only takes a few minutes to make. A store-bought crust works just fine too.)

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables on a sheet pan. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle Herbs de Provence, salt & black pepper over all. Roast for about 15 minutes just until tomatoes collapse & other vegetables are still firm. Remove pan from oven. Set aside to cool somewhat. Turn oven to 350 degrees.

3. On a flat surface dusted with additional whole grain flour roll dough out to a circle about 14 inches in diameter. Edges can be ragged and uneven. A gluten-free crust is not as “elastic” as a high gluten flour crust, more like a short-bread crust.

Pie crust

4. Sprinkle crust with shredded Gruyère Cheese. Pile roasted vegetables over cheese,  leaving a 2″ edge all around uncovered.

shredded Gruyere over crustroasted vegs on crust

5. Gently fold edges of crust up and over the vegetables leaving  center open. Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle feta crumbles over vegetables. Transfer tart to a baking sheet covered with parchment & bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crisp.

Pie crust filled with vegs

Ratatouille Tart

Stay Warm. Keep it simple. Eat well.

Baby it’s cold outside!

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“Autumn Supper Salad with Crispy Cornbread Croutons”

fall salad

Shhhhhh…did you hear it? Summer made a very quiet exit as Autumn crept in. I hardly noticed. Did you?

Regardless of the seasons we eat salads for Supper. Salads as entrees, not as sides. Salads with ravioli scattered on top, salads with thinly sliced steak nestled amongst the greens, salads with fruit & cheese. Spinach, Mixed Greens, Kale, Arugula. Carrots, Tomatoes, Berries and Plums. Feta, fresh Mozzarella, shreds of Parmesan Reggiano. Croutons made from baguettes, ciabatta bread or cornbread cut up &  tossed with olive oil & herbs, cooked until crispy.

Salad

Here is what you will need to make one of our favorite salads with lots of healthy stuff.

For the Salad: Salad greens such as Arugula, Spinach, Kale or Mixed Green. A handful of berries, grape or cherry tomatoes, figs or grapes, plums & Feta Cheese

1. Place greens in a bowl. Cut figs & plums into quarters and add to the bowl. Top with berries. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and toss into bowl. Crumble Feta over everything keeping it in somewhat big chunks. Set aside or cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Figs on cutting board

plums

arugula salad

For the cornbread croutons you will need some precooked cornbread (available at most groceries in their deli), olive oil, shredded Parmesan.

1. Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium high heat. Cut cornbread into cubes. Place in hot skillet in a single layer tossing gently with olive oil. Turn once to brown on both sides. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and let melt somewhat. Remove pan from the heat.

cornbread

cornbread croutons

Serve Autumn Salad topped with these slightly warm,  crunchy croutons and add a light drizzle of a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Life is busy. What could be easier than a salad for supper?