Meatless Monday: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Published March 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

It’s fairly well-known that I am an extremely organized person, but I just wanted to share a quick peek at what my kitchen looks like when I have several projects going on at once.

My kitchen while working

To me, it all makes sense.  But if someone walked in and saw this, I’m sure they’d think I lost my mind.

Seemingly kitchen in disaray

If you can believe it, this is actually fairly organized and clean for me making more than two things at once.  I think I was making muffins, two types of bread, cookies and soup.

We’ve been on an insane soup and salad kick lately, and this was our most recent.  Seeing as though it is still winter, feeling like deep in the winter, though spring is supposedly on the way, soup is the most comforting meals.  An entire bowl or a cup paired with a salad or sandwich is pretty much what we’ve been eating for the last few weeks.  Sad, I know, but it’s soooooo good (plus quick and easy)!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The cauliflower has a slightly sweet taste from roasting, but the curry brings it all together and rounds out the flavor.  The original recipe calls for whole milk, but it was so creamy on its own, I didn’t even add any.  This is a unsuspectingly hearty soup at a very low price!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, halved, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
3 tbsp. butter
1 bay leaf
4 cups water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss cauliflower with cumin seeds, curry powder and  3 tablespoons of the oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until cauliflower is just tender.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and sauté onions until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add roasted cauliflower, butter bay leaf and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer until liquid is reduced and the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Using a blender would work here as well if you don’t have an immersion blender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Published March 19, 2014 by jenmatteson

A few days ago, I got a wax and facial from my girlfriend who is an esthetician.  It was awesome.  Even better, we drank wine, before, during (mostly me during) and after.  She offered me some snacks after, one being a lemon poppy seed scone.  I’m not typically a pastry person – and it’s definitely not because I don’t like them, but because they are sooo sooo not very good for you.  I like to use up my calories in wine :P  Anyway, I did have one, and it made me really want to make them.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Clearly, you can see I didn’t make scones, rather muffins.  I thought this would be a slightly healthier option, with a little less butter.   I also substituted apple sauce and extra baking powder for eggs. But, you really can’t hide that full stick of butter in the batter.  Oh well, we must indulge every now and then.  I think I’ll try out the lemon poppy seed scones next time.  My pumpkin scones turned out so well, it’d be too hard not too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

The lemon zest and juice keep these light and fluffy muffins tasting bright and fresh.  Nate has taken one to work most days for breakfast; I think they are perfect for on the go, snacks or breakfasts!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Servings: Makes 12 large muffins

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (sour cream will work here)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with oil or place paper muffin cups in molds.

2. In a large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together with fingertips until fragrant and sugar is moist.  Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla and butter until well blended.

3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and gently stir to blend, careful not to over-mix.  Fold in poppy seeds.  Divide batter evenly into muffin tins (I made smaller muffins, not in a mini muffin tin, so they were more reasonably portioned, so it ended up making 18 medium muffins instead of 12 large). *If you like them just a bit sweeter, sprinkle some coarse sugar over the top of the divided batter.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack before removing from pan.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Try Some Irish Soda Bread

Published March 17, 2014 by jenmatteson

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a loaf of Irish soda bread.  I’ve made this once before, but I truly did not like the recipe.  At one of our drink tasting parties, my girlfriend made Irish soda bread (the theme was countries, and her country was Ireland), and I loved the recipe.  We had lunch just the other day and she mentioned she made it again, which reminded me that I wanted the recipe she made before (she didn’t like the one she just made), so I asked for the previous recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

She wasn’t sure it was the same as what she made before, but said she thought it was similar.  It turned out really well!  I loved the caraway seeds paired with the sweetness of the raisins and bit of sugar in the recipe.  I don’t have a springform pan, which is why I think my recipe took just a bit longer to bake than the recipe called for.  There was quite a bit of extra flour once the ingredients were all combined, so next time, I think I’ll add a little at a time until the consistency is perfect.  Served warm with a touch of butter is heaven!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Source: Unknown
Servings: Makes one loaf

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream.  Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in raisins.

2. Spoon into a 9-inch springform pan (I didn’t have one, so I just formed the dough into a mound on the center of a foil-lined greased baking sheet).  Bake for 40-45 minutes (If not using a springform pan, it make take closer to an hour), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Meatless Monday: Balsamic Roasted Veggie Wrap

Published February 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

I am getting really tired of this winter.  All these veggie sandwiches makes me excited to start planting my garden and having fresh produce at my fingertips daily!  But alas, it’s still awful cold out :(  To try to get into the spring state of mind, I wanted to try another veggie option for my friend’s baby shower, and this time, it’s a roasted wrap!  This takes a bit longer than the hummus supreme sandwich, as you have to first salt the eggplant and let the excess water drain, then wait for the vegetables to roast :(  But don’t worry, the wait is worth it.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

The veggies are soft and sweet and the arugula adds a little crunch and extra freshness.  I would make a large batch of the roasted veggies so you can have this wrap every day for lunch, ready to go.  Cold or warm, it’s delicious.  You could use lavish, pita or tortilla wrap, like I did.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Source: Inspired by Vegan Soul Power
Servings: Makes about 4 wraps

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
kosher salt
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pint button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used blood orange balsamic, but use what you like/have)
fresh cracked pepper
16-20 basil leaves
1 cup arugula
4 tortilla wraps

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place diced eggplant in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.  Toss to coat evenly.  Set over bowl or sink and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Excess water will begin to drain from eggplant.

2. To a large bowl, add eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Drizzle with olive oil and half the vinegar.  Add salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Transfer vegetables to prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Halfway through, flip vegetables.  With 5 minutes remaining, drizzle additional vinegar over vegetables.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

3. Divide basil and arugula among tortilla wraps, and top with roasted vegetables.  Wrap as desired and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Published February 17, 2014 by jenmatteson

Do you ever get sick of your same old boring lunch?  Maybe not.  But maybe you want to try something new, possibly a little healthier or fresher than that café in your building that serves pre-wrapped sandwiches.  Do you even know when those sandwiches were made?

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

I wanted to try out a few vegan sandwich recipes to serve at my girlfriend’s baby shower in a few months.  Yes, I’m already planning!  One of the best things about this sandwich is that there is absolutely no cooking.  Use store-bought hummus if you like to make this even quicker  (I made a classic creamy hummus, though a roasted red pepper hummus would be fantastic!).  I also used a store-bought 8-grain bread, but this would be even better with a thick cut gourmet bread.  Don’t forget to lightly salt your veggies before assembling your sandwich; you wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it makes.

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

The original recipe calls for pomegranate molasses, but my grocer didn’t carry it, and I didn’t want to make a special trip to find it.  I just went with regular molasses, and I thought this sandwich was absolute heaven!  Even Nate liked it, so don’t be afraid to feed it to your meat loving kids or hubbies!  The thinly cut crisp veggies paired with the smooth savory hummus is awesome.  The drizzle of molasses really brings it all together and knocks it out of the park.  I know it sounds a little weird, but trust me – it adds SO MUCH with just a tiny drizzle.

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Source: Inspired by Vegan Soul Power
Servings: Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices hearty wheat or grain bread
4 tbsp. hummus
4 thin slices cucumber
4 thin slices tomato
thin sliced red onion
1/4 tsp molasses

Directions:

1. Lightly toast bread (this is optional, but I like a little crisp and warmth in my bread).  Spread each slice with hummus.  Layer one slice of bread with arugula, cucumber, tomato and red onion.  Drizzle lightly with molasses and top with second prepared slice of bread.

Homemade Ranch (and Chipotle Ranch) Dressing and a Trick for “making” Buttermilk

Published February 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

I make a lot of salad dressing, mainly vinaigrettes, which are generally pretty simple.  However, one dressing I’ve never attempted to make before was ranch.  We always just buy it in the bottle – basically the only dressing I buy in the bottle.

Ranch Dressing

I’ve always been a vinaigrette girl, but when I first met Nate, he put ranch on everything.  And I seriously mean everything (pizza, sandwiches, cereal…okay, maybe not cereal).  Being that it was always around, it sorta turned me into a ranch person, too.  But just on my salad ;)  One thing I have a severe weakness for is anything with a chipotle ranch.  Any salad or sandwich with this on it, and it’s a sure bet that’s what I’m going to order.  So, in deciding to make homemade ranch dressing, I thought I better throw in a chipotle ranch, too.  Good thing I did, because it’s soooooooo good.  The ranch is great, too, but man, the chipotle ranch is the bomb!  Try it on tacos instead of Greek yogurt or sour cream.  It’ll knock your socks off!

Play around with the seasonings, and feel free to substitute fresh for dried or dried for fresh, depending on what you have in the fridge.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

TIP: Oh, and a quick tip about buttermilk.  I don’t usually have this in my fridge, and I hate buying some to only use a few tablespoons and let the rest go to waste.  So whether you’re in a pinch or you’re like me and hate buying the stuff, you can easily make your own at home with things you probably already have, milk and white vinegar.  To a liquid measuring cup, add one tablespoon vinegar, then fill with milk to the 1 cup line.  Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before using, and viola!  Buttermilk.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Servings: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk (see tip above if you don’t have any)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, except buttermilk.  Slowly add buttermilk to desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  This will last in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

To make chipotle ranch dressing, add 1/2-1 tsp (depending on preference) McCormick chipotle chili pepper.

Meatless Monday: Keep warm with this White Bean-and-Leek Soup

Published February 10, 2014 by jenmatteson

I accidentally bought a few leeks at the supermarket the other day.  Not like they jumped in my basket, onto the conveyor belt and into my bag unnoticed.  I was picking up ingredients for a new scallop recipe, and thought it called for leeks, when truly, it was fennel.  Oops!  So, seeing as though I had these perfectly good leeks in my fridge, begging to be used, I decided to help them meet their destiny with a soup.

Whit Bean-and-Leek Soup

While I was making this soup, I was thinking, this is very simple.  As in, there isn’t much to it, I sure hope it tastes good.  But don’t worry, it does.  The practically melted leeks with a hint of thyme have a perfect savory-sweet pairing.  The beans give it a needed heft, and the croutons add a nice crisp.

Whit Bean-and-Leek Soup

The recipe calls for fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but I made mine without (except for garnishing in the picture).  I also used pretzel bread to make the croutons, which tasted absolutely amazing.  This soup comes together in less than 30 minutes, so it’s an easy weeknight meal, and is perfect warming agent during this polar vortex hulla-ballew.

White Bean-and-Leek Soup

White Bean-and-Leek Soup

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 1-inch thick slices rustic bread, cut into 1-inch dice
1 tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 8.5-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth would be fine if you want to keep it vegan)
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a foil lined baking sheet, toss bread crumbs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until bread crumbs become golden brown and crisp.

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter.  Add leeks and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until leeks are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add beans and chicken broth, cover and simmer until leeks are very tender, about 10 minutes more.  Season to taste.  Remove from heat, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.  Serve and top with croutons.

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