Monday, January 17, 2011

Max Klinger's Lebanese Love Stew

First, a few words about the name of this soup... The "Lebanese" part is because the soup this was originally supposed to be is a traditional Lebanese recipe. The "Max Klinger" part is because this soup is a complete screw-up. (If you don't know who Max Klinger is, shame on you.) I started cooking before I checked the cabinets for the recipe ingredients, and almost immediately I had to punt. I won't bore you with the numerous substitutions I made, or the things I added simply on a whim, but the end result is a soup so far removed from the recipe it was supposed to be that it's something entirely new. I have no idea if anything about this soup is still Lebanese, but it turned out pretty darn good!

Yield: 6-8 servings
Start to finish: 30 minutes

Max Klinger's Lebanese Love Stew
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 T salt
1 C lentils (dry)
8 C water or vegetable broth (important: if you use broth, make sure it's low sodium or reduce/eliminate the salt above)
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
4 C baby spinach
1 T coriander
1 t cinnamon
salt to taste (be sure to taste!)
1/4 C lemon juice, or 1 lemon, sliced

1. In a stock pot, saute the leeks and garlic in the olive oil until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and stir well.
2. Add the lentils and saute for 1 minute.
3. Add water/broth, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes until lentils are softened.
4. Stir in spinach, coriander, and cinnamon, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. Add a splash of lemon juice to each bowl before serving (squeeze 1 slice of lemon into each bowl, or stir in about 1/2 t bottled juice).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not-So-Chunky Monkey Oatmeal

It's freezing here. Actually, it's much worse than that: We're lucky if we see freezing as our high for the day. To warm me up, I've been eating a lot of oatmeal for breakfast lately. I know oatmeal isn't all that exciting, and it's not all that sexy (although it makes a really nice facial), but it is hearty and healthy. The one thing it very often isn't is tasty. To avoid the dreaded library paste glop, I recommend either the ironically sinful Amish treat of baked oatmeal or one of these tasty variations. This is a quick breakfast, but to save even more time I usually assemble all the dry ingredients in the bowl the night before.

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Note 1: This symbol (*) means the amount is approximate. I just lightly cover the surface of the oatmeal with these ingredients.
Note 2: Don't omit the cinnamon. Everything is better with cinnamon.
Note 3: The peanut butter gives a nice shot of protein. You can add a little calcium, too, by sprinkling some powdered milk over the oatmeal.

Not-So-Chunky Monkey Oatmeal
1/2 C rolled oats, preferably organic, not the quick kind
1 t* ground flax seed
1/2 t* cinnamon
1 small banana
1-3 t peanut butter (amount depending on personal taste, and creamy is always best)
1 C water

1. Measure oats into a microwave-safe bowl.
2. Lightly cover the surface of the oats with ground flax seed and cinnamon, or measure them if you're feeling confident about those amounts.
3. Slice the banana into the oats and top with a dollop of peanut butter.
4. Add water.
5. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Continue microwaving for 30 seconds at a time, then stirring, until oatmeal reaches desired consistency. I like mine pretty thick, and it usually takes me about 2 minutes.
6. Stir the oatmeal well. The banana should fall apart and add a luscious creaminess, and the peanut butter will be melty and gooey, in the best possible way.

PB&A Oatmeal
Follow the directions above, except substitute half an apple, diced, for the banana and add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. I usually use Granny Smith, but any good, crisp apple works.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolution Soup

Okay, we've had our fun over the holidays. We've played with all our new toys, behaved mildly inappropriately at some public gathering, and we've realized that our jeans are a little more snug than they were before Thanksgiving. Now it's time to stow the Christmas decorations in the garage and get back to real life. To that end, I give you tonight's invention: Resolution Soup. It's a variation on one of my favorite quick soups, based on a combination of what was in the fridge and what would be super healthy. Kale's a nutritional powerhouse, broccoli fights cancer, beans are full of fiber, garlic lowers your cholesterol, and Tofurkey... Well, Tofurkey is a little sketchy, but I wanted something to take the place of the turkey kielbasa I usually use. I didn't measure as I cooked, so I'm guesstimating at these amounts, but my result was so yummy I don't think you could go far wrong.

Note: This soup is vegan, but you can easily carnivorize it without adversely affecting the healthiness. Just use chicken broth and turkey sausage in place of my veg ingredients.

Servings: 6-8
Start to finish: 30 minutes

Resolution Soup
1/2 large onion (or 1 smallish onion), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 package Tofurkey Italian-style sausage, sliced
4 C vegetable broth
1 can cannelini beans, with liquid
4 C kale, chopped roughly (I used about 6 handsful - roughly half a bunch of kale)
2 C broccoli (again, a gross approximation of what I had left over)
2 t Italian seasoning
dash red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste (but I doubt you'll need either)

1. In a stock pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is slightly softened.
2. Add sausage and saute for about 3 minutes or until sausage is slightly browned if using meat sausage, stirring frequently.
3. Add all the other ingredients to the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until broccoli and kale are softened but not mushy.
4. Serve with good crusty bread or on its own.