Kale and White Bean Soup

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I went to NH to visit my parents and I’m afraid to say that all this California sunshine has softened me. My parents talked about how it has been warming up; I piled on layers, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat in front of the fireplace every evening.

My mom made this soup one night, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to eat a big mug of it sitting on the brick hearth, the fire roaring.

Like with a lot of soups, the flavors get stronger over time. I reheated it for lunch the next day and it was even better!

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds kale leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped (about 4)
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 15oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon assorted dried herbs (tarragon, parsley, etc.)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic. Cook around 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly softened.
  3. Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add white beans, 4 cups of vegetable broth, thyme, and the bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the kale and dried spices. Stir in the white wine vinegar and sherry. If the soup is too thick, add more broth, if desired.
  7. Simmer for five more minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

Cinnamon Granola

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We ran out of granola and I decided to try out something new. This is a slight twist on my maple granola recipe. The added spices (cinnamon! nutmeg! ginger! cardamon!) give it a little something extra.

Ingredients

  • 2  cups  old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • ½  cup  sliced almonds
  • ½  cup  dried cranberries (or a different dried fruit, or a mix)
  • ¼  cup  unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼  cup  pure maple syrup (or agave nectar, or honey)
  • 1  tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit. Stir until everything is well coated in the maple syrup.
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  2. Spread the granola out evenly onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then toss the granola so it cooks evenly. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
  3. Stir in the dried fruit.
  4. Let the granola cool completely before storing it.
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Pumpkin, Kale, Black Bean, and Gnocchi Stew

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I live in sunny southern California now, so winter isn’t quite like last year when I lived in central New Hampshire (too many -15° mornings for me!). When eating a bowl of this, I couldn’t help but think this would be the perfect meal for a snow day. It’s thick–the stew is somewhere in between a soup and a curry–and the smell of simmering pumpkin and cinnamon would be great after a trek in the snow.

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 package (approximately 17.6 oz) gnocchi
  • 2 15oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cups kale, ripped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

A couple notes: I normally try to make my meals low-sodium, but this stew really does taste better with salt. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, reduce the cayenne and chili powder to taste.

Directions

  1. In a large pot, stir together the pumpkin and milk. Cook until it reaches a boil.
  2. Add the gnocchi, black beans, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne, then return to a boil.IMG_0269
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.
  4. Add the kale and simmer until the kale is slightly wilted.
  5. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Sweet Potato, Red Onion, and Ricotta Panini

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As you can probably tell by all the sweet potato recipes I’ve made lately, I love sweet potatoes. In fact, I love them so much that I like to keep a couple of cooked ones in the refrigerator. If you already have a baked sweet potato, this sandwich makes for a really quick lunch.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2-3 thick slices of baked sweet potato
  • a few slices of red onion
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • pesto (optional)
  • a few slices of butter

Directions

To make this sandwich, I used a George Foreman grill, which is perfect for panini making: both sides of the sandwich get perfectly crisp, the inside gets melty, and it takes no time at all. Oh, and you get those great great ridges pressed into the bread, which magically seem to make it taste even better. 

If you don’t have a grill, though, don’t fear! You can grill your sandwich in a saucepan the good, old fashioned way. These directions are for the saucepan method.

  1. Spread butter on one side of your slices of bread. Place the first slice in the saucepan, with the butter side down. Put all the fixings inside the sandwich, then place the second slice of bread on top with the butter side up.
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  2. Place a lid over the saucepan and let it cook for a minute or two. The lid helps the cheese get all melty and delicious.
  3. Check to see if the bottom is lightly brown. If it is, flip the sandwich over and cook on the other side, putting the lid back over the saucepan.

Margherita & Artichoke Panini

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Ingredients

  • 2 slices bread
  • 2-3 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 2 artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 2-3 slices tomato
  • 2-3 large basil leaves
  • pesto (optional)
  • few slices of butter

Directions

To make this sandwich, I used a George Foreman grill, which is perfect for panini making: both sides of the sandwich get perfectly crisp, the cheese gets melty, and it takes no time at all. Oh, and you get those great great ridges pressed into the bread, which magically seem to make it taste even better. 

If you don’t have a grill, though, don’t fear! You can grill your sandwich in a saucepan the good, old fashioned way. These directions are for the saucepan method.

  1. Spread butter on one side of your slices of bread. Place the first slice in the saucepan, with the butter side down. Put all the fixings inside the sandwich, then place the second slice of bread on top with the butter side up.
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  2. Place a lid over the saucepan and let it cook for a minute or two. The lid helps the cheese get all melty and delicious.
  3. Check to see if the bottom is lightly brown. If it is, flip the sandwich over and cook on the other side, putting the lid back over the saucepan.

Pita Pizza

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I was craving pizza, but wanted it right now. I didn’t feel like spending the time making and rolling out dough. I had some pita bread and 15 minutes later, I was eating pizza!

Ingredients

Makes 1 pita-sized pizza

  • 1 slice of pita bread
  • 1/4 marinara
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • a few scoops of ricotta cheese
  • 5 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

Customize away! These are fabulous because everyone gets to make and assemble their own pizza, so you can make it how you like it. Prefer pesto to marinara? Go right ahead! Craving some olives or broccoli or black beans? Add ‘em!

Directions

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350°F

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  1. Spread the marinara sauce evenly over the pita bread.
  2. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top, followed by small spoonfuls of ricotta. Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano.
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  3. Bake in the oven or toaster oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the pita is just barely starting to crisp.
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Maple Granola

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David loves to eat a bowl of granola with fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Store bought granola is pretty expensive, and often comes loaded with sugar. I like to make a big batch by doubling the recipe. I’m storing this batch in former pickle jars!

Ingredients

Makes ~3 1/2 cups

  • 2  cups  old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2  cup  sliced almonds
  • 1/2  cup  dried cranberries (or a different dried fruit, or a mix)
  • 1/4  cup  unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4  cup  pure maple syrup (or agave nectar, or honey)
  • 1  tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/8  cup  shelled sunflower seeds (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit. Stir until everything is well coated in the maple syrup.
  2. Spread the granola out evenly onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then toss the granola so it cooks evenly. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
  3. Stir in the dried fruit.
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  4. Let the granola cool completely before storing it.
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Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwich

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Inspired by the super easy and fast Greek Yogurt Chickpea Salad Sandwich I made recently, along with a recipe I saw on The Simple Veganista, I made this for lunch.

Ingredients

Makes 2 pita sandwiches

  • 1 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 tablespoons plain greek yogurt (use hummus to make vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • black pepper, to taste
  • few leaves of lettuce, to serve
  • one piece of pita bread, cut in half

I think that the best thing about this recipe (aside from how fast you can throw it together) is how flexible it is: replace the cranberries with another dried fruit (raisins? apricots?); throw in some red onion or bell pepper; add shredded carrots, apple slices, nuts, feta cheese, etc.

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (chickpeas, green onions, cranberries, greek yogurt, onion powder, cayenne, curry powder, pepper). Stir until well combined.
  2. If you’d prefer it as a salad (gluten free!), go ahead and eat it as is. I divided it in half, scooped the salad into two pita halves, and served with lettuce.
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Pumpkin & Mushroom Risotto

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I am going to be completely honest with you: I hate making risotto. A couple of times a year, I convince myself that it can’t be that bad, that I can do plenty of other things while standing and stirring a pot for the better part of an hour, that it’s not hard work, it’s just time consuming…. And then I make risotto, and I get tired of standing and stirring and watching a pot. It tastes delicious, but I promise I won’t make risotto again.

Well, if you don’t mind standing in front of your stove and stirring for awhile, and want to listen to music, or take Buzzfeed quizzes that will tell you which Muppets character you are or what state you should really live in, or watch some Netflix… this dish is for you!

This risotto gets its creaminess from pumpkin, not butter or cheese. It is warm and hearty, and perfect for winter.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 tablespoon fresh, diced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh, diced)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini, but white would also be good!)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I always buy low-sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parmesan or crumbled goat cheese, to serve (omit for vegan option)

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, toss the oil in the onion until well coated. Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the spices (thyme, rosemary, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin), followed by the pumpkin, mushrooms, and rice. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to low/medium low.
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  3. Add one cup of the vegetable broth. Now the stirring starts! Stir until the rice absorbs the liquid. When it’s absorbed, add another cup of broth. Stir continuously, then add more broth, repeating this process until you’ve used all 4 cups of broth and the risotto has thickened. This will take awhile.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.
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Rice Pudding (Swedish Risgrynsgröt)

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Risgrynsgröt is a Swedish rice pudding that is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. After the rice pudding is made, an almond, called a mandel*, is placed in the pot. Whoever gets the mandel is either the next to be married, or guaranteed to have a year of good luck, depending on who in my family you ask.

When my sister and I were little kids, every Christmas Eve the mandel would magically split in half and we would both end up with it in our bowls. We were both lucky!

Rice pudding, I have realized, is so warm and creamy and comforting it deserves to be eaten more frequently than once a year. Also, it’s so easy to make. So, so easy. And here’s the absolute best part about rice pudding: eating leftovers for breakfast. In the morning, it magically transforms from “rice pudding” to “rice porridge” so you can eat it without a second thought.

*For 29 years I have believed that “mandel” meant treasure/prize/luck in Swedish. I just Googled it and, nope, it means almond.

 Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 4 cups milk (I used skim, but whole is best!)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Toppings

On Christmas Eve, we always eat risgrynsgröt with cinnamon/sugar and nutmeg sprinkled on top. But feel free to go all out!

Some ideas: fresh fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar…

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain the rice.
  2. In a medium pot, bring the rice, milk, and all the sugar to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for around 25 minutes, until the rice is soft and the pudding has thickened. While it simmers, be sure to stir occasionally.
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  4. Remove from the stove and stir in the vanilla.
  5. I like to eat my risgrynsgröt warm, but you can serve it warm or cold. Serve with toppings of your choice!