Tag Archives: winter

Fall-toush Salad

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In honor of the sunny skies and almost balmy temperatures (50 degrees! Feels like heaven!), I’m going to keep things short today. After all, there’s outside time to be had, especially now that the sun is still shining at 7 p.m.

And before you besmirch my good name, I did not come up with this name. “Fall-toush” comes from Smitten Kitchen, whose love of good/bad puns is one reason why I’m convinced we’re culinary kindred spirits. Another reason? Her love of easy salads that take seasonal ingredients, cook them in a very unobtrusive way and add just a little something-something to make the whole thing really pop.

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This is based on fattoush, the Levantine salad made with toasted pita, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and mint and other herbs. It’s usually full of summery vegetables, but alas, those are nowhere to be found. So Deb took a winter approach to the salad, using Brussels sprouts and squash instead. I had leftover tahini, so I hacked together a quick dressing to bring the whole thing together.

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It’s a supremely simple meal — roasted vegetables with a little dressing — that is so much more than the sum of its humble parts: smoky and spicy and creamy and crunchy and full of flavor, hearty enough for the lingering cold but with a sneaky eye on swimsuit season. It’s so good that it almost makes me forget how tired I am of winter fare … #nomorerootvegetablesplease Continue reading

Slow Cooker Chili

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Generally, the Super Bowl is one of my favorite days of the year. It celebrates two of my favorite things — football and food — and makes it generally acceptable to eat heaps of melty cheese with plenty of meat on the side. Since my team never makes it, I generally concoct some sort of reason to root for one of the teams, adopt that team feverishly for 60 minutes of game time, then go to bed pleasantly full, a wee bit tipsy and not at all ready for a Monday at work.

This year, things are a bit different. I hate both teams (or more accurately, the coaches of both teams): my dislike of the smug gum-chomping Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is topped only by my complete abhorrence of all things Belichick. #Deflategate has only fanned the flames of my hostility (though it is my favorite news story of the past six months because I’m actually a child).

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So, rather than focusing on football, I’m all in on the food. There will be dips, there will be wings, there will be nachos and there will be dessert (though most of it will be from Seamless, since I’ll be traveling on Sunday and won’t get home until just before gametime). Oh sure, the game will be on in the background. But my attention will be firmly on the amount of junk I can stuff down my gullet.

But for those of you who are more interested in what’s happening on the field, there’s this slow cooker chili. If you think I’ve been a little slow cooker-obsessed lately, well … you’re right. I’ve already waxed poetic about the benefits of one, and let’s be real: chili is mad easy, whichever way you make it. Honestly, the biggest plus in using the slow cooker here is that it frees up your stove for other recipes.

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Don’t get me wrong though, this chili is bomb. It’s spicy, smoky, beefy, hearty — basically everything you want from chili. It would be excellent on hot dogs, fries, nachos or tater tots (totchos, anyone?), but is equally delicious in a bowl with a bit of cheese, some sour cream, a few jalapeños and an ice cold beer. Finally, something to look forward to on game day …

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Blizzard-Proof Beef Bourguignon

The blizzard-pocalypse is upon us! On the offhand chance you somehow missed it, a large swath of the Northeast is supposed to get 2-3 feet of snow tonight and tomorrow morning. Thankfully, people are reacting calmly. (Don’t worry, that alert only called the storm “crippling.” Oh and “life-threatening.” God I love weather forecasters.)

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And how is your trusty blogger handling the impending storm? By stocking up on all the essentials: wine, junk food, a new Netflix project and bowls of beef bourguignon.

Beef bourguignon is a traditional recipe from the Burgundy region of France. Beef braises in a mixture of red wine and beef stock, and bacon, butter-sauteed onions and mushrooms are also involved. It’s a bit of a project, but nothing too complicated, and besides, what else are you going to do when you’re snowed in?

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The reward for your efforts is a heavenly stew that warms you right up, even on the coldest, snowiest nights. The smell that emanates from the beef bourguignon during its oven time is unbearably delicious, better than any scented candle or diffuser. But the best part: the pearl onions that are sauteed in butter and then cooked in beef stock with a bit of thyme. It took all of my willpower not to devour them immediately after they were cooked, and I still picked them out of the stew at an alarming rate.

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A hearty, warming stew that guards against the cold, fills your home with fragrant aromas and pairs nicely with a glass bottle of wine? What more could a girl ask for during #Snowmaggedon2015? Continue reading

Winter Lentil Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing

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Greetings from 2015! Sorry for my abrupt disappearing act — my last week before leaving for India was a blur of holiday parties and Seamless dinners, which left zero time for cooking (or packing, which eventually proved problematic).

But I’m back! And before I get into my India adventures, let’s talk resolutions. This year, I decided to forego the “lose 10 pounds” mandate that, in previous years, has driven me to weird detox programs and complicated diets and crazy workout schedules at the gym.

Instead, I’m focusing on eating well. That means fruits and vegetables when they’re at their freshest and most delicious (ie. during their growing season). It means eating only the best-quality meat and fish — the wild-caught or pasture-raised or grass-fed good stuff — though it will also mean eating meat or fish less often because hello, limited budget. It also means when I’m craving a burger, going out and getting a really well-made burger, rather than denying myself for days and then binging on lame fast food.

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But mostly it means cooking at home, making meals that happen to be healthy and filling but are mostly just delicious. This winter lentil salad fits that bill. On its own, lentils + roasted butternut squash + chickpeas is a pretty solid foundation for success. But the tahini-ginger dressing really makes the whole thing, the creamy tahini balancing the sharp trio of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and fresh ginger. It’s reminiscent of one of my favorite cold-weather salads, this warm butternut squash number, but the lentils add a bit of bulk, much needed during these cold, cold times. Continue reading

Ribollita (Italian Bread Stew)

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The dirty secret no one ever talks about during the holidays is … that shizz is expensive. Between the gifts and the travel and the ungodly amounts of food (if you’re hosting) and the dozens of fancier-than-you’d-ever-drink-at-home wine bottles (if you’re “guest”-ing), it can all really add up. I end up spending so much for the special occasion nights that regular nights call for especially humble meals.

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But “humble” doesn’t necessarily equal “boring” or “lame.” There are a plethora of budget-friendly recipes that are both delicious and hearty enough to keep you full for a long time (essential when trying to keep costs down). Most cheap meals combine some form of starch with a vegetable protein — think rice and beans, or my favorite, kitcheree, a rice-and-lentil stew that was a staple in our house growing up, especially on cold, rainy nights.

Since my mom’s recipe is mostly a “throw some of this in and a little of that and maybe this, but I can’t remember” situation, I went with ribollita, an Italian bread stew, instead. Ribollita relies on stale bread and canned beans for its starch + protein combo, and gets additional bulk from frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes. I contemplated throwing in a wee bit of crumbled sausage, but this soup doesn’t need it — it’s a perfect reminder that vegetarian fare can be just as hearty and heart-warming as a meat-laden stew, often for a fraction of the cost.

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The one bit of luxury I added to the pot? A few pieces of Parmeggiano rind, which, to be fair, you can totally buy for cheap-ish and freeze forever. (Or ask the person at the cheese counter if they have any extras they’d like to “donate.”) The rind adds a bit of salty, nutty depth to the soup — it’s optional though, and the soup has plenty of flavor without it.

This recipe makes a gigantic batch of ribollita, which is perfect for freezing and re-heating throughout the holidays. And since you’re saving a few bucks on dinner, you can splurge a bit on holiday merriment.

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