Simple Sisters

What to Cook and How to Cook It!

Friday, December 16, 2011

simple salad

Composed salads -- think of a Cobb: stripes of egg, bacon, lettuce, bleu cheese -- sound fancy but they're actually so simple to put together. We tried a recipe for a Spanish salad recently and I was inspired by my lack of counter space to make one platter we could serve from at the table rather than lay out all the plates. The unexpected upside is that going down the line added another level of choices to dinner for the toddler! At our house, one taste is the rule, so for each item, he chose if he wanted just one bite or several helpings. Guess who likes Manchego cheese and olives!

Salads are also a great way to clean out the fridge when you have just a few slices of mango left. Make it colorful and use what you've got!

Green Beans/Peas
Artichoke hearts
Asparagus spears
Tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried)
Peppers (fresh or roasted)
Roasted Beets
Apples, or Pears, chopped
Orange segments
Onion: raw (grated or sliced), caramelized, or spring onions
Beans: Chickpeas, Black beans, Cannellini beans, Lentils
Meat: Ham, Chicken, Turkey, Bacon, Tuna,
Cheese (cubed, crumbled, or shredded)
Hard-boiled eggs (sliced or chopped)
Nuts and Seeds (try pumpkin seeds!)
Raisins, Cranberries, or chopped prunes
Fresh chopped herbs

Visit the classics for inspiration:

Bon appetit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

i have no picture to share but the soup was delicious

Cold weather has me inspired to cook soup...I did lentil soup recently and thought I'd share the recipe bc it was so easy (and cheap!). This might be a double-batch, but we all eat it (even the baby wolfed it down!) so it went quickly around here.

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups onion, chopped (about 2 big onions)
2 cups carrots, chopped (about 8 medium carrots)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (14.5oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound lentils (16oz bag/about 2 1/4 cups uncooked) ~ rinsed & drained
7- 8 cups stock (about 2 quarts)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme

Heat oil in large pot. Add onion and carrot and saute 10-15 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils, stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1.5-2 hours. Lid off the pot, stir it up, remove four cups (mostly solids), puree in a blender, and add back to the pot. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook another hour or so, simmering uncovered. If too thick (mine wasn't), you could thin it with 1/4 cup broth at a time.

I used the plain, cheap lentils for this. Doing another version with French lentils soon!

I like blue cheese crumbled or Parmesan shaved on top. Serve it with toast points for children to dip/gnaw.

Send some good cold-weather recipes our way!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

greens and beans

This recipe is based on one that originally appeared in Gourmet magazine in April of 2007. It is incredibly simple and absolutely delicious. Plus, with the exception of one ingredient, you can pretty much make it from ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry.

Caramelizing the onions gives this recipe an amazing depth of flavor. Don't rush that step.

Tuscan Greens and Beans
1/4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 pound kale (washed, patted dry)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 pound dried short pasta (like penne)
Optional accompaniments: toasted bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a heavy skillet (I use cast iron) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, stirring for one minute. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and increase heat to medium, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Cut out and discard stems and center ribs from kale. Chop into large pieces. Working in two batches, cook kale in boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. Remove kale from pot with a slotted spoon (draining water) and place in the pot with the caramelized onions. Stir kale into onions. Add beans.

Add pasta to kale cooking liquid and cook according to directions on package. Reserve one cup of the pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to kale mixture and stir. Continue to cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes, adding pasta water if the dish becomes dry.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Top with toasted breadcrumbs and/or Parmesan cheese, if desired.

- Vegetarian
- Use brown rice pasta to make it gluten-free

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

what's for dinner?

Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

Fall is here and we are re-energized to cook and ready to make some favorites! We are going to make an effort to post more regularly, and the theme for the next few posts will be what's on our own tables for dinner each night.

Tonight? Well, it looks like rain and the temperature has finally dipped below 70, so potato soup seems just right.

Creamy Potato Soup
10-12 cups potatoes (We like russet. 2.5-3lbs is about right.)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)

Prepare potatoes (Peel, chop, put in a pot and cover with water by at least 1". Boil until done but not overcooked, probably between 10-15 minutes depending on your chop). Drain in colander.

In large soup pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat and saute onion until soft (about 5 minutes).

Add all spices and herbs and cook for 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth and heat through. Add potatoes.

Slowly add half-and-half (1/2 cup at a time), stirring to incorporate. Cook over low (LOW!) heat for approximately 30 minutes.

Add sour cream and mustard. Continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes.

Garnish with cheese & bacon.

- It is important to cook this soup on low once the half-and-half has been added so that it does not separate.
- When reheating, do not heat over 140 degrees.
- This recipe is gluten-free.
- To make this recipe dairy-free, substitute almond milk for half and half. Top with soy cheese (or goat cheese if you can have goat but not cow dairy).
- To keep it vegetarian, top with toasted croutons instead of bacon.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Yummy, Oniony Goodness

Caramelized onions are so delicious and versatile. You can make French Onion Soup (add beef or vegetable broth, then top with a cheesy crouton), add them to pizza, pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta, use in frittatas or soups -- the possibilities are endless. They are also very simple to make:

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil (you could use just olive oil)
1 1/2 pounds yellow onions (about 3 medium)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of sugar (this should be a "chef's pinch" - about 1 tsp)

Place a metal (NOT non-stick) pan on the stove over moderately low heat. Add butter and oil and allow butter to melt.

Slice onions in half, and then thinly slice cross-wise. Add onions, salt, and pepper to oil and stir to coat. Cover and cook 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft.

(We mean it when we say "stir occasionally" -- you only need to disturb them about every 5-6 minutes.)

Uncover, add sugar, and continue to cook 15-18 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep, golden brown.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

don't even try to tell us you don't like blueberries

The NY Times has a great article on the 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating.

1. Beets
2. Cabbage
3. Swiss chard
4. Cinnamon
5. Pomegranate juice
6. Dried plums
7. Pumpkin seeds
8. Sardines
9. Turmeric
10. Frozen blueberries
11. Canned pumpkin

Which one(s) would you like us to post recipes and uses for? Vote now in comments!

eat your spanish

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Throw it in a bag, then throw it in the oven!

We do apologize for our lengthy absence. And our vegetarian readers, please do bear with us, since our return recipe is for carnivores. It's just too easy and delicious not to share.

This cooking method: marinating, then baking or roasting in the oven, is an easy way to include flavor.

The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's Feast.

St. Tropez Chicken

1 large chicken, but into 10 pieces*
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup rose (or white) wine
2 cloves garlic, bruised
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence**

* We used boneless, skinless chicken breasts; further notes below.
** Nigella recommends some blend including - give or take - thyme, marjoram, rosemary, savory, fennel seeds, and lavender flowers.

Put the chicken pieces in a large plastic freezer bag or shallow dish. Squeeze the lemon juice into a glass measuring cup, and stir in the oil, honey, and wine to dissolve the honey. Pour this mixture into the bag or dish of chicken and chuck in the bruised garlic cloves and the herbs.

Seal the bag or cover the dish with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight or for up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 325degrees. Put the chicken in a roasting pan with its marinade, skin side up, and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for two hours, then remove the foil fro the pan and turn up the oven to 425. Cook for another 15-25 minutes or until the skin of the chicken is bronzed. Keep an eye on it, as the honey in the marinade will make it burn quickly.

Remove the chicken to a warmed plate, and pour or spoon off excess fat from the cooking liquid. Put the pan on the stove top, add 1/2 cup water and deglaze the pan juices to make your glossy, golden-brown sauce.

* For the chicken breasts:
Per Nigella, reduce 1/2 the lemon and 1/4 cup wine, but keep everything else the same. Cook at 400degrees (uncovered) 15-20 minutes or until done (usually depends on the thickness of your chicken breasts).

(I did not deglaze the pan, since the chicken had soaked up all the juices.)