Well, it’s December. Month of card-writing, gift-wrapping, cookie-baking and party-attending. Not to mention all those loose ends you’re probably trying to tie up at work before the end of the year. Are you completely overwhelmed yet? Ready to throw in the towel? Or still trucking along with some holiday spirit?
If you’re feeling a little bit under the gun, you’re not alone. I know the feeling. I know it well. I’ve had some dark moments where I’m pretty sure that my to-do list is longer than my driveway. And I’ve learned from experience – there’s only one way to get through the month with sanity intact, and that’s to make a priority of taking care of myself. Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that I stop mattering. I still deserve yummy, healthy, nutrient-rich meals and time to exercise. I still deserve to practice basic self-care, and dangit, I WILL practice basic self-care. The cards will get written, the gifts bought, and the house cleaned and decorated. But at the end of the month, I’ll still be smiling. Because that’s what I deserve. And so do you!
Here’s a good place to start: a light and delicious soup packed full of nutritious fresh vegetables. You can follow my recipe or adapt it to whatever happens to be knocking around your crisper drawer. The more veg, the merrier! So go to town on those beans and veggies… and I promise you’ll feel nourished, loved, and ready to take on those holiday-shopper crowds. Veggie power!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
~1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, washed and diced
2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 cup diced haricots verts
1 1/2 cup frozen yellow corn
1 can chickpeas or cannellini beans, drained
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- Heat olive oil until shimmering in a large saucepan or stock pot. Add onions and salt, and saute until translucent.
- Add carrots and celery and saute with onions until slightly softened.
- Add remaining vegetables, chickpeas and dried thyme, and saute until thyme is fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and broth and stir to combine (and deglaze pot, if necessary). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 25-30 minutes until flavors are melded. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Source: Covered In Flour
This is a food blog, not a life blog. I try very hard to keep this a positive space and to maintain some separation between my life and what I post here. Although I will use a personal story or anecdote to lead into a recipe sometimes, this is not a space where I air my private feelings. And while I don’t plan to start now, I will say that I’m aware of the idea that food bloggers’ lives are perfect and we all live in a storybook land of sun-filled kitchens and dreamy apple pie aromas. Not so. I’m a real person with feelings, and I hit rough patches like everyone else. I was recently on the receiving end of some very hurtful remarks and while I’m trying to bounce back, it’s not easy.
I’ve never been a “comfort food” person. In fact, if you were to ask me what my personal “comfort food” is… well, I don’t actually know. I’m not one to drown my sorrows in a bowl of mac ‘n cheese or a pint of ice cream. If I’m upset you’re far more likely to find me at the mall (holla back, DSW!). But I do know that in times of trouble, it’s especially important to take care of yourself. My Chickpea Soup for the Soul is a great way to start the healing process. It’s full of nutrients and fiber, with a great protein hit from the chickpeas. Because when we’re at our lowest points, that’s when we’re most in need of good nutrition. After all, we need to be strong so we can stand up for ourselves.
Food is just food. It’s not a hug or a friend. Fortunately for me, I have hugs and friends aplenty, and I’ll be fine in the end. In the meantime, I’m being kind to myself by giving myself chickpeas and leafy greens. Not because they’re comforting, but because they’re giving me fuel while I try to shake it off, smile, and get back to the business of being my best self.
Chickpea Soup for the Soul
4 stalks celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Better Than Boullion vegetable base*
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups chopped kale
salt and pepper to taste
- Prep celery and carrots: thinly slice celery, peel and dice carrots.
- Heat olive oil in large stockpot until shimmering. Add celery and carrots and shallots (if using), stir to coat, and saute briefly until veggies are beginning to soften. Sprinkle with thyme and stir well.
- Add broth, water and vegetable base. Simmer all together for 15 minutes.
- Add chickpeas and kale. Stir to wilt kale and simmer soup together for 15 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary (you probably won’t need salt because the vegetable base is salty, but you may want some pepper).
*If you don’t have Better Than Boullion vegetable base, you can substitute 5 cups of vegetable broth instead of 1 cup of vegetable broth, 4 cups of water and the vegetable base. I just did it this way because I only had 1 cup of vegetable broth in the house! But you can feel free to sub some or all of the water.
Source: Covered In Flour
April in D.C. has been acting really weird. One day it will be 75 degrees and hubby and I are eating salads and popsicles. Then the next day it’s rainy and 41. This is that time of year when D.C. can’t make up its mind as to whether it wants to be grey and gloomy and cold, or sunny and beautiful. We go through this every year, but this year it seems to be taking longer than usual. By Easter we should have sorted ourselves out, but in the meantime comfort food is still called for. And I know that it’s still cold up north where my family is… so this recipe is a gift for all of us. It’s warm and soothing, briny and salty from the Chickpeas of the Sea, and even includes a crispy golden crust. In short, Mock Tuna Noodle Casserole is the total package, perfectly designed for taking us out of the winter doldrums and into spring and summer.
Mock Tuna Noodle Casserole
6 ounces egg noodles (1/2 package)
1 cup Chickpeas of the Sea
1/2 cup Homemade Bread Crumbs (or substitute panko)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Boil egg noodles in salted water, until al dente. Remove noodles to a mixing bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.
- Add Chickpeas of the Sea to the noodles and fold together gently. Add pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen mixture as needed.
- Remove noodles and Chickpeas of the Sea to a casserole dish.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs in an even layer over the top of the casserole. Drizzle with olive oil to ensure browning.
- Bake at 350 for 3o-35 minutes, until top of casserole is golden brown and casserole is heated through.
Yield: Serves 4.
Source: Covered In Flour
Source: Covered in Flour.
Since I renewed my commitment to eating vegetarian, I’ve been eating many more varied dishes – trying new recipes, inventing, experimenting with flavor combinations – but I haven’t had that urge to “makeover” old favorites into vegetarian-friendly entrees, for the most part. There was a bit of experimenting with lentil-based “meat” loaf, which didn’t yield anything worth blogging about (yet) and I’ve been making the occasional Shepherdess Pie. But I’m simply not really interested in turning meat dishes into vegan or vegetarian dishes. I’m happy with the variety of foods I’m eating already, all unquestionably vegetarian.
So I was surprised even at myself when I suddenly had the urge to “makeover” tuna salad. I have never been a big fan of canned tuna. Sure, I liked raw tuna in sushi and tuna tartare, and even the occasional seared tuna (but I had to be in the mood) but the texture and fishiness of canned tuna salad never appealed to me. Still, one day on a run I had a Eureka! moment – that tends to happen on runs – and I decided to make a mock tuna salad that could serve as a sandwich filling, dip, spread, or mix-in for a casserole. And how to get that seafoody flavor without seafood? Well, obviously, sea vegetable! I’ve been adding sea vegetable to dishes when I want that briny ocean taste – why not use it to replicate tuna salad? So I blended up some chickpeas, nori, tamari (for more umami) and lemon juice (for tang) and… well, I liked it better than any tuna salad I’ve ever had. So on those blue moon occasions when I get a craving for a tuna melt, I now have a solution. And what a delicious solution it is…
Chickpeas of the Sea
This makes a rather large batch, but it’s great stuff to have on hand. It keeps very well (although hubby thinks it’s best on the first day). I love to make it on Sunday and keep it in the fridge for mock tuna sandwiches… that is, if I can stop dipping carrot sticks in it long enough to make the sandwich!
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons tamari
2-4 sheets nori
1/2 cup vegenaise (or mayonnaise for a non-vegan version)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
- Tear nori sheets into large pieces (start with 2 – you can always add more if you want more briny flavor). In food processor, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tamari and nori. Pulse until chickpeas are broken up into coarse crumbs and other ingredients are combined.
- Scoop chickpea mixture into a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Fold mixture together and remove to refrigerator. Allow to set for 30 minutes, until flavors meld.
Source: Covered In Flour
My market is overflowing with different varieties of squash lately. Yesterday, I went shopping for a boring old Butternut and came home with two Delicatas and a big, blue-green Hubbard instead. The Hubbard is destined to become soup (I just bought my copy of Anna Thomas’s Love Soup and squash soup is first on my list) but I bought the Delicatas just for play, and I knew I wanted to stuff one. With quinoa and chickpeas complementing the squash, this is a tasty and healthy dinner. If you add cheese to the top, as I have noted as an option below, you will find that the melted cheese will keep the quinoa moist underneath. If you skip the cheese, there will be a crispy quinoa crust over the top of the stuffing, which hubby really enjoyed.
This is a wonderful vegan (or vegetarian, if you add cheese) entree for fall, and I think it would be a spectacular addition to a vegetarian Thanksgiving table. Quinoa is a wonderful ancient American grain, with more protein than most other grains. It doesn’t hurt, either, that it’s incredibly pretty, cooking up as light and fluffy little spirals of goodness. Red quinoa is particularly gorgeous, and that’s what I used here – you can still see the red centers and the little white swirls.
See how pretty? Anyway, quinoa’s mild nutty flavor is a perfect foil for spices such as ancho chili powder and cumin, creamy beans, and sweet winter squash. Enjoy in good health!
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
1/2 cup quinoa
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Delicata (or other small squash)
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the quinoa according to the package directions. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add most of the chickpeas (reserving about 2 tablespoons), the chili powder, and the cumin, and stir to combine. Stir in salt to taste and drizzle olive oil over the top.
- Split the squash lengthwise, carefully, with the knife blade always pointing away from you. Clean the stringy inside (and reserve the seeds if desired; they’re great for roasting). Lay the squash, cut sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet or in a small roasting dish.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the cut sides of the squash and season with kosher salt. Add the reserved chickpeas to the bottom of the squash wells – about 1 tablespoon each. (If desired, sprinkle a little of the grated cheddar in as well – but not all of it.)
- Spoon the quinoa stuffing over the chickpeas, until it piles up a little. Drizzle olive oil over the top for moistness. If desired, sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the stuffing. (I skipped this and made these vegan, but I do think they would be delicious with a cheesy crust.)
- Bake 1 hour, drizzling a little extra olive oil over as needed (only if you skipped the cheese). Serve with green salad for a great, autumnal, vegetarian meal.
Source: Covered In Flour, inspired by Vegetarian Times
Curry is one of my favorite slap-together dinners. It’s about the easiest thing you can think of – bang your protein or vegetables in a pot, brown them a little (if necessary – sometimes you don’t even need to do that!), then toss in some crushed tomatoes and some spices and you’re there. On top of the health benefits of curry, it’s just so gosh darned tasty and easy – this dish is as good as it gets on a weeknight! What I call “Chick ‘n Chick Curry” is one of my favorites – Chick #1 is chicken, and Chick #2 is chickpeas – lots of yummy protein, and when you hit it with some tamarind and a lovely mix of Indian spices, it’s heady and warm and sweet and delicious. Enjoy!
Chick ‘n Chick Curry
1 package skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons natural tamarind sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- In a medium cast-iron pot or French oven, heat some canola or safflower oil over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and drop into the oil. Brown on two sides.
- Add chickpeas, tamarind sauce, and spices. Stir to combine. Stir in crushed tomatoes and make sure everything incorporates.
- Put lid on the French oven, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes.
- Serve over basmati rice. If you have some fresh cilantro, it would be wonderful to dice and add as a garnish.
Wine pairing: Indian foods go very well with Riesling wines. I prefer a dry Riesling, such as a Kabinett from Germany or a dry Finger Lakes bottling. If you like a sweet Riesling, which would also be nice, try a German Spatlese or Auslese. There are also some nice off-dry Rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes.
Source: Inspired by Williams-Sonoma Tamarind Chicken Curry with Vegetables