Monday, January 31, 2011

Lentil Pilaf and Things I Learned: 1/31/11

Lentils are funny. They’re like a cross between beans, peas and pebbles and yet, they’re tasty.

(Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s “So Easy”)

1 cup green lentils
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 package baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Add lentils and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. (The lentils will be tender, but not mushy). Drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

3. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until tender (about 3 minutes).

4. Add the spinach to the skillet. Wilt.

5. Add tomatoes, lentils and parsley to the skillet. Cook, stirring until everything is well combined and warm.

6. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve.  


And now for the things I learned this week since the last time I posted:

-Bactrian camels eat 2 ½ gallons of snow a day.

-Woodcocks are also called timberdoodles.

-Humans tend to choose mates whose immune systems are different than their own.

-I learned why squatting during labor is “easier,” but, since this is a food blog, I’ll spare you the explanation.

-This is hard—not the learning something new everyday part, but learning something shareable everyday.

-There’s a bird called the “splendid fairy-wren.” It’s related to the “superb fairy-wren” and the “lovely fairy-wren.”

-The use of the word “mug” for face comes from the tradition of making beer mugs look like grimacing faces (in 18th century England).

-The Norwegian lundehund (a dog just recognized by the AKC) has such a flexible neck that it can bend backwards to touch its nose to its back.

-The great bustard is the heaviest flying bird in the world. (Most males weigh between 22 and 35 pounds.)

Great bustard

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Things I Learned: 1/22/11

-1 inch of water equals 10 inches of snow, more or less…

-The Burmese snub-nosed monkey sneezes when it rains (presumably because it gets water in its upturned nostrils).

-In 500 B.C. the Celts made beer that was more intoxicating than our current brews—and, according to some sources, “smelled like a billy goat.”

-Some amoebas are farmers.

-Some people are really good tweeters. My friend Amy is one of them.

-When they feel threatened, some species of tarantula rapidly flick their legs against their backs, launching a fine mist of tiny barbed hairs towards their attackers.

-The “gin” in cotton gin is short for “engine.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Squash and Arugula Not-a-Pizza

This is yummy yummy yummy yummy!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Giada, and inspired by Bobby Flay’s “Grill It!”)

gluten-free pizza dough
1 acorn squash (about 1 lb.), halved, seeded and sliced into half-moon-shaped slivers
1 tbsp olive oil
zest of one orange
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 cup arugula
lemon juice
½ cup walnut halves
2 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Combine squash and olive oil in a bowl and toss to coat the squash with the olive oil.

3. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until it’s tender and golden, about 25 minutes.

4. While the squash cooks, combine the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, until reduces at least a little bit. Set aside.

5. Roll out the pizza dough and sprinkle with the mozzarella and feta.

6. Place the cheese-covered pizza dough in the oven. Bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, combine the walnuts and sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring, until the sugar becomes gooey. Continue stirring until the walnuts are completely covered in the gooey sugar. Remove from heat.

8. When the squash is done (and cool enough to handle), remove the skin.

9. Combine the squash and the orange glaze in a bowl. Toss to smother the squash in citrusy yumminess.

10. When the cheese-covered pizza dough is done, top it with the glazed squash, then the arugula. Sprinkle with a few splashes of lemon juice and top with the candied walnuts.

11. Serve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Snowcap Cookies

I could tell you all about the origin of this recipe. I could rant about poorly written recipes and excessively anal instructions. I could bore you with all the ways I tweaked the original recipe (butchered it beyond recognition, actually, but in a good way). Or I could just give you the freaking recipe.


½ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tbsp skim milk
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
½ tsp peppermint extract
confectioner’s sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Fill a small bowl with confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.

4. Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. (Don’t fret about those little lumps that don’t sift through. Dump ‘em in the bowl anyway.) Stir to combine.

5. Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

6. Add the egg, milk, semi-sweet chocolate and peppermint extract to the butter-sugar combo and beat until thoroughly combined.

7. While the mixer mixes (at a medium-low speed), gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. The batter will be ridiculously thick. Your mixer can do it. Your wrist, however, may not be able to do it so I would advise against attempting this recipe without a stand mixer.

8. Roll the dough into balls, roll the balls in the confectioner’s sugar and place the snowy balls on the cookie sheets.

9. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are cracked. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things I Learned: 1/15/11

Last week, I came across a piece by Giles Turnbull, a British writer who set out to test the theory that we learn something new everyday by recording the one thing he learned everyday for all of 2010. His new knowledge includes vocabulary (1/8/10: Bundles of nerves inside the body are called fascicles), history (5/26/10: The Greek philosopher Chrysippus is said to have died laughing while watching a donkey eating figs), personal experience (9/10/10: You can use the word “alienate” to mean “turn into an alien”—if you’re 8) and opinion (2/19/10: Mission Impossible III is an appalling pile of shit.) He can’t guarantee that all 365 factoids are true of course—“I read them in newspapers and on the internet, after all.”

I’m going to try something similar. But if I write down one thing a day with the intent of compiling it all at the end of the year, I’ll lose interest quickly. Instead, I’ll do a weekly post starting now:

-Carrots are naturally purple. The Dutch created orange carrots in the 17th century.

-Horseradish is a root vegetable.

-A banana is an herb.

-Meraki is a Greek word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put "something of yourself" into what you're doing.

-Not only is it wrong to double space after a period (I learned that a few years ago), but it’s been wrong to double space after a period since the early 20th century.

-The oriental hornet gets some of its energy from its solar-powered exoskeleton. It gets the rest of its energy from food, like most animals.

-Canada is the world’s largest export producer of lentils, which have the third highest level of protein of any plant-based food (only hemp and soybeans have more).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meg’s Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Chips

Once again we’re making food that’s ugly, but delicious.

Our friend Meg gave us this recipe. It’s not her recipe—it’s adapted from—but we like to give credit to people who share awesome recipes with us. (Hint, hint…you too could have your name on Healthy-ish!)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups skim milk
Apple chips (click here for the recipe)

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

2. When the olive oil gets shimmery, add the butternut squash and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash turns golden (7-8 minutes or so).

3. Turn the heat down to low and add the butter, maple syrup and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. The squash and onions will take on a spotty caramel hue.

4. Add the cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute).

5. Add the chicken broth and increase the temperature to medium-high.

6. When the soup starts to simmer, turn the heat down to low and partially cover the pot. Cook until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes.

7. Remove pot from heat and blend until smooth.

8. Add milk and blend until it’s a uniform (albeit ugly) color.

9. Serve topped with apple chips. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken Fried Rice

We made this up (with a teeny bit of inspiration from Cooking Light). It was yummy so we’d like to make it again. To do that, we’d need to have some idea of what went into it. And so, we’re posting it here—for us…and for you. (We’re selfish sharers.)

1 lb (more or less) Chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 generous handful of snow peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (divided)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
3 cups leftover cooked brown rice
1 tbsp olive oil

*Note: All amounts are guesstimates.

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add chicken to the skillet and sauté until fully cooked and lightly browned (5-7 minutes). Remove and set aside.

3. Add the red bell pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender (2-3 minutes). Remove and plop on a plate with the chicken.

4. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic and half of the ginger. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

5. Dump leftover rice into the skillet and stir to mix in the garlic and ginger. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring only once or twice.

7. While the rice cooks, combine ketchup, soy sauce, honey and the second half of the ginger in a medium bowl. Whisk.

8. Remove the rice from the skillet and set aside.

9. Add the pineapple to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender and juicy.

10. Add the snow peas to the pineapple in the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes.

11. Dump the chicken, red peppers and rice back in the skillet. Stir.

12. Add the sauce. Stir until combined.

13. Remove from heat and serve.