Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘make ahead’

I love a tasty wheat berry salad any time of year.  Wheat berries are so healthy (filled with fiber, protein and iron) and they have a wonderful chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor.  This is my favorite recipe that I’ve tried so far – it’s salty, sweet, nutty and chewy.  Since this recipe yields about 3 cups, I sometimes double it since it’s great leftover for lunch or dinner (or bites in between).  It’s best served warm or at room temperature.   Note: I make a vinaigrette with my leftover basil dressing — I just add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.

Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts and Basil

Recipe from the blog Whipped.

Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts & Basil
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 cup soft wheat berries, rinsed
3 cups water
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
1 cup loosely packed basil plus 5 additional large leaves chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3  cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Chewy but firm. Drain and season to taste with more salt.

To make the dressing, put olive oil and 1 cup clean, loosely packed basil leaves in a blender with a pinch of salt. Drizzle desired amount over wheat berries and stir to coat.  You can also substitute a store bought pesto mixed with extra olive oil to make it runny enough to use as a dressing.

Toast pine nuts in a pan or oven (I use a toaster oven) until light brown.  Toss pine nuts, crumbled feta and ribbons of basil into the salad.

HINT: Stack basil leaves on top of each other.  Roll them up the long way to create a “cigarette” shape.  Slice it very thin (1/8 inch).  You will have nice ribbons of basil for garnish or salads.

 

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Here is a yummy, nutritious mini muffin that’s great for kids — serve with breakfast or as a snack.  The only change I made was to add some shredded zucchini to the original recipe.  Any extra muffins can be frozen to be gobbled up later.

Toddler Muffins

Recipe slightly adapted from one I discovered on  Erika Follanbee’s photography blog and originally posted on Allrecipes.com.

 

Toddler Muffins

Makes 24-30 mini muffins

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large bananas, mashed
1 (4.5 ounce) jar baby food squash
2 carrots, grated

1 large zucchini, grated

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 24 mini muffin cups.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the mashed bananas, squash, carrots, zucchini and eggs. Stir in the flour, oat bran, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until just combined. Spoon the batter equally into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake about 18 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5  minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen them up, before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy immediately, or they freeze beautifully!
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I had been in search of the perfect Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe for a while, so was so excited when my mother-in-law Patsy  told me about this one that she found.  It’s straightforward but is a little time consuming, so I would call this a “weekend” or “special occasion” soup – not one I’d whip up all the time during the week.  It’s a hit with kids and always fun for people to add their own toppings.  This is the perfect soup to keep you warm during the cold winter months.  Enjoy!

Tortilla Soup

Recipe slightly adapted from the one on food site Chow.com, which was adapted from the Neiman Marcus Cookbook.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Total cooking time: 2 hours

Serves: 8-12 people

“There are a lot of ingredients in this soup, but each one plays a part in its big flavor. To make it, first soften vegetables including onion, carrot, and bell pepper in a pot, then add dry spices to bring out their flavors. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and tortillas, then let the mixture simmer until everything melds and the tortillas disintegrate to make a thick and hearty soup. Finally, throw in shredded chicken and garnish with fried tortilla strips, or if you want to skip frying the strips, just use regular crushed-up tortilla chips.

For a thicker soup, use 10 corn tortillas rather than 8.”

INGREDIENTS

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium celery stalk, medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you want a spicy soup!)
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 8 to 10 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the tortilla strips:

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To finish:

  • 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 16 ounces) (Note: I use chicken from 1 rotisserie chicken to save time!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or more if you want a richer soup)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnishes:

  • Shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Sour cream
INSTRUCTIONS
For the soup:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add the tortillas, and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tortillas have disintegrated and the soup has thickened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips.

For the tortilla strips:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (about 350°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer), about 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stack the tortillas on a cutting board. Cut the stack in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; set aside. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.
  3. When the oil is ready, add a handful of the tortilla strips and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips; set aside.

To finish:

  1. When the soup is ready, add the chicken and cream and stir to combine. Simmer until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  2. Serve the soup topped with the tortilla strips, passing any desired garnishes on the side.
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This is a fun meal to serve if you are having people over since everyone can assemble their own carnitas to their liking.  You can make the braised pork ahead of time (or the day before).  My neighbor Karen told me about a great local Hispanic market “Chavez” where I buy freshly made guacamole, salsas, and queso fresco to accompany the carnitas.  I also serve shredded cabbage (green and/or purple), sour cream, lime wedges, fresh corn cut off the cob, and chopped cilantro on the side.  I like to use white corn & wheat tortillas and my friend O’Neal taught me how to warm them up: simply place directly on top of your gas burner over medium heat for about 10 seconds per side and flip over with your hands.  Tortillas should be warmed and slightly browned.  Cover in tin foil until ready to serve.

This is the caption here.

Recipe on blog by David Lebovitz (adapted from his cookbook The Sweet Life in Paris.)

Carnitas

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
  • water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced

Directions:

1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1- to 3-days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)

2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.

3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.

4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.

5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.

7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.

8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.

9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

I like mine deeply, darkly, crispy brown on the outside.

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I don’t know about you, but I always seem to mess up rice!  I know it’s a simple thing to cook, but if you are off on something (size of the pot, amount of the water, level of heat, cooking time, etc.) you can be left with a sticky mess or burnt rice.  I’m so bad at cooking rice, that  lot of times I resort to (don’t tell!) Boil-in-a-bag Success Rice, but that’s not as good for you.  We are supposed to be eating slow-cooked foods — and choosing whole grains over white.  So, I was over-the-moon when I tried Gwyneth’s recipe for Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  Just like it promises, your rice will turn out beautifully and it does keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Perfectly Cooked Brown RicePerfectly Cooked Brown Rice

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Makes 3 cups

1 cup short-grain brown rice

1 3/4 cup water

Coarse sea salt

Rinse the rice thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  Place it in a pot set over high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, exactly 45 minutes.  Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid, and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.

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This is one of my favorite, easy soups that I make regularly.  You could easily double the recipe and freeze extra into gallon ziplock freezer bags for future dinners.  This is a great vegetarian dinner (since you get protein from the lentils) served with a toasted baguette or rice.  My whole family loves this!

Lentil Kale Soup

Recipe inspired by one that I saw on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Mother’s Group.

Lentil and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, finely sliced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups dry lentils (I prefer red)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 bunches of kale (or spinach), chopped roughly

Directions:

In a large pot, sauté the onions and carrot in the oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until onions turn clear.  Add the garlic and sauté.  Add the lentils and brown for 5 minutes (be careful not to burn the onions and garlic).  Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and salt.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes (less for red lentils). Remove bay leaves.  Throw in kale (or spinach), cover and simmer until greens are soft (about 10 more minutes).  Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and purée in blender before serving.

Great for the whole family.  Add more salt for adults when serving.

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