Sunday, April 7, 2013

Red Lentil Curry Soup {Food Bloggers Against Hunger}

I am writing today as part of a large movement.  Food Bloggers Against Hunger was organized to help spread awareness about the food situation in America, inspired by the documentary A Place at the Table.  1 in 4 children in the US don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  I’ve not yet seen the documentary (though a screening is scheduled in Nashville, more on that later), but the trailer itself is moving enough.

I have always found the imbalance of cheap food vs healthy food to be very sad.  It’s cheaper and easier to buy empty calorie junk food, than it is to buy fresh produce.  Many people live in “food deserts” and don’t have easy access to fresh foods.  Many people do not have the time or knowledge to prepare simple, healthy foods.  And, SNAP—the nation’s food stamp program—is at risk for severe cuts that would impact millions of families, especially children, that rely on school meals and food stamps to survive.

There are many contributing factors to hunger in America.  I am writing to urge you to learn more about this cause.  And speak up, tell Congress not to cut our federal nutrition program.  Click here to sign an online petition.

If you are in the Nashville area and would like to watch a screening of A Place at the Table, mark your calendar for April 29th, at the Downtown Presbyterian Church.  Details are still being worked out.  For more info as it becomes available, I suggest following Jennifer Justus of the Tennessean on Twitter, as she is our local “call to action” person on this event.

Now, onto this soup.  This soup is a GREAT example of a healthy, affordable meal that is simple to prepare.  While the ingredients & effort are pretty minimal, this is a soup that has a lot of flavor, and makes a lot using a little.  Canned tomatoes, onion, and spinach provide a rainbow of color.  The red lentils provide a cheap source of protein, but are also loaded with fiber.  I personally enjoyed this soup a lot, as did Elliott!  This soup will be in regular rotation in our house, as it’s incredibly tasty, yet easy to prepare.

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*Please note, this time I made the soup, I halved it.  Making the recipe as stated below would make twice the amount pictured*

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Winter Squash Quinoa Chicken Stew

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Blue Hubbard Squash.  Cucurbita Maxima (the latin term, which sounds much cooler).  Ever heard of this variety of winter squash?  If you’ve ever been a member of a CSA, or frequent farmer’s markets in the winter perhaps you have.  These babies are huge.  I received this in my winter CSA box from Delvin Farms, and it occupied quite a bit of real estate on the counter for more than a couple months.  Back in February my friend, local Nashville food blogger, Fearless Homemaker posted a delightful looking stew using butternut squash, and I was finally inspired to tackle this daunting vegetable.

Let me just tell you, peeling this sucker was a pain in the you know what.  I just attacked it with my peeler like a ninja.  Anyone who claims peeling a butternut squash is difficult, I dare you to try this one!  After I finally got this thing peeled, I scooped the seeds and chopped it.  I had way more than enough for this stew, so I froze the other half.

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(What’s up… impromptu photoshoot on my windowsill at work…)

This stew came together pretty easily, and it was a really great “Sunday stew”.  Saturday and Sunday are the ONLY nights of the week I can cook.  That’s part of the reason for the lack of non-dessert posts these days.  We have it down to a science, where I meal plan for the week, shop for the groceries, and do as much prep work as I can.  I often do a slow cooker meal, or a meal that Nathan only has to turn on the oven and put it in.  So, I certainly enjoy when my Sunday cooking project is a hearty soup that we can eat for dinner more than one night a week, and I can also take for my lunch.  Also, Elliott LOVED it.  Like, loveloveloved it.  I already knew he was a fan of butternut squash & sweet potatoes.  He loves soft cubes of veggies he can pop in his mouth.  The squash and tomatoes in this stew were perfect for that.  He avoided the chicken, as he just doesn’t seem to be a fan of the texture, so I am glad he got protein from the quinoa.  I think he found it’s texture very interesting!  I served this to him a few nights in a row, and each night he gobbled it up and made the most glorious mess.  These days a meal that will please him, as well as us adults, is a definite win!  I apologize for waiting so long to share it with you!

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

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I have a cookie recipe I could post, but… considering the last 5 out of 6 recipes I have posted have been a dessert, I figured it was about time I break that cycle.  The funny thing is, you would think upon reading my blog that I just bake bake bake all the time.  That is not true.  I actually cook more than I bake.  But, due to this time of year & the lack of daylight, along with my own lack of time, my dinners just don’t get photographed.  We’ve been eating a lot of easy meals, slow cooker meals, soups made on Sunday (but not finished until it’s dark), and old favorites.

One thing that has remained constant is our love of a good weekend breakfast.  You won’t often catch us eating a bowl of cereal on the weekend (or weekday for that matter).  We like a variety including pancakes, waffles, scones, overnight French toast, fried egg sandwiches, biscuits (<- another recipe I need to post!), quiche or frittata, or we’ll go out for breakfast.  One thing not in our rotation is breakfast casserole.  Well, it was about time we remedy that.  Luckily my friend Beth of Eat.Drink.Smile has a recipe that was a great starting point.  Her recipe started out with eggs, bread, sausage, & green onion.  She told me she likes to throw in various veggie combinations.  I decided to go with spinach & mushroom, because if it works in a quiche, it’s sure to work in a casserole!  Also, I was really lucky to have some of my dad’s homemade breakfast sausage on hand.  One of his new hobbies is grinding his own sausages, along with making his own bacon, perfecting smoked brisket, and making pulled pork.  (Nathan certainly does not mind visiting my parents, because he loves getting to eat all the meat!)

This turned out SO delicious!  And I love breakfast recipes that you prep the night before.  I first discovered that convenience with these Overnight Yeasted Waffles, and have since also made Overnight French Toast.  I like that we now have a savory overnight option.  This recipe would be great to serve to company, or bring to a brunch as it would feed a crowd.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like a casserole with bread in it.  I have a hatred/fear of soggy bread.  But obviously if I can overcome that to enjoy french toast, anything is possible, right?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Immediately after declaring that I have entered the “era of gingerbread”, I am bringing you the fourth chocolate post in a row. Oops! I am eating my vegetables. I swear y’all. I’m just not photographing them.

Today’s post is actually a guest post I did for a fabulous lifestyle blog, StyleBlueprint. I know my posting is intermittent these days (I blame my new addiction to Downton Abbey, as well as Elliott), but when a blog the caliber of StyleBlueprint comes knocking, I certainly don’t want to say no! If you live in Nashville (or Atlanta, Birmingham, Louisville, or Memphis) you really oughta check them out.  Great articles on restaurants, personal style, local businesses, and so much more.

For the recipe for this decadent, SIMPLE, delicious, (and gluten-free!) dessert, just head on over!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate Donuts {Giveaway!}

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To be perfectly honest, I think Valentine’s Day is a bit of a hokey holiday, at least for adults.  It’s quite silly really, I mean if you love someone, shouldn’t you show them the other 364 days of the year?

That being said… I love having an excuse to bake.  And Valentine’s Day lends itself to so many delicious treats.  Cupcakes, cookies, truffles, candy, marshmallows…. The list goes on & on.  I picked up this heart shaped donut pan last year on holiday clearance, and I’m glad to have a reason to use it.  I’m so excited to share with you a recipe from a very dear friend of mine.  Jessica of The Novice Chef & I first “met” online and forged quite friendship via our blogs & Twitter.  We later roomed together at BlogHerFood ’11 in Atlanta, along with Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil.  I am bursting with pride over her first cookbook, Mini-Donuts.  Every single recipe was developed & photographed by her.  I was so excited when my copy came in the mail, as was Elliott.

I had a hard time deciding what recipe to make first.  Finally I decided on her Hot Chocolate Donuts, using the Mexican Hot Chocolate variation.  I was in the mood to add a little kick to my treat.  These were so simple to whip up!  Honestly, I was worried it might be hard for me to make, as I try to squeeze my baking in during Elliott’s naps.  But these came together pretty quick & easy!  I always grew up with yeasted donuts, and only recently have been getting more into cake donuts.  I feared these might end up a bit dry, but I can assure you they were not.  They were SO moist, with a delicious flavor!  The chili powder is very subtle.  In fact, next time I think I’ll kick it up a notch and add a bit more.

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I’m insanely proud of Jessica and her cookbook!  It’s filled with fun, delicious treats!  I can’t wait until Elliott is old enough to enjoy time in the kitchen with me.  I have a feeling this might end up one of his favorite cookbooks for us to bake from.  You are in luck because I’m giving away TWO copies of her book!  You have multiple chances to win.  You get an additional entry each if you “Like” The Novice Chef or ErinsFoodFiles on Facebook.  And an extra entry if you tweet about it.   For this giveaway I’m using a new tool called Rafflecopter, as you see below.  Use it to enter & win!  (If you’re reading from an RSS feed, click “Read More” for the recipe and a chance to enter!)

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