Monthly Archives: November 2007

Bean Soup- Girl Style

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The pictures are ugly (and so is the soup), but this soup is too easy, cheap, and weather appropriate to let sit unblogged. In fact, I like it so much that I submitted it to Cate for ARF-5 a Day #99. Given that three out of the top 5 antioxidant-rich foods are beans, it certainly fits, and ARF-5 always inspires me to be more creative with whatever I have lying around.  This recipe makes a big pot of soup (I think I got 10 main-course servings out of it, and there’s more in the freezer)

Of course, I feel obligated to tell you that I could *not* convince the boy to try it. Not even a spoonful. Too healthy, I guess, he seems to only eat beans in “Mexican” food. The beans are pretty obvious, so there’s no hiding them in my version. However, I suspect that it would be equally good blended if you have a blender.

2 strips bacon or 2 T olive oil
1-2 onions, any kind
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
12 cups of vegetable stock (or, if pressed for time, 12 cups water, an extra half-onion, a few sliced carrots, and a few celery slices. they’ll blend right in in the end)
1 bag dried mixed beans (I like the Goya soup mix with the “ham flavor” tossed out), pre-soaked
2 cups potato, cubed (optional)
2 tomatoes, diced (or 1 cup canned tomato product of some sort0
salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (I like rosemary) when available

Place olive oil or bacon on the bottom of a large, thick bottomed pot. Cook (if bacon) until crispy, then break up the pieces with a fork. If olive oil, wait until the oil is hot. Then add onion (and carrot and celery, if needed) on medium-low heat until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add stock, beans, potato, and tomato and simmer until beans are fully cooked. Season to taste (add another few minutes of simmering if adding fresh herbs at the end). Serve with a fresh salad, corn chips, or hearty bread if you’d like. All go, but none are really necessary.

Stay tuned, if you will, for black bean soup, boy style– probably coming next month. Weird not to need to meal plan anymore. It was a good challenge, but actually cost more money in the end. Anyone else have that experience?

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Plan B

Oops, I was doing so well with the meal planning, and then… well, I missed the farmers market. And I’m hosting a dessert party on Sunday. And…. well, here’s the new one.

Hopefully a good bean soup recipe tonight. Stay tuned.

Mon
mozzarella sticks
freezer goodies

Tues
low-fat beef stroganoff
mashed potatoes
garlic string beans

Weds
chicken pot pie
roasted beets
leftover beans, pickled

Thurs
shrimp cocktails
chicken fajitas
rice and veggies

Fri
french-style asparagus
pull-apart garlic bread
pasta w/ tomato-butter sauce

Sat
shrimp “scampi”
pasta
parmesan brussel sprouts

Sun:
Takeout (post dessert party. menu TBD)

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Meal Planning Wrapup

This is just a temporary guess, as it’s hard for me to plan so far ahead without knowing what the farmers market haul will consist of… but I’m optimistic.

11/22 Thanksgiving meal at my ‘rents (though I will make something festive, I don’t know what, for the boy since he’s staying behind.)

11/23 Probably still in NY

11/24 Out, at Aioli(?)

11/25
brunch: whatever the farmers market drags in (likely eggs, bacon, and toast)
dinner: roasted chicken
11/26
apple-onion-cheddar tart, salad

11/27
reduced fat broccoli-cheddar soup (wish me luck), some sort of potato or bread side

11/28
reduced fat beef stroganoff

11/29
Moussaka? Yeah, wish me luck on that one. Alternate, tomato-butter-onion pasta… mmm, pasta.

11/30
Matzo ball soup

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Love, Sex, & Food

The boy and I had a yummy and romantic dinner last night at Al Tiramisu (yes, I admit it. Didn’t stick to the plan), which got me thinking about my two favorite topics- sex and food. While I love veggies, and cucumbers may well be nature’s answer to the enviromentally friendly sex toy problem, most vegetables don’t strike me as being particularly aphrodisiac. Neither, to be truthful, do oysters and other bivalves. I’m just not a fish or a slime person.

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Now, it’s not Valentines Day yet, but there are plenty of occasions that justify a special, home-cooked romantic meal, especially during the holiday season. There are several guidelines that I follow when I try to plan one.

A meal that is too heavy makes me want to curl up and sleep, preferably without cuddles. Nope, that’s out. On the other hand, I like to serve several courses, light ones, because experimenting can be playful and fun, and stretch the evening out. I like to make one dish that I know is one of the boy’s favorites, so he feels cared for, and something that requires very little last-minute prep work, so I can relax with him and a glass of wine to set the mood.

Speaking of setting the mood, if I had two sets of china, this would be the time I would use it. The two of you are just as important as any company you could have, and it makes the meal look better; after all, food and sex are both supposed to stimulate all the senses. Other touches– flowers, candles, and music, are all optional for me. Sometimes they feel too stiff and formal, and get in my way. I do, however, like the TV to be switched very firmly in the off position.

My list of suggested foods includes:

  • Soup (it invites sipping and savoring, and can be very light)
  • Asparagus or artichoke (light, but elegant)
  • Pasta strands- the slurping can be very sensual, but I find that adding red meat makes the meal too heavy– one but not both works better for me. Shrimp and chicken are better.
  • Something involving a dip– playing with your food can be fun.
  • Something sour to help cut the richness of many favorite foods.
  • White wine (red wine makes me sleepy, and can give me headaches)
  • Something rich but small, preferably with chocolate.

What do you like to make for special dinners?

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Thinking Blogger Award

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An embarassingly long time ago, Amanda (formerly of) Sexual Evolution, tagged me for a Thinking Blogger Award. She had all sorts of ridiculously sweet things to say about me, such as “This girl seriously loves her veggies, and her posts are incredibly engaging — which is even more remarkable when you know how quickly she writes them!” Unfortunately, it took me a really long time to settle down and nominate my 5 bloggers because when I first got the award, I wasn’t at all ready to “out” my blog to the real world yet. This is ironic, because I used to have a camera and take pictures, and now it’s mostly recipes and meal plans… but it’s a work in progress, and I cannot put off my nominations any longer… so without further ado, I would like to nominate:

Fabulously Broke in the City, whose nomadic lifestyle and committment to get out of debt are always inspiring.

Frugal Law Student, whose blog was the very first to let me know about the change in federal loan repayment law that saved my butt– complete with a guest post from a law professor explaining the ins and outs.

The Hungry Tiger, the first food blog I ever read. This blog completely changed the way I think about vegetables and everyday cooking, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

Cheap Healthy Good, for… well, obvious reasons, given the name. Inspiring and practical.

Love and Latex, for sharing her thoughts on sexuality and politics. She writes a brilliant blog that’s one of the few I still read in that field (oh, how I miss being an active sex educator.)

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November Meal Planning- 3

I meal plan this week with a heavy heart. I long to try two restaurants, each within stretching distance of my apartment, and yet I feel like I should not. The first, Aioli Gourmet, is new and looks great, and I’m eager to support healthy-ish, cheap-ish, fast-ish food nearby. (It’s surrounded by terrible quality fast food “cafes” and expensive but yummy-looking classy restaurants.) I also want to try Al Tiramisu, which despite not being prohibitively expensive, though it is a little spendy, makes it onto several top-ten lists… and would be great inspiration for the Tiramisu I plan to make if I do a post-Thanksgiving dessert/ belated housewarming party. Alas! Neither of them will quite do for the brunch out I have planned.

I have to admit that my meals have gone downhill in nutritional quality since the boy moved in. Between the fact that I’m much more likely to have a full dinner, rather than grab something quick, while he’s here, my love for spoiling him, the increase in the amount of time I spend at home, and the fact that there is a Long, Long list of vegetables and healthy foods that he will not eat… well, it’s been hard to control my weight. Adding a recent back injury to the list would have been a recipe for disaster, if it were not for the fact that the boy’s eating and exercise habits have caught up to him, and he hasn’t been feeling quite right. I have therefore grudgingly been encouraged to make more “girl foods.”

This, of course, was cause for great (albeit quiet) celebration, and then… a resounding “uh-oh”– because, of course, while I have turned him on to, among other things, whole wheat pasta and brussel sprouts, being responsible for a veggie-phobe’s transition from fast-food and processed convenience meals to, well, girl-food is a big responsibility… and I feel like I need to tread carefully or risk further abhorrence of my dear favorites: beets, squash, broccoli… Really, I’m not quite sure how to do this. If it were summer, it would be so much easier, but historically he hates most fall vegetables. Of course, I’m reading My Husband Hates Veggies faithfully, but generally I’m going to try to ease in slowly and always have tomato soup and grilled cheese around as a backup.

*as usual, breakfast is fruit and lunch is leftovers, unless otherwise mentioned

11/15
pasta with tomato-butter sauce (reduced-butter, but still some. recipe earlier on the blog somewhere).
dessert: pear with honey-pecan goat cheese. yum! (does anyone have suggestions on how else to use this?)

11/16 bean soup w/ horseradish-mozzarella sandwiches (ok, I know I’m crazy… but I really like them, and it’s hard to find other veggie uses for my yummy farmers market horseradish)

11/17
Brunch: Out, pre-emt training. Where? Good question.
Dinner: quinoa risotto (carmelized onion/ butternut squash, methinks) with garlic-string beans

11/18
Brunch: Farmers market– fruit, pancakes or eggs, bacon
Dinner: Out with friends at Burma

11/19
Roasted chicken and veggies, potato au low-fat gratin (shh!)

11/20
Butternut squash soup (wish me luck, tomato soup is backup), salad. Hopefully I’ll find something else that’s creative to do with the mozzarella here. Mini sandwiches? Stay posted.

11/21
Spinach-chicken tacos. Use up remaining mozzarella.

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Meal Planning 2– Plus Recipe!

I seem to be already in the habit of posting well into the week, but I’ll try to get something done earlier into the next cycle. Of course, it would help if I’d thought past tomorrow night before now, but… no one’s perfect, right?

A few months ago I won a fondue cookbook from a Washington Post giveaway. Now, having been born after the 70’s fondue craze, I had never actually had fondue and– shock!– had never seen a real, live fondue pot. Not wanting to take a huge financial risk, I was able to get one off of Freecycle… and was amazed at how easy it was to make. For all its’ fussy reputation, it was quick and required little hands-on time (other than eating.) It encouraged me to eat slowly, and was a lot of fun to do with my beau . If you don’t have a fondue pot, don’t be alarmed; you could easily do this without a fondue pot if you were willing to periodically rewarm the cheese.

Cheese Fondue (serves 4 hungry adults)

For Fondue
2 slices bacon (optional)
3/4 c beer
large pinch salt
8 oz cheddar-type cheese, shredded (I use low-fat when I have it))
1 T flour
4 oz cream cheese (optional, I use low-fat when I have it)

For Dipping
(note: This is what I like to make, but feel free to substitute whatever strikes your fancy, so long as it goes with cheese and can be stabbed with a fork. I roast everything at 350 until it’s crunchy/ soft as appropriate, but use your judgment)
Pearl onions
Baby potatoes
Garlic bread
Hot dog chunks
Broccoli
Steak (the boy’s favorite)
Bell Pepper
Cauliflower
Apple slices

Instructions
If using bacon, cut into small pieces and lay them across the bottom of the pot. Put on medium heat until cooked (however you like your bacon cooked, doesn’t need to be any particular texture.) Spill out a good deal of the grease, but leave a little for flavor.

Add 3/4 cup beer and a generous pinch of salt to the fondue pot. Put on medium heat until it begins to boil, then turn the heat down slightly and add the grated cheese and flour gradually, stirring. Add cream cheese if desired. Stir until smooth. Add a little extra beer if needed– you’re looking for a smooth consistency (no lumps and bumps) that is thin enough for easy dipping but not so thin that it doesn’t stick. Think latex paint.

Move pot to fondue stand with lit fire. Serve with assorted dippings. Be worshiped as befits the god(dess) you are. And, if you have leftover fondue, add some cooked pasta to it and you have grown-up mac-n-cheese for the next day.

As for the menu planning:
11/8
Dinner: Leftovers

11/9
Dinner: Matzo Ball Soup

11/10
Brunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Dinner: Boyfriend’s choice (wound up being Chinese Takeout)

11/11
Brunch: Pierogi with onions and hot dog chunks
Dinner: Cheese Fondue! (i.e. I am the coolest girlfriend EVER!)

11/12
Potato-Leek-Bacon Soup

11/13
Baja Fresh- Mystery Shop

11/14
Papa John’s- Mystery Shop

**by the way, I pretty much always have farmers market fruit, whatever’s in season, for breakfast and leftovers for lunch. You can assume that’s the case unless I mark otherwise.

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