Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day. I love Valentine's Day, I can't help it! I realized it can be overly commercial, like any holiday, but I love the reminder to express your love and affection for those in your life! I also happen to love red, hearts, chocolate, and mail, which really seals the deal for me. I have fond memories of making and distributing valentines and valentine boxes as a kid, and still get a kick out of sending valentines today. Me and my man are spending the night in, making lobster and drinking wine, dining by candlelight. Maybe we'll watch the latest Woody Allen flick, too. A wintry night in snuggling up with my guy and my pup makes me happy.  

Valentine postcards from Rifle Paper Co., homemade heart-shaped Oreos from Shutterbean

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Soft Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Are you on Pinterest? Lately I've been feeling rather obsessed. I, like all others that fall into Pinterest's target demographic, love it for the recipes, beautiful pictures, inspiring home and fashion ideas, and crafts. Whenever I start feeling particularly obsessive, though, I just look at the number of items other users have pinned. I'm nowhere near those there, so I breathe a little sigh of relief. 

This recipe is one I pinned. It's originally from the soon-to-be defunct Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine, which has caught my interest in the past. While I've had varying success making recipes gathered from Pinterest, I loved this one because it was a great way to use up some vegetables I've had lying around for awhile, and it gave me an excuse to make polenta. Polenta is one of those foods that I love, and that's simple to make, yet I continually forget about it and go through long spans of time between making it. I made it on another dark, cold evening, and it proved to be just the thing. 

Soft Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Adapted from this recipe from Whole Living 


6 baby red potatoes, quartered
2 whole carrots, coarsely sliced into coins or half-moons
2 whole parsnips, peeled and coarsely sliced into coins or half-moons
2 stalks of celery, coarsely sliced
1 C diced butternut squash
* feel free to sub whatever other hearty winter vegetables you have lying around

6 C vegetable broth, divided
1  14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
dried rosemary and thyme leaves, to taste

1 C polenta
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1 oz. softened cream cheese
salt + pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Prep the vegetables and toss all together (minus the tomatoes) with a glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place vegetables in a metal roasting pan. (I used a metal 9 x 13 cake pan - just be sure it's something with taller sides that you can transfer to the stovetop later). Roast vegetables 20-30 minutes, until mostly tender, tossing halfway through roasting. 

While the vegetables are roasting, start polenta. In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid, bring 4 C broth to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and slowly whisk in polenta, whisking constantly. Turn heat down to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

Once the vegetables are finished roasting, transfer the pan to the stovetop and place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle herbs over vegetables, add drained tomatoes and 2 C broth. Simmer veggies in broth for about 15 minutes, until mixture has thickened slightly and flavors have melded. Season with salt and pepper. 

When the polenta is done, the liquid should be absorbed and the texture should be creamy rather than crunchy. Stir in parmesan cheese and cream cheese, until fully incorporated. 

Spoon polenta into wide, shallow bowls and ladle vegetables and broth over the top. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, to taste. 

This recipe makes for good leftovers!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Better Than it Looks

This was my lunch yesterday - leftovers from dinner the night before. I play this card a lot because I find that something hot is much more satisfying for a workday lunch than a cold sandwich, or the like. But I'm telling you, it's better than it looks. Especially if you don't drizzle tahini salad dressing on top (it's just so delicious). I like to think of it as an uber-flexible, use-what-you-already-have-in-the-pantry delicious Indian spiced lentil stew. For those of you squeamish about foods with this curious yellow-green glow, fear not. It may look like something unmentionable, but it tastes amazing. It's just the turmeric giving it that glow, and turmeric is good for you. Deliciously spiced and hearty, yet quick and easy - all the while making you feel like you just sidestepped Indian takeout.

Indian Spiced Lentil Stew

Adapted from this recipe on

Serves 4-6

1/2 red or yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp diced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cloves
chili pepper flakes to taste
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, smashed (optional)
1 C red lentils
2 C vegetable stock
1 C water
1 C diced red potatoes
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
salt and pepper to taste
squeeze of fresh lime

Place the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse. Set aside. 

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat (I use my dutch oven). Add the onions and saute until starting to soften. 

Add the cumin, turmeric, cloves, pepper flakes and coriander and stir to coat the onions. Toast for a minute or two until spices become very aromatic. Add the garlic and ginger and stir another couple of minutes. Add the lentils and potatoes and stir to coat. 

Pour the stock and water into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are tender. 

Stir in the rinsed and drained chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, use a potato masher (in the pot) to mash up some of the potatoes. Alternatively, use an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender to make a smoother soup. I used the potato masher method because I don't have an immersion blender and was too lazy to transfer the soup to my food processor. 

Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and garnish with sour cream and cilantro, if desired. This soup keeps well and makes great leftovers. I imagine it would also freeze well!