19 December 2011

A lunch to get you through another busy week

Often come Sunday (or Monday on those especially tedious Sundays), I go ahead and make my fixings for lunch for the rest of the week. I try and choose something that gets in more than one of my basic food groups and most importantly, something that I won't get sick of throughout the week. This can mean making something with a flavor or flavor profile that I'm really hankering for at the time or making something with just the basics so that I can season the dish as the week progresses (and my appetite develops).

With a rather unexpectedly busy start to the work week, tonight I decided to make such a lunch base for my mom, since I'm at home and enjoying a break from graduate school. She always hears about how I make these lunch bases and says she's coming over, but jokingly, since we live 8 hours apart, so this seemed like a perfect time to reward her for all of her work and effort and teach her an easy way to get ready for the work week!

I normally wouldn't even write this up as a recipe, since it's very spur of the moment, but so that my mom can recreate a dish like this, here goes nothing!

Week Day Lunch

Yields: 4-5 lunch-sized portions

  • 1 package of Near East Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Quinoa Blend
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 c carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c mild feta, crumbled
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1/2 c reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • dried oregano (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Prepare grain of your choice according to the box.
  2. In a side pan, heat up oil on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the onions are starting to caramelize, crank the heat to medium-high to high and add in a half cup or so of broth. Cover the carrots and onion and let cook until the liquid has been absorbed (or evaporated).
  4. In a storage container that you can refrigerate the entire dish in for the remainder of the week, add your chopped, raw veggies (in this case, pepper) and cheese. To make this dish a little more "Greek" flavored, I added some additional garlic powder and oregano at this point.
  5. Once the carrots have softened, remove carrots and onion from the heat and let them cool a bit before moving them into the storage container.
  6. Remove grain from the heat once cooked and allow it to cool, before transferring to the storage container.
  7. Serve whenever, and however! I don't always reheat this, sometimes I go for eating it like a salad over a bed of arugula or spinach.
This recipe is extremely versatile and meant to be used solely as a base, so feel free to add in whatever flavors and ingredients suit you (or whatever you can find in the fridge). In fact, I've used whole wheat rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, barley, and wheat berry as the grain in the past, so really it's up to you! I could see tortellini or farfalle (bowtie pasta) being delicious options, as well. As for the cheese selection, I tend to stick to strong cheeses (e.g., feta cheese, goat cheese, and grated parm), so that I only need a little, but can still enjoy all of the flavor.

11 December 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011: Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Well folks, this here is not your mother's oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, or at the very least it is certainly not my mom's recipe. Try as I may, I am extremely UNsuccessful at reproducing her recipe. So, I figured this cookie swap was the perfect time to scout out a new oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Then, I kicked it up a notch, because if you're anything like me, once it's cold out, not only do you want a midday pick me up in the form of a muffin or a cookie (or three, or five) but you want a beverage to warm you up! This cookie embodies this mindset of mine by combining what I consider to be some of the best of what the cookie and warm beverage world have to offer. It's a chewy cookie with an almost sugar cookie-like base, sprinkled with oatmeal, and it has the spices of a traditional black chai tea.

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Based on Joanne Chang's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe found in Flour)

Yields 60 cookies

  • 2 c or 4 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c boiling water
  • 1 1/2 - 2 c raisins
  • 1 tea bag chai tea (e.g. Tazo tea)
  • 3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/16 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 c old fashioned rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl off to the side, rehydrate the raisins with the boiling water with the tea bag in it. After fifteen minutes, this will yield nice, large raisins with a hint of chai flavor.
  3. Cream together both sugars with the room temperature butter. (This will require approximately 5-7 minutes of beating on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer with intermittent scraping down the sides of the bowl.)
  4. Add eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time and mix well.
  5. Gently fold flour, baking soda, and spices into the wet ingredients by hand. Do not over mix these ingredients or your cookies will be tough. Only fold until the spices and flour are just incorporated throughout the dough.
  6. Strain raisins from chai tea. Fold the raisins and oatmeal into the dough.
  7. Place flattened dollops of dough that are slightly larger than a tablespoon onto your greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and have just begun to set. Remove and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.
In the past week I have had more than my fair share of cookies, as I also received two delicious packages of cookies from my matches in the cookie swap. I enjoyed Butterbeer Cookies from Peace, Love, and Bagels and Peppermint Mocha Cookies from Delectable Baked Goods, and I look forward to recreating these special cookies and all the other cookies that were exchanged for friends and family once the organizers of this event have compiled together the recipes and posted them on one site. (Check back later for that link!)

Wishing you a cookie-filled, spirited holiday!