10-Spice Vegetable Soup

In four days I go back to school, and we’re expecting a blizzard in two. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a snow day on Monday. I still have a cold, and the last thing I want to sniffle my way through is Calc. I’ve made a pretty simple vegetable soup to help clear my sinuses and get lots of vitamins in me quickly. Including Angela Liddon’s 10-Spice Blend and a pretty good mix of veggies, here is the 10-Spice Vegetable Soup.

10-Spice Vegetable Soup

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Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 50 min

Ingredients for the Soup:
6 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato
1 tbsp 10-Spice Blend
3 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
20 oz diced tomatoes, with their juices
3 cups destemmed/ torn kale
15 oz chick peas
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets

10-Spice Blend:
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, potato, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and 10-Spice Blend. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the broccoli. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the kale and chick peas. Season with salt and pepper.
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Paleo Angela Liddon’s “Eat Your Greens” Detox Soup

Last year, I received Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook. The book is three hundred pages of beautiful, mouth watering, and flavorful recipes that I don’t have enough time to try. Her soups and salads in particular make me sad that my job doesn’t revolve around recipe testing.

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Angela’s “Eat Your Greens” Detox Soup is perfect for detoxing after an indulgent weekend or holiday break because the spices and vegetables are little fat-burning, toxin-purifying machines. From ginger to turmeric to kale, this soup has it all. The one bad thing about this soup (for me, at least) is that it’s vegan. I know I need meat to keep me going, so I added chicken. If you don’t want meat and prefer a vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle, feel free to take it out.

Here’s my minimally changed version of Angela’s delicious soup.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup

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Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 50 min

Ingredients:
4 tsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
sea salt
pepper
1 1/2 to 3 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups torn kale leaves
2 large chicken thighs, or 4 small ones

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the carrots and broccoli. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more, until fragrant.
  4. Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes more, or until the chicken is done.
  5. Add the kale when the chicken is cooked through. It will be cooked when the chicken is fully white on the outside and inside (take it out of the pan and cut it in half). Shred the pieces with a fork.
  6. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

A New Year’s Breakfast + 10 Things 2015 Taught Me

It’s been an interesting year. I’ve graduated high school, entered college, and undergone a ton of other changes that have completely turned my life around. If you told me last year about my life today, I would’ve believed half of it. Now I know I am ever-changing, and every experience allows me to make a choice: to open myself and find out what happens, or to stick to what I know, and resist growth. Here are ten things change has taught me along the way.

  1. I am capable of anything. I’ve written fifteen page papers in one night (both in high school and in college), pulled my first two all nighters, and started my own club. When I need the mental strength, I tend to look back on the nights where the pressure was real and I pulled through.
  2. My body is capable of anything. In September, I told myself I was going to get in really, really good shape. I decided to start with one workout a day. Once I got into a routine, I would take it from there. By the beginning of November, my legs were solid muscle, and I somewhat enjoy cardio. Rock climbing is my go to for a way to get away and release stress, while building some pretty cool biceps. Even when I don’t workout for weeks at a time, it’s easier for me to get back into a groove when I know I love the way muscle feels.
  3. Yoga Sundays are a life-saver. Stretching it all out after a week of weights and climbs are the key to zero cramps and tears.
  4. I come first. I did a lot this year that I didn’t want to do. I don’t just mean calc homework. My happiness comes first, and I need to remember that throughout relationships, friendships, jobs, and school. If something isn’t making me happy, it’s up to me to change that. Nothing is worth my misery.
  5. Other people still matter. In my quest to give myself lots of love, I sort of forgot about everyone else. I’m working on getting back to caring deeply about other people and investing time and love into my relationships. I miss the closeness I had with my friends in high school, and I think a part of that is because I’ve been passive with forming bonds and being considerate. Watching my words and being a good listener are two things i’m working on in 2016.
  6. I am going to become friends with the most unlikely of people. This year, I have found friends in the oddest places. They range in age from seventeen to twenty-two, and are all so complex in so many ways.  I’ve done some things I never thought I would do because my friends are people I never thought I would be friends with. They’ve given me the best time, and made my first semester so much better, and, can I say, bearable?
  7. Some people are temporary. Some people are meant to come into our life for a little while, and leave when they’ve fulfilled their purpose. Sometimes it’s our job to fight for them to stay, and sometimes it just wasn’t meant to be. And that’s okay.
  8. Time management is key. I was supposed to post a soup recipe this week. And three more last month. My lab reports probably should’ve been handed in on time. And I have no idea how I got away with handing in an English paper three weeks late. Despite the loads of time, college requires hella time management. It’s been a working goal of mine since, like, second grade.
  9. Tide-to-go is a lifesaver. 
  10. The true-blue’s are going to come through. This year taught me a lot about who my real friends are. I leaned on them when I felt lost, and they pulled me through some pretty rough patches. They’re the people that want you to be happy over anything else. A good time with them usually requires each other, and the first to laugh breaks the dam. It’s all uphill from there.

To start out the new year and prepare for tons of new things to accomplish, I made an amazing breakfast this morning. I’ve been warming up to sweet potatoes, and here’s a recipe that’s got me all over them. It belongs to Shared Appetite, and his is a lot prettier than mine.

Sweet Potato & Kale Hash + Eggs

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Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 35 min

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a fine ¼” dice
1 onion, finely diced
2 – 3 cups frozen kale (recommended) or fresh kale
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the sweet potatoes, onion, and spices. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 15-18 minutes.
  3. Add kale into the skillet approximately during the last 5 minutes of cooking (I added an extra drizzle of EVOO, too). Taste the hash and season with additional salt or pepper if needed.
  4. Once the hash is done, transfer to a bowl. Add some EVOO to the skillet and fry up some eggs to top. I set aside some of the hash and made a scramble.
  5. Top with hot sauce, sriracha, or just salt and pepper.

Where I’ve Been + Middle Eastern Stew

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I’ve had so many recipes I’ve wanted to try out, but the past month has been busier than I could’ve imagined it to be. Toward the beginning of November, rehearsals for The Shadow of a Gunman started to pick up a lot, and I was at the school almost every night. The production turned out great and I’m friends with people I never would have met if I hadn’t joined the show. In fact, seeing these people every night and taking after-practice trips to the diner definitely is the reason I have any type of social life at all now. Just knowing I have a group of people, albeit small, that are close enough to hang out at anytime and share the same interests as me is such a relief after the semester I’ve had.

My professors have been slamming us with work and I feel like i’m constantly doing biology. With three lab reports due this week, a fifteen page paper on American reforms due next week, and an analysis of thirty-nine historical poems due next Friday, I am going to be spending a lot of time in the library. Oh and two self-portraits. It might be hard to blog for these next two weeks, but I have a plan that will get me cooking at least once a week.

I’m dedicating each weekend for the next month or so to making delicious soups and stews to keep me warm. Granted, we’re still in the forties here, but having a few recipes up our sleeves will definitely help when temps drop to single digits. This week’s recipe is Middle Eastern Stew. I combined several recipes and added a few things to create this recipe. It isn’t spicy because I was preparing for some plain Janes in my house when I made it. Feel free to add more paprika or cumin (or pepper) if you want a little more heat.IMG_8095

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 40 min

Ingredients:
1/2 onion
2 carrots, diced (I used three because mine are skinny)
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 pound chicken, cut into 1″ chunks
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp cumin
1tbsp paprika
1/2tbsp salt
1tsp pepper
16 oz chick peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c vegetable broth

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions. Sauté the onions until they’re soft and translucent. Then add the salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Stir.
  2. Add the lemon juice and vegetable broth. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and chicken. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower and chick peas. Stir until the chicken is fully cooked through and the stew is aromatic. This should be about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve alone, over rice, or with vegetables.

Two Hands + Insomnia Cookies

Last week was my friend Hannah’s birthday, and I promised her that we would go to a fancy breakfast establishment sometime this semester (fancy breakfast establishments are our weak spots). After browsing Instagram a few weeks back, I found Two Hands in NYC, which happens to be a doable halfway point for us. This past Saturday, we met at Penn Station to begin her birthday celebration and much-needed hangout.

We took the subway to Chinatown and found Two Hands after a five minute walk. A cool wind was blowing, but there weren’t any clouds in the sky and the sun was warm. The exterior was rustic and charming. We could see through the large windows to a space not much bigger than my kitchen, but nonetheless cozy and fun.

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After a ten minute wait, we sat down inside next to the window, which let in lots of natural light. The inside brick walls were painted white, but distressed, and there were Christmas lights strung from wall to wall. Ten feet away, we could see the chefs making food, and our waiter immediately brought over a carafe of water for us to start with.

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We could barely decide what to order off the menu because everything sounded amazing. We ended up getting (keep in mind, it was 10am and we hadn’t eaten since waking up at 6) a croissant, avocado toast with a sunny side up egg for me, a fruit bowl, banana bread, and hot chocolate for Hannah and a cappuccino for me.

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The avocado toast was hot with the red pepper flaked, but the banana bread was sweet. The portions were a good size, and we ended up feeling satisfied, but not overly full, when we finished. Would I go back? Absolutely. The prices were reasonable for the quality and amount of food, the food was great, and it was the perfect start to our day.

IMG_2259  We walked a few blocks over to Soho to do some window shopping and enjoy the warmth that had begun to cling to the cobblestones. For a few hours, we created dream brownstones in Crate and Barrel, dressed ourselves in Anthropologie, and paid a visit to my favorite store, Aerie. We were surprised Two Hands wasn’t situated several streets over because it would have fit in perfectly with the vibes of Soho.

It was also on the bucket list to find an Insomnia Cookies (I was breaking so many rules that day), and the nearest one was a twenty minute walk. We walk inside and the entire place is about the size of my bathroom, but it smells amazing. We ended up purchasing six cookies, but the man at the counter gave us two extra cookies because he thought we were funny for cracking so many “broke college girl” jokes. I think he was also a broke college student and figured two cookies wouldn’t hurt. He also took a really cute photo of Hannah and I holding our cookies, but the photo was lost in the depths of memory and is nowhere to be found.

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We got the white chocolate macadamia nut, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, and sugar cookies. Then our free cookies of choice were M & M and s’mores. We ate them on our way uptown and every single one was delicious. 10/10 would recommend.

After some wandering aimlessly and wasting some time, I walked Hannah to Penn Station to send her on her way. We hugged goodbye and I made my way to Port Authority. Three more weeks until we’re reunited for almost a week!

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Seven Moments

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely had time to post. Here’s seven things currently making me happy.

  1. The Walking Dead. No, i’m not happy about the show itself (I am quite the opposite), but I finally have a tv show to get emotional about again. And it makes sunday nights less dreadful.
  2. Seeing one of my best friends this weekend. A more detailed post about where we went is coming soon, but it felt so good to see Hannah after two months of hanging out with my cats.
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  3. Shadow of a Gunman. At this point, we’re less than three weeks away from opening night and it seems unreal (mostly because we haven’t actually rehearsed on stage yet… or stopped using scripts). It’s almost time to see the set and our costumes (which we are renting!). I love every moment of the process and the last few weeks are some of the craziest and most exciting. Not to mention, you start to spend every minute with your cast and get super close.
  4. Pomegranates. They’re finally in season again, which means I can forget about the existence of all other foods.
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  5. Midterms. (Or lack thereof.) RCC doesn’t believe in midterms, most likely because they understand to some extent that midterms induce crying. So not only do I have no gigantic tests in any of my classes, no tests at allin four out of six, but I also had no lab last week. No lab report due this week. I have been sleeping in, watching tv, and best of all, not doing homework.
  6. Rock climbing. I’ve been trying to go to the gym every friday, but rehearsal has been making it difficult to go at night (the time our cousins go). However, an empty gym gives me almost free reign of the walls. I can focus on any wall or portion of the bouldering for a while and take breaks without worrying about my spot being taken. Because of this, i’ve improved in bouldering (climbing without a rope) and dedicated more time to challenging walls.
  7. The nice temps. The high temperatures haven’t dropped below fifty yet, and most days they’re around sixty. The sun makes layering bearable, and I hope we can hold onto this weather for as long as possible before winter hits.

Broiled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

I do not like bacon, but I will eat prosciutto for days. Maybe it’s the Italian in me. I stay away from processed meats most of the time because they usually contain ingredients that aren’t meat or spices, and they’re pretty high in salt. But sometimes, I’ll think up a recipe that includes prosciutto, but isn’t entirely made of salt and fat.

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These prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears are the perfect balance of vegetable and indulgence. They work as a side dish, or as an addition to breakfast. (I’m all about spicing up my favorite meal of the day.) Since processed meats are so, well, processed, I stick to brands that I trust. When I can’t get Applegate (organic, grass-fed, cage-free, you name it), I opt for Boar’s Head just because I know it’s a good quality meat compared to other brands.

Broiled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
IMG_8081Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 20 min
Serving size: 4-5 spears

Ingredients:
15-20 spears
5 oz prosciutto di parma
1 tbsp olive oil
Pepper

1. Set the oven or toaster oven to broil.
2. Cut the bottom 1/3 off the asparagus. This part is tough and won’t cook well.
3. Cut the prosciutto slices in half.
4. Wrap half the spears in prosciutto, and leave the other half plain.
5. On a baking sheet or a grilling tray, line up the asparagus and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper.
6. Pop in the broiler for ten minutes.