Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January's Theme - Lunchalicious!

Yes, yes, I know... it's already January 12th & I'm just now posting this month's theme. Christmas clean-up and decluttering (still in progress) and finding a new place for all the lovely new things we received ate up a lot more time than I remembered it needed. Oh well, the tree's down now, so it's all good. :)

January is often a month of resolutions - to eat more healthily, to watch our wallets, to eat more veg/less junk, to try new recipes, etc. Now, you know we're here for you to find some delicious, friend-tested new recipes, right? I mean, just pick a category on the right sidebar & you'll find a ton of yummy ones!

Two years ago, January's theme was Healthy & Low-Cal. If that's what you're looking for, check it out! (Last year it was Procrastinators Unite! and posted on the 20th, so hey, I'm ahead of that by more than a week!)

This year let's look at lunches. It's a double-barreled focus - if you're trying to eat more healthily, lunch can be a good place to be virtuous. I mean, if you pack your own lunch, you're kind of stuck with whatever you put in, so packing more fruits/veg usually equals eating more fruits/veg! And too many lunches out can lighten the wallet about as fast as they pack on the pounds! So, packing your lunch can be a budget-minded choice, too.

I know this isn't a very "recipe" sort of theme, but I would really like to hear your tips/hints & what YOU like to bring/eat for lunch. While I usually am eating at home, it's the first year I've had to pack a school lunch for Pumpkin, and it's been really interesting. (Sometimes in a "how did you survive the day without fainting from lack of food, picky child?!" sort of way.)

So for this month, I'll post some links to some fun & inspirational blogs I've been enjoying for bento-style kid lunches, put up some pics of some of the favorite ones I've packed for Pumpkin, and share some tips/hints/ideas. But for now, I'd love it if you left a comment or put up a post about your lunch habits or suggestions for us to try!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Leek and Potato Soup

We like this classic soup found in Cooking Light magazine (Jan/Feb 2010), even though it's a brothy, not creamy version. Pusher, maybe it'll work for you... or at least provide a starting point for experimentation.

2 leeks (about 1 lb.)
6 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (Of course, I used Better than Bouillon; if you were vegetarian, you could sub in your favorite veg broth.)
2 Tbl. olive oil
3 c. coarsely chopped onion (about 1 lb.)
1 c. chopped carrot
1 c. chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. cubed, peeled Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 lb.)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

1. Remove roots, outer leaves, and tops from leeks. Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices. Immerse in cold water; swirl. Drain.*

2. Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. [Ok, maybe it's just me, but I'd start the broth heating and then work on the leeks to save time.]

3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek, onion, carrot, celery & garlic. Partially cover, and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender; stirring occasionally. Add hot broth and potato; return to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in pepper and salt. Serve chunky or puree with an immersion blender or in a blender. Yield: 8 servings (serving size; about 1 1/4 c.)

Calories: 130; Fat 3.6g (sat 0.5g, mono 2.5g, poly 0.4g); Protein 3.4g; Carb 21.5g; Fiber 2.9g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1.3mg; Sodium 443mg; Calc 42mg

*I like to clean/wash my leeks by cutting off the roots, removing the tough outer leaves, and trimming the top very green parts off. Then I do cut them in half lengthwise as stated in this recipe, but then I pop them in a sink of water and/or rinse them out as needed. I find that washing/rinsing them like this, almost as a half-a-scroll, gives the water a chance to get into the leek, but it's not as hassle-some as cutting them all into bits first. THEN I cut them crosswise into slices.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe Request

Does anyone have a good potato-leek soup recipe? Or should I just make vichyssoise and eat it hot?