Great News and a New Challenge

We at the Newly Feds would like to say we are very sorry for having not updated or posted in the past few weeks. We could try to make excuses, but honestly can’t. We could tell you that we “got busy” or “had a lot going on” but that wouldn’t exactly be true. While things have been going well for us, we just haven’t been in the mood to post lately. We have been cooking, but we haven’t been taking the necessary pictures or getting our recipes together. Most of our has been spent having fun together, but just not focusing on the site as much as we need to. So, for that, we are sorry. We hope you can find it in your hearts to keep us on the old Google Reader (highly recommended) and stick with us. And to all those out there demanding new posts (you know who you are, and yes, we have gotten your emails), worry not. New posts are on the way.

Sean & Kate at the Vertigo Sky Lounge in Chicago

Now, that said, it is time to get on with business. We at The Newly Feds are very excited to share some fantastic developments. First, we’re incredibly excited to announce that Sean (finally) has secured a full time position as an attorney. This has been a long time coming, and we couldn’t be happier. Sean plans on beginning work the first week in June, which is awesome. (Here is a Newly Feds Top Tip for all you out there with the grad school bug: AVOID LAW SCHOOL. Legal job market = ROUGH!). Second, we have decided to embark on another challenge; the Feds are going frugal! Taking a cue from our successful quest to give up meat for Lent, we are challenging ourselves again. The experiment: can you make delicious, appealing, and healthy food at home, all while sticking to a strict budget? We certainly hope so! We’re calling it the Feds Under Fifty Project. In essence, we have committed ourselves to sticking to a $50 weekly grocery budget, all while making recipes that are creative and fun. We are pretty pumped for this for a number of reasons, but mostly we want to see if we can eat well all while saving some money.

So, that is about it for now. If you have any ideas or good recipes that might help make this challenge more fun, let us know. In the mean time, we will be brainstorming and cutting coupons (Kate is an Extreme Coupon-er in training. Hear that TLC?). Thanks again for reading, and as always, stay hungry.

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Apple Strudel

We could honestly eat dessert for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Well… Kate could… and has. She loves dessert, but as a dietitian  it is tough sometimes to find healthier dessert options. Here is a (lower) calorie dessert that we both loved.

Apples, Peaches, or Pears would all work well for this recipe.

Cooking tip: do not overfill the pastry, and make sure that the strudel is completely sealed on all sides so that the fruit does not leak out and burn. (Read why here).

We are all about finding meals that look and sound complicated but are simple. This recipe is no exception. By using phyllo dough (puff pastry) instead of a traditional dough, this is healthier and you get to eat dessert much sooner. That is a win-win in our book!

Apple Strudel

A Newly Feds original (with techniques and concepts borrowed from several sources)

  • 2 Large Golden Delicious Apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 Lemon, Juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour (plus some for work surface)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet, thawed
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon Water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine and mix together apples, lemon juice, flour, sugar, cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter top.  Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface.  With the short side facing you, spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom half of the pastry sheet (drain excess juice). Roll the pastry like a pinwheel/ jellyroll. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment. Place pastry seam side down and tuck the ends under the pastry to seal in the apple mixture.

Beat the egg and water together and brush the pastry on the top and sides. This works great to seal the pastry together.  Cut a few slits on top of the strudel.

Bake 20-25 minutes (depending on oven — ours runs HOT).

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

Tip: We found that caramel lightly drizzled over the top was delicious!

Tip: The strudel would be great served with vanilla ice cream/ frozen yogurt.

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How To Give Up Meat For Lent

After giving up meat for Lent, a lot of people have asked us what we ate, or how we managed. The most popular comment from friends and family has been, “There is NO way I could have done that.” Well, yes you could have…and yes you can. 40 days of no meat was not bad at all and has actually passed very quickly. We have learned that meat, while exceptionally delicious, is more of a luxury than a necessity. In a recent brainstorming session, we tried to recall all (or most) of the meals that have allowed us to not only make it through our meatless Lent, but eat well along the way.

The following is a list of the Newly Feds meatless Lenten menu items in no particular order. These meals were all homemade by us, all of the recipes are very doable, and most were made on weekday nights.

If there is a recipe you would like to try or like to see us write about, let us know and we can make that happen.

  1. Scallion and Edamame Fried Rice
  2. Garden Vegetable Risotto
  3. Shrimp Po Boys with Low Fat Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw
  4. Nicoise Salad with Grilled Tuna
  5. Scallops with Linguine in a Herb Wine Sauce
  6. Spinach Macaroni and Cheese
  7. Vegetable Lasagna
  8. Minestrone with Pesto Soup
  9. Vegetable Stir Fry
  10. Vegetarian Wild Rice Burgers
  11. Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Salmon with Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille Salad
  12. Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps
  13. Fish Tacos
  14. Red Pepper Alfredo
  15. Shrimp Pad Thai
  16. Portabella Mushroom Stroganoff
  17. Boca Burger Tacos
  18. Coconut Shrimp with a side of Sesame Thai Noodles
  19. Spiced Lentil Soup
  20. Spaghetti with Caramelized Mushrooms
  21. Spring Vegetable Pizza
  22. Linguine Primavera with Pesto
  23. Beer Steamed Mussels
  24. Bocca Veggie Hot Dogs with Homemade French Fries
  25. Fish and Chips

We also have enjoyed various meals out and with family and friends that aren’t listed. But we promise, NO meat has been eaten during Lent (not even on Sunday).

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Lime Drizzle Cake with Coconut Frosting

Easter is only a few days away. If you look out the window, it is snowing. It is the end of April… right? If someone said Merry Christmas right now, we would be more convinced.

Stay warm and enjoy a fabulously delicious cake that tastes of Spring.

Lime Drizzle Cake with Coconut Frosting

Recipe adapted from Lunds and Byerly’s Real Food Magazine, Spring 2011 issue (recipe featured on cover)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Cake

  • 17 1/2 Tablespoons butter (no, this recipe is not good for you but very delicious)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup self rising flour, sifted
  • 4 Eggs
  • Peel of 2 limes, freshly grated

Lime Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of 2 limes, freshly squeezed

Coconut Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (neufchatel)
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more to taste
  • peel of 1 lime, grated

1. For the cake: Spray a 9 inch round, cake pan and line with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and lime peel in a medium-sized mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until combined.

3. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. While cake bakes, prepare lime drizzle and coconut frosting.

4. For lime drizzle: Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and stir in lime juice, then set aside.

5. For coconut frosting: Whisk cream cheese, coconut extract, and confectioners’ sugar together in a bowl. Adjust frosting to taste, adding more confectioners’ sugar to adjust sweetness. Refrigerate until needed.

6. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven. Using a small diameter skewer, pierce several holes across the surface of the cake. Spoon the lime drizzle over the cake. Let the cake cool completely in pan.

7. Once cooled, pop cake out of pan, remove parchment, and spread frosting over top. Sprinkle with lime peel.

Cut, Serve and Enjoy a slice of Spring!

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Garden Risotto

Garden Risotto. Sounds fancy right? It may sound gourmet, but it actually super simple and very versatile. Risotto is another one of those meals that may seem overly complicated, but when all said and done, is really nothing more than rice cooked with broth. Yes, it truly is that easy. Basic risotto is a snap to make and, once mastered, you can throw in any extra veggies, herbs, or protein that you have lying around.  Heck, we just bought what was on sale this week (veggies and herbs. yeah!) and made the risotto to fit.

If you really want to impress someone (or several someones) with your culinary skills, risotto is the ticket. It is easy to make and it shows off well. Plus, it is incredibly forgiving. You really can’t screw it up. Oh, and if you are cooking for a crowd, you are in luck. This recipe made approximately 4-6 servings.

Enjoy!

Garden Risotto

Adapted from Garden Risotto by Ellie Krieger (Kate loves her because she is a dietitian who makes GREAT Food).

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 lightly packed cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, steamed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (we used frozen because fresh was too expensive this week)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Handful parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

Directions

1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

2. Saute the mushrooms in a teaspoon of olive oil. Set aside.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and cook the garlic and onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly (about 1 minute) until the rice is opaque. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed (about 1 minute).

4. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking, about 18 minutes.

5. Add the spinach and peas and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the asparagus and cook just until the vegetables are hot. Add the sautéed mushrooms. Stir in the Parmesan and Herbs and more broth if the risotto seems too thick.

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Beer Steamed Mussels

As our quest for a meatless Lent continues, we have felt challenged at times to come up with recipes that are easy, fun, and, most importantly, deeply satisfying. While we have made some amazing soups, pastas, stir fries, and main entrees, there have been times where something was missing. It is not the meat that we miss so much (believe me, we do miss it. bad.), but rather the feeling that the meal is truly complete. This led us to think outside of the box a bit more, and focus on meals that we truly love to eat, either at home or at a restaurant. There are dozens of recipes that fit into this category, but very few that are meatless. We considered several options but kept coming up a bit short. Then we remembered a meal that is not just dinner, but an overall experience. One that is quick, easy, rustic, sophisticated, deeply flavored, respectful of the ingredients, and versatile enough to never get old. We, of course, thought of mussels.

If you have never had mussels, you are missing out on a really fun and easy dish. When cooked properly, they have the great ability to both take on and impart flavor to whatever ingredients they are paired with. They are great on their own, amazing in soups, and can transform a simple pasta dish into a high-end gourmet meal. They are on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the country, and you often pay a premium for them. The thing is though, that they are dead easy to cook and you don’t need to go to a restaurant to enjoy them. All you need is a deep saute pan, some herbs, garlic, and a bit of flavorful liquid to steam them in. Pair with a loaf of warm and crusty French bread for dipping in the rich broth, a light veggie side-dish, and a glass of your favorite beer or white wine, and you have a meal that is simply, complete.

Note: This recipe is incredibly flexible. We chose to take a very simple route, but almost any variation will yield a good result. If you think there is a combination of ingredients that would go well together, they probably will.

Beer Steamed Mussels

A Newly Feds original recipe.

Serves 2, but could easily be doubled (or tripled) to serve more.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds of high-quality fresh mussels
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 18-24 ounces Belgian or German beer (white wine works well here too)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 4-5 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley (basil would work here as well), chopped with some reserved for garnish
  • Good French bread, for dipping
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove the mussels from their paper wrapping. Inspect each mussel individually, discarding any that are badly chipped, cracked, or broken. If a mussel’s shell is open, tap lightly on a hard surface. The shell should close. If it does not close, even slightly, discard. Rinse the mussels in cool water to remove any grit on the shells.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent. We chose to go heavy on the garlic, but you can go lighter (or heavier even) as you see fit.
  3. Place the mussels in the pan, being careful to leave enough room to place the lid on the pan. Slowly pour the beer over the mussels, covering approximately 2/3 of the shells. We used 1 and 1/2 beers (12 ounces). Be careful as the beer will foam upon hitting the hot pan.
  4. Immediately place the lid upon the pan, and steam the mussels for about 6-8 minutes, or until the shells have opened. Do not overcook, as the mussels can become tough. Add 3/4 of the chopped parsley. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. This will ensure that the flavorful liquid (often referred to as the liquor) released by the mussels is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer the mussels to serving bowls, discarding any mussels that have not opened in the cooking process. Ladle a generous portion of the broth over the mussels.
  6. Sprinkle the fresh tomato over the mussels and garnish with the remaining parsley.
  7. Serve with several slices of warm bread. Be sure to try dipping the bread in the broth. This often proves to be one of the best parts of the dish.

Enjoy!

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Why the Newly Feds Need a Fire Extinguisher…

Last evening while making Lentil Soup, we learned a lesson.

What goes better with Lentil Soup than homemade biscuits? Not much. As we prepared the biscuits, the order of the ingredients got mixed up. Instead of the butter being cut in to the flour mixture and then adding milk, as the recipe recommends, we added milk to the flour mixture and then mixed in the butter. Well, Kate should have paid attention more closely in Food Science class, because if she had she may have guessed what was about to happen.

After baking for about 10 minutes, Sean went to check on the biscuits. He noticed that instead of smelling like deliciousness, the kitchen smelled of acrid burning fat. He opened the oven and SMOKE billowed out. So much smoke, that it filled our entire apartment. You see, what happened is that the chunks of butter in the improperly mixed dough melted on the pan, dripped onto the floor of the oven, and burned. Luckily for us, there was smoke without fire. Unluckily for us, everything we own smells like torched butter.

We spent the rest of Monday night (and most of Tuesday afternoon) febreezing, cleaning and airing out our apartment, which still smells like smoke.

Lesson learned: Follow directions.

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