Author Archives: smabernathy

About smabernathy

I am a husband, attorney, foodie, home brewer, cyclist, woodworker, news junkie and all around good guy, enjoying life in and around Chicago.

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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Filed under Challenges, Feds Under Fifty Project, The Newly Feds

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



  • 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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Filed under Cake, Dessert

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.


Garden Risotto

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


  • 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


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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Filed under Entrees, Risotto, Vegetarian Recipes

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.


  • 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


  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.


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Filed under Cooking Tips, Entrees, Seafood, Vegetarian Recipes

Spiced Lentil Soup

About 4 years ago, we served as full-time volunteers for a program in Chicago called Amate House. Amate House volunteers live in community and have very simple lifestyles. In short, we lived with a bunch of other people and had very little money for food. Since lentils, beans, rice, and pasta are fairly cheap and feed a lot of people, we ate these items for dinner more often than not.  After our year in Amate, Sean vowed he would never eat another lentil again. That is, until now.

Through her work as a dietitian, Kate receives a number of nutrition based emails daily.  This recipe came across her inbox last week. Not only did Sean love it, we decided it was deserving of a blog post! Lentils have made a comeback, big time.

Please enjoy. And to fellow Amate volunteers: believe it or not, lentils can be apart of a normal post-Amate lifestyle.

Spiced Lentil Soup

Slightly adapted from the Chicago Tribune

Tips: This recipe will work using any type of potatoes or lentils (except the red ones; they will disintegrate during cooking).

Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 1 hour Makes: 10 cups (This recipe could easily be halved)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 5 chopped potatoes, cut into 1-inch dices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 each, cut into 1/2-inch pieces: carrots, celery ribs (We added double this)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils (The green lentils really seemed to hold up better then any other lentil we’ve ever cooked with)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup each, chopped: cilantro, parsley (We didn’t use this, and don’t think it would have made a huge difference)

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil; heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic, carrots and celery; cook 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

2. Sort the lentils; rinse. Add to the saucepan. Add the stock. Cover; heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer; cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 50 minutes.

3. Transfer 2 cups of the lentils with a little of the stock to a blender; puree. Return to the saucepan. Stir in the soy sauce, cilantro and parsley.

Nutrition Information Per cup: 156 calories, 17% of calories from fat, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 119 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

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Filed under Soup, Vegetarian Recipes