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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French Fries!

On Friday, The Newly Feds celebrated one of our favorite holidays… Opening Day! While the Twins and Cubs may have lost, we certainly won by staying in to watch baseball while drinking a beer or two and enjoying a taste of the warmer days to come.

In honor of the return of baseball, and in an effort to prompt Spring to hurry up with the warm and sunny weather, we decided to make our somewhat healthier version of a classic, all-time favorite. We hope you enjoy!

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Crispy Baked French Fries

A Newly Feds Original Recipe. Serves 2-4 .

The Ingredients:

  • 3 large Russet potatoes
  • Several cups of water (for soaking)
  • Canola oil for coating the fries (about 1/4 cup)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

The Plan:

1.  Preheat the oven to 425. Center the oven racks.

2.  Using a mandolin (recommended) or your chef’s knife, slice the potatoes into strips of even thickness. Soak the fries in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes (or longer if needed) to bring out some of the starch and to prevent browning. Drain.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, coat the fries with the oil.

4.  Place a wire cooling rack on an aluminum foil lined jelly roll pan. Spray the wire rack with the cooking spray to avoid sticking. Spread a portion of the fries out on the cooling rack, leaving some space between the fries. Liberally salt the fries to taste.

5.  Working in batches, bake the fries for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown (cooking time will vary with the thickness of the fries and the performance of your oven).

6.  Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce, we dipped ours in good-old-fashioned ketchup, but a garlic aioli would be delicious as well.

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Wild Rice Burgers

For many, foregoing meat on Fridays during Lent is a huge challenge. Some find it challenging just to remember that it is Friday period. Most have difficulty remembering that it is a Friday, in Lent. That is, until after they bite into a big juicy burger.

This Lenten Season the Newly Feds are taking the meat-free-Friday challenge one step further. We have decided to give up meat. All meat. Even bacon. No meat for 40 days. Period. We are 16 days in and the withdrawal symptoms are coming on strong. It’s not that we need meat, its just that its so tasty. So far, the worst has been having brunch without bacon (really?) and grilling steak without being able to eat it. Other that that, so far, so good. We have been adapting old recipes and trying lots of new ones. All in all, we have eaten well and stuck to our guns. This challenge, though, requires a bit of creativity and that’s where wild rice comes in.

Ever been to Duluth, Minnesota? No? Why are we not surprised? Despite being covered in snow 363 days a year and having an average temp of 4, Duluth is home to some great food. Some of the best is found at a brewery and restaurant called Fitger’s Brewhouse. There, you can find one of the best burgers, meat or veggie, we have ever had. The folks over at Heavy Table have attempted to recreate this fantastic burger, and they are not far off. That said, the Newly Feds don’t follow directions very well and we added our own twists and sort of winged this one in places. Let’s be clear, though. You WILL NOT miss the meat…that much. While nothing beats a good old fashioned beef burger, this comes pretty close to taking the edge off.

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Vegetarian Wild Rice Burgers With Garlic Horseradish Mayo

Loosely adapted from Heavy Table. Makes approximately 8 burgers.

  • 1 12 oz package pre-cooked wild rice (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 12 oz package pre-cooked brown rice (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup diced fresh mushrooms (we used button, but portabella would be excellent here)
  • 1 1/2 cups HOT water
  • 2 vegetarian bouillon cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A few dashes (to taste) of each of the following: black pepper, onion powder, ground cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and garlic
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4- 1 cup crushed saltine crackers
  • 8 good quality buns (we used Challah)
  • 8 slices sharp good quality sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Tomato slices (optional)
  • Several tablespoons of canola oil (for cooking).
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of horseradish spread

Directions:

1. Cook both packages of rice, following package directions. Mix in a large bowl with the diced mushrooms. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This step is optional, but recommended.

2. The day of: Remove rice from the refrigerator. Take the hot water and bouillon cubes and mix until dissolved. Pour over the rice mixture and heat in the microwave until the rice is tender (approximately 5 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave).

3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the eggs, and add the olive oil, and the seasonings. Mix well. Add the shredded cheese and mix to combine. Slowly, add the warm rice mixture, making sure the rice is not so hot as to curdle the eggs. Mix until combined. This mixture should still be wet. Add the crushed saltine crackers, a little at a time, adding enough crumbs until the mixture holds together loosely when formed into patties.

4. Heat a skillet, ideally cast iron, over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a small amount of canola oil to the pan. Form patties out of the rice mixture and place in the pan, being careful not to splatter the oil. We recommend cooking no more than three at a time. Cook for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip with a pancake spatula and add a slice of cheddar cheese to the burger. Cook for an additional 3 minutes with a lid covering pan. Once done, remove the cooked burger and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat for the rest of the burgers.

5. Serve burgers on the buns with lettuce, tomato and garlic horseradish mayonnaise (to make, mix the light mayonnaise, diced fresh garlic and horseradish).

Enjoy!

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Meet The Newly Feds!

Welcome to The Newly Feds! We are the Abernathys, a newly married couple living near Chicago. We are in our first year of marriage, and we are setting out to enjoy our new life by cooking and eating our way through our favorite foods and visiting some of Chicago’s best restaurants. “Wow,” you might say, “‘newly wed weight gain‘ is going to hit them…and hard!” Don’t worry, we promise to remain our svelte, sexy selves all while living life to the fullest. In fact, we are hoping to do just the opposite and prevent the blissful bulge, staying healthy and happy, all while avoiding ever being hungry.

Mine's mint. What's yours?

The svelte and sexy couple.

So what qualifies us to write a food blog and why should you read it? Well, besides being an educated, healthy, and fun-loving young couple, we are actually pretty decent cooks. We know that these days it is hip to describe yourself as a “foodie”, but, seriously…we know food.  Sean,  an attorney, nearly attended culinary school, is an adventurous home cook, and reads just about anything he can get his hands on about restaurants, food and food culture. Kate, a registered dietitian, is not only a certified expert in nutrition and clinical dietetics, but is also a fantastic cook and an avid baker. Together, we are a couple who loves little more than a beautiful, delicious, and healthy meal cooked with a little creativity and whole lot of love.

As we say in the title, this is a blog about food, love, and marriage. In essence, this blog is designed to be a chronicle of who we are as a couple, what we love to cook, and how much we love to eat (in moderation, course). As of now, there is no set schedule for posts, but we promise to post as often as time allows.

So, that’s us in a nutshell. We hope that you enjoy the site and visit often.

Stay Hungry,

Sean & Kate

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