Archive for the ‘lunch’ Category

I love creamy soups – but I very rarely eat them, because they’re often loaded with heavy cream (helloooooo calories!). But I was pleasantly surprised to flip through the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and see this recipe – no cream!

And what’s better than a warm, “creamy” soup on a cold fall or winter day?! You could eat a large bowl of it as your main meal, or have a small bowl with a sandwich (maybe a warm panini – yum!).

(To be honest, I made this back in October – but was just too damn busy to blog about it!)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2009
3 2/4 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded (you could also use a sugar pumpkin)
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash into 2-inch pieces. Combine squash, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.

2. Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Serves 4.

I served mine in my pumpkin-shaped soup tureen – isn’t it cute?! It’s from Crate & Barrel:

my pumpkin-shaped tureen

dig in!

The magazine doesn’t provide nutritional information, but I used a recipe analyzer and estimate that each serving is around 232 calories or 4 Weight Watchers points.

Calories: 232
Fat: 7.2g
Carbs: 44.2g (7.5 g fiber, 9.3g sugar)
Protein: 4g


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Stas hates to cook. And he’s a lucky man because he very rarely has to 🙂

Yesterday, I went to the salon to have my hair colored. It was a 1pm appointment that went until 5pm (yes, 4 hours) – so Stas was on his own for lunch. Much to his dismay, there weren’t any hot dogs in the freezer to boil or leftovers to re-heat!

So what did Chef Stas whip up? Take a look…


brains? or an omelette?


the finished (non-folded) omelette

This is how Stas describes his creation:

Chef Stas’ Omelette

5 eggs
some whole milk
butter (“a lot of it”)

1. Crack 5 eggs into a bowl, add milk, and “go crazy” with a hand mixer.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Pour egg mixture in. Cover and cook “until it’s done”.
3. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

serves 1

I wonder what he would’ve cooked if we had no eggs in the fridge 🙂

Stas lived on his own for about 7 years before I moved in… this meant that he cooked for himself for 7 whole years. Who knew?! I’d never guess it judging by the lost puppy-dog look on his face when I ask him to prepare his lunch or dinner…

But I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love cooking for Stas. I make him breakfast whenever I can, I pack his lunch every day, and I have dinner waiting for him every night. I feel that a woman should take care of her man like that – it’s how I was raised and it’s how our kids will be raised.

And as much as I take care of him, I get taken care of in return  (and then some!) I’m a lucky girl!

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I’ve been wanting to make a quiche-type dish for awhile now, but I hadn’t found a recipe that caught my eye – until I read the April 2009 issue of Cooking Light.

I made this for lunch today… at 5pm (oops!)

Last night, Stas and I went out to a friend’s house in Boston with a few of my girlfriends. We got home around 3am (I think) and I woke up at 10am with a hangover. Needless to say, my day had a slow start 🙂

By the time I had breakfast and showered, it was 2:30pm and I realized I needed to go grocery shopping. Market Basket was a madhouse as usual. I got home around 4pm and was determined to make this tart.

Stas didn’t really know what to make of the tart – he hadn’t seen anything like it before. But he liked it – and I loved it!

It would be a great dish for a lunch party – or maybe as an appetizer for a dinner party. It might even be cute split up into 4 miniature pie pans (I’ll have to remember that for next time!)

Italian Tomato Tart
from Cooking Light, April 2009


  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen long-grain brown rice (such as Birds Eye Steamfresh)
  • 2 tablespoons commercial pesto
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray


  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ounce prosciutto, cut into thin strips
  • 3 small plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (optional, for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare crust, cook the brown rice according to directions on the package. Combine the cooked rice with the pesto, Parmesan cheese, and egg; firmly press mixture into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.


the crust, before going into the oven

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

To prepare filling, combine the milk, egg substitute, salt, pepper, and egg in a bowl; stir with a whisk.

Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and half of the prosciutto into the bottom of the prepared crust. Top with half of the tomato slices. Repeat this procedure with the remaining mozzarella, proscuitto, and tomatoes. Pour in the milk mixture.


1 layer of mozzarella and prosciutto


all of the layers


after pouring in the milk mixture

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (but do not remove tart from the oven); bake an additional 35 minutes, or until set. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with basil (optional).

Serves 4.




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Sausage and Vegetable Stew over Egg Noodles

I had a good Saturday! Stas and I got up early (9:30am), had breakfast, and then he left to go skydiving for the day. I spent some time researching bridal makeup on the internet (I think I found my look) and then went grocery shopping. I loooove grocery shopping (seriously), and I took my time today and fully enjoyed it. A bonus was that it wasn’t packed like it usually is, so I managed to leave with my good mood intact 🙂

After putting the groceries away, I decided to do some cooking. This recipe comes from the current issue of Food Network magazine. I got it for free – it was one of those “try our magazine for free” deals on the internet. The catch was that they secretly enrolled you in a full subscription – so sneaky!!! I cancelled it right away, but still got the free issue. (score!)

The magazine is full of recipes, but most of them aren’t very healthy. And most of the chefs on the food network really annoy me. The Food Network was awesome a few years ago, when they had a lot less Rachel Ray, Next Food Network Star and other reality-type shows, and a lot more Mario Batalli, Iron Chef, and Giada De Laurentiis.

Anyway, back to the recipe! It caught my eye as a great recipe to make for Stas – because he loves soups and stews, especially for weekend lunches.

It was very easy to make, and Stas really liked it – so it may be a keeper!

I served it over egg noodles for him because he had a long, exhausting day of skydiving (he got 4 jumps in today) and needed some carbs!


Sausage and Vegetable Stew
adapted from Food Network Magazine, Feb/Mar 2009

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
Kosher salt
4 cups water
6 ounces kielbasa, cut into small chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the oil turns deep red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook until just toasted, 30 more seconds. Immediately stir in 4 cups water. Add the kielbasa, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with pepper, and more salt if necessary.

(optional: serve with sour cream, fresh chopped parsley, and a sprinkle of paprika)

Serves 4


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Look! A new post!!

I’ve been neglectful again.  I haven’t stopped cooking – I’ve been forgetting to take pictures. And without the pictures, what good is a cooking blog post?

I almost forgot to take pictures of this soup. And then the camera almost died on me (low battery). It’s a miracle that I actually have some material to work with here!

This recipe is from the March issue of Cooking Light, in the “Lunch to go” article. For the past couple of months, I’ve been packing lunch for Stas… sometimes it’s a wrap, sometimes some borscht, sometimes leftovers. I try to switch it up so he doesn’t get bored. (So I really hope he likes this soup!) I chose this recipe simply because I’ve never made a beef & barley soup before…



Barley and Beef Soup
from Cooking Light, March 2009

cooking spray (I used sunflower oil)
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 pound chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled carrot (about 4)
1 cup chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked bearl barley
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray (or oil). Add chopped onions and beef; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender and beef is browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


chuck steak fillets


beef & onions in dutch oven

Add chopped carrot and celery to dutch oven; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in barley and remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and summer 40 minutes, or until the barley is done and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaves.


after adding carrots & celery



Serves 6 (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

This is the type of recipe that improves with time. So if you can, make it the day before you plan to eat it.



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I loooooooove mushrooms!

Growing up, I actually hated them… I think the turning point came around the time I went vegetarian back in college (I was vegetarian for about 4 or 5 years, but not anymore). Once I learned that mushrooms were a good source of protein, and super-low in fat and calories, I just started making a lot of grilled portobello ‘burgers’ and stuffed mushrooms.

So that was when I started liking mushrooms. I started loving mushrooms in 2007, when I went to Ukraine for the first time. This was when I experienced the magic that is marinated mushrooms! Oh, I went crazy for them… I literally ate every last marinated mushroom in Stas’ parents’ house. When I came home, I bought a whole bunch of marinated mushrooms from the Russian stores in the neighborhood, but nothing compares to the ones I had in Ukraine 😦

Besides marinated mushrooms (yum!), I also love mushroom soups. I typically make mine with only dried porcini mushrooms – no fresh mushrooms. In Ukraine (and probably most of the former Soviet Union, although I can’t say for sure), porcini mushrooms are readily available, both fresh and dried. They’re called “white mushrooms” and are very affordable. Here in the States, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them fresh; they’re available dried, but are a little pricey. What we call “white mushrooms” here are really button mushrooms.

For this soup, I used dried porcini mushrooms and fresh “white” (button) mushrooms. It was gooooood – a mushroom lover’s dream!

One of these days, I’d love to try it with fresh porcinis…


Porcini Mushroom Soup
from Gourmet, December 2008

3/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
6 cups warm water plus 2 cups hot water, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 lb fresh white (button) mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

1. Soak dried porcinis in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. Heat a heavy medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onions, butter, and salt; cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown. Add celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer porcinis to the pot. Strain the porcini soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a  separate bowl. Add the fresh white mushrooms to the pot, along with with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Stir in tomatoes, remaining 6 cups water, and porcini-soaking liquid. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
5. Purée 1 cup of the vegetables and 1 cup of the liquid in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then return to the pot. Stir in parsley, dill, and salt to taste.
serves 8

what a beautiful pot of mushrooms!

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