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This soup is the perfect healthy comfort food for a cold winter night. Feel free to change the quantity of each ingredient and substitute other vegetables. You can also use bone in, skin on chicken breasts — just decrease the cooking time. To make this a bit hardier add cooked rice or soup noodles.

Ingredients:
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
2-3 tsp of better than bouillon chicken base
2 squares of kombu
1-2 parsnips, peeled and cut into small sticks
1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into small sticks
1 handful of chopped cabbage
2 handfuls of dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup of cubed firm tofu
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
A slice of lemon
Salt to taste

Note: Kombu is a thick seaweed that comes in small sheets. It is available at Japanese markets and Whole Foods Markets. It is good in soups and cooked with dry beans.

Put the kombu (seaweed) on the bottom of a medium sized pot. Add the chicken, chicken base, vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. Pour cool water into the pot covering the chicken by about 1 inch. Heat the pot on medium until it comes to a low boil. Let it boil for 4 minutes. Cover the pot and simmer for 40 minutes. Add soy sauce and lemon and simmer for 20 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is fully cooked. Take the chicken, carrots, parsnips and mushrooms out of the pot and cut into bit size pieces. Add them back to the pot and serve with the broth and tofu. Season with salt to taste.

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I read Mark Bittman’s Automatic for the Summer article in the New York Times yesterday. In it he proposed the unconventional belief that a slow cooker isn’t just a cold weather appliance but the perfect tool for a summer stew. I had a lot of dried beans, random vegetables and herbs so I decided to try to make a summer stew.

I put 2 cups of dried beans (cannellini and a gourmet mix from Costco), 4 cups of water, about two pounds of vegetables ( zucchini, cabbage, onion and carrots), a generous sprinkling of herbs de Provence and kosher salt, and 4-6 sprigs of fresh oregano into my slow cooker. I set it on low for 10 hours. For serving — I added some fresh lemon juice, finishing salt, a bit of chopped fresh oregano and some extra virgin olive oil. It was really delicious lukewarm for lunch. I highly recommend experimenting with this recipe — add different herbs, vegetables and beans. Let me know if you discover some other good combinations.

Almost any homemade pizza dough recipe article will say that their pizza dough recipe is easier than ordering pizza delivery. Few things in this world are easier than calling and ordering a pizza — I am not going to lie. However, this pizza dough recipe I got from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook is very easy and fun for kids.

You need 5 ingredients:
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of water
Olive oil for greasing the pan
Toppings of choice

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1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add water to the dry ingredients and mix with a big spoon until incorporated with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix and don’t knead the dough. You just need to form a ragged mass shaped like a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least three hours or up to 12 hours.

2. When you are ready, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking pan or iron skillet. Stretch or roll out the dough and press it in the pan or skillet and add toppings. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.

I got this recipe from Food 52. Their recipe melted extra chocolate and almonds as a topping but I didn’t think that was necessary.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 natural unsweetened almond butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups. rice cereal

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Line an 8X8 square pan or pie plate with wax paper. In a large saucepan, bring the maple and rice syrup to a boil for 1 minute — stir frequently. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients (except the cereal). Fold the rice cereal in at the end. Press into pan and let set for 2 hours or set in the refrigerator for 1hour.

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I have tried many different ways to coarsely grind whole spices. One day, I had to coarsely grind pepper to coat a steak. I was feeling lazy so I put the whole peppercorns in a ziplock bag and crushed them with a hammer. It worked! I have also used this method for crushing cardamom pods. I like this method because it is fun (you get to use a hammer), easy, and not messy. I highly recommend it!

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I like this recipe because there are not a lot of ingredients or steps. This is simple, delicious, healthy and kid-friendly.

First, I make the teriyaki sauce by putting 1/4 cup of soy sauce or tamari in a microwave safe bowl with 2 tablespoons mirin, 3 tablespoons honey, and 1/3 cup of water. Heat the sauce in a bowl big enough for marinating the chicken. I microwave the sauce for 20 seconds and then stir it until the honey dissolves.

Marinate a pound or two of boneless skinless chicken thighs in the sauce overnight or for as long as you can.

Heat your broiler to 550. Put the chicken on an aluminum foil lined roasting pan or deep baking pan. Pour marinade over chicken. Broil 6 inches from the heating element for 8 minutes. Flip and broil for 2 minutes. Flip again
and place pan right under heating element. Broil for one minute.

While broiling, baste the chicken with the heated marinade. Brush the sauce on at the end to serve.

Note: you are cooking the meat at a very high temperature so check on it every few minutes to make sure it isn’t burnt.

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This is a super easy way to make pizza at home. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Oil an iron skillet. Press your favorite pizza dough into the skillet (I like Trader Joe’s dough). Add your toppings and cheese. Place in the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

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This is so easy and much healthier than store bought microwave popcorn. Put 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag (lunch bag size). Fold the paper bag twice at the top. Place the bag folded side down in the microwave. Microwave for two minutes. Enjoy plain or with salt, parmesan cheese, and/ or melted butter.

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This sauce is good on latkes or with oatmeal or yogurt. Peel and chop 4-6 pears. Put them in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup of water, a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer (covered) for about 20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon slice and serve.

I love Pad Thai.  I think I have cut out a million recipes for Pad Thai from various magazines over the years.  One day I was at the market and saw some rice noodles and I really wanted to buy them; but, I wasn’t sure what I would make with them.  Then, I noticed recipes on the back of two different boxes one for Pad Thai and and another for a stir fried rice noodle dish.  I thought I could follow the Pad Thai recipe on one box and add the homemade sauce on the other box.  Last night, I was dying for some Pad Thai.  I got the two boxes out, mixed the recipes, added the ingredients I had on hand, and presto — lazy person’s Pad Thai was born.  I call this a lazy person’s recipe because it is really easy to make and it includes ingredients you probably have at home already.

The first step is to soak 1/2 pound of rice noodles. I used a fairly thick rice noodle.  The box for the noodles said to soak the noodles for 20 minutes in hot tap water.  That didn’t seem to work; so, I added boiling water and let the noodles soak for 30-40 minutes.  They were still stiff when I took them out of the water; but, they loosened up a lot when I stir fried them with the veggies at the end.

Next, make your sauce.  The sauce is made of three ingredients:  fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  This is why I think of this as a lazy recipe.  Many Pad Thai recipes include tamarind paste and other ingredients that I know I will use once and then forget until they go bad and I have to throw them out.  If you like Thai food; then, fish sauce is a good thing to have on hand.  It adds a nice saltiness that is a bit like that secret briny salty flavor you get from melting anchovies into a sauce.  It is inexpensive, it doesn’t go bad, and it is a good flavor enhancer.

Then, stir fry your veggies in a bit of oil.  If you are using broccoli, snap peas, carrots or other long cooking vegetables then stir fry for a few minutes then add a 1/4 cup of water and allow the veggies to steam until they are tender.  If you are using baby spinach or other quick cooking vegetables you can add them at the very end of the recipe.  After your long-cooking veggies are almost done, add cubes of firm or extra firm tofu.

Add one to two slightly whisked eggs.  Allow the egg to firm up and then scramble it with a spatula.

Add your softened rice noodles. Stir fry the noodles until they soften.  Then add the sauce and stir fry for another minute.  Add fresh chopped cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, slices of lime.

Enjoy!  This isn’t the most authentic or most complex-tasting Pad Thai; but, it is easy and versatile.  You can add other vegetables.  You could take out the tofu.  You could add fresh mint, bean sprouts, chopped scallions or try other nuts.  Have fun!

Lazy Person’s Pad Thai

Adapted from Thai Kitchen & Taste of Thai recipes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

a couple of handfuls of broccoli florets

a couple of handfuls of snap peas, thinly sliced

4 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and dried and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 pound of thick rice noodles

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

1/4 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

2 limes, sliced into 8 wedges

1.  Soak rice noodles in boiling water from 30-40 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Make sauce — mix fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl.

3.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and snap peas (or whatever firm vegetables you like — carrots, etc).  Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let the vegetables steam in the water for a few minutes.  Add the tofu and stir fry it for a few minutes.  Add the eggs let them set for a minute or so.  Then, scramble the eggs with a spatula until they are fully cooked.  Add the noodles and stir fry them until they are just limp.  Add the sauce and mix it with the other ingredients for almost a minute.  Add cilantro and peanuts (and quick cooking greens like baby spinach — if you like).  Serve each portion with two lime wedges.  Note:  You could also add bean sprouts and/or chopped scallions at the end as garnishes.