Harissa Chickpeas with Spinach and a *Giveaway*!

Ah, resolutions.  They are so easy to make and so hard to keep.  There are the annual New Year’s Resolutions we all make and break.  There’s the inevitable swimsuit season countdown.  And there are the (in some cases daily) promises that this will be the LAST TIME I gorge on Oreo cookies for dessert after my greasy grilled cheese dinner.  Obviously I say none of this from experience.  Obviously.

Regardless of what your health/fitness goals are, it’s hard to make changes last.  Whether it’s cutting down on soda or quitting smoking, it’s always easier to make resolutions than to keep them.   And long-term habits are what ultimately create health or illness.  Which is why I’m sharing a GIVEAWAY today from the health and fitness app/website Slimkicker.  SlimKicker is a website/app that turns your health and diet challenges into a game by giving you the tools to track your progress, reward yourself, and even compete with friends.

To win the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post with a fun and creative health, diet, or fitness challenge.  Slimkicker will pick will pick their favorite entry, add it as a challenge to their site, and give you an Ozeri Professional Kitchen Scale.  I’m seriously jealous of excited for whoever wins this.  (This giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.)

source

I will be accepting entries until July 31st and then we’ll be contacting the winner.

I was thinking about what kind of challenge I would create for myself and decided it would definitely be to cook dinner at home more often.  For someone who writes a cooking blog, I do a poor job of feeding myself and my loved ones at the end of a busy day.  Even the simplest dinners cooked at home would save me tons of money and would be much healthier than take-out or (ahem) bar food.  So in honor of today’s giveaway, I’m sharing these Harissa Chickpeas with Spinach.  Fast, healthy, and affordable.  I guess there’s nothing too challenging about that!

Harissa Chickpeas with Spinach
serves 2
from Not Without Salt

Note: You can find harissa paste in many well-stocked grocery stores or online.

Ingredients
– 1 Tbsp butter
– 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
– 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (= 15oz can)
– 1 tsp harissa paste (add more for more spice)
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
– 2 cups fresh baby spinach
– generous scoop plain greek yogurt

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté about 2 minutes, until softened.  Add harissa paste and allow to cook 2 minutes more.

2. Add chickpeas and sauté until warm and softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and stir in mint, spinach, and olive oil.

3. Allow the residual heat to soften the spinach and divide into 2 bowls.  Top each bowl with a scoop of greek yogurt and serve with a slice of crusty bread, if you like.

* I shared this post with this week’s Fresh Bites Friday and Fight Back Friday.

On the Menu: Potato Sour Cream Soup + Salmon with Wilted Watercress

Last night, I survived my first hospital night-shift.  It was a first for me: I’ve never been one to stay up all night and I’ve never worked for 12 hours straight.  I’m gearing up for another shift tonight and one the night after.  Basically, I’m worthless for anything but sitting on my couch.  Which is why I decided to make a decadent, delicious dinner before my week got started.

The lovely thing about this meal was that I was able to prepare the salmon and watercress as the soup bubbled on the stove.  Just preheat your oven to 450F, season your salmon with salt and pepper (and olive oil, if you like), and bake for 12-15 minutes.  For the watercress, heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, add watercress with a pinch of salt, and lightly sautee for under 5 minutes.  A bit of lemon juice would also be lovely.

The soup takes only about 30 minutes to prepare, so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time.

Sour Cream Potato Soup
makes 6 servings
adapted from A Southerly Course

Ingredients
– 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
– 2 large shallots, roughly chopped
– 3 cups Yukon Gold or red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
– 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
– 1 cup sour cream
– salt and pepper to taste
– chives for garnish (optional)

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add shallots and sautee, stirring regularly until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Blend soup with an immersion blender or regular blender until creamy.  Add some of the warm soup to the sour cream, whisk until incorporated and then add that mixture back to the soup.  Serve hot.

Blackened Scrambled Tofu and Garlicky Grits

In the kitchen, I usually think of recipes as suggestions.  The food I make often finds inspiration from another cooking blog or a cookbook on my shelf but rarely ends up being an exact replica of the original.  This usually works out just fine (except for when it doesn’t!).  Sometimes, though, I do manage to stay true to the original and I realize that it can good to follow the lead of a more experienced cook.  Take Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  She is the go-to girl for vegan cooking and even though I can’t say I’m vegan, I can say that her creations are damn tasty.  Until tonight, I had never cooked proper sautéed tofu.  My attempts had alway turned out mushy, tasteless, and generally unappetizing.  This recipe completely changed my outlook on cooking tofu and made me feel like a kitchen master.  Thanks Isa!

(Yes, there is butter on that polenta but you can easily omit it or use Earth Balance to keep it vegan.)

Aside from the amazing recipe, I think I was helped by the type of tofu I used.  This Wildwood High Protein Super Firm Tofu had a great chewy consistency and stayed reasonably together and I browned it.  I think I’ll be using this type of tofu for all my firm tofu needs in the future 🙂  If you see it in the store, I recommend you give it a try!  Yay protein!