Bagel Tasting Day 02.21.16

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Bagel Tasting DayI planned Bagel Tasting Day to coincide with the anniversary of Ashlie's death. That may seem odd, but surrounding myself with the people I love and setting us all to a task is the best medicine on this worst of days. The pandemonium of children and dogs and guests popping by to fill take-away bags, it was the kind of day I love best. The kind Ash loved too.

By day's end we had a total of 18 flavors – some familiar like the Lemon Poppy and the Inside Out Everything, and some super creative WAY WAY WAY OUT OF THE BOX ones – and we're one step closer to our goal. A goal, by the way, that I realize I haven't really explained yet. I promise though, to do so soon.

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Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

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Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

There’s a lot of great food in Santa Cruz and since our return to the Central Valley, I’ve had to learn to live without Vasili’s Lamb Souvlaki, Erik’s  Chicken Pesto and The Santa Cruz Diner’s Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.

Santa Cruz Diner is famous for its diverse menu, huge portions and relatively low prices. That obnoxious ass who dominates the Food Network featured it in his Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Don’t worry though. He’s long gone by now, so the next time you find yourself on the far end of Hwy 17, stop by and fill your belly.

In the meantime, here’s a version of their Coconut Curry Chicken Soup that I make once a month to stave off the homesickness. It’s super easy and these days you can usually find things like Fish Sauce and Sriacha without too much trouble. I get my curry mixes at the indian store  down the block, but you can use one of the basic ones from the supermarket spice section for this recipe.

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RECLAIMED TACO SALAD

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Reclaimed Taco SaladI nearly named this This is Not Your Mother’s Taco Salad, but really, it’s Not MY Mother’s Taco Salad and that didn’t sound as good. Instead, it is now  Reclaimed Taco Salad, because I’ve rescued Taco Salad from the bad-food-from-my-childhood file and given it new life. The under-seasoned ground beef and watery iceberg lettuce I grew up with are nowhere to be found. Instead, flavor is amped up by spicy Carne Asada, pickled jalapenos and a hot-sauce lime dressing. Cabbage, romaine and green onions make a lovely base for black beans, grape tomatoes and crumbled cojita. A sprinkle of black olive and tortilla strips later, you’ve got a protein-and-vegetable-packed salad that bears little resemblance to the monstrosity that graced the family table circa 1982. Replacing the beef with more beans makes this a great Meatless Monday dinner. Finding something that satisfies everyone in our house isn’t easy, but this is one of those meals that always pleases and the Cholua-stained recipe, now tucked into The Bagel Bitch’s Cookbook is there to stay.

Recipe below the fold:

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Ode to the Lovely Lentil; A Super-Simple Red Lentil Soup

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Lentils find their way onto so many of those lists of foods we SHOULD be eating but in my house, shoulds are widely ignored. We eat what we crave, and finding ways to make lentils craveable was easier than I ever expected. Over the last year, I've fallen in love with the lowly lentil. From Mujadara (brown lentils, wild rice and caramelized onions) to Moong Dal (yellow lentil soup with carrots and potatoes) to my new favorite Spicy Red Lentil Soup. The pop of fresh herbs and the bite of hot peppers elevate this red lentil soup to a whole new level.

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Yellow Lentil Soup (Moong Dal)

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I'm not supposed to tell you that this lentil soup (dal) is healthy. Kathy says that doing so will somehow rob it of its yumminess. And it IS yummy. Addictively so. Within 24-hours of whipping up that first pot, I had to make another. A cross between Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup in its comfort-food factor, this Indian staple was an immediate family favorite and will be in your house too. Served on its own or with a full meal, it will steal the show.

Yellow Lentils (Masoor Dal) are high in both protein and fiber and this super-simple soup is a perfect way to do something nice for your body without sacrificing taste. The flavor is mild enough that you can mix it up and add or substitute your favorite flavors. Spinach instead of cilantro or a drizzle of Sriracha on top. The possibilities only end at the bottom of your bowl. And as Kathy would tell you, having gotten over the "Healthy" hurdle, don't knock it until you've tried it and licked your bowl clean. (Recipe Below)

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