Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans

A few weeks ago, Scot and I were talking about foods we miss from our non-plant-based-food days.  There weren't many, really.  Like I've mentioned before, homemade mac n cheese tops my list.  And a deluxe grilled cheese.  Oh, I loved you.

Then we started talking meats.  And really, we don't miss that at all.  Unless you count salmon.  And I'll admit, when we go out, that's what I order.  So I can't quite say I miss it all that much.  But chicken.  Scot said he didn't miss a single dish.  I, on the other hand, miss a few.  One of them not only for the taste, but also for the ease of it.  It was a simple crockpot dish, and when I got to talking about it, Scot challenged me to recreate it.

So I did.  It wasn't hard at all, and it's a wonder I didn't do it earlier with how easy it is!  And it's still just as delicious.  This is a great weeknight meal, or just, "i have nothing to make but we need to eat!" type meal.

I served mine with only a little sliced avocado (it's all I had around), but next time, I'll have some shredded lettuce or something else green to bolster it just a little more.

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans
serves 4

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice (petite diced would be the best)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 cups cooked brown rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
-- In a serving bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, sugar, and red pepper flakes.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Either put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it (probably the best option since you want the flavors to mingle) or heat it up right there.
-- Serve over a bed of rice with whatever toppings you want: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, avocado, chips.  (this would make a really great dip!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Toasted Asian Quinoa with Mushrooms

This dish was amazing.  I got the recipe over here, and except for using red quinoa, I followed everything to a T.  Oh, and I used all the same kind of mushrooms since they were on sale and I didn't want to buy 2 different kinds.  Oh wait...and I used a red onion because I didn't have scallions on hand.  Guess I stayed true to myself and didn't actually follow the recipe to a T.  Oops.  But it still turned out fantastic!

My only issue with this meal was what to serve it with.  I ended up going with some simply seasoned roasted red potatoes and green beans.  Totally not Asian but it did balance the meal out.  Next time, I think a simple pureed vegetable soup would go really well.

Toasted Asian Quinoa with Mushrooms

  • 1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 4 t minced garlic
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1-2 T olive oil for the saute
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T sesame oil
  • 1 T soy sauce or tamari
  • salt and pepper to taste
--  In a small sauce pan, heat the 2 t of sesame oil.  Once hot, add 1 T minced garlic and the quinoa.  Stir and cook to toast about 4 minutes.  Don't let it burn!
-- Add in the broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.
-- Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a large skillet with the olive oil, onion, and remaining teaspoon of garlic.  Saute until all wilted.
-- When quinoa is done, add to the skillet and stir.
-- Whisk the olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce together to form a dressing.  Pour over quinoa mixture and heat through.
-- Season with salt and pepper if desired

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I feel like people look at these cute little cabbage-cousins with disdain all because they were served soggy and bitter versions of them at some family gathering in years past.

Please.  If you are one of those people, give brussel sprouts another try.  Especially when cooked like this, with some good seasoning, and roasted to almost-crispy perfection, they are hard to not eat!

I have another brussel sprout recipe coming in a week or so that has a wonderful dressing on it, so if you're not a fan of these, you can give them a second (or third) try.

This is incredibly simple and very easily adaptable to however many you have.  I used frozen/thawed sprouts, but you could use fresh as well.

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh brussel sprouts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
-- Cut your brussel sprouts in half and toss with olive oil in a mixing bowl
-- Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and then drizzle with vinegar, mixing so the sprouts are all covered
-- Roast for 30 minutes at 375, stirring halfway through.  For the most even roasting, start off placing all sprouts face down on a cookie sheet and then flipping after 15 minutes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

BBQ'd Tofu

I love easy dinners.  With two little boys running around, easy dinners on busy days is what makes my life manageable. I saw this recipe over at OhSheGlows and decided to try it.  We do tofu in things, but rarely do I take the time to pan fry it.  But since that was the only time needed for this meal to be on the table, I was ok with it.

This was so simple, it's almost not worth having a post on at all, but I think sometimes going back to the basics of a meal is good.  So often I serve one-dish meals, or meals that only require an extra veggie.  This BBQ'd tofu needs a little more to make it part of a whole dinner ensemble   A note, too, on portion.  A block of tofu should feed 4 people.  The delicious BBQ'd tofu chunks shouldn't take up most of the plate.  You have to fill it with other things.  So I made some green beans as well as my Black Bean Quinoa Salad and had a green salad just in case.  We were fine.  But I did make it stretch to feed one hungry man, two hungry boys, and one momma.

Also, next time, I think I'm going to broil the tofu instead of pan frying it.  That's just how we prefer it -- totally a texture thing, I think.  It's also a lot faster to broil it than pan-fry it.  Also, no oil is needed when you broil.  Bonus!

Ok.  Enough of all that.

BBQ'd Tofu
serves 4
  • 1 block extra firm tofu.  Pressed/squeezed for at least 30 minutes and cut into 36 squares.  Or less, depending on how big you want them.
  • garlic power
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.  We use Stubb's Honey Pecan.  Love Stubb's!
-- Pan-fry or broil the tofu until it's done.  If you're pan-frying, use a high heat tolerant oil (like grapeseed) and fry 5-7 minutes each side until golden brown.  If broiling, broil each side about 5 minutes.
-- Once fried or broiled, mix in a bowl with the BBQ sauce and serve right away!  (More BBQ may be needed depending on the amount of BBQ love you have going on at your table!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fajitas -- Veggie Style

I love fajitas.  In fact, it's probably one of the single meals I miss most since we started eating heart healthy.  That and homemade mac n cheese.  With sharp cheddar.  Mmmmm....

Anyway, back to the sizzling fajitas!  I used to love going out and ordering fajitas.  I was always, even then, more interested in the flavors and the peppers and onions than the meat.  There's just something about the tortillas softening as you put the steaming veggies in that makes my mouth water.  So when I saw this recipe, I jumped.  Fajitas!!  The sad part?  I made something similar to this at the beginning of our healthy eating venture, but I didn't use quinoa, so they weren't very filling and I never tried them again.

Oh, all the veggies.  I love watching them cook down.  Smelling them as they do.

But, I have a solution to my fajitas love!  Feel free to sub in whatever.  The original recipe called for only peppers and onions, but I had a zucchini and mushrooms that needed to be used so I threw them in, too, and just made a little extra quinoa to compensate.  Also, I used black beans, but I really think pinto beans would have been better for the flavors present.

Fajitas -- Veggie Style
serves 6
  • 1 rounded cup quinoa + 2.5 cups water (3 cups cooked)
  • 1 can pinto or black bean, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 large bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in thin half-moons
  • 1 box of mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • Taco or Fajita seasoning
  • Salsa
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (orGF alternative)

--Cook your quinoa
-- While quinoa is cooking, saute the onion, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini until everything is nice and tender.  Add in 1-2 T of seasoning, and some salt if desired.
--Once your quinoa is done cooking, mix with beans and 1 1/2 - 2 T of seasoning.
-- Warm tortillas, and then layer the quinoa mixture in with the sauteed veggies on top.  Add on some salsa and enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Maple Baked Lentils and Sweet Potatoes

Oh goodness.  This is my new comfort food.  Angela wasn't kidding when she said it was amazing.  I used to make a dish with meat that was similar to this idea.  Sweet potatoes, apples, and maple flavored sausage.  It was one of Scot's favorite meals, but one we haven't eaten in years, so I was tickled beyond pink when I saw this recipe.  The best thing?  I had everything in my pantry -- chances are, you do, too.

I omitted the garlic in the original recipe, and next time I will up the sweet potatoes to 4 cups, and make sure I have only 4 cups of lentils.  I was a little heavy handed with my dried lentils (who really measures those anyway?) and I think it would have been better if I had been a bit more accurate.  The taste was just enough maple without being too sweet, and the lentil/sweet potato mixture was almost "rustic".

We also decided that while the mixture tasted good on the big fat piece of toasted multi-grain bread, next time we're going to stick to simple whole wheat/grain toast.  It's fabulous plain, so you really just need something to help you scoop it up or push it onto your fork.

Way to go, Angela, on another great recipe!

Maple Baked Lentils and Sweet Potatoes
serves 6

  • 4 cups cooked lentils (scant 2 cups dry lentils + 4 cups water)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large sweet apple, peeled and chopped.  About 1 1/2 cups
  • 4-6 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 2 T molasses
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 t mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • whole wheat bread or toast
-- Cook lentils -- they should take about 30 minutes, so 15 minutes in, turn the oven on and start your chopping.
-- Combine everything, including cooked lentils, in a 9x13 baking dish, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft, but not until the mixture is too dry.  cover it again if it starts to look a little dry!
-- Serve alone, with hearty toast next to it, or over toasted multi-grain bread or rolls and eat like an open-faced sloppy joe!

For the crockpot: Combine everything in the crocokpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours.