Monday, September 30, 2013

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Here's another recipe from the Barefoot Contessa!  Once again, we were all very pleased.  I'm always looking for new ways to cook lentils so I was delighted when I came across the recipe.  What I liked so much about this dish was it gave me something to do with some leftover lentils I had already cooked.  The original recipe operates under the assumption you'll be cooking the lentils right then, but if you're short on time and have some leftovers, this dinner comes together in a snap.

I served this much like I did one of our other lentil meals: with some crusty whole grain bread and a steamed green veggie and a salad.  Delicious. You could also serve this along side some brown rice or other hearty grain.

Original recipe here.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes
serves 6
serve with hearty bread or a whole grain
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cups large-diced carrots
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 TBLS curry powder
  • 11/2 cup dry lentils cooked in 3 cups vegetable broth OR 3 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBLS red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • opt: kale or spinach, chopped and wilted at the end
-- Saute onion and carrots 10 minutes (saute longer if you're using already cooked lentils)
-- Add garlic and saute one minute
-- Add the remaining ingredients (minus the vinegar), bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until lentils are done. (If using cooked lentils, simply add the lentils in and bring to a boil and simmer 5-10 minutes uncovered until it starts to thicken a little.)
-- Add the vinegar and season to taste.
-- CROCKPOT: dump everything in and cook on high for 4 hours

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hot Breakfast -- 3 Ways

When we were coming up with recipes, Brittany kept creating delicious hot breakfasts! They are all worth trying, especially with the cold season around the corner!  So a huge thank you goes to Brittany for all these recipes!

With these nutritious oats, you can finally say "yes" to chocolate for breakfast!  While I would not prepare this daily (simply because of the cost), it is a nice treat when we need a break from our standard breakfast routine.

Almond Joy Oatmeal
Serves 4
Serving Suggestions: Top with additional almond milk, and serve with a banana

What you'll need:
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 TBLS packed brown sugar
  • 2 TBLS unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats OR quick oats, just adjust cooking time according to directions
  • 2 TBLS milled flaxseed
  • 2 TBLS unsweetened, shredded coconut (to mix in with the oatmeal) plus more for garnish

What you'll do:

  • Heat almond milk and water in a large sauce pan.  Add salt, sugar, cocoa, and extracts - bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Add oats, flaxseed, and 2 TBLS coconut.  Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Note:  watch closely when you first add these ingredients, you may have to periodically remove from heat and blow on it to prevent from bubbling over)
  • Turn off the burner and allow to sit for a few minutes, allowing it to thicken.
  • Divide among 4 bowls and top each serving with an extra pinch of shredded coconut.

Brown rice for breakfast?  You bet!  This porridge is hearty, lightly sweetened, and adds a nice spin on the typical hot cereal breakfast.  This is a great way to use up any leftover rice.

Brown Rice Porridge
Serves 6
Serving Suggestions: Eat with a banana, and top cereal with additional milk, if desired.

What you'll need:
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups plain almond milk*
  • 2 1/2 TBLS maple syrup OR packed brown sugar OR 2 TBLS honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almonds, slivered, sliced, or chopped
  • 1 cup chopped apple OR 1/2 cup craisins OR raisins

What you'll do:
  • Combine rice with cinnamon in a large saucepan.  Add milk, stir, and set heat on medium-high.  
  • As the rice and milk heat up, add remaining ingredients (except fruit), stir, and bring mixture to a boil.
  • Add fruit, stir, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.  The porridge will thicken as it cools.

*Note:  I've tried dairy milk in this recipe, and have found that it just doesn't come out the same!  Milk scalds easily, and the cinnamon & sugar have to be adjusted for it to taste decent (cinnamon decreased, sugar increased).

This is a quick and easy breakfast recipe that requires no chopping!  It is the one I turn to on those hurried mornings when we are out of Cheerios and I don't have much time to fix breakfast.  

Super Easy Craisin Oatmeal
serves 4
Serving Suggestions: Top this off with your favorite milk or non-dairy milk, have a handful of almonds on the side for a little extra protein

What you'll need:
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 TBLS packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Craisins (or other dried, sweetened cranberries)
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 TBLS flaxseed meal
  • 2 TBLS unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

What you'll do:

  • In a 2 quart saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add salt, brown sugar, and craisins while you wait.
  • Reduce heat to medium.  Stir in oats, flaxseed meal, and coconut (if using).  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes - it will thicken as it cools.

    For another amazing breakfast, head on over to Plant-Powered Kitchen and try her Banana Maple Muffins.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shepard's Pie [vegan]

Shepherd's Pie is one of those comfort food dishes I used to make, but didn't for a while when our family transitioned to a healthier diet.  I just didn't know how to make it without the meat.  One day, I came across a recipe that used lentils in its place, but when the time came to make the dish, I couldn't find the recipe.  This is what I came up with, and our family is very satisfied with the results.   

Feel free to sub other vegetables in under the delicious garlic-potato crust.  Sometimes I use all zucchini in place of the brussel sprouts, sometimes I just bolster a smaller bag of sprouts with some squash, and other times I even up the sprouts becasue our family loves them so much.  Needless to say, the recipe is flexible!

I usually serve this hearty main dish with a small side salad and sometimes even with a light pureed vegetable soup.

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6
Active time:30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

What you'll need:

  • 1 cup dry lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped baking potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1 lb frozen brussels sprouts, thawed and cut in half
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de provence OR Italian seasoning 
  • 3 TBLS flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
What you'll do:
  • Cook lentils using the 2 cups of broth.
  • Cook your potatoes until tender, either by boiling them or in the microwave.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and mash with 1/4 cup water and garlic powder.
  • While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet and saute onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and brussel sprouts for 15 minutes until vegetables are soft.
  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Mix together the 1 cup of broth, red wine, spices and flour. 
  • When lentils are done, add to skillet with the liquid.  Mix and heat through.
  • Transfer to a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish.  
  • Evenly spread the mashed potatoes over top bake for 30 minutes.

Time tip:
Make lentils ahead of time
Make mashed potatoes ahead of time, and boil them in large chunks to save time chopping
Run the carrots through a food processor instead of chopping

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moroccan Spiced "Peas"

We have a lot of family favorites in our house. And for the last 2 and half years I've been on the journey to find and create new meals to ensure we were eating healthy and tasty meals. This meant, though that I have rarely remade even our family favorites.

After so long I'm starting to slow down on the new recipes and rotate in some of our most loved dinners. This is one of them -- it's actually one of Scot absolute favorites. The dish is sweet, savory, and full of mellow spices.  It is easy to prepare, but looks nice when served!

I created this dish, actually, from a meat version that is probably buried somewhere on this blog. And buried it should stay -- the non-meat version is even better than the original in our opinion. If you need a little extra umph for the dinner, or want to make sure you're getting tons of protein in at dinner, serve this with quinoa instead of couscous.

Moroccan Spiced Peas
Serves 4-8 (depending on whether it is served alone or as a side dish) 6 cups
Serving Suggestions: Eat this with Curried Butternut Squash soup and a small side salad.

What you'll need:
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley leaves OR ¼ cup dried
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup plain dry couscous OR 3 cups cooked quinoa or millet
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you'll do:
  • Heat 1 TBLS oil in a large skillet.  Once hot, sauté carrots, onion and spices until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 TBSP oil, beans, fruit, parsley, and 3/4 cup broth (reserve remaining broth for next step).  Simmer uncovered for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare couscous as directed, substituting remaining broth for the water. Fluff when done.  If you are using quinoa, make it first.
  • Scoop couscous onto plates and top with chickpea mixture. Alternatively, mix everything together and serve in a bowl!

Note:  This is meal is most flavorful when served shortly after it is prepared.  If you plan to reheat leftovers, we suggest storing the chickpea mixture and couscous in separate bowls to prevent the couscous from absorbing too much of the moisture.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beet & Cabbage Borscht

This soup is a creation of Brittany's and received rave reviews from those who tried it during out recipe testing. Enjoy!

The health benefits of both beets and cabbage are outstanding, but they are not always the first vegetables that come to mind when planning a weekly menu.  This soup combines these super-stars in a surprisingly mellow fashion, and keeps you coming back for seconds!  May be served hot or chilled, chunky or pureed.  

Beet & Cabbage Borscht
Serves 8
Active time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Total time: 1 hr
Serving Suggestions:  Eat this with sourdough or dark rye bread on the side along with a salad

What you'll need:
  • 1 TBLS canola oil
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 6 cups quartered and thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
  • 3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 2 cups peeled, halved, and thinly sliced beets
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 2 TBLS apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBLS honey OR agave
  • 1, 15oz can tomato sauce

What you'll do:
  • In a large stockpot over medium heat, sauté onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, and caraway seed until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender (about 10-15 minutes), cover with lid to speed up the process.
  • Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beets and potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes).
  • If desired, allow to cool a bit and puree.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Green Goodness Soup with Quinoa

This soup was a bowl-full of creamy green goodness.  It had a wonderful flavor combination and was not at all bitter or too spinach-y.  It was incredibly easy to make and a fabulous way to get more greens into our meal, and/or use spinach that was on the brink.  The original recipe called for quinoa, and I would have used that except I had some leftover quinoa salad I was using as a side, so I used barley instead and we all really liked it.

Adapted from this recipe.

Green Goodness Soup with Quinoa
serves 4-6
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • rounded 1/4 tsp powdered ginger OR 1 TBLS fresh grated
  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 cups packed kale/collard green/mustard greens (broccoli even?)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa or barley
  • salt and pepper to taste
--  Begin by cooking your grain
-- Saute onion 10 minutes until golden brown, add garlic and ginger and saute an additional minute
--  Add broth and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10-15 minutes until potatoes are soft.
-- Add greens and stir until wilted and completely cooked (3-4 minutes).
-- Puree until smooth
-- Add grain and stir until incorporated.
-- Season to taste.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Easy Pad Thai

People always rave about Pad Thai.  It's "the dish" to get if you're not familiar with Thai cuisine.  I've had it.  I don't like it.  There's something about the flavor I just can't get into.  Call me weird, that's fine.  You have your food, I have mine.

When I saw this post about a "more authentic Pad Thai" I was curious.  It didn't have fish cause in the recipe, and while it's not touted to be actually authentic, the author of the blog did say it's the closest she's come to tasting Pad Thai the way she had it in Thailand.  For me, that meant I had to try it.

The recipe is insanely easy.  It came together so fast I had to let the broccoli just sit in the skillet and go from beautiful bright green to dull not-picture-pretty green.  I know for next time, right?

Oh, and can I say I love this Pad Thai.  I have no personal experience on what this is supposed to taste like, but it doesn't taste like it does in restaurants and for that I am glad.

I served this with a side salad and steamed edamame.

Easy Pad Thai
serves 4

  • 8oz pkg Asian rice noodles
  • 3 TBLS brown sugar
  • 3 TBLS lime juice
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 4 scallions, white parts sliced thin, green parts cut into 1 in pieces
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups chopped broccoli floret (1 medium head)
  • chopped peanuts, garnish
  • chopped cilantro, garnish
-- Soak noodles in hot water 10 minutes, according to directions.  Drain and set aside.
-- Once noodles have started soaking, make the sauce by combining the brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.  Set aside.
-- In a large skillet or wok, heat a little bit of oil and saute the white scallion parts, garlic, and broccoli until the broccoli is bright green.
-- Add into the skillet/wok the noodles, green scallion pieces, and sauce.  Stir and mix 1-2 minutes until heated through and well coated.
-- Garnish each plate with peanuts and cilantro.