Thursday, January 30, 2014

Red Lentil Quinoa Cutlets with easy Mushroom Soup

What are you all fixing for Valentine's Day?  I think this duo may make it to our table.  I haven't decided yet.

I made this dish back in December and I'm just now getting around to posting it -- sorry, but life  It keeps going at its very busy pace and I'm left trying to catch up.

Anyway.  Both these dishes are easy and simple, and they taste amazing.  They taste spectacular together.  I made the soup (next time I'll double it!) and used it as a stand-in gravy.  It worked really well, but we loved the combination so much, that we took the leftovers and made a "stack" out of it.  Cutlet with a generous portion of the soup on top, with another cutlet and more soup on top of that.  Can I say ahhhh-maaa---zing!  Wow.

You may think this is an adult-only meal, but my boys both asked for seconds.  They especially loved the soup, which, I will admit, is potentially one of my new favorite soups.  It's simple and easy and would be perfect to dress up a dinner, or as a lunch with a piece of toasted hearty bread.  Yum.

Anyway, I think if I make this in two weeks for Valentine's Day, I'll serve it with roasted balsamic green beans or asparagus.

Original cutlet recipe can be found here.  And the original mushroom soup recipe is here.

Since I followed the cutlet recipe to the letter, I'll let you get the recipe over there instead of re-writing it. The soup, on the other hand, I tweaked a little, and so I'll give you my version here.

Mushroom Soup
serves 4 (double it!!)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 8oz pk of mushrooms, baby bellas work well
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinse and drain
-- Saute onion and mushroom 7-9 minutes, until soft and mushrooms have released their liquid
-- Add garlic and sage.  Saute 1 minute
-- Add broth and beans and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Puree and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mujadara with Salata

We love ethnic food.  I think the blog probably reflects that, but just incase you didn't know it.  We do.

When going out to a Mediterranean-type restaurant, my standard choice of meal is the Majadara plate.  There's just something about the specially lightly spiced lentils and bulgar with the salata on top to give it even more flavor and some crunch.  Add some tzatziki and we can call it good!

I got the basic Mujadara recipe here, and used this Salata recipe to recreate my favorite dish from our old favorite Lebenese restaurant in Cleveland.  It was delish!

Mujadara with Salata and Tzatziki
serves 4-6


  • 4 cups chopped or sliced onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 cup dry bulgar
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, packed and chopped
-- In a large skillet, saute the onions until they are nicely golden brown and almost caramelized
-- Add cooked lentils, water, and bulgar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 8-10 minutes until water is absorbed.
-- Stir in 3 TBLS packed mint.  Save the leftovers for garnish

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 TBLS fresh mint
  • 2 TBLS lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp each: salt and pepper
-- Mix together in a small bowl and serve over mujadara

  • 1 cup yogurt (almond or soy milk based yogurt works fine)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 TBLS lemon juice
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dill (or mint)
-- Puree yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar together until smooth
-- Squeeze cucumber dry and stir into bowl
-- Chill 2-3 hrs before using

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Smoked Squash & White Bean Stews

More white bean stews -- didn't mean to do that, but these stews are too good to hold off on posting until later, and they are both quite different than the one posted earlier.  So no true apologies from me!

First up, a wonderful, colorful, hearty stew. The original recipe uses dry beans.  A totally fine way to go if you have the time.  I did not, however make the time to use dried bean so I used canned instead and it came out fine.

We loved the smoky flavor of this dish due to the fire-roasted tomatoes, smoked paprika, and a little liquid smoke at the end to round things out just a little more.  The little boys loved this stew, which surprised me a little, but I was happy about it none-the-less!  Kids gobbling up squash and kale will make me smile any ole time.

White Bean & Squash Stew with Kale
serves 6-8
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 1 lg red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 cans great northern white beans, rinse and drain
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed (1/2 in).  about 4 cups
  • 4 cups packed, chopped, kale
  • 1 TBLS smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional, and start with 1/4 tsp and then taste before using more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
-- Saute onion and bell pepper til soft
-- Add garlic, saute 1-2 more minutes
-- Add broth, tomatoes, beans, squash, and spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes until squash is soft
-- Add chopped kale, stir and heat through til wilted

ALTERNATIVE -- use 2 cans of white kidney beans instead of the three cans of great northern.  Use 4 cups chopped broccoli florets instead of kale (only add it in after the bell peppers and cook until bright green.  Then proceed as directed.)

If you don't have all the ingredients to make the first stew, then try this next Smoked Squash & White Bean stew.  We loved this one almost more, even with it being so simple.  It can use pumpkin if you can still find them, or any other winter squash -- butternut being my favorite.

I would highly suggest doubling this recipe.  It only serves 3 to 4, and with the time it takes, you might as well make enough for delicious leftovers!  The use of liquid smoke in the recipe is a must.  If you don't have some on your shelf, go out, spend the $3 for a bottle that will last you a couple years, and then get busy making this stew.

I served it with a side of roasted cauliflower and seasoned barley, but next time I'll go with a green vegetable for more color.

Smoked Squash & White Bean Stew
serves 3-4
  • 1 1/2 lbs sugar pumpkin or butternut squash.  Peel and cube (1 in).  6 cups worth.
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 can canellini beans, rinse and drain (in a pinch, you can use Great Northern, but they're a little on the small side for this dish)
  • 1 TBLS red wine
-- Saute pumpkin or squash (with choice of oil, broth, or water) in a large skiller until browned and starting to soften.  About 10 minutes.
-- Add broth, spices, smoke, and simmer until soft.  6-8 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
-- Add beans and wine and heat through.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Crockpot Black Bean Quinoa Stew

This was an easy-peasy meal for me.  There's something so satisfying about throwing a ton of ingredients into a large crockpot, turning the thing on high, and leaving for the afternoon knowing dinner will be ready when you return.  Ahh...if only it worked like that every single time.  The only trick with this dish was the timing on the beans -- I think my beans were older, so instead of taking 4-5 hours on high, it was a full 7!!  I was thankful we had leftovers in the fridge that night.  But we were all very pleased with our dinner the next night, let me tall ya what!

I got the recipe over here and tweaked it a bit.  We're not huge green pepper fans, so next time I'll tweak it even more and sub those out for a yellow or orange pepper.  Lime wedges are a must, and I would highly recommend using at least half broth.  I tasted the stew when it was done (after we had finished our leftover dinner) and it tasted good -- but it was amazing the night after.  So this is a definite make ahead dinner!

Crockpot Black Bean Quinoa Stew
serves 6
  • 1 lb dry black beans, picked over and rinsed well
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice.  Recommended: have 1 of the cans be fire roasted
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow or orange (or green) bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp liquid smoke (less if you used a fire roasted can of tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 TBLS fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 TBLS brown sugar
  • 1/2 -1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • lime wedges, or lime juice
-- Combine everything, minus the lime juice, in a large crockpot, and cook on high for 5-7 hours (checking doneness after the 5 hour mark)
-- Sprinkle lime juice on each individual bowl at serving

Thursday, January 16, 2014

White Bean Chili

This white chili came about due to a craving I've had the last 3 winters for a classic White Chicken Chili.  There's something about the green chilis, the cinnamon, the light hearty-ness of it.  This past fall, I figured out a plant-based version that satiated my desires.  The addition of barley, I decided, was the factor that changed everything.  Without it, it's just a nicely flavored white bean soup.  With it, though, there's a chewiness that I equate to heartiness.

I served this soup at our annual "first day of fall" party with two other chilis, but this one was the crowd favorite.  The picture doesn't show the fresh cilantro, but make sure you have plenty on hand for sprinkling! 

White Chili
serves 6-8

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 7-8 oz chopped green chilis
  • 1 TBLS cumin
  • 1 TBLS oregano
  • 3/4 - 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dry barley or bulgar
  • 3 cans white beans (white kidney or great northern, or a combo)
  • 2 TBLS lime juice
  • fresh, chopped cilantro for garnish
  • s & p to taste
-- In a large pot or dutch oven, saute the onion and celery until tender.  Add garlic and saute another minute or two.
-- Add green chiles and spices and stir for a minute
-- Add broth, barley and 2 cups of water
-- Puree 1 cup of the white beans with 1 cup of water until smooth.  Add to pot.
-- Bring pot to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes
-- Add beans and simmer another 15 minutes until grain is fully cooked
-- At the last minute, add lime juice and stir.
-- Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with cilantro

Monday, January 13, 2014

Red Lentil and Squash Stew

Don't you just love a good hearty stew in the middle of winter?  I do.  It's probably the #1 reason there are so many great soups and stews on here.  Some food bloggers tend toward sweets or salads or what-have-you.  I guess I tend toward meals your can serve in a bowl and scrap up with a spoon.  I feel very fortunate all three of my boys love them as much as I do!

I saw this recipe floating around on Pinterest right when fall hit -- the original recipe calls for pumpkin -- but I opted to use an acorn squash and was really pleased with the outcome.  I love the ginger and cumin combination along with the red lentils and squash. it.

Oh.  The best part of this recipe?  Crockpot, baby!  Oh yeah.

Original recipe found here.

Red Lentil & Squash Stew
serves 4-6
  • 1 lb acorn (or other) squash, or pumpkin.  Peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 TBLS tomato paste
  • 1 TBLS fresh grated ginger
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp peper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt to taste
-- Combine everything in a crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hrs, or high for 4 hours

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Quinoa Chili

I really like this sweet potato quinoa chili.  There's something so comforting about it.  So when I saw this recipe for a very similar looking chili, I hopped on board that train and set out to make it.  I thought to myself that if it were better than the sweet potato version, I would toss that recipe out and keep the new one -- but I couldn't make a call on which one was better -- so I kept both and just tweaked the sweet potato one to be a little more like stew if I wanted.

This is an easy meal to throw together.  Everything is in one pot and it's hearty and filling.  It is warmth and comfort in a bowl, and who can argue the wonderfulness of that?!

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Quinoa Chili
serves 4-6
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15oz can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp cinamon
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • Green onions, sliced for garnish (opt)
-- Saute onion in large soup pot or dutch oven until soft -- 7-10 minutes.
-- Add everything else, minus quinoa and stir until combined well and pumpkin is incorporated
-- Add quinoa, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer uncovered 20 minutes until quinoa is fully cooked.  Stir occasionally.
-- Serve with green onions as garnish, if desired 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baingan Bharta (Indian Mashed Eggplant)

When Scot and I go out these days we tend to more "eastern" cuisines. Asian fusion, Indian or Nepalese, get the idea.

One of our favorite little Indian spots serves this amazing dish called Baingan Bharta -- it's just mashed up eggplant simmered in spices and then serves over rice.  It's amazing and I set out to recreating it at home for a fraction of the price. Of course, it's not exact, but it's pretty close and we're happy with it.

If you, too, like Indian foods, then this meal may be right up your alley.  Serve this with your favorite dal on the side, or roast some "Indian inspired" chickpeas.

The recipe I worked from can be found here

Baingan Bharta
serves 4 men

  • 2 lbs eggplant.  Chop it into 1 inch cubes and roast it at 350 for 30 minutes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1 TBLS grated fresh ginger
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice (fire roasted is great)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 TBLS sugar (opt)
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
Seasoned Rice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tomato bullion cube
  • 1 tsp cumin
-- In a large skillet or saucepan, saute onion until soft.  7-9 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute until fragrant. 
-- Add tomatoes with juice and spices and stir
-- Add cooked eggplant and 1/2 cup water.  Cover, stirring occasionally, cook until eggplant is broken down, about 15 minutes.
-- Mash or run a hand blender through it a little to get it the consistency you want.

Serve over rice. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dark Secret Brownies

Happy New Year!

I know most food bloggers (am I one of them?!) are probably not even posting today, and if they are, they're posting something ubber-healthy. I'll get there, don't worry.  But for now, let me share these Dark Secret Brownies with you!

I meshed the typical black-bean brownie recipe with my "hit it rich" from-scratch brownie recipe and came up with this fabulous recipe!  It's been eaten at many a gathering where noone even knew there were beans in it and everyone that they were wonderful!  They are wonderfully chewy chocolatey brownies made with no oil or egg and they're still delicious!  Try them and you'll see! Now -- that's a secret worth telling, right?

Happy new year.  Enjoy!

Dark Secret Brownies
Serves 18 squares

What you'll need:
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained OR 1 can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (vegan options available)

What you'll do:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Combine the black beans with the water in your food processor and pulse until creamy (if you don't have a food processor, don't worry!  Just mash the beans with a potato masher or large spoon and then stir in the water until combined)  If you’re using the pumpkin, there is no water or pureeing necessary.
  • Dump bean mixture into a mixing bowl and add vanilla.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa powder and stir.  Add these dry ingredients to the bean mixture and stir until all combined.  It will be thick.
  • Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe container and add to brownie batter.  Stir to combine.
  • Pour batter into a well greased 8x11 baking dish. An 8x8 dish can be used, just cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the middle is no longer gooey and toothpick comes out clean when inserted.  DO NOT OVER BAKE. The brownies will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.