Monday, November 26, 2012

Quinoa and Bean Pilaf

Picture of Quinoa and Bean Pilaf Recipe

This is a quick, tasty, and filling meal.  You can serve in a bowl as the picture shows, or in a tortilla as a burrito or quesadilla filling.  I like mine topped with guacamole and hot sauce!

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup quinoa
2, 15 oz cans of black and/or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used both kidney and black beans)
4 cups baby spinach (I didn't have spinach on hand so I used swiss chard and it came out great)
1/4 cup Diaya brand dairy-free shredded cheese 
Hot sauce and guacamole for topping

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add the bell peppers, scallion whites and celery.  Cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 min.  Add garlic, tomato paste, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring often until the tomato paste turns brick red, about 2 min.  Stir in quinoa, then add 2 cups water and the beans.  Bring to a simmer (with lid tilted on skillet) and cook, stirring often, until most of the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Add up to 1/4 cup more water if necessary.

Remove skillet from the heat and stir in the spinach just until wilted.  Stir in another 1/2 tsp salt, half of the scallion greens, and half of the cheese (optional).   Divide among bowls and sprinkle with remaining scallion greens and cheese.  Top with hot sauce and guacamole.  Serve in a dish, or as filling for a burrito or quesadilla.

Recipe adapted from:

Wild Rice Pilaf and Sweet Potato Casserole

Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Cranberries and PecansPicture of Soul Sweet 'Taters Recipe

Nice meal for a chilly fall day.  I served this with steamed green beans for a complete meal.  I only used ~2/3 of the sugar that the Sweet Potato Casserole recipe called for and it came out a bit too sweet for my taste (like a dessert, really).  If I make it again, I will probably cut the sugar in half.

Rice Pilaf
4 cups vegetable stock, low sodium
2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup wild rice
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  cup pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 375.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the stock to a simmer.
In a 2 quart flameproof casserole over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent, 2-3 min.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a simmer, stir and cover.  Transfer the casserole into the oven and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, ~40-45 minutes.
Remove from oven.  Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Stir in pecans and parsley.  Serve hot.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar (I suggest cutting this in half for a healthier recipe)
1 cup soymilk
2 large eggs (I used enough Ener-G egg replacer for 1 egg and 1 chia egg (recipe: 1 Tbsp chia seeds + 3 Tbsp warm water, let sit for 5 minutes) and the consistency came out fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I suggest cutting in half for a healthier recipe)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup flour
6 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 375.  Put the sweet potatoes on the oven rack and bake until fork-tender, about 45 min.  When the potatoes are finished cooking, let cool slightly, about 5 min.  Slice them open and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large bowl.  Increase oven temp to 400.
Add the granulated sugar, milk, egg substitutes, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the sweet potatoes.  Mash the mixture with a potato masher until combined and slightly lumpy - you don't want it to be perfectly smooth.
In a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour, and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until combined.  The mixture should resemble a crumble.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into a 14 cup oval-shaped baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.  Bake until golden brown, about 30 min.

Recipes adapted from:

Flatbread Pesto Pizzas

Pizza is a favorite around our house, but who can afford to order out every time (both the financial cost as well as the health cost)!  Take out pizzas are loaded with saturated fat and a tremendous amount of sodium.  Instead opt for a healthier option and make your pizza at home.  Make it a family affair by having individual pizzas and everyone can top them how they like.   When I make my pizzas at home I use very little cheese if any at all.  Combined with the flavorful vegetables and sauces, you really don't miss it at all and it is much healthier for you!

This dough recipe is delicious and comes out like an artisian-style crust!  I recently splurged and purchased an Emile Henry pizza stone.  It was expensive, but my pizzas have turned out to be like a work of art!  This pizza stone bakes the crust to perfection...something that you would taste in an Italian restaurant.  It is coated with a glaze that helps prevent sticking and staining associated with most other pizza stones (plus it comes in fun colors!).  I purchased it online from Williams-Sonoma.  Give it a try!  It will make you want to cook your pizza at home rather than ordering out.

Dough Recipe (makes 16 individual pizzas or ~3-4 large pizzas.  Dough can be refrigerated for later use)
Combine 1 Tbsp yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/4 tsp sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Let froth for a few minutes. 
Add 2 cups more water and 3 cups flour.  Whisk together until smooth.  Let rest for 10 minutes.
Place ingredients in a mixer bowl with dough hook.  Gradually add additional 3 cups of flour, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and 2 tsp salt.  Mix until dough comes together. 
Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover.  Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.  
Punch down, remove from bowl, knead for a few minutes.  Divide in half then into 16 total pieces.  
Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Roll each dough piece into 7-8 inch round pizzas.  Place on a pizza stone (coated with cornmeal to prevent sticking) and cover with a cloth.  Let rise an additional 20 minutes.  
Place toppings on pizza and cook for 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toppings are cooked through.

Pesto sauce
Tomato sauce
bell peppers
banana peppers
fresh herbs

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Mama's Vegetarian Meatloaf"

I served with baked sweet potato and steamed green beans for a complete meal.

1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup carrots, shredded and chopped a bit
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup ketchup

In a large non-stick skillet, saute onion in Earth Balance until clear.  Add carrots, celery, red pepper, and garlic.  Saute until vegetables are tender.  Add rest of ingredients except for ketchup.  Stir until mixture holds together well (add a little bit of water if needed).  Spray a large loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Pat meatloaf down firmly.  Spread ketchup on top.  Bake at 375 for 1 hr.

Recipe taken from: "Cooking for Two With the Micheff Sisters" by the Mitcheff Sisters.

Spinach Arugula Salad

Delicious!  A perfect accompaniment to any main dish or a nice light supper by itself.  I will be keeping this recipe close in my kitchen!  Makes a large salad, so you may want to half the ingredients if you have a small family.

3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cup hot water
3 Tbsp fresh orange juice (I used squeezed juice from an orange)
1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
6 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
10 oz Arugula/Spinach combination (you could also use any baby green salad mixture)
1 1/4 cups pecan halves, toasted if you like

Put the dried cranberries in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them.  Let them steep for 10 minutes, then drain.

In another small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, and mustard.  Slowly whisk in the oil.  Fold in the cranberries and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the arugula in a large serving bowl.  Scatter the pecans over the top. Drizzle with the cranberry vinaigrette and serve immediately.  

Tofurky Panini

I adapted this recipe to make it vegetarian.  It was a hit!  The original recipe called for 'wichcraft cranberry-apricot chutney spread from Williams-Sonoma, which I could not obtain; however I think that it would have been delicious.  You could get adventurous and try an apricot preserve possibly.  Since I didn't have the sandwich spread, I instead made a few improvisations which I think still made a good sandwich.

Artisian bread, cut diagonally into slices
Tofurky brand Peppered deli-style slices (2-4 slices per sandwich)
1 oz blue cheese
1 tsp Vegenaise dairy/egg-free mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup arugula
Earth Balance buttery spread

Slice 2 pieces of bread to make one sandwich.  Spread Vegenaise on one slice of bread and dijon mustard on the other slice.  Top with Tofurky and a light sprinkling of blue cheese.  Build sandwich.  On the outside of the bread slices spread a thin layer of Earth Balance.  Place sandwich on a panini press and grill until lightly browned on both sides and warmed through.  Open sandwich and place in some fresh arugula.  

I served with a tossed garden salad for a complete meal.

Trick Or Treat Mac & Cheese - Revised

Halloween Mac Cheese Michael Symon
I happened to see this recipe demonstrated on an episode of The Chew.  I only saw the tale end of it, so I went online to check it out.  I revised this recipe to make it a bit healthier.  It turned out pretty good.  It made a HUGE portion.  If I make this again, I might consider cutting the ingredients in half to make a smaller portion.

1 onion, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (I was able to purchase butternut squash that was already peeled and diced in the produce section of our local Kroger.  I used about 3 cups of the squash.)
2 cups kale, de-ribbed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Coconut Milk Creamer (I like the So Delicious Original Creamer)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pound Rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup Tofutti brand dairy-free cream cheese
1 bar of swiss cheese, diced
1 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups soy milk, plain
1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cook rigatoni according to package directions.
In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, squash, kale, and garlic.  Cook until soft and  onions are translucent.  Add flour and stir to make a roux.  Slowly pour in the milk and creamer while stirring, and bring mixture to a simmer.  Cook gently until mixture thickens, about 4-5 minutes.  Add in the swiss cheese and the nutmeg.  Stir constantly until all of the cheese is melted.  Add cream cheese and mix until melted and combined.  Stir in the chipotle pepper and add the cooked rigatoni.  Toss pasta until it is well mixed.  You can serve at this point if you wish, which I think I might like better.
Another option would be to place the mac & cheese mixture in a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Place under broiler for 1 minute or until breadcrumbs are browned (be careful...they burn quickly).  Top with chopped parsley.   
I served with green beans.

Black Bean Chili

Mmm...nothing says fall like chili!  I appreciated this recipe because it was a bit different than used black beans.  It was pretty spicy and I found that leftovers were even hotter, so I added avocado and cilantro to help "cool" it down.  These toppings not only "cooled" down the spiciness of the soup, but they added great flavor, too.  I served with cornbread.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, copped
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder (more or less depending on your spice preference)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cans (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed (preferably low sodium)
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes 
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Tofutti brand dairy-free sour cream
Avocado slices

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Saute until onions soften, about 10 minutes.  Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; stir 2 minutes.  Mix in beans and tomato sauce.  Bring chili to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  
Ladle chili into bowls.  Top with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, or whatever you like.  
If chili seems too thick for your preference, use vegetable stock to thin it down to your liking.

Lentil Soup

This soup really hit the spot.  Loaded with fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates is is one healthy meal in and of itself!  Legumes, such as the lentils found in this soup, have also been found to control blood glucose levels.  So, if you are having trouble with high blood sugars, this recipe is somewhere to start!  So warm and hearty, it is the perfect pairing for these dark, chilly fall nights we have been having lately.  I paired this with a kale and swiss chard salad and some garlic Naan bread (I like the Stonefire  brand).

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
3/4 can (15.5 oz) crushed tomatoes, preferably low sodium
2 quarts vegetable stock, low sodium
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Place olive oil into a large stock pot and set over medium heat.  Once hot, add onion, carrot, celery, and salt and cook until the onions are translucent and soft, approximately 6-7 min.  Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, broth, coriander, and cumin.  Stir to combine.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat to low and cover at a low simmer until lentils are tender, approximately 35-40 minutes.  

Veggie Pita Pockets

Oh my...these are AMAZING!  I just kind of made it up with the ingredients I had on hand, but you could make it with whatever you have.  These are stuffed with Superfood veggies to keep you full and satisfied through the day.  Plus, with all the healthy ingredients it makes you feel good that you did something good for your body today.

1 whole wheat Pita pocket - I like the Stonefire brand (found at our local Kroger)
2 tsp Mezzetta Chimichurri Sandwich Spread (also found at our local Kroger in the salad dressing aisle)
2-4 slices Soy "Turkey" slices (optional) - I like the Tofurky brand.
1 leaf Kale, chopped
1 leaf Swiss Chard, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Spinach, chopped
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/8 cup carrots, chopped
2-3 mushrooms, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup frozen edamame (soy beans), thawed
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Cut the pita bread in half and lightly spread the Sandwich Spread on the inside of the pita bread.  Place 1-2 slices of Tofurky inside each pita half (if desired).  Toast in the toaster oven for a few minutes to warm the bread (careful not to toast too long, or bread will dry out). 
Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl, tossing with the oil and vinegar.  
When pita pockets have finished toasting, use tongs to stuff the pitas full with the "salad" ingredients.