Quinoa with Chickpeas, Sweet Potato and Raisins

This was the type of meal where I was crossing my fingers the entire time I was cooking it, unsure if I would like it.  Of course it sounded very intriguing when I came across the original blogger’s post which is why I decided to make it.  But I was totally doubting that cinnamon and raisins would work in a savory dish.  So it is definitely a combination of things that I wouldn’t have put together on my own but they actually combined very nicely in the end.

Quinoa with Chickpeas, Sweet Potato, and Raisins

Inspired by:  Eats Well with Others

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp garlic, minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp red curry paste

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup quinoa

2.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 large sweet potato, cooked and diced (can use butternut squash)

1 tbsp dried basil (or cilantro) – optional

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and curry paste.  Cook another minute.

Add the quinoa, broth, chickpeas, honey, and raisins.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potato and continue to simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes.

Top with basil or cilantro if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash


Well, this was my first time cooking with barley and it turned out great!  The oven does most of the work so it was really easy too.  I can’t wait to make this again.  It is a pretty healthy meal as well since barley is fiber rich and the spinach and squash are vitamin and nutrient rich.

Oh by the way, I’m crossing this off my 30×30 list for risotto.  It is really not a true risotto, but that list has barely been touched so I’ll take what I can get.  I have a feeling that list is going to be extended to a 30 while I’m 30 list.  Oops.

Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Source:  Dec 2011 issue of Real Simple magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1″ pieces (about 3 cups) – next time I may use a large sweet potato

1 onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

5 oz baby spinach – I know I used less that this, I didn’t measure, just used all I had in an open package

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the squash, onion, and s&p.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4-6 minutes.

Add the barley to the vegetables and cook for another minute.  Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.  Bake until barley is tender, 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, stir in spinach and Parmesan.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Soup

Every year I make a ton of soup recipes throughout the fall and winter.  This cauliflower soup was one of the first that I made this year.

As usual I was pretty much winging it, but it is loosely based off the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  I realized I didn’t have any milk in the house about half way through so I kind of panicked, but it all worked out in the end and I made it healthy in the process. Woohoo! {I mean, there’s still butter in it, but a lot less than the original.}

Go to the link below if you want to see PW’s original version.  She leaves hers chunky, and adds milk and cream.  I did not add any milk or cream, and I pureed the soup with an immersion blender.

Cauliflower Soup

Source:  Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil

one medium white or yellow onion, finely diced

2-3 carrots, finely diced

2-3 celery stalks, finely diced

1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 T. dried parsley

salt and pepper

1 carton (32 oz) low-sodium chicken broth

2-3 T. butter

3 T flour

Sour cream for serving – optional

Directions:

Add the oil to a soup pot that’s over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook for a few minutes, until they are tender and starting to brown.  Turn the heat to low and add the cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.  Let that cook for just a few minutes to allow the cauliflower to brown very slightly.

Pour in the chicken stock or broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until cauliflower is completely tender.

*This is where I panicked.*  So, off to the side, I melted a few tablespoons of butter and then added flour to it.  I cooked that for a few minutes hoping to eliminate the raw flour taste.  Then I added it to the soup as a thickener.  {PW added whole milk and half and half to the roux to create a white sauce.}

Stir the soup as it simmers and thickens, taste and add s & p.  Total simmering time should be about 15-20 minutes, during that time I pureed it with an immersion blender but you could transfer it to a blender or food processor in batches if you would like.  Or like I said above, PW leaves hers chunky.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

Tilapia & Quinoa with Basil and Pine Nuts

This really isn’t a recipe, but I thought I would share anyway since it involves my new favorite side-dish QUINOA.  Maybe it will give you inspiration to try something new?!

The other night I cooked a cup of quinoa in plain water as directed on the package.  Once the quinoa was cooked and liquid was absorbed, I stirred in a small handful of chopped fresh basil and a handful of pine nuts.

I served the quinoa with sauteed tilapia (pan fried?  I don’t know what you call it but I just cooked the fillets until opaque in a non-stick pan coated with Pam spray}.  I topped the tilapia with Parmesan and more basil. You could also bake the tilapia with a Parmesan crust.

It was light and tasty!  Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken Breasts and Broccoli

This was the most delicious meal!  Truly, it was fantastic.  I can’t say enough about it, it just really hit the spot.  It all started because I wanted to cook some chicken breasts on a Sunday night to have on hand to eat during the week.  I’m trying to cook more on weekends because I just don’t have the desire to cook on weeknights anymore.  I’ve lost my gumption I tell you!   Anyway, then I saw this roasted broccoli recipe on Pinterest and decided to combine the two recipes into one meal.

The chicken was great, but the broccoli was my favorite part and now I want to eat it everyday.  The crispy bits of garlic were like candy.  🙂

Next time I make this meal I’ll probably prepare some brown rice to go with it.  And I wish I had a better picture because this one does it absolutely no justice!

 

Oven Roasted Lemon Chicken – serves 4

4 small chicken breasts {I had marinated the chicken in lemon juice for 20-30 minutes in the fridge, but that’s optional.}

drizzle of EVOO

s & p

minced garlic

dried herbs – parsley, rosemary, and thyme

Roasted Broccoli (adapted from Barefoot Contessa) – serves 2 or 3

1 large bundle of broccoli {about 4 cups once it was chopped up into florets}

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

s & p

EVOO {about 4 tablespoons, just eyeball it}

Directions:

Cover two baking sheets with foil for easy clean-up.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the chicken on one pan, drizzle with a little oil, add salt and pepper, garlic, and herbs to the top of each breast.  Place in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the baking sheet of broccoli to the oven as well {because it won’t take as long as the chicken}.  To prepare the broccoli for roasting, place the florets on the sheet pan, toss with oil, sliced garlic, and salt and pepper and then evenly spread the broccoli out.

Give the broccoli a stir/shake about half way through the baking time, some browning is normal.

Check the chicken after 30 minutes. The thickest part should no longer be pink.  May need 5 more minutes of cooking time.

When you remove the broccoli, zest a lemon over all {can squeeze with juice too, but I didn’t} and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese {I didn’t}.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa

I mentioned a few posts back that I love quinoa and that I would be posting more recipes using quinoa soon.  Well, here you go!  It is safe to say that I am now obsessed with quinoa and am constantly looking for new recipes.  I love how nutritious it is!

What is also perfect (sort of) is that Tim is back on second shift so I can do whatever I want for weeknight dinners.  This means chick food galore!  I can eat vegetarian meals, have a bowl of cereal, just eat hummus and veggies, or any other random thing at all.  Tim would not go for this quinoa meal alone {if at all?}; he would probably at least need shrimp or salmon to go alongside.  But this was just fine for me.

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup water

1 cup canned pineapple juice

1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup cashews, toasted

2 tsp sesame oil

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 or 2 carrots, chopped small

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup frozen peas

1 can pineapple chunks {with juice reserved}

s & p – optional {I skipped adding salt because the cashews were salted}

Bring the water, tsp of soy sauce, and cup of reserved pineapple juice to a boil.  Add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry skillet.  Then remove and set aside.  Add the sesame oil to the skillet, add the carrots, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Cook until crisp-tender.  Add the peas, then the pineapple chunks and heat through.  Then add the cashews and cooked quinoa.  Stir to combine.  Taste and add more soy sauce and/or salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

I added sirracha to my serving and it was fantastic.

Other possible add-ins:

garbanzo beans

black beans

broccoli

edamame

fresh herbs

Goddess Bowls

This was my first time cooking and eating quinoa and I loved it.

It was kind of a laborious meal to prepare but I made it for lunch on a day off, so I had plenty of time.  I’m just not used to using 2 pots, one saute pan, my food processor, and various other things to prepare lunch!  Worth it though!  I had just worked out and was in the mood for something healthy.  It was so tasty!

Oh! Next time I’ll probably cut the recipe in half.  It makes a ton and I’m pretty sure Tim won’t eat something like this.  Looks like I’ll be taking this in my lunch for a few days. Hopefully leftovers are just as good!

Lightened Protein Power Goddess Bowls

Source:  Apple A Day

Ingredients:
For the bowl:
1 c. uncooked green lentils
1 c. uncooked quinoa
2 tsp. olive oil, for sautéing
1/2 red onion, chopped – I used a white onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped – I used a green bell pepper
1 large tomato, chopped – I omitted
3 c. spinach or kale, roughly chopped – I used 6 cups of kale
1/2 c. fresh parsley, minced – I omitted
salt & black pepper, to taste
lemon zest and wedges, to garnish
For the dressing:
1/4 c. tahini
3 garlic cloves
1/2 c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 c. nutritional yeast – I omitted due to not knowing what the hell it is??
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt & freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 TBSP water, or as needed
Directions:
1. Cook lentils and grain of choice according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  (This can be done the night before.  Just keep in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before continuing the recipe.)
2. While the lentils and grain are cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a food processor.
3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.  Sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic for approximately three minutes. Add the red pepper and tomato and sauté for another 7-8 minutes.
4. Stir in kale and sauté for another few minutes, just until tender.  Add the dressing, lentils, and quinoa, and simmer on low three minutes more.
5.  Remove salad from the heat and stir in parsley.  Garnish with lemon wedges and zest.
Serves six.

Breakfast Smoothies

Instead of my usual piping hot cup(s) of coffee every morning I have been making these smoothies since the weather turned very warm a few days ago. Yum! I love the coffee-banana-peanut butter flavor! And they keep me full all morning.

To make the coffee ice cubes – brew a strong pot of coffee, let it cool, then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Transfer to a large storage bag and keep in the freezer.

Breakfast Smoothies
1 banana, sliced into chunks
1 (or two) heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter {or I have been loving almond butter}
handful of coffee ice cubes (about 6)
1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk

Place everything in the blender, pulse until smooth.  Pour into glass.  Serves 2.

Up next I’m going to try a green monster smoothie:
1 banana (or any fruit/combo)
large handful of baby spinach leaves
1 cup vanilla almond milk
handful of regular ice cubes (or green tea ice cubes)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp honey or agave nectar

It sounds like I need to get some flax seed and protein powder if I’m really going to get into these shakes? Thoughts?

Update 6/21/11:  I made the green monster smoothie yesterday morning and it was ok, but a little on the tangy side and tasted like it was missing something but I couldn’t figure out what.

I used:  1 medium banana that was sliced and frozen, handful of green tea ice cubes, handful of spinach leaves, 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 2 tsp agave nectar, and about 1/2 cup or so unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  I’m not sure what else it needs??

I guess I’m going to try adding blueberries and strawberries.

Tortellini Soup

Soup is one of the things that I feel confident making without following an exact recipe.  I find it really easy to just add several things, adjust seasonings, and really just wing it with the measurements with outstanding results most of the time.  Soup is also really easy to scale up or down to make a lot or just a couple of bowls.

My mind was racing with additions that would be welcome in this soup.  I think spinach would have been great, but if my memory serves me correctly Tim is not a fan of spinach so I left it out.  Sausage meatballs, zucchini, and celery are a few other ideas.

This was the quickest meal that I have prepared in a long time too, definitely under 30 minutes.  Keep in mind that we like things a little on the zesty side, so omit or reduce the red pepper flakes accordingly.  Also note that you can cook the frozen tortellini right in the soup pot, but I chose to cook it on the side for no apparent reason.

Tortellini Soup

Inspired by The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, chopped {can use leeks or white onions}

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 cups frozen peas and carrots

pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 {32 oz} carton chicken broth

water

1 package frozen tortellini {cheese or beef}

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

Cook tortellini in boiling water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add all of the seasonings and frozen peas and carrots {if you wanted to add zucchini or celery you would add it now}.  Saute a few minutes, then add the vinegar.  Next add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, about 1 cup of water to rinse the tomato sauce can, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and add the tortellini {also add the spinach now if using}.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I was nursing a sore throat several days ago and I thought a nice warm bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect medicine for lunch one day.  This recipe did not disappoint.  I’ve read similar recipes to this one and they are served cold, so I’m sure this recipe would be great either way.  The veggies that you choose to use are totally interchangeable.  I used a bag of frozen “spring mix” stir fry veggies, but just bell peppers would be fine.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

adapted from Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook, page 375

Ingredients:

8 ounces of egg, rice, or spaghetti noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 Tbsp oil for stir frying

stir fry veggies of your choice – fresh or frozen

Optional Toppings:

peanuts

sliced green onions

chopped cilantro

Directions:

Cook noodles in boiling water as directed.

Stir the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper together with a whisk, gradually add the broth.  {This kinda takes forever because the peanut butter is so thick, but keep at it.}

Stir fry the veggies until crisp tender in a little oil in a large saute pan.  Add the cooked and drained pasta and the peanut butter sauce to the pan.  Toss to combine and coat.

Place in serving bowls and add topping if you choose.

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