Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

This is deliciously simple and doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen.  The smoked paprika salt is what sets this recipe apart, as it adds a wonderful depth to the vegetables.  It’s a perfect weeknight meal that gives you leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Smoked paprika salt
  • Oregano
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat toaster oven to 375F.
  2. Prepare the quinoa according to directions (or: boil 2 cups water/veggie broth with 1 cup quinoa for 15 minutes, then let sit for 5 minutes and fluff with fork).
  3. Drizzle olive oil into baking pan (8×8).
  4. Chop veggies into bite size pieces and add to baking pan.
  5. Mix veggies with hands so they’re coated with olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle smoked paprika salt and oregano over the veggies, and toss again to coat.
  7. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Lunch Salad

Lunch saladLunch salads are our lunch staple- I make two (or three) at a time, which means less time prepping and more time eating!

Lunch Salad

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • Seasoning (Oregano, ginger, dried mustard, basil, etc)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Radishes
  • Carrot
  • Snap peas/Peas
  • Beets
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans
  • Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Add everything to a mason jar in the order above.  You can play around with the ingredients- the ones I’ve added are what I consider the ‘staples’ of our lunch salad.

Butternut Squash Soup

I really like squash in general, and butternut squash is my go-to soup.  Adding sweet onions instead of white or red adds a subtle complexity that I prefer (but it’s definitely not necessary).

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add squash, carrot, and onion; sauté for 12 minutes.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat; stir in half-and-half and salt.
  6. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

From recipe at myrecipes.com

I almost always make this recipe for parties- and it goes quickly.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 (16 oz total) blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan, and next 6 ingredients (through spinach) in a large bowl and stir until well blended
  3. Spoon mixture into 1 1/2 quart baking dish
  4. Sprinkle with remaining cheese
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown
  6. Serve with tortilla chips

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Bread

This is from my Light & Tasty 2007 cookbook.  And wow is this the tastiest bread.  It’s really easy to make and even easier to eat : )

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil (or roughly 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (110°F to 115°F)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Pour boiling water over tomatoes and let stand 15 minutes.  Then, drain and chop.
  2. In saucepan, combine next 6 ingredients (milk to salt).  Add tomatoes.
  3. Cook and stir mixture over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add tomato mixture, egg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  5. Knead on a floured surface until smooth, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Place in a bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray. Turn once to coat top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  7. Punch dough down and shape into loaf. Put on baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes (Toaster oven: 350°F for ~15 minutes).

Curried Couscous with Broccoli

This is adapted from a recipe at myrecipes.com.  I tend to find a lot of my ‘quick and easy’ recipes there, mainly because I browse around when I’ve got some time on my hands.  This is a nice recipe that’s super quick to make and isn’t expensive either.  I generally don’t add the raisins, but you can definitely substitute in dried cranberries.  Sprinkling some cheese over the top would be nice as well (I’m thinking parmesan).

Curried Couscous with Broccoli

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted cashews, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (you can decrease this to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Directions:

  • Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  • While couscous stands, steam broccoli florets, covered, for 3 minutes or until tender.
  • Combine couscous, broccoli, onion, and next 10 ingredients (onion through chickpeas), tossing gently.

Appetizer Idea: Antipasto Skewers

We just had a lovely dinner party where I made a ton of food, so a lot of that will be shared here, beginning with the appetizer.

My idea was to make toothpick-skewered vegetarian antipasto using cherry/grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls (bocconcini) and marinated mushrooms.  Everyone loved them (I don’t particularly like them because I’m not a fan of raw tomato).  You can totally mix it up with any antipasto items you want: olives, ham, salami, pepper, whatever!  Here’s the recipe for the marinated mushrooms:

Marinated Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook them for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Pour over the remaining olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Vegetable Saute with Tarragon Vinaigrette (and a poached egg)

I really like a poached egg over asparagus, so once I saw this recipe I knew I’d love it (I don’t remember where I got it from, but it’s a lot different from the original version).  It almost surprises you with the flavor (the tarragon) and after the first bite you’re hooked.  It also doesn’t take very long at all to put together, so it’s a great weeknight dinner.  You can simultaneously poach the eggs while you’re letting the vegetables cook down.  While they’re all cooking, make the vinaigrette so it’ll all be ready at the same time.  I’d pair it with a nice crusty bread to soak up the delicious vinaigrette.

Oh! And I finally have a picture of the finished dish (pardon the quality, it was taken from RS’ iPhone)

Vegetable Saute with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Vegetable Saute with Tarragon Vinaigrette (and a poached egg)

Serves 3 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 eggs
  • Vegetable Saute:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), sliced into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 can artichokes, diced
  • 1/2 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Tarragon Vinaigrette:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes (don’t overcook it, as the garlic will get bitter).
  • At the same time, start some water boiling in a pot (for the poached egg)
  • Add the mushrooms into the large skillet and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and artichokes and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 5 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes and pepper.
  • When the water starts to boil, add the eggs and simmer for about 3-4 minutes (to your own preference)
  • Combine the oil, vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper in a glass screw-top jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to mix the vinaigrette.
  • Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and serve.

Pita Pizzas

I learned almost everything I know about cooking from my grandmother.  One such cooking technique I perfected as a teenager was the coveted English Muffin Pizza.  Three ingredients was all it took to make me and my brother happy: English muffin, sauce (pasta or pizza, whatever we had), and cheese.  I have fond memories of those little pizzas.

Now that I’m a little more grown up (…I think), I’ve evolved the English Muffin Pizza into, so aptly named, the Pita Pizza.  This guy packs a huge amount of vegetables into a very small circle, so I’d like to think it’s healthier than its predecessor.  I don’t necessarily have a ‘recipe’ for this, but I’ll break it down a little bit.

Pita Pizzas

Ingredients:

Base

  • Pitas (I don’t cut them in half or anything like some recipes I’ve seen- they’re sturdier that way)

Sauce (choose one)

  • Salsa (my favorite)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Pizza sauce
  • Lots of diced tomatoes

Toppings (choose as many as you’d like)

  • Artichokes, Onions, Garlic, Red peppers, Green peppers, Olives, Black beans (any beans, actually), Zucchini… okay, you get the idea: just about anything in your kitchen can go on top.
  • Cheese (I like mozzarella, but you can also use cheddar or any other kind)

Directions:

  1. I use a toaster oven and heat it to about 350° Fahrenheit while I assemble the pizzas.
  2. Put some sauce on the pita.  Not too much because it’ll get a little mushy- just enough to slightly cover the pita.
  3. Dump as many veggies as you’d like on the pita.  Seriously.  If you can’t pick it up with your hands to eat it, that’s what forks were made for.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  The cheese should be fully melted.

My First Roast Chicken!

I officially roasted my first chicken last night!  Since I only purchase organic meat, I saw that a 3-4 pound chicken was the same price as 1 pound of chicken breast… so I thought, “why not?” And I’m a cheapie (which is always an issue given that I also purchase mostly organic food).

As a side note, I have the biggest oven I think that has ever been in an apartment ever.  Ever.  This puppy is large… but takes forever to heat up and doesn’t bake evenly (it’s a ginormous gas oven).  Therefore, I use a toaster oven for almost all of my baking, which is why you’ll see temperatures for both a regular oven and a toaster oven in most of the recipes here.

Anyway, I used the instructions from Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn with only minimal modifications.  I  sprinkled garlic powder along with salt and pepper over the chicken before I put it in.  I started with my toaster oven’s roasting pan, but it started smoking so I chopped some onions and put the bird in a square glass baking dish over the onions.  The skin on the bottom was a little soggy but the skin on top was deliciously crisp.  In the future I think I’ll try flipping the chicken halfway through to get both sides more crisp.

It took almost exactly an hour and the result was seriously the most delicious chicken I’ve ever had.  It was so moist but so flavorful.  Oh man, so good.  If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, please try it.  The worst part for me was trying to carve the bird, but The Kitchn comes to rescue there as well.