Tag Archives: dinner

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry

3 Feb

I rarely eat seafood, and I even more rarely cook it myself. But I was inspired the other night to try something new, so I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some shrimp. And after reading the grossly-named but helpful book Gutbliss, I have been making efforts toward “clean eating.” According to the book, this means no dairy, gluten, sugar, artificial sweetener, soy, or alcohol. I did a 10-day cleanse and since then have been at least trying to consider clean food for a good portion of my meals. (It’s really hard for me to keep away from cheese and chocolate though!)

All this to say that in searching for a recipe for dinner, I wanted something that fit the bill for both clean eating and a quick weeknight meal. I’ve found that Asian-inspired stir fries are the best bet here.

stir fry 1

The BF and I both enjoyed this stir fry and agreed we should add it to our weeknight repertoire. It was not extremely flavorful, though I’m sure if you wanted it to be more so, you could easily add more garlic, ginger, and/or oyster/fish sauce. But I personally liked that there was enough of those flavors to be noticeable but not so much that you couldn’t still taste the natural flavor of the shrimp and vegetables.

Stir fries are the best because they’re so easily customizable, so if you’d rather have all broccoli and no green beans, or if you want to leave out the ginger, then just do your thing, you know?

FYI, this recipe made about 3 large portions for us — one dinner for the two of us and one leftover lunch portion for me.

IMG_3070

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry adapted from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 green onion, chopped small
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound green beans
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop vegetables and prepare all ingredients before you begin cooking.

Heat a saute pan until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Add the shrimp and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and 2 tablespoons of the stock and stir-fry until the beans soften slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock along with the oyster sauce and a generous pinch of pepper. Stir-fry until the shrimp are cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender, about 3 more minutes. Serve immediately.

IMG_3073

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove

Classic Potato Soup

4 Nov

I feel like all I’m posting lately are soups and desserts. But that’s pretty much all I’m cooking, so I guess that’s about right. I’m not sure how long my soup obsession will last — it’s a relatively new thing, so I’m not sure if it will stick around. And of course I’ve always been obsessed with chocolate and sweets, so that seems like a permanent thing.

At any rate, I wanted to share this one with you now because it is so tasty and warm and filling and comforting. So if the time change has got you down — and I know I’m pretty down when I get home from work and it’s already completely dark — then this is the soup for you. It’s delicious and super unhealthy and it will warm you from the inside out. And it’s definitely hearty enough to be a complete meal. Though maybe you could balance it out with a nice salad or something.

Typically I try to give you options for vegetarian/vegan alternatives, and I am usually inclined to take that route myself. And I guess here you could go with vegetable broth and facon if you so desire. But really, if I’m talking comfort food, I’m talking about real bacon. I highly recommend it.

Potato Soup

Potato Soup from The Pioneer Woman

2-3 slices bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 whole small potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cajun spice mix
4 cups (free-range, organic, low sodium) chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cheddar, grated

Cook bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the hot to medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are starting to get tender. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove about 2/3 of the soup, and blend in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Stir in cream. Check for spices, salt, pepper, and temperature, adjusting as needed.

Serve in bowls garnished with grated cheese and crumbled bacon.

IMG_2718

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderful Food Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove
Foodie Friday from Simple Living & Eating

Eggplant Bharta

14 Oct

When I was in Hendersonville, we stopped by a new spice and tea shop on Main Street, and I picked up a packet of garam masala. So since then, I’ve been wanting to use it to make something delicious. When I got an eggplant in our CSA, I thought that was the perfect opportunity.

I did a little internet research, trying to find a recipe that was authentic but wouldn’t have too many specialty ingredients that I’d have to go out and purchase. Naturally, the result was delicious, but maybe not quite as delicious as if I had spent the time and money on those speciality ingredients.

I know it looks like mush, but it's actually really good.

I served this eggplant bharta (I believe bharta just means ‘mashed’) with jasmine rice and mini chicken tikka samosas from Trader Joe’s. The eggplant was not incredibly flavorful, but combined with the samosas and rice, it was really delicious. The BF and I are both fairly light eaters, so this recipe and a box of frozen samosas made dinner for the both of us and another lunch for me. If you’re cooking for more than two, I would definitely recommend getting two eggplants and doubling the recipe. I also recommend attempting this on a weekend since prepping and roasting the eggplant will take quite some time. But the results are worth it! Try it out!

Eggplant Bharta

Eggplant Bharta adapted from Indianfood.about.com and FineCooking.com

1 medium-sized eggplant
1 tbsps cooking oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2″ piece of ginger, grated
4 oz (~3/4 cup) grape tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. With the tip of a knife, score the flesh deeply in a diamond cross-hatch pattern by making two or three long cuts, cutting at a steep angle, and then rotating the eggplant to make another set of similar cuts. Press on the edges of the halves to open the cuts and sprinkle salt over the surface and into the cuts. Set aside, cut side up, for 30 min. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Over the sink, gently squeeze the eggplant to extract the salty juice and wipe them dry with a paper towel. Brush each half thoroughly with olive oil. Place each half, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour. The eggplant will collapse and the bottoms will be a deep brown caramel color. Let cool considerably before handling, at least 20 minutes. Gently turn the cut side up, and scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon. Coarsely mash and set aside.

Heat the cooking oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.) in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until shallots are nearly translucent and the garlic releases its smell. Add the ginger and cook for one minute more. Add the tomatoes, cumin, and garam masala. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan. (Sprinkle a bite of water if necessary.) Add the eggplant and mix well. Cook for one more minute, then serve hot with rice and/or naan.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from I Should Be Mopping the FloorTwelve O Eight,Redhead Can Decorate, and Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Foodie Friday from Simple Living & Eating

Slow Cooker Sausage & Peppers

28 Jan

This past weekend I helped with the decorations and planning for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower. I had a lot of fun doing the decorations, and I’m going to be crafting even more for the wedding in April. I will definitely share some of the projects at some point, though I’m making no promises on the timeline.

For the shower, we did a potluck, and everyone brought very delicious food. I’ll share a few recipes as I get them. This one’s short and simple, from my momma. She made a delicious sausage dish. It works equally well on a potluck table as it does for a main meal. When we walked in to set up the decorations, I could smell it cooking in her crockpot.

I was about to say “delicious and warm for a wintery night!” But I remember having simple dishes like this in the summertime, when we were off from school and too busy doing fun things to cook. Sausage and fruit salad and chips were a great summer meal when I was growing up. So I guess… it’s good all year round!

Slow Cooker Sausage & Peppers

Sausage and Peppers
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
1 large onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 small can diced tomatoes
Cut sausage into bite size pieces and brown in a skillet. Combine everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

 
Linking up with:

Pineapple Porkchops + Being in the Moment

31 Dec

My thoughts are all over the place. I planned on talking about Christmas and the New Year and all sorts of big, exciting things. But I spent last night waking up screaming from a series of nightmares, and it’s got me all jumbled. The BF is also a little jumbled after being jolted awake by my screams. Way to send 2012 out with a bang, right?

I went back to yoga yesterday after a long three-month hiatus. After a billion chatarangas and a few too long utkatasanas (a.k.a. chair pose, a.k.a. my misery), I was zoning out in child’s pose when our instructor started talking about being in the moment. She had a New Year’s theme, talking about how we make resolutions and spend too much time indulging today with the plan to work out tomorrow. And while an occasional indulgence is no problem — of that I’m a firm believer — it’s still important to be in the moment and be intentional. Stop making plans and just do it, you know?

I thought that was a great lesson, but what really had me thinking this morning was her comment to ‘be in the moment and stop planning.’ Bear with me as I pull all this wandering back together.  I remember having a few nightmares when I was a kid, but they really started in earnest about halfway through college. I realized that any stress I try to ignore during waking hours pop up as nightmares in my sleep. (Denial has long been my strongest defense mechanism.) So after a nightmare, I talk it out, trying to cope with whatever stress triggered it, rationalizing the nightmare away. This works great… when the nightmare is triggered by some specific stress.

I spent today’s early morning hours trying to figure out what triggered last night’s bad dreams, and I couldn’t come up with anything. I want to find something so I can deal with it and banish it, but I can’t. And it had me realizing that sometimes, plans don’t work. My standard coping plan isn’t cutting it. So instead I just let it be. I had a couple nightmares, I can’t explain it, it is what it is. I just laid in bed for a few minutes, letting the fear subside and my heart stop pounding while the BF held me, and then I told him about the dreams. Then I got up and made myself a cup of tea and started along my day. There’s nothing else to figure out. No matter how I plan or rationalize, I had some nightmares, and I will have more. Instead of worrying about it, I’ll accept that, and just be.

Now, I don’t know if I can ever stop planning. Most of my control issues manifest in planning everything and needing to know what’s going to happen next. But even if I can’t stop planning, I can at least try to be in the moment and be intentional.

So right now I’m in this moment — a cup of tea, the fire going in the living room, and this here blog. Then I’ll spend the day focusing on my moments as a cook up a bunch of freezer meals to last the next few weeks.

Yes, I just planned to be in the moment. So sue me.

And since I feel like I should share something aside from my personal issues, I’ll go ahead and throw in this recipe for Pineapple Porkchops. The BF made it for dinner the other day. I was quite impressed — it was pretty tasty.

Pineapple Porkchops

One-Skillet Pineapple Porkchops, adapted from Eating Well

3 Tablespoons apricot jam (or pineapple jam or orange marmalade)
1/2 cup+ pineapple-orange juice, divided*
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
4 fresh (or canned) pineapple rings, cut 1/4″thick
2 teaspoons butter
4 boneless pork chops, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine jam, 3 tablespoons orange juice, ginger, and curry powder in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

Measure 1/3 cup pineapple-orange juice into a measuring cup and set juice aside.

Heat butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Immediately turn them and sprinkle the other side as well. Cook the pork until browned, turning occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the reserved juice to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until pork is cooked through, 2-3 more minutes. Transfer to plates or platter and keep warm.

To the hot pan, add the pineapple slices, reserved sauce, and a little more thyme. Cook until hot and bubbling, stirring constantly, about 1-2 minutes. Spoon the sauce onto the chops and pineapple. Serve with rice.

* Use any combination of orange juice, pineapple juice, or similar juice to reach the necessary amount. If you use canned pineapple, you can use the juice from the can and top it off with orange juice. We used pineapple-strawberry-orange juice, because that’s what we had in the fridge.

Linking up for:

Spinach, Corn & Black Bean Enchiladas

5 Aug

OMG I want to eat these for dinner every night. They were good the first time, and they were just as good reheated. The BF had some and we decided they are restaurant good (though I’m sure, much healthier). These are excellent for serving to dinner guests — they can be completely finished and in the oven, so you have time to clean the kitchen before they arrive and then enjoy a glass of wine with your guests. And, if you’re looking for recipes to introduce skeptics to vegetarian dishes, this is it. It’s so delicious and filling, they won’t miss the meat at all. I very slightly edited the original recipe from Sweet Happy Life, just small things for the sake of convenience.

I actually only made the sauce at first. I spooned a little on top of lunchtime veggie & rice bowls for a few days. It wasn’t until later in the week that I got around to making the enchiladas. So fyi — make a ton, freeze it, and then you can use it for enchiladas (the best option) or to add a little flavor to pretty much any Mexican-style dish.

Enchilada Sauce

FYI, I think the enchilada sauce on its own is kinda spicy, but is not spicy at all when baked on top of the enchiladas. I guess the bread and cheese and veggies balance it out. If you’d like a bit more heat, just add the whole chipotle chili instead of the half, and add another teaspoon of adobo sauce.

The original recipe also said to use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. I thought that was totally unnecessary and therefore a waste of my time (especially since I don’t have an immersion blender, which would mean using my food processor, which is a pain to clean, and the BF wasn’t home to clean it for me). But, you know, to each her own.

These make EXCELLENT freezer meals. I doubled the sauce, and after using what I needed for dinner that night, froze the rest in a couple ice cube trays. (After they froze completely, I dumped them out of the tray to store in a large zipper bag.) For the tortilla rolls, I rolled individual enchiladas up in foil and then froze them in a large zipper bag. For lunch, I grab one foil-wrapped roll, a few sauce cubes, and I’m good to go. I sit my lunch box on my desk so it thaws throughout the morning, then unwrap and heat it up in the microwave. Presto lunch-o.

Enchilada sauce (adapted from Sweet Happy Life)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano (I used Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Blend ’cause that’s what I had)
1 cup cooking sherry
1/2 diced chipotle chili
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes.

Add brown sugar, cumin, and oregano. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add sherry, chili, adobo sauce, tomatoes, and stock. Mix well and reduce heat to low. Simmer until desired consistency (20-25 minutes if you plan to pour it over the enchiladas and bake, where it will thicken; 40-45 minutes if you plan to use it as a condiment.)

BONUS RECIPE!

For dinner that night, I stir-friend some extra firm tofu, about 5-6 minutes on each side in olive oil, added some zucchini slices and corn sliced off the cob. I cooked up some brown rice, mixed all that together in a bowl, and topped it with a little of the sauce and some cheddar cheese. Delicious and easy.

Rice & Veggie Enchilada Bowl

A couple nights later, I invited a couple friends over for dinner, and decided to make the full recipe. I had been craving enchiladas since I had made the sauce.

Assembling the Enchiladas

Enchiladas (adapted from Sweet Happy Life)

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz can corn, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1 package tortillas (I used 8-10 whole wheat flour tortillas)
Shredded cheese of your choice (I used a combo of cheddar and monterey jack)

Make sure your spinach is well drained. Squeeze out excess water. Mix well in a large bowl with the beans and corn. Add cumin, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper, and mix well.

Spoon a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of a greased baking dish.

On each tortilla, spread a few spoonfuls of the filling, and add shredded cheese on top. Roll tightly, tucking the ends in, and lay seam-down in the pan.

Add more sauce on top of all the enchiladas. Cover with foil and baked at 350 F for about 35 minutes.

Enchilada Dinner

Enjoy!

Really, these were so good. Just writing this makes me want to make more. We spent lunch today discussing what other things we could put inside these enchiladas. We decided we can’t wait till fall to try sweet potatoes and black beans… Mmm.

I know I didn’t get too detailed on the amounts when I talked about assembly, but all that is really up to you and your personal preference. This made about 8 enchiladas. I would guess that kids and people with light appetites such as myself would eat just one, but adults with normal to hearty appetites would probably eat two. I served these with brown rice, salsa, and guacamole. Chips and queso wouldn’t hurt either.

Deliciousness

Halfway through (approximately 15 seconds after beginning).

Citrus-Fennel Quinoa with Chickpeas

15 May

I made the healthiest dinner last night, and with all the citrus in there, it must have been jam-packed with vitamin C. And good thing – the BF was sick 2 weeks ago, then I was sick, and now he’s sick again. We apparently could both use a vitamin boost. As with most of my dinners, I found this original recipe online from thekitchn.com, and then I edited based on my own tastes. And also based on what I had on hand and what was cheapest at the grocery store. Instead of the original couscous, I swapped quinoa, since I already had some of that. And instead of lemon and orange, I went with lemon and lime, because those were on sale at the store. I made a couple other small edits here and there.

I started off with one lime and one lemon. I used a microplane to zest each of them and added that into a medium sauce pan. Then I juiced the lemon and one half of the lime into a large measuring cup. If you don’t have one, try this handy citrus press from Pampered Chef – it’s amazing. If you don’t have anything fancy to really get all the juice out, you may want to add another lime or lemon. I topped off the juices with enough water to make 1 1/2 cups liquid and added that to the sauce pan. I finished it with 1 tablespoon olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and cooked over high heat. Once it started boiling, I poured in 1 cup quinoa, covered the pan, and reduced the heat to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t dry out.

I heated 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. I added 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks (about 1 inch long, 1/4 inch thick). I cooked those about 10-15 minutes. Then I added 1 can (15 oz) drained chickpeas and the juice of half a lime. The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, but I didn’t have any, so instead I added about 1/4 teaspoon “French herb blend” and 1/4 teaspoon lemon garlic blend. But just add whatever you have that sounds good. Last, I finished it off with a couple handfuls of baby spinach. As soon as the spinach cooks down, it’s ready!

What did the Garbanzo say to the waiter? "Chick, peas."

Similar to rice, the quinoa is ready when the water is absorbed. If you’re ready to serve and there’s too much water, let it cook for a few minutes with the lid off. I served the chickpea/fennel blend overtop the quinoa and it was subtly delicious. If you’re looking for a kick-in-the-mouth flavor, go somewhere else. But if you want to appreciate subtle flavors delicately balanced throughout your meal, this is it. Also, this is super healthy, unlike the block of cheddar cheese I’m currently snacking on.

Dinner time!

We enjoyed some tzatziki sauce and pita bread as a little side dish. As a side note, I figured out a super easy way to enjoy this Greek yogurt dip whenever I feel like it. I ordered tzatziki seasoning blend from Wildtree, a company that sells all-natural foods through a Pampered Chef-style set up. You only have to use a little at a time, so it lasts forever – well worth the price. Then I buy individual servings of plain Greek yogurt, like Oikos or Chobani, which is a perfect size for just two people. Before I start dinner, I cut up half a cucumber in tiny teeny pieces, mix it into the yogurt with a teaspoon or two of the seasoning blend, and then it’s ready. It’s delicious and it’s the perfect amount. A lot of the pre-made or store-bought versions are too big, and I usually don’t finish them before they go bad.

Gotta get some Vitamin C up in here

Anyway, the meal was great. I will probably add it to my list of stand-by meals. I thought it was pretty easy to whip up on a weeknight. Bon appetit!

Citrus-Fennel Quinoa with Chickpeas adapted from theKitchn

zest and juice of 2 limes, divided
zest and juice of 1 lemon
olive oil, divided
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks (~ 1″ long, 1/4″ thick)
1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 handfuls baby spinach

Add the lime zest, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a medium sauce pot. In a large measuring cup, combine the juice of 1 lemon and the juice of 1 lime. Add enough water to make 2 cups total liquid. Pour the liquid into the pot and cook over high heat. Once boiling, add 1 cup quinoa, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes; fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fennel; cook 10-15 minutes.

Add chickpeas, the juice of one lime, and coriander. Stir well. Add the spinach and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook 5-10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.

Serve over quinoa.