Tooth Extraction and Comfort Food

So, a week ago, I had one of my molars extracted. Apparently it is very painful to live with a cracked tooth, made even worse with an abscess. Ouch. So, I’ve been doped up on antibiotics, probiotics and pain meds. I’ve also been living off of oatmeal and pudding for the last week.

So, apologize that I haven’t posted anything new for a couple of weeks.

But fear not, dear reader, I’m back with a Bang! This weeks lunch is going to be epic. We’re talking bigger than big. Flavor-packed Italian Stew.

Zucchini, and eggplant, and onions, oh my! Throw in some red and yellow peppers some whole tomatoes,  fresh basil, and fresh oregano and a dash of olive oil…..and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an Italian Kitchen.

Oh yeah, it’s totally vegetarian, Bonus!

Without further adieu, may I present

Italian Vegetable Stew (a.k.a. – Ciambotta)

courtesy of Sweet Peas Kitchen20160221_162029-1.jpg

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Ingredients:

For the Pestata
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
For the Stew
  • 12 oz eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 tsp salt, divided plus more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (no salt added variety)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
  • 2 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil

Instructions:

To make the Pestata: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process all ingredients until finely ground, about a  minute.

For the Stew:

  1. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 1/2 tsp of salt.
  2. On a microwave safe plate, place two paper towels and spread eggplant in a single layer.
  3. Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, 8-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large Dutch oven over high heat, until shimmering. Add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook stirring frequently until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes becomes translucent.
  5. Push vegetables to sides of pot and add 1 Tbsp of oil and tomato paste to clearing. Cook paste, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add 2 cups of water and chopped tomatoes and juice. scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and gently simmer until eggplant is completely broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in skillet over high heat until smoking.
  9. Add zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 tsp of salt; cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
  10. Push vegetables to sides of skillet and Pestata and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  11. Stir Pestata into vegetables. Cook another 3 minutes.
  12. Transfer vegetables to Dutch oven and remove from heat.
  13. Cover and let set for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

 

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Fire-Roasted Vegetarian Gumbo and Mardi Gras

slightly adapted from allrecipes20160209_065647.jpg

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! Here is a spicy, warm little number to get your taste-buds dancing. Oooooie! Dat’s some good cookin’!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno chile pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil ( I used Sunflower oil)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 bag of frozen cut okra

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Arrange Serrano, banana, and jalapeno chile peppers on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Watch carefully and broil until the skins turn black and blister, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the peppers and continue broiling until all sides are blackened. Remove the peppers and put in an small sauce pan with lid to steam (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove peppers from the sauce pan and peel off the crispy black skin. Remove stems and seeds from the peppers, coarsely chop and place in a bowl.
  3. In another small sauce pan, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat until a pinch of flour starts to bubble. Whisk the rest of the flour into the oil and cook, whisking continuously until the mixture is well-blended and dark brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Once it turns dark brown, remove from heat.
  4. Put 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add celery, half of the onions and half of the green peppers. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender and the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth into the pot. Cover and simmer until almost all the liquid is gone, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir the Serrano, banana, and jalapeno chile peppers, along with the uncooked bell peppers, onions, garlic, Cajun seasonings, smoked paprika into the cooked bell peppers and onions. Stir in the roux (dark brown sauce) and 1 cup of vegetable broth into the vegetable mixture until the roux dissolves. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweet potato, parsnip, red beans, black-eyed peas, okra and remaining vegetable broth. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. And then, simmer 20 minutes uncovered.

Tip: To bump up the heat a notch, add a teaspoon of File’ Powder to the pot in step 5.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Lentil Sloppy Joes

courtesy of Slender Kitchen20160207_105150-1.jpg

Ok, I just have to say, this is my new favorite vegetarian lunch. It tastes awesome. Very close to sloppy Joes, but better.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups lentils, uncooked
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 2 green peppers, chopped small
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, chopped or sliced
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 2.5 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1.5 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cook on High for 3-4 hours, on Low for 7-8 hours.

Tip: If you notice the mixture getting dry, add extra vegetable broth.

Lunches this week – Kale, Mushroom and White Bean Stew

Kale, Mushroom and White Bean Stew

Slightly adapted from Love and Lemons

This weekend has been one of the coldest in MN all winter. We have been at sub-zero temperatures for the last 4 days. Last night the temperature dipped to -18 with a wind-chill of -30. It’s just Brrrrr outside with a capital B! A great time to hunker down and spend the day cooking. 🙂

This week I’m all about the kale. And, what’s not to love? It’s a beautiful vegetable, it’s good for you, it’s got a great texture, and it’s so versatile. Pairing it with mushrooms, onions, carrots, and beans….all I can say is “YUM”20160117_150552-1.jpg

This stew was really easy to make. The hardest part was chopping the vegetables. Oh, and by the way, the aroma that wafted through the kitchen while I cooked literally had my mouth watering – true story. 20160117_153925-1.jpg20160117_155828-1.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 8 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4-5 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 can cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or white wine (I used apple juice since I didn’t have any wine)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary, minced
  • fresh basil, for garnish
  • freshly shredded Romano cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until translucent.
  3. Add garlic, carrots, mushroom, and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released their water (3-5 minutes).
  4. Add apple juice/wine. Cook for about one minute.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, beans and broth. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add kale and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Top with basil and cheese.

Red Lentil Curry with Spinach over Wheat Berry – lunches this week

Slightly adapted from Naturally Ella

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So, this past weekend, it turned very cold here in MN. We’re talking sub-zero kind of cold. Naturally, I was looking for a recipe to make for my lunches that would warm me up.

Enter Red Lentil Curry with Spinach. I just want to say…WHOA!  OK, you guys, this is one of the simplest and quickest recipes I’ve come across in a long time. AND, one of the most flavorful recipes I’ve had in a long time.

I have to admit, I didn’t try any while I was cooking it up – at 8pm on Saturday night – so I truly didn’t know how good it was until I ate it for lunch today…I like to live life on the edge. I figured I bring enough food to graze all day, if I had to forego the main course, I wouldn’t starve. And, I indeed didn’t starve…I cried that I only had the small portion. I was wanting more. So, now…

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I am really looking forward to lunch tomorrow, just kidding, but not really!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Whole Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. In a high-sided skillet,over medium-high heat, mix coconut milk, water and red curry paste. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add red lentils. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  3. Remove from heat and add spinach. Stir the spinach until it is wilted and mixed thoroughly.
  4. Serve over 1/4 cup of prepared wheat berries.

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Zucchini Spaghetti with Lentil Marinara – lunches this week

20160103_104558-1.jpgSlightly adapted from Lemons And Basil

First off – my father-in-law gave me this cool julienne peeler for Christmas.20160103_104813-1.jpg I just used it for the first time today…and I have to say, I’m ready to julienine everything in sight! Potatoes,  butternut squash, apples…the possibilities are endless.

Now, where did that dog and cat go? 😉

I love how it slices perfect zucchini noodles! 20160103_102315-1.jpg

Ingredients 

  • 2-3 large zucchini, julienned or spiralized
  • 1/2 dried lentils, rinsed and sorted,  then cooked to package directions

For the sauce

  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup  tomato paste
  • 1/4 medium red onion,  finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves,  minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp  oregano
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  1. Cook lentils according to package.
  2. While lentils cook,  put all ingredients for sauce in food processor,  blend on high for 25-30 seconds or until thick sauce forms.
  3. Add sauce to small pan and cook over medium heat to bring to a boil,  reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Once lentils are cooked,  add to marinara sauce. Take off heat and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet over medium-low heat,  add zucchini and cook until soft and pasta-like (about 5 minutes).
  6. Evenly divide zucchini and top with marinara sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

crockpot cuban black beans

A different spin on serving black beans. This can be served as a side or as a meal.

These beans have a slight spicy kick and are very filling.  You can serve this over rice for an elegant dinner or crush some tortilla chips on top for a less formal meal.

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Courtesy of My Recipes

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound dried black beans
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1.5 cups chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds,  crushed
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilis,  drained

Instructions:

  1. Sort and wash beans, place in large bowl.
  2. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans.
  3. Let stand for 8 hours.
  4. Drain beans and transfer to slow cooker.
  5. Add 2 cups water and the next 10 ingredients (through oregano).
  6. Stir well.
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or until beans are tender.
  8. Stir in vinegar and tomatoes.
  9. Serve over brown rice, if desired.

lunches this week – smokey cabbage stew

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Courtesy of Gourmandelle

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cabbage
  • 2- 14 oz cans Cannellini beans
  • Large onion, coursely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves,  minced
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 5 Tbsp no salt added tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper,  to taste
  • Water

Instructions:

  1.  Chop cabbage.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add cabbage and 1 cup of water. Cover with lid and let soften for 10 minutes.
  5. When cabbage has softened,  add all spices, except the tomato paste.
  6. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Add beans,  with water,  and tomato paste. Cook for 15 minutes. (If needed,  add more water so it won’t stick to the bottom of pan and burn.)
  8. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

 

lunches this week – cheesy baked spaghetti squash

slightly adapted from http://www.skinnytaste.com

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Hello Sunday Smiles,

Spaghetti squash is one of those foods that amaze me.  A vegetable that is so normal looking before baking, but add a little heat, and it miraculously turns into a spaghetti-like dish. Amazing.

On that note,  who discovered this? I mean,  did someone one day say,  “let’s bake this and see what happens”. However it happened,  I,  for one, am ecstatic. Bring on lunch!

Have a great week! wpid-20151011_153020-1.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (5 1/2 cups,  cooked)
  • 1 Tbsp  Brummel and Brown Greek yogurt butter or regular butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups regular almond milk or 1% milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 8 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups baby spinach (about 4 oz)
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cut squash lengthwise,  in half. Remove and discard seeds.
  3. Brush olive oil on cut sides of squash and place cut – side down in a baking dish.
  4. Bake until tender,  about an hour.
  5. When baked,  separate the stands of squash with a fork and place in large bowl. Discard shells.
  6. Keep oven at 375°.
  7. In a medium sauce pan,  heat butter over medium heat.
  8. Add onions,  and cook for about 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in flour, and reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continually for 3 to 4 minutes.
  10. Add milk and vegetable broth and continue, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick,  about 2 minutes. Stir continuously season with salt and pepper.
  11. Once thick,  remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, and mix well until cheese is melted.
  12. Add cheese sauce to cooked spaghetti squash. Mix well.
  13. Add baby spinach, carefully mix.
  14. Transfer mixture to a baking dish.
  15. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
  16. Bake until bubbly and golden,  about 25 to 30 minutes.

lunches this week – veggie-packed vegetable soup

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Have I mentioned how much I love vegetables? I mean,  I really love vegetables.  Not only are they good for you,  they taste good.  I love the texture of broccoli and cauliflower.  The crunchiness of carrots, the tanginess of the tomatoes.  My mouth is watering just thinking about lunch tomorrow. wpid-20151004_155814-1.jpg

This recipe is from the garden grazer; which is the site that gave me the ultimate greek salad,  which, hands down, is my favorite salad EVER.  I’ve adapted this vegetable soup slightly, basically packed in more vegetables!

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Slightly adapted from http://www.thegardengrazer.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli, coursely chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups cauliflower, coarsely chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms,  sliced thick
  • 1 1/2 cups cut green beans (frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups peas  (frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn (frozen)
  • Large handful baby spinach
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt,  to taste

Instructions:

  1.  In large stockpot over medium heat, saute onion for 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes with juice,  and all the vegetables (except spinach).
  3. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat,  cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until veggies are at desired tenderness.
  5. Stir in spinach and salt to taste.