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.

 

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.

Cast Iron Skillet Cookie

Courtesy of Sallys Baking Addictionimg_20151205_201650.jpg

All I can say is yum. My husband and I had a sweet tooth a couple of weeks ago,  and I was really wanting cookies-enter the cast iron skillet skillet cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup,  unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs,  room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms baking bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Lightly grease skillet.
  3. In a large bowl, using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in eggs and vanilla on high, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, as needed.
  6. In a second bowl, whisk the flour,  cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together until combined.
  7. On slow speed, slowly dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be thick.
  8. Add chocolate chips and M&Ms, mix on low until combined.
  9. Using a spatula or wooden spoon,  spread the cookie dough evenly into the prepared skillet.
  10. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until puffed, browned on the sides,  and lightly browned on top.
  11. Allow cookie to slightly cool in pan set on a wire rack.

vegetarian ribollita

Ribollita is an Italian peasant stew. When meat was too expensive to use in every meal, veggie-packed stews would be made. Not only were they tasty, they were filling and healthy.20151126_130102-1.jpg

I made this pot of goodness for Thanksgiving, along with a turkey and all the trimmings. The small amount of red pepper flakes added to the stew give it a slow-forming heat that warms like being wrapped in your favorite fluffy blanket. This stew is warm and comforting on a cold winter’s day.

Slightly adapted from Cooking Light/December 201520151126_110225-1.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz rustic Italian bread, cut into large cubes
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 8 oz purple cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz Tuscan kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion,  diced
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch) chopped carrot
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch) chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf  parsley
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes,  cut into 1/2 cubes
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted tomato puree
  • 14 oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until toasted.
  3. Bring 2 cups water, cabbage, and kale to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 20 minutes or until cabbage mixture is wilted and tender. Drain.
  4. Heat large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil, onion, carrot, celery, and parsley to pan; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add potatoes; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in cabbage mixture, salt, and red pepper flakes; cook 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in remaining 2 cups of water, vegetable stock, tomato puree, and beans; bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, partially covered for 30 minutes, storing occasionally.
  8. Stir in bread cubes; cook for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve and enjoy.

lunches this week – veggie-packed vegetable soup

wpid-20151004_155444-1.jpg

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!

wpid-20151004_153804-1.jpg

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.

veggie croquettes – vegan

Hello happy faces!

I’m not going to lie to you,  not going to say this is an easy recipe.  What I am going to tell you,  these are fantastic! Think mashed potatoes packed with tons of veggies, rolled in Panko and then baked or fried to make a crunchy outside! And,  one bite will make you think differently about your vegetables! wpid-20150927_161649-1.jpg

courtesy of http://www.ilovevegan.com

Ingredients:

Mashed potatoes

  • 1.5 pounds of yellow potatoes
  • 1/4 cup plant-based milk
  • 2 tsp vegan butter
  • 3/4 salt

Vegetables

Tip: Chop all the vegetables first to save time when putting this together

  • 1-2 garlic cloves,  minced
  • 1 carrot,  peeled and grated
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalls green onion, finely sliced
  • 2 large mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup baby spinach (lightly packed), finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup broccoli florets,  finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup red bell pepper,  finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt

Breading

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1.5 cups Italian Panko bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Boil potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain and mash with 1/4 cup plant-based milk, 2 tsp vegan butter, and 3/4 tsp  salt. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add garlic,  onion, carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and green onion. Sauté until tender. Season with salt.
  3. Mash vegetables into potato mixture. Refrigerate mixture until cool enough to handle.
  4. Measure 2 Tbsp of potato mixture, roll into a ball and flatten into a 3/4″ patty. Arrange patties on parchment covered cookie sheet. Makes 14 – 18 patties. Chill or freeze so patties are firm before breading.
  5. In three bowls: 1/2 cup flour in one,  well-blended plant-based milk, corn starch and salt in one, and Panko bread crumbs in the third.
  6. Dip each patty briefly in flour, followed by corn starch thickened milk,  and then the bread crumbs. Firmly press the bread crumbs into the patties.
  7. For frying: Heat 1/2″ oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot, fry patties in batches of 1-5 (depending on size of oil vat), flipping after 1-1.5 minutes.  Each patty should be golden brown and fully heated within 2.5-3 minutes.
  8. For baking: Preheat oven to 450°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake croquettes for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for 5 or 10 minutes more.

Skinny Beef Lombardi

Buongiorno, friendly people!

You know that feeling when you finally get around to doing something you’ve been wanting to get done? Well,  I finally cleaned my car.  I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal,  but it is to me. Seeing that I spend, on average, 2 hours a day commuting to and from work,  this is monumental.  We’re talking on the scale of bliss…a triple chocolate cake kind of bliss.

What better way to celebrate a clean car… Italian food! I found this recipe on my recipes and then changed it a little to make it a smidge healthier and with a few less calories.

Beef Lombardi-made light

adapted from my recipeswpid-20150620_181410-1.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean turkey
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 6 oz can no salt added tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 oz Multigrain egg noodles
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat-free cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese,  shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese,  shredded

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook ground turkey in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink and is crumbled. Drain.
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes and chilies,  sugar,  salt,  and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste and bay leaf.  Stir until thoroughly combined. Let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Cook egg noodles according to package.  Drain.
  6. Stir together cooked noodles, chopped green onions, and greek yogurt until well blended.
  7. Place noodle mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 casserole dish.Top with beef mixture. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top. 
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

vegan chana masala – my lunches this week

Hello happy people! I hope this Sunday finds you well.

As my husband and many of my coworkers know,  I am a part-time vegetarian. “What does this mean?”, you might ask. Well, during the week, and sometimes on the weekend, I don’t eat meat for breakfast or lunch. I eat a small portion of meat for dinner. wpid-20150614_151232-1.jpg

It all started when my step-daughter decided to become a vegetarian. My husband and I love having her come to visit,  which usually includes a meal or two. Along with our dinners,  I also would make her a vegetarian meal.  After a while,  I started liking some of the meals I made for her, and in time,  I decided to make the for my lunches.

This vegan chana masala is one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Vegan Chana Masala

courtesy of Cookie and Kate 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 yellow onion,  chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 green Serrano pepper,  minced (seed it first,  for less heat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14 oz) chickpeas (3 cups) drained and rinsed

Instructions:

  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan,  heat oil over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzles upon hitting the pan,  reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cumin seeds.  Toast the seeds for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden and fragrant. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
  2. Raise the heat to medium and stir in the onion,  garlic,  ginger, and Serrano.  Cook for five minutes,  stirring often.  Stir in spices and cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the chickpeas.  Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes or longer to allow flavors to develop.