Tuesday, December 28, 2010

meal plan

We're finally back in Portland after a week in sunny Arizona, and I must say, it's nice to return to this gray, rainy sky. A short meal plan this week, though.

What did you have for Christmas dinner? On Christmas eve, my husband and I had Domino's Pizza. Yup. I could go into the myriad reasons why, but suffice it to say, I'm glad to be back to normal. It was, however, a great holiday and so nice to see family and friends.

Meal 1: wheat berry-pinto bean soup, quesadillas
Meal 2: winter salad with seared scallops & roasted squash, corn chowder
Meal 3: eggplant & chickpea stew, quinoa, sautéed kale
Meal 4: eggplant & chickpea baked pasta

Friday, December 17, 2010

thursday - salmon with lingonberry-chipotle sauce, green beans with prosciutto, & mashed sweet potatoes

These side dishes are two of my all-time favorites. Green beans are not one of my favorite vegetables, but the addition of prosciutto, lemon zest, and pine nuts in this recipe from eatingwell.com transforms them into something amazing. It's a little more time consuming than most side dishes I make, but I paired it with a simple entrée--broiled salmon topped with lingonberry-chipotle sauce, which was a surprisingly delicious combination--so the whole meal still came together quickly. I actually think trimming the green beans is the worst part--I'd like a sous chef for Christmas, please. I omitted the sage, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. This mashed sweet potato recipe, also from eatingwell.com, is unbelievably good, and so simple! It has only three ingredients (well, four if you count the salt)--sweet potatoes, ginger, and coconut milk. It's easy and quick to prepare, and it's unbelievably delicious. Both of these sides would be wonderful for a holiday meal, in my opinion.

wednesday - pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, black beans with soyrizo

I love coming home from work with the bulk of dinner already prepared with the help of my slow cooker! Wednesday night we had pulled pork sandwiches on whole wheat buns, topped with cole slaw based on this recipe from eatingwell.com. I followed the recipe exactly (except I used pre-shredded cabbage), and it was pretty good--I'm constantly searching for the perfect cole slaw recipe and never quite feel like I achieve it. This was a nice creamy version, and I liked the addition of the celery seed. I also made black beans with soyrizo, which is a delicious and fast side dish (and vegetarian, too!).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

monday - quinoa with edamame and seared scallops on arugula

Last night I made one of my favorite quinoa recipes, based on this recipe from eatingwell.com. I've posted my changes here before (I used parsley for the fresh herbs last night). I topped the quinoa with seared scallops--heat oil in a skillet over high heat, pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes per side (or less, depending on the size of the scallops. Go here for slightly more detailed instructions from Alton Brown.). The quinoa and scallops were served on a bed of arugula. This quinoa dish is great as a quick, healthy side or served over greens as a vegetarian entrée salad.

Monday, December 13, 2010

sunday - white bean & prosciutto soup

This was a tasty soup created largely from things I already had in my fridge and pantry. I love when I make up a recipe and it actually works!

White Bean & Prosciutto Soup

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 sprigs rosemary
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 thin slices prosciutto, chopped (about 1 1/2 ounces)
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add stock, water, rosemary, beans, and prosciutto. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs.

Using an immersion blender, slightly puree the soup, leaving it a bit chunky. (Alternatively, puree half the soup in a blender, then stir back into the remaining soup in the stockpot. Or, just leave the soup chunky and skip this step altogether.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

thursday - pork chops with lingonberry-chipotle sauce, kale & pinto bean sauté, brown rice, salad

Thursday night I made quick-cooking, thin-cut pork chops (3 ounces each, cooked 2 minutes per side in a hot, dry nonstick skillet) and topped it with leftover lingonberry-chipotle sauce that I made after our lingonberry-picking excursion a few weeks ago. (I've found that the lingonberry-chipotle sauce is also really tasty on turkey sandwiches.) I made a quick sauté of kale, onions, and pinto beans (basically the same filling I've been putting into quesadillas lately) and served it with brown rice and a salad (mixed greens, pear slices, and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette).

Kale & Pinto Bean Sauté

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add kale, stirring until wilted. Continue cooking until kale is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add beans and paprika, stirring to combine. Cook until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

wednesday - quesadillas with kale & pinto beans, autumn chicken stew

Tonight we had a super-quick meal using autumn chicken stew that's been in the freezer along with kale and pinto bean quesadillas. The soup was originally based on this recipe from eatingwell.com, and while I thought it was kind of mediocre initially, I liked it a lot more this time around. It was more flavorful after hanging out in the freezer for a few weeks.

As for the quesadillas, I had a pack of tortillas left over from last week that needed to be used, and as you may have noticed recently, I really, really like quesadillas. The only change I made from this recipe was using a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles instead of the fresh Anaheim chile.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

tuesday - roasted butternut squash and gorgonzola pizza, salad

Last night I made a pizza with roasted butternut squash, mushrooms, and onions based on this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis at foodnetwork.com. I topped it with gorgonzola and asiago cheeses (any blue cheese would work; I added asiago because I had it on hand, but mozzarella would be nice instead) and a handful of arugula. It was good but not great, unfortunately. I wanted to love it, but I felt like it was missing something (Sauce, perhaps? I'm on the fence about sauceless pizzas). I used pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash to save time and added mushrooms (because I feel pizza is almost always better with mushrooms).

I also served a salad, nearly identical to the one from Monday night--mixed greens, pear slices, and pepitas with cider vinaigrette.

Roasted Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

12 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, halved
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ball fresh pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or other blue cheese)
1 cup arugula
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put a pizza stone or a half sheet pan in the oven to preheat.
Place squash, mushrooms, and onion in a large bowl. Add syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and toss to combine. Place the squash mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until squash is tender and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Remove the preheated pizza stone (or sheet pan) from the oven. Roll or stretch out pizza dough, and place on the hot pizza stone. Evenly spread the squash mixture over the dough. Sprinkle the asiago and gorgonzola cheeses over the vegetables. Bake until crust is golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with arugula, and cut into 8 slices
Makes 4 servings.

monday - crispy rosemary shrimp with arugula & white beans, salad

Monday night I made this fast, easy, and tasty shrimp recipe with arugula and white beans--I followed the recipes exactly as I've posted in the past. I also served a salad of mixed greens, sliced apple, blue cheese, and walnuts with cider vinaigrette. The whole meal was on the table within 20 minutes and my eloquent husband declared, "Me likey," in response to it. Both positives, in my book.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

meal plan

We ended up having dinner with friends a couple of nights last week, so I postponed the shrimp from last week's meal plan and will make it tomorrow. Here's the full meal plan for the week:

Meal 1: crispy rosemary shrimp with arugula and white beans
Meal 2: pizza with roasted butternut squash and blue cheese, salad
Meal 3: pork chops, vegetable (TBD), brown rice
Meal 4: quesadillas, autumn chicken stew 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

friday - chicken, snow pea, and broccoli stir-fry with brown rice

I usually make this chicken and snow pea dish from eatingwell.com exactly as written, but I had extra broccoli so I decided to add that last night. Since I was using the broccoli, I also decided to leave the snow peas whole, which was a time-saver (although if you use a food processor to shred the snow peas, it does go really quickly). I used one large chicken breast, which is less chicken than the original recipe calls for, which I think worked well given the extra veggies. For the sauce, I've used cashew butter in the past, but I tried tahini last night. Not a very noticeable difference (I may prefer the cashew butter a tiny bit more), so use whatever is easier to find or less expensive. If you can't find either, natural peanut butter would work. I usually add the chopped cashews at the end, which gives the dish a nice crunchy texture, but I left them out last night (I'm out of cashews--who knew?). I always serve it over brown rice to make it more of an entrée rather than a salad as the original recipe is written.

Chicken, Snow Pea, and Broccoli Stir-Fry

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons tahini or cashew butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
9 ounces snow peas, trimmed (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped cashews or peanuts (optional)

Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and add water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and tahini (or cashew butter) in a large bowl until smooth.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broccoli and cook, stirring, until bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in snow peas and cook, stirring, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook until heated through. Transfer to the bowl with the dressing; toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with cashews or peanuts (if using). Serve over brown rice.

Makes 4 servings.

wednesday - creamy chicken and brown rice soup, quesadillas

This creamy chicken and rice soup, based on this recipe from eatingwell.com, is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken and rice. Plus, it's delicious and a much healthier version of traditional creamy soups. The original recipe calls for turkey and wild rice, but I use chicken and brown rice instead--it's flexible, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

I also served delicious quesadillas with pinto beans and green chiles (as you'll see in the photo, they were a tiny bit overcooked but still very tasty). They were similar to what I've made before, but I used canned green chiles instead of fresh and left out the kale.

Creamy Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 large chicken breast)*
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots, and onion. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper, stirring for 2 minutes more.

Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add rice and chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and parsley; remove from heat.

Makes 6 servings.

*To poach chicken breasts, place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes.

Quesadillas with Pinto Beans

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (or 1 15-ounce can, rinsed)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add green chiles, beans, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl, and wipe out skillet with a paper towel.

Place one tortilla in skillet over medium heat. Spread half of bean mixture over the tortilla, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Place another tortilla over the bean mixture, and cook until the quesadilla is golden on bottom and cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with remaining tortillas, bean mixture, and cheese. Cut quesadillas into wedges before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

tuesday - tofu & vegetables with ginger-peanut sauce, curried squash soup

I've made this curried squash soup once before, and upon re-reading my blog post, realized that I thinned it out with water that time. Good advice, as this is a very thick soup as written--more like a puree (particularly with all the spinach added). Tasty, but a little odd. It's based on a recipe for curried squash and chicken soup from eatingwell.com, but I omitted the chicken. Also, the grocery store was out of Thai red curry paste, so I used green instead and couldn't taste a difference.

I also made this tofu with peanut-ginger sauce, also from eatingwell.com, adding extra vegetables and serving it over barley. I increased the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in the sauce, and it was tasty but still seemed to lack something so I stirred in chili-garlic sauce for a bit of spice. If you're not into tofu, you could use shrimp or chicken instead.

Curried Squash Soup

1 10-ounce package frozen pureed winter squash
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
4 cups baby spinach, (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2-2 teaspoons Thai red or green curry paste
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat squash, coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash defrosts, about 10 minutes.Stir in spinach, lime juice, honey, curry paste to taste, and salt, and continue cooking until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning if needed, and thin with additional water to desired consistency.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Tofu & Vegetables with Ginger-Peanut Sauce

5 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 to 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce, to taste
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced

Tofu & vegetables
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, preferably water-packed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups broccoli florets
4 cups baby spinach, (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, (4 ounces)
4 scallions, sliced (1 cup)

To prepare sauce: Whisk water, peanut butter, rice vinegar (or white vinegar), soy sauce, honey, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl.

To prepare tofu: Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Slice the block crosswise into eight 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Coarsely crumble each slice into smaller, uneven pieces.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add tofu and cook in a single layer, without stirring, until the pieces begin to turn golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Then gently stir and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all sides are golden brown, 5 minutes more.

Add broccoli and cook, stirring, until bright green, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add spinach, mushrooms, scallions, and the peanut sauce and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just cooked, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve over cooked barley or brown rice.

Makes 4 servings.

meal plan

Due to circumstances beyond my or anyone else's control, this Thanksgiving was lacking in turkey and dressing for my family, but, perhaps more than ever before, I took the opportunity to truly reflect on how thankful I am for the many blessings in my life. In particular, I'm overwhelmingly grateful for my family, my husband, and my friends; for the wonderful life I've had thus far; and for the many stories, lessons, and laughs shared by my beloved grandfather through the years.

Photo (and hat) from Kelly Rashka.

Here's the meal plan for this week:

Meal 1: tofu & vegetables with peanut-ginger sauce, curried squash soup
Meal 2: crispy rosemary shrimp with arugula & white beans
Meal 3: chicken, snow pea, & broccoli stir-fry with brown rice
Meal 4: chicken & rice soup with quesadillas

Monday, November 22, 2010

saturday - wheat berry & black bean chili, cornbread muffins

As I've mentioned, my husband doesn't eat beef or any ground meats, so regular meat-based chili is out for us. Luckily there are tons of delicious vegetarian chili recipes out there, especially this recipe from eatingwell.com made with wheat berries and black beans. I followed the recipe exactly, except for using homemade and home-canned ingredients such as a pint jar of black beans that I recently cooked and froze, a pint of chicken stock that I canned a while back, and two pints of canned tomatoes. So the proportions may have been a tiny bit off. It's a tasty recipe and one I use often as a way to use cooked wheat berries--you can freeze extra cooked wheat berries and put them right into the soup still frozen. Very convenient.

For the cornbread, I'm a bit ashamed to say that I used a mix. I have tried and tried to make cornbread from scratch but it always comes out dry, so I finally gave up and use mixes now. Before we moved I loved the Arrowhead Mills cornbread mix, which is mostly whole grain and very delicious, but I can't find it in Portland. So I tried Trader Joe's mix, which was more like a corn cupcake than a muffin--wow, super sweet tasting. Needless to say, Courtney loved them.

I hope all of you have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. I'll be taking the week off from blogging, but let me know how your big meal turns out! Are you trying out new recipes or sticking with family favorites?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

wednesday - pork tenderloin with chipotle-lingonberry sauce, asparagus, roasted delicata squash & onions, salad

I realized halfway through this tasty meal that I'd completely forgotten to photograph it. Oops. Perhaps that says something about how excited I was to eat it? For the pork, I used the same dry rub that I use when I make pulled pork sandwiches, based on this recipe from Tyler Florence at foodnetwork.com. I served a chipotle-lingonberry sauce with the pork, one of the many things I've done with the gallon (literally!) of lingonberries that we picked last weekend. I based the sauce on this recipe from epicurious.com that uses cranberries--I made the chipotle-cranberry sauce last Thanksgiving and, with the exception of my mother-in-law, everyone loved it. If you're looking for something a little different to add to your Thanksgiving table this year, I recommend it. But if your mother-in-law doesn't enjoy tart foods and you don't want to see her make a terrible face as she tries to force it down, make sure she doesn't get any. (Hi Jackie!)

I was initially going to make delicata squash with oranges and pistachios, but I couldn't resist making the roasted delicata squash and onions that I made and loved a couple of weeks ago. Both recipes are from eatingwell.com, and I'll get around to making the dish with oranges soon, but I'm glad I made the recipe with onions last night. It's as good as I remembered. I followed the recipe exactly, so head on over to eatingwell.com and make it yourself. We also had roasted asparagus (toss asparagus spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 7 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender and slightly browned; sprinkle with lemon juice before serving) and a salad of mixed greens, gorgonzola, and pepitas tossed with pomegranate vinaigrette.

Thanks to those of you who have sent in casserole recipes and lingonberry suggestions this week! I've been up to my ears in lingonberries, and thus far have made lingonberry jam, chipotle-lingonberry sauce, and pumpkin-lingonberry bread. I tried lingonberries in my oatmeal one morning, which was not a good idea--a bit too tart. I transferred the remaining 5 cups of berries to the freezer, and since the pumpkin-lingonberry bread was so delicious, I'll likely use them for baking. In lieu of a dinner photo from last night, I'll include the bread recipe, which was based on this pumpkin-cranberry bread from eatingwell.com.

Fresh lingonberries, sorted and ready for action...

A few of the many, many jars of lingonberry jam...

Delicious pumpkin-lingonberry bread, hot from the oven...

Addendum: Today's lunch, cleverly disguised as last night's dinner:

Last but not least, chipotle-lingonberry sauce...

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat
1 teaspoon olive oil
Chipotle-lingonberry sauce, for serving (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the smoked paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt. Rub the seasoning all over the pork, pressing gently so the seasoning adheres well to the meat.
Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Put the pork in the skillet and sear each side, using tongs to turn the meat, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer skillet to the oven, and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork reads 150°F, about 10 minutes. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with chipotle-lingonberry sauce.
Makes 4 servings.

Chipotle-Lingonberry Sauce

3 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 chipotle chiles canned in adobo, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until lingonberries (or cranberries) begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, and simmer until sauce thickens and flavors meld, stirring often, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled.

Makes about 2 cups.

Pumpkin-Lingonberry Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 15- or 16-ounce can plain pumpkin puree, (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray; dust with flour and tap out the excess.
Combine all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a mixing bowl; mix well, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar with your fingertips. Whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, oil, eggs, and egg whites in another bowl until well combined. Stir the pumpkin mixture and lingonberries (or cranberries) into the dry ingredients until completely blended, but do not overmix. Divide the batter between the loaf pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the loaves rest in the pans for 5 minutes; turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves.

tuesday - chicken potpie with butternut squash and white bean soup

As I mentioned in the comments section earlier this week, I'd only had chicken potpie once in my life before making it on Tuesday. That was at a friend's house when I was in junior high, and I loved it, but it wasn't something my mom ever made. Subsequently, it hasn't been something I've ever made.

However, this recipe was the featured recipe of the day at eatingwell.com when I was making my meal plan for the week, and it looked delicious and comforting so I decided to try it. Overall, I was happy with it, particularly with the biscuit topping. The filling was a bit bland, but I think just a little more salt would have made it work.

I also served the remainder of the butternut squash and white bean soup that's been in my freezer (the original recipe was from jamieoliver.com). This time I served it with crumbled gorgonzola instead of crispy sage leaves.

Chicken Potpie

3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Biscuit topping
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup nonfat buttermilk or "sour milk"*
1 tablespoon canola oil

To prepare filling: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned and their liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the onions and carrots to the pan. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in chicken, peas, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Transfer the filling to a 2-quart baking dish.

To prepare biscuit topping & bake potpie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and thyme in a large bowl. Using your fingertips or 2 knives, cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Add buttermilk and oil; stir until just combined. Drop the dough onto the filling in 6 even portions. Set the baking dish on a baking sheet.

Bake the potpie until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Instead of buttermilk, you can make “sour milk” by mixing 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

monday - winter salad with seared scallops and roasted squash

Last night I used a recipe from EatingWell magazine for winter salad with roasted squash and pomegranate vinaigrette, but decided to add seared scallops to make it a more substantial entrée. I used delicata squash instead of butternut squash--no big surprise given my current obsession with it. The pomegranate vinaigrette was delicious and made good use of a bottle of pomegranate glaze (which I'm pretty sure is the same as pomegranate molasses, based on the ingredient list) that I bought at Trader Joe's ages ago and has been lurking in my refrigerator door ever since. The salad would be great as written without the scallops (and perhaps with a sprinkle of blue cheese as the EW recipe note suggests). I left out the pomegranate seeds, but they would give it a nice sweet crunch.

Winter Salad with Seared Scallops and Roasted Squash

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1/2 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or pomegranate glaze
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon or thyme
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon water

Squash & Salad
1 pound winter squash, such as delicata or butternut, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (leave unpeeled if using delicata)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups torn frisée or curly endive
2 cups torn radicchio
2 tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 pound dry sea scallops, approximately 8
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To prepare vinaigrette: Mix shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, lemon juice, tarragon (or thyme), and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons oil, then water.

To prepare squash: Place squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, until fork-tender, 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the type of squash). Let cool.

To prepare salad: Place frisée (or endive), radicchio, and the squash in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat.
To prepare scallops: Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water, and thoroughly pat dry. Add the butter and 2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Transfer scallops to a plate.
To serve, divide the salad and scallops among 2 plates and sprinkle with walnuts.
Makes 2 servings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

sunday - vegetable lasagna with pesto, salad

I used to have a favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe that I made often, but in preparation for our move to Portland, I packed up the cookbook that contained the recipe and put it in storage for nearly a year. So whenever I wanted to make lasagna during that time, I just had to wing it. Now that the cookbook is unpacked, I haven't bothered to dig out the recipe because I now know the secret--lasagna is super easy to make and is very forgiving and versatile. It makes me wish I made more casseroles, because this type of recipe is so easy to prepare in advance and then pull out when you're ready to eat. (Do any of you have any good casserole recipes you'd like to share?) Usually I'll still pull up a basic lasagna recipe online, like this one from epicurious.com, just to make sure I'm not missing any vital ingredients or steps, but I've found that lasagna is a great dish for tossing in a variety of vegetables and herbs and turning out really well. Last night, I finally used up the last bit of garlic scape pesto that's been in my freezer since early summer--it was a tasty addition, and regular basil pesto would work well also. If you're out of pesto, though, just omit it and add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan to the ricotta mixture instead. I planned on using whole wheat lasagna noodles, but unfortunately I'm too lazy to use anything except the no-boil, oven-ready noodles that are now readily available--I couldn't find these in a whole grain version so I just used regular white pasta instead.

We also had a salad of mixed greens (frisée and radicchio), pepitas, and a sprinkle of crumbled gorgonzola, tossed with this mustard vinaigrette from epicurious.com.

Vegetable Lasagna with Pesto

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 9-ounce bag baby spinach (or 1 large bunch spinach, chopped)
1 15-ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup pesto
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 24-ounce jar pasta sauce
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms, and sauté until soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Add roasted red peppers and garlic, and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach (in batches, if needed), tossing until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to a large colander to drain excess moisture, pressing gently with the back of a wooden spoon.

Blend ricotta, pesto, and egg in a large bowl. Stir in drained spinach mixture; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with oil. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles side by side atop sauce. Spread 1/3 of ricotta-spinach mixture over the noodles in a thin layer. Repeat layering with sauce, noodles, and ricotta-spinach mixture 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles and 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the sauce.

Cover lasagna with foil. Bake 35 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 15 minutes or until heated through, sauce bubbles, and mozzarella is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

meal plan

We went lingonberry picking yesterday at Friendship Farm--so fun, despite the cold and rain! Thanks to our friends Meagan and Mike for taking us. I now have lots and lots of lingonberries and no experience using them. Any suggestions?

I'm planning on making lingonberry preserves this week, since nearly all of the recipes I've found call for that rather than the fresh berries. Also, I've decided to substitute them in the place of cranberries in my favorite cranberry sauce recipe--I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Meal 1: pork tenderloin with chipotle-lingonberry sauce, vegetable (TBD), delicata squash with orange & pistachios
Meal 2: veggie lasagna with pesto, salad
Meal 3: seared scallops with roasted squash salad & pomegranate vinaigrette
Meal 4: chicken potpie with butternut squash & white bean soup
Meal 5: wheat berry & black bean chili with cornbread muffins

Saturday, November 13, 2010

thursday - salmon with pepita-lime butter, roasted delicata squash and pears, salad

This salmon with pepita-lime butter from eatingwell.com is a quick, tasty entrée. I followed the recipe exactly--the recipe I used makes 2 servings, but there is also a version that makes 4 servings. I also made another delicata squash recipe from eatingwell.com after having such great results the first time I tried it. This recipe combines the squash with pears (I omitted the bacon), and it was good, but I preferred the squash-onion combo I made last week. The sweet/savory combination of the mustard and maple syrup will be hard to beat. Courtney really enjoyed this squash and pear dish, though, so it may show up on the meal plan again. We also had a simple salad of arugula, goat cheese, and toasted pepitas, tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. And in case you're wondering about all the extra produce I bought this week, it was all pickled. I now have a dozen pint jars of pickled cauliflower, green beans, and carrots, plus 2 large jars of pickled beets and eggs. Yum.

Roasted Delicata Squash and Pears

1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)
2 medium ripe but firm pears, sliced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet.

Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle the brown sugar and chili powder over the squash and pears; toss to coat. Roast an additional 5 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

wednesday - chicken with creamy chive sauce, roasted balsamic romanesco, arugula-pear salad with cider vinaigrette

This chicken with creamy chive sauce from eatingwell.com is very similar to the pork chops au poivre recipe that I made on Tuesday night. No matter, though, because they're both delicious. The recipe for the chicken made a ton of sauce, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with all the extra--it's just too good to throw out. I followed the recipe for the sauce exactly except for using less chives than were called for (again, due to my sad, dwindling herb garden). The only significant change I made to the original recipe was using chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts--I didn't have the patience to pound out the chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness, so I used already-thin, quick-cooking chicken tenders and eliminated the pounding entirely. Hurrah!

On the side, I served leftover sweet potato-turnip mash (still delicious!), and roasted balsamic Romanesco based on this recipe from eatingwell.com. Romanesco is new to me--it's a very cool-looking, spiky, bright green Brassica, like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli (but slightly milder-tasting than either of those veggies).

I used a recipe that originally called for cauliflower, and if you can't find Romanesco, I recommend following the original recipe as written. I am generally not a huge cauliflower fan, but this recipe is a delicious way of preparing it. The Romanesco was great, and if you come across it, I encourage you to pick some up. It can be steamed or used in place of broccoli or cauliflower in your favorite recipes, and your kids will love the appearance--the florets look like tiny Christmas trees.

Wednesday's dinner plate looks strikingly similar to Tuesday's dinner plate...

I also made a delicious salad of arugula, pear slices, and walnuts. I tossed it with my favorite cider vinaigrette, which for some reason I only make during fall and winter.

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce

1 pound chicken tenders, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat. Add wine, broth, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with chives before serving.

Makes 4 servings.
Roasted Balsamic Romanesco

8 cups 1-inch-thick slices Romanesco or cauliflower florets, (about 1 large head)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss Romanesco (or cauliflower), oil, herbes de Provence (or marjoram), salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until starting to soften and brown on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss the Romanesco with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Makes 4 servings.

Cider Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake until combined.

Makes 4 servings.

tuesday - pork chops au poivre, brussels sprouts, & sweet potato-turnip mash

This was a tasty, tasty meal. I love this recipe for pork chops au poivre from eatingwell.com. I used thin pork chops that cook in just a couple of minutes, and the dish looks and tastes super fancy but is actually extremely quick and easy. I thought I followed the recipe exactly, but upon re-reading it, I realized I forgot to dredge the pork chops in flour before cooking. Didn't even notice the difference, so if you're looking to save a few extra minutes, I'd say that step is optional. Stay tuned for an almost identical recipe using chicken that I made on Wednesday night.

I also really love this recipe for golden-crusted Brussels sprouts from 101cookbooks.com. It's a really delicious recipe that I'm convinced even people who hate Brussels sprouts will love. I used Asiago cheese, but, as stated in the original recipe post, pretty much any cheese would work. I found Brussels sprouts still on the stalk at the farmers' market, which I love:

Finally, I made a sweet potato-turnip mash from eatingwell.com. I really liked the combination, as the turnips cut the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the sage-butter was a delicious addition. I used a little less sage than the recipe called for, given what was available in my dwindling herb garden, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

Pork Chops au Poivre

4 2-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/4 inch thick, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

Season pork chops on both sides with pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add brandy and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the pork chops with the sauce.

Makes 2 servings.

Golden Brussels Sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 tablespoon water
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago are good choices)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts, tossing to coat with oil. Position the sprouts cut side down in the pan. Add water, and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook until Brussels sprouts are bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and cook until Brussels sprouts are golden brown on bottom. Toss gently to lightly brown the uncut sides. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

monday - seared scallops, smashed celeriac, sautéed cabbage, & artichokes

I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to this meal compared to all of the other meals on the plan this week. It felt like a mish-mash of random ingredients that didn't quite fit together. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as everything was delicious! I made very simple and lightning-fast seared scallops (Alton Brown has a great straightforward recipe at foodnetwork.com), topped with a white wine-lemon reduction. On the side, I served celeriac, sautéed cabbage, and whole artichokes, none of which I'd cooked before. I've been eyeing the knotty, strange-looking celeriac, or celery root, at the farmers' market, and finally decided to try it out this week.

I used this recipe for smashed celeriac from jamieoliver.com because it just calls for celeriac; most other recipes I found have it mixed with potatoes or another root vegetable, and I was really interested in getting the true taste of the root. The raw celeriac smells like very, very strong celery, but when cooked it really mellows out and was surprisingly nice. I would like to try it again with one of the potato-based recipes--I think it would add a great flavor to mashed potatoes.

I had about 3 cups of sliced cabbage left over after last week's meals, so I decided to sauté it for an additional side dish. I usually eat cabbage raw in slaws or add it to soups or other dishes, but I'm so glad I tried cooking it on its own--so easy and quite tasty.

Finally, I cooked whole artichokes for the first time. I often use canned or frozen artichoke hearts in recipes, and I have eaten whole artichokes, but I've never actually cooked them myself. Courtney requested them after noticing them at the farmers' market, and I'm so glad. They always seemed like too much effort, what with all the leaf-trimming and choke-removing, but I was wrong! They're super simple and very hands-off. I based the technique on this recipe from eatingwell.com--I planned on grilling them, but it was cold here last night and I didn't want to venture outside, so I just boiled them instead. I made a quick and easy (and delicious) lemon-yogurt sauce based on this recipe from ifood.tv. Definitely a healthier choice than melted butter!

Seared Scallops

1/2 pound dry sea scallops, approximately 8
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water, and thoroughly pat dry.

Add the butter and oil to a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Transfer scallops to a plate.

Turn off the heat, and add the wine and lemon juice to the hot skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits in the pan. Let the mixture reduce by about half. Drizzle the white wine-lemon reduction over the scallops.

Makes 2 servings.

Smashed Celeriac

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons water

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celeriac, garlic, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until celeriac begins to lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add water, and cover. Simmer until celeriac is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, smash the celeriac until lightly mashed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Sautéed Cabbage

1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons water

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage, and sauté until beginning to soften. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add water, cover, and cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, adding an additional tablespoon of water as needed to keep the pan from becoming too dry.

Makes 3 servings.

Artichokes with Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, divided
2 large artichokes
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

Fill a large pot with water; add the juice of 1 lemon. Trim leaves from the top of one artichoke. Remove the outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the outer leaves. Trim a half inch off the bottom of the stem. When the artichoke is prepared, drop it into the lemon water to prevent it from turning brown. Repeat with the remaining artichoke.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil until the base of the stem can be pierced with a fork and a leaf can be easily plucked, 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mustard, salt, and juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon.

Serve the artichokes warm, at room temperature, or chilled. When eating the artichokes, pull off the leaves, dip into the lemon-yogurt sauce, and eat the “meat” off of the bottom half of each leaf, discarding the leaves. Once all of the leaves have been eaten, the artichoke heart will remain. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fibrous part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

sunday - black bean and quinoa-stuffed bell peppers

The filling in this tasty stuffed bell pepper dish would make a great side dish on its own, but it's also a nice vegetarian entrée. I based the dish on this recipe from the Humane Society's website (who knew the Humane Society had recipes?). The original recipe was written by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz, author of Vegan with a Vengeance--I changed quite a bit based on the ingredients I had on hand, including adding cheese (if you want to keep the recipe vegan, simply omit the cheese). We also had an arugula salad with goat cheese and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Black Bean and Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large red bell peppers
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup salsa (I used tomatillo salsa), plus additional for serving
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds. Add the peppers to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully remove peppers with tongs, draining any water from inside the cavities. Set aside.

Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender (or cook according to package instructions). Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the cooked quinoa and beans, and stir until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salsa and cheese (if using).
Stuff each pepper with the filling. Stand them upright in a baking dish, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with additional salsa, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

meal plan

I got a LOT of produce at the farmers' market yesterday with big plans to pickle tons of veggies this week. I spent $39 (much more than usual) and brought home cauliflower, romanesco, green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, artichokes, delicata squash, arugula, bell peppers, chiles, onions, pears, and apples.

Here's this week's meal plan:

Meal 1: bell peppers stuffed with quinoa and black beans, salad
Meal 2: seared scallops, smashed celeriac, grilled artichokes
Meal 3: pork chops au poivre, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato-turnip mash
Meal 4: salmon with pepita-lime butter, roasted delicata squash & pears, salad
Meal 5: chicken with creamy chive sauce, roasted romanesco, brown rice

Saturday, November 6, 2010

thursday - fish tacos with black beans

Thursday night we had delicious fish tacos with mahi mahi, cabbage, avocado, tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco. I know a lot of people shy away from the cheese/fish combination, but what's a taco without a bit of cheese? If you can't find queso fresco, you could stir together sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest for a tasty lime crema. I based the fish marinade on this recipe from epicurious.com, which I have posted about before. Courtney used leftover cabbage salad on his tacos, which he really enjoyed, and I used plain shredded cabbage on mine. Either way, the cabbage adds a nice crunch.

I also made a big pot of black beans in my slow cooker using this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen. I halved the recipe (and still had enough left over to freeze), used water instead of chicken broth, and used dried oregano instead of dried cilantro. It's a basic, easy recipe for beans--adding chopped onion and green chiles would be a nice touch for next time. Make sure to soak the beans the night before you plan to cook them. We also had leftover beet salad from Wednesday night.

The very green topping station:

And the finished plate:

Fish Tacos

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 pound mahi mahi or other flaky white fish
8 soft corn tortillas

Tomatillo salsa
Queso fresco, crumbled
Shredded cabbage
1 avocado, sliced
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish on a dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the fish well on both sides. Let marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the baking sheet. Season the fish with salt. Broil the fish for 4 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer fish to a large bowl, and flake with a fork (or cut into strips). Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Place the tortillas on a plate and sandwich them between two slightly dampened paper towels. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Place the warm tortillas in a towel-lined basket or plate and cover.

To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the fish onto the center of a tortilla. Top with the salsa, queso fresco, cabbage, avocado, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Black Beans with Cilantro

2 cups dried black beans
3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, crumbled (optional, for garnish)

Rinse beans and pick out any broken pieces. Place beans in a large pot, cover with cold water by several inches, and let soak overnight.

Drain beans, then place into a slow cooker along with the water, oregano, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on low until beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (If you don't have a slow cooker, combine ingredients in a large, heavy pan and simmer on low for about 2 hours.) Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional cilantro and queso fresco, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

wednesday - sirloin & salmon with beet & cabbage salads

These beet and cabbage salads from epicurious.com were tasty--nothing too spectacular, but nice, quick side dishes and a welcome change from usual creamy cole slaw recipes. The only changes I made to the original recipes were using canola oil instead of safflower oil and adding three small grated carrots to the beet salad. Also, I served them immediately rather than letting them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. I broiled a salmon fillet (for Courtney) and a 4-ounce sirloin (for me) (both rubbed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then broiled for about 4 minutes per side). Nothing too thrilling (especially when compared to Tuesday's pork and squash), but a very quick, flavorful meal.

tuesday - mustard-maple pork tenderloin, roasted delicata squash and onions, salad

I was so excited to eat this meal that I could barely even take time to snap a quick photo. I love the sweet and savory Dijon mustard-maple syrup sauce in this pork tenderloin recipe from eatingwell.com. I followed the recipe except for using rosemary instead of sage, and it's absolutely delicious (and easy!).

Even better, though, was the roasted delicata sqaush and onions, a recipe from this month's EatingWell magazine. It also had Dijon, maple syrup, and rosemary, so it paired nicely with the pork. I haven't had delicata squash before, and it's definitely my new favorite winter squash. Such a delicious flavor, better than the more common butternut squash, and it has a thin skin that doesn't require peeling before cooking. Hurrah! I love being able to eliminate a time-consuming step. I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn't have changed a thing. Expect to see more delicata squash here on The Best Pickle in the coming weeks.

I also served a simple salad of arugula, chevre, and pepitas, tossed with red wine vinaigrette (made up of red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

monday - gnocchi with chickpeas, butternut squash, and kale

Last night I made a gnocchi dish that I've posted about before, based on a recipe from eatingwell.com. I stuck to my original recipe except that I used butternut squash rather than ambercup squash and rosemary instead of sage (it was raining and I didn't want to go out to the herb garden--luckily I had rosemary in the refrigerator!). This is a tasty, hearty meal that makes good use of winter squash and greens such as kale. It comes together surprisingly quickly--the squash is sliced thinly and simmers only briefly with the kale and gnocchi until tender.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

sunday - cauliflower and sweet potato curry

Last month I made a delicious cauliflower and sweet potato curry in my pressure cooker. The recipe made a ton, and I had enough leftovers to store in the freezer for a future meal. I also recently made extra barley and stored that in the freezer, so tonight's dinner consisted solely of reheating and stirring! So easy, plus the orange color really went with the Halloween theme. I stirred together jarred mango chutney and plain yogurt for a zippy sauce and garnished it with cilantro.