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