CSA · Recipes

Salad-spiration

Gotta tell ya, the heat zaps my appetite. Mark doesn’t like soups, which are my usual go-to for muggy nights when I don’t feel like eating, much less cooking. Things like gazpacho shooters, Sweet Potato Soup, and Fennel-Potato Soup with sour cream on top, Creamy Cauliflower Soup: yum! refreshing! But lately, I’ve been having a few light, creative salads instead. Start with your favorite greens and add a few of my favorite toppings, and you’re good to go. Some of my top combos:

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Greens topped with chopped tomatoes, taco strips, avocado, shredded cheese and cilantro, with creamy dressing such as Newman’s Southwest or Trader Joe’s Cilantro.

Avocado kale salad, shown with Lemon Pappardelle & Sweet Sausage. (Click image for recipe)

Kale, torn by hand and rinsed/dried, mashed with two ripe avocado and drizzled with two organic lemons. Excellent topped with watermelon, chicken, feta, tomatoes, parmesan, or walnuts.

Simple Caesar: 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp mustard, 2 diced garlic cloves, squirt of anchovy paste (optional) and a splash of Worcestershire sauce (also optional). Whisk, and pour over chopped romaine lettuce. Top with freshly grated parmesan and homemade croutons if you’re in the mood.

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My Chipotle knockoff! I take kale, avocado, corn, pico de gallo, black beans, shredded cheese and a light vinagrette and toss it all together. Optional: add grilled chicken. By avoiding the sour cream and fatty dressing (not to mention the side of chips and guacamole) this stays refreshing and healthy.

The last one, I don’t have a good picture of. It’s a strawberry jam salad tossed over spicy arugula, and it is to die for!  I blogged about this when I was first getting started, so my photos are horrendous, but the result was delicious.

You take a green with some bite, like arugula, and match it with something tamer like mesclun mix to cut the sharpness (unless you really love straight arugula). Then you make a dressing out of olive oil (3 TBSP), balsamic vinegar (1 TBSP), and strawberry jam (2 tsp) plus salt & pepper, and mix into the greens, then top with fresh strawberries, goat cheese and almonds. I’ve always wanted to try tossing some mint on there, too! If you do that, let me know.

What’s your go-to salad for summer? Sometimes I just pick up a bagged version from Trader Joe’s or Target and space it over a few days, especially when I’m by myself for dinner while Mark is on nights. Luckily, these days he’s home fairly often in the evenings, and Georgia is over her 10-month sleep regression (as in her age, not the duration!) so we can even spend time together after supper. And you know what’s crazy? Even when she’s sleeping right upstairs, I still miss her. Because she’s awesome, and I can’t believe she’s only been around a little less than a year 🙂

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My BFFL! (that’s breast friend for life)
Recipes

Black Bean Brownies

A coworker shared this recipe with me the other day, and I had to post it for Valentine’s Day. He claims they came out really well. Would YOU try brownies made from black beans?

Courtesy: Oh Taste N See

Find the full recipe here. It’s low fat and sugar free. Something tells me Mr. McGriddle wouldn’t put up with these.

Recipes

Soy Chorizo Chili

I got this recipe from Food to Run For. It sounded easy and hearty for a cold winter day, and what better opportunity for comfort food than Blizzard 2013! Plus, it gave me a chance to break out my new, red Le Creuset, which Mark got me for Christmas. Ogle the beauty:

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You only need a few simple ingredients — sweet potatoes, red onion, black beans, chorizo, broth and salsa — and then it simmers on your stovetop for an hour or more, filling the house with yummy smells. And it’s versatile, so if you don’t care about keeping it vegetarian, you can swap the meat and the broth to suit your taste.

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Soy Chorizo Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped sweet potato
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 Package of Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s, removed from the casing
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky salsa, mild or medium
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • Water, if needed to thin out the chili
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

In a large stock pot, simmer all the ingredients except the water, broth and seasonings for at least one hour. After an hour, taste for salt and pepper and add broth. Turn up the heat with medium salsa instead of mild, or a splash of hot sauce; or keep it mild like we do. And, if you don’t care about it being vegetarian, you can add in spicy sausage or even use chicken broth instead of veggie.

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One important note about using a Le Creuset: you must coat the bottom of the pot with a fat, whether butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two like I used here. I sauteed the chopped red onion for a few minutes while I prepped the sweet potato. I found that two cups of sweet potato amounted to just about what you’d yield from chopping one large sweet potato (peeled, of course).

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If you buy the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s, which I highly recommend, you have to remove the casing before using it. It ends up having a crumbly texture that’s perfect for chili.

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A little bit messy, but so worth it!

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Another important note about cooking with Cast Iron: you really, really can’t start cooking over high and then turn down the heat like you do with normal cookware to get the pan hot, as cast iron retains heat extraordinarily well and it’ll ruin your food if you do that. Start over LOW and then turn up a tiny bit if you need it. These cook so evenly and efficiently, it takes getting used to.

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I added in the broth bit by bit, so I could see how it was absorbing before adding too much. If you prefer it more liquid-y than I do, you can add all the broth and even some water too.

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I also covered mine for a bit to help the liquid absorb. You can leave it uncovered for sure.

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It’s done whenever the sweet potato chunks are nice and tender but not falling apart!

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Serve it plain or topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Delicious.

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I like this recipe even better than the Real Simple Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili I made last Valentine’s Day (what was I thinking, making chili for Valentine’s Day??) You can tell I’m not a newlywed I guess. We also went to the Bruins game and drank 6 beers and two plates of nachos between us instead of hitting a nice dinner, so you can see where our priorities lie.

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I realized after making this that the soy chorizo might be the perfect taco filling that I’ve been searching for since becoming vegetarian. You wouldn’t even need to season it; it has that taco seasoning flavor going for it already, with just a touch of heat.

The heat in this mellows a bit if you reheat the next day, making it the perfect candidate for leftovers. I served it topped with sour cream for Mark, and plain Greek yogurt for me. That was a delicious substitution which I highly recommend!

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Enjoy this flavorful, filling dish to take the bite out of winter.

Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

These are very pumpkin-y and taste like Fall (in Mexico)? Super easy and nutritious with a few key ingredient swaps, these make a good weeknight meal when served with veggies (I chose corn) or a salad.

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. light cream cheese  (about half a small container)
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh or frozen — I used fresh!)
  • heaping TBSP pumpkin butter
  • dash of nutmeg
  • packet of taco seasoning (only need a tablespoon or so, to taste)
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilis
  • 1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada sauce, mild
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) fat free black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (small or large)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and get out a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed pumpkin (use frozen if you don’t have fresh) with the cream cheese (brought to room temperature) and stir to blend. Then, add the taco seasoning mix, chilis, and black beans (rinsed). Stir until just combined. Last, add the pumpkin butter and nutmeg and mix by hand until just blended.

In my opinion, the pumpkin butter really MAKES this dish and gives it the flavor punch it needs to be special. Without it, though, the enchiladas will turn out just fine, so don’t let one ingredient deter you.

Assemble each enchilada one by one, cupping the tortilla in one hand while scooping a few spoons full of the pumpkin mixture into the center, adding cheese on top. You’ll use about half your cheese inside the enchiladas and the rest on top of the dish before it goes into the oven.

Place the tortillas folded-side down in the pan; you can probably squeeze about 7 in one pan. Top them with enchilada sauce, taking a spoon to spread it in between and beneath each one, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts browning. Serve warm.

I made some key choices to keep this healthier: whole wheat tortillas, low-fat shredded cheese, fat free black beans (which I rinsed under cold water to reduce the sodium content), lite cream cheese, and serving this with veggies on the side instead of tortilla chips, and without sour cream (it’s creamy enough already!) I also reduced the amount of cheese I typically bake on top. One of these enchiladas plus a full serving of veggies, like the frozen corn I used here, is a much healthier choice than using “Mexican night” as an excuse to overload on fried chips, fatty condiments and beer!

If you liked this, check out my butternut squash enchiladas, and my spinach-ricotta enchiladas — two more vegetarian options that are just as easy and delicious.

Recipes

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been raining a lot this week, and work these days is a ball of stress wrapped in a germ-infested box…cue the comfort food and a night on the couch watching Friday Night Lights.

This recipe is a set-it-and-forget-it speciality, inspired by something I saw in Real Simple Magazine (love). You can leave it in the slow cooker all day on low and come home to a cozy vegetarian meal that is hearty enough to leave carnivores satisfied, too. Personally? I liked serving it with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and some multigrain tortilla chips, like these.

Other good topping ideas include shredded sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, a splash of hot sauce, sliced radishes, and even a drizzle of some high-quality olive oil. Do your own thing with it.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 large  sweet potato, peeled and diced into medium chunks
  • 1 onion, diced (I used yellow; next time I’d definitely do red)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 can black beans (15.5 oz), rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP chili powder (or, sub red pepper flakes or hot sauce)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I had a small piece of stone-ground chocolate from Taza hanging around, so I used that instead!)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

*Note: Mark really hates kidney beans, so I subbed cannellini beans plus a handful of lentils to replicate the flavor and heft.

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large (4 to 6 quart) slow cooker, including the liquid in the cans of tomatoes and beans, and heat on low for 7 or 8 hours (or on high for 4 or 5 hours to shorten cooking time). When it’s done, serve warm with your favorite chili toppings.

Did you buy a bag of sweet potatoes for this recipe, and now you’re not sure what to do with the leftover spuds? I love this recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen for Burritos with Black Beans & Roasted Veggies. This gal roasts everything together then slaps it into a sprouted tortilla with melted cheese, and YUM.

Recipes

Mexican Baked Eggs with Homemade Tortilla Chips

Why do I love this? Because it’s healthy, hearty, fast, and you can almost certainly make it with things that you already have on hand. I made this on a Sunday night and my husband had — wait for it — thirds. He said, and I quote, “this doesn’t even taste like it’s vegetarian, it’s just delicious.” SCORE!

I found the recipe on the Closet Cooking Blog. It’s a standalone casserole-style dish (OK, I made it in a pie plate if you look closely) but if you want to jazz it up, serve it like I did with fresh sliced avocado, cheddar cheese and homemade pita chips, which are easy to make and have the added bonus of using up any leftover tortillas (corn or flour) you might have from making enchiladas.

To start, chop and saute your onions until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin and jalapeno; saute until fragrant, about a minute. If you want to make it hotter (we didn’t), add in some chipotle chili powder. Next, add the tomatoes, black beans, oregano, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Mine came straight from the garden!

Place half of the mixture into a baking dish, top it with the eggs, and then spoon the remaining mixture around the eggs. You’re going to bake it at 350F for 5 to 8 minutes, just until the eggs set (your oven may take longer), and then throw it under the broiler with some cheese on top to brown.

To make the tortilla chips, simply cut a stack of corn or flour tortillas into wedges (I used 8-inch rounds, and cut up about four of them) and brush with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lime (you could also add cumin), and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes.

Turn the pan around in the oven and give the chips a stir, then put the pan back in for just a couple more minutes until they are crisp but not burned. Let them cool briefly before serving.

Delicious, and baked instead of deep-fried.

Mexican Baked Eggs

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (more or less to taste
  • jalapeno peppers to taste (I went light)
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or you could use fresh)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese like  jack & cheddar or a Mexican blend

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and jalapeno saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, black beans, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
  • Place half of the mixture into one or more baking dishes, top with the eggs and spoon the remaining mixture around the eggs.
  • Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the eggs just start to set, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Top with the cheese and broil until it melts, no more than a minute or so.

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CSA 2011 · Recipes

Butternut Squash enchiladas

Enchiladas are fast becoming one of my top go-to meals when I’m out of inspiration. These are more of a fall dish, since they make use of butternut squash, which is fresh in season during October and November. But I actually think it’s easier to use pureed frozen squash here anyway, especially for a weeknight dinner. Next time I make it, I’m going to try pureed pumpkin since I preserved so much from my CSA this fall!

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen butternut squash (about 12 ounces), or 2-3 cups fresh
  • 1 can of black beans
  • cream cheese (about 6 ounces), either plain or Philly Sante Fe Cooking Creme
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (2-3 teaspoons, to your taste)
  • 1 package flour tortillas (you’ll need about six)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • optional: cumin to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a glass baking dish with your choice of cooking spray.

Meanwhile, mix together the butternut squash and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Once blended, add in the chilis, taco seasoning mix and beans, and stir.

To assemble the enchiladas, cup a flour tortilla in the palm of one hand, and scoop the squash mixture into the middle, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Roll the tortilla up into a tube, and place face down (so the seam is on the bottom) in your glass pan. Repeat until you’ve fit all you can into the baking dish.

Spoon the enchilada sauce on top, taking care to get it down between the edges and all around the tortillas so they don’t burn while they’re cooking. Sprinkle some cheese on top before placing into the oven.

Bake for at least 30 minutes — it may take up to 40 depending on your oven — and remove when the cheese has browned.

This is a great vegetarian option for Mexican food. Serve with a salad, re-fried beans, spicy rice, a big dollop of extra sour cream, whatever!

 If you liked this recipe, check out my spinach ricotta enchiladas!