Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brown Rice Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnuts & Pomegranate

1 12oz pkg cut butternut squash
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 6.5oz jar cooked chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1 10.5oz pkg cooked brown rice
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds
1 5oz bag arugula, coarsely chopped

1) Preheat oven to 475F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss together butternut squash, onion and 2 Tbs oil in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Roast squash 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add chestnuts during last 5 minutes of baking.
2) Meanwhile, warm rice according to package directions, usually 60 seconds. Whisk remaining 1 Tbs oil with vinegar in small bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over rice and add pomegranate seeds. Stir in warm squash mixture and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fold in chopped arugula, and serve.

Review: I've had this recipe for awhile, but doubted I'd ever make it. The jar of chestnuts the recipe calls for costs $7.99 at my local A&P. That's pricey. A bag of chestnuts (still in shell) costs $2.99 at Trader Joe's, but roasting and shelling them is a labor intensive task. Even then, the last time my husband did that, half the chestnuts were not edible. So, last week I stumbled upon a bag of cooked chestnuts in the Kosher section of Whole Foods, for $2.99. Yes!!!!! This was such an amazing find and I'm not sure why it's sold so cheap, but I won't question a bargain too much. It enabled me to make this dish, which I decided was my new favorite food. The chestnuts provided such an interesting twist to a dish that would have otherwise tasted like a few other recipes I've made. Especially with the arugula and pomegranate seeds, I thought this tasted heavenly and ate seconds (a rarity for me). Mike wasn't impressed with the meal, which I thought was such a shame.

Adapted from:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Uighur-Inspired Noodles With Peppers & Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 12 oz pkg precooked udon noodles
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1) Place sweet potato cubes in microwave-safe bowl, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power 4 minutes.
2) Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add garlic, cumin, coriander and Aleppo pepper, and cook 1 minute more. Stir in sweet potatoes, tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, 10 to 12 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in noodles and season with salt, if desired. Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top.

Review: So, I didn't use any Aleppo pepper. Not only had I never heard of it before, I wouldn't know where to find it. Whole Foods wasn't able to save me this time. So, I simply omitted the ingredient and didn't substitute any thing in it's place. This dish was "ok." It had a lot of different flavors competing against each other. It was filling, but not something I'm excited to try again.

Adapted from:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Herb-Roasted Squash & Jerusalem Artichokes

1lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb small Jerusalem artichokes, unpeeled and scrubbed
1 medium red onion, trimmed and cut into wedges
1 1/2 Tbs garlic oil
1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
1 Tbs minced fresh thyme

1) Preheat oven to 425F.
2) Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and spread on baking sheet.
3) Roast 1 hour, or until vegetables are soft and golden, turning several times with spatula.

Review: I've seen several recipes that ask for Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchoke):

However, I never ever saw them in the store - until a couple of weeks ago! I stumbled upon them at Whole Foods and had to rummage through my recipes and found this one. It was made by my husband, as I had a dentist appointment after work. This was nearly done when I came home and I was super excited. The Jerusalem artichokes tasted like a combination of potatoes and mushrooms, a very earthy flavor. It was a great combination with the butternut squash. Notably, there were no leftovers and I believe this was merely a side dish recipe.

Adapted from:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna

2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 12 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/8 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
8 oz cream cheese
18 oz jar marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1) Place zucchini slices on bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, cover with paper towels, and let stand to release moisture while preparing quinoa.
2) Bring broth, quina, onion and oregano to a boil in saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, parsley and cream cheese.
3) Preheat oven to 400F. Spoon 1/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 8x8 inch baking dish. Blot remaining moisture and salt from zucchini slices, and lay 4 zucchini slices over marinara sauce in pan. Spoon half of quinoa over zucchini slices, remaining quinoa and 1/3 cup marinara. Top with remaining 4 zucchini slices, remaining marinara and shredded cheese.
4) Bake lasagna for 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and top is bubbly.

Review: Once again, I did not fully read the recipe before getting started. Regardless of the lack of pasta in the ingredient list, it still didn't register that this wasn't a typical lasagna! I've made lasagna before, using zucchini slices instead of pasta. However, it is ALWAYS a pain to make, as I can never get all of the ingredients to fit into an 8x8 dish, and it's never enough to fill out a 9x13 dish. After I finished cursing my lack of preparedness, I resolved to make a casserole. I only had two layers of zucchini slices, in a 9x13 dish, with all of the filling between those two layers. Of course, my servings looked like a casserole and not like a lasagna! It was really tasty, though. The quinoa added an unexpected crunch and the cream cheese provided lots of creamy savoriness. It was also a realllllllly hot dish, which didn't cool off for some time. That was exactly what we needed on a cold, snowy night!

Adapted from:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vegetable Stir-Fry With Peanuts

1 cup long grain white rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp Sriracha (or some other hot pepper sauce)
1 Tbs canola oil
2 carrots, cut into very thin strips
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
2 cups bean sprouts
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1) Cook the rice according to the package directions.
2) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice and Sriracha; set aside.
3) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and bell pepper and cook, tossing frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bean sprouts and cook, tossing, until the vegetables are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.
4) Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Serve over the rice and sprinkle with the scallions and peanuts.

Review: Ah, this recipe was doomed from the get go. I went grocery shopping a week ago, which was the first day back from DisneyWorld. The stores were all mobbed (Friday afternoon madness). I went to Costco, Target, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. None of these stores had bean sprouts (though I found pea sprouts) or scallions. I refused to hit another store before returning home. So, when making this tonight, I tossed in some broccoli that was leftover from our weekend salad binge (detoxing from Disney food). Mike added egg, because stir-fry should always have egg. I asked where the peanuts where, and Mike had a panic look on his face. Apparently he ate them, thinking they were in the cabinet for snacking. So, much of the dish was altered from the original recipe, but not in any earth shattering way. Though I also cheated and used a bag of brown rice that cooked for 60 seconds in the microwave. Those pouches have really changed rice cooking!! Regardless, this was realllllly tasty. The soy/lime/Sriracha combination was a tastier sauce than I've previously made, though that's typically just soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. I really liked the combination, though I'll be inclined to increase the amount of Sriracha. I didn't think this was very spicy and I was looking forward to a little heat.

Adapted from:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wheat Berries With Winter Squash & Chickpeas

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup wheat berries
4 cups water
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs dried dill
2 lbs winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice
1 can chickpeas, drained

1) Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot, or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic, ground allspice and crushed red pepper. Stir together for about one minute, then add the wheat berries and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and add salt to taste. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add the parsley and dill, and stir in the winter squash and chickpeas. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 45-60 minutes, until the chickpeas and wheat berries are tender, and the squash is beginning to fall apart.
2) Uncover the pot, and turn the heat to high so that the liquid returns to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust salt. Serve hot or warm in wide soup bowls.

Review: This was the perfect dish to make while Mike had a late night and I completed chores. Since it took so long to cook, I didn't have to worry about hungry husband grumbling, and since it did much of it's cooking unattended, I got chores done! I initially worried it wouldn't turn out well, believing the chickpeas would turn to mush. Amazingly, they stayed fairly firm. I also appeared to use too much water, so my liquid never reached a syrupy consistency. I thought about draining off all the liquid and pouring it down the drain. However, the liquid appeared to have made a great broth. I put aside two portions and filled it with the broth, to make two frozen soup lunches. It's nice to have meals frozen and easy to grab, so that I don't have to rely on individual meals from Trader Joe's, or hitting the hospital cafeteria for a meal when I don't have leftovers for lunch! But, back to my review . . . This was a NY Times recipe given to me by my in-laws (there's much support there for my cooking endeavors!), which I tweaked a little. The original recipe called for some tomato paste. I somehow spaced that and didn't have any in the house. Looking back, I don't see how the flavor would fit into the recipe! This was a nice savory flavor, with a bit of sweetness from the butternut squash and a hint of heat from the crushed red pepper. There was no "wow" flavor, but a good savory hot dish on a cold winter's night. This will definitely be made again, and may make a great crockpot dish if I can figure out how to adjust the timing . . .

Adapted from:

Sunday, January 15, 2012


My blog has had many transformations over the years. I started by simply posting recipes. Then, I began reviewing the recipes. Then, I began adding pictures. Behind the scenes, my skills and knowledge improved. 

So, from time to time, I like to revisit an old recipe. Tonight I did that with Broccoli Mushroom Noodle Casserole, and even improved the dish! I used panko bread crumbs on top. I learned that regular bread crumbs never seem to have the desired effect and I wished I had known about panko bread crumbs years ago!! 

I also exaggerated the cup sizes and had about 8 servings of food tonight! There's dinner, lunch for tomorrow, and some servings frozen for future meals!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Disney World!

We ran off to Disney World for a few days. The first night, we ate at the 50's themed Prime Time Cafe. It was super cute with themed decor:

But, also the menu was 50's themed. Unfortunately, there weren't many vegetarians in that era. I only had one food option on the menu, which was a tasty spaghetti with vegetarian "meatballs." It was really good!