Archive for the ‘ Main Course ’ Category

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I originally found this recipe while reading Dr Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.  The book was interesting enough but this recipe by far was the best thing I got out of it.  I don’t actually remember the original recipe, so this is my own rendition of it.  I’m not sure at this point what the specific ingredients were but I like my version quite well.

This would make an excellent main course for a Thanksgiving dinner.  I like that it’s served in perfect single sized servings!  The acorn squash with nuts, pineapple and cranberry will make any plate look festive.  I also enjoy taking leftovers to work.  It makes a great lunch and people always comment on it.

Ingredients

2 acorn squash

1 can crushed pineapple drained

1/2 cup both cranberries and chopped walnuts

4 tablespoons of chopped dried apricots

A small amount of butter or vegan spread for each half

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom to taste

Directions

Gently prick each acorn squash in 2-3 spots and microwave them for 4 minutes to soften

Cut them in half and scoop out seeds, place face down in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

While that is baking mix together the rest of the ingredients and let them sit

After baking the squash, remove from oven, drain the water, turn over the squash

Rub a little butter or spread on each piece and then add 1/4 of the stuffing to each half

Top with a little additional cinnamon and return to the oven for 20 more minutes

~enjoy~

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Slow Cooked Barley Lentil Soup

I seem to be easily falling into a habit of using my new crock pot to prepare Monday night dinner.  I assemble most of it the night before, add a few last-minute items and plug it in right before leaving the house.  Sunday evening prep was simple because I was already chopping veggies for dinner, I just chopped some into a separate bowl.  I had the barley and lentils measured out in a bowl ready to add in just before cooking.  My only job on Monday morning was to scrub and dice the potato.  Does anyone know if it would have gone bad overnight with the broth while refrigerated?  I decided not to risk it.

A couple of people have asked about my new job.  This week is better than last.  It’s all starting to come together for me.  I was told that they have a term “Lightbulb Tuesday” which is apparently when most people have their “Aha” moment.   It was true for me.  Now I just have a couple of exams to pass Thursday and Friday.  Next Monday I go live.  I’m pretty excited about that!  I’m working with an incredible group of people who are intelligent and interesting to hang out with.  It’s all good.

Anyway, try the soup, it’s souper (haha) easy and makes a hearty fall meal.  I can easily see adding some other veggies or beans but really it doesn’t need it.  The spices really gave it a unique flavor but if you don’t have all of them just wing it and use something else that will provide a similar richness.

Vegan Persian Barley Soup in a Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

1 cup of lentils (rinsed)

1 cup of pearled barley (rinsed)

1 medium onion, finely diced

1  large or 2 small potatoes, diced

1 cup sliced carrots

2 garlic cloves, grated or in small pieces

1 teaspoon  each turmeric, cumin, garam masala

6 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)

1+ cup water (I added more before serving because it was so thick)

8-12 oz can tomato sauce (or a can of petite diced tomatoes)

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh chopped herbs of choice for topping if desired

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients into a large slow cooker (mine is a 5 1/2 quart beast). Stir thoroughly.  I combined all ingredients except the lentils, potato and barley the night before and refrigerated, then put them in the pot just before cooking.

2. Cover and cook for a minimum of 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Check seasoning before serving and top with choice of herbs

~Lin~

Butternut Squash Chili in a Crock Pot

I love when I find a recipe that my husband enjoys without commenting on the lack of meat protein.  I was surprised to find out that this was one of them.  As far as I know he’s not a big fan of squash but he happily ate this meal including a second helping as well as leftovers later in the week.  That makes it a hit in my book!  Another great thing is that this is a vegan and gluten-free dish.

I wish I had taken a picture of this because it’s actually a very pretty chili.  It’s quite colorful with the dark red sauce, bright orange squash, and the assortment of beans and peppers.  However, having assembled it one day and completing it the next I totally forgot.  It’s been a crazy week for me.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m starting a new job.  I’m in the process of becoming an insurance claims adjuster.  A few weeks ago I had to go through a course to get my state license.  That was tough enough.  Now I’m in training to learn how to actually do my job.  For the first time in my life I feel at a disadvantage and I’m trying to figure out if it’s age related.  It definitely feels like those in their 20s and 30s are catching on quicker than us older 40 somethings.  I am enjoying the process I just wish it would come to me a little quicker.

With that said, I don’t remember the last time I was so grateful for the weekend!  I’m considering a trip to the beach while my husband is thinking about chores around the house!  Perhaps we’ll barter for a day of each.  In the meantime I’ll be looking for something new to make using some of the 2 bags of barely I have.  Another sign of aging, I  bought 1 bag this week and realized that I already purchased barley last week.  If you have a great barley recipe for me, please share!

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed into 1/2 pieces

1 28 oz can tomato sauce

1 28 oz can Bush’s Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce

1 28 oz can Black Beans rinsed

1 large onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

½ to 1 whole jalapeno finely chopped (depending on personal taste)

1 red or green pepper chopped

A few shakes of Tabasco Chipotle flavor

Pepper, Chili powder, and cumin to personal taste

Vegetable or Canola oil just a few teaspoons

Optional grated cheddar or vegan cheese to top

Directions

The night  before, or early in the  morning:

In a large pan saute the butternut squash in oil for a few minutes  on medium high and then add the onion and jalapeno and pepper

Saute 2 until onion becomes translucent and add the garlic, saute 1 more minute

Turn heat off and add sauce, beans and seasoning, stir well

Add a little water, tomato juice, or broth to bring to your desired consistency, I like it thick so I use very little

Transfer mixture to your crock pot.  Refrigerate over night if needed

Place in crock pot on either low heat for the entire day or if possible high heat for several hours and then more to low once heated through and the squash is tender.  We had it on high for about 4 hours and low for 2 hours before serving

Season to your own taste, and serve with cheese if desired

If cooking on a traditional stove use the same steps but simmer until the squash is tender

Enjoy!

Panzanella

This is the first time I’ve ever made Panzanella and I was really pleased with the results.  The combination of fresh tomato, cucumber, onion, and bread, combined with the dressing works very well together.  The quantity I made was for 2 main course servings or approximately 4 side salads.

I really wish I had some leftover grilled asparagus to toss in it.  While not a traditional ingredient I think it would have added an excellent complimentary flavor.  Another possible toss in would be some fresh mozzarella if you don’t mind dairy.  I kept to a basic recipe for my first time but will try variations in the future.

When making this I used only 1/2 a loaf of bread.  The other half I made a small bread pudding with.  I’ll post that later.  I’m trying to cook appropriate amounts of food with the hopes of having less waste.  It seems like a simple concept yet is proving to be quite difficult.  On one hand I enjoy leftovers on the other I always end guessing wrong and still making too much.  Hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it soon.

Ingredients

  • 3+ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes quartered and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
  • 10+ large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic sliced in half

Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions

Place oil and garlic in a pan and heat on medium heat for a few minutes, remove garlic and add bread, saute the bread until lightly browned adding more oil if needed

Toss all sliced veggies, bread and basil leaves in a bowl and season

Toss all ingredients for dressing in blender and blend until smooth and pour over salad, gently toss salad until evenly coated

Serve immediately or let sit for up to 1 hour

Hoe Cakes

Hoe cakes are a tasty corn pancake with the texture of traditional cornbread.  They’re a versatile dish because depending on what you toss into the batter they can be a great breakfast or side dish for dinner.

The basic recipe is Paula Deen’s.  She doesn’t make many recipes that I cook due to her love of bacon fat and butter, but this recipe is an exception.  What I love about hoe cakes is that they need no sugary topping poured over them.  They taste great on their own.

We’re up early this morning because my husband had to take our son to the airport.  He’s going to spend a week in Seattle with my brother looking at schools.  My niece is on the east coast of Florida so it’s just me and Bill.  I’m figuring we’ll have a late breakfast so I think I’ll toss in some frozen corn, cheese & chipotle sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I use soy plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Oil for frying
  • Add ins: a handful of corn, blueberries, cheddar cheese & chipotle sauce,

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, heat oil in pan on medium high, drop batter in pan about 1/8th of a cup per hoe cake, Let brown on one side and flip until browned on the other side, once cooked lay on a paper towel to remove excess oil and serve immediately

Escarole Bean Soup

My sister Sandy makes this soup all the time so I decided to give it a try.  The recipe she gave me was really just a list of ingredients so I really created it with just a basic idea.  I am really impressed with the results.  It’s a thick, hearty soup full of delicious vegetables and it’s super nutritious!

I actually made it a couple of days ago and brought a serving to work yesterday and will do so today as well.  I really need to get a good thermos for soups and such.  The soup is currently being transported in a glass bowl with a snap on lid.  I’m placing 50/50 odds on if the cover will stay on until lunch time!  The price of a simple thermos was pretty shocking to me.  This is old technology, why is a basic single serving thermos around $20?  I really didn’t want to spend that much.

Before I get to the soup we had a family dinner at my parents last night.  My mom made some family favorites which I will post about another time.  She made tzimmes and noodle pudding which I love.  My contribution was Mmmm, Mondel Brodt which was served for dessert and was a hit as always.

Ingredients

I large head of escarole

3 large onions halved and sliced thin

2 cans of vegetable broth,  2 cans of water

2-3 veg sausage links chopped (I used chorizo)

Or use cubed tofu in place of the sausage links

1 can of small white beans drained

A couple of chopped carrots

1 large pepper julienned

A handful of string beans halved

Olive oil as needed

A few cloves of garlic minced

Salt, pepper & seasoning to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot  on medium and add onion, let the onion slowly wilt and brown stirring regularly, it should brown but not burn and will take about 15 minutes

Once onion is starting to brown add the sausage and let it cook in either slices or crumbles, as that cooks add in the other vegetables except for the escarole and let them saute for several minutes adding the garlic for the last minute, season as needed

Add the beans and broth to the pot and stir well, add in the escarole and let it cook down for several minutes, once it’s cooked down and is mixed in with other ingredients it is ready to serve

Peace love & greens, Lin

Veggie Lasagna

Let me start by telling you that I made a 9′ x 13′ tray of this lasagna Thursday night and it’s already almost finished.  This lasagna is so good it’s simply disappearing.  It’s a favorite recipe of mine because everyone in my house loves it including my husband who is still a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

This is a very forgiving recipe.  I tend to use a few specific veggies and then whatever is on hand.  Zucchini, onion, and broccoli are must have ingredients and then I alternate for the rest of them.  I love to use mushrooms but they were a little too costly this week so I left them out.  I seriously doubt anyone noticed.  I did add some carrot and yellow pepper which gave it great color!

The vegetables get saute’d in a pan and then roughly chopped in the food processor.  It creates a nice texture. Once assembled it’s quite weighty.  I make it with 4 thick layers of each lasagna noodles and filling.  It’s a pretty solid meal.

I served it with some home-made garlic knots which were really quick to assemble.  I purchased some pre-made pizza dough (not the kind in a tube) and sectioned it off.  I then made each piece a cord and knotted it.  I covered each knot with some fresh garlic and olive oil, baked it for 10 minutes at 350, brushed on more garlic oil and cooked another 10 minutes.  They were a great accompaniment to the lasagna.

Ingredients

1 lb box of lasagna noodles cooked according to directions

1 large container of ricotta

1 lb mozzarella (fresh if possible)

1 jar quality tomato sauce or home-made

1/2 cup veggie parmesan cheese

1 egg lightly beaten

At least 1 lb of fresh vegetables roughly chopped including broccoli florets, 1-2 zucchini, 1 large onion, 1 large pepper,mushrooms, carrots, or cauliflower

Salt, pepper and italian seasoning to taste

Directions

Take ricotta cheese and beaten egg and mix well, add in 1/4 cup parmesan, season well

Saute the vegetables in a pan until cooked but still crisp, season and then place in food processor and pulse until small pieces but not mushy

Spray a 9′ x 13′ inch pan with non stick spray and then place a little sauce on the pan

Place 3-4 sheets of lasagna on the pan

Add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture spreading evenly and top with 1/2 of the vegetables, top with just a little mozzarella

Add another layer of pasta and top with sauce and mozzarella

Repeat the with another layer of ricotta and vegetables, cover with another layer of pasta, mozzarella and cheese, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving.

Peace love & greens, Lin