Heavenly Crock Pot Meals: Vegetable Stew with Chickpeas

Thank you Parenthood. Thank you The Newsroom. Twice in one night I found myself bursting into tears because your stories are so damn compelling.

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I am talking total waterworks. I’ve been known to fold during iPhone commercials and especially poignant endings to novels, but it was a double-whammy this time around. As I sat alone at home with a glass of wine watching my shows On Demand, these people’s fictional lives really rocked my world. I hate series finales. Worst. Idea. Ever.

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So maybe I made myself feel better by stuffing my face with slow-cooked comfort food. Maybe.

What You Need:

  • 3 large tomatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved, with stems cut off
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

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What You Do:

Easy. Dump everything into a crock pot and turn it on. Cook on high for 6 hours.

Pro Tip: Make ahead and freeze for a fully prepared meal at any time. This serves 4.

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Chicken, Broccoli and Quinoa Bake

There’s something incredibly satisfying about effectively using all of the vegetables in my fridge, their fate otherwise sealed inside my crisper drawer.

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I feel like a good Samaritan almost – freeing the plastic-bag-strangled vegetables from dark corners under less time-sensitive items like onions and unripe avocados. They’re getting their moment to shine, finally, in a dish worthy of their waiting.

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Now I know my vegetables don’t have feelings. But I do feel responsible for their happiness and I want them to have a full and meaningful life. And that of course means rescuing them from the cavernous black hole my refrigerator can become if I don’t watch it closely.

What You Need:

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  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package directions and set aside (I used Trader Joes Tri-Color Quinoa, which looks super pretty!)
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved with stems cut off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts, washed and diced into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) cheddar cheese

What You Do:

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Preheat oven to 400F

In a medium saucepan coated with olive oil, add chicken and cover, heating until soft and cooked through. Set aside.

In the same pan, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant.

Add milk, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and stir well, bringing to a simmer. Remove from heat.

In a large baking dish with a cover, add broccoli, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, chicken and scallion/milk/cheese mix and stir well.

Ladle the vegetable broth over the veggies, cover and bake for 15 minutes or until the bake is bubbly and soft.

Top with cheddar cheese and serve! I hope you find this as enjoyable as I did.

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Oatmeal Lace Cookies and Nutella Almond Butter Cookies

I find myself watching repeat episodes of the Big Bang Theory all. the. time. In my defense, the repeats are shown on TV all. the. time. It’s funny to me how easily I am influenced to make or eat foods based on what I see on TV. I’m basically a marketer’s dream.

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Anyways, the other day I was watching the episode where Bernadette is going to be featured in a magazine as one of the top sexiest female scientists to watch, and Amy Farrah Fowler is upset because she feels female scientists shouldn’t have to flaunt their good looks to be recognized for their achievements. Plot line aside, the girls were eating cookies in the opening scene, so I decided to make some.

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Oatmeal Lace Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (use gluten free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

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Preheat oven to 375F

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour through oatmeal and mix well. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix on low with a blender until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients and continue mixing until well combined.

Drop tablespoon sized balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 1/2 apart. These cookies will spread flat in the oven.

Bake for 7-9 minutes, removing when the edge is just golden. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or plate.

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Nutella Almond Butter Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F

In a mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients with a blender until well combined.

Spoon a tablespoon of the mix onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to gently press diagonal lines across each cookie in an X.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are just golden. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or plate.

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Buttermilk Red Pepper Tomato Soup

It’s football season. I’m not super into watching sports on TV. I like playing sports, but there’s a fine glaze that forms over my eyes whenever Mike switches the channel to a game of any kind. I’m still trying to figure out why there is Sunday night football, Monday night football AND Thursday night football. It feels like it’s always on. (Sorry football fans).

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But – BONUS! If I don’t care about what’s on TV, that leaves me plenty of time to cook. And that’s something I’m totally fine with. On a separate note, does the buttermilk face I made in my soup look slightly demonic to anyone else?

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What You Need:

  • 15 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into rough strips
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large baking dish, place the halved tomatoes, onions, red peppers and garlic, alternating layers to ensure they’re all combined.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are puckered with split skin, surrounded by juices.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the solid veggies and place in a food processor.

Blend the roasted veggies until smooth, and pour into a large bowl.

Add the spices and buttermilk and stir well. Reheat if necessary but it should be hot enough to serve.

Pro Tip: Dip a grilled cheese in it. Is this even a pro tip? Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together like chocolate and milk.

My other pro-tip is to save the leftover baked veggie juices, pour into a Tupperware and freeze. It’s vegetable broth for your next recipe. BOOM!

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Mike keeps yelling “Serenity Now!” at home, which is something George Costanza’s father would say on Seinfeld when he was looking for some peace and order in his life. IMG_0977I do believe when Mr. Costanza said it, he was referencing his wife and George, who were probably bothering him, so I’d like to say for the record that Mike saying it has nothing to do with me (obviously). But it’s a pretty apropos expression for our lives right now. Somehow with the onset of 2015, life got crazy. Get up too early, go to bed too late, squeeze in a workout routine or two, try to maintain a social life. IMG_0968 Kind of makes you want to just throw the covers over your head and yell, “Serenity Now!” I think Mike might be on to something. In the meantime, I made us these no-bake peanut butter energy balls to help us get motivated for those workouts. Or really just the day… IMG_0975 What You Need: 

  • 1 1/4 gluten free steel cut oats (or regular oatmeal)
  • 3 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter

What You Do: In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and combine well – get into it with your hands or use a wooden spoon. When a thick and solid batter has formed, roll about a tablespoon of the mix into a ball and set aside in another bowl. These will be great left in the fridge for about a week. After that, move leftovers into the freezer where they’ll keep forever? and they don’t freeze solid so they’re still great for grab-n-go. Makes about 35 energy balls. And since these are for energy, I feel required to provide a calorie count: about 200 for 3 balls. IMG_0976 Pro Tip: Add or replace ingredients in these energy balls, like hemp seeds, different types of nuts, and different dried fruits (think raisins, cranberries, pomegranates?!?) Go crazy.

Lemony Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts so much. Just so much. They’re probably the most delicious vegetable out there. I had previously sung their praises in the midst of my Thanksgiving cooking frenzy when I coated them with white wine and honey (right?!?) but this dish is similarly delish and doesn’t require actually cooking the Brussels sprouts, so that’s a win now that we’re off vacation and back at work (read: less time, bigger appetites).

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It’s so easy and works as a light and healthy side dish to almost any meal.

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What You Need: 

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, with stems chopped off, and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or lemon juice from the convenient lemon juice container you can buy in the produce aisle…)
  • About 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

What You Do:

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Place the Brussels sprouts in a food processor and pulse gently until they are roughly chopped, similar to cabbage in cole slaw.

Place chopped up Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well to mix

Now it’s ready to serve! Enjoy alongside basically any main dish.

Pro Tip: As seen on the right, this light and lemony dish is especially great served alongside any white fish – like haddock, for instance! Need inspiration? Get my recipe for haddock baked in spicy Cajun tomato sauce here.

Guest Post: Jennifer – Wheat Berry and Sweet Potato Casserole

Pat at Rantings of an Amateur Chef (http://rantingchef.com/) was nice enough to share this guest blog I wrote for his awesome site! If you haven’t already checked out the Ranting Chef, make sure you do. The recipes are great!

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

A little while ago Jennifer from A Colorful Palate reached out about guest blogging here. I’m glad she did because she brings a tasty recipe. Take a look at her blog and the dish below… 

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Wheat Berry and Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 4-6
Cooking Time: 2.25 hours
My bag of wheat berries has stared me down from its perch on the top shelf of my pantry for a long time. Actually about two years. I see them every time I reach for the rice, bypassing the bag because all I’ve ever known about wheat berries is they take forever to cook.
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They do, that’s not a lie. But it’s also not a good reason to avoid them. Wheat berries are delicious, and they have a wonderfully unique chewy/crunchy texture that I think is better than rice and add something really different to a dish.
In this dish, the wheat berries and…

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