Thanksgiving Dish Day 3: White Wine Honeyed Brussels Sprouts Over Quinoa

There are some things you’re confronted with as a child that, despite your small stature, are non-negotiable. You will gladly sit at the table all night long, relinquish dessert rights, resign yourself to missing your favorite cartoon, get sent to bed early – all in the name of avoiding eating a vegetable (usually green, usually slightly slimy and usually exuding a questionable odor).

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Did I ever think I would like – and look forward to – eating Brussels Sprouts? No way. Did my parents? That’s an even bigger “no way.”

I was always “a picky eater” (my mother’s words) – particular about my meals and mostly partial to sugar-laden foods and non-green stuff. But I was a kid. And I grew out of it – thank goodness too because honestly, green stuff is amazing.

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Brussels Sprouts are like tiny cabbages (but sweeter) that become packed full of the flavors they’re cooked with, and they develop a delicious crispiness when pan-fried that makes them almost more like (yes I’m going there) a snack.

It’s not surprising that kids don’t like these, but it’s probably based on appearance and, also, keeping up appearances, because you can’t just GIVE IN and admit to your parents that you like something right? I hope to raise a child who does, but it’s not likely considering how many times my mother wished that I would have a kid someday just as picky as myself.

I wish I could go back in time and see what my 9-year-old self would think of these bad boys, but definitely let me know how this recipe goes over! My 31-year-old self couldn’t get enough of them, and they’re a great addition to any Thanksgiving spread.

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What You Need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups Brussels Sprouts with the hard stems sliced off and any bad outer leaves pulled off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp honey, warmed so it’s loose and will mix easily
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine

What You Do:

In a large bowl that has lots of extra room to stir the Brussels Sprouts without losing any over the side, mix the Brussels Sprouts with 1 tbsp olive oil, the honey, salt and pepper, until the Brussels are covered well.

Warm the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.

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Pour Brussels Sprouts into the skillet – they should sizzle in the heated oil.

Stir around, gently cooking all sides of the Brussels.

Once Brussels are warm and well-mixed in the pan, add the wine, and stir continuously until the liquid burns off.

Now they’re ready to serve! Pile over a bed of the quinoa and enjoy!

Pro Tip: For a fuller meal, add cooked sweet potato, squash or diced cooked chicken to the quinoa with some cooked onions and/or peppers.

 

 

Sesame-Ginger Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts, Lemon-crusted Haddock and a Side Salad

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For my third day of Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I made a smorgasbord (kinda) in order to get a better handle on my overflowing crisper drawer.

But I succeeded in using a lot of vegetables, and everything went together pretty nicely in the end! This recipe makes for a delightful little summery meal, and it’s got a couple completely different ingredients in it that really give it a unique flavor.

You likely won’t be able to find the same exact stuff at your market, but I address that in the ingredients list.

The farmer’s market ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Agretti
  • Culinary celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Scallions
  • Wild-caught local haddock from the fish guy

I’d like you to meet two of my new favorite veggies: Agretti and Culinary Celery

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What is Agretti? Agretti is a Mediterranean water-retaining plant that looks like it should taste like grass but is actually DELICIOUS and can be used in basically anything, including raw in salads, omelets, or sprinkled over pasta (which is how I would have used it had I not just made pasta. Poor planning!)

Culinary Celery will blow your mind if you don’t like celery, but will especially blow your mind if you don’t like parsley. This awesome vegetable creation is a divine marriage of the two that tastes just perfect and doesn’t have that often overwhelming flavor you get with celery and/or parsley.

Agretti can be tough to find unless you know a farmer or market that grows Mediterranean-type veggies, but if you want to try and use something similar, people claim dandelion greens come close-ish.

As for culinary celery, I’ve never seen this before but you might ask around for it. Otherwise, adding a tiny bit of both celery and parsley together would be fine just to get that flavor.

ALSO – NEVER FEAR! This dish is perfect without either of these things! It’s the sesame-ginger sauce that really brings it all together 🙂

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What You Need for the Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped culinary celery
  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped agretti
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber

What You Need for the Sesame-Ginger Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute with honey)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch red pepper or chili flakes to taste

 

What You Need for the Lemon-Crusted Haddock

  • 2 meyer lemons, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup shredded parm
  • 1/4 cup panko (or your favorite bread ground up in a food processor)
  • Haddock

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What You Do

Add the shredded veggies and chopped walnuts and whole cranberries to the quinoa in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add sesame dressing, mix well, and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour, if you can wait. This dish is good both hot and cold.

While the quinoa salad is chilling, sprinkle the haddock with fresh lemon.

Mix together the shredded parm and panko, and gently dip the lemon-doused haddock in to lightly cover the fish, or sprinkle the mixture over the fish if picking it up isn’t really an option.

Bake, grill or pan-fry the haddock until cooked. Serve alongside the quinoa salad with a mixed-green salad on the side if desired! I made a quick salad with leftover agretti, spinach leaves and chopped scallions.

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Healthy Black Bean Power Brownies

I have an obsession, along with 103,000 other people (and that’s just on Facebook!) with Chocolate Covered Katie and her healthy dessert blog. This obsession is borne from a life-long addiction to desserts and internal struggle between cravings and being healthy. Sure, I exercise multiple times a week. I run long distances and get up early to squeeze in a workout before heading to the office.

But when I delve into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at night following a heaping plate of dinner food, I hear that nagging voice in my head letting me know I’m probably undoing all the good I had done earlier.

The solution to this battle between desserts and being healthy is to combine the two. Healthy desserts. And that is exactly what Chocolate Covered Katie does on her blog. My latest indulgence is brought to you today in the form of chocolately, ooey-gooey brownies made with – wait for it – black beans.

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They’re only slightly tweaked from this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie – she’s basically a genius so I can’t really improve upon what she’s done here. I omitted some sugar and added flax seeds and a couple options for the flour mix. No biggie.

Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 F

What You Need:

  • One 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats OR whole wheat flour OR gluten-free flour OR cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp whole flax seeds (chia seeds or hemp seeds or any other seeds you like work here too)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

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What You Do:

Put everything into a food processor EXCEPT the chocolate chips and flax seeds. Blend well, stir in the chips and seeds, and then pour the batter out into an 8X8 brownie pan.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Let cool well for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Pro Tip: Substitute the oil for applesauce maybe? I didn’t try it this way but it’s worked for brownies and cookies I’ve made in the past. If you do this, let me know how it goes!

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Potato, Leek and Kale Soup

So Mike has bronchitis. He’s not thrilled, for obvious reasons, but also because he’s been sick straight through some of the nicest days we’ve had in months.

The sun is out, the temperatures are steadily warming up, and there are legitimate flowers growing in our yard. It’s amazing! And on nights like we’ve been having, I naturally gravitate toward the grill. Except when my husband is sick. On nights like THAT, I gravitate toward soup.

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There’s been a leek in our fridge for more than a week, and unlike my interaction with most vegetables, I was kind of stumped on how to use it, and had forgotten why I bought it in the first place.

I know when people are sick, chicken noodle soup is the natural go-to, but I decided to switch it up and make a creamy potato leek soup – completely vegetarian, and completely daily and gluten free.

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What You Need:

  • One large leek, top layer and leaves removed, sliced
  • 4-5 small to medium yellow potatoes, quartered (you can peel them if you want – I didn’t)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cups kale, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I got mine this way)
  • 1/3 cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper

What You Do: Leek Soup (5)

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook at a slow boil for about 30 minutes or until soft.

Drain the potatoes into a strainer and set aside.

Leek Soup (2) In the same saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add sliced l  leeks, chopped onion and chopped garlic and simmer for  about 20 minutes. Add the chopped kale about halfway  through (after about 10 minutes) and simmer all until soft  and kale has reduced.

Add the potatoes and stir. Then add the vegetable broth  and bring the mixture to a slow boil.

Add the black pepper and stir. Remove from heat.

Pour the mixture into a food processor. If you like your soup chunkier like I do, pulse  until just blended. If you want a smoother soup, blend for longer until creamy.

Add the soup back into the saucepan. Add the almond or soy milk (or any milk of your choice) and stir.

It’s ready to serve!

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Pro Tip: Make this soup a little spicy (you know I did) by adding a hot pepper of your choice into the mixture, or simply sprinkling some crushed red pepper on the soup once it’s ready to serve.

Jasmine Rice and Cooked Vegetables = Super Fast Lunch Recipe

I made this dish during my lunch break when I was supposed to be walking Madison. So it teaches us two things:

  1. It is a super fast and easy dish
  2. I chose food over my dog this week

(To be fair, she did get to sit outside the entire time and never fear – I did walk her after work).

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I made the decision to turn my lunch break in a small cooking adventure because when I opened the fridge to forage for scraps in my frantic state of mid-work-day hunger, I found myself face to face with this:

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I do not know what it is about this mango chutney from our local Hannaford supermarket that I love so much, but I do love it. It’s sweet and fruity with a little spice, and goes so perfectly with rice that sometimes I forget there is more to a meal than rice and a heaping dollop of chutney.

So, between 12:15 and 1pm I made this super simple dish using Jasmine Rice (my personal fav type of rice) as the base and then literally any veggie that happened to be available in my fridge.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup Jasmine Rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • A bunch of random vegetables, chopped (this is completely at your discretion – anything goes! I used sweet potato that I put through the food processor, onions, red and green bell peppers and one jalapeno for some zing)
  • Any kind of chutney (although as you know I highly recommend mango)

What You Do:

Chop the veggies, and heat, covered, in an oiled pan slowly over low-medium heat.

While the veggies are cooking, make the rice. If you are not using Jasmine rice, follow the directions for whatever rice you’re using. If you choose Jasmine rice, boil the water and rice together, then lower the temperature to simmer, covered, until the water has cooked off.

Plop the rice on a plate, and cover with a heaping portion of veggies. Add some chutney on the side for dipping (also your choice – any sauce or spices will also suffice) and enjoy!

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Pro Tip: Add a protein like tofu or chicken to make it a complete dish!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Sweet Potato and Beer

On Sunday I received a text that spoke directly to my heart.

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The text came from my friend Mary, and to be fair, we had finished a 17 mile run just hours earlier. But if I’m going to be honest here, I will admit that I usually feel like I want to eat everything, regardless of how far I’ve run or even whether I’ve run at all.

I have a lot of cravings that tend to dictate what Mike and I eat for dinner.

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As you probably guessed, On Sunday like my friend Mary, I too felt like eating everything. To handle this feeling in the most mature and self-controlled way possible, I ate a handful of sour jelly beans and drove to the supermarket to buy ingredients for one of my favorite comfort food meals – slow cooker pulled pork. I felt like I needed comfort food – who doesn’t?!?

Knowing Mike and I couldn’t eat it until Monday night practically drove me insane, but it was well worth the wait. Absolutely delish! And I got kudos for making pork (Mike’s all-time fav meat dish that I rarely make).

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Seasoned Pork ready to start slow cooking.

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Spice Rub!

What You Need:

  • A boneless pork shoulder (also commonly called pork butt) between 3 and 5 pounds
  • One large sweet potato, grated or shredded (I used my food processor)
  • One large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup beer (I used a brown ale. If you don’t want to use beer, the same amount of vegetable or chicken broth works too)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Thicker Style Hot Bone Suckin’ Sauce)

IMG_3645What You Do:

Line the bottom of the crock pot dish with the graded or shredded sweet potato, the thinly sliced onion, minced garlic and chopped scallions.

Pour the beer over the mixture. Drink the rest!

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon.

Prepare your pork. I sliced it into large chunks and cut off as much fat as I could.

Rub the spice mixture over the pork pieces and place the pork over the onion mixture in the crock pot dish.

Set the crock pot on High for 6-8 hours OR on Low for 8-10 hours.

When it’s ready, spoon the pork out of the crock pot onto a separate plate.

Drain the liquid left in the crock pot through a strainer and INTO A POT so it doesn’t go down the drain. (This is only important to do if you do not wish to use BBQ sauce. If that’s the case, see below for the Pro Tip).

Return the onion mixture that was captured in the strainer to the crock pot. Return the pork to the crock pot and with a fork, begin pulling it apart until it is all looking like goodness.

Add your BBQ sauce and it’s ready to serve!

Pro Tip: If you do not wish to use BBQ sauce, pour the strained liquid back into the pulled pork mixture slowly until the pork is moistened (you may not need all of it!)

Pro Tip #2: Select a gluten-free BBQ sauce for a totally GF meal!

Pro Tip #3: Take advantage of the fact that this recipe allows you to say “pork butt” multiple times in conversation.

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog – a perfect beer for this recipe!

Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Tomato Sauce

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You will never need to eat pasta again. Ever.

I’m serious. And I’m Italian. So this goes against everything my people believe but I’m sticking to it.

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When I would see recipes for spaghetti squash, I tossed them aside, figuring it was just a weird stringy food that could never take the place of my beloved whole wheat spaghetti. But I came across a large spaghetti squash at a farmer’s market this winter and talked to the farmer about it. He couldn’t believe I’d never made one before.

When people who grow food for a living tell me that I “have to try” something, I don’t take it lightly. I took that sucker home, and cooked it up following his (suspiciously simple) directions.

Well first of all, I felt like a food genius. I brought Mike in to see the cooked squash in action.

“Check this out!” I told him, gently plying away the spaghetti-like layers of sweet smelling squash with a fork. I know he was impressed. Who wouldn’t be?

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And second of all, it isn’t some weird stringy food. It’s great. Drenched in homemade tomato sauce, it’s almost like eating actual spaghetti, except with fewer calories and carbs. And one spaghetti squash makes quite a bit of food, and is one of those leftovers that makes the early part of my workday a time where I am simply waiting to eat.

Preheat oven to 450F

What You Need:

  • A spaghetti squash (1-2 pounds)
  • Tomato sauce. For a great homemade recipe that you can make simultaneously with the squash (efficiency!!!!) use this recipe.

What You Do:

Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise from the stem to the bottom. Scoop out the seeds and extra stuff.

Place the halves insides down on a baking sheet (you can put foil under them if you want to make the cleanup easier).

**You do not need to use any oil! The squash produces liquid while it bakes and will not stick.**

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the skin starts to pucker and brown. You will also see liquid start to seep out around the base of the squash. You may also see the juices start to caramelize around the base of the squash – this is totally ok and really enhances the flavor. But that also means it’s time to take it out of the oven.

With a fork, gently separate the stringy squash layers from the skin and scoop onto your plate or into a bowl.

Cover in tomato sauce and freshly shredded Parmesan and enjoy!

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Pro Tip: You can save the skins and reuse them for in a homemade vegetable broth! Simply freeze them in a large bag with other vegetable cooking scraps until you need to make your broth!

A Lovely and Filling Kale Risotto

There are a few things I am sure of in this life: A good meal in a pinch does not have to require a trip to the grocery store; a Sunday-night meal plan will invariably improve your week; and sometimes you just NEED chocolate cake.

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One important fact about me is that I like to run (like actually LIKE  it), and one of the biggest reasons aside from the obvious health benefit is that it makes me feel more comfortable about eating all of the foods I love in quantities that might scare average people.

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2-pound lobstah

But with winter in New Hampshire being a stubborn thorn in my side, it was easy to fall into a rut of not running as much, and instead eating the chocolate/cookies/leftover pie ruthlessly decorating our office kitchen table.

BUT I have a 20 mile race coming up at the end of March, so I’ve been making a much larger effort to make a healthy dinner every night and bring the leftovers for lunch so I don’t have an excuse to buy food out. Saves money and calories!

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Last night’s dinner needed to produce enough food to make two lunches, and since I didn’t get to start cooking until 8pm (ugh) it needed to be fairly quick. By 8:30pm we had this kale risotto, which was indeed both lovely and filling.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio (Risotto) rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 of a large, red onion OR a large shallot (I don’t always have a shallot on hand)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (need some in a pinch? check out this post)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped kale (no stems – unless you like them!)

What You Do:

Heat a large wok or skillet at Medium to Medium-High and add the oil.

Add the chopped garlic and onion, and stir to coat evenly in oil.

Add the cup of Arborio rice and stir to mix.

One cup at a time, add the vegetable broth, stirring continuously between adding each cup. You want the broth to be at a low simmer in the skillet.

Once you’ve added the last cup of broth, add the kale. Stir to combine and lower the heat. Stir and cook until the kale reduces and cooks fully. Taste tests are always helpful! 🙂

Pro Tip: If you actually stir the Risotto the entire time, it will come out AMAZING. I don’t care if you have to hire someone to stand there and do it – I have made this dish so many times and when I finally ignored the mess and dishes and actually stirred it continuously, the end result was SO worth it.

Delicious Homemade Tomato Sauce

I have a teeny tiny obsession right now with making tomato sauce. For a long time, homemade sauce fell victim to a list of foods I was simply too intimidated to try and make. This list has been whittled down substantially in recent years, but once included homemade sushi, balsamic reduction, kale chips, homemade croutons, and roasted garlic (I know, I know. The directions are in the name. I still couldn’t do it).

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Ready for oven baking!

But tomato sauce has officially been not only removed from that list, but is a new all time favorite. What I love about homemade sauce is that it can be a different kind each time, depending on what’s in the fridge, or what I’m in the mood for. Absolutely anything can go in sauce – or nothing at all! I love pouring fresh, homemade sauce over spaghetti squash or pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, risotto or a timeless favorite – English muffin pizzas 🙂

This is the basic recipe. Obviously the more sauce you want, the more tomatoes you have to use. Below the recipe are a bunch of other ingredient options, but they’re all just suggestions so go nuts with your vegetable drawer and experiment! This is one dish you cannot mess up.

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Preheat your oven to 400F

What You Need:

  • 10-15 large plum tomatoes
  • Half a sweet onion, sliced
  • 3 small cloves of garlic or 2 large ones
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

Halve all the plum tomatoes, slice the onion (can be done roughly, it’s all getting blended up at the end), mince the garlic.

Pour the olive oil into the bottom of a ceramic or glass baking dish and use the facedown half of one plum tomato to spread it around. The bottom of the dish should be very thinly coated with oil. You don’t need a lot because the tomatoes produce a lot of juice as they’re baking.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with the plum tomatoes, face down. On each layer, sprinkle the garlic and onions so they are intermixed.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes are pinched and soft when poked.

Load everything into a food processor and blend until well mixed and there are no visible chunks. Use desired amount on your food, and freeze leftover sauce for easy defrosting and use with your  next meal!

Pro Tip: Add any of the following ingredients, singularly or in combination, to the baking dish to make different and tasty sauces. I have tried all of these, so I can testify they are all delicious.

  • Basil (goes great in all sauces regardless of ingredients)
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Zucchini squash
  • Hot peppers or sweet peppers (or both! or, if you’re obsessed with spicy foods like me, add hot peppers to every homemade sauce dish for a little ziing!)
  • Shallots
  • Sausage (add cooked sausage when the sauce is ready to serve, or blend it into the sauce in the food processor)
  • Scallions
  • Artichokes

Tasty and EASY Kale-Blueberry-Banana Breakfast Smoothie

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I have a couple friends who tell me that they usually don’t eat breakfast, or they eat lunch or dinner foods instead of breakfast foods. I respect that (I don’t understand it) but I personally love breakfast and all of the food that comes with it – life without breakfast food would be a far more dismal place.

I would eat a runny egg sandwich and home-fries drenched in ketchup and sriracha every day if I could, but my inability to get out of bed with enough time to eat before leaving for work has forced me to get creative. Plus, my egg sandwich addiction aside, I like to switch it up once in awhile.

Here’s a delicious smoothie that is super easy to make and very yummy. I’ve made a couple variations of this smoothie, which I tell you about below, but this is by far the tastiest way to make it, in my opinion.

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What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup kale (I usually include the stems so don’t worry about preparing the leaves too much)
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (almond butter is also a delightful substitute if you have it)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (I’ve used closer to 1 cup depending on how it’s mixing)
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

I’ve added about a teaspoon of honey on occasion for more sweetness.

What You Do:

Load everything into a blender or food processor and let it rip! As I said, you might find you need to add a little extra milk if things aren’t blending smoothly enough.

Pro Tip:  If you’re like me and value the taste and variety of locally-grown kale from a summertime farmer’s market, buy a bunch before the season ends and keep in the freezer through the winter and use whenever you need it!