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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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!

Ratatouille with Coconut Curry Sauce

I feel bad calling myself a cooking enthusiast since I had not even heard of ratatouille until I saw the Disney movie. After seeing a rat prepare it, I thought, “I could do that.”

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But then, a lot of time went by. (A LOT of time. I just checked, and that movie was released in 2007 – yikes!)

So seven years later, I got my act together and made a decision to prepare this undoubtedly delicious meal for my in-laws, who were visiting from New York. I learned the basic gist of the recipe, and I was only feeling a little apprehensive about being able to pull it off.

But then, I was totally sidelined. The power of suggestion is absurdly effective. One second, I am happily going about my day thinking about trees and flowers (not really, just trying to make a point here), and the next, I see a commercial for pizza and suddenly, that is ALL I WANT.

As I was preparing for ratatouille-making, a friend happened to mention having had a delicious coconut curry dish at lunch.

Well. I’ll be damned. I LOVE coconut curry.

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So, since I was already feeling overwhelmed by the recipe, I made an effortless decision to swap out the sauce for a coconut curry tomato sauce.

I’ll tell you – it was an amazing decision. This dish does not disappoint, and was a hit with my in-laws (at least that’s what they told me) 🙂

Quick Disclaimer: If you don’t own a mandolin, this recipe is still possible to make – it just might drive you crazy. Make sure you have a sharp knife, at the very least!

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What You Need for the Ratatouille:

  • 1 medium zucchini squash, ends cut off
  • 1 medium summer squash, ends cut off
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, tops cut off and de-seeded but still bell-shaped
  • 2 cups dry Jasmine or white rice

What You Need for the Coconut Curry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced (seeded if desired)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (powdered ginger will also work fine)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices (this is equal to 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes if you wish to stay away from canned foods)
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large wok or skillet, pour in the olive oil and lightly simmer the onion, garlic, jalepeno and fresh ginger until soft. (If you only have powdered ginger, add it later).

Add the tomatoes and curry powder (also add ginger powder if using).  Turn heat up to bring to a slight boil and stir well.

Add the coconut milk and sugar, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Set aside, but keep warm on low heat.

Using a mandolin, thinly slice all of your vegetables. As I said, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can get away with cutting everything by hand. Try to make very thinly-sliced pieces. Thicker pieces really only impact how long the dish will take to cook.

Layer the vegetables in alternating order along the bottom of a large baking dish or dutch oven. Each time you complete a layer, spoon about 1 cup of the still-hot coconut curry tomato sauce over the veggies.

Continue layering and alternately pouring with sauce until the veggies have been used up. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may find you have vegetables left over. This is ok! They make great snacks, after all!

Pour remaining sauce over the top, gently poking apart the vegetables to let it seep through.

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Cover, and place the whole concoction into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are easily pierced with a fork. You may find it takes slightly longer depending, again, on the size of your baking dish and thickness of your layers.

While the dish is baking, cook your rice according to package directions.

When everything is ready, serve the ratatouille over the rice and enjoy! It’s where French cuisine meets Indian cuisine, right? Bon’ appetite!

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Pro Tip: If you have leftovers and want to re-purpose the meal to try and pull a fast one on your family, simply pulse the ratatouille (without the rice) in a food processor with a small amount of vegetable broth to turn it into soup! Make it as chunky or pureed as you desire, and add the rice after for some additional texture.

Vegetable Saute with Kale and Corn Pesto

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Everyone likes to talk about how pretty fall is and how awesome the leaves are, yada yada yada. Can we chat for a second about how EVERYONE IS SICK?

I can count the number of days I’ve felt healthy since the end of summer on one hand at this point. I feel as though every time I turn around, someone is sneezing or coughing, and two days later, so am I. It obviously doesn’t help that one day it’ll be 85 degrees out and the next day it’ll be 40.

As someone who is first to brag about how infrequently I get sick, I’ve certainly had to check myself this time around. Is anyone else experiencing this? If you are, please do not come near me.

Potato and Pesto Pics (11)To cater to my tissue-cough-drop-Robitussin dependency, I embarked on this meal with full intentions of completely mailing it in. I should know better though, that the way to truly mail it in is to either do nothing so Mike ends up taking care of dinner, or to just make pasta.

Well I didn’t. This is the result of more time in the kitchen than I intended.

What You Need for the Vegetable Dish:

  • 1 cup dry Jasmine or rice of choice, cooked according to package directions
  • 5 plum tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes.
  • 1/4 lb green beans, sliced in half
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 each: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

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What You Need for the Pesto:

  • 2 cups kale leaves, roughly shredded
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • The corn from one cob (cooked and cut off) – or about 3/4 cup of cooked corn
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tsp)
  • A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

What You Do: Potato and Pesto Pics (12)

Cook the rice according to package directions.

While the rice is cooking, pile your veggies EXCEPT the chives, into a large skillet, cover and slowly heat on low-medium until they are cooked through and the tomatoes have burst and appear pinched.

While the vegetables are cooking, pile your pesto ingredients EXCEPT the oil, into a food processor or blender. Slowly add the oil as the ingredients are mixing together until everything is combined and has formed a loose mixture similar to the consistency of dip.

Scoop out a desired amount of rice, and cover it with the cooked vegetables, adding some of the liquids for flavor.

Top with a dollop of pesto and sprinkle the chives over the pesto. Viola!

Pro Tip: Don’t make this dish if you’re too sick to stand up for more than 5 minutes.

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Healthy and Easy Crustless Summer Vegetable Quiche

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I have never been so determined to make a dinner from scratch as I was when I forged ahead and baked this quiche, even though I didn’t start it until 8pm on a work night, knowing full well it wouldn’t be ready to eat until at least 9:30pm; and that’s if everything went smoothly. (It did).

Perhaps a saner person would have looked at the clock and resigned themselves to leftover Annie’s Mac and Cheese, or even a fresh salad, but I would not give up the dream of quiche. It came out of the oven so late that Mike didn’t even eat it (he had already eaten the mac and cheese and a fresh salad with toast on the side, like a smart thinker).

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But I made sure to ooo and ahhh over this quiche as I helped myself to not one but THREE (small) servings, trying to savor it as the clocked ticked rapidly toward 10pm and my bedtime loomed near. I try not to eat close to going to bed, but quiche night was an exception.

It’s good. Good enough to wait well into the night for, and good enough to risk going to bed with a quiche hangover. I also need to note that the reason it didn’t maintain it’s pie-slice shape in the photos was because I insisted on eating it within a few seconds of taking it out of the oven. Let this thing cool – it’s worth it!

What You Need:

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  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno or habenero pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped kale (spinach would work well too!)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup almond milk (or any other milk of your choosing)
  • 1 cup shredded muenster cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 very thin slices of zucchini
  • 6-8 very thin slices of tomato

Quiche (4)What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In a lightly oiled medium skillet, heat the garlic and onion on medium heat until the onion becomes soft and translucent.

Add the jalapeno or habenero, and bell pepper, and chives, and stir.

Add the broccoli florets and stir well to combine with the onion mixture. Add a tablespoon of water if necessary to keep the pan moist, and cover, cooking on low-medium until the broccoli has reduced, about 7 minutes.

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While the broccoli mixture is cooking up, grab a small mixing bowl and combine the eggs, milk, cheeses, mustard, black pepper and salt, stirring well.

Set aside.

Before taking the broccoli mixture off the heat, add the kale and stir well.

Pack the broccoli mixture into a well-greased pie dish.

Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli filling, using a fork to gently nudge the broccoli around to let the egg mixture seep through to the sides and bottom of the pie dish. (There should still be a healthy amount of egg mixture over the top of the dish.)

In any pattern you like, place the zucchini and tomato slices around the top of the quiche. Make a happy face if you want!

Place the pie dish in the oven for about 40 minutes (check after 20-30 though – you want the egg cooked through and the top to be slightly browned and crispy but not burned, obviously).

Let cool for a few minutes before delving in, if for no other reason than to keep it in pie-slice shape 🙂

Enjoy!

Pro Tip: Have it for breakfast! Experiment with different cheeses too – I think Parmesan or feta would be absolutely delish.

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Spanish Rice Baked Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

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Do you KNOW how many recipes there are in the world for stuffed tomatoes where the stuffing is nothing more than breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper? I’m sure it’s delicious, really. You could put bread product in basically any food and I’d eat it for days. But I feel like I couldn’t quite get away with serving mostly breadcrumbs to Mike for dinner.

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Besides – there are so many awesome ways to stuff a tomato, right? I was going to do quinoa and kale for this recipe, but got to thinking about other grains and other dishes and remembered suddenly how much I loved Spanish Rice when my mother would make it when I was a kid. (If my mother is reading this, I want to be candid that I do realize I could be remembering this incorrectly and perhaps I did not love it as a kid, but I certainly consider it a food that I recall eating as a kid and enjoy eating today. So same thing, right?)

I also wanted to share this adorable farm stand that I discovered while running to work one day. (These are the perks of not driving – I tend to pay more attention to what’s going on around me). Check this out:

 

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This person keeps a little bucket near the veggies for your money and it’s completely an honors-system operation. I love it. So I got a few of the tomatoes for this meal from this little stop on my way home.

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This dish is super yummy and has the added benefit of providing probably all the lycopenes a person needs for a successful week! The rice you use is completely up to you. I used Jasmine because as I have mentioned it is by far my favorite type of rice, but I imagine a wild or brown rice would also be spectacular in this dish.

What You Need:

  • 5-7 medium red tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes if you can get your hands on them
  • 1 small onion, chopped OR 1/2 of a medium-large onion, chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small or 1/2 of a large red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1-8oz can diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cilantro (finely chopped fresh or ground)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Bring the vegetable broth to boiling in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the rice. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked.

While the rice is cooking, heat a 2 tsp olive oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno (if using) and bell peppers. Stuffed Tomatoes (2)

Let simmer, stirring frequently, until softened and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take your tomatoes and using a small paring knife, slice off just the very top to remove the stem area.

Cut in a circle around the perimeter of the inside of the tomato, basically hulling out the middle stem part and goopy insides, being careful not to slice into the body of the tomato or through the bottom.

Using a spoon, scoop out the insides and carefully clean around the inside to open up a nice space for filling, still being careful not to cut into or damage the body of the tomato.

Arrange the hollowed-out tomatoes in a large baking dish with a small amount (1/4 cup) of water in the bottom.

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Combine the onion mixture with the rice mixture, and add the diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro, and stir up well to make the stuffing. Add salt and pepper and mix again.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the stuffing into the hollowed-out insides of each tomato, packing it down and letting extra stuffing flow out the top of the tomatoes.

Combing the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over each tomato.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are pinched and the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

Add more water to the bottom of the baking dish if necessary after about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!!

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Pro Tip: As noted above, I think this would be marvelous with another rice such as wild or brown! Also, in a pinch you can use salsa instead of diced tomatoes and just add less garlic and probably nix the cilantro.

Tomato Rhubarb Cobbler

There is nothing not amazing about this dish.

I know that’s a horribly-put-together sentence, grammatically speaking, but it can’t be helped because I’m still in the haze of having eaten this amazing dinner.

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A couple of years ago my friend had an awesome cooking blog that was basically my kitchen bible. One day she posted this tomato cobbler recipe and with the way she raved about how good it was, it was too tempting not to try. And ever since I too was able to partake in its amazingness, it’s never left the back of my mind as the perfect summer recipe that I crave any time of year.

But it’s almost summer and that’s good enough for me; the local farmer’s market is already full of awesome, inspirational veggies. So, armed with a fresh bundle of rhubarb and already tasting warm pinched cherry tomatoes, I delved into this recipe after work and a yoga session to cap off the day right.

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It has two parts – the filling and the topping – but despite that, it’s pretty easy to make.

Preheat oven to 375 F

What You Need for the Filling:

  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • One large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour

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What You Need for the Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles (or extra if you’re cheese-addicted like me)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp) melted

IMG_3995What You Do:

Start by prepping the filling. Heat oil on low-medium in a large skillet. Add onion slices and cover, letting them caramelize. When they’ve become softer and begin to look translucent, add the rhubarb and garlic, stirring for about 5-8 minutes until the rhubarb softens. Remove from heat before the rhubarb totally breaks down and becomes mushy.

Add cherry tomatoes and 3 tbsp of flour to the rhubarb/onion filling and mix well, making sure the tomatoes are fully coated.

Pour the filling mixture into an 8×11 baking dish and pop the filling mixture into the oven for about 20 minutes. Take them out when the tomatoes are looking hot and pinchy.

In a medium bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

In a separate, larger bowl, mix the buttermilk and melted butter, whisking well.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture, stirring well. Then add the blue cheese and mix thoroughly. It will start to become dough-y.

Once the filling is done pre-baking, spread out the dough somewhat generously over the top of the mixture to create a topping. IMG_4005

Put this whole shebang back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes (check it though – the topping will burn easy if it’s in for too long!)

Give it some time to cool, even though that will be hard, and delve in! Works great as leftovers too!

 

Pro Tip: I have 2. First, as you guessed this is not a Gluten-Free recipe. But it easily could be by substituting the flour and using any gluten-free biscuit recipe you have for the topping! My second tip is that you will likely have biscuit dough leftover so make some biscuits! #duh