Honey Lemon Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

I’m on a not-so-silent crusade to get a cat.

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We have a dog – Madison, who is wonderful and fun. Also, she is super cute. BUT. I really want to get a cat.

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I used to have mixed feelings about cats, but part of my day job entails looking at cat photos online for hours at a time, so it’s kind of hard to resist falling in love with those funny little fluff balls.

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There’s only one small problem, which is that Mike absolutely refuses. He will not budge on this one, which gives me no choice but to quietly plot the adoption of a cat while he is at work, or in the shower or something. I figure once the cat is in our home, there’s nothing he can do. I get a cat, he gets yummy meals. It’s a win-win right?

What You Need:

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  • 1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, stems cut off and sliced into quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

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Combine the Brussels Sprouts, red and green bell peppers and shallot in a large baking dish.

Pour water over the vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are fully cooked.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, thyme leaves, black pepper and olive oil and whisk until well mixed.

When vegetables are done cooking, pour into a large serving dish and mix thoroughly with cooked quinoa and cranberries.

Pour the lemon-honey sauce over the entire dish and mix well.

Top with crumbled feta and you’re good to go!

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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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Carnival Squash Stuffed with Quinoa and Sugar-Baked Apples

Ok. I know I have some explaining to do.

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I’m making a somewhat sheepish return to this blog with my tail between my legs; this newest post clouded by the undeniable fact that it has been LITERALLY MONTHS since my last post, which is not only unfair to those who actually read and like my blog (thank you!) but is also really sad because I’m letting the entire fall season virtually pass by without posting any of the great fall vegetable recipes that make this time of year a true delight.

I’m sorry. I have no excuse. You should know that I have still been cooking, so you will finally get to take part in that experience. I hope these next recipes will be at least marginally useful to you, even though fall is half over.

Some exciting news though! It was my birthday the other day, which means I’ve been blogging steadily (don’t say it) for about a year! I find this to be among my top accomplishments as a person, and to celebrate, I bestow upon you this quintessentially fall dish, which I owe to the wonderful people at Barker’s Farm in Stratham, NH for hooking me up with some of the coolest must-have squashes of the season (You know how I feel about squashes – **swoon**)

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What You Need:

  • Two medium or large carnival squashes (or four smaller ones if you’re feeding several people or prefer smaller portions) If you don’t have or can’t find a carnival squash, acorn squash is the most similar, and delicata would also be delicious.
  • 2 medium or large apples, any type (I used Cortland) peeled and cut into apple pie-type chunks
  • 1 tbsp butter, very soft or melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 habanero or hot pepper of choice, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used goat cheese because that is what we had in the fridge)

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Cut the squash lengthwise from stem to bottom and scoop out the seeded insides.

Lightly brush the squash’s insides with butter, lay skin-side-down on a foil-covered baking sheet, and place in the oven to bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until it appears to be caramelizing and easily lets a fork through.

While the squash is baking, cook the quinoa.

Squash (12)While the quinoa is cooking, place the garlic, onion and hot pepper in a frying pan over low-medium heat with 1 tbsp oil.

When they become soft and translucent, add the apple pieces and stir until well-mixed.

Add the brown sugar and chili powder, salt and pepper and continue stirring until the apples become warm and juicy (but still maintain their shape and don’t get mushy) and are well-mixed with the sugar and spices.

Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the apple mixture in spoonfuls to gauge how much you need to make a nice balanced mix of quinoa and apple mixture. I found 2 cups of quinoa was enough to create a decent amount for stuffing the squash.

When the squash has cooked, place them skin-side-down in a baking dish.

Gently scoop the apple and quinoa mixture into each squash.

Sprinkle your cheese of choice over the top of each (optional) and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. (If you choose not to use cheese you can skip this step. It’s plenty hot at this point!)

Pro Tip: Add shredded chicken instead of or in addition to the quinoa to make it a non-vegetarian dish. If you’re a fan of raisins (I’m not), sprinkle some into the apple mixture while it’s cooking to add a new texture and flavor.

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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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Black Bean, Chickpea and Zucchini Veggie Burgers with Curried-Honey Glazed Tri-Color Carrots

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There’s nothing better than a summer meal. Like really nothing at all. There’s just something about that wonderful smell wafting from the grill from flame-kissed summer veggies that makes every slow sunset better than the last.

I’m not going to lie, it’s super hard right now for me to do anything after work besides come home, throw on my apron, turn up my Spotify playlist, crack a bottle of wine and get to cooking. It doesn’t always work out that way, but tonight it did (sans the wine – trying to be responsible!)

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My longtime desire to create a veggie burger recipe that actually works on the grill without falling horribly apart has finally been realized, along with my longtime desire to cook tri-color carrots.

I know, small victories.

Anyways, on to the perfect summertime recipe.

IMG_4046What You Need:

For the burgers:

  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the carrots:

  • 1 bunch tri-colored carrots (I found mine at Trader Joes, but I KNOW they’ll have them at the farmer’s market eventually)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp honey

What You Do:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Set aside 1 cup of the cooked quinoa for this recipe and use the rest for whatever!

Mix the honey and the curry powder and brush over the carrots. Lay the carrots out on a large piece of lightly oiled tin foil. Wrap tightly and place on the top shelf of the grill. They’ll need about 45 minutes to an hour to cook fully, and they will be ready to eat when they’re very soft.

IMG_4050Drain and rinse the black beans and chickpeas.

In a food processor, load in the two cans of beans and the rest of the ingredients.

Pulse gently until the mixture is coarsely ground. If it seems too loose and won’t make burgers that feel fairly solid, add additional panko until the mixture is thicker and forms burgers without trouble and without globbing all over your hands (I have no better way to describe this).

Lay burgers out of a piece of lightly oiled foil and place on the grill. Let the burgers cook about 5 minutes on each side and flip them four times.

Toast your burger rolls of choice or just eat the burgers bun free! I topped them with ketchup and mescalin mix.

Pro Tip: Make these gluten-free by substituting the panko for a gluten-free bread of your choice (just chop it in the food processor ahead of time).

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Healthy and Easy Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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Well, life got in the way of cooking for awhile but I’m back! I’ve been training pretty hard for my 20 mile race (which was May 29), so our dinners were mostly pasta, pizza, tacos or pb&j, and about as simplified as possible so I could go to bed at a reasonable hour. But I’m happy to report I beat my 2013 finish by 12 minutes and ran it 40 seconds faster per mile. It was such a good feeling when I finished, especially because the weather was terrible all day – just super rainy and cold. What a relief to be done!

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Approaching the finish line!

I feel like I owe some of my success to a massive carbo-load the night before the race. I inhaled more bread and pretzel in one sitting than ever before and it was really fun! But I was craving a real, home-cooked and healthy meal by the time my body was done recovering from the race, so I made the best recipe I could think of to deliver on all those cravings with as minimal time on my feet in the kitchen as possible.

That’s how we ended up with quinoa stuffed poblano peppers. I love this dish because it’s really easy and always delicious, and poblanos have a great taste – sweet with a little spicy kick.

 

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I used 4 medium-sized poblano peppers. One stuffed pepper is more than enough for a single serving meal – even for Mike – and the leftovers are just as tasty reheated a day (or two or three!) after.

Preheat oven to 375F

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What You Need

  • Poblano peppers (any number you want/need)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I made my own tomato sauce using this recipe)
  • About 1 cup Parmesan cheese

What You Do

Slice off the stem end of the poblanos, being careful not to take off too much of the pepper itself. Empty out the insides and seeds using your fingers.

Place the poblanos on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper and bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the skin starts to pinch. (Leave the oven on when the peppers are done – you need to bake them again at the same temperature once they’re stuffed)

While the peppers are baking, cook your quinoa according to package directions. I boiled 2 cups of water and added one cup of quinoa, and simmered, covered, until the water was gone. Obviously if you’re stuffing more than 4 peppers, you might want to make more quinoa.

While the quinoa is cooking, put a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and heat the onions, jalapeno and garlic for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent and soft.

Stir the onion mixture into the quinoa until combined. Peppers

In a large bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes with the tomato sauce.

Stuff your slightly baked peppers with the quinoa mixture. Lay extra quinoa on the bottom of the baking dish like a bed for the peppers. Place the stuffed peppers on their bed and cover with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Serve with additional cheese on top if you want. I love my cheese!

 

Pro Tip: You can really stuff quite a bit of the quinoa mixture into these peppers! Gently tap the bottom end of the pepper on the palm of your hand or a dish to pack down the quinoa. Once you near the top of the pepper with stuffing, push the quinoa down with your spoon for more room.

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