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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Winter Warmer Turkey Soup

I feel like this entire holiday season has been filled with turkey. After roasting and frying two free work turkeys, the leftovers were staggering despite inviting several friends over to share in the spread.

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Our dog is still enjoying the fried turkey, the oil from which apparently remains in trace quantities in our backyard. And if anyone is going to track down a small drop of fried turkey oil, it’s Madison.

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We were left with so much food that the obvious solution is throwing it into a giant soup. I can’t take credit for this dish though. Mike has a knack for randomly deciding to make dinner and busting out an amazing recipe. This soup he made on a chilly day last week is definitely blog-worthy, although he wasn’t used to having to keep track of every shake of the spice bottle.

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Soups have the advantage of being filling and giving you tons of leftovers, which was great in the midst of the holidays when I felt like the last thing I had time for was cooking.

Whether you have leftovers or not, this dish is doable with any combination of ingredients, and with our without meat.

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What You Need: 

  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth (you can make your own by boiling veggies in water and draining out the broth)
  • 3 carrots, sliced into disks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped
  • 2 large yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1.5 cups roasted turkey, hand-pulled into small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

In a large skillet heated on medium with oil, add carrots and celery and cover, cooking until just softened.

Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent.

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In a large soup pot, bring broth to a boil and add the yams, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Turn the soup pot heat down to a simmer and add the carrots, celery, onion and mustard greens to the pot.

Stir and continue heating for about 10 minutes or until all veggies are soft and mustard greens are limp and reduced.

Serve with bread of choice for dipping – we used pretzel bread rolls from our local food store. Delish!

Pro Tip: As I said, you can add anything to this dish that you have lying around. It would be great with other greens like bok choy, spinach or kale, and other veggies like sweet potatoes or turnips.

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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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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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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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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