Zucchini Noodles

Last year I planted an entire zucchini plant just to have enough zucchinis to spiralize. Having lots of zucchini noodles mixed in with some whole wheat pasta makes it easy for me to get my boys to eat zucchinis and squash. Plus they are really pretty. I bought a spiralizer just for zucchini noodles. Some day I’ll use it for some other veggie. But look how pretty these noodles are!

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Zucchini noodles are quite wet, so when you cook them, the water will start to pool at the bottom of the pan. Just tip it so the water all goes to one side and spoon it out periodically.

Tonight I used about 8 medium size zucchinis/squash. Cooked them down over medium to medium-high heat, added just a little whole wheat pasta, some sauce, and some meatless “meatballs”, which was enough for 4 hungry people to eat with some leftovers. Delicious!

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Vegetarian soup with wild rice

About 6 months ago, a co-worker shared a super delicious soup with me that included wild rice that her sister harvested from the boundary waters of Minnesota. She created this recipe herself and I found it was a great chance for me to use different veggies I was getting from my CSA: carrots, kale (or any other leafy vegetable), onions, garlic, and white beans (I use cannellini).

The recipe is incredibly simple:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced in thin circles
  • olive oil
  • 8 cups good veggie broth (you could use chicken broth. I use Better than Bouillon)
  • Can of cannellini beans (I used dried ones from my CSA and cooked them), drained and rinsed
  • Bunch of fresh kale, chard or collards (you could likely also use spinach), torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Chopped tomatoes (quantity to taste. My 5 year old hates tomatoes, so I usually leave them out)
  • 3/4 cup wild rice

To prepare:

  1. Saute onion, garlic, carrots in 1-2 tabs olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste
  2. Add broth, beans, kale, tomatoes and rice.
  3. Cook until rice is cooked (depends on the rice)

I hear that an Instant Pot makes this even easier. But I don’t have one (yet)!IMG_8439

Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

As a breastfeeding mom, I was thrilled to get some lactation cookies from one of my neighbors. They were delicious and did indeed help me produce more milk! I realized that I could make more of these myself. What’s nice is there is nothing that says that folks not producing milk can’t eat these as well, and they are a fun recipe to make with your older kid (my 3 year old loves helping!) and they are delicious!

lactation_cookies

I used this recipe (she has three options. I’ve tried 2 and 3, and I actually really like the second best). She doesn’t say how much vanilla to add, so I’ve copied the recipe below with the amount of vanilla I add.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2.5 cups old fashioned oats, not instant
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 Tbsp whole milk (I use 2%, since I have it anyway for my 3 year old)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
  2. Combine flour, flax meal, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to the sugar mixture until it’s incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  4. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, put dough in 1 inch rounds, making sure to leave plenty of room to expand.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  I bake for about 13 minutes, check, and usually bake one more minute.
  6. Remove from oven, and cool completely on cooling rack.

Enjoy!

My Mom’s Lasagna

Having grown up in a household with an Italian mom, I loved Italian food. Especially anything with pasta! My mom made this lasagna (which very well could have been a recipe from the side of the lasagna noodle box), but I really like it. It’s easy to make, but if you don’t have time to make the sauce, you can always buy bottled pasta sauce and use that instead. 

I usually add other things to it too:

  1. Veggies like squash, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, etc. Just make sure to pan fry them first to get a bit of the moisture out first as well as to really bring out the flavors of the veggies.
  2. Ground meat (or even ground meatless, if you want to make it vegetarian).
  3. I even like adding some steamed spinach. Make sure to squeeze out the extra water first.

You can either use cooked lasagna noodles (and cook them first according to the package directions) or you can buy no-cook noodles at places like Trader Joe’s. If you do that, be sure to use lots of sauce and spread it over all the noodles.

Sauce Recipe:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced (I use bottled minced garlic)

Two 15 ounce cans tomato sauce

One 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat oil in medium saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste and sugar. Simmer 10-15 minutes.

Filling Recipe:

One 16 ounce container ricotta cheese (I recommend whole milk vs. reduced fat, since that has a lot of water, but if you do reduced fat, be sure to drain it first)

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

In medium bowl, blend ricotta and eggs. Stir in mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley flakes, salt and pepper.

Making the Lasagna:

You’ll also need a box of lasagna noodles and an additional cup of shredded mozzarella.

  1. Make pasta according to box directions (unless using no-cook noodles).
  2. Pour half of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  3. Put one layer of pasta, cover with half of the filling, add half of any meat, veggies, etc.
  4. Put another layer of pasta down, then the rest of the filling, the rest of the meat, veggies, etc.
  5. Put the last layer of pasta down, cover with remaining sauce, and then put the 1 cup of shredded mozzarella on top.
  6. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.

Super simple green beans with lemon, garlic and parsley

The bean plants in our garden have been doing very well this year (this is seriously one of the easiest plants to grow). My two year old loves going out to pick the beans with me (which means I pick them, since the poor plant would be torn apart if he tried, hand the beans to him, and he puts them into a bowl). He loves pointing out all the beans I need to pick. In our case, we grew purple, yellow and green beans, which I think makes it even more fun for him.

Since we had a bunch of beans this week (though only enough for a half recipe of what is listed below), I wanted a quick and easy weeknight meal to make with them. I paired this recipe I found on epicurious with some extra firm tofu that I grilled on the stove (in a grill pan) with sweet chili sauce. Delicious! My husband especially liked that they were cooked in a pan with the garlic afterwards, which gave them a really nice taste with the garlic. I personally loved the lemon rind (which my son also got to help me grate)!

Green beans with garlic, lemon and parsley

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Place beans in bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add beans; sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter.

bean sorter

Notice that he sorted all the green beans on one side and purple and yellow on the other. Rather than a bean counter, I have a bean sorter!

green beans

All about the lentils

Don’t you know that I’m all about the lentils, ’bout the lentils… Oh, sorry.
Recently, I’ve been trying to make lots more lentil dishes. Lentils are full of good protein, fiber and other happy healthy stuff and are super duper cheap. We have been trying recently to eat more veggies and cut down on meat (for both health reasons and cost reasons), so I’ve found a number of really flavorful lentil dishes that are quite easy to make.

The first was a dish my college roommate recently made for me since we had just had a new baby. I enjoyed it so much, I asked for the recipe and in turn made it for us as well as my neighbor who also had recently had a baby. So maybe it’s just great postpartum food, but I think we’d like it anytime.

The second I found while doing a Google search for lentils and squash (since we had a number of fresh in-season squashes and zucchinis from our local farm to use). What I found is an amazingly flavorful Lebanese. Hope you enjoy!

Lentilles du Puy with Roasted Carrots and Beets from Saveur

You can either use true “lentilles du Puy” (from France, likely found at Whole Food bulk section) or just any green lentil. I went to Sprouts for my plain old green variety.

3 small beets, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
4 shallots, peeled and halved
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound lentilles du Puy, or other french-style green lentils
3 tbsp sherry vinegar (also really good with balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets, carrots, shallots, and 1/2 cup oil in a medium roasting pan. Stir to coat vegetables evenly with oil. Add parsley and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Add lentils and 3 cups of water, stir, then cover pan with foil. Cook until lentils are tender and all water is absorbed, about 1 hour. (The water tends to evaporate pretty quickly here in Colorado, so you may need to add some extra.)

2. Remove pan from oven. Remove and discard herb springs, then dress lentils with vinegar and remaining oil. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Variation (from Saveur, I’ve never tried this!):
Different vegetables and dressings can be used for this salad. For instance, roast 2 cups peeled small pearl onions for 20 minutes. Dice celery stalks. Add celery stalks and lentils to onions with 3 cups water, cover and continue roasting. Meanwhile, mix 3 tsp fresh lemon juice with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Stir in 1 minced peeled garlic clove and 2 tsp finely chopped thyme. When lentils are tender and liquid has been absorbed, toss with dressing. Adjust seasoning and serve.

lentils with beets and carrots

Lentil and Bulgur pilaf with green and yellow squash

I used the recipe from food.com and noticed they never said how to cut the squash, so I sliced it in half length-wise and then in roughly 1/4 inch wedges cross-wise. I personally would have added more squash and zucchini, so will likely do that next time.

4 cups fat-free chicken broth or 4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup medium grain bulgur (coarse grain also works)
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over (I used green since I couldn’t find brown, and it worked just fine)
1 medium onion, coarse chopped
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground works best
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small zucchini (cut in half length-wise and then in 1/4 inch wedges cross-wise). I would personally recommend more zucchini than this.
1 small yellow squash (cut in half length-wise and then in 1/4 inch wedges cross-wise). I would personally recommend more squash than this.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 1⁄2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
lemon wedge (for garnish)

In a large saucepan, mix together the broth, lentils, onion, bay leaf, salt allspice and pepper and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Add Bulgar and simmer and cook an additional 25 minutes until the lentils and bulgur are tender. I ended up needing to add additional water since it cooked off quicker than I expected.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and squash and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and lemon zest and cook an additional 3 minutes until the squash are tender.
Stir in parsley and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Mix the squash into the bulgur and lentil pilaf.
Serve hot with lemon wedges.
lentils and bulgar wheat pilaf

Quick and healthy saag (Indian spinach recipe)

I love Indian food. Let me say that again: I love Indian food. What I don’t love is that often times it takes a long time to make and often times it has more butter and cream in it than I care to admit. This recipe was one that I got from an Indian woman in Ft Collins who taught a cooking class through Ft Collins’ recreation office. I loved her recipes because they were quick to make and significantly more healthy than the Indian food you often get at restaurants. Oh, and my toddler loves them too.

For this recipe you could make paneer (cheese) by curdling milk, squeezing the whey out, etc. I just don’t have the time for that these days, so instead, I pan fry extra firm tofu using a little bit of oil, cutting the tofu into smaller chunks, and pan frying over a medium to medium high heat. I’ve found this helps get most of the water out of the tofu and makes it quite tasty and perfect for this recipe (or to use in a stir fry).

The recipe calls for either fresh or frozen spinach. It said one bunch. After cooking up a pretty large bunch of spinach, I felt it wasn’t enough, so I used a bunch of kale and added it to the recipe as well. I couldn’t tell on taste at all. Maybe next time I’ll use all kale instead if I have it!

saag and tofu

Yet again, I forgot to take a picture until after my family had eaten almost the whole thing!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Spinach (2 bunches or 2 cups chopped frozen spinach. I would bet you could use even more). I had one bunch of spinach and one of kale and that worked great.
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tabs oil
  • 2 cloves garlic,chopped (I use bottled and minced)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 green chili (which I forgot when I made it)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp garam masala (you can find at places like the Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of turmeric

1) Remove ends of spinach, separate the leaves and wash thoroughly. Drain completely (I use a salad spinner). If using frozen spinach, thaw for a few minutes or microwave for 2 minutes

2) Place a 2 quart pan on the heat (I do it on medium). Add 1 tsp oil to the pan, add the spinach leaves and cover the pan to allow the spinach to steam until tender. Remove from heat

3) Grind the steamed spinach leaves to a coarse paste in the blender and set aside

4) Chop the onion finely and the green chili finely

5) Place the same 2 quart pan on the heat (medium to medium high). Add 2 tabs-ish of oil (you can likely add just one, if you want). Add the cumin seeds to the hot oil and allow to spurt (mine never really spurted, but basically cook for a couple minutes). Add the turmeric

6) Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry until light brown (hard to tell when this happens with the turmeric in there, but basically 4ish minutes). Add the blended spinach and chopped chili and mix. Add the garam masala and cumin powder and salt to taste. Mix all ingredients well. Cover and steam this for 2-4 minutes (I added the pan fried tofu in right before this so it could all steam together).

Eat! And eat! My toddler loves tofu (must be the texture), so this was a great way to get him to eat some greens at the same time.