Another one of my awesome freezer meals – this time one that also doubles as a great way to clean out the fridge/freezer! Once we had finished prepping my list of meals, I checked what I had left and decided I could squeeze out at least one more meal. This hodge podge of ingredients was fantastic last weekend when Mother Nature decided we needed another round of cold weather, to include snow!
We topped this with cheese but chives, sour cream, guacamole or nothing would also work. As for the vegetables, whatever you have on hand will work.
Greetings! Sorry for the long space between posts, turns out that running a food blog while moving is much harder than I thought. Luckily I am all settled in my temp place so had lots of time test out some new recipes, and in theory should be covered until the official move ends. Luckily this isn’t a long distance move, just heading on up 95 from DC to Baltimore – which is still enough of a transition to make things interesting. Add in the gov’t shutdown and things have been a little more stressful than normal. We are still hoping to close on our new place on time, but unless the IRS goes back to work (feels so wrong to say that) by the 8th our closing will most likely be delayed. Until then I’ll be camping out at my mom’s place – and her awesome kitchen – while my hubby is up north starting his new position. Not the most ideal living situation, but at least we can see each other on weekends so could be much worse.
This past week I decided to make a list of all the blog/cooking challenges that I have over the next month in an attempt to organize my life. This first recipe comes from /52weeksofcooking who are just finishing up a week dedicated to the incredible Julia Child. While most of her recipes aren’t exactly vegetarian, or vegan, friendly I found a few side dishes that needed just a bit of tweaking in order to go from awesome side to spectacular entree. In the end I decided to go with her zucchini tian since squash in all forms are in abundance at the local markets – wahOo Indian Summer!!! In order to make this in to a healthy veggie friendly entree I added some chickpeas for protein, switched the white rice for brown, and left the butter out. I also used almond milk in place of dairy and vegan shredded cheese.
When it came time for serving I enjoyed it with just a bit more pepper while my mom went for Parmesan cheese, which is exactly how my hubby would enjoy this dish so I was entertained. For lunch the next day I added a bit of fresh avocado to perk it up, after debating to serve it on top of salad greens. This might not be the prettiest dish out there, but it’s certainly delicious.
Spinach & Zucchini “Lasagna”
Bonus Secret Recipe Club entry!!!! I’m a member of Group A of the Secret Recipe club but this month I was called in to assist a member of Group B that wound up orphaned. As soon as I saw the name of the blog I knew I was in for a delicious treat as Heather’s Fit Mama Real Food blog is stuffed with healthy and easy dishes. I drove right in to her recipe page as I knew I had no time to lose with this – I needed to pick a WOW recipe NOW. With the help of my husband I was able to narrow it down to a few (applesauce! refried beans!) options (carrot cake DONUTS!!!), all of which only required a quick stop by the store on the way home. In the end I avoided the cream cheese icing (seriously??? carrot cake donuts!!!) and went with a healthy dinner option: Spinach and Zucchini Lasagna. I had to make a few changes to the recipe (ricotta for cottage cheese) and also changed it from a lasagna to a pasta bake since I wanted the dish to be done before the incoming storm (and potential power loss). Honestly this recipe is more like two recipes since you get a simply awesome tomato sauce as a bonus!
Make sure to check out Heather’s blog for all her delicious recipes – as well as pictures of her adorable baby.
Create a meal inspired by music – that was the assignment this week from /food52 and one I was perfectly comfortable with. Music has always been a big part of my life, from my dancing days to singing in the choir to singing along with the radio. Some of my earliest memories are of making up dances with sisters – complete with a doll audience and re-purposed dance costumes. Since starting my blog I have picked song titles to go along with my recipes and occasionally have decided to cook something based on hearing a certain song. For this challenge I wanted to do something BIG, something that would push me in some way while still remaining true to the challenge. So I started thinking about my favorite songs, eliminating those that had already been used, and focusing on ones that really have meaning. In the end I decided to go with a song that I first heard when I was in elementary school watching the Today show with my mom.
The 10th Anniversary cast of Les Miserables was being interviewed and while I was originally completely transfixed by Lea Salgona’s Eponine the tall, dark, and handsome (curly hair!!!) gentleman next to her was extremely distracted. During the interview he gave a quick demo of Marius’s solo and I was sold – from that point on I was a Les Miserable fanatic. While I have featured lyrics from On My Own before, which I was convinced was my “theme song” during High School, I decided to focus on the song that sold me on the musical. Marius sings “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” after realizing he is the lone survivor of his friends. I wanted to create the type of meal that might have been served in the cafe, at that table in the corner…if the guys were vegetarian.
I served this with some left over noodles and crusty bread since I didn’t want any of the sauce to escape. This might not be the most traditional ratatouille recipe out there, but it was warm, comforting, and perfect for sharing with friends.
Minty Vegetable Tagine
I’ll admit it, when it comes to herbs I tend to use the same ones over and over and over again. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, all are frequent additions to dishes in my kitchen. However this week the theme for /52weeks was more of a secret ingredient challenge requiring me to go outside the box and use mint. Now I have used mint leaves before, most notably when recreating a Thai dish when Thai basil was MIA, but for the most part the mint in my garden is for scent and looks. Luckily I received some awesome cookbooks over the holidays and turned to those for inspiration. One of those books contained an interesting sounding recipe for a Tagine of Lamb with Vegetables in a Mint Broth, and after reading through the recipe a few times I decided to attempt a vegetarian variation. In the end I wound up with an awesome vegan tagine, that came together incredibly quick once all the cutting was done.
The end result was a very warm dish that lent just a hint of mint, nothing overpowering in the least. I served it over some giant pearl couscous, and added some of the extra mint broth to the cooking liquid of the couscous. This was my first time using my tagine, and while it does have some quirks I look forward to giving it another whirl soon.
Homemade Veggie Lasagna
A few months ago I attempted, and failed at, making homemade ravioli. I was resolved that once I got my stand mixer I would try again to make my own rolled dough, and after a month of psyching myself up I finally did it! Having the stand mixer not only greatly reduced the extreme mess, it also allowed me to focus more on what the dough looked like to insure the right balance of flour, egg, and oil. I also made sure to take the time to let the pasta rest, and in the end I had dough that was rollable and edible. I thought about making ravioli, or tortellini again, but wanted to make sure I could handle the basics first. So I cleared off the space where my microwave once sat, laid out the parchment paper, and got to work. I divided the dough into three sections to make the rolling more manageable and occasionally got out my hubby’s measuring tape to see how thick the dough was. For the filling I used a combination of vegetables, based on what I found in the local section of the grocery – gotta love hothouse vegetables in December!
I’m not sure if I’m ready to try long noodles or shapes yet, but I’m hoping that after a few more goes at lasagna and ravioli I’ll have the rolling technique down enough to start cutting the dough. If that ever happens I can promise a very happy blog post.
Zucchini Oat Bread
I had a surprise in my garden yesterday: a zucchini. I had basically counted them out since I hadn’t seen any sign of life on either plants all season. Needless to say I was rather shocked when going to gather some tomatoes I nearly stepped on a gorgeous fully grown zucchini. My original bread plan involved peaches, since bread is the theme for this week’s 52week challenge. After finding the zucchini I knew that I had to make zucchini bread and that it had to be amazing. For a few moments I debated chocolate zucchini bread, but decided to go for the health factor and modify a recipe in one of my favorite bread machine books. The Bread Machine Cookbook does have a recipe for zucchini bread, but past experiences with it weren’t very good. This time I decided to adjust the Carrot Bread recipe and made frequent checks to see if it needed more liquid in order to avoid the dryness of the last zucchini bread. In the end I wound up adding a little bit more oil and zucchini, which resulted in a very moist and flavorful bread.
As you can tell from the picture we ate our with Nutella, but honey or just butter alone is always an option. Since finding out Joe is not allergic to hazelnuts, Nutella has been a regular addition to our breads.
I am also submitting this to August’s Simple and in Season link-up hosted by the always fabulous Ren of Fabulous Foods. Make sure to head over there for some more great ideas for preparing seasonal recipes!