“Your house smells so good” Curried Lentil Stew with Carrot and Squash

Your House Smells Good StewI love to eat squash in it’s many forms but I hate peeling squash so effing much! It is time consuming and messy.  However, this is a recipe that it is worth putzing with the squash — I swear for the smells alone, because it is so fragrant and savory.  It also freezes very well. (My husband won’t even try this one and that’s fine by me!)   I had been craving these textures and flavors.   I played around on Pinterest for more hours than I care to admit to find the right kind of recipe (and I started with this one via Epicurious) and then I made a quite a few changes… the result of which is below.  While it may not be the prettiest stew you ever laid eyes on,  it was so delicious I made it twice this month.

“Your House Smells So Good!” Curried Lentil Stew with Carrot and Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 whole white or red onion diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 TBS minced fresh ginger
  • 2 lbs butternut or acorn squash peeled & chopped
  • 2 medium sized carrots peeled & chopped
  • 3 medium stalks of celery peeled and chopped
  • 2/3c yellow split peas (dry, picked over, and rinsed)
  • 1 1/3c red lentils (dry, picked over and rinsed)
  • 2 TBS curry powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 32oz low sodium vegetable broth (or 16oz vegetable broth + 16 oz water, chicken broth will do if you’re not attempting to be vegetarian)
  • 1-2 TBS lemon juice

1) Heat oil and butter on medium high, add garlic, ginger and onion until fragrant about 3-5 minutes, then add squash, carrots, and celery.  Add curry powder & tumeric.  Cook until onion is becoming translucent, squash is becoming soft. Stir frequently.

2) Add broth/water

3) Add lentils & yellow split peas. Cook for 25-35 minutes or until lentils are soft.

4) Just before serving stir in lemon juice.

5) Serve with rice, couscous, or on it’s own!

Mushroom Stroganoff with Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt Mushroom Stroganoff … and the Greek Yogurt obsession continues.  This is one of my favorite EASY recipes. I initially was inspired for this recipe from AllRecipes.  I tend to serve it over whole wheat wavy noodles but egg noodles or even mashed potatoes makes for a hearty simple meal that takes about 30 minutes to make from fridge to table. No egg noodles in the house today, rotini did the job

Mushroom Stroganoff

(makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2lbs of mushrooms [I tend to use 1lb of portabellas and 1lb of baby bellas, crimini Greek Yogurt Mushroom Stroganoff addcheese.wordpress.commushrooms work, so will button mushrooms in a pinch]
  • 1 medium red onion chopped or diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • olive oil (about 2 tbs)
  • 2c vegetable broth
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce (Vegetarian ones exist)
  • 2 TBS dry red wine (optional)
  • 1/4tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 8-10 oz Greek Yogurt (You can get away with 0% fat)
  • ~1/4c white flour
  1. Remove your Greek Yogurt and let it sit on the counter while you’re cooking.  You want to get closer to room temperature in order to prevent curdling later on.Greek Yogurt Mushroom Stroganoff
  2. Wash & chop your mushrooms, onion, and prepare your garlic. [start boiling water if you're going to serve this with pasta]
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high and garlic add onions, mushrooms and cook until onions begin to brown, stirring every 1-3 minutes.
  4. After those onions are brown, add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, 20140324_181637 Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and optional wine.   Let simmer until liquid reduces by half. [for pasta that takes about 10 minutes to cook, put in now]
  5. While the mushroom mixture is cooking, you can mix about 1/4 c flour with your Greek yogurt. [for pasta that takes about 5 minutes to cook, put in now]
  6. Once liquid reduces by half, remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes
  7. Add yogurt mixture to skillet and stir.Mushroom Stroganoff with Greek Yogurt
  8. Serve over pasta, potatoes or eat it by yourself — I have!

GARNISH Ideas: Fresh Parsley, more soy or Worcestershire sauce,

Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

Single Lady Balsamic Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

I cannot get enough of the delightful zesty combination of balsamic vinegar, garlic, and goat cheese. I could probably eat this on bread every day for the rest of my life. (with a side of Mac and Cheese and cheese & crackers… and this is why I need to exercise) This recipe was a staple back when I was a single lady living alone. I made this dish about once per week, because it is damn easy, and it takes 20 minutes from fridge to plate.

This dish can be a side dish, a sauce for some meats, or you can do what I did and serve it over some Israeli Couscous. (It’s bigger couscous and I purchased mine at the Trader Joe’s.)

Single Lady Balsamic Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

(Makes 2 meal servings, 4 side dish servings)

IngredBalsamic Mushrooms Ingredientsients

  • 1 lb fresh button, crimini or baby bella mushrooms
  • ½ large red onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 & ½ c frozen or fresh spinach [optional but I like a little green with my dishes and the spinach gets all crusty and delicious]
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 TBS balsamic vinegar [This makes a tart dish, yo. Reduce to 2-3 TBS if this makes you scared]
  • Goat cheese to garnish (about ½ – 1oz per serving)

     

  1. Wash & chop your veggies20140311_181806
  2. In a largeish frying pan or skillet heat your olive oil then add your onion and garlic for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, spinach and vinegar
  4. Cook about 5-10 minutes, your onions should get a little carmel color and your mushrooms should reduce to about halfish their size. If you’re unsure, test your mushroom.
  5. Serve as a side, on top of some meats, or on top of a grain. Garnish your serving with goat cheese.

 

Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

Make half a box of Mac and Cheese!

I really really try to stay away from powdered food.  I understand the concept that most of these powders are not found in nature and have lots of chemicals and if I do manage to beat out the family odds of early cardiac death, I am really going to have to stop eating powders for good.  But sometimes you wake up with a raging craving for Mac and Cheese from the box.  My only solution to this is make half a box and save the other half for when a raging craving happens again.  (Right?) 

So… in a regular box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, measure out 1/2c + 1 TBS noodles and measure out about 3 TBS cheese sauce.  That’s about 50/50.  

Today I’m making mushroom stroganoff for lunch and I’m going to attempt Pel Meni. If I succeed (and remember to take photos), it’ll make its way here!

Penne Rosa with Greek Yogurt

As some of you know, I’m just obsessed with Greek yogurt.  Part of this reason is that I have had many many failures at making cream sauces, so Greek yogurt is a great way to cream up your sauces without adding tons of butter/cream to your belly.  I find that using 0% fat Greek yogurt doesn’t dramatically change the flavor or texture.  This recipe was inspired by Noodles & Co Penne Rosa.

Penne Rosa with Greek Yogurt

(makes about 6-8 servings)

Things you’re going to need:

  • 12-16oz Penne Pasta
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp red pepper [optional but the spice will give it an extra kick]DSC00876
  • ~2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 whole red onion chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • ~4 cups chopped fresh vegetables (Things that work well include red peppers, sweet peppers, halved grape tomatoes, summer squash, baby bella/crimini mushrooms, get creative!)
  • 12-16 oz Greek yogurt
  • 12-16oz tomato sauce [I love to make my own using this recipe, but jarred will do the job.]
  • 2-3 TBS flour [optional but possibly necessary]
  • Goat cheese, feta cheese, or parmesan for garnish and extra tastyness.

– Measure your Greek yogurt and sit on the counter to allow it to get a little warmer than fridge temperature. (This will help prevent curdling)

–  Cook your pasta according to the directions for the shortest amount of time recommended unless you love mushy pasta, then heaven help you.  Once you drain the pasta, run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.

– Chop your veggies

DSC00878

– In a large skillet, turn temperature to high and heat the olive oil and add your garlic and red pepper let sizzle for about 1-2 minutes, then add your onion & vegetables EXCEPT the spinach. Reduce heat to medium high.

DSC00877

– In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt and tomato sauce together.  You want a thick creamy sauce, if you cannot achieve this, add your optional 2-3 TBS flour.

DSC00879

– Cook your vegetables until the onion is translucent and your mushrooms have reduced in size to approximately 1/2 what they were before.  Add spinach and put lid over skillet, reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes.

–  Remove your vegetables from heat and let sit 2-3 minutes.

– Mix your Greek yogurt/tomato mixture with your pasta mixture in either a large bowl or the pasta pot.

DSC00881

– Add vegetables and stir stir stir.

– Once pasta is coated well and everything is mixed, it’s ready to go.  If you have it add some goat cheese, feta or parmesan on top. Yum!

DSC00886

 

“The Secret to Good Writing is to Avoid Quiches” Spinach & Feta Quiche

The husband and I got a baby pug a couple of  months ago, and she was injured and then this weekend was injured again.  Both of these injuries were from events that we had absolutely no control over, so I think we’re both in the bargaining stage of grief.  Since veterinarians do not work for free, the husband and I have a new challenge which is to avoid spending money on groceries and basically eat everything in our pantry.  I think an occasional trip to the fruit/vegetable market will be allowed, so I don’t end up with scurvy or some other random vitamin deficiency.  Anyways, stay tuned for some creative recipes, because we have a lot of rice and pasta and only so many canned tomatoes.  On the bright side, our spice rack is fully stocked and so is our fridge but the goal is to attempt to go until the end of April.

I had some eggs that weren’t going to last much longer so that was the inspiration for this quiche.

“Don’t be so quiche” Spinach & Feta Quiche

Ingredients

  • Pre-made pie crust (just to make life easy for you)
  • 2-3oz crumbled feta (low fat works just fine)
  • 6oz frozen spinach (or half a bag)
  • 1 whole medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 5 eggs

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2) Heat olive oil in a skillet and add onion and frozen spinach, cook until the onion is soft and a little translucent. Set aside to cool.

DSC00733

 

3) While that stuff is cooling, crack 5 eggs into a container and beat until the whole thing is yellow.

DSC00734

4) Get your pie crust, add your spinach mixture, add feta over your spinach mixture, add egg over that.

DSC00735

5) Cook for 45 minutes in oven.

DSC00737

I made two of these, because two pie crusts came in my package. I froze one and it reheated OOOOOOOOOOOOOKAY. I cooked the quiche according to the directions and then froze it.  When I was ready to eat it, I ended up putting the frozen quiche into  a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes and the eggs were a little chewier but it was edible.  Not something I’d serve to company, but it’ll be 4-5 days of breakfast for me! (The husband will not touch a quiche)

Less Calorie Thai-ish Red Curry Squash

Now, I’m not Thai or a Thai-cooking expert, which is why I call this recipe Thai-ish.  For a richer, squash curry meal, I would have sautéed/fried the squash in olive or peanut oil until cooked through and browned (and then reduced the simmering time in the cocoanut milk) and I would have used regular cocoanut milk.

Less Calorie Thai-ish Red Curry Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 lbs butternut squash cubed
  • 2-4 TBS crushed/smashed/diced garlic
  • 2 TBS peanut or olive oil
  • 2 cans lite cocoanut milk
  • 1 onion (I used red because it was in my fridge, you can use yellow)
  • 1 cup red or green peppers cut into strips (I used frozen Trader Joe’s peppers)
  • 4 TBS Red Curry Paste
  • 1-2 TBS Fish Sauce to taste
  • OPTIONAL: Cilantro or Thai Basil
  • OPTIONAL OPTIONAL: 2 tsp corn starch + 1/4c water

In a large pot, add onion, garlic, peppers and squash and oil. Cook on medium until onion is translucent, stirring often.DSC00721

Add curry paste and fish sauce, stir throughly cook another 1-2 minutes until it smells fragrant and delicious.

DSC00723

Add cocoanut milk and stir stir stir.

DSC00722

Then let simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring every now and then. (about 3-5 minutes)  Your curry is done when you can easily slice your squash with a knife and it slices like soft butter. (like buttah!)

DSC00725

Serve over rice.

OPTIONAL: Add Thai basil during the last 2-5 minutes of cooking, let it get a little wilty and it’s amazing. If you’re opting for cilantro garnish just before eating for the best use of your fresh herbs.

OPTIONAL OPTIONAL: If your curry is looking a little runny because of the lack of fatty fat fat cocoanut milk, you can do the cornstarch trick. Add 1-2 tsp of cornstarch + 1/4c water together, and stir throughly, then add to curry mixture. Stir stir stir. Let your curry mixture bubble a little bit and then let sit for 2-3 minutes and it should be thicker.

S’mores Bars!

Edited: 9/15/13: I have since realized that you can get away with 1c butter… so now this recipe is technically “low calorie” hahaha right?

 

Holy goodness! A lot of time passed since my last entry.

Graham Cracker Crushing
S’MORES BARS so about these S’mores bars… I work with 40-50 people in my department alone and the work potlucks are legendary epic feasts.  A pan of these bars does not tend to last long.    I came across this recipe one summer night two years ago when my dear friend, Ashtar, brought S’mores bars to a gathering, and I knew I must have the recipe. (She directed me to this recipe on Lovin’ from the Oven.)  I always felt that there needed to be more dough (and vanilla!) and so I altered the recipe to as shown below, you can easily halve this recipe and make S’mores bars in an 8 x 8 pan, but then you’re left with half a jar of marshmallow fluff so make a whole pan, yo!

  • 1 1/4c butter  1c butter
  • 3/4c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4c white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBS vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3c white flour
  • 2c graham cracker crumbs (or graham crackers)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 king sized Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars (you will have a little extra, or you can buy a6 pack of regular sized bars)
  • 1 jar (7-8oz) marshmallow fluff
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, brown sugar vanilla. Once creamed add egg.

DSC00627

  • In a separate bowl, mix flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder,
    salt.

DSC00628

  • Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture until well blended.
  • In a 9 x 13 inch pan, press half of the dough into the pan, add unwrapped chocolate bars, and then spread marshmallow fluff.
  • Spread rest of dough on top.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Let cool and set after baking for at least 30-60 minutes before cutting.
I couldn't wait...
I couldn’t wait…

Enjoy!

S'mores Bar!

Brine with Perfectly Good Wine

When I was 21 and a strict vegetarian, I watched my mother mix salt, white zinfandel and a whole bunch of ingredients to brine her Thanksgiving turkey.  My thoughts were, “What a waste of perfectly good wine, lady.” (I was quite classy back then and would only drink the finest white zinfandel and here she was salting it and putting raw meat in it — really!)  Things have changed a little bit since then.  Based on my vague memory of what my mother did plus browsing a few brine recipes via Google.. this is what I ended up doing and it turned out pretty good.

 

Brine with Perfectly Good Wine (Enough brine for a 6-8# turkey breast)

  • 1 grapefruit quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary whole
  • 1/2 bulb garlic peeled with cloves smashed
  • 2 onions halved
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 1c salt
  • 1/2c brown sugar
  • 1 750ml bottle white wine
  • 8-10 cups water
  1. In a large pot add water, squeeze grape fruit quarters and add whole. Add all ingredients together except wine.
  2. Bring to a boil for 10 whole minutes
  3. Turn off heat.
  4. Once brine is room temperature, add wine.
  5. Add your favorite turkey.
  6. Let sit for 12-24 hours.