Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

IMG_3892The bounty of spring is upon us. Asparagus is everywhere and I have been embracing it.. smelly pee and all.  And along with all my spring veggies and smells,  I have grabbing for more springy spices. I go through seasonal spice kicks, like cinnamon and ginger in the fall, curries and chills in the winter. And for spring, I am big on sumac. If you haven't heard of it or tasted it, it kind of taste like a tangy salty lemon..without actually having any salt. And its a really pretty, a bright red, almost purple color. I use it on a lot of things, especially veggies and bean dishes, sometimes as a lemon replacer, but mostly to add another level of tangy flavor. It's fantastic, really great for all those springy time dishes. Nice and bright!

 This dish is perfect made and eaten right away, but it's one of those dishes that tastes even better the day after. Also it's good and safe to serve room temperature. (think lunch box or a picnic!) And did I mention healthy? Protein packed quinoa and the lean green asparagus, I mean come on. You won't feel an ounce of guilt for eating a hugmongo bowl of this stuff because you should, so it's totally ok.

Eat away! 

IMG_3824The stuff of the stuff. Quinoa and asparagus for the base. Sumac, lemon, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and a little splash of oil for the dressing. 

Note. Sumac is not always the easiest spice to find. I know that its available online (what isn't) and that some health food store or herbal apothecaries carry it, but i have ye tot see it at a conventional supermarket. And once you find it, buy a good amount cause you will also fall in love with it and use it on everything. 

IMG_3836     IMG_3839Start by making the dressing. You want to have it sit for at least 10 minutes. It will be perfect by the time the quinoa is done. Mince the garlic, dice the onion and juice the lemon. Stick it all into a jar with the sumac, a pinch of salt and pepper and about a teaspoons worth of olive oil. Stick a lid on the jar and shake shake shake. and let it sit.

Now you should make the quinoa.. Water and quinoa go into pot, high heat until boiling,  topped with a lid and set to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

IMG_3866When the quinoa is simmering, cook up the asparagus. Add a drizzle of oil, to a pan and a few splashes of water. Place trimmed and chopped asparagus to pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until cooked but still has a nice crunch to it. Take off heat and add the dressing to pan.  Let it sit and marinate for a few minutes.IMG_3869When the quinoa is tender, fluff with a fork and add to the skillet with the asparagus and dressing. Toss around to make sure all the quinoa gets dressed. Take a taste.. does it need a little salt and pepper? Add a pinch if it does.IMG_3871Pile into a bowl, add a bit of cracked pepper.. and eat.

Or… Idea! Make this dish and pack it into a jar. Maybe grab a baguette and some hummus os some other  tasty foods and take yourself and a friend out for a picnic. 

So much good .

Keep it real yo

-C


Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

serves 3-4  as a side dish or 2 as a main meal. 

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 asparagus 
  • olive oil

For the Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 jumbo lemon or 2 small lemons
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Start but making the dressing. Mince the garlic and finely dice the onion. Place in a  jar with the sumac, the juice of the lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a little splash of oil. Top the jar and shake the crap out of it for a minute. Let sit and meld. (This dressing can be made ahead of time and is fantastic on all sorts of everything)

In a large pot, add water, quinoa and a spindle of salt. Bring to a boil, cover , and reduce heat to simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until water has completely absorbed.  When the quinoa gets going, trim the woody parts of the asparagus and chop the remain asparagus into inch long pieces. Toss into a lightly oiled skillet with a few splashes of water, sprinkle with salt and put on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked, but still crispy. Take off heat and add the sumac dressing. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and toss it with the sumac dressed asparagus. Scoop into a bowl, add some cracked pepper. Bring food to face and eat. 

Any leftover? This dish is fantastic serves cold or at room temperature.

Twice Baked Lentil Stuff Sweet Potatoes

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Whenever my little sister comes over for dinner, I always end up making lentils in some form or another because she, like me, is awesome and loves a good lentil. It makes me so happy that she has such great taste in food and wants to eat what I make.  It's validation from a teenage girl which is the best kind of validation. 

So last night when she came over after school for dinner and trash talk (she likes to verbally abuse Nick)  we decided  to make both of our favorites … Lentils AND sweet potatoes. How can you go wrong with that combo? Well I am telling you that you can't. The rich creamy soft and slightly sweet sweet potato mixed up with the hearty, earthy, oh so fantastically tasty lentil. Add in a bit of kale and cheese if you wish and serve with salsa and guac... Whoa, it's the best!!!

Such a great evening, I get to the cooking, the sister gets to the verbal abuse and the mister, begin the champ that he is, takes it and dishes it right back. 

I am the greatest(coolest) sister. 

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Baked sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, chopped up kale and monetary jack cheese (Cheese is optional.. and make it vegan cheese if you want) And you don't need then, but salsa and guacamole are the best toppings.. So you have them. 

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Cut the cooked potato in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. With a fork, smooth the potato , sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix in lentils and kale.

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Stuff the mixture back into the skins of the potato.

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And add some cheese (The mister and the sister wanted lots of cheese, no cheese for me) and stick the potatoes into the oven and let bake for another 5 or so minutes or until the cheese is all melty or the top is nice and crispy. 

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Remove and plate… Serve with salsa and guacamole and maybe some corn chips.  

I am the greatest sister

-C


Twice Baked Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Makes 2 serving

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1 cup Prepared Lentils
  • 1 cup Chopped Kale
  • 1/2 cup Grated Monetary Jack Cheese (Vegan style or not) 
  • Salsa (optional)
  • Guacamole(optional)

Place potato in oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until soft a baked throughout.

While potato is baking, prepare lentils.  2 cups water to 1 cup lentils. Add water and lentil to pot, bring to a boil, add a sprinkle of salt, and reduce to simmer until lentils are tender. 

When potato is cooked, remove potato  and let cool for a few minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the flesh out of the skins and place into a big bowl. WIth a fork, mash the potato a bit  Add in the lentils and the kale, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Stuff the mixture back into the skins of the potatoes and top with cheese. (if using ) Place potatoes back into oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbly or the top of the potato is a bit crispy. Remove from oven and serve on a plate with salsa and guacamole.

Eat and be happy. 

Kale Walnut Pesto and Baked Ravioli

IMG_2113 HOORAY FOR SPRING!!!!!!!

Yesterday The mister and I went for a walk, a long walk. I was wearing a sweater, a light jacket and I  left the mittens and hat at home. There was sunshine, huge puddles and mud. Birds were chirping. It was amazing.

After our nice long walk, we got home and I needed to start dinner. It was a little later than I usually so I wanted fast and easy  I usually always have pesto in my fridge (I had to make some, but it only takes 5 minutes) because when it's in there, I can whip up a big awesome meal in the time it takes to boil some pasta or quinoa or smear on toast or toss with potatoes. It really can be used on everything and can be made out of just about anything. Kale and walnuts are just one of so many fantastic combos. And frozen ravioli is always in the freezer too. I  used just plain cheese, but use whatever kind you like.

Together, pesto and ravioli, well that's a quick, easy, and tasty meal, perfect for a spring evening,  And yea, there will be left over pesto from this recipe… just stick it in the fridge or freezer….you will be glad you have it.

IMG_1642    IMG_1655   Pesto stuff. Kale, walnuts, parmesan cheese(nutritional yeast to keep it vegan), garlic, lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

A few little pre steps before the blending.. Toast the walnuts. Just toss onto a dry skillet and stick on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they start to become née and fragrant. Remove from skillet and add in a bit of water. Add in chopped or ripped kale and cover to let the kale tenderize, but only for about 2 minutes. (you want the kale to still be crispy and fresh tasting)  Drain water and add kale, garlic, toasted walnuts, cheese  and the juice of the lemon into a food processor. Turn on and slowly add in olive oil until you get to a nice paste, adding more oil to get to your desired consistency. Oh and don't forget to salt and pepper to taste!

IMG_2081 IMG_2098Straight up frozen ravioli goes onto an oiled baking sheet.(make sure that non are overlapping) Place into an oven at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes, flipping after 10. If you want to add mushroom and a few more walnuts, just toss them onto the ravioli when you are flipping over the ravioli. 

When the ravioli is nice and brown and crispy, remove from oven and dump the ravioli and the mushrooms into a bowl. Add a big old scoop of the freshly made pesto and toss around. 

IMG_2121Look at this… fresh, crunchy, light and happy. Kinda like a spring day.

I am the best lady, making the mister a pretty yummy dinner. 

Have a great Tuesday!

-C


Kale Pesto and Baked Ravioli

  • 4-5 cups chopped Kale
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese ( Nutritional Yeast  to make it vegan)
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bag of frozen ravioli(use vegan or gluten-free if you want)
  • 3-4 mushrooms

Note..There will be plenty of left over pesto… Just fridge or freeze it

Place walnuts in a skillet and toast on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the nuts become fragrant. In the same skillet, add enough water  to cover bottom and add in all the kale. Place a lid on it and let kale wilt on medium heat for about a minutes or 2, Take off heat. Add walnuts. garlic, cheese, salt and pepper, and juice of lemon to a food processor. Blend. Now add in the kale and blend, slowly adding olive oil until a thick paste forms. You can add as much oil as you want to make it as thick or thin as you like.

Preheat oven to 400

Place frozen ravioli on an oiled baking sheet, making sure none are overlapping. Place into oven for about 15-18 minutes, removing after 8 minutes to flip. When you take the ravioli out to flip, slice up the mushrooms and grab a few more walnuts and toss onto baking sheet with the ravioli.  When the ravioli's are nicely browned and toasty, remove (mushrooms and walnuts too) and place into bowl. Add a big scoop of pesto and toss to mix.

Serve and eat.. fork is optional.

Note..Add a thin layer to the top of any left over pesto to keep it fresh and from turning black 

Skillet Crust and Pesto Chickpea Pizza

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 It's Friday!!! And what does that mean? Pizza Pizza!!!!But not just Fridays…pizza happens more times then not in our house…It's the misters favorite food and for real, he could eat it everyday, all day.…He is kind of made of the stuff. As for me, well I don't mind making it for him because it's easy. And because I am making it, it doesn't have 8 million calories, 9 million grams of fat and have 10 million milligrams of sodium like takeout of frozen.  My pizzas are for the most part pretty freaking heathy. It really depends on how its topped. Like take this one.. Homemade pesto, good quaility cheese, (you can use vegan or low fat) chickpeas and tomatoes. Not to shabby. And really, it isn't any more complicated then calling the take-out place or unwrapping the frozen plastic disk from the box. All you need is some good dough (I guess you could use store bought) and some good quality toppings… and you're there…Pizza in your face.

For this pizza I used the skillet cooking method. This crust is one of  the misters favorites. It is a basic pizza dough but cooked on the stove in a skillet. It's almost like a pita bread, but not. And I like to make it this way because its really fast (once the dough is made) and I can even make up a few crusts to have on hand for later.

Fast, healthy, and tasty…..Why not eat pizza every day? 

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Not too many ingredients here. 3 cups of all purpose flour or 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup white whole wheat. A teaspoon salt, a teaspoon honey (use sugar if vegan), yeast and warm water… 

Start with the dough.  Add honey or sugar to yeast and warm water and let sit to active, which should take about 5 minutes.

 Mix together the salt and flour(s) and add the foamy yeast mixture. Mix until it all comes together and dump out onto a floured surface. (if the dough seems to dry add a splash of water..if way to wet, add a little flour) Give the dough a good 2-3 minute knead session, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Form a nice ball, place back into bowl and drizzle with oil. Cover bowl with a towel and stick in warm place to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

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When dough has doubled, dump back onto a floured surface and divide into 4 equal sized balls (or as many balls at whatever size you want)

Now you have a few choices here. You can either cook up all the dough now if you need it, or freeze dough balls for future use. If you think you are going to make pizza again within the next few days, it can be refrigerated, or you could also blind bake the dough and freeze or fridragerate that and have pre baked crusts all ready to go. So many options… just do whatever works for you. 

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To make the dough in a skillet, oil the bottom of a 15 inch skillet, turn burner on to high and let preheat until the oil is sizzling. Roll dough out to roughly the size of the skillet and when it has preheated, place dough on in there and let cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the dough starts to bubble and the bottom has started to brown. Turn burner down to medium and flip. Cook this side for another 3-5 minutes.

If you want oven crust, just roll out and place on a baking sheet and bake with topping on at 475 degrees for about 20 minutes

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Now the crust is ready for the toppings!!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Smear the pesto (for this pie, I used the last of my homemade pesto from last summer…sad face) Mince garlic and distribute evenly on top of that. Then do the cheese, followed by the tomato slices and chick peas. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, cracked pepper and some parmesan cheese. 

Stick into oven for 10 or so minutes or until the chesse is nice and bubbly and the crust os crispy and brown.

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And that is pizza. A super duper, yummy, healthy, not too fatty or overly salty…  can be eaten breakfast lunch or dinner time, pretty, satisfying, pizza.  

Make it for yourself, for you lover, for a friend. Make it in the shape of a heart or an elephant. Give you kid(s) a ball of dough and have them make their own… I know… such a good idea. 

Everyday, all day.. Happy Friday and Happy Pizza

Stay warm!

-C


Skillet Pizza Dough and Pesto Chickpea Pizza

For the dough ..Makes about four 10 inch pizza doughs or three 12 -14 inch doughs. This is also the same recipe I use for all of my pizzas (skillet and oven)

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour or  2 cups all purpose and 1 cup white whole wheat
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast or 1 packet
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

The Pizza Toppings (for a 15 inch crust..adjust amounts to your need or liking)

  • 1/4 cup of pesto
  • 1 large  roma tomato thinly sliced
  • a few cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/1 cup of prepare chick peas.. rinsed and drained
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese (or any kind you like..use vegan cheese if you want too)
  • salt, pepper, and parmeasan (optional) to sprinkle on top

To start, place honey, yeast and water into a jar or bowl and let sit to active until mixture starts to foam. Mix together flour and salt into a large bowl and add in yeast mixture. Stir until combined and dump onto a well floured surface. Knead dough for a a few minutes and form into a ball. Place back into bowl, drizzle with oil and top with a towel. Place somewhere warm to rise for an hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

When dough is done rising, dump back onto floured surface and divide into 4-8 equal sized balls.( 4 balls make  15 inch pizza… 8 balls are good for individual size pizzas) Place whatever dough you are not going to use into a closable plastic bag and either stick in fridge(if using within a few days) or freeze for future use.

Place skillet on high heat on stove and drizzle with oil. Also, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out you dough and when the skillet is has gotten really hot, place dough right on in. Let cook for about 3-5 minutes or unit the cough has started to form bubbles and the bottom has started to brown. Turn heat down to low and cook other side for another 3-5 minutes or until browned. 

Now pizzafy it.. Add on the toppings. Smear with pesto, add minced garlic, then evenly sprinkle cheese. Top with the chick peas and the sliced tomatoes. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and a dusting of grated parmesan……Right into the oven for about 10 minutes to melt it all together…..

Pizza Pizza!!!

Lentil stuffed Delicata rounds of Awesome

IMG_3162I know, it's just so good. I will eat lentils all day, everyday, plan or with vinegar…Curried or with mustard.The same with squash, I am always going to the fridge to scoop a bit of acorn or pumpkin into my mouth. Whoa now,  Just last night I accidentally ate my lunch for today, an entire ball jar of lentils mixed with pumpkin puree… oops…..kinda.

What we have here are chopped up veggies mixed with lentils, a splash of vinegar, and stuffed into the holes of delicate squash. What, that's not right… What we have here is AMAZING!!! We are talking the absolute perfect dish. These tight little packages are everything that I want in a food and can be eaten hot or cold, with a fork or with your fingers, on a plate with some rice or quinoa, or in my case, standing in front of the refrigerator.(At least I had the decency to close the door while I was standing there!)

These rounds are a quick and easy and just happen to be a perfect Thanksgiving dish. Not to  big, unlike the over used stuffed acorn squash where you have to really commit and eat the entire thing. No, people can take one nice little rounds and it doesn't cover their entire plate Or take three cause they are that good. The colors are bright, the presentation is simple and flavor really bring out the happy in my Thanksgiving. You bring these to the table and people with think you are awesome. They will think you are beautiful. So smart and intelligent.. You really can't go wrong here with this one. No..You really can't.

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To start, grab the dried lentils. If you have never cooked lentils, you are stupid. No, wait, you are not stupid, but if you don't start cooking them after this, then you are stupid. Lentils are the most delicious, nutritious , not to mention cheap food. They are fuss free and fast…You now have no excuse. Now, rinse and check for the stray stone, In a heavier bottom pot, mix one part lentils  to about 2 parts water. Exact measuring is not needed, just don't let you lentils dry out and burn. If you think you need more water, them add a bi more. Add a sprinkle of salt and bring to a boil for a minute. Turn heat to low and let simmer unit done to you preference, about 15 minute. I suggest a little on the al-dente side.

IMG_3407You have your lentils on the stove, now is the time to get those squash rounds in the oven.. All you need to do is cut the delicata into 1 inch rounds, scoop the seeds and roast in oven for 10 on each side..This is a really easy squash, easy to cut, minimal seeds and oh so pretty.

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While the lentils are cooking and the squash is a-roastin finely chop a small red onion, a small red bell pepper, and 2 medium sized mushrooms. Throw them in a pan on medium heat with a tiny splash of oil just so the veggies don't stick. Cook until fragrant and tender, but not mushy. Finely chop the kale and either finely chop or grate carrot. Put the carrot and kale into a big bowl. The addition of the hot lentils and veggies will wilt the kale down to just right and the carrots will be that nice little crunch crunch crunch in the mixture.

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Add the cooked down veggies to the bowl of kale and carrots. Mix in about 2 cups of cooked lentils, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic. The squash should be done and ready to fill.

Now here is the tricky part.. Dont eat the entire bowl of the lentil mixture. I am not saying that I did, but I am not saying that I didn't. All I know is that I might have had to make another batch…

Anyways.. Let the squash cool a bit on the pan or sheet, just enough so you don't burn your hands when your handling it. You have squash with holes, you have lentil mixture…Stuff the lentils mixtures into the holes. Dont just scoop a little, really stuff and overflow those babies. Stick them back into the oven for another 6-8 minutes, just to let everything cook and marinate together.

Remove from oven and OOh and AAAH.. To finish, drizzle a tiny bit of vinegar on top of each round. Trust that you want it. Not a lot, just a drizzle

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You have done it! Now serve and eat…Or, let cool completely on pan, cover with foil and stick in the fridge for the next day. All you need to do is pop them back in the oven for 15 minutes until hot all the way through.  Fast, easy, and can be made ahead… Its ok, you can stop applauding me, I know I am Awesome!

ENJOY!!!!!!!!!

RECIPE

This recipe makes 12-14 one inch rounds

  • 2 Delicata Squash
  • 2 cups prepared lentils
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 2 mushrooms..(I used white button)
  • 1 small carrot
  • a few kale leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Red wine Vinegar. (Balsamic Vinegar works too)

Directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Wash squash and cut into 1- 1/2 inch rounds. Remove the seed and guts..(Set aside for roasting). Place rounds on a very lightly oiled or parchment lined  baking sheet. Place in oven, letting round bake for about 20 minutes, flipping each round after about 10 minutes. Squash is done when just fork tender..

While squash is baking, finely dice the onion, pepper,and mushrooms. Place in a skillet with a splash of oil on medium low heat until veggies are soft and fragrant, Finely chop kale and carrots and place in a large bowl. Once veggie mixture is done, transfer to bowl with ale and carrots. Add 2 cups of lentils.. Mix with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of vinegar.

Once the delicata is cooked and cooled enough to handle, Scoop a generous amount of the lentil mixture into each round, slightly packing the mixture in. Place back in oven for another 6-8 minutes or, you can let them completely cool, wrap the baking sheet in foil and stick in fridge until you need them.When ready to serve, reheat for 10-15 minutes in oven at 400 degrees.  Remove from oven and serve with a drizzle of vinegar on each round,