Tag Archives: dinner

Mediterranean Asparagus… Burritos?

In my pantry today:

  • 1 lb asparagus, ends cut
  • 4-6 flour burrito-size tortillas
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • 1/4 c chevre
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In the past, I have only gotten as creative with this vegetable as “asparagus oven fries” (yes, they are as easy as they sound) but today’s pantry suggested that other avenues would be available. Tortillas won the coin-toss, so what else goes into one to ensure that they won’t just be wrapped around those sweet, green stalks? I could do a whole shebang with beans, cilantro, chili powder… ooh, but look at the cheese drawer! The butt-ends of the above-mentioned cheeses called out to me. Concoction time!

Put your thinly-sliced garlic and onions in an olive oiled pan on ML, stirring occasionally, until the onions become naked. While that’s going on, combine those last five ingredients up there into a little sauce, set aside. When translucency is acquired in the onion pan, turn the heat up to MH. Wait for it to heat, then begin tossing asparagus. Spritz with lemon and toss, then pour in 1/4c water and cover the pan for a minute or two — the spears should come out a victorious green! Of course, continue cooking if’n you like a softer texture, but the crisp texture works well in a steamed tortilla spread with chevre and sprinkled with feta cheese. Make sure there are plenty of onions and garlic in each of the meal-wrappers alongside the asparagus.

I forgot to put the sauce on these at first, photographed the ‘rrito, then realized… but as the sauce rather obscures all of its inner deliciousness, I kept the first. Don’t be like me and forget before the final wrap to dab in just enough sauce so that each burrito is edible without making too much of an embarrassing mess. This seems like such a simple arrangement, but it triumphs a tasty new way to have a quarter-pounder for dinner — 4 spoons!

 

From the Land of Produce Sales and Pantry (Or, “Vegan Chili”)

In my pantry today:

  • 4 c diced Roma tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, largely diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, small chunks
  • 1 small red pepper, diced/seeds removed
  • 1 pitiful, small bell pepper from the plant outside
  • 2/3 c corn
  • 1 c cooked white beans
  • 1 12oz can red beans
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (we use 90,000 BTU powder, so use your own noggin on this too. Yeah. That’s not a typo. 90,000.)

This was an entirely vegan dish until I put the cheese on it. Apologies.

So I got really excited about a big sale on Roma tomatoes at the store. Some might venture to use the word “overzealous.” And seeing as how it’s now a little too chilly for tomato salads to be fully enjoyed and one can only have so many salad caprese dinners, the answer choices to the sudden conundrum of a kitchen full-o-maters boil down to (ha!): 1. blanch or 2. just cut them all up and make chili.

Put your onion, garlic, chili pepper and mustard seeds in olive oil warming to M on the stove. When the seeds begin to crackle and pop, stir and reduce heat to L while you finish dicing all those now-godforsaken tomatoes. Dump them all into a crock pot and use a spatula to clean all the oiled up pan contents in with them. Add corn, beans and seasonings with broth and set the timer for 4 hours (I now now that essentially translates to “high”). Four spoon alarm!

Blood-n-Guts Halloween Soup

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c cooked red cabbage (freezer storage shout-out!)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can green beans
  • 64oz broth (I kept this vegan with vegetable, but any animal will do)
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

‘Tis near-about the season for drinking blood and eating guts without having to apologize for it! This one is easy and can be eaten in so many ways once settled in the crock pot — the 6 quarts of soup this recipe makes is great for freezing whatever you can’t eat after a day or three. Take my word, however that this won’t need to get punishing for a few consecutive meals. A very basic vegetable soup is like a basic black dress —  it’s easy to dress up or down.

As it is this soup is a pretty rainbow of nutrition in its formative stages, then after a while the anthocyanins will turn the entire shebang into a spooky crime scene photo. See those ingredients up there? Put them all in a crock pot, set it to whenever you want a frightfully good dinner (but give it at least 4 hours to coalesce; the longer it sits, the darker the red).

Last night, we enjoyed ate our bloody slop topped with thin slices of asiago cheese and garlic breadsticks. It was very definitely 5 spoons… of DARKNESS! (moihahaha, et al)

Aloo(ve Affair) Gobi

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c cauliflower florets
  • 3 c cubed potatoes
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 medium green chile
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida

I forgot to get a prettier picture before this was all there was left in the pan. My bad.

After recently falling in love with this dish from my favorite local spot, I have had the usual seemingly-never ending infatuation with all of the reasons beyond its deliciousness why I am in love with it:

meatless! dairy-less!
cauliflower! potatoes!

Because though I am not a staunch vegetarian, I have been cutting back on meat enough to know what a difference it makes in my health to do so. To naysayers who decry vegetarians for that lack of essential dietary elements (protein! calcium!) I posit that you either click the links above, or research on your own what’s actually available as nutrients in all the stuff that grows outta the ground.

That being said, let me continue into this current love affair.

Ok, so prep is gonna take a bit over the skinny minute. Finely mince your onion, garlic, cilantro, chile (I just used a jalapeno) and tomato. Put oil in a pan on ML with chile, garlic and onions. Let cook until the onions are translucent; stir in turmeric so that everything begins to glow like the sun. Add mustard seeds, tomato and cilantro and dial it up to M until you hear the seeds crackling. Turn the heat back down to ML and stir in the ginger-garlic paste, cumin and coriander. Add tsp by tsp of water to this process if at any point you begin sticking to the pan (well, not YOU. You know what I mean.).

This is what my dish wants to resemble when it looks in the mirror.

So in the 15-20 minutes or so it takes for those onions to get translucent, get the stars of your show ready. Disarticulate a medium head of cauliflower, set aside. Peel potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces (I tried to strive for cubes, but I am also realistic about my fine motor skills).  Stir them into the (assumed ready) almost paste-like mixture in the pan. Once coated, it’s the florets’ turn. Stir in about 1/3c water to make their union more pleasurable. Add another 1/3c water and let the pan come to a gentle boil on M, then stir and reduce heat to ML until everything is fork-tender. Even were you to make some of the grievous missteps which I did not mention here (I am still learning you, potato.), this dish will garner silent smiles and 4 spoons!

 

Miracles in Quick Marinaras (or, “OregaNO YOU DIDN’T)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 package refrigerated cheese ravioli
  • 8 oz ground sausage
  • 16ish oz canned tomato puree
  • 1 10 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp hot red chili/cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 drop doTerra® oregano essential oil

So a roll of ground sausage was going to thaw and go to waste were it not cooked. Don’t you judge me.

That being said, I actually drained off a little more of the grease than I meant to and left my diced up onion and garlic a bit dry in the pan. I kinda stir-fried in the turmeric, Italian seasoning, red chili powder and asafoetida, letting things simmer  in what little fat they could until the pan started developing liver spots. At that point, tomato reinforcements were called in to cool things down.

This was an acceptable sauce to go over what were most likely adequate store-bought ravioli. It was a meal, and I was tired. My wife* (the yoga instructor) brought into the kitchen her new set of essential oils; more importantly here, oregano oil. And boy, it was

I’m part of the mint family.

pungent past principle in proving its paternity.  Now I’m Italian enough, but never had I ever known of oregano as something with medicinal properties. She suggested and I was happy to agree to try a drop in the pan to see if it was terribly strong for its dual cooking application and how it might taste.

Stir it in. Wait for it. One drop, really. Just one. Wait! Feel that? It was a Tuscan breeze passing through your kitchen window. I still can’t really reconcile how one drop of anything can take a saucepan full of emo-mato sauce from 3 spoons to a celebratory 5 spoons. The force is so very with it, and I hope to one day try the force of other kinds (cilantro, clove, lemon, lime, peppermint, rosemary, wild orange). Holiday baking season will soon be upon us, and regular extracts can go sit and spin!

 

*omg I have one of those and one of those has me.

Tasty Tight Tacos (or, “No Cabbage Water Tonight”)

In my pantry today:

  • 6 prepackaged taco shells
  • 1 can chicken breast
  • 1/2 c corn (frozen)
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp fiesta chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 c shredded cheese
  • sour cream as garnish

So some delicious Asian slaw has been sitting in the fridge getting slaw-ier… the wontons it was made to go with ended up as another unwritten shame upon my house… and slaw (or worse, broth with slaw — very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s cabbage-water-feeling despite the slaw really having more personality and ingredients than simply cabbage.) just wasn’t gonna cut it. We may have entered the careful time of waiting another two weeks before more SNAP dollars appear, and though cabbage water is a possibility that I am not unwilling to entertain I wanted something hot. We had shells left from one of the two buy-one-get-one hard/soft taco kits recently picked up and I was certain I could fill them. There would be no slaw-broth tonight.

Mince your garlic and slice your onion thinly. Put it in the olive oil heating to M. Drain and rinse the canned chicken well; after onions are translucent add it to the pot with seasonings. Add almond milk and break the chicken chunks up with your spatula as everything gets mixed. Once it’s hot on M, reduce heat to ML and mix in cream cheese, tomatoes and corn.

Serve the hot mess in taco shells with cheese and sour cream. 4 spoons!

Another Fun Sauce Served Over Rice! With Kidney Beans!

  • 1.5 c cooked kidney beans
  • 6 blanched tomatoes
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 sprig basil (optional)

I never mean to start out with a list of ingredients wildly at odds with my socioeconomic standing. There are a lot of staples in the cupboard, and staples for me are the items you’ll see repeated — garlic, onions, curry, hot chili or cayenne pepper, different cooking oils. I find that maintaining a foundation of things like these makes making tasty meals possible on a budget… but it can force me into ruts. You all know I like sauces that go over rice — ah, but I am so much more!

…I say this as I go into another sauce/rice recipe, of course, but my intentions with it are good! I have just learned how to blanch tomatoes and I was hot to do another batch. In familiar tradition, these blanched and diced and drained tomatoes became another sauce. Their journey, however, was a noble one.

After blanching, dicing and draining off the more watery tomato juice, add your tomatoes (about 3c diced) to a pan that’s had garlic, onion, mustard seeds and kala jeera simmering in its oil foundation on [heat to M then reduce to ML after 5m] for a good 20-30m. Add remaining seasonings and stir, let come to a boil on M and keep it in ML-M uncovered for an hour or so — until everything has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool a little before pouring into the food processor. Pulse until smooth then return to the pan, this time with a little coconut milk and lime juice. Mix everything together well as you fold in the beans, then top with a sprig of basil and cover. Turn heat back to M and let it steam for just a minute or two before serving over Basmati rice. 4 spoons!

Barley Bride all in White (or, “Flavor for Fatigue”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c barley, uncooked
  • 1 c frozen(-from fresh) spinach
  • 3/4 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion
  • 4 leaves basil
  • 2 tbsp Greek seasoning
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

So I’ve hit my head pretty hard at least five times this week from my own dysmetric clumsiness, the piece de resistance having happened last night with a hammock. Were video to have been taken, I would be wildly viral right now; instead I have to be the person who nobody witnessed being flipped upside down like a bad carnival ride. This morning the headache remained, along with blurry vision most likely due to a little trauma to my occipital lobe… but other than that I meet no criteria for a true concussion. Regardless, still gotta eat, right?

This will be a nice single-dish meal for the confused and lethargic amongst us. The barley experiment from a day or two ago was both the flavor and ease inspiration. Start the event with mincing your garlic and onion as finely as possible and throw them in an oiled pot warming to M; once it reaches full temp reduce to ML and let simmer. Mix water with turmeric and 1.75 tbsp of Greek seasoning, mix in uncooked barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to L and walk away for 15m. In that little window, mince spinach and basil as finely as possible and add to the oil when onions look translucent. Mix well and let that simmer for another 15m. When the barley is a moment from completion, take from heat and add ricotta cheese. Stir until a creamy sauce tenderly holds each pearl of barley. Top with mozzerella and Parmesan, then cover the pot and return it to your off burner until the cheeses melt. 4 spoons!

Shakarkand Curry (or “A Shakarkand a Priest Walk Into a Bar…”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1.5 c lentils
  • 1 large sweet potato, baked
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 14.5 oz can [chicken or vegetable] broth
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 2 tsp yellow curry
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida

So I’ve been roasting sweet potatoes at will lately — I hate that I’m inspired by anything a fast food chain does, but I can’t help but be by the sweet buttery spread that accompanies one of these “Signature Sides” from Wendy’s®. I’ve duplicated — nay, improved upon — their formula and that recipe is forthcoming. But back to the copious number of baked sweet potatoes in my refrigerator.

This one is gonna be a not-sinful-dessert-or-sometimes-meal option. It’ll be a curry! We’re gonna take the soft already-baked pulp out of the skin and set it aside. Start your minced onion and garlic in your oils warming to M. When full heat is reached, reduce to ML and let them cook until the onions become translucent. At that point, add your sweet potato and mash it into the pan. Add seasonings and flax and continue mashing. Once you feel good and smash-happy, add the broth slowly and dial it back to a more gentle pulverization. Once it’s a happy family, let simmer on M for just a minute then slowly stir in your lentils. Let the whole mess simmer together for 15-45m before serving over Basmati rice. 5 spoons!

++

Poor Man’s Saag Aloo (or, “Just Beet it”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c beet greens
  • 1 large baking potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 c water
  • 2 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 4 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Drink enough coffee and you too can be inspired to experiment with aplumb! Well, with beet greens… we don’t get actual plums from our CSA. I’ve never cooked with beets before, and had never even until recently been informed of the edible health contained in their greens. I bravely sallied forth having never cooked any type of greens before.

As with most good meals, start the marriage of oil and butter (vegetable ghee can be substituted for a vegan option) in a pan heating to ML. Once melted put in thinly sliced onion and garlic, mustard seeds and kala jeera. Let them simmer together for about 10m while you prepare your greens:

Thoroughly wash and dry the greens, then pick off bite size pieces from each leaf with a stout disregard for the stems. Set aside and turn your warm pan to M. Mix your water with flax, curry, cardamom, turmeric, asafoetida and cinnamon; once the mustard seeds begin popping stir in fistfuls of leaves until everything is coated and add the water mix. Bring to a boil on M then cover and let boil while you attend to the next step:

Peel your bigass potato and slice in 1/2″ rounds. Halve those rounds. Uncover the pan and add the undrained can of tomatoes; stir. Add the potatoes, ensuring everything is covered by liquid. Bring back to a boil then cover and let cook until the potatoes make you swoon with their delectable tenderness. This ended up being much more delicious than I’d even hoped and would have earned a glad 5 spoons if I didn’t feel like my work perfecting greens has only begun. So, because I need to keep my head in the game this can only earn 4 spoons.