on the menu for the week

though it’s half-way through the week, i thought i’d share the meals i’m making this week in hopes of inspiring you to prepare homemade healthy dishes to last you all week. as per usual, my meals are a combination of my go-to favorites {tomato chickpea soup}, spontaneous, random combinations {like my salad mixes}, anddd whatever happens to be on sale in the seafood section of harris teeter {catfish nuggets!}. what are you cooking this week?

vegetable shrimp rice based on this recipe

carrot ginger soup

creative salad mixes {feta, walnuts, chickpeas, green olives, pepperoni}

tofu stir fry with feta & zucchini

broiled cajun catfish nuggets {broil with olive oil, garlic, cajun seasoning; serve with a wedge of lemon}

tomato chickpea soup

Advertisements

mashed potato vegetable pie

Photo credit: itsallfare.com

Remember when I said this was the best meal of my life? I may have changed my mind. As I searched for a recipe to use up potatoes and zucchini, I stumbled upon this Greek-inspired zucchini potato feta dish. With a few quick changes, it became a simple, delicious, and healthy casserole using the ingredients I had on hand.

——————————

Mashed Potato Vegetable Casserole

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 can of pizza sauce or marinara sauce
  • A teaspoon of minced dried dill
  • A teaspoon of dried parsley
  • A teaspoon of dried minced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried red chili peppers
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Bring peeled and chopped potatoes to a boil over medium heat; boil until tender. Mash with sour cream and butter.

In a casserole dish, spread half the potatoes. Sprinkle with herb mixture. Layer with half the zucchini, half the pepper, half the onion, and half the pizza sauce. Sprinkle again with herb mixture, as well as feta cheese. Repeat.

Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 1 hour 15 minutes. Sprinkle with feta and bake another 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the cheese softens. Remove from oven, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

——————————

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! As you may have noticed, I used pizza sauce instead of tomatoes {since I didn’t have any on hand}. It turned out perfectly! And I used mashed potatoes instead of sliced potatoes because I like the texture better. I would like to try this recipe again using fresh herbs and possibly even ground beef. And I may put even more feta next time because it adds a delicious little bite 🙂

butternut squash stuffed with…everything

As I mentioned before, I found a recipe for stuffed butternut squash (gluten-free!) on Arthritis.org! The original recipe is here but my changes are below.

Leeks, peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large, well-washed leek
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 8-9 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup cooked rice (I used Minute Rice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the ends off the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds, then prick the squash all over with a fork (outside, not inside of squash). Drizzle a little olive oil on the cut side of the squash and place cut side down on a large baking dish with low sides. Pour a little water into the bottom of the pan. Roast until tender, 35 to 45 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. When it is hot, add the chopped leek and sauté for a few minutes until soft. Add the chopped/sliced carrot, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers and continue to sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts and garlic and continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add the olives, capers, rice and wine and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.

When the squash is soft, remove from the oven and let cool. Make lengthwise slit (not all the way through the skin) down the cut-side center of each half and scoop out the squash along this center slit, making a groove for the sautéed vegetables. Cut the removed squash into bite-sized chunks and add to the vegetable mixture. Stir in the parsley and basil, and add pepper and salt to taste. Stuff this mixture into both halves of the squash and place back on the baking sheet. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.

*As you can see, I left off the mushrooms {not a big fan} and the wine {for some reason, I really don’t like the taste of wine in food}. I left off the capers and kalamata olives, but only because I didn’t have them!

Prepping the ingredients

Sauteing the vegetables

Stuffed butternut squash ready for the oven!

On a random weeknight dinner, the girls and I dug into this dish, along with Quinoa Black Bean Corn Salad and my sister’s Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Chicken. Needless to say, it was a lot of flavorful one-dish meals, which are my favorite!

recipe: spinach fontina chicken sausage with sun-dried tomato rice

 

photo credit: katheats.com


As part of my limited gluten challenge, I whipped up a simple, balanced dinner that made use of my leftover brown rice from a Chinese restaurant.

  • Drizzle olive oil in a skillet over medium
  • Toss in pearl onions {I bought a bag of Trader Joe’s peeled and frozen ones}
  • Throw in chopped chicken sausages {I used Trader Joe’s Spinach, Fontina, & Garlic Chicken Sausages}
  • Add in chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Saute until chicken sausage is cooked through and onions are slightly caramelized
  • Combine with prepared brown rice and a tablespoon of Alouette Garlic & Herb Spreadable Cheese. Enjoy!

magic bullet vegetable lasagna

I overestimated the amount of mozzarella and zucchini that I needed for my cheesy zucchini pizza {which was great by the way! We may or may not have dipped it into ranch dressing, like you do with zucchini sticks}. I toyed with several ideas for using up my leftovers- wheat berries with cheesy zucchini sauce {wheat berries take too long to cook}, another pizza {no more dough}, cheesy zucchini rice bowl {meh, maybe another day}. I realized I had leftover lasagna noodles, so I decided to make a quick vegetable lasagna casserole.

————————

In  a Magic Bullet (or food processor), blend chopped or grated zucchini, canned tomatoes (without liquid), a dollop of tomato paste, a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese, a scoop of ricotta, a chopped roasted red pepper, a handful of grated carrots, a small cube of frozen basil (available in a small tray at TJ’s) and a dash each of garlic powder, dried red chili pepper, flax seeds, salt, and pepper.

Layer sauce with no-cook lasagna noodles in an oven-safe pan. If you have extra mozzarella cheese and/or shredded zucchini (like I did), spread it over top. Cover and cook for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

————–

I thought I’d add flax seed because it adds a little crunch without an overwhelming flavor. Most importantly, it is full of fiber, very nutrient-dense {omega 3s!}, and may help stave off diabetes, tumors, and cancer.

tofu combos x 100

photo credit: abetterbagofgroceries.com

Tofu is just about the easiest dish to whip up and it’s incredibly versatile.

A carton of extra-firm tofu costs abut $1.50 and makes 3-4 servings (that’s just $.50 for an almost complete meal!)

Here are a few ideas for mixing it up:

  • Marinate with my favorite combo-soy sauce, garlic, olive oil, and rice vinegar. Saute with zucchini, onion, and peppers and sprinkle with feta
  • Marinate in balsamic vinegar, which turns into a crispy glaze when sauteed
  • Toss with Trader Joe’s masala sauce for an Indian feel or Island Soyaki sauce for a Hawaiian feel
  • Throw on top of Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend for a hearty meal
  • Marinate with Italian seasoning [marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, basil] and tomato sauce for an Italian spin (duh!)
  • Cut into strips and saute with homemade fajita seasoning [chili powder, salt, paprika,  crushed chicken bouillon cube, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin]. Layer on top of a warmed tortilla with melted cheese for a Mexican meal.
  • Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and bake
  • Saute with Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, coat with ranch dressing, and eat as a spicy “chicken” wrap

and speaking of unique pasta combinations…

As I lay in bed this morning eating breakfast and sipping mocha mint coffee, I skimmed several food blogs- my tradition that helps get me through geology later in the morning. I came across this slightly odd but supposedly delicious pasta recipe. What really caught my eye was the use of nutritional yeast.

photo credit: wikipedia.com

If you know me well, you’ve either been forced to try yeast or heard me ramble about how it was part of my dessert as a child…or both.

Seriously though- it was part of dessert. 1 part yeast, 1 part soy sauce. It took me many years to realize how incredibly strange that is! Blame it on the hippie parents and Waldorf school 🙂

Now that I’m slightly more normal (it’s all relative), I use it in more traditional ways.

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn
  • Throw in to tofu stir fry
  • Top pasta with soy sauce, parmesan cheese, and yeast

If you need more convincing, “it is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium” (Wikipedia.com).

In DC, you can get it in the bulk food section of Whole Foods. Enjoy 🙂

Fun fact: peruse is often misused as a synonym of to skim. It actually means to look over something carefully and thoroughly.

recipe: pastaaa with ?

There’s a reason the heading of this post isn’t more specific- the recipe includes anchovies. Gross, right? That’s what I thought when the woman I babysit/cook for asked me to make this recipe. But I promise, it’s actually really good.

Pasta with Anchovies and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 4  quarts water
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  pound  uncooked linguine
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh garlic
  • 2  (3.5-ounce) cans anchovies, drained and chopped
  • 1/2  cup  chopped walnuts
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a stockpot. Add pasta; cook 10 minutes. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Toast walnuts on 350 degrees until they are slightly browned.

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add anchovies, and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Combine anchovy mixture, pasta, and reserved liquid; toss well to coat. Stir in walnuts; sprinkle with parsley.

Note: I bet this would be even more delicious with feta on top!

tex-mex chicken & antsiness

Recipe

I was looking for a recipe to use up the chicken drumsticks that were in my fridge. My sister forwarded me a recipe from her friend’s blog, BlissfulMindWellness, so I decided to adapt it and make it in my slow-cooker.

Tex-Mex Chicken

  • 5 drumsticks- $1.80
  • 1 can of corn- $1.00
  • 1 can of black beans- $1.09
  • 1/2 onion- $.74
  • 1 orange pepper- $1.39
  • 1/2 yellow pepper- $.70
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup- $1.69
  • homemade fajita seasoning [minus cornstarch]- approx $1.00

Combine all ingredients in Crockpot and heat on low for 6-9 hours.

Total: $9.41

$9.41 would be about the cost of a to-go lunch at a local restaurant like Nando Peri Peri.

But this recipe yields about 5 servings, so each serving only costs $1.70! That’s $1.70 for a delicious meal full of vegetables, protein, & seasoning. Pour it over a tortilla or rice and you have an even better meal- for only about $.50 more.

Antsiness

I feel antsy this week/weekend for a few reasons. I’m still adapting to my new job. I’m exhausted at the end of the day and have been going to bed around 9pm. I feel like I’m getting sick. My friends are all out of town or busy. I have so many things I’ve been neglecting to do. I feel frustrated when I feel like I’m not living up senior year. I haven’t been able to work out because of my hurt tailbone.

So my plan to combat all this: Know I’ll be adapted to my new job soon- I’m only in the second week. Go to bed early if I need to. Drink less coffee [free coffee has been readily available to me- not good haha]. Appreciate my free time [recognize that I lament it when I don’t have any]. Reach out to other friends I don’t usually hang out with. Get slowly back into working out. Do fun things that I enjoy- browsing books at the library, plan a fun trip, read, watch a quality movie, etc. Slowly tackle my to do list.

Tip of the Week

Establish a fun tradition with friends. Freshman year my friends and I established two traditions, one which we still do as seniors. We call it “Destress Dinner.” We get together on Sunday night and either order in from Mei-Wah [Chinese] or throw together the contents of everyone’s fridge and make a stir fry. We then sit in a circle; first, everyone shares one thing they’re stressed about. Then, everyone shares something they are excited about for the week. We’ve found it helps us go into the week with a healthy outlook. And from experience, I recommend keeping the group small because having too many people takes away the intimate feeling.

Other ideas:

  • Form a “Sunday brunch club”
  • Rotate hosting a Friday night potluck
  • Coordinate a Saturday morning coffee date
  • Visit Eastern Market every Saturday or Sunday
  • Form A food co-op (a friend of mine does this. Every Friday, he and his friends meet to exchange food. Each person brings 4 or 5 containers of a recipe they’ve made and walks away with 1 dish from each friend]
  • Visit a different museum each week


7 vegetables, 11 recipes: part 6

Throwing sauteed vegetables into jarred tomato sauce is easy, inexpensive, and healthy. Just saute as usual (chop vegetables, add a dollop of olive oil to a skillet on medium-low heat, add vegetables, saute until tender) and toss with sauce. Pour over pasta and you’ve got yourself a meal!