on the menu for the week

A few new(ish) ones:

Plus some snacks:

  • Pistachios
  • Fiberful Ends & Pieces
  • Watermelon
  • Chobani

A few things I didn’t get around to making the past few weeks:

And lastly, a few of my go to favorites:

on the menu for the week

recipe variations

Rumor has it that variety is the spice of life…and it certainly is the spice of cooking! So what easier way to infuse variety (both literally and figuratively) into your cooking than to make slight alterations to your go to recipes?

Here are a few easy swaps that I often make:

Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Chicken: Prepared as outlined but served on a “bed” of mashed potatoes!

Mashed Potato Vegetable Pie: Swapped out feta, added grilled chicken and Garlic & Herbs Alouette Spreadable Cheese; added yellow squash in addition to zucchini

Creative Salad Mixes: Swapped out feta and Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette for Parmesan cheese and homemade Italian dressing

Spiced Tomato Chickpea Soup: Swapped out chickpeas for potatoes

Pizza Alternatives: Swapped out zucchini boats for green bell peppers or a gluten-free cauliflower crust {that I gotta try}

For more inspiration on versatile ingredients, check out my posts on quinoa bowls and tofu.

What are your recipe staples that you feel comfortable adjusting? 

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4 Continue reading

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!

the butternut squash is back

photo credit: thatisyummy.wordpress.com

Or, as they would say on Friends, squatter nut bash.

The delicious recipes I’ve tried:

And the ones I can’t wait to try:

And especially:

recipe duos

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of repurposing ingredients (and just about everything else) in the interest of saving money, time, energy, etc.

Here’s a simple “Recipe Duo” that requires essentially the same set of ingredients but generates two unique meals. They can be prepped in tandem but served at different times.

Prep Bethenny’s Stuffed Peppers with these changes:

  • Chop extra onions. Saute separately with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.
  • Roast a whole red pepper for 20 minutes on each side. Place in a lidded pot for an hour then peel the skin off.
  • Prepare extra ground turkey and tomato sauce. Set aside.

Finish the stuffed peppers according to the instructions. Enjoy when ready 🙂

In a Magic Bullet, combine the basil and oregano sauteed onions and the roasted red pepper. Blend until smooth. Combine with the turkey tomato sauce and serve over pasta.

Voila- you’ve just easily whipped up stuffed peppers AND roasted pepper turkey pasta sauce.

corn quinoa black bean salad

I mentioned earlier this week that I was going to make this corn-rice salad from BHG. I just whipped  up my own version and let me tell you- woww. Might be the best salad I’ve ever had…and it’s perfect for summer. And I bet it would be great if you made it ahead of time too.

My version

In a bowl, combine cooked quinoa (cooled to room temperature), black beans, several pieces of chopped jalapenos, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, slices of red onion and avocado, several planks of corn (or a handful of canned corn), and a dash each of sea salt, pepper, olive oil, and rice vinegar. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

Confession: I put in about 10 dashes of rice vinegar and a dash or two of Crystal hot sauce! Yum.

Note: To cut planks, place an ear on its side on a cutting board. Holding the corn firmly with fingers away from the blade, cut off a side of the corn. Rotate and repeat until all sides are removed. Use a spatula to gently move planks to salad.

*I didn’t list measurements; get inspired and play it by ear (no pun intended…ear of corn? Get it?). Salads are very difficult to mess up!

beginnings of the salad

fiddling with aperture settings 🙂

working lunch- twitter, v8 juice, water, and salad!

quinoa bowls: rice’s grown up sibling

I just remembered that two summers ago, I used to make myself creative rice bowls for lunch. They were filling, contained ingredients from every essential food group, and offered plenty of variety.

I decided to revive rice bowls with a slightly healthier twist: quinoa bowls! I’ve been on a little quinoa kick lately- as seen here and here.

According to this article, quinoa used to be called “the gold of the Incas” because it contains lysine (one of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies need); it is a complete protein; and it boasts copious amounts of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.

Like tofu, quinoa can easily be dressed up with other ingredients and flavors. I consider it a sort of blank canvas that can be adapted based on your tastes and kitchen contents.

Some ideas (add the following to a bowl of quinoa):

  • Buffalo Bowl: sauteed onions and peppers; baked chicken; buffalo sauce; a dash of ranch dressing; black beans; tomatoes
  • Yellow Curry Bowl: marinated and sauteed tofu; sauteed peppers and zucchini; jarred yellow curry (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Brussel Sprout Bowl: roasted brussel sprouts and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese
  • Fiesta Bowl: black beans, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, olives

Any other ideas for great rice or quinoa bowl combinations? 

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Surprised by the time of this post? Me too! I somehow woke up at 6am this morning (a Saturday!!) and can’t go back to sleep. So far, I’ve sipped coffee and cleaned my apartment. Feelin’ very productive 🙂

[photo credit: here]