Month: January 2014

"Healthier" Vegetable Fried Rice

Last week threw a bit of a wrench into my 30 Day Dinner Challenge, we had dinner plans two nights and then I had the prepping for and celebrating of my best friend’s wedding. A hectic week to say the least! But I still managed to squeeze in a decent meal or two.

First up: Vegetable Fried Rice!

K. requested a healthier version of fried rice and I was happy to accept the challenge. I’ll freely admit that I completely winged this one and had a little bit of help from the some pre-cooked frozen brown rice.


“Healthier” Vegetable Fried Rice
should serve 4, unless you live in my household.

4 large eggs
4 C. brown rice, cooked and cooled
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 bag frozen peas, slightly defrosted
~1T of toasted sesame seed oil
1/4 C. Soy sauce
Sriracha, optional, to taste

Prepare your rice per the instructions. As I mentioned I cheated a bit and used pre-cooked frozen brown rice and it worked just fine. Remove your rice from the store top and set is aside to cool.

Place a large wok over medium heat and add just a little sesame seed oil to coat the pan. While the pan is warming up, whisk together the 4 eggs. Add the eggs to the pan, stirring constantly. You aren’t trying to create fluffy scrambled eggs here, I was going for very thin eggs (if that makes sense?). When they are maybe a minute or two from fully cooked, transfer them from the wok to a plate and set aside. Clean the pan if necessary and turn the heat up to high. Add just a dash more sesame seed and let it thoroughly heat up. Toss in the onions and garlic, you should hear a pretty loud SIZZLE when they hit the pan, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add in the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally add in the peppers and peas and continue to cook the vegetables down. At this point I tossed in maybe 1 T of soy sauce, just to get the flavored really cooked into the veggies. Once you are happy with the state of the vegetables (I was aiming to get a little bit of browning on the onions), add the rice and eggs back into the wok. Pour in the remaining soy sauce and optional sriracha and cook for 5-10 more minutes on high heat. Serve immediately and with chopsticks.


K. has started having some fun with the photo shoot set-up


Overall it turned out really well. By the time I was almost done I remembered that I had bought tofu to add in as well but I didn’t even think it needed it. 

Coming up later this week: Chickpea Cutlets, Vegetarian Lasagna and talks of a training plan (because 20-miler is less than 3 months away, eeeeek). Please try to contain your excitement!

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Three Lovely Days

There are few things better than three day weekends and this one was especially good for my 30-Days of Dinner challenge (as I’ve just decided to call it). Throughout the next few weeks I am going to try to go outside my typical recipe box- it’s really easy for me to end up in a cooking rut. And while sometimes it’s convenient to fall back on my standard vegetables + tofu = dinner, it’s always nice to try something new.

Friday was incredibly cold (I’m so over winter!) so we planned on staying in and playing some cards with friends. I knew I wanted to make comfort food- something warm and soothing to the soul. I didn’t want soup or stew but something similar so I created a new-to-me recipe of a vegetarian take on chicken pot pie.


Chickpea Pot Pie!

Now to be honest, I don’t even know if I’ve ever had chicken pot pie (and if I did it was a lifetime ago) but I love the concept of it- a nice hearty stew with a delightfully bready crust. I’m not that in to flaky crusts so I used a cornmeal biscuit as my inspiration for the topping. I’m starting to think that this is nothing like what chicken pot pie actually is, but I’m okay with that.

Note: I’m not great with measurements, especially when it comes to seasoning (as I’m a big fan of adding a bit at a time and then tasting) but I promise that going forward I’ll try to be a bit more exact. 

Ingredients:

For the filling
Olive oil
1 large sweet potato, chopped
1 large russet potato, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
~1 C. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 orange bell pepper pepper, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
3 C. vegetable broth
1/4 C. AP flour
Rubbed sage
Salt
Pepper

For the crust:
3/4 C. bread flour 
3/4 C. cornmeal
1 1/2 T. granulated sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
~3/4 C. vegetable broth
2 T. olive oil
1 yolk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potatoes, carrots and mushrooms in olive oil, season to taste with sage, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25, until the potatoes are just starting to brown. While those veggies roast, cook down the onion over medium heat. Once the onion is translucent, add in the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add in the kale. Cook until the kale is completely wilted and the onions are beginning to caramelize (5-10 minutes) then add in the orange pepper and the chickpeas. By this point, the veggies should be done, so remove them from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350. Add the veggies to the pot, pour in the vegetable broth, add the flour and turn the heat up to high. Bring the broth to a boil and allow the stew to thicken up, cooking 3-5 minutes. Turn down to a simmer and cover.


To prepare the crust, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a mixing cup whisk the egg with the olive oil and add in the vegetable broth to reach the 3/4 cup mark. Pour the liquid slowly into the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon, careful not to over mix.

Pour the filling into a casserole dish and cover with the crust mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is just beginning to brown and the filling is bubbling. I had just a little bit too much for my casserole dish so I baked a little mug on the side- the perfect single serving!



This meal really hit the spot! It was hearty and filling but not overly so, great for these cold winter nights. I suppose it helps that I had good company while eating it:

Sometimes I’m still amazed by just how cute the gray girls can be 🙂

Crawling out of the winter rut

Happy 2014! December and early January have been a whirlwind- crazy CRAZY long work weeks, holidays, a sinus infection and the flu have pretty much thrown my life completely out of whack. I’m ALMOST feeling 100% normal again and have finally resumed a somewhat regular schedule. It feels good.

I very recently promised K that I would cook (with his assistance, of course) a homemade dinner every single night for the next month to make up for the lackluster eating habits in our household these past few weeks. Naturally I regretted this promise the very next day and just wanted to eat leftover pizza for a dinner but never fear I’m sticking to it! (I’m also vowing to start using a real camera to photograph the process going forward because the iPhone is just cutting it).

See? Terrible photo. Especially given that I spent the first two years of college as a photography major. 

What’s on the plate? Panko-crusted chili-cumin tofu topped with a hot pepper Greek yogurt. Served with a side of sauteed peppers, onions and sweet potatoeswith a dollop of salsa verde guacamole. Sounds fancy right? It was honestly a pretty simple undertaking. 

I marinated the tofu in soy sauce, agave nectar and a generous amount of cumin for almost an hour. I dipped the slices in egg and then in some chili powder and cumin seasoned panko breadcrumbs. I baked at 375 for 30 minutes, flipping the tofu half way through. While the tofu was baking I deeply carmelized an onion, then added in some cubed sweet potatoes and green peppers. I kept the heat turned up pretty high as I wanted just a little bit of charring. For the hot pepper Greek yogurt sauce I used half a container of 0% plain Chobani and added in chili powder, a dash of cayenne and a about 1T of hot sauce. The salsa verde guac was made from avocado, lime juice, salt and a some left over salsa verde from a taqueria (I know that’s kind of cheating but it was the best salsa verde I’ve ever had and I couldn’t let it go to waste). 

I plan to blog my way through the more creative nights of home cooking AND start sharing my training for the 20 Mile Drop! I officially registered and I’m already completely behind in my training/out of shape thanks to my two week battle with sickness, but I’m more than itching to get back on track (good thing too because April is fast approaching!).

I’m so happy to be back in blogland and hope that not all my readers have abandoned me 🙂