Category Archives: 52Weeks

Stickin’ to

Offal Vinegar Veggies

sour_vegetables

There’s one thing for certain: /52weeksofcooking challenges certainly force me to think outside the box.  This week the challenge was “offal”, aka the parts of the animal that even the craziest of meat eaters tend to avoid.  While I have indulged in a few of them, mostly while overseas and always while a guest, I knew that I was going to have to be creative when it came time to find a way to vegetarianize this challenge.  Thankfully the mods are very flexible and open and extended the definition to includes parts of the vegetable that aren’t typically used.  While I generally save my scraps for vegetable soup, I had a lot of cabbage pieces and so decided to toss a bunch of scraps and peels in a pot with vinegar.  To make it a bit more substantial, I added some cannellini beans but these veggies would be fine sans beans along with some bbq tofu.

 

Stickin’ to

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 red onion, dced
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup beets, shredded
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cannellini beans, presoaked and well rinsed.

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook for 5 minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes and then stir in the vinegar. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes before stirring in the beans. Mix well and then cook for a final 3 minutes, or until the beans are warm.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/stickin-to.html

Certainly not your typical offal dish, but a great way for using up ingredients that might otherwise have been tossed.  It’s not often that we have leftover cabbage in the house but this was a great way to use those last few leafs – and the beets scraps turned everything a fantastic shade!

Gives a Smile

4 Cheese Pasta Bake

mushroom_spinach_bake 

Nothing like a dairy challenge to get my husband involved with planning a meal – so thank you /52weekofcooking for that!  He tossed around lots of ideas, and at least one of them will be making an appearance in a few weeks, but for today I’m sticking with a super cheesy pasta dish that comes together in record time.  In fact, if you have some pre-made sauce in the freezer this delicious dish can be on the table well within an hour of getting home!  This was also my first time testing out some treats from Gourmet Garden, which I got as part of a blog challenge I’m participating in come February.   As for the cheeses, well I just grabbed whatever I thought would work – and then grabbed a few more!

Gives a Smile

Serves: Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta, precooked and set aside
  • 2 cups favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • 1 cup spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix the egg with the Parmesan cheese until smooth then stir in the two pastes along with the spinach, onion, and red pepper flakes. Set Aside
  3. Spread 2 tbsp of sauce along the inside of a 2qt casserole dish, to include the sides
  4. Spoon 1/3 of the pasta in the casserole dish, then top with half of the ricotta cheese, half of the mushrooms, half of the onion/egg mixture, and 1/4 cup of the provolone cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce. Repeat, switching the provolone with the mozzarella cheese. Top with the last of the pasta and cheeses before finishing with the remaining sauce (1 cup) and left over provolone and mozzarella cheeses.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese is brown on the edges and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before Serving!

Notes

If not using gourmet garden pastes, sub with three cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 tbsp dried Italian herb blend

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/gives-a-smile.html

Needless to say one must really enjoy cheese in order to enjoy this dish, so if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant this might be a good recipe to skip.  It can be easily adapted for gluten free by switching out the whole grain pasta for a gluten free variety, of which there are more and more available!  For even more vegetables, I love that there are more and more vegetable flavored pastas – tho it does keep me from making my own.   For a super healthy option, switch out the pasta entirely for spaghetti squash – just reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes to prevent the squash from becoming totally dried out.

I have to say, using the Gourmet Garden pastes really sped up the process – and the flavors were fantastic!  I only wish more of the pastes were vegan, with the collection I got only the ginger was whey free and while that isn’t a HUGE issue for me it would still be nice.  However the convenience of the products is insane and I love that the ingredients are all organic, plus it tells you right on the container how many fresh cloves, bunches, etc went in to the container.

 Note:  I received a bunch of Gourmet Garden pastes and herbs as part of the #TripleS blog challenge, which starts February 2nd.  I was not required to use the products, or post anything about them outside of acknowledging that I received them, so all opinions and experiences are my own.    

Lips are Moving

Beet Dip

beet_dip

I don’t believe in diets – the word alone makes me cringe.   So when I saw that the first challenge for /52weeksofcooking 2015 was diet themed, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.  To me a diet is something where you deprive yourself for a set amount of time from eating a certain type of (delicious) food – only to fail after a certain amount of time because deprivation is never a good thing.  I fully get, and support, eating healthy foods but why not call it “healthy eating” instead of the “d” word.  I’m sure there’s some sort of psychology behind all of it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I associate diet food with bland, boring, and beige dishes.  Which is why I went as far as possible in the opposite direction with this healthy dip.  With the Super Bowl fast approaching (go Ravens!), many people will be sitting down and enjoying feasts of chips, dips, wings, and pizza – with maybe a few vegetable trays.  This dip goes great with chips, crackers, or bread to include being a fantastic addition to an otherwise boring sandwich.   Plus it only involves 4 ingredients, and can be made it advance which adds to the awesome factor.

Lips are Moving

Serves: Yields 2 cups of dip

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beetroot, peeled and halved
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil (can also use 1/2 tbsp tahini)

Instructions

  1. Turn off to 425 and lightly oil a roasting pan. Place the beets cut side down on the pan and cook for 30 minutes, then flip and cook for a final 20 minutes.
  2. Allow the beets to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then place beets and oil in a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until almost pureed. If needed, add more olive oil but add in small amounts to keep it from becoming liquefied.
  3. Pour in to a bowl and Serve!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/lips-are-moving.html

I reserved the leaves for another dish, and brought this dip as an precursor to one of the many holiday meals we enjoyed this season.  I found the beanitos chips a friend had brought over for game day went fantastically while others preferred a firmer wheat cracker but as with many things there is no right answer.

Note: Beanitos has no idea who I am, and while I didn’t pay for them my friend did and they were insanely good! 

Careful Making

Quinoa with Beets, Beans, and Berries

beets_with_quinoa

I still can’t believe this year is almost over – and that /52weeksofcooking is almost done (again).  It’s been a fun adventure with new ingredients and techniques and cuisines, which is why I can’t wait to see what themes are picked for next year.   I’m also a little behind, so today’s dish is actually from week 49 where dried fruit were the theme.  I debated going with something sweet, oatmeal raisin cookies or similar, but after seeing some fantastic looking beets at the market I decided to go with something savory.  After all, there is more than enough junk food this time of year!  The beets I picked up still had the greens attached, however I know that’s not always the case so feel free to switch out for some swiss chard or collards.

Quinoa with Beets, Beans, and Berries

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 large beets, diced
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup tri-color (or red) quinoa, pre-rinsed
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups cannellini beans, presoaked
  • 2 cups beet greens, torn
  • 1/2 cup cranberries

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes before adding the diced beets. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  2. Add the herbs and pepper, and stir well before adding the quinoa - continue to stir until quinoa is coated in the oil (about 1 minute). Add the vegetable stock and bring to a quick boil.
  3. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, add the beans, then cover and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes then start adding the greens a 1/2 cup at a time. Once they have wilted, add the next portion, stirring as needed.
  4. Once all the greens have been added cook for a final 5 minutes. Mix in the cranberries, then Serve and Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/12/careful-making.html

This dish is one where layering the ingredients really comes off – and keeps the leaves from turning bright pink.  I enjoyed this dish “naked” while Joe topped his with some grated Parmesan cheese, soy crumbles would also work for those wanting to add more salt to the dish.  I’m more of a bitter person, which is why I loved how the tart of the cranberries went against the natural sweet of the beets.

In my Brain

Banana Waffles

banana_waffles

When life makes you bananas – make a banana split!  Or at least so said my boss last week after a way more stressful than it needed to be week.  While I’m not much of a banana split kind of girl (milkshakes, all the way) I did get a bit stuck on the idea of using bananas.  The next day a coworker gave me a perfectly brown banana that was perfect for mashing and doing something with – so I knew the universe, or at least my colleagues, were telling me I needed to do something with bananas.  Since I was gifted the banana on a Friday it was in perfect shape for breakfast the next morning and after a quarter toss to decide between pancakes and waffles, I got to work!  I used the base waffle recipe in my Joy of Cooking book, and just swapped out the eggs for the bananas.

Banana Waffles

Serves: Yields 6 waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 normal sized bananas)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Mix together the banana and milk until smooth and set aside. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in the salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and then make a well in the middle.
  2. Preheat waffle oven
  3. Quickly whisk in the wet ingredients, and mix until just blended
  4. Spoon mixture into waffle oven based on directions. Continue until done - then Enjoy and Serve!

Notes

Our machine takes a 1/3 cup batter for each waffle

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/11/in-my-brain.html

Joe topped his with standard maple syrup while I went for some local Pear Butter, which worked perfectly with the cinnamon in the muffins.  I know there are people out there who teased me for asking for a waffle maker on our wedding registry but I am so so so thankful that I did!  There are few things as simple and basic as a good waffle – which is why I’m sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their rustic challenge.  It might not be the easiest thing to make on a camping trip, but a waffle in the morning with a cup of coffee (by which I mean Iced Caramel Latte) is pure heaven!