Greetings! Sorry for the long space between posts, turns out that running a food blog while moving is much harder than I thought. Luckily I am all settled in my temp place so had lots of time test out some new recipes, and in theory should be covered until the official move ends. Luckily this isn’t a long distance move, just heading on up 95 from DC to Baltimore – which is still enough of a transition to make things interesting. Add in the gov’t shutdown and things have been a little more stressful than normal. We are still hoping to close on our new place on time, but unless the IRS goes back to work (feels so wrong to say that) by the 8th our closing will most likely be delayed. Until then I’ll be camping out at my mom’s place – and her awesome kitchen – while my hubby is up north starting his new position. Not the most ideal living situation, but at least we can see each other on weekends so could be much worse.
This past week I decided to make a list of all the blog/cooking challenges that I have over the next month in an attempt to organize my life. This first recipe comes from /52weeksofcooking who are just finishing up a week dedicated to the incredible Julia Child. While most of her recipes aren’t exactly vegetarian, or vegan, friendly I found a few side dishes that needed just a bit of tweaking in order to go from awesome side to spectacular entree. In the end I decided to go with her zucchini tian since squash in all forms are in abundance at the local markets – wahOo Indian Summer!!! In order to make this in to a healthy veggie friendly entree I added some chickpeas for protein, switched the white rice for brown, and left the butter out. I also used almond milk in place of dairy and vegan shredded cheese.
- 2 lbs fresh zucchini or yellow squash
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup water (optional)
- 1 cup pre-cooked brown rice
- 2 cups pre-soaked garbanzo beans
- 1/3 cup grated cheese plus 2 tbsp - Parmesan or Mozzarella
- salt and pepper
- Grate the zucchini into a strainer, and have the strainer over a bowl. Lightly salt the zucchini/squash and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for 10 minutes or until the garlic starts to turn golden.
- While the garlic/onion cook squeeze the water out of the squash using the strainer to catch and loose zucchini and the bowl below to catch the juice. Once the moister has been removed pour the juice in to a microwave safe measuring cup. Add the milk to the cup along with enough water to make 2 cups of liquid. Heat in microwave until mixture is warm, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Add the flour to the onion/garlic mixture, toss well and then slowly add in the juice milk mixture while continuing to stir. Once all the liquid has been poured in add the grated zucchini along with the 1/3 cup cheese. Bring everything to a quick bowl, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a casserole dish, then add the precooked brown rice and the drained beans and stir in the zucchini mixture. Top with the 2 tbsp of cheese and then bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the sides are bubbling and the middle is brown.
- Serve and enjoy!
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
When it came time for serving I enjoyed it with just a bit more pepper while my mom went for Parmesan cheese, which is exactly how my hubby would enjoy this dish so I was entertained. For lunch the next day I added a bit of fresh avocado to perk it up, after debating to serve it on top of salad greens. This might not be the prettiest dish out there, but it’s certainly delicious.
Spinach & Zucchini “Lasagna”
Bonus Secret Recipe Club entry!!!! I’m a member of Group A of the Secret Recipe club but this month I was called in to assist a member of Group B that wound up orphaned. As soon as I saw the name of the blog I knew I was in for a delicious treat as Heather’s Fit Mama Real Food blog is stuffed with healthy and easy dishes. I drove right in to her recipe page as I knew I had no time to lose with this – I needed to pick a WOW recipe NOW. With the help of my husband I was able to narrow it down to a few (applesauce! refried beans!) options (carrot cake DONUTS!!!), all of which only required a quick stop by the store on the way home. In the end I avoided the cream cheese icing (seriously??? carrot cake donuts!!!) and went with a healthy dinner option: Spinach and Zucchini Lasagna. I had to make a few changes to the recipe (ricotta for cottage cheese) and also changed it from a lasagna to a pasta bake since I wanted the dish to be done before the incoming storm (and potential power loss). Honestly this recipe is more like two recipes since you get a simply awesome tomato sauce as a bonus!
Spinach and Zucchini Pasta Bake
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 zucchini, diced into moons (sliced in half length ways, then small moon shaped pieces)
- 4 cups frozen spinach, thawed and the excess water pressed out
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 16 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 lb whole white rigatoni
- 12 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- In a medium pot over medium-low heat, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, garlic, basil and half the sea salt. Simmer uncovered while you prep the remaining ingredients.
- Add the zucchini to a medium skillet (coated with olive oil spray) and cook over medium-high heat until the zucchini is browned and soft. Set aside. Add the onion next and cook until soft and translucent. Set aside.
- In a large pot, boil water and cook noodles until al dente - drain and set aside.
- Combine ricotta chese with eggs, pepper, the remaining sea salt, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl or food processor.
- Place a scoop of the tomato sauce in a 13×9 in baking dish, making sure to spread it along the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Spoon in a third of the noodles, then a third of the ricotta cheese (spreading evenly), following with another spoonful of sauce. Repeat - finish the final layer with the grated mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 375 for 30-35 min. Let stand 5-10 minutes before digging in!
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
Make sure to check out Heather’s blog for all her delicious recipes – as well as pictures of her adorable baby.
Create a meal inspired by music – that was the assignment this week from /food52 and one I was perfectly comfortable with. Music has always been a big part of my life, from my dancing days to singing in the choir to singing along with the radio. Some of my earliest memories are of making up dances with sisters – complete with a doll audience and re-purposed dance costumes. Since starting my blog I have picked song titles to go along with my recipes and occasionally have decided to cook something based on hearing a certain song. For this challenge I wanted to do something BIG, something that would push me in some way while still remaining true to the challenge. So I started thinking about my favorite songs, eliminating those that had already been used, and focusing on ones that really have meaning. In the end I decided to go with a song that I first heard when I was in elementary school watching the Today show with my mom.
The 10th Anniversary cast of Les Miserables was being interviewed and while I was originally completely transfixed by Lea Salgona’s Eponine the tall, dark, and handsome (curly hair!!!) gentleman next to her was extremely distracted. During the interview he gave a quick demo of Marius’s solo and I was sold – from that point on I was a Les Miserable fanatic. While I have featured lyrics from On My Own before, which I was convinced was my “theme song” during High School, I decided to focus on the song that sold me on the musical. Marius sings “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” after realizing he is the lone survivor of his friends. I wanted to create the type of meal that might have been served in the cafe, at that table in the corner…if the guys were vegetarian.
- 4 tbsp EVOO, dived
- 1 large American Eggplant, sliced 1/2 in thick
- 1 green pepper, sliced 1/2 in thick
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 zucchini,sliced 1/4 in thick
- 1 yellow squash, sliced 1/4 in thick
- 2 portabella mushrooms, sliced and gilled
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or 4 large tomatoes if in season)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 425
- Toss the green pepper and eggplant in 2tbsp of EVOO and layer on a roasting pan. Cook for 30 minutes, turning once. Set aside
- Meanwhile heat the remaining EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat, along with the dried spices. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently, then add the garlic, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking, then add the roasted vegetables.
- Add the red wine along with the tomatoes, then cover and allow dish to simmer for 20minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!
wild mushrooms - such as Italian brown - can be used in placed of the portabella for a more woodsy taste
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
I served this with some left over noodles and crusty bread since I didn’t want any of the sauce to escape. This might not be the most traditional ratatouille recipe out there, but it was warm, comforting, and perfect for sharing with friends.
Minty Vegetable Tagine
I’ll admit it, when it comes to herbs I tend to use the same ones over and over and over again. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, all are frequent additions to dishes in my kitchen. However this week the theme for /52weeks was more of a secret ingredient challenge requiring me to go outside the box and use mint. Now I have used mint leaves before, most notably when recreating a Thai dish when Thai basil was MIA, but for the most part the mint in my garden is for scent and looks. Luckily I received some awesome cookbooks over the holidays and turned to those for inspiration. One of those books contained an interesting sounding recipe for a Tagine of Lamb with Vegetables in a Mint Broth, and after reading through the recipe a few times I decided to attempt a vegetarian variation. In the end I wound up with an awesome vegan tagine, that came together incredibly quick once all the cutting was done.
- 3 tbsp EVOO
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried mint
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3/4 cup water (or vegetable stock), divided
- 2 zucchini, sliced in to 1/2 inch thick slices
- 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced in to 1/2 inch thick slices
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely cut
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the EVOO in a large Tagine, or deep saute pan, over medium heat. Add the spices and stir for 30 seconds then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 10minutes, then add 1/2 cup water and cover. Allow dish to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove cover then add the zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. Stir well then add the remaining water and recover. Cook for 30minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking.
- Add the fresh mint leaves, stir, and allow to cook uncovered for a final 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
The end result was a very warm dish that lent just a hint of mint, nothing overpowering in the least. I served it over some giant pearl couscous, and added some of the extra mint broth to the cooking liquid of the couscous. This was my first time using my tagine, and while it does have some quirks I look forward to giving it another whirl soon.
Homemade Veggie Lasagna
A few months ago I attempted, and failed at, making homemade ravioli. I was resolved that once I got my stand mixer I would try again to make my own rolled dough, and after a month of psyching myself up I finally did it! Having the stand mixer not only greatly reduced the extreme mess, it also allowed me to focus more on what the dough looked like to insure the right balance of flour, egg, and oil. I also made sure to take the time to let the pasta rest, and in the end I had dough that was rollable and edible. I thought about making ravioli, or tortellini again, but wanted to make sure I could handle the basics first. So I cleared off the space where my microwave once sat, laid out the parchment paper, and got to work. I divided the dough into three sections to make the rolling more manageable and occasionally got out my hubby’s measuring tape to see how thick the dough was. For the filling I used a combination of vegetables, based on what I found in the local section of the grocery – gotta love hothouse vegetables in December!
- For Noodles:
- 3 cups flour
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- 1/4 tsp salt
- For Filling
- 1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded & divided
- 1/2 cup Ricotta, divided
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 vidalia onion, diced
- 1/4 cup oyster mushrooms, well washed, diced, and divided
- 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided
- 1/4 cup Italian brown mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided
- 1 1/2 cups favorite sauces, divided
- For Pasta: Add the flour to a large bowl, make a well and crack the eggs in to the well. Use a dough hook to slowly beat the eggs and flour, go slow to make sure you don't mix in to much flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on parchment, then remove any extra flour from the bowl and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a towel or wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- After 30minutes remove the dough from the fridge and divide in to three balls. Keep two in the bowl under the cover, and prepare an area to roll out the third ball. I used parchment paper with about 2tbsp of flour on the paper and another 2tbsp on the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is around 1/8 of an inch thick or thinner. Cover with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining two bowls. Allow pasta to rest on counter for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375
- Place 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9x9 casserole dish, and spread out along the bottom and side of the dish. Cut the pasta dough in to 3x3 strips and place one layer on the bottom of the dish. Then add half of the vegetables and half of the Mozz and Ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat with the remaining vegetables then add one last layer of pasta before adding the Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup of sauce.
- Bake for 35minutes, cheese should be brown and the sauce should be bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
I’m not sure if I’m ready to try long noodles or shapes yet, but I’m hoping that after a few more goes at lasagna and ravioli I’ll have the rolling technique down enough to start cutting the dough. If that ever happens I can promise a very happy blog post.