Meatless Monday: Quinoa with Apples and Pecans

Happy Monday! How was your Thanksgiving holiday? Did you overdose on stuffing, turkey, pie, and so much more good stuff?

I certainly did. I mean, it’s only natural, right? Thanksgiving for me means food, family and friends – and a lot of all three, if possible. So now that I’m back to work and back from a Carnoski celebration (my family AND B’s), I’m ready to get back in the groove. Back into relatively healthy eating (with room for plenty of dessert added in as well 🙂 ), including plenty of veggies and a few meatless meals. So in honor of the first Monday after Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you a meal my mom and I made when I was in New York last week. She had copied this recipe out of a recipe book and we made a few tweaks and I really liked it. So today, I bring you Quinoa with Apples and Pecans!

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans - i crashed the web

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 green apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 c toasted, chopped pecans
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter over a pot (you can use the same pot throughout –  use this for quinoa later so make sure it’s big enough) on medium to medium-high heat. Add in diced apple and sugar and cook until apple is lightly browned. Make sure heat is high enough so apple starts to brown and doesn’t just get mushy. Remove apple from bowl and set aside – or even better, add it to your bowl of toasted pecans.
  2. Reduce the heat somewhat and add remaining butter. Once butter melts, add in the chopped onion  and cook until onion is translucent and just starts to brown.
  3. Add the quinoa and toast for several minutes until starts to smell somewhat nutty (about 3ish minutes). Add in vegetable broth and bring quinoa and onion to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is softened and broth has reduced, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and increase heat to medium and continue to cook quinoa until the broth has pretty much evaporated, about another 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in apples and pecans. Add in thyme and parsley and serve!

Some suggested variations:

  • Add chickpeas, cannelloni beans or another bean for additional protein
  • Like more fruit in your quinoa? Add in dried cranberries, blueberries or dried cherries as well at the end
  • Serve quinoa over a salad, such as kale or spinach greens.
  • Add in some cheese! I think it would be great with a soft cheese like goat, or even a gouda. Yum!

 

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans - i crashed the web

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like fruit in your salads?
  • How do you get “back in the groove” after the holidays?
  • What would you add to this dish? Or serve it with?

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian “Fried Rice”

Since giving up meat for Lent another year in a row, I’ve actually had very little chance to play around with vegetarian recipes this year. It’s been 3 weeks, and due to a busy work schedule, B and I have been living on leftovers, Chipotle, Flaming Ice Cube and other takeouts. As much as I love all of those – I’m getting tired of it and can’t wait until returning to normalcy and eating home again!

Anyway, on one of the few nights we were home, I realized we pretty much had all the ingredients to make a Quinoa Fried Rice recipe I had seen online. So while B was busy going for a run (I had worked out in the morning), I got busy, threw together my usual stir fry ingredients with a few extras (including eggs and quinoa) and voila – there you have it – vegetarian (well I guess technically it’s ovo-vegetarian) “fried rice.” This made about 4 servings – I had mine as a main meal and B had his with a side of some chicken that I made in the same sauce.

vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

Vegetarian “Fried Rice” (with quinoa and egg)

Here’s what you need:

  • Pam or other cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten, with 1 egg white
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup asparagus, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I used 2 cups so our portions had more veggies than quinoa – if you prefer a higher ratio of quinoa to veggies, aim for 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Sriracha sauce, for serving

Here’s what you do:

  1. Spray a small skillet with Pam or other cooking spray and turn into medium to medium-low heat. Add beaten eggs and cook for about 2 minutes per side, flipping once. Let cool, then dice into small pieces. Reserve.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant and about half of the soy sauce (2 tablespoons).Cook, continuing to stir, for about another 5-6 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add asparagus and carrots. Cook for another 2-3 minutes so vegetables cook through and absorb flavor.
  5. Add cooked (YES you must cook the quinoa first!) quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add freshly grated ginger and remaining soy sauce. Toss gently to combine and cook, stirring so it doesn’t burn, for about 3 more minutes.
  7. Stir in green onions and chopped eggs and serve. Drizzle Sriracha on top for added color and kick.
    vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

    almost done!

    vegetarian fried rice with quinoa - i crashed the web

    ready to be eaten!

Meatless Monday: Easy Eggplant and Squash Curry

“We haven’t had Indian food in a while,” said B the other day. He was right – we were on a stint for a while where we were having Indian food as our go-to takeout or eat-out option on a somewhat (not daily) regular basis. And it’s true, I can’t recall the last time we both went out for Indian food. OR Thai food. BUT I’ve been on a going-out-to-eat spree and didn’t really want to continue it. Between traveling for work, lack of groceries and birthday / friend / etc. meals, I’m somewhat getting tired of eating out. Just ask B – I go eat to eat 4 times in a row and I’m sick of it.

Anyway, that’s why I decided to make some semi-Indian/Thai-hybrid dinner from what we had on hand in our apartment. OK, it’s probably neither (sorry if you are an expert in either cuisine) – it’s just a vegetarian curry dish. Anyway, we go to the West Side Market nearly weekly and tend to stock up on a ton of veggies from our favorite stand – and last week I had gotten tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, onions and more. Keeping this in mind, and seeing a few fun recipes online, I decided to recreate the Indian/Thai/Going Out To Eat food experience right from our apartment.

eggplant and squash curry over quinoa - i crashed the web

Eggplant and Squash Curry with Quinoa

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 TBS olive oil, divided into 1TBS and 2 TBS
  • 3 TBS cumin, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced and seeded
  • 1 onion (I used a red onion), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  •  3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 TBS curry powder
  • 1 teaspon ground cardamom
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (1 ½ cups) chickpeas
  • 1 c. quinoa, cooked according to package directions (typically with 2 c water)
  • ¼ c unsweetened coconut

Here’s what you do:

  1. Reheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel and cut squash into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch squares. toss with 1 TBS of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 1 TBS cumin.
  3. Place seasoned squash on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until squash is soft and starting to brown.
  4. While squash is cooking, heat  2 TBS olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped pepper, onion, eggplant, ginger and garlic. Add salt, pepper, curry powder, cardamom and 1 TBS cumin. Cook for 3-5 minutes, letting vegetables start to get tender.
  5. Cover the skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until eggplant is softened. Add in roasted squash, canned tomatoes in juice and chickpeas. Add another tablespoon of cumin. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add in cooked quinoa and unsweetened coconut and cook for another minute.
  7. Enjoy!
eggplant and squash curry - icrashedtheweb.jpg

Add in the quinoa and coconut …

eggplant and squash curry - icrashedtheweb.jpg

Enjoy!

Some notes:

  • B thought this recipe was “so so” and when I asked him what he’d change he said “maybe a little less seasoning next time.” SO please use the curry/cardamom/cumin guidelines to taste – you can always add more as it continues to cook.
  •  B also doesn’t like coconut so I only added a handful to the final dish, and mostly on the portion I was eating – feel free to add more, and even some coconut milk if you prefer coconut curry to traditional curry.
  • I have used the powdered red curry, which is spicier than the yellow curry I have. Thus I didn’t add any chili powder. If you like it spicy and you only have yellow (not-so-spicy) curry on hand, feel free to add some chili powder as well!

Some questions for you: Share your answers in the comments – mine are in italic!

  • Do you ever just literally throw everything you have on hand into a dish to see what happens? Yes, too often. In this case I was actually kinda pleased with myself – it seems pre-thought out!
  • What’s your favorite Indian food dish?  I love Chicken Tikka Masala or anything Vindaloo.
  • What’s your favorite Thai dish? Any thai soup, or pad ke mao and I love their spring rolls!
  • How often do you go out to eat? How often do you feel is “too much?” I don’t know why, but after eating 3-4 meals out in a row I start to feel sick/gross. Even if I’m eating healthy, I just prefer homemade meals!

Healthy Comfort Food: Beef, Lentil and Spinach Stew

We all have those days – especially this time of year. We work late or we’re out late doing errands (hello last minute holiday shopping!). It’s dark out when we get home. We’re cold. We are craving the warmth, and sunshine of summer. And we’re also craving some comfort food – and a warm blanket – to get us through the night.

That’s where this soup comes in. It may have taken about two hours to cook (but less than 30 min prep time really), but it was well worth the time. I’m not a huge fan of beef, and B’s not a huge fan of lentil soup or spinach – but we both loved this stew! Hearty, healthy, filling and comforting – what more could you ask for on a wintry night? (Besides ice cream and a glass of red wine that is … yes, I love ice cream in the winter with red wine. Try it.) And as a bonus, the leftovers froze well – B enjoyed them even 2 weeks later out of the freezer!

beef, lentil and spinach stew - i crashed the web

Beef, Lentil and Spinach Stew

inspired by Aggie’s Kitchen (vegetarian recipe) and Food.com (uses ground beef, which I am definitely not a fan of, thus the substitution here)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed, organic beef chuck – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 c. dry red wine
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1 c. leeks, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. thinly slice onion (I used about 1/2 whole red onion)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 c. beef broth
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomtoes
  • 1 c. dry lentils (I used the brown kind)
  • 4 c. fresh baby spinach

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  • If skillet dries up, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add celery, leeks, onion and carrot and cook, stirring often. Cook vegetables until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils and wine to pot. Cover and cook for 1-2 hours or until lentils are softened.
  • Just before serving, add spinach and stir until wilted. Enjoy!
beef, lentil, and spinach stew - i crashed the web

Yum! Can’t you just see the comforting-ness?

Wordless Wednesday: How to Live A Longer Life (Infographic)

For this semi-wordless Wednesday post, I wanted to share this great infographic I caught online this week. There are so many easy (and bizarre) ways to get healthy and make a difference in your life and this is just a reminder.  I’m proud to say that I do some of these (run 20 miles a week, eat asparagus, use Twitter and Skype, eat tofu and sweet potatoes) quite often! Some of them, though, are quite weird (6 cups of coffee??) and I don’t know if I trust them.

Do you do any of these things?

22 ways to live longer
Brought to you by Confused.com – Protect your loved ones with life insurance

Healthy and Easy Moroccan Chicken

Did I get your attention with “healthy and easy”? Because honestly, this recipe is SO easy, and SO healthy – I don’t make it enough!

A few years ago, my friend Ali shard this recipe with me from Men’s Health and I’ve been making it ever since, with a few modifications. It’d been a while since I last made it so I decided to make it for dinner Monday night. It was perfect – B loved it AND there was enough for leftovers for lunch!

Steamy chicken and veggies cooking

Healthy & Easy Moroccan Chicken

Here’s what you need (serves 2):

  • 4 chicken tenderloins or 2 chicken thighs
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 can (16 oz) chickpeas
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (or two large fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 1  tsp cayenne pepper*
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 tsp paprika
  • box of couscous (I use Near East Parmesan)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken with 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of cumin, and salt and pepper. *If you like your chicken particularly spicy, feel free to sprinkle with some of the cayenne pepper as well at this point. (UPDATE: Thanks Estivator for asking for further clarification on the cayenne pepper)
  3. Place chicken in the pan and brown each side-  probably like 3 minutes on each side. Doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this point.
  4. Add the chopped zucchini and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
  5. When the zucchini has lightly browned, add chickpeas, canned or fresh tomatoes, cayenne pepper and some more cumin and paprika. I like to also add about half of the juice from the canned chickpeas.
  6. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  7. While chicken and veggies are simmering, prepare the couscous according to the box’s directions.

Serve chicken and veggies over couscous. Enjoy!

Italian Crock Pot Chicken (a.k.a Slow Cooker Chicken, Tomatoes and Olives)

One of my favorite blogs for browsing healthy slow cooker recipes is Skinnytaste.com. I’ve already pinned a bunch of recipes and even tried a few. So when I saw the photo of her Crock Pot Chicken a la Criolla, I was excited! Cilantro, chicken, tomatoes and olives? Yum! So when B went to the store, I sent him off with the grocery list, and was excited to enjoy what was sure to be a delish dish.

BUT of course B forgot a few things. Like tomato sauce. And cilantro. Though the cilantro was probably on purpose because he hates it. Determined to still have a crock pot meal, I adapted the recipe somewhat and turned it into an Italian dish – served on top of orzo, instead of rice! It was yummy and I’ll definitely be making it again, especially since B and I finished it the first night. What can I say – he’s training for a marathon and was hungry!

Italian Crock Pot Chicken (a.k.a Slow Cooker Chicken, Tomatoes and Olives)

(Adapted from Skinnytastes.com’s Crock Pot Chicken a la Criolla)

Here’s what you need:

  • 4-5 skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb)
  • 1 medium sized white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, either finely diced or crushed with garlic press
  • 1bell pepper, finely sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped into cubes
  • 6 – 8 small pitted Spanish olives + 2 tbs olive juice
  • 1 c tomato sauce (I used homemade sauce that we had on hand … B or I make it at least once a month for pasta, etc. but you probably could use a can)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful of fresh basil (if on hand)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Put chicken, onion, garlic, pepper and tomatoes in the crock pot.
  2. Add salt, cumin, basil, oregano. Stir it all up so everything is well-seasoned.
  3. Add tomato sauce, olives, 2 tbsp of the olive juice, 1/2 cup water, and bay leaves. Mix well.
  4. Set crock pot on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
  5. When done, add fresh basil and adjust spices as needed.

Serve over orzo or with a big chunk of Italian bread for dunking in the broth. Or both!

Everything in the crock pot, ready to go!

Italian Crock Pot Chicken (I need to work on my food photography skills)