Tuna Noodle Goodness

A few nights ago,  I stood in the kitchen, as I often do, holding the refrigerator door open and wondering what I was going to possibly have for dinner.

If you’ve been to my house, you know this isn’t that unusual.

If you’re my husband, this probably drives you crazy.

I pulled out the giant brick of Monterey Jack that’s been living in the fridge and ate a slice… then I took a few bites of Coffee Heath Bar crunch… mulling over what I was in the mood for….

I wanted something creamy. Something that reminded me of childhood… it was settled, I was going to make Tuna Noodle Casserole–which is kind of weird because this wasn’t something that was cooked a lot at my house–no big deal.

Except the thought of cream of mushroom soup nauseates me… not to mention the fact that we don’t keep anything close to that in the house… so I improvised.

This is what I came up with. The thing I love about this meal is that you use one skillet. How easy is that?

I imagine you could probably get away without pre-cooking the noodles. I’ll experiment and let you know.

Tuna Noodle Skillet

Serves ~6. Adapted from Eating Well.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked (I used gobetti, elbows or egg noodles would also work)
  • 2 cans tuna fish, drained  (to give your casserole a little more moist-ness, use the stuff packed in oil). We use Wild Planet.
  • 1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. smokey paprika
  • A few good cranks of black pepper
  • A few splashes Worcestershire sauce
  • About a tbsp. of dill
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • 1 cup Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (chicken would also work)
  • Scant 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ~1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ~3/4 cup Monterey Jack, grated
  • A few tbsp. Mazto meal or Bread Crumbs

What to do:

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. 350-400 is perfect.

In a small bowl, combine tuna fish, peas, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire, pepper and dill. Set aside.

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Prep

Melt butter in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat (a cast-iron skillet is perfect!).

Add in onions, mushrooms, garlic and carrots and cook until softened, about five minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.

Add in vegetable stock and cook until it’s *almost* all evaporated.

Add in second tablespoon butter and let melt most of the way

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About halfway through flour-sprinkling. Don’t mind my terrible photo.

Sprinkle in flour a little at a time and stir to make sure vegetables are evenly coated.  The mixture will start to resemble a roux/paste.

Add in milk and black pepper (I like to use a lot, but use your best judgment).

Stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan, bring to a simmer. And try not to slosh milk all over your stove.

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See the sauce starting to thicken?

Stir in tuna-pea mixture.

Stir in half of your cheese.

Let simmer for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in noodles and continue to stir for another minute (again, use your judgement here).

Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the last of the cheese and the meal/breadcrumbs over casserole and place in oven. *I actually grated the cheese directly over the pan….in case you’re feeling fancy.*

Broil until cheese is melted and casserole is lightly browned and bubbling.

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This will be a huge hit… whether you are ten or thirty.

Note: Be careful removing skillet from oven…not only is it hot, it’s also going to be HEAVY!

Enjoy!


Real Talk: Tuesday Night

This is happening in the kitchen… well, technically in the freezer, right now.
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I promise I will be back with regular posts tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday.

PS. I originally titled this post Monday Night. It’s going to be a long week.


Crunchy Quinoa Granola

I went a little granola crazy this weekend. The hubs and I decided to do snacks and foodie items for Christmas this year, so I made two batches of granola. It went fast.

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Wholesome Crunchy Gift Giving

The first was adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker.  I also got the mason jar idea from her. Genius.

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure about the goji berries, but they were awesome! 

The second was something  I sort of made up on the fly because I was running out of oats. And it was absolutely amazing.  It was also super festive because I used red quinoa, cherries and pistachios. Did I mention that it was delicious?

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Totally festive, crunchy, protein packed granola. No big deal.

This is a super savory granola, but if you want to sweeten it up, feel free to add more agave nectar. I don’t think it needs it…

The quinoa and cocoa nibs give this an awesome crunch and the coconut oil gives a super savory, rich flavor. I think this is my new favorite granola!

Look at this recipe as more of a guideline than something set in stone.

Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Ingredients

4 cups rolled oats.

2 cups red quinoa, uncooked–be sure to rinse and drain it!

3/4 cup sunflower seeds

3/4 cup cocoa nibs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut-I like the flakes because it adds some awesome texture

1 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped (I chopped mine a little too much, you’ll want big chunks for that beautiful green color!)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 pinch smoked salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Combine all dry ingredients except the cherries in a large bowl, give it a good toss to make sure it’s well mixed.

Heat coconut oil and agave nectar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until combined. 

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Add to dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring the mixture is well coated.

Pour granola onto baking sheets, making sure to spread evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown, pulling out twice to toss mixture (so it doesn’t burn).

Let cool completely and add dried cherries. Granola will last several weeks in an airtight container. Serve over milk, yogurt or by the handful.

Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!


Daniel Fast-The Plate

In my last post, I spilled the beans on what the hubs and I have been up to for the last three weeks. I also gave a brief explanation as to what the logistics of the Daniel Fast are… In my next post, I’ll discuss my personal experience.

This is the fun post. I’m talking about the food.

So, what’s been on my plate?

As you probably know, I am a huge breakfast person…as in, I can barely survive if I skip it. That being said, I stuck with oatmeal most days of the fast.

Because you can’t have dairy or sugar during the fast, I would just cook with water, then throw in some apples, cinnamon and peanut butter to spice it up a bit. Other days I would do bananas and pecans. It all works.

Toward the end of the fast, I started cooking the oats in (unsweetened) almond milk to add a little more calcium and iron. I’ve been tracking my food on MFP for a long time and was noticing that I wasn’t getting enough of the two. The almond milk definitely helped. 

My main snacks were popcorn, apples and matzos with peanut butter.

The key to making this fast work is to plan your meals. It’s possible to go out for lunch or  dinner on this plan, but it’s very difficult–Mostly because you never really know what restaurants are putting in your food.  Thus, you want to plan ahead and cook a  few meals at a time.

I tried to snap pictures of what I was eating throughout the 21 days. Apples and oatmeal aren’t very pretty, so here are a few photos of other meals.  Keep in mind, these are all meat and dairy free; Vegan, with more restrictions. 

I’d say we still ate some pretty delicious things!

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Burrito Bowls: quinoa, beans, vegan sausage (ToFurky Brand), onions, tomatoes garlic peppers, olives and guacamole

 

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Skillet Meal (makes multiple servings): Corn, black beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and peppers served over volcano rice. Great with a splash of hot sauce.

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Veggie Packed Miso Soup: Red Miso, Water, rice noodles, peas, broccoli, sprouts, tofu

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Veggie Packed Tabouleh: sprouts, carrots, avocado, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, scallions, cashews, lemon juice, parsley served over romaine

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Tofu Breakfast Scramble: tofu, curry powder, potatoes, onion, garlic, broccoli and spinach.

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Mostly Plain Pasta: Organic Bow-tie Pasta, Olive Oil, smoked salt, black olives, parsley and some secret spices

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Fresh Tomato Sauce and Pasta: Whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, olives, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, capers and peppers

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Salad and Latkes–kind of: greens and broccoli with balsamic, shredded potatoes and onions, olive oil and leftover tomato sauce.

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Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao): One of two times we ate out, veganized for us.

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This was probably one of my favorite meals-more salad with balsamic and a Moroccan chickpea stew over rice. YUM!!!!

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger (I adapted the Lean Green Bean’s recipe) over greens with Tabasco sauce

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Veganized Minestrone with rutabega, kale, potatoes, carrots and loads of other veggies.

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Popcorn: my snack of choice for the fast, popped on the stove in the trusty old cast iron, seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and smokey paprika.

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Thai coconut curry soup with lots of veg and tofu

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The other time I ate out-a burrito less the shell: rice, peppers, onion, tempeh, black beans, tomatoes and roasted potatoes, with salsa. Yum!

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Another pasta sauce with vegan sausage. Onions, garlic, peppers, basil, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.

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Tofu Tikka Masala

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Another breakfast scramble.

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Another salad, matzos and peanut butter ( another go-to snack)

Again, this isn’t everything, but it’s a good description of what our diet was like.

We ate a lot of beans, dark leafy greens, pasta, potatoes and rice. I’m not complaining. I love all of these things. We also ate a lot of tofu and tried tempeh in a few meals.

Peanut butter and apples became a staple (not that both of these weren’t before..but it was more pronounced).

We also experimented with seasoning and made sure to pack in a lot of veggies in almost every meal. I noticed that the amount of fat, sugars, and cholesterol I was eating dropped a lot, not that it was high before, but it was even lower in these three weeks.

I mentioned before that we didn’t have any coffee… I tried to trick myself by drinking hot water out of my coffee mug. It worked about half the time.

Anyway, stay tuned for my next post where I will give you a look into my personal experience with the fast.

Do you have any favorite vegan staples? Do you think you’d be able to give up meat, dairy, drinks and sugar for three weeks? What would you miss the most?  Let me know!


Pumpkin Coffee. Need I say more?

Yesterday, I talked about a homemade and healthy version of the quintessential fall caffeinated beverage: the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I used this recipe from Eating Bird Food. I made a few small tweaks, but the main parts are the same. I love that she shared this and that it doesn’t contain any artificial colors or …other ingredients.  Mad props!

This is not nearly as sweet as your Starbucks go-to. But it’s tasty. Try it!

Here is what I did.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Goodness

adapted from the above link

What you’ll need:

Brewed Coffee of your choice (French Roast, anyone?)

About 1/2 cup milk. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the post suggested, but I’ll use half and half or whole milk next time for a creamier taste/texture…because I’m naughty like that. 

A few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree–I usually try to do my own, but if you don’t have time for that, this stuff is organic and contains only pumpkin. Just my style.

Cinnamon-a couple of good pinches or grates on the microplane.

Nutmeg--go the fresh route. You’ll thank me later! Again, just a few good grates-the fresh stuff is strong!

Allspice--just a pinch or two.

A good splash of vanilla

Creamed Honey or Maple Syrup-a small spoonful. This would also be amazing with maple cream or brown sugar.

What to do:

Combine pumpkin and milk in a small saucepan, heat over medium-low heat. Using a spoon, break up the pumpkin and stir.

Once mixture gets to a simmer, add in your other ingredients to taste, I just did a pinch or a few good grates of each. Stir.

Pour coffee into a mug.

Using an immersion blender, blend mixture until milk is frothy and foamy. You can also use a regular blender-anything that will fluff up your milk.

Pour mixture over coffee.

Top with ground cinnamon and whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy.

Drink with your hubby or friends over a good book.

Happy Tuesday!


Dirty Little Secret (Boxed Mac and Cheese)

Hi Friends!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was a win for the most part. Saturday consisted of sleeping in, going shopping and having a giant lunch.

I was pretty excited because I am finally creeping out of “in between sizes” and settling into the smaller size. I also picked up an awesome new t-shirt, along with some work pants and a sports bra. All were much needed!

Sunday was my day off with Farmer Ben…and let me tell you, we both needed it! We started out with church, some napping (okay, I was the only one who napped…but who’s keeping track?) and an amazing lunch.

It was the kind of lunch that you have when you want something hearty but don’t have a lot of time….or just don’t feel like “cooking.”

As you know, I’m not big on boxed foods…but I have a serious weakness for Annie’s Mac and Cheese…especially with greek yogurt. So good!

Sorry for the lack of photos… I was in too much of a hurry to stuff my face. Oops.

Anyway, here is what I call “the Dirty Little Secret.” I justify it by telling the world that everything was local/from the garden except for the mac and cheese mix and olive oil.

Dirty Little Secret (Or Lunch in a Pinch)

Ingredients

  • 1 box Annie’s Mac and Cheese-choose your own adventure on this one.
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • about a tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Optional:1 lb ground beef (or chicken sausage, turkey, beans, bacon, etc.-again, choose your own adventure)
  • Optional: shredded cheese

What to do:

Cook your pasta as directed on the box of mac and cheese (to save time, boil water while you are prepping the rest) and set aside. Reserve cheese packet for later.

Roughly chop onion, jalapeno and garlic.

Throw them in a hot pan with some olive oil. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn/stick.

Add in ground beef (or whatever you decide on)

Cook until your beef is browned, stirring occasionally to break up any big clumps.

If necessary, drain out excess oils/fat (we used a 90/10 grass-fed beef, so there wasn’t really anything to drain).

Add cooked macaroni and seasoning packet, along with some Greek yogurt…or sour cream if you’re feeling naughty. Stir until well combined.

We ate our’s like this, BUT if you want even more crazy goodness, pour your beefy mac into a casserole dish and top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil, removing for the last few minutes of bake time. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 until cheese melts/begins to bubble-maybe 15-20 minutes.

This will serve 4 people (better with a salad) or two extremely hungry people. We ate our’s in two sittings.

Again, this is just a quickly thrown together option, you could add in bell peppers, diced tomatoes, olives, whatever you want!

Enjoy!


Hotter Than….

Jalapenos. I love them. Especially fresh out of the garden.

That being said, we are currently trying to figure out what to do with all of them! I’m in pepper heaven.

They’ve been pickled, sauced, jammed, fried and added as toppings to almost everything I’ve eaten lately.

Two nights ago, I stumbled upon a brilliant idea… I don’t exactly know how I came up with this… or why I never thought of it before. Sigh, so much wasted time!

Jalapeno Hummus. It’s spicy, tangy, smooth, hot. Delicious. And I think I have a new food addiction… no big deal.
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You’re welcome.

Jalapeno Hummus:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can chickpeas (you can also use dried and soak overnight)
  • 3 fresh jalapenos, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 cloves garlic (the bigger the better)
  • A pinch of sea salt-or to taste
  • A few cranks of crushed black pepper
  • About 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Half a lemon
  • Roughly 2-3 tbsp. tahini

What to do:

Drain chickpeas and dump into food processor. Add in jalapenos, garlic, sea salt, pepper and olive oil (I roughly chopped my japs before doing this).

Process until the mixture is smooth, with some chunks. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon (and some zest if you’re feeling adventurous!) and tahini.  Blend until desired consistency.

Serve with your favorite snacking vegetables, crackers or as a sandwich spread. Hummus will last, sealed and refrigerated for a few days…if it lasts that long.

Happy Friday!


Lentil Burgers

Lately, I haven’t been eating as well as I would like. It’s partly because I’ve been eating on the run and partly because I’ve been lazy about planning ahead.

It’s been all about beef, bacon, nachos, potatoes and cupcakes. Granted these are all grass-fed/local/from the garden…but I admit, I have been over-indulging.

Don’t get me wrong, I love greens but I have just wanted something a little more… meaty and cheesy.

So, in an effort to cut down on my carnivorous binge, I made some veggie burgers. I served them over greens with a quick yogurt sauce (greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey, dill and garlic powder).

These are super easy to make AND go really well with salad….so you’ll have plenty of room for shredded beef nachos later on… I’m only sort of kidding…

So much color and goodness!

Lentil burgers are also totally good for you-packed with iron, protein, potassium, fiber and good fats!

Anyway, I used orange lentils in this batch but I would advise using black lentils instead–they are a bit firmer and will hold up better to mashing/mixing. You’ll need to rinse your lentils before cooking them to make sure any little stones are picked out.

Lentil Burgers:

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups cooked lentils (I cooked mine with our favorite Thai Stock from Wegmans)

1 15 0z can beans –I used great northern beans- garbanzos, black beans or pinto beans would also work

4 large eggs

1 to 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

a few good cranks/pinches of black pepper and sea salt

Parsley-I used about a tbsp

A few squeezes of lemon

1-2 tsp. Smoky Paprika

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

Optional:

  • Olives–Ben and I stumbled upon Lindsay’s Naturals Green or Black Olives and they are amazing! We had a can in our cabinet so I threw some in for some added texture.
  • Jalapenos–I’ll probably make these again just so I can throw in some fresh japs from the garden! YUM!
  • Your favorite cheese-I used about 1/4 -1/2 cup of Cabot Mozzarella

What to do:

Combine lentils, eggs and salt in a large bowl– use your trusty dough blender or a fork to combine until your mixture is still slightly runny but chunky-it’ll look like really wet/chunky hummus.  (You can also use a food processor).

Add in remaining ingredients (except olive oil), stir until just combined. Let sit for a few minutes so the breadcrumbs absorb excess moisture.

Your mixture should be wet, but still able to be formed into patties.  If necessary, add in more breadcrumbs a little bit at a time. Or, for more moisture, add in more water/egg.

(I mentioned using black lentils instead of orange-I found my moisture to be REALLY wet/mushy with the orange and was out of breadcrumbs, so I added in some unbleached flour-it worked just as well).

When you have the right consistency, heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat, form patties and add to skillet.

Cook covered until bottom begins to brown-this took about 7 or 8 minutes. Flip and cook another 7 minutes until other side is lightly browned. 

Serve over your favorite salad or on a bun as a veggie burger.

Makes about 12 burgers ~177 calories per burger. You can store uncooked patties in the fridge for up to a week.


Whipped. Chocolate. What?!

Two weekends ago, Farmer Ben and I went for our semi-regular Saturday morning coffee date, followed by the farmers’ market.

I ordered my usual-unsweetened iced coffee with cream…Ben went for a froo-froo drink.

Actually, allow me to clarify; I contemplated getting a kicked-up, flavored, slushy, coffee drink, but changed my mind, partially because I got the judging eyes from Ben. Then I ordered my iced coffee and he ordered the drink I had decided against. 

My jaw dropped and I let him know how shocked I was… and then, something amazing happened.  Our barista gave me a brilliant idea.

“You know,” she said,  “Chocolate whipped cream on your iced coffee would make it so much better!”

I had never thought of that! 

“I’ll allow it,”  I replied. 

It was delicious.

I’ve been thinking about chocolate whipped cream ever since. It’s the perfect combination, light and fluffy but with just enough give. Not too sweet, yet full of flavor.  So simple…yet, just the right amount of … extra.

I’ve felt a need to whip some up and last night was the perfect chance. The hubs and I both had the night off so I volunteered to make dinner.

As the weather has been especially hot as of late, I opted for something simple. Lentil patties over a salad with yogurt sauce…and raspberry sorbet for dessert.

Don’t get me wrong, I love raspberry sorbet as is… but last night, I needed that something extra.

So I made chocolate whipped cream. Then I chopped up a dark chocolate espresso bar that had been hanging out in our cupboard and sprinkled some over the top. Suddenly, a simple dessert was taken to the next level of delish.

I apologize for the photo quality but I couldn’t stand it any longer-I had to wolf this down!

And now, without further ado, here’s the recipe! Per my usual M.O., I didn’t really measure, so the best way to make this is to taste. Enjoy!

Chocolate Whipped Cream:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  (1/2 pint) Heavy Cream
  • 2-4 tbsp. Powdered Sugar- do this to taste… I prefer a creamy flavor rather than a super sweet, using less sugar.
  • 1-2 tbsp. Cocoa Powder- again, to taste. I didn’t really measure but 1 or 2 tbsp. is a good amount.
  • A Splash of Vanilla (1-2 tsp.)

Process:

Pour heavy whipping cream into a bowl and beat using an electric mixer.

When soft peaks begin to form, slowly add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder to taste, continue to beat.

Add in splash of vanilla. 

Beat just until stiff peaks form.

If not using right away, cover and refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups.

Serve over ice cream, fruit, cake or with your favorite coffee. It’s a great life decision.


It’s Just Not That Serious

Sometimes, you can’t take life too seriously. Things happen.

You’ll drop a plate.  Your hair will decide to stick straight up in the air instead of carelessly across your forehead in that just-so manner and you’ll sweat profusely instead of glisten. You’ll get in fights with the people you love over something silly, whether it be taking something out of context or using the last of the milk in your coffee. You’ll smash your shin on the corner of your car door (Please don’t do this, it hurts) and then you’ll fall up the stairs. Or break some piece of equipment at work.

No big deal.

Days like these, there’s really only one thing to do. And that is lunch. 

I’m not talking anything fancy. I’m talking simple and delicious.  Seriously. Things like (local, free-range) chicken salad, tortilla chips, homemade pickles, greens from the garden, a chilled quinoa salad and pickled peppers (Courtesy of Farmer Ben)….Mint iced tea from a mason jar is optional-but highly encouraged.

Something that looks like this:

A Seriously Good Lunch.

This is another “random assortment of food” lunch that just works. Use your imagination, dine family style with your favorite lunch partner-utensils are totally not necessary. Remember, this isn’t serious.

I bet after this meal, you’ll feel ready to take on the world, crazy hair, scraped shin and all.