Tag Archives | dinner

Super Simple Shephard’s Pie

My family lived in England for one year when I was in 5th grade. It was a wonderful experience! My parents took us into London frequently so see musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (I desperately wanted to be one of the little kids in a colored t-shirt). My dad let me ride “the tube” around London by myself (yes, in 5th grade!) and my entire school class spent a long weekend on the Isle of Wight.

One thing I don’t remember us doing was eating out. When we moved there my parents were toting around 3 kids under the age of 12 and we quickly learned that children are not welcome in most pubs. This might have changed in the meantime, but at that time we were literally told “you can’t eat here.” Pretty weird feeling!

The English aren’t exactly known for their cuisine so maybe it was for the best. I haven’t eaten a lot of British food so I can’t confirm it from first-hand experience. All I know is Jamie Oliver has some pretty awesome cookbooks so maybe it’s all just a bloody lie.

Last week I must have been channeling my lost English pub meals when I decided a total fridge clean out was in order.

I put every vegetable I had along with a package of local Lincolnshire sausages on my kitchen counter and stared at it.  I decided chopping and sautéing was in order but I had no plan for the end result. Sometimes, you don’t need a plan or a recipe to come up with something amazing!

When I presented the finished product to Mr. Wes he looked skeptical and immediately asked “what’s this?” My first thought was “casserole” but I hesitated. If I had called it that his hesitation would have grown. So I quickly said, “it’s shepherd’s pie!” with a proud smile on my face. He took one bite, and then another, looked at me and said “this is REALLY good!”

It’s all about presentation my friends!

If you have a meat loving man in your life this is THE ticket. He gets his meat AND a load of veggies to boot. You get 2-3 meals in one go! Win-win!

Use whatever veggies you have on hand to create your filling. If you don’t have sausage try pastured ground beef or pork. This is just a guideline – let your imagination run with it. I used a grain topping of millet and amaranth instead of the traditional white mashed potatoes. This lends a nice crunch and adds some great fiber and B vitamins. We ate this over two days but I’m pretty confident this would freeze very well. Enjoy!

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Super Simple Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients
For the topping
½ cup millet
½ cup amaranth
pinch of salt
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

For the filling
2 leeks, washed
3 medium carrots
3 stalks celery
2 cups shiitake mushrooms
4-5 small potatoes
2 cups Swiss chard or kale
4 sausages of choice, casing removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin organic olive oil, ghee or lard
1 cup water
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons tamari

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the millet and amaranth in a rice cooker. Add salt and 2 cups of water. Turn on and let cook until grains are fully cooked.
  3. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice into half moons, about the thickness of a pencil. Use white and light green parts. Wash and peel carrots. Cut in half lengthwise and the slice into half moons about twice the thickness of a pencil. Chop the celery and slice the mushrooms. Peel and cut potatoes into pieces just a bit larger than bite-sized. Roughly chop Swiss chard.
  4. Heat oil in a deep saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes with a generous pinch of salt. Stir until well combined, cover and let cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables start to soften, stirring one or twice in between. Add the sausage and cook another 3-4 minutes until sausage begins to cook through.
  5. In a small bowl combine water, arrowroot powder and tamari. Whisk until well combined and pour over vegetable sausage mixture. The arrowroot mixture will start to thicken. If it gets too thick add a bit more water. Cook 1-2 minutes then pour everything into a large glass baking dish.
  6. When the millet and amaranth are done, stir in parsley and season with another pinch of salt. Spread evenly over the vegetable mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. If you want a browner top place briefly under the broiler. Enjoy!

 Recipe inspired by Clean Food by Terry Walters

Comments { 0 } · Posted on April 29, 2014 in Healthy Recipes

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Beans and Broccoli

With all the snow we’ve been getting here in Central Pennsylvania it seems like winter is never going to end. With what feels like arctic temperatures and snow up to our knees there’s really nothing to do but hunker down and heat things up in the kitchen. My favorite thing to do!

I’ve been on a huge soup and stew kick the last few week – beef stew, lentil soup, spicy chicken curry…..if it was hot and soup-like I made it! Not only do these dishes warm you up, they are also perfect for stocking the freezer with. I always stash away 2-3 jars of fresh soup our stew in our chest freezer. If I know things will be busy in the coming week I’ll pull one or two out and let them defrost in the fridge. Dinner is only minutes away!

But, now I feel like we’ve been on stew overload and the one thing that has been lacking in our diets are some fresh veggies.  Sure, my stews usually have veggies in them but they often get pretty cooked down and their flavor becomes overpowered by the stew. In warmer weather I make a big salad with dinner every night but in the winter months a traditional salad feels totally out of place. I’ve also reached my meat threshold for a while and am absolutely craving delicious, crunchy, nourishing vegetables. Thank goodness Mr. Wes is also an avid veggie eater – he’s been known to lick the salad bowl 🙂

However, if the meat is missing from his plate he will ask “sooooooo, where’s the meat?”

The other night I decided we needed to take a break from all the meat and load up on the veggies anyway I could. After a full day of working and plowing loads of snow Mr. Wes is grateful for a hot, satisfying meal. This little creation of veggies and beans did the trick! The garlic and crushed chili peppers added heat and spice while the broccoli gave the dish some crunch. He didn’t blink an eye when I put this in front of him….and he didn’t ask for the meat. Maybe he was too exhausted to ask? Possible. But, I’m still going to add this to my list of regular appearances.

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Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Beans and Broccoli

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
3 cloves garlic (more or less depending on your love of garlic), minced
pinch of crushed chili flakes (optional)
1-2 cups white beans, cooked (or 1 can, rinsed and drained, Eden Organic brand recommended)
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape the seeds from your spaghetti squash with a large spoon. Place both halves, face down, on a baking sheet and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Check your squash around 30 minutes. If the top starts to get brown, lower the rack in your oven. Your squash is ready when the skin is soft to the touch and you can easily scrape the flesh of the squash into spaghetti-like strands. The best way to do this is with a fork. Be sure to scrape out everything!
  2. When your squash has about 20 minutes left (You can wait until the squash is done, scrape out the spaghetti and keep warm in your oven while you do this next step), heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add your broccoli florets and a pinch of salt. Toss the broccoli so it is well coated in the oil and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes before stirring again. You want the broccoli to start to become lightly browned in a few spots. Cook the broccoli for a total of about 5-6 minutes. It should be tender but still have a little crunch and be bright green.
  3. Add the minced garlic and crushed pepper flakes and stir until everything is well combined. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the garlic become fragrant. If it starts to stick you can add a splash of water to loosen the stuck bits.
  4. Add the beans and toss with the broccoli mix until well combined. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes until the beans are heated through. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve by placing the spaghetti squash onto each dish and top it with the broccoli bean mixture. If you prefer to serve everything together you can mix the squash and broccoli together and then put it all in a large serving bowl. You can add a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil. Grated parmesan is also a lovely addition. Enjoy!
Comments { 0 } · Posted on February 17, 2014 in Healthy Recipes

A fall favorite – basic beef stew

Beef stew screams fall. Just the THOUGHT of beef stew has me thinking cozy fires, comfy blankets and fuzzy slippers. I used to think making beef stew was something only my mom could make. Why? Because it seemed very complicated and labor intensive. Plus, I was afraid it would never taste as good as hers. That can be a big stumbling block! Even though my mom doesn’t live far away I recently realized that if I want beef stew, it’s up to me to make it.

After a brief call to mom I dove in and made a very simple but amazingly delicious beef stew. That was about 6 weeks ago and Mr. Wes has requested beef stew two more times. I would offer him pizza and he would ask “do you have any more of that beef stew?” Yeah, it’s that good!

As the title suggests, this is a very basic recipe. Don’t be afraid to add different veggies, herbs and seasonings. You could throw in turnips or even cubed butternut squash for a nice sweet/savory dish. I like to double the recipe and then freeze it in small jars for great single serving lunches and dinners.

Enjoy!

 

Basic Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Olive oil
1 ¼-1 ½ lbs organic beef roast, cubed (you can also by already cubed beef if you like)
1 pound of leeks, washed and roughly chopped. Whites and some of the pale green parts (if you don’t have leeks use one large white onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 medium carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
4-5 medium potatoes (yellow or redskin will work), cut into bite sized pieces
4-5 cups of water or homemade stock
1 bay leaf
sea salt and pepper to taste
dried herbs of your choice. I like savory and thyme.

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven heat a generous glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the beef cubes and a pinch of salt. Brown the meat about 8-10 minutes until it becomes nice a caramelized and juices start releasing. Give it a stir every few minutes so it cooks pretty evenly.
  2. Place the partially cooked meat in a bowl along with the juices. Set aside. Put your pot back on the stove over medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add your chopped leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften a bit, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, carrots and potatoes to the pot and continue cooking the vegetables another 5-6 minutes, giving them the occasional stir so they cook evenly. If they start getting stuck to the bottom of the pot add a splash of water. This will help prevent sticking and release delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Once your veggies have cooked a bit and become slightly softened add your meat and juice back to the pot along with the water bay leaf, a generous pinch of salt and herbs of choice. You want your ingredients to be covered by about an inch of water. Cover the pot, raise the heat to medium high and bring the stew to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the stew for about 30 minutes, checking occasionally and giving it a stir. Your veggies should be soft but not mushy and your meat cooked through.
  5. Before serving, taste the broth and add salt and pepper and needed. Enjoy!
Comments { 0 } · Posted on October 22, 2013 in General, Healthy Recipes

Kick Out Cancer with Cabbage

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this weeks fall soup recipe is packed with a food that can help us kick cancer in the kitchen. By cooking and eating whole, unprocessed foods you are taking a huge step towards preventing and recovering from cancer and many other diseases. True health really begins in your kitchen!

The American Cancer Society’s key recommendation to reduce the risk of cancer is to eat cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. This group of vegetables contains more phytochemicals (mostly in the form of glucocsinolates) with demonstrable anticancer properties than any other vegetable family. Popular studies have shown that the higher the intake of these vegetables the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung and breast cancer.

Cabbage is “king” of the cruciferous vegetable family because of its extra-special health powers. The glucocsinolates in cabbage work primarily by increasing antioxidant mechanisms and improving the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. That means keeping cancer out and inviting health in!

If that wasn’t enough, cabbage also has more vitamin C than oranges. A weakened immune system doesn’t just open you up for the common cold but also creates a more hospitable environment for cancer.

Fall is a great time to fill up on cabbage and all its amazing nutritional benefits. The market has beautiful tender cabbage that is sweet, crisp and perfect for a warming soup. Stop by the demonstration tent between 3-5 pm this afternoon to see how this delicious soup is made and get the first taste. You’ll never look at cabbage the same way again!

Curried Cabbage and Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

½ head green cabbage (about 16-20 ounces)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
4-5 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into smaller than bite sized cubes
2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (you can also use Indian powdered curry)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups of water or vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove any ragged leaves from the cabbage. Halve the cabbage (so you have two quarters) and remove the core. Slice the cabbage into thin strips about as thick as a pencil. You can do this with a knife or on a mandolin. Cut the long strips in half once.
  2. Warm the coconut oil over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes until they start to become tender and brown a bit. They may stick a bit but don’t worry. The water will help get those stuck bits off the bottom. Stir in the curry paste (or powder), garlic and onion. Cook for another minute or so.
  3. Add the water and chickpeas. Raise the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook for another 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften. Don’t worry if it looks like there’s a lot of cabbage. It will collapse quite a bit.
  4. Taste your broth and add salt and pepper as needed. If you want a stronger flavor you can add more curry paste or a few shots of tamari. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestion: This soup is delicious on it’s own but I really love it with a splash of coconut milk which gives it a very distinct Thai flavor. Or, you can add less water and put in a whole can of coconut milk – also delicious! You can also add a cup of cooked brown rice or millet to make it even heartier and filling.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on October 15, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

On the Fly 7-Minute Stir Fry

I’m in the middle of my 4th move in less than 18 months. Yeah, you heard that right. My 4th MOVE! Thank goodness this will be my final move for a VERY, very, very long time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Mr. Wes and I recently bought our neighbors house and are slowly but surely moving in. The houses are only about 100 feet apart so moving is a very manual process of shuffling things into the new place. Good thing Mr. Wes is so industrious and created this handy “moving van” with a built in clothes rack!

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It’s when he gets a little too industrious and suggests putting together a 9-hole golf course to entertain our wedding guests that I have to step in and put on the breaks.

But, I digress.

When things get crazy like this eating well can feel impossible, even for the most dedicated healthy eater. Yes, this girl included! Earlier this week, after endless hours of painting and cleaning I was starving and needed lunch FAST. I opened the fridge and was at a total loss. I had cooked brown rice. Boooring! I opened the freezer and found a bag of organic mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots and green beans) and immediately thought of the “stir fry” my mom would whip up in a pinch when I was a kid. Ok, I admit….she made this for me just a few months ago.

Why 7- minute stir fry? Because, let’s be honest. Anyone who says they can cook something GOOD in 5 minutes or less is full of it.

So, instead of grabbing the cereal box take a few extra minutes and turn on the stove. Trust me, this is way better than a bowl of fruit loops and you’ll be back in action in no time at all!

This recipe can be made simply (as I’ve done below) or made more complex by using fresh veggies, more spices etc. Either way it’s a great basis for a quick and simple meal. So, when hunger strikes, the kids are whining or your other half is asking “is dinner ready yet?” whip up this stir fry and everyone will be oh so happy!

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On the Fly 7-Minute Stir Fry

Ingredients
1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup frozen organic veggies (stir fry veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, corn, peas, carrots and green beans. Whatever tickles your fancy)
1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa (Get in the habit of always having cooked grains in your fridge. They are perfect for a quick meal!)
2 eggs, beaten
Drizzle of tamari (This is real soy sauce. San-J brand recommended)
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil, optional
Pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot add the frozen veggies and sautee until they beging to defrost and soften. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until everything is cooked through and hot. 
  2. Push the rice and veggies to one side of the pan. Add another drizzle of olive oil and add your eggs. Give them a stir with a fork and let them cook for about 1 minute or so. Before they get too dry mix them in with the rice and veggie mixture until everything is well combined.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the tamari, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. Stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Do you have a quickie meal that is a stand-by in your kitchen? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 28, 2013 in General, Healthy Recipes