Tag Archives: easy recipe

Dinner in a Pot

17 Sep

This is the story of an easy, savory, nutritious one pot dinner. Why one pot? A simple reason: it was a busy weeknight and I did not want a lot of dishes. Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer is key to quick easy meals. I also like to keep fresh produce on hand so I can pull meals together without those pesky after work visits to the grocery store.

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For this dinner, I started out with broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl. Then I tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I put it on a parchement lined baking sheet (remember…few dishes!) and roasted that for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Then I put some sweet little cherry and grape tomatoes into a pot, again with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then let that simmer a bit. These cook down to a creamy delight. I also added a clove of chopped garlic.

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As that was simmering, I chopped up some fresh spinach and arugula. When the tomatoes were thick and bubbly, I added the greens. I like to mix arugula into my spinach because of the sharp peppery flavor it adds. I gave all of that a good stir.

Now dinner was really smelling delicious. Savory fragrance was wafting through the house, and I was getting really hungry! I took the veggies out of the oven when they were a little brown on the edges, and let them rest not the counter (on a hot pad) for a few minutes. Next it was time to add the pasta.

Angel hair pasta was going to be my pasta of choice because of its short cook time. I wrapped the pasta up in a clean dish towel, then ran the towel over the edge of the counter. This broke the pasta up efficiently and neatly.

Then I added chicken broth to the tomato mixture. After that, in went the pasta. It was that simple. Again, a couple of quick stirs and I let this cook on medium heat. I then went to  pour a glass of wine to accompany this delicious dinner.

When the pasta was al dente (firm to the bite) I was ready to complete the meal. I added the roasted vegetables along with shrimp as the protein. The shrimp was raw, and it only took about 3 minutes for them to cook-any longer and they would become rubbery.

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And Voila! Dinner was ready. It was a complete meal in a bowl. I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top, grabbed my glass of wine, and enjoyed a healthy weeknight meal. And my one pot meal left me with very few after dinner dishes.

This meal is customizable. Don’t like cauliflower? Try zucchini. Shrimp isn’t your thing? Add some leftover cooked chicken. Want a more robust flavor? Add red pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Want a vegetarian meal? Use vegetable broth and leave out the shrimp. Craving an italian twist? Toss in some fresh parsley and basil. The possibilities are endless-but the after dinner dishes aren’t!

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Blast into Super foods!

26 May

Super foods are in the news constantly these days.  The question is do you find good health in whole foods or in other ways?  While touting super foods, the media also barrages us with cheater methods, like “supplements are a must”, “take those vitamins”.  To that I say pish posh to that.  Bullroar.  Nonsense.  Put that protein powder aside and get into super foods.

Super foods are all the rage…to talk about.  But are you ready to dig in and add them to your diet?  I hope so because nutrient dense foods are cool!  So is having variety in your diet and trying new things.  Expand your palate!  Try new foods and enjoy crazy good health benefits.  Take the leap and delve into super foods.  What to try first…hhhmmmm.  Put cabbage on the menu.  Why?  Glad you asked.  Didn’t like it as a kid?  Well it’s time to try it again,   Overlook its nonglamourous reputation and appreciate the cabbage contribution to good health!  It is loaded with micronutrients.

Micronutrients in food provide the nutrition your cells need to run your body.   These are important for cell function, simply put, by eliminating some bad molecules in our bodies.  Antioxidants are prize fighters in this arena and are essential in a healthy diet.  Where are these elusive antioxidants found?  In many foods, including cabbage.  What else does cabbage do for good health?

In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, cabbage has significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K, making it great brain food.  It is also a good source of folate in the diet, which is essential for red blood cell development.

Want to leave the medications at the drugstore?  Me too.  So consider that cabbage has long been used as a natural remedy for relieving constipation, curing headaches, and easing joint inflammation. For a new mother that has breast pain, cabbage is a natural way to eliminate it.  If you aren’t a nursing mother but went out last night and indulged in adult beverages, cabbage has been used for centuries as a hangover remedy.  Hey, I’m just sayin’…

Moving on….it is a vegetable that is often overlooked in its flexibility.  Cabbage goes in soup, can be piled on a sandwich, is a great side dish, and can even make a fantastic appetizer.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  Also, fresh cabbage is budget friendly so it fits into any lifestyle.

Need a quick healthy vegetable to go along side your baked chicken or grilled steak?  Cabbage can simply be sautéed with butter, salt and pepper for an easy side dish.  Simply core a 2 pound head of cabbage and slice thinly.  Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan.  Add the cabbage, stir occasionally, and voila!  In 15 minutes you have a super side dish.

Let’s review.  Cabbage is a really healthy flavorful flexible super food.  It packs a nutritional punch with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease fighting properties.  If that isn’t enough, let me give you one more reason to try cabbage.  Cabbage contains beta-carotene, and that contributes to the growth and repair of the body’s tissues, and that may help protect your skin against sun damage.  All great stuff!  Its time to try cabbage again, so pick a recipe, cook it up, and enjoy a good contribution toward wellness!

Disclaimer: You have to take the good with the bad. Not only does it create a unique and somewhat lingering  scent when you cook it, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable.  That is a fancy way of saying that it is a gas producing veggie.  Yup, you’re gonna fart.  Do not let that stop you from enjoying this delicious vegetable, but eat it with folks you know really well!

 

 

Comfort Food (in summer??)

10 Jul

That’s right.  I started craving comfort food.  But that seems a little counterintuitive when it is 100 plus degrees outside.  The south is reeling from a blazing heat filled summer, yet I want some warm filling food.  Usually good summer meals for my family consist of grilled meats, lightly prepared vegetables, and cold salads.  For some reason, though, today I needed comfort food.  So that is what I made!

I started letting my taste buds run amok, listening to them with wild abandon! I needed some heat and some spice.  So I decided to make roasted red pepper soup.  I made the recipe up as I went along, and I must say, it was fabulous!  Let me share the recipe with you.

Amy’s Summer Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 clove garlic, minced

1 sweet onion (I used Vidalia) finely chopped

2 T olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 t. thyme

2 jars roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed and chopped  (my short cut!)

Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Heat olive oil and add onion and garlic over medium heat.  Stir and let brown a bit.  Add the white wine a little at a time. scraping up the garlic and onions.  After all the wine is added, cook down for 5 minutes over medium high heat.  Add the chicken stock, red peppers and seasonings.  Let cook for 30-40 minutes.  Use a stick mixer (also called an immersion blender), being careful of the hot liquid, to blend the mixture to a smooth consistency.  Turn heat to low.  This can be served this hot, warm, or chilled to use the next day.

I was pretty heavy handed with my black pepper and red pepper flakes.  It is easy to adjust the heat level of this soup.  It could also be cooled down for the palate by whisking in some cream, about 1 cup, toward the end of the cooking process.  The intensity of the roasted pepper flavor can also be easily increased by adding more roasted peppers.  And of course you can always roast your own peppers.  But I needed a short cut so I used jarred peppers.  Soup is so easy to make, and easily adjusted to match any desired flavors.

I made open faced tuna melt sandwiches on french bread to go with the soup.  We ate it hot, and the 4 teenagers gracing my dinner table gobbled this up.  Evidently I was not the only one needing a little comfort food!  Sometimes you just have to give into cravings.  Bon appetite!

Mix it Up!

13 Apr

I love to mix it up.  Everything.  But especially my food.  And I always do it, like it or not.  I take a recipe, and add to it.  Change it up.  Add my touch.  I can’t help it.  I especially like to mix it up when making a little snack mix.  A snack mix is great to make because it is always adjustable, you can use what is in the pantry, and a few handfuls can really curb a craving!

What is in a snack mix?  Well, for me, nuts are a standard.  I like peanuts, cashews, almonds…they are all good.  And, of course, nuts are a great source of plant protein.  A healthy addition to any diet.  But they do have a high fat content and should be enjoyed in moderation.  They are also packed with  flavor,  so about 1/4 cup per serving is a good amount to use.

Tossing in some small pretzels is also great in a snack mix.  It adds a little salt, which in moderation, is also necessary in the diet.  Like the nuts, pretzels can satisfy a crunch craving.  But something chewy is good too.  Some dried fruit can add a little chewy sweetness, which juxtaposed with the saltiness of nuts and pretzels adds just the right touch.

A word about dried fruit.  When fruit is dried, the water is removed.  This is what makes dried fruit a little more “shelf stable” than fresh fruit.  Bacteria grows with the help of moisture, so taking the water out allows that food to be a little more portable.  This makes it perfect for a snack mix.  But beware-drying the fruit concentrates the sugar.  In addition to dried fruit having more sugar than its fresh counterpart, it also has approximately twice the calories.  So use dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, but like the nuts, add in moderation.

What else gets tossed into the mix?  Perhaps a savory small cracker, like a little cheese cracker.  Or a little salt free sesame cracker.  A little added flavor like a small snack cracker always goes into my snack mix.  Now our mix is super crunchy.  Perhaps a handful of carob chips is the perfect finish to our mix.  Carob chips are a nice creamy addition tot he crunchy mix.   What are carob chips you say?  Let me fill you in!

Carob is an evergreen plant.  Carob chips may look like chocolate chips, but the taste is different.  And they are naturally caffeine free and don’t need to be sweetened.  Next time you see them at the grocery store, give them a try.  They are healthier than chocolate chips and a wonderful addition to any snack mix.  So take a little of this, a little of that, and make a sweet crunchy portable healthy snack mix!  How do you make a snack mix?  Let me know!