Mexican Vegetable Soup

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Mexican Vegetable Soup
I was going to convert this recipe to a crock pot recipe today; but I decided to make it on the stove top, as originally intended. As Chef Melanie of Simple Gourmet is quick to remind me, the flavor can “cook out” of a meal when you are using a crock pot if you don’t use savory flavors. Not having time to figure it out and not wanting to risk it, I used the stove.

Tonight, I was squeezing dinner prep in between carpools. I began by heating the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. To that I added garlic (pressed plus the skins), onions, and cumin. I stirred and sautéed for 10 minutes.

Then I poured in the vegetable stock, tomatoes with their juice, and added 2 t salt. I brought the soup to a boil, and then added the carrots, cooking 3-4 minutes longer. Next I added the frozen okra slices – they were not part of the original recipe, but I had some leftover from a previous recipe. When was I going to use the rest of the frozen okra? Best to camouflage it in a soup and use it up! (Since no one really noticed, I have included okra in the recipe.) 3-4 minutes later, I added the frozen corn, kidney beans, and the zucchini. I was smiling the entire time because I had purchased chopped onions and had chopped the carrots and zucchini on Sunday. So the only thing I had to do was press the garlic! Time was on my side. It was so easy and I was feeling good!

Then I turned off the soup, and using a hand-held blender, blended some of the soup, making sure to leave some chunks of vegetables.

Mexican Vegetable Soup Cooking on the Stove
The soup sat for about 20 minutes while I drove a quick carpool and waited for my husband to come home. Once we were ready to sit down, I warmed up the soup again. I sprinkled grated cheese on the top and served with toasted 7 Grain Flaxseed Bread.

Total time: About 28 minutes (Does not include 20 minutes driving carpool and waiting for my husband)

The Verdict

Another winner! Two thumbs up! My husband, my son and his guest all rated the soup a 9. My daughter rated the soup a 7 ¾ – I am still trying to understand her methodology… She was looking for more flavor. (Do you think she tasted the okra?!?!) Everyone else said it had great flavor and thought it was a very satisfying soup! Only my husband had seconds. Even I was quite satisfied after one bowl.

Would I make Mexican Vegetable soup again? Absolutely! I can see how it is a very forgiving recipe. You can add any/all vegetables (almost any) leftover in your refrigerator, and I believe it will still taste great. And to test this theory, I have enough soup for one more meal AND I have some leftover green onions and parsley. I am going to add them to the soup and will let you know how THAT tastes!

5 Servings of Mexican Vegetable Soup

Recipe

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids for 2 Meals

Ingredients

¼ C olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced – include skin

2 large onions, diced

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped with their juice

8 C vegetable stock, ½ regular, ½ low sodium

2 t salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 carrots, thinly sliced

10 oz. frozen corn

1/2 package frozen okra (I’ll try to come up with a recipe for the rest soon…)

3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into sixths, then into 1-inch chunks

1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

grated cheese (optional)

tortilla chips (optional)

plain yogurt

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Saute garlic, onions, and cumin for 10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add tomatoes with their juice, vegetable stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
4. Add carrots and cook 3-4 more minutes.
5. Add corn and okra and cook 3-4 more minutes.
6. Add zucchini and kidney beans and cook 2-3 more minutes.
7. Using a hand blender, puree about half of the soup, be sure to leave chunks of vegetables!
8. Serve with grated cheese, broken corn chips, a dollop of plain yogurt, or just eat it straight out of the soup pot!
9. Think about putting some in a thermos for kids’ lunches or label (with Contents and Date) and freeze the other half for one of those crazy nights when you need something fast…
Pre-Prep Opportunities
1. Prepare as much of the recipe up through step 7 as you have time for. You could be ready to sit down for dinner a day early!
grated cheese (optional)

Feb 27- Mar 1 Weekly Menu and Shopping List – Tested Sept 12-15, 2011

Menu

Monday: Mexican Vegetable Soup

Tuesday: Southwest Chicken, Side Salad, Green Beans, and Fruit

Wednesday: Asian Lettuce Wraps with Ground Turkey, Avocado-Tomato Salsa, and Fruit

Thursday:  Chicken Chili Bake and Side Salad

We were on vacation last week so this is a menu that was tested last September.  The pictures of fruit sides might feel a bit like summer – I was clearly trying to hold on to the last vestiges of summer as fall was unfolding.  But I will alter the side dishes to be more consistent with the season.  As always, adapt to meet the needs and preferences of your family. Questions about an adaptation?  Write a comment!

Recipes

Mexican Vegetable Soup

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids (For 2 Meals or 4 Lunches)

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

¼ C olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced – include skin

2 large onions, diced

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped with their juice

8 C vegetable stock, ½ regular, ½ low sodium

2 t salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 carrots, thinly sliced

10 oz. frozen corn

1/2 package frozen okra (I’ll try to come up with a recipe for the rest soon…)

3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into sixths, then into 1-inch chunks

1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

grated cheese (optional)

tortilla chips (optional)

plain yogurt

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute garlic, onions, and cumin for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes with their juice, vegetable stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Add carrots and cook 3-4 more minutes.
  5. Add corn and okra and cook 3-4 more minutes.
  6. Add zucchini and kidney beans and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  7. Using a hand blender, puree about half of the soup, be sure to leave chunks of vegetables!
  8. Serve with grated cheese, broken corn chips, a dollop of plain yogurt, or just eat it straight out of the soup pot!
  9. Think about putting some in a thermos for kids’ lunches or label (with Contents and Date) and freeze the other half for one of those crazy nights when you need something fast…
Pre-Prep Opportunities
1. Prepare as much of the recipe up through step 7 as you have time for.  You could be ready to sit down for dinner a day early!

Recipe

Southwest Chicken, Green Beans, Side Salad and Fruit

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Ingredients For the Chicken

1.75 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts

¼ C olive oil

¼ C lime juice

½ C chopped cilantro

1 T ground cumin

½ t salt

1/8 t pepper

Ingredients For the Rest of the Meal

greens for salad

1 tomato

sunflower seeds to top on salad

any other salad toppings

3 C fruit (divided among plates as a side)

4 Cups green beans

Olive Oil or Canola Spray

salt

Instructions

Make Ahead

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, holding the chicken out until mixed thoroughly.  Let marinate 30-40 minutes.  I prefer marinating overnight – the flavor is amazing.

Dinner Time Prep

1. Pre-heat grill on high or pre-heat oven to 350

2. Lay plates out and portion greens

3. Put chicken on grill and turn heat down to medium, or pop in oven (in a roasting / baking pan) – Cook chicken for Chicken Chili Bake at the same time.  It will make Thursday’s dinner prep so easy!)

4. Add salad fixings and a light drizzle of dressing on the greens

5. If chicken is on grill, flip the chicken, cooking 6-7 minutes on each side.  If in oven, leave for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Juice should be clear and meat should spring back to the touch.

6. Portion the fruit on each plate

7. Place green beans in a microwavable container and cook accordingly.

8. Pull chicken off grill or remove from oven.  Portion and serve!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1. Marinate the chicken a day or two ahead of time and leave in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook dinner.

2.  Cook the chicken for the Chicken Chile Bake at the same time you cook tonight’s chicken and you will be way ahead of the game.

Recipe

Asian Lettuce Wraps, Tomato-Avocado Salsa, and Green Beans

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Asian Lettuce Wraps, Tomato-Avocado Salsa, Green Beans

Ingredients

12-16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves

1.75 lbs. ground turkey

1 T cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1T plus a little bit, soy sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)

1/4 C Hoisin sauce

1 T plus a little bit, rice wine vinegar

Asian chile pepper sauce or sweet chili sauce

1 8 oz can water chestnuts, sliced or finely chopped

¼ C chopped green onions

2 t Asian dark sesame oil

For the sides:

4 C green beans, fresh or frozen

1 avocado

2 medium tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Rinse lettuce leaves and set aside to dry
  2. Brown the ground turkey.  Remove from pan
  3. In same pan, sautee onion.
  4. Add garlic, soy sauce (Bragg’s), Hoisin sauce, vinegar, and chili pepper sauce (or sweet chili sauce) to the onions and stir.
  5. Stir in water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked ground turkey
  6. Lay out plates and one or two lettuce leaves
  7. Place green beans in microwave-safe container and cook accordingly.
  8. Dice a tomato and avocado and mix them together with a touch of salt.  (for those kids who have strong preferences, add avocado, tomato or both separately on the plate (see the four settings: the adults got the mixture, and one had no tomatoes and one had avocado and tomato separate on the plate…)
  9. Make sure turkey mixture is still warm.  Spoon the mixture into center of leaves, making sure not to put too much in as it will be difficult to wrap.
  10. Serve!
  11. Show the kids how to “wrap” the lettuce like a tortilla – see how many points you get for creativity
Pre-Prep Opportunities
1. Prepare steps 2-5 ahead of time.  Simple warm up ground turkey mixture when you are ready to eat.
Recipe

Chicken Chile Bake

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Chicken Chile Bake

Ingredients For the “Casserole”

1.75 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

1  15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 bell peppers diced

1 onion, diced

1 jar salsa (you can mix a few together)

1 C plain yogurt

1/2 C cilantro, chopped

Canola oil spray

8 Whole-wheat tortillas

Ingredients For the side salad

4 C salad greens

1 avocado

1 tomato

sunflower seeds to sprinkle on salad

Instructions

Pre heat oven to 375

1.  Cook chicken – bake or grill.  Hopefully you cooked this with the chicken you made earlier in the week which will save you a lot of time.

2.  In a large bowl mix all casserole ingredients, except the tortillas, in a large bowl

3.  Lightly spray bottoms and sides of a 9 X 13 and 8 X 8 baking pan

4. Place one layer of whole-wheat tortillas on the bottom of the pan, followed by some of the chicken mixture.

5. Repeat step 4, alternating a layer of tortillas and a layer of chicken mixture.

6.  Top with a final layer of tortilla and lightly sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

7. Place in 375 oven for 20 minutes to heat through

8. While Chicken Chile Bake is heating, divide the avocado across the 4 plates and lightly sprinkle salt if desired.  Portion some greens and salad fixin’s on each plate.

9.  Once Chicken Chile Bake is hot, pull out and serve with salsa on the side.  Ol´e!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1.  Cook chicken ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

2. Prepare step 2 ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

Shopping List:

Please check this list against your pantry, particularly the dry goods. There are several items on the list that you might already have, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to buy more than you need, especially if you already have the ingredients in your pantry!

Entrees

3.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

1.75 lbs ground turkey

Veggies

1 bunch cilantro

4 onions – can buy pre-chopped

Boston Bibb lettuce

8 C greens for salad

4 cloves garlic

4 tomatoes

2 avocados

2 bell peppers – you pick the color

2 large carrots

3 medium zucchini

Fruit

2 limes for 1/4 c of lime juice for cilantro chicken – or purchase a bottle

seasonal fruit for dinner sides

Dairy

1 C Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese or sheep’s / goat’s milk equivalent

2 C Plain Yogurt or Goat milk yogurt if you don’t do dairy or you can use sour cream)

Frozen

1 10 oz. frozen corn

1 10 oz. frozen okra

1 10 oz. frozen green beans

Dry Goods

1 15 oz. can black beans

1 15 oz. can kidney beans

1 jar salsa

1 T + 1/2 cup Olive oil (or canola oil)

Olive or canola spray

1 T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce)

1/4 C Hoisin sauce

1 T Rice wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 C Asian chili pepper sauce (or sweet chili sauce)

1 8 oz can Water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

2 t Asian (dark) sesame oil

1 1/2 t + 1 T Ground cumin

Salt and pepper

1 28 oz. can tomatoes

4 C vegetable stock

4 C vegetable stock – low sodium

tortilla chips

1/4 C sunflower seeds

Bakery

8 whole wheat tortillas

Bulgar Wheat

Bulgar Wheat Meal – Ready to Put Together

I have committed to being honest in this blog.  The fourth dinner of the week, Bulgar Wheat with Squash, Peas, and Onions… well, uh, I didn’t quite get to it…  It’s hard to admit this – we went out to eat! But I had a good reason…  (Heard that before?…)

We belong to a family swimming and workout club that has a restaurant.  There is a quarterly food minimum.  I received notification that I had unspent money left for the quarter which is ending soon.  If you don’t spend the money you pay anyway.  So I decided to eat dinner there and make sure my minimum was spent.

The good news is that this restaurant has just been certified as a “Blue Zones” restaurant. Being a “Blue Zones” restaurant means the restaurant offers healthy meal experiences, from menu choices, to portion sizes, to the promotion of doggie bags, encouraging people to choose healthy and not overeat, a common problem in restaurant eating. … From an economic and nutrition perspective my decision to eat out seems rationale…

That said, I am not going to abandon my bulgar wheat meal.  I learned about bulgar wheat from my friend, Chef Chris, and I really want to try this recipe.  Consistent with my desire to pre-prep dinners, the meal is ready – it just needs to be warmed and served. Earlier in the day on Thursday I cooked the bulgar wheat, roasted the squash, and sautéed the onions. I just have to microwave some peas, and put the whole thing together.

My optimism remains strong.  There is always the possibility of today.

I’ll keep you posted.  Honestly.

Split Pea Soup With Smoked Turkey Thighs – Even Better The Second Time Around

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs

This Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs recipe fits last weeks rule: “If you don’t make it often and it is really good, you can serve it exactly the same way again.” And that is exactly what I did.

I had an evening meeting and my husband was late so the kids and the babysitter had the soup – again – in a good way.  I served it with french bread instead of the oatmeal muffin to add a little variety.

Nutritional Time Out: Feel great about serving this delicious meal.  Dried peas, are high in fiber, nutritionally packed with B vitamins and potassium, and are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Dried peas are also manage blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

The Verdict
Delicious as always!! That soup just keeps getting better!

Recipe

Split Pea Soup With Smoked Turkey Thighs

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

3 C (1 lb.) Split Peas

10 C Water

1 C Celery, chopped

1 C Carrots, chopped

2 C Onions, chopped

2 Bay leaves

3 Garlic cloves, minced

2 t Ground cumin

½ t Dried thyme

2 T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or low sodium soy sauce

½ t Salt

2 Smoked turkey thighs

Dr. Oetker’s Oatmeal Muffin Mix (or other preferred muffin recipe or box mix) and whatever  ingredients the mix calls for….

Instructions

  1. Put everything in a crock pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

OR

  1. You can also cook on high for 3-4 hours the night before, put in the fridge before you go to bed, and finish cooking the next day.  Taking into account that the soup will be cold, cook on high for 6 more hours.
  2. Once soup is done, remove the smoked turkey thighs discarding the bones and skin.  Shred the meat and return to the soup.
  3. Serve with a dense whole grain bread (optional but delicious), and see how many recipes you can think of that taste this good and are this fast!

Zesty Salmon, Green Beans and Side Salad

Zesty Salmon, Green Beans and Side Salad

If you are looking for a quick, easy, delicious meal, that resembles gourmet cooking without the gourmet fuss, Zesty Salmon is a great choice. Given yesterday’s easy meal, that was about to be served again tomorrow, I thought I should have a meal that at least “looked” as if I had been slaving in the kitchen.  Zesty Salmon, is soooo easy, and soooo good!  And pairing it with frozen green beans and a side salad makes it even easier. If it was summer, I would use fresh green beans, uncooked, lightly sprayed with olive oil and lightly salted.

This meal is also a very healthy choice, rich with Omega-3 fatty acids as well as Vitamins A, B and D and nutrients calcium, iron, phosphorus and selenium. The protein in salmon is also very easy for the body to digest. So aside from being delicious, this meal is also very healthy for you!

There are pre-prep opportunities that make meal time even faster and easier, but if you can’t do it ahead of time, you are still in good shape.

I prepared the sauce for the salmon the day before when I had a little down time… Those who know me know I don’t really have downtime, but rather moments, in between meetings or other obligations, when I can get some meal prep done.

The Verdict

For those of you who think that your kids will never eat this, you may want to think again. Everyone, even my daughter who is loathe to give out top ratings, especially 2 nights in a row, gave the meal a 10!

The tomato-based sauce was very tasty and a nice change to the plain (but delicious) salmon I often make.  I ended up getting 2 lbs. of salmon and was afraid I might have leftovers, but that was not the case.  Everyone said they would like more – but I had run out!

Cooking Zesty Salmon

Recipe

Zesty Salmon, Green Beans and Side Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

canola oil spray

2 T canola oil, divided

1.75 lbs salmon filet, skin cut off

6 garlic cloves, chopped

2 t paprika

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1/4 t ground cinnamon

3 T tomato paste

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t chili powder

1 T minced onion- dried

1/2 t dried red pepper flakes

1/2 C water

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 t sugar

1 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

lemon wedges

2 1/2 C frozen green beans

3 C salad greens, divided

8 strawberries (or your favorite salad toppings)

1 avocado (or your favorite salad toppings)

Low fat or non fat salad dressing

Instructions

1.  Lightly spray a pan with canola oil and heat.  Cook salmon filets over medium high heat to brown on both sides, 2 minutes a side.  Remove salmon, set aside and wipe out skillet.

2.  Puree garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, chile powder, minced onion, and dried red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of oil in a food processor.

3.  Add garlic mixture to pan and heat for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and water to the side of the pan.  Mixture will spatter if you add to the middle of the pan.

4.  Bring mixture to a simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and sugar, salt and pepper.

5. Return fish to skillet and bring to a simmer. Cover pan.

6. Reduce heat to medium low and let fish cook through, 7-9 minutes.

7. Place green beans in a microwave safe bowl and cook 2-4 minutes or until tender. Portion across plates.

8. Portion greens for side salad.  Cut and add strawberries and avocado or whatever salad fixings you prefer. Lightly sprinkle dressing.

9. Divide the salmon and sauce among plates. Sprinkle cilantro over. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges on the side.

10. Take it as a compliment when they ask for seconds and you have nothing left!

Pre-Prep Opportunity

1. Steps 2-4 can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge. When you are ready to prepare the meal, start with step one, wipe out the pan, add the sauce and then add the salmon back in to cook through.  While it is cooking, you can get the green beans and salad ready.

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs and Oatmeal Muffins

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs

This split pea soup recipe is a twist on the saying, “Hard work pays off.” I dare you to find a recipe this good that is this easy.  I made and blogged about this recipe in the fall.  Those who tried it got rave reviews from spouses and kids alike and said this pea soup was going to be “added to their dinner rotation”.

Now its winter and I am thinking about warm, hearty, satisfying meals.  Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs fits the bill.  It gets bonus points for fast and easy preparation too.  I served it with an oatmeal muffin recipe that I baked in an 8×8 pan to keep things easier. Try it and let me know what you think!

Oh, and if you do have a recipe that is this good and this easy, please share!!!!

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs and Oatmeal Muffin

Recipe

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs and Oatmeal Muffins

Serves 10-12 (2 dinners for families of 4 plus lunches)

Ingredients

3 C (1 lb.) Split Peas

10 C Water

1 C Celery, chopped

1 C Carrots, chopped

2 C Onions, chopped

2 Bay leaves

3 Garlic cloves, minced

2 t Ground cumin

½ t Dried thyme

2 T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or low sodium soy sauce

½ t Salt

2 Smoked turkey thighs

Dr. Oetker’s Oatmeal Muffin Mix (or other preferred muffin recipe or box mix) and whatever ingredients you need for the mix.*

*Note: Dairy and/or egg allergies? Substitute applesauce for the oil and 1 T of Flaxseed meal + 3 T Water for the egg. Gluten allergy?  There are many good gluten-free muffin mixes to choose from.

Instructions

  1. Put everything in a crock pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

OR

  1. You can also cook on high for 3-4 hours the night before, put in the fridge before you go to bed, and finish cooking the next day.  Taking into account that the soup will be cold, cook on high for 6 more hours.
  2. Once soup is done, remove the smoked turkey thighs discarding the bones and skin.  Shred the meat and return to the soup.
  3. Serve with a dense whole grain bread (optional but delicious), and see how many recipes you can think of that taste this good and are this fast!

Feb 20 – 23 Weekly Menu and Shopping List – Tested Feb 13 – 16

Menu

Monday:  Split Pea Soup with Oatmeal Muffin

Tuesday: Zesty Salmon, Green Beans, and Side Salad

Wednesday: Split Pea Soup With French Bread

Thursday: Bulgar Wheat With Onions, Squash, Peas, and Cherry Tomatoes with a Side Salad

Bulgar Wheat?!  My friend, Chef Chris, recommended it when I asked about vegetarian meal ideas.  It is a grain that is partially cooked so it is relatively fast to prepare at meal time. It is also very hearty and satisfying with a nutty taste. Gluten free?  Make a rice substitute instead and add all the great veggies!

Recipes

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Thighs

Serves 8-10

Split Pea Soup with Oatmeal Muffin

Ingredients

3 C (1 lb.) Split Peas

10 C Water

1 C Celery, chopped

1 C Carrots, chopped

2 C Onions, chopped

2 Bay leaves

3 Garlic cloves, minced

2 t Ground cumin

½ t Dried thyme

2 T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or low sodium soy sauce

½ t Salt

2 Smoked turkey thighs

Dr. Oetker’s Oatmeal Muffin Mix (or other preferred muffin recipe or box mix)

Instructions

  1. Put everything in a crock pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

OR

  1. You can also cook on high for 3-4 hours the night before, put in the fridge before you go to bed, and finish cooking the next day.  Taking into account that the soup will be cold, cook on high for 6 more hours.
  2. Once soup is done, remove the smoked turkey thighs discarding the bones and skin.  Shred the meat and return to the soup.
  3. Serve with a dense whole grain bread (optional but delicious), and see how many recipes you can think of that taste this good and are this fast!

Zesty Salmon, Green Beans, and Side Salad

Serves 4

Zesty Salmon with Green Beans and Side Salad

Ingredients

canola oil spray

2 T canola oil, divided

1.75 lbs salmon filet, skin cut off

6 garlic cloves, chopped

2 t paprika

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1/4 t ground cinnamon

3 T tomato paste

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t chili powder

1 T minced onion- dried

1/2 t dried red pepper flakes

1/2 C water

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 t sugar

1 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

lemon wedges

2 1/2 C frozen green beans

3 C salad greens, divided

8 strawberries

1 avocado

Low fat or non fat salad dressing

Instructions

1.  Lightly spray a pan with canola oil and heat.  Cook salmon filets over medium high heat to brown on both sides, 2 minutes a side.  Remove salmon, set aside and wipe out skillet.

2.  Puree garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, chile powder, minced onion, and dried red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of oil in a food processor.

3.  Add garlic mixture to pan and heat for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and water to the side of the pan.  Mixture will spatter if you add to the middle of the pan.

4.  Bring mixture to a simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and sugar, salt and pepper.

5. Return fish to skillet and bring to a simmer. Cover pan.

6. Reduce heat to medium low and let fish cook through, 7-9 minutes.

7. Place green beans in a microwave safe bowl and cook 2-4 minutes or until tender. Portion across plates.

8. Portion greens for side salad.  Cut and add strawberries and avocado or whatever salad fixings you prefer. Lightly sprinkle dressing.

9. Divide the salmon and sauce among plates. Sprinkle cilantro over. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges on the side.

10. Take it as a compliment when they ask for seconds and you have nothing left!

Bulgar Wheat with Onions, Squash, and Peas and Side Salad

Serves 4 + 2 lunches

Bulgar Wheat with Onion, Squash, Peas, Cherry Tomatoes, Dried Cranberries and Side Salad - Don't like salad? - get creative! Use sugar snap peas, edamames, or an artichoke.

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash peeled and diced

Canola Oil spray

1/2 t salt

1 T canola oil

1 C onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 C bulgar wheat

2 C water

3 C salad greens, divided

1 C cherry tomatoes/ halved, divided

1 avocado

1/4 C sunflower seeds

 1 12 C frozen peas

1 C dried cranberries or raisins or other preferred dried fruit

4 T Earth n Vine Red Bell Pepper and Ancho Chili Jam

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425.

1. Peel, dice, and lightly salt butternut squash. Roast in a lightly sprayed roasting pan for 35-40 minutes.

2. Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan.

2. Add bulgar wheat and stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

3. Add water carefully so as not to spatter.

4. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and let sit for 20-30 minutes so bulgar wheat can absorb liquid.

5.  Portion greens for a side salad and add toppings including some of the halved cherry tomatoes.

6.  As squash is finishing, microwave peas and add to bulgar wheat and onion mixture.

7.  Add squash, remaining cherry tomatoes, and cranberries to bulgar wheat mixture and mix together.

8.  Portion in bowls, top with chili jam and serve!

9. Warm, comforting, satisfying!

Shopping List

Entrees

2 smoked turkey thighs

1.75 lbs salmon filet, skin cut off

Fruit

1 lemon

8 strawberries

1 avocado

Veggies

1 C celery, chopped

1 C carrots, chopped

2 C onions, chopped

9 garlic cloves, minced

3 C salad greens, divided

Dry Goods

3 C (1 lb.) Split Peas

2 bay leaves

3 1/2 t ground cumin

½ t dried thyme

2 T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or low sodium soy sauce

1 ½ t salt

Dr. Oetker’s Oatmeal Muffin Mix (or other preferred muffin recipe or box mix)

canola oil spray

2 T canola oil, divided

2 t paprika

1/4 t ground cinnamon

3 T tomato paste

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t chili powder

1 T minced onion- dried

1/2 t dried red pepper flakes

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 t sugar

1/4 t ground pepper

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

low fat or non fat salad dressing

Frozen

2 1/2 C frozen green beans

Take 2 – Chicken Pot Pie and Side Salad

Chicken Pot Pie with a Side Salad and Applesauce

If you don’t make it often, and it’s really good, you can serve it twice in a week.  That is the case for this Chicken Pot Pie recipe.  I usually try to reinvent a meal so it looks like a new meal and doesn’t appear to be “leftovers”. But there is no need with Chicken Pot Pie.  In fact, it seems better the second time around.

I warmed the pie and served it with a simple side salad – it doesn’t get any easier than that!  But because it was so easy, I offered choices for the side salad.  My son chose snap peas and hummus and my daughter chose a side salad with her new favorite lemon, mustard vinaigrette dressing  that she tasted in nutrition class at school.

Chicken Pot Pie with Side Salad of Sugar Snap Peas, Hummus and Applesauce - I forgot to take the picture and my son had already eaten the applesauce. I had to replenish which is why it looks a bit runny... Shocking that he ate the applesauce first...

The Verdict

10’s from everyone! …omitting the parsnip.  I recommend leaving it out if you are cooking for kids. I think its bitter after-bite might be too much for their overly sensitive taste buds.

“Food for Thought” – is a meal really “leftover” if you planned to serve it twice?

Chicken Pot Pie with a Side Salad

White Bean Cassoulet with Aspargus and Zucchini

White Bean Cassoulet with Asparagus and Zucchini

It was the first day of our school’s “Walking School Bus” and I drove my daughter today.  We live a few blocks from school and walk every day, but today we were so late, I had to drive her!

This is my life.  Always behind by about 10 minutes, sometimes more… Trying to catch up just doesn’t seem to work, so I try to get things done ahead of time to make things less stressful and give the illusion that I am making up lost time…

And that is just what I did tonight.  White Bean Cassoulet with Asparagus and Zucchini  was my vegetarian dinner of the week.   I prepared the vegetables and the bean mixture yesterday morning when I had a window of time, and they have been ready and waiting in my refrigerator.

Cooking the White Bean Cassoulet

Blanching the Asparagus and Zucchini

When I was ready, I made the bread crumbs in the food processor and the garlic toasts in the broiler. I warmed the cassoulet in the microwave, topped the dish with the bread crumbs, broiled for just about 3 minutes and served immediately.  You can put the mixture and breadcrumbs in a casserole dish, broil and serve from there, or you can plate them like I did (and have one less dish to wash…). Be careful if you do this as the plates get very hot.

Making the Bread Crumb Topping

The Finishing Touch - Broiling the Bread Crumb Topping

The Verdict

10’s all around! But…

When I made the white bean mixture yesterday, I omitted the pepper as my daughter is extremely averse to pepper seasoning, and I knew she would give the dish a horrible rating if she tasted pepper!  Upon serving, the rest of us agreed that the dish needed something. It lacked flavor, zing, zest, …something!  No one could put their finger on what was missing, but once I remembered that I had left the pepper out, I gave each dish (except my daughter’s) a little sprinkle, and that was all it took.  Everyone, including my daughter, loved the meal. I am excited to put this meal in my rotation as most of my vegetarian meals are soups.  This is a wonderful change and something that I would make again.

One note: The bean mixture, requires oyster mushrooms.  My kids say they do not like mushrooms and usually turn their noses up to a dish that includes mushrooms.  Sight influences taste. So I chopped the mushrooms up very finely – luckily, oyster mushrooms have a very mild flavor.  The kids did not identify a mushroom taste – or anything negative while they ate it.  In defense of my “sneakiness”, I am a firm believer in being honest with my kids – even when it would be much easier to bend the truth.  So if they had asked if there were mushrooms I would have disclosed that there were.  But they didn’t, so my lips are sealed!

Recipe

White Bean and Asparagus Cassoulet

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids + 1 lunch

Ingredients

5 C Water

3 C (2 inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 lb.)

2 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks

2 T olive oil, divided

3 C finely sliced chanterelle or oyster mushrooms (about 10 oz.)

1/3 C finely chopped shallots

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 C dry white wine

1 1/2 C vegetable broth

1/2 t dried oregano

2 15 oz. cans no salt added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 freshly ground black pepper

2 oz French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 5″ of a skinny baguette)

1 T butter or butter substitute

1/2 C grated parmesan cheese or manchenga cheese

Extra slices of baguette

Butter, or butter substitute

Garlic powder, to sprinkle

Instructions

1. Blanche asparagus and zucchini.  To do this, bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus and zucchini to the water for 2 minutes.

2. Drain. Rinse asparagus with cold water and put some ice on top to stop the cooking process. Set Aside.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 T oil. Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Saute 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

4. Add wine. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

5. Stir in broth, oregano, and beans. Bring to a simmer.

6. Reduce heat to medium.  Cook 12 minutes or until thick and beans are tender. Stir in black pepper. (If you have people sensitive to black pepper, leave out or reduce and add to individual plates when serving.  The black pepper makes this dish so don’t leave it out if you don’t have to!)

7. Pre-heat broiler

8.  Butter and sprinkle garlic powder on extra pieces of baguette.

9.  Place in broiler for 2 – 3 minutes or until bread starts to turn golden brown. Set aside.

8. Place bread and butter in food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form.

9. Add remaining 1 T oil and cheese to coarse crumbs and pulse until combined.

10. Stir asparagus into bean mixture, top with bread mixture and broil for 3 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.

11. Portion on to plates / bowls and serve this hearty and savory dish with garlic bread and  see how many rave reviews you get!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1. Follow recipe through step 6.  Store bean mixture and vegetables separately until ready to finish recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie and Side Salad

Chicken Pot Pie, Hot Out of the Oven

I actually look forward to going to the Dr.’s office.  I get to read cooking magazines and get inspiration for recipes.  I have even asked the office staff to make copies of recipes I am particularly excited about that I don’t have time to copy down. (You are thinking, “What a Geek! Get a subscription and stay home!”)  Yes I am a geek who is not always rationale…

I have been cooking for my family regularly for about the last 12 years. I think I have it down. I’ve read and used thousands of recipes and ingredients.  And then as I start looking at casseroles, I start noticing celeriac root.  What the heck is celeriac root?  I was stumped!

Celeriac is a type of celery that is grown for its edible roots. It grows in a bulb shape and its skin is peeled to reveal the celeriac root vegetable that you can eat.  Because I didn’t really know much about its flavor, and didn’t have time to research, I almost left it out of the pot pie.  But when I was as the grocery store I decided to ask the fruit and vegetable grocer who was working in the aisle.  “Don’t leave it out!” he said.  “Celeriac will add amazing flavor.  People use it all the time in casseroles and soups.”  (Everyone except me who had no idea what it was…)

So I bought it and used it.  YUM!  It is a very savory vegetable and agreeing with my grocer, I would not leave it out!  The parsnips however, are optional.  My kids really didn’t like their flavor and I ended up letting them pick them out.  Just skip them if you think they won’t like them.  There are plenty of vegetables inside this pie.

The Verdict

9’s and 10’s.  The kids told me if I made them eat the parsnips they would rate it a 7.  Now that’s low!  Not wanting low ratings, I quickly acquiesced let them pick them out.  Try this warm, savory pie for dinner.  If you don’t get around to it before St. Patrick’s day, put a shamrock in the middle instead of a heart!

Side Salads Waiting for the Chicken Pot Pie

Voila! Chicken Pot Pie and Side Salad

Ingredients

3 C low sodium chicken broth

1 C cubed baking potato, can peel or partially peel if desired

1 C cubed sweet potato, peeled

1 C cubed peeled celeric (celery root)

1 C sliced parsnip (optional, kids may not like)

(10 oz.) package frozen pearl onions 1

1.5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

2.25 oz. all-purpose flour (or gluten-free substitute)

1 1/2 C skim milk (or milk substitute)

1 1/2 C frozen peas, thawed

1/4 C chopped parsley

2 T chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 t salt

1 t freshly ground pepper

cooking spray

1/2 (14.1 oz.) package refrigerator pie dough or other dough substitute

1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)

Instructions

Pre-heat oven 425

1. Bring broth to a boil. Add potato, sweet potato, celeriac, and onions; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes.

2. Add chicken. Cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done.

3. Remove chicken and vegetables from pot.

4. Increase heat to medium.

5. Separately, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup for accurate measurement and add to milk.   Whisk until well blended.

6. Add milk mixture to broth.  Cook 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.

7. Stir in chicken mixture, peas, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.

8. Spoon into a 2 – quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

9.  Unroll pie dough. Cut small slits (or a heart design for Valentine’s Day) into center of dough to allow steam to escape.

10.  Place dough over filling and brush with egg if desired.

11.  Bake for 16 minutes or until filling is bubbling.  Portion a side salad while waiting.

12.  Let dish stand for 5 minutes and serve with a side salad.

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1. Cube and slice all vegetables ahead of time and store in refrigerator.

2. Prepare recipe through step 8.  Cover well and store in refrigerator until ready to make the dough. Cook for 30 minutes or until bubbling.