everything in the pantry vegetarian chili

I pride myself on a fully stocked pantry at all times. It comes in handy when a friend unexpectedly stops by for some wine or when I am too lazy to come with a game plan for dinner.  Both of these happen several times a week.

A fully stocked pantry/fridge should include the following:

  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Beans – Kidney, Chickpea, Black, Refried
  • Tomatoes – Crushed, Diced, Paste
  • Plenty of Spices – Paprika, Cumin, Garam Masala oh and Salt and Pepper
  • Stock – Vegetarian, Chicken
  • Chipotles – for all the Mexican food you consume
  • Greek Yogurt- for all the Mexican food you consume part 2
  • Tortillas – for all the Mexican food you consume part 3
  • Hummus – for dipping while cooking
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Frozen Vegetables – Corn, Edamame, Mixed
  • Onions
  • Garlic

With these staple ingredients you can really come up with a lot of options to make on the fly: a pasta dinner, quesadillas, burritos, wraps, salads… the options are pretty endless including my amazing “everything in the pantry vegetarian chili”

Recipe serves about 6. Adapted from Rachel Ray.

  • 1 tablespoon of EVOO
  • 1 cup of frozen corn – I prefer Trader Joe’s charred corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 chipotle peppers (2 was just not enough)
  • 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 15 oz can of black beans
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • blue corn tortilla chips for garnish and then some for extra munching
  • one small container of 2% Greek Yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons of cilantro

1.)  Split the red pepper down the middle and remove seeds. Roast the pepper on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees. Remember to flip the pepper half way through for even cooking

2.) Chop zucchini, onion, garlic, and chipotle. Heat EVOO and cook vegetables for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and rinse both cans of beans. Add to the vegetables and stir until incorporated.

3.) Next add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock to the pot. Bring the soup to a bubble and then turn down the heat to medium. Season your chili with salt, pepper, and cumin.

4.) Remove skin from roasted pepper and chop. Add roasted red pepper and corn and continue to heat at medium for 15-20 minutes without lid until the chili thickens. Cook longer for desired thickness.

5.) Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt (healthier way to get the creaminess everyone loves from sour cream), a sprinkle of chopped cilantro leaves, and several blue corn tortillas chips. Have a bowl of chips on the table while serving.

vegetarian chili

What are your pantry staples? What types of meals have you made using what you have on hand at home?

signature3

quinoa jambalaya

Can you tell I’m obsessed with quinoa yet? When it comes to quick and easy weeknight meals, it is my go-to pantry staple. Despite what it might look like, it is not the only thing I eat but it sure is a favorite. Quinoa can get boring when you use it as a replacement for rice, incorporate it into a salad, or find yourself rotating the same recipes each week. So quite obviously, I am always on the hunt for a new and fun recipe to try. Enter: quinoa jambalaya. Nutrients, seafood, and spice…what’s not to love?!

Recipe serves 4. Adapted from Emily Love Food

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • 2 (or 3 in my case) large scallops per serving, can leave out if you want seafood-free
  • 1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pack of spicy chorizo sausage
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bag of baby spinach

1.)  Heat EVOO in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook in a cast iron skillet over a medium heat – chuck in the onion, pepper, celery and carrots down. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Make sure you sitr occasionally to avoid the vegetables from burning.

veggies

cut veggies

2.) While vegetables are cooking, mix spice blend. Use half the mixture with the scallops and set aside. The remaining half will be reserved for later.

seasoned scallops

3.) Add minced garlic, chorizo, and other half of spice mixture to the veggies. Mix well until combined.

4.) Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce to the mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Next, add your quinoa and spinach and cover for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

tomato sauce

5.) While quinoa is cooking, hit 1/2 tablespoon of EVOO in a separate nonstick skillet. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side.

6.) Serve up a bowl of jambalaya and top with scallops. I was feeling indulgent so I ate 3 scallops this time around instead of 2.

completed pot

bowlI would definitely take this to work the next day minus the scallops. Seafood is much better fresh and not zapped in the microwave. Have you fallen in love with quinoa yet? What ingredients do you add to to your recipes to make them have an extra kick?

signature3

kale, chicken, and quinoa salad

With the arrival of my favorite season, fall, comes unhealthy eating habits — consuming excessive amounts of Halloween candy (in particular, twix bars), obsessing over all baked goods (in particular, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream), and last but not least, holiday parties where all the dieting rules go out the window. During the week I do my best to make healthy choices and say no to the second glass of red wine (sometimes). This is the perfect entrance for my kale, chicken, and quinoa salad. The combination of these 3 very ingredients will leave you feeling full even though you’re technically eating a salad. It all means it will be easier to fight off those pesky cravings I mentioned earlier.

Recipe serves about 2-4. Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp

kale preparation

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

dressing

  • 1/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 sprigs of mint (fresh from mom’s garden)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 pinches of red pepper flakes ( i like everything with heat)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

salad extras

  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (tri-color might add some color to your plate)
  • 3/4 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1 oz or so of crumbled feta (add a little extra if you are a cheese lover)

1.)  Prepare your kale by removing the center rib and chopping the leaves into bite sized pieces and place into a plastic/ceramic mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and gently massage the kale with your heads until he starts wilting. You may need to use the other half of your lemon. Once you are done massaging your kale, put to the side for 10-15 minutes while you prepare your dressing and salad extras.

IMG_3764

IMG_3765

2.) In a food processor, combine all dressing ingredients until smooth. Be sure to add additional herbs/seasonings to taste. I like doubling the dressing recipe so that I can add an extra dollop to my salad, guilt-free or use it the next day as a dip for carrots, or turkey kebabs.

IMG_3767

IMG_3768

3.) Heat your EVOO in a pan and add your ground cuimin until you can smell its aroma. Pour this on top of your shredded chicken and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.

4.) Plate your kale and each layer of salad ingredients — chicken, quinoa, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers. Top your salad off with your yogurt dressing and feta cheese.

IMG_3773

IMG_3774

Have you incorporated kale into your diet? If so, what is your favorite go-to kale recipe?

signature3

orzo eggplant bake

I’m back! With summer came weekend trips, weddings, family time, and enjoying the sunshine. I’ve been eating, cooking, and going on adventures but writing seemed to take the back seat. My sincere apologies. Now that we have a rather warm start to fall, I figured it would be a good idea to provide an ode to one of my new favorite dishes I’ve made a few times over the last few weeks. Beautiful vine ripe tomatoes are still available at the farmer’s markets and stores so grab some, an eggplant, and get in the kitchen to make this Orzo Eggplant Bake. This is a summer going into fall dish I found from one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen

Recipe serves four. I suggest taking some leftovers to work for lunch.

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stack, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces of orzo
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano (I used dried but fresh is always nice)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 4 ounces of fresh, firm mozzarella,
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes
  • cook spray
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

1.)  Chop your eggplant into a large dice and place into a colander. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes. This will help all the moisture drain. After 30 minutes, dry the eggplant with a clean kitchen towel.

eggplant diced

2.) As you prepare the casserole, preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillets on medium-high heat with EVOO. Add the eggplant and stir fry for about 8 minutes until crispy and golden brown.  Place cooked eggplant on a paper towel lined plate for draining.

3.) In the same pan add the celery, carrots, and red peppers and cook for 3 minutes. When softened, add onion and garlic and continue to cook together for 5 minutes. At this point you can knock the heat down to medium to ensure the vegetables don’t burn too quickly.

veggies

veggies pan

3.) Add the orzo and tomato paste and mix together. After 2 minutes of cook time, turn off the heat. Move your pan to an unused burner on the stove and add the last of your ingredients: oregano, mozzarella, Parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, stock, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Make sure you mix well.

orzo

everything

4.) Use some cooking spray on a 8×11 casserole dish. Pour your mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes covered with foil, and 25 additional minutes without foil. I cooked without foil for an extra 5 minutes because I liked the crunchy texture of the pasta. Minimize your time without foil if you prefer a smooth texture. Let your pasta rest for 10 minutes before serving to guests and packing your lunch.

final dish

complete

What is your favorite meal you make during a long transition between seasons? Have you been able to find ripe tomatoes in your local market now that we’re into October?

signature3