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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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by golly, i did it! re-make of locanda verde’s ricotta

As I have mentioned in a previous post, the sheep’s milk ricotta at LoCanda Verde that I devoured with my parents at brunch was mindblowingly delicious. Ever since that meal, I’ve been on a mission to recreate this dish in the comfort of my own home. I present to you a re-make of LoCanda Verde’s brunch ricotta cheese!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 orange – 1/2 tablespoon of zest, 1/2 tablespoon of juice
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
  • Several tablespoons of whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of black truffle oil (purchase at a specialty grocery store…I scored a bottle at Marshall’s!)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of good quality honey
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, heat whole milk over moderately high heat. Remember to stay by the saucepan while heating the milk. You should be looking for a the surface to become foamy. If you have a cooking thermometer handy, you should look for the temperature to read between 165-185 degrees. It is critical that the milk DOES NOT boil.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vinegar and stir. The milk will curdle very quickly. Add salt and stir again.
3. Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth (some just hang over the edge). Pour the milk mixture into the colander and drain.4. Let the cheese curds sit for several minutes and squeeze the excess liquid from the cheesecloth.

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5. Transfer your ricotta cheese into a serving dish and let it cool for 15 minutes or so.
6. Slice a baguette into thin slices and toast. Rub a whole orange against each slice. You will notice the zest will rub onto each slice easily.
7. Add several tablespoons of whole milk to the cooled ricotta to create some creaminess. Mix in thyme, truffle oil, honey, orange juice and zest, as well as, salt and pepper, to taste, to the ricotta cheese.8. Taste the ricotta. Add additional thyme, truffle oil, honey or orange juice based on your palette. I drizzled a little extra truffle oil and squeezed some more just to get it just right.

prep
9. Serve to your loved ones.

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As you can see, making ricotta cheese is pretty simple and tastes much fresher than what you get in the grocery store. The next time I prepare this, I plan to add in 1 cup of heavy creamy to help with the fat content and consistency of the cheese.

My version got the approval from my brother-in-law, a LoCanda Verde lover and wannabe food critic so please do try it out and if it matches up to the original with your family and friends.

The following recipe was adapted form these helpful posts:

Chef In You

Spoons to Sporks

Have you ever made an ingredient you generally buy at the grocery store, like ricotta cheese, at home? If so, what have you made?

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kale greek salad: salute to the new “cool kid” in greens

Growing up, my mom exposed me to vegetables all the time in order to bring an end to my picky eater ways . Her persistence paid off as now I am a vegetable lover (Go Mom!). To this day, she visits the local farmer’s marketing in NJ and picks out new fruits and vegetables for us to try all the time.

My mom and I actually discovered kale, our focus for today’s recipe, back in the fall of 2011. I frequently visited the the salad bar at Whole Foods in Union Square for lunch and we re-created one of their staples, garlicky kale. That recipe used uncooked kale which was just too bitter and unappetizing for my taste buds. I knew I had to come up with something  that could be a quick and easy go-to weekday recipe AND give me all the nutrients I need to satisfy my post-workout hunger pains.

Kale has become the new “cool kid” in the world of green leafy vegetables (spinach was kicked to the curb).  It is part of the cabbage family and full of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. It also helps prevent the growth of cancer cells, lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Simply put, you should start eating it and there is no better way to start then with my Kale Greek Salad!

Kale Greek Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of white beans (half of a can, rinsed)
  • 1/2  of cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, diced
  • Few sprinkles of crumbled feta cheese (to your liking)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (1/2 tablespoon for cooking the kale, 1 tablespoon for the dressing)
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne wine vinegar
  • 1 squirt of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.) Wash and remove the center ribs and stems from the kale. Chop these into small bite size pieces. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. In the meantime, finely chop your garlic. Saute garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Once you start to smell the garlic and see it slowly browning, throw in your chopped kale and vegetable broth. Stir and then cover for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, if necessary, cook until all the broth has evaporated. This may take an additional 1-2 minutes. Once the broth has evaporated, place the kale with chopped garlic in a salad bowl to cool.

kale

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2.) Complete the preparation work for the rest of your vegetables – red onion, white beans, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. Once your kale has cooled, place all the veggies into your salad bow. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese based on your taste. If you are not a fan of one of the vegetables consider other add-ins like pine nuts, black olives, or chick peas.

vegetables

whitebeans

salad

3.) Make your dressing by combing your remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, and squirt of honey. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and whisk together. Pour dressing over salad and toss.

dressing

4.) It is time to eat! Enjoy!

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This batch left me with two entree servings for myself. After having my dinner, I packed it up for lunch. The salad with dressing became tastier over night so I highly recommend packing this for a homemade lunch to enjoy at work. This creation has left me officially in love with kale.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? What is your favorite green leafy vegetable? How do you prepare it?

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