Lemon Terragon Pasta with Zucchini and Summer Squash

Lemon Terragon Pasta with Zucchini and Summer Squash

This is a light and simple dish that looks elegant and is easy to prepare. Lemon can be adjusted to suit any taste.

NUTS and BOLTS

  • Vegetable Stock
  • 1-2 tsp Vegan Margarine
  • 1 cup Small Dry noodles (Orzo, Alphabet pasta, Acini di pepe)
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, Shredded with Skin ON
  • 1 Equal Size Summer Squash, Shredded with Skin ON
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup Fresh Tarragon, Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Dill, Chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 a Lemon

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First, put a large pot of salted water on to boil for your pasta.

Time to shred the squash and zucchini. Please leave the skin on the vegetables to incorporate that nutrition. Because you are shredding them, the texture difference will be negligible and the specks of color look like confetti.

Pour the pasta into the salted water and cook according to the package. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan, saute shredded zucchini and summer squash in margarine until lightly browned and soft. Basically, cook while stirring until the liquid they release has disappeared.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables. Remove from the heat and add the tarragon, dill, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir to combine well and season to taste with salt and white pepper.

There are many ways to change up this recipe.. add in finely diced red bell peppers for a holiday side dish. Any other veggie your kids love can hop in for that performance. You could even add tofu, seitan or vegan sausage sliced up to create a full meal.

MONKEY METER

The twinkies really enjoyed this dish. Never even noticed that half of it is vegetables, lol! Their only complaint is when I add too much lemon.  4.5 of 5

The eldest couldn’t wait to get it to the table and dug in at the counter.  5 of 5

My husband and I have made this for various parties and all the adults love it and so do the kids. Always a big hit. 5 of 5

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, 15 Ingredients or Less, Dinner, Low Fat, Lunch, Side Dish, Simple, Sneaky, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Bolognese

Vegan, Dairy-free Bolognese

So, I love a challenge.

I think veganizing recipes becomes more fun for me the more ingredients that need reworking and replacing. Today, I did a Vegan Bolognese – I mean, other than the mirepoix, conventional recipes basically contain butter, milk and ground meat. This version I created is not only vegan, it is significantly lower in fat and calories while maintaining that really rich, intense flavor and supple texture.

The NUTS and BOLTS

  • 1 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS Vegan Margarine or Coconut Butter
  • 1 Small Onion, Diced
  • 3 Whole Carrots, Diced
  • 3 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 TBS Minced Garlic
  • 1 lb Veggie Meat – Can be store bought crumbles or TVP spiced at home to taste like ground beef or pork (I will have a recipe for that eventually)
  • 1 c Unsweetened Soy Milk (full fat or 3/4 c Lite Soy Milk and 1/4 c Soy Creamer)
  • 1 c Dry White Wine
  • 1 Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 2 TBS Fresh Basil, Chiffonade
  • 2 TBS Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Whole Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 c Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 28 oz Can Diced or Crushed Tomatoes with the juice
  • 1/4 c Tomato Paste

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First we are going to sweat the vegetables. Put the onions, carrots, celery, margarine and oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned.

Now add whichever veggie meat crumble you prefer and season with salt. Pour in the soy milk and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the milk has mostly evaporated.

Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has almost completely evaporated, This may take up to 30 minutes. Dump in the entire can of tomatoes, juice and all, and the tomato paste. Stir the pot to combine everything well. Once the tomatoes have started bubbling, reduce the heat to the lowest setting so that the sauce is barely simmering.

Cook uncovered for up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If all of the liquid evaporates before the cooking time is up, add water 1/2 cup at a time as needed. When the time is up, make sure all the liquid has evaporated before you remove the sauce from the heat.

Cook a box of your favorite whole grain pasta according to directions and toss with the sauce.

Serves 10

MONKEY METER

Not only did the kids eat a couple servings each that evening, but ate it for leftovers a few days in a row. 5 of 5

All the grown-ups loved it and thought it was rich and delicious. Everyone said I could make it for them anytime. Glad they liked it!  5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Dinner, Lunch, Main Dishes, special occasion, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mexican Style, Creamy Taco Chicken Salad

Mexican Taco Style Chicken Salad

So, someone I know brought over some chicken they had previously grilled for me to make dinner with. Everyone knows I love to use leftovers creatively. Immediately I thought of chicken salad. I do get tired of the same old recipes so I looked to my pantry for inspiration. Lo, and behold, an avocado and some black beans. Mexican style it was!

This is so easy and turned out great! It has a bit of kick from the cumin and black pepper and zing from lemon juice. Makes a lovely, chilled salad for a hot night with some melon or grapes as a side dish. We loved it in lettuce wraps, on tortilla chips and for sandwiches. The kids were not fond of it but all the adults made me swear I’d put the recipe on my blog to share with you anyway. Try it with your family and take them on a trip south of the border. Let me know how it turns out!

NUTS and BOLTS

  • 3 Large Chicken Breasts, Diced Small (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup Diced Celery (3 or 4 stalks)
  • 1/2 Vidalia Onion, Diced Fine
  • 1 cup Diced Roasted Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed

Dressing

  • 16 oz Fat Free Sour Cream
  • 4 oz Sundried Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 3 Garlic Scapes, Diced
  • 1 Small Ripe Avocado, Diced
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1.5 tsp Salt
  • Juice Of 1/2 Lemon

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First you need to chop up your main ingredients. Dice the chicken, onion, celery and roasted red peppers. Drain and rinse your black beans and mix all of these ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a blender or food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients. It will be easiest to cut the sun-dried tomatoes with kitchen shears. I always get the dry sun-dried tomatoes in the deli section. If all you can find are jarred, they will work just fine. Roughly chop your herbs and garlic scapes.

“What is a garlic scape?”, you may wonder… I certainly did when we began receiving them from our CSA. A garlic scape is the the flowering stalk of hardneck varieties of garlic – the taste is like garlic, but more mellow. I love this entry from “Not Without Salt” extolling the virtues of garlic scapes (and has some awesome recipes). Go search them out at your local farmers market; once you try them, I think you will love them too. If you cannot get them easily or it is out of season, try adding two or three garlic cloves instead.

Juice 1/2 of a lemon and add this to your blender or food processor with everything else. Finally, add all of your spices. Pulse and stir in turns until everything comes together and the sun-dried tomatoes are blended nearly smooth.

Spoon the finished dressing over your chicken mixture (it will be thick) and mix well. You can serve immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator as long as you like.

MONKEY METER

The twinkies were not big fans, but it is a bit spicy – no surprise. 2 of 5

The eldest ate it with chips. No complaints. 4 of 5

All the grown-ups thought it was delicious. Everyone ate a couple of servings. 4.5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Chicken, Dinner, Low Fat, Lunch, Main Dishes, Simple | Leave a comment

Super Sneaky Garden Vegetable Frittata

Low-Fat Vegetable Chicken Bacon Frittata

A frittata is your friend in the sneaky kitchen. Much like quiche, it functions as a Trojan Horse for all kinds of veggies. I had a lot of fresh produce and needed to find a way to get it into my children without complaints. Everybody in my family loves eggs, so this was a no brainer.

Only problem was I had never made a frittata. So I did what I always do; I looked up a bunch of similar recipes to get the jist of what goes into one and adjusted in my head for  pan size, pantry availability, taste and nutrition. I wanted to serve a crowd (the twinkies will eat 5-6  scrambled eggs just the 2 of them); I already had cooked down greens and chicken and a bunch of farm-fresh vegetables; I made a spice combination that never fails in my family; and I knew the cheese would need to be reduced as well as the whole eggs and cream because breakfast items benefit from bacon.

I had a plan.

And.. I was lucky! It turned out fabulous. Throw in whatever you like or have lying around and enjoy this hearty meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Thanks to my husband’s knife skills it didn’t take long to throw together and only took about 20 minutes to cook. Here it is before we demolished it:

Low-Fat Vegetable Chicken Bacon Frittata

NUTS and BOLTS

Filling

  • 1 cup Shredded Zucchini
  • 1 cup Red Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, Finely Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Scallions, Finely Sliced
  • 1 cup Cooked Chicken Breast, Finely Diced
  • 1 cup Cooked Greens (we used beet greens), Chopped

Eggs

  • 1.25 cups Egg White or Egg Substitute
  • 5 Whole Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • Dash Cayenne Pepper

Topping

  • 3/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 slices Bacon, Cooked Crisp and Crumbled

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First and foremost, prep all your vegetables; cook and crumble your bacon (we have precooked in our freezer that we broil up in the toaster oven for speeds sake); measure out and set aside your cheese; and whisk together your eggs and spices in a separate bowl. Despite the long ingredients list, this dish is straight forward and really comes together fast in the pan. It is best to be prepared.

Spray your deep, oven-safe, 12 inch skillet or everyday pan with cooking oil and place it over medium heat. You can start out by sauteing your garlic, zucchini, red pepper and green onions until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Then, add your mushrooms and cook until tender. Finally, stir in your precooked greens and chicken and heat through.

Give your egg/spice mixture a quick whisk to catch any spices that fell to the bottom and pour it over everything in the pan. Stir immediately to ensure the egg surrounds your filling ingredients completely. Now you can sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese and bacon crumbles evenly across the top of the surface.

Turn your heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the eggs begin to solidify and the bubbles break on the surface.

Remove the lid and go ahead and transfer your pan to the oven. Broil until browned lightly – about 3-5 minutes. Don’t walk away… that cheese can go from golden yumminess to burnt in an instant. Once golden browned and sizzling, remove your pan from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Let me tell you, the smell alone will bring them running to the kitchen.

Slice your frittata and serve with confidence and maybe a touch of bravado – for you have made a fancy looking dish that will impress with style and flavor and nourish both the soul and the body.

MONKEY METER

The twinkies eyed it suspiciously until I told them it was like quiche. They remember my Quiche in a Basket and dug in immediately. They really enjoyed this too. 4.5 of 5

The eldest couldn’t wait to get to the table and dug in at the counter. Big Hit! 5 of 5

My husband and I enjoyed it immensely. We will be making more fritattas for sure!
5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Breakfast, Brunch, Chicken, Dinner, Lunch, Main Dishes, Refrigerator Velcro, Sneaky | 1 Comment

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup with Kale

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Kale

I am apparently raising a little chef. My oldest has been coming up with recipes lately. We finally had the opportunity to try one out. You know what? It was fabulous!!

This is a great way to get a homemade soup on the table in just about 45 minutes (depending on how fast you chop). This soup has that cooked-all-day, slaved-over-my-stove flavor because of the use of store-bought stock and rotisserie chicken. Let someone else do all the work and feel free to take the credit. I know I do! Through our CSA we have been overloaded with greens and so decided to throw a bunch of kale in here to use it up and add nutrition. Turned out lovely. All the kids and grown-ups in my immediate family loved it. My mom even liked it – and she doesn’t like soup.

Give it a try, you wont regret it.

NUTS and BOLTS

  • 8 cups Chicken Stock
  • 4 Medium Carrots, Sliced
  • 4-5 Stalks Celery, Chopped (including leaves)
  • 2 Green Onions, Sliced Finely
  • 2-3 cups Chopped Flat Leaf Kale (according to taste)
  • 3 cups Pre-Cooked White Meat Chicken, Diced (I used both breasts from a store-bought rotisserie)
  • 8 oz Uncooked Pasta

Seasonings

  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 3/4 tsp Salt

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

In a large stock pot add all 8 cups of stock. Begin heating on medium and add your chopped carrots, celery, green onions, and seasonings. Bring to a low boil, cover and cook about 20 minutes or until carrots start to soften, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, shred or chop the white meat from a pre-cooked chicken and chop your kale. I chopped it pretty fine so that it would be unobtrusive and, lets face it, impossible for children to pick out.

Once the carrots are fork tender, you can add the kale to the pot. Allow to wilt and add the chicken. At this point, you can let the soup simmer until you are nearly ready to eat.

Eden Organic Pasta - Vegetable SpiralsThe noodles that my daughter picked were amazing. Brightly colored and infused with vegetables. I guess it goes to show that raising kids with healthy options and watching food network is inspiring. That’s my girl! These are by a brand called Eden – Organic Pasta Vegetable Spirals. We found them at Whole Foods, but any noodles will work, of course.

When your monkeys get restless and dinnertime approaches, add the noodles to your soup. Stir and boil for 8-10 minutes until the texture is right for your family.

I think in the near future I will try to make a whole-grain dumpling as an alternative to noodles… I love chicken and dumplings! When I figure it out I will be sure to share.

MONKEY METER

The twinkies had a bit of a time trying to scoop  the larger noodles, but when assisted ate 3 bowls each, drank the broth and kept saying thank you. 4.5 of 5

The chef ate and ate! She was so excited at how well her recipe turned out. 5 of 5

All the grown-ups loved it. 5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Chicken, Low Fat, Lunch, Main Dishes, Simple, Sneaky | Leave a comment

Breakfast Quinoa

Banana Sweet Potato Breakfast Quinoa

My twinkies love oatmeal, particularly the flavored instant oatmeal sold in individual packages. There is a lot of unnecessary junk in those, however. Oatmeal made from scratch is nice, but I was striving for something with more rounded nutrition. Some kind of whole grain. I did some research and found out that just 1 cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar and only 3 grams of fat.

I’d never cooked quinoa totally from scratch before and wasn’t sure if I could make it work for breakfast. After all the quality they most like about oatmeal is how creamy it is. Quinioa has never been described as creamy. Pleasantly chewy, they say.  I have heard of quinioa taboule, quinoa pilaf, and quinoa salad – they compare quinoa to couscous… but I have never heard of creamy quinoa.

You know I love a challenge! This turned out fantastic. I used Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa (it is pre-washed and pre-soaked) and prepared according to the package directions. Delicious! And oddly enough, slightly creamy. hmm. Then I added in some healthful and tasty fruits and veg that I had lying around. I can conceive that just about anything your kids like will mix well into this recipe to change it up. Letting them choose will increase the chances of them trying it and loving it.

NUTS and BOLTS

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First, heat 2 cups cold water to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa, bring back to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, mince your dates (or any other dried fruit) and mash the banana and sweet potato. When the 12 minutes is up, fluff the quinoa with a fork and stir in your dates. Cover and let set for 15 minutes. This was my husbands brilliant idea and it worked so well to rehydrate the dried fruit.

Dump the quinoa/date mixture into a bowl and add 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (or any flavor you want). Stir well. Add your banana and sweet potato and mix to combine. That’s it! So simple and so good the babies wanted 3 bowlfuls!

Please make this. You’ll love giving a sweet treat to your kids and rest easy in the knowledge that it will power them (or you) through til lunch. Bonus: it reheats like a dream. Just add a splash of milk or soymilk to loosen it back up if it gets thick.

MONKEY METER

The twinkies LOVED it! Not as fond of it day 2, but they weren’t terribly hungry when I tried. I’ll say 4.5 of 5

The eldest gave it a 3.5 of 5. Not sold, on the texture, but she has texture issues.

My husband and I loved it as well. We will definitely make it again! 5 of 5

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Baby Food, Breakfast, Low Fat, Main Dishes, Products, Refrigerator Velcro, Simple, Sneaky, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Asparagus for Mom and Dad

Teriyaki Garlic AsparagusMy husband is not a fan of asparagus. The only asparagus I ate growing up came from a can. I found some beautiful asparagus tips at the store the other day and just felt inspired to try and make something tasty. I love a challenge!

I called this side dish Asparagus for Mom and Dad for several reasons. It is so simple and tasty, you won’t want to share; using only half a pound makes 2 perfect servings; and it is a touch spicy from the garlic and pepper flakes. Very enjoyable! I enjoy how there can be a real depth of flavor from so few components. Tangy, garlicky, salty, spicy. My husband even ate it!

NUTS and BOLTS

  • 1/2 lb Asparagus Tips, Rinsed Well
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1.5 Tbsp Teriyaki
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/8 cup Sweet White Wine

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook your minced garlic, teriyaki and red pepper flakes over medium heat until the garlic starts sizzling, about 1 minute. Add your asparagus and toss with tongs to coat. Cook, stirring or tossing occasionally until the liquid has disappeared.

Now you can de-glaze your pan with the wine and cover to allow the asparagus to steam for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the sauce to reduce until nearly gone. Plate and eat. My mouth is watering remembering! Maybe I need to head to the store again.

MONKEY METER

Well, I haven’t tried this with the kids, but my husband and I loved it. 5 of 5

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Low Fat, Lunch, Side Dish, Simple, Snack | Leave a comment