Category Archives: dinner

Lighter Green Bean Casserole

I only discovered Green Bean Casserole in college. It was not a thing in my house during Thanksgiving. I also am pretty sure I ate it in the Spring and so every summer when I see green beans in season at the farmers market, I need to make it.

However, I used to make it with a can of soup and that isn’t super healthy so I scoured the internet for a healthier recipe and I found one from How Sweet Eats that I LOVE and have been making a few times a year over the last year. You should too.green bean casserole

Lighter Green Bean Casserole
(adapted only slightly from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients
2 pounds fresh trimmed green beans, snapped in half
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
.5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
16 ounces white mushrooms, chopped (2 8oz packages)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 cup skim milk or fat-free half and half
2 tablespoons freshly gated parmigiano reggiano cheese
3/4 cup italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 400.

2. Heat a large oven-safe (cast-iron is best) skillet oven low heat, add olive oil, onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir well to coat, then cover and cook onions until caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While onions are caramelizing, boil a large pot of water. Once boiling, add green beans and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and run cold water over top, letting sit in the sink to air dry and until you’re ready to use.

4. Once onions are caramelized, remove with kitchen tongs and set aside in a bowl. Add butter to skillet, then add chopped mushrooms and toss well to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until juicy/soft.

5. Add in the garlic and the caramelized onions, cook for 30 seconds.

6. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle the flour over top. Stir well to coat and distribute, cook for 2-3 minutes.

7. Pour in vegetable stock and milk or half and half. Stirring constantly, let mixture come to a bubble, then let cook for 2-3 minutes until just slightly thickened. You don’t want it TOO thick since it will also cook in the oven. Season with remaining salt, pepper and then stir in 1 tablespoon of parmigiano reggiano. Add green beans and toss well to coat.

8. Cover the top with remaining caramelized onions, italian seasoned breadcrumbs and the remaining tablespoon of parmesan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and bread crumbs are golden. Serve ASAP!

It is so good with just a piece of baguette or a little salad on the side. I realize I am a broken record… everything tastes better with a salad and or baguette.

Michelle Obama’s Cauliflower Mac + Cheese

I had a half of a head of cauliflower to use and I was really craving mac + cheese. I knew it was time to Google and a Michelle Obama recipe popped up. I guess since it’s political season, this recipe of was appropriate I suppose.

Cauliflower Mac + Cheese (adapted from The First Lady/Yum Sugar)

Ingredients

1/2 pound penne pasta (half a box–use whole wheat. just do it!)
1 cup milk
8oz shredded cheddar cheese (or a mixture of your favorite melting cheeses)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1.5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:
1/2 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. Steam the cauliflower until soft, about 10 minutes. Immersion blend the cauliflower(or transfer to a blender) along with a few tablespoons of the steaming liquid into a puree the cauliflower. Add more steaming liquid to thin the puree if necessary.
3. In a medium size casserole dish, combine the pasta and hot cauliflower puree. Add the milk, both cheeses, parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and breadcrumbs with your fingers until it resembles damp sand. Sprinkle across the top of the pasta mixture, then place the dish in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until the top is crispy and the sauce is bubbling.

I was really skeptical about this dish considering I usually make mac + cheese with a delicious cheese sauce. But, It was really good, very quick and easy and I’d make it again.

For the cheeses I used low-fat sharp cheddar and Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar which you MUST RUN TO TRADER JOE’S NOW and get. It is a cross between sharp cheddar and parmesan. Good luck not eating the whole brick!

Back to the dish… the cauliflower taste was there, but it was subtle. Perfect for any vegetable-phobic in your life. Or if you want to trick yourself into eating more vegetables… I don’t think Michelle Obama would be mad.

Ratatouille

My Mom left a comment on my latest CSA box that I had all of the ingredients to make ratatouille. I hadn’t even thought of it, but I just got finished making an adapted version of her delicious recipe and IT WAS AWESOME!

Ratatouille

Ingredients
1 large eggplant, chopped
¾ large green or red pepper, chopped
¾ large yellow onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T tomato paste
2 med. zucchini, chopped
3 or 4 fresh tomatoes chopped OR 1 can petite diced canned tomatoes
Fresh basil
Italian Seasoning
Pepper
Parmesan Cheese (to top, if you want to make this not vegan)

Directions
1. Cut vegetables uniform size.

2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil under tender. Add tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Let tomato paste get a little hot and bubbly.

3. Add all ingredients except fresh basil. If you don’t have fresh, you can substitute dried basil if you want.

4. Stir over medium to medium low heat and cook covered for about 30 minutes. Stir from time to time. When all vegetables are soft, add the fresh basil. 5-10 leaves, to taste. If you don’t have fresh basil, you have already added the dried basil.

This is good served over brown rice (my favorite) or any type of pasta with a bit of parmesan cheese to un-veganize it. It is usually better the next day, after flavors have blended. AKA ready for you to take in a tupperware for lunch.

Thanks for Lunch Veggies

Why is this recipe called “thanks for lunch veggies”?? I have no idea. They are roasted veggies, basically. I just know that’s what I’ve been calling them since I learned the recipe in a nutrition class in college. I was once a nutrition major in college, but Chemistry made me turn my nutrition major into a minor; it comes in handy all the time.

This recipe was part of a “low salt” cooking lab. I remember being unenthusiastic… since I love(d) salt. BUT, this was the best recipe I tasted that day loved. I make it all the time.

Ingredients
4 shallots
4 cloves of garlic
3 carrots
1.5 pounds red potatoes (or 2 big russets)
.5 pounds green beans (aka really all you want)
2 zucchini/yellow squash
1 red pepper
1 10oz package of mushrooms
1.5 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp olive oil
TINY BIT OF kosher salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°
2. Chop the shallots in half (so you have 8 pieces), mince garlic, quarter the potatoes + chop the carrots into .5 inch pieces (chunky) and put in a bowl.
3. Add 1tbsp of olive oil and .5tbsp of marjoram, salt, pepper and mix it up.
4. Pam two baking sheets (or roasting pans). Divide the shallot/garlic/potato/carrots evenly on the two separate pans and roast them for approx 15 mins.
5. Chop the zucchini and red pepper to roughly the same size. Put in a bowl + add .5tbsp olive oil, .5tbsp marjoram, a pinch salt and pepper and mix. Add evenly to the baking pans you’ve just cooked for 15 minutes. Cook for more 15 mins.
6. Add the chopped mushrooms + green beans to the pans and cook for about 10 more minutes or until everything is roasted and cooked.

You can add whatever other veggies you like to these, but the above is my favorite combination. I like to eat these roasted veggies plain, drizzled with vinegar or in a wheat tortilla. I reaaaalllllly like to eat these in a tortilla with melted mozzarella cheese on top (as is pictured above), which ruins their vegan-ness but it’s worth it for me.

The best part about this recipe is that it makes A LOT. Enough for 6 or 7 meals. Go thank someone for lunch, and make these.

Stuffed Peppers

It’s 2012? Oh shoot. How about a recipe for the new year?! It’s healthy, cheap and really easy. Sounds like a recipe for keeping some of those pesky new years resolutions is stuffed peppers. 

Ingredients:
2 large green or red peppers
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice  – make sure you use less water than recipe calls for so rice isn’t soggy
½ -3/4 cups onions, chopped
½ -3/4 cups celery, chopped
½ cup green peppers, finely diced
1 box mixed vegetables, cooked until fork tender
½ cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
8 ounces extra sharp cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:
1/3 cup Panko or regular bread crumbs
1 T butter
2 T Parmesan Cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 350. To prepare the peppers, put a tiny slit in each one and put in microwave for about 2 minutes. This will soften them up and you can put more filling in them. Once they are a bit soft and cooled, cut in half and scoop out the seeds and set aside.

2. Sauté onion and green pepper in a tiny bit of olive oil until well cooked.

3. Combine all ingredients (EXCEPT stuff for topping) in a bowl. It is ok if rice is hot. Mix well. Taste for seasoning.

4. Prepare the topping: mix all with melted butter.

5. Fill the peppers with rice mixture. Pack it down with your hand to get more rice mixture in it. Coat with topping.

6. Bake in Pam’d pie pan or shallow baking dish for about 30-45 minutes at 350 or until peppers are tender and topping is brown.

Feel free to add more or less cheese, vegetables, etc. depending on how much cheese you like.

Maybe I should resolve to blog more in 2012?

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Well, after googling “too much zucchini” I had to start googling “too many tomatoes.” My plant exploded over the last week and left me with about 4 lbs of tomatoes. The weather has also decided to turn into fall, so a soup was the best idea I could come up with.

I also really love tomato basil soups but have found the canned ones taste awful and the ones in restaurants tend to be a little on the creamy side.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes cut in quarters
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (aprpox 2 onions)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (whatever is on hand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) canned tomatoes, with their juice (I used diced)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 quart stock or water

Directions
1.Preheat the oven to 400. Toss together the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet (or two) and roast for 45 minutes.
2. In an big stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 1 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 8 minutes–or until the onions start to brown.
3. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and water or stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
5. Use a hand blender to blend together. Taste for seasonings.

It’s really pretty easy. Especially if you order a stick mixer overnight from Amazon.com like I did. I have held out for years on buying an immersion blender for years, but I urge you to purchase one STAT. Maybe skip the overnight shipping…

This soup needs a little something, maybe a tablespoon of cream or milk, but I’ll let my book club tonight be the judge.

So. Much. Zucchini.

Our “garden” consists of a zucchini plant, a tomato plant and two pepper plants placed in strange spots in our front yard. The zucchini plant is in an especially weird and hidden spot. So hidden that we check it one day and don’t see a thing growing, then a few days later this often happens:(Dollar for scale.)

So, I looked up some recipes. I found you two winners to make a complete dinner. Or late lunch. Or breakfast, if you feel like being in a food coma and/or going right back to bed: Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches + Zucchini Oven Chips. Both recipes I adapted from Cooking Light.

Zucchini Oven Chips (adapted because they burn at the original recipe temp)   The Ingredient List:

  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small- or one big giant one)
  • Cooking spray

Directions
1. Put the oven on 375°
2.Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stir.
3. Place milk in a shallow bowl.
4. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
5. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. I only had a baking sheet, so I just used that.
6. Bake at 375° for 10-20 minutes or until browned and crisp. Check them after 5 minutes and flip.
7. Serve immediately, these are good dipped in something. Maybe ketchup or ranch or whatever you are in to.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (2-ounce) ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Directions
1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. (If you don’t have a grill pan, like me, you can just use a regular pan!)
2. Add 1 teaspoon oil and garlic; toss to coat. Arrange zucchini in grill pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.
3. Stick zucchini on a plate or dish of some sort. Drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. If you think it needs more vinegar, put it on there!
4. Top each roll evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
5. Heat the sandwiches in pan until warm (takes about 5 mins). OR if you have a panini maker, use that!

I ate one part of the sandwich open faced, which was awesome. We also used baguette bread since that is all we had, but these would taste the best with the ciabatta bread that Cooking Light  recommended. Finally, we dunked the sandwich in more balsamic vinegar, which if you are a vinegar fan makes this sandwich even more delicious.

This was an easy dinner and it was fun to eat a sandwich, which I don’t eat often… mostly because I can’t ever find a sandwich I like. I’m glad I found one, since I’m sure we will find some more surprise zucchini in the “garden.”