Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Aloo Palak (Spinach and Potato Curry)

Warm, satisfying, and comforting, aloo palak is a vegan favorite of Indian food lovers around the world for a reason. It’s absolutely delicious and incredibly healthy. This spinach-forward dish is a great way to squeeze in lots of extra greens into your diet. 

The really nice thing about this meal is that it is actually very filling and comforting, despite the fact that it packs in an entire pound of greens! The added spices and potatoes make this meal a winner for cold winter nights and will leave you feeling warm all over. 

While many people eat aloo palak as a side dish, I prefer it as a main dish served alongside warm naan and basmati and brown rice. An extra bonus is that leftover aloo palak tastes even better the next day. Next time you have extra spinach around, make this! 

Ingredients:

16 oz. spinach

1 large russet potato

1 medium onion, finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 large tomato, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

1 Tbsp. butter or ghee

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 serrano pepper, finely diced

1 tsp. coriander

2 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. red chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

Salt to taste

Peel the potato and cut it into small cubes. Boil the cubes, along with salt, until they are tender. Drain and set aside. 

Process the spinach leaves in the food processor using the pulse function until they are very finely chopped. Set aside in a large bowl. 

Heat the avocado oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir for a few seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the serrano, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato and spices. Allow the mixture to cook for 3-4 minutes so the flavors can meld together. 

Add the spinach to the pan, along with about ¼ cup of water, and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until it is cooked through and most of the liquid is cooked off. Add the potatoes and stir to mix. 

Season with salt to taste and enjoy topped with yogurt, if desired, and serve with rice, naan, or roti.

Categories
Pork

Sweet-Garlicky Clementine and Milk-Braised Carnitas

If you’re a carnitas fan like me, it’s highly unlikely that you ever really tire of eating those tender, yet crispy morsels of heaven. You probably have a favorite recipe you use, and if it ain’t broke you don’t want to fix it, right? I get it, I do. But why not expand your carnitas horizon just a little?

With this recipe for sweet-garlicky clementine and milk-braised carnitas, the amazing pork morsels you love are still front and center, but with a fun and different spin. The milk tenderizes the pork as it cooks, resulting in a lovely tenderness that just cannot be explained. The plentiful incorporation of clementines makes these carnitas shine with a citrusy, tropical flavor. And the presence of lots of garlic, well . . . no explanation needed. It’s just delicious.  

Ingredients:

3 lb. pork shoulder 

5 clementines, halved

8 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 c. chicken broth

2 c. whole milk

⅓ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until the pork is tender and can easily be shredded with a fork. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cook the pork for 5-10 minutes, or until it gets a caramelized, crispy layer on top. Don’t be tempted to skip this step! Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Categories
Sides Vegetarian

Savory Ancient Grains with Sweet Potato, Kale and Goat Cheese

Traditional Thanksgiving side dishes are amazing, I’m not gonna lie, but sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit. This delightfully warm, healthy dish featuring savory ancient grains, sweet potato, kale, and goat cheese combines all of fall’s loveliest ingredients into one eye-and-palate-pleasing side dish that is sure to wow your guests. 

If mixing up Thanksgiving sides isn’t your jam, this lovely dish makes a wonderful side to any meal or is equally good served up as a main dish for a healthy, hearty lunch. However you choose to serve this, it will make you feel thankful. 

Ingredients:

¾ c. ancient grains, uncooked

1 ½ c. chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 c. kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice from ½ lemon

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the diced sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cook the ancient grains according to package directions using the chicken broth in place of water. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside. 

In a large serving bowl, mix together the ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and kale. Toss to combine. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the goat cheese crumbles. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and serve warm. 

Categories
Fish/Seafood

Poached Chilean Sea Bass in Saffron-Infused Broth

Are you looking for a solid recipe for a fancy date night or dinner party in? Have you reached the “I really want to impress you” point in your relationship and you want to make a dinner that is so perfectly divine that your date will be in awe of your skills? Do you want your friends to think you’re a genius in the kitchen?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you’re in luck, because this poached Chilean sea bass in saffron-infused broth is legendary. Yes, this meal is a bit spendy due to the cost of sea bass and saffron, but what’s a few extra dollars between friends (or more)? 

This utterly lovely meal is quick and simple to prepare, but very impressive when it comes to presentation and complex flavors. I like pairing this sea bass with rice or potatoes, a baguette (to soak up any amazing leftover broth), and a fresh vegetable like asparagus. It’s pretty much a perfect meal, so why stop the spendiness there? Thrown in an extra-nice bottle of wine and you’ve got yourself one awesome night in.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2-3 shallots, thinly sliced

4 fillets fresh Chilean sea bass

¾ c. cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 c. dry white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. saffron threads

2 c. chicken or fish broth

3 green onions, sliced

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Pat the sea bass fillets dry and season with salt and pepper on all sides.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the wine and simmer at medium low heat until reduced by half or so. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken broth, and saffron and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. 

Place the sea bass fillets in the saffron broth, cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the fish over carefully and cook for another 2 minutes (or until fish easily flakes with a fork. 

Serve the fillets in shallow bowls with a generous serving of broth. Top with green onions and serve hot.

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Takeout-Style Veggie Lo Mein Noodles

Next time you’re craving Chinese takeout, try to remember that this recipe exists. Before you pick up the phone to order delivery, stop and think. Do you really want to spend money ordering something that you can make yourself that will (seriously) taste every bit as delicious as the lo mein from your neighborhood Chinese restaurant AND will be ready in less time than the delivery person could possibly make it to your house?  Of course not, silly! 

This takeout-style lo mein is so yummy and is packed with healthy veggies. The noodles are bathed in a truly delicious sauce, and these lo mein noodles genuinely taste just like the ones you get at Chinese restaurants, thanks to the dark soy sauce and hefty dose of garlic and ginger. Don’t skip the dark soy sauce. It’s one of the Chinese cooks’ best secrets. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  

Noodles:

1 8 oz. package of lo mein noodles or vegan lo mein noodles

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

½ c. shredded carrots

2 c. cabbage, chopped

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

2 tsp. sriracha sauce (or more if you like)

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. sugar

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water (to prevent sticking), drain and set aside. 

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil over medium high heat in a large wok or skillet. Add the bell pepper, cabbage, and carrots and cook until they are soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

Add the noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce. Cook, tossing and mixing continuously, until the garlic and ginger are fragrant. Serve immediately!

Categories
Soups

Soul-Warming Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham Soup

Split pea soup with ham is one of those meals that reminds you of the good old days when you’d come inside from playing in the snow and your mama would have a big, steaming bowl of deliciousness waiting for you. Split pea soup is not only tasty and comforting, it truly warms your body from the inside out. And since it’s officially soup season, this soup is currently top of mind in my world. 

This recipe for slow cooker split pea soup with ham couldn’t be any easier to make. All of the ingredients are thrown into the slow cooker and in just a few hours – voilà – you have a soul-warming soup that will surely bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your tummy. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried split peas

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

6 c. chicken broth

1 ham bone or 2 c. ham, diced

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

Place all ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, into a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

If you used a ham bone, remove it from the soup and shred the meat before adding it back into the slow cooker. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste and serve warm. 

Categories
Appetizers Sides Vegetarian

Homemade Takeout-Style Veggie Egg Rolls

Just because you’re having a craving for egg rolls does not mean that you have to order takeout. It’s quite easy to prepare your own egg rolls at home, using fresh ingredients. This version of homemade egg rolls happens to be veggie-based and does not contain any meat, but you could easily add ground pork, chopped chicken or diced shrimp to the cabbage mixture for a protein boost. Obviously adding meat is your choice, but I don’t feel these egg rolls really need it because these are so delicious dipped in Chinese mustard sans meat. Mmmm. 

Be advised, though, that you must use a deep, heavy frying skillet in order to be covered in gruesome-looking, polka-dot burns all over your arm and face. I made the mistake of using a more shallow skillet because I was too lazy to dig out the “big gun” cast iron skillet. Trust me, the burns really hurt and I look like I have leprosy, so don’t go there. Other than that little mishap, making these egg rolls was super easy and they were absolutely divine. 

Ingredients:

1 package of egg roll wrappers

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 16 oz. bag of coleslaw mix 

½ onion, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1-2 c. vegetable oil (for frying)

Small cup of water

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the coleslaw mix, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool in a bowl until you can handle it (but not too long because you don’t want the cabbage to get mushy). 

To fill the egg rolls, place each egg roll wrapper on a flat surface. Place the cabbage mixture in the center. Brush the edges of the egg roll wrapper with water. Fold the sides in and roll like a burrito. Set the egg rolls aside as you continue the process with the rest of the eggrolls. Be sure to lay them side by side, as they will stick together if you try to place them on top of each other. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep cast iron skillet over medium high heat. The oil should be about 350 degrees. Place 4-5 egg rolls at a time in the oil and cook until crispy and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Place the egg rolls on a wire rack or paper towels on a plate. 

Serve with Chinese mustard, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce!

Categories
Fish/Seafood

Thai-Style Avocado Fried Rice with Shrimp

Fried rice AND avocado? Together? Yes, and it might be the most delightful combination of flavors you’ve ever eaten. Don’t like hot avocado? Open your mind and try this, because you will probably change your mind forever.

This Thai-style avocado fried rice with shrimp features all of the deep, lovely flavors that make Thai food delicious, and then one-ups all other fried rice recipes by including creamy, scrumptious avocado to the already-amazing symphony of yumminess. C’mon, try it. I think you’ll be a forever fan.   

Ingredients:

½ lb. shrimp

3 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 c. white rice, cooked

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp. mirin

¼ c. shredded carrots

¼. c. cilantro, chopped

¼ c. green onions, chopped

1 large avocado, cubed

2 eggs, beaten

Juice from one lime

Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Cook the garlic, carrots, and ginger for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook through, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and heat through, being sure to mix the garlic and ginger throughout the rice. 

Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and mirin and toss to combine. Create a well in the center of the skillet and drop the eggs into the center of the wok. Scramble them quickly and then mix to combine with the rice. Add the avocado to the fried rice and heat through, tossing carefully to combine but not break apart the cubes. 

Remove from the heat. Stir in the green onions and cilantro. Serve hot!

Categories
Chicken/Turkey

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

For me, buffalo chicken with the fixins is a craving that I can’t always control. Once I think about that taste, I NEED to eat some kind of buffalo chicken-something. When I’m trying to eat healthy foods, this craving can rear its head and be problematic for reigning in my overindulging. Too bad calories actually do count.

With this recipe for buffalo chicken zucchini boats, I have found a meal that I can justify (and actually enjoy) eating when I’m craving buffalo chicken AND trying to live a healthy-ish lifestyle. The saucy, tangy chicken, creamy cheese, crunchy veggies, and yummy dressing work together so well to make sure I’m satisfied and happy. Score one point for the angel on my shoulder. 

Ingredients:

4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

2 c. shredded chicken, rotisserie works great

Buffalo sauce 

4 oz. cream cheese

½ c. shredded cheddar cheese

Green onions

Blue cheese or ranch dressing (for topping) 

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Cut the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the fleshy part in the middle. Spray with olive oil on all sides and place onto a lined baking sheet. 

Combine the chicken, buffalo sauce, and cream cheese in a large skillet and heat through while stirring to combine.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Scoop the chicken mixture into the zucchini boats and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted and lightly browned. 

Top with green onions and drizzle with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Enjoy!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Fresh Mozzarella

Now that it’s fall and it’s starting to get dark earlier, I am in full comfort food-craving mode. All I can think about is rich, satisfying, warm meals that make me feel cozy and smell amazing while they’re cooking. There’s something so special about eating a comforting meal with a glass of wine and your loved ones after work. Maybe even – gasp- in front of the TV, with a blanket on your lap. Heaven. Hey, we eat at the table most of the time, so a little TV time is an indulgence once in a while.

This creamy tomato pasta bake with fresh mozzarella is one of those meals that you think about all day at work before you even make it because you know it’s going to be so good. It’s rich, flavorful, and oh-so-cozy. Just writing about this meal makes me want to make it again.  

Ingredients:

1 lb. rigatoni pasta

2 c. marinara sauce

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 c. heavy whipping cream

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 c. chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place the pasta in a large baking dish. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the marinara sauce, tomato paste, and fresh tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir, and heat through quickly. 

Pour the sauce into the baking dish with the pasta and mix thoroughly so that the sauce and pasta are well combined. Top with mozzarella slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Top with fresh oregano, serve, and enjoy!