Lentil shepherd’s pie

November 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm (Food) (, , , )

This week, I was trying to think of some healthy twists on some classic comfort foods. I started with Shepherd’s Pie.

1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and sorted
4-5 medium golden potatoes
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups stock (we’re not vegetarian, so I used beef. Veggie stock would be fine)
1/2 cup TVP (I threw it in because I had it, totally ok to skip)
1 cup frozen peas

In a small pot, simmer lentils in water until softened (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, boil your potatoes and make mashed potatoes in your favorite fashion. I used sour cream, garlic and margarine in mine.

In a large sauté pan, combine onion, carrot, celery, garlic and oil. Add any dry herbs you like now. Thyme would be great, but I skipped it because Hubs doesn’t like it. Stir until veggies soften. Add flour to make a roux. Add stock 1/2 cup at a time until you’ve got a gravy with your veggies. Stir in your cooked lentils, TVP and peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the lentil mixture into a large casserole dish. Dollop mashed potatoes over the top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes just to heat everything through and crisp the top of the potatoes. Enjoy!



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Broccoli Quinoa pilaf

October 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm (Food) (, , , )

This stuff makes a wonderful, healthy, protein packed side dish, or a super filling vegan entree. Dig in and enjoy. Oh, and extra points, its way easy to make!

2 tbsp oil or margarine (or butter if you’re not going for vegan)
1/2 onion
3 carrots
1 large broccoli crown
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth
And some of your favorite herbs and spices

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Chop up your veggies. I chose to use the food processor, because I was feeling lazy and wanted everything chopped tiny. Do whatever works for you.

3. Sauté veggies and herbs/spices in oil over medium high heat until veggies are mostly cooked.

4. Add quinoa to the pan and sauté another minute or two. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

5. If your sauté pan is big enough and oven safe, cover it and pop it in the oven. Otherwise, pour everything into a casserole dish (my 9×9 was fine), cover and bake. It will take 25-30 minutes to bake. If you’re not vegan, you could remove the cover at the end and top it with some cheese. Toss it back in the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.


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Kitchen sink soup

September 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm (Food) (, , )

We’re big soup eaters. Can’t decide what’s for dinner? Soup. Want something lazy for dinner? Soup. Need to use up leftovers? Soup. Need to throw something in the crockpot for later? Soup. It’s always a winner around here. Since no two batches are ever the same, I call it Kitchen Sink Soup; I throw in everything but the kitchen sink.

The first step is the stock. Stash a zipper bag in your freezer. Every time you peel a veggie or trim the ends, throw the scraps in the bag. When the bag is full (or as full as will fit in your crockpot), dump the contents in the crockpot, cover with water and add some seasonings. I usually use some garlic and whatever is on hand. Last night, it happened to be dry basil and oregano. Parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, etc are all great choices too. I usually coarsely chop an extra onion to add too, but I love onion, so that’s up to you. Cover and set on low for 6-8 hrs. Drain and cool. You can reduce or freeze it from here, but I usually use it so quickly, I just toss it in the fridge. If you want to save bones from any meat dishes, you can use those in your stock too.

Now that your stock is out of the way, dinner is insanely easy. Start rifling through your fridge. What do you need to use up? Some leftover shredded chicken from tacos? Some veggies starting to get soft? I usually eyeball somewhere around 2 parts stock to one part stuff. Simple enough, right? Anything fully cooked, soft (like zucchini), or cooks quickly (like broccoli) can go straight in the crockpot with the stock. Hard veggies like carrots, onions, etc should be sautéed first. Once they soften, toss them in the pot too. Cook on low for 6ish hours or high for 3. Starchy items like rice and potatoes will thicken the stock a bit. If you want it thicker, about 30 minutes before serving, combine a couple of tablespoons corn starch with an equal amount of cold water. Gradually stir it into the soup. Let it continue cooking until you’re ready to eat.

Here’s what went in my pot today:
Directly into the pot: 4 quarts stock, 1 parsnip, 1 turnip, 1 rutabaga, 1 zucchini, and 1 head broccoli.
Into a sauté pan: 1 onion, 4 carrots, 4 ribs celery, 1 leek, 1 red bell pepper and 2 tablespoons garlic. Once these are softened, they go right into the pot too.

I prefer to season my stock strongly so that I don’t need to do much with the soup. I’ll add a little salt and pepper, maybe an herb or two, but that’s it. We like to eat our soup with rice, but I prefer to cook it separately. I make huge pots of soup because we love leftovers. I’m not fond of how squishy rice gets sitting in the soup for a day or two. If you want to add rice, white rice can go in about an hour before you plan to eat, brown rice will need longer (at least an 1.5 hours). Quinoa should work too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Pasta is definitely best cooked separate and added as y eat.

Now go rescue those leftovers and enjoy your own version of Kitchen Sink Soup!



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Times they are changin’

September 12, 2012 at 1:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Hubs and I are both fat. There. I said it. We need to lose some serious weight. Between the two of us, there’s easily 80 to shed. Hubs now has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a fatty liver and high liver enzymes. We have to get this on track. It’s not just about losing weight at this point, it’s about getting healthier.

Today, I cleaned out the fridge and cupboards. The remains of old chip bags are gone. There’s no half eaten ice cream tubs. It was also a great excuse to organize the cupboards while I was in there. I’m not calling it a diet; its a whole new lifestyle. We’re not subscribing to fad diet, we’re not counting calories, we’re making better choices. I organized a menu plan for the next two weeks and went shopping. Tonight was dinner #1 of our new menu.

Tonight was a peanut noodle dish with tofu. I didn’t measure much, but here’s the run down.

-Noodles (I used Korean starch noodles called vermicelli. Rice noodles would probably be ever better). Cook and set aside.
-Veggies (we had broccoli, carrots and bell pepper)
-Sesame oil
-Vegetable stock
-Coconut milk
-Peanut butter (fresh ground)
-Seasonings/spices (red peeper flakes, cumin, etc)
-Corn starch
-Tofu, diced

Sauté the veggies in a bit of sesame oil. Add about half a cup of veggie stock, a couple of tablespoons each peanut butter and coconut milk, and your spices. Bring it to a simmer. Mix a little starch with cold water and stir into the sauce. Bring back to s simmer. Fold in tofu and noodles. If you want, garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.

The results? Success! Even Hubs who doesn’t like peanut sauces. Both kids finished theirs too.

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