dinner

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

Note: 

The first time I had this lovely winter soup was many years ago, and I haven't had it since.  That is until we were looking for something to do with our autumn decor a few weeks ago -  after freezing 48 cups of pureed pumpkin, we needed to find some pumpkin recipes! 

The sweetness of the pumpkin and coconut milk balances nicely with the curry spices and red pepper flakes.

Those of you averse to coconut milk (which I find hard to imagine, but there are some!) can leave it out completely for a thicker soup, or use a milk or cream substitute instead.  The original calls for a dollop of sour cream, but it's not necessary if you're trying to stay away from dairy.

Don't forget the pumpkin seeds!

Tools needed: 
large saucepan or pot
Time: 
40 minutes
Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients: 
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 stick butter or 1/4 cup butter substitute
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz can pumpkin (or 2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk or even better, (coconut cream!)
Sour cream
Chipped fresh chives or cilantro
Toasted pumkin seeds
Directions: 
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the butter in a large saucepan or pot until the onion is tender.
  2. Stir in the curry powder, salt, coriander and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broth and mix well. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the pumpkin and coconut milk.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Process the soup in batches in a blender until creamy.  Ladle the warm soup into bowls.
  7. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream (if desired - skip if dairy free) and sprinkle with chives, cilantro and/or toasted pumpkin seeds.
Serves: 
3-4

Spicy Radish and Chickpea Salad

Note: 

Boyfriend and I have been working on this one for a while - he likes to spice lots of foods this way, and I like making use of all the parts of of a veggie in my recipes.  Here we use the radishes and the tops together for a variety of textures and flavors.  Chickpeas add umami, as well as protein and further texture to this vegetarian dish.  The dollop of creamy yogurt tones down the spiciness a little while adding another layer of flavor, texture, and a multitude of other health benefits. Turmeric offers tons cancer-fighting properties and lots of anti-oxidants, and spicy foods are full of antioxidants, too.

Enjoy the healthy, ethnic spicy-liciousness!

Tools needed: 
large saute pan
Time: 
30 minutes
Warm Radish and Chickpea Salad
Ingredients: 
2-3 bunches washed radishes, greens cut off (save!), bulbs sliced into bite-size pieces
2 cans cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
4 tbs plain yogurt (dairy alternative to make vegan and dairy free)
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs turmeric
1 tbs paprika, plus some for garnish
tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
salt to taste
Directions: 
  1. Mix turmeric, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne together with a fork in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  3. Add chickpeas, moving them around to coat with oil.  Spoon spice mixture over beans, coating as evenly as possible.
  4. Mix in radishes and white parts of green onions, coating with remaining spice mixture.
  5. When the radishes and onions begin to soften, add greens, mixing together until greens are tender. Salt to taste, do not overcook.
  6. Scoop portions into four serving bowls, and top with tablespoon of yogurt.  Sprinkle with green onions and paprika.
Serves: 
4

Kale and White Bean Soup

Note: 

I couldn't be happier to get back into the swing of green since the sugar-laden holidays with a warm bowl of savory soup!  This is my go-to soup this winter - I saw a version of it in Sunset magazine, then had a bowl of something similar at one of my favorite restaurants, the fabulous Full of Life Flatbread, a couple of weekends ago.  Seems like wintery greens are on everyone's menu!

Keep in mind that you can mix it up by using different kinds of kale - I don't have a favorite, I'm still trying them all.  You can also add some cooked veggies like carrots, squash or potatoes, depending on your taste.  I occasionally usually have mine with a thick piece of toast to dunk in the broth. Mmmm...

Despite the fact that kale is packed with enough vitamin C, A, K and B6 to make it a nutritional powerhouse, not to mention cancer-fighting properities, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus (that's a mouthful!); people still can't get past the bitter taste of raw kale.  Not to worry - sauteing for just a few minutes with garlic and onions subdues the flavor, and before you know it,  you'll be be a fan of this queen of greens!

 

Tools needed: 
large saute pan, large pot
Time: 
45 minutes
Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup
Ingredients: 
2 bunches kale (any kind), washed and sliced thinly, crosswise
1 large (or two medium) yellow or sweet onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
~4 tbs olive oil
2 - 2.5 quarts vegetable broth
3 cups cooked white cannelini (white or Great Northern) beans, or 2 15oz cans (rinsed)
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs sage leaves (dried sage is fine, too)
Directions: 
  1. Heat broth in large pot over low heat.
  2. Heat 1-2 tbs olive oil in saute pan to medium heat, add onion and cook until they start to brown, add oil as needed.
  3. Add a bit more olive oil and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes over medium heat.  Be careful not to burn or brown the garlic.
  4. Add a bit more olive oil and kale and move around the pan until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.  Cover and turn off heat.
  5. When broth is simmering, add beans and other ingredients.  Stir to incorporate ingredients together in broth.  Add more broth (or water) if needed to cover all ingredients. Bring to a simmer again, test greens for tenderness before serving.
  6. Season more to your desired taste.

NOTE: One recipe I came across suggested to remove the ribs and stems of the kale, I usually keep them.  Some varieties might be a little tough for some tastes, so use your discretion.

Serves: 
4-6

Mushroom & Green Onion Frittata

Note: 

This simple recipe is tasty and hearty, an appropriate meal as we head into the cooler months of fall and winter.  Boyfriend and I made it for dinner this evening in under an hour and plan to have the leftover portion for breakfast in the morning with one of our fabulous fruit and green smoothies!  This recipe can easily be made dairy-free with milk and cheese alternatives - we used almond milk and soy cheese.

Tools needed: 
10" oven-safe skillet or baking dish
Time: 
45 minutes
First Fab Frittata!
Ingredients: 
4 cups cubed baby red potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
6 eggs
1 cup milk (we used almond milk for non-dairy, soy would work, too)
1/2 cup cheese (we used soy cheese for non-dairy)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried, crushed oregano leaves
1 tsp dried, crushed sage leaves
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, until tender but firm.  Drain.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms, cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms start to brown.
  4. Add a bit more oil and garlic, cook until garlic becomes fragrant, stirring into the mushrooms.  Remove from heat - set aside in a bowl.
  5. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish or oven-safe skillet.  Evenly layer the other ingredients: mushroom and garlic mixture, then cheese, then green onions.  Add a little salt and pepper in each layer (or as desired).
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and eggs until fluffy.  Mix oregano and sage into mixture at the end.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the other ingredients.
  8. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until eggs are no longer runny and top is lightly browned.
Serves: 
4

Egg-chiladas

Note: 

This amazing vegetarian enchilada recipe is courtesy of my friend, Charlene, who was kind enough to share her grandmother's meatless version of a classic Mexican dish.  What a great way to do enchiladas without having to use a soy meat substitute or overloading them with gobs of cheese filling.  I've, of course adapted them a bit to reflect my taste, so adapt away, and enjoy your version!

Tools needed: 
9 X 13 baking pan, large pot,
Time: 
1.25 hours
Enchiladas!
Ingredients: 
One large can of favorite enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's, which comes in a bottle)
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (rice or soy cheese works for dairy-free)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 dozen 6" corn tortillas
1 can pitted black olives, chopped (leave eight slices to decorate the top)
olive oil, enough to fry tortillas
1 medium (mild) pasilla pepper, deseeded and chopped
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Open can of enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's) and empty into large post to simmer while you are putting the enchiladas together.  Sauce will thicken a bit.
  3. Put chopped eggs, onions, olives and 1 1/2 cups of cheese into a large bowl and mix all ingredients together, set aside.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil until hot.  Fry corn tortillas, one at a time until slightly crisp, remove and set on paper towels to absorb excess oil. 
  5. Carefully take fried corn tortillas and one at a time dip into hot enchilada sauce. (I found myself in need of assistance here!)
  6. Place dipped enchilada into dish and stuff with prepared filling, rolling the tortilla around the filling.  Continue until all tortillas are dipped and stuffed. 
  7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over all enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese, dot with remaining sliced olives and and bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  8. Allow enchiladas to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with Girlbert's Guacamole and Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad
Serves: 
makes 12 enchiladas

Winter Vegetable and Greens Sage Soup

Note: 

I was tempted to name this hearty winter vegetable soup "Bottom of the Fridge Soup", based on its conception:  Boyfriend was fighting a cold a couple of weeks back, and he was craving something warm and soupy for his aching throat.  I just started throwing stuff from the "bottom of the fridge" into a pot, and voila - it was really tasty!  So we've tweaked it a couple of times, but it's vegetabley, soupy, sagey and gosh darn it - downright delicious!  Perfectly suitable for enjoying by a warm, toasty fire this winter!  Enjoy!

Tools needed: 
big pot with lid
Time: 
1 - 1.5 hours
Winter Vegetable and Greens Sage Soup
Ingredients: 
2.5 lbs. potatoes, cut into 1-in. pieces, boiled until you can easily insert a fork in them
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
6-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 - 2 cups rice or barley, cooked
6 cups vegetable broth
4 packed cups winter greens, such as kale, collard greens, radish/beet greens, spinach rinsed roughly chopped
2 tbs dried sage (or more, depending on your taste)
olive oil
hot water
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
  1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 3 - 6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and another tablespoon of olive oil and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add carrots, sage, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.
  4. Add barley or rice and potatoes, replace lid, and bring to a boil.  Add water or more broth if necessary to cover all the ingredients.
  5. Add greens, mixing in to cover with broth, adding more water or broth if necessary.
  6. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 - 15 more minutes to cook down the greens.  Add more sage or other spices, depending on your tastes.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves: 
4-8

Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

Note: 

I'm still on a "fast and easy" kick (a la my salad post last week), but variety is the spice of life, huh?  And so Boyfriend and I have been on a mission to create a quick, but flavorful - ethnic, even! - dish to satisfy all of those requirements.  Behold our collaboration - a Thai-inspired peanut-y, noodle-y, spicy bowl of yumminess topped with some fresh greenery and crunchy shrimp, too!  And our "veggie" friends just need to bypass the shrimp and throw some tofu in the sauce while it cooks - easy!

TIP:  The peanut sauce can also be used over salad or as a dip.  Bonus!

Tools needed: 
Large saucepan and pot
Time: 
20 minutes
Peanut Noodles
Ingredients: 
8 oz. spaghetti or rice noodles (we used rice noodles for gluten-free)
1 - 4 oz. can cooked shrimp (we used Trader Joe's Wild Pink Shrimp)
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp hot chili pepper
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs rice vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1-2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro or basil (or both!)
1-2 chopped green onions, white and green parts
Lime juice (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a blender combine sesame oil, onion, garlic, and hot chili pepper; blend for 1 minute.
  3. Empty the mixture into a large saucepan and place over low heat until the mixture starts releasing aroma.  Add peanut butter and mix well over low heat.
  4. Add water and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Stir in vinegar and sugar; continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Tast and add more vinegar and sugar if the mixture does not have enough sour or sweet taste.
  6. Pour sauce over noodles, and mix to coat.
  7. Add basil, cilantro, green onions and shrimp; toss and place in serving bowl.
  8. Optional: Squeeze fresh lime over the top just before serving.

Note to vegetarians/vegans: replace shrimp with cubed tofu - just cook the tofu in the sauce while heating.TIP: The peanut sauce can also be used alone as a salad dressing or a veggie dip.

Serves: 
4

Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad

Note: 

I like a little bit of everything in my salad, and now that corn is officially in season, I needed a salad recipe to make use of its sweet summer deliciousness.  So I just started adding stuff that fit a southwestern theme and added the black beans and quinoa for substance.  The avocado or guacamole add to the richness as well.  Behold, a hearty summer salad with enough substance to call a meal!

Time: 
30 minutes
Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad
Ingredients: 
8-10 cups of your favorite lettuce or salad greens, crunchy romaine seems to hold up to all the other ingredients well
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (skip if you hate cilantro, add more if you love it!)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh corn, cut off the cob (yes, raw!; and use a serrated knife)
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cup quinoa or rice, cooked
1/4 cup chopped red or green onion
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
avocado or guacamole
Directions: 
  1. Place lettuce, bell pepper pieces, and cilantro in a large salad bowl.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar; toss until thorougly coated.
  2. Mix beans, rice/quinoa, and onion in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat, covered, for a minute or two in microwave, just until warm.
  3. Toss all in ingredients, but avocado, in large salad bowl until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with diced avocado, guacamole or your favorite salsa/dressing.

Girbert's guacamole recipe.Girlbert's Raw Tomatillo Salsa recipe.

Serves: 
2-4

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes & Olives

Note: 

A friend introduced me to spaghetti squash just recently and I've been dying to cook it ever since.  I couldn't wait to use it as a pasta substitute in a the right recipe, and here it is!

When cooked the flesh of the spaghetti squash comes out looking just like its namesake, so it makes an excellent grain-free stand-in in any pasta dish!  Have fun!

Tools needed: 
baking sheet
Time: 
45 minutes
Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients: 
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (or parmesan or cheese substitute for vegan)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance.  Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
  3. Meanwhile heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion until tender.  Add garlic, and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook only until the tomatoes are warm.
  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl.  Toss with the sauteed vegetables, olives and basil.
  5. Scoop servings into serving bowls.  Top with cheese.  Serve warm.
Serves: 
4

First Date Pasta

Note: 

I named this what I did for two reasons. One - it really is what I made my boyfriend for lunch on our first date. A bold choice, but I was in a bold state of mind at that point in my life. (Hello, this is what I eat!  Love me, love my food.) Two - if someone devours this with you on a first date, he/she either LOVES you or LOVES flavorful food, or both. But it's probably both. What more could you want in a relationship?

Time: 
45 minutes
First Date Pasta
Ingredients: 
4 cups (1 lb. dry) rigatoni, penne or macoroni pasta
2 cans tuna (7 ounces each) in water
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
6 canned anchovy filets, drained
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 
  1. Put the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and heat gently until hot.
  2. Add the garlic and fry until golden.  Stir in the tomato sauce and tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Drain tuna, place in a bowl and flake.  Cut the anchovies in half.  Stir into the sauce with the capers and chopped basil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water according to the package instructions.  Drain well and toss with the sauce.
Serves: 
4
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