Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 3
This past summer we vacationed in the Dominican Republic and had a blast. The only thing I was disappointed with was the food. We stayed at a resort so it was nice that we didn’t have to figure out and agree on meals but we definitely didn’t get the authenticity that we usually seek out when traveling to new destinations. At the buffet one night they did have a Dominican night and the dish I enjoyed the most was the stewed beans over rice.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 2
I knew when we got home I had to try and recreate it for one of our meatless Monday’s. Well, we went on vacation in July and I just now got around to it. I wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long! I love the simplicity of this dish in the fact that it uses ordinary, staple ingredients and they come together to make something that conjures up memories. Nice, warm, relaxing memories of the beach are so nice today when school has been canceled because of extreme temperatures. Seriously people, wind chills near -25 degrees. That’s not supposed to happen in Nebraska. Noah has told me it’s so cold we will need to drink hot chocolate at every meal. Smart man.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 1
Anyway, back to the beans. This dish is great for those on a budget too since it doesn’t get much cheaper than rice and beans. Plus, it’s vegan. Need I say more?

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice
recipe adapted from Latina.com

8 oz. red kidney beans
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups brown rice, well rinsed

1. Soak beans overnight in a container big enough to generously cover the beans. Drain the water and add the beans to a large stock pot. Cover with 5 cups of fresh cold water. Bring beans to a boil then reduce to medium, cover partially and cook for an hour stirring occasionally. Add a cup of water then cook for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make a sofrito: In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, cilantro, and onion and process to a coarse paste. In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil then add the sofrito. Cook for 1 minute then add to the beans along with the tomato paste, salt, pepper and vinegar. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add in rice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t stick. Reduce temperature to low, add 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 55-65 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. You may have to add more water throughout the cooking time (I ended up adding about another cup).

Veggie Stirfry

Veggie Stir Fry 2
This is almost always the meal I make when Joel is working late or has something going on that takes him away at dinner time. I wait until Noah goes to bed then whip this up and eat my dinner in peace all by myself! As much as I love those boys of mine, sometimes it’s really nice to just have some time to myself and eat something Joel doesn’t like while enjoying silly, ridiculous shows that he makes fun of me for watching. My life is happy and uncomplicated so I sometimes like to get a little fix of stupid drama, so sue me.

Anyway, this is healthy and simple to throw together using ingredients I almost always have in the kitchen. You can add in anything you like, I just have listed what I had on hand that day. I also really like it with green beans and/or zucchini. I always look forward to whipping it up anytime I have a night to myself.
Veggie Stir Fry 1
Veggie Stirfry

6 oz. whole grain egg noodles
1-2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 tsp. grated ginger (use microplane)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. Sriracha
1/2 tsp. sugar
Sesame seeds
Additional add ins: green beans, zucchini, onion, carrots, mushrooms, peppers

1. Bring water to a boil then cook noodles according to package directions and add broccoli at the last 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and sugar in a small bowl. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick spray and crack egg into it. Scramble it quickly then let it cook until set. Flip and cook until no longer runny. Remove from pan and chop into tiny pieces.

3. Pour vegetable oil into wok then saute ginger, garlic and cabbage for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add in pasta, broccoli and sauce mixture and saute for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Dilled Egg Salad

Egg Salad
For me, egg salad is one of those things I have to be in the mood to eat and when I am it totally hits the spot. Egg salad doesn’t really require a recipe so this is just a start and you can add or subtract ingredients depending on your personal preferences. That being said, this is my absolute favorite recipe for egg salad because of the addition of the dill.

This is a great quick and easy sandwich you can throw together for the kiddos school lunch or for a last minute dinner. Plus, all the ingredients are staples so it can be thrown together anytime!

Dilled Egg Salad
recipe from Allrecipes.com

8 eggs
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use the reduced-fat olive oil kind)
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 red onion, minced (we don’t care for raw onion so I left this out)
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced wheat bread

1. Make the perfect hard boiled eggs.

2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, dill, paprika, onion and salt and pepper. Mash well with a fork or wooden spoon.

3. Serve on bread as a sandwich or over crisp lettuce as a salad.

BBQ Lentils aka Snobby Joes

When I went on the hunt for vegetarian meals, my good friend Molly came to the rescue and sent me a yummy list of unique meal options. This was one of the first recipes I tried out. I don’t cook with lentils often and the recipe sounded quite unique so it caught my eye right away. We also love sloppy joes so I thought it might bring some reminiscent flavors that Joel would appreciate.
BBQ Lentils
Lentils are packed with protein, iron and fiber while sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest veggies you could eat making this meal a nutritious delight. I also served it with steamed broccoli and carrots. Needless to say, when Joel walked in the kitchen and saw this spread he was not too thrilled. But once again, the only statement I said was “this was your idea.” I think when he decided he wanted to give up meat he just wanted to replace it with more seafood and lots of cheesy pasta but I figured if we were going to do this we should do it right. I have also informed him that after Lent ends we will probably have a couple meatless meals a week. He wasn’t thrilled.

The sweet potatoes and brown sugar helped balance out the zing of the balsamic vinegar in my opinion but Joel thought it was way to vinegar-y (mind you he doesn’t love the flavor of vinegar like I do). So, this is definitely a recipe you will want to taste and adjust according to personal preferences.
BBQ Lentils
BBQ Lentils aka Snobby Joes
serves 2 to 4, active time 45 minutes, total time 15 minutes

1/2 cup (4 ounces) black lentils (I used green and they worked just fine)
2 cloves garlic; 1 whole, 1 minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, or more if needed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, or more if needed
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1. Combine the lentils, 4 cups of water, and the whole (peeled) clove of garlic in a saucepan or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are soft but still hold their shape. Toward the end of cooking, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

2. Drain the lentils, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and discard the garlic clove.

3. Wash and dry the pot you used to simmer the lentils. Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the cayenne and the ginger. Then add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, if using, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer.

5. Add the lentils and the reserved cooking water to the pot. Simmer until the sauce coats the lentils and the mixture is no longer soupy. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more brown sugar or vinegar if necessary.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and These Chicks Cooked.

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce 5
 

After trying several pizza sauce recipes, I made this one and have never looked back.  Iron Mike’s sauce has a sweet background which is so unique and delicious.  The original recipe was a bit too sweet for our taste so I adapted it, using less honey and brown sugar.

Pizza Sauce 4
I simmer this sauce for about an hour and sometimes more as we enjoy a thick, rich sauce.  This is great to top pizza or dip calzones in. And it is just so easy to prepare that it seems silly that I bought premade sauce for so long. Another plus to the recipe is that it makes a big amount so I freeze the remainder in batches in freezer bags (makes about 3 pizzas worth).  And it thaws quickly in the microwave or on the counter.
Pizza Sauce 3
Pizza Sauce
recipe adapted from Iron Mike’s Sweet Tomatoe Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried onions, minced or chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar fresh ground pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic for a minute.

2. Add the tomato puree; watch for splattering.

3. Add everything else and simmer uncovered on low, stirring frequently, for 30-60 minutes, until desired consistency has been reached.
Pizza Sauce 1

Quinoa Black Bean Patties

Quinoa Black Bean Patties
Joel was not too thrilled with this meal to say the least. But my response to some of these vegetarian meals that he hasn’t loved has been “it’s your fault.” It was his idea to give up meat so I don’t have any sympathy for him, haha.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with the outcome of these patties. I didn’t have high hopes and worried that they would be bland and flavorless but they were quite good and very filling. It probably helps that I love anything with cumin in it and these packed a big flavor punch of that yummy, smoky spice. They were really great with baked sweet potato fries.

I love feeling full and satisfied after eating a healthy meal. And I wasn’t hungry 2 hours later like I usually am after a salad.
Quinoa Black Bean Patties

Quinoa Black Bean Patties
recipe from Can You Stay for Dinner?

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 carrot, diced
4 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
15 ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Rinse quinoa throughouly in a fine mesh strainer under running water to remove the saponin which causes a bitter taste.  In a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, scallions, garlic, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.

3. Form mixture into four patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, These Chicks Cooked, What I Whipped Up Wednesday and Cast Party Wednesday.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin

Want a way to make healthy broccoli and cauliflower fattening and unbelievably tasty? Well, have I got the recipe for you! Smother it with cheese, sprinkle with crispy panko breadcrumbs and bake.  It’s the dressed up version of the typical broccoli and velveeta casserole that many of us thoroughly enjoy (my family included). This is so good and would be a great addition to any holiday meal.

This recipe was inspired by a recent trip to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. When I saw broccoli au gratin listed on the menu, I just couldn’t resist. I mean, it has two of my favorite foods, broccoli and cheese. How could you go wrong? Let me tell you, it was heavenly and I knew I had to recreate it at home.

Since starting my blog, I’ve been branching out and trying new things. Although cheesy veggies is not a new thing to me, creating my own recipe is something I don’t do often.

I used the cheese sauce from my macaroni and cheese then mixed it with broccoli and cauliflower and topped it with panko bread crumbs for a delicious crunch. It was amazing and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before!

See the creamy goodness, it’s irresistable.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin

1 (16-oz.) bag frozen broccoli
1 (16-oz.) bag frozen cauliflower
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk (I use skim and it’s still satisfying and creamy)
16 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
2 oz. Velveeta (for added creaminess without a “processed” taste), optional

Topping:
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

1. Lightly steam the broccoli and cauliflower.

2. Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour to make a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook away the flour taste.

3. Slowly add the milk to the roux. Cook for several minutes until the mixture has thickened. Stir in salt and pepper.

4. Add the cheese and stir until melted.

5. Mix the broccoli, cauliflower and cheese sauce then place in a 13×9 pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.