Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin

Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin
My little man graduated from preschool on Saturday. And I kept it together through the whole ceremony. Mostly. Both of those facts are incredibly hard for me to believe. You know the saying, “the days are long but the years are short.” I’m pretty sure there is nothing more true. It’s seriously mind boggling how this has happened. Where did my baby go? Well, I’ll always call him my baby especially when he’s an obnoxious teenager and his friends are over.
Preschool Graduation
I noticed today that he’s getting hair on his legs. What? Slow down time.

We had lots of family and friends come to his graduation and help us celebrate. After the ceremony we went to Noah’s favorite restaurant, HuHot. I gave him the choice of me cooking whatever he wanted or going out to lunch. He chose out. Major burn for a food blogger but how can you compete with food being cooked with giant sticks? In a 4 year olds mind, you’re never going to win against that.

I did make these cute graduation hat cupcakes, roasted strawberry ice cream (with lemon Oreos mixed in) and raspberry white chocolate chunk ice cream and they were all big hits. It was a wonderful celebration with amazing family and delicious food. Which brings me to today’s post.
Graduation Cupcakes
After all that decadence this weekend, I feel the need to lighten things up. This Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin is a great meal after over indulging on the weekend and the perfect Meatless Monday dish.

It comes together quickly and is really hearty and filling. I’m new to farro and this was only the 3rd time I’ve cooked it and has definitely been my favorite version. Farro has a nutty flavor that goes particularly well with the creamy parmesan sauce that it’s coated in for this dish. I mean, a cheesy sauce that’s still healthy? You’re sold right?

When cooking the farro, be careful not to let it absorb all of the liquid otherwise you won’t yield a creamy sauce. I’m speaking from experience here so trust me. The first time I made this, I wasn’t keeping a close eye on it and it got dry quickly. It was still yummy but didn’t have the smooth, sauciness that you look for in a gratin.
Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin 2
The navy beans add a dose of protein to the dish and help plump it up as a main dish.

I am always looking for new ideas to add to my arsenal of meatless Monday meals and this one is definitely going into the rotation. It uses a few different ingredients than our usual meatless meals but still has that cheese to bring it home for the boys. Win, win.

Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin
recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups farro
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper
1 lb. broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Add one teaspoon olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the farro and cook until it’s lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in stock and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce to low heat and continue simmering, stirring often, until the remaining liquid has thickened into a creamy sauce and farro is tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, lightly steam the broccoli, about 3-4 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, add the remaining oil (1 tablespoon) and garlic, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the navy beans and cooked farro.

3. Pour mixture into a baking dish and top with shredded cheddar. Place under the broiler until browned and bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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.