Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Greek Pitas

My friend Alicia first introduced me to this idea. Little Bit and I now have this for lunch whenever we don't have leftovers from the night before. Throw it together in less than 15 minutes total for a quick, healthy lunch. And of course, use whatever toppings you like. The possibilities are endless.

Spread a couple of drops of olive oil on a whole wheat pita. Cover with thin tomato slices, olives, and feta cheese. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Top with freshly sliced avocado.

I usually take a pizza slicer and cut it into fourths to make it easier to eat.


Honey Peanut Chicken

Adapted from thepioneerwoman.com...

This meal is quick, easy, and delicious! Give it a try sometime...soon!

First, mix up your marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 dashes hot sauce

Cut one or two boneless skinless chicken breasts into chunks and cover with marinade. Let it sit for an hour...or 8 hours, if you want to get a head start that morning...or 10 minutes, if you forgot all about it till suppertime. I really don't think it matters too much. Just whatever works for you and your busy day.

Meanwhile, start a pot of brown rice. Chop one red bell pepper into thin strips and a few heads of broccoli into florets; saute over medium heat for 10 minutes.

About halfway through (that's 5 minutes after you start...or 5 minutes before you are done...I really think it's fine either way) hit those veggies with a couple of dashes of soy sauce. Once the peppers are tender and the broccoli is dark, remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.

Dump the chicken and marinade into the now-empty pan and cook for about 15 minutes. You want to make sure the sauce is cooked through since it has been in contact with the raw chicken.

Finally, dump the cooked veggies in and toss them around with the chicken and sauce. Serve over rice.

The coach looked up from his plate and said, "This is really good."

You'll say it too.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Asian Chicken Burgers

This one's super easy and tasty. Just mix one pound of ground chicken breast, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/8 cup soy sauce, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp ground ginger (or some fresh grated ginger), a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and 3/4 cup breadcrumbs in a large bowl. If too moist, just add more breadcrumbs. Form burger patties (I think I made about 7) and then either grill or cook in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.

Serve with grilled veggies (marinated in soy sauce) and baked sweet potatoes.

Simple enough? Enjoy!

Roasted Pepper Pasta

This dish is so full of flavor I can hardly stand it. It is also so full of antioxidants that I actually put on a cape and flew after I ate it.

Start with 3 bell peppers of your choice. I tend toward the red/orange end of the spectrum. Halve the peppers, take the guts/seeds out, and place face-down on a baking sheet.

Put the peppers under the broiler for 15-20 minutes. They will be charred, as you will see later on.

While the peppers roast, go ahead and saute a pack of mushrooms, thinly sliced.

After about 5 minutes, add one 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon of fennel seeds, a little salt and pepper, and a handful of torn fresh basil. Bring to a boil and then simmer.

By now the peppers are about done. Take them out when they look like this...

Immediately drop the charred peppers into a bowl of ice water. As soon as they cool down, you will be able to peel the skin right off, leaving the roasted flesh to work with. (That sounds gross).

Cut the peppers into thin strips and stir into the tomato sauce. Cook a pound of whole wheat penne; drain and add to the sauce.

Oh, and don't forget the Parmesan.


Zucchini Parmesan with Focaccia

Hands down, this was the best meal we had this week. Maybe in the top five recipes I've ever made up. Please try it.

Brown one pound of lean ground meat (venison, sirloin, turkey, etc.) To the browned meat add 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon each of dried oregano and basil, and 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir around and let it cook out for a minute. Then add 4-5 medium zucchini, thinly sliced. Cook the zucchini in the meat mixture until tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the zucchini turns kind of flimsy, add one 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Spread in a casserole and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.

While the casserole is in the oven, mix up a little Focaccia bread. Mix 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 1/4 tsp (or one packet) quick-rising yeast in a bowl. Add 1 cup hot water + 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Mix until everything is wet, then add 1/2 cup more flour and mix to form a soft dough (add more flour if needed, but do not knead the dough. The dough does not need to be kneaded. You need not to knead the dough. I need to stop now, don't I?)

Where was I? Oh, cover the dough for 10 minutes. Then roll it out on a baking sheet or stone, top with basil and oregano, and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes.

Cut the bread like a pizza and then serve slices of Focaccia topped with zucchini parmesan.

Please try it????


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garden Pasta

It's not yet summer, but we have been having some mighty glorious temperatures in the mountains. This meal reminds me of something that would be wonderful on a summer evening. Light and tasty, full of veggies...Bring summer on.

So, I've been looking at a lot of recipe blogs and websites, and many of the posts start out with a picture of all the ingredients used in a dish. This was my attempt at that.

But the truth is, it will never work. Because I just don't know what all is going into a recipe until I'm finished cooking it.

Oh well.

Start with (pictured above) one red bell pepper (cut into strips), one pack of mushrooms (sliced), one cup of olives (sliced), spinach leaves, basil leaves (torn), and 3 cloves of garlic (minced).

Saute in the order listed above. (The peppers take the longest). Cook in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until everything is wilted and pretty. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook one pound of whole wheat linguine or spaghetti and then toss with the veggies. Squeeze the juice of one lemon to help everything move along and blend together. Top with parmesan cheese.


Chickpea and Rice Stew

Adapted from www.eatingwell.com

This stew is so delicious and filling, even without meat. It was one of my favorite meals of the week.

Start by thinly slicing two onions. Slowly brown them over medium-low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Add about two teaspoons each of ground cumin and coriander. Then add 1 cup of orange juice, 2 cups of chicken broth, 2/3 cup brown basmati rice, 2 cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed), and about 3 cups of peeled and diced sweet potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste; bring the stew to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes - 1 hour. Add more liquid if you want a thinner consistency.

Simple and oh-so-good. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mediterranean Quinoa


The first time I tried to find it, I walked right into the health food store and said, "Do you have any /kwin-OH-ah/?"

I found out that's not how you pronounce it.

Quinoa (/KEEN-whah/) is really an amazing food. It is one of the few non-animal sources of complete protein. Most plant sources of protein are incomplete, which is why you need to pair them together...beans and corn/rice, for example. But quinoa itself is a complete protein source. Maybe we should call it Super-Quinoa. Or Quinoa-ster.

Chuck Norris eats quinoa.

Start by chopping one medium onion and two bell peppers, your choice of color. (I used yellow because that's what looked the best in the grocery store.) In a large pot, saute the vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender. Dice a couple of tomatoes and add to the mix; let them cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add 3-4 cloves of garlic and 3 tablespoons tomato paste to the pot and stir around for a minute; then add 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa and 2 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

We ate this with roasted broccoli and pita bread.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trout with Butternut Pilaf and Steamed Kale



I'm already hooked.

This meal is based around the risotto. Trout (or whatever fish is on sale) is just the accessory, not the main dish. Trust me, this pilaf can hold its own.

Start by stripping the leaves off of a big old bunch of beautiful kale. Put the torn leaves in about 1/2 cup chicken broth, cover, and simmer while cooking everything else.

Now take a butternut squash, peel it (easiest way is with a vegetable peeler), and get to grating. Yep, grate that whole sucker. You will need to split the bulb looking part and scrape out the pulp and seeds. After officially wearing out my right bicep, I found that it was easier to cut the squash into smaller chunks to grate rather than trying to hold the whole slippery thing to the box grater.

Looks like a bowl of cheddar cheese. But it's not.

Measure about 1 1/2 cup brown basmati rice and 1/2 cup broken whole wheat spaghetti.

Cook the rice for about six or seven minutes in boiling water to get it started. While the rice par-boils, heat a little olive oil in a pot and let the broken spaghetti brown for a couple of minutes. It will start smelling good and nutty. Grate in a few cloves of garlic, then stir in 3 Tablespoons tomato paste. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the brown rice into the pot. Once the rice is in, start to add chicken broth. You will need 4 cups total. Just add a little, stir it around, let the liquid cook out a little, then add some more. After doing that a few times, go ahead and pour the rest of the broth in, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

While the pilaf cooks and the kale steams, prepare your fish with whatever seasonings you like. I used a 3/4 pound trout filet and seasoned it with salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, dried basil and oregano, and a pinch of cinnamon. I baked it at 400 for about 12 minutes, then turned on the broiler for about 2 minutes.

Before serving, add a handful of fresh torn basil and a couple of dashes of ground cinnamon and nutmeg to the pilaf. I divided the one fish into five pieces and just used one piece per serving to top the pilaf. (That gave us some for leftovers the next day as well.)

It was really good.


I might have accidentally sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese over everything.


Greek Garden Pizza

It is officially Mediterranean week at the Shugart house. The general idea of a Mediterranean diet is to eat lots and lots of grains, nuts, beans, vegetables, and fruits, and not so much meat (especially red meat), dairy, and sweets. We decided to try it out for a week and see how we feel and how we like it. Here is the menu for the week...

Sunday: Greek Garden Pizza
Monday: Butternut Rice Pilaf with Trout and Steamed Kale
Tuesday: Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli and Pita
Wednesday: (eating at church)
Thursday: Chickpea and Rice Stew
Friday: Seafood Couscous Paella

I also made homemade muesli to eat throughout the week for breakfast, and we are making a more concerted effort to snack on fruits and nuts.

What better way to start off a new week than with my favorite food EVER...Pizza??? You can't get much better. Pizza is one of my favorite things that has ever been invented.

Start with some homemade whole wheat dough...

In one medium bowl, mix...
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp quick-rising or bread machine yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Using a fork, slowly stir 3/4 cup hot water into the flour mixture. After the water is all in, use your hands to work it all together, kneading for just a couple of minutes, and then form a ball, drizzle a little olive oil on it, and let it sit (covered) for about 10 or 20 minutes, while you get the toppings ready.

For the toppings...

Grate or mince 4 cloves of garlic into a small bowl.

Add one Tablespoon of olive oil to the garlic, mix with a fork, and let it sit until the dough is ready.

Also, go ahead and chop one cup of artichoke hearts (I used the canned kind but I know they have frozen ones as well; I can just never find them around here) and get some olives chopped as well.

Now its time to roll out your dough on a floured surface. I just sprinkle flour right on the baking sheet and roll it out on the pan. I also don't care about how it looks. I'm sure you could get it in a nice even circle, but I just roll until it's flat and has the most surface area possible! Brush your garlic-infused olive oil over the whole pie.

Spread fire-roasted tomatoes over the dough.

Then top with artichokes, olives, a handful of feta cheese, and torn fresh basil leaves.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Mediterranean week started out right at our house.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meat and Vegetable Lasagna

This is not a "quick" meal, but it is oh so worth the time and effort. Who doesn't love a good (and I do mean good) lasagna? This is the best of both worlds...hearty meat and cheese lasagna combined with lovely vegetable lasagna.

Start by browning the meat (lean ground sirloin or venison). Add 3-4 cloves minced garlic to the meat. While that cooks, chop up your veggies...
3-4 carrots
2 zucchini
1 cup mushrooms

Once the meat is browned, add vegetables to the pot.

Saute five minutes, then add one large can of crushed tomatoes, one small can of tomato sauce, and lots of seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, oregano, marjoram).

In a medium bowl, mix 1 container part skim ricotta cheese, one egg, and 8 oz shredded mozzarella.

Boil water and cook whole wheat lasagna noodles according to package directions. Five minutes before assembling, add one box of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and rung out) to the sauce, shredding with your fingers as you drop it in.

To assemble the lasagna, start with a little sauce on the bottom of a casserole. Then layer 1/4 of the noodles, 1/4 of the meat/veggie sauce, and 1/3 of the cheese.

End with a final layer of sauce, and put in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes to one hour.