Mexican Stuffed Shells

I made this for my wifey Jennifer when she came over last Saturday night. It was a new recipe so I was a little apprehensive, but we both loved it. It is a nice twist on other stuffed shells recipes and has the added bonus of being vegetarian! AND, if you are able to do it right, actually kind of healthy. Unfortunately, both Jen and I liked it so much, there is no picture to share. But I think it’s pretty easy to visualize…

Mexican Stuffed Shells

(adapted from Skinny Mom)

Ingredients

  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 cup part-skim Mexican shredded cheese
  • 2 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook jumbo shells in a large pot until al dente. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized skillet over low heat. Add EVOO (that’s extra-virgin olive oil for you newbs) and diced onion and green pepper; saute until soft. Add black beans, corn, taco seasoning, and water to the skillet; mix well. Add cream cheese to the skillet and stir as it melts.

In a 9×13 casserole dish, pour the 2 cups of salsa over the bottom and spread evenly. Arrange cooked jumbo shells in the casserole dish and spoon about 1 tbsp of the black bean/corn mixture into each shell. You may need a second casserole dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of the shells.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Notes

I did not have reduced-fat cream cheese, only the full-fat good stuff, so that is what I used and my dish was less healthy because of it…do I care? Not really. Allegedly, according to Skinny Mom (she calls this recipe SKINNY Mexican Stuffed Shells), 2 shells will only run you 244 calories if you use the right ingredients.

I also don’t use packaged taco seasoning because it’s far too easy to do myself. A little cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, we’re good.

I recommend undercooking the shells a little bit so they hold up better to the filling. Too soft and they’re difficult to work with.

Enjoy!

Curried Vegetable & Chickpea Stew

I want to dislike this recipe.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really tasty. But that’s kind of the problem. It’s tastier than any vegan dish has a right to be. Yes you read correctly – this post is VEGAN.

It is insanely healthy; I kind of use it as my “detox” meal for when I’ve been eating all kinds of cookies and candy and burgers and other deliciously non-vegan things.

Try it, you’ll like it.

photo(2)

Curried Vegetable & Chickpea Stew

(adapted from The Kitchn)

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 large potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5-10 oz baby spinach
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions with some salt, then add the diced potatoes with a little more salt. Saute until just translucent around the edges.

Stir in the curry powder, brown sugar, ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic cloves; cook until fragrant. Pour in 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth and scrape the bottom of the skillet to deglaze. Pour the onion/potato mixture into your slow cooker.

Add the rest of the vegetable broth, the chickpeas, both bell peppers, the cauliflower florets, and the diced tomatoes into the slow cooker. Stir to combine then add some salt and pepper; stir some more. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

Just before serving, add spinach and coconut milk. Stir so the spinach wilts. Serve!

Notes

I cheat with this recipe. You’ll notice that the ingredient list is kind of long (at least in my opinion). So I cheat – this time, I bought pre-chopped bell pepper and pre-cut cauliflower, along with the frozen diced onions I use regularly. I KNOW – I am a DISGRACE to COOKING. Whatever. The frozen diced onions have become a habit just because it is so crazy convenient, but I do usually buy fresh bell peppers and chop them myself. This time I didn’t. Oh well.

If you’re anything like me, you will feel really weird eating this stew and keenly feel the absence of cheese and/or cream of some kind. But it’s still good, honestly! It’s detox food.

Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

I know…it’s been a million years. Get used to it. Two and a half weeks from the wedding, I’m surprised I’m posting at all! But, busy though we are, we still gotta eat…and I can only do so much wedding work before I HAVE to do something else for awhile. I actually made this recipe several nights ago and am just getting around to posting it now. It’s a different way to do mac and cheese than anything I’ve tried in the past…for starters, there’s NO butter! Weird, right? But it still turns out tasty.

veggie mac n cheese

Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

(adapted from The Comfort of Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup small broccoli florets
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 10 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (elbows, penne, rotini)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 to 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs (I just had regular, which was fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil a pot of salted water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Arrange a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking tray and coat with cooking spray. Toss your chopped vegetables with a little bit of olive oil (this isn’t the 1/4 cup, that comes in a bit) and salt and pepper. Pour onto the baking sheet in a single layer and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until softened. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute; then whisk in the milk slowly as it starts to thicken. (Start out with 3 tbsp of flour and add another tbsp if the sauce doesn’t become thick enough.) Remove skillet from heat and add shredded cheese, stirring until melted into the sauce. Add cooked pasta, the roasted vegetables, and crushed red pepper; toss it all together really well.

Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Put the dish in the oven for just a few minutes until the breadcrumbs have started to brown.

Notes

Yummy, huh? V liked this a lot, which I didn’t really expect. The sauce was perfectly cheesy, but not in a super processed-cheesy way like the blue Kraft box (which I still love, by the way, always will, don’t care).

You may or may not hear from me again until after the wedding, after India…somehow I suspect you’ll manage. Happy summer!

Foolproof Chickpea Curry

I made this recipe today for two of my bridesmaids before heading out to do some wedding shoes/centerpieces/jewelry shopping. (Which was very successful! Although took almost 4 hours – these girls have the patience of saints.) Maid of honor is vegetarian and was coming straight from work, so I knew I needed to feed her well. I’m always looking for more vegetarian recipes for my repertoire, especially ones that are not pasta-based, since I eat so much of that already. Enter: chickpea curry.

chickpea curry

Chickpea Curry

(adapted from The Sweets Life)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 14.5 oz cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • approximately 5-6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4  cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions

Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat; after it warms, add in all the diced onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until clear-ish. Sprinkle garam masala over onions and stir well to coat evenly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach. Stir until spinach wilts.

Remove from heat and mix in Greek yogurt along with salt. Add fresh cilantro and serve over hot cooked rice.

Notes

Easy as that! Probably one of the fastest, least-fussy curries I have ever made. I kind of wished I’d made naan to go with it instead of rice though. I also completely forgot the cilantro! I just have dried cilantro around, but next time I will be sure not to forget that step. Sometimes I feel kind of iffy on Greek yogurt, but it is PERFECT here; adds just the right amount of creaminess to every bite. Mmmm. Try this one and let me know how you like it!

P.S. Allow me to emphasize – as with every other Indian dish I’ve posted, this is NOT spicy. You can add chilies or whatever to make it spicy if you want to, but as written, it’s safe for literally every palate.

Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna has always intimidated the crap out of me. So many steps! So much patience required! Consequently, for a very long time now I have put off making it, despite having more than one serviceable recipe at my disposal. But tonight I did it. It definitely did not turn out perfectly, but it does taste really good and that’s what counts. I’ve never placed a lot of importance on the appearance/attractiveness of food. What’s the point? I’m eating it, not gazing at it framed in a museum.

Case in point.

Case in point.

Spinach Lasagna

(adapted from Easy Lasagna Recipes, via Pinterest)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (or if you’re feeling really hedonistic, whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach (thawed, obviously)
  • 4 1/2 cups chunky tomato/marinara type of sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Gouda or Swiss cheese (slices may be used – I did)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Spread about 1 cup of the tomato/marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place uncooked lasagna noodles in a row across the pan. Combine ricotta and parmesan together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper as you like, and then spread about 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Top the cheese with the thawed chopped spinach and spread around liberally. Repeat the process until you run out of lasagna noodles. There should be a row of lasagna noodles on top when you run out, but I didn’t manage that for some reason, and in my opinion it’s not that crucial.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. When the time is up, take the pan out and add your grated or sliced Gouda or Swiss. (I cannot STAND Swiss cheese so the Gouda was a no-brainer for me.) Put back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Notes

Lots to say here. The lasagna noodles I had (Market Pantry brand from Target, whoohoo!) were about an inch too long to fit neatly in my pan so I kept having to break them and trying to keep them somewhat uniform. Obnoxious.

More bothersome – I really don’t know why this recipe calls for frozen chopped spinach. Just convenience I guess? Frozen chopped spinach is pretty bland and unappetizing, if you ask me, and I think fresh spinach would have greatly improved this dish, even though it was still very yummy as written.

The choice between Gouda and Swiss is strange to me also; both seem too sharp to really go with the creamy goodness that is ricotta. The Gouda slices on top were okay, but it was kind of an odd combination for me. I’m not sure what I’d substitute. Whatever it would be, I would probably use the grated or shredded varieties instead of slices, just as a reluctant nod to the dish’s final aesthetics…

Anyway, despite its flaws, I really liked this lasagna and I will definitely be making it again, with the aforementioned tweaks. If you try it, let me know how it goes for you!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Three posts in four days?!? Man oh man. I guess I’m taking to this blogging thing more than I thought I would – plus, it motivates me to actually cook stuff. Today we have another rather non-glamorous dinner, but it felt right for today, after eating a heavy Easter lunch at my grandma’s…although, truth be told, this soup is somewhat on the rich side, rather heavy on the butter and cheese. No surprise I like it so much.

This is actually also another slow cooker meal. I feel like I use crockpots in a different manner than most people – it’s supposed to be a convenience, a “throw it all in in the morning and come home to dinner all ready” but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t pull that off too often. Apparently I use it more on the weekends. Anyhoo…let’s get to it.

tbps

This soup doesn’t photograph well…sorry.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

(adapted from PinFoody)

Ingredients

  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 32 oz box vegetable broth
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups half-and-half, room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add first 8 ingredients (through the bay leaf) to the crockpot and stir well. Cook on LOW for 5-7 hours.

About 45 minutes before you want to serve, prepare what the fancy folks call a “roux”: melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add flour and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes. Pour a cup of the hot soup into the skillet and mix; add three more cups and stir. Pour it all back into the crockpot and add parmesan cheese and warmed half-and-half. Stir everything well; you might need to add more seasoning since the soup has been cooking for so long.

Cook it for another 30 minutes on low. Serve with a baguette warm from the oven. This soup is freaking fantastic for bread-dipping.

Notes

I personally feel the baguette/other similar bread is a crucial accompaniment. That’s really about it!

Creamy rotini with grape tomatoes & spinach

This is the meal you cook when you don’t have a lot of time, or a lot of motivation, but are resistant to the idea of busting out the blue Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese box/ordering pizza/just saying “oh f*ck it” and eating ice cream out of the container. Not that I have ever done any of those things.

photo

Creamy rotini with grape tomatoes & spinach

(adapted from The Comfort of Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream*
  • a few squirts of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb rotini pasta
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 oz baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan

Directions

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. While waiting, pour olive oil into a good-sized skillet and turn heat to medium. Add minced garlic and allow to soften. Pour in heavy cream* and lemon juice, adding salt and pepper to your liking. Stir together and turn the heat up to high so the liquid will boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat to low and cover the skillet, allowing the liquid to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add rotini to boiling water and cook according to package instructions.

Once 10 minutes are up, the pasta should be done cooking as well. Drain it and place immediately back into pot on low heat. Pour cream mixture over pasta, cover, and allow to sit for a few minutes. Then add chopped grape/cherry tomatoes, parmesan, and chopped spinach, stirring together. Cover again and toss the whole thing around vigorously so it mixes properly.

Notes

*The heavy cream. I realize this isn’t the healthiest of ingredients, so tonight when I made it, I thought I’d try subbing Greek yogurt. They say you can substitute Greek yogurt for practically anything! Yeah…it didn’t work so well. When I got to the simmering step, it looked kind of lumpy and curdled and frankly did not smell great. Sooo perhaps this is not a recipe where Greek yogurt subs well.

Another note on the heavy cream. After my Greek yogurt disaster, I realized I only had about 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I went ahead with it anyway and it turned out all right; not as decadent and creamy as it is with a full cup, but definitely satisfactory. You can go that route if you’d like.

Start to finish, this recipe takes approximately 20 minutes. And it’s fabulous.