Veggies

quinoa tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa tabbouleh quinoa tabbouleh quinoa tabbouleh – yay!!

quinoa tabbouleh

I can’t believe I’m just now sharing this recipe with you. Friends, do you ever go through phases with your food? As in, you make the same thing on a weekly basis for 1235 weeks in a row, then stop for no apparent reason? Then after a little break you remake the thing you made for 1235 weeks in a row and remember that it is one of your favorite things and it is always so fresh and on point, so you resume with the never ending cycle? This is that food for me.

quinoa tabboulehquinoa tabbouleh

What we have here is essentially a salad without leafy greens. Unless you count fresh herbs as leafy greens? I don’t know – whatever – it’s up to you. We’ve got nutty quinoa mixed with bright tomatoes and cucumbers that give you that healthy veggie glow vibe, and then everyone gets cozy with a whole lotta parsley and a zippy lemon dressing. You guys, that cucumber crunch, tho. I wouldn’t be the least bit mad if you replaced the tomatoes with another cucumber because while they’re a really pretty pop of color (I mean, LOOK at those babies…just gorgeous) and nutrition they don’t add a really necessary flavor. Someone do that and report back, please.

quinoa tabbouleh

Another thing I want to mention is that we’re thiiiiiis close to having this vegan. I don’t know about you, but I’m in the camp that insists on cooking my quinoa in chicken broth. I’ve literally never ever cooked it any other way, so I guess I’m just an oldie set firmly in her comfort zone. I promise I will get on the sometimes vegan train soon because this would be the easiest swap possible (veggie broth or water for the chicken broth), but I just haven’t done it yet. Someone also do that and report back, please!

I had taken a little break from making this quinoa tabbouleh, but its revival couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m on a mission to do more lunches from home – remember when I talked about how awesome our cafeteria is at work? As awesome as it is, it is still much more affordable and healthy to eat from home, so brown-bagging it is. Enter this quinoa tabbouleh. I’ll make it on Sunday during naptime –> shocker <– and then portion it out for us to have for lunches during the week. Paired with whatever protein we have from the night before, along with our veggie bags, we have a perfect lunch.

quinoa tabbouleh

On another note, you guys, this is your new best friend when it comes to bringing sides for cookouts and parties. Some groups are more into these types of healthy sides than others, but no worry – as we’ve already established, any leftovers are great for days to come. Is it bad that I secretly wish that people won’t eat this dish when I bring it to a function, just so that I can have more to take home? That rarely happens, though, because by now errrryone knows it is de-lish.

quinoa tabbouleh

Go ahead and volunteer to bring this quinoa tabbouleh to your Memorial Day cookout (like oh my gosh how is it already almost Memorial Day), and be the star side-bringer we all know you are. And then just be prepared to make this every week forever and ever.

quinoa tabbouleh

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make this vegan)
2 English cucumbers (also called hothouse cucumber)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa in the chicken broth according to the package directions. Once done move it to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool.
  2. While the quinoa cooks and cools, slice the tomatoes in half and dice the cucumbers. Remove the parsley stems and chop the leaves. Combine the salt and lemon juice in a small bowl then gradually whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooled stir in cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and the lemon dressing.
  4. Enjoy!
spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

Ricotta Spinach Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Ricotta Spinach Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan. Do you need more words, or is that enough to get you in the kitchen stat? This dish is everything your veggie loving self needs every day for the rest of your veggie loving life. Remember Andy – my meatatarian husband that *tolerates* one meatless night a week? Well we had TWO meatless nights (and 2 meatless lunches) last week, and he was 1,000% okay with it. And it’s all thanks to this ↓ lightly breaded eggplant + spinach + ricotta + mozzarella + sauce all baked to perfection.

spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

What we have here is traditional eggplant parmesan (except baked) meets eggplant lasagna meets stuffed shells (minus the pasta) meets gooey cheese heaven meets heaven heaven…like for real this is probably what vegetarians eat in heaven…too far? -> NOPE. This dish is huge, and could be cut in half, but then that would require more measuring, plus you would have fewer leftovers and put in just about the same amount of work, so I’m going with the “more leftovers = less cooking later on” side of the aisle. <– Lazy girl winning at life right there, friends.

spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

And, you guys, this dish is suuuuper low-cal. I had to run the numbers three times because I just couldn’t believe it. Divided into 8 huge portions, each serving is only 313 calories – 313 calories FOR DINNER. That leaves room for a nice piece of crusty bread and glass of wine…two things that give me all the comfort food, treat yo self, keeping it healthy dinner feels. I mean look at the size of that serving…

spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

For us this is a Sunday night dinner, Monday-Tuesday lunch and Wednesday night dinner type of situation. You need a good hour from the time you start slicing the eggplant until it’s totally assembled and ready for the oven, but that is definitely not all hands-on time. You have two 20-minute waiting times that you can get a ton of work done. For example: the last time I made this I dusted my house and set-up to clean the bathrooms while the eggplant soaked, then while the eggplant rounds were baking I cleaned the sinks and toilets. Then you still have an hour of cooking time when you can do anything: vacuum, exercise, relax with a glass of wine because your house is 75% clean – whatever, the choice is yours! It’s not practical for us to make during the week, but if I stayed home this would be something that could easily be made during naptime and cooked later on.

spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesanspinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesanspinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesanspinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesanspinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesanspinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

This is also a great dish if you’re having guests, especially if you want to have a vegetarian option. You can have it assembled and ready for the oven, then just pop it in once they arrive and let it cook while you’re doing appetizers and drinks. It can easily serve as a side dish (smaller portions, obv), but it is really so good as an entrée and you don’t miss having meat.

spinach ricotta stuffed eggplant parmesan

8-10 servings (313 calories/8 servings or 250 calories/10 servings)

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants (mine equaled about 3 lbs)
2 cups milk
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup flour
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach – thawed and squeezed of juices
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 ½ cups marinara sauce (one jar)
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Combine milk and salt in a two-gallon zippered bag. Cut eggplant into ¼ inch rounds, then add to the bag. Soak for 20 minutes*.
  2. While the eggplant soaks preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine breadcrumbs, flour and Italian seasoning in a bowl.
  3. Remove the eggplant, one piece at a time, and coat both sides in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the baking sheet, and repeat until all of the slices are coated (some overlap is ok). Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The breading may still look a little “dusty,” but that’s fine.
  4. While the eggplant cooks, combine ricotta, egg, spinach and parmesan in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Prepare a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Take the eggplant slices out of the oven.
  6. Assembly:
    • Spread ½ cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
    • Layer half of the eggplant in the dish.
    • Cover with 1 cup marinara sauce**.
    • Add the spinach-ricotta mixture, and spread evenly over the marinara.
    • Sprinkle ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese over mixture.
    • Layer the second half of the eggplant.
    • Cover with remaining cup of marinara sauce, spreading evenly.
    • Finish with remaining 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella.
  7. Cover loosely with foil, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned to your liking.
  8. Enjoy!

*Flip the bag a few times to make sure it soaks evenly.

**This won’t look perfect, but it all cooks together nicely. Just use a spatula and spread as evenly as you can, and make sure there is at least a little sauce covering each piece.

freezer breakfast burritos

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Raise your hand if you love breakfast! Raise your hand if you find yourself with no time to make breakfast on busy weekday mornings! Keep that hand up if you are reallllly not into the whole “overnight oats” movement…well haaay there savory, hot breakfast loving friends!

Andy and I are major lovers of breakfast. More specifically –> savory breakfast. Sure we’ll make waffles or French toast every now and then, but given the choice we’d take a biscuit sandwich over just about anything else ever. While we rarely eat biscuits (why oh why do they have to be loaded with all the fat and calories?!?!?), we love a good savory hash. Saturday morning at the Peascoe house is MADE for hash.

Scrambled eggs + diced potatoes, onions, peppers + black beans + spicy sausage + a liiittle cheese = perfect way to start a Saturday.

freezer breakfast burritosfreezer breakfast burritos

While we don’t have time to make the “perfect way to start a Saturday” hash on busy weekday mornings, we can take the time to pull out one of our pre-made breakfast burritos filled with the exact same mixture and eat it on the go because that’s just how we roll.

freezer breakfast burritos

Y’all these breakfast burritos are so super simple and delicious. The best part is that once made, you have at least 12 days of breakfast ready to go when you need it. The second best part about these breakfast burritos is that they’re completely customizable. Want it vegetarian? Leave out the sausage. Want greens? Wilt some spinach into the eggs as you scramble them. Want to use a whole wheat tortilla? Go for it. Not a fan of veggies in the morning? Leave them out. You do you, my friend.

freezer breakfast burritos

The third best part about these breakfast burritos is that they’re GREAT to take to friends with new babies. I often have people ask me for ideas on what to take new parents, and these have moved to the top of that list. Dinner is always helpful and VERY appreciated, but I remember having so much dinner stuff that we ran out of fridge space. However, one thing that still sticks out and was extremely helpful was when someone would also bring muffins or some other breakfast food that could be eaten with one hand. There were so many days in those first few weeks after Andy went back to work where I would look at the clock and realize it was 2 p.m. and I hadn’t had a single bite of food all day. Taking these to a new mom means she has 12 hearty breakfasts that she can heat (and reheat and reheat) and eat with one hand while holding her newborn that refuses to be put down <– not exaggerating.

freezer breakfast burritos

I have to be honest, though, I very rarely actually have them for my breakfast. Here’s the thing. My office has a really reallllly good cafeteria. We have visitors from around the world that spend $$$$ to hang out with us, so they, therefore, expect great food to be part of that experience. Working there means I also get to eat great food…mmmmmm. With that, I prefer to save my calories and eat 1-2 servings of fruit in the morning and then have a heartier lunch. However, while I generally don’t eat heavy breakfasts on weekdays, Andy still does. Bud is 6’5” and stands up to teach all day, so it’s understandable he needs a little more fuel. Most mornings he’ll take time to make a power packed smoothie, but sometimes he just wants the convenience and warmth that comes with popping a frozen burrito in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Basically, I make these all for him and get major points because I know he has a happy belly everyday on the way to work. Happy belly = happy husband = happy wife = happy life. It’s the little things, y’all 🙂

freezer breakfast burritos

Wow – I realize this post has been all over the place. There was just so much to share about these awesome, simple, flavorful breakfast burritos that I couldn’t NOT share one bit of it with you because you’re like me and want to know alllll the deets and that’s why we get along so well. I’ll finally get to the recipe, so you too can enjoy the happiness that comes with the knowledge that you have a freezer full of delicious breakfast just waiting for you.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium potatoes (russet or Yukon gold work best) – small dice
1 red bell pepper – small dice
1 medium yellow onion – diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained and rinsed
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
1 lb sausage
18 eggs
12-14 burrito size flour tortillas*
Sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook until they start to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the bell pepper, onion, spices, salt and pepper (to taste), and cook until the potatoes are done. Stir in the black beans, then move the mixture to a bowl to cool.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the heat. Cook the sausage, then move to another bowl to cool. Drain the fat, leaving 1 tsp behind.
  3. Scramble the eggs, then cook over medium-low heat until done. Transfer to another bowl to cool.
  4. Assembly: lay one tortilla on a piece of plastic wrap. Add a heaping 1/3 cup eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup sausage and 2 tbsp cheese. Roll one side over the filling, then fold in the two ends and finish rolling the burrito. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Once assembled, place into a freezer bag and freeze up to three months.
  5. To heat: remove from the freezer and take off plastic wrap. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave on high for 1.5-2.5 minutes depending on your microwave.

*I don’t always get the same number of burritos out of this (weird, right?). It’s usually in the 12-14 range, and there is generally at least one that ends up being all veggies and eggs.

veggie power bowls

Veggie Power Bowls

Happy New Year!

After what feels like an eternity, I’m finally back to the blog. As it is that I’m still recovering from such a long break, let’s get the year off by reviving one of the top/healthiest recipes that came out of Miss Foodie Two Shoes in 2016: the Veggie Power Bowl.

You may be wondering about the poached egg on top. Want to learn something? THEY SELL PASTEURIZED EGGS AT THE GROCERY STORE!!! I can deal with the food restrictions that come with pregnancy, but the hardest is not being able to eat runny eggs. I actually googled “is it okay to eat poached eggs while pregnant?” and found a forum that talked about pasteurized eggs. You guys – YOU GUYS!!! – they ARE a thing. They’re expensive, but if you’re in my boat then it’s worth it. I still don’t eat runny eggs more than a time or two a week, but having the option is giving me life as I’m nearing the end of the second trimester.

Original Post below, and I will be back starting next week with all new recipes for 2017!

It’s like this: I heart veggies. Period. The end. Byeeee.

veggie power bowls

If you’ve been following my little blog since it first started just a few months ago (wheee!), then you know I’m 1) obsessed with cramming in as many veggies as I can, and 2) obsessed with prepping veggies over the weekend for super easy meals during the week.  Exhibits A and B:

roasted butternut squashroasted cauliflower

These veggie power bowls are my absolute perfect idea of a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner (yes I really do eat this for breakfast). Remember how I roast butternut squash and cauliflower every Sunday? I do that 10% for us to have veggies ready for the week, and 90% so I can make this delicious meal while I’m working from home on Mondays.

veggie power bowls

Any other work from homers out there? I L-O-V-E the days I work from home. Instead of taking breaks to meet friends at the coffee bar, I take breaks to transfer loads of laundry. Instead of chatting for 10 minutes after a meeting, I Swiffer mop the bathrooms and kitchen. I get so much done, and I feel like I’m dominating the whole work-life balance thing. I definitely couldn’t do it full-time because I prefer seeing people in person most of the time, but a day every week or two really helps to take a load off of my night and weekend to-do list. Working from home also means I get to eat these veggie power bowls, and get an easy four servings of veggies in before I even have to change out of my pajamas. Winning!

veggie power bowls

Let’s break down these veggie power bowls. First up are the veggies that you’ve pre-roasted the weekend before. Don’t have veggies pre-roasted? No problem, just sauté them together in a frying pan until done. Don’t have butternut squash and/or cauliflower? Also not a problem. The beauty of these bowls is that you can really use any veggies you have on hand (see notes below). Next, you have the leafy greens. In my case it’s generally kale, but spinach works well, too. Last, we have a glorious fried egg on top. Any type of egg works, but I alllllways go for the fried option here. The whites are perfectly set and the yolk is golden and luxuriously runny. The runny yolk coats the veggies as it drips down into the bowl, and bumps up comfort food status to the max. You feel like you’re eating something totally decadent, but it’s really just veggies and protein. Veggie power! Finish off the bowl with a little Sriracha (or a lot – you’re the boss here), and dig in. The easiest and healthiest power meal is ready for your face in less than 10 minutes. Does it get any better?

veggie power bowls

Recipe is for one bowl.  306 calories (using olive oil)

Ingredients:

¾ cup roasted butternut squash
¾ cup roasted cauliflower
1 (packed) cup kale – leaves torn or chopped
1 tsp olive oil or butter
1 egg
Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small non-stick skillet, reheat the butternut squash and cauliflower. Move to a bowl.
  2. In same pan add kale and a couple tablespoons of water. Season with salt, pepper and (a little) garlic powder, and sauté until desired doneness. (I generally let it go 3-4 minutes so that it’s soft but not totally wilted.) Add kale to the bowl with the squash and cauliflower.
  3. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel, heat the pan over a nice low heat, then add butter or olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  4. Crack the egg into the skillet and let sit for 1-2 minutes, then cover for another 2-3 minutes to help the whites on top to cook through. Allow to cook as long as you prefer to reach your desired consistency for the yolk. Once done, transfer to your veggie bowl, top with sriracha and enjoy!

Notes: other good veggie options include carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, black beans. If you want carbs, feel free to add rice, quinoa or a slice of crusty bread to sop up the egg yolk.

baby pea guacamole

Baby Pea Guacamole

Today’s post is named as is for two reasons. Reason one is for the actual ingredient I use in my guacamole. Yes, you just read that right. And I probably just lost half of you. Wait wait wait! Just hear me out. By now it’s no secret that I add veggies in anytime I see an opening, so why not with guacamole? Guacamole in and of itself is already all veggies and pretty healthy, but avocados really do make the calorie count soar. My answer? Stretch it out by adding baby PEAS –> oh yes I just did. I will admit Andy was suuuuper skeptical the first time I mentioned I would be adding peas to our guacamole, but then he ate it and couldn’t even taste them. Literally, he thought I had changed my mind about using them.

baby pea guacamole

Reason two for the name of this post is to give a nod to the fact that my own Baby Pea is turning TWO on Friday, and I. Can’t. Deal. How in the world has it already been two years??? I had no trouble when she turned one (probably because I was still in the hazy fog that is having a child under one), but for some reason I am so emotional about this next birthday. I guess it’s probably that the first year seemed so hard, and we were just grateful to get through it, but now we’re pretty comfortable with this whole parenting thing. I don’t know. They say it goes fast, and you believe them, but you don’t really, truly get it until it’s your own little nugget. If you need me on Friday, I’ll be crying in my office. How much she’s grown in the year since this picture was taken…*sobs*

Anna Ruth

For the last several years anytime we make guacamole we just use pico de gallo mixed with mashed avocados. I thought I was GENIUS, but then saw the Pioneer Woman has the same method, so I’m not alone….but that does mean that I’m totally twinsies with Ree, so yay for us and our awesome guac making ways!

baby pea guacamole

I’m half and half on the pico. Sometimes I’ll make it fresh and other times I just buy it fresh from the store. No shame. If you want convenience, definitely go for the store bought. If you have a little time, though, making it yourself gives you that awesome feeling of accomplishment because 1) it’s healthy and 2) I MADE THAT FROM SCRATCH(!!). If you haven’t made it this way in the past, please try it. I don’t use all of the pico in the guacamole, so I wind up having two dips made entirely of veggies. Ummm, yes please.

baby pea guacamole

Back to the recipe twist: baby peas! I guess you could do this by just mashing the thawed peas, but a food processor makes quick work of it. I should share now that I love love love my food processor. I rearranged most of the lower cabinets in my kitchen just to have it easily accessible. I use it ALL the time. I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I will say that this is one that will remain in the event that I ever fall under a major purging spell. I can’t find my exact model, but this is similar to the one I use. They can be pretty pricey, but I can’t tell you how many good things come from it, and it is something I use at least twice a week. Quick sauces, hummus, shredded brussels sprouts and cabbage, nut butters <– all things easily made in the food processor. Really, do yourself a favor and get one, then make this veggied up guacamole. You won’t be sorry.

baby pea guacamole

For the Pico:

5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 onion
1 large fistful cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Guacamole:

2 avocados
1 cup pico de gallo (homemade or store bought)
1 cup frozen baby peas – thawed
1 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pico: dice the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Combine veggies in a bowl with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Pulse the thawed peas in a food processor. (They won’t be smooth, but almost crumb-like.)
  3. In another bowl, mash the avocado to desired consistency. Mix in peas, pico de gallo and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
creamy potato and white bean soup with sausage and kale

Creamy Potato and White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale

I’m back with another mouthful of a recipe name – shocker. The only other name that came to mind that would truly make sense is Winter Bliss Soup, but I am not that obnoxious with my recipe names just yet. This Creamy Potato and White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale feels like giving yourself a hug from the inside out, so “winter bliss” could totally be an appropriate name if that’s what you want to call it. Friends, I don’t even feel like I can give you an adequate description of how delicious this soup is, which is very sad for a food blogger. I’ve tried and just can’t come up with the words that express it well enough. Seriously, though, this might be the best soup I’ve ever made or eaten. There’s not one thing that makes it what it is. It’s everything combined that just makes it so perfect. Literally, I’ve had people taste this and offer to actually PAY me to make a batch for them. Personal-ish chef? Me? *Blushes*

creamy potato and white bean soup with sausage and kale

Something you’ll learn about me is that I’m a raging soup enthusiast. Obsessed. Literally, if I ever open a restaurant it will be called Laura’s Bisquetro and serve soup year-round, which is why I will probably never open a restaurant because I am likely the only person that still wants soup when it’s 90+ degrees outside. I love love love making soup – maybe even more than eating it, okay fiiine it’s a tie. I have several quick and easy recipes, but there’s just something about spending a little time here and there on a long, lazy Saturday that makes me so happy (probably because I have so few long, lazy Saturdays 😉 ). This soup is somewhere in between quick and easy and long and involved. It’s pretty hands on from start to finish, but really doesn’t take more than about 45 minutes. Here’s the gist: cook sausage, cook shallots and potatoes, add beans, puree, add sausage and kale. Dunzo bunzo.

creamy potato and white bean soup with sausage and kale

Now that I’ve said “dunzo bunzo” twice now, I have to explain. This is something my sweet little niece started saying a couple of years ago, and it stuck around the Peascoe house. Here is a pic of my perfect little Abigail. She just loves Anna Ruth to pieces and the feeling is mutual, which makes my heart happy happy happy. If you ever see AR holding a toy like a phone, ask her who she’s calling and she will say Abby or Jack 99% of the time. (Jack is Abigail’s brother/AR’s cousin-twin, and he’ll definitely show up later on!)

abigail mae

This creamy potato and white bean soup with sausage and kale is everything your freezing self wants needs during the winter. All with fresh, cozy ingredients. The potatoes, white beans and heavy cream puree into the creamiest, silkiest soup base ev-er. I’m generally not one that goes for heavy cream in recipes, but it just adds so much to this soup that I can’t forgo it. I don’t peel the potatoes (duh, all the nutrients, and ->LAZY GIRL<-), so the combination of that with the white beans gives it an earthy taste, which isn’t bad, but just needs to be mellowed out by a little cream IMO. Made as is this soup has a good kick of spice, so if you’re making it for kids I would suggest either leaving out the red pepper flakes and/or using a mild sausage. Side note: I’m interested in making this with turkey or chicken sausage, so let me know how it turns out if you do it first! Guess what else I love about this soup…it freezes beautifully! <– You probably knew that was coming, right? I’m so typical. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about how the kale would handle it, but it comes out of the freezer and is 100% as good as the fresh version. Just make sure to let it thaw out completely in the fridge before reheating. Enjoy!

creamy potato and white bean soup with sausage and kale

Serves 8 (435 calories per serving)

Ingredients:
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 tbsp butter
1 large shallot – diced
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
8 cups chicken broth
3 large russet potatoes – diced
2 (15.5 oz) cans cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/2 -1 bunch kale – stems removed and leaves rough chopped or torn

Directions:
1. In a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat, cook sausage until done, using a wooden spoon to crumble as it cooks. Remove from pot and set aside*.
2. In same pot melt butter and add shallot and cook until soft. Add garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir until fragrant – about one minute. Add broth, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom and then add the potatoes.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. During the last five minutes of cooking time, add the beans.
4. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in heavy cream.
5. Return the sausage to the soup, then add the kale a couple handfuls at a time. It will look like it’s too much, but kale wilts down a lot, so keep adding!
6. Serve with crusty bread (if desired) and enjoy!

*I use sausage that doesn’t render much fat, so I just leave what’s left in the pot after scooping it out. If your sausage renders a lot of fat, spoon most of it out and leave 1-2 tsp.

crockpot veggie lasagna

Crockpot Veggie Lasagna

Today I’m testing the limits of what you will or will not let me get away with putting in your face.  In my mind veggie lasagna is *muah* but for some people lasagna with no meat is like pizza with no cheese….just let me speak my piece then decide.  #1 I mean, just look at it…

crockpot veggie lasagna

#2 This veggie lasagna is a crockpot filled with soul-warming comfort food at its finest with the health factor bumped up like a hundred notches.  I will admit some of the best lasagnas include a mix of ground beef and sausage, but I would rank this as being equally good.  Unless you’re my husband (Andy, turn off the laser beams in your eyes)…he’s, ummm, a meatatarian and makes no bones about the fact that he will begrudgingly eat a meal if it does not include some sort of beef, chicken, seafood or pork.  Don’t get me wrong.  We do at least one meatless dinner a week, but when I try to slip a second one in there he preemptively gets hangry.  However, he actually liked this…like really really liked it – win!

crockpot veggie lasagna

In the winter it’s so easy to get sucked into eating heavy comfort food because it’s so cold outside, and some days you literally feel like you’ll freeze to death if you don’t eat pot roast or stew.  I generally get about half way through winter like this before realizing, wow, I’m good on the animal protein, but could really use like a TON of veggies right now.  Enter this crockpot of noodley, veggie-filled love.  We’ve got loads of kale, cubed butternut squash and mushrooms.  Really, though, any veggies you have on hand can work here.

crockpot veggie lasagna

#3 You’ll leave feeling all the feels of having traditional lasagna, but with the glow that can only be achieved by eating all the veggies…and all for just under 450 calories for an enormous portion.  I’ll be honest, if you have a meatatarian in your life, you could easily add a pound of cooked ground meat (I would use sausage here because it goes really well with kale), and just use about 1/2 – 2/3 of the veggies.

crockpot veggie lasagna

Let’s talk about preparation.  This does take a minute to put together – hello, it’s lasagna.  For me this is a weekend meal, or a dinner when I’m able to run home at lunch to put it together.  The biggest thing I need to stress about this is that once the cooking time is done, you need to let it sit, covered, for about an hour before digging in.  The extra hour of resting time really pulls everything together, and gives it the texture and hold-togetherness of lasagna.  Once you’re done and this has been sitting for a while, you’ll be able to cut pieces like you would a traditional lasagna that’s been sitting, so you can go ahead and portion this out for your lunches for the week.  I’ve never tried freezing this, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.  If you do freeze it, let me know how it works out!

crockpot veggie lasagna

Serves 8-10 (447 calories per serving when divided into 8 portions or 358 calories for 10 portions)

Ingredients:

2 (24 oz) jars marinara sauce (you’ll only use about 1.5 jars)
12 lasagna noodles (not the no boil kind)
24 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3-4 cups chopped kale (packed)
3 cups cubed butternut squash
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Optional: garlic powder, oregano and black pepper (or any spice combination you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Spray the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray, then add 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom.
  2. Add 3 lasagna noodles to form a single layer, breaking the noodles to fit as needed.
  3. Cover noodles with about a third of the ricotta then a third of each of the veggies.
  4. Cover the veggies with 1/2 – 1 cup of marinara (depending on how saucy you like it), 1/2 cup of mozzarella and spices*.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 two more times then finish with one last layer of noodles, sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.
  6. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Once the cooking time is through, turn off the crockpot, leave the lid on and let it sit for an hour.  This step is really important because it gives everything a chance to firm up a bit.  It’ll be pretty runny if you don’t do this, which may or may not be an issue for you.

*Add any spices you like.  I do garlic powder, oregano and black pepper.  I don’t measure it, but I would say less than a 1/4 teaspoon of each per layer.  Depending on the marinara sauce you may want to add a little salt as well, but mine already had plenty.

roasted butternut squash and red bell pepper sauce

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Sorry, I can’t talk.  I can’t stop stuffing my face with anything butternut squashy.  As promised last week I said I would give you my go-to roasted butternut squash recipe this week.  Well you’re getting that, PLUS a recipe I’ve been crushing on for a while that uses half of it… Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Bell Pepper Sauce.  Forgive me.  I’ve tried coming up with something better than <- THAT mouthful of a name, but nothing seems right.  Please don’t be scared away by such a long name.  If anything just remember that roasting = hands off, so yay for easy!

roasted butternut squash

As you may have realized last week, I’m obsessed with roasting veggies.  Roasted veggies are just better than pretty much any other means of preparation IMO.  Okay, sautéed is also great, but mainly for stir fries.  I just can’t get past the mushiness that comes from boiling and steaming – bleh, so roasting it is!  My favorite right now is roasted butternut squash.  My grocery store sells 2 lb containers of it peeled, seeded and diced, which makes my life 1,000x easier (read: the amount of time I save by not peeling/seeding/dicing is worth the extra $.20/lb I would save buying it whole).  Almost every Sunday I roast the entire 2 lbs and use it throughout the week.  We’ll throw it into frittatas, have it by itself as a side or use it in a burrito for a meatless night during the week.  There are so many other things I do, and you’ll be getting some of those ideas later on.  Lately, though, I’ve been using half of it right away for this sauce.  Y’all, this sauce is ALL veggies with a little olive oil and seasoning thrown in.

roasted bell pepper sauce

Let me count the ways I love this sauce:

  1. Everything roasts in the oven at the same time – you only need to give yourself about 5-10 minutes of prep, and then go relax while the oven does its roasting magic.
  2. Once roasted and cooled, you throw everything into a food processor or blender and give it a whir, and that’s it – dunzo bunzo.
  3. Very little clean-up! Roast the veggies on parchment paper, so you only have the food processor to clean.
  4. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – ALL VEGGIES…healthy…healthy glow…goddess glow…you get it.
  5. It is SO versatile. It should be obvious by now, but I love lists, so here are the ways I’ve already used it:
    • As a dip for raw veggies (or nuggets for kids – just mix with a little ketchup)
    • As a spread for sandwiches and wraps (esp on grilled cheese)
    • Thin it out with a little cooking liquid and use it as a pasta sauce
    • Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Bell Pepper Hummus (recipe coming later)
    • I haven’t tried this yet, but it just came to me and now I’m super excited…use as pizza sauce
  6. It freezes really well, though we generally don’t have any trouble finishing it during the week.
  7. The entire batch has just over 850 calories – 861 to be exact. It’s hard to give calories per serving because the number of servings will vary depending on how you use it.
  8. It’s gluten free and vegan.

I’ll stop, so you can decide for yourself.  Seriously, you need to get this into your life right now – you can thank me later.

roasted butternut squash and red bell pepper sauce

Ingredients:

2 lbs diced butternut squash*
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
3 red bell peppers halved and seeded
2 small shallots
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3-4 tbsp olive oil for roasting the veggies
2 tbsp olive oil for the sauce
1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare veggies for roasting: (Start with the shallots because they need more roasting time.)
    • Peel shallots, drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place foil pack in oven (make sure to position it so oil doesn’t drip out and down).
    • Toss** butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Spread onto a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Place bell pepper halves skin side up on another lined baking sheet.
    • Toss** tomatoes with a little olive oil and put on baking sheet with peppers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    • Once the shallots have been roasting for about 15-20 minutes, add the squash to the oven. After 20 more minutes, stir the squash and add the peppers and tomatoes to the oven.  Allow everything to roast for another 30 minutes or until soft.
  3. Place bell peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow all of the veggies to cool.  Once cooled, peel the skin from the peppers, and place all of the veggies in a food processor or blender (remember to only add half of the butternut squash).
  4. To the food processor add olive oil, salt and pepper (feel free to add some red pepper flakes if you want this spicy). Turn it on, and let everything come together as a thick sauce.
  5. Keep in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.

*I recommend roasting the entire amount, so you’ll have half ready for other uses during the week.

**Tip: Use a gallon-size zipper bag to toss the veggies with the oil because it saves having to clean a big bowl, and I’ve found it’s the best way to evenly coat the ingredients.  Use the same bag for both the squash and tomatoes.

weekly veggie prep

Weekly Veggie Prep and Roasted Cauliflower

I introduced this blog with the idea that Andy and I do a fair amount of food prep on the weekends, so I figure I need to actually dedicate entire posts every so often to show you what I mean by that.  The previous recipes on the blog don’t show just how “into” veggies I am, but I reallllly am.  As a rough estimate I can confidently say that most days we both get at least 6 servings of veggies and 4 servings of fruit, and that is possible because we prep.  I’ll start with our basic veggie prep and roasted cauliflower that we do almost every weekend – and I’ll try to keep myself from getting too wordy.

weekly veggie prep

First thing I should clarify is that we do this on Sunday’s during Anna Ruth’s naptime.  I know a lot of people don’t have a guaranteed time they have to be home, so I’m lucky that I can make this a priority. You may not have an hour on the weekends where you can, or even want to, prep, but even 10-15 minutes can make a huge difference during the week.

One thing I always always always do is chop fresh veggies for Andy and me to eat for lunches or snacks during the week.  We prepare ten sandwich baggies of veggies that we eat each day.  Groundbreaking, I know…  I actually started doing this when I was pregnant with AR and had to force myself to eat veggies, and it stuck.  These bags usually include red bell pepper strips (5 peppers total), cucumber slices (2 English cucumbers total) and grape tomatoes (8-10 per bag), and I’ll add celery and carrots to Andy’s bags if we have it.  I’ll also make a separate bag for AR with just bell pepper strips and cucumber slices that she can snack on while I’m making dinner in the evenings.  We’ve got the whole process of rinsing, chopping and bagging down to about 10 minutes, which is time well spent in my book.  You guys, this automatically ensures you’re eating about 2 cups of whole, raw veggies every day without giving it much more thought.  <– Winning

weekly veggie prep

The other two things I make almost every week are roasted cauliflower and butternut squash.  I roast them on Sunday and use them up throughout the week.  Next week’s post will include my roasted butternut squash go-to, so I’ll spend some time on cauliflower now.  Pic of pre- roasted cauliflower covered in curry powder and turmeric in yo face…

roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower is loaded with nutrients, and has even been linked to cancer prevention (yay, health!).  I love it roasted because it takes on an almost nutty flavor.  Toss it with some curry powder and turmeric (spices shown to improve brain health), throw it in the oven then give yourself a nice hug for taking such good care of you.  Really, roasted cauliflower is great for so many things….

  1. As a side
  2. Added into stir-fry
  3. As a salad topping (surprisingly good)
  4. Added into pasta
  5. Paired with butternut squash, sautéed spinach and an egg for a glorious breakfast bowl
  6. Paired with baked falafel, butternut squash and avocado in a pita pocket

The list could go on.

I generally don’t even add it into our dinner plans for a specific night because I just throw it in whenever I feel like it, and we never end the week with leftovers.  It’s especially nice to have when I’m getting Andy’s lunches ready.  I usually try to make enough at dinner to send him lunch the next day, but some nights we don’t have quite enough left, so I’ll just add in roasted cauliflower – DONE.

Well, it seems I lied about not giving too many words…I’ll leave you now with my go-to roasted cauliflower recipe.  I’d love to hear what you, my lovely readers, do to prepare for the week.  I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier and easier!

roasted cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop the cauliflower into florets, rinse and drain well (dry as much as you can).
  3. Put cauliflower into a gallon-size zipper bag and add oil and spices. Zip bag closed and shake, making sure the ingredients distribute evenly.
  4. Pour cauliflower onto baking sheet* and roast for 30 minutes. Stir and cook an additional 10-15 minutes if you want them to brown a little more.
  5. Eat as is, or store in the fridge for up to a week and use in any of the ways discussed above.

*I line my baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil with cooking spray – clean-up is done!

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