This simple recipe is great for the end of a busy week and can accommodate almost any ingredients you have around. Sub couscous for quinoa, add in other veggies, or include other proteins if you have them handy.
Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 lb shredded Brussels sprouts (I got them precut from Trader Joe’s – one bag will do it!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped into thin strips
- 2 tbsp lemon juice – about one lemon worth
- salt and pepper to taste
- goat cheese (optional, for topping)
- Cook the quinoa – one cup of quinoa to 2-3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15-20 minutes for liquid is absorbed. Let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.
- Add the oil, onion, Brussels sprouts, salt/pepper, and half the lemon juice to a frying pan over medium heat. Stir frequently – when the sprouts get bright green, add more lemon juice and bell pepper. Stir for about 7-10 minutes total, until sprouts are cooked but still crunchy.
- Add quinoa to the pan of veggies and mix well. Serve hot or cold. (I topped mine with goat cheese crumbles – SO GOOD!)
This made about four salad-sized servings – can’t wait to eat it for lunch later this week.
There is basically never a time when I don’t want a stuffed artichoke since my college roommate first introduced me to this delicacy. (Hi Jill!) It’s not the fastest thing in the world to make, but it’s completely worth it, especially when you can start eating it before going out with your friends and finish the rest when you come home starving after a night of dancing… if you can stand to not eat it all in one sitting.
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs with Italian seasoning added)
- 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use jarred but this is about 1 1/2 cloves)
- 2 small to medium artichokes
Stuffing in progress
- Lightly toast bread crumbs in a frying pan – no oil needed. Put water on to boil with a steaming basket big enough to hold your artichokes upright.
- Cut off the top 1/4 (or so) of the artichoke with a knife, and trim the stem except for the last 1/2 inch or so. Fan out the remaining segments of the artichokes and cut off the spiky tips with scissors. You should only need to cut off about the top 1/3 per section but you should make sure you get all the sharp bits even if it means losing a little more of the ‘choke.
- Mix everything else together and start stuffing! Start at the outer pieces and put the bread crumbs as far down in each segment as you can. If you separate the pieces as you go, you should be able to get a good amount in each section. When you get near the middle, keep stuffing – that’s the best part!
- Stand up the artichokes in your steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes. Add more water to the pot as needed.
C’est tout! Just peel off the segments and eat them from the base, and then attack the middle with the fork once you get past the rougher outer layers.
Did your college roomies ever share tasty treats from home? What do you put inside your stuffed artichokes?
Making potato pancakes in the food processor my mother got me at the Republican yardsale (see dated visual below) while listening to Christmas music = multicultural win.
These pancakes made for a delicious and pretty healthy dinner because they were baked instead of pan fried – few opportunities for them to soak in grease! Make these for a week of lunches, for a party, to freeze, or in advance of a family brunch – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce = dinner of champions
Recipe modified slightly from this WW recipe.
Thyme and Scallion Potato Pancakes
- 3 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and grated/shredded in a food processor
- 2 small onions, chopped into thin slices
- 8 scallions, chopped (just the white and some of the green)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 large eggs
- 1 glove garlic, chopped or sliced (just to add some kick!)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Chop/ process the potatoes and onions – press together either between paper towels or within paper towels in a strainer to remove some of the water.
- Combine all ingredients (other than spray) in a large bowl and toss – don’t do what I did and mix things first, just do it all together! And feel free to use your hands – it’s the best way to make sure every piece of potato is coated.
- Scoop out 1/4 cup (or so) chunks of mixture and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t worry too much about size but make sure all your pancakes are the same thickness so they cook at the same rate. Spray the exposed sides with a mini-spritz of cooking spray and place in the oven.
- Cook for 7-10 minutes (until the potatoes become translucent for the most part) and then remove from the oven to flip over and spray the other side lightly before returning to the oven for another 7-10 minutes. (The original recipe said these would take 30 minutes to cook but mine were definitely less than 20 each). Bake until well browned – remove and serve immediately or heated up later.
Potato pancakes right before being popped in the oven
These are so good, I had to pack them up just so I would stop eating them. Assuming that you make about 30 total, a serving is about 3 or 4, and they have about 1 PointPlus each. In other words, they’re part of – or all of! – a tasty dinner… and lunch… and breakfast… and life! These are definitely going to become a staple in our apartment, even after the holidays.
- The Silpat mat did not come through for me this time – skip the mat and go straight for parchment paper to get a nice crisp and better texture overall.
- Weigh your potatoes at the store – I was shocked at how big each potato actually weighed, since I never really cook with them.
- Not into potatoes? Got something else around? I bet these would be similarly delicious with zucchini, some sweet potatoes, curry, etc. – just start from the basic recipe and you can’t really go wrong.
- Don’t grate by hand, if possible – but if you’re short on time/equipment, you can supposedly buy pre-shredded frozen potatoes at most grocery stores.
My almond-colored, TWO-speed, “made in America (buy American!)” food processor, circa 1987 and courtesy of the local Republican yard sale.
The other secret win of this recipe is in the machine itself – I have a really bad habit of planning whole dishes without knowing for sure if my appliance is going to work at all/fit the quantity of food I’m making. Case in point: my Republican blender is NOT as successful an appliance as this one and my beaters are not equipped to handle double batches of tahini bread. But the fact that this food processor even was able to power up, and then worked exactly as I wanted it to, is a major victory. Thanks, Mom!
What’s your favorite kind of holiday food?
No lightbulb required!
With Christmas approaching, I pulled out one of my great gifts from last year – a Silpat baking mat. I wanted to see if this mat could amplify my love for tofu (and if starting cooking before I was starving would give me time to bake tofu for once) and I was not disappointed. Here are a few steps to perfection:
Easy Baked Tofu
- 8 oz of firm tofu (I used TJ’s small block, but you could just double this if you were working with a bigger block of tofu)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3/4 tbsp soy sauce (or so – I intended to use more but mine ran out!)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- Dash of hot sauce
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder as desired
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tofu into thin slabs, about 1/4 or so thick and as wide as you can get them and still have them stay intact when you mix them with the sauce.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Add the tofu and let sit for 5 minutes (or longer if possible).
- Place slabs of tofu on a baking sheet (I used mine lined with a Silpat mat) and bake for 10-14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Enjoy! I ate mine with spaghetti squash and poured the remaining marinade over the whole dish (bonuses of cooking with tofu: you can stop to eat the ingredients at any time AND you can reuse any leftover marinade safely.)
PS: I do actually cook more than just tofu – proof is here! For Thanksgiving, I made a new Brussels sprout dish and lots of different egg concoctions. What have you made or eaten lately?
Yes, it exists. I love tofu in any form, but this recipe is the only one I can make and want to eat the tofu raw, and a few pieces usually get sacrificed to “taste testing” before they can reach the pan.
All it takes is mixing a few items together:
2 tbps Mirin (a sweet Japanese seasoning made from rice alcohol – keep this in your cupboard for tons of recipes!)
1 tbsp sesame oil (hint: you can get this cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop! I use it basically every day.)
1 tsp Tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp Teriyaki sauce (I used the low sodium version)
Cut up the tofu into small cubes and pour the sauce over the top. If you have time, try to marinade for an hour or two, stirring every once in a while. If you’re in a rush, just let this sit while you prep everything else.
You can either add the extra sauce to the pan after, or use it on a side dish – I threw mine, along with some extra Mirin and Tamari, over some asparagus I was cooking at the same time. Incredible!
What’s your favorite way to give tofu some flavor?
An acorn squash shell, to be exact.
My obsession with simply-cooked acorn squash has me buying them in multiples every time I go to the store. Settling down to one for dinner (or as part of dinner) is the perfect way to end a blustery fall day.
All it takes is a small acorn squash, goat cheese, and brown sugar. Start by cutting the squash in half, and scooping out the seeds and the pulp with a spoon. Then put both halves of the squash cut-side down in a small microwave-safe casserole dish (mine is about 10″ across) with 1/2 inch or so of water in the bottom. The goal is to give the squash enough water to steam, but not so much that it will take a long time to get hot.
Cook on high for 5 minutes, then poke the outside of the squash to see if it’s soft. My small squash tonight took 15 minutes to cook fully, but it’s a good idea to check every 5 minutes and then just add more time to the clock if it needs more. The inside should be bright orange-yellow and the outside should be tender when poked for it to be done to my standards.
Remove from the dish, top with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. And voila – you’ve got dinner! This is also really good reheated the next day, but I’ve only made it that far once and have succumbed to eating the whole thing every other time. If it’s all you eat for dinner, you might be hungry later – this dish is only worth 3 PointsPlus (aka super healthy).
What’s your favorite fall food?
Yes, you read that right.
Pie crust is the latest casualty in my quest to get healthy and still enjoy delicious food. Especially since I don’t have the patience to make my crust from scratch, it’s hardly ever worth the extra calories and I would rather have my pie/quiche/pudding naked than have half the slice I could if it included crust. This week, I decided to reinvent my go-to food of quiche in this mindset, and the result was AMAZING. The roomie and I will be enjoying it all week with more to freeze! Here’s how this magical dish came together:
Crustless Cauliflower Quiche
Base – can be adapted for any crustless quiche!
- 6 eggs
- 6 egg whites (separated or from a carton)
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut and steamed (about 2-3 cups)
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 1 cup cubed butternut squash, cooked (I used frozen pieces, so easy!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Get the cauliflower steaming and oven preheating to 375 degrees (F), then prep the rest of the vegetables. Sauté the onion and mushrooms in a pan with olive oil – when cooked/brown, add the cauliflower, garlic, and butternut squash. Stir in some salt and pepper as you go, to taste.
- In a bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Add milk, nutmeg, and then grated cheese, stirring well.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and add them to the egg/milk mixture, stirring gently. Pour into lightly greased pans (for me, this took one casserole dish and one medium-sized pie plate), top with extra cheese as desired, and cook for 35-40 minutes, until set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool slightly – then eat or freeze!
For me, this made 16 servings, each with a PointsPlus value of 4. See what I mean about amazing? This is going to be a delicious breakfast/lunch/snack for this week, a new standard meal in our little apartment, and a good option when I want to cook for my gluten-free friends. Furthermore, it’s proof that you CAN enjoy good food without all the carbs – just kick them off the plate!
What do you like to put in your quiche?
Tahini and I have a thing going. Once I open a jar, all I can think about is how I can mix it into whatever dish I’m preparing. Eggs, pasta, spinach – you name it, I’ve tried to incorporate tahini into it. I even have more than one muffin recipe that calls for it (weekend project!).
Cooking in progress!
Last night, I took that obsession to a new level when I ripped this 101 Cookbooks recipe for Miso Sesame Winter Squash apart so I could incorporate my favorite ingredient of the moment and keep from spending more than an hour in the kitchen. The result was delicious (but I bet the original would be too, if I had any desire to buy molasses and if Boston was able to get more than four kinds of squash in February).
Tahini Orange Squash and Tofu
- 2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 – I bought two halves already peeled and sliced at the grocery store!) halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
- 8 oz firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 large onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil – used it all in the sauce
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 heaping tablespoon tahini
- juice from one orange (about 1/2 cup)
- juice from half a lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 5 tablespoons water
Tofu and sauce
- Cut the tofu into large slices (4 pieces or so total) and press between cutting boards lined with paper towels (I usually throw a heavy pot on top for some pressure). Let sit while you continue prepping.
- Slice the squash into small pieces and set it to steam above a pot of water – mine took about 20-30 minutes (our timer is broken, sorry!) until you can easily cut it with a fork.
- While that’s cooking, whisk together the sauce in a medium sized bowl. Cut up the tofu into smaller chunks and add to the bowl as well, letting marinade for at least 10 minutes.
- Saute an onion in a large frying pan/wok with a little sesame oil. (This was not part of the original recipe, but it worked really well to soak up the sauce, so I’m sticking with it!)
- When the onion is a bit translucent, add the tofu to the pan and cook on high, letting the sauce start to boil down. *If you want to put some quick rice, couscous, or quinoa on to cook, this is the time to do it!*
- After about 5 minutes, add the squash to the pan as well and cook together for another 5 minutes or so. The tofu won’t have a crust or anything like that, but when it’s warm and you can’t stand the amazing smells anymore, it’s ready to eat!
Phew! By the time I took this recipe and turned the entire thing on its head (sauce concept, type of squash, cooking technique), it was an hour later, but it was still super delicious and totally worth it. The orange really came through in a surprising and tasty way. This made enough that I had two servings last night, put two away for lunch, and packed another one away in the freezer for some later date.
What’s your latest cooking adventure, real or hoped for?
Dinner is served!