This year I will cook more!
Said it last year too, but I’ll say it again in hopes that it sticks…
Easy dishes with lots of leftovers are best for me, here’s a couple of recipes I attempted at a mostly successful rate this past month:
Red Lentil Coconut Soup
Crock Pot Chicken and Stock
Cajun Cauliflower Hash with Fried Eggs
I always thought I hated smoothies, but they taste delish when you put just what you want in them! This recipe is adapted from my new friend Lauren Paige Tate of Speak Green Mississippi. She is the most fun to follow on Instagram, always posting such yummy looking healthy foods!
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Freeze in small portions for a quick on the run bfast.
1 tbl greek yogurt, 1 bunch of kale, 2 handfuls blueberries, 1 handful blackberries, 1 cup coconut milk, 2 cups water, 1 orange, 2 bananas, juice of 1 lemon (keeps things fresh), 1 tbl flax seeds, half an advocado, ice, AND if you are feeling BRAVE and can take it – 1 clove garlic! It will do you good…
This vegan recipe for Red Lentil Coconut Soup made for some nice team work for me and Eli. It was filling, well-seasoned, and can be made in a pinch because it was so fast and easy.
- 2 cups red split lentils
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds (*This made it HOT! Leave out seeds if you prefer a milder taste*)
- 1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 7 cups water
- 1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant. Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes adding the lime juice at the end of cooking. Taste and adjust with more salt or more lime juice if desired.
Another whole chicken from our favorite poultry farm: Zion Farms. I picked up two for the freezer when I bought our Thanksgiving turkey. This crock pot recipe was DEVINE! It was a different taste than roasting the bird, but it was so easy and flavorful that it made a great alternative. It also provided a seamless way to make stock afterward. THOUGH… I need to work on timing… the chicken was done at 5:00pm – too early for dinner and the stock sat in the crock pot on low for like 15 hours (oops!) so we will see how that tastes! Love this blog where these recipes came from, 100 Days of Real Food.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 large chicken
- Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
- Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
- Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
- Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone.INGREDIENTS
- Leftover chicken bones or carcass roughly equivalent to one small or medium sized chicken
- 1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
- 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh parsley
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Salt, to taste
Note: If you are missing any of these ingredients I wouldn’t let that stop you from making it anyway (*I love these kinds of notes in recipes!*)
After removing all edible meat from the chicken put/leave the bones, skin, cooking juices, etc. in the crock pot. If you are using the chicken carcass from the “The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot” recipe just leave every single thing that’s leftover (except the good meat of course) in the crock pot including the original onion and spices you used when making the chicken.
Add the onion, celery, carrot and spices on top of the bones and fill the crock pot almost to the top with tap water (leaving about ½” at the top).
Turn the slow cooker onto “low” after dinner and cook all night long or alternatively you could start it in the morning and cook on “low” for 8 – 10 hours during the day.
After the stock is done cooking turn off the heat and, using a soup ladle, pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all herbs/bones/etc.
Either refrigerate or freeze the stock for future use. I usually freeze some in both 1 and 2-cup portions, and I also sometimes freeze stock in ice cube trays just in case I just “need a little” for making sauce or rice.
I’m super proud of this next recipe which I found on Pinterest, but which actually came from The Curvy Carrot. It’s another good vegetarian meal that I made for my good bud Shaundi for our Saturday lunch date. My timing was so off, and the recipe claims the potatoes cook in 8 minutes… not true. They take more like 15 minutes – so keep that in mind! The original recipe calls for a soft boiled egg, which sounded hard, so I just topped mine with a fried egg (Shaundi cooked her own, I am a terrible host…). Shaundi went back for 2nds and 3rds, and then took some home so I guess it tasted pretty good! Cauliflower is always fun to play with, and I have a new relationship with the vegetable after picking them for hours in Italy in November.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 head of cauliflower, chopped (I chopped mine into bite-sized pieces)
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice powder (if you can’t find this, substitute whatever spice you like)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup water
3-4 red potatoes, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
Chives, chopped, for garnish
1. In a large sauté pan (one that you can cover with a lid), heat the olive oil until shimmering.
2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4-6 minutes.
3. Add the cauliflower, celery, chili powder, Cajun spice, salt, pepper, and water and let cook, covered, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the red potatoes and let cook, covered, for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the spinach and cover, and let cook until the spinach is wilted and cooked, about 3-4 minutes.
6. Top with soft boiled eggs (*or fried!*), season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh chives (*or not* achem, bad host…).
And now for just a tad of Ingredient Snobbery:
The school food topic of the week for me has been margarine. They use margarine in most recipes in the Oxford School District. For information on most nutrition topics, I turn to Marion Nestle. Her book “What to Eat” is a comprehensive go-to for topics ranging from what does ORGANIC mean to the deal with artificial sweeteners. Get it. Just invest.
Anyways, here’s a summation of what she has to say about margarine:
“Most margarines are basically the same: mixtures of soybean oil and food additives. They are high in fats and calories.
I don’t eat margarine. Why would you want to put soybean oil on your bread? I’d much rather put olive oil or butter. A little goes a long way.”
In order to make the oil mix that makes up margarine spreadable and edible – the oils are hydrogenated. This means treated the oils with hydrogen until they roll over and say “Okay! I’ll be a liquid now!” This process also means they develop the dreaded trans fat qualities – the worst kind of fat for your heart/cholesterol.
So use a little butter. And when you have had more than a little butter turn to one of earth’s many natural other substitutes like olive oil or coconut oil. The butter we use is unsalted from Brown Family Dairy here in Oxford. The full flavor will make you never turn back to that margarine mess!
One last mention of butter alternatives. I do believe that if for some reason you cannot have butter, and a substitute makes more sense for your life, go with Earth Balance. Their margarine-type product is a blend of oils that does not require hydrogenation, therefore it does not contain trans fats. It tastes very similar to butter, is vegan, and the company does a good job keeping up their responsibility to cultivate sustainability wherever it goes. You can buy it at our Kroger here in Oxford, so I imagine it’s available wherever you are as well😉