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Change It Up: Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous Recipe

12 Nov

change/CHānj/

Verb: Make or become different.

Noun: The act or instance of making or becoming different.

Change is a word that is part of our everyday vocabulary, yet has developed more meaning over the course of the last four years.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

– President Barack Obama

My friend who ran the Athens half-marathon with me dedicated her race to President Obama because his message inspired her to make drastic changes with her health and life four years ago. The President isn’t the only one who is trying to create such a positive message. When Googled, the first result that comes up for the word “change” is the website for the organization change.org. Their website says:

Empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see.

And they ask “What will you change?” That’s a wonderful question. People complain about their lives in different ways – their job, their relationships, their income, and the list goes on and on. But we all have the ability to change those aspects of our lives, right? That’s the beauty of it all – of this world and this life.

A few months ago as I was getting ready to write down my grocery list for the week, I realized I was tired of making the same old meals and needed…you guessed it…change. I decided that since eggplant had been on sale lately, I’d find an easy recipe with eggplant. I found a few that had the genius idea of steaming the eggplant in the microwave to save on time. Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous was what I created and I wanted to share it on Meatless Monday to help others make a change in their routine and choose a healthier alternative to eating meat. I have made this recipe now a dozen times, each time trying a new ingredient or a new method. This variation seemed to be the biggest hit, but please share if you find another way to make it!

Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 (15 oz) can chick peas, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes (original recipe), undrained
  • 2 1/4 cups cooked whole wheat pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Steps
  1. Combine eggplant and water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini; sauté 6 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add eggplant mixture, chick peas, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, basil, and canned tomatoes to pan; turn down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add raisins.
  4. Serve over couscous; sprinkle with cheese.
The idea for this dish came from this recipe.

Whistle While You Work

15 Oct
Singing Kitchen Utensils

Cool kettle guitar that I found on Trend Hunter’s website

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to cook I go…

When I’m cooking, I usually play some tunes to relax and unwind. I find cooking therapeutic, with the best combination being great music in the background while cooking a fantastic recipe. A pinch of parsley there, a dash of Ray LaMontagne there.

Last night, while I was cooking Sweet Potato Burritos (from a previous post), my music of choice was Iron & Wine’s Shepherd’s Dog album. I also listened to their song Such Great Heights, which will always remind me of my college days, watching Garden State all the time and listening to the soundtrack on repeat. Their melodic tunes with the aroma of Mexican food in the air was a fabulous way to end a great weekend.

When you cook, do you listen to music?  If so, what do you listen to?

Meatless Monday: “Meatballs” and Penne Pasta Recipe

1 Oct

When you’ve got the blues, do you have a go-to dish that serves as comfort food? For me, it’s usually some sort of pasta dish. Recently, it was Meatless Meatballs and Penne Pasta.

When I was making this dish, I couldn’t help but hum the lyrics to That’s Life. Yes, I was feeling gloomy on this particular day. It was stuck in my head while I was measuring spices, so I decided to look up the song and listen to it (side note: I found this cool video that goes along to the music).

My parents always had Frank Sinatra playing in the background at our house when I was growing up, and I loved listening to his soothing voice. I guess the combination of the song and the Italian meal made me feel comforted like I was back under my parent’s roof, being a child with no worries or care.

In case you need some cheering up, here’s a recipe to try out.

Meatless Meatballs and Penne Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole grain penne pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 (9 oz) container of Veggie Patch Meatless Meatballs
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • a dash of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 heaping cup squash, diced
  • 1 heaping cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Parmesan grated cheese (optional)
Steps:
  1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic until softened, or about 3 minutes.
  2. Add all spices until fragrant, or about 1 minute.
  3. Add red wine vinegar and stir. Add squash, zucchini and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, lower heat to simmer, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add mushrooms, recover the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add meatless meatballs and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes (or longer, if time allows).
  8. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta. Follow instructions on pasta box to cook the penne.
Serve with Parmesan grated cheese (I used soy Parmesan cheese if you want the vegan alternative). I also made side salads with this dish. If you really want to top it all off, make some garlic bread to go along with this dish. I hope this meal brings you as much comfort as it did (and does) for me. Cheers!

Meatless Monday: Lime Orzo and Veggies Recipe

24 Sep

Lime Orzo and Veggies Dish

If you couldn’t already tell by the other recipes I’ve posted, I love quick dishes with common, everyday ingredients. I searched for vegetarian orzo recipes a few months ago and stumbled across this awesome recipe. I wanted to share my variation with you, which I’ve posted below.

Another thing you can tell by my recipe posts, is that I like to know the health benefits of using certain ingredients. I was curious about limes for this post, and rather than finding out about the lime’s nutritional additives, I learned an interesting lesson on this fruit’s uses around the world. According to Wikipedia:

In India, the lime is used in Tantra for removing evil spirits. It is also combined with Indian chillies to make a protective charm to repel the evil eye.[6] Furthermore, it was believed that hanging limes over sick people cured them of the illness by repelling evil spirits lurking inside the body.

Whether you use lime to get rid of evil spirits or to cook, definitely put it in this recipe because it gives it that extra zest.

First, I started by chopping up these ingredients (pictured below):

Ingredients for Lime Orzo and Veggies

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup each of zucchini and squash, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup baby carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 package of sliced mushrooms (I didn’t quite use the whole container)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 lime, cut in half

Other ingredients you’ll need that are not pictured:

  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese and hot sauce for topping, optional

And these are the steps I followed to create this dish:Lime Orzo and Veggies in the pan

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the garlic and orzo pasta; squeeze half of the lime in the pan; cook and stir until pasta turns a light, golden color, or about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in zucchini, squash, carrots and mushrooms; cook until vegetables soften, or about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, Italian seasoning and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, or about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the parsley and squeeze the other half of the lime in the pan; stir.
  7. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and hot sauce.

First Day of Fall: Pumpkin Bread Recipe

22 Sep

Pumpkin Bread

Fall has finally arrived, and it actually feels like it in Atlanta for once! I love this time of year for so many reasons – the crispness in the air, the outdoor activities like hiking or apple picking, and the food – specifically pumpkin bread.

I’ve been making my mom’s pumpkin bread since I was a little girl. I remember my mom and I would bake this treat together during the holidays, and then she would send me off to the neighbors’ houses to deliver it.

I started making it year-round now for special occasions or “just cause.” The joy it brings to so many people is undeniable. Their whole face lights up, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than making people smile while filling their bellies with good food. For those of you I don’t know, I’m sharing the recipe with you so you can make it for yourself and others. But if I know you, just ask and you shall receive!

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups Bisquick
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (sometimes I use more)
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease bottom of 9×5 loaf pan with baking spray.
  3. Stir all ingredients in large bowl.
  4. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
  5. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Crock Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

8 Sep

Butternut Squash Risotto

My life hasn’t been the same since I found Crock Pot Girl. I’m being serious. She has made it a million times easier to balance my two different worlds of work and after-work. When I am done with the work day, I usually go for a run or exercise in some fashion, so by the time I get home from all of that it’s usually about 7 or 7:30. Seeing as my husband and I are vegetarian/pescetarian and he’s on a low-sodium diet (doctor’s orders), there are no fast food options and we cook most all of our meals from scratch at home.

Now I know you’re thinking, what about the frozen dinners that they have in the organic section of the grocery store these days? Yeah, have you checked the sodium content on those puppies? Not a pretty sight.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, so here enters Crock Pot Girl who writes Get Crocked (love that name, by the way!). She has a vegetarian section that has amazing recipes that are super easy. I’ve started prepping the meals ahead of time and mixing all of the ingredients in my crock pot the night before. Then I turn on the crock pot before I leave for work and when I come home, voila! Everything is done. It’s like magic…for cooks.

The Butternut Squash Risotto has been one of my personal faves of hers, and I hope you enjoy it too. By the way, if anyone can tell me an easy way to cut up butternut squash, I would greatly appreciate it. That has to be one of the hardest vegetables to dice up. OK, let me get off my soap box and give you the recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 c. Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 c. risotto rice, such as superfino Arborio
  • 3 c. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 c. unsalted vegetable broth
  • 2 T. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 c. Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In skillet, over medium heat, add oil and butter, and saute onions until tender, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  2. Pour rice on top of onions and, with a wooden spoon, coat grains with butter and oil mixture. Cook and occasionally stir for about 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer rice to stoneware. Add squash, cheese and broth and gently stir ingredients.
  4. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours.
  5. When serving, top with basil and additional cheese if desired.
  6. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper (or if you are like my husband, add Texas Pete Hot Sauce to it – he puts it on ev-ery-thing).

Crock Pot Veggie Curry

8 Sep

I’ve always had a crazy amount of misconceptions about cooking Indian dishes. So many rare ingredients, vast amounts of time needed to prepare the food and just feeling incredibly out of my element seeing as I mainly cook Italian recipes. As you know from one of my previous blogs about Crock Pot Girl, I love her recipes because they take these hard, unimaginable-to-cook dishes and simplify it to an easy crock pot meal. This recipe is no exception – Crock Pot Girl always pulls through with flavorful dishes.

Not only is this crock pot meal easy and tasty, it’s healthy too! You can read this short article on the added health benefits to eating dishes like this one on the Three Fat Chicks website.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. frozen peas (these will go in last so they don’t get soggy!)
  • 2 -14-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, washed and chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, washed well and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 potato
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 T of curry
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c. low-fat plain yogurt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients EXCEPT the peas.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Cover and crock on LOW for about 8 hours.
  4. Add the peas, increase heat to HIGH, and crock 15 more minutes.

Serve over rice with naan or pita bread.

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