Monday, April 18, 2016

Vegetarian Chili with Steel-Cut Oats

Oats for Dinner?

Adding steel-cut oats to a smoky chili with chipotle peppers makes a quick, hearty and wholesome meal.  This chili is great for lunch time leftovers and is so quick to make!  


4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans
1 14.4 oz. can black beans
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
Sliced scallions and sharp white or yellow cheddar for garnish


Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium soup pot.  Add oats and quinoa and lower to a simmer.  Cook, covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally  Uncover and continue cooking until oats are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, beans and tomatoes with their juice.  Cover and simmer over low heat to allow flavors to blend.  Salt to taste.

Top with sharp cheddar and scallions.  Serve with tortilla scoops or chips or crackers.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Eggplant Meatball Parmigiana

Everyone knows that when you get a craving for Eggplant Parm, you sort of dread the process of slicing, breading and frying the eggplant.  It's the only way - unless you make some meatballs!  Crunchy on the outside, tender and full of flavor on the inside.  You can make yourself a great sandwich or top these meatballs on your favorite pasta.

3 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, about 12 ounces), peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. water
1-1/4 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian Parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and slowly cook the garlic over medium heat until golden.  Add the eggplant and 1 Tbsp. water; cover and steam the eggplant over low heat until very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the remaining water only if the eggplant begins to stick to the skillet.  Stir the eggplant occasionally while it cooks.  Set aside and let it cool.

Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, eggs, and cheese in a large bowl.  Stir in the eggplant, mix well and let it stand for 20 minutes.  Scoop small amounts of the mixture into your hands and form meatballs.  There should be enough to make about 12.  Roll each meatball in Panko breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Fry meatballs, turning them occasionally so they brown evenly. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray and one cup of marinara sauce.  Top with mozzarella and provolone cheese.  Be sure to leave some of the meatballs exposed to keep them crispy.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted and browned.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Cherry-Dark Chocolate Pistachio Bars

This is a basic mixture to make those fruit and nut bars that cost an arm and a leg!
Use any mixture of nuts and fruit that your imagination can dream up.
The nuts are a bit costly, but there are no preservatives in these bars and once you buy the basics, you can make them for a lot less.

The brown crispy rice cereal and brown rice syrup are readily available in the organic section of your supermarket.
1 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almond or raw cashews
1/2 cup cherry craisans
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla
1 tsp. honey (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the syrup, almond butter, salt and vanilla until combined.  Gently fold into nut mixture until completely incorporated.  This mixture is very sticky.  Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray to help manage the mixture.  Transfer mixture evenly into prepared baking dish.

Spray the bottom of a drinking glass with cooking spray.  Press down mixture and pack into the pan.  Be sure there are no air pockets.

Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow bars to cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Refrigerate or freeze for faster cooling.

Lift cooled bars from pan with the parchment paper.  Cut into 12 rectangles with a serrated knife.  Remove bars from parchment and wrap individually in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cauliflower Bechamel with Tri-Color Penne

This is a great change of pace from a heavy cream sauce for pasta.  I have been seriously watching my cholesterol intake for the past few months, and today I found out that my LDL level is down 26 points!  You don't need to take medication if you eat well!  There are so many pasta options now - choose your weapon~!
4 cups chopped cauliflower (1 medium)
1-1/2 cups Skim Plus 100% Fat Free Milk
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance Buttery Spread
1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used Barilla Tri-color Penne)
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine, chicken or veggie broth
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste.


In a large saucepan combine cauliflower and milk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered 8-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender.  Add cauliflower mixture to blender, add Smart Balance and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking,  heat oil in a large saucepan.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly tender.  Stir in wine or stock.  Stir in cauliflower puree.

Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.  Add pasta to saucepan.  Add nutmeg, lemon zest, Parmesan, parsley and salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Add pasta cooking liquid if pasta seems too dry.  Serve warm with additional grated cheese.

~Adapted from ShopRite Culinary Kitchen