Tag Archives: bell pepper

Eggplant Dirty Rice

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A few weeks ago, I came across this recipe for Eggplant Dirty Rice and got really excited! I don’t know about you all, but I have never successfully cooked eggplant. This recipe seemed different though, there was no salting and draining of excess moisture or anything crazy like that…you simply dice the eggplant and cook it. Easy.IMG_2372

I’m so glad that I found this recipe, because it turned out wonderful! The mixture of black, white and red pepper was FABULOUS. And while the soy sauce may seem out of place, I can assure you it is not, it’s perfect.

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To start, you chop up your mirepoix (sub green pepper for carrot…although, carrots would be just fine):

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Then I cubed my eggplant. Since I knew I wanted to blog about this recipe, I made sure to use my handy kitchen scale to weigh my eggplant so I could tell you all exactly how much I used (it reads: 575g, if you’re curious).

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Fun fact: eggplants are also known as aubergines.

The aromas coming from the kitchen were out of this world.

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I was a little nervous about the rice. I rely on my trusty rice cooker to do all the work for any rice we eat, so I was worried it would be over/under cooked, but the liquid & timing worked out and the rice was perfect.

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The worst part about this recipe is that you have to wait 10 whole minutes from when you take it out of the oven and when you can put it on your plate. I made this after work one night last week, so it was getting late at this point, but I knew if I didn’t let it sit the rice would be ruined…so I sat, and patiently waited those 10 minutes.

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I re-heated some grilled chicken I had in the fridge and mixed that in to add a little protein to my dinner. That’s optional though, the next day I ate some leftovers for lunch (sans chicken) and was totally satisfied. This meal may take a little while to make, but the time & effort are absolutely worth it!

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Eggplant Dirty Rice

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 50 min

Serves: 4 hungry people

  • 4 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1-1.25lb eggplant (1 large), cubed
  • 1T grapeseed oil (any neutral-flavored oil will work)
  • 1/2T marjoram
  • 1/2T dried basil
  • 1/2t black pepper
  • 1/4t white pepper
  • 1/4t red pepper (cayenne)
  • 5t minced garlic
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 1/4C soy sauce
  • 1C brown basmati rice (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1.5C broth
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Head oil in dutch oven over medium heat
  3. Add celery, onion and bell peppers; cover and cook for 5 min
  4. Uncover, turn the heat to medium/high and cook 5 more min
  5. Add eggplant, marjoram, basil, black pepper, white pepper and cayenne; cook for 8 min
  6. Add minced garlic and tomato paste, stir well and cook for 1 min
  7. Add soy sauce and scrape bottom of the pan to incorporate
  8. Add rice and broth, cover and bring to a boil
  9. Place dutch oven into the oven for 20 min
  10. Remove from the oven, let stand 10 min
  11. Enjoy!

Question: Do you have a kitchen scale? How often, and for what do you use it?

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Chickpea Za’atar Salad

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You guys. Change whatever you have planned for your next meal, and make this instead. I winged this recipe and it turned out phe. nom. e. nal.

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We ate this for dinner a few nights ago, but then I had it for lunch the next few days too. Now, I want to work this into the normal rotation for lunches because it’s great straight from the fridge!

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Are you familiar with za’atar? It’s a mixture of sumac, toasted sesame seed, salt, cumin, thyme, oregano and marjoram (source: http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/blends/zaat.html). Another great use is to add it to olive oil and dip bread in it…mmmm. You probably won’t find it at your everyday grocery store, but any spice shop or international grocery store should have it. My favorite spice shops are Savory Spice Shop and Penzeys Spices.

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This is a fabulous dish to serve to to any meat-eaters in your house who think they’ll miss the meat. They won’t. The flavor is amazing, and the mix of beans, quinoa and veggies is light but filling.

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Chickpea Za’atar Salad

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: n/a

Makes: 4 2C-servings

  • 1/2C dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 small zucchini squash, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4C tahini
  • 1T za’atar seasoning
  • juice from 1 lemon
  1. Combine lemon juice, tahini and za’atar in the bottom of a bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well
  3. Enjoy!

Question: Have you every used za’atar seasoning before? In what way?

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

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I always have high hopes for stuffed peppers. We eat with our eyes first, right? Stuffed peppers always look so amazing. But then I dig in and am like, “Why didn’t I just chop up this pepper and cook it with the filling?” Presentation. That’s why.IMG_2244

These stuffed peppers were delicious! I had only planned on making 2, but there was enough filling for 4 peppers so we ate the extra filling on the side. So, so good.

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There are many different methods out there for stuffed peppers. Some have you pre-bake the peppers so you don’t have to bake as long with the filling in. The method I use here bakes & steams the peppers, since they are wrapped tightly with foil. I think this speeds up the baking time a bit.

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The recipe I’ve written out below calls for 3/4lb (12 oz) of ground turkey. I actually used about 10 oz, since I bought the pre-packed ground turkey, which came in a 20oz container. I popped the other half of the gound turkey into the freezer, and plan to thaw it some other time to make my Taco Frittata.

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You’ll notice it looks like I used more than 2 stalks of celery; actually, I used a diced up cubanelle pepper. I wouldn’t say the recipe needed this, it’s just that it was approaching the end of it’s life in the fridge so it was use it or lose it time.

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Even though I only had 2 peppers, the amount of filling made for the recipe would easily fill 4 peppers. And for my non meat-eating readers, I would recommend subbing a can of chickpeas (drained & rinsed) for the ground turkey in this recipe!

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Makes: 4 peppers

  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3/4lb ground turkey
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 2t dried rosemary
  • 1/2C feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4C dry quinoa, cooked
  • 4 bell peppers, tops off & insides cleared
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Add celery to a pan over medium heat, cook until celery starts to soften (~5min)
  3. Add ground turkey to pan, brown
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato pates, rosemary and quinoa to pan; mix well and cook long enough to warm through
  5. Take the pan off the heat, add feta cheese and mix well
  6. Fill bell peppers with turkey mixture and place in baking dish
  7. Cover, bake for 30 min
  8. Enjoy!

Question: Do you think presentation makes a difference for a weeknight dinner at home?

Garam Masala, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos

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I’m not that great at cooking real Indian food, but I like to use Indian flavors every now-and-again to spice things up!IMG_2173

We opted to have our burritos “naked” AKA no tortilla. So, brown rice on the bottom and burrito ingredients on top!

IMG_2168Ignore the fact that the spice jar pictured above says coriander, it’s actually garam masala. I bought my garam masala from H-Mart (a local international grocery store) and it came in a plastic bag so I reused an empty spice jar to keep it fresh. Other great uses for an empty spice jar? Transporting salad dressing in your lunch box!

IMG_2169This recipe was inspired by one I saw on a blog a while ago (click here for original recipe), and I’ve made it many times. One thing I’ve learned is that a covered pan is really handy! It allows for the vegetable broth to essentially steam the sweet potatoes, which cuts down on their cooking time. If you don’t have a pan with a lid, just cover your pan using aluminum foil.

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I used to be wary of using fresh ginger, but let me tell you, fresh has so much more flavor than ground ginger. Did you know the best way to peel fresh ginger is with a spoon? All you do is use the side of the spoon and scrape the skin right off the ginger (you can watch this video to show you how). Because mincing ginger can be tedious, I usually use a microplane grater (like you would use for zesting citrus) instead.

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This burrito filling can be served wrapped up in a tortilla, or over rice like we did. Some great toppings would be a few slices of avocado or even some mango chutney!

Garam Masala, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos

Prep time:10 min

Cook time:20 min

Serves: 2-4

  • 2 small (or 1 large) sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2T coconut oil
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2C vegetable broth
  • 2t garam masala
  • 2t fresh ginger, grated
  1. Heat oil in large pan over medium heat
  2. Once heated, add sweet potatoes and bell peppers
  3. Stir, cover and cook for 5 min
  4. Add garam masala and ginger, stir
  5. Add vegetable broth, cover and cook 10 min
  6. Add black beans and warm through
  7. Enjoy!

Question: Where do you get most of your recipes? Cookbooks? Blogs? Family members?

Baked Chicken Fajitas

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We’ve been having some lovely weather here in Baltimore lately, so this past week we were able to eat dinner in the backyard for the first time this year!
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On the menu were chicken fajita salads. This is a meal that can be prepped ahead of time, so that you can pop it in the oven the minute you walk in the door from work or school…easy-peasy!

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This meal is also super flexible. Any colored bell peppers and or onions will do, I just happened to have red bell’s and red onion on hand so that’s the combo I went with. Also, to make this vegetarian you could easily sub tempeh or sliced portobello mushrooms for the chicken (maybe tofu, but the texture might be off).

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As you can see, I had pre-sliced my onion and bell peppers. I did have to chop up the chicken since it spent the day thawing in the fridge. I think it’s a good idea to have a cutting board designated for chicken because I have an irrational fear of salmonella it makes for an easier clean-up.

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This is one of those recipes where you, literally, need to get your hand dirty. Since I don’t coat the veggie/chicken mixture with oil, you really have to massage the spices in well.

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When I take these out of the oven, I like to add a squeeze of lime juice…yum! We ate our fajita mixture in salad form, with some spinach on the bottom followed by some brown rice and topped with the fajita mixture. Of course, this would be delicious served with tortillas in a more traditional fajita-fashion.

Baked Chicken Fajitas

Prep time: 10min (or ahead of time)

Cook time: 30min

Serves: 2 (easily doubled, tripled…)

  • 1/2lb chicken, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • juice of lime (optional)

For the fajita spice:

  • 1T chili powder
  • 1/2T paprika
  • 1/2T cornstarch
  • 1t onion powder
  • 1/2t cumin
  • 1/2t garlic powder
  • cayenne, to taste (1/8t-1/2t)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 415 degrees
  2. Combine ingredients for the fajita spice
  3. In a baking dish, mix chicken, bell peppers, onion and fajita spice with your hands
  4. Bake, covered, for 15 min
  5. Remove cover and give the mixture a stir
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 15 min
  7. Add a squeeze of lime when out of the oven, if you wish
  8. Enjoy!

Question: Do you have outdoor space where you can eat meals outside? Do you take advantage of it often?

Taco Frittata

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I have a handful of meals that I cook every other week or so. Taco Frittata is one of those recipes, and is loosely based on this recipe from Everyday Paleo. I know that there are many strong opinions out there, both positive and negative, about the paleo diet. Full disclosure: we aren’t paleo. That being said, I do love a good paleo recipe and we definitely incorporate some paleo recipes into our diet.

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This time I used ground beef, but any ground meat (particularly turkey or chicken) would work just fine here. In fact, I usually use ground turkey, but this week ground beef was on sale so ground beef it was! Do you ever buy ground meat at the butcher counter? You should take a look the next time you’re at the store, not only can you buy exactly the amount of meat that you want, but often times the price is the same (if not lower)!

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I’m not sure what the typical way to make a frittata is, but I think this way is pretty easy. The hardest part for this recipe is shredding the sweet potato. I think shredding the sweet potato with a food processor would be easier than hand grating it, but I don’t have one so an arm workout it is!

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I use taco seasoning in this recipe, but if you don’t have any on-hand, chili powder would be a good substitute. My favorite taco seasoning is from Trader Joes, but watch out, it has a little kick!

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Because the sweet potatoes are shredded, and will bake in the oven for 30 minutes, they don’t need much time cooking on the stove top. I usually start pre-heating the oven when I add the sweet potatoes into the pan and the timing is just right.

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Baking this frittata in a baking dish makes this recipe a breeze! Once you have poured the eggs on top, give the casserole a little shake to  evenly distribute the eggs before baking.

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Taco Frittata

Prep time: 10min

Cook time: 30min

Serves: 3-6 (6 slices)

  • 1/2lb ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, etc)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2t taco seasoning
  • 1/2t ground cumin
  • 1lb sweet potato, peeled & shredded
  • 1/2C salsa verde
  • 6 eggs
  1. Brown ground meat and bell pepper with taco seasoning and cumin
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Add sweet potato and salsa verde to ground meat mixture
  4. Layer meat and sweet potato mixture in the bottom of the baking dish
  5. Mix eggs in a separate bowl and add to the top of the baking dish
  6. Cover dish and bake 30min

Question: Do you have a food processor? What brand/style/size do you recommend?

Avocado, Tuna & Quinoa Jumble

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It’s Sunday, are you getting ready for the week ahead? It you’re looking for a great pre-packed lunch idea, look no further! For lack of a better name, Avocado, Tuna & Quinoa Jumble is one of the go-to lunches in our house. It started as just using avocado instead of mayo to make tuna salad for sandwiches and evolved from there.

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One batch makes 2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are, so I make this ahead for us to pack in our lunches during the week.

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The spice that I use, Sunny Spain Seasoning, can be found at Penzeys Spices. If you don’t have one near you, any lemon-pepper seasoning would work here, just be careful of the salt content (Sunny Spain is salt-free).

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Make sure your avocado is pretty soft, otherwise mashing it with a fork will be a pain.

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I don’t know how most people cook quinoa, but I like to think I have found the easiest way possible…use your rice cooker! I use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water and the rice cooker does the rest. Funny story, this rice cooker was bought in the early 2000s by my brother for his dorm room. A decade later, and it’s still kickin’!

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The greenish color from the avocado might be a little alarming, but it tastes so fresh and delicious! The red bell pepper adds nice color, but you could use a green bell or any other diced veggie you have on hand (carrots work great too).

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Avocado, Tuna & Quinoa Jumble

Prep time: 10min

Cook time: n/a

Serves: 2-3

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1t lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/2C dry quinoa, cooked
  1. Mash avocado with juice from 1 lime and lemon-pepper seasoning
  2. Add diced bell pepper, tuna and cooked quinoa
  3. Mix until well combined

Question: Do you pack your lunch for work or school?