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Meatless Monday: Mexican Quinoa Casserole

8 Aug

I am currently out of town, and while I’m away, I asked Sarah, one of my favorite meatless bloggers, to do a guest post for Meatless Monday for me. I am so excited with what she came up with and can’t wait to try it once I’m home! I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome and be sure to check out her blog for lots of great healthy living tips.

Hey there! My name is Sarah and I blog over at Sarah Snacks. I’m so excited to be here and that Liz asked me to do a Meatless Monday guest post today.

I’m a big fan of Meatless Monday! Going meatless just one day a week can have numerous benefits including reducing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, reducing your carbon footprint and saving resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

While I’m meatless every day, you may not be able to (or even want to) go completely meatless. And that’s okay! One meatless day can help. It can help your health. It can help the environment. And it can help the animals. One of my favorite quotes is: ”Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

This is one of my favorite recipes for Meatless Monday! It’s so easy and inexpensive! Oh yeah, and it’s delicious!! If you don’t like or don’t have quinoa you can use brown rice instead.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
Ingredients:
3 cups cooked quinoa*
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of your favorite salsa
a couple of handfuls of your favorite cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sautee onion, bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

Stir together the quinoa, sautéed veggies, beans, corn, and salsa.

Pour into a 9×13 pan and sprinkle the top with your cheese.

Bake for about 30 mins or until the cheese is nice and melty.

Serve with more salsa, a big spoonful of guacamole, and some tortilla chips for optimal scoopage!

Oh, and the leftover casserole makes a KILLER burrito filling!!!

*Tip for cooking quinoa… I cook mine in my rice cooker! I do equal parts quinoa and water and turn it on. It turns out perfect and fluffy every single time.

To print the recipe, click here.

Meatless Monday: Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

25 Jul


You know what’s awesome? Using an ingredient you haven’t had the best success with in the past only to discover that you actually love it. For me, this time at least, I am talking about arugula. I’ve tried it in a few different recipes in the past and never really been a fan, but I have to tell you, it really sings in this dish. The peppery bite adds something fantastic against the citrusy hint of lemon and sweet fresh basil. The ingredient list is short, but the end result is incredibly flavorful and fragrant!

Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

1 13.25-ounce box of whole wheat penne
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
5 ounces baby spinach and arugula blend, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh basil, roughly chopped

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, being careful to cook only until al dente.

In a small bowl, mix lemon zest and juice with ricotta and parmesan cheeses. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add greens and basil, cooking until they are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese mixture.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining. Toss pasta into cheese and greens mixture, slowly adding pasta water as needed to form a creamy sauce.

Serves 6.
Modified from Fine Cooking

Meatless Monday: Spicy Asian Green Beans

11 Jul


Normally for Meatless Mondays, I prefer to post main dishes, not side dishes, but this week I’m saving my meatless main dish for Thursday, so you’ll have to be sure to check back for it :D Instead, I’ve got a bit of a cheater recipe for you because of course green beans are meatless. And more so, this dish is super easy to prepare. That’s why I call it a cheater.

My only complaint about this dish is that if you’re going to call something “spicy” right there in its name, it should be SPICY. This was more sweet than spicy, but of course I rectified that situation with my favorite condiment, a little Sriracha. I think this would be perfect for those who prefer things on the mild side, but if you have a “hot tooth” instead of a sweet tooth like me, consider upping the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.

Spicy Asian Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced

Steam green beans to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, mix sauce ingredients until well blended. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear.

Stir sauce into cooked green beans to coat.

Serves 6.
From Pillsbury.

Meatless Monday: Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps

27 Jun


Just over two months ago, I moved back in with my parents. While most people my age would probably moan and groan about how horrible it is to be living back home, I feel really fortunate to have such a wonderful family. I am not only grateful that they have provided me a place to live but also that we are so close and have this chance to spend so much time together. I have mentioned before that my mom moved several states away last fall to attend law school, and I really missed her while she was gone. Having us both living in the same house is probably an adjustment for my dad, but I have thoroughly enjoyed having so much girl time! I have a pretty terrific family in general, and I’m not just saying that because they read this :D

My parents are particularly enthusiastic about all the cooking I’ve been doing since I’ve been back home, but they aren’t 100% sold on the idea of meatless meals just yet. I will gradually sneak them into our menus, though. Luckily, this one, my first attempt at winning them over with vegetarian cooking, was a huge success. First of all, I loved it because it was incredibly simple and quick to make. But the best part about it is that it doesn’t taste simple. The flavors are complex, and the crunch of the slaw mixture against the creamy avocado and white bean spread is just perfect. This was a definite homerun that would be perfect for upcoming picnics or holiday festivities.

Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups coleslaw mix
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium avocado
2 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
4 multigrain wraps

Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage mixture; toss to combine.

Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese.

To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.

Serves 4.
From Eating Well.

Meatless Monday: Kale with Cannellini Beans

13 Jun


There are few vegetables I enjoy more than kale. In soups, sauteed, as “chips.” I can’t actually think of a way I’ve had kale that I didn’t like it, and so I am always looking for new ways to try preparing it. When I saw this original recipe, Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans, I was first drawn in to the crispy bacon atop the giant pile of greens and beans. I know this is supposed to be a post about going meatless, but I can’t help but love bacon. The first time I made this dish, I topped it with those crispy little strips of salty meat, and the dish was great. However, I didn’t really feel like the bacon or chicken broth added anything to the dish. The true flavor comes from the balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, and greens. The velvety texture of the beans and kale is perfect on its own, and I actually prefer this recipe as a meatless dish. The vegetable stock adds a much richer flavor, and I didn’t miss the bacon at all. How’s that for a Meatless Monday promo?

Kale with Cannellini Beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound kale greens, roughly chopped
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar in the raw

Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add oil.

Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.
Modified from Weight Watchers.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash Torta

30 May


I originally saw this recipe as a guest post from Cara’s Cravings on Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies, but it was when I saw Danica’s Daily make it that I just knew I would have to try it. I am always more apt to make a recipe when I’ve seen it a couple times in the blogosphere, especially when one of the bloggers who made it happens to be one of my favorite bloggers. (Did I mention that I met Danica last week while she was in town for a conference? You can find a picture of us and my friend Amy of Round is a Shape here.)

It was actually pretty soon after her post, way back in December, that I tried making this dish for the first time. And it was delicious. Seriously yummy. BUT it was a huge mess. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but mine did not set up and was just a bit of a slop. However, since it tasted so good, I decided to try it again. While it might look mostly set in the picture, I can assure you it was not. So for the second time this recipe was tasty but soupy, and for that reason alone, it’s not one I will make again. I just can’t get over the texture or the big mess it makes as it “settles” after removing the springform pan.

But since I seem to be the only one having this problem, I am going to pass it along to you. I made a meatless version, using a combination of mushrooms, zucchini, and seasonings in place of the sausage, and I think that was a fantastic compromise for those who typically love meat. With the right herbs and spices, I didn’t miss the sausage at all. I also thought the spaghetti squash made a great pasta substitute in this dish, and had it not been so labor-intensive for such unreliable results, I would make it again no question.

Spaghetti Squash Torta

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
6 ounces baby spinach
1 large egg
15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
2 cups marinara sauce
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

To roast the squash, preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the squash all over with a sharp knife and place in a baking dish with about 1″ of water. Cook for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then use two forks to remove the stringy flesh.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

In a large skillet coated with 2 teaspoons oil, cook the onions over medium-low heat for about 10 minute, until softened. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, until they release their moisture. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and remaining spices. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat a bit, and cook for another minute, until garlic is fragrant. Finally, add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix together the cooked spaghetti squash, egg, ricotta cheese, half of the Asiago cheese, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

Lightly coat an 8″or 9″ spring-form pan with cooking spray. Place half of the spaghetti squash mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the vegetable mixture and half of the sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the sauce.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until top is browned.

Let stand for 10 minutes, then un-mold and slice.

Makes 6 servings
Modified from Cara’s Cravings, as featured on Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies

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