Mujadara with Greens

Mujadara with Greens

Mujadara is a classic Middle Eastern dish consisting of caramelized onions, lentils, and rice. I’m always amazed at how something so simplistic can be so delicious. My husband loves this dish. This recipe makes plenty for leftovers, so that keeps him happy.

I had some kohlrabi leaves and radish leaves leftover from the Kohlrabi and Radish Slaw I made yesterday, so I added them to my basic Mujadara recipe. Goodness. I would think a variety of greens (spinach, collards, turnip, etc…) would be good as well.

Mujadara with Greens

1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup long-grain white rice (or you can use Basmati)
2 cups fresh greens of your choice, finely sliced
salt and pepper

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. This will take about 20 minutes or more.

Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the lentils are just starting to get tender and most of the water has cooked away. This takes about 10- 15 minutes, but may take longer depending on the lentils. Sometimes they cook fast, sometimes they don’t.

Add the cooked lentils (no need to drain them), rice, greens, and 4 cups of water to the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender. Serve warm.

Gazpacho Salsa

Gazpacho Salsa

Right before I graduated from college, I took a second part-time job at a small health food store in Arlington, Texas. There was a small kitchen and juice bar in the back of the store. We used organic produce to make juices, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and soups. In addition to serving customers at the juice bar, we packaged soups, salads, and salsas in containers so that customers could take them home. By far the most popular thing to come out of that little kitchen was the Gazpacho. We chopped up a variety of organic veggies and mixed them with herbs and red wine vinegar and served it not as a cold soup, but as a salsa. It was a great way to use up the produce before it went bad. Unfortunately, the store went under once a Whole Foods opened up a couple of blocks away. I still make the Gazpacho Salsa from time to time. It always reminds me of my time at the little health food store.

Gazpacho Salsa is an excellent way to use up veggies in the fridge or to utilize all the amazing veggies you are getting in your CSA box. We eat the Gazpacho Salsa with tortilla chips or pita chips. It is also amazing with hummus. We make little pita pockets with hummus and the Gazpacho Salsa. So delicious and healthy.

This recipe is pretty adaptable and you can customize the veggies and dried herbs (or use fresh) to suit your tastes.

Gazpacho Salsa

3 large tomatoes, cored
1 small (sweet) onion
1 small green bell pepper, cored
1 small red bell pepper, cored
1 large cucumber (or 2 small), seeds removed
2 stalks celery
1 medium zucchini, ends removed
juice from 1 lime
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix or Bouquet garnish herb mix (or to taste) – or use any dried herbs you like
salt and pepper, to taste

Chop the tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, cucumber, celery, and zucchini and mix together in a large bowl. Alternatively, you can pulse the veggies to desired size in the food processor. Season the chopped veggies to taste with the lime juice, vinegar, dried herbs, and salt and pepper.


Spicy Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

One of the many joys of no longer having a thyroid is the non-existent metabolism. I have put on 17 pounds since my thyroidectomy surgery in January. Having been diagnosed with hypothyroidism over 13 years ago, I’m no stranger to the weight issues that go along with thyroid disease. Right before my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free diet for 6 months. In that 6 months I lost a whopping 4 pounds. It’s discouraging. I don’t have room for extra weight so I have resorted to calorie counting. There are some great free apps out there to make it easier. I’m aiming for 1500 to 1700 calories a day for (hopefully) weight loss.

My hubby works late on Thursdays and I usually end up making something simple for my dinner. Last Thursday I roasted a batch of fresh okra. I love okra. Roasted Okra is totally addicting and satisfying too. Plus, it’s super easy to make. I used a jalapeno from my garden and it was super hot. It made for some SPICY Roasted Okra. It was so spicy, I got the hiccups. Do you get hiccups when you eat spicy/hot foods?

Vegetables typically have lower calorie counts than other foods, so it makes sense to eat more of them to aid in weight loss 1 pound of fresh okra has 124 calories! 1 tablespoon of canola oil also has 124 calories. 1 jalapeno has about 4 calories. This entire recipe (if made with 1 tablespoon of canola oil) only has 152 calories! So, there’s no guilt when I eat the entire batch of Roasted Okra by myself. : )

Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

1 pound fresh okra pods, ends trimmed
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
Kosher salt and pepper
spices of your choice (I used garlic powder and cumin)

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Cut the okra pods in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the okra and sliced jalapeno with the oil. Season the okra to taste with Kosher salt, pepper, and preferred spices. Arrange the okra in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Roast the okra in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through cooking. I like the okra right when it starts to crisp up and brown.


Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn (640x480)

It has been so hot and humid in South Carolina lately. Who wants to cook on days like this? Crockpot cooking is perfect for hot days. It doesn’t heat up the house and leaves you plenty of time for summer fun.

We have been eating more vegetarian meals lately. Grocery prices have gone up so much that there’s not much room for meat in the budget. Grocery prices are ridiculous! The price of cheese alone has gone up 20% in just the past two weeks. What is going on? Everything is going up but the paycheck, so budget meals are a necessity. This meal is budget-friendly. Beans are cheap. I am able to get cans of beans at Aldi for 59 cents each. Dried beans are cheaper, but canned beans are so convenient. Paired with chiles from the farmers’ market and my garden, this chili is relatively inexpensive as well as nutritious.

This chili is even better the next day. Do you know what I did with the leftover chili? I made Frito pie (Fritos topped with chili and cheese) with it. So good.

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
1 – 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 15.5 ounce can cannellini  beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in the crockpot and cook on low 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 3 to 4 hours). Right before serving, stir in the cilantro.

Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes with Chicken

Chicken with Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes

I got back to South Carolina Tuesday night from a 2 week trip to Texas. My sons and I had a great time visiting family and friends, but it is good to be home. My husband did not go on the trip with us. While he was home, he looked after my garden and picked up our CSA boxes. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of produce (tomatoes, a variety of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, corn, winter squashes, and blueberries) I came home to. It was time to get to work.

tomatoes (526x343)

I was too tired to go to the grocery store Wednesday, so I came up with this dish. I really liked how this Mediterranean-inspired concoction turned out. Summer comfort food. I added a dash of Penzey’s Bourquet Garni herb mix (a mix of savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, marjoram, sage, and tarragon) to the veggie mixture as it cooked. I didn’t include it in the recipe, but feel free to add your favorite herbs/herb mix. Serve this stew-like dish over rice or pasta (orzo).

Chicken, Peppers, and Tomatoes 2

Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes with Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I cut them in half horizontally to make the pieces smaller)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Italian eggplant, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces (or use equivalent amount of Japanese eggplant)
2 bell peppers, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
3 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the oil. Cook the chicken until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces back to the mixture and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the veggies and chicken are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and season the dish with salt and black pepper. Serve with hot rice or pasta.

Squash Hash Browns

Squash Hashbrowns and Eggs

Breakfast is a perfect meal to add more veggies (ahem, and this time of the year, squash) to. These squash hash browns are super yummy, especially when paired with eggs. If you wanted to add some minced onion along with the potatoes, that would be good too.

Squash Hash Browns

1 pound of potatoes (whatever variety you like or have on hand), scrubbed clean, peeled if you want
1 yellow squash, ends trimmed
1 zucchini, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
olive oil (or your favorite oil)

Using a food processor or grater, shred the potatoes. Squeeze as much moisture out of them as you can. I dump them out onto a large clean kitchen towel, wrap them up and squeeze. The less moisture in the potatoes, the crisper they will be.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a (cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, season with Kosher salt and black pepper, and let cook. Let the potatoes cook, stirring occasionally, while you are preparing the squash.

Meanwhile, shredded the yellow squash and zucchini together and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Again, I put them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze. Add the minced garlic to the cooking potatoes and then the shredded squash. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper, add more oil to the pan if you feel like you need to, and even the mixture out in the bottom of the skillet.

Cook until the bottom is crispy, about 6 – 8 minutes, and then using a spatula, turn the hash browns over and cook the other side until crispy. Admittedly, I have a hard time leaving hash browns alone while they are cooking. I’m constantly stirring and turning them. My thought is that they will get crispier. Do it however you like. Once the squash hash browns are browned and crispy to your satisfaction, they are ready to serve.

Squash Hashbrowns

Warm Barley Salad with Swiss Chard

Warm Barley Salad with Swiss Chard 2 (640x482)

I made this simple salad using the last of the Swiss chard from my garden. The Swiss chard turned the barley a pretty pinkish color. Barley is one of my favorite grains and I am always looking for new ways to add it to our diet. Barley has lots of fiber, so this salad is very filling. I was thinking that the next time I make it, I will add some cooked lentils and maybe even some finely chopped celery.

Warm Barley Salad with Swiss Chard (640x465)

Warm Barley Salad with Swiss Chard

1/2 cup pearled barley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bunch Swiss chard, washed and chopped (I use the stems, but you may remove them and reserve for another use)
juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the barley and 3 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Drain in a colander. At this point, I like to rinse the cooked barley with water and let drain completely.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the chopped Swiss chard and cook until wilted. Stir in the cooked barley. Squeeze the lemon juice over the mixture and season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if you wish. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.


Grilled Zucchini Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This salad is summer in a bowl. It’s perfect for when you have way too much zucchini and tomatoes in the garden. This recipe serves about 4, but it can easily be doubled or tripled.

Grilled Zucchini Salad

2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, cut in half
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or chunks of fresh mozzarella)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a grill pan over high heat or on an outdoor grill, cook the zucchini quarters about 3 minutes on each side. You want them to be tender, but not mushy. Grill marks are nice. Let the zucchini cool until they are easily handled. Cut the zucchini into bite size pieces.

Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a Mason jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake to combine.

Combine the grilled zucchini, tomatoes, olives, and feta in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture and gently mix. You may not need all of the dressing, just enough to coat the veggies. Serve at room temperature.


Mixed Greens Enchiladas

Mixed Greens Enchiladas

I’ve been trying to think of interesting ways to use the variety of greens I’ve been getting in my CSA boxes lately. I woke up this morning with the idea to make enchiladas. Originally, I was just going to use collards, but I had a little bit of rutabaga greens left from last week and decided to use those in the enchilada filling as well. The enchiladas turned out better than expected. So good. I’m thinking any type of greens (collards, turnip, mustard, Swiss chard, rutabaga, spinach, etc…) could work in these. I can’t wait to make them again.

Mixed Greens Enchiladas  2 (640x382)

Mixed Greens Enchiladas

6 cups fresh greens, washed well, stems and ribs removed, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 zucchini, diced small
1 cup frozen corn
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
corn tortillas
shredded cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, or mozzarella)

3 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups water
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the thinly sliced greens and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the greens well in a colander and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno and sauté another minute. Add the zucchini and cook until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and black bean and cook until heated through. Add the reserved drained greens and stir to combine. If there is liquid in the pan, continue to cook until the liquid is gone, otherwise, reduce heat to low and keep filling warm until ready to use.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and chili powder and whisk to form a paste. Mix in the cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Gradually whisk in the 2 cups of water. Let the mixture come to a boil, whisking often. It will thicken slightly. Add the can of tomato sauce and check for seasonings. Reduce the heat to low and keep the enchilada sauce warm until ready for use.

To assemble enchiladas, start by putting a little of the sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (I  use two smaller casserole dishes, but you can use a large Pyrex baking dish). Working with 3 or 4 corn tortillas at a time, wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Place a little of the filling (about 3 tablespoons) on the tortilla and top with cheese (about 1 tablespoon). Roll the tortilla around the filling and place in the prepared casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat process until all the filling is used. I got a total of 16 enchiladas, but the amount may vary depending on how much filling there is and how much is used in each enchilada. Once all the enchiladas are filled and placed in their baking dish, pour the warm enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Mixed Greens Enchilada (640x411)

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale (640x400)

I planted 9 Lacinato kale plants in my flowerbeds and garden earlier this year. Despite deer munching on some of the plants, there is quite of bit of kale ready to be harvested. The kale is a tad bit bitter, so I wanted to cook it rather than use it raw in a salad. I’m a fan of soups made with beans and greens. I had not paired black beans and kale together before, but I thought they went well together. This soup is wonderful. I’m sure using collard greens instead of kale would be equally delicious.

Several times a year, I roast and chop poblano peppers, and freeze them in 1/2 cup portions. I use the frozen chiles in soups, enchiladas, sauces, and egg dishes. Poblanos can vary in heat. The ones I used for this soup were on the spicier side, but the diced avocado I added to my soup bowl helped calm my taste buds.

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale 2 (640x480)

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped (optional)
1 7 ounce can salsa verde (I use Herdez brand)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped (I prefer Lacinato kale)
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained
2 poblano chiles, roasted, skin and seeds removed, and chopped (or a small can of chopped green chiles) – see instructions on roasting chiles below
1 15.5 ounce can hominy, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 a cup and extra for garnish)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and jalapeno; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the salsa verde, vegetable broth, and kale. Cook until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the black beans, roasted poblano chiles, and hominy. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the freshly chopped cilantro and serve with diced fresh avocado.

To roast poblano chiles:
Preheat broiler to high. Place poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 miutes until each side is blackened and charred. Place in a large bowl and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes, and coarsely chop. Set aside.