Zucchini Boats filled with Spicy Lager Lentils

May 28, 2020

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I’m going to take a bit of a break from bread recipes today and tell you all about these Zucchini Boats filled with Spicy Lager Lentils! If you are a fan of spicy, Tex-mex cuisine, you need to add this recipe to your repertoire.

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The Husband and I absolutely love zucchini. Can’t get enough of the stuff, which is a bit strange because neither of us liked it one little bit when we were kids. Now I want to eat it all the time. One of our absolute favorite sides are these Zucchini Spicy Grilled Corn & Cheese Pancakes:

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And zucchini adds moisture as well as flavor to my favorite Banana Bread recipe:

Zucchini Banana Bread

So yeah, we are all about zucchini here. Stuffing a few of them with some spiced up lager lentils seemed like a great idea. And boy was it ever! I first told you about these lentils when we made tacos with them. Absolutely delish!

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Now we’ve got those same spicy lentils wrapped with zucchini, rather than a tortilla. This is great news if you are trying to cut back on carbs. And you still get to top these Zucchini Boats with all the same fun toppings you would put on a taco.

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Another win is that these little boats are perfect for a Meatless Monday! I swear you won’t miss that meat at all.

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Later this summer, when you are absolutely swimming in zucchini, you will be so happy that I shared this idea with you. And the recipe is easily customizable, so if you are a hardcore carnivore – go ahead and add some meat. Turns out there really aren’t any rules. So have fun creating your own version of these Zucchini Boats today! (but I gotta say…these Spicy Lager Lentils are pretty amazing…)

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Zucchini Boats filled with Spicy Lager Lentils

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: The Mountain Kitchen’s Meatless Mexican Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils, cooked (you will end up with about 2 cups of lentils when cooked)
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz. chopped green chilis
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favourite – We love Green Mountain Gringo Salsa)
  • 6 oz.- 8 oz. lager beer (I used Estrella Damm, Dos Equis would be great too )

For the spice mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish Smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the Zucchini Boats:

  • 4 medium zucchini – halved and with a channel scooped out for the spicy lentils
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Toppings: sour cream, Cotija Cheese, salsa, fresh jalapeños, fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and tin of green chilis, cook for another minute or two.  Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the spices just crank up the flavor by cooking them.

Add the lentils, salsa and 6 ounces of the beer and stir to combine. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, gently mash the lentils until the mixture reaches the consistency you are happy with. Cook another few minutes until hot. If the lentils start to dry out, add another glug or two of the lager. ( If you haven’t slurped it down…cooking is hard & thirsty work!)

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to dredge out a channel for the spicy lentils to sit in. Don’t remove too much of the zucchini. Take care to leave at least 1/4″ flesh in the zucchini. Just remove the center seeds and discard.

Place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet.

Fill the prepared zucchini boats with the spicy lentils. Sprinkle shredded Mexican style spicy cheese over the tops.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the zucchini are fork tender.

Remove from oven. Add any additional toppers you would like.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Boats filled with Spicy Lager Lentils brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Cauliflower Fried Rice

April 28, 2020

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So yup…still in lock-down. I don’t know about you, but not only have my workouts suffered over the past two months, but my stress eating and drinking have definitely increased. I hear folks talking about the “Covid 19” just like they do about the “Freshman 15” and considering the state of me, I think a gain of 19 pounds is a serious possibility! Yikes! So I thought maybe today I would offer up a recipe that is a bit kinder on your waistline while still being delicious – Cauliflower Fried Rice!

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That’s right! Carbs be gone!!! This Cauliflower Fried Rice is just bursting with flavor with none of those pesky carbs. Will you be fooled into thinking you’re eating rice? Nope. You won’t. Buuuuut – your pants might fit better. And this dish is actually delicious. The cauliflower does take on all of the flavor from those lovely seasonings. You won’t actually miss the rice, all things being considered.

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This dish comes together quickly. Just have everything all prepped before you begin cooking. Just perfect for a Meatless Monday or a “I better lose some weight before quarantine is lifted and I have to waddle out into the light of day”, moment of reckoning. Just saying…

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4 - Two Cup Servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 64 grams chopped scallions, light and green parts separated (you’ll need 5-6 scallions)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • One 900-g head cauliflower (or 900 grams ready to cook cauliflower)
  • 4-5 Tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 130 grams frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 30 grams chopped cashews or peanuts (optional)

Directions:

Given that riced cauliflower is so easy to find in grocery stores, I urge you to save yourself a lot of trouble and just buy it “ready to cook”. However, if you truly love to grate things, see the following instructions. Grate the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with the grating disc. Alternatively, grate on the large holes of box or hand-held grater. Set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large (10 or 12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and a pinch of salt and scramble until the eggs are cooked. Transfer to a small plate and set aside. Wipe the pan clean.

Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and set over medium heat. Add the light green scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the grated cauliflower, 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots. Stir to combine and continue cooking until the cauliflower “rice” is tender-crisp and the vegetables are warmed through, a few minutes. Stir in the rice vinegar, sesame oil, dark green scallions, nuts (if using) and eggs. Taste and adjust seasoning (adding the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce if necessary). Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Fried Rice brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cauliflower Fried Rice:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook by Jennifer Segal – You will not find the recipe for Cauliflower Fried Rice in this cookbook, but will fin da bunch of other awesome tasty recipes. I love this cookbook, as well as the Once Upon a Chef blog. All of Jennifer’s recipes are easy to make and absolutely delicious!

 


Spinach Croissants

April 14, 2020

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So yeah…I told you all about how motivated I was in Stage I of our lockdown. Just an amazing little cleaning whirlwind. Full of energy, and raring to beat everything into a shining perfection of organization. Well, that anomaly has passed and I’ve moved into Stage II – complete lethargy. There is definitely still a lot that could be cleaned and organized around here, it isn’t like I’ve run out of things to do. It is just at this point I don’t really care to do them. I mostly just get up in the morning and start reading all of the depressing news from around the world. And even once I tear myself away from the old computer, I obsessively go back to those news sites again and again throughout the day to check for updates. Definitely not good. As a fun diversion, I’m trying to refocus on planning a trip for us when this is over.

Famous tourist attraction Hamnoy fishing village on Lofoten Islands, Norway with red rorbu houses. W

Yup. You were right – I’m not dreaming of a beach vacation. I’m looking at the Arctic again!

And speaking of trips, I have a bunch of blogs in the works from trips we’ve taken in the past which I have yet to write up. You know the thing, the Husband and I take a trip and then I will cook up a recipe which is inspired from the locale and share that along with some lovely photos. I also give you recommendations for accommodations, activities, restaurants and tours, should you be inspired to visit on your own. you can see the ones I’ve done previously by clicking on “Travels” in the top navigation bar. So be on the look out for a few of those in the future. But for today, I would like to share this amazing recipe for Spinach Croissants!

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Remember back in February when I told you all about those scrumptious Fruit Filled Morning Buns?

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These Spinach Croissants are also made with Baker’s Croissant Dough. This type of dough is a yeasted laminated dough. Basically you mix up a yeasted dough, roll it out and place a layer of butter on top of it. You then enclose the butter within the dough and proceed to roll it out and fold it over and over again. This creates a dough which has multiple alternating layers of dough and butter. The butter evaporates when baked and that is what forms all those lovely flaky layers in a croissant.

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Once the dough is ready, rather than filling it with anything sweet, these little devils are stuffed full of a savory filling made up of spinach, cheeses & roasted red peppers. And no meat in sight, so perfect for Meatless Monday.

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These Spinach Croissants are amazing! That buttery, flaky pastry dough simply melts in your mouth and the savory filling is just delicious. These croissants are conveniently portable and are great at room temperature but also crisp up well if you are reheating them. While it is a bit time consuming to make up that laminated dough, it is 100% worth it! Make a batch up today!

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Spinach Croissants

  • Servings: 9 square croissants
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recipe from: Sift Magazine Holiday 2018 issue: King Arthur Flour (and here)

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:

  • 1/2 recipe Baker’s Croissant Dough (detailed below)

For the Filling:

  • 1 Tablespoon (14 grams) Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces/106 grams) diced onion
  • 10 ounces (283 grams) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 ounce/21 grams) fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces/50 grams) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) diced roasted red peppers
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Directions:

For the Filling:

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the spinach and bread crumbs and stir until well combined. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool to lukewarm.

Stir in the cheeses and peppers and season with salt and pepper.

Note* This amount of filling is enough for a full batch of the Baker’s Croissant Dough. So, you can either use all of the dough, halve the filling ingredient or just save the other half of the filling for later. The spinach filling is great as a topping for pizza as well!

Line two baking sheets with parchment.

To assemble:

Roll the dough into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Trim 1/4″ of dough from the edges; this will give you a higher puff in the oven.

Cut the dough in thirds in both directions, to make nine 4″ x 6″ rectangles. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on one side of each rectangle.

Fold the dough over twice to enclose the filling, with the seam ending up on the bottom. Press the croissant down slightly to flatten it.

Place the croissants on the prepared baking sheets and let them rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. They should expand noticeably, and when you gently press one with your finger, the indentation should remain.

Partway through the rise time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

When the croissants are not quite doubled, brush with the egg wash and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes more, until the croissants are a deep golden brown, even where the dough overlaps (that’s where you want to look when checking for doneness).

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving. Watch out, the filling will be hot!

Store, wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to two days. Refresh for 10 minutes in a 350°F oven before serving.

Baker’s Croissants Dough

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 large eggs + enough warm water to make 2 cups (454g) of liquid
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, divided
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups (659g to 723g) All purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (71g) Bakers Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk, optional
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional; for sweet pastry)

For the Butter:

  • 1 7/8 cups (425g) unsalted butter, cool to the touch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (60g) All purpose flour

Directions:

For the dough: Put the eggs and water in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups (362g) of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended; set aside to let the sponge work.

For the butter: Cut the butter into 1˝ chunks and combine with the salt and flour at low speed in a stand mixer just until smooth, with no lumps. Be careful not to beat too much; you don’t want to incorporate any air.

Spread the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into an 8˝ square. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish the dough: Add the melted butter to the sponge. Whisk together the remaining sugar, 2 1/2 cups (298g) of the flour, the dry milk, and salt and add to the sponge. Mix until the dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes; touch the dough lightly with your finger. If it’s still sticky, add the remaining flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is the desired consistency. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a 9˝ square, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Laminate the dough: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and gently roll it to a 12″ square.

Unwrap the butter square and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in a square. Pull the corners of the dough into the center of the butter diamond. Moisten the edges with a little water and pinch the seams together well to enclose the butter. Dust the top with flour and turn the packet over.

Tap the dough all over with a rolling pin, encouraging it into a rectangular shape. Once it’s pliable, roll it to a 20˝ x 10˝ rectangle, picking it up and dusting lightly with flour as needed.

When you’ve reached the proper size, use a dry brush to sweep off any excess flour and fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. Take care to keep the edges straight and line them up directly over each other. If the dough slides around, use a little water at the corners to tack them in place. This is your first turn.

Rotate the dough out so it looks like a book about to be opened. Roll the dough out once more to 20˝ x 10˝ and fold it as before. This is the second turn. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the gluten in the dough to relax.

Give the dough two more turns after its rest, then wrap the dough well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before using. You can also freeze the dough at this point.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Spinach Croissants:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur

Dough Rolling Mat

Pastry Tool

Silicone Pastry Brush Set

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

 


Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes

November 11, 2016

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Yay! We’ve finally started getting some Fall type weather. I know a lot of folks have been digging that extended summer kind of thing that we’ve had going on, but I’m ready for some colder temperatures. And as that mercury falls, I’ve got a great comfort food recipe to share with you today: Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes! Yum, yum, yum! This delicious Meatless Monday favorite of ours will be loved by vegetarians and carnivores alike, I guarantee.  And you did hear me right – there is not one shred of meat in this dish – it is a vegetarian meatloaf. But that doesn’t mean it is lacking in taste. I do promise, you will not miss the meat one little bit once you take a bite of these savory little gems.

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This recipe is so versatile. You can bake it in cupcake tins or if you prefer in a loaf pan for a more traditional meatloaf appearance. I prefer the cupcake tins because of the cute factor. Kids will certainly find them more appealing and will have no idea how many veggies they are scarfing down. The cupcake version also has portability and ease going for it. Having a single serving all ready to go, no fooling around with trying to cut even slices in a loaf works out great for me. But really we love these little cupcake shapes because of the extra crunchy edges you get from baking them in cupcake tins.

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You can also prepare these cupcakes with or without the mashed potato “frosting”. Kids will definitely prefer the potatoes piped onto the top so that it actually looks more cupcake like. When I make this dish though, I usually prepare them “naked” topped only with the arrabiata sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. I serve the mashed potatoes on the side. These cupcakes are fantastic warm from the oven, but I’ve also enjoyed them the next day cold right out of the fridge. They are high in protein and fiber. I’m telling you, you can not go wrong with this recipe!

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Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes

  • Servings: 20 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe inspired by: Really Good Vegetarian Meatloaf (Really!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 leeks, sliced – white and light green parts only
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzerella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 ounces of spaghetti sauce + a bit more for spooning over the top (we use a spicy arrabiatta sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we love spicy food – but if you don’t feel free to leave this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 20 slices fresh mozzarella
  • Mashed potatoes for “frosting” if desired
  • Fresh Chives & Basil for garnish

Directions:

Place 2 cups broth or water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and cook at a simmer, covered, for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms and leeks until they are fragrant and softened. Set aside to cool.

Drain any remaining liquid from the lentils. Mash approximately half of the lentils. Place them into a large mixing bowl and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously spray two muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. *If you would rather bake this as a traditional meatloaf, generously grease a loaf pan. You will also likely need to adjust your baking time to 40 -45 minutes.

Once lentils have cooled, add the leek/mushroom mixture, oats, and cheeses to the lentils and stir to combine.

Add the eggs, sauce,garlic powder, basil, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, paprika and salt to the bowl and stir until combined.

Fill prepared muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with lentil mixture.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

If you wish to have mashed potato “frosting” for the cupcakes. Go ahead and make the mashed potatoes while the cupcakes are baking.

After 30 -35 minutes, remove the pans and add a teaspoon full of spaghetti sauce to the top of each cupcake, as well as a spice of fresh mozzarella.

Bake until mozzarella is melted.

Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cakes and then carefully remove from the tins.

Pipe mashed potato frosting onto the cupcakes if you desire and decorate with chive sprinkles. Or if foregoing the frosting, garnish “naked” cupcakes with freshly chopped basil.

Enjoy!

Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


Zucchini Tots

October 11, 2016

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Wait….wait! I’ve got another delicious zucchini recipe to share before zucchini season is over. Zucchini Tots! Crispy on the outside and oh so tender on the inside, whether you serve them as a side, appetizer or the main event, these little nuggets are unbelievably addictive. The husband says he likes them better than regular Tater Tots. Now me…I don’t think I can go that far. Nothing against these zucchini tots, which are spectacular, but I love me some potatoes. Don’t really care how you make ’em…mashed, baked, scalloped – but fried can’t be beat. I think I’d categorize these little zucchini gems as a totally different thing. I probably should have called them zucchini bites. That being said, I certainly feel more virtuous having eaten Zucchini Tots rather than Tater Tots, so there is that.

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Another great thing about these tots is that they are really easy and pretty quick to make. Just be sure you squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can before mixing it in with the other ingredients so that you can achieve ultimate crispiness. You see I love the crispy bit, that’s why I rolled these tots in a bit more panko before baking them. But you can skip the panko roll step if you aren’t that into crispy or simply can’t be bothered. No matter what, these Zucchini Tots will still knock your socks off – guaranteed!

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Zucchini Tots

  • Servings: 20 tots
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: The Wimpy Vegetarian

Ingredients:

  • 2 -3 small zucchini, shredded (you should have about 2 cups worth)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup small-diced yellow onion
  • ⅓ cup grated Asiago Cheese (feel free to use Parmesan, mozzarella, or even cheddar)
  • ¼ cup Panko (bread crumbs) plus 1 cup additional for coating tots
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Don’t use foil – the tots will stick to it like super-glue. Trust me. Place 1 cup of panko in shallow bowl and set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl using a large metal spoon.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the zucchini mixture into mounds. Drop zucchini mixture into the middle of the panko bowl. Gently roll to cover will Panko and gently shape into a tater tot shape. Arrange on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes, gently flip over, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Tots brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini Tots:

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

 


Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils

February 17, 2016

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Well…..Spring has definitely not arrived yet! It is COLD. You know, single digit cold which is saying something when you are dealing with the old Fahrenheit temperature scale as we still do. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, it is February for goodness sake. What was I expecting? That dear old groundhog seems to have inspired me to jump the gun a bit on thoughts of Spring. Thank goodness I have this great Winter warmer of a recipe in these Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils. Comforting and tasty, this is just what you want to see on your dinner table. And, since there isn’t any meat to be found in  the mix, it is just perfect on a Meatless Monday.

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Not only is this dish yummy, but it is so easy to make. You only need one pot, which is a huge mark in its favor. And as it turns out, lentils are actually very good for you. These little legumes are chock full of B vitamins, are low in fat and high in fiber and protein. Indeed, lentil have the second highest ratio of protein to calorie of any of the legumes. They keep you feeling full for longer and can also lower your cholesterol and possibly reduce your risk of heart disease. Good stuff there! All these benefits and they actually taste great! Thick & hearty, this creamy lentil stew will give you the strength to hang in there until these last days of Winter blow themselves out!

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Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils

  • Servings: 4 - 6 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe slightly adapted from: Pinch of Yum

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • half a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed
  • 2 medium Yukon potatoes, chopped (about 1 cup total)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (plan to add a few more cups as needed while cooking)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley
  • a few springs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 5 ounces packed fresh baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste (be generous with the salt! – but remember not to add it until the lentils have finished cooking)
  • olive oil, red wine vinegar and freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Saute for 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Add the paprika and stir to coat. Next, add in the wine to deglaze the pan – a fancy term for scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the lentils, potatoes, broth, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more broth as necessary so the lentils are just barely covered in liquid. When the lentils and potatoes are soft, gently mash the potatoes against the side of the pot with the back of the wooden spoon to thicken the mixture.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems, add the half and half and spinach. Stir to incorporate. At this point you can season with salt and pepper (season, taste, adjust, repeat). If you add the salt prior to the lentils being done, it actually makes them take longer to cook. So you’ll be glad that you waited! Top each bowl with a drizzle of good olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar and a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a big hunk of cornbread or crusty rustic bread.

Enjoy!

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

September 30, 2015

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Wow! Last Wednesday was the first day of Fall and apparently for once the weather in the good old State of Virginia agrees with the calendar. Temperatures around here have been just glorious. The humidity has chilled out and the days are warm but the nights are just starting to get a bit of chill to them. I for one could not be happier, though it did seem a bit sudden. Usually summer lingers on around here for quite some time. I won’t say anything more about it though because I don’t want to speak too soon and “word” it. (Yup…I sure did word it. I wrote the last sentence about the great Fall weather over the weekend. On Monday the temperature crept back up to 80°, and was accompanied by remarkable Virginia swamp-like humidity. I knew it was too good to be true!)  I’ll just say, here’s one more great summer recipe which should carry over nicely into Fall…Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad.

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This salad can be served room temperature or even chilled if the mercury starts to creep up again. And it has a bit of a spicy kick to warm you up a bit if the chillier temperatures persist. If you have any leftover Spicy Grilled Corn from those Zucchini, Spicy Grilled Corn & Cheese Pancakes that I told you about a couple of weeks ago, this is a great way to put it to good use! The husband and I usually enjoy this dish on Meatless Mondays, and I serve it over a bed of lettuce. It gives it a taco salad-y kind of vibe. Another option, if you were feeling a bit more carnivorous, would be to add in some spicy chicken or grilled steak. And although we love it as a main dish, it would also be great as a side next to a big old burrito, taco or enchilada. So there you have it… all the healthful benefits of quinoa and all the fresh spicy tastes of summer. What a winner!

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Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pre-washed quinoa (if not washed, follow package instructions for rinsing)
  • 1-2/3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 cup chopped tomatoes, from 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1-1/4 cups Spicy Grilled Corn – recipe to follow (can use canned corn if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, from 1 large lime
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • shredded iceberg lettuce (to serve Quinoa Salad over – if you desire)

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minutes or so. Add the spices to the onion/garlic mixture and stir to combine

Add the quinoa to the onion/spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 17-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

When the quinoa is cool, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, tomatoes, Spicy Grilled Corn, black beans, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Right before serving, scatter the avocado chunks and Cotija Cheese over top.

Spicy Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes. Once it has cooled enough to handle, cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Spicy Summer Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Zoodles with Spicy Tomato Butter Basil Sauce

September 9, 2015

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Since I just told you about those delicious Pad Thai Zoodles, I figure zucchini noodles might still be on your mind. So it would be the perfect time to share this Spicy Tomato Butter Basil sauce recipe with ya’ll. We’ve have been enjoying this amazing sauce over zoodles all summer long. The buttery sauce is just perfect over that fresh zucchini. But even if you’re not in to zucchini noodles

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– which I can’t imagine because they are sooo yummy – this rich decadent tomato sauce is equally to die for over regular old pasta.

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I bet a lot of you folks have bunches of ripe tomatoes that need to be put to good use and this recipe is just the thing for that. But if you are in a bit of a hurry and don’t want to make things totally from scratch, you can substitute in two 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (I love the San Marzano ones)  in lieu of the garden fresh option. Always tasty, no matter which way you go. And you’ll have quite a bit of this sauce. Generally the husband and I get two to three meals out of a batch of it. So if you don’t fancy having it for dinner twice in a week, the good news is that it freezes very well.

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Fresh and flavourful, lush and velvety, you just can’t go wrong with this Spicy Tomato Butter Basil Sauce. Serve it over zoodles for a light, summer garden vibe and when you need some cold weather comfort, it will be just the winter warmer you need served over a big bowl of pasta.

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Zoodles with Spicy Tomato Butter Basil Sauce

  • Servings: 3 cups sauce - enough for 2 -4 servings zoodles
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe for Spicy Tomato Butter Sauce with Basil slightly adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

For the Zoodles:

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil

For the Spicy Tomato Butter Sauce with Basil:

  • 4 pounds plum tomatoes (or two 28-ounce can diced plum tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
  • garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (you may not need this if your tomatoes are very sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese – to serve

Directions:

If using fresh tomatoes: Using a sharp knife, cut an 1/4-inch deep X on one end of each tomato. Then, place scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 1-3 minutes, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water. Peel the skin off of the tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. (Cut off and discard the cores at this point.)

Place the diced tomatoes and all of their juices into a large saucepan. Add the butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, red pepper, salt and sugar and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is no longer watery. Remove and discard the onions and any large chunks of garlic (the garlic should have mostly dissolved into the sauce). Personally, I like onions and at this point these onions are sooooo tasty, I couldn’t bear to throw them away. So I chopped one of the onions up and added it back into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add basil right before serving.

Cut the zucchini into noodles by using a vegetable spiralizer tool. Cut zucchini noodles to a manageable fork twirling length – about 10 – 12″. Toss zoodles with a bit of salt and set aside for 15 – 30 minutes so that they can release some of their moisture. Drain zoodles. Add olive oil to frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add zucchini noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Take care not to overcook the zoodles. They are better slightly crunchy. Turn the heat off and let the zucchini noodles sit for about 5 minutes to allow as much moisture as possible to release from the noodles. Drain excess water away.

Add your desired amount of spicy tomato butter sauce to zoodles and toss to coat. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

Zoodles with Spicy Tomato Sauce with Basil brought to you by: Runcible Temps (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


Pad Thai Zoodles

September 2, 2015

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So remember how a couple of weeks ago I told you all about those delicious Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill? I mentioned then that I would have a lot of zucchini recipes headed your way. Well look out… here they come! I’m starting this whole zucchini round-up off with this fantastic recipe for Pad Thai Zoodles. “Zoodles?”, you might ask. Yup….turns out you can make noodles out of zucchini…hence Zoodles!

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Now I’m not going to tell you that you’ll be completely fooled and think you are actually eating pasta. You won’t. However, zoodles are absolutely delicious. We’ve been obsessed with them around here this summer and have literally eaten oodles of zoodles at this point. I had been seeing them talked up on the internet for a while, but didn’t actually have any type of spiralizing tool that I could use to cut said zoodles. Then I happened to be shopping at a Bed Bath & Beyond or some such store and saw this “Veggetti” tool. It was pretty cheap and claimed it was easy to use, so I decided to give it a whirl before investing in a higher dollar spiralizer.

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I mean what if we didn’t even like zucchini noodles? Hah! The husband and I are just wondering where they’ve been all our lives! So we’ve been gobbling them up with all sorts of different sauces etc. And these Pad Thai Zoodles are definitely one of our favourite zucchini noodle creations thus far. Again…we aren’t really fooled into thinking we’re eating actual Pad Thai, but this twist on that traditional dish is wonderful. Gluten free, low carb, light and summer-y, with just the right amount of spice and no pasta coma to deal with post dinner. We enjoyed ours on Meatless Monday, but you could add any protein to the dish that you like – perhaps some shrimp or chicken for instance.

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But before I set you off and running to make up a batch of zoodles, I should give you a couple of words of advice. The spiralizers will cut really long zucchini noodles, which I found a bit difficult to work with. So now I will cut the noodles once they reach about 10 – 12 inches, which I have found to be the perfect fork twirling length. Once I have all my zoodles cut, I sprinkle a bit of salt over them and let them sit for about 15 – 30 minutes, tossing them occasionally. They will release quite a bit of water! Drain that water away and then let them sit again for a bit after you have sautéed them. Drain that water away before you mix with any sauces.

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Believe me, you too will be wondering where zoodles have been all your life once you get a taste of these spicy Pad Thai Zoodles. And you’ll be feeling oh so virtuous for being so healthy and eating up your veggies. Get to spiralizing some zucchini today!

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Pad Thai Zoodles

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: White on Rice Couple

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil, divided
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • about 2 cups (480ml) bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • fresh hot red pepper slices for serving (optional)
  • Few lime wedges for serving (optional)

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fish sauce or to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 small red chili, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, or to taste

Directions:

Begin by making the Pad Thai Sauce. Combine vinegar, fish sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl. Whisk to blend. Set aside.

Cut zucchini into noodles by using a vegetable spiralizer. The noodles will be quite long. Cut to a more manageable length – about 10 -12″. Toss zucchini with a little salt and set aside for 15-20 minutes to allow it to release some liquid. Drain liquid.

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Add zucchini noodles and cook for 2 -3 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to work in batches. Take care to not overcook the zucchini. You don’t want it to go all mushy – it should remain slightly crunchy.

Remove the zoodles to a bowl and let them rest for about 5 minutes to release as much liquid as possible.

Wipe the frying pan clean. Add remaining olive oil and heat over medium high. Add garlic to the pan and cook until soft. Add bell pepper and green onions. Again, cook until tender.

Push veggies to the side and add egg to the pan, working to quickly scramble and chop into small pieces.

Drain liquid from resting zucchini noodles and add them back to the pan with the vegetable/egg mixture. Add the sauce and toss to combine. Cook for 1 -2 minutes until the noodles are warmed. Stir in the bean sprouts and remove from heat.

Top Zoodle Pad Thai with roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Enjoy!

Pad Thai Zoodles brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 

 


Curried Butternut Winter Soup

February 10, 2015

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Seems that good ole Punxsutawney Phil got it right. That adorable little varmint predicted six more weeks of winter and I for one believe him. Winter is not done with us yet, so it is probably a good thing to keep those soup recipes coming. Nothing better than a big bowl of steaming hot soup to warm you up while the snow is falling and the wind is howling outside. This Curried Butternut Winter Soup is just the ticket! Velvety smooth, it features a combination of butternut squash, leeks and potatoes with a bit of hot and spicy curry to give it just the right amount of kick. Its beautiful golden hue will remind you that it won’t be too much longer until these grey skies give way to longer sunny days.

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Butternut Squash, with its thin, easily peelable skin, is one of the most hassle-free of the winter squashes to work with. It has a sweet and nutty taste that is similar to pumpkin. Technically a fruit, it is often thought of and prepared as a vegetable and really packs a nutritional punch. It is high if Vitamins C, A & E as well as that wonderful antioxidant beta-carotene. It is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium and potassium. So there you have it, great taste and great health benefits. Go out and get yourself some Butternut Squash today and get started on a big pot of this Curried Butternut Winter Soup. Once you’ve tucked in to a nice hot bowl of it and are all warm and cozy it will be much easier to convince yourself that six more weeks isn’t really that long at all…

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Curried Butternut Winter Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Kristine’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1½ pounds)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (can sub. in vegetable broth if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. hot curry powder (feel free to substitute a mild curry powder if you have tender taste-buds – but we like it hot & spicy!)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground black pepper and/or chopped chives, for serving

Directions:

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; saute 3 minutes. Add leek; saute 1 minute. Stir in broth. Add cayenne pepper and hot curry powder. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. (Alternatively, the soup may be pureed in batches in a blender.)

Stir in half-and-half and keep warm until you are ready to serve. Top with additional cayenne pepper and chives if desired.

Enjoy!

Curried Butternut Winter Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


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