Category Archives: Lunch/Dinner

Lunch and Dinner recipes

Andrew’s Superbowl Rice

I used to make something similar in college, though not by a recipe.  Here’s another quick, filling and satisfying Superbowl party snack.

Buy: 

  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 small can of chilies
  • 2 1/2 cups rice

Cook the rice according to the package.

While still steaming hot, stir in the cheese, sour cream, peppers and chilies in a large mixing bowl.

Cook in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes to melt the remaining cheese and heat the sour cream base.  If you like a crunchier topping, place the rice in the broiler with an additional sprinkling of 1/4 cup of cheese for 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Place in a serving dish that will keep the rice piping hot and serve.

Like I said, this is quick and simple.  The sour cream and cheese meld together to give the rice a creamy, cool base.  The chilies and green peppers add a bitter, spicy bite to the bland rice. If you like things spicier, toss in a jalapeno or habanero.  This would also taste good with green or black olives.  It’s perfect for the vegetarian in the group.

 

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Can I have a car air freshener in Shepherd’s Pie??  For Shirley’s birthday, my boss decided we’d all make an ethnic food and share during lunch.  There was everything from Thai food to Polish to my Irish Sheppard’s Pie (mutilated, as Brandon says, because I made it vegetarian and it is usually rich with meat).

You should buy:

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 ounce portabella mushrooms
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

With a whisk, whip together the cream of mushroom soup, your choice of dry red wine (I used a cheap brand, but the addition of wine really perked up the adult taste buds), tomato paste and flour. When the liquid is creamy and smooth, set aside for some time to let the flavors meld.

Chop up your potatoes and place in a large, covered, boiling pot of water.  Cook until they almost fall of a fork when poked, about 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in a handful of mushrooms (don’t overcrowd them, just enough to evenly cover the bottom of the pan) and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are browned on both sides.  Place in a separate bowl, and then repeat until all of the mushrooms are completely browned.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the now empty pan and toss in your onion, celery, garlic, carrots and seasonings. 

 Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions become translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the wine, mushroom broth mix to the pan making sure to scrape the sides of the pan and bottom to keep from burning. Simmer for 3 minutes.  Plop in the mushrooms and cook at a simmering stage until thick and darker maroon in color, approximately 8 minutes.

Strain the liquid from the potatoes and return to the pot.  

Mash together the potato chunks, 2 Tbsp. butter and cream with an electric hand mixer for about 5 minutes or until smooth and whipped. Season with salt and pepper.

In a pie dish, 9″ x 9″ baking dish or mini bread loaf pans, spread the vegetable mixture over the bottom.

On top, dot the potatoes all the way across to the edges.  Take your fork and sporadically dip in and out of the top of the potatoes to create little peaks and valleys. These will become a crunchy texture in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. The vegetable mixture may bubble, breaking the potatoes away from the sides.  If you like the top more crunchy and browned, turn on the broiler and heat for 5 more minutes.

I chose to cook this in disposable mini bread tins for the sole purpose of reheating them at lunch in the toaster oven. They fit perfectly.  I tossed them in the oven to cook before leaving for work and by lunch, they only needed about 5 minutes of reheating.  I drove all the way to work (just under an hour) to work smelling this deliciousness and somehow managed to dispel the urge to pop open a pie and dig in.  The mix made about 7 minis: one for my mom, two and a half for lunch, and three for people to take home.

 

Just the smell was enough to make someone do a happy dance.  The mushrooms (could have been chopped smaller) mixed with cream of mushroom soup helped to make a hearty, thick vegetarian version of this hodgepodge of a dish.  The potatoes fill your stomach right up, as Irish food is known for, and the butter and cream helped to flavor the bland starch some.  I used Lucky Duck Shiraz, a cheap wine, but it supplied the distinct, incomparable oomph necessary to make a meat dish turned vegetarian work.  The potatoes just melt in your mouth, and dissipate some of the saltiness of the cream of mushroom soup.

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Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

 

When in need of an extra vegetable that can sub as a main meal for the vegetarian coming to your party, reference back to this recipe.  I made these for Christmas and was in no way missing out during dinner.

 

What you’ll need:

 

  • 8-10 medium tomatoes
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 cup 2 different kinds of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 package mozzarella cheese

 

Wash the tomatoes then start by cutting the tomatoes in half and spooning the center out into a bowl.  I used a melon baller, which worked perfectly for this task. Set aside for later.

 

Next, fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook until the mushroom turn dark brown in color and the onions become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Everything should smell of garlic.

Toss in your greens and spices (spinach, basil, pepper, cayenne, Italian seasoning) next then cook until the basil shrinks, about 2-4 minutes.

 

While your vegetables are cooking you can start the couscous. Cook according to the directions replacing the water with vegetable broth.  When the couscous is almost complete, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes until thoroughly heated (I used canned sun-dried tomatoes that were already softened).  When I made this I used two boxes of couscous because I doubled up on the amount of tomatoes, but this is not necessary.  One box was plenty and the condensed vegetable medley would have provided more flavors.

 

Next mix together your vegetables, couscous and tomato pulp in a mixing bowl.

 

Stuff the couscous blend into the tomato halves and place on a roasting pan.

 

Top each tomato shell with a healthy amount of cheese. Here you can experiment using parmesan, mozzarella, white cheddar or even fresh mozzarella slices. Another tasty option would be to mix parmesan inside the couscous mix and top with mozzarella.

 

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.

 

To brown the top, broil for 3-5 minutes.

 

This was an excellent main course for Christmas for the vegetarian in our small group (me).  My uncle stated that when he spooned in a piece of basil with his grains it made a huge difference in adding much-needed flavor to the boring couscous.  The tomatoes mush, somewhat, when cooked allowing your fork to slice right through scooping up bits of grains, cheese, vegetables and tomato. 

 

I took both the left over couscous medley, tasty just on its own, and whole tomatoes to lunch for the next week. Two was more than enough to keep me going until dinner. The couscous, similar to when you cook it, puffs up in your stomach keeping you full for quite a while with a healthy carbohydrate. To make this gluten-free simply substitute in quinoa for the couscous.

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Andrew’s Veg-Friendly Puttanesca Sauce

Andrew claims there is more than one vegetarian-friendly recipe in his repertoire, and I’m sure hoping because this recipe was out of this world.  Next time, the sous chef gets to help out with more than cutting the onion and garlic and stirring.

While at the store, pick up:

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 jar Kalamata olives
  • 1 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 box Rigatoni
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (more for drinking)
  • 1 loaf of bread +butter and garlic

Start by prepping the onions, mushrooms and garlic by roughly chopping. 

Sauté the onion with oil for 2 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. 

Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn down the heat, toss in the garlic and cook until aromatic. 

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, begin cooking the pasta and sprinkle in a little sea salt to the water.

Pit the olives and slice a knife lengthwise through the batch a few times for a chunky chopped look. 

Heat them in the sauté pan for a few minutes.

 

Top with the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Stir until hot.

 

Drain the pasta, adding 1/4-1/2 cup of the starchy water to the sauce.  The starch will thicken it.  Continue stirring to it from splattering and sputtering all over the oven-top.  Pour in the wine, stirring for another minute or so.  Mix in the drained pasta and top with a few capers.

See my previous Garlic Bread recipe for the remaining ingredients.

Rigatoni holds little chunks of mushroom and olives inside its short tube whilst squishing out warm tomato sauce onto your taste buds with each bite.  The big globs of mushrooms and olives created a thickness and texture to the sauce, segregating it from bland store-bought Ragu.  Even though there is no meat in the sauce, the mushrooms create a smooth, unseasoned meat consistency and flavoring to the meal.  The olives, kalamata ones in particular, add in the salty twang (like the capers) with a meaty heartiness.  Paired with sweet, yet tart, acidic tomatoes, you end up with a well-rounded palate for dinner.  Don’t forget to add in a glass of wine and garlic bread.

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Flora’s Chocolate Drizzled French Crêpes with Ricotta

One of our exchange students, Flora, left us with this delicious authentic French recipe.  It is to die for.  Not as good as the little one-man stand we visited outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, with its snow-cone shaped, oozing Nutella and banana, side-street treat, but it’s close.

You’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 10g or 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 100g or 3/4 cup flour
  • 250ml or 1 cup whole milk
  • 2-3 tsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. beer

In a bowl, whisk together eggs. 

 

Sift together flour and salt then add in eggs.  Pour in the milk with 2-3 tsp. water.  Mix in the melted butter and beer, cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

The best scenario is to make the batter at night, refrigerate it and when you wake up for breakfast, the batter is ready for use. 

Pour the batter into a shallow dish or plate. 

With your crêpe maker (easiest way to make crêpes with a light sensor to tell you when they are complete), dip the pre-heated surface into the batter. 

 Wait for the orange light to turn off, flip the crêpe onto a plate.  Continue until you have  used all of the batter.

Take your thin, pancake-like crêpe and place Nutella, and ricotta cheese in the center.

Fold each side over into a cigar shape and drizzle with chocolate. Bon Appétit!

The crêpes themselves crisp on the side that sits directly on the crêpe maker.  The inside stays sort of puffed and soft.  They are sturdy, but thin, so if you order these at a restaurant and they come out as thick as a pancake, you know it’s not the real thing.  The ricotta is a light and fluffy cheese that doesn’t add much flavor, but gives the crêpe a distinct texture.  It works with both sweet and savory meals.  Erica went sans the cheese and just stuffed her crêpe with melted chocolate. 

You can really experiment with fillings. One idea is to look up a crêperie and attempt one of their creations. Ham & Cheese, Broccoli Cheese, Powdered Sugar & Strawberries, Whip Cream & Blueberries, Spinach Artichoke & Parmigiano Reggiano, Nutella & Bananas…  The possibilities are endless. 

If you wanted, you could have a whole day of crêpes. Breakfast: Eggs,  Bacon & Cheese. Lunch: Broccoli, Ham & Cheese. Dinner: Portabello, Spinach & Feta.  Dessert: Chocolate, Crushed Graham Crackers & Marshmallows.

 

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Broccoli-Carrot Pepper-Onion Asian Vermicelli

Mom was feeling better last night, finally, so I helped her cook this quick and easy dinner with an Asian flair.  If you don’t own a Wok I highly suggest buying one.

Buy:

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 4 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 cups cooked vermicelli
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Sriracha, for garnish

Start by chopping up all the vegetables and leaving them off to the side.  Heat up the Wok and add in the olive oil.  When the oil is hot and has that glazed shiny look to it, add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

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Add the carrots, peppers, broccoli and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Stirring occasionally to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the Wok.

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Stir in the soy sauce, ginger and rice vinegar.  Some hoison sauce would really bring flavor to the dish, also, but our cabinet was fresh out. 

Add the vermicelli and distribute evenly throughout the vegetables.  If I made this recipe again, I would use another, more Asian,  noodle, like udon or soba. Even ramen noodles minus the flavor packet would suffice.  But, the in-between spaghetti and angel hair pasta noodles worked just fine, it just didn’t absorb the sauce as much.

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In a large bowl, top your Asian blend with sesame seeds and sriracha for spice. 

The meal was very filling and fresh.  Next time, I’d cut the vegetables a little thinner and maybe add peapods and mushrooms.  It only took about 15 minutes to complete once the vegetables were chopped and ready to cook.  The broccoli absorbed the tangy, salty sauce the best.

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BCT & Onion Balsamic Pasta Salad

The combination of black beans, corn and tomatoes is one of my all time favorites.  What better way to make the combination filling than creating a cold pasta salad?  So, I attempted just that, and, man, was it delicious. From now on I will call this combo BCT.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups cooked Farfale pasta
  • 1 can Southwestern black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. allspice
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Balsamic, for dressing
  • Olive Oil, for dressing
  • Parmesan, for garnish

 Start by cooking your pasta al dente.  While this is cooking, rinse off and drain the beans, corn and tomatoes. I usually start with the beans (which sit in a thick, repulsive liquid) and once these are rinsed thoroughly in the strainer, I top them off with the corn and tomatoes for a second quick rinse.

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Combine the pasta, BCT and onions in a bowl, tossing until each ingredient  is evenly distributed.  Sprinkle in the spices: allspice, black pepper, Italian seasoning, curry, chili, red pepper flakes. 

When you’re ready to serve the dish, toss each bowl with a tsp. of olive oil and a Tbsp. of balsamic vinaigrette. I’d wait to put these dressing fixings in until you are ready to eat as the pasta will dye brown. Top with a scattering of parmesan cheese and enjoy. Best served cold.

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The filling nature of the pasta, corn and black beans will have your stomach full and happy for hours.  The balsamic, curry and allspice give the salad a sweet tang to pair with the tomatoes acidic nature and tart flavor.  The beans balance this out and onions.  The pepper and red pepper flakes bring in a hint of spice which I found really brought the meal to a completion. It turned into a sweet spice, like apple cider or, as Rosette suggested, orange chicken.  The parmesan cheese helped to absorb the olive oil and balsamic and added a different texture opposing the slimy feel of the noodles, tomatoes and beans.

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