Category Archives: Dinner

Crock Pot Black Bean Enchilada Soup

December is an abnormally busy month with all the recitals and performances we have added into our already very full schedule, and because of that, I’m finding that the only way we’re going to get home cooked, warm meals is to prepare in the morning or afternoon, which means we’re doing a lot of crock pot meals this month. I’ve taken a few soup recipes we enjoy and made them crock pot friendly, so if you’re a busy and need to prep in the mornings like me, give this one a try. And it is more of a medium heat when it comes to spices, so if you’re more on the mild side, omit the jalapeno and you could even decrease the chipotle chili powder as well, but we love spicy foods, even the kiddos, so we do it all!

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This is fairly easy, and it probably only takes about 10-15 minutes of work. You’ll chop and saute your veggies, and while they’re sauteing, I mix together all my spices and put them into the crock pot, then I put the cooked veggies, tomatoes and a cup of the broth in the blender, blend til smooth, dump that into the crock pot with the rest of the broth, add your torn up corn tortillas and cook it on low all day or on high for about 4 hours.

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Once it’s all done cooking, add in coconut milk and some black beans for texture and extra yumminess! Serve this warm and top with whatever toppings you like; I LOVE avocado so that’s always a must for me, and my kids also add some cheese and tortilla chips.

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Crock Pot Black Bean Enchilada Soup (vegan, gf)
*serves 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 carrots(12 baby), peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1-2 Tbsp jalapeno pepper, chopped  (canned or fresh; can omit this if you’re more of a ‘mild’ person)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1  tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
6 c vegetable or chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
5-6, 6” corn tortillas, torn into quarters

salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c coconut milk (full fat from a can; I like the thai kitchen brand)
1 1/2 c black beans

Toppings:
chopped green onions
sliced avocado
cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

In a frying pan, saute vegetables in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Chop and saute your veggies, and while they’re sauteing,  mix together all the spices and put them into the crock pot. Put the cooked veggies, tomatoes and a cup of the broth in the blender, blend til smooth, dump that into the crock pot with the rest of the broth, add your torn up corn tortillas and cook it on low all day or on high for about 4 hours.  Add coconut milk and black beans and stir to combine.  Serve warm topped with any of your favorite toppings ( I LOVE avocado).

*You can also make this on the stove; just saute veggies in a larger stock pot and add spices, broth and tomatoes(blending the tomatoes in blender or with immersion blender) and bring to a boil. Tear the tortillas and add them to the soup. Cover and turn the heat down to low and simmer 30-45 minutes or until tortillas are breaking apart. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk and beans.

 

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Filed under crock pot, Dinner, gluten-free, Soups, vegan

Sloppy Joes

This is a pretty fast and easy, whole foods recipe, for Sloppy Joes. As I’m a vegetarian, I’ve never actually tasted this recipe before (I always pull out my frozen, chipotle black bean burger when we have meat on buns) but I’ve made it multiple times for my husband and children, and they all say it’s great, so give it a try! Most sloppy joe recipes call for ketchup, but as it has some added sugar, and many brands have high fructose corn syrup, I decided to use extra tomato sauce as a substitute (make sure you buy the can that doesn’t have sugar listed in the ingredients) and it turned out well. I usually make this with a ground chicken or turkey for my family, but my husband prefers sloppy joes with beef so on special occasions I will use beef since I rarely cook and serve red meat.

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Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 lbs ground meat (chicken, turkey, beef)
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vinegar

Brown ground meat and onion together on medium high heat. Add a little water, a tbsp at a time, if needed to keep from burning. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for at least 15-30 minutes. Spoon on buns and serve. Can optionally top with grated cheddar cheese.

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Vegan Mac and Cheese

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This recipe came from my baby sister Becca who is gluten free and vegan and who also has this recipe posted on her food blog, so be sure to check her out at: https://glutenfreeplantbasedgoodeats.wordpress.com/ 

Although I’m not vegan or gluten-free, I do a lot less dairy than most because my stomach can’t handle too much, and if you’ve ever read The China Study, which is the most comprehensive study ever done on nutrition, you’ll know that cutting down on all animal products is a good thing (and I didn’t say cutting out, but cutting down. Should be less than 10% of your diet). So I love that I can get the creaminess from this recipe from cashews and sweet potato and almond milk, all blended together, but then I use a little bit of cheddar cheese (only 1 cup), but you can always use the dairy-free cheese as well for the vegan version.

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You’ll want to start off by cooking your pasta elbows, gluten-free or not(I used whole wheat), and peeling and cooking your sweet potato in the microwave for 6 minutes. Or you can cook it in the oven at 400 degrees for almost an hour, but if you do it that way, don’t peel it before hand, just wait for it to cool and slip the skin off.  Once the pasta is done, drain the water, place them in a large mixing bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over top and give it a stir so they don’t stick together. Set that aside and you’ll combine the rest of your ingredients in a blender and blend until it’s smooth. If it’s too thick and your blender is having difficulty blending, just add a little more milk about 1/4 c at a time, giving it a stir and then blending again.

Once it’s all creamy, dump it over your macaroni noodles and stir to combine.

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Grease a 9×13 pan (I smear coconut oil over the whole inside of the pan) and then dump your mac and cheese inside and spread it even. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

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Serve warm!

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THE RECIPE:

Mac n’ Cheese (lightly adapted from Becca)

Ingredients:

1 lb of whole wheat or brown rice pasta elbow noodles (good price at Trader Joes)

1 sweet potato

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (can use dairy-free cheese like the Daiya brand- mozarella or cheddar)

3 cups of raw cashews

16 oz. almond milk (more if needed to thin so it will blend)

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast(Fred Meyer, Whole Foods or Winco)

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic, minced
optional: 1/4 tsp paprika

Instructions:

 Cook noodles according to directions on package. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and cook in the microwave for 6 minutes (or in the oven, unpeeled, at 400 degrees for 1 hour; can do this before hand). Drain noodles, dump back into your pot, drizzle with a little olive oil and mix so they don’t stick together. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 In a blendtec or food processor, add almond milk first and then all the other ingredients and mix until a creamy consistency. If you need to add more milk so your blender won’t burn out from the thickness, add 1/4 cup at a time. Pour over your noodles in the pot and stir to combine.

 Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan with coconut oil, or something like it. Add stirred mac n’ cheese into the 9×13 pan and place in the oven. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees

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Pasta Salad and Dressing Recipe

We eat a lot of different salads for dinner during the summer; it’s nice to have something cool to eat on a hot day. I’ll typically add whatever veggies I have on hand in my fridge at the moment, so it changes from week to week, and in the pasta salad pictured below we have tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, cubed cheese, white beans and onion. Sometimes we’ll add nuts or serve some chicken or pepperoni on the side for the meat lovers in our house.

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I will sometimes use an Italian salad dressing or something similar for convenience, but I actually love homemade dressing so much more; it really makes the salad. So if I have 5 minutes, I’ll whip this up.

Here are your ingredients for the dressing:

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Whisk it all together in a glass measuring dish and stick it in the fridge while you cook your pasta.

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We use various shapes but one of our favorites is the bowtie, and it’s fun when we get a pasta with a little color. We cooked up a bag of costco pasta which is just over a pound, drained it, rinsed it with cold water as I swish the pasta around with my hand (to help quickly cool it down…we don’t want our cheese cubes melting onto our pasta), then transfer it to a large mixing bowl, add the dressing, stir it to combine and then you can serve it from there or transfer it to a pretty bowl. If you’re not going to eat it right away, you can store it in the fridge for at least a day.

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Pasta Salad:
*serves 6-8

1 lb uncooked pasta (we love to use bowtie)
Topping Ideas:
bell pepper, chopped
grape tomatoes, halved
celery, chopped
red onion, chopped
1 c cooked and drained white beans
1 c cubed cheddar cheese
1 c cubed chicken, or pepperoni quartered

Pasta Salad Dressing:
*makes enough to cover 1 lb pasta

1/2 c mayo
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c  olive oil
1/4 c plain yogurt (or sour cream)
2 cloves minced garlic (1 tsp)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt

Combine all your pasta salad dressing ingredients into a glass measuring dish and whisk to combine. Set aside, in fridge. Follow package directions for uncooked pasta, bringing water to a boil and cooking until done. While it’s cooking, chop up any combination of veggies/cheese/beans/meat you like and place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Dump pasta into a strainer over your kitchen sink, then rinse with cold water as you move pasta around with your hand (be careful, it’s hot). Once pasta is cool, add it to your veggies in the large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over top. Stir it all together to combine. Serve right away or cover and store in fridge.

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Salads, vegetarian

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala is something both my husband and I often order at Indian restaurants, though he gets the chicken and I get the paneer (soft cheese cubes). I’ve tried several copy-cat recipes at home and this is one that we’ve enjoyed multiple times. I love that you can cook it in the crock pot because I just don’t always have time to fix something right before dinner, especially on those days when I’m running kids to piano, soccer, scouts, etc.

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I also love that this sauce is made from scratch so you don’t need to go to the store and buy jars of sauces. I always have these ingredients on hand, though if you’ve never before cooked Indian or Thai foods, you will probably need to get a few spices like Garam Masala, Turmeric and ground Coriander, which will last awhile.

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You can substitute sweet potatoes for chicken, or you can also use both, which I did here because I was too lazy to make my own non-vegetarian dish, just for me, so instead I cook it all together and then I pick out chicken and hand it to my husband or Charles who always love to have extra :).

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Once your chicken and veggies are diced, put everything into a greased crock pot. You’ll cook this on low for about  4 hours or high for 2.

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We love this dish over Indian rice and with a side of Naan bread.

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THE RECIPE:

Crock pot Chicken Tikka Masala
*serves 6-8

2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (can substitute w/1 cup sweet potato chunks)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or 2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
15 oz tomato sauce
1 can full fat coconut milk (I like the thai kitchen brand)
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c raw cashews or peanuts
1/4 c raisins (optional)

Grease the inside of your crock pot with olive oil. Add all ingredients to crock pot and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.  Serve warm over Indian rice. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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Filed under crock pot, Dinner, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

Roasted Sweet Potato Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

I love salads and eat them year round, but in the winter, I like to add some warmer, more filling foods like black beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes etc. This salad recipe has them all (you can use brown rice or quinoa; I use whatever I have on hand in the fridge). The amounts in this salad depend on how many people you are serving. It’s usually just me eating a salad at lunch, so I just pull out all the ingredients from the fridge and throw whatever I feel like on top of my bed of lettuce. I’ve included a couple of recipes below 1) roasted sweet potato cubes and 2)creamy avocado dressing, both of which I love to have on my salad, but feel free to use another dressing you have on hand and leave out anything you don’t like.

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Creamy Avocado Dressing

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This salad is so filling and satisfying and packed full of amazing nutrients from all the various plant foods and grains.

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THE RECIPE:

Roasted Sweet Potato Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Fresh lettuce, spinach or kale (or a combination)
cooked and cooled brown rice or quinoa
thinly sliced red onion
roasted sweet potato cubes (recipe below)
chopped cilantro
black beans
avocado cubes
creamy avocado dressing (recipe below)

If you are having this for dinner with family or friends, serve it like you would Hawaiin Haystacks with all the ingredients, in individual bowls, out in the center of the table. I would use larger bowls for serving the lettuce, rice and beans and the other ingredients are in smaller dishes. I usually serve this by starting with salad and then adding as much as I want of all ingredients listed (feel free to add some of your own that might go with this Mexican-styled theme).

Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes: (from Our Best Bites)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with tin foil. Place sweet potato chunks on foil, drizzle with oil and spices and then toss together with a large spoon. Spread out over the foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.

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Creamy Avocado Dressing: (adapted from The Beauty Detox Solution)
*makes about 1 cup

1 avocado, pitted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp dried dill
3 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbsp honey)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the flesh and put in a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth (may have to scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and go again). This dressing can be used as a dip for vegetable sticks or tossed with greens for a salad.

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Tamales

My dad was born and raised in Mexico, and my mom is from Washington state. They raised us in Washington but we had several Mexican traditions that we continued to do over the years. I remember quite a few Christmases when we’d sit down around the table (mostly the women in our family and some extended family) and pat masa into corn husks, making tamales. I think Christmas is the perfect day to make tamales because you have the family home and so there are lots of hands to help make each individual tamale. Scott and I made tamales last year on Christmas and we loved them so much that we’ve decided to continue that tradition with our family.

2014-12-25 18.09.53I am a vegetarian so we make some for me that are filled with mozarella cheese and some diced jalapeno, and some that are filled with shredded Mexican chicken.

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I found these corn husks in the produce area of our local grocery store, but you could also find them down the Mexican food aisle. Be sure you soak the corn husks in water, like I’m doing below in this picture. I just soak them for several minutes to soften them. I used this masa harina to make the masa, along with lard and water. The masa turns out like a cookie dough consistency, maybe just a tiny bit thinner.

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You pat the masa into a corn husk like so, leaving some space at the bottom. Sometimes I’ll stick two small corn husks together to make a large one. Here’s the veggie tamale just before we folded it in thirds and rolled it.

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And the chicken tamale

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Fold in thirds, like so:

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I steam our tamales in a large stock pot with a steamer attachment. We fit about 18 in here. I remember my aunt making some sort of a tinfoil contraption in the bottom of her stock pot that she used as a center piece and would lean tamales against it, and she could make a lot more that way.

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Tamales cook for awhile; around an hour and 2o minutes so plan ahead.

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But they are so worth the time. We sure love tamales!

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We like to eat our tamales with a side of rice and black beans. Merry Christmas!

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THE RECIPE:

Tamales
~makes about 18 tamales

1 1/2 c lard
4 c Masa
2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2-3 c  broth
1 Tbsp chili powder

Fillings:
-Chicken breast  in a red or green mexican sauce (I like this chicken recipe)
-Pork in a red or green sauce
-Thin stick of Mozarella cheese(or grated mozarella works too) with chopped  jalapeno (~1/2 tsp)

In a large mixing bowl, soak about 20 large corn husks for several minutes to soften them(if you don’t have enough large corn husks, you can put a couple smaller ones together). Bring a large stock pot with a steamer attached, to a boil; fill water up about half way because you’ll be steaming for about an hour an a half and you don’t want all your water to evaporate. Whip the lard until fluffy. Blend in everything else, adding enough water that the masa is not stiff and is easy to smear over husks, but not watery.  Smear a thin layer of masa, about 1/4 inch thick, over each husk, patting it in, and leaving a couple of inches at the bottom of the husk, without masa. Add 1-2 Tbsp of filling to the center. Fold in thirds over the filling, loosely sealing the ends of the masa by pressing together. Place in a large steamer, stacked, and steam until masa dough is firm, about 1 hour and a half. To check if done, open one of the larger ones and see if the masa has cooked through the middle; sometimes you’ll have to take out the smaller ones first and then cook the bigger ones another ten minutes or so.

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Filed under christmas, Dinner, vegetarian

Bean and Lentil Chili

We were able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my husband’s family in North Carolina which was wonderful. Any family time is wonderful! While there, his sister had us over for dinner one night and made a Bean and Lentil Chili that we loved. I got the recipe from her, made a couple of little changes and we had cornbread and chili for dinner this week which was perfect with our freezing temperatures here in Utah.

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It took me a little over half hour to make this, and while it cooked (cooks for 30 minutes), I threw together a cornbread recipe and got that cooking at the same time so that everything was ready together :). I will share that cornbread recipe next week so be sure to check back next Wednesday for that.

In the recipe, once I’ve cooked all the diced veggies and the lentils etc, I used my immersion blender to blend up and thicken the chili for about 15 seconds. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can either just leave it as is, or if you like it thicker like I do, put about half of the chili in your blender (be careful cuz it’s hot!), pulse it a few times and then dump it back in with the rest of your chili. I dice my veggies pretty fine because my kiddos don’t love big chunks of anything.

Serve with toppings of your choice like grated cheese, sour cream (and if you made it too hot for your liking, this will bring down the temp), sliced avocado, tortilla chips, etc.

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THE RECIPE:

Bean and Lentil Chili
*serves about 8

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 white or yellow onion
2 stalks celery, diced
2 lg(or I use about 12 baby carrots) carrots, diced
2 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (or less if you like foods ‘mild’)
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
6 c vegetable or chicken broth
2 c lentils, sorted and rinsed (any color)
1 small can tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chick peas (garbanzo), drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp honey
optional: oven dried organic roma tomatoes, chopped
optional: 1 tsp tapatio hot sauce (this is if you like your chili with more of a kick; which my hubby and I do. My nose was running b/c of the heat :))

In a large pot, over medium high heat add the olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots. Saute until the onions have softened then add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the spices and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the broth, lentils and tomato sauce and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are tender. If you have an immersion blender, put it in and blend for about 15-30 seconds, which will thicken the chili. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can put about 1/2 of the chili into a normal blender, puree, and then dump back into the pot; but be careful, because it’s hot.

Add the beans and honey and optional tomatoes and hot sauce. Serve warm in bowls with toppings of your choice. Some favorites are grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, tortilla chips. I also love to have this with a side of cornbread.

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Filed under Dinner, Soups, vegan, vegetarian

Crock Pot Curry Lentil Soup

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of our family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes that I’ve posted over the past few weeks, and if you didn’t get to see them, you can look under the recipe tab, scroll down to the bottom where it says ‘whole foods holidays’ and you’ll see several Thanksgiving, Fall and Holiday recipes.

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We’ve had some big winds recently that have brought in the cold, and boy did it get cold! We went from high 60’s and low 70’s to the teens and twenties. When it’s that cold, all I feel like cooking and eating are warm foods and we’ve got a nice, warming recipe for you today that is simple and fast to put together. I love those kind of meals. So if you have a busy day ahead of you, get this started in the morning before you take off for work, or when you have a few minutes during the morning and afternoon. You chop up an onion and some carrots, throw all your ingredients in the crock pot and let it cook for either 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. And that’s it! We served this soup with some bread on the side which the kids enjoyed dipping.

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THE RECIPE:

Crock Pot Curry Lentil Soup

1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 c carrots, chopped (about 10 baby, or 2 large)
1 c dried lentils, rinsed
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
6 c broth (vegetable or chicken)

Put all ingredients in Crock Pot, mix and cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours.

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Thanksgiving Quinoa Sweet Potatoes (Yams)

It’s November which means Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  I have a few favorite Thanksgiving recipes that I want to share with you over the next couple of weeks, one of which are these quinoa coconut yams.

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This full recipe, which uses 4 sweet potatoes or yams (both work great), makes one 9×13 pan, which will serve 12-14. You can also easily halve this recipe for a smaller group.

If you haven’t cooked and peeled your sweet potatoes, put them in a foil lined baking pan, poke them several times with a fork, and then bake them at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender and a little juice is coming out of the holes.

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Once they’ve cooled, peel off the skin (I  peel them with my hands) and mash them up with a fork or potato masher to use in this recipe.

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I only make these once a year on Thanksgiving, so I use cane sugar and brown sugar, but if you’d rather not use a refined sugar, you can use coconut sugar instead.

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix mashed yams, sugar, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla and salt in a large bowl and place in a greased 9×13 pan. Spread until even and then place red quinoa on top and spread over yam mixture. Set aside.2015-10-07 14.40.04

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together coconut, nuts, brown sugar, wheat flour, melted butter and nutmeg and spread over yams and quinoa and bake for 35 minutes.

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This is one of my favorite items to eat on Thanksgiving, along with these soft and warm whole grain dinner rolls and some green beans :).

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Thanksgiving Quinoa Sweet Potatoes (Yams) – adapted from chef Brad

1 1/2 c cooked red quinoa (or another color)
3 c (4 yams) mashed cooked sweet potatoes or yams
1/2 c evaporated cane sugar (or other granulated sugar)
1/2 c milk
1/2 c butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix above ingredients except quinoa, in a large bowl and place in a greased 9×13 pan. Spread until even and place red quinoa on top and spread over yam mixture. Set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together and spread over yams and quinoa and bake for 35 minutes:

1 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1 c chopped nuts
1/2 c brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
1/3 c wheat flour
1/3 c melted butter, melted
pinch of nutmeg

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Filed under Dinner, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, thanksgiving