THE HEALTHY HAG

I COOK … I EAT … I SHARE.

Lentils, lentils and more lentils … oh my! March 22, 2010

I’m a lover of the lentil … have you guessed yet?  How could anyone hate these glorious little gems?  So easy to cook, so versatile, so delish, so cheap!  There are so many kinds to choose from too – keeping the boredom at bay.  So, after weeks of adding lentils to just about anything and everything (okay, I was on a bit of a bender you see), here two of my faves, that are ridiculously quick and beyond simple to compile:

QUINOA LENTIL SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dried green lentils

1 bay leaf

1 cup quinoa

1 tsp each turmeric, salt and coriander

¾ cup raisins or cranberries

¾ cup walnuts

2 green onions, diced

¼ cup fresh parsley (or half the amount dried)

4 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp  white wine vinegar

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp olive oil

Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Add add lentils and bay leaf to 3 cups of water and cook thoroughly (read package for specific timing).

2. Meanwhile quinoa, tumeric, coriander and salt to 2 cups of water,  bring to a boil, cover and simmer, 10-12 min.

3. Once both pots are cooked, cool then mix together.

4. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon juice, honey, vinegar, salt, oil and pepper,

5. Stir in dressing to main grains, then add chopped walnuts, cranberries, chopped green onion and minced parsley and combine thoroughly.

CURRIED LENTILS AND BEANS

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion

2 Tbsp veggie broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

1 cup tomatoes, diced

½ cup chickpeas (canned)

½ cup mixed beans (canned) – I used black eyed peas

1 cup cooked lentils (red cook the fastest but almost dissolve completely)

1 ½ cups water

1 cup leafy greens (I used baby spinach)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Sauté onion in oil for 3 min, then add garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, broth, beans and lentils, simmering covered, until ingredients are softened and flavours are well combined (approx 5-10  min).

2. Add 1 cup greens, simmer again for 2 more minutes.

3. Serve hot over rice, naan, pr pita!

Advertisements
 

Homage to Aunt Marg!! Mac’n’cheese and Buttery Raisin Scones January 28, 2010

So growing up I was lucky enough to have all 4 grandparents PLUS an extra couple of great aunts that basically were like yet another pair grandparents (all lived within a 20 min radius).  Lucky – you think?? I was super close with my Aunt Marg, and spent many a weekend and vacation with her … and she’s mostly the reason I got into cooking and baking as a young kid.  She was an old fashioned chef with the tastiest classics under her belt.  I could always expect my favaourite meal of the year on my birthday – mac ‘n’ cheese and warm buttery scones.  Don’t ask.  So, when it came time for my brothers birthday a few weeks ago, I offered to make him a tasty meal in honour of our good old Aunt Marg (she passed quite suddenly 6 years ago), and he was like a little kid he beamed with glee.  What was the result?  One banging dinner the entire fam enjoyed… beyond delish and so reminiscent of dinners with Aunt Marg we were all taken back to over-heated apartments and the soft laugh she bellowed so often.  What’s your favourite childhood meal?

.

MAC’N’CHEESE

.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

¼ cup TBSP butter

2 ½ TBSP flour

2 cups shredded OLD cheddar cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups milk (I used 1%)

½ cup bread crumbs (I used multigrain)

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions, then rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

2. In a large stove-top & oven-friendly casserole pot (I use my big Le Crueset for this), melt butter over medium heat, and then sauté onion and garlic for 3-4 min until soft (not browned!), then stir in flour and combine.

3. In a separate small pot, bring milk to a steam (not boil!) then add milk slowly to onion/garlic/flour mixture, stirring constantly, and lightly simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in cheeses and cayenne pepper to casserole pot, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove from heat and add macaroni to casserole dish, and stir well, then sprinkle with bread crumbs to cover completely.

6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, then place under broiler for a few minutes until top is slightly browned.

7.  Allow to cool for 5-10 min before serving, and serve HOT!

.

BUTTERY RAISIN SCONES

I always wanted scones with my mac’n’cheese – I still love the combo for some reason.  So buttery and so comforting, these scones are juicy with raisins, and are a semi-sweet treat you can enjoy all on their own too.  I loved to wipe up all the leftover cheese in the bottom of my bowl with these.  Oh good grief – huge cravings now!

.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour (use regular white if you can)

2 TBSP baking powder

2 TBSP sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup COLD butter (I then use a grater and grate the butter in for easier mixing)

¾ cup raisins

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg white, lightly beaten OR 1 TBSP butter melted

.

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 425F, and mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2) Grate in butter until mixture is like large crumbs, then stir in raisins and buttermilk.

3) Drop dough (using a ¼ cup measuring cup – or very large spoons) onto a greased baking sheet, brush tops with egg whites OR butter and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

4) Remove from oven and serve immediately!

 

Saucy Polenta Fingers December 10, 2009

After feeling like I hit a culinary wall of non-creativity (why is it that we always go back to the same old same old after a while??), I went a huntin’ in the great abbyss that is my pantry.  My prey?  Turned out to be a big fat zippy filled with cornmeal.  Enter… inspiration!  I’ve made both the store bought and homemade kinds before, but I wanted to jazz this lil diddy up, so I made this into fingers.  Cooled ’em, cute ’em, grilled ’em, then smothered ’em in sauce.  Outcome?  A brilliantly cheap, quick, hearty and luscious winter-time meal.  Bonus was the totally gluten-free day I had!  Woot!

.

INGREDIENTS:

For the polenta –

4 cups water

3 1/2 cups of milk

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)

For the sauce –

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 cups diced canned tomatoes

1 tsp EACH dried parsley and dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium pot, then turn down to a simmer – watching closely so you don’t burn the milk.

2. Add cornmeal  into pot in a slow stream, stirring, then add dried basil and salt, and continuing to whisk for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes more – polenta will be gloppy and stiff, but try to keep stirring so the bottom does not burn, then remove from heat.

4. Mix in Parmesan cheese and butter, then plop into a greased 9×11 baking dish and cool for at least 30 minutes until completely solid.

5. While polenta is solidifying, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, and saute onions until translucent, then add in garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and slighly browned (about 1-2 minute).

6. Add canned tomatoes and dried spices (and salt and pepper to taste), simmer for 5-7 minutes, then add in diced green beans and cook until tender – about another 5 min (simmer sauce on low until ready to use).

7.  Slice soild polenta into fingers, remove fro baking dish, and grill in a grill pan until heated and slightly browned (you could also broil in the oven, turning so all sides are browned).

8. Place grilled polenta fingers on a plate, and cover with sauce – sprinkle with parmessean and serve HOT!

 

Incredible Italiano Veggie Lasagna December 1, 2009

Making homemade lasagna may seem like an exercise in blood sweat and tears – but it’s all well worth it in the end, and once you’ve made it a few times, it’ll all come together in a snap.  I’ve tried to make the process as simple as possible here, without sacrificing any of the necessary steps required for a tasty dish that will leave you and your guests sated and elated beyond belief!  You could skip making the homemade sauce and use pre-cooked noodles and get a good result … but if you want the spectacular … you’re just going to have to be patient.  Have a BIG glass of wine and play your favourite tunes right through the process – and enjoy!

.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box of good quality lasagna noodles

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 head broccoli, finely chopped

1 large zucchini, finely chopped

12 crimini or button mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp each dried basil and parsley

1 tsp salt

Pepper

1 x 16 oz can diced tomatoes

1 x 3 oz can tomato paste

1 x 500ml tub of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

.

DIRECTIONS:

1)  Boil water and follow the package cooking directions of the lasagna noodles – and set aside once cooked.

2)  Chop onion and garlic, and sauté in a very large saucepan along with olive oil until well browned and translucent.

3)  Add the can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and dried herbs to the onion and garlic pan, and simmer until well heated (about 10 min).

4)  In a separate pan, heat to medium-high and sauté broccoli, zucchini and mushroom in a bit of olive oil until softened and vibrant in colour – near the end sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the spinach and cook until wilted.

5)  In a large bowl, slightly beat the 2 eggs, then mix in ricotta cheese, and combine until smooth.

6)  Using a 13 x 9 glass baking dish, spoon the simmered tomato sauce into the bottom to barely cover – set aside 2-3 tbsp of sauce for the very end.

7)  Layer noodles into pan, then follow with 1/3 of the roasted vegetables, then 1/3 of the ricotta/egg mixture, then 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, then 1/3 of the tomato sauce.

8)  Repeat these layers until you are left with only the top layer of the noodles – then drizzle with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

9)  Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes, until nice and bubbly.

10) Remove from heat and allow to set for at least 20-30 minutes!  NOTE – You can re-heat slightly if it’s too cool, but it needs to set in order to slice properly.

11)  Serve in gorgeous big bowls and enjoy with some crusty bread!

NOTES:

– Feel free to swap in and out any vegetables you like.  Carrots can be swapped for the zucchini, and you could add cauliflower or eggplant for a nice switch too.

– Using fat-free cheese won’t work really, but you can get away with using lower-fat version.  If you can’t find ricotta, use cottage cheese instead, but always go for the ricotta if you can.

 

Roasted Veg with Rice Soup July 22, 2009

As mentioned about a trillion times before, I LOVE making soup.  Love Love Love.  It’s so easy and so cheap, and uses up all the veggies in the fridge that otherwise might have had to head to the green bin.  That said, I hit the fridge last night and raided the crisper for anything less than fresh.  Enter sweet potatoes, some sprouting garlic, an assortment of mushrooms and some frozen veggie stock.  Three hours later, the house smelled delectable, only bad spots sat resting in the green bin and I was left with enough soup for dinner and lunches for two days.

INGREDIENTS:

1 extra large sweet potato, chopped into small cubes (I left the skin on, but you could peel it if you wish)

2 cups of mushrooms, chopped (your choice – I used button and crimini)

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic gloves, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

6 cups vegetable stock

½ cup uncooked wild or brown rice

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp of allspice

Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1)      Set oven to 375F and place chopped vegetables on a baking tray.

2)      Pour olive oil over vegetables, sprinkle with salt and bake for 20-30 min until browned.

3)      Bring a large pot with the stock to a boil, and carefully add in cooked vegetables.

4)      Return to a boil, add in rice and remaining spices, and simmer on low for approximately 45 min.

5)      Serve with crusty bread or your favourite crackers!

NOTES:

You can be as creative as you want here!  Swap in or out your favourite veggies, or use barley instead of rice, and maybe even add in some beans of your choice.  This would go nicely with some freshly grated cheese too.

mushroom-soup-de