Tag Archives: vegetarian

Side Dish

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa

Hi Food Lovers,

Welcome to the new and improved Little Chef Big Appetite. After a few months of reconstruction, I am back. New site, new look, but same old freakin’ delicious grub.  Don’t worry, I certainly did not stop, eating, cooking, baking, biting, or savoring — oh no. In fact, I have lots of goodies to share with you.

 

This post is all about cooking with color. In California, I am lucky enough to get fresh, colorful produce all year round. But growing up on the East coast, I remember loving summer evenings, strolling through the local farmer’s market with my parents. There was so much delicious fruit to sample and bring home. There was really no other season like it.  Now even though that I live in Southern California where we have a farmer’s market year round, it is still one of my favorite activities. Now on Saturday mornings, I begin my weekend scouring the stands for beautiful colors and unusual vegetables I can bring home to my kitchen.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This dish is certainly not lacking in color, but what is great about it is that it is made from produce that is fresh everywhere, all the time. Most importantly, it is full of flavor due to the wonderful spice mixture it incorporates.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

 Now, I know quinoa is a big thing these days. Everyone seems to have a recipe for it. And I know it’s got it’s health benefits – full of fiber and protein…but I have to be honest, I still find it really bland when eaten on its own.  In this dish, though, I mixed it with lemon and parsley and then served it with the spiced vegetables, so all the flavors really complement each other, and I actually enjoy eating quinoa.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This is a relatively easy side dish to pull together and it will truly please your taste buds. Oh, and did I mention that it is vegetarian and gluten-free? Make this one for company – I did and it was a hit. I served it alongside roast chicken, but I don’t see why you couldn’t serve it at your next BBQ or potluck.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

 

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias into ½" thick pieces
  • 1 medium red apple (any kind), halved, cored, and sliced into 1" cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • zest of ½ lemon plus 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook the quinoa in water according to package directions (do not add salt if directions say to do so).
  2. In a small bowl stir together the cardamom, coriander, black pepper and ¾ teaspoon of the salt. In a large bowl combine the carrots, apple, red onion and olive oil. Add the spice mixture and mix well to combine. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the vegetables from the oven when the carrots are tender and the onions begin to turn dark at the edges.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a serving dish and stir in the remaining salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley. Spread the roasted vegetables on top and serve. Best if eaten same day.
Notes
*Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

Main Meal Vegetarian Meals

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Tomorrow is moving day.

My bags are not even packed. I am trying to squeeze every last item from my room into one of four massive suitcases. I probably won’t be packed until it’s ten minutes past the time I am supposed to leave for the airport.  That’s how these things usually work, don’t they?

Today I said my goodbyes “See you soon“‘s. I had my favorite take-out one last time. I went on one last walk with my buddy, Diesel:

(He totally doesn’t understand that I am leaving. Nor does he understand the concept of posing for a picture…even when bribed with treats).

Next time you hear from me I will be in sunny Los Angeles in a new apartment. I’ll be trying my best to make time for the kitchen after my busy work days.

But for now, I bring you one last meal from my favorite kitchen (home, of course!).

Yummy yummy black bean and sweet potato enchiladas!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

I know everything about this dish screams healthy, but trust me, it DOESN’T disappoint. The flavors mixed together are delicious, and even the leftovers taste great, too.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

This is a meal that is good to cook with another person (if you can) because you end up using a bunch of different dishes and kitchen appliances. That said, it still is simple enough and WORTH IT.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

I served this with grilled corn. Perfect dish for summer.

Bon appetit, my friends! See you in California!

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 large onion, chopped and divided
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 15.5oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (more if you like)
  • 5 8in whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chili powder, half the onion, 1T of the oil, ½t of salt, ¼t of pepper until smooth.
  2. Heat 1T of the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rest of the onion and the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the black beans, sweet potato, oregano, and ¼t each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender (about 6 minutes).
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to let cool. Stir in half the cheddar.
  4. Spread 1 cup of the tomato mixture at the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Roll the bean mixture in the tortillas (I did about ⅔ cup in each) and place the rolls seam-side down in the baking dish.
  5. Top with some of the remaining sauce (to taste). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake on the top rack of the oven until the cheese begins to brown (12-15 minutes).
  6. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Main Meal Side Dish Vegetarian Meals

Baked Falafel Puffs

I surround myself with never-ending to-do lists. During the school year I had sticky notes surrounding my desk with lists of errands I needed to run, groceries I had to buy, and a list of assignments with impending due dates.

Now I am at this strange period in between college and “real life” and although I suppose I have all the free time in the world and zero obligations, I still find myself surrounded by these lists. But, why? I guess I do it to myself. I need to constantly be busy.

So, over the next two months, one goal I have for myself is to embrace my “chill” time  better. I want to turn off the clocks and have no obligation to time. I want to be able to sit in front of the TV for hours on end, without fear that I am wasting time. I want a full week with no appointments, no errands, no anything. But, I suppose that wouldn’t really be real life, would it?

I want to rid myself from routine. I need a new running route. I need a new TV show (Law and Order SVU marathons are good and all, but are starting to make me a liiiiiittle too paranoid). My grocery store list needs to be revamped. And I want to cook new things and stop making the same “staple recipes” that may taste great, but bring no new excitement into my life.

So I bring you baked falafel. I LOVE falafel, but had never made it before. I suppose I had figured it would be too complicated. Not. True.

The ingredients and spices are simple and everything just goes right into the food processor.

The dough is rolled into two-inch balls and placed on a baking sheet. Typically, falafel is fried, but this version is much healthier and still crisps up great!

Baked Falafel Puffs Recipe

Baked to perfection so they are nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

What new (and possibly even unusual) food should I try this week? Send me suggestions!

 

Baked Falafel Puffs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 30 falafels
Ingredients
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz) chickpeas, drained
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine onion, parsley, cumin, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and pulse until the mixture is combined (slightly chunky is okay). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Fold in the two flours and the baking powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  4. Set oven to 425 degrees. Scoop small pieces of dough and roll them into 2 in. sized balls. Set them on the baking sheet. (The balls do not spread like cookies, so don’t worry about the spacing). Brush the tops of the balls liberally with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. (At 25 minutes I reduced the temperature to 400 and put the oven on convection to help the balls crisp even more). Allow the balls to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.  They taste mighty good with hummus!
Notes
Recipe adapted from The Boston Globe
 

 

Gluten-Free Side Dish Vegan

Spinach with Raisins and Nuts

I am going to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. And I mean, A LOT.

Thanksgiving at my house is wild. There is so much preparation and strategy involved.  The table is always set for 25+. For one week leading up to the big day all ingredients are stored in 3 refrigerators throughout the house.  2 ovens are on nonstop for 24 hours. My dad is the mastermind / master chef behind it all. He creates the expansive menu and delegates tasks in the kitchen. If you even go near the kitchen you better be prepared to be handed an apron, a knife and start chopping.

In the end somehow it all gets done: a 26 pound turkey. Gravy. Potato Rolls. Cornbread stuffing. Chicken Sauage Stuffing. Mushroom Stuffing. Cranberry Sauce. Sweet Potato Casserole. Green Beans. Brussel Sprouts. Pumpkin pies. Pecan Pies. Apple Crisp.

And leftovers. Oof.

I can’t wait.

So I should probably eat well this week, right? Maybe I should eat some vegetables. How about some spinach? That’s healthy.

But, I don’t want to eat it raw. I don’t like eating any vegetable raw. I need them cooked. I need to add flavor, spice, sugar, SOMETHING to make them taste less….earthy.

So what can we do with this bag of raw spinach to make us LOVE it?…to make it taste so good we will forget about pumpkin pie and cornbread for the time being.

Spinach with Raisins and Nuts Recipe

This is what we are gunna do: saute it, chop it, add some spices and vinegar, and throw in some raisins and toasted nuts for a nice crunch.

Now we have ourselves something totally healthy disguised as something delicious and flavorful. I ate this whole recipe as a lunch yesterday (I swear it was filling), but you can share it and have it as a side with any meat or vegetarian meal.

Now, this definitely means I can have an extra slice of pecan pie, right?

 

Spinach with Raisins and Nuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 oz. fresh spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts, toasted*
  • ⅛ cup almonds, toasted*
  • pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet oven medium-low heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the spinach and saute until it is wilted and bright green.
  2. Remove the spinach from the skillet. Allow to cool, then squeeze out excess water and chop.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the skillet (again over medium-low heat). Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and raisins. Cook 4 minutes, stirring often so the garlic does not burn. Next, add the spinach and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the vinegar and nuts to the mixture and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Serve immediately. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
Notes
* To toast the nuts, heat an oven to 350 degrees. Lay the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes. Remove to check their status and stir. Return to oven for an additional few minutes if necessary (check often as they may burn quickly). The pine nuts will cook faster than the almonds so you may want to do this in two batches. Feel free to change it up - any combination of nuts will be great!
 

 

Main Meal Pasta Vegetarian Meals

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

This past weekend my friend Emily was in a show, so I decided to make dinner for us afterwards. We both love comfort foods, but we also like to eat well.  We also both love sweets (like brownies)…. so we decided we should probably also love running. So, Em has become my running buddy at school. She’s also my “OK I’m really not feeling running today. How ‘bout we walk and talk?” buddy. She’s my travel buddy. She’s my getting-ready buddy (you’ll really only ever get that if you’re a girl). She’s my wing girl. She’s my okay-to-call-at-2:00AM buddy. She’s my best friend.

Emily is one of those people that you run into on the street and you walk away smiling for the next hour. She just makes you happy. It’s incredibly contagious. The world needs more Emilys.

I’m really lucky to finally be living with her this year. It sure makes things a lot more convenient, and it also means that neither of us will be getting any work done.

Most importantly, it means lots of impromptu dinner dates, like this one. I decided I wanted to try to recreate everyone’s favorite homemade Mac and Cheese into something slightly healthier (okay, A LOT healthier). After browsing through a bunch of recipes, I got to work in the kitchen.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

I used whole wheat pasta and eliminated at least 50% of fat from your standard Mac and Cheese recipe.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

The crispy breadcrumb + parm topping adds so much flavor.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

MMmmmm. Baked to perfection.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

Em made the really yummy salad.

Our roommates came downstairs to check out what the smell was….

and dug right in. It’s okay, we didn’t mind sharing.

There was a fight for the last piece…

So much for leftovers!

P.S. A BIG thanks to Lindsay who has been letting me borrow her camera 🙂

 

 

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 oz. whole wheat pasta (elbows, penne, or shell will work great)
  • 6 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ⅛ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 cup skim or reduced fat milk
  • ½ fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1.5 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I advise against reduced-fat versions - you’re going to lose a lot of flavor that way).
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs (I seasoned my own with pinches of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to the package directions for al dente. (The pasta will continue to cook when you bake it in the oven). Drain and set aside. Spray an 8”x8” or 11”x7” baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for one more minute, until the flour is well combined. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk the mixture. Raise the medium-heat to high until it comes to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. When the sauce is thick, remove it from heat. Stir in the cheddar cheese and mix until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the sprayed baking dish. Top with the parmesan, then the seasoned bread crumbs. Spray the top with a little more cooking spray (this will help the top to crisp).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, broil for 2 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. (Be careful not to let it burn!)