Budget Meal: Brown Rice and Black Bean Pilaf with Chicken

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Today is an easy budget friendly super healthy meal that is bursting with flavor and texture and leaves you full and happy.  Getting tons of protein and whole grain staying power to fill you and warm you up is important with this cold weather.  We had rice and black beans at home so I quickly just googled to see if there was anything different I could do with them.  Of course I gravitated towards an Ellie Krieger recipe- especially because we had every single ingredient on hand.  I added in chicken and extra carrots and it turned out perfect.  I timed everything so while the rice cooked we chopped and cooked the veggies, set it aside.  Seasoned then cooked the chicken,  set it aside.  A little clean up and the rice was complete, so everything got mixed together to eat!  Leaving the kitchen clean, plates full and we were ready to go.  That’s how you do a weeknight meal my friends.

Rice and Black Bean Pilaf adapted from Ellie Krieger

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 (15.5 ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

Directions
Place rice and chicken broth in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook rice, covered, until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes.

While the rice cooks, prep your veggies, then heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, celery, carrot, cumin and chili flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Stir in black beans and parsley then cook until just warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Remove rice from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.

Combine hot rice into the pan with the onion-black bean mixture and stir to combine.  Serve with chicken if desired ( below).

Quick Chicken Breast Recipe:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half to make 4 thin ( 1/4″ thick) cutlets or pounded so all one thickness, place in pie plate drizzle with olive oil and season with a little of sprinkle of each based on your taste preferences: cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano.  Heat a large pan over med/ high heat, add chicken when it’s hot, cook for 2-3 minutes per side until no longer pink at the thickest spot.  Remove from heat and let rest until you are ready to serve.

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Creamy Peanut Butter Hummus

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My sister always makes this delicious hummus for parties and gatherings.  Until now when we wanted to have a healthy dip, we just bought it from the store and let the tub sit in the fridge until it expired forgetting about it- because the store bought ones are very forgettable.  I recently shared this recipe and it was before Super Bowl, and I couldn’t think of a better time to make it.  This was officially the first time we attempted it in our kitchen- crazy.  We were gifted an amazing food processor ( thank you Tom and Eva!) from our wedding and I love any excuse to use it.  It blended down this hummus in about 15 seconds and I let it continue because it’s just so pretty to watch.  Before we had a tiny blender attachment one that got us by, until the motor went- over use maybe?  Anyhow, this can be made with a potato masher or fork if you have the energy for it ( the onions would need to be chopped finer in this application)- or you can toss it in a blender or food processor to whirl it in to creamy submission.   The best part about homemade, is the texture-  so thick but creamy and served right away- warm!  We served this with warm Naan bread and cut up veggies after half time.  My sister uses  “Lick the Bowl Clean Hummus” recipe but subs in peanut butter for Tahini ( because really- who ever has tahini on hand?)  It’s the perfect combination.  I also am updating the recipe to include cooking the garlic as well, originally it calls for 4 cloves raw, and this made a very potent garlic dragon after taste.  I think reducing to 1-2 cloves, and cooking them with the onion in the last 2-3 minutes would make this perfection.

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Recipe adapted from Lick-the-Bowl-Clean Hummus Recipe

Serves 10, about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  •  1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  •  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •  1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  •  1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, saute onions in 1/4 cup oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Transfer to a food processor; add the beans, lemon juice, peanut butter, salt, pepper and remaining oil. Cover and process for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  3. Serve with your favorite veggies, Naan bread or pita chips

Beef Confetti Chili

Best Chili recipe so far, we used 93/7 lean ground beef and loads of fresh veggies, and this was the PERFECT hearty rich chili.  We love letting it meld together all day while we work, so when you get home there is no cooking, just eating and relaxing!

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16 oz  Beef, Ground, 93% Lean Meat / 7% Fat
small  onion, diced (1 cup)
medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 cup)
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
habenero pepper, seeded and diced
teaspoon  ground cumin
teaspoon  ground coriander
teaspoon  Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder
28 ounce  crushed tomatoes, with their juices
cups  Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth
tbsp  chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon  dried oregano
14 ounces  canned reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
28 ounces  low sodium pinto beans canned, drained and rinsed
cup  corn kernels
Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions

Saute onions with a bit of olive oil, add beef and brown till cooked through
Add all ingredients to crock pot, stir, cover and cook low 8 hours
Serve with cilantro and sour cream and cheddar cheese!

White Chili… for summer

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I know, I know, it’s so steaming hot out this week and we made chili!  We must be crazy, but honestly, it’s so light in this white version, so affordable to make, and so healthy for you to eat that we just went for it.  And I am a little bummed that I just finished the last portion of leftovers today, I could have continued eating this once a day for much longer.  There are so many fresh delicious flavors, a great texture with hominy and bean and turkey, filling, satisfying and plain old good.  If you can’t take the heat, pun intended, just eat this leftover cold.  We served it hot with cool creamy sour cream and fresh grated Gouda or low fat cheddar, topped with fresh cilantro= perfection in a bowl.  Don’t hate, just make it, you won’t be sorry.

White Chili; Recipe by Ellie Krieger

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium poblano peppers (about 4 ounces each), seeded and white ribs removed, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
1 pound ground white meat turkey
2 (15.5-ounce) cans white beans such as cannelini, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
Salt
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt or Sour Cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges
Directions
Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery, poblanos, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink about 2 minutes. Add the white beans, broth and oregano. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

Add the hominy and salt and more cayenne pepper, to taste, and continue cooking, partially covered, 10 minutes longer. Ladle into individual bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cilantro. Garnish with a lime wedge.

“Marinated” Kale and Green Bean Salad

Veggie side recipes are abundant, but often never tried out- we all have our favorite ways to eat veggies and usually seeing a recipe like this one seems too much work.  But we made this semi marinated, and served it hot because that’s what we wanted with our dinner.  It’s important to know that you can alter recipes to suit YOU.  So here we have not really marinated the Kale but rather sautéed it with the flavors from the recipe, tossed with steamed green beans and parmesan, wa- lah delicious, fresh with a spicy kick veggie side, that can easily be brought to your Thanksgiving table feast!

Marinated Kale and Green Bean Salad

Adadapted from Bon Appetit: If you want to do this the cold way, BA says “the longer the raw kale sits in its lemony vinaigrette, the more tender it will become. If you prefer a crisper salad, let it sit for an hour or two; for a softer texture, chill it for up to 1 day.”

Ingredients

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut lengthwise into 1/2″ strips (about 8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Ingredient Info

    Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, has long, narrow, dark-green bumpy leaves; it’s available at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets.

Preparation

  • Heat a large dutch oven skillet over medium heat with Olive oil.  Add kale lemon juice, honey, and red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the kale is bright green and slightly tender remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl.
  • Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain beans.
  • Add beans to kale and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with grated cheese.

Food for thought… and Autumn Vegetable Curry

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This morning was one of those amazing fall days in Chicago, the kind we all reflect back to when the snow and slush and icy winds start to bring us down.  After an admittedly challenging couple of weeks, there is so much change in the air, not only the seasons.  In times like these it’s important to remember that our lives are only as good as the choices we make, whether they are good choices, hard choices, wrong choices; they all shape who we are, who we will become and the life we will have.

Inspired by two friends today, I took a long break to get outside and bike+ run, not just to work out but to slow down, think, walk, and soak in the great day.  Everyone I passed was smiling, the sun was shining, the lake rippled in the wind and colorful leaves rustled along my path, the skyline gleamed in the contrast of the blue skies, it was as if everywhere I looked, a gorgeous photo presented itself.  It got me thinking about how charmed our lives are, if we can just take a moment to step back and enjoy it.  If the choices we make define who we are, we should make each one count; they should enrich our life, they should inspire us, they should make us happy- it’s our choice, right?  In lou of all the changes a new season brings, our family is faced with all kinds of challenges and choices, our near future of where we will end up is hovering within reach and it’s overwhelming.  It’s helpful to reflect, jot stuff down and just take a moment to put things in perspective.  This is life, it is glorious, we have the ability to make choices and that is pretty great.

Now, to the food!  After all that thought, I bet you are ready to make a choice on what’s for dinner this fine fall evening.  We’ve been loving all the in season produce- fennel, pears, squash and sweet potatoes.  This recipe is another Ellie Krieger gem; we can’t go on enough about how much we love her.  It’s warm and hearty and full of big flavors and so many veggies, you would never guess it’s simplicity could be so good.  This recipe makes a big batch so you can enjoy leftovers over and over!  Enjoy,

Ingredients

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1½ -inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ head of cauliflower, broken into 11/2 inch wide florets (about 3 cups)

1 pound sweet potatoes (garnet yams), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed

5 cups baby spinach leaves (5 ounces)

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Method

Put the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper into the bowl of a food and process until combined. Add the oil and process until a smooth puree. Cook the curry puree in a large pot over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to darken, about 5 minutes more.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cinnamon, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, tomatoes, salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the garbanzo beans and the spinach and cook for 5 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt to taste.

Serve garnished with cilantro, over rice if desired.

 

Makes about 10 cups Serves 4

 

Per Serving: Calories 420; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 4.6 g, Poly Fat 2.3 g) ; Protein 13 g; Carb TK g; Fiber 16 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 780 mg

 

Excellent source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K Good source of: Calcium, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Zinc

 

Copyright 2011 Ellie Krieger. All Rights Reserved.

Pasta Presto

Busy weeknights call for imaginative meals.  We found ourselves without a plan for dinner one night, and with a fridge/ pantry full of random ingredients begging to be used asap.  So, we made a pasta with yummy remains of fresh herbs and extra salad fixings ( goat cheese, yellow peppers, cherry and sun dried tomatoes), plus some leftover broth and wine.  It happened to be a very fresh, deeply flavorful, and very nutritious pasta entree that we just had to share with you!
Ingredients:
½ pound whole wheat bow tie pasta, cooked and drained, reserve ½ cup water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup diced yellow pepper
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup basil, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
14.5 ounce can Cannellini Beans ( white beans), low sodium and rinsed
¼ cup white wine
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable broth, reduced sodium
8 oz reduced sodium tomato sauce
2 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large pan with high sides, over medium high heat. Add in onion, cook for 3 minutes. Add in yellow peppers and garlic, cook one minute more. Stir in white wine and cook till completely reduced, about 3 minutes. Then toss in the parsley, basil, tomatoes, beans, water, broth and tomato sauce. Stir to combine well and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in goat cheese and taste test. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss in pasta stir to combine, if the sauce is too thick- add in some reserved pasta water until your desired consistency.  To serve, plate a portion and top with grated Parmesan.