It Takes a Village to Make Dinner

I finally caved. For some silly reason, I’ve been resisting food delivery services like Blue Apron or Sun Basket. But taking care of a baby and working full time makes trying to get healthy dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes really taxing on my already tapped out brain. 

Hearing friends who had tried it and loved it convinced me to give it a try. Once I surrendered, I finally realized that someone else’s recipe with the ingredients ready to go was not something to be ashamed of. (I think maybe I thought it was like cheating or not being original enough to come up with my own recipe. But the reality was, I was already using Pinterest for recipe ideas.)

As I prepared my first Blue Apron recipe, I quickly learned that the meditative experience of cutting and mixing ingredients is still very much intact. I felt relaxed knowing that the recipe was full proof — I used to love experimenting, but ain’t no one got time for that during the week. 

 

Sun Basket offers a Paleo option and our first delivery arrived with Niman Ranch steaks and seasonal organic produce. Convenient, yet farm fresh.

The bottom line is that we should seek out help wherever we can. Friends, family, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram… Whatever it takes to get something easy and healthy on the table.

Put an Egg on It: Frozen Fan

You can have your hash, and eat it too – without messing up the kitchen. Simply microwave a frozen meal compromised of veggies, grains and/or beans in a bowl, and then top it with a fried egg or two. I used Amy’s Organic Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard.

In no time you’ll be singing “Let it go!” to anyone who bad mouths TV dinners. (Just make sure to find one that uses all natural, wholesome ingredients.)

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I’ve gone a little overboard with jars of roasted red peppers and discovered three in the cupboard, beyond the two in the fridge today. So for our neighbor’s potluck, I decided to try making a roasted red pepper dip with coconut milk yogurt (a new option since goat cheese yogurt was not available), white bean hummus and goat cheese. Let’s hope the neighbors approve…

Mix two jars of roasted red peppers, a small container of hummus, 6 oz of yogurt and a small log of chevre in a food processor. Salt to taste, and serve with carrots, other veggies, or chips. Pretty easy and healthy as far as dips go!

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Beg, Borrow & Meal: Quinoa Southwestern Salad

Instant doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Every week I order healthy and/or organic pre-packaged meals and snacks from Safeway.com to smooth out the hungry edges of a busy workday or post-commute dinner. This week, I made lemonade out of lemons (salads that arrived on the same day they expired), by beefing them up for heartier dinner portions.

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Using Safeway O Organics Southwestern Chicken Salad as a base, I added diced Safeway Select roasted red peppers, leftover O Organics quinoa from the previous night, Safeway Select pre-cut broccoli florets, and substituted the ranch dressing with goat milk yogurt. (David got both of our packets of tortilla chips.) I definitely recommend seasoning generously with salt.

(And if you’re listening Safeway.com, know that I’m a beyond loyal customer but I’m so tired of getting things delivered that have already expired or are about to expire in a day or two. My delivery drivers are always gracious about passing along the message to the store manager and I’ve called customer service countless times. The ability to return something doesn’t help if no replacement is delivered in its place.)

Cast Iron & Wine

After tiring of burnt nonstick pans, I took the plunge with enameled cast iron. Rather than splurge on Le Creuset, I decided to get my feet wet with this four-star rated, dishwasher safe Cuisinart cast iron pan in Provençal Blue to match my cabinets. 🙂

Tonight’s test drive went surprisingly well. I turned 6-months frozen ground turkey (questionable on many fronts) into a perfectly browned and juicy filling for tacos. Call me a convert!

Good Things in Small Packages: Mushroom Quinoa

I’m always on the lookout for healthy ingredients that don’t require refrigeration, or at least have a long shelf life, especially for weeknight dinners. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a $5 bag of dried Maitake mushrooms at the non-frugal Ferry Building and a bag of ready-to-cook red quinoa at a nearby market. Bingo!

First, soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to instructions, and prep your ingredients of choice. I sautéed minced garlic with chopped green onions and carrots in olive oil, before stirring the mushrooms in. I added spinach directly to the pot of quinoa, and microwaved frozen peas, before pouring in the sauté mixture. For seasoning, I used a generous sprinkling of salt and a couple shakes of fish sauce.

Basically, use your imagination and enjoy guilt-free!

$2 Healthy Lunch Option

I’ve been ordering grocery deliveries from Safeway for almost 10 years. It’s ideal for shopping anytime from your couch, rather than spending an hour of precious evening or weekend time pushing your cart through the crowded aisles.

Over the years, Safeway has expanded their line of organic products and healthy options. Their (unprocessed) frozen meals can’t be beat, price wise.

This delectable “Five Grain Beef and Vegetables” dish is $2. Hardly anything costs $2 these days! And for only 290 calories, it actually fills me up.

Cleaning out the fridge: goat cheese lasagna

In this installment of making dinner from scraps, I whip up a simple yet flavorful lasagna with goat cheese, gruyere and butternut squash pasta sauce. I took inspiration for the goat cheese sauce from Fine Cooking, the layering from Keep it Luce, and I used about half a bottle of Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (which is delicious and dairy-free; I highly recommend it on gnocchi).

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Instructions:

To make the goat cheese sauce, I whisked 1/4 cup of flour in a sauce pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil (butter would have been better, but of course I didn’t have any). Next, I whisked in 3 cups of unsweetened almond milk and let it thicken for about 10 minutes or so. From there, I stirred in 5 oz. of goat cheese, 1/2 cup shredded gruyere, 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and a couple clicks from the pepper mill.

Meanwhile, I toasted raw walnuts at 375 degrees in the oven, and then crushed them under foil with a rolling pin.

Then came the construction of the lasagna, using no-bake lasagna noodles. I used a 9×13 pan, but my lasagna came out very thin, so better to go with a smaller pan or double the recipe.

First, I layered 1/3 of the goat cheese sauce, followed by noodles, and 1/2 the butternut squash pasta sauce. Next, I added another layer of goat cheese sauce, noodles, and the pasta sauce. Then, I added a layer of toasted walnuts. (Note: I was also conservative with only one layer of toasted walnuts, but next time I would double it.)

After one final layer of noodles, goat cheese sauce, and pasta sauce, I sprinkled a healthy dose of grated gruyere on top. I baked it in the oven, covered with foil, at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. I finished off a few extra minutes without foil at the end to melt the gruyere.

Delicious, easy and David-approved!

Cleaning out the fridge: fettuccine with mushrooms

For Part II of this week’s cleaning out the fridge installment, I used the remaining dried porcini mushrooms (see Porcini Couscous) and added Wine Forest Dried Lobster Mushrooms for an adaptation of Epicurious’ Fettuccine with Wild Mushroom Sauce.

For my replication, I soaked both sets of dried mushrooms before adding them to a pan with sauteed onions (instead of garlic). I also swapped water for chicken broth, simply because I didn’t have any, and served it with spinach fettuccine.

It was absolutely delicious, especially when paired with the bacon-licious and smoky Syrah Bacon Reserve from Oreana Winery.

Birthday Treats

This pretty package arrived on my doorstep today. Thanks Ash & Al! Love me some Dean and Deluca goodies, and macarons make me feel like Blair Waldorf. 🙂

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