Category Archives: recipes

White Bean Shepherd’s Pie

pie

Yesterday I gave myself a mission. I had a fresh batch of white beans at my disposal, and a whole lot of French lentils, and by the end of the day, I would make a marriage of the two. That was my dinner destiny. At the same time, I was feeling strangely nostalgic for Alanis Morissette, so I turned up the “Jagged Little Pill” cd and went to work, belting out every word of “You Outta Know.”

The result was a vegetarian white bean shepherd’s pie. I felt very clever replacing the mashed potato topping with mashed white beans. The beans easily blended into a creamy, potato-like consistency, and the flavor, although distinctly bean-y, paired well with the savory, smoky taste of the lentil filling. The spinach sprinkled throughout the lentils offered a nice color contrast (and extra nutrition) against the other ingredients, which was needed. I would definitely consider bringing this dish as a hearty vegetarian addition to a Thanksgiving buffet or potluck spread.

So, ready for this shepherd’s pie? If you’re still not sure, just take Alanis’ advice: “Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)…it feels so good (swimming in your stomach)…”

pie2

Vegetarian White Bean Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients:

White Bean Layer

dry great northern beans — 2 cups (or 4 cups cooked)

apple cider vinegar — 1/2 tsp

salt — 1/4 tsp

pepper — 1/4 tsp

Lentil Filling

ghee — 1 tbsp (or butter or oil)

french lentils — 1 1/2 cup (or brown)

veggie broth — 3 cups

bay leaf — 1

onion — 1

garlic cloves — 3

thyme — 1 tsp

sage — 1 tsp

smoked paprika — 1 tsp

spinach — 2 cups chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

1. Soak the beans overnight and cook the next day. Optional: add 1 tbsp of salt to the pot and let the beans soak in the salty water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and run them under the water to wash out excess salt. Store in the fridge until you use them.

2. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9” x 11” dish.

3. Add the beans to a food processor with the salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

4. Pour the lentils into a pot, and add the broth and the bay leaf. Turn the heat to medium-high and when the lentils start to boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 30 minutes or until they are soft but not mushy. You might have to add water so that the lentils don’t dry out. Drain lentils and put them back in the pot. Take the bay leaf out.

5. Chop up the onion and saute with garlic at medium heat. Add thyme, sage, and smoked paprika and saute for a few more minutes. Add the chopped spinach and stir to combine the ingredients until the spinach is slightly wilted.

6. Add the veggies to the lentils and stir to combine. Shake salt and pepper into the pot to your desired taste. I probably added another ¼ tsp salt.

7. Spread the lentil-veggie mix evenly into the greased baking dish. Smear the mashed white beans on the surface until the lentils are totally covered.

8. Bake the dish for 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Enjoy!

Lessons from overnight oats

oats

Do you dream of waking up to a breakfast that is healthy, delicious, satiating and already prepared for you?

I used to have this dream too. Then my husband caught on and began serving me breakfast in bed… no, just kidding. I learned how to make overnight oats, and my mornings got a lot simpler. Relaxing. Energizing. By spending just 10 minutes on prep the night before, I can have breakfast ready to go for me the next day without any further work. Yes, you too can experience the time-saving, energy-boosting benefits of overnight oats!

I first came across the concept of overnight oats from the blog Oh She Glows, a wonderful plant-based food blog that I’ve found to be an indispensable resource and inspiration for my own cooking. I started out following her recipe to a T (it’s so yummy!), and eventually, ventured on to making my own creations.

Currently, my morning concoction consists of one smashed banana, 1 tbsp of chia seeds, 1 tbsp of hemp protein powder, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup nut milk, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and a generous dash of cinnamon. Occasionally, I’ll blend a date with my milk to add extra sweetener. I add all of these ingredients to a jar, mix, top with a lid, and stick in my fridge overnight. And that’s it! In the morning I pull the jar out of the fridge to allow it to warm up a bit while I prepare a pot of tea.

I think the best thing about overnight oats is that you can customize your jar according to your own tastes, dietary needs, and pantry. I haven’t even mentioned the add-ins of granola, yogurt, seeds, avocado, dried fruit, muesli… the possibilities are really endless. The second best thing? It takes minimal work, and it’s ready for you when you roll out of bed. If you’re lucky, you can even convince your partner/housemate/family to jump on the bandwagon, making evening prep work an overnight oats party.

Here are some overnight oats recipes that I’m eager to try:

Overnight Oats with Chocolate and Coconut from In My Bowl — On the sweet side, but the list of ingredients make me salivate, and the end result looks divine

Overnight Oats with golden macadamia milk and quinoa flakes from Tastyasheck — Macadamia milk?! I can’t wait to make this nut milk

Matcha overnight oats with muddled berries from Nurturing Kitchen — I love the taste and color of matcha, so I have high hopes for this one

Have yourself a merry bowl of red beans

redbeansEvery Christmas Eve my dad’s side of the family gets together for Wigilia, Christmas Eve Polish vigil dinner. Just to give you a visual, it’s about 40-50 people across several generations. Before the dinner, an elderly family member offers a blessing, and each person receives a thin wafer, “oplatek.” After the blessing, people exchange good wishes with one another and give and receive pieces of each other’s oplatek. Then we feast! The buffet represents various casseroles, salads, fish, and plenty of pierogi and kapusta soup, all homemade. Although the significance of this event is no longer religious for me, I love reconnecting with family members and taking pause to appreciate one another during this time.

Due to logistics, Marcus and I are spending this Christmas Eve in Eugene, just the two of us. But we’re not feeling blue. We’re putting a Southern spin on Wigilia over here by making red beans and rice. It’s not supposed to be a new tradition, but who knows, maybe it’s the beginning of one. Marcus and I have been sharing bowls of red beans ever since we met in New Orleans, and we make it at least a couple times a month. It’s such a comforting, warming meal. Here’s how I like to make it. Marcus says it makes me a “certified Cajun woman,” which means something coming from a Cajun man.

Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
small kidney beans – 2 cups dry (makes 5 cups cooked)
green bell peppers – 2
celery – 2 stalks
yellow onion – 1 large
cajun seasoning –  1 tbsp (Tony’s or Slap Ya Mama or make your own!)
garlic – 2 cloves
bay leaf – 1
oil or ghee – 1 tbsp
veggie broth – 4 cups
tabasco sauce – 1 tsp
salt – ½ tsp

Steps:
1. Soak the beans overnight and cook the next day. Optional: add 1 tbsp of salt to the pot and let the beans soak the salt in for at least 15 minutes. Drain and run under the water to wash out excess salt. Store in the fridge until later.
2. Chop the onions, celery, and the bell peppers. Mince the garlic.
3. Melt oil or ghee in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then add the veggies and garlic, turn heat to medium-low and cook for about ten minutes or until onions are translucent.
4. Add the veggie broth, the bay leaf, the beans, and the Cajun seasoning. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Add tabasco sauce and the salt. Take out bay leaf. With a potato masher, carefully mash the beans so that they get a creamy consistency.
6. Serve over rice and eat!

These beans have a moderate spice level. Keep the tabasco sauce on hand for pouring extra in your bowl.

The illustrious green bean casserole

casseroleI’m calling this Thanksgiving dish “illustrious” because with the recipe that I found–it’s about to be! I know, I know, green bean casserole is typically made with cream of mushroom soup that jiggles when you poke it and crunchy fried onions that come from a box, but it needn’t be. It can be delicious AND made with real food. Deb from Smitten Kitchen is showing me how with this recipe. I cooked most of it this evening in preparation for driving it (5 hours) to my parents’ house tomorrow, and the flavor already has me proud to share it with my family.

Wherever you are tomorrow, whatever you might be doing, I hope it is in the company of loving people, with food that warms and comforts and makes your heart and taste buds dance. Tomorrow and always.

Damn good hummus

hummusHummus and lit go together like burgers and french fries. How good would it be to sit in a comfy chair, read a great book, and plunge a chip in a bowl of hummus every time you turn a page? So good.

I’ve been making this particular hummus for a while. I created it from modifying a recipe I found online, and after doing a quick search, I believe it was this one that served as my inspiration. Why reinvent the wheel, when you’ve found one that already rolls pretty well?

If you end up making this hummus, let me know, especially if you put your own delicious spins on it.

Damn good hummus

Ingredients:

1 cup dry chickpeas — or 2 ½ cups cooked

¼ cup lemon juice

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup tahini

2 garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

¼ cup water plus more if needed

Paprika for topping

Steps:

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight and then cook the next day.

2. Put the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, tahini, garlic, olive oil, salt, and cumin in a food processor and give it a whirl.

3. Add the chickpeas and give it another whirl. I add one cup at a time to better combine everything.

4. Add the water and whirl some more. Add more water if the consistency is too thick. Check the flavor and add more of any of the ingredients.

5. Scrape the hummus into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, dust with paprika, and grab your chips and book!