Corkscrew Mac & Cheese

Corkscrew Mac & Cheese

Corkscrew Mac & Cheese

A twist (pun intended) on a classic recipe, this version of Mac & Cheese uses corkscrew macaroni instead of the regular elbow variety.  The ridges and extra tubing of the macaroni are just perfect for catching all the gooey cheese, making each spoonful warm, creamy and full of savory flavor. It doesn’t take long to prep, and using the quantities below, will make almost three quarts.

This recipe also has a vegan counterpart, which in our family is a consideration. And it can be made while this version is in the oven!

And while we’re talking about corkscrews, don’t forget the wine. A nice table red would pair nicely with either and/or both of the dishes!

Ingredients

16 oz corkscrew macaroni

8 oz cheddar cheese

8 oz colbyjack cheese

2 tablespoons oregano

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

10 oz (1 small can) evaporated milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (gas mark 4 for those across the pond.)

Cook the corkscrew macaroni according to the directions on the box. A few helpful hints: add a few dashes of salt to the water, and drip a few drops of olive oil into the water. The salt will add a bit of flavor and help soften the noodles; the olive oil will break the surface tension of the water which in turn will help keep the foaming down.

As the macaroni is cooking, shred the cheddar and colbyjack cheese. Spread the cheese out on a paper towel or cutting board and then season with the oregano, black pepper, and garlic powder.

Once the macaroni is fully cooked, drain using a colander.

Using a 3 quart casserole dish, layer the ingredients thusly: noodles, cheese, noodles, cheese, noodles, and lastly – cheese. Now pour the evaporated milk over the top of the mac n cheese. No need to mix it in, the liquid will seep into the nooks and crannies all on its own.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

While you wait, stir-fry some broccoli, steam some collards, or send out for pizza.

Just kidding on that last one.

Happy eating!

 

Zucchini Planks

Zucchini Planks any Pirate would Love!

Zucchini Planks any Pirate would Love!

A quick and easy lunch, or even a light dinner, zucchini planks taste great – and they probably aren’t half bad for you, either!

Here’s what you need:

(creates four planks with toppings)

2 medium zucchini

1 shallot, finely chopped (green onion will work, as well)

1 clove of garlic, minced

black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of fresh mozzarella, cubed to the size of dice

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in halves

Here’s what you do:

Slice the zucchini lengthwise, creating two planks per zucchini, each about a half inch thick. Take the remaining zucchini and spoon out the pulp. Using a chef’s knife, finely chop the pulp, then place in a bowl.  Set the planks aside for the moment.

Add to the finely chopped zucchini: the chopped shallot, minced garlic, black pepper, and olive oil. Mix well and let sit while you cube up the mozzarella cheese.

After preparing the cheese and the grape tomatoes, add both to the bowl of marinating zucchini. Turn a few times with a wooden spoon. No need to bruise the tomato. Just kidding. But you don’t need to be mean about it. Just  gently mix. There you go!

Now, place the zucchini planks on a microwave safe plate and micro-bake them for 30 seconds to a minute. The exact time will depend on the power of your microwave. If they are steaming, they are done. Smoke?  Start over. With new zucchini.

Using a fork (because steaming zucchini planks are hot) place two planks on each plate. Then, spoon the mozzarella/tomato mixture over the planks.

Try them! You get the warm, soft and delicate taste of fresh zucchini – and the robust flavor and creamy texture of the mozzarella cheese accompanied by all of its friends.

Pairs well with a light red table wine. And cookies.

 

Black Bean Corn Salsa-nated Lentils and Peppers

Black Bean Corn Salsa-nated Lentils and Viggies

Black Bean Corn Salsa-nated Lentils and Peppers (with stir fried vegetables)

After you cook several “big” dishes, such as Mango Lentil Dal, or Artichoke Lentil Loaf, you may come to realize you still have uncooked lentils left over. Looking in the soak pot, I found we had “a lot” of lentils left. If the zombie apocalypse started today, and all access to the grocery store had been cut off by the horde of brain-eating walking dead, we would be fine with the one bag of dried lentils. It never seems to run out. But since the Eastern Shore, for the moment at least, is devoid of zombies, it would be poor form to leave said lentils to slowly die a horrible death inside the refrigerator.

What to do. Hmmm.

Why not take those lentils and add some left over bell peppers and a snit or two from the jar of Amy’s Black Bean & Corn Salsa? You know, the jar that always seems to be in the door of the refrigerator? Could end up with a tasty meal, me thinks.

Turned out to be a great idea! I also stir fried some fresh cut vegetables to give the meal a little more bulk and color. Here’s the easy lentil recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked lentils (uncooked but soaked overnight, then drained)

Water – enough to cover the lentils once they are in a sauce pan

1 each – red, green and yellow bell pepper. cored and seeded, then rough chopped

1 snit of Amy’s black bean corn salsa (no ‘snit’ mark on your measuring cup? 6 Tablespoons is about the same amount)

1 Tablespoon cumin

Directions

Put the uncooked lentils in a medium sauce pan.

Add water, enough to cover the lentils by a half inch or so.

Add the chopped bell peppers, salsa, and cumin.

Stir gently, then cover.

Heat over medium high until the liquid starts to boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. You want a simmer only.

Uncover and stir occasionally.

The goal is to allow the liquid to soak into the lentils and to create a “salsa reduction.” In other words, as the liquid cooks down, the salsa and cumin flavor will be brought out for the better. Once you stir the lentils and don’t see any more liquid at the bottom of the sauce pan, you are done!

Remove from heat and cover until the rest of your dinner is done cooking.

(I stir fried veggies while the lentils were cooking. There are a plethora of options for you. Go with your favorite!)

This lentil recipe makes 3 good sized main servings or 4 side servings.

Enjoy!

 

Mango Lentil Dal

Mango Lentil Dal

Mango Lentil Dal

Tried a new recipe tonight for Mango Lentil Dal. This turned out very well. The only change I might consider for the next time is to sub curry for the turmeric. But that’s only because I love curry. And I might add a little coconut milk. And some slice pineapple chunks. But other than that – this recipe is great!

No, really. It is very good. I was just thinking out loud.

Giving credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from the tome Eat to Live Cookbook, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It’s on page 172. Naturally, due to copyright issues I cannot legally (or ethically should I) post the actual recipe. It’s a great book. You should buy a copy. You don’t have to go on his diet / health plan, just try the recipes. We have yet to find one that wasn’t great tasting.

What I can do is give you a list of ingredients:

Lentils

Water (to cook the cup of lentils in, of course)

Turmeric

Chopped onion

Minced garlic

Fresh grated ginger

Ground coriander

Ground cumin

Cracked black pepper

A couple of ripe mangoes (learn how to peel and cut a mango here)

Chopped fresh spinach

and last but not least:

Chopped fresh cilantro.

I suppose you could try to cook this yourself, without the book, and just using quantities “to taste.” However, I highly recommend buying the book.

And no, I receive no remuneration (of any kind) from Dr. Fuhrman or anyone else for that matter. I could only hope…

Live the exotic life for a day – try Mango Lentil Dal!

 

 

 

Dr. Lucy and the Cookies

Gluten Free Vegan Ginger Snaps

Gluten Free Vegan Ginger Snaps

Have food allergies? Need to be gluten free? [Gasp] Vegan, even?

A tough road to live on, but it can be done. That said, there is one problem remaining:

Where are the cookies, right?

Of course. Who doesn’t like cookies? Everyone like cookies. Those in the UK even have a different word for them: biscuits. And I’m sure the Brits love their biscuits just as much as we love to snarf down our cookies here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Since changing my eating habits last month, I’ve lost over 20 pounds and three inches off my waist line. But nary a dessert has made it onto my plate. Alas, no cookies for this guy.

Until a few days ago.

That’s when I came across Lucy’s Cookies.”  The cookie’s namesake, Norfolk Virginia medical doctor turned cookie entrepreneur Dr. Lucy Gibney and (I presume) her daughter were at my place of business the other day, handing out samples. When I introduced myself as a gluten free/vegan person they let me know that all of their products would work for me. Wow!  All means more than one – and I don’t even have to check the label. Although I did for fun. You should, too.

The package spells it out for you: all natural; non-GMO; no peanuts, tree nuts, milk, or eggs; gluten free; zero cholesterol; and zero trans fat. But what about taste?

I have had the chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate cookies, and the ginger snap cookies so far. And the have all been great. The ginger snaps even have a tiny bit of Tabasco in them to bring out a nifty bite at the end of the crunch. Who knew? Good choice, ladies.

Full of flavor, a great crunch, wonderful aftertaste. These cookies have it all. And with 3 – 4 cookies per package, you get enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, but not too many calories – in case you are counting them.

Check the website; order some cookies! And, they are available in over 7,000 stores and specialty shops through the US and Canada. You are probably near a package right now and don’t even know it!

* Legal disclaimer: I have not received any remuneration (of any kind) from Dr. Lucy or her cookie company. The review above is based simply on my desire to have cookies that meet my dietary restriction and Lucy’s Cookies satisfying that want.

** If, by chance, Dr. Lucy would like to send me some cookies for a more comprehensive evaluation, I would be more than happy to entertain the idea.

DrLucys dot com – check it out, people. Good health and nutrition doesn’t have to be bland!

Here's the package!

Here’s the package!

No time to be a vegetarian?

Dinner Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

Dinner Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

Spare time is one of those things we never seem to have in abundance. We always have somewhere to go, people to meet, planes to catch. The pile of work never seems to get smaller and the phone never seems to stop ringing. Maybe that’s why we have grown to love our fast food restaurants. Drive up, speak into a microphone on a pole, pay a few dollars and then have your “meal” handed to you as you keep on driving.

“I know,” you say, “fruits and vegetables are more nutritious. The school nurses have been telling me that since I started school as a little tyke.”

“But I just don’t have the time to prepare all of that healthy stuff.”  That’s what many of us say, at least.

I used to say the same thing. However, today we spent about 30 minutes in the grocery store, shopping for mangoes, bananas, apples, and all of their friends in the produce section. Then I spent another 30 minutes or so washing, chopping and bagging the vegetables. The result? My wife and I had two very nice dinner salads, and I still have six more bags of romaine lettuce, a package of fresh spinach,individual bags of red onion and broccoli, plus a super-sized bag of my vegetable medley. This is a mix of carrots, yellow squash, green zucchini, celery and yellow and green bell peppers.

Now, to make a salad I just grab a bag of romaine, a handful or two of medley, and a little bit from each individual bag. Add a few cherry tomatoes from the fridge and a quarter cup of seeds from the pantry and I am all set for a huge (a delicious) salad. Dressing? A little balsamic vinaigrette works wonders. Crack some pepper on top and I am set.

I spend about 5 minutes in the morning putting my lunch salad together before I get in the car for the drive to work. Think you don’t have 5 minutes to spare in the morning? Time yourself next time you go through the drive through at your local burger joint.

Think of it this way: with one hour of work on a Sunday, and 5 minutes a day, you can have a great salad every day for the next week!

And for those who are worried about protein – many vegetables have protein in abundance. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has 9 grams of protein! Who needs a chicken breast when you can have the flavor and crunch of pumpkin seeds on top of your healthy salad?

And for another layer of flavor and texture, add some cooked quinoa or brown rice seasoned with Bragg’s Amino Sauce!

Try this meal planning technique and see how you like it!

It’s working for me – it can work for you, too.

 

 

 

Artichoke Lentil Loaf

Artichoke Lentil Loaf

Artichoke Lentil Loaf

22 days into the vegan diet and the good food just keeps on coming. Who knew? Aside from the health benefits (which I started noticing a few days into it) it is just plain fun to cook some of this stuff. I am planning two big entrees a week and tonight was my foray into the world of artichokes and lentils.

Courtesy of Chef Christine Waltermyer, who graciously gave her recipe for Artichoke Lentil Loaf to the book, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, we now have a savory meat(less) loaf for dinner. The aroma of the sautéed onions, garlic, and celery, mixed in with the seasonings has kept the kitchen a happy place.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients

½ cup onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup celery, diced

3 cups mushrooms, finely chopped (I used a variety package)

1 tablespoon, dried parsley

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (don’t freak out about the name. No chicken byproducts allowed)

2 1/2 – 3 cups of cooked lentils

4 artichoke hearts, chopped (I used the kind in the small bottle)

1/2 cup raw pecans, finely chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

2 tablespoons of wheat flour

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Amino Sauce

Cracked black pepper to taste

1 small can of low salt tomato paste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the onions, celery and garlic in a dash of olive oil until the onions start to become translucent. Add the mushrooms (and a little water if needed) then stir, cover and wait 5 minutes. Uncover and stir again. Add the parsley and the poultry seasoning, mix and remove from heat.

Get a large bowl. Put the seasoned vegetables in, then mix in the cooked lentils.

Now, mixing as you go, add the artichoke hearts, pecans, oats, flour, lemon juice, and Bragg’s sauce.

Add some black pepper as you go; if you want. I wanted. So I did.

Now – after you are done enjoying the awesome smell, get a loaf pan and spray it / lightly grease it.

Spoon the whole mixture into the loaf pan and press it down.

To finish the task, spoon a thin layer of the tomato paste on top. Some would say this is optional.

I didn’t.

Bake for 1 hour. Once done, let rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Good luck on the waiting part.

Now slice a slice and eat up!

Wine is vegetarian, right?

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