Go-to recipe: Ginger Peanut Dressing

ImageFor me one of the most challenging things about cooking foods from scratch is making the time to follow long, complicated recipes. At first I thought this was the only way to do it. Every night had to be a different recipe, with complex instructions and ingredients. As I’ve experimented more and more with healthy foods, though, I’ve realized that a few basic “go-to” recipes will save you a lot of time.

One of my current “go-to” obsessions is Ginger Peanut Dressing. I’ve written before about how much I love peanut butter. This very simple dressing is delicious and very peanut-y. It’s perfect to use as a “I can’t think of what to make tonight and I’m too tired after a long day of teaching to do anything creative.” So what I usually do is pull out whatever vegetables are left in my fridge, saute them in olive oil, and add some beans and rice (or quinoa or couscous or whatever grains you want). Pour over the ginger peanut dressing, add some sliced green onions or chopped cashews, and enjoy.

Recipe: Ginger Peanut Dressing

Prep time: 5 minutes

Inspired by: Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 t grated ginger
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 t olive oil

If you keep your peanut butter in the fridge, either warm it up in the microwave or let it sit out for a while ahead of time to warm it up. Then add all ingredients in a mason jar, shake vigorously, and pour on top of whatever dish you are making!

Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri, Flickr Creative Commons

Guacamole mango quinoa

ImageIt’s always at this point in winter where I start wanting fruit. I love love love winter vegetables, but after 100 straight days of cold and snow, I start to really crave a juicy strawberry or a bowlful of grapes. Don’t get me wrong, I try my hardest to eat foods that are in season and locally grown (and where I live, grapes don’t grow in this wicked cold). But sometimes all that noble effort doesn’t seem worth it . My grocery store is just three blocks away, and they have an impressive stock of fruits that I finally couldn’t resist. So here is my foray into fruit this winter. A delicious and easy guacamole mango dish, with black beans and quinoa. Inspired by Foxes Loves Lemons‘s guacamole rice. A main dish that involves guacamole? I’m sold.

(And yes I know my recipes always have quinoa in them. You can easily substitute the quinoa for any other grain, like Israeli couscous, barley, orzo, or pasta. Quinoa is just so dang delicious.)

Recipe: Guacamole mango quinoa

Prep time: 30 minutes

Inspired by: Foxes Loves Lemons

  • 2 ripe avocados, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
  • 4 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1/2 cup almonds or other nuts for some added crunch
  • optional additions: cilantro, corn, tomatoes, roasted sweet potato

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Add quinoa and bring to a boil, then let simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Keep checking it until it’s fully cooked.

Meanwhile, chop all avocado, mango and onion and add to a large bowl. Stir in black beans, cooked quinoa and feta. In a separate little bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients. Whisk together and drizzle over salad. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed. You want it to be tangy and delicious.

Recipe of the week: Vegetable Stir Fry with Almond Butter Sauce

I have been a huge fan of peanut butter for my whole life. I’m not ashamed to say that in college, my supremely unhealthy years, I once ate six jars of peanut butter in one academic year. It was probably some sort of record, albeit not one to be too proud of…

Most of my peanut butter consumption revolved around combining it with jelly or with bananas. Thus, I remember the first time I was introduced to the peanut sauce recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. It blew my mind. You can eat peanut butter with vegetables?! I have since found any excuse to eat peanut sauce on pasta, quinoa, stir fry, you name it. (I’ve experimented with other, simpler peanut sauce recipes than the Moosewood one, but I still think it’s is the best one out there.)

Anyway, after years of this being my go-to sauce, I decided to try branching out to other nut butter sauces, if such things existed. Turns out they do, and they are delicious! Inspired by the blog Hummusapien, here is my version of Vegetable Stir Fry with Almond Butter Sauce. Seriously, I couldn’t get enough of it.


Recipe: Vegetable Stir Fry with Almond Butter Sauce
Prep time: 40 minutes
Inspired By: Hummusapien
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 block tofu, extra firm
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T water
  • 1.5 t ginger
  • 1 t garlic
Start the rice by adding rice to 2 cups water, and letting it come to a boil. When it boils, turn down the heat and let simmer for 40-50 minutes.
Then drain the tofu. You’re supposed to let it drain for a long time, but I usually forget and just press paper towel all over it until some of the water is soaked up. Slice tofu into bite-sized cubes, and saute in 2 tablespoons olive oil until both sides are browned and slightly tough (depending on how you like your tofu, you could keep sauteing it).
Remove tofu from pan and set aside. Add rest of olive oil to pan, and saute sliced onion, pepper, and zucchini until slightly soft. Add kale, plus a pinch or two of salt. Saute until kale is bright green and wilted.
Meanwhile, add last five ingredients to a small jar, and shake vigorously. Taste the sauce to see if it needs more almond butter or soy sauce.
When the rice is done, combine with tofu, vegetables, and pour sauce on top. Mix and enjoy!

Recipe of the week: Brown rice, sweet potato, and kale salad with almonds & goat cheese

Did I mention that I love winter vegetables? I would eat sweet potato in every meal if I could. Well, maybe not breakfast. Lord knows I would not stray from my Overnight Oatmeal obsession.

But I’ve been gleefully having this new dish for lunch and dinner for the last few days. (I do have to admit that I have a high tolerance for eating the same thing several days in a row.) It was really easy to make and satisfies both my love of winter squash and goat cheese, so it’s a winner.

Recipe: Brown rice, sweet potato and kale salad with almonds and goat cheese
Prep time: 40 minutes
Inspired by: Call Me Cupcake

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
  • 3 T stone-ground mustard
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 7 T olive oil
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 275. Start the rice by combining one cup of rice with two cups water in a small pot. Bring water to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 40-50 minutes (depending on what the package says to do – or until most of the water has been absorbed).
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil, and add salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir them up til all the potatoes are coated, then spread out on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. You can try one to see if it’s as soft as you’d like. You can choose to add the almonds on top of the potatoes for the last five minutes, in order to toast them – I skipped this step but it might be yummy.
Rip kale off from the stems, into bite size pieces. Heat 2 T olive oil in wok or large pan. Add kale leaves and a few pinches of salt. Saute kale until it is bright green and slightly crunchy.
In a small jar, combine mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil (3 tablespoons). Put a lid on the jar and shake until mixed thoroughly.
When sweet potatoes and rice are done, combine those in a large bowl with the kale, chickpeas, and almonds. Stir to combine, then drizzle on the mustard vinaigrette. Then crumble goat cheese on top, and eat up!
One thing to note – I did add raisins for a little sweetness. I soaked 1/4 cup raisins in a bowl of water for about fifteen minutes to let them expand, then added those on top as well.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Cranberries & Walnuts

Like most people with functioning taste buds, I love fall foods. I have a giant Pinterest board full of recipes I want to try using fall and winter vegetables, and this year I’m signing up for a fall/winter CSA for the first time, so I’ll get a giant supply of fall foods like potatoes, leeks and winter squash! I especially love winter squash because it can store for a long time, as long as you keep it in a cool and dark place. No need to take up room in the fridge or feel pressure to eat it before it goes bad!

When you do have time to cook, there are lots of delicious ways to eat winter squash. Here is a fun and easy recipe with butternut squash, the most ubiquitous of the winter squashes.

I made it with quinoa, but that is definitely not a necessary ingredient. You could also replace the quinoa with barley, wheat berries, maybe even rice. Some sort of grain to hold it all together usually makes me happy, but it tastes good without it as well!

Recipe: Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Cranberries & Walnuts
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Inspired by: Gluten-free Goddess

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 butternut squash, any size, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries (fresh is also a good option, but sometimes harder to find)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t chopped or pureed ginger
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • any sauteed greens you like (I usually add kale, sauteed in olive oil)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
Start by cooking the quinoa. Add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on the quinoa, as you can turn off the burner as soon as the water has been mostly absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 375.
In a large bowl, stir together the cubed squash and all remaining ingredients except the greens and black beans. Spread this out on a flat baking sheet and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until you can poke the squash with a fork and it slides in easily.
Put the squash mixture back into a bowl, and add the cooked quinoa, black beans, and sauteed greens (optional). Add olive oil and salt to taste. I sometimes sneak in some extra maple syrup to make it a bit sweeter too. 🙂 Serve hot or refrigerate for later!
Happy fall!