Category Archives: leftovers

Leftover Lentils

What do you know? It’s crock pot time!

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When I planned my meals for the week, I knew I would have a lot of leftover veggies, so I knew a lentil stew would be the perfect way not to let it go to waste….

So, all I did was put lentils in the crock pot with some vegetable broth, added two left-over vegan sausages, carrots, celery, and green peppers, plus some spices, and let it do its thing overnight.

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The result: a delicious hearty stew that lasted us for days. During stormy and chilly fall days, this is pretty close to the ideal office lunch. Leftovers made from leftovers — winning.

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Filed under dairy-free, gluten-free, leftovers, low carb, lunch-prep, vegan

Three-Course Turkish Dinner

After running 6 miles on Sunday morning (first time doing a longer run since my Half Marathon on April 13), I spent most of my day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate Turkish dinner.

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Aren’t my head-band and flowery apron something? Dave was handling the food photography because he got excited to use the tripod and a nicer camera than my iPhone (which I usually use). Anyway, I didn’t know he would put me into 80% of the pictures or I would have chosen to look less ridiculous.

Now to the task at hand: Cook a three-course Turkish dinner for four people in three hours. All three recipes were new to me, but the cookbook Sultan’s Kitchen has been phenomenal so far, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

1. The Appetizer – Grape Leaves Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Rice

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Just looking at this has me wanting to make another batch of these beyond-delicious things. It was my first time making vegetarian grape leaves. In the past, I’ve stuffed them with rice and ground beef or lamb. But no longer. The combination of pine nuts and currants with cinnamon, dill, and parsley is out of this world. Sprinkled with lemon-juice, they’re a fresh, tangy summer treat. They could be their own meal and I definitely devoured the left-overs for lunch on Monday. Triple yum!

We served them with some fresh baguette and Raki – an anise flavored liquor that no Turkish meal should be without.

2. The Main Course – Flounder Fillets Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, and Scallions

Holy moly. Flounder fillets are expensive. The recipe called for 3 lbs., but that would have meant $45, so I decided to get four and divide all the other ingredients in half too. That was a good choice, since we had so much other food, too.

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First, you cook the pine nuts in olive oil until they’re golden brown, then you add garlic, spinach, and scallions and saute the mixture until it has wilted. After letting it cool, you place the desired amount in the center of the fillet and then fold it over, holding it together with a tooth pick.

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Number one and two.

Then, you steam the fillets in a mix of dry white wine, chopped tomato, lemon juice, spices, and dill for eight minutes. When it’s done, you sprinkle it with parsley.

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We served this course with bread and a choice of red and white wine. Don’t you want to take that piece of baguette and make it soak up the delicious sauce? The dish was the perfect mixture of herbs, fish, and a tangy mix of wine, tomato, and a kick of spiciness due to paprika and red cayenne pepper. So good. So so good.

3. The Desert – Rose Water Pudding

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This was a basic pudding made with whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cornstarch, but the rose water gave it a very unique flavor. We actually sprinkled these servings with cinnamon before putting them on the table, but were too absorbed into conversation by that time to remember taking pictures.

It was so much fun to try three new recipes and introduce our friends to Turkish cuisine. They seemed to really enjoy everything. Dave and I definitely loved all three dishes, so we’ll definitely make them again. The leftover grape leaves definitely were a special Monday lunch treat.

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Filed under deserts, drinks with dinner, leftovers, recipes, running, seafood, Turkish

Salmon, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Cakes

Tonight’s dinner was made out of so many of my favorites, I must immediately declare it a new staple dish!

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Salmon, sweet potato, quinoa, scallion, and onion burgers. Can you say yum?

I got the recipe from my co-worker, but then I modified it a little because I forgot to add eggs when mixing everything together to make these balls of deliciousness.

Once I realized that the eggs were missing, I was rather surprised that everything was sticking together so well. But I won’t ask questions.

Oh! Also, I was supposed to use corn meal, but I didn’t have any. Instead of bullying Dave and sending him on an impromptu trip to the grocery store, I looked up corn meal alternatives. Did you know you can toast a slice of bread and then grind it to get a substitute? I sure didn’t. But then again, I’m sooo still a beginner.

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Here is what I did about the egg thing…. Brilliant, huh? This actually gave me the idea of adding hollandaise sauce as well for a fun twist on Eggs Benedict, but who wants to get that crazy – or eat all that dairy?

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Salmon Burgers 

Ingredients:

– 2 eggs
– 1 large sweet potato, – peeled, cooked, and mashed
– 1/2 cup quinoa – cooked
– some scallions and about half a large onion, chopped
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp. cornmeal

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

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I ended up using my hands because the wooden spoon wasn’t thorough enough for me.

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Then form six cakes out of the doughy mass.

Heat olive or coconut oil in a pan (probs not hard to guess which I used) and cook them on medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side.

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Kind of surprising that it went this well without the eggs, right?!

I made these last night, so they were all ready for us to eat when I got home today after a networking coffee at Starbucks (wisely, I ordered a DECAF soy misto to avoid a sleepless night).

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Seriously, make this.

I actually liked the fried egg on top. It was more fun to look at and I am a sucker for the runny yolk – so delicious.

I also had another small slice of daiya pizza and then followed it up with a glass of coconut milk because I burned my lips with the hot sauce. Some lip icing may also have occurred. Oh life.

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April 2, 2013 · 8:39 pm

Busy Foods

What do you do when days get too busy to allow for some quality cooking time? Naturally, you turn to your leftovers.

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Last night’s dinner was a mixture of this and this. A bed of spinach with leftover quinoa sweet potato salad, almonds, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.

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Tonight, we had the last remains of this. Vegan “cheesy” penne.

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And since the penne didn’t have enough left to hook us up with lunch for tomorrow, I tried a new pumpernickel sandwich creation with veganaise, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocado.

I was able to squeeze in a three-mile-run during lunch today and then stayed at work until 7 p.m. preparing for a freelance presentation tomorrow.

Food prep after work may have seemed like a big chore, but it’s so nice to relax while cutting vegetables and watching some mindless TV at the same time. One crazy busy day of this week down, four to go.

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Filed under dairy-free, gluten-free, leftovers, running, vegan

Another Vegan Milestone

Thanks to my favorite food blogger Elise, I finally tried Daiya Cheeze today. But more on that later.

Kindle is staying with us until tomorrow, so our morning consisted of taking her out, feeding her, and playing with her.

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I taught Dave how to play hide and seek with her based on how I always used to play with my Yorkie in Germany when he was still a puppy. I would throw a ball and hide somewhere while he was grabbing it. I would then call his name and he would be ecstatic when he’d finally find me. Kindle was equally excited about this game.

After a few hours of studying Turkish and being disgruntled by the snow, I made Shrimp Eggdrop Soup for lunch.

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I’ll share the recipe sometime soon. It was my first time making it and I was pretty impressed. A good meal if you’re on a budget, too.

In the afternoon, we took Kindle for a walk in Lemont, a small town next to State College.

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It’s a pretty cool town right at the foot of Mt. Nittany. There are fun houses like this one to look at, and the cafe in the town center has almond milk lattes!

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After our walk, we sat on the covered porch of the cafe and enjoyed warm drinks. Dave also had an espresso brownie.

In the early evening, I went grocery shopping, and returned home ready to try vegan homemade pizzas. Inspired by Elise’s blog, I decided it was time to make the dough from scratch. You can find her recipe here.

I used to work in the kitchen at this pub-like restaurant in Germany, where every shift started with making pizza dough. I think I made it out of olive oil, salt, flour, water, and, most importantly, beer. It was amazingly delicious. I don’t know why I never tried to make it at home in the 7 years since I’ve worked there.

So, I slightly modified Elise’s version by using 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of German Franziskaner Weissbier, which contains quite a bit of yeast. ***Dave thinks it’s important to mention that this beer has been made according to Bavarian purity laws since the 1500s and has been around since 1397.

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Kneading away.

I also didn’t let the dough rise as long as she recommends, only because I was impatient and didn’t plan ahead far enough. I’d say I gave it a good half hour and then just went for it.

For toppings, besides marinara and daiya cheeze, I picked red onions, red peppers, and mushrooms.

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The finished pizza – 25 minutes at 350 degrees was perfect.

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Now to the most important part: the daiya cheeze. I never ever would have expected it to be as delicious as it is. I took the first bite and knew immediately that this will be a new obsession. A million times better than real cheese. Dave agrees with me. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without having Daiya as a staple item in my diet.

The best part is that it is not just dairy-free, but soy-free as well. It’s made out of arrowroots, actually. I need to avoid soy as much as possible due to its high estrogen levels, so this is truly a win-win.

And more good news: I have left-overs for lunch tomorrow.

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Filed under dairy-free, leftovers, recipes, seafood, vegan

Easy Weeknight Pasta Dinner

When I plan meals for the week, I try to think about what’s easy, nutritious, and can be eaten for lunch the next day as well. I also try to consider innovation because repeating the same five meals over and over gets old. But on busy days, relying on what I know and can make quickly is definitely the best stress-reducer.

Tonight, I opted for an easy shrimp & pasta dish – a staple in our household and a good choice during the last few weeks of half-marathon training (exactly one month until race day!).

It took about 15 minutes to prepare.

First, I cooked some penne in olive oil and salt. I would have preferred to use whole grain penne, but white was what I had.

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Next, I sautéed shrimp in some olive oil and garlic.

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Then, I added chopped, filleted tomatoes.

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I had to switch the shrimp over to a new sauce pan because I charred the bottom of the first one. Oops. I get so distracted by my German soap while cooking.

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I also added a little bit of chopped red onion, and a handful of spinach and kale each. I seasoned it all with lemon juice, lemon pepper, and garlic salt.

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That’s it. I had a small portion because I didn’t want to overdo the carbs at night, but my leftovers will make a perfect lunch before my night-run tomorrow.

Speaking of running, I am icing my legs as we speak. Yoga at lunch today helped me recover too, but I want to avoid any preventable soreness.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying this chocolate almond milk for desert.

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My number one goal for tonight: a solid 8-hours of sleep. Why do we as a society prioritize everything else over sleep? It’s so incredibly good for us. I am trying to be more conscious of what little tasks I squeeze into my nights that keep me from getting to bed at a reasonable time. Sure, they all seem more exciting than hitting the hay, but then I pay with a lack of focus and energy the next day and often many days after that. A simple realization, but still so difficult to act on.

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Filed under dairy-free, leftovers, running, seafood, yoga

Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Today was the warmest day in a long time – 45 degrees and sunny. It doesn’t get much better than that for running in early March, and Woolrich looked very inviting with its pine trees and surrounding mountains.

Around 10 a.m., I had a snack to fuel up.

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Just some leftover veggies and apple slices with almond butter. Plus plenty of water.

I did 3 miles at a much faster speed than usual. I would estimate it was a 9-minute pace, but I’m not sure because I forgot my phone and didn’t measure my time. It was definitely hard and I had to focus on my breathing a lot in order to avoid a side ache. But the important thing is that I made it. It felt great to see the improvement my training has brought yet again.

On to lunch.

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Just my standard spinach salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chickpeas, pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese. Yum, goat cheese 🙂 🙂

I’m still tired from the late-night we had on Monday due to that cooking class. I don’t know if it’s normal to be paying for it for this many days. Maybe I just need to sleep more at night. I am ready to be back at my normal energy levels.

When I got home, it took some self-convincing to get in the kitchen and start dinner. But, I’m glad I did because that meant I got to eat quality food and learned a new recipe, which I found here.

Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced [I used two smaller ones]
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar [I used this many, but maybe reduce it a little – the smell of vinegar was quite strong…]
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced [mine was more medium than small]
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (do not peel)
  • 1 firm red apple, diced (do not peel)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cook quinoa on the stovetop and dice two small or one larger sweet potato(es). Coat the sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; then spread them out on top of a sheet of alu foil and place on a baking pan.

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While the potatoes are roasting in the oven for 20 minutes and the quinoa is cooking, combine the cider vinegar and 3 tbsp. olive oil with salt and pepper and beat it for about a minute until the mixture gets thick.

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Then fry the onions in another tbsp of olive oil on a low setting for 8-10 minutes.

Combine the quinoa, onions, apples, dried cranberries, and sweet potatoes in a big bowl.

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Look at all those colors! Add the onions next.

Finally, toast the pine nuts in the same pan you used for the onions for 3-4 minutes until lightly brown.

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I loved how they smelled once they began toasting.

Then pour the pine nuts in the bowl with the other ingredients.

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Mix all of the ingredients carefully and dinner is ready.

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Dave and I both had two servings and there was still enough for two good lunch portions for tomorrow. I really loved how the flavors worked together and it tasted like rich, quality foods. Much needed after yesterday’s eating out escapades.

To round it all off, I had some chocolaty deserts.

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My usual Trader Joe’s favorites: dark chocolate covered peanut butter cups and dark chocolate covered ginger.

After dinner, I caught up with my German soap and journaled for an hour while enjoying a hot almond milk with cooca powder. I really recommend this creation.

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Double desert night. My work here is done.

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Filed under dairy-free, deserts, gluten-free, leftovers, low carb, recipes, running, salads, vegan