Got a Suggestion or Submission?

Got a Suggestion or Submission?
Send me an email to Niki at HoldingOntoTheMagic dot com!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

[Quinoa Lovers Unite! Portabello Marinara Quinoa]

I've recently discovered the joy that is quinoa. I posted a recipe on the Life After Lactose Facebook page on September 7, from a site called Fit Foodie. I've made it twice already, doubling the recipe and making a fantabulous hot breakfast and cold mid-morning snack for my art-class days (it's one really long day, let me tell ya). Filling, and fulfills my sweet-tooth cravings using Stevia instead of sugar. Note: I don't have flaxseed or chia seeds on hand (I keep forgetting to pick some up), but it's still a great recipe without them.

Tonight, I tried a recipe I put together on the spot and loved--lots of flavor, and unlike some of the packaged quinoa kits, low on sodium (I use little salt anyway, so salty meals don't particularly appeal to me). It required the following ingredients to make a two-person or two-meal batch:

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine (I used blackberry merlot, but you can probably substitute grape juice or similar drinks if you don't want the alcohol--it burns out, but it's never fully gone, and I know some folks who have to avoid alcohol entirely)
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use either Prego or Hunt's, depending on what I have on hand)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed and diced, or at least chopped into several pieces
Portabello mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces. I used half of a pint.
Italian seasoning to taste
Parmesan cheese (there are some good vegan alternatives if your lactose intolerance is severe enough that you can't handle even Parmesan--me, it depends on the week, so tonight I used the real thing) to taste

Bring to a boil the quinoa, garlic, water, wine, and sauce in a small-to-medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover for five minutes, stirring occasionally. After five minutes, add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the Parmesan cheese, which goes on top just before serving. Stir well, then cover and simmer for 8-15 minutes, or however long it takes for the quinoa to absorb most of the liquid (you'll want a little extra left over, because it absorbs the rest on its own shortly thereafter). Sprinkle with the cheese, and serve!

Tip: If you're like me and cooking for one, split it into two meals and save some sauce for reheating.
Another tip: If you'd like your quinoa to have a little less of an al dente texture (I think it's a fun texture, but it's not for everyone, and for this meal, I actually liked having it a little more tender), add more water so you'll have to boil longer.

This meal make a good spaghetti replacement, and it's high in protein. You don't have to eat as much volume-wise to feel full, so this actually makes a good stand-alone meal. I served mine on one of my little dessert plates, and despite the fact that I have a notably voracious appetite, I felt full and satisfied with the one plate. I plan to make it at least once more this week to finish off my pint of mushrooms and the rest of my small can of spaghetti sauce.

Monday, July 9, 2012

[Baked (Not Fried) Eggplant "Parmesan"]

All right now, I just made the most fabulous tray of eggplant Parmesan ever. Or close, anyway. Now, I will admit, for this trial run, I did use real cheese, but only because I haven't been as sensitive lately, though I may eat my words (and my meal again) tonight, and I never manage to eat my cheese substitutes before they mold. However, there's no reason that it wouldn't be just as (or nearly just as) delish using the cheese substitutes referenced in earlier blog posts--it'll just have a slightly different texture. But the rest of the ingredients will more than make up the diff.

This recipe is adapted from the Whole Foods Market  recipe, but changed to be a little healthier and a little more flavorful.

You will need:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4"-1/3" medallions
2-3 farm fresh eggs (I have an allergy to eggs from chickens fed "special" feed, so I buy mine directly from a farmer friend of my family), beaten
Panko bread crumbs (amount depends on how "large" your eggplant is--I got away with less than 1 cup, but barely)
2-4 tomatoes (ripe make the recipe sweet, green makes it tangy--I had both, and both tasted awesome)
Italian seasoning
Olive oil to coat the pan and drizzle to taste on the eggplant

Preheat your oven to 375--you might put the pan in while it's preheating to warm up before the next step. Slice your eggplant, and coat the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then coat each slice with egg, then with Panko crumbs (optional: add garlic powder to the crumbs if you love garlic), and place them on the tray, no more than one layer thick (some overlapping doesn't hurt, but even baking is the goal here). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flip the eggplant medallions over, then cook another 10 minutes. During that last round, you might want to slice your tomatoes thinly, or do what I did and add each slice to the top of an eggplant medallion as you slice them. I did it later to use as much of the juices as possible. Either way, at the end that 10 minutes on the second side, remove the tray from the oven, and increase the heat to 475. For each medallion, place one slice of tomato on top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and any other seasoning you like in your marinara sauces. Sprinkle generously with "mozzarella" cheez and vegan "Parmesan." Return the tray to the oven and bake for 5-15 minutes, until the "cheez" is melted and beginning to lightly brown. The WFM recipe called for 15 minutes, but as you can see in the photo below, 10 minutes was more than enough.

Take it out and enjoy it! What I found was so great about this version is how fresh the recipe tastes without the eggplant being fried and by using fresh tomato slices in the place of tomato sauce. Lots of flavor, and very satisfying.

I honestly had to restrain myself from scarfing down the other half of my tray. I think my distended stomach would've resented it, though. :) Oh, dear... and I think I'm already regretting using real cheese. Oh, well...

Yes, I know my pan is hideous. Unfortunately, it's also the only one that actually fits in my little oven.

So nummy! I'm definitely looking forward to eating the other half when I get home from work tonight!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

[Skillet Dinner]

One thing I love about summer is the ability to get fresh produce from local farmers and even our own gardens. I don't have a veggie garden myself (I'm testing myself for a couple years with flowers first), but my parents do. As a result, for a couple of months, I get as much zucchini and summer squash as I want. There are others in their garden, but these are my personal favorites.

Recently, I started to play around with these veggies to figure out a meal that's fast, easy, healthy, and filling, as well as tasty. I did have the additional challenge of suspecting that I might be allergic to tofu, so I had to go back to eggs to get my protein (I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but I do try to keep from overeating meat). Eventually, I worked out one skillet dinner that's good enough that I'm eating it almost every day. It's fast (important when I'm in and out of class for twelve hours four days per week), flexible, and healthier than some other dinners I've encountered.

You'll need:

  • Whole grain tortillas
  • Red or russet potatoes, diced
  • Red or white onions, diced/chopped
  • Zucchini or squash or both, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh garlic
  • Eggs 
  • Sea salt
One thing I like to do is chop up all my vegetables all at once, maybe once every one-to-two weeks, and place them in labeled bags or containers. It takes a couple to a few hours, but then the rest of the week is easier, and I'm more likely to cook dinner than to heat a frozen meal. This also allows me to make this recipe for either one meal or several days' worth. The recipe I'm going to describe here fits in a 7-inch skillet and covers my one tortilla completely. My goal is to not have to snack for awhile, so I can get more accomplished with my time. :)

Before beginning, drizzle olive oil in your skillet so that the entire bottom is coated (you can use more if you want--I'm usually just trying to keep my food from burning if I get momentarily distracted). Then, depending on your preferences, mince one or two garlic cloves and spread the garlic evenly in your skillet. Turn the burner to medium to medium high heat, and toss in a handful of chopped onions before the skillet gets hot. Let it cook for about 15-30 seconds before tossing in your diced potatoes (again, about a handful, depending on your appetite). When the onions begin to become transparent, toss in the zucchini/squash (a handful or two--it's the healthiest part, so you can be a little more generous). You don't want to throw the squash/zucchini in too soon, because it gets soft much faster than anything else in the skillet, and while you do want to cook it more than stir-fry "crisp," letting it get soggy creates a greasy feel. Then again, go with your gut. When you notice the z/squash beginning to turn translucent (cooked, but not to the point where you want it to be when you eat it yet), crack an egg or two into the skillet. 

Sprinkle with sea salt, then toss until the eggs are cooked and scrambled. Add additional salt to taste and serve on an open tortilla (it's not exactly the most burrito- or taco-folded friend meal--it's a bit messy, but delish!). Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

[Vegetarian "Cream Cheese" Pasta]

The other night, I stared into my refrigerator, trying to figure out how to put together something filling, nourishing, capable of stretching across several meals, and different from my usual go-to skillet hodgepodges. In the end, I pulled out:

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Herb and Chives
1 lb of tofu (firm or extra firm, cubed)
1 half (up to a whole) carton of cherry/grape tomatoes
1/2 to 1 white onion chopped
1 bell pepper
1/2 or a whole box of whole wheat/grain pasta (shells, rotini, etc.)
Garlic power, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste

It turned out pretty awesome. I actually repeated this meal, but because I had different veggies and only plain "cream cheese" on hand, I used the following ingredients in the same approximate order. To my surprise, I liked this one even better!  Use:

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Plain

1 lb of tofu (firm or extra firm, cubed)
1 half (up to a whole) carton of cherry/grape tomatoes
1/2 to 1 white onion chopped
1 can black olives
1/2 or a whole box of whole wheat/grain pasta (shells, rotini, etc.)
1 lb fresh asparagus, chopped
A handful of fresh cilantro

Garlic power, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste

Dry fry tofu in large skillet, then add onions and seasonings. Stir fry for two minutes, then add the rest of the veggies.

Cover and stir often. While the skillet steams/stir-fries, boil pasta in separate container, removing and draining about one minute before it reaches al dente or your preferred doneness.

Combine with skillet ingredients, then add the "cream cheese" and stir until mixed in.

Simmer for five minutes or until the grape/cherry tomatoes break (trust me--they retain heat worse than the rest of the food, and it's rather unpleasant to bite into a still-scalding-hot tomato and burn your mouth!). Serve.

Behold, the deliciousness:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

[Back to the Diet]

I had a colonoscopy at the end of January (sorry if that's oversharing!), and the result for me was simply that I have IBS, not Celiac's or Crohn's, as I feared (the latter does run in the family--a cousin who is not much older than me just had his colon removed recently due to Crohn's, so it was a valid worry, especially since I had a lot of symptoms of my own). Severe and annoying IBS, but just IBS all the same. It did have the unexpected effect of giving me a short one-month reprieve from my lactose intolerance, since my system got flushed out. But, as of this week, milk and I are no longer on speaking terms.

What does all this mean? Well, a renewed interest in finding new lactose-free recipes, of course, and that means more posts! I do apologize for slacking off for awhile there. Keep your eyes peeled for something new in the near future.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

[Chocoholics Rejoice!]

Thanks to Chocolate Covered Katie, you can enjoy milk-free chocolate mousse shots. And they're relatively healthy!  I'll try it out this month and give you the report, but I'm already sure it'll be great. Here's the link for the recipe, out of respect to the originator:

frosting glass

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

[Still Alive!]

Good evening all! I haven't fallen off the face of the earth yet; I've just been going through a rough patch in my car-wreck recovery (getting a cold, a sinus infection, the flu (and I get vaccinated!), and yet another cold within the past two months on top of it. Needless to say, sickness combined with post-concussive disorder equals some difficulty in forming words on paper. But... I'm back! And I'm cooking a little, so I've got some new recipes to try on you all.

In the meantime, watch out for reviews of the following:

Amy's Kitchen Tofu Scramble (and my homemade version of this delicious dish)
Amy's Kitchen Indian Mattar Tofu (my first time eating an Indian dish)
Plus, a handful of Amy's Kitchen soups
Better Than Cream Cheese
Better Than Sour Cream
Daiya "Mozzarella" (hint: I wasn't wild about the texture of this one)
Almond Cheeze

For now, though, my dog is fussing at me for not playing with today, and since she's my family... :)

Until next time, readers! Again, feel free to send in recipes and reviews! If you'd like to do a guest post, we might be able to work something out, so let me know.