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Posts Tagged ‘Clean Eating’

Paella | Relishing It

I’ve been wanting to share this amazing recipe with you for awhile now, and since Valentine’s Day is approaching I figure it’s finally time.  I’m not sure why, but to me this is a romantic dish.  Maybe it’s the beautiful color, the seafood, the scent of saffron, or even the wine.  In any case, for me this is an ideal Valentine’s Day dinner.

Paella | Relishing It

Yes, the dish looks impressive, but it’s not difficult to make.  It comes together quickly and the cooking time is relatively short.  The most labor intensive task is actually vegetable chopping.  And the flavors– my oh my, they’re unbelievable.  First, there’s the saffron.  Along with providing the beautiful red/orange hue, it adds a wonderful flavor.  Saffron is an impressive spice, but keep in mind it’s also the most expensive one out there.  With that in mind, I’ve given you the option of using between  1/2 – 1 teaspoon for this dish.  I’ve made it both ways, and it’s turned out great each time.  Just don’t skip the saffron entirely, because it makes a difference here.

Saffron for Paella | Relishing It

Spanish Chorizo for Paella | Relishing It

The other main star of the dish is the Spanish chorizo.  This is an aged chorizo with a delicious smokey flavor.  It can be difficult to find, but again, it’s worth the search.  I get mine at the St. Paul Cheese Shop, for those of you who live nearby.  The rice in this dish is supposed to be separated– not creamy like a risotto.  Look for a spanish rice, such as Bomba (also called Valencia) or Calasparra as they will absorb the liquid properly.  Another option is the more readily-available short-grain rice, Arborio.  For my version of paella, I use shimp, mussels, and clams.  I know chicken is often a component, but I stick with the seafood.  You can use whichever you like– you know my theory on making the dish your own.  The seafood paired with the clam juice and wine create a wonderfully intense flavor with a hint of brininess.

Paella | Relishing It

Paella | Relishing It

Seafood Paella | Relishing It

There are many different methods to cook paella.  I settled on heating the oven really hot (to 500°F) and placing a pizza stone in it.  I use a 14-inch stainless-steel skillet, so it’s nice in that it heats evenly in the oven as opposed to sitting on a small burner.  The pizza stone adds additional heat to the bottom of the pan in hopes that it will create a tasty, caramelized crust on the bottom called socarrat.  If you have a smaller 12-inch pan– feel free to cook it on the stove top.  Just be sure to move the pan around a bit for an even heat, while being diligent about not stirring it. If you do use a 12-inch pan rather than a 14-inch, you won’t be able to fit as much meat/seafood into the dish.  Use your judgment, and it’ll turn out just fine.  And of course, if you’re lucky enough to be able to cook it over an open flame outdoors, kudos to you!

Paella | Relishing It

Paella | Relishing It

The Recipe: Seafood Paella

(serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped,

1 white onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tomato (preferably from a local greenhouse), finely chopped

2 teaspoons concentrated tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 cup bottled clam juice

1 cup dry white wine, more if necessary

2 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1/2- 1 teaspoon saffron (crushed using a mortar and pestle)

2 cups short grain rice–Bomba (Valencia), Calasparra, or Arborio

8 ounces (1/2 pound) spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 pound littleneck clams

1/2 pound mussels

1/2- 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Lemon wedges, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes  for garnish

Place a pizza stone into an oven and heat to 500°F for about a half hour.  Combine the chicken stock, clam juice, white wine, and saffron into a large sauce pan and bring to a high simmer.

Meanwhile, using a 14-inch skillet or a paella pan (12-inch will work, too) heat the olive oil and cook the chorizo over medium heat until some of the fat has rendered.  Remove the chorizo from the pan and add the red and green peppers, garlic, and the onions.  Sauté for a few minutes until tender.  Then add the tomato paste, spanish paprika, and the rice.  Sauté for about 1 minute.  Add the hot liquid and the chorizo to the skillet and place pan onto the pizza stone in the oven.  Do not stir after this point.  After 10 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes, mussels, and clams to the pan– crack side up.  Then, after 5 more minutes, push the shrimp into the rice and cook for about 5 more minutes.  If at any point the rice seems to be drying out too quickly, add more broth, water, or wine (go for the wine!) to the pan.  If the rice seems to be done cooking (it will only take about 20 minutes total) before the shrimp is done or the clams and mussels have opened up– just place tin foil over the entire dish to trap some of the steam.  I tend to do this when I place the shrimp into the dish. Discard any mussels and clams that ultimately never open up.  Serve with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing ItI just know many of you are in the thick of planning your Thanksgiving menus, and I’ve got a side dish that would look absolutely grand on your table.  I’m one of those who think the Thanksgiving meal is all about the sides.  Sure, the turkey is fine, but there just isn’t a lot of excitement there.  It’s the side dishes that have the variety of flavors and colors that make the meal so interesting.   At least that’s how I feel.  My husband habitually defaults to two servings of turkey, gravy, potatoes, and stuffing.  That’s it.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with him.  Anyway, even if you’re not looking for a Thanksgiving idea, this dish is pretty incredible for any occasion.  I like to make it and enjoy the leftovers throughout the week– it keeps and heats up beautifully, never losing any texture or flavor.

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

I usually have some baked squash in my refrigerator on most any day during winter.  It’s just one of those healthy, filling vegetables that works with so many meals.  Butternut squash holds it’s shape really well in this dish.  Brussels are also a favorite, and here they go particularly well with the squash.  If you haven’t yet tried black rice, here’s your chance.  It’s healthy and has a wonderfully nutty flavor.  The slightly-chewy, toothsome texture balances out the softer vegetables in this dish.  And if you can’t get your hands on black rice, any wild rice would be a good substitute.

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Finally, let’s talk about this amazing ginger sesame dressing.  Ginger adds such a unique and robust flavor, so a little goes a long way.  The sesame oil give the dressing an additional layer of nuttiness (flavor, not craziness).  It’s worth buying a bottle.  Side note, keep it in your refrigerator, so it lasts longer.  This dressing is amazing on these vegetables– but would be wonderful on so many other things, as well.  Be creative!  Enjoy!

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, & Black Rice

(makes enough for 4-6 people, easily)

About 1 pound small brussel sprouts, halved (or quartered, if large)

About 1 pound (or a bit more) butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2/3 cup dry black rice, rinsed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

Ginger Sesame Dressing:

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To make the black rice:  Place the rinsed rice in a medium saucepan along with 1 1/3 cups of water.  Add a sprinkle of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium  and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is mostly tender.  Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pan covered for 15 minutes, or so .  Fluff with a fork when ready to use.

Meanwhile, place the brussel sprouts and butternut squash on a large baking sheet.  Toss with two tablespoons of olive oil.  Roast for abut 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Make sure to flip the vegetables once or twice for even browning.

To make the Ginger Sesame Dressing:  In a medium-sizd bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil.  Then, slowly add the olive oil while continuing to whisk.  Set aside until ready to use.

In a large serving bowl or platter, gently combine the roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, black rice, and ginger sesame dressing.  Taste and season with kosher salt, if necessary.  Top with the toasted sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItBaby, it’s cold outside!  Or at least it is here in Minnesota.  There is definitely that ‘winter-is-coming’ chill in the air.  And this is just the start.  Wind chills will eventually plummet to -50 degrees F, snow will pile up on the sidewalks.  Ugh.  I always complain as autumn comes to a close, knowing that we face the long slog to April.  My body just isn’t acclimated to the cold for the first month or so.  Ah well, I guess there’s also the comforting expectation of snuggling into a warm blanket and a good book while the kids head out to play in the snow.  There is that to look forward to…

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Vegetarian Lenti; Taco Soup | Relishing It

As soon as the weather turns, I start thinking about soup.  This particular one is a beauty.  It’s substantial– more like a cross between a soup and a stew.  It’s loaded with healthy protein from lentils and beans, though my favorite ingredient this time around is most definitely the corn.  It makes so many soups better.  It adds a nice flavor and a bit of texture, as well.  Not to mention, it pairs beautifully with the Mexican flavors.

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing It

Let’s talk about those flavors, shall we?  Years ago I began making my own taco mix.  To be honest, it happened a bit by accident.  I ran out of my usual purchased taco seasoning, so I had to improvise.  Luckily, I keep a well stocked spice cabinet (Penzys really should send me a thank you note).  In looking at the recipe, don’t let the length of the list scare you.  I realize that not everyone has all of the spices on hand.  As long as you have the main ones (chili, paprika, garlic, onion, and cumin powder), you will be just fine.  But, if you do happen to have the others, even better.  Try this seasoning the next time you make traditional tacos– you’ll love it!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItThe soup is wonderful served with the usual taco accompaniments– sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and of course some tortilla chips. However, I also discovered another way that I like to eat the leftovers.  Since the legumes continue to soak up more broth overnight, the soup becomes a bit thicker.  I love to serve it atop baked spaghetti squash.  It’s delicious and makes a great gluten-free, paleo, and even vegan meal! So– perfect to serve to friends or family that might be trying to eat that particular way.  Stay warm, friends!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup Over Spaghetti Squash | Relishing It

The Recipe: Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup

(serves 4-6 comfortably)

2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed

2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)

1 heaping cup frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To begin: soak and cook your red and black beans separately following standard directions to cook beans.  Honestly, I usually have extras in my freezer that I pull out to throw into this soup.  Beans freeze incredibly well, so feel free to make extras for that purpose. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans, and 1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans.  Or simple choose to use one can of each, rinsed.

Mix all of the taco seasoning ingredients together in small bowl, set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.   Begin to saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until somewhat soft.  Add the taco seasoning to the onion mixture.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetables stock, cooked red and black beans, and the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but have not fallen apart.  Stirring a couple of times along the way.  Make sure not to overcook the lentils, or they will turn to mush.  When the soup is done, add the frozen corn, cilantro, and juice of one lime.  Reseason with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and more lime.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

Greetings!  With another wave of snowstorms moving into Minnesota this weekend, it’s time for a new soup recipe here at Relishing It.  You already know that I’m soup-obsessed, so I won’t go into that again.  But I always find that Winter is a bit more bearable knowing I can eat soup as often as I like.  Honestly, if you were to take a peak into our refrigerator on any given day this time of year you’d find a couple of soups.  And the leftovers are just easy, quick lunches.  I think so many soups actually get better after sitting for a day or two.

Black Beans via Relishing It

This particular soup takes me back.  Many years ago, I flew out to the East Coast for my best friend’s wedding.  A few days before the ceremony, we found a cute little restaurant that made an amazing black bean soup with pineapple chunks.  Having spent my whole life in North Dakota up to that point, I’d never eaten anything like it.  Black beans with pineapple simply weren’t a pairing you’d find in the local Midwest diners.  The soup was so delicious that we went back for it several times that week.  Since I’ve thought about that soup so often, I finally decided to create my own version of it at home.

Roasted Red Peppers via Relishing It

First up are the beans.  These fantastic little legumes are delicious and good for your body.  More on that here.  I love how versatile they are– they’re staples in Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine.  Add to that the fact that they’re inexpensive, and it’s a total win.  I put beans in so many dishes that it’s ridiculous.  In this soup, the pineapple makes for a perfect pairing with the black beans.  It adds a nice subtle sweetness to contrast with the savoriness.  And the acidity from the fruit gives this soup a fresh flavor that you don’t often find in bean-based dishes.

Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

I also delved into my frozen supply of roasted red peppers from this past summer.  They worked great in this soup.  If you can’t find any roasted red peppers, feel free to use a regular one, but be sure to sauté it a bit before adding it to the soup.   The cilantro on top gives it another burst of freshness, and the jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat.  So gather up your ingredients and get this one simmering for the snowfall this weekend.  Cozy-up, my friends!

Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Black Bean Soup with Pineapple

(serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 2/3 cups dried organic black beans, soaked overnight (or 4 – 15 ounce cans, drained)

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted then ground

1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted then ground

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 dried bay leaf

1 pineapple, cut and cubed,  yielding about 2 cups (canned can also be substituted)

4 cups water

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Sliced jalapeños and chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes.  When the onions are soft, add the ground cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika.  Sauté for about 30 seconds.  Add the roasted red pepper, soaked beans, water, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Cook for about a half hour over medium heat or until the beans start to feel nice and soft.  Add the pineapple and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the beans are completely soft and tender.  When they are, carefully remove about 1 cup of the black beans and place it into a blender.  Blend until smooth, then return to the pot.  If you want the soup thicker, blend a few more beans.  Like your soup thinner, add a bit more water.  You get the idea.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.   Top with chopped cilantro and sliced jalapeños.  Keeps well for days in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Have a lovely weekend!

Laurie

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Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Greetings friends!  It feels so good to be back here at Relishing It.  Turns out my Summer vacation from posting lasted a little longer than I intended.  At any rate, I’ve missed writing and talking with all of you.  I hope you’ve had a fantastic few months.  Life has been great in my little corner of Minnesota.  The holidays were good to us– we had beautiful traveling weather for our trip back to North Dakota, where we were able to spend time with our families.  Everyone remains in good health, and that is basically all that I need.

Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic via Relishing It

Despite not writing as much lately, I’ve been very busy in the kitchen making new things.  I’ve tried desperately to not bake quite so much, because frankly, we just don’t need all those sweets around.  But…I’ve fallen short of keeping that vow every couple of weeks.  Simply put, I love to bake.  It makes me (and my kids) happy.  So now I’ve modified the vow– we just share more.

I’ve spent the rest of my time in the kitchen preparing healthy and delicious meals.  The pressure to ‘change your diet!’ and ‘lose weight!’ always amps up this time of year, but to be honest, I’m pretty content with where we are.  While I do make foods with butter, oils, sugar, and flour, I do my best to use limited amounts, or find healthier alternatives.  Not to sound too preachy, but there really isn’t a thing I’d change about my diet (especially with the ‘share baked goods vow’).  And that feels pretty good.

I continue to try to learn about how various foods affect my body, as well as how the production of those foods affects the environment.  And I feel lucky to have connected with so many people that feel the same way.  I want to stay healthy and fit for me and for my family, so I stick with the mantra that whole foods and exercise are the key.  If you’ve come here looking for healthy ideas for family meals, you’ll see there’s plenty to choose from.  I love helping people figure out how to eat “clean”.  It’s easier than you think.  Just stay away from packages and long lists of ingredients, add more vegetables, and eat whole foods.  You’ll be amazed.

Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic via Relishing It

This simple pot of beans is a good example of the type of meal I’m talking about.  It’s not fancy, but is perfect for a cold night.  This dish is creamy, comforting, and bold.  The flavors can change dramatically depending on how you season this one, so play to your palate.  If you like Dijon, add a bit more.  Want more of a tang, be liberal with the vinegar.  Play around with it a bit!  The recipe below is how I enjoy it the most.  I generally make a batch of these beans and we eat half of it served alongside roasted buttercup squash (they’re perfect together).  I freeze the other half, and then use it in a simple cassoulet for a quick weeknight meal.  For that cassoulet, prepare some kielbasa sausage and/or some leftover pork shoulder, cut it into chunks,  place it in a shallow baking dish, cover with the thawed then re-warmed white beans, and top with some panko bread crumbs.  Bake at about 375°F for 10-15 minutes (or until the bread crumbs are toasted).  Sprinkle with fresh parsley, and voila!

Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Simple White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Serves 4-6

3 cups dried white beans (preferably cannellini, buy navy would work, too)

1/2 large white onion, chopped

2 bulbs garlic, peeled

2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped

a few sprigs of fresh thyme, left whole

1 dried bay leaf

extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt and cracked pepper

1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

Begin by either covering the white beans with cold water in a large pot and soaking overnight (which I never do) or do a quick-soak method (which I always do) by placing the beans in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with cold water and a sprinkle of kosher salt.  Bring the beans to a boil.  Boil for one minute.  Remove pot from heat and cover with a lid.  Let sit for two hours.  Drain beans when ready to use.

In that same Dutch oven, to the beans add the chopped onion, garlic cloves (from the two bulbs), chopped rosemary, whole sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, a bit of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Just barely cover the beans with fresh cold water.  Then add a couple of glugs of olive oil — about 1/4 cup.   Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a medium/low simmer.  Let cook for about one hour, stirring every so often, or until the beans are your desired consistency.  I like mine to be rather soft, but still hold their shape a bit.

When they are done cooking, remove from the heat.  Remove the thyme twigs and the bay leaf.  Using an old potato masher or a fork, mash a few of the beans to thicken them up a bit,  3/4 cup or so.  Add the Dijon and red wine vinegar and stir a bit to emulsify.  Re-season with more salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a bit more olive oil when serving and some fresh thyme leaves on top.    Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!  xo

Laurie

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