“Veggie Dump” Grain Bowl

Who’s in favor of dinner that you throw in a pot and walk away? I got the idea from fANNEtastic food a few nights ago- she has the best ideas for easy, throw-together dinners! While I didn’t include the chicken breasts due to the woes of vegetarianism, I added a few leftover meatballs in Ben’s bowl and added a fried egg on top of mine for a little extra protein!

Sorry for the site being down yesterday- glad that smart husband of mine knows computers and was able to fix the problem in no time! Yay computer scientists.

"Veggie Dump" Grain Bowl
“Veggie Dump” Grain Bowl

The ingredients are simple, and you could add any frozen veggies you like. I settled on some ready-chopped broccoli/cauliflower/carrot from Harris Teeter, frozen peppers and onions from TJ’s, a can of chickpeas, kalamata olives, frozen spinach, and diced tomatoes. With some capers and a TON of spices (I should have spring cleaned my spice cabinet while I was at it!). Two thumbs up for Mediterranean food!

“Veggie Dump” Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Salad, Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Claire McCormick
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Dump and simmer away- dinner is served! Add any veggies you like- the only rule is that you are only allowed to do 2 minutes of chopping/prepping for this meal. The rest is up to the stovetop!
Ingredients
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, or any other ones you want!)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted)
  • 2 T capers
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, oregano, Greek seasoning, parsley
  • 1/2 tsp each chili flakes, coriander, salt, and pepper
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water or veggie broth
  • Feta, for serving
  • Protein of choice
Instructions
  1. In a large pan, heat oil on medium-high, then add onions and garlic to pan. Cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add garbanzo beans, followed by veggies, spinach, tomatoes, olives and capers, and all spices/liquid. Cook, stirring every so often, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to low, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Prior to serving, top with feta and extra salt/pepper if desired.
  5. Serve with protein of your choice! I added some leftover grains we had (barley/quinoa/lentil mixture) and some crusty crackers.
Prep ingredients.
Prep ingredients.
Cook onions, garlic and chickpeas.
Cook onions, garlic and chickpeas.
Add veggies and simmer.
Add veggies and simmer.
Serve and enjoy!
Serve and enjoy!

Don’t work too hard on this one! It’s meant to take away stress, not add it!

What are you up to this weekend?

Vegan Lentil Chili

He calls it soup. I call it stew. See, apparently the amount of broth is the defining factor in whether you need to use a spoon or can just use a big hunk of crusty dipping bread. We decided to settle on “chili.” Crisis averted.

Vegan Lentil Chili

My sister Bethany got me these adorable Le Creuset Ramekins for Christmas and I was itching to use them to display my chili! (Don’t worry, we actually ate a lot more than what it looks like in the picture.) But you could totally use these cute little dishes as a container for ingredients, garnishes, or soup as an appetizer. They’re also the perfect size for a scoop of ice cream! Freezer, microwave, and oven safe, they’re completely versatile, and you know the Le Creuset name will not disappoint.

Anyway, back to chili. What better way to come back from Christmas travels than a nice hearty bowl of veggie-packed chili to fill you up without weighing you down? I was inspired by the original recipe by our good friends Sarah and Mike, who made a similar vegetarian chili for us a few weeks ago when they had us over for a pre-holiday dinner. For those of you looking to get a head start on your diet for the New Year, this vegan chili is protein and fiber-packed, and is also filled with vitamins and minerals from fresh and frozen vegetables. I used green lentils and black beans as my legumes, but you could also use kidney beans or chickpeas for a slightly different take. I originally planned to add another grain like farro or barley, but by the time I had all the ingredients in the crock pot, I literally had no room!

The struggle is real.

Serve with crushed tortilla chips, crusty bread, or whole-grain crackers for dipping. Then garnish with feta (or cotija for the fancy ones) and a dollop of plain greek yogurt. I also layered some spinach under mine because I can’t resist having spinach with every single dinner. I am a creature of habit.

Hope you enjoy!

Vegan Lentil Chili
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
A protein and fiber-packed stew/soup (stoup?) that will fill you up but not weigh you down! Get a head-start on your New Year’s diet resolution with this lentil chili recipe, perfect for rainy December nights.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 carton mushrooms
  • 2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes and juices
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 2-3 cups chopped butternut squash (buying pre-chopped saves so much time!)
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup frozen peppers and onions (I love the TJ’s bagged mix)
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, coriander, cumin, basil, and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 cups low sodium vegetable stock (depending on how much room you have!)
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high, then add onion, garlic, and carrot. Cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook about 1 minute more until tender. Layer in bottom of crock pot sprayed with cooking spray.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Set on high for 4 hours, or low for 6 hours until squash and carrots are tender.
  4. Serve with feta/cotija cheese and grain of your choice!
Vegan Lentil Chili
Vegan Lentil Chili

All opinions of products in this post are my own.

Sweet Potato Empanadas

Happy Sunday! As you may have already seen on Instagram, I made these sweet potato empanadas last night to bring over to a friend’s house for their annual Friendsgiving (which, by the way, is an awesome tradition… two Thanksgiving feasts in one week? Umm, yes please.) and I think they were a hit! A little bit different, but still with those Thanksgiving flavors that everyone expects.

Sweet Potato Empanadas
Sweet Potato Empanadas

I searched high and low on every Harris Teeter shelf to find empanada dough, to no avail. I guess Harris Teeter just doesn’t give off that Mexican vibe. I settled on Pillsbury pie crust- 2 for $4! I think it still turned out ok- the crust was flaky and crispy- I just had to punch out my own circles. NBD.

For the filling, I used canned sweet potato, cream cheese, and a corn and black bean mixture that I sautéed with cilantro, onion and garlic. Crumbled goat cheese and walnut pieces on top! Then roll, crimp, and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.

Sweet Potato Empanadas
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Mexican, Thanksgiving
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12-15
A fun and different addition for Thanksgiving this year! Use as an appetizer, side, or pair with a nice big salad for post-Turkey day leftovers!
Ingredients
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts), at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can sweet potato puree
  • 4 oz. plain cream cheese spread
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled walnut pieces (optional)
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened- about 4 minutes. Add black beans, cilantro, and spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vinegar and lemon juice. Mash beans slightly with the back of your spoon.
  2. In a saucepan, heat butter over low heat. Add sweet potato, cream cheese, spices, and honey and stir to combine, until cheese is melted through.
  3. Add corn and bean mixture to sweet potatoes and mix.
  4. Unwrap pie crust and roll out with a rolling pin. Use the top of a large glass or a biscuit cutter to cut out circles 3″ in diameter. Fill each with about 1 tbsp filling, then fold over edges and crimp with fingers or a fork.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet and brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water).
  6. Bake at 400 deg for 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky.
  7. Makes about 12-15 medium sized empanadas (depending on size)
Heat sweet potato mixture with cream cheese and spices.
Heat sweet potato mixture with cream cheese and spices. Drizzle in honey.
Cook onion with corn, beans, and cilantro.
Cook onion with corn, beans, and cilantro.
Cut out pie dough into circles about 3" in diameter.
Cut out pie dough into circles about 3″ in diameter.
Spoon about 1 tbsp filling onto each disc.
Spoon about 1 tbsp filling onto each disc.
Seal with fingers or a fork and brush with egg.
Seal with fingers or a fork and brush with egg.
Cook at 400 deg for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cook at 400 deg for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Sweet Potato Empanadas
Sweet Potato Empanadas

Enjoy your Mexican Thanksgiving!

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté

I’ve been craving spaghetti squash since July. No, not the kind of squash that gets dry and sticks together and has no flavor at all- not the kind that gets less and less appetizing the longer you let it sit on your plate getting clammy… I’ve been craving the kind that is juicy, buttery, and cheesy. Comfort food at its best.

Who says spaghetti squash can’t be every bit as satisfying as a huge bowl of spaghetti?

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté
Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté

I love that spaghetti squash comes back into season in late October/early November, just as I’m starting to think about comfort foods that won’t break the calorie bank or send me out shopping for a new pair of elastic waist-banded skinny jeans. And as a lover of lots of different ethnicities of foods, I also love the fact that spaghetti squash is versatile enough to treat as a blank canvas for whatever seasonings or flavor profile you choose! I’m partial to mediterranean flavors, so of course I decided to add Italian seasonings, kalamatas, capers and feta to top this one off. I also topped it with a fried egg for a little extra protein, plus Greek yogurt (as usual).

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Did you know that spaghetti squash, cooked (without seasonings or oil) has only 42 calories per cup?! That’s a whole lot less than a cup of cooked spaghetti, which will cost you 220 calories! Just think- eat this instead and you can have an extra piece of Halloween candy for dessert. 🙂

Hope you had a very happy Halloween, and a great weekend!

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Who says squash has to be boring?
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups veggies of your choice (I used broccoli, cauliflower, frozen peas and mushrooms)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg. Pierce squash with sharp knife around the center, then microwave squash for 3 minutes so it’s easier to slice.
  2. Slice squash in half and spoon out seeds.
  3. Place on a baking sheet, flesh side up and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, followed by oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt/pepper and rosemary. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes or until strands flake easily away from the skin.
  4. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing strands of squash into a large bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes and veggies and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour in lemon juice and vegetable stock, cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, add spinach, followed by the spaghetti squash.
  7. Top with olives, parsley, capers and feta.

Slice squash and season.

Slice squash and season.

Cook onions and garlic.
Cook onions and garlic.
Add veggies to pan and cook, then simmer until squash is done.
Add veggies to pan and cook, then simmer until squash is done.
Simmer until squash is done.
Simmer until squash is done.
Cool squash before shredding.
Cool squash before shredding.
Shred strands with a fork.
Shred strands with a fork.
Top with kalamata olives, parsley and capers.
Top with kalamata olives, parsley and capers.
Finish with feta and serve!
Finish with feta and serve!

Easy Citrus Salmon & Southern Succotash Salad

A very special thanks to Land & Sea for sponsoring this post! 

Ben’s dad sent us this amazing cut of salmon, in addition to some pieces of individually portioned steaks a few months back, and I am embarrassed to say that the salmon has been in our freezer ever since! I can’t believe that I waited this long to do something with it… I supposed you could say I was waiting for the “perfect time” to amaze you all with my recipe-age and come up with some new and exciting.

The thing is, this salmon was so high-quality, I didn’t need to come up with anything new or exciting! I decided to let it speak for itself and keep it easy with a simple marinade. I absolutely adore salmon, so why try to make it something else? I used the Rub with Love seasoning that Ben and I got in Seattle on our honeymoon (was that really over three years ago already!?), and added a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh orange slices. That’s it! I love that salmon bakes in the oven so darn fast, too, so by the time I went upstairs and took a quick bath and got back down, the timer was just about to go off and the fish was perfectly flaky.

Easy Citrus Salmon & Southern Succotash Salad

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Easy Citrus Salmon & Southern Succotash Salad

I served the fish with an easy, throw-together Succotash Salad recipe that I literally had all the ingredients for in my freezer already, some crumbled feta, and cooked quinoa. Plus more oranges! I love the citrusy and smoky flavor from the combination of all these ingredients!

Enjoy!

Easy Citrus Salmon & Southern Succotash Salad
Recipe Type: Healthy, Fish
Cuisine: Southern, Mediterranean
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
You will LOVE this simple salmon and succotash recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes!
Ingredients
  • For the Succotash:
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups frozen okra
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Salmon:
  • 1 12-16 oz. salmon fillet, thawed (if from frozen)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Seasoning of your choice (optional- I used the “Rub with Love” seasoning we got on our honeymoon three years ago!)
  • 1 sliced orange, cut lengthwise into thin rings
  • Quinoa or grain of choice (barley would also work well!)
  • Feta cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat on low until ready to serve (yes, it’s that easy!). You can also mix them all together in a bowl and let them sit in the fridge until you’re ready to plate up the salmon- then just microwave or heat on the stove before serving!
  2. Preheat oven to 425 deg. Cut salmon into 4 individual portions.
  3. Place salmon on a foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Drizzle salmon with olive oil and lemon juice, followed by salt and pepper and any seasoning you’re using. Top with orange slices (I squeezed a little of the juice onto the fish too).
  5. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Serve with succotash, quinoa (or grain of choice), and feta.
Southern Succotash
Southern Succotash
Thawed Salmon Fillets with Marinade
Thawed Salmon Fillets with Marinade
Ready to Serve!
Ready to Serve!

Have a great week!

Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells

It’s that time of the year when pumpkin is EVERYWHERE. Seriously. I’ve considered taking photos of all of the random places I see pumpkin-flavored things these days- Starbucks, the grocery store, cosmetic stores, candle shops, clothing stores, the list goes on and on! I don’t know what gets people so crazed about pumpkin. Maybe because it signifies the start of fall and that cozy, crisp feeling (although I think that’s out the window ever since Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte in like, July).

I am MUCH more of a sweet potato person (can I get an amen?) but I can get on the pumpkin bandwagon too, I guess. Just to be social.

Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a bit different from the ones I usually post. Noah Ben and I have had about 40 straight days of rain here and we’ve been craving all things comfort. Chicken casserole and split pea soup have been staples in our house for the last week or so. Gone are the days of Lentil Curry Salad and Heirloom Tomato & Summer Squash, my friends. But it’s ok. Life will go on!

In other news… I saved this little guy from getting run over by crazy bikers like me this morning during my long ride. Poor little guy must’ve been washed up onto the trail by all this rain we’ve had! I snapped my shot and then very gently moved him into the leaves on the side of the trail. Stay safe, little turtle! Seriously though, isn’t he beautiful?

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Anyway, these Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells are satisfying enough so that you can indulge with just a few and not feel like you’ve broken the calorie bank (just don’t get three Pumpkin Spice Lattes beforehand!). They’re cheesy, gooey, slightly sweet, and perfectly sized for easy portion control! I had four of the shells with a big spinach and green pea salad on the side, and I was completely satisfied. They are also freezable for those of you cooking for one or two, so you can save half of them for later and still have leftovers for the week ahead.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells w/ Spinach Salad
Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Recipe Type: Pasta, Comfort Food, Fall
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-12
This gooey, cheesy, slightly sweet but savory pasta is sure to satisfy your comfort food cravings for those rainy fall nights you’re happy to stay inside and enjoy #allthepumpkin! Happy Fall!
Ingredients
  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 16 oz. package frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed
  • 1 32 oz. carton of ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar good Alfredo sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. Cook shells according to package directions, but 2-3 min less for al dente. Drain well and allow to cool completely, separating shells out on wax paper to avoid sticking.
  3. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, spinach, ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne papper, salt and pepper, and egg. Stir to combine well.
  4. When cool enough to handle, spoon about 2 tbsp of filling into each shell. (I’ve found that it helps to “squeeze” the shell open first with your thumb and index finger and fill with the other hand!).
  5. Spread 1/2 alfredo sauce in the bottom of a sprayed 9×13 casserole dish. Add milk to the rest of the sauce and shake to combine.
  6. Place shells side-by-side (they’ll be snug!) in the casserole dish and drizzle with remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 min. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes until cheese is bubbly.
  8. Serve with a big green salad!

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Happy tummy! Hope you had a cozy fall weekend!