Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Inspiration: Another day, another curry, right? We’re just fine with adopting that philosophy.

What We Loved: We’ve found that curries with a lot of turmeric and coconut milk tend to have a pretty specific flavor profile – they’re somewhat sweet, yet they’re full of that earthy, rustic turmeric taste. They tend to be nice, mellow curries that are mild in spice but sweet in flavor. We both really enjoy that flavor, and in this particular curry, we both enjoyed how nice and creamy the black-eyed peas were. Plus, all of the cilantro thrown in was awesome. If you are familiar with our blog, you know that we love our cilantro. As always, it added such a bright and fresh herbal taste. This is a nice curry if you’re looking for a curry that’s a little lighter and a little less spicy and intense than a lot of curries can be.

Tips: As often happens with me because I’m impatient, I photographed this dish too early, before it really had a chance to meld together and get nice and creamy. After it has been off of the heat for a little while, this really comes together and is much creamier than it looks in the photo. So I would suggest letting this one sit for just a bit before serving.

Black Eyed Pea Curry
Source: Slightly adapted from Girl Cooks World

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 15 ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook until starting to brown.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until the mixture is fragrant, about a minute.

3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomato, and cook for a few minutes until the tomato begins to break down.

4. Add the black-eyed peas, salt, and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

5. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with additional cilantro for garnish.

Strawberry Orange Salad

Strawberry Orange Salad

Inspiration: Well. With a nine month old who just learned how to crawl and having just purchased a new house, we certainly haven’t had as much time as we’d like to try new recipes and work on the blog. Things are finally settling down a little bit for us here, though (just in time for spring and summer!), so we’re hoping to get back into some semi-regular posting habits. This salad was born out of a bunch of random ingredients left in the fridge, and it turned out to be just the colorful, pretty, and simple dish that I needed to get back into the blogging spirit.

What We Loved: I think that this is the first time that I’ve had an orange in a salad, and I really loved the juicy citrus flavor. That bright summer flavor was my favorite aspect of the salad, and it really combined with the sweet strawberries and creamy avocado for a myriad of fresh flavors. With just a hit of salt and pepper, a touch of olive oil, and an herbal garnish of cilantro, this salad was just so light and refreshing. I enjoyed it alongside some cottage cheese for a nice lunch.

Tips: If you’re particularly hungry, I’d go ahead and throw in a whole avocado. This is not a filling salad, so that extra avocado might be nice. I also think that cashews would be a nice addition. I was going to throw some in, but I ate them all before I got the chance to make the salad (….I seriously have zero control with cashews….).

Strawberry Orange Salad
Source: Original recipe to serve 1

Couple handfuls salad greens
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 strawberries, sliced
1/2 navel orange, peeled and sliced
1/2 avocado, diced
Handful cilantro, minced

1. Drizzle the salad greens with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together.

2. Top the greens with the strawberries, orange slices, avocado, and cilantro.

Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Avocado

Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Avocado

Inspiration: I sometimes run across a recipe that’s been on the blog for years (like this one) that I never returned to after first making it. With how much I love to cook, I sometimes just get overzealous with new recipes and forget about the tried and true. Since we’ve been really busy around here lately, I’ve been making it a point to go through the blog and focus on remaking and remaking again all of the recipes that we already love. While new foods are great, I think it’s also important and so nice to have an arsenal of reliable recipes up your sleeve.

What We Loved: There aren’t many foods that can’t be improved by stuffing them with avocado. Right? And in this particular recipe, the earthy, hearty flavor of the mushroom really pairs quite beautifully with the light, fresh avocado. It’s rather an unexpected but delicious combination. Rich but light, earthy but herbal and fresh. With a good touch of salt (always necessary to really bring out the flavor of the avocado, in my opinion) and some chopped citrusy cilantro, this is a simple meal that works well for lunch or dinner (or breakfast, come to think of it).

Tips: These are great as a light main course, but I imagine that they’d also be wonderful served alongside some simply sauteed chicken breasts or something similar for a meal that’s a little heartier. They pair really well with fried eggs, and I’ve also served them alongside refried beans and pico de gallo salad for a meal with more of a Mexican twist. You can go a lot of different directions with this one!

Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Avocado
SourceSlightly Adapted from Sweet on Veg

2 large portabella mushroom caps
1 avocado
Kosher salt
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish

1. Heat a good pat of butter in a saute pan and add the mushroom caps. Cook, flipping occasionally, until most of the water is released from the mushrooms and they start to brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Mash the avocado in a bowl with a good pinch of salt.

3. Serve the mushrooms topped with the avocado and garnished with cilantro.

Butternut Squash Curry

Inspiration: When I see all of the winter squash varieties show up in the store come fall, I just can’t resist throwing a few in my cart every time that I shop. Brandon is less-than-thrilled about this habit of mine – he’s not huge into winter squash – but man, do I love it. So I try to only cook it once in a while for our dinner and use the rest for myself for lunch. Anyway, this particular recipe really intrigued me because we’ve both been particularly in the mood for Indian curries lately, but I never would have thought to use butternut squash as the main ingredient in a curry. Color me intrigued.

What We Loved: My favorite thing about this dish was the tenderness of the squash. It had a soft and creamy consistency that really made each bite melt in your mouth. The spices used in this particular curry added a lovely warmth and depth of flavor to the dish, with just a tiny bit of heat. And like a huge handful of meals in our house, I threw some chopped cilantro on top, and that added a great fresh contrast. If you want to make a curry that’s basically fall in a dish, then this would be it.

Tips: When I make a new recipe, I usually ask Brandon if he would make any changes next time. We kind of joked around with this recipe the only improvement he could see would be to use paneer or tofu in place of the squash. However, I do think it’s a great idea and that either would make an awesome substitute. Tofu would have a similar creamy texture to the squash in this recipe, and paneer would be firmer but also more substantial or filling. And cheesier, of course.

Butternut Squash Curry
Source: Adapted from StoneSoup

1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
About 3/4 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed, and cooked
Fresh cilantro, to garnish

1. Heat a good pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir the spices into the butter, sauteeing them together for about a minute.

2. Add the tomatoes, stir together, and let simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce, adding more coconut milk or spices if desired.

3. Add the butternut squash cubes. Cook until everything is heated through and the sauce is thickened to your liking.

4. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Chunky Vegetable Marinara Sauce

Inspiration: Marinara sauce is one of those things that I make differently every time that I need it, depending on what I have on hand and how chunky/smooth/etc. I want the sauce to be. My favorite way to make a marinara, though, is to pack it full of vegetables. In my opinion, marinara is such a great vehicle for all kinds of nutrients and flavors, and the more vegetables that are thrown in there, the better.  When I was pregnant with Ben, I made this particular batch to stash away in the freezer and to serve as a quick meal with these meatballs, which I also stored in the freezer.

What We Loved: As I said, I just love how packed full of vegetables this sauce is. You’ve got the classic marinara flavors – rich tomatoes, earthy oregano and rosemary, a nice serving of garlic and butter – plus you’ve got the added bonus of the lovely vegetable flavors of onions, carrots, mushrooms, and red peppers. You can’t get much better than that.

Tips: This sauce is very versatile. To name a few options, it is great served with meatballs, atop spaghetti squash, as a topping for sauteed chicken breasts along with some cheese, or stuffed into portabella caps with some cheese for an Italian-style mushroom meal.

Chunky Vegetable Marinara Sauce
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: Makes about 6 cups

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
About 15 button mushrooms, sliced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1 28 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Heat a good pat of butter in a sauce pan. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and red pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the moisture released from all of the vegetables evaporates and the vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes.

2. Mix in the garlic and rosemary, and cook for an additional minute.

3. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, Italian seasoning, and another good tablespoon of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Simmer for as long as you’d like until ready to serve.

Tofu with Peanut Butter Sauce

Inspiration: Brandon really loves tofu, and I really love peanut butter, so I thought that this recipe was kind of a win for the both of us.

What We Loved: This was a really interesting dish and unlike anything that either of us have had before. Like pretty much any tofu dish, the sauce or accompaniments that you serve it with were truly the star. The tofu itself was nice and silken soft as tofu always is, but the sauce was all kinds of delicious. It had a super rich, classic peanut butter flavor with a nice tang from the lime juice and awesome Chinese-style flavors going on with the soy sauce and garlic. We both just loved the green onion and cilantro garnishes, too – green onions pair so well in Chinese-style dishes, and the cilantro added such a lovely and fresh herbal touch. As a whole, the layers of complexity in the sauce really paired so nicely with the soft and delicate tofu for a light yet still very filling meal.

Tips: I thought that the peanut butter sauce was a tad too salty, which was probably a combination of the peanut butter that I used (Whole Foods 365 Brand creamy peanut butter) and the soy sauce. I might recommend starting with one tablespoon of soy sauce in the sauce rather than two, and taste-testing it before adding the second tablespoon. Or, you can also go for unsalted peanut butter.

Tofu with Peanut Butter Sauce
Source: Keep Your Diet Real
Serves: 2

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons warm water, more if necessary
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Sesame oil
1 14 oz package extra firm tofu, cut into eight pieces.
Green onions, chopped, for garnish
Cilantro, minced, for garnish

1. Add the peanut butter, water, soy sauce, lime juice, and garlic to a bowl. Whisk well until a nice, smooth sauce forms.

2. Heat a good drizzle of sesame oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the tofu, and cook until lightly browned and heated through, 4-5 minutes per side.

3. Serve the tofu topped with the peanut sauce and garnished with green onions and cilantro.

Butternut Squash Casserole with Pesto and Parmesan

Inspiration: I tend to focus so much on main dishes that I often don’t do much in the way of sides. When I stumbled across this recipe from Giada, I was so intrigued with the flavor combination that I couldn’t wait to make it. I debated using it as a main dish with some sauteed broccoli alongside or as a side dish alongside some sauteed chicken, and I ended up doing the latter to make for a more filling meal. Since as a side dish, this was more elaborate than what I typically do, I used it as an opportunity to cook a really simple main dish – which is something that I typically don’t do. All I did was throw some butter and chicken cutlets in a pan, and saute them up with some salt and pepper. It was kind of fun to switch it up and focus on the side for a change.

What We Loved: As I expected, I really enjoyed this dish. As a girl who adores butternut squash and loves pesto, I had a pretty good idea that this would be a winner in my eyes. I never would have thought to combine the two ingredients, though, and I was really pleased with how well they complemented each other. The warm, comforting, slightly sweet squash was a great balance to the rich, garlicky pesto. I loved how this dish was great for the transition between summer and fall – the pesto was a nice nod to summer, and the squash was a great welcome to fall. The original recipe calls for the squash to be pureed in a food processor, but I used a potato masher to mash just about half of the squash. This allowed me to leave several nice big chunks of squash throughout the casserole, which really added a fabulous substance and texture. And of course, you can never go wrong throwing some nutty Parmesan cheese into the mix.

Tips: Next time, I would definitely add more pesto and more Parmesan. I already upped the amount from the original recipe, but I still think that a nice fat layer of pesto and cheese would taste even better, rather than the somewhat sparse amount that is ribboned throughout the casserole as is. It really depends on your preferences, though – as it was, this dish really highlighted the squash flavor with some nice accents, rather than being more of a cheesy gratin.

Butternut Squash Casserole with Pesto and Parmesan
Source: Slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Serves: About 6-8

1 butternut squash (about 4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and diced into cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 1/3 cup pesto
About 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter

1. Add a few inches of water to a large bot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and place a steamer insert into the pot. Place the butternut squash pieces in the steamer, cover with a lid, and let steam until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Place the squash pieces in a large bowl, and mash with a potato masher until you reach the desired consistency. I mashed about half, leaving several nice large chunks of squash throughout.

3. Butter an 8×8 baking dish. Layer in half of the squash, half of the pesto, and half of the cheese. Repeat with a second layer.

4. Dot with butter and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly.