Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Kabocha Squash Apple Tacos with Chèvre {#MeatlessMonday}

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Did you know the Meatless Monday campaign celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall? To celebrate, I wanted to make some vegetarian tacos — and I just happened to have a beautiful Kabocha squash on hand. I spiced and roasted the squash for a warm, fall flavor and then added a sweet apple to balance the spicy squash. This roasted squash and apple combo is a great kid-friendly side dish on its own, but it was especially delicious atop warmed corn tortillas with cilantro and crumbled chèvre. This will make a repeat appearance on our Taco Tuesday menu very soon!

Kabocha Squash Apple Tacos with Chevre by FoodieTots

You can use butternut or acorn squash if you prefer, but I loved the green-orange hues and rich flavor of the Kabocha. I went a little lighter on the spices for the kids, so I’ve given a range below — cumin is a great early spice for babies and toddlers as it adds flavor without too much heat, so you could even mash up the roasted squash and (peeled) apples for your littlest eaters.

Recipe: Roasted Squash Apple Tacos with Chèvre
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Kabocha squash (approximately 2 1/2 cups peeled and diced)
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • fresh cilantro to garnish
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • salsa verde and/or Sriracha, optional if you prefer your tacos hot

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place diced squash in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add cumin, paprika and salt and toss to coat evenly. Spread in an even layer on baking sheet and roast 15 minutes.
3. Stir squash gently and add apple. Return to oven and roast an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until squash is tender and apples are lightly browned.
4. Warm tortillas and serve with a spoonful of squash-apple filling, pinch of cilantro and tablespoon of chèvre.

This recipe is linked to the Meatless Monday blog hop at Recipe Renovator.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary, a Meatless Monday Scientific Symposium will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, at 4 pm — get details and watch the live stream from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health here.

Jack O’ Lantern Grilled Cheese #KidsCookMonday

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

This was intended to be a quick post about a healthy and fun pre-Halloween lunch, but of course my six-year-old had other plans. Oh, he was amused enough by the first sandwich, but then he asked for a second. And then he said it wasn’t scary enough. So I told him the jack o’ lantern was saying “Boo!” — to which he replied that he needed to see the word bubble to believe it. You can see how that went below…

Jack O' Lantern Grilled Cheese

First, though, the recipe — though it’s pretty simple. Whole wheat sandwich bread, a touch of pumpkin butter, and a blend of shredded cheese. A large pumpkin cookie cutter shapes the sandwich, and small cookie cutters are used to cut out the face. The cheese does ooze through while cooking, though, so the face won’t look quite so perfect when you’re done. *I* think that adds to the charm, but it depends how tough your critics are…

Recipe: Jack O’Lantern Pumpkin Grilled Cheese
Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices wheat bread
  • butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and gouda)
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin butter

Instructions:

  1. Cut bread into pumpkin shape. Use small cookie cutters to cut out a face in four of the slices.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium low heat.
  3. Spread 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin butter on the bottom slice of bread and place in pan. Cover with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and the face side of bread. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until golden bread. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.

Note: Straight pumpkin puree can be substituted for the pumpkin butter — a good way to use up any leftover puree after baking.

And, as promised, here’s my first “Boo!”…

pumpkin grilled cheese sandwich

… but he said it had to be ON THE PUMPKIN to count. No pressure or anything.

halloween grilled cheese sandwich

Needless to say, next time he’ll be in charge of “carving” his own sandwich. ;)

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Hope all you mamas out there had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend!

I’m not sure if he heard about it somewhere or came up with it on his own, but around the start of the school year the boy declared that Tuesdays were for tacos, and so our Taco Tuesday tradition was born. Now we’re fortunate to have a great taco place in the neighborhood (District Taco for you locals), but I try to do it at home most weeks. The kids are really into bean and cheese “tacos” (they’re really more of a quesadilla or burrito, but no need to get technical) which makes it even easier as I can make a pot of beans ahead of time, and then quickly cook some chicken breasts or fish when we want a little more protein. For meatless nights, we just use a generous scoop of beans, fresh avocado and tomato and some queso fresco. Having recently conquered my fear of the slow cooker, it was high time to try beans in the crock pot.

I’ve read conflicting things about soaking dried beans and Rancho Gordo recommends cooking the beans in the soaking water to retain nutrients, so I took their advice. You can drain and fill with fresh water if you prefer. Rancho Gordo makes gorgeous heritage bean varieties unlike any beans you’ll find in the supermarket, so they’re worth seeking out if you can. Or, just use your favorite brand of dried beans. The Rio Zape beans I used here are like pinto beans, but bigger and very flavorful. I just added a few things to season the cooking water and let them go all day. They were perfect by dinner time.

slow cooker rio zape (pinto) beans

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pinto Beans (or Rio Zape)
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried Rio Zape or pinto beans
  • water
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 4-ounce can mild Hatch green chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt

Instructions:

1. The night before: Rinse and pick over beans. Place in slow cooker bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight.

2. In the morning, add garlic, chilies and bay leaf. Add additional water to cover beans by one inch. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 8-10 hours, until desired tenderness.

3. Season with salt to taste and serve. Can freeze leftover beans; be sure to include some of the liquid to keep them from drying out when reheated.

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Do you have a themed dinner night at your house? If not, try it! It’s a fun way to get kids involved in planning the meal. Getting to have chips and salsa at dinner, just like at our favorite Mexican restaurant, makes our Taco Tuesday extra special.

Pumpkin and Onion Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I’m a firm believer that comfort food can also be healthy when made with wholesome ingredients and slight tweaks. Take this pumpkin and caramelized onion mac-and-cheese, which doesn’t hide the vegetable addition but celebrates it. Pumpkin or butternut squash puree is a natural addition to macaroni as its creaminess blends right in to a rich cheese sauce.

This recipe is part of the “30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese” series hosted by the Wisconsin cheese folks — hop on over to check it out and find other ways to get creative with this kid-favorite dish.

pumpkin mac and cheese

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This post was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) who compensated me for developing this recipe. I have a relationship with the WMMB through my cheese blog, through which I was able to travel to Wisconsin to visit some of the state’s finest cheesemakers in person — read more about it at Cheese and Champagne.

Meatless Monday: Carrot Lentil Stew

Monday, January 30th, 2012

February is almost here and we’ve had just a couple of brief flirtations with snow thus far this winter, much to my kindergartener’s dismay. I keep reminding him that we tend to get our biggest snow storms in February, so there’s no need to completely give up hope just yet. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the unexpected bounty of sunny days, running around in the backyard and to the playground. And so quick and warming dinners are still very much in demand, like this hearty lentil stew. I’m sure Rachael Ray would classify this as “stoup,” thicker than soup but not quite a real stew. It hits the spot just fine on a chilly Meatless Monday, whatever you choose to call it.
carrot lentil soup

Recipe: Carrot Lentil Stew
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Soak lentils in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain, set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat. Cook onion several minutes, until translucent. Add cumin and cook 1 minute. Add carrots, lentils and water, stir, and bring to a boil on medium high. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes, until lentils are falling apart. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Note: Red lentils, sadly, lose their color when cooked. So the carrots add an important element of color to what would otherwise be a bit dreary looking. You could swap in cubed, pre-cooked squash or sweet potatoes if you prefer.