Roasted Chickpeas

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Hello everyone, I’m back! My work contract is over, and I’m super-excited to get back to blogging now that I have some more time on my hands. Yay!

Have you tried roasted chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) yet? If not, I’m so delighted to share this recipe with you. I’m a firm believer that roasting makes everything taste better, and chickpeas are no exception. Roasting turns bland-and-boring chickpeas into little balls of goodness that are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Roasted Chickpeas

The best thing about these roasted chickpeas is that they are healthy and my kids love them too. In fact, this is one of their favorite after-school snacks (and mine too). Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals such as Folate, vitamin B6, and Manganese.

I started making this recipe with just one can of garbanzo beans, but I found that wasn’t enough for three hungry gals, so I make this with two cans now. Sadly for my husband, there still doesn’t seem to be any left when he gets home from work.

The basic recipe just calls for salt and pepper, but you can get as adventurous as you like by adding your favorite spices, like paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, or even cinnamon and brown sugar for a “dessert” chickpea.

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon olive oil (approx.)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels (or a clean dish towel).

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then put them on the towel-lined baking sheet to dry. If you have time, you can leave them on the baking sheet and let them air-dry, or you can place another towel on top of the chickpeas and roll them around a bit to dry them off.

Once dry, add the chickpeas to a large bowl and combine with the olive oil. You want enough oil to coat every chickpea. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir gently.

First, remove the towels from the baking sheet and then pour the chickpeas onto the baking sheet. Be sure to spread them out in a single layer.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the chickpeas are golden-brown. Shake the baking sheet every 10-15 minutes to keep them from sticking.

Let cool and add more salt and pepper, if desired.

Enjoy and happy snacking!

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Mexican Chopped Salad

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I made my Mexican Bean Salad last weekend. It’s a family favorite, but we always have some left over the next day. It keeps great, so we usually just enjoy a “rerun” of the yummy bean salad on day 2. This week I wanted to do something a bit different though, so I decided to make a chopped salad with my leftovers. I just mixed a few salad ingredients into the bean salad and presto-chango. It was so good! The dressing on the bean salad combined with the avocado to add the perfect amount of flavor for a nice, light salad.

I served this salad with my yummy Chile Lime Chicken, which would also be great chopped up and mixed into this salad.

2-3 cups leftover Mexican Bean Salad
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 avocado, chopped

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and toss lightly to combine. Serve immediately.

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Mexican Polenta Casserole

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Hello my friends. I am 2-weeks in to my new job and I’m loving it, but my weeknights are crazy! I used to have plenty of time for a lengthy dinner preparation, but now I’m getting home around the same time that we used to be sitting down for dinner. So my meal prep time has basically been reduced to zero.  Yet, I still want to provide a healthy and filling meal for my family. What’s a hungry mom to do?

Make-ahead meals to the rescue!! [Enter corny super-hero music here]

I simply spend an hour or two on Sunday afternoon, preparing a couple of meals like this yummy Mexican Polenta Casserole. Then during the week, all we have to do is heat up our delicious dinner, and enjoy!  You know the best part? No pile of dirty dishes to wash at the end of the day!

This casserole is full of delicious Mexican flavor, which only gets better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. I love how the slices of polenta get crispy around the edges and smothered with melted cheese. Yum!

I adapted this recipe from; click here to see the original recipe.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup bottled salsa
2 16-ounce tubes cooked polenta
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or your favorite cheese), divided
2/3 cup chopped fresh tomato

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

Add the garlic, ground beef, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the ground beef is thoroughly cooked.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the beans, canned tomatoes, corn, and salsa to the beef mixture, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, uncovered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease a 13×9 rectangular baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Cut 1 tube of polenta into small pieces and press evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (Note: this was a bit labor-intensive. Next time, I may try heating the polenta slightly, so it is easier to press into the bottom of the baking dish. I also think this would be good without the polenta on the bottom – although I haven’t tried that yet.)

Halve the remaining tube of polenta lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and set aside.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the polenta in the baking dish. Top with all of the meat mixture. Arrange the sliced polenta over the meat and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the fresh tomato.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

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Burrito Bowl

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Happy Friday everyone! On Fridays I get a bit lazy and slack off on my domestic duties a bit. After a busy week, the last thing I feel like doing is preparing a big dinner. I usually have some extra homemade meals in the freezer, but I also like “re-purposing” leftovers into a delicious new meal like this one.

The beauty of a burrito bowl is that you don’t even need a recipe. My basic burrito bowls consists of leftover carnitas meat (if you haven’t tried my carnitas recipe, you are missing out!), rice, and beans. Then you can toss in whatever else sounds good. Chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, avocado, shredded lettuce, fire roasted chiles, sauteed onions – the possibilities are endless.

Leftover carnitas (or any leftover taco meat)
Leftover brown rice
1 can black beans, rinsed
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped

Heat the carnitas and the rice in the microwave until warm. (Tip: add about a teaspoon of water to the rice and cover, before reheating. This will prevent the rice from being too dry.)

To serve, place a generous scoop of carnitas, rice, and black beans into each serving bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of cilantro, and then add a spoonful of sour cream and salsa. Top it off with a few green onions. Mix it all together and enjoy your delicious no-cook dinner!

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Perfect Beef Chili

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Chili is a simple meal, consisting usually of meat, beans, tomatoes, and spices, but if you ask 10 different people to describe the perfect chili, you will likely get 10 different answers. I, for example, like to have veggies in my chili, but my husband considers this chili blasphemy. (That doesn’t stop him from devouring several bowls of my chili, however.) 

I realize that your idea of the ideal pot of chili may be different than mine, but for me, this is the perfect beef chili: thick, hearty, and tons of flavor (without being spicy). I keep the chili mild, for my kids, but I like to add a dash or two of hot sauce to my bowl, after serving. If you like your chili spicy, then you can add a couple of diced chili peppers, before simmering.

1 lb ground beef
1 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cubes beef bouillon
1/4 cup beer
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon hot New Mexico chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of water

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, and cook, using a spatula to break the beef up into small pieces. When cooked through, drain the excess grease and return to the stove.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot, stirring well to combine. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 2 hours.

Serve hot, with a slice of cornbread.

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Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

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Jambalaya! It’s a fun word to say, don’t you think? Say it with me! JAM-BA-LAYA!

Jambalaya is basically a thick rice stew filled with sausage, shrimp, beans, veggies, and lots of flavor. My recipe is on the mild side, so my kids will eat it, but you can make yours spicier by increasing the cayenne pepper and adding some of your favorite hot sauce.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash cayenne pepper
1 can red kidney beans, drained, but not rinsed
1 can diced Italian tomatoes, with juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups cooked brown rice

Add oil to your largest, heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots to the skillet. Using a spatula, break the sausage up into bite-sized pieces. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the sausage is browned and the veggies begin to soften. Reduce the heat, if needed to prevent burning.

Add the paprika and cayenne pepper to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp and rice, then replace the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is thoroughly cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Summer Menu: Week 3

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Hello friends! This week’s menu is full of flavor and has lots of yummy vegetarian options. Click on the link below to download a PDF of the menu, grocery list, and recipes.
Menu Summer 2012 3

Here’s the delicious menu:

Sunday: Spiced Lentils with Garlic Naan







Monday: Zesty Quinoa and Beans






Tuesday: Simple Summer Squash and Sausage







Wednesday: Cranberry Spinach Salad







Thursday: Mediterranean Garlic Herb Cod







Friday: Heavenly Ricotta Pancakes (Breakfast for Dinner!)







Saturday: Parmesan Basil Orzo with Shrimp








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Bean and Kale Ragout

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Do you ever find yourself torn between wanting something healthy for dinner, and not wanting to spend a lot of time slaving over a stove? Well, my friends, this is the recipe for you.

This main dish stew is healthy, easy to prepare, and full of comforting flavor. Plus, you’ll probably spend more time chopping the vegetables (which really doesn’t take that long) than you will at the stove.

All of the ingredients are combined in a big pot and then left to get better acquainted, while you relax with a glass of wine (just a suggestion), and look forward to the flavorful white beans and tender kale. Now do you see why I love one-pot meals?

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Add the olive oil to an extra-deep skillet (a dutch oven or large pot will work too) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and kale and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the onions soften and the kale wilts.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juice), garlic, chicken broth, bay leaves, oregano, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Cover and simmer until the kale is tender, about 45 minutes. (Now’s your time to relax – don’t forget your glass of wine!)

Stir in the beans and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take a bite (careful, it’s hot!) and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread, or try my Olive Oil Toast recipe. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Bean Burritos

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This is a wonderful, grown-up version of the classic bean burrito. Instead of refried beans, this burrito is filled with black beans and sweet potato blended with flavorful Mexican spices. Add some spicy salsa, shredded cheese and cilantro and oh-baby! The spicy-sweet combination is really delicious, and even my husband (who isn’t a huge sweet potato fan) loved these burritos. This recipe will make enough for 3-4 burritos.

1 medium sweet potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 large wheat tortillas
Salsa (spicy is best)
Shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro

Wash the sweet potato under cold water, and poke it several times with a fork. Put the sweet potato in the microwave and cook until soft. Let cool.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the onion until soft. Remove the skin from the sweet potato and add it to the skillet, using a spatula to break it up into small pieces. Add the garlic, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently with a spatula, until combined and heated through. Remove from heat.

Heat another skillet over medium heat and coat with a small amount of oil.

Add a tablespoon or two of salsa to the bottom of a tortilla. Spoon some of the bean mixture on top (don’t spread it all the way to the edge), then sprinkle with cheese and a few cilantro leaves. Fold the sides of the tortilla in, and then snugly roll into a burrito shape.

Lay the burrito, seam-side down, into the pre-heated skillet. Cook until golden brown and crisp, then flip and cook the other side.

Repeat for the remaining burritos.

Serve with a green salad for a wonderful meat-free dinner!

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Cheesy Quinoa Casserole

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I love quinoa, but my usual preparation method was getting boring, so I was delighted to discover this recipe. It’s creamy, cheesy, hearty, delicious, and even my kids gobbled it up. It is an excellent side dish, but the high-protein quinoa makes it a wonderful vegetarian main dish too! My version below includes a few changes to the original recipe, which can be found here. If possible, save yourself some time and cook the quinoa (see instructions below) ahead of time.

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
8 ounces light sour cream
1/2 cup chunky salsa (you choose the heat)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To prepare the quinoa, first rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer to help remove the bitter tasting coating (called saponins). While the quinoa is draining, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. Add the quinoa, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish.

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, black beans, red bell pepper, sour cream, salsa, cheese, salt, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Add the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into the prepare casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot and enjoy!

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