Chickpea Curry

Ohmygoodness! It’s been two weeks since I posted!  Please don’t hate me for not supplying a steady flow of recipes and filling you in on the RIVETING retails of my wildly exciting life.  Kidding, obviously.  I can’t say I have anything super interesting to report.  I did get a new car!  A really, really pretty new car from my parents that I was totally not expecting but my little old junker exhaled it’s final fumes and it was time for an upgrade.  Exciting right?! Well then today, 4 days later, I got rear-ended on the highway by some ass-hole (yeah, I said it) who decided to drive away.  Just drove away.  Life’s a roller coaster I guess!

So it’s  just been a bit of a normal grind..  5 exams last week also meant that my mom banned me from the kitchen.  Not because she doesn’t like my cooking… (Or at least I hope not)  but she wanted me to focus on school.  She knows I’m fully capable of “procrastibaking” and never getting any homework done.  Per usual, she’s right.  But.  Never fear.  I was able to sneak in a few delicious weeknight dinners this week that I will share this weekend!

The first yummy meal I’m going to share is sort of a best-of-both-worlds type deal.  It’s Indian-influenced so there’s that fun, exotic side to it…  But it’s so so so SO easy.  I’m talking 20 minutes tops easy.  I think we see an ethnic recipe and naturally think there’s some amount of skill involved because they’re unfamiliar.  But people are busy in every culture, and anything is easy with a little practice.  I do want to add, however, that I’m not guaranteeing any amount of authenticity to the “Indian-ness” of this recipe…  But it’s called Curry right?! 😉  Taste for yourself and decide.

I don’t have a ton of pictures- well, I barely have any at all- and this recipe is so easy so this will be a short post!  I’m sure you don’t mind me skipping all the yammering… So here we go!

Such a terribly dark picture… But, this is literally all you need!

Such a terribly dark picture… But, this is literally all you need!

Gathering these ingredients is a snap.  A few pantry staples: crushed tomatoes, canned chick peas, onion, and brown rice (use boil-in-bag for an even quicker meal!)  Some grocery items: baby spinach, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and fresh cilantro.  And spices: I used garam masala and vindaloo, both curry mixes, but either will do!

Cook your rice however you prefer, or according to package directions.  Or use leftovers!  Then the only real prep work was chopping he onions, for which I admittedly sometimes use that weird “Slap-Chop” thing that usually just collects dust in our kitchen…  So do what ya gotta do, but chop those bad boys up.  Throw them in a pan with a hefty spray of cooking spray and about a teaspoon of olive oil.  Cook those down over medium for about five minutes until they’re translucent and really starting to get a nice brown.  It’s totally ok if some get a little crispy- more flavor!  Then add your spices and stir for about 30 seconds, you’re really going to smell some wonderful things here.  This is a flavor base for the dish and personally, I think these smell divine.  Then just dump in your chick peas, crushed tomatoes, and spinach.   It’s going to look like a ton of spinach but it cooks down like crazy so don’t worry.

Side note on canned crushed tomatoes.  I can NEVER find them in a 15 oz can.  Ever. Anywhere.  It always comes in the most absurdly huge can.  If this same trouble befalls you, no worries- 15 oz is just shy of two cups.  So measure it out and turn the rest into marina sauce.  Yum!!  🙂

Anyways… Once you’ve got the beans, tomatoes, and spinach in there you’re practically done!  Just let it simmer for about two minutes until that spinach has cooked down and is no longer taking over your pan.  Then pull it off the heat and mix in the greek yogurt and salt.  This is when you’ll really see it come together as the lovely, smooth, creamy dish that it is.  This is so great straight from the pan over rice and topped with fresh cilantro.  However, I’m possibly the world’s biggest leftover fan and this dish is divine the next day.  There’s something about letting the flavors and spices really come together that I think makes any dish better overnight, especially when you’re not relying on any crispy texture like with this dish.

So that’s it!  Super easy, so quick, and really really delicious!  Fresh cilantro brings a great brightness on top of this dish and I like to add a little (LITTLE) Sriracha for a kick of heat.  Give it a whirl!

Served up here in a bowl over brown rice with some broccoli, sriracha, and cilantro!

Served up here in a bowl over brown rice with some broccoli, sriracha, and cilantro!

And the recipe!

Chickpea Curry
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5
An easy, delicious, and healthy weeknight dinner! Try something different with some Indian spices! Serve over brown rice (not included in nutritional data).
Ingredients
  • 2 15oz. cans chick peas
  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 6oz. package fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Vindaloo
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, optional (but recommended!)
  • Sriracha, optional
Instructions
  1. Spray a dutch oven or medium pot liberally with cooking spray, add olive oil, and heat over medium heat
  2. Add onions and cook approximately 5 minutes, until clear and browning
  3. Stir in spices for 30 seconds
  4. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes, until spinach is completely wilted
  5. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt and salt
  6. Serve over rice with cilantro and hot sauce
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 207 Fat: 3.3g Carbohydrates: 33g Sugar: 6.4g Sodium: 400mg Fiber: 9.7g Protein: 12.6g

Enjoy!

PS.  Happy late Valentines Day!  It sort of slipped my mind since John is out of town and we are celebrating next week…  Hope you all felt extra loved!!  🙂

Easy Quinoa “Fried Rice”

Guys, it’s been a hell of a week.  With subzero temperatures, school work piling up, and the death of my ex-boyfriend and college friend, this week has taken its toll.  I won’t bring you down with a long sob story but losing John (Also my current boyfriend’s name.  Don’t panic.  He’s safe and wonderful as always.) has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.  He was 23, a great guy, and taken entirely too early.  May he rest in peace.

With this cold weather and a sad soul, I’ve been into delicious food involving minimal effort.  But, you know me, I’m not willing to sacrifice healthiness for comfort. So the other day, when it was literally -30 something wind chills out, I whipped up this fried rice with just the ingredients I had in my fridge.  No way was I venturing out to the store in that!

Lucky for me, my family could be the poster-child for leftovers.  Since we cook most of our meals instead of eating out, we tend to have extra bits and pieces laying around.  I noticed there was some quinoa, no-brainer.  We also had steamed some frozen “Mexican mixed vegetables” earlier in the week so those became my main veggies source.  A leftover nub of zucchini from omelets and my ever-present edamame also made the cut.  Side note: If you are a vegetarian you HAVE to keep edamame in your fridge.  No really, it’s a requirement.  The beans are a delicious snack, salad topper, taco filling, you name it!  Just buy the frozen stuff (like Trader Joe’s- my fav!), boil it on Sunday, and munch all week.  Anyways, with those simple ingredients and an egg for scrambling, I was all set.

Some fresh, some leftover, all delicious.

Some fresh, some leftover, all delicious.

I started by scrambling the egg in a hot pan with some non-stick spray and chopped garlic & ginger.  No need for all the oil and grease you get in carry out.  Next I dumped in the raw zucchini first to get those cooked and added the pre-cooked mixed vegetables once that was softened.  Here’s the cool thing about this step.  You can add any variety of veggies here; frozen, raw, pre-cooked.  Just start with the ones that need the most time (frozen), and if you’re using some that need less time (raw, pre-cooked) add those after a few minutes. I added my edamame last as they can get mushy if they’re overcooked and I like them to have some snap. Then dump in your cooked quinoa- or rice, or couscous, or whatever grain you’ve got sitting in that fridge- and give it a mix!  Ta-da!

Look at that hot, steamy pan of…. Leftovers. Said no one ever. UNTIL NOW!

Look at that hot, steamy pan of…. Leftovers. Said no one ever. UNTIL NOW!

“Alright so I’ve got the veggies and the egg and the ‘rice’ but this doesn’t quite taste like real fried rice…”  Right you are.  You need some soy sauce, right?  Sorry, wrong this time!  Liquid aminos are where. it. is at.  This is a product made by Bragg (a super cool health-nut company) that is designed to taste like soy sauce with NO added salt and zero calories.  Best part is, because it’s a soy-based product, it contains 16 out of the 20 essential and non-essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle!  Helllll yeah.  My kind of soy sauce.  Check it out.

Yes. That's jarred garlic and ginger. Told you I was feeling lazy.

Yes. That’s jarred garlic and ginger. Told you I was feeling lazy.

Oh, and I bought it in this nifty spray bottle so I just gave my pan a healthy number of spritzes until I was happy with the flavor.  You can buy this stuff by the gallon though too… Go crazy.

Easy Quinoa “Fried Rice”
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
An easy way to turn random leftovers into delicious, healthy fried rice! Don’t have leftovers? Just boil some rice and chop some fresh veggies and you’re set!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or rice
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (raw, frozen, or cooked)
  • 1/2 cup cooked edamame beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 Tbsp liquide aminos (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray
  2. Drop egg into pan and scramble just a minute or so- it should be undercooked since it will be in the pan longest
  3. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 30-60 seconds
  4. Add vegetables based on cook time (frozen first, then fresh, then pre-cooked)
  5. Once vegetable are cooked, add quinoa then edamame and stir until heated through
  6. Spray entire pan with liquid aminos, tasting for desired flavor
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
Serving size: 1 Serving Calories: 345 Fat: 12g Saturated fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 37g Sugar: 3g Sodium: 540mg Fiber: 10g Protein: 21g Cholesterol: 185mg

 

There ya have it!  Easy, quick, and delicious homemade fried rice!  This stuff won’t cure all your pains but I can tell you it helped me feel better and quit the pathetic sniffling for a while.

Vegetable Quinoa "Fried Rice"

Vegetable Quinoa “Fried Rice”

Much Love! Natalie

 

P.S.  I would like to give a HUGE shout-out to Renee, my wonderful boyfriend’s coworker, for not only subscribing to my blog and being the first to comment but for sharing my page on her Facebook.  WOW.  Thank you!  Be expecting some yummy treats in the AP department soon! 😉

That’s a Lotta Ricotta!

Surprise!  Two recipes in one post!  Mostly because school is slowly creeping it’s hands around my neck and I’ve barely had time to get my blog on.  Sorry.  Here’s two fun and yummy ricotta recipes to make up for it!

My mother and I tend to overestimate.  When it comes to packing for a trip, stressing about things we have to do, hosting a party, or stocking the house with food, we tend to go overboard.  Like, really overboard.  I don’t know how we always end up with 6 cans of black beans or 5 boxes of pasta, but we always end up with an “oopsies..” when we get back from the grocery.  Most of the time, it annoys me because I hate clutter.  But, it also means she puts a cute little note on the fridge saying what’s on “special” for the week. 🙂  It’s adorable…Anyways, after the boyfriend and I made a splendid meal for New Years, in which I intended to use ricotta but didn’t, there was a lot of this sweet, soft cheese laying around.  And to make things worse, my mom somehow had ricotta on the brain and ended up buying MORE at the grocery! Phew!  SO… I got majorly creative.  First, ricotta fritters.

Naturally, when I have a lot of one ingredient and not a lot of ideas, I turn to Pinterest for inspiration.  Can we just talk for a second about how awesome Pinterest is??  I don’t have as much free time as I used to so I don’t get to casually peruse page after page of beautiful people, places, food, and clothes I could never afford… But I do love using it as a place to look for inspiration.  All I had to do was type in “Ricotta” and a million recipes came up!  I saw a few recipes touting “healthy” patties but were loaded with full-fat cheese and deep fried in oil.  Ummm.. No thanks.  I gathered some inspiration, put my big girl pants, on and started playing around!  (Sad news- I was in full on experimentation mode and didn’t take ANY good pictures…. Sorry :/ )

 

The ricotta fritter is the little guy at the bottom! Ignore the rest of my yummy leftover lunch...

The ricotta fritter is the little guy at the bottom! Ignore the rest of my yummy leftover lunch from the next day…

So for the fritters I just started throwing some ingredients in a bowl and let it “talk” to me.  I was going for texture here really.  When making something like this you want the cakes to be moist and not dry but they have to be able to hold together with some regularity.  That’s where the egg and breadcrumbs come in.  Be careful, though!  Whole grain bread crumbs are hard to find but I do strongly recommend them over their over-procesed, mostly-sugar sisters.  Also, to save on a some calories and fat I started with just one whole, beaten egg and used Egg Beaters egg whites until I had the right consistency.  If you’re going to go full-fat on any part of this though, just use real eggs.  It’s cool.  To fry these up I used a splash of olive oil and a healthy amount of olive oil Pam spray before I dropped the pre-shaped and chilled patties on the hot surface.  The first few were a mess but once I got the timing down and learned to only flip them once, they came out crispy and delicious!  Also, I made these very small because I wanted to be able to eat 4-5 as the protein part of a dinner or a 1-2 as a snack!   Try them for yourself!

Ricotta Fritters
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
These little cakes come together quickly and last in the fridge as a hot or cold snack for up to a week!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups low-fat or part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
  • 9 Tbs egg beaters (or 3 whole eggs)
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop spinach into very small pieces
  2. Mix all ingredients except for spinach in a large bowl- I used my hands for this, to really make sure it was fully mixed
  3. Fold in spinach and chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes
  4. Divide the mixture into 4 parts and then divide each part into 5 or 6 balls
  5. Heat a small amount of oil or non-stick cooking spray in a pan over medium heat
  6. Shape the individual balls into a patty form and cook in pan a few minutes each side (they should get nice and brown- try to only flip them once!)
  7. Set on a plate to cool as you cook the rest of the batch, or store the chilled mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one day
Serving size: 1 patty Calories: 40 Fat: 1.3g Saturated fat: 0.7g Carbohydrates: 4g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 90mg Fiber: 0.4g Protein: 3.4g Cholesterol: 14mg

 

If you’re feeling ricotta-crazy and really want to see what this yummy stuff can do, try this amaazzzing creamy pasta sauce!  I tossed mine with spiralized zucchini but I’m sure it would be fantastic on regular whole grain pasta as well.  With my new found love (and surplus) of ricotta, and my favorite food in the whole world in the fridge, I thought what better than AVOCADO ricotta “pesto” sauce.  Woah.  That’s a lot going on.  But it’s easy-peazy, promise.

On first attempt, I just had some avocado, tons of basil, and a little spinach and arugula wizzed up in the food processor and could not figure out all I was tasting was guacamole.  DUH.  No pesto ingredients… I threw in some lemon juice, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan and magic happened.  No seriously, 20 seconds turned this into a completely different cuisine.  I’ll be applying to Hogwarts next fall.  Soo with a little tinkering and some note-jotting, here is the “recipe” (in quotes because it’s too easy to be a real recipe!)

Served up with some baked tofu and a simple salad!

Served up with some baked tofu and a simple salad!

 Ricotta and Avocado Pesto “Cream” Sauce

Simply wiz together…

  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Small handful of pine nuts or walnuts
  • Fresh basil, spinach, arugula, or your other favorite leafy greens!
  • Olive oil until desired consistency
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

VOILA!  That’s it!

 

Haven’t had enough ricotta?  Yeah, me either.  Get ready for some ricotta recipes for the best meal of the day… DESSERT!  Coming soon! 😉