Re-fried Bean Citrus Lettuce Wraps

I have never been a big fan of meat.  Our mother used to stop me at the door to make sure that I had placed some lunch meat on my sandwich for school (and not just mayonnaise).  So it’s not a big surprise that I am the one that keeps the meat consumption to a minimum in our household.

My boys are not as enthusiastic about keeping the meat consumption low.  So there are some nights when they eat meat and I do not.  They used to fulfill this need when I was working 12 hour shifts and wasn’t even home for dinner a few nights a week, but now we eat together every night, so the blending creates some confusion and ‘togetherness’ in the kitchen as all needs are met.

Recently, I didn’t plan well,…. okay at least once a week or so, I don’t plan well and needing a quick healthy protein substitute for me while the boys ate turkey, I turned to canned beans, sweet onion and a little orange juice.  I was very pleased with the results which I piled into a large leaf of romaine and ate like a burrito.  I was very pleased with the results.  The boys looked suspicious at my lack of interest in their turkey bacon.  Haha!  Their suspicions will be explained soon because I know we will have this again.  Why not?  It is fairly quick, very easy and most delicious.

Re-fried Bean Citrus Wraps

1 sweet onion
oil for sauteeing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup canneloni beans (or whatever cooked or canned beans you have on hand)
juice of 1 orange
salt to taste

Saute the onions in a little oil.  The longer you saute the sweeter they become… but if you’re pressed for time go until translucent
Add the rest of the ingredientsMash the beans.  I used a potato masher.
Cook down a little so it’s all smushey and the liquid has diminished.
If it gets too dry add a little more juice

20151025_184411Serve on a romaine lettuce leaf….. or on a tortilla…. or on a piece of bread….. or mixed with rice

This is a notion that works for a lot of things and saves you lots of calories.  Unless of course you serve it with potatoes roasted in oil.  Ah but they were really good as well 😉

What do you like to put in a lettuce wrap?

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Weekly Meal Plan 10/26-11/1

The Halloween countdown is on. At breakfast, at dinner, at random intervals for no apparent reason during the day. I know at any given moment exactly how long it is before my kids get to wear their costumes (one of their costumes) to school. One of their costumes, you say? Are they going to change mid- beggary like a bride at the reception? Who bothers with two costumes? Well, I’ll tell you. For some reason, our elementary school has decided not to celebrate Halloween. Fine, whatever, I really don’t care. BUT they are having fall parties on the last day before Halloween and for that day the kids can wear a costume of their favorite book character…. So they’re going to dress up and eat snacks with orange colored plates and jack-o-lantern decorations. But it’s not Halloween. Is it me?

But you’re wondering why the two costumes… because when asked what they’d really like to be, and I remind them that this is their big chance to dress up as anything they want, only one of my two ever picks a book character. And I’m not going to make them do it just because their school can’t admit that they are celebrating Halloween. Harrrummph.

So that’s what we’re up to this week. Mr. Little Sis is on the West Coast, so we’re all sticking our tongues out at him while we enjoy our beautiful fall foliage. Full days, kid friendly dinners, and the smell of leaves and fireplaces.

Monday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Creamy Walnut Pesto, green salad

Tuesday: Lentil Casserole, cut veggies, green salad

Wednesday: Potato Squashers, green peas, steamed broccoli

Thursday: Mulligatawny Soup, whole wheat bread, green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable Chili, corn bread, green salad

Sunday: Homemade pasta with mushroom sauce, sautéed green beans, green salad

Adult Lunches: With Mr. LIttle Sis gone, I confess to a nearly obsessive relationship with lunchtime hummus. We have LOTS of those here. This page is a nice start.

Lunchbox Treats: Yeah, I’m not baking. I have found some nut bar type deals that have minimal ingredients and are low in sugar, so those will be happening at least twice.


Here’s hoping your days are filled with fall colors and smells and that you’re celebrating something, even if you don’t call it Halloween. Eat well, be well friends.

Chocolate Chia Pudding – Dairy Free

This is going to be kind of a sales manager’s nightmare….
Imagine you are the trainer for a bunch of sales people for chocolate chia pudding.  You’ve taught them all about using tantalizing language; about setting a mood; about convincing the buyer that they deserve to have a treat…..

Mmmmm. Looks creamy and delicious!

Mmmmm. Looks creamy and delicious!

Now imagine that you hear this phrase come out of the mouth of one of your salesmen.

“It’s pretty good.  Yeah, we enjoyed it, it was okay.”

What?  How the heck to you propose to get people to buy this stuff, or in this case try this recipe?  Well, I like to think of this as a “this is better than fruit” kind of dessert.  Now don’t get me wrong…. I love fruit and when there are lovely grapes, raspberries, pineapple or mango around, it makes a lovely after meal treat.

However, my brain AND my son, are products of our culture that clearly states that fruit is NOT dessert.  Fruit is healthy.  Dessert is decadent, rich, super sweet, indulgent, much-deserved and really, again, NOT FRUIT.  A recipe like this one, a less unhealthy but also less decadent, less rich, not so super sweet, less indulgent though equally, if not more so deserved…. fills the dessert bill that both my son AND my brain seem convinced makes the evening better.

So, I give you a recipe totally borrowed from Snack Girl, a biologist who blogs about healthy eating.  It was pretty good.  Yeah, we enjoyed it, it was okay.  I add this to some other recipes that are good enough to enjoy and not too bad health wise, but not SO good that we eat too much of it and further that notion that only a decadent, overly sweet treat constitutes a tasty end to the evening meal.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Makes 4 – ¼ cup puddings

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar (I used white sugar – a little shy of this amount)
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup milk (whatever you like – she used 2% cow’s milk, I used plain almond milk)

Blend cocoa powder, sugar, chia seeds, and milk in a blender for 5 minutes until chia seeds are pulverized. Pour into small ramekins and place in refrigerator.  I used a Vita-Mix and Snack Girl commented that hers turned out a little grainy in her regular blender…… but that’s okay.  It’s still pretty good 😉

Chill for 30-60 minutes and enjoy, but not too too much!  We ate it all!

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Weekly Meal Plan 10/19-10/25

Well hello there! We woke up to frozen grass and frosty windows. Seems it’s that time. We’ve still got some warmish days in front of us, but we’ve definitely moved into pumpkin spice everything season. I’ve had a little luck getting my myriad activities under control, although it required that I make a visual aid for a typical week so I could see that it could all actually fit provided I don’t say yes to anything else, ever. So that’s the current stance. If you had planned to ask me for something, you should know that. 😉 While I practice saying no, we will be eating some delicious food.

Monday: Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, Wheat Bread, green salad

Tuesday: African Lentil Casserole, sautéed green beans, green salad

Wednesday: Roasted Cauliflower Wraps, oven fries, cut veggies

Thursday: Half Raw Stir Fry on Crispy Rice

Friday: Homemade Pizza – It occurs to me I’ve never really described this for you…

Saturday: Dinner Out!

Sunday: Homemade Spinach Pasta with Mushroom Sauce, green salad

Adult Lunches: leftover tomato soup from last week

Lunchbox Treats: low sugar graham crackers

One of my unscheduled tasks today is to dig through the winter boxes and get out some gloves for all those who walk to the bus stop. Hope you know where your gloves are… looks like we’re gonna need them!

Cheap, Easy, Delicious: African Lentil Casserole

This is not a new recipe to our blog, but it was posted way back at the beginning and it has played such a constant role in both our menu and Little Sis’ family menu that I can’t help but share a slight variation in hopes that it will catch some people who missed the original,.  Maybe the new spice profile will appeal to those who passed up on the original as well!

As boring as the name is, ‘Lentil Casserole’ packs a lot of bang for the buck…… or maybe a buck and a half.  Literally.  Dried lentils and dried brown rice lay the inexpensive groundwork for this hearty meal that gains great flavor with spices and in this case spinach.  My picky son really likes this and finds it ‘thermos worthy’ (to take to school for lunch).  Both my husband and I like it as well and when I heated some leftovers at work the other day, I was asked 3 times what smelled so good.  Just my little ‘ol cheap-o lentil casserole, no cause for excitement ;-)!

The ‘African’ part of the title comes from Tabil spice mix but this dish can be made with Italian spices, as in the original, or Mexican spices, or whatever you think will get your people’s attention!  Tabil is not necessarily easy to come by, but you can buy it or you can make your own.  Admittedly, using this spice mix can increase the cost of this dish a bit, as if you buy prepared it is expensive, and if you have to invest in the spices, it is expensive at first….. but very worth it in the long run and less expensive than buying.

This can be cooked in a crockpot over about 4 hours or on the stovetop in 45 – 60 minutes.  The beauty of the stovetop method is that once the onions are sauteed and the water is boiling, there is not much more to do, so it’s not a labor intensive hour and therefore gets cooked when we have forgotten to plan but are not yet starving!

African Lentil Casserole

1 – 2 tsp oil
1 & 1/2 c chopped fresh onion
2 clove garlic, mashed
6c veggie or chicken broth (I use ‘Better Than Bouillon – Vegetable‘ or this cheaper make your own version -FYI I don’t use sundried tomatoes when I follow that recipe as they gummed up my food processor)
1 & 1/2 c lentils
1 c brown rice
1 Tbsp Tabil spice mix
2 – 3 large handfuls of spinach

Saute chopped onion and garlic in the oil in a large pot if you are cooking on the stove, in a small saucepan if transferring to crock pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot of crock pot except for the spinach
CROCKPOT:
Cook on low for 2 hours, high for 2 hours.
About 15 minutes before eating or being done, add the spinach and stir, let cook until spinach is wilted.

STOVETOP:
After sauteeing onion and garlic add the rest of the ingredients except for spinach.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 – 60 minutes.  Just before serving, add spinach and cook until wilted.

It looks like a lot of spinach but it cooks down into MUCH less.

Pot of steaming lentils, rice and spices

Pot of steaming lentils, rice and spices

 

 

Put those handfuls in there….

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Then stir the spinach in…..

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Not so spinach-y that the finicky will be repelled 😉

And there you have it.  Cheap. Easy. Tasty.

Enjoy!

Weekly Meal Plan 10/12-10/18

Well hey there friends. Gearing up for what looks like a strangely variable week here in Mid-Maryland. The weather map has one of those big dips on it with lots of arrows and color variation. Yeah, so I’m checking highs and lows… Am I the only one who does this to decide what to eat? There are some things I just don’t like when it’s hot. Soup is okay, but stew is out. No stew when hot. It is written… right here… on this blog.

At any rate I’ve got a handle on the weather and I’m beginning to get a handle on our evening activities around here. As I think I’ve mentioned before Mr. Little Sis and I have added some diversions and obligations to our various to do lists and as a result evenings have gotten a lot busier. I recently considered sending everyone on their way with a packed lunch that is dinner sized to justify just having toast and salad for dinner as that’s about all I want by the end of these busy days. I decided pretty quickly that while that would be fine with me, it would be a generally unpopular move that I would then have to discuss…. that sounded more annoying than finding the energy for a legitimate evening meal. So, back to those highs and lows. This week begins Crock Pot week – no it’s not a national Facebook thing, at least not yet. I just mean in my house, the Crock Pot can now legitimately make its grand fall entrance. It’s not going to get above 75, so out comes the Crock Pot to help make sense of the increasingly stupid schedule.

Monday: (Baseball, schedule shift, normally Thursday, band practice for Mom cancelled) Sesame Whole Wheat Pancakes with sliced peaches, cut carrot sticks (every once in a while breakfast for dinner makes people really happy)

Tuesday: (violin and viola lessons, Crock Pot required) Slow Cooker (No Cream) Creamy Tomato Soup; Multigrain Bread, green salad

Wednesday: (Mom has choir) Lentil Bulgur Burgers, Roasted Potatoes, Green Salad

Thursday: (no baseball but conference call for Mom) Zucheesey Noodles, sautéed green beans, roasted cauliflower

Friday: (kids are out of school for no apparent reason, no this doesn’t necessarily affect the dinner, just thought I’d throw it in there for kicks) Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday:  Mee Goreng (an experiment from a new book that if I have my act adequately together enough I will tell you about later… pretty sure that’s how I used to do this)

Sunday: (choir, baseball, and then) Homemade Pasta for friends, Easiest Pasta Sauce Ever and Pesto, Broccoli Meatballs, Green Salad

Adult Lunches: Leftover Potato Squashers from last week

Lunchbox Treats: Leftover Fruit & Veggie Smoothies in these bad boys

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Here’s hoping your highs and lows are within your tolerance level and that your curveballs are only temporary deviations! Eat well, be well friends!

Balsamic Onion Topper

Winter squash is so reliable and sturdy.  Yikes.  Sounds like a truck – not an appealing description of food is it?  But, really, I’m enthusiastic…. even excited about this time of year when acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash become cheaper and so readily converted into hearty autumn fare.

Spaghetti squash does carry the undue burden of expectation because of that name.  I mean, CAN you do anything else with spaghetti squash besides treat it like a gluten free, healthier version of semolina spaghetti?  Of COURSE you can.  I’m rather transparent, aren’t I?  This idea is one that I am going to visit on other hearty vegetables and perhaps breads as well!

Treating spaghetti squash like the hearty vegetable it is, allows for pairings with other strong and reliable flavors.  Onion, balsamic vinegar and a dash of marjoram did the trick and turned our spaghetti squash into a very special side dish.  We really enjoyed this.

The recipe is really for the onion topping but it was totally created to go on my spaghetti squash without using tomato.  Please let us know if you try this on anything else – I think it has lots of possibilities!

Balsamic Onion Topper

1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado)
1 large sweet onion
1 – 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4/ – 1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 salt

Heat the oil.
Add chopped onion and cook over medium low heat allowing time to become translucent.
Turn up just a bit and add the balsamic, marjoram and salt.
Stir frequently
The longer you cook the more carmellized it gets -a little browning is nice!
Marjoram adds a flowery sweetness.  Don’t overdo it.  It’s surprisingly strong for such a gentle fragrance.

Serve over top of spaghetti squash.  (Spaghetti squash is easy to cook.  Just cut in half / scrape out seeds / place halves in large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes depending on size of squash).

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I will have to get back to you with other possible things to put this on, but I think it would be fabulous in a lettuce wrap with re-fried beans, or other veggies – or on top of mashed cauliflower…. or, or, or?  What do you think?

Weekly Meal Plan 10/5-10/11

Hey there people! I don’t know what the weather is doing in your neck o the woods, but here in Mid-Maryland, we’re breathing a pretty big sigh of relief as all relevant storm systems head out to sea. Bye bye wind. Bye bye rain. Thanks for taking it easier on us this time. I sincerely hope that wherever you are, and especially if you’re on the SouthEastern seaboard, you made it through this one unscathed.

We’ve got a lot brewing here because for some ridiculous reason, Mr. Little Sis and I decided we didn’t have enough to do. He has added a graduate program to his two jobs and I’ve added some classes, a gigging band, and some freelance work to mine. There, how’s that? Busy enough for you? Why, yes, yes it is. Thank you very much. I am having to very much rely on all my prior thinking about quick real food as we never seem to have enough time to do the slow cooking thing – well at least until Crock Pot season, which is almost here. So forgive the inelegance of these plans, I’m doing my best. And I’m willing to bet there are at least a few of you out there who don’t have enough time to cook for long either – so here we go.

Monday: Tacos with Stupid Fast Chili filling and quinoa, cut veggies

Tuesday: Spinach Chickpea Burgers, green salad, roasted cauliflower

Wednesday: varia-bowls with rice noodles, baked tofu, pickled carrots and chopped veg

Thursday: Kichadi, peas, green salad

Friday: Dinner at the Gig (if you live in MD, head on over to Beans in the Belfry in Brunswick. We play at 7)

Saturday: Dinner at Bigg Sis’ house (Yay!)

Sunday: homemade pasta, green salad

Adult Lunches: Leftover Chili as taco salad, Cold Kickin’ Soup (yep, it’s here – poor Mr. Little Sis)

Lunchbox Treats: Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Here’s hoping your hamster wheel is spinning at a pace that works for you OR that you’re in one of those hamster balls so you’re actually able to go somewhere with your spinning. 😉 Have a great week!