Tag Archives: feta

Wild Rice Pilaf

I find it useful to browse through my fridge and pantry occasionally to see what random items are lurking there. I often find ingredients I bought for one specific recipe then forgot to use the rest. Happen to anyone else?

Well, in case anyone is hesitant to try the delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Soup I posted recently for fear that the rest of their package of wild rice will go to waste, today’s recipe is the solution. This recipe was easy and delicious and cleared out the wild rice left in my package from the last batch of soup I made. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Pilaf (Serves 4-6)

Wild Rice Pilaf

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 to 2 strips lemon zest
¼ -½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup wild rice, preferably whole not broken
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, garlic, strips of lemon zest, and thyme. Swirl and cook until the nuts and garlic are beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the wild rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute tops. Stir in the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check the texture of the rice and, if needed, continue simmering until tender. Add more ¼ cup water as needed, if liquid runs out in the pan.

3. Remove from the heat. Remove the lemon zest before serving. Fluff with a fork. Stir in black pepper, remains lemon zest, and lemon juice. Top with green onions and feta cheese before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 187
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 95 mg

Recipe notes: Make the lemon zest strips by running a vegetable peeler around a lemon. If that is too weird for you, you could just use the zest of ½ a lemon.

Source: slightly adapted from Tyler Florence, food network.com

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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Confession: I love sweet potatoes. Maybe even more than regular potatoes. But I prepare them about 3 ways: mashed with brown sugar, casserole, or roasted as fries. And I have never felt bad about that. Those three are delicious, so why fix something that isn’t broken?

After my second baby was born, I rediscovered stuffed baked potatoes as an easy dinner. I figured sweet potatoes could work too, right? But everything seemed kind of strange and not appetizing enough to try. But I finally picked one and tried it.

Guys, it was delicious. Very different than you typical dinner, agreed. But very yummy. And with fall starting, sweet potatoes are in season and abundant. Go grab some and try this dinner soon. Your bravery will be rewarded.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Makes 4)

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4 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon paprika
¾ tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey breast
3 cups torn curly kale
¼ cup golden raisins
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Pierce each potato with a fork a few times to prevent exploding. Wrap potatoes individually in foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a fork easily slides into potato. Let cool slightly.

3. Combine vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey to pan and cook 7 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Drain any excess liquid from pan; return to medium-high heat. Stir in vinegar mixture; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove meat from pan.

4. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add kale; cover and cook 4 minutes. Stir in turkey, raisins, and lemon juice.

5. Cut each potato lengthwise. Spoon about ¾ cup kale mixture onto each potato; top each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Serve.

Nutritional Information (per stuffed potato):

Calories: 407
Protein: 29 g
Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 95 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 577 mg

Recipe Notes: You could also microwave the potatoes if you don’t have an hour in the oven. I do think the flavor of the potatoes is a little better from the oven, but not essential. The original recipe for this was trying to make a “chorizo” like mixture out of the meat, but healthier than using store bought chorizo. While yummy, I don’t think it ended up tasting like chorizo. You could sub in chorizo for maybe half of the meat. All chorizo would be very fatty, sodium rich, and kind of overpowering (I think, and I like chorizo). I used smoked paprika and it was tasty. The original recipe called for sweet paprika, which is what you generally find in the store. The original recipe also called for goat cheese. That would be yummy as well. I just had feta, and figured it is a kind of goat cheese and went for it. If you aren’t a sweet potato lover, this would be yummy on regular potatoes too.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Curry Chickpea Nachos with Mango Salsa and Raita

Lunch is a really difficult meal for me. I don’t want to expend much effort, but I want something delicious. Sometimes, a pb&j is that sweet spot. I find on the weekends, however, a simple lunch just won’t cut it. Weekends feel like they should have special, slightly more indulgent meals to me.

These nachos seem like a bit of work, but they come together fairly quickly. And the reward is huge. Most things taste better on a chip with dip, don’t they? Don’t skip the salsa or the “raita” like sauce. Both make this dish even more special.

Enjoy!

Curry Chickpea Nachos with Mango Salsa and “Raita” (Serves 6)

Curry Chickpea Nachos

1 cucumber, grated (peel half of the peel if regular cucumber, can leave peel on if English cucumber)
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tomatoes, diced, divided
1 red bell pepper, diced, divided
1 red onion, diced, divided
½ cup lightly packed coarsely chopped cilantro, divided
1 avocado, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
½ large bag baked tortilla chips (basically, enough to make a good layer on a baking sheet)
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1. For the raita, squeeze out and discard the excess liquid from the cucumber. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and mint. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

2. For the mango salsa, combine mango, ½ the bell pepper, 1 diced tomato, ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and avocado if using. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

3. Preheat oven to 375.

4. Heat a olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute remaining onion until translucent. Add beans, remaining pepper, remaining tomato, curry powder, garam masala, and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat. Stir in sriracha, remaining lime juice, and black pepper.

5. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with mozzarella, followed by curried beans and feta cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and chips are hot and crisp, about 12-14 minutes. Top with remaining cilantro. Serve with mango salsa and raita.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:  403
Protein:  21 g
Fat:  15 g
Saturated Fat:  6 g
Cholesterol:  33 mg
Carbohydrates:  51 g
Fiber:  9 g
Sodium:  527 mg

Recipe Notes: I kind of chop all the ingredients at once, and even have made the dips as the beans cook. It works just fine that way, you are just very busy right then. The original recipe called for ground turkey or lamb, which I’ve subbed beans for, but I like going the vegetarian route. It also says to drain all the liquid from the salsa and pour it over the top. I kind of like the liquid in the salsa since I prefer to dip it. Draining the liquid means draining flavor to me, but you can try that if you prefer a “dry” salsa.

Source:  adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Artichoke Pesto Pizza

As a parent, I have to find a balance of serving foods I like (grown-up foods) and foods I know my daughter will eat.  Serving grown-up foods is essential, as she won’t learn to like them without being exposed.  But I do want her to actually eat dinner.

I have found pizza is good ground for testing grown-up flavors.  Kids love simple pizzas, such as cheese or pepperoni.  While I’m not opposed to those, I prefer something a little more interesting.  The white sauce pizza I shared last week goes over well with kids, as does this.  I was honestly shocked when I saw my little girl downing the pesto, but she loved it.  The artichokes can be a little much for some young palates.  You may want to try just a pesto sauce with regular mozzarella cheese first, and then gradually diversify the toppings.

This is my favorite pizza to make.  Delicious and very simple, you can’t beat it.  Enjoy!

Artichoke Pesto Pizza (serves 3-4)

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1 pizza crust (½ batch of homemade dough
1 ⅓ cups fresh spinach
⅔ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese
3 ounces walnuts
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons low sodium broth or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (13.75 ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well or about 9 ounces of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
3 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Par-bake pizza crust if using this recipe.

2. In a food processor, combine spinach, basil, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, walnuts, red pepper, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. While processor is running, add broth/water, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add more broth, water, or oil if needed to make a paste-like sauce.

3. If necessary, chop artichoke hearts into at least quarters.

4. Spread pesto over pizza crust. Top with artichoke hearts, feta, and 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is browned. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 457
Protein: 16g
Fat: 38 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 59 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 461 mg

Recipe Notes: I like this pesto recipe, but you can use your favorite recipe or jarred pesto. It all works. Just be careful to not spread it on too thick.  Also, it is important to par-bake the crust for this pizza, as the oil from the pesto can seep into raw dough, making it stick to the pan.  Please note that the picture is of a half pizza, but has a full can of artichokes on it. This many artichokes actually makes it hard to eat. Don’t worry if your pizza doesn’t look full of toppings. All of these toppings have strong flavors, so you don’t need as much to pack a good punch. Some chopped chicken also is good on this pizza.

Source: Pesto from Cooking Light, toppings inspired by Christian’s Pizza in Charlottesville, VA

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Vegetable Moussaka

My husband and I went on our first date to a Greek restaurant.  We went back to that same restaurant several times, including for one of our last meals in Chicago.  They had these sampler plates that had several traditional Greek items that I usually got.  But for our last visit, I just got a big plate of moussaka.  I loved every cheesy, eggplanty bite.

I like this vegetarian version of moussaka since it gives you all the goodness of the traditional dish, without the expense or saturated fat of the beef (or lamb if you are being very traditional).  My husband is not a big fan of mushrooms, so I usually have to avoid meatless casseroles like this.  But I followed a tip online that you can sub cauliflower for mushrooms.  I did that for about half with great results.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Moussaka (serves 6)

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 large eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 (5 ounce) containers plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Heat saucepan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and cook until tender (about 6 minutes). Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more, or until garlic begins to be fragrant. Add 1 cup water, quinoa, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat.

2. Preheat broiler to high.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place eggplant slices on sheet and lightly coat both sides with cooking spray. (You may need to work in batches.) Broil 5 inches from heat source for 5 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Set aside.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with remaining olive oil. Add mushrooms and cauliflower. Cook 8 minutes, or until cauliflower is slightly tender. Add water and soy sauce; simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

6. Combine yogurt, feta, eggs, egg white, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese in a bowl, stirring until smooth.

7. Coat a 13×9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce. Spread all of mushroom mixture over eggplant and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers of tomato sauce and eggplant. Spread yogurt/cheese mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 321
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 77 mg
Carbohydrate: 39 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sodium: 465 mg

Recipe Notes:  I’m guessing you could probably sub rice or another grain for the quinoa, but you would need to adjust the cooking time and water added accordingly.  If you like mushrooms, you could skip the cauliflower and do 24 ounces of mushrooms instead. But I kind of liked the mix of cauliflower and mushrooms.  You do need to cut the cauliflower down to fairly small pieces.  The original recipe added wine to the mushrooms.  I don’t have wine in my house, so I just used water.  You could use wine or some low sodium broth if you’d like.  I had to skimp on the eggplant in mine, since part of one was going bad – so yours will look more “eggplanty” than mine.  If you have a lasagna pan (or a pan just slightly larger than 13×9), I would use that.  I used mine, and it fit fine.  It might be kind of tight squeezing it into a regular 13×9 pan.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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