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Week Thirty-Seven: Eggplant Parmesan Bake

The kids and I have been sick for most of this past week (thank you, new school year), and our suddenly cold, damp fall weather has continued, so this week was a week of comfort food. I had already planned to try out this recipe this week, anyway; it just happened to fit our needs perfectly. Extra bonus of not needing to go to the store for any ingredients (those trips were reserved for kleenex and Tylenol runs!).

Anyway, this dish would be great when you're not sick, too, trust me. Next time I'll probably serve it over pasta in lieu of a traditional sauce.



Eggplant Parmesan Bake
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
-1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
-28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes with basil), drained
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

instructions + photosCollapse )

Week Thirty-Six: Potato Kale Soup

The first week of school around here always seems to blast us back into chilly, damp, gloomy fall weather with little to no warning - and this past week was no exception. Soup, then, is always a good idea! I got this recipe from a farmer at our farmer's market, and it was delicious. Great way to get some more of the superfood kale into your diet (I imagine you could do this soup with any number of other leafy greens you'd like - but embrace the kale, people).

Yum. And isn't it pretty, too?



Potato Kale Soup
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 – 2 medium sweet onions, diced
-10 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
-1 1/4 teaspoon salt
-6 – 8 medium potatoes (I used 8 since mine were smaller), diced – no need to peel!
-water and/or vegetable stock
-3 cups coarsely chopped kale (about 3 large leaves)
-black pepper to taste

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In keeping with my newfound love of using the slow cooker during the hot, humid summer, here's another slow cooker recipe. This is perhaps the least labor-intensive lasagna ever - no need to precook the noodles, no need to buy those special no-boil noodles, and the layering is super simple - and it was a big hit with everyone!



Slow Cooker Pesto Spinach Lasagna
-26 oz. jar pasta sauce
-10 oz. uncooked lasagna noodles (regular, not no-boil)
-15 oz. ricotta cheese
-8 oz. prepared pesto
-10 oz. baby spinach
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-12 oz. mozzarella cheese slices
-1/4 cup water

instructions + photos hereCollapse )
This bright, fresh salad was a delicious side to some black bean tacos this past week! I wish we still had some left over now. If for some reason you don't like corn, green beans, or red onions (but why?! please don't tell me if you don't) - check the recipe out for the dressing, at least. So good!



Green Bean and Corn Salsa Salad
-1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch slices
-1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
-4 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (from about 4 ears - or you can use canned if corn is not in season or if you're like me who forgot she was going to make this and served the last of the corn cobs the night before!)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-good handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
-1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped (leave the seeds if you like heat)
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-ground black pepper to taste

instructions + photosCollapse )

Week Thirty-Three: Breakfast Rice

This is a really simple and tasty alternative to hot cereal for breakfast:



Breakfast Rice
-1 cup uncooked white rice
-2 1/2 cups boiling water
-1 1/2 cups shredded raw carrots (about 3 medium-sized carrots)
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/3 cup chopped pecans
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 cup brown sugar, or to taste
-milk (optional)

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Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are a great food, high in protein and other good stuff. I tend to get in a rut and only use them for making hummus, though. Here's another way to use them - since we all like broccoli-and-cheese dishes, adding chickpeas to that mix was a hit! I made this as a side dish with a meal, but next time I'll give it main dish status - make a little more and serve it over rice.



Cheesy Chickpeas and Broccoli
-3 cups fresh broccoli, cut into florets
-1 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
-3 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons flour
-1 1/2 cups milk
-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

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I've always thought slow cooker (crock pot) cooking is better suited to wintertime. However, where I live we are currently in the middle of the hottest, most humid summer on record since 1939 (so our weatherman says)...and I have recently discovered slow cookers are MADE for the hot summertime. They give off no heat! No oven heating up the house! No standing over a hot stove or grill! Perfect for summer. I don't know why this had never occurred to me before. Try it out. You'll be delighted.



Slow Cooker Artichoke Pasta
-3 15oz cans Italian style diced tomatoes – do not drain
-2 15oz cans artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 pound dry pasta of your choice (I used whole grain rotini - and slightly less than a pound, more like 12 ounces?)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese, optional

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Hummus! I love hummus! You should, too! The hummus recipe is one I modified from my brother's standard. At the end - ideas on how to change it up. Bonus!


ack! blurry picture! oh well.

Pita Sandwiches with Cilantro-Citrus Hummus
Hummus
-15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
-2 tablespoons tahini
-2 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 good handful (1/2 cup-ish?) fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-1/4 cup orange juice (+ more as needed)
Sandwiches
-4 7-inch whole wheat pitas, cut in half
-4 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and sliced if needed (about 1 1/2 12-oz. jars)
-handful baby spinach leaves

instructions + photosCollapse )

Week Twenty-Nine: Black Bean Quesadillas

I am still getting back into the swing of things after being away from home for three weeks and dealing with some pretty major jetlag. Mostly last week I did things like order Chinese, or throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. Sandwiches played a large role. I did manage to put together these quesadillas, though. Not anything fancy, but they were good.



Black Bean Quesadillas
-1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained
-1 15 oz. can corn, drained
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
-juice of half a lime
-1 tablespoon ground cumin
-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped finely
-2 cups shredded cheese
-8-16 whole wheat tortillas (depending on how large – I used 8)

instructions + photosCollapse )

Weeks 26-28: Karibu Chakula

In Swahili, the phrase "karibu chakula" literally means "welcome food." It's used as a general greeting/invitation at mealtime, similar to the Spanish "buen provecho" or the French "bon appetit."

I neglected to post recipes for the past three weeks because I have been visiting my brother, who is currently a US Peace Corps volunteer in a village in sub-Saharan Africa. I did help my brother cook there, though. He has no electricity (or running water, for that matter), so all cooking is done by kerosene or charcoal stove.

I did not take photos of cooking in Africa, since I needed to save camera battery as much as possible (no real place to charge it, you see). However, I found a website with recipes and pictures of some of the traditional dishes I helped prepare and thought it might be interesting to some people. Links to three are below:

Note: The website and photos are neither mine nor my brother's. Just another Peace Corps volunteer from the same general area. The food was prepared in almost exactly the same way as these recipes, though, and the photos are pretty close to what I found at my brother's house.

1. Chipsi Mayai - fries with eggs (these were typical street food in my brother's village, as well. good with tomato sauce/ketchup.)

2. Wali na Maharage - rice and beans (good, but quite the long process on charcoal!)

3. Maandazi - unsweetened donuts (a bit bland on their own, but quite tasty when dipped or rolled in some sugar)

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