Hangover Breakfast Hash

After a late night of celebrating with my now former coworkers, I awoke craving something fried. My fridge was looking a little empty, but I had just enough ingredients to make this delicious and nutrient-rich breakfast hash, which I served alongside oven-roasted potatoes and black coffee. Can you ever really go wrong with potatoes?

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced

2 small sweet potatoes or 1 normal sized, peeled and diced small

1 block of frozen medium firm tofu, thawed, squeezed out and drained, then shredded

2 or 3 big curly kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

roughly 2 Tbs barbecue sauce

salt and pepper to taste

a little oil or cooking spray, optional if you use a good nonstick pan

  1. Heat up your pan with oil, if using, on medium-high, then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown.
  2. Add your sweet potato chunks and let them brown with the onion.
  3. When your sweet potatoes and onion are a little brown and starting to soften, add the shredded tofu and give it a good stir. The tofu will start to brown as the water evaporates. Add salt and pepper.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are soft enough and the tofu is brown, add your kale. Then put a lid on it and let the kale wilt for a couple minutes before uncovering and giving a good stir. Cover again and let the kale cook almost to your desired tenderness.
  5. When your kale is almost where you want it, throw in the barbecue sauce and mix thoroughly. Cook until the flavors have blended a little and the kale is sufficiently wilted for your taste. Adjust salt and pepper, or add more sauce if you prefer. I really think it’s at its best with just a little bit though.

There you have it. Serve with whole grain toast or more potatoes like I did! This would also be great for dinner with side of rice or another cooked grain.

2 Meals, 1 Pan

In the interest of using up some leftovers today, I happily created both my lunch to eat at home and dinner to carry to work. In the fridge I found some already chopped onions and peppers as well a box of sliced button mushrooms that needed to be used up before they turned slimy. Additionally, I had a ton of leftover couscous and some lentil soup that I was getting tired of eating. So into the skillet it goes!

Saute until lightly browned and the mushrooms release their juices:
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 box of sliced mushrooms
about 3/4 cup of sliced bell peppers

Add:
2 ladles full of lentil soup, draining off as much of the broth as possible
Heat through.

For lunch at home, I served it over some of that couscous with half of a diced avocado (they were on sale this week for $.49!) and a generous scoop of salsa. An apple for dessert and I’m all set!

For dinner at work, I mixed it with the rest of the avocado and used it with a dollop of garlic hummus to top a microwaved sweet potato.

Yummmm… who says healthy eating is hard?

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Earlier this week I got a happy little surprise at work:  a $40 gift card for Giant Eagle for doing a good job!  I don’t live near a Giant Eagle, but just a short bus ride away is a fancy-shmancy Market District one.  I’ll just be honest here and tell you that I spent well over $40.  There were so many things!  Bulk bins full of seeds and beans and spices!  Some of the prices were on the high side, but there were also plenty of things I wouldn’t be able to get at my local Shop N Save like red lentils, wheat berries, fennel seeds, and coriander.  It was very exciting.  The sale items were great too, like $.89/lb for kale and collards and $.99 boxes of mushrooms.   By the time I had gotten through half the store (didn’t even get to the frozen foods), I was starving and had to quickly come up with a hearty, guest-worthy dinner for two that would cook up fast since I turn into an angry beast when I get hungry. Inspiration struck in the maze that was the produce section, so I stuffed my canvas bags to the brim and hauled them home on the bus with a little help from my handsome man-friend.

Dinner was to be baked potatoes, sauteed beet greens, and this red lentil soup.  All chosen for ease and speed of cooking.  I turned on the oven and started the water boiling before I even unpacked the bags.  While the lentils simmered, I chopped the sweets and onions.  Once the sweet potatoes were in the pot, I sauteed a shallot for the greens and washed them well (beet greens are impressively dirty).  All the while, russets were baking in the oven.  Altogether, the entire meal took less than an hour to prepare and we were satisfied before I got too hangry.

This is a warm, filling stew that is perfect for crisp autumn weather.

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

2 medium onions

1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes

1 bay leaf

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

Spices:

I think I used about half a teaspoon each of cardamom, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika.  Use what you have.  Curry would also be good in this soup.

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, with the bay leaf in it.  Once it’s boiling, add the lentils and simmer.

2.  While the lentils are cooking, peel and finely mince the ginger and add it to the pot.  Then peel and dice the onion and sweet potato and add them.  Put in all the spices, 1/4 teaspoon at a time.  Let it cook a little longer before adding an additional 1/4 tsp or more of all or just some of the spices according to your taste.

3.  Simmer the whole thing for about 40 minutes beginning to end, or for as long as it takes for the lentils and sweet potatoes to soften and the spices to blend.  This is even better leftover because the flavors continue to develop, so feel free to double it to eat all week.

Note about the spices:  If you have the time and feel like dirtying another pan, toast the spices in a skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or so before you add them to the stew.  They taste better that way.  I was too hungry to think about it at the time, but it really does add to the flavor of the soup.

This stew is pretty hearty and would be great served with pitas and a green salad rather than baked potatoes and cooked greens.

Black Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Collards

This is a hearty, nourishing stew that is perfect for a cold winter day.

Ingredients:

1 lb or so of dry black beans, soaked and cooked, cooking liquid reserved (I removed about 2 cups of cooked beans to store in the freezer for another day)

2 big sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 or 3 medium onions, chopped

5-10 cloves garlic (you can leave them whole or mince/crush)

1 bunch of collard greens, stemmed (keep the stems!) and chopped

2 bell peppers, any color, seeded and diced

1 small can tomato paste

Seasoning suggestions:  bay leaf, oregano, cumin, cilantro, cayenne, fresh hot peppers, etc.  A squeeze of lime is nice for serving, too.

1.  Start with your cooked beans simmering in their own broth.  Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, and any other dried seasonings you choose to use.  Save fresh herbs for the end.  Keep it simmering while you chop other things.

2.  Finely mince the stems from the collards.  I did this by putting them into the food processor whole and pulsing until they were in little tiny bits.  I also threw the onions and half the garlic with them, but that’s because I’m lazy, not because it’s necessary.  Feel free to chop everything by hand if you are less lazy than me, or don’t have a food processor.

3.  Add the sweet potatoes, minced stems, and tomato paste to the pot.  You may need to add a little more water at this point too.  Simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft and flavors have melded, 10-20 mins.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, then add the peppers and simmer some more.

4.  Steam the collard leaves until bright green and tender, or if you have a big enough pot (I don’t), just throw them in the soup with the peppers and cook until they wilt.  Add any fresh herbs once all the vegetables are soft.  Serve the stew over the steamed greens and garnish with some hot sauce and nutritional yeast, or a squeeze of lime or a dash of apple cider vinegar.

I like this soup because there’s so little waste.  Why throw those stems away?  When I make collards or kale on their own, I always chop up the stems and saute them with the onions, so I thought, “Why can’t I put them in the soup too?”  The results are delicious, and I hardly had to put any scraps in the garbage.  Bonus of extra fiber!

Stretching

Spent too much over the holidays?  Budget shot from too many nights out, plane/train/bus tickets, and gifts for your family and friends?  Yeah, me too.  All will be well when I get paid tomorrow, but in the meantime, I need to make the most of what I’ve got in the pantry.  (Improv Soup, anyone?)

Upon my return to the city over the weekend, I whipped up a red lentil and sweet potato soup with some curry and other spiced.  As I recall, there’s not much in it besides onion, carrots, celery, 2 big sweet potatoes, and half a pound of red lentils.  It’s tasty, but I can make it last longer by doing a few key things:

Adding brown rice (I get it on the cheap at Trader Joe’s for $1.09/lb)

Adding more vegetables (frozen spinach and others are often less than $2/lb)

Adding a can of tomatoes (watch for sales and buy a whole lot!)

I was planning on doing all of these things until I discovered that I am out of canned tomatoes.  Fortunately I had a couple cans of pumpkin, which is a natural addition to sweet potatoes and spices.  I’ve also added cooked brown rice, some frozen green beans, and a 10oz package of frozen spinach.  For more seasoning, I threw in some more spices (fennel, mustard, cumin), minced fresh ginger, and a just starting to shrivel jalapeno.  Some salt too.

Throw it all in a big pot (except for the rice, which you should save for the end so it doesn’t suck up all the broth) and simmer until it tastes good, adjusting the seasonings as it cooks. The only thing I’d change about my soup is that it could use another onion.  What’s really important though, is that I turned three servings of soup into ten.  I’ll eat like a queen until my paycheck clears!

Almost any dish can be stretched into soup this way.  I have a few servings of Wheat Berry Salad that could probably stand the same treatment if necessary.  Just add water, onion/carrot/celery, and some beans or canned tomatoes, simmer, and voila!  Soup.  Even if you’re not broke, it’s a great way to use up leftovers that you’ve grown weary of.

 

Train Food

I’m posting from the Ethan Allen Express on Amtrak, traveling from NYC to Vermont. Since you can’t always be sure that there will be healthy or satisfying food on the train or at your destination, I like to pack a meal when I travel. Amtrak tells me there is a vegan burger in the snack car on this train, but I don’t trust it to be any good, or cost-effective for that matter. Add to that my recent memory of a friend having eaten an Amtrak hamburger and promptly throwing it up, I further resolve to never eat the food produced on these trains.

I had to use up some veggies before I left town, so here I sit with the little container of delicious I cooked up this morning. You could use fresh garlic and ginger in the sauce if you wanted to, I just didn’t have any lying around.

sweet potato

It is hard to take a good photo with a cell phone on a moving train.

Sweet Potato, Tempeh, and Mustard Greens with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cake of tempeh (I like Trader Joe’s, which is only $1.79 and made from a blend of soy and grains for a milder flavor)

1 bunch of mustard greens, coarsely chopped

Sesame seeds, optional

salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large deep skillet, heat about an inch of water over high flame. Add the sweet potatoes, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the onion, tempeh, and pepper and saute over medium heat until the onion is soft, adding a little more water if necessary.

3. Put the mustard greens in the pan. They’ll take up a lot of space at first, but don’t worry, they’ll shrink down a lot. Cover and let them steam a few minutes, then gently stir, cover again, and let them wilt completely.

For the sauce (amounts are approximate; please taste and adjust accordingly!):

3 or 4 Tbls tamari or other soy sauce

2 Tbls apple cider or rice vinegar

2 Tbls smooth natural peanut butter

1 Tbls maple syrup or honey

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp chili powder (could use a pinch of cayenne if you like things hot!)

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Whisk together all ingredients until well blended, then pour over the hot vegetable mixture, stirring to coat. Top with sesame seeds and some black pepper, if you like.