Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Spinach & Black Bean Enchiladas

Yum…enchiladas…maybe our favorite dish at the Mexican restaurant. This recipe combines healthful spinach and black beans. It also stores well and allows for healthy lunches.
(I just noticed that this recipe has no picture…I guess next time I make it, I will have to take a picture)
(Adapted from American Heart Association)

Ingredients:
Several quarts of water
8 cups fresh spinach leaves, stemmed (1 pound)*
Vegetable oil spray, if needed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups low-sodium salsa, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
14 (6-inch corn) tortillas**
4 ounces shredded nonfat or low-fat Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
2 Italian plum tomatoes, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

* Substitute 1 (10-ounce) package of no-salt-added frozen spinach. Defrost spinach and drain completely, then continue with the recipe.
** Heat tortilla one at a time for approx. 30 seconds in microwave to prevent from breaking when rolling. Or place in hot non-stick pan and flip quickly.

Preparation
1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. While water heats, thoroughly rinse spinach. Add spinach to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well in a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible with the back of a large spoon.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray the casserole dish with vegetable oil spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, black beans, 1 cup of salsa, ½ teaspoon of cumin, and chili powder. Spoon mixture down the middle of one tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling and place it seam down in prepared casserole dish. Repeat process with remaining tortillas.

3. Combine remaining 1 cup salsa, tomatoes, and cumin; pour over tortillas. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 25 to 30 min. or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and let stand for 2 min. Place ½ cup lettuce on each individual serving plate. Arrange 2 enchiladas over lettuce on each plate. Top each serving with one tablespoon sour cream.

Tip: This dish freezes well. After rolling the enchiladas, place them in a container and cover tightly with foil or put them in an airtight plastic freezer bag. Increase baking time to 35 to 40 minutes.

Healthful benefits:
* Spinach is a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, calcium, folate, potassium, and fiber.
* Black beans are rich in protein.
* Corn tortillas are healthier than flour tortillas. Corn tortillas have fewer calories, less fat (also less saturated fats), less sugar, and less sodium than flour tortillas. In addition, corn tortillas have more fiber and magnesium than flour tortillas.

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Ricotta Green Onion Gnocchi

I love gnocchi but I usually use store-bought gnocchi. Only once before, did I attempt to make home-made gnocchi. They tested good, but failed aesthetically. This was my second try and the trick is to get the proper balance between moist and dry ingredients. Try to remove as much of the liquid in the ricotta cheese and definitely test using one gnocchi whether the dough will hold together.

(From Simply Organic: A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonal, and Local Ingredients by Jesse Ziff Cool)

Ingredients (Makes 3 servings):
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 green onions, trimmed
½ cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1½ to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups marinara sauce

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 40 minutes):
1. Put the ricotta in a sieve and place over a bowl for 15-30 minutes to drain. Discard the liquid. (Note, the ricotta cheese I used did not drain well. I ended up carefully dapping it with a paper towel to remove some of the liquid.)

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the drained ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, green onions, and Asiago or Parmesan. Gradually add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, using your hands and blending just until the dough holds together. Remove 1 teaspoon of the dough and roll into a ball on a floured surface. Drop into the boiling water. If the piece falls apart, add more flour to the dough, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it will form a ball. Repeat the cooking test until the dough holds together and floats to the surface.

4. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. On a generously floured board, using your hands, roll each section into a rope about 1 inch in diameter. Cut the ropes into 1-inch-long pieces and slightly indent with a fork. If you are not using the gnocchi right away, cover them thoroughly with flour and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

5. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Stir gently to prevent sticking. When the gnocchi float to the top, they are cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.

6. Meanwhile, heat the sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Top the gnocchi with the sauce.

Kitchen Tip: Gnocchi will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days and for months in the freezer in an airtight container.

Ricotta green onion gnocchi

Ricotta green onion gnocchi

Ricotta green onion gnocchi with marinara

Ricotta green onion gnocchi with marinara sauce

Healthful benefits:
* Ricotta cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. It also is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 acids. Ricotta cheese is also loaded with phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. It also contains a lot of vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.
* Green onions (also referred to as Spring onions) are rich in vitamin K.


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Veggie Orzo with Lime

Orzo is rice-shaped pasta that is quite versatile. This dish not only uses fresh vegetables such as zucchini and carrots, but it gets its ‘zing’ from lime zest and freshly pressed lime juice.
And apparently, we were either too hungry or it was way too delicious…and we forgot to take a picture…maybe next time =P

(Adapted from AllRecipes)

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups orzo pasta
1 zucchini, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
14 fluid ounces vegetable broth (alternatively use 1 veggie broth bouillon cube and 14 ounces of water)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
(¼ cup green onions, chopped; optional)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons grated lime zest (I just use the zest of one regular-size lime)
2 tablespoons lime juice (I just use the juice of one regular-sized lime)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping, see note

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 30 minutes)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and orzo pasta; cook and stir until pasta turns a light, golden color, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and carrots; cook until vegetables soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, Italian seasoning, and basil.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the green onions, parsley, lime zest, and lime juice. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Note: We prefer Pecorino Romano cheese over Parmesan.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Vegetarian lime orzo

Veggie Orzo with Lime

Vegetarian lime orzo_2_small

 

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-lime-orzo/

 

Healthful benefits:
* Carrots are a great source for beta carotene, vitamins C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Orzo is low in fat, while being a good source of protein and iron.
* Lime juice is rich in vitamin C.


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Curried Carrot Soup

Never made carrot soup before. And then we were gifted a 5-lb bag of organic carrots and we needed to find something to do with all the carrots. This soup is simple to make, can easily be stored, tastes delicious, and definitely helped to reduce the amount of carrots in our refrigerator.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth (we used 2 cubes veggie bouillon and 4 cups water)
2 cups water, or as needed
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
(Lemon juice, optional)

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 30 minutes):
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender and translucent. Stir in the curry powder. Add the chopped carrots and celery; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth, and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

2. Transfer the heated mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot, and thin with water to your preferred consistency. Season with lemon juice (if using), salt, and pepper.

Note: Soup can easily be stored in an airtight container and frozen. Allow it to slowly defrost in the refrigerator before heating it, when you want to use it.

Curried carrot soup

Curried carrot soup

Adapted from recipes from Eating Well and Allrecipes http://allrecipes.com/recipe/curried-carrot-soup/ and http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/curried_carrot_soup.html

Healthful benetits:
* Carrots are a great source for beta carotene, vitamins C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Celery is rich in vitamin A, K, and folate. It also contains antioxidants.


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Hans and I were in the mood for tortilla soup. Most recipes that we came across online were not vegetarian-friendly. So we decided to come up with our own recipe. So we choose the ingredients (including veggies and spices) and just trusted in the Dutch oven magic. Anything that is cooked in a Dutch oven, will by default be amazing, right?!

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):
½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can (15 ounce) organic garbanzo beans, including liquid
2 cups (16 ounce) medium salsa
1 cup water
1 veggie bouillon cube (½ cube for 1 cup water)
1 cup tricolored quinoa
1 teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 40 minutes)
1. Add all ingredients into the seasoned Dutch oven (8 inch).
2. Place Dutch oven on hot coals and heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. The quinoa is fully done, when the grain looks translucent and the white-germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.
3. Enjoy with cheese quesadilla.

Note: This recipe can be adapted to accommodate whatever you can find in your pantry. Need to use up potatoes and carrots. Just cut them into small pieces and add to the Dutch oven. No salsa, just use a can of cut tomatoes instead. Don’t like garbanzo beans, just use kidney beans. I would suggest buying organic tomatoes and beans, so you will not have to drain either can before adding them to the dutch oven. For another example, see Tortilla Soup Version 2.
https://ourfunstuff.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=216&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

Tortilla soup_before cooking

Tortilla soup_before cooking

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup_full meal

Tortilla soup_full meal

 

Healthful benefits:
* Quinoa is glutenfree and rich in protein. It is also a good source of essential amino acids like lysine and acceptable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
* Chickpeas are a great source of protein.


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Spaghetti with Walnut Sauce

I was a bit skeptical at first. Pasta and walnuts?! Not a combination I had grown up with in Germany or knew from visiting Italy. And let’s be honest, nothing comes close to traditional, home-style Italian pasta. Well…I loved this dish…even though any Italian out there may say that this is not authentic Italian cooking =P

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 servings):

1 cup walnut pieces or halves
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs, see note
3 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve, see note

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 20 minutes):
1. I used the walnuts as they came from the bag. (Alternatively, to remove the skins you can drop the nuts into a small pan of boiling water, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain. Slip of the skins. Dry on paper towels.) Coarsely chop and set aside about a quarter of the nuts.

2. Place the remaining nuts, the breadcrumbs, oil, parsley, and garlic (if using) in a food processor or blender. Process to a paste. Remove to a bowl, and stir in the softened butter and the milk. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Note:
* I like to use home-made bread crumbs. See suggestion under: https://ourfunstuff.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/366/
* We have grown fond of Pecorino Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. It is a bit milder in taste.
* This dish stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and can easily be reheated using the microwave.

Pasta with walnut sauce

Pasta with walnut sauce

 

Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking by Carla Capalbo

 

Healthful benefits:
* Walnuts (including their skin) are a good source of vitamin E. They also are rich in magnesium and potassium. They even contain a fair amount of calcium.


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Dutch Oven Home-Style Vegetable Chili

It’s a cold night and you are camping. You want something to warm you back up, this may be just the recipe to try. It is simple, delicious, and healthy… and it can be adapted easily to whatever beans and veggies you like.

Ingredients (Makes 4 large servings):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cans (15 ounce each) organic dark red kidney beans, undrained
2 cans (14.5 ounce each) organic diced tomatoes, undrained
shredded cheese, optional (cheese suggestions: Mexican style cheese or Cheddar cheese)

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 40 minutes):
1. Add olive oil to 8-inch Dutch oven and spread around. Add all the ingredients (minus spices). Place on hot coals and place some hot coals on the lid. Allow to heat, stirring occasionally. (Heat of the Dutch oven can be adjusted by adding or removing hot coals from underneath or the lid.)
2. Once heated through (approximately 30 minutes), add spices. Stir and enjoy sprinkled with cheese and fresh baked bread.

Notes:
* Ingredients mentioned above would more easily fit a 10-inch Dutch oven, but if you temporarily place some of the chili into one of the empty cans, while the rest is heating, an 8-inch dutch oven will work as well.
* Combine spices before camping trip and store in little plastic container or ziploc bag. Reducing recipe by half will be sufficient for two people and will more easily fit into 8-inch Dutch oven.
* Assuming, you are making this when camping: Cut all the veggies before cutting the jalapeno pepper. Also, it will be best if you have a ziploc baggy that you could use as a glove substitute when cutting the jalapeno pepper. This will make it easier to avoid getting a lot of the jalapeno juices on your hand and prevent needing a lot of water to wash it off later.

Homestyle vegetarian chili

Homestyle vegetarian chili

Home-style vegetarian chili

Home-style vegetarian chili with sour cream and cheese

 

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Vegetarian Cooking

 

Health benefits:
* Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Kidney beans are rich in potassium and magnesium, thus they help to keep blood pressure in check. In addition, the high fiber content can help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.. Kidney beans are also rich in iron and protein, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.