Skillet Quinoa with Broccoli, Spinach and Parmesan

On May 3, 2017, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Simple vegetarian meals are always excellent options for weekday after work cooking. This dish is a great addition since it only takes about 20 minutes to make with most of the time spent just waiting for the quinoa to cook.

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If you want to save additional time and make this dish in about 10 minutes or less, pre cook your quinoa the night before and add it to the pan to reheat with the vegetables.

Full Recipe: Broccoli, Spinach, Quinoa Skillet.

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Curried Cauliflower Wraps

On September 28, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I’m always on the lookout for an easy, quick and delicious vegan recipe and this one caught my attention a couple months ago when I found it on Pinterest.  It only takes about 20-30 minutes start to finish.  The only thing that takes some time is roasting the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, but that is pretty easy and definitely the first thing you should do.

There’s a lot of flavor with the lemon and oil dressing and the curry coating on the cauliflower.  I found some excellent pita wrap bread at Trader Joe’s that you can eat in the oven at the last 5 minutes of roasting.

Assembly is easy and prep is super simple.  They also made great leftovers for lunch the next day served cold. I’m definitely adding this to my frequent recipes list.

Enjoy!

Full Recipe: [Curried Cauliflower Wrap at Naturally Ella]

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

On June 6, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I tend to think of squash in October when front porches are getting filled with pumpkins and gourds and comfort food permeates the desire to stay warm as the weather cools down from the summer heat. While that may be the case through the years, I’m starting to change the behavior each time I enjoy squash outside of the Fall season.  Why relegate this flavorful food to only one season?  Just because it is most associated with comfort food. Isn’t comfort food something relevant all year?

In my challenge to this behavior, I was presented some beautiful acorn squash at the Studio City Farmers’ Market.  I picked one from the box of freshly picked squash and paid my $2.

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Roasting squash gives it such a beautiful color and really makes the ‘meat’ inside come to life. For this recipe, I simply brushed some olive oil and cracked some pepper and salt over each half after cleaning out the seeds.  You can follow what I did here with quinoa stuffing or you can mix it up. Feel free to use couscous or farro instead of quinoa.  Also any diced dried fruit works too.  Cranberries, apricots, go ahead and experiment for your own creation.  Or you can just do what I did if you want to guarantee success.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2

1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons dried cherries, diced
1 celery stalk, think sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place acorn squash halves on foil and drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper the inside of the squash. Face the inside up on the baking sheet.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Turn the squash over and cook for 10 minutes longer then remove and keep warm.

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Cook your quinoa according the package directions. You’ll need only a 1/2 cup of dried quinoa.  Once cooked set aside and keep warm.

When squash is ready, add the quinoa, celery and cherries a saute pan with a tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Let it cook for a few minutes.  Spoon the mixture into the roast squash.  Add a tablespoon of Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon of chopped mint on top of each squash. (Note: in my photo above I forgot to add the mint. Mint is optional, but preferred.)

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Moroccan Roasted Vegetable Quinoa

On May 16, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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If I’m being honest, this recipe is a bit “kitchen sink.” Meaning, I looked into the refrigerator wondering what to make with all the various vegetables I had after a stop this weekend at the La Canada Farmers Market and Whole Foods.

I then took a look at my pantry to figure out which grain or bean to use. After some back and forth with a bag of tri-color couscous and rainbow quinoa, I went quinoa. The choice was simple, since I barely had any couscous left.

What I like about this recipe is it’s flexibility. If you don’t have parsnips, use some peapods or maybe a potato. Just play around with it and experiment on your own.  You can even add some dried cranberries or almond slices.

Create away! Or not and follow the recipe below exactly as I have it.

Moroccan Roasted Vegetable Quinoa
Serves 2-3

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
pinch of saffron
salt

2 cups chopped kale
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons cumin
pinch of saffron
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Add carrots, parsnip and red onion to a baking tray lined with foil. Toss together with 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon, ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add salt and pepper. Heat for 30 minutes in the oven. Turning every 10 minutes so the vegetables don’t stick or burn to the foil.

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Heat quinoa and water adding saffron and salt to a small pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once at boil, reduce to a simmer and keep covered cooking for 15 minutes until the water is all absorbed. Turn off heat and set aside keeping covered to stay warm.

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Once the quinoa is done, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan and add celery and kale along with remaining teaspoon of turmeric, cardamom and cumin.  Toss and saute for 2 minutes. Don’t let the kale get wilted, keep it cooked but still firm. Remove from heat and set aside.

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Assemble dished with a small mound of quinoa and then place kale and celery mixture on quinoa.  Finally, add the roasted vegetables to complete. Optionally, you can add some chopped green onions or scallions.

Enjoy!

 

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Fava Bean Spread

On May 2, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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The past two weekends I bought some fresh fava beans.  They’re hard to miss. Giant peapods with a rich green color usually next to a box of beans, fava beans are sure to catch your attention. The next thing to wonder is what to make with these colorful bean monstrosities. For me, there was an obvious answer – fava bean spread.

Last year, we were dining out and enjoyed some fava bean spread on toast at a local restaurant. I immediately came home and started to search the Internet for some recipes to try my own take on this wonderful, buttery bean spread.  Some recipes called for mixing in some goat cheese or Crème fraîche. I wanted to try something without the addition and then build from there.

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The recipe below is just that. A basic fava bean spread that you can use as a base to experiment. Maybe add a 1/3 cup of goat cheese to it. Perhaps some tablespoons of Crème fraîche until you get the texture and flavor you want. You could also add grated cheese.

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For now, this basic recipe will get you started and really it needs nothing. The flavor is great as is, but if you do experiment please leave me some comments on what you did to enhance or try. I would love to hear it.

Fava Bean Spread
Serves 6-8 slices

1 1/2 lb whole fava beans with pod
1/2 lemon, juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the whole fava beans in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove and let them cool for 5 minutes.  Start chucking the pods by removing the pod. Put beans aside in a separate bowl.  When all finished removing the pods, now remove the skin from each bean.  You’ll see a dingy green skin that you can peal off to reveal bright green peas. Place the bright green beans in a saute pan.

Heat the saute pan on medium heat and toss the beans with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add water to the pan.  Toss to coat everything and heat mixing the beans around for about 5 minutes to soften the beans.

Add the cooked beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor. Puree it until you have a thick paste.  Add more olive oil or lemon juice if you need to get it smoother or modify the flavor a bit.

Heat some bread slices brushing olive oil on top of each and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove the bread when done and spread on the paste. Shave some parmesan and drizzle a little olive oil to finish.

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Mexican Vegetarian Rice Bake

On April 13, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Casseroles are a great way to make being a vegetarian more flavorful and interesting. Granted, I’m not a vegetarian.  However, we try to eat vegetarian or vegan for most of our dinners at home, doing about four or five a week without any meat.  What I like about casseroles is that they create flavor meals that feel more like meals and less like a side dish.  Plus baking something is usually easy and since there is no meat in the dish, the cooking time is pretty fast too.

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A few weeks ago I made a recipe I found that uses rice and a kale black bean soup from Pacific Foods. My post isn’t sponsored like the blogger who did the recipe for the brand’s website, but that’s fine. I really didn’t mind spending $3 for the soup and trying it out.  The recipe seemed foolproof and the cost to make this dish is pretty low, if you care about that.

What I enjoyed about this dish is the crunchiness rice gets when you bake it. Baked rice dishes enhance the texture of the rice and the soup added to the recipe gives the rice even more flavor.

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If you are looking for an easy, after work vegetarian meal you should give this one a try.  I’m sure I’ll make it again soon.

Full Recipe: [Mexican Vegetarian Rice Bake]

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From top left to right: (Sun Basket) Turkey Tacos with Roasted-Red Pepper Salsa, Chicken Breast with Honey-Roast Parsnips and Carrots, Warm Couscous Salad with Delicata Squash, (Green Chef) Mustard-Roasted Steak, Chard Paneer, Tuscan White Bean Soup, (The Purple Carrot) Black Bean Burgers, Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa, Saag Paneer, (Plated) Tartines with Squash, Tuscan Ribollita Vegetable Stew, Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, (Gobble) Red Kuri Squash Fajitas, Moroccan Pistachio Chicken, Chicken Carbonara with Gemelli Pasta, (Blue Apron) Rice Noodles with Coconut-Matcha Broth, Beet & Barley Risotto, Roasted Sweet Potato and Carmelized Onion Pizza

A friend of mine posted on Facebook if any of her friends used services like Blue Apron. I had been considering it for sometime, but just never took the next step of committing to an order. With some renewed curiosity, I decided now was the time to look into a meal delivery service.

What I found immediately is how competitive the market is with a ton of companies trying to provide prep-ready uncooked meals for our busy lives. Since this blog and our decisions at home involve cooking with organic and mostly sustainable ingredients, I narrowed down the services I would try. All of the services here have a focus on local ingredients, though that is very loosely defined in some cases. Few services offer only organic and some dabble by occasionally including an organic ingredient.

I wanted to try a wide range of companies. I included the big ones: Blue Apron and Plated. Part of the experience included a vegan only service (The Purple Carrot) and an organic only service (Green Chef.)

Because the market is so competitive, you can get some amazing deals, at least for your first week of meals. The lowest I paid was only $9.95 for shipping only and 3 meals for 2 for free from Green Chef. Most give you the first two meals free.

Before this endeavor I read several reviews with most of them focusing on one service and every blogger I read had received meals for free. This review is not influenced by free food. The following is a review from someone who actually bought the food with his own money.

Here we go!

Sun Basket

What I Paid: $38.94

Offer: $30 off the first order.

Sun Basket and Green Chef were the two I was most interested in since they both focus on organic and small farm producers, but of the two I found Sun Basket’s meal choices to be slightly better.

The box arrived with instructions on how to recycle and return reusable items back to the company. Each meal was packed in its own bag to make it easy to pull from the refrigerator.

From top left to right: Sun Basket, Green Chef, The Purple Carrot, Plated, Gobble, Blue Apron

A stack of recipe cards arrived in the box with a full ingredients list and portions making it useful in case you want to make the dish again. I really like how they had another card focusing on one of the farmers they work with. The personal story, aka “supermarket pastoral” as author Michael Pollan calls it, is a nice touch since I have no personal connection to the source of the ingredients like I do when going to a farmers’ market.

Preparing the Chicken Breast with Honey-Roast Parsnips and Carrots recipe.

Sun Basket offers seven options each week. It’s a good mix of vegetarian and meat plus they share if it is Paleo, Gluten Free or Soy Free. I found the Sun Basket meals to be more to our family’s taste and all three of the recipes we tried tasted great. Not one was a disappointment.

My only issue is I wish they shared more about their ingredient sources. Green Chef offers more details on their website about suppliers and I would like to see the same from Sun Basket.

Green Chef

UPDATE: They have since added vegan and vegetarian box options. However, I highly do not recommend them as they do not send out notifications to check your weekly selections, so you may get a surprise box like I did without any notice. Others like Sun Basket, Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot all send out weekly emails asking to review the coming week selections before sending you anything.

What I Paid: $9.95 (shipping only)

Offer: Initially Order 2 Meals and get 4 Free Meals free. When checking out on the website they offered all 6 meals to me for free since I was in a geographic area where others are using their service.

After an impressive first week of meal delivery with Sun Basket, I was a bit surprised by how mediocre the next week was with Green Chef. The meal arrived in a box that was better packed with cold packs than Sun Basket, but the ingredients were put in the box without grouping them for each recipe. So every time I went to make something, I was looking throughout the refrigerator like any normal night cooking at home. I was a bit spoiled by Sun Basket who put each meal’s ingredients in a brown paper bag.

Food prep is a big help with meal delivery. Green Chef’s organic ingredients are nicely separated and labeled.

The sheets Green Chef provided for cooking the meal had simple step-by-step photos making it really easy for new home cooks. Unfortunately, they didn’t give you the recipe so you could make the meal again; though, it wasn’t difficult to figure out the recipe with the ingredients all measured out.

I made three meals and all of them were okay, but nothing I’d ever make again. Perhaps it was a weak week or I picked wrong. My wife kept telling me “when is this week over. None of these meals are good.”

The other issue we had with Green Chef were the portions. We didn’t really mind as I don’t make big meals, but I would guess most Americans wouldn’t be too happy getting a steak dinner for two with half a steak. Or a meal that was a vegetable soup with a French sandwich roll to split. None of the meals really felt big enough for dinner, more like lunch portions.

I did however like how Green Chef is focused on organic ingredients and their website was the best at showing the source of the foods. Unfortunately, nothing looked that great recipe wise and I decided to cancel my membership.

If you are Paleo, they do offer it as an option and you may also be happier with their recipe selection than I was. So give them a try, just know portions are small.

The Purple Carrot

What I Paid: $68.00

Offer: I was supposed to receive $20 off but the discount was never applied to my order. They are still offering a discount off your first order, but please make sure you get the discount when checking your bill.

My wife and I were really excited about receiving our order from The Purple Carrot, since there was a recipe for a black bean burger my wife had been eying since she made me aware of this service.

I should note that The Purple Carrot is a vegan only service. What also caught our attention was the recent collaboration with New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. A lot of my personal food changes came about from a combination of the documentary Food Inc. and Bittman’s 2008 article titled Rethinking The Meat Guzzler.

Unfortunately, our first meal kind of crumbled to pieces, literally. The black bean burger was just too wet and became quite the mess in the pan and was almost inedible, but we decided to not toss it and order pizza. In the end, it didn’t taste too bad, but was not a positive experience and has the unfortunate conclusion of being the only failed meal during this whole endeavor.

While edible, the Black Bean Burger wasn’t as pretty as the picture on the recipe card.

It was a good thing the next two meals ended up being big hits. The other was a roasted vegetable and quinoa dish and an Indian spiced tofu dish that we both really liked.

The black bean burger situation aside, I really liked The Purple Carrot and they provided beautiful recipe cards along with detailed instructions on how to prepare each recipe. They also used a good amount of organic ingredients. I’m watching to see how Mark Bittman’s influence continues to impact the recipes they offer.

The Purple Carrot had the most beautifully designed step-by-step visual and written instructions. Great for new cooks.

Plated

What I Paid: $48

Offer: Get to 2 free plates with purchase of 4. So basically you pay for 2 of the 3 meals they send with each meal serving two people.

Plated’s website talked about local producers and sustainably sourced ingredients. Like most of the food services they knew the right buzzwords and brought together home cooking with the other trend of farm-to-table.

The meals we received were pretty good. Not one was a miss and I really liked some of their vegetarian options, which were better than other services. The Tuscan Ribollita Vegetable Stew with White Beans and Kale and Squash Tartines were both delicious.

The Plated box did arrive with one minor issue. The butternut squash bag had a slit in it and several cubed squash pieces were roaming freely in the box. I contacted their help team and they made note of the issue. I said I was fine replacing it myself since it was $2 in product and I needed it the next evening. Considering all the food sent to our home over 7 weeks, one bag of cut squash was a minor casualty. The rest of the ingredients from Plated arrived fine.

Out of a total of 18 meals only one ingredients issue happened with a small bag of cut butternut squash.

Overall, I liked Plated but it didn’t make my list of ones to keep. I would love to see them do an all-organic offering, as I do like their meal selection. They also are the only other one with a mobile app making it easy to select meals or skip weeks (Blue Apron also has a mobile app, but there are limitations I didn’t care for regarding meal selection that are mentioned below.)

 Gobble

What I Paid: $23.90

Offer: First four meals free. You pay for one of the meals in a three meals for two people plan.

Similar to Green Chef, Gooble doesn’t share the recipe details for the dishes you make. They also provided the least amount of information about each recipe. For example, there was a cream sauce for Chicken Carbonara and some salsa for a fajita dish that came in containers with no information about what was in them. If you like the recipes, you’re out of luck with replicating them yourself without some guess work.

Individually wrapped and sealed ingredients along with everything showing up on your doorstep is a great convenience.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the recipes were okay but nothing spectacular so I didn’t feel like I was missing out with recipe details. It’s not that the meals were bad. They just were not good enough to bother making again.

The recipes come packed in separate ingredient baggies and each recipes is bagged in its own separate large bag, making it easy to grab a recipe for cooking each night after work.

Gobble used the least amount of packaging material of all the services; though, it was enough to keep everything fresh and ready to put in the refrigerator when it arrived on our doorstep.

Blue Apron

What I Paid: $39.96

Offer: Two free meals on your first week’s order. You pay for two meals for two people. They give you the third meal for two people for free.

I almost didn’t order from Blue Apron for this review. I figured they were big and enough had been written about them already. Plus they didn’t fit my initial criteria, meal delivery services focusing on organic and/or sustainable small farm sources. Plated and Gobble both moved me away from that criteria too, so I opened up to see how the largest company in this segment does things.

There was a small carton of milk labeled organic. To be fair they don’t focus on organic, but it was nice to see at least a solitary attempt was made. All of the ingredients were in good shape with nothing damaged or bruised.

Blue Apron’s recipe sheets are full back-and-front pages showing the full recipe details and photographed step-by-step instructions are easy to follow along. Every recipe I made came out flawlessly.

The food all tasted great and they were really adventurous with one meal, a squash and onion pizza. That one took some work and more time than most delivery service meals. I found most meals take 30-minutes or less. The pizza from Blue Apron took almost a hour. Fortunately, I have a pizza oven that did the cooking faster at a 700-degree heat.

Blue Apron locks you out of some selections after you’ve made other choices. They were the only one to do this.

My main gripe with Blue Apron was during the meal selection process. Every service gives you around 4-8 meals to select from. Blue Apron was the only one that excluded certain meals after selecting other meals. They group your combinations and this forces you to select more of a group of recipes than say your three favorite recipes.

In Closing

Meal delivery cook at-home service is a great trend and one I hope survives the eventual Silicon Valley investment bubble. There are a lot of competitors in the market today offering very similar experiences, including some I didn’t get to review like Freshly and Hello Fresh.

It’s real food. You do the cooking and like all home cooking you control what goes into your meal.

It is definitely a luxury service. You have to have the luxury of paying for the convenience and the luxury of having time to cook at home. However, if you already do a lot of home cooking and don’t mind the additional $20-$35 fee each week that gets you meal planning, shopping, and delivery right at your doorstep then you won’t mind the cost of cooking this way.

You’ll also need to have some kitchen equipment like pans, knives, oils and on occasion a food processor.

Overall, I found I really like what meal delivery has to offer. I cook at home five to six nights a week already and having a service or two I love to select from on occasion makes planning considerably easier. In the end, I kept Sun Basket and The Purple Carrot active. Their recipe selection, quality and ingredients fit our family best. I’ll continue to watch how the industry matures and I definitely recommend trying a few services out since you get some great introductory week deals that work to your benefit.

Enjoy! Please share in the comments below any experiences you had or plan to have.

Lasagna

On October 27, 2015, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Growing up with an Italian mother, well 3/4 Italian and 1/4 French, made for some pretty amazing meals that a young boy never could truly appreciate. However, there was one dish my mom was famous for: Lasagna. It was a staple of the holidays at our home. She definitely took a lot of pride making it for family and guests and people lavished their praise.

As I grew older and as my own taste matured too, I came to appreciate what a great lasagna takes to perfect. Many restaurants and home cooks try to make this classic dish and fail.  There is too much sauce, they use sub-par ingredients or there are too many extras spinach, mushrooms and meats that it all becomes too complex and loses the perfection of a simple lasagna.

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Mine is different than my mother’s, not because I think less of her’s; rather, I wanted to do my own take on this dish.  For me it is all about using the best ingredients.  Since moving to Los Angeles, that hasn’t been too easy with some failures in finding the key ingredient – fresh ricotta cheese.  Fortunately, I finally found a rich and creamy ricotta that is sold by Laurent Bonjour’s Cheese Corner found Saturdays at the La Canada Farmers’ Market.

I also make a homemade pasta sauce that I lightly blend with a hand mixer. You can use two jars of your favorite pasta sauce. I recommend Mario Batali’s marinara if you do not have time to make your own.

The sauce, ricotta, and a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano have the most impact in my opinion. I haven’t found much difference when it comes to the pasta noodle or even with the mozzarella you choose.

Lasagna
Serves 4-6

1 lb lasagna noodles
4 cups basic red pasta sauce
1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 Spicy Italian sausages, cooked and crumbled
or 1 bunch spinach, washed and rough chopped lightly sauteed)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven at 35o degrees.

Cook the noodles for about 6 minutes in boiling  water. Do not overcook. You want the noodles to be soft but still firm. Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley and the oregano.

Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 lasagna pan. Add a layer of noodles.  Spread ricotta cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle some crumbled cooked sausage (or chopped spinach) over ricotta cheese mixture. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Repeat this process two more times. Finally add one last layer of noodles and then add a layer of pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cover the lasagna with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove foil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more. Finally remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut and serve.

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One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils

On October 20, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Lentils are a personal favorite in my vegan and vegetarian cooking. I tend to save a lot of recipes that use them on my Pinterest Mostly Vegetarian board (you can follow me on Pinterest here.) A recent save is this lentil and spinach dish I made last week. It’s pretty easy to prepare and can be done after work, since it only takes about 30 minutes or less to prepare.

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I’d recommend serving it with some bread or a simple salad. It comes out more soup like depending on how much you cook down the liquid. I kept quite a bit of the liquid.

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The end result is fantastic and made for a very flavorful dish we are sure to have many more times to come.

Full Recipe: [One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils]

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Kale, Apple and Pine Nut Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

On August 7, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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We are on vacation in Michigan enjoying not going out for every meal, so I’ve been making quick, easy vegetarian dishes that help us enjoy vacation even more.  Eating good, healthy food helps too.  This salad is a great example of something easy to make with just a few ingredients.

This morning was the Northport Farmer’s Market where I found some great purple kale for this salad and the bread too!

Kale, Apple and Pine Nut Salad with Maple Vinaigrette 
Serves 4

1 bunch purple kale
1 apple, diced into small cubes
1/2 red onion, diced into small cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste

Chop kale into thin strips and place in bowl along with the diced apple and red onion. Meanwhile heat a saute pan on medium heat with the olive oil in the pan. Add the pine nuts and sugar and let it cook for a couple minutes just before they begin to brown. Remove from heat and add to bowl with kale.

To make the dressing combine the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in a bowl and add the olive oil a couple tablespoons at a time whisking each time to combine.  Continue until all olive oil is added and then season with salt and pepper. Taste to make sure you are good with the mix. If too acidic, add some more olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the kale salad and mix to coat.  Serve with some fresh bread.

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