Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

This recipe was shared with:

Advertisements

Granola that’s Kinda Nutty (to power through business trips that are also kinda nutty)

Maple Nutty Granola yogurt parfait up closeWhen I was working, I had to travel to Europe several times, and once for two weeks to China and India.  And seriously, the best thing about many foreign hotels is their insane breakfast buffets.  These spreads catered to the breakfast preferences of many different countries and cultures, from eggs and bacon and potatoes, to waffles and pancakes and french toast, to knockwursts and bratwursts and whatvever-wursts, to congee and sushi and dumplings.  Now granted, I was traveling for business, so I did stay at pretty decent hotels.  But even the smaller ones all seem to know how to do breakfast right.  And one thing that always seem to have it a bowl of plain, thick yogurt, another of fresh fruit preserves, and yet another filled with granola.  More often than not, even with all of the other choices, I went for that – a little dairy, a little protein, a little fruit – just what I needed to power through the insane schedule that I usually had while traveling (one time involving 7 airplane flights in 10 days).

Back at home, the store-bought granola always left something to be desired for me.  Many seem to have a lot more sugar and fat than I am really looking for, not enough nuts and fruit, and way too much “filler”.  Plus, with finding out about my wheat allergy, I have to steer clear from granola that contains things like wheat and barley flakes, or even wheat germ.  So that is why I came up with this recipe.  It has a pretty high ratio of nuts and seeds to oats, a good amount of dried fruit, and just the right amount of sweetness, but without adding any refined sugars.  The only grain is oatmeal, and while I don’t need to seek out the gluten-free oats, this can be gluten-free if you purchase the gluten-free oats.   And it has a lot of different kinds of nuts.  I love nuts, and each one seems to have at least on particular standout nutritional stat, like walnuts for Omega-3’s, cashews for minerals and B-vitamins, and almonds for Vitamin E.  Here is a great source for lots of nutritional information about many different nuts and seeds.

Nutty Granola yogurt parfait

I love to eat this granola over plain yogurt with some chopped berries (or you can get all fancy and make parfaits), and The Bug likes it in any of the many yogurt combos I make for him (like this one).  But it is also good simply with some warm or cold milk (my new favorite is Almond Breeze’s Coconut Almond Milk, maybe with a little chopped banana.  I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful.

It also makes a nice gift.

Maple Nutty Granola Gift

And the great thing about granola recipes is that they really are a guideline.  Feel free to switch it up based on the nuts and seeds and fruits you love or have around.

Maple Nutty Granola Yogurt parfait

What is your favorite breakfast food?  Is there something you beeline for when you are at a buffet?

Maple Mixed Nut Granola

Ingredients

3 c oats (I use Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)

Granola in bowl1 c raw cashews, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 c water

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c real maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 c dried fruit (I like equal parts raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries)

Directions

Granola on pan1.  Preheat your oven to 250°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the water, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and toss until it is evenly distributed and moistened.

5.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, or until dry and golden.

6.  Toss the dried fruits in with the granola mixture.

7.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Maple Nutty Granola closeup

This recipe was shared with:

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

I Heart Nap Time

What Makes You Say Mmmmm? Monday Linky

Nap-Time Creations

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages – Crazy Cooking Challenge

I am so excited to be participating in my very first Crazy Cooking Challenge from Moms Crazy Cooking.  As you all know, I am new to the blogging world, so just heard about this late last week, but still wanted to join in on the fun.  Since I found out about my little bit of a wheat intolerance, I have only had pasta a few times, and typically use spaghetti squash instead.  Or just forego it altogether.  But I have been looking for a good reason to try some of the gluten free pastas, so the Tomato Sauce Challenge was the perfect opportunity.

The only problem was that I was heading to my mom’s for a long weekend the day after I found out about the challenge, and we already had plans for cooking in and eating out for the weekend.  So the only day I had to shop and cook and blog was Tuesday – yes, the day before the posts go up.  I needed something quick, easy, and would only require a quick trip to the store for a few items I didn’t already have in my fridge and pantry.  I started clicking on some links of the blogs listed on the Crazy Cooking Challenge page, and, although I looked at a few others, the first one I stumbled upon was perfect!  It was Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite.  I had most of the ingredients (including a partial bottle of red wine), and I knew that I could easily grab the last few items from the store and get it in the Crock Pot while The Bug was at pre-school.

Sausage on a platterI made a few changes to the recipe, mainly based on what I had in the house.  I had some fresh basil I wanted to use up, instead of dried, so added that in at the end.  Little Mommy suggests mushrooms as an optional addition, but I decided to add in zucchini – mushrooms are not The Hubby’s favorite, but I still wanted to get in some extra veggies.  And, while I wanted meat with dinner, I didn’t want a meat sauce.  So instead of the optional ground beef, I threw in some mild Italian chicken sausages.  You could definitely use pork or turkey sausages.  Or make it vegetarian or vegan by leaving out the meat altogether.

Veggie tomato sauce with chicken sausage on a platter

Well, first of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the brown rice spaghetti.  Pasta may be re-entering our lives, and not just in squash form!  And, since this is what we are really talking about here, the sauce was rich and delicious.  I loved all the veggies, the sausage was super soft, and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick that I balanced by topping it with a dollop of ricotta cheese (just because I had some to use up) and parmesan.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Susage form top

Bowl of Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage Seconds

I liked it so much that after I finished my spaghetti, I went back for a bowl of sauce and sausage.

This sauce will definitely be entering our regular dinner rotation.  And, most importantly, The Hubby and The Bug approved.  The Bug typically spits out zucchini, and can be hit or miss with meat, but he ate three plates of “noodles”!

This is a little spicy, but nom nom nom!

And in my never ending quest to re-purpose leftovers, I bet this would make a really awesome sausage sandwich, on some nice, crusty bread with mozzarella cheese melted on top.

So if you are reading this and haven’t checked out the Crazy Cooking Challenge, click on the button below to to see the other entries, and click on mine to vote for it as the Ultimate Spaghetti with Red Sauce recipe.  Thanks!

Photobucket

Also shared with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday 3/7/2012

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages

Slightly adapted from Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped  (I actually used only half because the one I had was enormous)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes – I used Tuttorosso Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, and added the liquid from the can, but not the liquid that squished out from the tomatoes onto the cutting board while I was chopping them.
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce – again I used Tuttorosso
1/2 T dried oregano
1 T parsley
1 t sugar
1 t crushed red pepper flakes (this gives it a but of a kick, so you may want to cut this down, depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
1/2 T Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2T fresh (or 1/2 T dried, as per the original recipe, but toss this in before cooking)
*1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (optional, or substitute pork or turkey sausage)

Spaghetti of your choice (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free), cooked as per package instructions.

Optional: Ricotta and/or Parmesan cheese for serving.

Directions

1.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onions, carrots, and zucchini and cook until soft, and onions are translucent.

3.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Cooking the Veggies

4.  Throw all of the veggies in your slow cooker.

5.  While you are adding all of the other ingredients to the slow cooker, throw the sausages into the pan you used to cook the veggies and brown them a little on the outside.Browning the sausage

6.  Add all of the other ingredients except for the pasta and optional cheese(s) to the slow cooker, stir it up and add in the sausages.Filling up the slow cooker

7.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours (to be honest, I had mine cooking for about 7).

8.  While you are cooking your pasta, take the lid off of your slow cooker to allow the sauce to thicken up a bit.Sauce is ready

9.  Serve over your favorite spaghetti,with a little dollop of ricotta cheese and/or a sprinkle of parmesan, if you like.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausages

10.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage ready to eat

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…