Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping


Let me tell you about one of my favorite meals. Never mind that while it’s officially fall, it hasn’t been really cool enough here to make it. The calendars says fall, so I went ahead anyway. But seriously. I think my sweatiest run all summer was last Monday (which was probably also influenced by the fact that is was my longest run in quite some time).

This is a vegetarian soup recipe that combines a little bit of spicy in the stew portion with  cool and creamy flavors from the Greek yogurt and avocado. It might be a little spicy for little ones, but you can certainly adjust that by the amount of dried peppers you add to the butternut squash layer.


I will note, as written, I find that the butternut squash portion is often a little dry. I usually add a little bit of vegetable broth while cooking it. Just enough to cover it, but not so much that it converts from a stew to a soup. Maybe ~1/2 cup or so. You want the bottom layer to stay thick.

So, please make this at some point this season. Even if you have to wait for the weather to cool off a bit. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping
Adapted from Cooking Light

Butternut Squash Stew:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 dried New Mexican or guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly crumbled
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (15.5 oz) can yellow hominy, undrained
1 (15.5 oz) can white hominy, undrained
1/2-3/4 cup vegetable broth, as needed

Avocado Salsa:
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds)
1 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. lime zest
1-1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Heat a 3 quart saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the butternut squash, onion, oregano, and the dried, crushed chile. Cook 10 minutes or until the onion and squash begin to brown, stirring frequently.

Add paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, and undrained hominy. Add broth as needed, just to add enough liquid to bring the pot to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until the pieces of butternut squash begin to look very soft.

To prepare the salsa, combine avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, and 1 teaspoon of oil in a small bowl. Toss to combine. Stir in lime zest and juice.

To serve, add the squash mixture to a bowl. Top with Greek yogurt, avocado salsa, and Monterey Jack cheese. Serve immediately. If you have any leftovers, we package up the stew and toppings (salsa, yogurt, and cheese) in two separate containers (1 with stew, 1 with all the toppings combined) so the soup can be reheated later.

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing


So, remember that Sweet Thai Chili Peanut Butter from Sprelly. This salad was the recipe I finally picked out to use it. I didn’t end up making the pad thai as I was having a hard time getting over fish sauce. Silly? Possibly. I just can’t get my mind over adding fish sauce to anything. Have you smelled it by itself?

But this? This salad and the dressing were both awesome. In fact, we had enough salad for 4 meals, but only enough dressing for two. My husband was eating it with a spoon. That said, I am excited about the possibilities for this recipe. It was fresh. Light. Simple. Fast. Sounds like the perfect summer meal, and I’m sure we will end up making it all summer.


The salad itself is just chopping vegetables. I did use actual heads of romaine lettuce, but I’m sure you could swap out prepared salad mix to make it slightly quicker. I mixed the dressing in a small bowl using just a whisk, but you could probably also add this to a blender (or even a smoothie cup) if you wanted to make it easier too.

If you never use ginger, my tip is to buy a piece and freeze it. Then when it is time to make the dressing, you can just peel it and use it on a microplane while frozen. My last tip. Don’t skip the salted cashews (and the salt is key)!



(Printable Recipe)

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
From The Recipe Critic

2 heads Romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
15-20 sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup salted cashews

Ginger Peanut Dressing:
1/3 cup sweet thai chili peanut butter (see Sprelly)
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
water to thin (I used about 2 Tbsp)

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients through the green onions. Toss. Top with the cashews and dressing.

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole


Last week we had a little “going away” breakfast party for a couple of the guys at work who were leaving us. I work with a pretty big group of people, so it is always fun to do a work potluck where I you to eat a little bit of a whole bunch of different foods!

There were already quite a few people signed up to bring breakfast ‘sweets’ – bagels, muffins, doughnuts. So I was looking for something on the savory side that would be easy to transport. The only caveat to this was due to dietary restrictions, it would be much easier to have the dish be vegetarian. Enter the idea for an egg casserole, except I needed a recipe. My dad has made one growing up, but it always contained Polish sausage and would be a bit plain without the meat.

In a recipe search, I came across this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that looked pretty customizable. Bonus in that it was make-ahead because let me be honest. I already had to bake this and be into work by 6:30 that morning. And I don’t function too well in the morning any earlier than that.


I mostly used her recipe as a base, swapping and adding things where I thought it might be good. As mentioned above, I did not add any meat, thus I ended up adding some shredded hash browns to the cooked veggie mixture in an attempt to ‘heft’ the casserole up a touch. Other than no mushrooms, I largely followed her veggie list, adding only a jalapeño that happened to be in my fridge. I used normal sandwich bread for the bread in the recipe, although I’m sure any type of bakery loaf you may have would be awesome here as well. Just know that it can work with the bread you normally have in the house too 🙂

On the bake time, I will say to watch it closely. I also baked mine on the longer side, 53 minutes to be exact, as I was concerned about ensuring the middle was cooked (particularly as I had added the potatoes). The eggs themselves were not over baked, however the bottom of the casserole was more of a dark tan color. I might shave a few minutes off that next time and keep it closer to the 48-50min range. Keep in mind, if the casserole has a chance to cool off for a bit, it will seem to ‘set up’ more as well. I cannot speak to reheating as the casserole did not make it until lunch at work, but I have had success reheating egg bakes in the past. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bell peppers of any color, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) pkg baby spinach
1/3 to 1/2 pkg frozen shredded hash browns
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bread (any type desired), torn into bite-sized pieces
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick spray

Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When warm, add the bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño and sauté for 4-5 mintues, or until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook until warmed through (this should help get out any extra water). Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the vegetables aside.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Add the torn bread in a (mostly) single layer over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. Top with the vegetables and cover with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.

Spray the bottom of a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is golden, the edges are crispy, and the middle appears to be set or about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool as desired (will ‘set up’ slightly more as it cools).

Tomato Basil Orzo Stuffed Peppers

orzo stuffed pepper open

Has anyone else ever dug through the pepper display at the grocery store trying to find the ones that will stand on their own? Please tell me I am not the only one! Normally, I don’t really care what my peppers look like. If I am going to chop them up anyway, what does it matter? Random pointed bottom? No problem. Odd growth off the side that makes 1 pepper look like 2? Just means more pepper for the same price. Throw it in the cart. But when I know that I am going to be making stuffed peppers. Every single one of those babies better stand on its own, and I will dig through the entire display until I find enough that will.

This stuffed pepper recipe is a little different from most as the predominant flavor is that quintessential summer combination of tomatoes and basil. Yes, the tomato-basil combination is coming out here. It’s been warm here for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve been spending every day off swimming (laps) at the local outdoor pool (in training for our triathlon). Definitely enough to make me start craving summer flavors.

orzo stuffed peppers filling

orzo stuffed peppers before baking

This particular recipe comes from Maria at Two Peas & Their Pod. I’ve changed the cooking process slightly using the boil first then bake method. It will make another pan dirty, but by boiling the peppers for just 5 minutes, you can cut 40 minutes off the bake time. A win-win in my book for getting dinner on the table quicker and not heating up the house as much. The recipe is written for 6 peppers. I must measure my vegetables generously because I always end up with extra filling. If you measure like me, you could probably stretch this to 7-8 peppers. Why not? The leftovers make a great lunch. Enjoy!

orzo stuffed pepper close

(Printable Recipe)

Tomato Basil Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium if possible)
1-1/2 cups orzo
heaping 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divded
1/3 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
6-8 sweet bell peppers of any color

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare the peppers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, carefully cut around the tops of the bell peppers to create a hole to use to stuff the pepper. Remove the seeds and stems. When the water comes to a boil, submerge the peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander and set aside.

Simultaneously, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes (this will only partially cook the orzo). Drain the pasta, making sure to save the vegetable broth. Set both aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Cook until wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mixture. Mix in 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil.

Pour the reserved vegetable broth into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish up to about a 1/2-inch depth (you may not use it all). Place the peppers in the baking dish and spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted. The peppers can also be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake. Add an additional 5-10 minutes the bake time if prepared ahead. Serve warm.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Pinto Bean, and Swiss Chard Tacos


Let’s talk about sweet potatoes for a second. So sometime within the last year or so, I have came to realize that the vegetable that most of us consider a “sweet potato” is actually a yam. Yes, the huge orange root vegetable that we often develop into casseroles around Thanksgiving and is popping up everywhere (even Sonic?) in fry and tot form is a yam. Apparently, there is a vegetable that is really a sweet potato, although I had never actually consumed it until this week. Sweet potatoes by the correct name are actually a pale yellow, cream color.

All of this back information aside, I was hoping to make roasted sweet potato tacos (sweet potatoes as in the yam variety) this week. The hubbs was headed to the store, so 1-1/2 lbs. of sweet potatoes went down on the list. So what did he came home with? Of course, this week of all weeks was the time the store actually carried real sweet potatoes and had them labeled as such. Guess I really got true sweet potatoes!



Grocery store stories aside. These tacos are some of the best vegetarian tacos I have made. Roasted sweet potatoes mixed with taco seasoning combined with pinto beans and sauteed Swiss chard. Quick. Filling. Healthy. Love it. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Roasted Sweet Potato, Pinto Bean, and Swiss Chard Tacos
Adapted from Joanne Bruno’s recipe on Marcus Samuelsson’s Blog

1-1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning
juice 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper
Cojita cheese, crumbled
corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the potatoes and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, and taco seasoning. Roast for 18-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and starting to brown on the edges.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Swiss chard and cook until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the beans. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.

Top the tortillas with the potatoes and then the Swiss chard mixture. Sprinkle Cojita cheese over the top. Enjoy.

Black Bean and Tomato Soup

black bean and tomato soup with bread

I feel like I have to share a quick little story that precedes this cookbook. Back in October, I ran a half-marathon with a couple of my college girlfriends, and we all stayed at one of the girl’s apartment (it was kind of like the old time sleepovers, lots of fun!). Anyway, the girl we were staying with end up giving me a cookbook she had laying around (this Skinny Bitch cookbook) stating that she never uses it anyway. Awesome! I was pretty excited about checking out the new recipes and ended up paging through it in the airport on the way home. Given the title, I tried to keep the book covered up pretty well but apparently did not do it well enough as one of the ladies sitting beside me at the terminal commented on the “language” of my book. Oops…

“Language” aside, this is a really interesting book. While I do not follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, we do eat meals that fall into each of those categories with some regularity. In fact, I knew as soon as I paged through the soups that this section alone would be reason enough to own this book. When I got home, I actually gave it to my husband to page through and pick out a recipe. He actually dove right into the soup section as well, so we must have been on the same page! Black bean and tomato soup is was.

black bean and tomato soup

The beauty of this soup is it’s simplicity. It is not my first black bean-related soup on this blog, but has it’s own advantages. The first is that this is absolutely weeknight friendly. It comes together really quick, and allows you to prep anything else you may be doing during that 15 minute simmer time. One of the others is that the 2 cans of beans in here actually give this soup some staying power. I love soup, but I hate it when I’ve brought a vegetable-based soup for lunch at work and I end up hungry 2 hours later. As far as the recipe goes, I followed it almost exactly, swapping only small things that I had in my kitchen. The soup itself is absolutely something we will make again, so thanks for the new cookbook Kelcey! I’ll try to keep the title a little more conspicuous next time 🙂 Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Black Bean and Tomato Soup
Adapted slightly from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
2 (15 oz) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
juice of 1/2 lime (1-2 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and red bell pepper and saute another 30 seconds. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir to combine. Add the black beans, tomatoes, corn, broth, water, oregano, red pepper flakes, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Transfer half the soup to a blender or food processor, let cool slightly. Blend until smooth. Add this back to the remaining soup in the stockpot. Alternately, you can use an immersion blender in the stockpot (with all the soup in the pot) and blend until about 1/2 of the vegetable pieces have been pureed. With the soup back in the stockpot, add the lime juice and sale. Stir and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Garnish with the green onion and cilantro.

Green Goddess Enchiladas

green goddess enchiladas baked

Meals like this are something I turn to when I feel like I need a detox. This past weekend? Well, we’ll just say there may or may not have been some fried macaroni & cheese balls consumed. And while they were absolutely worth every bite, it’s just something I just can’t do every day. Bring on the fresh, wholesome food!

This recipe comes from Joanne at Eats Well with Others. Truthfully, the first time I made these I had some reservations about how the sauce would end up. There really was no reason to be worried, and it’s a recipe that has been repeated more than once around here. Even if it’s not so photogenic, these have become one of our favorite types of enchiladas. Rather than a traditional enchilada sauce, the tortillas are topped with a mixture of blended broth, kale, Greek yogurt, green chiles, and scallions. I promise you really won’t taste “greens” in the final dish. As a note, the mixture will be thin after you first blend it, but it condenses well in the oven to form almost a second layer over the tortillas.

CX VCgreen goddess enchiladas serving

I usually stay pretty true to Joanne’s recipe when I make these, subbing only canned beans for the dried to aid in the preparation time and upping the amount of chopped green chiles. It is a pretty simple process, and most of the time spent is actually bake time. One thing I can tell you about this dish is that it is totally a stick-to-your-ribs meal! Leftovers for lunch are great because if I eat this at noon, I’ll actually make it to a respectable dinner time before I’m ravenous (I mean really, anyone else always get hungry at 3:00pm?). Healthy + filling. Do I really need to convince you any more? Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Green Goddess Enchiladas
From Eats Well with Others (originally adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)

1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), can used dried beans that have been soaked and cooked until tender
1 small onion, diced
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese (Cabot brand is what I like)
10-12 corn tortillas
1-3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
2 scallions, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Saute chickpeas, onion, corn, chopped tomatoes with green chiles, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper for 5-6 minutes or until all the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, stirring often. Remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in 1/2 of of the grated cheese and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, add the vegetable broth, yogurt, kale, green chiles, and scallions. Lightly cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with about 1/2 cup of the sauce.

Cover the corn tortillas with a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to warm. Fill each tortilla with a scant 1/2 cup of filling and roll tightly. Place in the baking dish seam-side down. If any filling remains, layer on top of the rolled tortillas or set aside for another use. Pour the remaining kale sauce evenly over the tortillas. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Coconut Curry Chili

vegetarian chili with sweet potatoesBrrr…. We actually had sleet/ice come down here in Phoenix yesterday. For like 2 minutes, but enough to briefly leave a white hint to a few surfaces and freak a few people out. Some were calling it snow. Definitely not snow when it’s a hard little nugget 🙂 And definitely not the inches that are headed towards the Midwest right now. Keep warm and stay safe if you’re getting snow right now!

Snow or not, the weather is still pretty cool here (at least by our standards), and the hubbs and I are both completely back on a comfort food kick. Last year, I picked up a copy of Classic Comfort Foods from Clean Eating Magazine after literally drooling over the photos when leafing through my friend’s copy. I have made quite a few things from it,  and I am loving the fact that we can have a warming, comfort-filled meal without the heaviness that typically comes along with comfort food. The other bonus about many of these recipes is that most are pretty quick and simple. While it is a healthy-living magazine, none of the ingredients seem to be too hard to find. For the most part, they are whole, unprocessed ingredients.

vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes on stove

vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes close

As I described above, this recipe came together pretty quick and could easily be a weeknight dinner. The only thing I noted was that it took a little longer for the bulgur to thicken the soup than indicated in the recipe. I actually discovered this by accident as the soup actually finished up earlier than we had planned on eating, so I left it on the stove over lowish heat while we waited. Because of this, I don’t have an exact cook time, but sometime between the time it “finished” and the time we sat down to eat (maybe an extra 10 minutes?) the soup really thickened nicely. In the future, I’d plan a little extra cook time at the end. You will know when it looks right.

This is definitely not a traditional chili recipe, but in the end, it’s one we really enjoyed. In fact, the hubbs claimed the leftovers for lunch before I ever even had a chance. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Coconut Curry Chili
From Clean Eating – Classic Comfort Foods Volume 1, Issue 1

1-1/2 tsp. red curry paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans (BPA-free if possible)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 cans tomato puree
2 scallions, chopped
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot with a lid, add the curry paste and cumin. Add broth just a little at a time, until the curry paste and cumin are mixed in without any clumps. Add the remaining broth, bulgur, sweet potato, and bell pepper. Set over high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add beans, coconut milk, and tomato puree ans stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes, until bulgur is tender. Continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes, if necessary to thicken. Top with scallions and black pepper. Serve.

Shepard’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling and Onion Gravy

vegetarian shepard's pie serving with onions2Growing up, shepard’s pie always meant one thing to me. Thanksgiving leftovers. Mom always made what we called shepard’s pie from all those Thanksgiving goodies. Thinking about it, it is essentially Thanksgiving all mixed together in one casserole. The base was always a mixture of shredded turkey, gravy, and any leftover vegetables (green beans, corn), and it was topped with any leftover mashed potatoes we could find. For the longest time, I didn’t even realize that shepard’s pie is traditionally made from lamb or beef, and I really think my first version will always be my favorite. It is definitely my favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers.

This version of shepard’s pie is from Joanne at Eats Well with Others, and it is worlds apart from my old version filled with turkey and gravy. What originally attracted me to this recipe was the onion gravy. Think onions caramelized so far that they make a sauce (with some added water), and they are that good. I could have eaten the onions alone as my dinner.

vegetarian shepard's pie close in pie pan

vegetarian shepard's pie in plate

This recipe isn’t going to win any time awards, but the time spent is worth it. It is equally filling as a traditional shepard’s pie recipe, and fed the two of us for several meals. I followed the recipe exactly for the filling and onion gravy, but added my own touch to the mashed potatoes. My go-to mashed potato recipe during the holidays adds sour cream in the mashing process to make the potatoes extra creamy, so I added a tablespoon or so of non-fat plain Greek yogurt when mashing the potatoes. My other touch was just a little bit of garlic salt rather than traditional salt. Even with the garlic included with the potatoes, it adds just a bit that makes the mashed potatoes irresistible.

If I haven’t convinced you enough, go make this recipe. It’s almost as good as my Thanksgiving leftovers. 🙂  If anyone wants to bring me any, it would be graciously accepted. This pie totally complements the type of day we’re having here! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Shepard’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling and Onion Gravy
Adapted from Eats Well with Others, originally from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook

Wine-Braised Lentils:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
2 Tbsp. red wine
3/4 to 1 cup of water
1/4 tsp. salt

Onion Gravy:
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cups sweet onion, sliced thinly into half moons
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. soy sauce

Shepard’s Pie
1 recipe wine-braised lentils
1 recipe onion gravy
2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered (I left the peels on)
2 tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
3 Tbsp. almond milk or low-fat/skim milk
1-2 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
ground black pepper to taste
3-4 cups Swiss chard (from 1 bunch), washed, stemmed and chopped/torn into ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

For the lentils, in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are slightly softened. Add the lentils and stir to cook. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, allowing the wine to reduce. Add 3/4 cup of water. Return to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a slight simmer until fork tender, around 40 minutes. Add water as needed while cooking so that the lentils do not dry out. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, taste. Add more salt if necessary.

For the mashed potatoes, fill a medium-sized saucepan with 4 cups of water. Add the potatoes and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the whole garlic. Return the lid and cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large mixing bowl and mash. Stir in reserved cooking water and milk as needed to keep the potatoes moist. Add the Greek yogurt and mix until creamy. Add the garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook the chard and minced garlic until wilted, 3-5 minutes, tossing with tongs to coat evenly. Stir in the nutmeg and season to taste with salt. Mix together with the cooked lentils and add to the bottom of the pie plate. Top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through. During the last 2 minutes, set the oven to broil to brown the cheesy topping.

Star the onion gravy while the pie is cooking. In a deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions and thyme. Toss to coat the onions with butter and cook over medium-low heat until softened, reduced, and jamlike. This can take 20-30 minutes. Keep cooking over lower heat to avoid burning the onions. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a lively simmer. Reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The gravy will continue to reduce. Stir in the salt and sugar, and taste. Finish with soy sauce. Serve spooned over a slice of the pie.

Green Chile Mac & Cheese

green chile macaroni and cheese bite

Brrr…. I know I really should not be complaining, but we’ve had ourselves a cool spell here in Arizona. Below freezing at night folks. We have been covering our plants outside with every extra sheet in the house for a couple nights now. Probably looks kind of funny if you drive by our house. Nonetheless, I really don’t want to lose our new Meyer lemon tree to the cold!

The cooler turn in the weather has both of us craving comfort food. Enter this macaroni and cheese. In fact, my husband asked specifically for it. As far as mac and cheese goes, the hubbs is a baked mac and cheese guy. He loves the crunch of the bread crumb topping. I can go either way (truthfully, I’ll eat both), but if I had to pick, I am probably more of a stove-top gal. Just can’t get over the creaminess! In light of his request, I went the baked route this time. That and it let me use my new croquettes that I received for Christmas 🙂

green chile macaroni and cheese

green chile macaroni and cheese close

The recipe is from A Zesty Bite, and the whole allure of this recipe for us was the green chiles in the sauce. They completely make this dish. As written, the recipe is scaled to be more of a side dish, but for the two of us, it worked perfectly as a main dish. For me, the cheese sauce ended up pretty thick, although I think this may have been more my fault than anything else. My other thought was that the macaroni to cheese ratio seemed really high. It is really rich as written, and I think I’d add more macaroni for the same amount of cheese sauce next time. A quick note, be careful when browning the bread crumbs under the broiler. I toasted mine a little to far. I’d check on them every minute or so.

All of that said, this mac and cheese met all those comfort food notes. We really enjoyed it, and I am thinking this will be a repeat recipe in this house. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Adapted slightly from A Zesty Bite

4 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles (I think you could even double this to 8oz)
3 qts. water plus salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1-1/4 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
whole wheat Panko bread crumbs for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 6 minutes (al dente). Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking to avoid any clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly (don’t let it get too thick). Add the Greek yogurt, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in both cheeses and the green chiles. Mix until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni noodles until well coated.

Place in a casserole dish and sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs. Baking time will vary based on the size of your baking dish. For a large dish, bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling at the sides. Individual serving dishes will need a shorter baking time. Mine was done at about 15 minutes. When the cheese is bubbling, it is ready. Switch the oven to low broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the bread crumbs.