Chickpea Puttanesca

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I think eggplant parmesan is the default vegetarian option for most American-style Italian meals. More often than not, that’s what you’ll find alongside trays of baked ziti and chicken parmesan at parties. So, when I start seeking out new meatless meals for the Lenten dinner series, I tend to avoid Italian-inspired searches. It’s not that I don’t love eggplant parmesan, I do, it’s just that it sort of feels overdone.

I was searching for something else entirely when I came across this recipe – and it made me realize how wrong I was to discount Italian options for this series. This was so, so good. Comfort food at it’s finest! And easy enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed making it after a busy week.

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Chickpea Puttanesca
(slightly adapted from Mountain Momma Cooks)
Serves 4

1/2 cup polenta
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 Tbsp. half & half
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
2 Tbsp. drained capers
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried crushed basil
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans
Fresh basil, for serving

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in polenta and salt. Return a boil then turn to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes. If it gets to thick, stir in an additional 1-2 Tbsp. water. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and half & half.  Keep warm until serving time.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add in onions and cook about five minutes, until soft. Add the olives and capers and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and stir to combine thoroughly. Let simmer until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and let heat through.

Serve sauce over polenta, topped with fresh basil.


Mint Chocolate Chip Snow Ice Cream

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You know what the best part of today’s snow storm is? That most news outlets are calling it the “last” of the season. I have a feeling they’re just getting our hopes up to crush them with a late-March blizzard but instead of irresponsible reporting, I’m choosing to see it as optimism. I am over winter.

To be fair, we haven’t gotten that much snow this winter. Instead, we’ve been getting ice storms. I prefer snow.

I’m using the “last” storm today to do all the things I feel like I’ve been missing out on this winter – more snowman making, more cuddling under a blanket reading, more hot chocolate drinking while watching the flakes come down and, of course, more snow ice cream.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Snow Ice Cream

(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 4

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1/2 c. milk
Large bowl of snow
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla, mint and milk until well combined. Stir in snow until you reach the desired consistency. Fold in chocolate chips. Serve immediately.


Sprinkle Cookies

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I, along with most of my friends from school, are turning 30 this year. It’s weird to think we’re exiting our 20s – mostly because that makes it painfully obvious we’re no longer “just out of college” or “just starting adulthood”. Hello, we’re here.

Adult doesn’t necessarily mean mature, though. We’ve had two 30th birthday parties so far this year: one involved playing dodgeball at a trampoline park and the other was a pizza party. Because, you know, my friends are awesome.

I made up these cookies as a 30th birthday gift for our friend, Douglas. I’d actually made them back in November when Jacob was baptized with blue and white sprinkles and Douglas was crazy for them. His wife held a Christmas cookie exchange in December and he was sorely disappointed I didn’t bring these so I knew they’d be a hit his birthday.

They remind me of the soft vanilla cookies my Mom used to get from the bakery. Just the right amount of chewy center with a slightly crisp edge. And switching up the sprinkle colors makes them perfect for just about any occasion. Or, any 30th birthday party you may be attending!

SprinkleCookies

Sprinkle Cookies
(from Grace and Good Eats)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sprinkles

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined. Mold dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Roll the dough into 1″ balls, roll the balls in sprinkles and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges and just set in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Chicken Zoodle Lo Mein

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My mother-in-law gave me a veggie spiralizer for my birthday in June and up until now, it’s been sitting it the cabinet unused. Why? I knew spiralized veggies in place of spaghetti would be a hard sell at our dinner table. My husband grew up in a very Italian family and the man likes his pasta. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about zucchini instead of spaghetti in a big, Italian meal either. But in a stir fry? That was something I could get on board with.

I’m not a complete zoodle convert. You’re not going to mistake them for noodles in this dish but they’re good in their own right. I thought this was a great, lighter meal – and my husband downed several bites before asking me where the noodles were, always a good sign! It’s probably a gateway dish for us – after this, I’ll definitely be trying more zoodle meals.

ZoodleLoMeinChicken

Chicken Zoodle Lo Mein
(slightly adapted from Skinnytaste)
Serves 2

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 Tbsp. rice wine
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
1 large boneless chicken breast, cut into thin, short strips
Salt, to taste
2 tsp. canola oil, divided
3/4 cup sliced bok choy
1/2 cup shredded carrots
3 scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

Spiralize the zucchini and cut into spaghetti-length strips.

Heat a skillet or wok on high heat. Add 1 tsp. oil. Season chicken with salt, add to the wok and stir-fry until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.

Add remaining oil to the wok, followed by the bok choy, carrots, scallions, ginger and garlic Cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside with the chicken.

Pour the sauce mixture into the wok and cook for about a minute, until bubbling.  Add the zucchini and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken and vegetables to the wok and toss to combine. Serve immediately.


Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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You know how you have crutch dinners you make in a pinch? Like, oh no! I forgot to defrost the chicken! What am I going to do?! nights. This is one of our new crutch dinners. It uses things we usually have in the house and comes together in less than 15 minutes.

They are, undoubtedly, not the prettiest tacos ever but what they lack in looks they make up for in flavor and ease. And since you can make them in about the time it takes to get a pizza delivered, they’re a perfect option for busy Lenten Fridays.

BlackBeanTacos

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce
(from The Garden Grazer)
Serves 4

1 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tsp. cumin
Tortillas, for serving
Corn and Pico de Gallo, for serving, optional

1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. salt

In a skillet, combine the black beans, salsa and cumin over medium heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Mash about half the beans and stir to combine.

While the beans are warming up. combine the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, honey and salt in a food processor. Process until well-blended and mostly smooth.

Serve black beans on tortillas, topped with avocado cilantro-lime sauce and corn and Pico de Gallo, if desired.


Peanut Butter Yogurt Fruit Dip

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My snacking recently has been out of control in the worst way. You don’t even want to know how much chocolate I downed on Valentine’s Day. Seriously. And since I have to fit in a bridesmaid dress in about two months, I’m making more of an effort to curb the junk food and reach for healthier snacks.

This was a healthier snack/dessert that went over really well. It’s just the right amount of sweet without being loaded up with sugar. I really loved this with sliced up bananas!

PeanutButterYogurtFruitDip

Peanut Butter Yogurt Fruit Dip
(from Food, Fun & Life)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 heaping cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
2-4 Tbsp. honey, to taste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Fruit, for serving

Mix together yogurt and peanut butter. Stir in honey, starting with 2 Tbsp. and adding more until it suits your taste. Stir in cinnamon. Refrigerate until serving.


Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole

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It seems that the colder it gets outside, the hotter my cooking gets. We’ve had more hot/spicy dinners in the last few weeks than we’ve had in probably the last six months  combined. Maybe I’m subliminally trying to combat the -2 degree weather with hot sauce?

Casseroles are such a comforting dinner on frigid nights. I roasted the potatoes for this during afternoon nap so come actual dinner prep time I only had to do some minimal assembly and pop it in the oven. It worked like a charm! And, warmed us up nicely.

BuffaloChickenCasserole

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole
(adapted from Life Love Larson)
Serves 3-4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large, bite-sized chunks
3-4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. Frank’s buffalo sauce
1 cup cheddar, shredded
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, sliced
Ranch dressing, for serving.

Preheat the oven to 500F degrees and line a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and buffalo sauce. Toss the potatoes in the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet, leaving behind as much sauce as possible. Roast, stirring every 10-15 minutes until cooked through and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Remove potatoes and reduce oven temperature to 400F degrees.

Place the cooked potatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish (I used a 9×6″). Toss the chicken with the remaining sauce and place on top of the chicken. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Top with cheese, bacon crumbles and green onions and return to oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Serve with ranch dressing.


Kung Pao Chickpeas

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Part of Lenten obligation is to abstain from meat on Fridays – so for the Fridays during Lent, I’ll be sharing some delicious meatless meals. Whether you’re abstaining from meat for Lent or just looking to add some new meatless meal ideas, I hope these posts give you some inspiration. I’m so excited to kick off this year’s Lenten dinner series with this recipe because it’s a real winner!

Chinese takeout is one of my favorite Friday night meals – but unlike pizza, it’s harder to do during Lent. Chickpeas aren’t on the menu at our local place but it turns out they make a pretty fantastic substitute for chicken. This meal was one of those times you don’t miss the meat – it was flavorful and filling. Even the often-skeptical husband was a fan!

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Kung Pao Chickpeas
(adapted slightly from She Knows)
Serves 2-3

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 14oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup kung pao sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Steamed rice and steamed broccoli, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients. Stir in chickpeas, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let marinate.

When ready to cook, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large pan. Drain and discard the marinade and add the chickpeas to the pan, along with the kung pao sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to brown slightly. Serve with rice and broccoli.


Blueberry Quick Bread

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I’m a one-note baker when it comes to quick breads. And that one note is banana bread. I honestly can’t remember the last quick bread I made that wasn’t banana. When Heather picked breads as the theme for this month’s What’s Baking? challenge, I knew it was the perfect excuse to finally try something else.

This bread was awesome – a nice crunch to the crust while being soft and fluffy inside. It’s not too sweet so it could pass for a breakfast bread but it’s just sweet enough to be dessert, too. Also, it makes for some pretty amazing French toast. I’m sure this will be making several repeat appearances during blueberry season!

You can check out the roundup of the breads made by other bloggers at Heather’s blog, Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, later this month!

 

BlueberryQuickBread
Blueberry Quick Bread
(slightly adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet)
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9×5″ loaf pan with parchment and grease the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in blueberries.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, oil, egg and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined – it’s fine if it’s slightly lumpy.

Pour batter into prepared, lined pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden on the outside and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


9 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent

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Sharing meatless meals on Fridays during Lent has become my favorite blog series over the years. I love finding new things to try and love hearing that the ideas help others break out of the stereotypical pizza or pasta with tomato sauce rut. And the annual Ash Wednesday post rounding up some of my favorite meatless meals from the previous year has been some of the most popular posts on my blog.

Today is Ash Wednesday so, of course, I’m sharing the annual round-up. And Friday will kick off the Lenten dinner series for this year.

If you’re looking for additional dinner ideas, check out my previous posts: 16 Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent and 16 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent.

9MoreMeatlessDinners

Bang Bang Cauliflower

Caprese Quiche

Thai Veggie Burgers

Vegetable Minestrone

Crisp Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Jar Salads

Grilled Pizza

Eggplant Parm Burgers

Black Bean Fajitas