Tag Archives: Carrots

Mexican Black Beans and Quinoa

Mexican Black Beans and Quinoa

I love this dish. The idea came to me on the walk home from the gym when I needed a quick, protein-packed dish that could cook on its own while I took a shower! I had less than an hour to eat, shower, and head back off to class, so those were the rules my lunch had to live by. Black beans and quinoa seemed like the perfect combination.

There was some trial and error the first few times I made it. I cooked the quinoa separately and added it to the bean mixture at the last minute, but that left the quinoa too flavorless, and the beans too dried up. Next, I tried cooking the quinoa with the beans, but left the lid on like you normally do with quinoa. It puffed up just fine, but there was too much liquid leftover that had to cook off in additional time. I’ve also added bacon to it before. Crisped up the bacon, then crumbled it and cooked the veggies in the bacon fat. You can add the bacon on top for a salty, delicious crunch. But, the bacon is also extra time (and money!), and I’ve found that it’s perfectly fine without.
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Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry

Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry

I’m gonna say it now: stir fry must be the most versatile meal there is. Get a pan really hot (even though mine can’t get as hot as my mom’s cast iron wok), throw in whatever meat and vegetables you want, and then work out some sort of spicy, sweet, salty sauce.

I’m not trying to say this to dissuade you from ever following a stir fry recipe (especially this one!), but I think it’s the perfect way to use up vegetable odds and ends in a cohesive dish.

And adding pineapple and lo mein noodles to it? Serious win.

I almost always add pineapple into my stir fry, but this was the first time I’d ever used noodles instead of rice. I might never go back! And the noodles cook in 4 minutes… much easier than 20+ minutes for rice!

Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry
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Coconut Curry Risotto

Coconut Curry Risotto

Well, I made another risotto. I couldn’t get tender, creamy rice off my mind after I cooked Parmesan risotto earlier this week. There’s something special about Arborio rice that sets it apart from every other Italian rice and pasta. What’s even better is that it lends itself to so many international flavors, like this Thai Coconut Curry Risotto here. I imagine you could incorporate Mexican, African, Indian, or other Asian flavors very easily as well.

Speaking of Asia… I am going to Asia in less than a month! My mom and I are taking a trip to celebrate my early graduation from college. We also just like traveling together. We’re going to see Japan, a tidbit of South Korea, and China. The part I’m most excited about? THE FOOD! If you’ve ever been to Asia, PLEASE let me know what foods you’d recommend. Apparently I’ve promised to eat a bug. So… we’ll see how that goes.

Back to the curry risotto. Can I keep telling you how awesome it is? Do you need more proof? Well, it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and it’s vegetarian/vegan if you swap out the chicken broth for veggie. So all you special diet peeps, this is the one for you.

Coconut Curry Risotto

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Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

House rule: everyone gets a big first helping of dinner, but after that you can pick and choose what you want to eat more of, directly from the pot. It’s a fork war for more carrots or the last big hunk of lamb. And it’s a lot easier than being fussy and using a serving spoon to move the best bits and pieces onto your plate. This big pot of Moroccan lamb is no exception.

The Moroccan lamb is wonderful; it’s spicy and sweet, rich and bright, and has a flavor-packed sauce that melts into the couscous. There are 12 different spices, but if you’re missing one, just substitute a little more of another. I doubt you’ll be able to tell the difference. (But don’t hold me responsible, please!) I threw in chickpeas to add a little more oomph and protein, and an extra can of tomatoes because I like them. Before adding the carrots and fruit, the sauce was definitely spicy, but the addition of the last few ingredients really cuts the spice and adds another level of flavor and sweetness.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

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Pasta with Caramelized Carrot Sauce

Pasta with Caramelized Carrot Sauce

I think I’m getting boring. I think I’m in a food rut. The only issue is this rut is so delicious. Pasta, vegetables, cheese. Simple, yet thorough. Hearty, yet not overbearing. Easy, yet complex. Less than two weeks ago I was going on and on about pasta and roasted root vegetables. I’ll be the first to admit that this recipe isn’t too terribly different, but it sticks with carrots and lets them linger in the pot until they get caramelized and delicious. Pureeing the mixture combines the pasta and the veggies with a creamy sauce, that when topped with stringy cheese, is wholeheartedly irresistible.

Pasta with Caramelized Carrot Sauce Pasta with Caramelized Carrot Sauce

So, sometimes curious friends ask me how I have so much time to cook. Well, I’m in college. Despite what anyone tells you, we have a lot of free time. It’s just how we spend it that differs. I spend mine celebrating the little moments in the kitchen, like when I don’t cry while dicing an onion. Or when I flip a grilled cheese perfectly. I unwind through food. I celebrate myself and others through food. I begin a good day with food. I salvage a bad day with food. The steady motions of prepping and chopping vegetables bring me back down to earth. The sweet aromas that slowly rise out of a simmering pot inspire grumbles in my stomach. Adding heat to something is like adding a little miracle. Cooking relaxes me, melts the stress of the day away, and re-centers me. I always feel better after cooking, and even better than better after eating. So that’s that.

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