Simple Bibimbap

Discovering Bibimbap

The first time I heard this name, I was confused: an Asian-inspired dish that I hadn’t heard of yet, or had the chance to fall in love with? Astounding.

I quickly gathered my ingredients, did a little research, and investigated the difference between refined and unrefined sesame oil (by the way, for this recipe, go as unrefined as possible). Be aware this recipe isn’t the completely traditional stuff, but it is lovely tasting and comes together quickly and simply! Who doesn’t love that?

cheater bibimbap

Ingredients

  • several cups prepared rice (any brand or variety will do nicely)
  • 1-2 cups shredded carrots
  • about 3 cups greens (spinach or arugula work well, although any greens will work)
  • thinly chopped (matchstick style) cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil, plus some to add after cooking as flavoring
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 eggs per person
  • soy sauce to taste
  • roasted sesame seeds (as garnish)

Preparation

Prepare rice as desired. After preparing vegetables, add olive oil and sesame oil to pan and begin sautéing carrots first. After about five minutes, add the greens and cucumbers and allow to cook for another five to seven minutes. After cucumbers are soft, but not overly soggy, set stir fried vegetables aside and add butter to the pan. Fry one to two eggs per person (most adults prefer over-easy and kids usually like them cooked until the yolks are firm).

Assemble each dish beginning with rice, then add vegetables and finally, top with fried eggs. Add a splash of sesame oil, soy sauce, and roasted sesame seeds.

Notes

This a great recipe for chilly, busy nights. It’s both quick and satisfying, as well as healthy and satiating. If you like, substituting soft tofu for the eggs can make this dish vegan quite easily. Other great toppers include green onions, hot sauce, and pickled radish. Paired with a hot cup of decaffeinated tea, this can make for a very warm and cozy meal. (See what I did there?)

Cheers, and stay cozy!

 

 

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

I must admit, the first time I tried quinoa, I didn’t care for it. I suppose that I had the expectation that it would taste something like couscous (after all, that is what it most closely resembles). At any rate, due to the flavor and (especially) the texture being a far cry from my preconceived notions, I avoided quinoa for, well, years.

I am not currently a super health conscious person, although I used to be. I must admit though, that when I rediscovered quinoa recently, I was most impressed by its nutrition portfolio. According to Healthline.com, 100 grams (about 3 ounces) of cooked quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein, 2.8 grams of fiber, and a bunch of other good stuff.

In an effort to try to eat a healthier diet, and with encouragement from my husband (who happens to love quinoa), I thought I would give it another try. This time I decided to go with Mediterranean-type flavors. As usual, I also went for simplicity (laziness?), and this salad may be my easiest recipe to date!

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

About 3 cups quinoa (made per package directions, usually 2 ½ cups water to 1 cup quinoa)

1 small package (6-8 oz.) of crumbled feta cheese

1 cucumber, partially peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks

3 tablespoons favorite Italian dressing (or to taste)

Cook quinoa and allow to cool a bit, for about 20 minutes. Add other ingredients and mix. This salad may be consumed slightly warm or cold and fares well in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

(They don’t know who I am, but I must say, the Kraft Tuscan House salad dressing was great in this recipe! Very flavorful and tangy!)

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Yum!

I must admit, this was a salad I really enjoyed, as did my family. I even used it for a small get together that included a few lacto-ovo-vegetarians and was quizzed about the recipe. Its nutritional characteristics as well as its versatility are quite appealing to me, and I expect to be posting more quinoa recipes in the future!

I hope you enjoyed my very short and sweet recipe today.

My best to all, and stay cozy!

10 Cozy Meals in About 10 Sage Minutes

KNIFE AND FORK ON TABLE

Do you work? Go to school? Have kids? Live? There are bound to be times in any schedule when a quick meal for one, or a crowd, is required. Here are 10 meal ideas that can be prepared in about 10 minutes and can be scaled to meet your needs.

  1. Cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad– Just slice everything up and add your favorite salad dressing or a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
  2. Warm tomato and cheese sandwich– Spread a bit of butter on two slices of bread. Top one side with sliced tomato and then your favorite cheese. Bake, open-faced, on cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Take out of oven (carefully), and put two halves together while still warm.

    tomato sandwich caprese

    (this time I added basil and vinegar)

  3. Couscous salad– Make the couscous according to package directions (almost always less than 10 minutes). While the couscous is cooking, chop up some tomatoes and/or cucumbers. Add veggies to cooked couscous along with a bit of your favorite Italian-style salad dressing (or, alternately, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper). This salad is delicious warm or cold!
  4. Eggs on avocado toast– Top slices of toast with mashed avocado and an over-easy egg. Spice with salt, pepper, and a dash of lime juice.
  5. BTC– Just like a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), but the lettuce is replaced by, you guessed it, cucumber! Simply spread mayo on two slices of bread and stack your cooked bacon, tomato, and cucumber. A dash of dried dill or Italian seasoning wouldn’t go amiss here, either!
  6. Chicken burritos– Shred some rotisserie chicken and warm up a can of drained black beans in the microwave. To tortillas, add chicken and black beans, and top with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Yum!
  7. Chili potato– “Bake” a potato in the microwave and top with your favorite pre-made chili, a smattering of cheese, and a bit of sour cream.
  8. “Green” Breakfast for dinner– In a warm, buttered pan, add several handfuls of spinach and/or salad greens. When greens are wilted, add beaten eggs and cook to desired (scrambled egg) consistency. Add a favorite cheese, if you like. Serve with whole wheat toast and A1 Steak Sauce.

    Green scramble

    “greens and feta scramble”

  9. Pasta– Ever the perennial simple meal, boiling up some pasta and adding a can of premade sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, or just some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper is about as easy as it gets. Include a bagged of steamed veggies or (better yet) some cut up peppers or cucumbers on the side to round out the meal.
  10. Lamb Burgers– Like the traditional hamburger, but using ground lamb. Top with feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce and serve with sliced cucumber. (We like cucumbers around here.)

Hope you enjoyed this quick post about fast and simple food. More easy and delicious recipes coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by! What does your family eat on a busy night?

Stay cozy!

Autumn Three Bean Soup

The air has finally turned chilly and the breeze brings with it a crispness absent in the summer months. The leaves are beginning to change from green to burgundy, and the skies are suddenly greyish. It is time to prepare another fall inspired soup!

I love soup; over the last month I have shared some of my favorite soup recipes. There is nothing like a warm bowl of savory goodness, especially in the cooler weather, in my opinion. Soups can be had as a light supper, or transformed into a robust meal with the addition of bread or sandwiches. They are also wonderfully convenient to feed a large number of people.

During a recent family visit I ran out of white beans while attempting to make a white bean and ham soup that I knew they liked. I ended up varying the recipe a bit and the results received praise all around!

three bean soup and ham

Autumn Three Bean Soup

2 cans white beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

3 cups water

3 cups broth of your choice

1 pound of diced ham

3 large carrots, sliced

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1-2 tablespoons herbs de Provence (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Softly boil on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, until carrots are of desired tenderness. Notice that the broth is diluted in this recipe due to the saltiness of the ham. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian; to do so, use vegetarian broth (full strength, undiluted) and add some extra vegetables such as potatoes and/or celery to add texture.

Serve with a crusty bread, or as we had it, with garden fresh sliced tomatoes and crackers.

It’s hard to beat the simplicity of a soup like this. Something you can just toss together, and then sit and enjoy the company of family and friends as the scents of salt and rosemary fill the air. This concoction is hearty enough to provide a sustaining meal on its own, but pairs well with a fresh produce accompaniment.

What foods do you crave in the fall?

Enjoy! And stay cozy!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fall is approaching, if ever so slowly where I am. The chill that’s beginning to creep in makes me long for soft, fuzzy blankets, good books read by a fire, and belly filling, soul-warming soups. Now is the time I bring out my giant, battered, decade-old soup pot and begin concocting.

Soups are wonderful for so many reasons, not the least of which are their ease and simplicity. They can come in so many varieties and forms, so as to suit any taste. They are generally economical to make, and can also be scaled to feed any number of guests. Paired with a warm loaf of bread, crackers, or a squat, buttery biscuit, they can become a hearty and robust meal, or light fare, when enjoyed solo.

I have recently become quite enamored with lentils. Firstly, they are extremely nutritious, with one cup of cooked lentils boasting 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They also cook up extremely quickly as compared to other dry legumes; they are quite economical as well. Additionally, they are extremely versatile and pair rather well with various cuisines and flavors.

lentil and spinach soup

Lentil and Spinach Soup

1 cup of dry lentils

1 can of diced, stewed tomatoes

6 cups of broth of your choice

pinches of oregano and ginger, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 dense handfuls of fresh, cleaned spinach leaves

In a soup pot, combine broth, diced tomatoes, dry lentils and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium-high heat, adding olive oil at about the 10 minute mark. After 20 minutes, or when the lentils are soft, add the fresh spinach and simmer the soup for an additional 10  minutes. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian with a vegetarian broth.

Serve with crusty bread or flavorful crackers. This recipe is simple to prepare and can be the perfect accompaniment to a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

We love Mexican food in my house! At any given moment, we are guilty of having various types of salsas in the refrigerator, beans in the cupboard, and a diverse assortment of tortillas lurking in the breadbox (whole wheat, flour, spinach, etcetera), ready for any Mexican-inspired craving. We prefer authentic, of course, but when we don’t have the time or inclination to go out, we attempt something simple and fast at home. This particular recipe was actually pioneered by my husband and son on a busy night years ago (I just added more cheese).

vegetarian enchilada

cheater vegetarian enchilada

This recipe is about as simple as it gets. It might appear time-consuming at first glance, but honestly the preparation only takes about ten minutes at the very most. Most of the production is already completed by using a premade enchilada sauce. (Note: not all enchilada sauces are created equal, and because this recipe depends heavily on the sauce for its flavor, try to choose the best one available to you.)

This recipe is versatile in that it can be easily doubled or tripled if you have a large crowd to feed; just make sure you have a large enough pan! It can also be a quite economical meal if you purchase generic items or some items in bulk.

enchiladas in pan

vegetarian enchiladas in the pan

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

6-10 tortillas (depending on the size of your pan)

1 can of vegetarian refried beans

2 cups of shredded cheese (we prefer sharp cheddar)

1 can of premade enchilada sauce

Start by lightly greasing a 9×13 baking pan (I usually use a Pyrex-type glass dish), or larger depending upon the number of enchiladas you want to assemble. Place a tortilla on a clean, flat surface and spread a spoonful of refried beans (roughly 1/4 cup per enchilada) along the middle. Top the beans with a sprinkle of cheese (retaining some for the topping), roll up somewhat tightly, and place in baking dish. Repeat for desired number of tortillas and nestle each enchilada next to one another in the pan. Open and pour your favorite enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (until cheese is melted and any exposed tortilla is slightly crispy).

enchiladas 2

cheater vegetarian enchilada

If you wanted to get a little fancy, it might be nice to include some grilled or oven-roasted vegetables in them. Of course, these could be made with meat if desired; however, meat should be completely cooked prior to assembling the enchiladas.

Serve with preferred toppings and sides; we like sour cream, some Spanish-style rice, and some of our various salsas. Enjoy!

What do you like to make on a busy weeknight?

Stay Cozy!

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

I spent my early childhood in an area that is notoriously green. It is the kind of place where you can drop a seed in a pile of dirt, walk away for several months and find a huge, green, vegetable-bearing plant in its place. I have such fond memories of my childhood, most of which are associated with either the green backdrop of the area, or the many foods which it produced.

At least four generations of my family have fried zucchini in the following fashion. It is not complicated or unique, but it is one of my favorite dishes, ever. Though I make it myself today, no one has ever made it better than my precious mother. I remember being very young, at her side, watching her cook, and waiting impatiently for the little circles of fried goodness to be done. My father and I would devour them almost as soon as they popped off the pan, lured by their savory taste and smooth, yet crispy texture. Even today, the smell and taste of this recipe take me back to days of yore.

fried zucchini squash

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

2-3 medium to large zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil

First, slice the zucchini to desired thickness. Remember that thicker slices will retain more moisture and therefore be “juicier” while thin slices will crisp up better. Keep the beaten egg and flour in separate bowls. I like to season this recipe twice (once in the flour and once in the pan), so I add some salt and pepper to the dry flour and mix. Submerge zucchini slices in the beaten egg and allow to soak for a moment, then move each slice to the flour and coat thoroughly. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add some olive and fry both sides of zucchini slices to desired doneness. Season again with salt and pepper during frying as you see fit. Between batches you may have to add additional olive oil.

This dish is best served immediately! These little circles of delightfulness can become cold and mushy given too much time on the plate. I usually set them out as they are being cooked so as not to let too much time pass. I sometimes serve them as part of a meal, though many times they become the meal themselves, and the act of cooking transforms into a social event with people commuting between conversation, watching the process, and waiting for each batch to finish.

fried zucchini squash plated

Yum!

I will admit that although this is a very simple recipe, it can also be a very time-consuming one. Therefore, rather than doing it for a proper dinner, I usually make it a late afternoon “event” that generally replaces dinner. Crudités and cocktails (or mocktails, for the little ones) generally round out the fare nicely.

Do you like zucchini? What are your favorite late summer recipes?

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

Since we’re still experiencing some pretty warm temperatures where I am, I thought I would offer up one more refreshing (and refreshingly easy) beverage recipe for these late summer afternoons.

Growing up in the west I have imbibed in many versions of the “Lime Rickey” (non-alcoholic, of course). Some were definitely better than others, but because of the inclusion of lime I think, they have all been invigorating in the hot summer months. I understand that the Lime Rickey has had a long and illustrious history as both a soda fountain favorite as well as an “adult” beverage. Here I’ve tried to put my own spin on it and create something that is both satisfying and sophisticated enough for the adults, and fun for the kids as well.

lime rickey 2

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

3 to 4 leaves of sage (or your favorite herb)

2-3 tablespoons of frozen white grape juice concentrate

Juice of 1/4 lime (and a slice for garnish, if desired)

Seltzer water (may use ginger ale, though it may mask some of the herbal flavor)

Ice

Muddle the leaves of herb along the white grape juice concentrate in the bottom of your favorite glass. Add lime juice and seltzer and stir gently. Finally, add in ice and garnish as desired. To make this a “tipsy” Herbal Lime Rickey, add 1 ounce of gin before adding seltzer (adults only please). If the bits of leaves in a muddled beverage are bothersome to you, consider straining the mixture or using a straw.

lime rickey 1

And there you have it, another cooling potation that’s not too sweet or cloying to keep those late summer afternoons from being overly balmy (even when they are).

Stay cozy (and cool), cheers!

 

Cheater Iced Coffee

Hello! How are you weathering the summer? It’s been pretty warm where we are…

For a place that is not usually hot or humid, we have been both this year! Even in the morning, we don’t always get the reprieve that I expect to come overnight. Lately, the mornings have brought tepid to warm temps rather than the cooler, crisp-ish ambiance that I have become accustomed to over the years.

Am I complaining? Well, perhaps a little. A (first world, admittedly) problem for me is that I require coffee to function in the morning and I have found it increasingly difficult to sip hot coffee after a hot shower on a hot morning. I also lack the time and funds to stop at coffee shop in the morning or purchase pre-made iced coffees.

As usual, “necessity is the mother of invention”…

iced coffee 2

Please excuse my son’s chalk drawings in the background.

Cheater Iced Coffee

4-5 ounces dark hot/warm coffee (can be instant, or from a coffee pot, or from my *I know* Keurig-but it’s so fast!)

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup or LIBERAL dollop of half and half or preferred cream

3-4 cubes, plus a generous handful of ice

Start with your preferred coffee in your favorite glass. Add the honey and stir until completely dissolved. Incorporate the half and half into the mixture before the ice so as to begin cooling the coffee. After well mixed, add 3-4 cubes of ice to cool down the concoction to desired temperature. If you like your iced coffee ice-cold, as I do, then add another handful of ice to fill the cup.

Here’s hoping your summer (or whatever season it is in your area) is grand!

Stay cool, and stay cozy!

 

 

Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl

It’s happened again, I’ve gotten off late from work and arrived home only to have no idea what to make for dinner. With a hungry spouse and a ravenous child (and a growling belly myself) waiting for me, what can I prepare that’s super easy, quick, and healthy?

Enter my latest creation, the Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl! (Otherwise known as what I threw together in a moment of hangry panic at a time when we happened to have some produce but no tortillas on hand…alas, I digress…)

chicken burrito bowl

Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I prefer thighs, but any cut will do)

1 can of black beans

1 bag (2 cups) of frozen steamer-bag brown rice (or you can make your own)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Adobo seasoning to taste (I like Goya’s)

Goya Adobo

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

In a large frying pan, sauté chicken in olive oil and add Adobo. Once fully cooked, add black beans and cooked rice. Stir mixture over low heat until combined; add Adobo to taste.  Top with tomatoes and avocados.

This meal was so quick to prepare, in part due to the steamer bag of rice. It was hearty enough and healthy enough to satiate a busy family on a hectic weeknight as well. Speed and nutrition are hallmarks of simple food in my opinion.

If you decide to try it I hope you enjoy!

Stay cozy!