Category: Main Dishes

Dinner and a movie- quick ‘n’ dirty


My Man had a work dinner tonight, which meant Grandíssimo, Puppy, and I were left to our own culinary devices. Do I even need to mention that I decided to make something super-easy?

Let me summarize:
This led to this:

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I watched Bruce and Marie (Um Casal Surreal here in Portugal), which was a downer, and then balanced things out with an episode of Castle and some brownies.

Oh, yeah…I finally got around to making some experimental brownies this afternoon.

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For a quinoa-based experiment, they aren’t bad…they turned out a little too ‘Asian’ for my liking, meaning they taste as though they were made with rice flour… Still, there is plenty of chocolate involved, and if you think you’d enjoy tapioca pudding brownies, they might be your thing…

Meanwhile, Grandíssimo is overtired and upset, so this post is getting cut short….

Return from Hiatus with a bonus bump


Olá, Gradissimites! I know, I know…it’s been a long time. Like months. What can I say?

Well, for one, I’m pregnant 🙂 I’m about 5 months in now, and for the first 3+ months, I felt hungover and lethargic, so cooking and food (an important part of my blogging world) was out the window. And of course, it was the tricky first trimester (for the uninitiated, this indicates a window of time during which, apparently, everything and/or nothing causes miscarriage, including jinxing and bad juju), so in the Portuguese fashion, I bit my tongue in re: the fetus situation. For me, this was difficult, since it was pretty much the only thing on my mind, so I simply stopped writing.

Not to worry– the multi-month hangover subsided, I took a trip to the US to visit my bestie and her new fabulous baby girl for some Baby Boot Camp (I passed with flying colors and a Certificate in Baby Neck Cheese), then back home to adjust to a new apartment (My Man moved us in, with some help from Paizinho, while I was away), and then Mom and Dad came for a fantastic visit 🙂 That is to say, things have gotten much happier in the recent past 😉

And now– I have a baby bump (I’m rockin’ it, yo’), and a couple weeks ago (Mom and Dad in tow), My Man and I went to the doctor and found out we’re having a Little Dude 🙂 Though we had no preference, it’s super fun to imagine my Little Dude as he bops around in my belly. I will, of course, be referring to My Man, Little Dude, and the Puppy as “my guys” or “my boys” after the birth. I’m pretty sure such things are mandatory in happy cheesy world.

So, Mom and Dad have returned to their busy lives in the US, My Man’s vacation is over, and the Puppy and I (and Little Fetus Dude) are settling into a routine. Plus, I love food again.

Before leaving, Mom harassed me (as good mothers do) about my protein intake. I pretended to blow it off (I’m still a daughter), but of course, I took it to heart. Yesterday, I made a healthy, protein-rich soup (because Mom is always right.)

The gist of it:
-Two small butternut squash from the market (cubed)
-Two medium potatoes from Paizinho’s garden (cubed)
-Lots of water and some boiling
-Leftover bits of an onion (chopped)
-Leftover 3/4 of a red capsicum (red bell pepper) (chopped)
-Leftover leeks (chopped)
-Vegeta veggie stock, to taste
-A big jar of garbanzo beans (chick peas)

Boil, then blend with immersion blender. Add fresh, chopped spinach and fresh, chopped basil (if you feel like it) at the end. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

I also whipped up a flour tortilla with some flamengo cheese and fresh thyme and a pinch of salt and threw it in the microwave with some grill action– a sneaky, pizza-type substance that went quite happily with the soup 😉

Ahhhhhhh….it’s good to be back 🙂

Teeny little health-bombs


O Meus Gradissimites,

Even the healthiest eaters among us go through rough patches. Recently, despite my best endeavors, my belly has been uncooperative, my taste buds lazy (due to non-stop congestion…thanks, bizarre weather patterns), and my usual ability to eat copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies (especially those leafy greens…yum!) has been smacked-down by a rather inconvenient (and frankly worrisome) European outbreak of a super-strain of E. coli.

What’s a veggie girl to do?

Health bombs. Teeny little health bombs.

Shall I elaborate?

The other day, faced with appetite-malaise (just made that up) and a refrigerator full of potentially hazardous vegetables, I concocted a green-monster soup/porridge of healthy and surprisingly tasty goodness.

This involved the following components:

  • A rather large cooking pot
  • a bunch of brown rice
  • a bunch of green lentils
  • a bunch of red lentils
  • a couple tablespoons of chia seeds (my latest multi-seed, multi-grain loveaffairadventurefriend)
  • some Vegeta veggie stock
  • A hearty dose of fresh water
  • A big garlic clove
  • A lot of zucchini
  • a potato
  • a bunch of watercress
  • a bunch of cabbage
  • a bunch of cabbagey-green things that I had frozen but forgot what they were
  • a bunch of spinach
  • 2 chili peppers
  • An immersion blender

There’s no way I would have been able to eat that many good things at a time. Needless to say, once all was said and boiled (and blended), I had leftovers for the freezer (preparation for future appetite-malaise) AND lunch for the next few days.

I knew it would be healthy. I really didn’t expect it to taste as good as it did.

I’ve gotta say, a little bowl of this goodness is satisfying, nourishing, tasty, comforting…just right for an ambivalent belly. Even if I slack on quality food for the rest of the day, I’ve done pretty well (nutritionally speaking) after a bowl of this goodness.

Also, the green was really quite pretty. It looked somewhat like a happy pesto afterward….

What else?

And tonight, I made a veggie curry…. but instead of brown rice (which is awesome, of course), I cooked up a bulgur and lentil base. Bulgar and red lentils have about the same cooking time, so I did half and half in the same pot. Easy-peasy 😉

In a big pan, my curry concoction involved leeks, garlic, potato, zucchini, olive oil, curry powder and some liquid from the bulgur/lentil pot.

My carnivorous man loved it.

Any rice love?

I had a craving for risotto the other night, but I was in health-bomb mode. I skipped the risotto rice (fun as it is), and used brown rice instead. I also skipped the dairy… I know, that’s the point of risotto. But this was really good! I made a not-risotto with fresh mushrooms, veggie stock, zucchini, and some roasted pine nuts to serve. It was great. The brown rice is nutty-chewy perfection, and the other flavors were satisfying in the risotto-like way without the blood-sugar issues of white rice and the belly bloat of dairy.

I’m just saying…give it a whirl. It’s not risotto, but it’s damned good 🙂

Grilled portobello mushroom burgers – MayoClinic.com


Recipe: Grilled portobello mushroom burgers

via Grilled portobello mushroom burgers – MayoClinic.com.

I would cut-and-paste (with full credit, of course!) as usual, but I’m fairly sure the  Mayo Clinic requests written permission for reprints and sharing… so I’ll leave you with the link. They have tons of healthy recipes with easy instructions and nutritional breakdown.

This is the recipe upon which yesterday’s awesome lunch was loosely based. Huzzah for a bad-ass burger 😉

I didn’t take any photos of mine because we ate them too quickly 🙂

Enjoy!

(My Man loved it, btw, so this is Portuguese-approved 🙂 )

Last-Minute ‘Mexican’ pie, from scratch


I’ve gotten lazy with the pastry dough. I realized this yesterday. Pastry dough is easy to make, and when I make it myself, it always tastes better than the store-bought kind. Plus, I’m in control of the ingredients, which means healthier fats and quality ingredients.

I’ll admit, I was entirely uninspired to cook yesterday. We had odds and ends leftover in the fridge, and none of them cried out as a central ingredient for anything tempting. Unfortunately, we were also out of frozen pizza. I kept avoiding the issue, thinking that inspiration would strike closer to dinner time. That’s why this is last-minute food 🙂

Sigh.

Still lacking inspiration, I figured I’d make pastry dough for a quiche/pie/something and sort out the details of the filling later. I used (as my starting point) the delightful Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust from Chocolate and Zucchini. The crust is a breeze, and I added about a tablespoon of flax-seed/linseed, a healthy dose of cumin and garlic powder, plus some oregano for looks 🙂 (I like my dough sexy.) I added these flavors because of the filling I’d settled on… you should tweak yours according to your own tastes 🙂

What follows is a truly rag-tag list of ingredients that were sitting in my refrigerator. Many of these things were about to go bad and had to be used. Because of the beans, I decided to go “Mexican” (I know, this is nothing like actual “Mexican” food, whatever that might be. It does, however, involve cumin, garlic, and spicy red pepper, which means “Mexican” to Midwesterners.)

I combined, in a large bowl:

  • 1/2 large red capsicum, diced
  • 1/2 c white beans
  • 1/4 c sliced carrot
  • 1/4-1/3 c chopped leeks
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 1/4-1/3 c tomato pulp
  • salt to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • red pepper (ground, spicy) to taste
  • 1 crumbled fresh cheese (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 c dried polenta (to bind ingredients)

Mix the ingredients well, then spread into the tart crust. Bake until crust is golden brown.

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations on this one, but it turned out to be delicious. My Man loved it. I loved it. I’m about to have another slice as my afternoon snack. As always, this can be hacked/tweaked at will. Use whatever you have on hand. The key elements, for me, are the beans and tomato pulp with the cumin and garlic flavors…plus the crust, of course! The rest of the veggies should be interchangeable with any number of other things. Leave out the cheese, and the dish is vegan– so easy! (See, vegans aren’t hard to cook for!)