Dinner for One: Couscous Bowl with Veggies and Sun-Dried Tomato Cashew Cream Sauce

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When my partner is out, the thought of cooking for just myself seems lackluster. Usually I default to making myself a salad or finishing off various leftovers that weren’t enough for the two of us. Tonight, I decided to wine (er, beer) and dine myself, while trying out a new sauce recipe. I don’t have exact measurements, but I am happy to share the process with you…

First, make a grain. I went with couscous because we had about 1/3 c left and that’s the perfect serving size for one person.

Next, get the veggies roasting. I decided to go with broccoli. Preheat the oven to 400F, douse the cruciferous veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast until they are slightly brown.

While the veggies are roasting, make your sauce. I absolutely love cashew “cream” sauces. Ideally, you want your cashews to soak in water for 8 hours-overnight. However, in a pinch, like I often am, I will resort to simmering them for about 10 minutes. I reserve some of the water and puree the softened cashews, with a little bit of that reserved water, then add some seasonings such as garlic, nutritional yeast and sun-dried tomatoes.

Finally, pick your toppings. I went with feta because it’s what I had on hand. You could sub in nuts or diced, raw veggies, such as red peppers.

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Classic Tomato Soup with Pepper Relish

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There is nothing better than a hot bowl of tomato soup. On occasion, I will buy cans or cartons of tomato soup from the store and am usually disappointed with the product. While making your own can take a few more minutes, if you have the energy, it’s totally worth it.

Once you get everything into the pot, you simply let it simmer until the veggies are tender. There is very little labor necessary for this recipe. With most soup/stew recipes, feel free to get creative – add cream or fresh herbs, or incorporate a fun spice like berbere!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 6 Tbls butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbls flour (optional, it just helps thicken the soup a bit)
  • salt, pepper, thyme, paprika to taste
  • 1/2 c tomato sauce (optional, I just happened to have some leftover that I wanted to use)
  • 3 small sweet peppers
  • olive oil and balsamic

 

  1. Melt the butter in a pan – please feel free to reduce this amount as I went a little stir crazy with the amount… although if you keep it at 6 Tbls, you won’t be disappointed
  2. Sauté the onion and carrot for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic. Once this becomes fragrant after a few minutes, add the flour, spices, herbs, and tomatoes. Make sure to crush the whole tomatoes with your spoon. Bring so a simmer, then cover
  3. While the soup is simmering, roast some sweet peppers at 400F until charred. Once they cool, peel the skins and slice them. Dress them with a little olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper
  4. When the soup is ready, garnish with sweet pepper relish

Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt and Cinnamon

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Food52 has some of the best recipes. When I saw this recipe for Almond Thumbprint Cookies, I immediately bookmarked it. The only issue I had in making this was my own personal error – when thinking I was using bittersweet chocolate for the filling, I was actually using unsweetened. I was able to adjust the sweetness, or lack thereof, by adding more sugar into the filling. Needless to say, I was skeptical how they would turn out…

Fortunately the cookies tasted amazing. My word of advice – try and stick to the original recipe listed below.

I topped the cookies with flaked sea salt, cinnamon, and turbinado sugar!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c flour
  • 3/4 c almond meal (ground almonds is what I used)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 Tbls butter
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate broken into pieces
  • 2 tsp corn syrup
  • Sea salt, cinnamon and sugar to top
  1. Mix the dry ingredients – flour and almond meal, set aside
  2. In a mixer, add the sugar and lemon zest. Next, cream the stick of butter and lemon zested sugar for 3-5 minutes. Once the mixture is whipped, add the vanilla extract
  3. Now, slowly add in the dry mix and mix until just combined
  4. Scoop the cookies onto a lined baking sheet. I used a tablespoon to scoop my dough out. Make a thumbprint in each cookie
  5. Bake the cookies at 350F for 10-12 minutes
  6. While the cookies are baking, make your chocolate toping. In a double boiler, melt 2 Tbls butter, corn syrup, and chocolate. Set aside once melted
  7. Let cookies cool complete, fill with chocolate and top with sea salt, cinnamon and sugar

Layered Veggie Enchiladas

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Normally when I make enchiladas, I make them one by one: warming the tortilla, drenching it in enchilada sauce, filling it with veggies, then rolling them into place.. This time, I deconstructed the process a bit. Rather than filling and rolling, I layered it like a lasagna. It worked wonderfully!

I still warmed the tortilla, then I started each layer with enchilada sauce – tortilla – more sauce – veggies/beans/cheese – repeat. The middle layer, I omitted the sauce and put a thin layer of chili – I had some on hand that I wanted to use up. If you don’t have chili, you can just add more beans. This enchilada powder mix from Simply Organic is my go-to sauce.

Have fun with this recipe – feel free to get creative with the layers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen tri-colored peppers (red, orange, yellow)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • Chili
  • Cumin
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 c chili (optional)
  • Enchilada sauce – Simply Organic powder mix and 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • Small corn tortillas
  • Cheese (optional)
  1. First, prep the veggies. Sauté the onion in some oil for about 5 minutes, then add the peppers. If using frozen peppers – be ware the skillet might sizzle a bit
  2. Next, add some seasonings – I used a few pinches of chili and cumin – taste and adjust as needed
  3. Get the enchilada sauce together – following instructions on the packet
  4. Heat the tortillas in a skillet
  5. In a casserole dish layer enchilada sauce, tortilla, sauce (enough just to cover/saturate tortillas), veggies, beans, and cheese (if using). The top layer should be tortilla, sauce and cheese.
  6. Bake at 350F until cheese is melted – it took about 45 minutes for ours to heat all the way through

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Red Curry Soup

Winters in Minnesota are brutal. Soups and stews are my go to meals for the next 4 months. I was inspired by a recipe from Budget Bytes. Feel free to omit the fish sauce or make a vegan fish sauce. You can also try subbing in Worcestershire for the fish sauce as well.

I particularly like this Red Curry Soup – it has some heat and is loaded with veggies and protein.

I layered my soup with what I had on hand – basmati rice, spinach and tofu:

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The tofu was marinated in a mix of grated ginger, minced garlic, mirin, shoyu/tamari, curry paste and some maple syrup. Then I fried the tofu cubes in coconut oil.

My soup had a few different veggies. Here is the recipe I followed:

  • coconut oil
  • 3 small sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • grated ginger
  • minced garlic
  • red curry paste, approximately 1 Tbls
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • spinach
  • tofu
  1. Saute diced peppers, sweet potato, and onion for 5-7 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and curry paste, cooking for another 1-3 minutes
  2. Once spices are fragrant, add the coconut milk and 2 cups of veggie broth. Cover and simmer until veggies are fork tender
  3. In a separate pan, fry the marinated tofu. If using spinach, saute in the same pan as the tofu
  4. Layer ingredients in a bowl and top with the soup

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