Veggies

New Years Eve Throw-down! Appetizer 1: Potato Skins

365 days, 525,600 minutes (I had to get a RENT reference in there), 52 weeks, 12 months, blah blah blah… It’s the NEW YEAR BABY! I have mixed feelings about celebrating the new year. Some years I went out with friends (we did do Manhattan three times for NYE, and it was absolutely worth it), some years I worked at restaurants and made bank, and then others I spent at home drinking champs solo and eating everything I wanted. This year was the latter, minus the drinks (I had one glass) and add a pup and a husband.

When you think of traditional appetizers, whether for NYE or at a restaurant, say Applebee’s, what comes to mind? I automatically think of quesadillas, buffalo wings, spinach dip, and potato skins. My favorite are buffalo wings, but since I didn’t feel like doing those, I opted for some skins. Shockingly, these are pretty easy, but do take a while to prep and make; they also take up a lot of time in the oven – in and out three times in fact! The end result is totally worth the prep and time.

*fun fact: I worked at Applebee’s and loved every second of it. Hands down their best apps were the quesadillas, boneless wings, wonton tacos, and mozzarella sticks*

Choosing the type of potato for potato skins actually does matter. Russet potatoes tend to stand up to a triple bake and holding “loaded” toppings like sour cream and cheese. They have a bit more starch to them and can bake in 45 minutes. I started by rinsing the potatoes and placing them on a sheet pan, baking them at 375* for 45 minutes. If you sense that they are burning, fear not, just turn the heat down to 350*. Once they’re done baking, let them cool and begin to cut in half.

After cutting, you need to scoop out the insides, leaving a slight layer of potato in the skins. MAKE SURE YOUR POTATOES ARE COOL. This will burn if they are not cool enough to handle. Scoop out the insides, melt butter and spread the melted butter on the insides of scoop skins. Sprinkle some salt on then and bake again for 5-7 minutes, turning them over to brown on the top.

These babies are now ready to melt with cheese and your favorite toppings. Throw the skins back in to bake with cheese until the cheese melts. Layer onto a plate and top with chives, sour cream, bacon, etc. Fun, festive, and freaking delicious! Nomaste 🙂

Potato Skins

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 skins
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 6 Russet potatoes large
  • 2 tbsp Butter melted
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Chives
  • Sour Cream as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Rinse potatoes and place on baking sheet.  Bake in middle rack of oven for 45 minutes.  Lower heat if needed.

  3. After baking, let cool until the potatoes are cool enough to handle.  Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the centers, leaving a 1/4″ thick layer of potato.

  4. Melt butter and spread on each skin. Sprinkle salt.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, turning potato skins over to brown midway through baking.

  5. Take potatoes out and sprinkle cheese.  Bake for the third time until cheese is fully melted and bubbling.

  6. Add favorite toppings such as chives, sour cream, and bacon.

A Leftover’s Makeover: Chicken Zucchini Boats

If you haven’t heard about using zucchini as a vessel for chicken, lamb, ground beef, etc., you absolutely live under a rock. It’s a “thing,” a trendy new way to use zucchini sans making them into noodles (I have feelings about zoodles but that’s for another post).

Zucchini happens to be one of my favorite vegetables to eat. Not only is it high in water and fiber, it’s actually known to lower blood pressure and provide your body ample amounts of vitamin C. Zucchini is incredibly versatile and when made into tiny “boats,” it can turn any meal into a low-carb masterpiece!

I originally sought to make these boats in an enchilada style, but that will be a follow-up recipe. Instead of taking out more chicken and boiling it then shredding, seasoning, and making an enchilada sauce, I opted to repurpose the leftover coconut cream and tomato chicken thighs from yesterday’s blog post (that recipe can be found here). Ready for the step by step? It’s super easy that it doesn’t even require a recipe. Here’s the deal:

  1. Take four zucchini and slice in half.
  2. Hollow out the zucchini with a spoon (or melon scoop) and repeat until all are finished. Remember to not hollow all the way down to leave a “skin” of zucchini so it resembles a boat. They will soften in the oven.
  3. Preheat oven to 350*
  4. Layer in the leftover chicken (or you can use ground beef, lamb, etc.) Be generous here 🙂
  5. Place in dish (pre-sauced with any kind of marinara sauce or some leftover sauce from the chicken).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes; take out at 15 minutes to sprinkle cheddar cheese and turn oven to broil.
  7. Broil until cheese is melted about 3 minutes.

THAT’S LITERALLY IT. Here are pictures to explain visually (it’s also really not complex, just follow the steps above).

Don’t worry, if you weren’t able to use leftovers it’s really alright. Make some taco meat with taco seasonings found on Thrive Market and make taco boats! Hmmm, #idea.

Nomaste 🙂

Latkes!

Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!  I love this time of year, not just for the food and holiday break, but for the warm feeling that is thrust upon us when surrounded by family and friends, and friends who are family!  It’s a time for kindness, love, belly laughs, and building lifetime memories, which more often than not, are created around a dinner table.  Growing up, I always loved Hanukkah: the lighting of candles, the story behind the holiday, the jelly doughnuts, but what I really loved were the homemade latkes my mother and grandmother would make.  The crispy, fried potato pancakes drizzled with sour cream (or apple sauce…) and served nice and hot out of pan… SO DELICIOUS!IMG_0364.JPG

There are two schools of thought: to use a food processor, or to go old school and hand-grate the potatoes and onions with a cheese grater.  I chose the latter as I find that they always taste crispier and fresh when hand-grated.  I start by peeling one and a half large onions and grate on the side with the larger holes (julienned side).  Grating onions will cause your eyes to water and tear if you are sensitive to onions, so be warned!  I then set this aside in a large mixing bowl.  Then, I peel and grate 5 medium potatoes (I happened to have one gigantic potato and 3 smaller ones, but 5 medium should yield the same results).  I use a cheesecloth to ring out the starch and liquid.

Crack and whisk three eggs together and pour into the mixture, along with one cup of flour – I used cassava flour.  Mix all ingredients together, add a dash of salt and onion powder.  Heat a large sauté pan and add in oil, just enough to coat pan.  Scoop some mixture into a spoon and carefully place into the oil.  You’ll know when to flip them when the sides are nice and crisp.  Sprinkle some kosher salt at the very end and serve immediately.  Another school of thought: the condiment.  Some latke-enthusiasts like a sweet condiment such as applesauce, or some (like myself) prefer a savory, such as sour cream.  I use sour cream, but try both and see what fits your fancy ~ NOMaste!

Latkes

Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean, Vegetables
Keyword fried, latkes, oil, pancake, potato
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 latkes
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 5 medium Russet potatoes peeled
  • 1.5 large yellow onions
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour by preference, I used cassava
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • onion powder to taste
  • kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Peel potatoes and first layer of onions.  Take a four-sided cheese grater and using the large julienned side, start grating the onions. Place grated onions in large mixing bowl.

  2. Take peeled potatoes and grate on the same side and place in a cheese cloth to squeeze out the mixture into the sink. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add to the onions.

  3. Crack and whisk three eggs.

  4. Add eggs to potato and onion mixture.  Add in one cup of flour and mix.  You can add onion powder here and some kosher salt for seasoning.

  5. Preheat pan on medium (or around 375*).  Add oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan in a thick layer.  Spoon a large dollop of mixture into the oil, flipping when sides are nice and golden/crisp.  Repeat for rest of mixture.  Add extra oil as needed.

  6. Sprinkle kosher salt and serve immediately with choice of condiment: sour cream or applesauce.

Bean(less) Beef Chili

Let’s face it.  There are a bagillion and five ways to make chili.  Do I add beans? If so, what kind? Should I make it in the crockpot? Instapot? Dutch oven?  How long does it cook for?  Do I add rice? Veggies? GAH!  Chili has become such a versatile and fun dish to make because the truth is, it’s whatever you want it to be.  To be fair, and to give credit, chili in its traditional sense is cooked low and slow on a burner for a few hours, and has a variety of beans and made with beef, but this can absolutely be made with turkey if that’s your prerogative.  Tonight, it’s made in a dutch oven and blended with fresh veggies!IMG_0329

The chili I make is most of the time bean-less as I don’t prefer beans (and being that I’m 90% of the time eating Paleo-style, beans are not part of the Paleo protocol) and they’re just added texture that I just don’t like.  Now, that’s not to say this chili isn’t flavorful… because it definitely packs a punch!  With layered seasonings like cumin, chili powder, pepper flakes, onion and garlic powder, and of course S&P, it creates a harmony unlike no other.  I start with a large onion and roughly chop it so that the pieces are not all the same, but relatively small and thin. I heat my dutch oven before adding the oil, then add in the onions and some salt.  The onions will begin to become translucent and fragrant, then I add the in sliced cherry tomatoes (really just for fun and texture) and let it settle.IMG_0317

I take 2 lbs of grass fed ground beef and add it to the pot, seasoning with just the salt, onion and garlic powder, and mix together well.  As the ground beef begins to brown, I break apart the large meat chunks with a wooden spoon.  Mix all together and add in the tomato sauce (for tonight, I just used what I had in house, which was a jar of Classico sauce, but I prefer traditional tomato sauce in a can).  Stir together to coat all ingredients and then add in the chili powder, cumin, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and let sit on a low flame for two hours.  After one hour, I add in chopped zucchini.

Alas, the results is a chunky, hearty, and bean(less) chili that packs a kick and warms the soul simultaneously.  Top it off with sour cream, cheese crisps, or grated cheddar for extra pizzazz.  Enjoy and, Nomaste 🙂

Bean(less) Chili

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Chili
Keyword beanless, chili, dinner, healthy, Hearty, paleo, Soup, winter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Resting time 5 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 cups
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 jar low-sugar tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced then chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pan or dutch oven, turn heat to medium and then add the olive oil.  Add in chopped onions and begin to let simmer. Add tomatoes and stir.  Let simmer and occasionally stir, waiting for the skins to begin to peel and the onions to be translucent

  2. Add in ground beef and break apart with wooden spoon.  Stir together with onions and tomatoes, adding garlic and onion powder and salt. Let sit and brown, about 7-8 minutes.

  3. Pour in tomato sauce and stir to coat evenly.   Sprinkle in chili powder, red pepper flakes, pepper, and cumin.  Cover and turn flame to low.  Simmer for 2 hours

  4. After one hour of cooking, add in the chopped zucchini.  Stir and cover.  Cook for remaining time; stir occasionally.

  5. Serve over rice or sweet potato, regular potato, etc. Add cheese or favorite condiments as needed and enjoy!

Lemon Orzo and Vegetable Primavera

It’s the final countdown (until Thanksgiving), and I cannot wait to indulge in all my favorite goods: the sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, turkey, stuffing, and apple pie!  This happens to be my favorite holiday out of all holidays celebrated, especially because it brings people together.  Friends, family, and friends who are family – it’s a season to give thanks and be happy 🙂

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I always loved the idea of eating orzo, as it’s a super small pasta that goes with just about every kind of sauce.  The downside?  I never really know how to best prepare it.  Should it be in a cold salad?  Could I eat it like regular pasta with just butter?  Tonight’s dinner featured orzo as a kind of sprinkling of carbs that paired perfectly with the medley of sautéed vegetables.IMG_0031

Giving props to my SIL Ashley for finding a similar recipe and giving me inspiration,  I took it a different route: instead of roasting the vegetables and using mushrooms, I sautéed all of the veggies separately, using one pot over and over again, then mixing it altogether at the end with a touch of salt, pepper, and garlic.  I used zucchini, spinach, onions and shallots, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers.  I started with the onions and cooked them until translucent then set aside.  Up next was the spinach: sautéed in butter and garlic, then the zucchini, and last the tomato/pepper mix.

I cooked the orzo as I would regular pasta, then added it to the vegetable mix, tossing the whole dish with some fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, S&P (Salt and pepper).  Crumbled mediterranean feta sat atop the beaut and we couldn’t have been happier at how this came out!  This will for sure be part of the rotation of meals.  Bon appetít!

Lemon Orzo and Vegetable Primavera

Course Dinner
Cuisine Greek, Vegetables
Keyword dinner, easy, orzo, pasta, vegetables
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

For the vegetables

  • 1 cup Orzo
  • 1 zucchini sliced then halved
  • 2 bell peppers orange and yellow
  • 1 pkg fresh spinach
  • 1 large onion or onions and 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 cup feta
  • 3-4 tbsp oil I used avocado oil

For the dressing mixture

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 half squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large sauté pan, drizzle one tbsp oil into the pan and turn heat onto medium. Add the sliced onion and shallot mixture to the pan and cook until fragrant and translucent (should be able to see through the onions), approximately 8-10m.  Set aside.

  2. Add a tbsp of butter to the same pan and pour in the spinach.  Cook until leaves are wilted and soft.  Season with garlic powder and set aside.

  3. Pour another tbsp into the pan.  Layer in the sliced zucchini and cook until browned and the zucchini starts to sweat (10m).  Set aside.

  4. Add in sliced tomatoes and bell peppers and cook until fragrant and the tomatoes begin to soften.  Layer back in all of the other cooked vegetables.  Drizzle a pinch of salt and pepper, add garlic powder.  Stir to blend.

  5. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water (3-4 qts).  Add in the cup of orzo and cook for 8-9 minutes depending on packaging. Drain and pour into vegetable mixture.  Mix well.

  6. Drizzle the lemon olive oil mixture into the pan and stir to spread the dressing.  Sprinkle crumbled feta on top and serve immediately.