Polenta & Veggie Pot Pie

I love rainy days!  All I want to do is curl up with a blanket in front of the fireplace, read a book with a cup of chai in my hand.  That probably won’t happen till my kids are off to school.

In the meantime, I decided to put together a hearty stew that warms you from your fingers to your toes.  I took the stew a little further and decided to put a spin on it.  I made cute pot pies but instead of the traditional pastry shell, I used polenta and cheese for the crust.  It tasted so delicious, the creamy polenta and the melted cheese just got all of us, especially my daughter hooked!

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I have these cute little Le Creuset cocottes that I got as a gift from our close friends a few years ago and thought my 2.5 year old will get a kick out of eating from it.  And boy was I right!  She insisted on eating her leftovers the next day from these adorable pots!  I was just happy she loved the stew as much as the cocottes!

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I hope these warm you up on a cold rainy (or snowy) day like it did us!

Ingredients:
½ onion, chopped finely
1c cubed butternut squash
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼c AP flour
2Tbsp tomato paste
2Tbsp cayenne pepper
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp cumin powder
¼tsp oregano
½tsp salt (or to taste)
¼tsp ground black pepper
2c veggie broth
1Tbsp Sriracha sauce
¼c milk
2Tbsp EVOO

For the Polenta:
2c Veggie Broth
2c milk
1c Polenta
¼tsp salt
¼tsp pepper
3Tbsp Butter
3oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a nonstick pan, over medium heat, add EVOO.  Once the oil is heated, add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Now add the butternut squash and for about 10 minutes or until it becomes tender.  Make sure you don’t over cook it as the squash can get a mushy texture.  Add in all the dry spices and mix well.  Cook with the spices for a 1-2 minutes so they bloom and flavor the squash.  Now, sprinkle in the flour.  Stir for about 3 minutes so the flour cooks.  If the flour doesn’t cook through, you’ll be able to taste a raw, gritty flavor which is so unappetizing.  Add the veggie broth, tomato paste, and Sriracha, raise to a simmer and cook until it has thickened.  Once it has thickened, add in the milk and black beans.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust for salt.

Spoon the mixture into 4 individual baking dishes or one pie pan and place on a baking sheet with a 2 inch lip.

For the polenta, add the veggie broth and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and whisk in the polenta slowly.  If you add it all at once, the polenta will be lumpy and not cook through.  Keep stirring until the polenta thickens, approximately 10-12 minutes.  Add in the butter and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon the polenta over the pot pie filling and top with cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 18-20 minutes or until the polenta is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley and let it warm you to your toes as you dig in to this deliciousness!

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Veggie Stuffed Peppers

There are many days recently where we end up eating leftovers because well, with a 4 month old who wants all the attention, it’s hard to spend time in the kitchen when her drooly smile beckons you to play.  Today however, the husband became the center of her attention allowing me a few moments to whip up veggie stuffed peppers.  Layered with rice, veggies and definitely cheese – this is one yummy pepper!

There are a couple different parts to it so bear with me.  Here’s how I made it:

For the rice:

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Oh boy! The kitchen smelled so good with just the cumin and onions cooking together, I couldn’t wait till it was done so I can just dig in!

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Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Be careful!  Don’t add the tomatoes when the onions are not done cooking.  The acid from the tomatoes prevents the onions from cooking all the way through and this will change the flavor profile.

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Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.  This is key whenever I make any type of rice – letting the rice sit in its own steam for 5 minutes.  This ensures the rice is nice and fluffy and makes it taste so much better!

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For the Veggie Stuffing:

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

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To assemble the peppers:

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!
I’ve included the full recipe below.  I hope you like it just as much as we did.

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For the rice:
1/2c rice
1c low sodium veggie broth
1tsp onions
1/2c finely diced onions
1/2c chopped tomatoes
1Tbsp taco seasoning
1Tbsp Olive Oil
salt to taste

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.

For the Veggie Stuffing:
1/2c diced zucchini
1/2c diced yellow squash
1/2c finely diced onions
1 14oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1Tbsp Olive Oil
1Tbsp Fajita Seasoning
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp cumin powder
salt to taste

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the peppers:
2 bell peppers, halved, deseeded
1cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

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One of my favorite things about cooking, is the smile on my husband’s face when he eats my food. Whenever I make anything, I always rely on him to give me his honest opinion so I can perfect my dishes – I have to say, he gave me a PERFECT on this one! Now I want to make it over and over again.

The cool thing about this Chicken pot pie is I add the chicken separate from the veggies instead of mixing it all together like many recipes call for it. By doing that, I’m giving myself the freedom to turn it into a Veggie Pot Pie for myself (being a vegetarian – I have to find ways to share meals without making separate ones all the time!) I’ve also tried to make it healthier in my own way by cutting out the butter and replacing it with olive oil and cutting out the cream completely. And of course, for my Li’l bit of Spice, there’s some hot sauce in there!

Here’s how I made it!

For the Chicken:

Preheat Oven to 400°F. Season boneless, skinless chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
When it’s done cooking, remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes then shred it with a fork.

For the Veggie filling:

Preheat the oven to 400°F
In a nonstick pot, heat the oil. Then add in the onions, garlic, peas, carrots, and celery.

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Mix well and saute for about 3-5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.

Add in the flour and mix well. Let it cook for about 5 minutes so the flour is not raw.

Add in the veggie broth, salt, pepper, turmeric, thyme and hot sauce.

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Lower the heat just a little bit and cook until the mixture thickens.

Layer individual ramekins with veggie mixture, then the shredded chicken, then a little more of the veggies. For the vegetarian in you, there’s no layering involved! So easy!

Cover the ramekins with pie crust (not gonna lie – still working on figuring out how to make this), then brush with a little egg wash. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and there you have it! Beautiful Chicken (or veggie) Pot Pies!

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Here’s the consolidated version. This recipe makes 4 servings.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1 c frozen peas
1/2 c diced onions
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2c whole wheat flour
5 c veggie broth
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp thyme
1 whole pie crust
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
For the Chicken:
Preheat Oven to 400°F. Season boneless, skinless chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
When it’s done cooking, remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes then shred it with a fork.
For the Veggie filling:
Preheat the oven to 400°F
In a nonstick pot, heat the oil. Then add in the onions, garlic, peas, carrots, and celery.
Mix well and saute for about 3-5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
Add in the flour and mix well. Let it cook for about 5 minutes so the flour is not raw.
Add in the veggie broth, salt, pepper, turmeric, thyme and hot sauce.
Lower the heat just a little bit and cook until the mixture thickens.
Layer individual ramekins with veggie mixture, then the shredded chicken, then a little more of the veggies. For the vegetarian in you, there’s no layering involved! So easy!
Cover the ramekins with pie crust (not gonna lie – still working on figuring out how to make this), then brush with a little egg wash. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and there you have it! Beautiful Chicken (or veggie) Pot Pies!

Hearty Veggie Soup

With the weather so cold out, and rain falling non-stop, I love turning to a comforting bowl of hot soup. My hearty veggie soup is a classic that I enjoy so much each time I make it. I usually make a large batch that lasts me a few days. With plenty of carrots, celery, potatoes and kidney beans, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…….

Hearty Veggie Soup

Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in a pot over medium heat. Add in the garlic and roast for 30 seconds.

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Then add in the red onions and saute for about 30 seconds.

finely chopped onions

Add in the potatoes, celery and carrots. I usually leave my potatoes in a bowl of water once they’re chopped until I’m ready to use them; this washes out a lot of the starch in potatoes.

Veggies

Add tomato paste and mix well. Add kidney beans.

Kidney Beans

Add veggie broth, 1 cup of water, and mix well. Season with basil, oregano and salt. Allow soup to boil then reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Stir occasionally so the veggies don’t settle to the bottom. Garnish with basil leaves and serve hot.

Soup

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp EVOO
4 med red potatoes
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 (16oz) cans veggie broth
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 c water

Directions:

Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in a pot over medium heat. Add in the garlic and roast for 30 seconds. Add in onions and saute for 30 seconds. Add in the potatoes, celery and carrots. Add tomato paste and mix well. Add kidney beans. Add veggie broth, 1 cup of water, and mix well. Season with basil, oregano and salt. Allow soup to boil then reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Stir occasionally so the veggies don’t settle to the bottom. Garnish with basil leaves and serve hot.