Two Weeks of Healthy Dinners

10 Dec

I have a husband who loves to eat. I know most guys love to eat, but I have to say, I feel like H truly appreciates my cooking in a big way. As in, he’s basically a bottomless pit. Not being American, he prefers fresh foods to processed foods, so I try to make a meal every night that is healthy that I think he will enjoy. We’re also trying to stick to a budget, so that means a lot of cooking at home instead of going out to eat.

I’ve put together sixteen of our favourite healthy dinner recipes, for your enjoyment, if you so wish. I know sixteen covers more than fourteen days. Just think of the extra two as a bonus. 😀 They were too good to leave out.

One thing I like about all of these is that they are all a meal in themselves, combining vegetables, protein, and carbs in a single dish. (If I had a Crockpot, I’d use it all the time!) The fewer dishes I have to wash at the end of the night, the better, and I find I’m less likely to make cooking mistakes if I just focus on one dish instead of trying to make a million sides. (Though I don’t mind making exceptions for dessert.)

None of the recipes are especially challenging in any way, so as long you have mastered the basics of cooking, these should all be fairly easy and none of them takes more than an hour to make. They are all healthy foods and I try to use fresh and unprocessed ingredients where possible.

(*Special note for Melburnians: Hit up Rita’s Nuts and Coffee at the South Melbourne Market for things like wheat berries and dried beans, including black beans. You’ll be hard pressed to find them anywhere else.)

I’ve given each recipe a Quick and Easy rating and a Leftover rating. Here’s how I’ve classified them:

Quick and Easy Ratings:

  • 5 out of 5: Super simple, very little prep required, can be made in 30 minutes.
  • 4 out of 5: Still simple, but may require a fair amount of chopping or takes longer than 30 minutes.
  • 3 out of 5: Requires a bit more prep and planning ahead, may require certain ingredients to be cooked separately before being combined.
  • 2 out of 5: Requires significant prep (like chopping) and numerous ingredients, has multiple steps of preparing different parts of the recipe separately, takes over an hour.
  • 1 out of 5: As in the above, but takes over an hour and a half or requires planning more than a day ahead.

Leftover Ratings:

  • 5 out of 5: Excellent, tastes as good or better than it did fresh.
  • 4 out of 5: Great, tastes almost as good as it did fresh.
  • 3 out of 5: Good, noticeable difference from fresh, but still tasty.
  • 2 out of 5: Okay, not horrible, not great.
  • 1 out of 5: Edible, but certainly not delicious.
  • 0 out of 5: Not recommended for leftovers

Brown Rice and Mixed Bean Salad

1. Brown Rice and Mixed Bean Salad

This is a perennial favourite that gets served pretty frequently around here. This recipe is meant to serve four, but you’ll probably want seconds. It can be a good option as a side or a dish to bring to a potluck, but it’s filling, so I usually serve it as a main meal.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (about one cup uncooked)
  • 1 can of 4-bean mix (I prefer Edgell’s brand)
  • 1 cup of steamed, fresh green beans
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh chopped parsley (I prefer the curly variety)
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small to medium Spanish (red) onion, sliced
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs whole grain mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled feta cheese

Step 1: Cook the rice. You can do this however the package suggests, but I find the absorption method to be great because you can sort of just leave it sit to cook while you prepare the other ingredients. So add two cups of cold water to your one cup of rice in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the heat all the way down to low, give the rice a stir, replace the cover, and let it simmer undisturbed for 25-30 minutes.

Step 2: Get out a nice big serving bowl and dump in the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard, and add some salt and pepper if desired.

Step 3: Prepare your other ingredients. Drain and rinse the beans. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Slice the onion. Wash, dry, and chop the parsley. Add all these things to the serving bowl.

Step 4: Wash the green beans and cut off the stringy bits on the ends. Start steaming them when the rice is about 5 minutes from being done. If you are steaming on the stovetop, get your water boiling ahead of time. If you are doing it in the microwave, no need to prep. (I prefer stovetop.) Steam them for about 4 minutes or until they turn a bright, vibrant green. Add them to the bowl.

Step 5: When the rice is done, pour all of it into the serving bowl and mix everything up together.

Step 6: Serve in rice bowls, topped with feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Chicken, Avocado, and Spinach Salad

2. Chicken, Avocado, and Spinach Salad

This is a really nice main dish salad, which is easy to prepare and very filling. The dressy is a bit on the tangy side, so if you don’t like that, you can always substitute a dressing you like better instead. For the chicken, you can just bake it in the oven. If you want to make the chicken chili (below) later in the week, you can make enough for both recipes now and just refrigerate the rest for a couple of days. You can keep this as leftovers, sans dressing, but the avocados starts to oxidise and it doesn’t look that great anymore.

To toast the pine nuts, just toss them in an ungreased skillet over low-medium heat until they start to turn golden and become pungent. Keep them moving with a spatula, as they burn easily.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 3 out of 5

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 bag of spinach or baby spinach
  • 1 punnet of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup of corn (canned, frozen, fresh- doesn’t matter)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut up
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

  • 5 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. (Or do what I do and combine them in a jar and shake.)

2. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

3. Add dressing just before serving.

 

Wheat Berry Salad

3. Wheat Berry Salad

If you’re not familiar with weird health foods, you might not know what wheat berries are. They are the whole, unprocessed kernels of wheat. You can usually find them in health food stores or the bulk foods or natural foods sections of a grocery store. Here in Melbourne, the only place I’ve ever found them is at Rita’s Coffee and Nuts at the South Melbourne Market, which is also where I buy all my dried beans. Wheat berries are an excellent low-GI carb with lots of fiber and they can be used interchangeably with other similar ingredients, like couscous or other whole grains. Note: This dish needs to chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Quick and Easy Rating: 3 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 3 out of 5

Ingredients:

Wheat Berries

  • 3/4 cup uncooked wheat berries
  • 3 cups water

Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I prefer olive or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Salad

  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small green bell pepper (capsicum), diced (for extra flavour and colour, you can also substitute or add a red or yellow pepper)
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. In large saucepan, soak wheat berried in water for 30 minutes, then heat water to boiling. Reduce heat to low, simmer partially covered for 55 minutes or until wheat berries are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and stir until well mixed.

3. In a large serving bowl, combine wheat berries and salad ingredients and toss with salad dressing. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

 

Ravioli with Vegetables and Creamy Pesto

4. Ravioli with Veggies and Creamy Pesto

You can make or buy your pesto. We make ours because the crap in the grocery store is made with really cheap ingredients (canola oil instead of olive oil and almonds instead of pine nuts, for example, which is not really a pesto). I’m including a pesto recipe with this in case you’d like to try making your own. It’s really easy! Also, this recipe calls for frying the vegetables in oil, but if you want a healthier version, this tastes great with just raw vegetables (so skip Step 2 if you don’t want to fry them).

Quick and Easy Rating (using pre-made pesto): 4.5 out of 5

Quick and Easy Rating (using homemade pesto): 3.5 out of 5

Leftover rating: 4 out of 5

Basil Pesto:

  • 2 cups of firmly packed fresh, washed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic

Ravioli and Vegetables:

  • olive oil
  • 8 ounces or 225 grams of fresh, green beans
  • 1 small to medium yellow bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced
  • 1 small to medium green bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • one package of frozen cheese and spinach ravioli (about 16 oz or 500 grams should be plenty)
  • 3 Tbs basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup lite sour cream

Step 1: (Skip if using store-bought pesto.) Place all pesto ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend on medium speed until smooth, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides. This take about 3-4 minutes. (This will make more than you need for this recipe, but once you’ve made it, it’ll keep for a good week in the fridge and is great to throw on some plain pasta for a quick lunch.) You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind it all together, but it takes much longer.

Step 2: (Skip if you want to use raw veggies- you won’t be needing the olive oil.) In a non-stick skillet, add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom and heat oil on medium high heat. Cook green beans and bell peppers (capsicums) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and salt and cook for another 3 minutes.

Step 3: Cook ravioli according to package directions. In small bowl, mix pesto and sour cream.

Step 4: Drain ravioli and return to pan. Combine with vegetable mixture and sour cream/pesto mixture.

 

White Chicken Chili

5. White Chicken Chili

I’m not a big fan of regular chili, but I do like white chili and it’s a favourite of H’s. It’s also super simple to make if you cook the chicken ahead of time. If you prefer something with a little more kick, increase the chili powder from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp.

Quick and Easy Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 5 out of 5

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil (I prefer grapeseed oil, as it’s healthier and doesn’t impart any flavours)
  • 2 medium brown onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 Tbs of chopped fresh coriander (also called cilantro in the US)
  • 2 Tbs lime juice (one medium sized lime is sufficient- no need to measure)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 16 oz or 400g cannellini beans (rinsed and drained, if using canned)
  • 16 oz or 400g butter beans (these are whitish coloured lima beans) (rinsed and drained if using canned)
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped or shredded

1. In 4 quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and cook onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients except chicken and beans and heat to boiling. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

3. Stir in chicken and beans and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Serve with any desired toppings. Suggestions: shredded cheese, sour cream, spring onions, diced tomatoes, avocado, crushed corn chips, or anything else that sounds good!

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Pasta Bake (Image from Google, since my own photo was blurry)

6. Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Pasta Bake

Being from the midwest, I love me a good hotdish and this fits the bill nicely. This recipe is slightly more work than some of the others because of the cheese sauce, but it is a relatively inexpensive dinner. And the fact that it is pasta with a cheese sauce means it often satisfies my cravings for macaroni and cheese! The downside is that this makes way more than two people can eat in one sitting and cooked broccoli, in my opinion, is not very nice as leftovers. It’s edible, just not fantastic.

Quick and Easy Rating: 2 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 3 out of 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets (no stems)
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (no stems, unless you like them, in which case, use only one head of broccoli)
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz or 250g penne pasta
  • 3 cups semi-skim or lite milk
  • 4 or 5 rashers of short cut, rindless bacon, chopped
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh or dried thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (or sharp tasty cheese, if you are Australian)
  • 2 slices of toasted wholegrain bread OR 1/4 cup of purchased bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 200 C (180 C fan forced) or 400 F and place large baking sheet in oven during pre-heating cycle.

2. Toss cauliflower and broccoli with 2 Tbs olive oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place evenly onto preheated baking sheet and roast on top rack (or second to top, if there’s not enough room) for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. (Leave the oven on at this temperature, though.)

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

4. Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

5. In medium saucepan, heat remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Cook bacon in the oil for 2 minutes until browned. Reduce heat to medium, add onions and thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Reduce heat to low on onion and bacon mixture, and sprinkle in flour. Stir with wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.

7. Increase heat to medium. While stirring constantly,slowly add milk to flour mixture. Continue stirring for about 10 minutes until mixture thickens.

8. Turn off heat and add shredded cheese, stirring until melted and blended. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

9. If making your own bread crumbs, add two pieces of lightly browned toasted bread into the food processor and pulse into large crumbs.

10. Layer pasta and vegetables into a large glass baking dish and pour cheese mixture over the top, making sure to get down the sides, as well. (Or if you don’t mind dirtying another dish, mix the pasta, veggies, and cheese mixture together a big pot or bowl and then spoon into baking dish.)

11. Scatter breadcrumbs over top and drizzle extra olive oil over the top, if you prefer.

12. Bake for 10 minutes, then let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving to allow cheese mixture to set.

 

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

7. Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

This is one of the few recipes I’ve found on Pinterest that actually turned out well. I was a bit skeptical about making it because the combination of ingredients seemed weird to me, but it ended up being really, really good. The worst part for me was cooking the bacon, because I’m not very good at it, but it turned out okay. I think most people make better bacon than I do. Be sure to make this ahead of time because it needs to chill for 3 hours. For that reason, it gets a lower Quick and Easy Rating. This is something I tend to make on tango night when I know I won’t have much time in the evening to cook. I make it in the morning or early afternoon and then when suppertime rolls around, all that needs doing is to scoop it out into bowls.

Quick and Easy Rating: 3.5 out 5

Leftover Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 oz or 400 grams of bow-tie pasta
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli (about 3 small heads or 2 large)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked slices of bacon, crumbled (you can also use Hormel’s Real Crumbled Bacon, available in the US, and for Aussies, at Costco)

1. Toast pecans in skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. Cut broccoli florets from stems, separating into small pieces with a paring knife.

4. Whisk together mayonnaise, onion, sugar, vinegar, and salt in large bowl.

5. Add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes and stir to coat.

6. Cover and chill at least three hours.

7. Stir in pecans and bacon just before serving.

 

Tomato Basil Gnocchi

8. Tomato Basil Gnocchi

This is one of my favourite recipes when I don’t feel like spending a ton of time on dinner and don’t want to chop a million and one different ingredients. It’s healthy and tasty, but it’s also simple, requiring only six ingredients. This serves two to three people only, so modify it accordingly if you need to feed more. Not very good for leftovers, in my opinion, since the gnocchi doesn’t reheat very well.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 0 out of 5

  • 500 g or 16oz package of gnocchi (if you can find tri-coloured gnocchi- I know Target has it in their Archer Farms brand in America- it really helps the presentation)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 punnet grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 Tbs dried basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain.

2. In large non-stick skillet, melt butter and cook garlic for about 2 minutes. (I know I’m not using a non-stick skillet in the photo. My non-stick pan was dirty and I paid for it later by spending half an hour scrubbing out the non-non-stick pan. Do as I say, not as I do.)

3. Add gnocchi, tomatoes, and basil and occasionally stir with wooden spatula for about 10-15 minutes until gnocchi start to brown slightly and the tomato skins start to shrivel a bit.

4. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

 

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Bowtie and Borlotti Bean Soup

9. Bowtie and Borlotti Bean Soup

This is an ultra delicious and healthy soup which serves four as a main meal. This is another dish that makes regular appearances here. The wine is optional in this soup, but I think it enhances the flavour. I’m also using canned tomatoes here (rare for me!) because they need to be peeled and the saucey stuff the canned ones come in adds to the broth and gives it a nice colour.

Quick and Easy Rating: 4 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 4 out of 5

  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, sliced (sub out one carrot for a celery stick, if you just can’t eat a soup without celery in it)
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 fl oz or 150 mL dry white wine (optional)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 250 g or 8 ounces of bowtie pasta (farfalle)
  • 400g or 16 oz borlotti beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned)
  • 3 cups spinach, stems removed
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in very large saucepan (a Dutch oven works, too) and add the onion, garlic, and carrots. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

2. Add the bay leaf, wine, stock, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. One boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the (uncooked) pasta, bring soup back to a boil, and simmer for 8 minutes.

4. Add the beans and continue simmering for another 2 minutes.

5. Add the spinach and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until spinach starts to wilt.

6. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

10. Mexican Rice and Beans with Avocado Salsa

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Mexican Rice and Beans with Avocado Salsa

This dish requires a fair bit of work, but it is totally worth it. It is extremely flavourful and filling. It’s worth it to read through the entire recipe first and make sure you understand it before you start cooking. If you find that you tomato/onion puree is too thick, measure out your vegetable stock and then add some of that to the puree mixture. Not too much, just enough to thin it out a bit so your food processor can liquefy it. Don’t exceed more than 2 cups total of stock in this or the rice mixture will end up too runny and will soak through the tortillas. If this happens, you may need to drain the excess liquid with a sieve. Feel free to start on the salsa while the rice is cooking to save time.

Quick and Easy Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 4 out of 5

Rice and Beans

  • 16 oz or 400g kidney beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 4 large tomatoes, halved and seeded (drizzle the scooped out bits with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a tasty snack while you cook!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 brown or white onion, sliced
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup of uncooked brown rice, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5oz or 100g fresh green beans, cut into 1.5 inch (3cm) pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • whole wheat tortillas and sour cream for serving

Avocado Salsa

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbs lime juice (about one medium lime, no need to be exact)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbs fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

1. Set oven to broil or grill setting. Place tomatoes, garlic, and onions on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil, tossing to coat. Cook 5 minutes, turn, and cook five minutes more. Set aside to cool. (To speed up the process, I like to put them in front of an open window with a fan blowing on them. Make sure they are totally cooled before going on to the next step.)

2. Once cooled, puree the tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Mixture will be quite thick. Set aside when finished.

3. Heat remaining oil in a large saucepan. Add uncooked rice and cook for two minutes, stirring.

4. Add puree to the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add stock, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Reserve 1/4 cup of kidney beans for salsa. Add the rest to the stock mixture, along with carrots and green beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Most of the liquid should start to boil off. If it’s not, you’ll need to turn up the heat.

6. Remove pan from heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

7. Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Peel and dice the flesh. Toss with lime juice. (If avocado is overripe, just mash it.)

8. Add red onion, chili, coriander, and reserved kidney beans. Season with salt.

9. Serve rice and bean mixture on warm tortillas. Top with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Quinoa, Apple, and Spinach Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Quinoa, Apple, and Spinach Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

11. Quinoa, Apple, and Spinach Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

I actually quite like quinoa (a great non-grain option for anyone on a gluten-free diet, I might add). It’s fluffy and tasty and easy to make. It’s low GI and a complete source of protein. You can’t go wrong with it. I also happen to love maple syrup, so this recipe is one of my favourites and is very easy to make. Toast the pecans like any other nut, in an ungreased skillet until fragrant, making sure to move them around so they don’t burn.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 1 out of 5

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1 large apple (I prefer something sweet, like a Gala apple, but use whatever kind you like), washed and cut into thin slices or small cubes
  • 250g or 8 ounces of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing

  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbs pure maple syrup (none of that imitation crap)

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Drain, fluff with a fork, and set aside. (Now would be a good time to toast the pecans and chop that apple.)

2. Combine spinach, apple, chickpeas, parsley, and pecans in a large bowl.

3. Whisk together all dressing ingredients.

4. Pour dressing over salad ingredients just before serving, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.


Broccoli, Chili, and Artichoke Pasta

Broccoli, Chili, and Artichoke Pasta

12. Broccoli, Chili, and Artichoke Pasta

Another very simple and quick dish, this takes about 20 minutes to make. No hassle. Normally, I don’t like to keep pasta as leftovers, but if you do have any leftover, it should be all right, since it is slathered in oil and won’t stick together. It reheats okay in the microwave if you sprinkle a bit of water on it and cover it with plastic wrap.

Now, I’m not a big fan of really spicy hot food, but if you are, feel free to double the amount of chili flakes in the recipe or, if not everyone wants extra chili, just add them topically when you serve it. I think double chili is too much, but my tolerance for the stuff is pretty low. H thinks double chili is great and sometimes he even adds more, so it really depends on your taste buds.

By the way, I know the recipe says to use shell pasta and I clearly didn’t use shell pasta in the picture. I think shell pasta is the best for this recipe, but you can use any pasta that has some shape to it. I happened to use this strangely shaped pasta because that’s what was on sale at Costco. Just avoid straight pastas like penne or spaghetti, because nothing will stick to it.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shell pasta (conchiglie)
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 5 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 300 g or 8 oz artichoke hearts in oil or brine, drained (can be chopped into smaller pieces, if desired)
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
  • grated Pecorino cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Heat olive oil in large pot and saute the garlic and chili for a minute or two.

3. Add the pasta, broccoli, and artichoke hearts and cook for 4-5 minutes until hot. The broccoli florets will cook sufficiently in the steam from the hot pasta.

4. Season and sprinkle with parsley and Pecorino before serving.

 

Sombrero Salad

13. Sombrero Salad

This is a really filling salad and it makes a lot, so get some leftover containers ready! I love all the different flavours in this salad and it is good either hot or cold. If you live in America, you can probably buy Catalina dressing at the grocery store if you want to. If you live anywhere else, you’ll probably have to make it yourself and maybe you’ve never even heard of it before. Fortunately, I’ll share my recipe for that with you, too.

Quick and Easy Rating: 4 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 5 out of 5

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 package (16 oz or 500 grams) spiral pasta (rotini)
  • 1 medium white or brown onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Lb or 500 grams extra lean ground beef/ mince
  • 1/2 c and 1 Tbs water
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (a Mexican blend is great, otherwise Colby or Cheddar/Tasty works fine, too)
  • 1 large green bell pepper/capsicum, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 200 grams (half can) of corn
  • 400 grams (1 can) chickpeas (or any other bean that you like- kidney beans and black beans work great, too)
  • 2 cups Catalina dressing

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. To make the dressing, combine first six dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add oil, salt, and pepper and blend until mixture comes together in an emulsion.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. In a skillet, cook onions and garlic for three minutes over high heat. Add beef/mince and cook until no longer pink. Add water and taco seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl. Add beef mixture, green pepper/capsicum, corn, tomatoes, beans. Mix well.

5. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate at least an hour, if you prefer it cold.

 

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Roasted Tomato, Pasta, and Rocket Salad

14. Roasted Tomato, Pasta, and Rocket Salad

I really love tomatoes, pasta, and simplicity and this salad is great for busy weeknights. I usually make this on tango night because I don’t have time for much else. If you’re really in a hurry, you can make this with raw tomatoes and skip the roasting step. It still tastes delicious that way, too. Due to the use of greens and dressing in the same dish, I can’t recommend this for leftovers, as the rocket gets wilty pretty quickly.

Quick and Easy Rating: 5 out 5

Leftover Rating: 0 out of 5

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams or 2.5 cups of rigatoni pasta or other large pipe pasta
  • 400 grams or 1 lb baby roma or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 5 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • 1 large handful of rocket (called arugula in the US)
  • salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When finished, strain well.

2. Arrange the halved tomatoes cut side up on baking sheet, drizzle 2 Tbs olive oil over them, then sprinkle with garlic slivers and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, turn once, then roast for another 10 minutes.

3. Mix the remaining olive oil in a large bowl with the balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Add drained pasta to bowl of dressing and toss to mix. Add roasted tomatoes and mix gently.

5. Mix in rocket immediately before serving. Can be served either chilled or at room temperature.

 

2012-11-22 18.37.39

Zesty Summer Wheat Berry and Bean Salad

15. Zesty Summer Wheat Berry and Bean Salad

This salad is really tasty, but does require a fair bit of chopping, so get your knives ready. Or just cut everything into bigger pieces to make it easier. Whatever. If you don’t want to dice tomatoes, use grape tomatoes, cut in half. If you don’t want to dice cucumbers, just slice them. Be creative. I admit that I sometimes am too lazy to dice and mince everything. But this is really delicious and it’s worth it, I promise! This is best cold, so to avoid having to wait to eat while it chills, I chop all the veggies and such while the wheat berries are cooking and dump them into a bowl in the refrigerator. When they wheat berries are done, I rinse them in cold water. That way, as soon as the wheat berries are done cooking, everything is quite chilled and you have a nice cold salad without having to wait.

Quick and Easy Rating: 3 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 5 out of 5

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 cup of dry, uncooked wheat berries
  • 500 g or 16 ounces of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 Continental cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 red pepper/capsicum, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced (or 1 250g  punnet of grape tomatoes, halved)
  • 1 cup (approx) of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Dressing

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mustard (plain is fine, but you can use hot or dijon if you want to vary the taste)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 Tbs)

1. Soak the wheat berries in 2 1/2 cups of water for half an hour in a small pot. After soaking, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Rinse in cold water and drain.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all other salad ingredients.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.

4. When the wheat berries are ready, add them into to the salad. Toss salad with dressing to coat and add salt and pepper, as desired.

16. Spicy Wheat Berry and Black Bean Chili

Spicy Wheat Berry and Black Bean Chili

Spicy Wheat Berry and Black Bean Chili

I mentioned earlier that I don’t like traditional chili, but H loves all kinds of chili, so I like to make different kinds for him and sometimes I like them, too The first time I made this, it was so spicy I couldn’t eat it. My recipe here is how I make it so that I can stand to eat it, but I believe the original recipe called for double the amount of chili powder, as well as chipotle and jalapeno peppers. I guess you can always add those if you want, but I’m a wimp when it comes to anything hot and spicy and I prefer not to have tears running down my face when I try to eat.

Quick and Easy Rating: 4 out of 5

Leftover Rating: 5 out of 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper/ capsicum, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 750g or 30 ounces black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups cooked wheat berries (follow the instructions for wheat berries in recipe #14, but doubled)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add black beans, canned tomatoes,  broth, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

3. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more.

4. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice.

5. Garnish each serving with avocado and coriander.

9 Responses to “Two Weeks of Healthy Dinners”

  1. Wendy December 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Wow, those all look amazing, can’t wait to try some of them out! Thanks for putting together such an informative and useful post.

    • housewifedownunder December 13, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      You’re welcome! If you make any of them, stop back and let me know how they turned out. 😀

  2. Zeta December 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    These all look great! I can’t wait to try some of them!

    • housewifedownunder December 13, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      My hope is that all the ingredients are easy to find for people anywhere in the world. If you make any of them, I’d love to hear how they turn out. 🙂

  3. Things You Realize After You Get Married December 11, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    Looks delicious! Love the Brown Rice and Mixed Bean Salad dish–definitely will try that……..My husband too, is appreciative of everything I cook. Yay for non-fussy eaters! 😀

    • housewifedownunder December 13, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      The rice and beans dish is one of my top favourites! Easy, cheap, healthy, and tasty! Doesn’t get much better than that. 😀

  4. Kristin December 11, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Looks and sounds delicious! Haha, I love your “weird health foods”, that’s right down my alley, since I especially try to use an ayurvedic aspect on nutrition. It is amazing how food really influences not only our physical, but also mental well-being. We are indeed what we eat!

    • housewifedownunder December 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      I love simple carbs like pasta and bread, but they aren’t very healthy, so I’ve been trying to incorporate other options. I really love wheat berries and quinoa. Not a fan of bulgur, though, but maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe yet. I’m generally happy to try “weird” health foods and most of them are pretty good.

  5. josephinedayco December 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow, woman. You can cook!!! I’ll definitely be testing out these recipes on my own hubby. Can’t wait to try them all. 🙂

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