Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday Double-Header

For the first time in ages, I cooked for lunch and dinner yesterday, having been inspired by the wealth of culinary insight to be found in the blogosphere and the Food Network website.

Lunch was black beans and rice with pineapple.  I got the idea from The Runner's Kitchen, who apparently got the idea from someone's forthcoming book.  My recipe differed a little from both:

2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 dried red chiles, cut in half
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/2 of a 12-ounce can of pineapple chunks
1/3 cup of juice from canned pineapples
2 cans of black beans, drained
salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Bring water to a boil and cook rice according to package instructions (usually about 45 minutes on medium-low heat).

In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the next four ingredients and cook until onion has softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add pineapple juice and cook until most of it has evaporated and chilies have plumped up slightly, another 3-5 minutes.  Add remaining three ingredients and cook until pineapple and black beans have heated through, another 5 minutes.  Stir in chopped cilantro and serve over a shallow bed of the brown rice.
And I guess I'd grown tired enough of having to eat 280-calorie frozen dinners on nights for which I had failed to meal-plan that I went ahead and filled my new (as of Thanksgiving) 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with a vegan shepherd's pie inspired by Rachael Ray's recipe

Mine, unlike hers, also features textured vegetable protein (TVP).  For the unfamiliar, this is a soy product that you buy dry and have to soak covered in warm water (like couscous).  From there, it takes on the flavor of whatever else you mix it with, but the idea is that it's a handy vegan substitute for ground beef.  I don't love it, but someone from my office gave it to me and I didn't want it to go to waste.

4 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes
4 tbsp Smart Balance, divided
1 tsp white pepper

salt to taste
3 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 pound frozen green peas, thawed
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups textured vegetable protein
1.5 cups water
12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place potatoes in a large sauce or soup pot, cover with water (1-2 inches above potatoes), salt generously and bring to a boil.  Boil covered until fork tender, then remove from heat.  Drain off as much water as possible and mash with a hand masher.  Stir in two tablespoons of the Smart Balance, white pepper and additional salt to taste.

In a separate pot, heat Smart Balance over medium heat.  Add carrots and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add onion and cook until onions have softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add next three ingredients, stir well and cook until peas have heated through, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, cover TVP with hot water and cover with a plate for 5 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms, salt and pepper.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and spread mushroom mixture in an even layer across the bottom.  Follow with an even layer of the peas and carrots mixture, then top with an even layer of the mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle paprika over the top of the mashed potatoes and bake for 45 minutes.
The prep work takes more time than anything with the shepherd's pie, and this ended up being another casserole that I started at 5:00 but that wasn't served until just after 7:30.  I'm just glad I managed to stay up for another hour after eating, having gotten up early yesterday to run. 

So now I'm set for leftovers for the rest of the week.  I think I'll have some now!

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