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a balanced plate with room for dessert


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Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili

Is it cold where you live? Do you have mountains of snow outside your window? Are you short on time? Do you hate doing dishes? Do you love comfort food that warms you up? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, this chili is for you. Tossing everything into the slow cooker means you don’t have to spend hours standing over the stovetop, stirring and tending to your chili. Plus, who doesn’t love coming home after a long day to a house that smells amazing?

Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili | doughseedough.net

Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 medium onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bell peppers, diced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced (optional)

for serving (optional):
cooked macaroni noodles
fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream
shredded cheese
thinly sliced green onions
jalapeno slices
hot sauce
diced onions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onions, and garlic and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes; stir with a spoon to break beef up into smaller pieces. Add chili powder and cumin and stir to coat. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker.
  2. Stir in bell peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Cover slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving  toppings of your choice.


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Lightened-Up Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

When I hear the word casserole, images of cheesy, fatty, not-so-great-for-you comfort food comes to mind. What if I told you that you could have all the comfort food flavor without all the bad stuff? This dish is loaded to the top with veggies and whole grains. It’s a dish you can feel great about eating.

Lightened Up Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

Lightened-Up Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

3 cups cooked brown rice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed (about 4 cups)
10.75 ounce can fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons light mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread cooked rice in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Remove chicken from pan to a separate bowl.
  3. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, and jalapeno to pan. Cook until vegetables just begin to soften. Stir in soup, broth, mayo, and mustard until well combined. Mix in broccoli, 3/4 cup of the cheese, and the cooked chicken. Scoop mixture on top of rice in baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.


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Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac | doughseedough.net

Chili is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. We just got out of a mega deep-freeze up here in Wisconsin (“feels like -35°F” is something I would be OK with never seeing and feeling again) and this spicy turkey chili mac hit the spot. I made this on one of the nights that Mike and I were apart, so having to wash only one pot was a huge bonus. Doing dishes is the least exciting part of cooking.

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac | doughseedough.net

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

1 1/4 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes*
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup dried whole wheat elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
optional toppings: shredded cheese, fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream, jalapenos

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook turkey, onion and garlic until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is tender.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, jalapenos, chili powder, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until macaroni is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Top with optional toppings before serving.

*I used a pint of quartered tomatoes I canned over the summer.


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Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms

I’m spending more time than ever just cooking for one. The weekdays Mike and I spend together are rare, and when we do get the chance to enjoy each other’s company during the week,  the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking. My cooking style has evolved. I’m focusing more on super quick and easy dishes now more often than not. I don’t see this changing in the near future, either. I’ll be going back to school for my master’s in January (!!!) which means even less time in the kitchen.

For this recipe swap I was assigned Angie’s blog, My Chicago Kitchen. I looked through a bunch of her recipes before settling on this pepper steak dish. Quick and easy? Check. Delicious? Check!

Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms | doughseedough.net

Easy Pepper Steak with Mushrooms

slightly adapted from My Chicago Kitchen originally from Elly Says Opa

1 pound flank steak, cut against the grain into thin strips
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms,  sliced
salt & pepper, to taste
cooked brown rice,  for serving

  1. In a shallow bowl, marinate the flank steak in 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce for 15 minutes. Season with a touch of ground white pepper.
  2. While the beef is marinating, make the sauce. Mix the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce with cornstarch. Add beef broth and whisk until corn starch is dissolved. Mix in red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions are tender-crisp. Increase heat and add beef and cook until no longer pink in the center. Add peppers and mushrooms to the pan and cook until peppers are tender-crisp.
  4. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer; it will thicken as it warms. Serve hot over brown rice.


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Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

The last outdoor farmers’ market is this Saturday in Madison. The last Wednesday market was yesterday and my heart broke a little. What am I going to do on my Wednesday lunches now? I can’t believe it’s November. I can’t believe it’s already snowed. I’m looking forward to visiting the indoor market for the first time this winter. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Madison for 5+ years and have never been to the indoor farmers’ market.

I have one thing that I’m looking forward to buying – kale. Lots and lots of kale. Sometimes I forget that good food doesn’t need to be time-consuming. It doesn’t need to be complicated. This kale & apple salad is the perfect example of that.

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing | doughseedough.net

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 red onion, cut into a small dice
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound)
2 medium honey crisp apples

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper until well combined. Drizzle in oil while whisking continuously. Stir in onion and set dressing aside.
  2. Remove fibrous stem from kale discard.  Slice leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch thick ribbons and place in bowl with dressing.
  3. Slice apples into matchstick pieces and add to bowl. Toss to combine. Allow salad to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Salad can be prepared up to one day ahead of time; toss again before serving.

 

recipe slightly adapted from Chow

 

 


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SNAP Challenge 2014 Day 7 (+ a pasta recipe)

SNAP Challenge Day 7 | doughseedough.net

It’s done. Mike and I have finished the SNAP Challenge. We both agreed that this year was harder than last. We couldn’t figure out why at first – we had plenty of food (leftovers, even), but everything just seemed more difficult. We think it was partially due to the fact that we had to complete most of the SNAP Challenge apart. I also didn’t plan for enough snack foods throughout the week.

There are definitely things I’m looking forward to now that the Challenge is over – farmers’ market produce, sparkling water, breakfast sandwiches, ice cream… I actually even miss rice. Mike told me he’s craving chocolate and plans to eat chocolate everything for a day. I can’t control what he eats from 2 hours away, so we’ll see what happens 🙂

Doing this Challenge will never equate to what those who live on SNAP experience day-to-day, but this Challenge is always a great reminder of how much I have to be thankful for in life, and why I am never ever “too busy” to take time to volunteer. It reminds me to not judge people and the food choices they make. As a dietitian, my heart crumbles a little every time patrons at the food pantry choose 6 Slim Jim sticks over 4 cans of tuna. As a human, I now understand why they would make that choice.

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Snack: apples
Lunch: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce
Snack: celery and carrots with Greek yogurt dip
Dinner: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce (me); chicken taco soup, corn on the cob (Mike)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana (Mike)
Drinks: peppermint tea, water with lemon

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in Lemon-Yogurt Sauce | doughseedough.net

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

13.25 ounce package whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
olive oil spray
4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted. Stir in tomatoes and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer zucchini mixture into large bowl of yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta and gently toss until well combined. Add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

recipe slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake


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SNAP Challenge Day 6 (+ chicken taco soup)

SNAP Challenge Day 6 | doughseedough.net

Mike and I were out running errands today and ended up at the mall around lunch time. We had been out all morning running from store to store looking at flooring. By the time we got to the mall to look at some clothes for Mike, we were hungry and tired. Mostly hungry. As we walked around, the smells from the food court, the samples from the pretzel shops and coffee shops tempted us.

It was so hard to walk past everything. I was speed walking as fast as I could manage to get away from whatever tempting food was lurking in the area. The chicken taco soup we had for lunch was so good after spending two hours in that Sbarro-Panda Express-Auntie Anne’s haze.

For the soup, I used farmers’ market sweet corn and just barely cooked it so that it still retained its delicious crunch. If you don’t have any fresh corn on hand, 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn will work just fine. But nothing will ever beat good ol’ Wisconsin sweet corn!

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Lunch: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: spaghetti with zucchini and tomatoes in a creamy lemon-yogurt sauce (check back Monday for the recipe!)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana

Chicken Taco Soup | doughseedough.net

Chicken Taco Soup

3 chicken breasts
olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 –  2 jalapenos, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 – 14.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
garnishes (optional): shredded cheddar, nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, jalapeno slices, diced avocados, tortilla chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking pan with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of the mixture of the chicken breasts and set the rest of the spice mixture aside. Bake chicken in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through. Shred chicken with two forks.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Add in onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining spice mixture and stir to evenly distribute. Stir in tomato sauce, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir in chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes to heat chicken through.
  4. Serve soup hot with desired toppings.

 

recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 4 ( + vegetarian lasagna rolls)

SNAP Challenge Day 4 | doughseedough.net

We’re over halfway through the Challenge, folks. Honestly? Today was the best I’ve felt so far. Maybe it was because I got to see Mike. Maybe it’s because I realized that we probably have enough food for the week. Either way, I’m going to go to bed happy and a little less worried tonight.

Today I ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with egg
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: tortilla chips
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast, raisins

Today Mike ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for spinach tofu lasagna rolls. Yes, tofu. Keep reading. Mike had the lasagna rolls during Day 3 of the Challenge. I asked him what he thought of the tofu and he just stared blankly at me… “what tofu?”

Apparently he thought it was just (really bad) ricotta! Well, surprise – there is no ricotta in this, either! I subbed in low fat cottage cheese (easier on the wallet and on the waistline) and mixed in plenty of good-for-you spinach.

{vegetarian} Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls | doughseedough.net

Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls

1 pound package lasagna noodles
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
19 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
3 cups chopped spinach
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside on a large baking sheet to dry out slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add tofu and spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach wilts, about 2 – 3  minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. To make the lasagna rolls, place about 1/4 cup mixture on a noodle and spread across the entire noodle. Roll up and place the roll, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of the lasagna rolls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 2 (+ a recipe!)

SNAP Challenge Day 2 | doughseedough.net

 

Day two is done. For me, it was just as weird as the first day. I wasn’t feeling 100% like myself due to the obnoxious cold I get hit with. Here’s what I ended up eating:

 

Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: cottage cheese
Dinner: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: apple
To drink: crazy amounts of peppermint tea sweetened with a bit of agave, water with lemon

 

So let’s move on to what I’ve been eating the past few days: peanut butter noodles with chicken and veggies!

 

This dish was crazy easy and it’s super customizable. I used bell pepper and carrots as my veg in this dish, but just about anything you have on hand will work. Feel free add more soy sauce, if desired. I only used 2 teaspoons because I ran out and didn’t budget for it in my SNAP Challenge budget. The most time-consuming part was cutting all the dang carrots up. I didn’t have my mandoline or grater  with me, but I highly suggest you use one to make prep a little easier. Alternately, just chop the carrots up. A little less pretty, but just as tasty.

 

Another bonus? The noodles taste stellar hot or cold. I opted to eat mine mostly hot since it made my throat feel better, but you just follow your heart (stomach? taste buds?) and do as you wish!

 

Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies | doughseedough.net

Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

1 – 13.25 ounce package of whole grain spaghetti
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha, more or less to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until no longer pink in the middle and internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 12 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic, and ginger. Whisk in 2/3 cup of hot pasta water to thin sauce. Taste, and add more soy sauce and sriracha if desired.
  4. Toss pasta, bell peppers, and carrots with peanut sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

 


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping

In honor of Hunger Action Month, I am once again taking on the SNAP Challenge from September 15 – 21. With cuts to the SNAP funding last November, we were left with even less to work with this year. The goal was to work with $4.25 per person for each day, giving us $59.50 to work with. This is $3.50 less than what we had last year when we completed the Challenge. It doesn’t seem like much, but $3.50 could have gotten us quite a bit more food.

The $59.50 must cover everything we eat or drink in the next week – this means no going out; no free food from family, friends, or coworkers; and no running to the store mid-afternoon for a snack. Any food that you currently have in the house is out-of-bounds, with the exception of spices and condiments.

SNAP Challenge Prep | doughseedough.net

Planning for this year’s SNAP Challenge was way more stressful that last year. On top of a more limited budget, I had to figure out how to feed both of us while we’re living in two cities, meaning I had to come up with meals that I could prep ahead of time and leave behind for Mike. I’ve also become a lot less aware of how much I was spending on groceries these past few months and I’ve fallen out of the habit of menu planning. I did my best and ended with the following menu plan:

Dinner:
Spinach & tofu lasagna rolls
Chicken taco soup
Peanut butter noodles with chicken and veggies
Pasta with zucchini in a lemon-yogurt sauce

All lunches, as usual, would be dinner leftovers. Some dinners would be leftovers as well. This plan follows pretty closely what I do on a weekly basis – make a few dinners that we eat for several meals.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with raisins
Greek yogurt with agave
Regular fruit yogurt
Peanut butter toast

Snacks:
Celery/carrots with peanut butter
Apples
Toast with peanut butter

Groceries for SNAP Challenge 2014 | doughseedough.net

We did most of our shopping at Aldi, as I’ve found that it’s the most economical option out there. I ended up getting two things from the Asian grocery store near our house, since Aldi doesn’t carry ginger or tofu. Here’s the breakdown of what we bought:

Produce:

  • Cilantro: 0.69
  • Onions: 1.79
  • Celery: 0.49
  • Avocados (2): 0.49 each
  • 3 pack of garlic: 0.79
  • Baby spinach: 1.79
  • Granny smith apples: 3.29
  • Lemons: 2.29
  • Bananas: 1.20
  • Carrots: 0.99
  • Ginger: free (from the Asian grocery store -this always happens when I get the 1″ nubs of ginger)
  • Corn (3): 1.00 (from farmers’ market)

Dairy:

  • Extra sharp cheddar: 1.99
  • Individual yogurt cups (4): 0.39 each
  • Parmesan: 1.99
  • Low fat cottage cheese: 2.29
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt tub: 3.89

Protein:

  • Eggs: 1.15
  • Chicken breasts: 5.99
  • Firm tofu: 1.79 (from Asian grocery store)

Canned/dried:

  • Natural creamy peanut butter: 1.49
  • Diced tomatoes (2): 0.59 each
  • Black beans (2): 0.59 each
  • Tomato sauce: 0.25
  • Tortilla chips: 1.69
  • Spaghetti sauce: 0.99
  • Agave: 2.49
  • Old fashioned oats: 2.29
  • Whole grain spaghetti (2): 0.89 each
  • Lasagna noodles: 1.49
  • Lemon juice: 1.89
  • Raisins: 2.89
  • Whole wheat bread: 1.29

Total: $56.85 ($2.65 left)

What we picked from the garden: the few tomatoes we had left, two small bell peppers, hot peppers, and zucchini.

I think I did OK, but I won’t really be able to tell until the week is over. I will admit that I had a minor meltdown while we were shopping because I realized that I hadn’t planned for enough meals. I had to figure out another meal last-minute and hack off a bunch of “extras” we had on our list like coffee (Mike willingly gave this up!), almonds, peanuts, and more fruit and vegetables.