Autumn Minestrone

   

Few dishes are more comforting than a piping hot bowl of soup during the chilly months. I love making soups and stews; not only are they almost completely foolproof, they are also easily customizable. Whatever leftover veggies are in the fridge can be tossed into a pot and transformed into a hearty meal – it’s awesome.

Autumn Minestrone

For this minestrone I used Pomi brand boxed tomatoes because I love the flavor as well as the fact that they are not cooked with salt. One box of Pomi tomatoes is about the same as two 14oz cans, and you can substitute accordingly. Keep in mind that you may want to tweak the salt in the recipe if your canned tomatoes contain sodium. Also feel free to use more pasta. I choose to go fairly light to focus on the vegetables and keep the calorie count low.

Autumn Minestrone

Autumn Minestrone
Serves 6
A warm, comforting soup that is full of vegetables and low in calories.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  3. 2 stalks celery, diced
  4. 1 cup carrots, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 4 cups stock
  7. 1 28oz carton chopped tomatoes (or 2 14oz cans)
  8. 1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust depending on the sodium content of your stock and tomatoes)
  10. 1 sprig of rosemary, stem removed and leaves minced
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  13. 1/2 cup small, dry pasta (I used cavatelli)
  14. 2 cups kale, chopped (or other green of choice)
  15. 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a deep soup pan heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots and cook until onions are slightly translucent – about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes, and all of your seasonings. Bring soup just to boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add pasta and kale, cooking for another 10-12 minutes (or however long your pasta needs to cook based on package instructions).
  4. Just before serving stir in fresh parsley.
Calories
  1. 148
Optional olive bread crouton topping
  1. Cut olive bread into 1 inch pieces and toss with a small amount of olive oil to coat. Spread onto a nonstick baking sheet and put into a 400F oven for about 15 minutes or until the croutons are dry and crunchy.
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Autumn Minestrone


Southwestern Vegetarian Chili

   

As someone born and raised in Texas it’s sort of in my blood to know a thing or two about chili. Most Texans would consider it blasphemy to put beans in chili, but then again most Texans would consider it blasphemy to be a vegetarian. Neither of those things make much of a difference to me though – I’m not most Texans. :)

Chili is a wonderful one-pot meal that comes together quickly with little effort. It’s low in calories, it’s filling, and it keeps you warm on chilly nights. (Yup – we have chilly nights here!) I actually made this chili less spicy than I normally would. As a general rule I like my dishes to be warm, but nothing so hot as to mask out the other flavors in a dish. In Thai restaurants I’m a “3” kind of girl. With chili though? I want to subtly regret every searing spoonful as it makes my taste buds cry for mercy. If my eyes aren’t watering and my nose isn’t running by the time I’m halfway through the bowl, then it’s just not hot enough. The perfect counter to that level of spicy bliss is the addition of fresh diced celery. Celery is my absolute favorite, must-have topping for chili because of the way it cuts through the heat. The contrast of texture and flavor is wonderful as well. If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend it.

Everyone has their own tolerance levels when it comes to heat so I view this recipe as more of a jumping off point. If you’re a glutton for punishment you can add several additional jalapeños , more pepper sauce, ground cayenne, a habanero – whatever floats your boat. The beauty of chili is that it’s adaptable. And that it’s easy.

 

Southwestern Vegetarian Chili
Serves 3
A simple, one-pot meal that fills you up while staying low in calories.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 onion, diced
  3. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  4. 1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  5. 1 can diced tomatoes
  6. 1 can black beans, drained
  7. 1/2 of a 12oz package of ground meatless crumbles
  8. 1/2 cup water
  9. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  12. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  13. 1 bay leaf
  14. 1 teaspoon pepper sauce
  15. 1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
  16. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a pot and cook the onion, garlic, and pepper until slightly soft and fragrant – about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients (except for the cilantro and corn tortilla) to the pot and bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the corn tortilla pieces. Cover, remove heat, and let cook for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Just before serving stir in the chopped cilantro.
Calories
  1. 283
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Veggie Chicken Enchilada Bake

   

I’ve decided that starting a blog post is the most difficult part of the food blogging process. Cooking is obviously no problem since I love to do it anyway. Logging all of the ingredients into a calorie tracking website to get the nutritional info can be mildly annoying, but I often have someone on standby that I shout ingredients at from the kitchen to do that job for me. Photography is another thing I enjoy, though admittedly food styling and presentation is a new world for me and I have a lot to learn (as the photos from this particular recipe will prove). Filling out the post with random details of how I made the dish, submitting my recipes to the various food blogger sites, updating my Gouda Monster facebook page… all things that I can manage to do alright. Actually starting the post though? Writing those first few lines and figuring out how to get things rolling? That’s tough.

Well I guess I got that out of the way… this time.

This enchilada bake is something I whipped up for lunch last week when I knew I had some corn tortillas in the fridge to use up. My first attempt was tasty, but not something that I felt was good enough to warrant posting about. More specifically, the dish was a little bit runny and not all that attractive to look at. It had nice flavor but it wasn’t enough to leave you wanting it again. I picked apart the flaws, readjusted the recipe, and made it again for dinner a few nights later. I’m giddy to report that the revised version is fantastic! It’s definitely something I look forward to making again.

You know what else makes me giddy about this enchilada bake? It’s under 350 calories. Actually it’s 349 calories, but I love being able to – with good conscience – say “under 350”. To any of my readers that aren’t vegetarian, just use cooked, shredded chicken in place of the Quorn. Also, I used Neufchâtel cheese in the chicken layer but using cream cheese (or any other soft cheese) would be a perfect substitution. I only used Neufchâtel because it’s what I had in my fridge at the time.  I baked this in a round ramekin that was the perfect diameter for the corn tortillas. Everything stacked up neatly in the center which made assembling a breeze. If you don’t have a small, round baking dish you may want to double up the recipe so that you can layer the tortillas side by side in a larger dish.

Oh and in case you wanted to see how this stuff looks like when it’s turned inside out in a poor attempt at plating, here you go… I have no shame.

Veggie Chicken Enchilada Bake
Serves 3
Zesty, creamy, cheesy, and filling.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds for less heat if you prefer)
  3. 1/2 onion, diced
  4. 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  5. 1 4oz can green chiles, drained
  6. 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained
  7. 1/2 cup salsa, drained
  8. 2 cups Quorn tenders, shredded or diced (free free to sub shredded, cooked chicken if you’re not vegetarian)
  9. 2 tablespoons soft cheese, such as Neufchâtel or cream cheese
  10. 3 corn tortillas
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  12. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  14. 1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
  15. 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a nonstick skillet heat one teaspoon of olive oil and cook the jalapeno and onion until translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine salsa, soft cheese, 1/3 of the onion mixture, 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, half of the chili powder, and a dash of salt in a bowl. When the sauce is blended stir in your cooked Quorn tenders.
  4. In another bowl stir together black beans, 1/3 of the onion mixture, remaining chili powder, and ground cumin. If you’re using a low sodium variety of canned beans you may want to add a little salt to taste.
  5. In your food processor pulse together the canned tomatoes, canned green chiles, remaining onion mixture, and last tablespoon of cilantro. Salt to taste.
  6. In a round baking dish spoon a small amount of the canned tomato mixture into the bottom, just enough to create a thin layer. Assemble the remaining layers in the following order: 1 corn tortilla, black beans, 1/4 cup of monterrey jack cheese, 1 corn tortilla, all of the chicken, 1 corn tortilla, several tablespoons of the canned tomato mixture (there will be some leftover).
  7. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of monterrey jack cheese and the 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
Calories
  1. 349
Notes
  1. I had some of the canned tomato salsa mixture leftover and didn’t take that into account when calculating the calories, so it’s actually a little less than is shown here.
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Black Beans w/ Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta

   

When I asked Jah what he wanted for dinner last night he immediately said, “Mexican food.” Now this entree may not be exactly what you think of when you conjure up images of Mexican food, but it definitely has enough Southwestern flair to get the job done. Jah’s bowl was served with the beans (and their liquid) over the polenta, which he then stirred into a tasty (yet unattractive) slurry. I preferred to use a slotted spoon to eat the two things side-by-side. This way I feel really gives the polenta the attention it deserves and doesn’t drown out the subtle jalapeno flavor with bean juice. In the end we both decided that draining the beans is the way to go, but if you’re a slurry person by all means and your bean liquid and stir away. :)

 

Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta
Serves 4
A rich polenta side with subtle jalapeno flavor.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup Coarse Grind Cornmeal
  2. 3 Cups Water
  3. 1 Bouillon Cube (I use Not Chick’n)
  4. 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  7. 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  8. 1 Jalapeno Pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  9. 1/4 Cup Milk (I used almond milk)
  10. 1 Teaspoon Butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Using a little bit of your butter, grease the inside of a small baking dish. My dish is approximately 3-4 cups.
  2. There are two ways you can do this. I make my polenta in the rice cooker, which means I dump the water, stock cube, spices, and polenta into my rice cooker and set it for 20 minutes. I come back to give it a good stir and it’s ready to eat. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can do pretty much the same thing on a stovetop by covering your pot. The more traditional way to make polenta is to bring your cooking liquid to a simmer, add your polenta, and stir regularly until it’s thick and yummy (20-30 minutes).
  3. This step is optional: In a small bowl microwave your diced pepper for about 20-30 seconds, just to take a little of the crunch out.
  4. Add your jalapeno, 3/4 of the cheese, and milk to the polenta and stir until combined. Transfer to your small buttered dish, smoothing down the top so it’s relatively flat.
  5. Melt your remaining butter. Sprinkle top of polenta with 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and drizzle with butter.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered. Pop the broiler on for a few seconds at the end if you want your cheese more brown and bubbly.
Calories
  1. 244
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Seasoned Black Beans
Serves 6
Make simple canned beans taste homemade with a few tasty additions.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Cans Low Sodium Black Beans
  2. 1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Chiles, drained
  3. 1/2 Onion, diced
  4. 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder (or mince a clove of garlic)
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
  7. 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  8. 1 Bay Leaf
  9. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  10. 12 Reduced Salt Green Olives, sliced
  11. 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and cook your onions (and garlic if applicable) until slightly translucent.
  2. Add canned beans, tomatoes, olives, and all seasonings. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in fresh cilantro. Add a squeeze of fresh lime if you like.
Calories
  1. 175
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Sausage w/ Chickpeas & Kale

   

Even though I’m a mega cheese beast, I do occasionally make a vegan entree. This is a really hearty dish with lots of protein, and the kale provides lots of vitamins as well. I’ve used Tofurky brand sausage links, but use whatever brand you like – or if you’re not a vegetarian try using turkey sausage or something of that sort. One half of the entire dish as I’ve listed it below (which is a lot of food) comes in under 500 calories and has a nice 38g of protein. I really love making this because it comes together in one skillet in a very short period of time. Prep and clean up is incredibly easy with this one!

 

Sausage w/ Chickpeas & Kale
Serves 2
A vegan meal chock full of protein and nutrient dense kale.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Tofurky Polish sausage links
  2. 2 cups chopped kale
  3. 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  4. 1/2 onion, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  7. 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  8. 1 teaspoon dried sage
  9. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Instructions
  1. Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until slightly translucent.
  2. Add the chickpeas, dried seasonings, and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook until the chickpeas are warmed through and starting to caramelize around the edges.
  3. Stir in the sliced sausage and continue to cook until warmed through.
  4. Put in your chopped kale, a couple more tablespoons of water, and cover to allow the kale to wilt. Once it’s wilted, but still nice and green, salt and pepper to taste.
Calories
  1. 481
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