Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans

IMGP2033 What’s your leftovers attitude?

Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)

For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.

To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…

Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.

Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.

The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.

If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices. Continue reading

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Spinach-Tomato Quiche with a Quinoa Crust

IMGP2007The spouse and I find ourselves increasingly cutting back on meat and eating more vegetarian meals. So I am always surfing around the internet looking for interesting recipes that include quinoa and/or beans.

This dish began when I surfed onto the “Gazing In” blog where author Sarah had created a toil-free quinoa crust while developing her Spinach Quinoa Quiche.

How, you may be wondering, can a crust be toil-free? Here’s how: By adding uncooked quinoa to a liquid mixture where, during cooking, the grain falls to the bottom and thickens. Neat, huh? I also found that the quinoa crust kept thickening even when quiche leftovers took a time out in the refrigerator.

Sarah’s recipe looked good and easy, but it didn’t suit someone with lactose sensitivity who was dieting. Thus began my adaptation: Using non-cow dairy products, switching to liquid egg substitute, cutting back on the cheese, and making up for the missing cheese by adding pizza sauce for a tomato flavour, etc.

So, here it is—a tasty, dieter’s vegetarian dish that’s easy as pie…er, quiche!

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Tomato Quinoa-Bean Squares

Today I’m writing to you about a culinary triumph and a baking disaster.

Disaster first. Those who follow this blog may recall that I planned to experiment with my gluten-free angel food cake recipe to bring down the carb and calorie count. Well, experiment I did, substituting erythritol for some of the sugar. Erythritol is granular like sugar, has no calories or aftertaste, and is very low on the glycemic index.

sadfaceSo what happened? The erythritol (1) melted and created a messy, black residue on the bottom of the oven that had to be scraped off, (2) sealed the tube section to the rest of the pan so tightly that the spouse had to pry it loose with a knife—good-by pan, and (3) resulted in a very crumbly, nowhere near as delicious, version of the real thing.

The cake did rise and stay that way, but…sigh. Upwards and onwards…

Now the triumph—A tasty, filling, low-cal, vegetarian bake!

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This dish is packed with protein via the beans, quinoa, and cheese. As well, the quinoa can  help you fill your daily whole grain quota, which is not always easy to do on a gluten-free diet.

This is also a great way to get rid of quinoa leftovers. In fact, it was the cooked red quinoa hanging around in my fridge that got this dish off the ground along with some recipe-surfing on the Internet.

And what’s more, it is flexible.

  • Not quite enough quinoa? Not to worry.
  • Want to add more beans? Go ahead.
  • Prefer tomato paste to pizza sauce? Do your own thing and throw in some basil and oregano.
  • Like it hot? Go for it.

But most of all, enjoy!

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Rutabaga and Pear Puree

IMGP1976Many eons ago the spouse read somewhere that you could add pears to a rutabaga to mellow its taste.

Since he is a pear aficionado and I am not, this purée became his dish to make and consume. I still found it too bitter.

So when he said he was going to make it for our Easter meal, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic. I think I shrugged.

Hence you can imagine how surprised I was to discover that this dish was light and delicious! What had changed? The spouse had used canned pears in water instead of real pears.

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Turkish Carrot and Lentil Stew

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Yep, carrots again. But this time, instead of making them sweet and spicy, I adapted a coriander-spiced dish from NPR’s show, The Splendid Table.

I was attracted to this recipe because it

  • sounded like a tummy-warming, tasty, vegetarian winter stew.
  • required a lot of carrots and I’d bought a lot on sale.
  • included bean protein, which is always a good and nutritious thing.
  • would use up the tomato paste languishing in my fridge.
  • needed fresh herbs which I actually had on hand (almost never happens!).
  • would help fill up my teenaged grandchildren who were coming to dinner. (The dinner was cancelled after this dish was made, and we’ve been eating it ever since…but that’s another story.)

So I re-fashioned the recipe: eliminated the oil, used more carrots and, generally, simplified where possible. The result was delicious, had delightful grace notes of parsley, and was every bit as warm and filling as I had hoped.

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Navy Bean Brownies with Carob Chips (no flour, no dairy)

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How’s your Chocolate Monster? Mine is alive and well, thank you very much.

In fact, I would say that she has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I’ve made two batches of brownies in 3 days. I eat them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

Breakfast! you exclaim. Brownies for breakfast? 

Yup, unless you’ve got something against eggs and beans first thing in the morning. No kidding. These brownies* are not only delicious and filling, they’re good for you—high in protein, low in carbs, and low in calories.

So how can your Chocolate Monster or mine resist?

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (but without the cream)

Thick and delicious!

I’m not a winter person, but I sure do love the warm soups and thick stews that come with the season. This particular soup happened because I found discounted mushrooms whose best days were behind them, and bought 2.5 lbs. Believe me, that’s a lot of mushrooms. But I have a motto for situations like this.

When in doubt because of quantity and/or quality, make soup!

So I did, and this soup turned out to be the best mushroom soup I’d ever made: delicious, thick, comforting, low in calories, and a cinch to make. What makes it creamy? Using as little liquid as possible…

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(A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven

Dear fellow-dieters,

Here’s the bad news. My weight has been gradually inching in the wrong direction (along with my hips!) even though my thyroid is fine and I’m tracking my food, staying within plan, and exercising 3-5 days a week.

So, yesterday at the WW weigh-in, I brought in my food tracker so the leader could see that I was a faithful dieter who should be losing weight. The diagnosis? Too many carbs among the fruit, cereal, and baked goods that I ate.

Some people, the leader said, can’t throw off carbs easily, adding that she was one of them and I was clearly another. I can’t print here what I thought about that (several not-nice words came to mind.). But I clearly need a carb-rev-up button. Is there anyone else out there who considers their body Enemy Numero Uno?

The solution = vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables.

The creative wheels began to turn, and I remembered those Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds. Why not add that wonderful spice blend to cooked, mashed winter squash instead? The result was a vegetable

  • Lower in calories/carbs than sweet potatoes
  • As filling as sweet potatoes
  • Equally delicious!

Voilà! (A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven. Truly.

Yours in the uphill climb,

Claire

P.S. Re the photo: I was trying for a sprinkled paprika topping, but got a little carried away.

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Pumpkin-Spaghetti Squash “Kugel”

Only 1 WW point!

Aren’t leftovers nature’s way of improving human creativity?

That was my take on 1½ cups of leftover pumpkin purée.

Gotta do something other than painting the walls with the stuff.

Hit the creativity button!

1) I remembered my recipe for Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel. (Revised January 21, 2014.) 

2) Just by coincidence, we also had spaghetti squash leftovers.

Clearly, fate was trying to tell me something. Even better, I was listening for once!

Some thoughts on this ersatz kugel:

  • It tastes just like pumpkin pie but doesn’t have the same texture. I left the spaghetti squash strands as is, but you could purée them to have a smoother texture. That would make this dish a terrific, low-cal version of the real thing.
  • The WW point count of this dish is 3 points for the eggs + 2 points for the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend = 5 points. Next time I’ll just do ½ cup of the Blend and eliminate the Splenda regular artificial sweetener. That will enhance the brown sugar flavour and add only 2 more points.

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