Vegetable Lo Mein

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I spent the majority of New Year’s Day cleaning out my “junk room/cat litter room/throw as many random boxes in a room and kinda sorta shut the door so I don’t see how incredibly disgusting it is” room.  Which meant breaking down close to 50-60 cardboard boxes that I had conveniently stuffed into one another over the course of the previous year, making at least three trips down to the cardboard-designated dumpster in the parking garage (which also meant a series of acrobatic-style maneuvers to unlock my apartment door, open it, press the “down” button for the elevator, and then take as many large steps as possible to get to the bin itself) holding an awkward pile of large fragments of cardboard. I remembered why I had procrastinated doing this for an entire year.  I vaccummed and scrubbed the floor.  Clogged the vaccumm cleaner in the process and then fixed it (sort of).  I was sweaty and gross and kept thinking I had cat litter in my hair.

After a long (very long) hot shower and a change into forgiving sweat pants and a comfortable hoodie sweater, I returned to the room and just stood there, feeling accomplished and completely satisfied.

There are a lot of really amazing feelings in this world, but one that tops my personal list of favorites is the one that I feel when I finally finish something like this.

Now, I want to get a small bookshelf and a comfy chair and make it a quiet reading room.  I also had the momentum going and started the consuming process of organizing my closet.  I’m purging.  It’s all good.

This Vegetable Lo Mein is another kind of purging kind of dish.  Yes, it’s mostly clean eating.  There’s lots of fresh vegetables in here, and you can modify this recipe as you see fit.  But it’s warm and comforting and totally good for you (P.S. the leftovers are even better, in my opinion.)  Perfect after a lot of really hard work.

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 Vegetable Lo Mein

Servings: about 4

 

Ingredients

1/2 lb. fresh Chinese egg noodles (**I used these, from Annie Chun.  In my opinion, they are way easier and more convenient to use than trying to hunt down freshly made noodles.  I found them in the refrigerated meat alternative section of my grocery store, next to all the tofu. And I used an entire bag-which was two packets of noodles.)  If you choose to use fresh egg noodles, visit the recipe source at the bottom of this page for further instructions.

4 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons tamari

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced

1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise thinly

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

 

Instructions

 1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar.  Set aside.

2. Heat a large sauté pan or wok until very hot (over high heat) and add 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil.

3. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook just until tender, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and continue to stir-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

5. Carefully transfer the vegetables to a separate plate.

6. Return the pan to high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.

7. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 5 seconds.

8. Add the noodles and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

9. Return the vegetables to the pan, add the sauce, and continue to stir and toss until all the ingredients are heated through, about 1 minute. 

Source:  Barely adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

January 3, 2014 - 8:12 am

Karis - I’ve been justifying keeping cardboard boxes around by telling myself the cats like playing with them, but I’m reaching the point now where I too need to start making trips to the cardboard recycling area at my apartment complex.

I ordered vegetable lo mein for the first time at a restaurant recently and was wondering what type of noodles to use in an at-home recreation. I like the look of the Annie Chun noodles and am hoping I can find them here in Miami.

January 3, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Katrina @ WVS - I am sooooo with you on the whole “I just cleaned a really messy room and am totally awesome” feeling. It’s the best. Annnnnd this soup looks killer! Yum!

January 3, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Kelly Mitchem - This looks delicious, I absolutely love Chinese food. Lo mein being pretty much my favorite!
I love the feeling of cleaning, organizing and finally accomplishing something that has been on your to do list for too long! Just in time for a new year!

January 3, 2014 - 3:29 pm

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough - Oh man, purging crap from the house is the best feeling, ever. A close second, I’m sure, is diving into a big bowl of this lo mein. Looks amazing!

January 3, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Joanne - WOOHOO!! You earned that bowl, girl! I had a similar feeling when I cleaned out my winter and summer clothes and got rid of a lot of stuff. It felt SO good to organize!

January 4, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Joy // For the Love of Leaves - This sounds perfect right now. I wish I had a bowl in front of me. And I agree, there’s something wonderful about looking at a finished project, the feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat.

January 4, 2014 - 6:57 pm

Annie @ Annie's Cooking Lab - Ah, I have one of those rooms too (minus the kitty litter and insert dog beds and a dog crate) I just did a deep clean in there last week and then felt motivated enough to clean out my closet. I felt SO good after it was finished. Each time I walk past that room it makes me happy to see it clean- though I do have to admit that there are now two abandoned cardboard boxes in there again…

The lo mein looks delicious!

Earth Bound Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni

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Some days, you just need to make a giant pan of comfort food.

I’m single.  I live alone.  I don’t like to over make or waste food.  I really don’t.  Especially as I have an intense aversion to most leftovers.

The other side of the coin?  I tend to overbuy fresh produce.  I get excited in the store-seeing all the bright colors, thinking about textures and flavors and all that good stuff.  I have wonderful, healthy intentions.

And you might remember my dedication and support of anything related to Earth Bound Farm.  Yes, maybe it’s a bit of an endorsement of a company that wholeheartedly opened its doors (literally) to me and some other food bloggers, but, honestly?  I’m a girl who needs to know where my food is coming from (as much as possible).  I find it extremely important.  And I can say that I know exactly where those pre-washed and pre-packaged greens come from in the store with the Earth Bound Farm label.  Because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  If you want to see it, too, click here.

I’ve been face-planting into Myra Goodman’s cookbooks.  The pages are all dog-eared and I’ve got handwritten notes in many of the margins.  There are too many amazing recipes to choose from.  The best part?  The recipes are simple, straightforward and use healthy ingredients (like the giant plastic clamshell of fresh spinach leaves that I needed to use up before heading out of town for the holidays.)

These spinach cannelloni fit the bill.  (They also heat up nicely as leftovers, by the way.)  I cannot wait to share more of these recipes with you.

 

 

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Earth Bound Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni

Servings: 4

 

Ingredients

For the Farm Stand Marinara Sauce (You will need 3 cups of this for the cannelloni.  You can use the extra sauce or freeze it for a future use):

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 small carrot, coarsely chopped

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup dry red wine

Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (do not drain)

1/4 cup fresh basil

1 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional, to taste.  This takes away a bit of the metallic taste of the canned tomatoes.  I recommend.)

 

For the Spinach Cannelloni:

8 whole wheat lasagna noodles (1o inches in length.  Do not use No-Boil noodles.  You need to do this “old-school” in order to properly form the cannelloni.  I made the mistake of buying no-boil.  They will not be as aesthetically pleasing…and you want them to look nice.)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 and 1/4 tablespoon salt

1 pound (12 cups) fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

1 and 3/4 cups ricotta cheese

1 egg

Pinch ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 and 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups of the Farm Stand Marinara Sauce

 

Instructions

1. For the Farm Stand Marinara Sauce:   Place the garlic and carrot in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

2. Add the onion and continue to pulse until minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary,

3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.

4. Add the onion/carrot mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes or so.

5. Add the wine and stir, scarping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

6. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

7. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the basil, oregano, and thyme to the pot and let the mixture simmer gently for about 35-45 minutes (you can get your noodles boiling at this point if you are short on time.)

8. Add the salt and pepper, stirring well.  Add the sugar (to taste, optional).  Set aside.

9. For the Spinach Cannelloni:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

10. Add the lasagna noodles and cook, according to package directions (until just tender).  Drain the noodles well and lay them out flat on a clean dish towel so that they do not stick together.

11. Heat the olive oil in a large, sauté pan over medium-low heat until shimmering.

12. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

13. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 more minute.

14. Add about a quarter of the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until it wilts, about 2-3 minutes.  Continue to add the spinach in batches, until all of the spinach has been used.  Drain the spinach mixture in a strainer, pressing down on it to extract any excess liquid.  Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and let cool.

15. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.  Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, stirring until completely combined.

16.  Add the cheese mixture to the cooled spinach and stir to combine.

17. Position a rack in the center of the over and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

18. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

19. Cut each lasagna noodle in half crosswise to make 16 pieces, each 4-5 inches long. Place each piece of lasagna on a work surface.

20.  Spoon 1/4 cup of the spinach filling along the short edge of the boodle and roll it up to enclose the filling.  Repeat with the remaining noodles. Arrange the cannelloni in the baking pan, side by side, seam side down, fitted closely together.

21. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce (or use the whole batch if you like extra sauce).  Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan cheese over the cannelloni.

22. Bake the cannelloni until the Parmesan melts, about 25-35 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 

Source: Food to Live By by Myra Goodman.

December 29, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef - I couldn’t agree with you more. After all the holiday cooking and baking I want a big dish of comfort food that I can fall into at the end of the day. Your cannelloni looks terrific.

December 29, 2013 - 8:26 pm

Joanne - Any recipe that includes a clamshell of spinach PLUS a whole lot of ricotta is a winner in my book. These look like some serious comfort.

January 1, 2014 - 9:54 am

Jennifer B - It may only be 9am, but I’d eat a heaping plate of this. Yum!

Cranberry Orange Steel Cut Oats

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I’m becoming a huge fan of oatmeal (actually steel cut oats-love the flavor.) I love them sweet, I love them savory, and I love putting a million different toppings on them.  I bought a giant bag of them a few weeks back when my bloodwork (yet again…sigh) came back with having high cholesterol.  Bummer.  I would like to blame it on the recent trip to Argentina where I had enough saturated fats to last a lifetime (hey, it’s vacation!  Eat a whole wheel of provoleta-yes, a whole wheel of melty, grilled provolone cheese.  I did.), but that would be an excuse.  I eat a lot of chocolate and cheese.  And there’s some genetic factor in there, too.  I’ve got to get it a bit more in control.

So, I’m trying to add in various things to my diet.  Like having oatmeal a few times a week.  Getting back into exercising (since October, I’ve taken a “hiatus”, and by “hiatus”, I mean sitting on my couch and watching TV while eating…cheese and chocolate.)  Increasing amounts of fruits and vegetables.  We shall see how this goes.  I will say that my cholesterol was lower than last year, so apparently I am doing something right.

I overbought cranberries around Thanksgiving, so I decided to make a nice cranberry orange sauce to swirl into my steel cut oats on a cold Sunday morning.  You can play around with what kind of flavors you like here-I had enough of this to last me for about 4 large servings of steel cut oats.  Also (and this is not an endorsement), I prefer the Bob’s Red Mill quick cooking steel cut oats-they are ready in less than ten minutes and still have that chewy, nutty flavor.

And, on a more personal note, I hope that you all have a safe, happy, and very blessed rest of 2013.  I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be our best year yet.

 

 

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Cranberry Orange Steel Cut Oats

Servings: makes enough for 4 large servings

 

Ingredients

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Orange zest, optional

Steel cut oats, prepared according to package directions

 

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, orange juice, and honey, stirring to combine.

2. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.  Once the cranberries have popped, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the cinnamon and cook for an additional minute or so.

4. Drizzle the sauce evenly over your oats and serve immediately.

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

December 24, 2013 - 9:43 am

Lauren - Yum! I bought a kilo bag of frozen cranberries (I haven’t seen them for sale fresh here in South Australia) to make mince pies with but didn’t make them- this looks like a yummier and healthier alternative.Thanks!
Happy holidays!

December 24, 2013 - 10:21 am

Katrina @ WVS - I’m a huge fan of oatmeal too! Sometimes I eat it for dinner totally by choice…so good. I love this flavour!

December 26, 2013 - 9:10 am

Joanne - I don’t need an excuse to enjoy oatmeal in the morning! Especially with this yummy cranberry sauce addition. Such a nice way to perk it up!

January 1, 2014 - 10:03 pm

Maria - I, too, love steel cut oats. On kitchn.com, I learned a method of prepping them that takes a few minutes the night before, then they soak overnight. Magical! Check it out: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-steelcut-oats-for-134185

January 7, 2014 - 11:29 am

Philia (from sweetphi.com) - Can I just say your photos are so pretty? They seriously are making me drool over here, and this one is just GORGEOUS! I need to eat more oats, and this recipe look absolutely perfect to do so, I’m going to have to give this a try!!

January 9, 2014 - 5:01 pm

ekaren - I am struggling with high cholesterol too … and I’m right there with you on the cheese and the chocolate! One thing you also might try adding into your oatmeal is one or two Tbsp of flaxseed meal. It is supposed to help in decreasing cholesterol and it has a nice, nutty flavor. I also stir it into yogurt for some texture. You can also bake it into cookies, muffins or breads. (If nothing else, it makes me feel slightly less guilty about the cheese!)

January 17, 2014 - 9:02 pm

Cranberry Orange Sauce for Oatmeal | annie's cooking lab - [...] Source: The Curvy Carrot [...]