Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa

This is an easy healthy weeknight meal I’ve adapted from Fitness Magazine.  I’ve modified a few details to make it more flavorful but it is still low calorie.  If you wanted to be all foodie you could roast your own pumpkin instead of using canned.  I used hot Italian chicken sausages but use whatever suits your fancy.

Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup chicken stock

2 chicken sausages, removed from casings and crumbled

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Dal, Dahl, Daal – Lentil Soup

However you write it, you can’t go wrong with a good dal. It’s one of those things that lovers of Indian vegetarian food keep going back to, not just because it is very easy and quick to make, but because it’s delicious, and it’s one of those dishes that by adding your own touches, you can easily make your own version.

I came across this article in the Guardian last week, different variations on the dal theme, followed by a recipe chosen with all the best features from the other recipes.

My recommendation would be to give it a read and gave a go with the final recipe in the article to give you an idea what a dal is actually like before you start to experiment. The caramelised shallots and/or garlic at the end really make it pop.

One excellent tip, from Hervé This’ Molecular Gastronomy– if you have hard water (and ours is so hard it wears a leather jacket and carries a knife), add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda – this helps soften the lentils and makes the dal more creamy.

Dal makes for a great first-course or side dish. Like all soups or stews, it seems to improve with an overnight stay in the fridge. We served our left-over dal in rolled up pancakes (crepes, not American pancakes). There is something special about how the sweetness of the crepe works with the savoury, spiciness of the dal. Left over curry in pancakes is always good mind you!

Fruit Toppings for Oatcakes (Oatmeal Pancakes)

Mark Bittman has continued his healthy breakfast series with recipes for whole grain pancakes. Sprydle’s Derbyshire oatcakes are similar to the cardamon-scented oatmeal pancakes minus the fruit. Since there are usually a few Derbyshire oatcakes in the freezer for a quick weekday breakfast, why not make a delicious fruit compote to top them off with? (These would also work as crepes fillings or even with ice cream.)

Spiced Figs

12 ripe fresh figs
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons orange flower water, to taste

Put the sugar and spices in a pan, add 2 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add figs and orange flower water. Simmer for five minutes without boiling until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

Caramelized Apples with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Calvados

4 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced 1/4″ thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
4 tablespoons Calvados

Heat butter in a heavy skillet. Add apples and sprinkle with brown sugar. Toss to coat. Cook over high heat, stirring often until apples start to caramelize and are easily pierced with a knife, about 12 minutes (add water if necessary). Splash Calvados over pan and cook until evaporated. Stir in raisins, pine nuts, and 2 1/2 cups water. Simmer until you have a thick golden syrup.

Dried Fruit with Almonds

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds

Cover the dried fruit with warm water and set aside to plump, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. In a saucepan mix 3/4 cup hot water with fruit and vanilla sugar. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Let cool. Garnish with almonds.

Spinach and Mushrooms on Garlic Toast

Spinach, mushrooms, and garlic are a heavenly combination. This simple dish is one of my favorite lunches. You could toss a fried egg on top and call it breakfast. Make it quite peppery. Serve it on whole grain bread for a healthy meal.

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 cloves garlic
1 pound spinach
4 slices country bread
salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in roomy skillet, add mushrooms, and cook over medium high heat until they have released their juices, and just started to brown, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and one clove of garlic, thinly sliced. Add the spinach, sprinkle with salt, and cook until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan and toss with the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper.

Brush bread slices with olive oil. Slice remaining garlic clove in half and rub onto bread. Place on wire rack under broiler. Toast until browned. Flip to toast alternate side.

Place bread on plates, top with mushrooms and spinach, and enjoy.

Serves 2-4