main dish

Spinach Dal

Spinach DalA few days ago I promised you a new dal recipe that MIGHT just be better than the original Green Lentil Dal I posted awhile back. That’s hard to imagine since the original is SO. DARN. GOOD! It’s also probably my top viewed recipe, so I have a lot to live up to by saying this new spinach dal recipe might be better. I guess you’ll just have to try them both and let me know which you prefer!

Spinach DalFavorite thing about this spinach dal recipe is that it’s tasty. Number one priority FOR SURE. Next favorite thing is that it is amazingly good for you. Since it is the new year and resolutions are sure to be made, that’s a good thing! Right?? I think every year I try to tell myself I’ll eat healthier. Raise your hand if you say the same thing every new year…I’m going to assume everyone’s hand is raised because I really can’t see you all. Reality is that lasts about a week before I’m tired of salads and whatnot. BUT, if all healthy foods taste *this* good, I’m sure not complaining. In fact, I’m coming back for seconds!

Spinach DalI can already tell some of you are still looking at that bright green color and cringing. Let me tell you, it may look awfully green but it tastes like gold…haha. I crack myself up. I find rice and naan also help even out the green-ness of the dal. They are a nice balance to this meal!

Spinach DalEven my don’t-want-to-touch-a-veggie little guy was eating this stuff by the spoonful. In fact, he inspired this recipe! Awhile back he started eating solid foods and I was trying my best to get vegetables in his diet without boring steamed vegetables as the go-to. I bought some spinach dal at the store for him to try. It was so good and he loved it. He would eat anything with a little bit of that stuff on top! I told myself I would totally make it every day of my life if he would eat it and it was good for him. Life happens and about 6 months later I finally got around to making some and little man still loves it (as does big man, Travis 🙂 hehe)! I love spice-filled foods so if the kid only eats veggies covered in chili powder and curry, you will not hear any complaints here!

Spinach Dal
Serves 6
Indian, spinach-based lentil stew, with aromatic spices
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  2. 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed*
  3. 2 teaspoons chili powder
  4. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
  7. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  8. 1 onion, diced
  9. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  10. 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  11. 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  12. 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  14. 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the lentils, chili powder, turmeric, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender (but not mushy).
  2. While the lentils are cooking, cook and drain the frozen spinach according to the packaging. Make sure to press out as much excess water as possible. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the spinach, onion, garlic, tomato, cumin, curry powder, ginger, and cinnamon.
  4. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, add about 1 cup of their cooking liquid to the spinach mixture. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until almost smooth. Add more of the cooking liquid, as needed, to blend the mixture.
  6. Once the spinach mixture is blended, stir in the remaining stock and lentils. If the mixture is too thick for your preference, you can thin it with additional vegetable stock or water.
  7. Eat warm with rice and naan.
Notes
  1. *When you rinse your lentils, sift through them and remove any little pebbles or bad lentils before cooking.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI’m approximately 0% Italian by blood. My husband is also 0% Italian I’m pretty sure. We are both pale, blue-eyed, and blonde-haired. I’m cool with that. However that doesn’t stop me from channeling my inner Italian to cook dishes like this spinach and cheese manicotti that are oh so *delizioso*. Yeah. That was my inner Italian coming out. Sorry.

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI actually didn’t have manicotti to make this manicotti recipe because that’s how I roll. BUT, I was able to make some homemade lasagna noodles that I rolled up with the filling inside and it worked great! You certainly can buy manicotti or use store-bought lasagna noodles cut in half. Honestly, I couldn’t find manicotti at the store after I put everything else for this recipe in my cart. Since I’m too lazy to go to another store or ask where the manicotti may be, I made the noodles. The truth comes out. 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiYou are also more than welcome to make your own pasta sauce for this recipe. I often do have homemade sauce in my freezer but for this recipe I took the easy way out and bought a nice store-bought sauce. It did the trick! 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiOne thing I love about this otherwise cheesy and carb-filled recipe is that it does sneek some veggies in there! Apparently now that I have a little one I think about hiding vegetables in food. Such is life. The little guy’s only a couple months old though so he pretty much has a one track mind and it’s focused on milk right now.

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti
Manicotti stuffed with a 3-cheese and spinach filling and topped with your favorite pasta sauce
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces frozen spinach
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 egg
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 10 manicotti, cooked*
  8. 24 ounce pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the frozen spinach according to packaging (I microwaved mine in a microwave-safe bowl). Place the cooked spinach in a kitchen towel and let drain. Squeeze the excess water out by twisting and squeezing the towel.
  3. Mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese (the remainder is for the top), Parmesan cheese, egg, and salt and pepper together in bowl. Transfer to a zip top bag. Seal the bag and cut a corner off to create a piping bag.
  4. Squeeze the cheese mixture into the manicotti. This is easiest to pipe a little from each side to make sure you get the mixture all the way through the noodle.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place the manicotti in the pan, top with the remaining pasta sauce and reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. *I used homemade whole wheat lasagna noodles that I cut in half and rolled up once I put the filling in them. Either way works!
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's ChickenToday is a snow day! I didn’t even have to wear my pajamas inside out or put ice cubes in the toilet like all my students told me I had to. I have to admit I thought about it though. Yes, I swear I am a grown up. BUT, I love that I can have a grown up job at a school and still get to feel the excitement of a snow day. Best. Thing. Ever! It’s like a bonus weekend in the middle of the week! Plus, we found out last night, which makes it even more amazing because I knew I could sleep in from the moment my head hit the pillow.

General Tso's ChickenAnywho, snow days when I’m stuck inside are also perfect days for cooking and blogging (luckily for you!). On a cold and snowy day like today, a sweet and spicy general tso’s chicken will surely warm you up! This recipe is kind of a hodgepodge of a bunch of different recipes I’ve tried mixed together to my own taste. Plus, it’s made from ingredients I usually have at my house so major bonus points for not needing to go to the store for most of this!

General Tso's ChickenThere’s a light coating on the chicken, which is wonderful to give it an extra little crunch without the frying. I’ve done the frying thing and oh-my-goodness is it delicious. You can certainly use the same sauce with a fried version of the chicken. However, in an attempt to cut down on the fat, I try to stick with the less oil version of this recipe, which also is *AMAZING*. It’s a happy mix between plain chicken (which would also work) and the fatty stuff that makes my mouth drool. I’ll save the fried stuff for only very special occasions.

General Tso's ChickenI love to have general tso’s chicken with steamed broccoli. You can also saute in a bunch of veggies…sugar snap peas, carrots, onions, bell peppers to name a few delicious choices. I bet that you can even use the sauce with only veggies to make a general tso’s veggie stir fry. SHOCK AND AWE! I know…mind blown. I’m just that good. It’s okay to admit it.

General Tso's Chicken
Serves 3
A sweet and spicy chicken
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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
Chicken Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup corn starch
  2. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  3. salt and pepper, to taste
  4. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  5. 1 pound uncooked chicken, cubed
  6. 1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed (optional)
Sauce Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  2. 3 tablespoons honey
  3. 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  4. 2 teaspoons corn starch
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  7. 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Mix together the chicken coating: 1/4 cup corn starch, baking soda, and salt and pepper. Coat the chicken by tossing it with corn starch mixture.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add coated chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, corn starch, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the water or chicken stock sauce. Add sauce mixture to the skillet once the chicken is cooked. Bring to a simmer and simmer until thickened. If the sauce is too sticky or thick, you can add the remaining 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock to slightly thin it.
  4. Add the steamed broccoli, optional.
  5. Serve over rice.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/