Roasted Vegetable Brown Rice Bowl with Easy Peanut Sauce

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Every Christmas Eve my family enjoys a fondue feast. It’s a special, beautiful and delicious meal which starts with cheddar fondue with veggies and bread and apples followed by chicken and beef with peanut sauce and creamy horseradish sauce. Dessert puts us over the edge: dark chocolate fondue to coat strawberries, bananas and homemade buttery poundcake. I love fondue not only because it’s so good but because of the laughter and interaction we have as a family. It’s as extravagant as it sounds and we leave the dinner table feeling happy and full.

This is a definitely a special once a year treat, any more than that and we’d all be a little larger. But there’s one thing from the meal that I always crave and love to make at home: peanut sauce. The creaminess, the saltiness, it’s just perfect and so easy to make at home because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.

Paired with roasted vegetables and brown rice, this is a great lunch. It could easily be made heartier with the addition of chopped grilled chicken or a fried egg right on top.

This week I celebrated the arrival of my first CSA produce box. My friend Lena and I are splitting a weekly box of fresh produce from a local farm, Luckett Farms. It feels really good to be cooking with vegetables that were picked the day I picked them up as well as to support local farmers. Our first box was filled with cabbage, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and raw honey from bees on the farm. The honey is heavenly!

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For this recipe, I roasted some of the broccoli, carrots, and cabbage. The judges on Chopped would probably look down on the way I let my broccoli get slightly burned, but trust me, that dark crispness is where the flavor pops. It really doesn’t taste burnt, just nicely caramelized.

I hope you enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable & Brown Rice Bowls with Easy Peanut Sauce

serves 2

Ingredients:

One head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, sliced
3 one inch slices of cabbage (cut off of the whole head, keep intact)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of brown rice*
2 1/4 cups of water
Handful of chopped peanuts
Cilantro leaves for topping
One lime, cut in half

Peanut sauce:
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
Squirt of Sriracha

To make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a pot on the stove. Add rice and turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until water is dissolved and rice is fluffy. Remove from heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to the rice.

While rice is cooking, place sliced carrots, broccoli florets, and sliced pieces of cabbage to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over vegetables then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put veggies in preheated oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through, take a spatula and turn veggies over so they can crisp on all sides. If you don’t want your veggies to have that brown crispness, take them out of the oven after 15 minutes.

For the peanut sauce: in a sauce pan, combine all ingredients over a low heat. Stir slowly until the sauce is combined and warm.

Scoop 1/2 cup of brown rice into a bowl, top with half the veggies, drizzle generously with peanut sauce, top with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. Squeeze lime juice on top.

*you’ll definitely have leftover rice. Throw it in a Tupperware in the fridge and use for something else!

Yum!

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Ode to October + Lazy Saturday Brunch

I love how fall just takes over. Pumpkins everywhere: cookies, muffins, drink flavors, even soups. Decor, carving, roasting seeds, flower planters. I love that the color orange in the shape of a large round vegetable is the center of fall. I love the weather, the cool days (well, one here and there), the sweaters, the s’mores. I love how when fall comes the holidays come soon after. There’s a sense of nostalgia and celebration that arrives with fall. My birthday is in October, and three years ago on my birthday, my husband proposed to me. That adds another level of lovely memories to my fall experience. I’ve always loved the fair with its rides and fried food. It’s just wonderful. Thank you, God, for fall.

Well, sooner or later, you’re bound to have a lazy fall morning probably on a Saturday or Sunday, so here’s what you should do. Sleep in. Brew a big pot of strong coffee. Light a fallish scented candle (pumpkin of course, or my new favorite: spiced orange & cinnamon). And whip up a big brunch that you can enjoy at a leisurely pace. Does anything sound better?

Last Saturday, I made a scrumptious and easy vegetable hash with a fried egg on top. Totally simple and totally delicious. You could add a side of buttered toast or top it with some crumbled bacon or add a Mexican flare with fried chorizo and salsa. However you try it, next time you have a lazy Saturday, enjoy  the relaxation and coziness of a mid-morning brunch.

If you’re not a fan of peppers and spinach, make this with any assortment of veggies!

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Ingredients: 

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1 clove minced garlic

3 cups fresh spinach

4 eggs

1/2 of an avocado, sliced

a sprinkling of chopped green onion

a sprinkling of shredded cheese (I used mozzarella, but cheddar or feta, or really any cheese works great)

salt and pepper to taste

To make:

Saute onion and bell pepper in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. After a 5 minutes and veggies are becoming translucent and soft, add minced garlic. Saute garlic for about a minute then add spinach, 1 cup at a time. Stir in each cup of spinach, adding more when wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low, and allow to sit while you fry the eggs.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil and fry two of the eggs. There are lots of ways to do this depending on how you like them. I don’t like my eggs runny. Here’s how to fry an egg.

Put half the veggies on a plate, sprinkle cheese on top of veggies, top with two fried eggs, top with sliced avocado and chopped green onion. Repeat for second plate. Enjoy!

More brunch inspiration: (these aren’t quite in the healthy category)

Three Ideas for Exciting Waffles

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Biscuits and Gravy

Mushroom & Brussels Sprout Hash

Savory Cornmeal & Chive Waffles with Salsa and Eggs

Pumpkin Spice Waffles with Butternut Bacon Syrup


Green Thumb: Gardening 101!

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Gardening is my summer hobby. Thanks to my new puppy I get up pretty early these days and I enjoy watering my herbs, veggies and flowers while the sun comes up. It’s good to water in the morning so that the sun doesn’t burn the plants which can happen if you water in the afternoon. Gardening takes devotion and patience if you’re growing more than a pot of basil. But it’s a blast to see life growing and to eat something you grew on your own!

Above is my garden that I planted the week of May 18th. My parents helped me churn up the dirt in the raised beds, which were built by the previous owners of the house, as well as mix in a good compost and fresh soil. We put in some plant food and fertilizer to help encourage growth. All of my plants were transplants, rather than seeds. In just over a month, we’ve enjoyed: lots of basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and lemon thyme.

It’s overflowing!

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We got to eat one squash before my entire squash plant ended up rotting. I was disappointed, but it’s all part of the learning process. Apparently this is a common problem. I did not know that mulching is very important for a squash plants as is pruning the large branches so they don’t crowd each other.
My arugula also did not survive due to an infestation of tiny white worms. Next time I’ll be more proactive about getting an organic pest killer, and I plan to attempt arugula again in the fall.

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I picked my first jalapeño yesterday and quite a few tomatoes are almost ripe! My one bell pepper so far is huge but not yet red. We’ve had a ton of spinach, which grows rapidly. My eggplant, cantaloupe and cucumber plants all have flowers but no signs of fruit yet. Apparently cucumber takes a little longer to bare fruit even though it is rapidly overtaking everything else (it thrives in heat and humidity).

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Pictured above: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, jalapeño, bell pepper, cucumber, and cantaloupe!

I’ll post some garden fresh recipes soon! My favorites have been Minty Green Tea Limeade, basil pesto, and various salad dressings with lots of herbs.

Do you garden? What are you growing? Any tips?