I’m definitely not being the good, regular blogger I once was. I miss it and have been plotting my comeback, and the truth is it’s not going to happen with some grand entrance. I just need to get back to the posting routine, and I’ve been thinking how that will be a million times easier if I just post what I’m actually cooking. On my food blog. What a novel concept.
If you feel like you’ve just jumped in to the middle of a conversation, that’s my fault. My writing might be getting a little rusty, too. For reference, see this post, which actually is a big deal.
Or I’ll just tell you, if you’re nervous about whether clicking on a link will take you to a new window or kill this page, causing the headache of back clicking to figure out what you were originally looking at. There’s a baby on the way, and it’s growing in my belly as we speak! Another thing I haven’t been keeping up with is the weekly pregnancy photos, but after a couple weeks off there will be a new one, with a much larger belly, by next week.
Even though I’ve been absent from the blog, the second trimester has me feeling good, most notably hungry for my regular healthy foods at mealtimes, and I’ve hit my stride with meal planning. I’m really making an effort to shift to faster, less complicated dinners, and hopefully that effort will get you to try more of the recipes from NCK. I’ve also started doing a little regular cooking for a friend (or a new client, I suppose you could say) who has the most huggable newborn twins I’ve ever seen. She had been ordering vegan meals, and it’s not that they were SO atrocious, but when you’re on a twin newborn schedule I think you start to want delicious, balanced meals when it comes time to eat, even if it means taking the baby weight loss at a normal (instead of Beyoncé-like) pace. I’m sending her my weekly dinner plan ahead of time, and she chooses three or four of the meals that I cook for her and her hubs (I’m sure the twins would like in on some veggie burgers, if they had a say in it).
The whole arrangement is perfect because, besides helping out a hungry friend, it keeps me accountable to plan meals that are semi-healthy, and a nice balance between simple and adventurous. This week we started mid-week, so we did:
- Almost-vegetarian lasagna soup with mushrooms and spinach; a side of garlic crostini and rosemary white bean spread
- BBQ black bean burgers on homemade rolls; topped with monterey jack, chipotle mayo, and dill pickle slices (always); and colorful carrot-cabbage slaw with buttermilk dill pickle dressing
Sounds complicated, and I admit I went a little overboard this week, but I think the whole menu is actually easier than it sounds. You’ll have to judge for yourself when I publish the recipes.
What else are Steve and I eating this week? Tonight is broccoli, pepper, and lentil calzones with smoked mozzarella and a side of marinara, and Monday we had this twist on the burrito bowl! For being healthy, the rice came out nearly as addictive as Chipotle’s version.
The rice, beans, and fajita veggies can all be made ahead for this dinner. If you’re pressed for time this week, double the recipe so you have leftovers for lunches or other dinners.
A big cast iron skillet is one of my kitchen staples (constantly sitting out on the stove), and is perfect for cooking both the veggies and beans in this recipe.
- 2 limes, divided use
- 1⅓ C dry brown rice
- 1 red onion - ¼ of it finely chopped, remainder sliced ¼" thick
- 1 large green bell pepper, sliced ¼" thick
- Vegetable oil
- ½ C finely chopped carrot and/or celery (or more onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano or epazote
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 cans (3 C) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1½ C water or vegetable stock
- ¼ C chopped cilantro (optional)
- ½ C grated Manchego or Monterey jack cheese
- Red salsa
- Avocado, diced
- Zest one of the limes. Cook the rice using this method, or according to package directions, adding the lime zest with the rice.
- While the rice cooks, sauté the sliced onion and bell pepper in a couple teaspoons of hot oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Once browned on the outside and still slightly crisp, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate. Cover with foil or place in a warm (180 F) oven. In the same skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium. Add the chopped onion and carrot/celery and cook until beginning to soften. Add the garlic, dry spices, and a generous pinch of salt and cook another two minutes, stirring often. Add beans and water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes, smashing some of the beans with a wooden spoon every time you stir, which will thicken the sauce. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When the rice is done, stir in the juice of half (or one whole) lime, salt to taste, and cilantro, if using. Assemble each bowl with a big scoop of rice, some beans, a quarter of the veggies, a sprinkle of cheese, and one quarter of the avocado. Serve salsa and the remaining lime, quartered, at the table.
Note: This page contains affiliate links. It does NOT contain sponsored content. Affiliate links (to products I recommend, on Amazon) offset my ingredient and website maintenance costs, so I can keep bringing you make ahead recipes like this one. Thanks!