Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~ ElephantEats.com

My friend Erica came over to dinner a few weeks ago and I cooked up this meal. It was SUPER easy and she liked it so much that she made it for dinner later that week too!

That was also the day I made the fluffy pb frosted brownies, which she got to sample. Lucky girl ;)

She brought one home to her bf and he apparently gave it a thumbs up!

Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~ ElephantEats.com

Since Nate doesn’t like the taste of beef, and I hate touching raw chicken, I’m always experimenting with new protein forms. We both love seitan so I picked some up at Whole Foods assuming we’d find a use for it. I went to use it, thinking it was sliced in pieces, but it was actually ground.

I had never had ground seitan before but it was actually a really perfect substitute for ground beef! I love the texture it added to this dish and I’ll definitely be making it again. Be sure to serve it over a big bowl of white (my fave) or brown rice. Mmmm mmm!

Orange Seitan with Green Beans and Peppers ~ ElephantEats.com

Also, I finished another pet portrait! This one was a present for my parents of their long-haired mini dachsund, Sparky. I think it’s my best one yet!

Mini Dachsund Pet Portrait ~ ElephantEats.com

Orange Seitan with Peppers and String Beans
Serves 4
A healthy, vegetarian version of chinese take-out!
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Ingredients
  1. zest from one orange
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice (juice the orange you zested and add water to get to 1/2 cup)
  3. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  5. 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  6. 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  7. 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch
  9. 2 tsp vegetable oil
  10. 3/4 lb fresh green beans, ends cut and trimmed into 2-inch pieces
  11. 2 red peppers, sliced thin and cut into 2-inch strips
  12. 1 lb ground seitan
  13. 2 scallions, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange zest, juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger and cornstarch.
  2. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over med-hi heat. Add green beans and peppers and cook for about 3 min. Add seitan and cook til beans are crisp tender.
  3. With a slotted spoon, transfer everything to a large bowl.
  4. Give the orange juice mixture a stir and add it to the pan. Cook, scraping up any brown bits until thickened, about 2 min.
  5. Add veggies and seitan back to pan, along with any juices. Warm through.
  6. Serve over white or brown rice to soak up all that yummy sauce!
Adapted from Very Culinary
Adapted from Very Culinary
http://elephanteats.com/

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

I was recently sent some Ocean Naturals canned tuna to try. I rarely eat canned tuna because I just plain forget it exists, so I was so glad that this reminded me how great it is. 

Canned tuna contains high-quality protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. Tuna, especially canned tuna, is a convenient and versatile way for you to add fish to your family’s diet.

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

But I’m sure you guys know all that, right? What I didn’t know was that tuna is often over-harvested and some species are more endangered than others. Ocean Naturals guarantees that all of their “responsibly-caught” tuna is harvested:

  • From target species populations that are healthy and abundant and are currently being harvested at a level that promotes the stocks’ longevity
  • Using catch-methods that limit ecosystem impacts
  • In regions where the fishery is managed by regulatory bodies that help sustain the long-term productivity of all impacted species

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate has made me really think about our impact on the ecosystem in general, so it made me really happy to know that some companies are doing their part to preserve it and limit their impact on it. 

Lately I’ve also become overly concerned with what I put in my body, and hate that everything seems to contain something that’s unhealthy either from the packaging or the food itself. For example, it scares me that those plastic water bottles I drink from daily could be leaching chemicals into the water. Well, Ocean Naturals  tuna doesn’t have anything added- it’s simply premium tuna with a dash of salt, packed in either olive oil or water. No fillers, additives, or preservatives. It’s nice to know that some foods don’t have anything artificial added!

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Anyway, since I got sent this tuna, I didn’t want to just make a boring old tuna salad. Nate has been training for the NY marathon (it’s this weekend!) so every Friday is pasta day to fuel his long weekend runs. I decided to make a pasta that incorporated the tuna. It’s kind of based on the flavors of a sandwich he loves at ‘WichCraft Sandwiches.

**I was given these products free of charge, but all opinions are my own. I would never post about a product I didn’t love and plan to use again.

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Turkey, Pumpkin and Veggie Chili ~ ElephantEats.com

While you’re reading this post, I’m currently in Italy, most likely ODing on pasta and gelato ;)

You see, I kind of conned my way into being included in my parent’s Italian vacation (thanks mom and dad!). Unfortunately, Nate wasn’t able to join because he doesn’t get as many vacation days as me :(

Being the awesome wife that I am, though, I wanted to make sure that my hubby was well-fed while I was away. Since he is ok with leftovers, and his mom was going to be in town to take him out for a few meals, I figured that I would cook two big meals and freeze it so he had enough for the 6 dinners he’d need.

Turkey, Pumpkin and Veggie Chili ~ ElephantEats.com

Not all meals freeze and reheat well, but chili happens to be great for that. I made a HUGE batch that we ate for dinner one night before I left, and then froze two giant tupperwares full. Each one of these holds about 3 meals worth, so he’ll use one while I’m gone and the other can be taken out another time when I’m just not in the mood to cook. It’s always good to have a few frozen meals laying around for convenience!

I also baked up my favorite Trader Joe’s cornbread to go along with it. I used the butter-flavored olive oil sample that I got, and it definitely took it to another level! Also, I added pumpkin to the chili purely because I made pumpkin bread and had a little less than a can leftover in my fridge. You could make this chili without the pumpkin but you’ll need less liquid.

And while I’m talking about favorites/Trader Joe’s/freezing things, I used some Dorot garlic in this recipe. I had seen some of their products in Trader Joes before and used them, but when Natalie posted about them on her blog and I commented, Dorot reached out to me and sent me some coupons! 

What makes Dorot products amazing is that you can have garlic, ginger and fresh herbs on hand all the time! They’re basically little frozen cubes made entirely out of these fresh things. When you want to use them, you pop one or two of the little cubes out of the freezer tray they come in, and into your pan! They don’t stick to the container at all and literally pop right out. They’re SO convenient. Dorot makes crushed garlic, crushed ginger, chopped chile, sauteed glazed onions,chopped basil, cilantro, parsley and dill…AMAZING, i know!

I especially love the garlic ones because i hate stinky garlic fingers (and just generally detest mincing garlic). Do you ever notice that like 2 days after chopping garlic, you get a whiff of something funky and it’s your garlic fingers? It’s especially disconcerting/confusing when you’re eating your oatmeal in the morning. And I love the chopped ginger and basil because let’s face it, when you buy either of those fresh, you never use it all and end up wasting the rest. 

Turkey, Pumpkin and Veggie Chili ~ ElephantEats.com

Apparently Dorot also has frozen cubes of sauces too!…but sadly no supermarkets near me carry them :( I wish it wasn’t the case.

But back to the chili! I find that the best way to eat this after having frozen it is to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before you want to eat it. Giving it 24 hours to partially defrost in the fridge makes reheating it much easier. Once defrosted, youcan either microwave it or put it in a pot and heat it over the stove.

Hopefully Nate is doing ok on his own. At least I know his belly is full, and someone is home to take good care of our kitty!

Turkey, Pumpkin and Veggie Chili ~ ElephantEats.com

*Note that I was compensated for these products but all opinions are my own. I would never post about a product that I didn’t love and plan to use again!

Turkey, Pumpkin and Veggie Chili for a Crowd
Serves 8
A steaming bowl of healthy chili that can be on the table in under 30 minutes!
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Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

The other day got a little chilly out (FINALLY!!!) and on top of that, my office was freezing. All I could think about all day long was making soup for dinner.

I scrolled through my Pinterest soup board, which sadly doesn’t have very many options yet, and settled upon a pasta soup. I added some white beans to give it protein and mushrooms…just because I can’t NOT add mushrooms to a recipe :)

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

I recommend with any pasta soup that you only add the pasta to the amount you know you’re going to eat. Otherwise, when you go to get your leftovers, the pasta will have absorbed pretty much all of the remaining liquid. You can just add water usually, but it’s easy enough to just bring your leftover soup to a boil and cook up some new pasta in it.

I didn’t heed my own advice, so the next day when we went to eat leftovers, I added water to my portion but for Nate’s I just heated it up as-is. It was more of a pasta dish that way, which he much prefers to soup. 

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

I’m sorry for all you vegetarians (or non pork-eaters) out there, but the pancetta absolutely makes this soup. It adds so much flavor and makes it smell amazing. You could leave it out but it definitely will be a different soup altogether. 

I also highly advise you to use alphabet noodles :)

I recommend that the next day that there’s a chill in the air, you whip up a batch of this delicious soup! Serve it alongside some crusty buttered bread and you have yourself a perfect cold-weather dinner.

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

Pasta soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms
Serves 6
A chunky, broth-based soup perfect for a cold night!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 large leek, washed and finely chopped
  3. 9 oz. pancetta, diced
  4. 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  5. 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  6. 4 medium red-skinned potatoes, chopped into 1/2" pieces
  7. 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock (or substitute chicken, beef, or duck stock)
  8. 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
  9. 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  10. 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  11. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  12. 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) farfalline or another soup pasta (or even spaghetti, broken into bits)
  13. 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the leek and pancetta for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot, potato and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the stock, tomatoes, and rosemary, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and beans and continue to cook over low heat, uncovered, stirring every 2 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes.
  5. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Immediately ladle the soup into bowls. Or, ladle into bowls and sprinkle parmesan on top.
Notes
  1. If you plan to eat this again the next day, only add noodles to the portion you are going to eat immediately. Otherwise, they will absorb all the liquid by the next day.
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
http://elephanteats.com/

 Chicken and Chorizo "Paella" ~ www.ElephantEats.com

We headed down to my Nate’s mom’s house this past weekend. We had a relaxing couple days, and I started a new craft project

I’m going to make my mother-in-law a cushioned ottoman/coffee table. I bought a coffee table at a thrift store and we went out and got some fabric that will cover the foam I’m putting on top. I’m so excited to finish making it. I’ll show you guys when it’s done :) We picked out a beautiful purple tweed that matches her couches and I’m going to sew piping onto it- it will be the first time I’ve attempted that, so fingers crossed.

Chicken and Chorizo "Paella" ~ www.ElephantEats.com

Oh, I also fixed a drawer while I was down there that she was going to have a handyman come fix. I was pretty impressed with myself. I went to Lowes and got what I needed and fixed it! Girl power!!

It’s so rewarding to make or repurpose/create/fix something! I think that’s why I like cooking so much. It’s like creating one thing out of something entirely different- putting all these pieces together to make a new whole. And on top of it, you really get to enjoy the fruits of your labor :)

I’ve been so busy lately with house stuff, so I was on the lookout for a quick, simple dinner. It’s not completely authentic paella but it’s very similar. This dish hit the spot and was really really delicious and filling

Chicken and Chorizo "Paella" ~ www.ElephantEats.com

Chicken and Chorizo "Paella" with Mushrooms
Serves 6
A quick, simple and veggie-packed take on the traditional Paella
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs , cubed
  2. 4 ounces Mexican chorizo (i used a veggie version)
  3. 1 large white onion, chopped
  4. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  5. 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  6. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  7. 1 tsp paprika
  8. 1 tsp oregano
  9. 1 tsp turmeric
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  12. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  13. 1-1/2 cups long grain white rice
  14. 3 cups water
  15. 1 14oz can diced or stewed tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chorizo and onion, stir to combine and let it sit and caramelize/soften for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add the cubed chicken, and stir to combine, letting it cook for about a couple minutes.
  3. Add the chopped red bell pepper, mushrooms, and cook several minutes. Add paprika, oregano, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and rice. Stir everything to combine, and then add the water and tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes until the rice is tender.
  5. Serve hot!
Adapted from Heather's Dish
Adapted from Heather's Dish
http://elephanteats.com/