Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals

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As most of you can probably relate, my crazy schedule sends me looking for easy, healthy, weeknight meal ideas. I recently gave farro a couple makeovers so I could enjoy it three times in one week as simple, vegetarian entrées. I present: Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

Do any of these meals look intimidating? If you don’t cook often, they could. But trust me, they were so easy! If you can make rice pilaf, you can make the main farro dish that kicks off all of the other easy meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#1 – Black Eyed Peas with Farro

My easy eats began with a trip to the farmers market. I’d had a long day at work and had left a little late. I love going to the market after work because I find it a relaxing place where I can get delicious, local ingredients. The market is full of good energy, so I like to soak that up and start to un-wind after work sometimes. I picked up some radishes, sweet potatoes, kale, onions, and apples without knowing what I’d do with it.

By the time I was finally headed home, I didn’t want to stop at even one more place. I decided to make something for dinner out of the pantry and found some Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and a can of black eyed peas. I did a play on my Rosemary Garlic Farro with Chickpeas recipe, except I didn’t even bother to chop up some garlic. The 10 minute farro helped speed up the total cooking time. I roasted the sweet potatoes, which didn’t take too long since I cut them pretty small. I kept the flavors simple and roasted the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I learned a tip from the vendor who sold me the radishes. She said I could sauté the radish bottoms and greens (adding these near the end of the cooking) with butter. She was right. It was good!

The whole meal was pretty straightforward in cooking methods and flavors, but I really enjoyed it. I also thought this was slightly easier for cooking for one, since hubby was having dinner out.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#2 – Sautéed Garlic-y Black Eyed Peas with Farro

I’m not a fan of microwaves, so I decided to sauté the leftover black eyed peas with farro from the night before with a little oil and garlic. I heated the oil in a pan and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant, just under a minute. I added a nice portion of the leftover farro and sautéed the whole thing till it was warmed through. I also roasted another sweet potato and steamed up some kale. We usually put butter and a sprinkle of salt over our steamed vegetables, but I like my kale drizzled with just a little soy sauce instead sometimes.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

3 – Tofu Farro Stir-Fry

On the third day, I still had leftover farro, so I decided to change the flavor profile by making a quick stir-fry. I swung by the grocery store on the way home from teaching Zumba to get another time-saver item – cubed tofu. No pressing and cutting tofu for me! I started this dinner by sautéing the tofu in a pan with a little oil and soy sauce. I added the farro and cooked everything until the farro was heated through, adding a little more soy sauce, to taste. Meanwhile, I steamed up some cabbage and kale, which I served with a drizzle of soy sauce. This may have been my laziest preparation of the black eyed peas with farro, but I think it was my favorite.

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Though I prefer eating different things every night, I appreciated how simple and healthy these weeknight meals were. They were a huge relief after a long day of work and teaching my Zumba class. And they were so good too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Quick Pumpkin Yogurt {Non-Recipe}

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It was a great day for The Chic Life on the web! Some of my posts were featured on Foodgawker, Baking Bites, and Yahoo! Shine! Woohoo! Welcome new guests! Thanks so much for stopping by, and be sure to check me out on Facebook, twitter, and YouTube for more content! And thank you to my current readers for your continued support!

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With so many pumpkin recipes floating around at the moment, I thought I’d share a quick tip for what to do with your leftover canned pumpkin. Inevitably, it always seems like I have a few tablespoons left after trying a new pumpkin recipe, and I try to avoid throwing it away. My favorite thing to do with leftover canned pumpkin is stir it into oatmeal. But, it’s pretty tasty in yogurt, too. Have you ever tried it? It’s not a novel concept, but a lot of my real-life friends and Zumba participants have started reading my blog recently, so I thought I’d share it anyways.

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I’d suggest stirring a spoonful of canned pumpkin into either vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt with your preferred additions.

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For this snack (and these photos), I stirred a spoonful of canned pumpkin (leftover from this recipe) into some plain Greek yogurt, along with a quick drizzle of maple syrup (just enough for my preferred sweetness).

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Then, I topped the pumpkin yogurt concoction with some of this yummy Autumn Granola (which was also made with canned pumpkin!), but feel free to use any topping (nuts, dried fruit, etc) or skip the toppings altogether.

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I have a couple other easy uses for canned pumpkin tips to share, so I’ll try to do a photo collage soon and share some links. In the meantime…

Do you guys have any tips for easy uses of leftover canned pumpkin?

Nutella Swirl Oatmeal {Get-Out-of-Bed Inspiration}

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Lately, I’ve been uninspired to get out of bed in the morning. Why? I’m going to be honest with you. Work is kicking my a$$ and stressing me out big time. And if you’re in the same boat, I have a breakfast idea that may help make you ready to take on the day.

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I normally don’t like talking about work on my blog, but you know what? If any of my co-workers were actually reading this, I think they’d be nodding their head and saying, “I hear ya, girl! Me too!” Our current work environment is very stressful and picking up stream. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when our current project gets released in just a few short weeks. And then, we can all be normal again.

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So, what do you do when you aren’t quite ready to face the day? Find something to help get you going. May I present…

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Nutella Swirl Oatmeal!

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This is really so simple to make.

Here’s my Non-Recipe:

Just make your choice of oatmeal (I like stove top, and the bowl pictured is made with pumpkin). Take however much Nutella you feel like eating (I used 1 tablespoon), and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the Nutella until it becomes soft and easy to pour (15-30 seconds should do it). Use two spoons to scoop and pour the Nutella into a swirl design (or carefully pour the Nutella straight from the bowl). Top with your favorite toppings. Enjoy.

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I’m really loving this idea of finding a reason to get out of bed when you’re otherwise uninspired. I think I’ll have to brainstorm some more ideas like this one!

Reader question: What tricks do you use to start the day when you’re not feeling so ready for it? What’s your get-out-of-bed inspiration?

Easiest Garlic Knots {Non-Recipe}

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I made one of the easiest and tastiest things recently – garlic knots. I’ve been enjoying these things for years, but I never really thought to try to make them at home before. I don’t even have a good excuse, I just never tried it for some reason. Good thing I have Eat in Month to inspire me to try new things at home.

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And it turns out…if you use store-bought pizza dough, garlic knots are so easy a caveman? no, a husband? anyone can do it.

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But first, I’d like to share a couple random Bailey photos. Here’s Bailey modeling the new Duke shirt his grandmother bought him.

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And here he is just after carrying the newspaper in. Yup, he fetches our paper and the mail!

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But, enough about Bailey, back to the garlic knots. Hubby and I had another pizza night at the Chic house recently, and the ball of dough hubby got from the store was gigantic. I decided it was too large to fit on the pizza stone, so I tore off a couple pieces of dough to experiment with these garlic knots. Plus, I figured we could snack on these while the pizza baked.

These things were so simplistic, there’s really no need for a full-on recipe, especially since I used store-bought pizza dough, so I’ll just share some of the basics. I’m betting a lot of you already know how to make these, so for those who do, feel free to chime in (with a comment) with your tips.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • store-bought pizza dough
  • butter, I used about 1 teaspoon for 4 garlic knots – try to sit it out for a bit so it softens
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley (or use 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • a sprinkle of salt, to taste
  • feel free to add other toppings of choice – maybe oregano, red pepper flakes, or rosemary

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To make the garlic knots, I basically tore off four small pieces of the dough, roughly 1/4-1/3 cup each. I took each piece, rolled it into a long log and tied it into a knot. I baked them in a pre-heated 350 oven (on a cornmeal dusted pizza stone) for about 20-25 minutes, until nice and golden brown on top. Bake time will probably vary from dough to dough, and you may want to check your dough for suggested baking temperature, too.

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I placed the butter, parsley, garlic, and salt in a bowl and topped it with the hot garlic knots. I used the heat of the freshly-baked knots to help melt the butter. I tossed the garlic knots in the bowl until they were evenly coated.

And that’s it.

I think I actually liked the garlic knots better than the pizza we made with the rest of the dough. Anywho, I think these would be fun to make the next time we’re entertaining. I bet kids would like helping the adults form the knots, too.

Ooh…just had another good idea – cinnamon-sugar knots! Maybe I’ll try those next time.

Reader question: What are your favorite garlic knot toppings?

Work Day: Pizza Night

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I’m thinking of starting a new series for my fellow workers out there to feature meal ideas you can put together after a long work day. You know the one – when you pulled another 10 hour/no-lunch-break kinda day or when you maybe just have a slew of meetings. I’m talking about having the type of day that leaves you feeling like a zombie but still wanting something (anything!) to eat that tastes good, is (maybe? hopefully?) good for you, and most importantly – doesn’t take a lot of time and/or effort.

While I prefer things to be made as much from scratch as possible in general, sometimes it’s better to use some pre-prepped foods than to eat out or order take-out. The meals I’d like to feature would be sort of semi-homemade but TCL-style, which means I’ll take help from the store, but I’ll do it as close to the source and with as natural as possible ingredients/products. And since I actually did work 10 hours today with only a 30 minute break, the only name my zombie-brain can come up with for this new series is “Work Day.” I know…so genius. But the overall concept is an easy meal after a long work day using as natural as possible ingredients. Any other name ideas for the series?

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I had a craving for pizza today, and hubby agreed it sounded like a good idea, so I asked him to pick up ingredients to make pizza at the house (since I was working late):

  • pizza dough
  • sauce
  • cheese

Gotta love a short shopping list.

Anywho, pizza night is definitely not a revolutionary idea, but I thought I’d share some photos/tips from tonight’s dinner anyways to show you how I make mine…and if nothing else, as a meal idea for my fellow Eat in Month-ers. I’d also like to gather some tips from some of my most knowledgeable friends – you guys! ;)

I’m not very good at making pizzas at home, but especially since we’re doing Eat in Month, I had no choice but to suck it up and try. I’ve never actually made a pizza entirely from scratch, though I have bookmarked a couple pizza dough recipes. I’d also like to try to make a sauce from scratch, but homemade pizza dough and sauce were not happening after my long work day. So, we took some help from the store.

A couple tips on ingredients:

  • Dough: You can get little-processed pizza dough if you know where to go: many grocery stores sell freshly made pizza dough. Trader Joe’s has a nice one for only about $2. And sometimes your local pizza shop will sell you a ball of their dough if you don’t mind making the extra tip and/or paying a little more.
  • Sauce: Many stores have special pizza sauce: some of them even have grocery-store-prepped sauce with the dough in a refrigerated section. I know hubby got both the dough and sauce for tonight’s pizza from the same section near the cheese counter.
  • Cheese: We used to use shredded, but we’ve recently started using buffalo mozzarella. Both are good options.

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I love using corn meal to help keep the dough from sticking to things.

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I also like using a baking stone. I think it helps to bake the stone before you put the pizza on it to help get the bottom crispy and help ensure it cooks through (early runs at homemade pizza yielded raw centers). If the pre-baked stone trick doesn’t work, you could also try baking the crust by itself before adding toppings.

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I literally just spread some corn meal on this baking stone, baked it for about 10 minutes in the oven, added the dough (which I stretched out with my hands – I didn’t feel like getting the rolling pin dirty), smeared on some marinara sauce, added cheese, added seasonings, and baked.

The pizza seasoning definitely helps add flavor. Oh, and be sure to check out the dough package for baking tips since they can vary from type to type. If you get dough from your local pizza shop, you can try asking them for tips.

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By the way, do you like my crooked crust? lol. I kind of like how homemade things can take on a wonky kind of look.

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I added a quick spinach salad with green bell pepper, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive for a veg serving.

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As for the pizza…the center was cooked through (woohoo!), and though it wasn’t nearly as good as our fave local pizza shop, it hit the spot.  

What are your tips for making a quick pizza at home?

Top 10 TCL Recipes of 2010

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I know it’s a bit late for this, and I had hoped to post this during the last week of December, but…better late than never, right? I’ve had my list jotted down for awhile now, but finally got around this weekend to putting together the full post.

Here are my top 10 Favorite TCL Recipes of 2010. Let’s count them down, shall we?

10 – Quick Candied Pecans

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Traditional candied pecans use eggs, but these are much simpler (and they’re vegan, too!). Thusly, they are easier to make and increase and decrease in batch size. I love these on salads or put out in dishes at dinner parties for snacking. Click here for TCL’s Quick Candied Pecan recipe.

9 – Marinated Kale

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I first tried marinated kale when I bought some already prepared marinated kale at the grocery store (either Healthy Home Market or Earthfare). It was love at first bite. I love how flavorful this dish is and how easy it is to pack for lunch on the go. There aren’t many foods I like to eat cold, but this is one of them! Not only does marinated kale make brown bagging it a cinch, but it’s super easy to make, too. Click here for TCL’s Marinated Kale recipe.

8 – Quinoa Burgers

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Hubby and I are meat eaters, but we also appreciate vegetarian/vegan fare. This is especially handy when we’re entertaining and half of our guests are non-meat-eaters. I wanted to create a burger recipe that would be edible for my vegan friends, but delicious for those used to cheeseburgers. Bring on the Southwest Quinoa Veggie Burger!

7 – Green Tea Soup

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Green tea soup was another love-at-first-bite dish, though definitely the most unique. I first had this at the Samovar tea lounge in San Francisco when I was having afternoon tea with my friend Rachel just after the Foodbuzz Festival ended. I knew I had to re-create it back home. Turns out, green tea soup is easier than I thought it would be to make. I even called it a non-recipe because you can easily make this dish with leftover cooked vegetables, rice, and whatever else you have on hand. Behold – Green Tea Soup Non-Recipe.

6 – Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

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The Southwest Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (click for recipe) was another Foodbuzz-Festival-inspired dish, after a few of us fell in love with the quinoa bowls at Cafe Gratitude. Since then, I’ve also enjoyed fried eggs over herbed quinoa and cous cous when I don’t have time to make the steamed kale and tahini sauce. Either way, eggs and quinoa are a great way to switch up your breakfast routine.

5 – Breakfast Cups

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I love making breakfast cups for many reasons. They’re great to use up leftovers (throw in lunch meat, cooked turkey, leftover cooked vegetables, whatever!). Breakfast cups are a nice hands-free breakfast – prepare and then work on something else while they bake away. These little guys are also very versatile – you can do them savory or sweet. Click here for the Coco-Loco French Toast Cups or here for Turkey Vegetable Breakfast Cups.

4 – Individual Breakfast Crisps

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I haven’t made these as often lately because I was making them with fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, but Individual Breakfast Crisps can easily be made with frozen fruit, too. I love these crisps because I feel like I’m eating dessert for breakfast, even though the sugar and fats are toned down to make this more healthful for starting your day. These crisps are so simple to put together and can be made with a variety of fruits and fruit combos. Let them bake while you get ready for the day. Click here to view the Individual Berry Breakfast Crisp.

3 – Balsamic Roasted Chick Peas

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I fell in love with roasted chick peas after trying the recipe I saw on 5-Ingredient fix. Balsamic was my flavor contribution and update to the original recipe by Claire Robinson. I love these guys for a snack or for entertaining – they’re great for dinner parties and pot lucks and are great served at room temperature. Click here for the TCL Balsamic Roasted Chick Peas recipe.

2 – Green Monster Muffins

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Green Monster muffins hold a special place in my heart. These little guys are so unique, and I’m so proud of my little creation. Not only are the muffins unusual, they’re delicious, too! I’ve loved reading all the wonderful comments from people telling me how much they enjoyed baking these and from all the moms who have tricked their kiddos into eating spinach thanks to the muffins. Hazzah! :) Click here for the Green Monster Muffin recipe (regular) and here for the Vegan Green Monster Muffin recipe.

1 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

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When I was on my third of fourth batch trying to re-create Annie the Baker’s famous cookie dough balls (a Foodbuzz Festival star), and coming to the realization that I still hadn’t gotten the recipe right, I started to wonder why I was still trying. Perhaps it was my own stubbornness that kept me going, but I knew I could come up with a recipe if I just kept trying my hardest. After turning my kitchen into a mini America’s Test Kitchen with experiment after experiment, I finally made it – only 7 test batches in total. lol. I figured a few people may try out my recipe, but I was blown away by the response! Reading all the comments and emails about how much everyone loved my recipe made (and still makes) my heart glow with such happiness! Click here to view the chocolate chip dough ball recipe and be sure to check out the other flavors!

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I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who has tried one of my recipes. I love trying new recipes, tweaking them, and developing my own from scratch, and sharing them with all of you is such a joy! You’ll never know how much your sweet comments make my day. I’ve loved reading about the girl whose mom made a double batch of roasted chick peas for a holiday party, the mom who wrote it to say her kids thought “Green Monster Muffins” sounded cool so they ate them (spinach and all), and the girl who said she and her roommates make the dough balls almost every day!

Thank you all for helping me make 2010 such a tasty year!

I can’t wait to see, test, and taste what’s in store for 2011! Here we go!

Reader question: What’s your favorite or most memorable TCL recipe from 2010?

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