Archives for category: Main Dishes

I’m really busy with travel and work these days, so meals have become simple, quick, and in big pots so I can eat leftovers for several meals. So the next few posts will be less recipes and more meal ideas for those times when cooking healthy meals may seem a bit daunting. There’s really no need eat boring or unhealthy foods when you’re really busy (or broke)!

This is another meal that I eat quite often, as it is simple to make, really inexpensive, and delicious so I’m happy to eat the leftovers for days. I have to credit my good friend Caitlin Rueter, who I often stay with in NYC. She makes this all the time and although she  apologizes for the simplicity of the meal, I always enjoy it and crave it again and again.

Did you know that lentils and brown rice cook in the same amount of time? This was a great discovery for me–you can pop both raw (cleaned and picked through) lentils and brown rice into a rice cooker and not have to think about them at all. Meanwhile, cook any sides or toppings you would like and you have several filling, nutritious, and very tasty meals with about as much work as it would take to make a box of mac and cheese.

Caitlin’s lentils, rice and greens

  • Rinse, and pick any stones from about a cup of lentils (I used brown, you can use any you like, French lentils are great, red lentils would result in a more creamy texture)
  • Add lentils and approximately the same amount of raw brown rice (I like long-grain,or Jasmine) to the pot or rice cooker
  • Use the proportions of 2 parts water to 1 part rice/lentil mixture
  • Cook as you would rice
  • Go do whatever you have to do for about half an hour
  • When the rice and lentils are just about done, thinly slice about half an onion, and a little garlic if you like
  • Sautee onion in a few glugs of olive oil, and a couple generous pinches of salt. Add some chile flakes if you like
  • When the onions are translucent and slightly brown, add finely sliced greens or any other vegetable (still damp from rinsing)
  • Sautee until tender-crisp, add more salt to taste, and squeeze a good amount of lemon/lime juice on top
  • Serve vegetables over lentils and rice, with more lemon and your favorite hot sauce

You could use any vegetables you like here–spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, or just let the onions get a little crispy, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley, chives, or cilantro, and leave it at that. Don’t forget a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving.

For a side dish/dessert, I sliced some ruby red grapefruit onto which I drizzled a little bit of real maple syrup.




quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

A good friend of mine recently introduced me to the wonders of quinoa salad.  I’m not really sure why, but quinoa has always been something I have hesitated to cook.  I love it whenever it is prepared for me, but I’ve always resisted cooking it myself.  I was coached as to how to make the most flavorful and healthful quinoa salad, and, I must say, my first attempt was a success!!! I ended up making this as a “mexi-cali” style salad because these were the ingredients I had on hand – avocado, cilantro, green onions, beans, etc.  The flavors mixed with the quinoa turned out to be just right, but definitely play around with the main ingredients as you like!

I first cooked the quinoa according to directions (I believe it’s 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water; simmer until all the water has evaporated – super easy!). The black beans were drained, rinsed, and cooked on the stove top briefly to incorporate the spices and heat up the beans. The salad dressing was made while the beans were cooking and everything was tossed together at the end. So easy and so delicious!

Mexi-Cali Quinoa Salad

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 ripe avocado, diced

1 whole tomato, diced

1 large handful cilantro, minced

3-4 large kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped  (spinach would be a great substitute)

3 green onion stalks, chopped

1 Tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional; omit for vegan cooking)

1/2 red or yellow bell pepper (or both!), finely chopped

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp if you like foods less spicy)

1/2 tsp each cumin & garlic powder


~2 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced

1/4 avocado, mashed

2 Tbsp each white vinegar & apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

salt/pepper to taste (~1/2 tsp each)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Add the quinoa equally to two serving bowls and set aside. Add the next 7 ingredients (through bell pepper) into a large bowl and set aside.  Place drained & rinsed black beans in a sauce pot and add remaining ingredients.  Stir well and cook ~5 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the dressing, add the cilantro, mashed avocado, honey, and vinegars to a small bowl. Stir very well until creamy.  Add salt/pepper to taste and stir in the olive oil.

Add the black beans and dressing to the veggie mix in the large bowl and stir until well incorporated.  Spoon a generous portion (~1 cup) on top of each bowl of quinoa and enjoy!  Serve with a slice of lime, if desired.

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

quinoa salad, mexican style quinoa salad, mexi cali quinoa, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

This flatbread is really a vegan pizza. I love making homemade pizza–it is such a satisfying way to use leftover fresh or cooked vegetables I have in the fridge. Sometimes all the cheese is too heavy for me though, and I would rather pile up the crust with vegetables, herbs and sauce. (Side note: despite many tries, I really do not like vegan cheese.)

I have found that hearty, chewy vegetables such as mushrooms and eggplant are wonderful on vegan pizza or flatbreads–giving great texture and making the dish more hearty. Your favorite cheese can certainly be added on top of this flatbread, but try it without; you won’t miss it, I promise!

Kale and Eggplant Flatbread

makes one medium pizza


whole wheat pizza dough (make your own favorite recipe–I bought mine from Whole Foods)

1/2 of a small eggplant, sliced very thinly on the bias

1 cup kale, washed, dried, and chopped finely

1/4 cup+ your favorite tomato or pasta sauce, or chopped seeded tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced ( I used rosemary here)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

red chile flakes, to taste (optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional-but delicious and full of B vitamins!)


~one hour before you want to eat, set out dough to rise in a warm place

preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, preheat your stone in the oven

spread thinly sliced eggplant on a surface, and lightly salt while you prepare other ingredients

prepare other vegetables–mince herbs, chop the kale and tomatoes if using

stretch out your dough to the size of your stone

when the oven is preheated, take out the stone and immediately prepare your pizza: place dough on the hot stone, then spread out a thin layer of sauce, followed by the eggplant slices, herbs, chile flakes, chopped kale, then nutritional yeast. If desired, place a few dollops of sauce on top of the vegetables.

Cook in a hot oven in the uppermost rack for ~12 minutes, or until the edges are a deep golden brown. Drizzle with a bit of good extra virgin olive oil before serving.


vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

This risotto is so simple to make, yet has so many complex flavors that it can easily be served to friends/family at a nice dinner party (they don’t have to know how easy it really is to make!).  I roasted a whole acorn squash, but only used half of it for the recipe – you can certainly add more and it would be even more delicious, or serve the remaining squash as a side for another meal.  The peppers I used were from our local farmer’s market and I didn’t quite catch the name… they were what I thought of as a delightful hybrid of a bell pepper and jalepeno – sweet with just a little heat.  The leek also came from the farmer’s market and was a perfect addition to this risotto.  Remember to wash your leeks well!

To roast the acorn squash, simply wash, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds.  Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil and salt/pepper.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

Feel free to play around with the ingredients for this risotto… other great combinations include: asparagus, lemon zest, & mushroom, peppers, corn, & asparagus, etc.  I generally add fresh oregano to the risotto, however I didn’t in this recipe, but definitely do so if you like more complex flavors/earthiness!  I let the dried mushrooms simmer in the veggie broth for about 1/2 hour before using it in the risotto so that the flavor of the mushrooms infused into the broth.

Acorn Squash Risotto

6 cups vegetable broth

1 small package (1 oz) dried mushrooms (I love the mushroom trio from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 acorn squash, roasted (see above) and diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small leek, cleaned & cut into pieces (see above)

2 small bell peppers or sweet peppers, diced

1 1/4 cup risotto/arrabiata rice

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated

dried or fresh oregano, to taste (~2 tsp)

salt/pepper, to taste (~1/2 tsp each)

Add the package of dried mushrooms to the vegetable broth and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  Heat a medium to large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and leeks and stir frequently until the leeks are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the risotto rice and let cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and oregano (if using) and let cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add 1-2 cups of the broth (enough to completely cover the rice but just barely) and stir well.  Immediately cover with a lid and turn the heat to medium-low.  Let simmer about 5-10 minutes, or until all the liquid is evaporated.

Once the liquid has evaporated, add 1 cup liquid to the rice, stir well, and cover with the lid to let simmer.  Continue until all the liquid is gone and the rice is creamy (~20-25 minutes). Add the pepper and roasted squash with the last addition of the broth and stir well.  Once the rice is cooked completely and all liquid is gone, take off the lid and turn off the heat.  Stir in the shredded cheese.  Top with minced parsley or oregano, and enjoy!

vegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebevegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebevegetarian risotto, squash risotto, squash leek risotto, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

While there are numerous reasons I love my Monday evening MNT class (subject, professors, friends, etc), I really enjoy the fact that almost every week I get new requests or ideas for recipes for milk & sugar from my friends in the class.  This week’s request was for a vegetarian dinner recipe, of which we do have many, however I thought this eggplant tofu recipe would be a great addition! (And, hopefully one that my friend will like!)

This recipe is perfect for a quick and nutritious weeknight dinner.  I’ve found (through much trial & error) that the best way to cook eggplant is to chop it, salt it, and let it drain in a colander about 10 minutes before you want to add it to your stir fry. This step is essential in order for the eggplant to be cooked properly and not soak up the oil.  I served this with brown rice, but it would be excellent over chow mein, soba, or buckwheat noodles.  Enjoy!

Eggplant Tofu

2 medium japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized pieces

~2 cups green beans (or broccoli/bok choy), cut into bite-sized pieces

1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup basil, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch section of ginger, shredded

1 small shallot, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2  cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar + 1 tsp white vinegar (you can use just one of these, if you prefer)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cornstarch (or tapioca starch)

Cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces, salt, and place in a colendar.  Let the eggplant drain for 10 minutes.  When the eggplant has sat 10 minutes, heat the sesame oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook 5 minutes.  Add the green beans and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add a tiny bit more oil (sesame or canola) and add the tofu, shallots, and ginger and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and about half of the liquid has evaporated.  Serve over rice or noodles and enjoy!

tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

tofu stir fry, eggplant tofu stir fry, eggplant green bean tofu stir fry, eggplant, stir fry, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe


This past Monday, a good friend of mine requested a butternut squash soup for the blog.  Luckily, I happened to have 2 of them in my fridge from last week’s CSA.  That, and I like making my friends happy, so it was a win-win!  While I have a serious love for soup, I don’t have a ton of experience with the butternut squash variety so I was pleasantly surprised when this turned out delicious!

This soup is ridiculously simple, but requires about an hour of cooking time (not active time, just put-it-in-the-oven-or-on-the-stove-and-forget-about-it time). If you’re short on time, however, you can cut about 25-30 minutes off the recipe by skipping the roasting of the veggies first, but it will definitely change the flavor.

There are two options for roasting the squash: 1) peel the squash before putting it into the oven, cut in large chunks, roast, and add directly into the soup; or, 2) cut the sqaush in half, roast with skin on, let cool slightly, and scoop out the insides to add directly into the soup.  I went with option #2 (because I was feeling lazy last night :)) and ended up with a good amount of squash skin in the soup, which was totally undetectable once the soup has been pureed.

Butternut Squash & Sage Soup

2 medium (or 1 large) butternut squash, cut in half or peeled & cubed

3-4 medium to large carrots, peeled & chopped roughly

1 medium onion, cut in quarters

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt/pepper to taste

1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)

~3/4 cup sage, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Tbsp low-fat sour cream

shredded parmesean/pecorino to top the soup (optional, but great!)

Preheat oven to 425.  Place squash, carrots, and onion into a large roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Roast for ~25 minutes, or until the squash has softened and onions are browned (the squash doesn’t need to be completely soft, as it will be simmered in the soup for 20-30 minutes and will continue to cook). Remove the vegetables from the oven and let cool slightly.

When the veggies are almost done roasting, bring your broth to a boil and add the sage, bay leaf, and garlic.  Add the roasted veggies to the broth and let simmer 20-25 minutes.  After 20-25 minutes, check that the squash and other veggies are cooked through completely (if you are skipping the roasting step, you may need to simmer 30-35 minutes total). Once all veggies are soft, remove from heat and let cool about 1 minute.  Add the cheddar and sour cream.  Puree all ingredients together with an immersion blender or standard blender until smooth. Serve topped with shredded parmesean or pecorino and enjoy!

butternut squash soup, vegetarian soup, carrot soup, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

butternut squash soup, carrot soup, vegetarian soup, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

butternut squash carrot soup, butternut squash soup, butternut carrot soup, vegetarian soup, milk and sugar, milk and sugar sisters, michelle stroebe

broiled tofu, vegetarian dinner, vegan dinner

This post doesn’t exactly provide a recipe, but  a few ideas to get you started on creating an easy, super-nutritious, vegetarian/vegan dinner that you can throw together with ingredients you have in your kitchen–one that even a meat-lover will enjoy.

Many Americans are trying to cut down on their meat consumption, but have trouble coming up with ideas. An easy solution is to simply substitute meat with a vegetarian protein such as tofu or tempeh and make your favorite side dishes. Tofu in particular is versatile, inexpensive, and can be found at almost any grocery store. It can be used straight from the tub or frozen and thawed before cooking for a different texture. Although Asian flavorings obviously pair well with tofu, try using the your favorite marinades, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, or flavorings for something different. (Tempeh roasted with rosemary, garlic, salt and olive oil, until golden and crispy, for example, is amazing)

Adapt this recipe to the ingredients you have around or that are your favorite, and depending on how much you want to make.

Broiled Tofu with Quinoa and Collards


quinoa (or your favorite grain, or pasta)

collard greens (or kale, chard, spinach, dandelion, or a mix of your favorite dark greens)


fresh Garlic

fresh lemon juice

chile flakes (optional)

olive oil

salt & pepper

your favorite marinade from a jar (or try making this or this or this, or just puree some garlic, olive oil, salt, and herbs)

tofu or tempeh, cut into large “steaks”


to begin, soak your quinoa (I used red here) in cold water for about 15 minutes. Don’t skip this step, or your quinoa will be bitter!

roughly chop a small onion, and smash a few cloves of garlic with the side of your knife; remove the skins

if using collards or kale, remove the ribs, rinse, then cut into ribbons or medium-sizes pieces

pour your marinade over the pieces of tofu in a large bowl, and set aside

cook your quinoa according to package directions (just like rice, you can even use a rice cooker as I did here)

while your quinoa is cooking, prepare the tofu and greens:

heat a large skillet on medium high. Add a swirl of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons for one bunch of greens), then your garlic, onion, chile flakes, and salt and pepper

when the onion is translucent and fragrant, add your rinsed greens, still a bit damp. stir, and turn the heat down to low/medium low

turn your oven to broil

remove tofu from the marinade, and place on a non-stick cookie sheet or a piece of aluminum foil. spoon a bit of the marinade over the tofu steaks, saving the remaining marinade for later

place the tofu on the highest rack in your oven

in about 5-7 minutes, when the tofu is beginning to brown on the edges and the marinade is bubbling, spoon on a bit more of your marinade and return to the broiler

when your tofu is as brown as you like, remove from the oven

squeeze lemon juice over the greens. taste, and adjust the seasoning.

for each plate, place a scoop of cooked quinoa, a big serving of the greens and onions, and 2-3 pieces of broiled tofu. spoon some of the remaining marinade over the quinoa and tofu and serve.