Tag Archives: healthful

Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing

Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

Early in September, my husband was given the swing shift at work. Besides the obvious subtraction of time we have to spend together, after seven or so years cooking for Nathan most nights of the week, I just haven’t been making many dinners lately. I knew to expect this change as we knew a swing shift was a possibility, but I didn’t really know how it would feel.

I’m a bit sad; I love to cook, I love to try new recipes, but most of all, I love enjoying food with Nathan as we catch up or share about our days. He is an enthusiastic and adventurous eater of all my experiments, raves over the successes and even praises the failures, and his zeal makes cooking even more fun for me. Have you ever cooked for someone who doesn’t really care about food? Takes the fun out of it, right? Nathan makes me feel like a Top Chef.

I’m funneling my enthusiasm for cooking into our packed lunches in place of our sit-down dinners. Sunday afternoons, after Nathan has left for work, I spend some time in the kitchen breaking down vegetables, soft-boiling eggs, pan-frying chicken, cooking some grains and washing greens. These short hours of work make packing lunches such a breeze the rest of the week. I’m forced to become more creative, which is a challenge I embrace, and as the weather turns cooler, I am transitioning our salads from farmer’s market fresh fare to roasted root vegetables and hearty greens.

Packing salads for lunch is my long-time standard, but I’m proud of this dressing especially. It’s inspired by a store-bought yogurt salad dressing that I love, honey mustard actually, but is just too expensive to justify (as healthful prepared food seems to often be). Making my own made a lot of sense.

Balsamic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

I think this yogurt dressing is wonderful with its balsamic, garlicky kick complementing earthy kale greens, sweetly roasted butternut squash and the nuttiness of quinoa. In our lunches it has beautifully dressed peppery roasted rutabega, grains such as farro or wild rice, jewely-crimson roasted beets and fresh or caramelized cauliflower as well. It’s great smeared on a sandwich with shredded carrots and fresh arugula, too.

And unlike a balsamic vinaigrette, which can be abrasively acidic to my tastes, it is creamy and lush with my fave salad dressing components such as shallot and Dijon. Roasting the garlic mellows its harshness and coaxes out some of its sweet flavor, while chopped fresh herbs bring a wonderful brightness to this tangy Autumn dressing. These salads pack a lot of nutrition into our lunches, while still feeling like we’re eating together — separately, yes, but enjoying the same meal. It’s those little things these days. Enjoy!

Balsamic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing

yields almost 2 cups
Garlic is easily mashed into a paste in a mortar and pestle if you have one, but if you don’t, carefully smash the soft roasted cloves into a paste with the broad side of a knife.
Don’t feel like you’ll need to turn the oven on to roast a few cloves of garlic — I do a few in their papers on a dry skillet, over medium heat with a lid set ajar, cooked just until nearly blackened in spots. Perfect.
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • scant 1 tablespoon molasses or honey
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together,  season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days.

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Black bean breakfast tostadas and our second blogiversary!

Black bean and egg breakfast tostada from Dinners for Winners

Dinners for Winners has just turned two years old! I’m happy and a bit proud. Sometimes my sister texts me from New York with a photo of dinner and says “we made your ______ for dinner last night and we loved it!” and nothing could make me happier. I consider this success in the fullest.

I’ve even received kind comments over the last few months from some of my most favorite, respected and admired food bloggers — can you believe they’ve even come by this little space? To me, this is so humbling. The first food blog I ever read was Smitten Kitchen, and when we shook Deb’s hand a year ago, I thought of all the hearts (and stomachs) she has filled with her enthusiasm for food and home cooking. She is the game-changer. She makes it happen; suddenly, anyone can make a lemon layer cake because she’s done all the research to guide us along the way and through any strange happenings that might worry us. She makes it simple! While not on her professional level of awesomeness, I so enjoy the time I put into this little project. I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve made also, as some of you really read along faithfully!

When considering what I might post for this occasion, I easily settled on something we have been enjoying repeatedly in our kitchen, something nourishing and delicious hailing from another food blogger, whom I find so inspirational and ardently passionate about healthful cooking. Oh, and something that can be breakfast or dinner, which is my fave! Sara of Sprouted Kitchen and her husband Hugh put out a gorgeous cookbook last year that I can’t get enough of; lots of pretty vegetables, Sara’s warm voice, handsome photographs and well thought-out, simple recipes that taste so good. Love Sara and her constantly refreshing recipes (she’s even working on a new book!) that remind us how perfectly gratifying it is to eat right. This breakfast/dinner is one of her gems.

Black bean and egg breakfast tostada from Dinners for Winners

These breakfast tostadas are crisp corn tortilla shells cradling warm black beans smashed with lime, layered under crisp vegetables and melty cheese, all topped with a saucy fried egg. It’s a simple, one-pan dinner or weekend breakfast that nourishes us without being heavy, that teases and pleases all our tastes and leaves plenty of room for coffee. I love the first cut into the egg yolk that pools around creamy avocado, bright cilantro. These come together quickly and look pretty on the plate, too.

This is one for regular rotation; we love it. I’m so pleased you’re here with me and I’m looking forward to sharing more winning dinners with y’all! Enjoy!

Black Bean Breakfast Tostadas

adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook
serves 4
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (we use full-fat in this house)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • olive or coconut oil
  • 4 corn tortillas (we love these fresh tortillas — they taste so much better cooked fresh, and no strange preservatives)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese such as Monterey Jack
  • sautéed chopped vegetables such as bell pepper, squash, onions or spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • chopped cilantro and scallions
  • 1/2 sliced avocado
  • hot sauce

With a fork, partially mash the black beans with the lime juice, sour cream or yogurt and cumin, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, lightly oil a skillet. Spread a few tablespoons of black beans on a tortilla, sprinkle with vegetables and cheese and place in pan to warm and get melty. I think the tortilla should get good and crisp here as well, but doneness is up to you. In another side of the pan, crack an egg and cook sunny-side up until whites are set but yolk is still runny. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper.

Transfer tostada to a plate and top with avocado slices, egg, sprinkles of scallions and cilantro and hot sauce. Repeat for remaining servings.

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