Recipes

Lentil Stew with Spinach, Sausage, and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Hello friends! Hope you’re all surviving the heat. Late July/early August is always rough here in North Carolina. With that said, you’re probably looking at the post title and thinking, Who makes stew in July? Well, I do. I was wishfully think about the crisp, cool days of fall, my favorite season, and I just happened to have a few random items to use up that worked for a stew. So I decided to pretend it was a beautiful fall day and ignore the oppressive heat outside. Besides, I’m one of those weirdos who has no qualms about eating soups and stews all year long. Anyway, hope you enjoy it!

*Apologies for my sad, dim photos. Hopefully I’ll have a kitchen with more natural light in the future!


Lentil Stew with Spinach Sausage, and Sweet Potatoes 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 lb sausage of your choice
  • 1.5 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes cut into 1 in pieces
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Quick note on ingredients: I used a mix of chicken stock and broth because I didn’t have enough broth, and it turned out fine. As far as sausage, I used Trader Joe’s Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage, but whatever sausage you prefer or have on hand would work. Finally, I used spinach as my green because it’s what I had. Other greens would work just as well. Make it your own!

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through if you’re not using pre-cooked sausage.

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2. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic during the last minute of cooking the onions.

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3. Add broth, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 25 minutes.

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4. Add spinach and continue simmering, partially covered, for 5-10 more minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and lentils are tender.

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5. Allow stew to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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Pros and Cons of Blue Apron

*Please note that I have no affiliation with Blue Apron, and I did not receive any gifts, money, or any other type of compensations for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


I recently tried out Blue Apron, a meal kit service that delivers ingredients and recipes to your house, and I wanted to share my experience. Fun fact according to their website: French apprentice chefs wear blue aprons, which have become “symbols of lifelong learning in cooking.” What a perfect name for the company! Anyway, on to the pros and cons of Blue Apron . . .

Pro: Delivery. I was a little worried about the meat, fish, and poultry staying at the correct temperature while it was sitting on my porch, but everything worked out well. The food arrived on time and was kept fresh in its packaging. Bonus points: you get to keep the super cold icepacks inside. I definitely plan on reusing those.

Con: Packaging. There was SO much packaging. If you’re environmentally conscious, be prepared for the amount of waste. Some of it is recyclable, but I still ended up throwing a lot wrappings in the trash.

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Pro: Less food waste. In contrast to concerns about the package, the ingredients are perfectly portioned so that you don’t end up throwing out a bunch of cilantro or something because the recipe called for a tiny amount.

Pro: Recipe cards. The recipes cards are great! They include a brief intro about the dish and list the ingredients, estimated calories, and estimated cooking time on the front.

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Pro: Recipe cards (continued). The back of the cards include step by step directions with pictures! I love having these cards so that I can make my favorite meals again.

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Pro: High quality, fresh ingredients. All of the ingredients I received for each meal were fresh and delicious. I was especially pleased with the quality of the proteins. The labeling was great too because I had never used some of the ingredients before.

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Con: Prep and cook time. The meals I received from Blue Apron took forever to prep and cook. Ok so by forever I mean about an hour. But I really don’t have an hour just to cook dinner during the week. The estimated cooking times are way off in my opinion (unless you’re a professional chef or something). It’s more of a weekend cooking project if you’re an amateur like me.

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Pro: Trying new things. The Blue Apron meals had me trying all sorts of new things. I tried recipes from different cultures and regions that I’ve ever cooked at home before such as the Southeast Asian dish featured in this post. I also tried new ingredients and cooking techniques. For example (see below) banana leaf-steaming cod. I never would have thought of that or tried it on my own if it wasn’t part of Blue Apron. 

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Pro: Presentation. The Blue Apron meals definitely consider presentation in addition to taste. The recipe cards include brief instructions on how to plate the meal. It was a fine dining experience here in the Pinkerton household.  🙂

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Banana Leaf-Steamed Cod with Spice Rice, Yu Choy & Coconut

Pro: Variety. I didn’t get pictures of every meal I tried for the few weeks I tested it out, but I wanted to share a couple more of the meals I made. Please see the meals below. It’s also important to note that you can specify what types of meals you do or don’t want in terms of dietary preferences. For example, you can let Blue Apron know that you don’t want any meals with red meat or you only want vegetarian dishes, etc. I didn’t put in any special restrictions because Derek and I eat a little bit of everything.

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Chicken Charlemagne with Roasted Root Vegetables & Parsnip-Potato Mash

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Shrimp & Pineapple Fried Rice

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Crispy Brown Butter Gnocchi with Meyer Lemon & Brussels Sprouts

Pro/Con: Price. The price issue depends on how you look at it. The 2-person plan costs about $60/week and includes 3 meals which comes out to $10/meal per person. Considering the quality of the ingredients and cost of delivery included in that price, it’s really not bad at all. It’s still cheaper than eating out for those meals. However, I suspect most people are like me and spend far less than $10/meal per person with grocery shopping and meal planning. I spend about $80-90/week on groceries to cover all of our meals except for the 2 that we eat out each week, so spending $60 on three dinners doesn’t make sense for us financially.

Con: Subscription. Word to the wise– Blue Apron is a subscription. They will automatically continue to send you food weekly unless you opt out, and you must opt out of the deliver at least 1 week in advance. This is how I ended up doing Blue Apron for 3 weeks instead of 1. It’s my fault for not checking into it more closely, but it can definitely be a little tricky. According to the website, you can go up to 6 weeks without a delivery.

Pro: Fun. If you like to cook, Blue Apron is really fun. I especially enjoyed cooking the meals on the weekends when I had more time. I loved trying out new foods and techniques, and it was exciting to receive everything you needed to cook without having to go grocery shopping.

Final Verdict

Though I truly enjoyed the experience, I will not be subscribing to Blue Apron. From a financial standpoint, it does not make sense for me to use the service often. I was also scared off by it being a subscription. I’m afraid I would forget to decline the meals and end up spending way more than I intended. I do, however, plan on reactivating my account every few months to try it out again for 1 week. The ingredients are seasonal, so I’d love to try it in the spring, summer, and fall; it’s just not something I want to have to do every 6 weeks.

Reader Question: Does anyone else have experience with Blue Apron or another meal kit delivery service? Is there a company that you like better? I’m always looking for new suggestions. 🙂

Simple Egg Bake Recipe

Hello there! Hope your week is treating you well. I’m thrilled that tomorrow is Friday!

I wanted to stop in and share a quick recipe post. The recipe is for a simple egg bake. I’ve been wanting to incorporate more protein into my breakfasts since mine are typically carb-heavy (e.g., granola bar, toast with peanut butter, cereal, etc.), and protein keeps me full longer. However, taking the time to cook something in the morning is just not happening for me. I like sleep too much. 🙂 This week I made an egg bake that I can simply heat up in the morning. Doesn’t get easier than that. Check it out . . .


Simple Egg Bake by Ali Pinkerton

Ingredients 

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites
  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 8 small turkey sausage links, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with cooking spray.

2. Chop the veggies and turkey sausage. (I chose bell peppers, onion, and zucchini, but you can really use whatever you want. You can also choose different meat or no meat at all to make it vegetarian.)

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3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl.

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4. Add egg whites.

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5. Season with salt and pepper. (The turkey sausage adds a lot of flavor and spice, so I stuck with salt and pepper, but you could certainly use different spices.) Whisk eggs and egg whites together.

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6. Add the chopped veggies and turkey sausage to the egg/egg white mix. In addition, add in the cheese and stir it all together.

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7. Pour the mix into the 8×8 or 9×9 pan.

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8. Bake for 45 minutes.

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Voila! Breakfast for the week. To reheat, simply microwave a piece for 45 seconds.

I cut mine into 9 pieces. I entered the ingredients on MyFitnessPal, and these are the nutritional estimates per serving:

  • Calories: 90 kcal
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Sodium: 191mg
  • Sugar: 2g

Enjoy!!

Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Since it’s starting to cool off I figured it was time to introduce my first chili recipe on Brown is the New Pink. Chili was definitely a staple in my house growing up, and I love making it in the fall and winter. My dad makes the best slow cooker white chili, which I’ll have to add to my recipe page soon.

Today though, I want to provide a review for a vegetarian chili recipe that I recently tried for the first time. It takes a decent amount of prep for the vegetables, but actually cooking it is extremely easy. This chili is also a versatile recipe because you can really add whatever vegetables you have on hand. It would be a great one for using up extra veggies before they go bad.

Anyway, on to the recipe!


Recipe Review: Insanely Easy Vegetarian Chili by Tia the Baker on All Recipes.com

Before the cooking begins gather and prep all of the ingredients. Chop 1 onion, a handful of mushrooms, a few stalks of celery, a handful of baby carrots , 1 green bell pepper, and 1 red bell pepper. (I used canned diced tomatoes with roasted garlic already added, but if you don’t cheat like me, you’ll need to prep the garlic now as well.)

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Clockwise from the top right: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and yellow onion.

Next make sure you have all of the canned goods opened, rinsed, and ready to go. (It says to include the can liquid, but that can be high in sodium. Instead, I added some extra water.) The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I also added in some garbanzo beans.

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Left to right: corn, diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans.

To complete the prep stage, gather your spices.

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Left to right: chili powder, cumin, basil. Not pictured: oregano.

Alright, time to get cooking. The first step is heating oil in a pan over medium heat. I used my dutch oven, but you could easily use a large sauce pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots. (If you didn’t get diced tomatoes with garlic, now is the time to add it.) Let the onions and carrots cook for 3-4 minutes. Next add the bell peppers, celery, and chili powder.

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I ended up adding more than the recommended amount of chili powder because I prefer a bolder chili flavor, but it’s up to personal preference.

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Adding the chili powder.

Allow the mixture to cook for about 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Next add mushrooms and cook for 4 more minutes.

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Adding the mushrooms.

After all the chopped veggies are added, stir in the canned tomatoes, beans, and corn. Season the chili with basil, oregano, and cumin. Bring the chili to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

While my chili cooked, I made chili’s greatest sidekick: cornbread. Seriously, does it get better than chili and cornbread? I think not.

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Well hello there cornbread.

After 20 minutes, the chili is ready to eat!

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The chili was colorful, delicious, and nutritious. Win, win, win. According to AllRecipes.com, the recipe serves 8 for about 155 calories/serving. My version is probably slightly higher in calories due to the addition of garbanzo beans, but still not bad at all! Enjoy!

Meat Loaf “Muffin” Recipe

If it’s not obvious by now, I get a lot of my recipes from Cooking Light, and I have another review for a recipe from the magazine. When I think about comfort food, “healthy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, at less than 300 calories per serving, Diner Meat Loaf “Muffins” from Cooking Light are a healthier alternative to traditional meat loaf. Equally important, these “muffins” are easy to make and delicious. This recipe is a regular in our house, and below I provided a review of the recipe including tips and substitutions.

Forgive me for the photos! Derek is off in California with the good camera, so these are from my iPhone.


Recipe Review: Diner Meat Loaf “Muffins” by Cooking Light

The first step of the recipe involves sautéing chopped onion, oregano, garlic, and carrots. I didn’t have any carrots on hand, so I left them out. Zucchini or mushrooms would also be good substitutes for the carrots. Though I didn’t do it this time, this step is a great opportunity to amp up the veggies.

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Next, the onion mixture is combined with ketchup, lean ground beef, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, 2 eggs, and crushed saltine crackers. Instead of saltine crackers, I use Italian style breadcrumbs. I also use only 1lb of beef instead 1.5lb. Ground turkey may be a good substitute for the beef.

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After mixing everything together, spoon the meat mixture into a muffin pan and top with ketchup. Make sure that the cups are coated with cooking spray so that the “muffins” come out in one piece.

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Simply bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

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I served the meat loaf with boiled red potatoes and a side salad. It also pairs nicely with green beans and sweet potatoes.

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The meat loaf “muffins” always come out moist and flavorful. They’re a great option for kids and “meat and potatoes” eaters. Hope you enjoy them!

Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Recipe

As I mentioned in my Lightened Up Cobb Salad post, I don’t like wimpy salads. If I’m going to eat a salad as a meal it needs to be flavorful and filling. Last week I decided to try out a new dinner salad, and it was a scrumptious success! I made Cooking Light‘s Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. I reviewed my experience with the recipe, including any substitutions and tips I learned along the way.


 

Recipe Review: Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette by Cooking Light

When I first found this recipe in Cooking Light, I almost wrote it off immediately due to the length of the ingredients list.

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But then I took a closer look at the recipe. The first 7 ingredients are part of a spice rub, and I already had all of the spices on hand. (Technically I used regular paprika instead of Hungarian sweet paprika, but it worked out fine.)

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I thought the rub was flavorful and had the perfect amount of “kick” to it, but If you really don’t like spice, you may want to cut back on the red pepper. After mixing the spices together, I put the rub on the chicken breasts and cooked them on a grill pan. You could also use a regular grill.

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It took about 10 minutes to cook the chicken.

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While the chicken grilled, I put together the vinaigrette and salad.

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I bought shallots and substituted red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar, but other than that, I had all of the ingredients used to make the vinaigrette. I followed the recipe and used blue cheese, but I think feta would work as well. I let Derek think it was impressive that I made the dressing, but it was super easy. He doesn’t have to know that though. 🙂

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The salad portion consisted of half of a romaine heart and halved cherry tomatoes. After I let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, I sliced it and put everything together.

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The salad was beautiful and delicious. It paired nicely with grilled Texas toast, but any crusty bread would be great, too.

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The salad was really good and much easier to make than I expected. I tend to think that more ingredients= more time and difficulty, but I was definitely wrong with this one. Other than shallots and blue cheese, you probably have the ingredients for the spice rub and vinaigrette in your kitchen right now.

Happy cooking!

Steak and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe

Happy Friday! I wanted to share this steak and asparagus stir-fry recipe that I mentioned in my weekly meal plan post. The recipe is from Cooking Light. Instead of coming up with new recipes, I will most frequently review recipes on Brown is the New Pink. I always learn something from the first time that I make a new recipe, so I hope information about my experience with the recipe will help you!

The first step in the recipe involves mixing ingredients for the sauce. I made a few changes with this step based on what I had in the house. I used chicken broth instead of stock, and I left out the ginger because it’s too expensive for me. The sauce still turned out great.

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Whisking the sauce together.

Next, the recipe calls for browning boneless sirloin steak that has been cut into 1/4″ strips. Unfortunately, sirloin steak was not on sale at my grocery store, but I found some less expensive choice beef that was already cut into strips for stir-frying. Convenience for the win! After the beef is browned, which only takes about 1-2 minutes, the next step is stir-frying the veggies.

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Stir-frying the asparagus and bell pepper.

The red bell pepper and asparagus go in first followed by the green onions. The sauce is added next. Finally, the beef goes back in at the end.

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Putting it all together.

If you’re like me and want to make sure you’re cooking everything for the right amount of time, I suggest setting a timer for 10 minutes and watching your time throughout the whole process. For example, if I put the asparagus and bell pepper in the skillet at 10 minutes, I know to add the green onions at 8 minutes and the sauce at 7.5 minutes.

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Sorry for the poor picture quality. It may not look it, but it was delicious!

It’s as easy as that.

Derek and I both LOVED this recipe. It will become a regular on our rotation. Derek even said it is one of the best things I’ve ever cooked. The recipe is easy and super fast. I chopped the vegetables in advance, so the whole recipe took me 15 minutes with about 10 minutes of actual cooking time. I served the stir-fry over jasmine rice that I microwaved while I was cooking. It all came together fast, and it was incredibly flavorful.

Steak and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe by Cooking Light

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