Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Toddler-Approved Pasta Dinner

Do you buy canned raviolis and o's for your little one?  If so, stop it right now!  It's way too easy (and cheap) to make your own!  My two-year old loved this today and even the 20-year old gave it a thumbs up.


* As usual, I subbed non-dairy products for the milk and butter
* I use white sugar but think this would be just as tasty with Splenda or maybe agave (haven't tried them yet).
* Pasta I used was the dried mini raviolis from Trader Joe's.  Next time, I'll use fresh though.

15oz. can tomato sauce
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 TBSP butter
3 TBSP nutritional yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2c small-medium size pasta

1.  Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt the butter.

3.  Add remaining ingredients and heat through, stirring frequently.

4.  Top pasta with sauce and serve.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Roasted Garlic and Leek Soup

The annual spring cold that has been going around lately finally made an appearance at our house.  I had a little touch of it but my husband is absolutely miserable!  So, in addition to a homemade juice involving lots of ginger, garlic, kale, and other cold-fighting foods, we enjoyed this soup along with a simple baguette and butter for dinner last night.  The house smelled amazing from all the garlic in the air  and the soup was a big hit with everyone.  Our two-year old even went back for seconds!


* Used Earth Balance for the butter and Better Than Bouillon's No-Chicken for the broth

4 bulbs garlic, large
olive oil
6 TBSP butter
4 leeks, chopped
1/2c yellow onion, chopped
6 TBSP all-purpose flour
4c chicken broth
1/3c dry sherry
1/4 tsp. white pepper
fresh chives, for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 350*  Cut off tops of garlic heads, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven approximately 1 hour.  Allow to cool and squeeze to remove the cloves.

2.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add garlic, leeks, and onion.  Break up the garlic with your spoon and stir frequently until leeks and onion are soft.

3.  Add the flour and stir quickly to thicken.  Pour in the broth, sherry, and white pepper.

4.  Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer approximately 20 min.  Adjust the seasoning, to taste, top with chives, and serve hot.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vegan Teriyaki Chicken

Last night's dinner of my vegan version of teriyaki chicken, served over rice, and with a side of sautéed green beans was devoured by everyone, even our super picky 2-year old.  

Note:  For the "chicken", I used Beyond Meat which is easily the best chicken substitute available right now, in my opinion.   

1 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP water
1/2c white sugar
1/2c soy sauce
1/4c apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. chicken substitute, chopped into bite-size pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 425*

2.  In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all ingredients except the chicken.  Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened.

3.  Add chicken to a prepared 8x8 baking dish and baste generously with the sauce.

4.  Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 min., turning and basting with extra sauce every 10 min.

Hint of Coconut Cookies

Even my non-coconut eaters raved about these cookies!  It may seem like a lot of coconut but for some reason, the flavor is pleasantly mild and not at all.  And the texture
is just the right amount of chewy goodness!

Here's the recipe:

1 1/4c.  all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
1.  Preheat oven to 350*
2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar on medium speed until smooth.

4.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

5.  Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

6.  Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet a few inches apart.  

7.  Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for about 30 min.

8.  Remove from the refrigerator straight to the oven.  Bake for approximately 12 min. or until lightly toasted.

9.  Cool on wire racks.

My most adamant coconut hater kept trying to sneak cookies while I was making dinner.  :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beer Braised Collard Greens

Today is March 17th, which means today is all about all things green.  People are clad in green, wearing shamrocks, and drinking green beer so it seems only right that today's recipe is one for, you guessed it - greens!

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2c yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh collard greens, cut into 2” pieces and stems removed
1 (12oz.) light beer
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes or until onion is softened and garlic is light golden brown.

2.  Add collard greens, beer, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

3.  Allow to simmer 30-45 minutes or until collard greens are wilted and beer is reduced slightly.

4.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Vegetable Tortellini Stew

Open a bottle of red and get ready to make a hearty and delicious stew!  This is what we had two nights ago along with some herbed biscuits for dipping.  Don't worry about leftovers.  This stew freezes really well!
2 TBSP olive oil
1lb. vegan sausage (Match Meats makes a really good one)
3/4c. chopped onion
1c.sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
5 c. vegetable broth
1/2c. red wine
1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, with liquid
1c. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 pound fresh tortellini pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large pot, heat approximately 2 TBSP olive oil and brown sausage.

2.  Add onions and saute until tender. Add carrots, celery, vegetable broth, red wine, tomatoes, ketchup, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

3.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, in a separate pan, prepare tortellini according to package directions; drain and set aside.

5.  Stir in in the zucchini, tortellini, red bell pepper, and parsley.  

6.  Simmer, covered, for about 25-30

7.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Savory Stuffed Red Potatoes

I recently found myself with half a bag of baby red potatoes and no real plans for them.  A few more days and they would go out with the trash.  That seemed wasteful though and I'm trying to make more of an effort to actually use all the produce I buy.

Roasted corn and poblano soup was already on the menu so I decided to try these little potato bites on the side.  The two dishes paired really well, which was a relief because the potatoes can take awhile to prepare.  It's a simple recipe but the scooping out of the potatoes (without tearing the skins!) is what is most time consuming.  Worth it though.

* I used vegan substitutes for the sour cream and butter.

8 red potatoes, bite size
1 TBSP sour cream
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. green onion
2 TBSP cheddar cheese, grated
olive oil and sea salt

1.  In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and boil until tender.  The amount of time needed here will depend on the size of your potatoes.  Mine were on the small side and I let them boil about 15 minutes.  Drain potatoes and set aside to cool.

2.  Cut potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the inside, leaving a little edge all around.  Spray a little olive oil on the skin side of each potato and sprinkle with sea salt, to taste.

3.  In a medium size bowl, combine the scooped out potato, sour cream, butter, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, green onions, and cheese.

4.  Spoon the mixture evenly back into each potato skin and top with a little extra cheese.

5.  Bake approximately 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Goat Cheese Stuffed Pepper Bites

At a recent event with my husband, there were trays of bite size appetizers made up of all sorts of complicated combinations floating around.  The one we both seemed to enjoy most though was the simplest.  A little spicy, a little sweet, a little creamy, a little crunch….. it's a perfect balance and so easy!


* You can buy peppadews in a jar but I also found them on the olive bar, of all places. 

* Soy creamer worked great for me but dairy milk, half and half, whatever you have on hand would work as well. 

12 peppadew peppers, seeded an drained well
4oz. goat cheese
1-2 TBSP creamer, to taste

1.  Place the cheese in a small mixing bowl.  Add the creamer 1 tsp. at a time and stir until the mixture reaches desired consistency.  (I used 1 TBSP = 1 tsp. but the amount you use will depend on the softness of your cheese.)

2.  Scoop the cheese mixture into a piping bag and fill the peppers.

3.  Refrigerate if you're making these ahead of time but serve them at room temperature.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Salsa, and Feta

Ready for a super easy dinner?

Bake a sweet potato and top it with black beans, salsa, and feta cheese.  That's it.  The flavor combination is surprisingly delicious!

1.  Preheat oven to 385*.  Prick large sweet potatoes with a fork and coat with olive oil.  Bake approximately 1 hour.

2. Prep the black beans by rinsing and draining.  Then, in a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp. olive oil.  Add a minced clove of garlic, the beans, and salt, to taste.  Heat through.

3.  Top the potatoes with the beans, salsa, and feta.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zucchini Pasta Olio

I had been seeing recipes everywhere that featured zucchini as a substitute for pasta so I finally decided to break in my new vegetable spiral gadget last night.  If you don't have one of these tools in your kitchen, stop what you're doing right now and go get one.  Seriously, it was so easy and fun to use!

I didn't have high hopes that just because the zucchini now looked like pasta, it would be an acceptable replacement, but it was perfect!  I'm glad for starting with something simple but my husband and I were talking over dinner and agreed it would be good to try zucchini-as-noodles in other dishes as well.  Surprisingly, we really didn't miss the pasta.

All you do is run the zucchini through the spiral slicer:
(I used 2 large zucchinis for this recipe.)

Next, prepare the sauce:

1/8c olive oil
1/8c butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4c Parmesan cheese

1.  In a small pan, heat the oil and butter until butter is melted.

2.  Add the garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Finally, cook the zucchini:

1.  In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tsp. olive oil.  Add the zucchini and toss to coat.

2.  Pour in 1/4c water (vegetable stock might also be good here) and allow to simmer until al dente, approximately 5 minutes.

3.  Drain, if necessary, and add your sauce.  Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Yummy low-carb dinner!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creole Spiced Quinoa and Kale

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if this alone was going to be enough for a meal.  But that's because I had forgotten how surprisingly filling quinoa can be.  This recipe yields two servings that are not only full of flavor but also satisfying.

This was my first time actually cooking with kale.  I had only used it frozen in smoothies before so I was a little concerned an entire bunch would be too much but it wasn't at all.  It was actually the perfect amount.

* I used the Lacinato variety of kale, also known as "dinosaur kale"
* Better Than Bouillon makes a fantastic vegetarian version of chicken broth base

1/2c quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 bunch kale
1 tsp. olive oil
1/8c yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning, or to taste

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the kale and blanch for 1-2 minutes.  Drain and rinse immediately with cold water.  Chop into bite size pieces and set aside.

2.  In a medium pot, bring broth to a boil and add the quinoa.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer until liquid is absorbed; approx. 15-20 min.

3.  In a separate medium pot, heat the olive oil.  Sauté onion and garlic 2-3 min., until softened.

4.  Stir in the kale and cook another 2-3 min.

5.  Add the quinoa and Creole seasoning, stirring to combine everything and serve.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cheese Steak Pizza

My husband and I have been on a bit of a gluten-free kick lately.  Reducing our wheat intake really hasn't been difficult; more inconvenient than anything but still not a big deal.  Gluten-free breads and are definitely an acquired taste for me and I had been quite frustrated lately with the pizza crusts we tried.  Some were tolerable and one in particular was like eating cardboard.

So, I wasn't sure what to expect she I tried a mix for this recipe last night.  Turns out, it was pretty good.  My husband even commented that our dinner was "the best gluten-free pizza" we've had yet.

A few notes:

* For the crust, I used Bob's Red Mill
* The gyro meat was Viana (vegan alternative)

prepared pizza crust
1/2 lb. gyro meat, cooked
1 TBSP butter
1/2c onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, thin sliced
steak seasoning, to taste
2 mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425*

2.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add onions and green pepper, sautéing until crisp tender.  Add the gyro meat and toss until combined.  Sprinkle in a little steak seasoning, to taste.

3.  Place crust on a pizza stone and top with approximately 1c mozzarella.

4.  Add the gyro mixture and top with the remaining mozzarella.

5.  Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until crust is golden.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spinach Risotto

This risotto is a good, simple meal on it's own but if you want to get fancy, try this:  heat a little oil in a small pan and sauté sliced mushrooms with garlic, dill, black pepper, and a splash of white wine.  The addition of mushrooms take this dish to a whole other level of yumminess!

1 1/2c baby bella mushrooms, sliced
 1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8c olive oil
1/4c onions, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1c arborio rice
1/4c white wine
2 1/2c vegetable broth
4c fresh spinach, chopped
1/2c Mediterranean flavor feta, crumbled

1.  In a medium size pot, over medium high heat, add 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil and sauté onions about 3 minutes, or until golden.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or so.

2.  Add the rice an stir until fully coated with oil. 

3.  Pour in the wine an stir continuously, until all the wine is absorbed by the rice.

4.  Add the broth, 1c at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.  

5.  Once all the broth is absorbed, stir in the spinach, reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally until spinach is wilted.

6.  Top with feta cheese and serve.

Served topped with mushrooms and a side of oven-roasted asparagus.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Black Bean Chili

I don't know why I've waited so long to write a post about this chili.  I've been serving it for years, usually over couscous or rice, and everyone loves it!  Last night though, I served the chili by itself and it was just as satisfying as always (minus the additional calories!).  I suppose a more appropriate title would be something more like, "black bean, red pepper, mushroom, and corn chili" but that just seemed like a ridiculously long name so.... black bean chili.

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil 
1/2c onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2c corn
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4c vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt

Optional toppings: 
cheddar cheese, jalapeño slices, chopped green onions

1.  In a medium pan, over medium-high heat, sauté onion, pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn for about 5 min., or until vegetables are softened and fragrant.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

3.  Using an immersion blender, puree approximately 1/4 - 1/2 the mixture.

4.  Top with cheddar cheese, jalapeño slices, and chopped green onions.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Easy Green Smoothie

I'm on a bit of a juice and smoothie kick lately so it is not unusual to find large quantities of various fruits and vegetables crammed into the refrigerator or piled up on the counters in my kitchen.  Giant bags of apples, oranges, celery, garlic, carrots, kale….

I have figured out something about myself and kale though…  I have no interest in eating kale as a salad or even baked as chips but I can drink it all day long in smoothie form.  The taste is somewhat bitter but that is easily cut by the sweetness of whatever fruits you blend with it (apples would be good here, I think).

I like this particular smoothie combination because it doesn't just taste good; it's also low calorie, gluten-free, and vegan.  And surprisingly filling!

1 large banana
2c kale
3 oranges
1/4c almond mik
1 TBSP ground flax seed

Place everything in a blender and puree until smooth.

Good morning!


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