Spring Pasta with Tomatoes

ImageWell helloooo internet friends! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here. I wish I could say that I’ve been cooking and that I have lots of new recipes to share, but that would be a lie. Not only have I not had time to blog, I haven’t had time to cook. I can’t remember the last time I made anything other than grilled cheese or cereal. It’s been a busy spring. Good busy though! I’ve been over indulging in french fries, beers, chips and salsa, and peanut butter and jellies.

However, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and start eating clean again! I finally have a week with no plans so I went to Wegman’s yesterday, spent half my paycheck on produce and seafood and welp, now here I am. 

Tonight I made a delicious spring pasta dish that’s light and super easy to make. I was originally planning to make a salad with tilapia, but then I was like you know what. Maybe I shouldn’t rush into this whole healthy eating thing too quickly. Maybe I should ease myself back into it and meet in the middle with a nice comforting pasta. Just kidding. Really, I couldn’t handle the thought of my apartment smelling like fish for the rest of the night. 

Anyway, here’s the recipe. I’m trying to make this quick… I only have about 13 minutes until the Real Housewives of Orange County starts. Priorities, people! 

SPRING PASTA WITH TOMATOES

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Ingredients:

  • About 6 ounces of thin spaghetti, angel hair or capellini pasta (about half a box)
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, diced 
  • 1/4 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup of chopped basil
  • 1-2 tbps of olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (I used two but I think it was too much)
  • Salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and crushed red pepper (optional) to taste
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. (I like to add a lot of salt and a little bit of olive oil to my water when I make pasta.) Drain well.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add more or less oil, cheese, salt and peppers as needed. Can be eaten warm or cold.

 

See, I told you it was easy! And I still have 5 minutes until RHOOC! #teamGretchen

 

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FISH TACOS WITH CABBAGE SLAW

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They say you are what you eat. And if that’s the case, I may be turning into a fish. I’ve taught myself how to cook fish beautifully and have had fish tacos for dinner 3 nights in a row now. I think I was always intimidated about making fish, but it’s really not that hard. And if you really rub your spices into the fish before cooking it, it gives it a great flavor without the hassle of waiting for a marinade. 

The cabbage slaw on top of these tacos is really delicious too. And so is what I had for dessert after. It’s my new fav snack or sweet treat: Fat free Greek yogurt, with fresh strawberries, blackberries, honey (lots of honey) and a chocolate Fiber Plus granola bar. I’ve been eating a lot of that lately too… It’s like an ice cream sundae without the ice cream.

So I guess you could say I’m turning into a honey infused, Greek yogurt, cabbage slaw, tilapia taco. 

FISH TACOS WITH CABBAGE SLAW

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For the Cabbage Slaw:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cabbage, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp of greek yogurt
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • several generous sprinkles of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and add more cumin and lime as desired.

For the seasoning rub: 

  • Argentina Steak Rub (or another spicy rub of choice)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small dish and stir to combine. I added the most of the Argentina Steak Rub, then paprika, then cayenne pepper, just a little bit of salt and garlic, a good amount of pepper and a pinch of sugar. 

For the fish tacos:

  • Fresh tilapia filet
  • 3-4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced thin
  • Cabbage slaw
  • Seasoning rub
  • Butter or margarin 

Rub the seasoning mix onto both sides of the fish, coating it well. Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat. I have a grill pan/skillet that I like to use, since I don’t have a grill. Using a real grill would probably be better, but I like that I use butter on the skillet because I feel like it helps the fish stay moist. Cook the fish on the skillet, until the edges start to turn white. Flip and cook the other side. The fish should be white all the way through and flake apart easily.

Warm your tortillas in a small skillet, with the lid on. This helps them become pliable. 

Break apart the fish into large chunks. Place on your tortillas, top with avocado and cabbage slaw. And ta-da! I’ve been eating these with a side of steamed asparagus sprinkled with fresh grated parmesan. 

And here’s a pic of my other obsession this week. 

GREEK YOGURT WITH HONEY, STRAWBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES,

and A GRANOLA BAR

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Veggie Pot Stickers Over Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Chickpeas

veg potsickers with brussel sprouts and chickpeasConfession #1: I did not make the pot stickers pictured above. I bought them frozen from the grocery store. Is that cheating? Maybe. But maybe not. I did come up with the idea to serve them over shaved brussel sprouts (which I am clearly obsessed with) and chickpeas that were sauteed with coconut oil and nutmeg. And I did come up with the idea to dip them in soy sauce spiked with Siracha. So it’s not really cheating. I could have made them myself and then blogged about how to do it. But wouldn’t you rather just hear about how to spice up a quick week night meal with half the work already done? I think so.

Confession #2: I often lie about my love for Siracha. I feel like Siracha has a cult following. People’s eyes light up when they talk ab it and they tend to bond with other Siracha die hards. I mean, I like Siracha and all. But it’s not my fav, even though I totally pretend like it is when I’m around a Siracha cult member just so I can fit in and sound cool. Well. Last night I felt like I finally understood. See, I’ve always eaten Siracha on it’s own. Well, not, like, spoonfuls of Siracha solo. But, like drizzled on something as the only condiment. However, when I added a whopping squirt of it to my soy sauce last night, I asked myself (out loud), “How have I lived 30 years of my life and never done this before?” It was amazeballs.

Confession #3: Yesterday morning I got up to go to a 6 am Pilates class at my gym. I woke up a few minutes late, so as per usual, I was rushing out the door to get to class on time. Side note: I HATE being late for classes at the gym. I will skip an entire hour long class even if I’m only five minutes late just so I don’t have to be the girl who walks in late, interrupts the warm up, and sets up while everyone else is already working out. I am late for everything else in my life, but when it comes to gym classes, I just can’t do it. Anyway, I got out to my car to a layer of ice SO thick that even my ice scraper couldn’t break through. I sat there and tried to let the car warm up for a few minutes. At this point, there were about 8 minutes until the class started. It takes me 10 minutes to get to my gym. And the ice was just not melting fast enough. So I turned the car off, went back inside, took off my gym clothes, put my pjs back on and went back to sleep for an hour and a half! This story has nothing to do with pot stickers or Siracha. But it’s just so ridiculous that I had to share it. And I felt like I needed a 3rd confession… for balance sake. But seriously. Who wakes up at the butt crack of dawn, gets all the way to the car, and then goes back inside when they realize they might have to walk into class 4 minutes late? That is social anxiety at it’s finest, ladies and gents.

And… these are my confessions. (I hope Usher is in your head now.)

Anyway, go to the Giant and buy some frozen pot stickers. And go to a random grocery store or specialty store and buy some Siracha. You won’t regret it.

VEGGIE POT STICKERS OVER BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND CHICKPEAS

veg potsickers with brussel sprouts and chickpeas2 veg potsickers with brussel sprouts and chickpeas3

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 frozen vegetable pot stickers (I used Giant brand)
  • 5-6 brussel sprouts, shaved thin on a mandolin
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of chickpeas
  • Roughly 1 tbsp of nutmeg
  • 1-2 tbsps of coconut oil (or whatever oil you like to cook with)
  • Salt to taste
  • Soy sauce
  • Siracha

Directions:

Bring a small to medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the frozen pot stickers to the boiling water and stir a bit. The pot stickers should be able to float freely in the pot. Return water to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat up the coconut oil. Add the brussel sprouts and saute for a few minutes, until they start to become a bit wilted. Add nutmeg and salt to taste. Add the chickpeas. Stir all together in the pan and cook for a few more minutes. I like for some of my brussel sprout shavings to be browned and for the rest to be all soft and wilted.

In a small dish, combine soy sauce and Siracha to taste.

Place the brussel sprout and chickpea mixture in a dish. Put the pot stickers on top. And serve with the soy sauce/Siracha on the side for dipping.

Brussel Sprout and Artichoke Mac ‘N Cheese

brussel sprout mac n cheese 2Maybe it’s because it rained yesterday. Or maybe it’s because I over indulged this weekend and am still feeling guilty ab it. Or perhaps it’s the fact that my apartment isn’t as pristine as I like to keep it and I haven’t had time to do anything about it. Or could it be that the weather keeps teasing us? Whatever it is,  I’ve got a serious case of the winter blues.

I’m craving farmer’s markets, bright greens, light and refreshing dishes, open windows, a good run outside, longer days and plenty of sunshine. Oh and a tan. Thank heavens it’s almost March, when spray tanning starts to become socially acceptable again.

In the meantime, here’s some comfort food to push you through these last days of winter.

I made a healthier version of mac and cheese the other night by using whole wheat pasta, Greek yogurt, skim milk, fresh mozzarella, brussel sprouts, artichokes and Smart Balance butter. It was pretty time consuming and at points along the way I wondered if I had really messed things up (see note below) but it came out tasting delicious. I’m having a small portion of it for lunch today, accompanied by a colorful salad.

BRUSSEL SPROUT AND ARTICHOKE MAC ‘N CHEESEbrussel sprout mac n cheese

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 of a box of whole wheat rigatoni (or whatever short pasta you fancy)
  • 2 cups of brussel sprouts, stems removed, cut in half length wise
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, quartered, drained
  • 1/4 of a white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup of low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into small chunks
  • 3-4 cups of a variety of shredded cheeses (I used some store-shredded mozzarella, some parmesan reggiano, and fontina)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the brussel sprouts and olive oil in a bowl with a bit of salt and pepper. Lay the brussel sprouts in a single layer on a sil-pat lined baking dish. Roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are soft and starting to brown on the edges. Keep oven on after removing.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot that you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the milk, Greek yogurt, pasta, brussels sprouts, artichokes, fresh mozzarella, and most of your other cheeses. (Reserve some of your shredded cheese for the next step.) Stir to combine. (See note below)

Transfer all to a greased, 9×13 baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheeses (I used mostly parmesan reggiano for this step) and panko bread crumbs.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 375, or until all cheeses are melted and bubbling, most liquid is absorbed, and the top is browning a bit.

Note: When I added all of my ingredients to the pot, they did not mix well. It seemed very liquidy and my cheese was super gooey… and not in a good way. I thought the dish was ruined and that I had just wasted a ton of food. But I kept going anyway. And once it was all baked, it was fine. It really came out quite delicious! So don’t be fooled by rubbery, gooey cheese and ingredients that aren’t combining well in the pot. If making this again, I would replace the store-shredded mozzarella with cheddar. And I might not even use the fresh mozzarella. I just find that mozzarella never melts quite the way I want it to in dishes like this. So experiment with your cheeses. And to save time, you could roast your brussel sprouts and cook your pasta the day before. 

PASTA WITH SPINACH, CHICKPEAS, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND FETA

pasta with spinach chickpeas feta and sun dried tomatoesGood morning, friends! As promised, here is the rest of my post from yesterday. I think the key to making this pasta delicious was cooking it in vegetable broth instead of water. It just gave it more flavor and kept it moist (I hate that word. I’m cringing.) until it was time to serve it. I made the pasta a little bit in advance of my guests’s arrival, put a lid on the pot, and kept giving it a good stir every now and then so it didn’t get dry or stick together in places.  Like I mentioned yesterday, when I ate the leftovers, I preferred them cold. I tried them both ways, but cold was definitely better for some reason. So you could serve this warm, at room temp, or a bit colder. The fresh basil was my favorite ingredient here. Yummmmm!

PASTA WITH SPINACH, CHICKPEAS, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND FETA

pasta with spinach chickpeas feta and sun dried tomatoes 2

Ingredients:

For the pasta:

  • 1 box of whole wheat angel hair or thin spaghetti
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • A bit of crushed red pepper
  • A bit of salt and pepper

For the vegetables:

  • a bit of olive oil
  • 7-8 ounces of fresh baby spinach, washed
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, plus some of the oil
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

In a large saucepan or heavy pot, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once your broth is boiling, add the pasta. Cook for roughly 8-10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionaly. I noticed that the broth was disappearing after a while, but my pasta wasn’t finished cooking. So I added 2 cups of water and continued to cook. When it was done, the pasta was al dente and most of the liquid was gone. To keep warm until ready to serve, cover with a lid and stir occasionally.

In a large skillet, heat a bit of olive oil and the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt. You don’t want it to become too wilted though. Add the chick peas, a dash of salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until the chickpeas and tomatoes are warm and the spinach is cooked down and wilted.

Combine spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes and pasta in a large bowl. Right before serving, add the basil, parsley, and feta. (and more salt and pepper if you want. I added a lot of fresh cracked black pepper.) Mix well and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from MY BRAIN!

EGG SALAD

photo 2Egg salad is one of those foods that I’m embarrassed to admit that I like. I don’t know why. Do a lot of people think egg salad is gross? I don’t even know. Maybe it’s because I thought it was gross for most of my life. Maybe because it smells.

Well, today I’m speaking up and admitting that I like egg salad. I used to only like it from the Wine Merchant, a deli where my sister used to work. And when she stopped working there, I kinda forgot about egg salad. And then I went vegan for a few years so clearly it was out. And then last night, I was literally standing in the grocery store at a total loss on what to make for dinner when I got home. I wanted something quick and easy. So naturally I opened my food pin board and thanks to an inspiring pin on Pinterest, I decided to make egg salad for dinner. And boy was it delicious! I wasn’t planning to blog about it (you know cuz I was embarrassed) but it was so good that welp, here I am!

I used Greek yogurt and Veganaise instead of mayo. And the fresh dill really added a pop of flavor that was TDF. (I have to tell you that I accidentally just wrote DTF here and giggled when I realized what I had done. My dill was not DTF, for the record. Or maybe it was. Wouldn’t you like to know.) Anyway, you should try it. You know, if you’re down with egg salad and all.

EGG SALAD

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tbsp of plain, fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp of Veganaise
  • a healthy serving of fresh dill, chopped (it’s gotta be fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

First hard boil your eggs. My favorite way to hard boil eggs is to completely submerge the eggs in cool water in a pot. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let sit in the warm water for 12 minutes. Put in a colander under cool water to stop the cooking. Once cool enough to touch, you can go ahead and peel your eggs.

Cut up your eggs into small pieces. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add more or less Greek yogurt depending on how you like the consistency of your egg salad. Serve on a delicious bun with lettuce or on crackers or however you like your eggs.

p.s. Shout out to my friend Cookie: Girl, how you like yo eggs??

Note: These measurements are for 1-2 servings of egg salad.

VEGGIE PIZZA

veggie pizza 2It’s no secret that I love pizza. In fact, I think I’ve eaten it 3 or 4 times this week. Last night I had the best white pizza at Social Pie and Pub in Baltimore. But the night before I made my own pizza with a bunch of veggies that I had in my fridge and wanted to use up. I got home late and needed something easy to make for dinner. I had a store-bought, pre-rolled, thin pizza crust in the fridge. So I whipped out my handy dandy mandolin and prepared this little gem. It’s pretty similar to the pizza I posted the other day, but I think the black olives and shiitake mushrooms really added to the flavor. So did the thin crust. It probably would have been better if I had made/rolled my own dough, but I liked having the thin crust here.

VEGGIE PIZZA

veggie pizza

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of shitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 of a potato
  • 4-5 brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno
  • black olives
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • a handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • grated parmesan cheese to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper (if you’re into that)
  • a thin crust pizza dough, or whatever dough you want

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If using a pizza stone (which I did), put it in the oven in advance and allow it to heat up for at least 45 minutes.

Thinly slice your potato, onion, jalapeno and olives on a mandolin. I use the 1/4 setting. Shave the brussel sprouts on the mandolin. Put the potatoes in a bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well, coating the potatoes.

Combine the butter, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Spread over your pizza dough/crust. Place the potatoes sporadically on your crust. Put the pizza in the oven and allow to bake for 8-10 minutes. The potatoes take longer to cook than the other vegetables, which is why you need to put them in first.

Put all of your remaining veggies in the same bowl that the potatoes were in. Add a little extra olive oil or leftover garlic butter sauce, salt and pepper, and thyme. Mix well, coating the veggies.

Pull the pizza with the potatoes out of the oven. You can either leave it on the stone and pull out your top rack of the oven to top the rest of the pizza. Or you can remove it from the stone and transfer it to a work surface, which is what I did this time since my crust was pretty sturdy.

Top the pizza with the veggies, strategically or sporadically. It’s up to you. Grate the parmesan cheese on top. Put the pizza back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your crust. The veggies should be a bit brown and the cheese should be melted.

Top with crushed red pepp, grab a glass of red wine and enjoy!

 

 

WILD RICE WITH TOFU AND MISO DRESSING

wild rice and tofu

Friends. Allow me to introduce you to my FAVORITE recipe of 2013. What? We’re only 9 days into 2013? Eh. That’s neither here nor there. This recipe was freakin’ awesome. And I’ve only tried one other recipe so far this year. And I did not like it. So nevermind that the competition wasn’t steep. This recipe still rules.

My sister gave me the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook for Christmas, which in turned introduced me to their blog. The tagline is “a tastier take on whole foods,” which I love, especially in the new year, when you have a good excuse (not a resolution) to start fresh and get back to your roots. By roots I mean less processed foods. This is something I’m always trying to do– eat more whole foods. Sure, I keep the occasional Uncrustable or Healthy Choice frozen entree in my freezer for those days when I just can’t put the effort into healthy eating. But over the holidays I over indulged like it was nobody’s business. And I’m paying the price. I feel disgusting. So, it’s really important to me right now to kind of detox, eat less crap and GO RUNNING!

What I’m trying to say is that a tastier take on whole foods is something that’s really striking a chord with me at the moment. And the recipes in this book all look so good! I tried one last week that I can’t stop thinking about. I must confess the that recipe is not in the book, but I found it on the Sprouted Kitchen blog. It contains tofu, which I was nervous about because I’ve never successfully cooked tofu. I enjoy tofu, but I just suck at cooking it. But this time, it was a success! My first ever successful tofu adventure! How exciting!!! No? Hey, I was excited. Anywaaay. Sara from the Sprouted Kitchen gives good instructions for how to saute the tofu. Don’t be intimidated by some of the ingredients in this recipe, like white miso, which I had one heck of a time finding at Whole Foods (of all places). Tip: It’s in refrigerated section. Who knew. Anyway, the recipe was so yummy that you’ll want to make it again and again and will eventually use all of that miso and coconut oil you bought!

wild rice and tofu2

WILD RICE WITH TOFU AND MISO DRESSING

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 14 oz. block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 heaping cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 2-3 celery stalks, thinly sliced (this was my own addition)
  • 3/4 cup cooked, shelled, organic edamame
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • Handful of Chopped Cilantro

For the Miso Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. white miso
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar or brown rice syrup (I had neither of these. So I used a few sprinkles of brown sugar.)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Juice of half an Orange

Directions:

Cook the wild rice according to package directions. I did this and my rice seemed like it was burning. So I added more water about 3/4 of the way through cooking. What a difference it made! Saved my rice!

To cook the tofu, first you need to drain it and drain it well. Wrap the tofu between a few layers of paper towels, put something heavy on top so that the liquid is squeezed out, and set it aside to drain for 10-15 minutes. Once it is drained well, cut it into 1/2 cubes. I patted even more with the paper towels after I cut it.

Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the tofu and saute for about five minutes, turning it over and over in the pan. Sprinkle with soy sauce and cook for another few minutes until the edges are browned. Turn off heat and set aside. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, carrots, celery and edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the sesame seeds and cilantro and give it another toss.

This can be served room temperature, chilled, or warm. I ate it warm the first time, and then room temperature the next day. It was so good!

Note: This was my first time cooking with coconut oil. When buying it, I didn’t know if I should get the expeller-pressed or not. I actually don’t even really know what that means. But the oil I bought was pressed… I think. When I opened it, it was hard, almost like wax from a candle. I was like what the…? But it actually was awesome to cook with. It didn’t burn off in the skillet like other oils will. I’ve cooked with it a few times since this recipe and have been really happy with the results.

recipe adapted from: the Sprouted Kitchen