Baked Parmesan Pesto Portobello with Gnocchi

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I question whether certain food photos do more harm than good… While this baked portobello looks like something out of a horror film, it tasted delicious, and received a big “wow!” from my dining companion. I whipped up a pesto recipe a few days ago and froze it. When I came up with a meal idea, I let the pesto thaw at room temperature and it was good to go!

And, the gnocchi was from Whole Foods. Sometimes you need an easy out for a meal. Here is mine.

Walnut-Spinach Pesto:

  • 1/4 c walnuts
  • 1/4 c fresh parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 c sunflower or olive oil
  • 5 c fresh spinach (I probably used closer to 6 c)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  1. Blend everything together in a vitamin or food processor, freeze or use right away

For the Baked Parmesan Pesto Portobello

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Lightly drizzle baking dish with olive oil
  3. Remove the caps and gils from two large portobello caps
  4. Season with salt and pepper, spread pesto over cap
  5. Bake for 15 minutes
  6. Remove, top with parmesan, bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese has melted

Wilted Kale Salad with Edamame, Kimchi and a Sriracha Peanut Butter Dressing

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I am blogging my first mobile post. An hour for lunch is too long. So, I went for a walk and landed a glorious spot overlooking the Mississippi River.

Dinner last night and lunch today was fantastic. This kale salad is light and refreshing. There is no feeling sluggish after this meal.

Per my usual, I did not measure my ingredients, but I will be making this very soon and will update with exact measurements. For now, here is my ingredient list:

  • kale
  • edamame
  • kimchi
  • coconut oil
  • peanut butter
  • Bragg’s aminos
  • sriracha
  • rice vinegar
  • agave
  • water
  1. Wilt the kale, steam the edamame
  2. Blend coconut oil through agave
  3. Toss everything together

Chipotle Corn Chowder

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Nothing like coming back from a blogging hiatus with a smoky soup to awaken your senses. Life certainly has a way of interfering with fun hobbies. The past two months have been occupied with job interviews, relocating and embarking in a new career. So far, so good. The only downside is getting used to my new shift and schedule. And so it goes.

Here I am now though and let me tell you, this soup is pretty amazing. I first made a batch this weekend, taking the ingredients from this recipe and just winging it. I do that a lot with soup and somehow it works. The downside is that when I come on here to blog about it and tell you how delicious it was…I am out a recipe. For me, soups are one of the best dishes to play around with. Not a fan of heat? Sub in a mild curry or cumin or paprika. Mix it up. See what happens! You can almost always (I say almost because some cooking catastrophes cannot be resurrected), balance a soup out by adding herbs, oil, salt, vinegar, starch, etc.

Ok, so with this outstanding soup, the first time I made it, I followed the recipe pretty closely. And by closely I mean I used 90% ingredients with 0% measurement accuracy. The second time I created a recipe similar to this:

  • Olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 5 small potatoes, I used red and yellow, peeled and diced
  • 1 c of corn
  • Dashes of chipotle powder and paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp veg base
  • 1-2 c plain almond milk
  1. Saute the onion and celery in oil until soft, add the diced potatoes
  2. Sprinkle in your seasoning, start off light, you will taste as you go and adjust as needed
  3. After a few minutes of marrying the seasoning with veggies, add the corn, bay leaf, veg base and almond milk
  4. You want enough liquid so the veggies are comfortable and have some room, with about an inch of liquid above them. If 2 c almond milk isn’t enough, add more or you can add water (*note using full fat coconut milk is really the way to go here)
  5. Simmer everything until potatoes are tender. You can either leave as is or take half out and puree

Zesty Black Bean, Corn, and Pepper Dip with Citrus Sour Cream

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I whipped up this appetizer in about 30 minutes and it was pretty great. I sautéed 1/2 an onion with sweet red, yellow and orange peppers in a jalapeno infused olive oil. When the veggies were tender, I added half a bag of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Corn. After the veggies were cooked, I tossed in the beans and put the dip mixture in the fridge to cool.

To make the citrus sour cream, I zested a lime and squeezed 1/2 of the lime into about a cup of sour cream.

When the bean, corn and pepper mix has cooled, I drizzled some cilantro balsamic into the mixture and added salt to taste. Scoop small amounts of dip into the chips. It’s easiest to use Scoops chips, but taste-wise they are crap (in my opinion). If I had more time, I would have cooked some wonton wrappers in mini cupcake/muffin tin and used those. Food for thought.

Top with a drizzle of citrus sour cream. Enjoy!

Catching Up Over Couscous

I visited the World Market last week and forgot how fun that store is. I was the classic retail therapy shopper, entering the store needing nothing in particular and leaving with an armful of “must-haves.” One of the items I found was this Israeli couscous:

  
I enjoyed the concept and it was a nice change of pace, veering away from boring rice. Some things to be mindful of, it’s a little plain. Although, at 5mg of sodium, I can’t blame it. To add more flavor, I incorporated mushrooms (shiitake) that were sautéed in oil and garlic, along with sautéed kale and an herbed goat chèvre. You can easily keep this vegan by leaving the chèvre out. 

I would definitely buy this dish again. It made more (in my mind) than 2 servings and by adding greens and other veggies, you can definitely squeeze a few meals out of this tiny box!

  
 

A Simple Stir-Fry with Teryaki Chik’n and Ramen Noodles

 
Tonight, dinner was ready in about 20 minutes. I used 1/2 an onion, one yellow pepper, 1/2 c edamame, garlic, ginger, tamari, Gardein Teryaki Chik’n and two ramen noodle packages. You could use whatever veggies you have on hand. And while the Gardein Teryaki sauce was flavorful, I enjoyed the extra garlic and ginger for a deeper flavor.

If you are a fan of spice, like I am, don’t forget to dress the noodles in Sriracha. 

For a quick rundown on the process, I sauteed the veggies and once they were soft, I added the garlic, ginger and tamari. As this became fragrant, I added the Chik’n and covered until the Chik’n was cooked through. I poured in the sauce packet and added the noodles next. I simmered everything on low heat for about 5 minutes. 

Braised Kale and Carrots with Sprouted Lentils

  

Making this meal was incredibly simple. However, there isn’t a lot of liquid, so if you’re looking for a soup or stew add more liquid and tomato paste to thicken. Feel free to play around with the spices. I used berbere and cumin. You could use herbs de province or even chili for a different twist.

Ingredients 

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 c dried sprouted lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • Veg base
  • Berbere
  • Cumin
  • Olive oil
  1. In a cast iron skillet, sauté onion and carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes 
  2. Add spices (I didn’t measure, but would start off with 2 tsp of each and go from there)
  3. Next, add kale, lentils, water and veg base (same as above but start with 1 tsp)
  4. Cover and simmer. Add water as needed. Cook until veggies and lentils are soft

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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I made these as a thank you to my neighbor who kindly watched my cat while I scooted down to Florida for a few days. I modified a recipe for a chocolate crinkle, omitted the powdered sugar and added some peanut butter chips. The pb chips make it vegetarian (they contain dairy), feel free to use a vegan friendly chip instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c real-deal maple syrup
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 Tbls non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together, set aside
  2. Mix the sugar, syrup, oil, vanilla and milk together, really well, and pour into the dry mix
  3. Stir everything together and add the chips
  4. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes

90 Days of Missed Meals

No, I’m not going to post everything I’ve eaten in 90 days, but seriously, where has the time gone? I’ll tell you. I was promoted and began working as a social worker in child protection. In addition to the job, I moved in with my partner; and was training for my first full marathon. Needless to say, dinners were quick and as healthy as I could make them.

Also, you will see one of my biggest deterrents in posting blogs: inadequate photos. Most of these photos are from my iPhone and are pretty shoddy.

To make simple meals, I often prepared things in large amounts. For example, I’d make 2 cups of rice, using some of it for a side or later as fried rice or as a rice salad. I would also cook large batches of veggies to have as snack or to use as fillers for other dishes.

I rely on canned beans…I love the idea of soaking and cooking beans, but I never seem to make the time to actually do this. I also use some pre-made foods such as fake meats (which I use sparingly) and fermented goodies like kimchi, curtido and sauerkraut. One of my favorite meals for lunch is kimchi with avocado.

Dinner: roasted broccoli with sautéed carrots, shallots, and edamame, served with a side of garlic quinoa and kimchi

 

Lunch at my favorite restaurant in St. Cloud, Viet-Tien; the Mock Duck Vermicelli bowl

Lunch at Wise Acre in Minneapolis, fresh greens straight from the garden!

Testing a new sriracha on some fried rice (edamame, carrot, onion, cabbage, rice and teriyaki sauce)

Gardein chick’n tenders with couscous and sautéed cabbage, yellow peppers and mushrooms

Banana pancakes with EarthBalance butter

Quinoa “rice bowl” with spinach, black beans, peppers and avocado

Homemade alfredo served over Target brand chick’n strips, steamed kale, mushrooms and fresh pasta

Trader Joe’s veggie tamale with Spanish rice, black beans and avocado

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

There is nothing I love more in this food world than Brussels Sprouts.
To prepare mine, I cut the ends off which normally has a chunk of stem remaining. Then, I slice the sprout in half and remove a layer or two. Now they are ready for a rinse. After rinsing, I coat them with oil, salt and pepper.

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Roast them at 400F until they are tender. Eat them as is, or dress them with a vinaigrette. I love pairing roasted sprouts with a sweet honey mustard. I usually make the dressing by putting spoonful of dijon, with a generous amount of honey, a splash of vinegar, and a healthy amount of olive oil… I know what you are thinking, where are the exact measurements!? I fail here. I will do my best to work on one. But, I will tell you this: every time I attempt to measure something, it is never as good as making it off the cuff.

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