summer rolls + peanut lime dipping sauce

Last time I posted, I just taunted you with a picture of “spring” rolls, but no recipe! I apologize. But now that I think I nailed the dipping sauce, I think a recipe is in order! Oh and I also realized after I posted that I called these spring rolls, when they are in fact summer rolls. Spring rolls are typically fried…these are not!

Summer Rolls + Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce (makes 4 rolls – serves 1)

  • 2-4 leaves green leaf or romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced thin
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
  • 1/4 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, & sliced into thin strips
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips (Once I finished peeling the carrot, I actually just kept peeling to get thin carrot ribbons)
  • 4 sheets rice paper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chunky peanut butter
  1. To rehydrate rice paper, add a shallow layer of warm water to a high-sided dinner plate or a large, wide bowl. I used a bowl the first time and had trouble keeping the papers from tearing as they bent to fit in the bowl. I found that using a dinner plate worked great because the paper could lay flat as it hydrated.
  2. Lay one paper in the warm water for 1 to 2 minutes, flipping/moving around if necessary until it becomes pliable.
  3. Transfer to a flat surface near your other ingredients, like a cutting board.
  4. Begin by laying a small piece (or pieces) of lettuce (about the size of your palm) about 1/2 inch from the edge of the rice paper closest to you, making sure to leave 1/2 to 1 inch on the left and right sides as well.
  5. Top lettuce with a 2-3 slices of bell pepper, avocado, and cucumber, along with a small handful of the shredded carrot and a sprinkle of green onion.
  6. Fold the side closest to you tightly over the ingredients, then fold each side in toward the center before continuing to roll forward. The rice paper sticks to itself and seals well on its own. Place on serving plate and continue with remaining rolls.
  7. To prepare the dipping sauce, combine oil, vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and peanut butter in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Serve with summer rolls and refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Shake well and serve with your next round of summer rolls!

These are such a great summer meal! Light, full of vegetables, and no hot oven required! Soon, I’ll post a recipe I created for a recipe contest focused on unique ways to use one of my favorite summer foods – BERRIES!….using 7 ingredients or less! I was really happy with my finished product so I’m hoping for the best!

 

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potato coconut curry

Within the past year, I have developed a serious liking for Indian food but I have never really attempted to make it at home. Until last week. There are a few potato curry recipes that I have pinned, but I always seem to be missing at least one ingredient. So, I came up with my own recipe. I would say it is far from anything authentic, but it certainly took care of my Indian food craving 🙂

Potato Coconut Curry

  • 1 tsp. coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 4 small red potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup light coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained + rinsed
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt + pepper
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Toss potatoes with salt and pepper, then add to pan and cook until browned and slightly softened – about 10 minutes.
  2. Add onion + garlic and cook 1 -2 minutes before adding chickpeas, tomatoes, and coconut milk.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and stir in spices.
  4. Simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until sauce is thickened and potatoes are tender.
  5. Stir in peas and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until peas are heated through.
  6. Serve over rice – I cooked mine with some of the extra coconut milk!

This is great as leftovers too! I was eating it cold out of the fridge while I waited for my pan to heat up 🙂 I like that the sauce thickened up in the fridge, but since I had some coconut milk left, I went ahead and added some I heated the leftovers to create more sauce.

Garam masala is just a mix of several spices including coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. If you don’t have any, you could definitely just throw in some of these spices or add more curry powder.

For an update from my hotel grocery experience, here is a Chipotle-style burrito bowl that I created in my room Friday night.

Never mind that I ate the same thing for lunch Saturday on the way to the meet…and that I was tempted into going to Chipotle when we stopped for dinner Saturday night, where I got pretty much the same thing again. Black beans + guac never gets old.

 

 

sugar + spice

I had a bit of a baking extravaganza this weekend and it was long overdue! For Christmas this year, I decided to change things up a bit for my gifts. People are already overwhelmed with sweet treats at that time of year and instead of adding to the sugar overload, I decided to give bread with apple butter, pear butter, and pumpkin butter. Learning to can was fun and I liked that people could save the gift until after the month long food coma ended if they wanted to, but I must say I missed my marathon baking sessions and all of their resulting treats! So, this weekend was fun…and not totally without purpose. I do have some wonderful taste-testers for roommates/neighbors/friends, but my roommates in particular don’t always appreciate the temptation of hundreds of baked goods in our kitchen 😉 Most of the treats I baked this weekend are being delivered as a thank you to the wonderful people who wrote recommendation letters for my dietetic internship process.

Now, the treats!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cupcakes + Cinnamon Sugared Chip Frosting (!!)

I made these on Saturday and my roommates and I pretty much thought they were the best thing ever. That frosting?! Insane. And I’m not really a huge frosting person. But then I baked again on Sunday.

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Yeah. These immediately became the favorite as soon as they came out of the oven. That’s right…muffin > cupcake with outrageous frosting and chocolate.

Red Velvet Brownies + White Chocolate Buttercream

I don’t even know what to say about these brownies except that they are so incredibly delicious. I ALWAYS go for the center pieces of any cake, brownie, casserole, you name it. BUT, these brownies have such amazingly chewy edges and soft centers, I think I’ll be saving all corners for myself 😉 Oh, and my baked goods, midwest food-loving, Iowa roommate said this was the best frosting she’s ever eaten. Ever. AND that it was better than Betty Crocker. Boom.

Now, I had to get in a good, balanced dinner before I could dive in to sample all of these treats and a good dinner it was! I thought this up a few weeks ago and I had just the right ingredients that needed to be used up to give it another shot.

Mexican Polenta Pizza!

Mexican Polenta Pizza (serves 1)

  • 1/3 c. cornmeal
  • 2/3 c. water
  • dash salt + pepper
  • 1/2 c. black beans (pinto or kidney would work great too)
  • cumin, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-3 Tbsp. salsa
  • sliced green onion, frozen corn, bell pepper, feta cheese, etc.
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To prepare polenta, bring water to boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, remove from heat and quickly whisk in cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once combined, pour polenta onto a greased cookie sheet (or into a round cake pan if you are making more than 1 serving) and spread into a round pizza shape about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. For a more crisp crust, you can now bake the crust (plain) for 5 minutes or so while you prepare your remaining ingredients. The polenta firms up a bit as it sits as well, so it isn’t entirely necessary to bake the crust before putting ingredients on if you don’t mind a softer crust.
  5. In a small bowl or on your cutting board, mash beans and spices with a fork. I didn’t really measure, but I would start with 1/2 tsp. – 1 tsp. of each and adjust as needed according to taste.
  6. Spread mashed beans onto the crust as your “sauce”, then mash the avocado and spread on top (I forgot it and had to “scatter” it on top of all the other ingredients – it didn’t work too well!)
  7. Spread a few spoonfuls of salsa over avocado, making sure not to use too much or the pizza will get soggy.
  8. Top with green onion, frozen corn, chopped bell pepper…whatever you have on hand! I also had some leftover diced chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic) that worked great!
  9. Top with shredded cheese and bake 8-12 minute until cheese is melted.

This crust is pretty soft, which I liked, but I did have to remove the pizza from the pan with 2 spatulas (1 from each side). I did forget to pre-bake the crust this time however, so that probably had something to do with it. Either way, I think this pizza is best eaten with a fork. It is SO GOOD though!! It is also super easy and much quicker than waiting for regular pizza dough to rise (although I have found that my go-to pizza dough recipe freezes wonderfully!!)

You know what would have gone great with this pizza? This salad I just found on my camera from a few weeks ago:

It was really just some random things I needed to use up but it turned into easily one of the best salads I’ve made! I tossed some romaine + green leaf lettuce with a little red wine vinegar and cracked black pepper. Then I tossed in some black beans, green onion, avocado, green bell pepper, and (easily my new favorite salad dressing/pizza topping/condiment in general) sun dried tomato pesto. YUM!

gluten-free week: days 1 + 2

Gluten-free week is off to a pretty good start! It turns out I eat a lot of gluten-free foods already…I didn’t have to alter my breakfast or lunch on day 1 at all! Dinner is where the experimentation began…

DAY 1

Breakfast: Scottish oats with banana out of an almost empty PB jar (probably one of my favorite breakfasts EVER) and a glass of milk

Lunch: Chickpea tuna salad, carrots + hummus, peach + cherries

Snack: Homemade crunchy buckwheat granola + yogurt + raisins

Dinner: Veggie quesadilla on brown rice tortilla and a glass of milk

Dessert: Brown rice tortilla + PB & J …had to give the tortillas another shot 🙂

I saw these veggie quesadillas on Mama Pea’s blog the other day and immediately knew I had to make them! Of course, no regular tortilla would do so it was time to branch out into the gluten-free world of brown rice tortillas.

These are really smooth and actually kind of shiny with a great chewy texture and they crisped up nicely on the outside when toasted in the skillet. On their own, the taste has an uncanny resemblance to cardboard. However, the flavor seems to be easily masked by delicious fillings so that all you detect is the great texture 🙂

As absolutely delicious as the nacho Mmmm sauce looked, I decided to just stick with the regular Mmmm sauce since I had already made it.

As far as the filling goes though, I followed the recipe…minus the maple syrup 🙂 The filling was SO GOOD!!! The lime and cumin gave it such great flavor. I ate a nice pile of the extra filling that didn’t fit in my tortilla on the side 🙂

I’m not a huge fan of zucchini/squash but this was definitely another one of those recipes that makes it irresistible! I could definitely just sit myself down with a giant bowl of these veggies and be just as happy as can be 🙂 I don’t want summer veggie season to end!! 😦

DAY 2

Breakfast: Pumpkin buckwheat bake (drizzled with pure maple syrup) and a glass of milk

Lunch: Roasted veggie wrap with a banana and fresh cherries

Dinner: Millet stuffed peppers

Although oats themselves are a gluten-free food, they are commonly contaminated with gluten so they cause a reaction in some people with celiac disease/gluten intolerance. Because of this, it is often recommended that those on a GF diet stick to certified gluten-free oats but I have just stuck with my regular oats since they technically ARE gluten-free. However, I decided to break away from the oats this morning for a buckwheat bake! I assembled the dry ingredients last night to save time since it has to bake for 30 minutes.

Buckwheat definitely has a distinct, slightly earthy flavor which was detectable in this, but for the most part it tasted like a moist, cake-like pumpkin bread!

For lunch, I began by cutting 2 carrots and 1/4 red bell pepper into strips and roasting them at 425 degrees until they were tender. Then, I combined some of my spinach artichoke hummus with a little diced sundried tomato and spread it on a brown rice tortilla heating in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. I added the roasted veggie strips and a few slices of extra sharp white cheddar onto the tortilla, rolled it all up, then continued to cook on the skillet for a few more minutes to melt the cheese. It actually turned out really well! And I couldn’t taste that cardboard tortilla at all – just delicious chewiness!

Finally – DINNER! Lucky for me that millet is a gluten-free grain because I just LOVE it! 🙂

It just goes so well with Mexican flavors, so all the more reason why I enjoy it!

These peppers are really easy. They take a little time with cooking the millet and baking them, but it is SO worth it.

And you’d better believe I poured some Mmmm sauce all over one of these pepper halves after these pictures 🙂 Can’t get enough of that stuff! I’m sure the nacho Mmmm sauce would’ve been spectacular as well! Now I’m trying to figure out a good gluten-free dessert…that doesn’t involve brown rice tortillas again! 😉 I’m thinking soft serve smoothie + homemade granola….

summer veggie saute

I must say that I have been having some serious PB withdrawals since working in the dorms this summer. There is not an ounce of natural PB…OR bananas….OR homemade bread in sight which makes breakfast a rather sad affair 😦 So, when I’m home for breakfast on the weekends, I’m more than eager to go back to my breakfast favorites! I haven’t had PB&B toast in WEEKS so I knew I needed to get some in this morning before gluten-free week begins. Homemade honey wheat + a fresh jar of Smucker’s Natural crunchy PB + a perfectly yellow-green banana = breakfast bliss!

For lunch, I had a delicious peach along with some of the best fresh cherries EVER and I made some of my chickpea tuna salad. You might remember that, while in Oregon a few months back, I came across Cafe Yumm and their absolutely amazing Yumm Sauce. I couldn’t figure out a way to keep a jar of it cold in my bag all the way back to Kansas, but luckily Mama Pea was one step ahead of me and posted a recipe for a perfect knock-off! I FINALLY made it and I want to eat it on everything! Be on the lookout for it all this week, but I added a spoonful to the chickpea tuna salad at lunch to help hold it together and it was great!

Dinner started with Israeli couscous:

It tastes just like the tiny little couscous you’re probably used to seeing, except each little grain is much bigger! I saw some in the bulk bins yesterday and just had to try cooking it for myself. With regular couscous, you just boil water or stock, stir in the couscous, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 5 minutes. The Israeli couscous is cooked more like rice or pasta, but is still pretty darn quick + delicious.

To go along with the couscous, I made one of my favorite dishes from the dining halls. I get so excited every time I see ratatouille on the menu and I always get so nervous that a) there won’t be any left by the time I get to eat or b) I won’t be working when they decide to serve it! There is no need for this though because it is super easy to make at home where I can have all of it to myself 🙂

Summer Veggie Saute + Israeli Couscous

  • 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c. dry Israeli couscous
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 small zucchini squash, cut into half-moons
  • 1/2 small yellow summer squash, cut into half-moons
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 tomato, cut into wedges
  • dash of salt, black pepper, and dried oregano
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth (or water) to a boil. Add couscous, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed and couscous is tender (about 10 minutes).
  2. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute 3-5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and seasonings to taste. Saute 3-5 minutes until squash is beginning to soften but is still slightly crisp.
  4. Add tomato wedges (I cut the tomato wedges in half to make them a bit more bite-sized). Cook 3-5 minutes to allow tomatoes to soften and combine with other ingredients.
  5. Top with a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese before serving.

This is SUCH a flavorful, healthy dish that is ready in no time at all! I prepped my veggies while the couscous was cooking and it was extremely fast to give them a quick saute before throwing it all together. I’m honestly not a huge fan of zucchini or squash, but the flavor of this is so great that I can eat them no problem! The oregano, garlic, and onion are a huge part of this, but I also really love extra sharp white cheddar because you only have to use a little to get a huge punch of flavor in whatever you put it on.

We are right in the middle of squash + tomato season, so I highly recommend you take advantage and make this meal soon! Branch out and try Israeli couscous as well! I think you’ll love it and I got this 1/4 cup serving out of the bulk bins for less than $1.00. If you can’t find Israeli couscous, of course brown rice or any other grain you might have would work just fine. I do think cooking it in the veggie broth adds great flavor though, so I highly recommend that no matter what grain you choose. OR you could go without the grain all together and serve this as a great veggie side dish or main course! 😀

roasted red pepper + feta spread

Remember the last time I posted? I had made a chicken sausage on a homemade bun and experimented with a spread to go with it. Well, I had the exact same dinner tonight! Except that this time, I think I mastered the spread!

Last time, I had an idea in my head for combining feta + roasted red pepper + plain yogurt to create a flavorful spread to compliment my roasted red pepper and asiago chicken sausage. Yet, despite the sheer amount of time I spent thinking about it, it didn’t turn out quite like I’d hoped. It was still tasty, but the texture was a bit thinner than I’d hoped so I didn’t share an exact recipe. Of course, that meant I HAD to try it again! 🙂

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Spread

  • 2 T. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 T. plain yogurt (I used Dannon All Natural Plain, but plain Greek yogurt would be great too!)
  • 1 T. finely diced roasted red pepper, dried of excess moisture**
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with burgers, sausages, etc. for a little Mediterranean flare! 🙂

**I patted the diced pepper with a paper towel because it can add a lot of moisture to the spread and make it a bit too thin.

This makes enough for about 1-2 people, depending on what you’re putting it on, but I think it would be easily expanded. I would just start with the feta, then add about half as much yogurt. This binds the feta together while still maintaining a thick spread that tastes more of feta than plain yogurt (which I don’t much enjoy the flavor of on it’s own).

I think add-ins aside from roasted red pepper would be great too, depending on what you’re putting it on! For example, if you had something like the al fresco sundried tomato or spinach + feta sausages, you could add some diced sundried tomatoes or even chopped herbs, like basil! Of course, it would be good on more that just sausages…they just have so many flavors that are coming to mind right now! It could be a good topping for tacos/burritos/nachos or a hamburger stuffed with feta and roasted red pepper with some avocado on top (I made something similar last summer and it was AMAZING).

On another note, I can’t believe summer is flying by so quickly!! I am SO GLAD that my classes will officially be over at this time next week and then it’ll almost be time for my road trip, but that means my final year at K-State will be starting as soon as I return! 😦 Once school starts, it seems to fly by so it’ll all be over before I know it! I suppose the best thing to do is just enjoy each day as it comes! 🙂

summer grilled veggie pasta

Oh my goodness. I just created the absolute most wonderful dinner EVER. I just love winging it! So, I was planning out my meals for this week and figured I should work pasta in there somewhere because its easy and it is super hard for me to use up an entire jar of pasta sauce before it goes bad. I mean, we have mini-sized everything else, why not mini jars of pasta sauce?? Then I realized that the sauce I did have was probably bad. Pasta with broccoli + olive oil + garlic salt it would be!

But then I had an idea. My mom and sister came up on Saturday and we did some grilling together for dinner. Boring broccoli pasta + leftover grilled veggies?? Genius.

Summer Grilled Veggie Pasta (serves 1 – 2)

  • 1/2 to 1 c. uncooked whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 c. frozen broccoli
  • 1 c. grilled vegetables (ours was a mix of yellow + zucchini squash, tomato, onion, and green + red bell pepper tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano before grilling in a grill basket)
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • dash garlic salt
  1. Cook pasta in a medium saucepan about 10 minutes until done.
  2. Meanwhile, steam broccoli for about 5 minutes until tender.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and leave it in the pasta drainer. You’ll return it to the pot later!
  4. Return the empty saucepan to the burner and heat about 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil with minced garlic over medium to medium high heat.
  5. Add grilled veggies and cook 2-3 minutes over medium to heat before adding steamed broccoli and cooking an additional 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add cooked pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of garlic salt. Stir to combine and heat another 2-3 minutes before serving.

Y.U.M. The grilled veggies add SO much amazing flavor!! The garlic salt and olive oil coated the pasta so well and added to the awesome flavor.

Roasted veggies are good and all but you really just can’t match the flavor of veggies off the grill. If you don’t have a grill basket, you can find them almost anywhere. You could also just keep the veggies in larger pieces for grilling, then slice them into smaller bite-sized pieces when they’re done. The combo of yellow + zucchini squash, tomato, bell pepper, and onion was awesome and the steamed broccoli was the perfect pasta addition. I used the remaining grilled veggies the next night for fajitas (which is what we used them for originally) and they were just as delicious as ever. Makes me want to break out my grill and cook up some grilled veggies to have on hand every week!