spotlight

lots of great veggie filled recipes this week! many would make perfect leftovers for lunches. just make a big batch of something like the easy pasta salad or chickpea and mozzarella salad, portion into individual containers, and healthy, affordable lunches will be the easy choice all week long. Enjoy!

coconut basil chicken with brown rice looks AMAZING.

ginger garlic steak tacos with pineapple pico de gallo are perfect for summer

add those delicious fresh blueberries to a fresh blueberry lemonade

toss some potatoes and carrots on the grill – the herb feta pesto would be perfect on grilled meats too

vegetarians sometimes get stuck with a plate of baked beans or pasta at cookouts – serve these grilled portabellos for a nice change!

cherries are at their prime right now (and super cheap). if you can avoid eating them all fresh, throw some on the grill for this grilled cherry milkshake

another easy summer pasta salad. you can never have too many! it makes a perfect healthy, no-fuss lunch for the rest of the week too

take a trip to Morocco from your own kitchen with this vegetarian tagine

toss your next grain salad with some pesto for great flavor – like this chickpea, tomato, and mozzarella salad

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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!

 

broccoli alert

There have been so many new things going on in my kitchen, I don’t know where to start! First of all – have you ever tried Pepperplate?! Ummm…best app ever. I was looking for some kind of grocery shopping/recipe app and this was the first one I came across. I wanted one to help me actually buy ingredients so I could try new recipes instead of just looking at them and then never making them or forgetting one or two things. I couldn’t tell if it was legit or not but I downloaded it anyway and I love it!

On my computer, I have a little button on my bookmark toolbar that allows me to input recipes straight from websites. I mean, I don’t even have to copy and paste. All you do is hit the button and a side bar comes up, then you can just DRAG the info into the correct field (ingredients, instructions, picture, etc.). You can then add saved recipes to the different days/meals on your monthly planner, build menus, or even add to a shopping list – you can even scale the recipe (1/2, 1/4, double, etc.) BEFORE adding it to your list! It gets better. I have the app on my phone and my Kindle too, so I can see the shopping list (or even full recipes, if needed) while I’m at the store and I can prop my Kindle up in the kitchen with the recipe pulled up while I cook! The system was truly put to the test for the first time tonight and it was great!

Last week I selected this garbanzo bean salad that met all of my criteria for a good recipe – delicious, nutritious, easy, and nothing really crazy that I wouldn’t have on hand or wouldn’t be able to use for something else. Little stuff like specific oils, spices, etc. can really add up and just aren’t practical on my little college student grocery budget!

Oh my goodness gracious was this ever delicious. And filling! I cooked up some fluffy millet to go underneath and I already can’t wait to take care of the leftovers.

I also got a new cookbook last week – the Joy the Baker cookbook to be exact! Joy’s blog is one of my absolute favorites to read because she is so funny and real…and her food is AWESOME. I can’t even tell you how many of her recipes I’ve made and gotten rave reviews. In fact, I’ve had a request for her spiced apple cake (I REALLY need to get a bundt pan) that I will be making this week…even though I’d rather be working my way through the 100 new recipes in the cookbook! 🙂 We did make some trail mix cookies on Saturday night while watching one of our teammates tear it up at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships though, so that’s one recipe down – 99 to go! The cookies were quite delicious and made for a perfect evening. Baking + track? Doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me 🙂

In other news, I wanted to make curried millet last week to use up some chickpeas…until I realize that I was out of millet. And curry powder. Problem. So, I winged it. I was going to sub rice but had to take one of my roommates to the store anyway and was able to pick up more millet. I made it more of a Mexican dish by subbing chili powder, cumin, and coriander for the curry and turmeric. I also added some diced bell pepper and swapped out the dried fruit for mango! I definitely didn’t have the spice combination quite right but I was hungry and it was certainly edible. I think with a little more tweaking though, I could be onto something! Definitely needed some lime juice. If you haven’t tried millet before, you must try it soon!

Oh. Can we take a minute to celebrate how light it is at night again?? This last picture was taken before that happened and it is a little depressing… 😉 Also, I am totally addicted to roasted broccoli. To the point where I (accidentally) spent over $6 on broccoli for the week awhile back. And I’ve started a roasted broccoli revolution among my roommates. At least one person makes it every night. EVEN my meat-and-potatoes-loving-don’t-feed-me-anything-colorful Iowa roommate. AND our smoke detector only goes off when broccoli comes out of the oven. We have re-named it the broccoli detector.

hot sauce. cold weather.

Winter has finally decided to arrive…at least for a few days. I shouldn’t complain. We have gotten off UNBELIEVABLY easy this year as far as winter goes. It has snowed just twice (including yesterday) and each time was only enough to stick around for maybe a day. Still, I have a cross country race on Saturday. Outside. In the Midwest. And I would really like for the unseasonably warm temperatures to return.

At least I have this hot sauce from the warm island climate of St. John to get me through. Thanks Aunt T! 🙂

Now, I’m pretty wimpy when it comes to spicy foods, but this sauce contains pretty much all of my favorite spices/flavors – cumin, curry, turmeric, mustard, vinegar – so I was willing to brave a little heat (habanero peppers?!). Totally worth it. There was a little heat but not the kind of heat that makes it so you can’t taste anything else because your mouth is on fire. It went perfectly with my veggie packed stir-fry.

Frozen veggies are convenient, but you just can’t beat the texture of fresh! This was fresh broccoli, carrots, red + yellow bell pepper, and kale stir-fried in olive oil, garlic, and hoisin sauce. What a fresh and delicious dinner it was…especially with the addition of the flavor-packed hot sauce!

Of course, you know I finished this nutrient-packed meal with one of those red velvet brownies 🙂

stuffed.

Since visiting Kansas City last week where my aunt made a FABULOUS pre-race dinner of stuffed peppers, I have rediscovered my love for this delicious Mexican treat. I was inspired to change up my usual recipe a bit & also discovered that these fancy little peppers can be cooked up much quicker than I originally thought…I just needed to crank up the oven temperature!

So, earlier this week, I made the filling, cooking the millet with garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander, and CILANTRO. <—that made a huge difference in the flavor department. I used these frozen cubes of cilantro that I got a Trader Joe’s a few months back, which happen to be the best thing ever. Once the millet was cooked, I stirred in some kidney beans, corn, salsa, & feta cheese before stuffing those peppers & getting them in the oven! 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes…MUCH better than the hour it was taking before when I made these. I usually gave up before the pepper was fully done, but not anymore! I was also inspired by our life group dinner on Wednesday night to whip up some homemade guac to go on top of my pepper. I just smashed half of an avocado with a little minced garlic, salt, pepper, & (you guessed it) another cilantro cube! SO. GOOD.

Good enough that I did the same thing with the leftover filling last night…

Only this time, I also made some of Mama Pea’s Mmmm sauce to go along with my guac because I FINALLY got back to People’s Grocery to buy some more nutritional yeast! Oh my goodness. That sauce is so good. If you have ever been to Cafe Yumm out around Oregon, this recipe is a total match for their addictive Yumm sauce. Literally the week after I was out in Eugene for a track meet last spring & so sad that I couldn’t get a jar of that sauce onto the plane back to Kansas, Mama Pea came through with an exact replica. You must try it.

I also had other plans in mind for my new stash of nutritional yeast, including this creamy smoked kale salad…except I couldn’t find the right kind of kale, so I just made the dressing, tossed my kale with it, then baked it into some seriously delicious kale chips to go along with my red lentil dal & super quick naan bread!

All I did for the naan bread was mix 1/4 c. bread flour with a dash of salt & 1/8 tsp. baking powder, then stirred in a few tablespoons of water until it came together into a dough & cooked it in a skillet over high heat for a few minutes. Mine was a little too wet, so I ended up having to kind of spread the dough into the pan but, with less water, it can just be rolled out like normal dough into a little round flatbread.

Of course, the one day I get daylight for taking food pictures & my camera won’t turn on! So, I apologize for the horrible, dark phone pictures, but hopefully I’ll be back up & running again soon!

masala simmer sauce

We all know that Mexican food is my absolute favorite. Avocados, salsa, beans, rice, corn, cumin, chili powder, coriander, tortillas – I could eat this stuff all day, every day. Quickly becoming my second favorite is Indian food. I’ve discovered that these cuisines share a lot of the same spices and I think that’s what does it. I’ve been a little intimidated to try making Indian foods myself for some reason and the products in the store are kind of hit and miss. They seem to be either amazing or really…blah. Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce? Amazing.

Like some other simmer sauces I’ve tried, this one said to add an entire cup of water + the jar of sauce to your ingredients. However, I’ve found that this makes the final dish taste very bland and I think the flavor is spot-on right out of the jar, so I didn’t add the water.

I added half a can of chickpeas, some frozen mixed vegetables, and some diced potato to a skillet with half the jar of sauce and let it simmer for about 20 minutes and it was ready to go! With some brown rice, this was such a quick, delicious, healthy meal. I also made a batch of Indian spiced cracklin’ cauliflower.

I like veggies, but an entire head of cauliflower is a bit too much with an already filling main dish. I couldn’t finish it all! It was so good though. I have a hard time knowing what to do with cauliflower because it doesn’t have much flavor but it goes so well with Indian food. The peas were really good mixed in as well!

Hopefully I can recreate this masala sauce…or find another store-bought version that is as good as this TJ’s sauce!

enjoy the veggies while they last

Well, just when I thought a semester couldn’t possibly get any busier, I met Fall 2011. Somehow, I have managed to do a small bit of cooking since school started up, but not as much as I would like. I have been majorly inspired by the book I am reading for Food Writing right now – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Yes, it sounds a bit cheesy but I can assure you it is a wonderful read! I have one chapter to go before I write my book review, so I will post that when I finish! In the meantime, I am taking a break from my list of 500 assignments to be completed before Monday to share some food with you.

Partly inspired by Barbara Kingsolver and her family’s quest to eat entirely local foods for a year, and partly drawn in by large, delicious peaches, I have been making an effort to get over to Westside Market on my weekly shopping outing. At least Eastside and Westside Markets are open year-round. Each time I visit the Farmer’s Market, I sadden at the thought of this mecca of fresh, local products soon going into hibernation for the winter. Last week, however, I stopped by and picked up some local grass-fed beef and some ridiculously cheap squash and eggplant which became staples in my meals for the week.

After a wonderful suggestion from my Aunt Teresa, I shredded some zucchini and yellow squash, then sauteed it for a few minutes with garlic, olive oil, and a dash of pepper. Delicious as this was, I didn’t stop there. I tossed it with some whole wheat pasta and roasted eggplant, then topped it all off with some tomato sauce for a delicious, veggie-filled meal. Eggplant is still a bit too bitter for me, but it wasn’t bad.

Now, for some creativity. Since one of the perks of my job is a meal plan in the dining centers, I jump at the chance to pick up a meal when they have a good vegetarian option. Tuesday night was stuffed peppers! As someone who has to run product ratios during the meals and stress over whether or not we’ll have enough food, I understand the importance of portion sizes, but 1 pepper half is just not enough food for me! Not to worry. I used it as the base for a delicious, healthy meal!

The shredded summer squash returns! This time with the addition of onion, corn, and tomato for a delicious side dish for my stuffed pepper and spicy rice!

All in all, it ended up being quite the delicious meal.

Today it was again time to make bread! I haven’t had to make it as often recently since I’m never home to eat toast for breakfast these days and I am often able to grab something from the salad bar while I’m on campus rather than packing a sandwich for lunch. It is a delicious staple in my cabinet though so I thought it was about time I share!

I decided to switch over to making my own bread back in January and I’ve never looked back! It did take a few months of weekly bread baking to nail down a recipe I could live with on a daily basis. I needed a bread that was large and sturdy enough for sandwiches, without any strange, expensive ingredients, and that could be made relatively easily. After some trial and error, this honey whole wheat loaf fit the bill perfectly.

The first few loaves were so short that my sandwiches looked more like a deck of cards than a meal for a few weeks. I finally invested in a box of wheat gluten which was only about $1.5o and lasted me MONTHS! Quite worth it for substantial bread slices if you ask me. Imagine my surprise when I finally ran out of wheat gluten a few weeks back and my bread still rose as it should! I must not have had my technique nailed down for those initial loaves. So, what’s a hungry girl to do with a loaf of freshly baked bread? Make a sandwich of course!

I originally planned on my usual Saturday lunch of and egg and cheese sandwich, that is until I stumbled upon some sliced tomato and avocado I needed to use last night. That was enough to convince me to make my favorite tomato, avocado, and cheese sandwich for lunch today…until it dawned on me to combine the two! Best decision ever.

Messy? Yes. In fact, forks are recommended. But it was so worth it.