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Vegan Thai Chopped Salad

June 23, 2014

Thai Chopped Salad (2) | Espresso and Cream
Last month I developed a Thai Chicken and Kale Chopped Salad recipe for the Tasteseekers Kitchen blog at work that I’ve since made a handful of times. Big, colorful salads are one of my favorite things to make for lunch and dinner, especially when the salad is substantial enough to keep you full and satisfied hours later.

This past weekend Joe helped one of his friends paint his house. It was a two-day ordeal that involved quite a few hours out in the sun so when they got done on Saturday night and headed to our house for a late dinner, I was in charge of preparing a side dish to go with their very large grilled steaks. Steaks and a vegan salad: It goes together, right? I didn’t exactly set out with the intention of making this recipe vegan, but as I chopped and tossed things together, I realized that’s just what I did.

Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients, chopping and making of your own dressing. I promise that it really is quite simple, and the flavors of all the fresh veggies paired with the thai peanut dressing is nothing short of amazing. The recipe itself serves quite a bit, enough for four main-dish portions or six to seven smaller side-dish sized salads. I highly suggest chopping all the ingredients in advance and making the dressing, then tossing everything together just before you plan to eat. And since the ingredients in this salad are heartier than, say, a Romaine lettuce salad, dressing the salad a little early won’t leave your salad soggy.

Thai Chopped Salad (1) | Espresso and Cream

Vegan Thai Chopped Salad
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 10 cups finely chopped kale, stems removed
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix
  • 4 miniature red sweet peppers, thinly sliced (or ½ cup chopped red sweet pepper)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. In a very large bowl, combine the kale and olive oil. Work together the kale and olive oil with your hands until kale is evenly coated with the oil. Add the remaining salad ingredients to bowl.
  2. To make dressing, whisk together the peanut butter and hot water until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss until well combined and salad is evenly coated.




Quick and Easy Bacon-Tomato Penne

April 24, 2014

Bacon Tomato Pasta 1 | Espresso and Cream

Before I share this recipe with you, I should clarify that while a lot of my recipes are on the healthier side, this recipe isn’t winning any awards for being health conscious. However, when I threw this meal together last week for Joe after a trip to the gym, he raved about how delicious it was and demanded that I blog about it. Usually Joe isn’t one to demand I blog about anything, so when he insisted I obliged. In fact, I made a batch of this pasta earlier in the week and put it into lunch containers immediately so that Joe would be able to enjoy lunches at work that were better than turkey and cheese or PB&J.

If you’re a fan of meals that are quick and easy to throw together and require very few ingredients (and really, who isn’t?) then you will love this recipe. I’ve tried it both warm and cold and can say that both ways are delicious, although I do prefer it warm since the flavors are more pronounced.

After making this dish a couple times, I’ve been thinking of ways to add a little freshness to this dish, mainly something green. Although I didn’t add any, a couple handfuls of arugula or a little fresh basil would be a great addition. Let me know if you try it and add anything different to your version, since I’m always looking for ways to adapt dishes and keep things fresh.

Bacon Tomato Pasta 2 | Espresso and Cream

Quick and Easy Bacon-Tomato Penne
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
This is Joe's new favorite dinner, and I don't mind making it because it's so incredibly easy! This makes enough to serve two generously, or three smaller portions. It's usually enough for Joe to eat for dinner one night and have leftovers to take to work the next day.
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano or basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cut bacon into small pieces. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is very crispy and deeply colored. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from skillet and transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. Add tomatoes to skillet with bacon drippings and cook tomatoes over medium high heat 2 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes are softened slightly. Add butter, oregano and red pepper flakes to skillet along with cooked pasta.
  4. Divide pasta mixture among two bowls. Top with the bacon. Serve immediately.



Cheesy Farro-Broccoli Bake

April 14, 2014

Cheesy Farro Broccoli Bake 2 | Espresso and Cream

Let’s be honest, the amount of cooking that’s been going on in our house lately has been minimal. But as life slowly transitions back to “normal” (and no, it still doesn’t feel normal if you really want to know) it feels good to do things that come naturally, to create something out of raw ingredients and nourish the body. Plus, eating take-out and snack-y type foods can only keep you going for a certain amount of time. Sometimes you just have to get in the kitchen and cook.

I didn’t grow up in a house where we ate a lot of casseroles, and consequently I don’t cook a lot of casseroles to this day. However, there is something about being able to toss all your ingredients together and throw it in the oven when hunger strikes that I find so comforting. Dinner is ready when you need it to be, cheesy and comforting and semi-healthy, too, minus the cheese part. The cheese is absolutely not healthy, but makes this dish taste amazing.

My favorite use for a casserole is to make it on Sunday and have lunches for Joe to take to work for the rest of the week. I grilled up a package of chicken breasts and made this casserole, then divided the chicken and casserole among four containers, a complete meal ready to be tossed into a lunch container when we’re busy and running out the door in the morning.

Cheesy Farro Broccoli Bake 1 | Espresso and Cream

Cheesy Farro-Broccoli Bake
Recipe type: Side Dish/Vegetarian Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Make this dish a meal by topping with grilled or baked chicken breasts.
  • 1 cup farro, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup 2% or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate or square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the all the ingredients until well-combined. Spoon mixture into baking dish.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
  4. Alternate method: If you're looking for a more traditional casserole-type dish, I would suggest substituting the Greek yogurt for a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.


BLT Summer Chopped Salad

March 24, 2014

Summer Chopped Salad | Espresso and Cream 3
Lately Joe and I have been eating warm-weather foods despite our unseasonably cold temperatures. It’s our way of willing summer to come sooner rather than later, and busting out of the monotony of cold weather eating. A few weeks ago we just decided to heck with it, let’s bust out the grill and the salads and the smoothies and just start eating the way we do during the summer. Not only does it taste refreshing, but I seem to have forgotten just how easy it is to cook dinner when the grill is involved.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the most wildly popular recipe on Espresso and Cream is my Autumn Chopped Salad. I guess you could call this salad a follow-up to that recipe with a fresh summer twist. It’s not a diet salad by any means, it’s just plain old delicious. I tend to pride myself on being able to turn people who hate salad into people who love salad with recipes like this.

SummerChoppedSalad | Espresso and Cream

Crisp lettuce pairs perfectly with salty bacon and super sharp cheddar cheese, creamy avocados and juicy cherry tomatoes. Even if the weather never gets any warmer (and I have my doubts) I’ll have this salad to remind me of what summer feels like.

Summer Chopped Salad | Espresso and Cream 2

BLT Summer Chopped Salad
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2 to 3 entree, 4 to 6 side
This is an adaptation of one of the most popular recipes on the site, my Autumn Chopped Salad. If you're looking for a fresh, summer salad that works as a side dish or entree, this is your answer. It's easy to pull together and packed with flavor. I guarantee it can make even the biggest salad-hater into a salad-lover.
  • 6 to 7 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 6 strips bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 2 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
  • ⅓ cup poppy seed dressing
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
  1. In large bowl, combine the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, avocado and cheddar cheese.
  2. In small bowl, stir together the poppy seed dressing and balsamic vinaigrette and drizzle over salad. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.



Quick Black Bean and Beef Enchiladas

February 26, 2014

Black Bean and Beef Enchiladas | E&C
I mentioned earlier this week that I made enchiladas for dinner. It’s a regular occurrence in our house, since a big pan of enchiladas makes a great dinner and plenty of yummy leftovers for weekday lunches. We take our lunches to work almost every single day. It is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to save money. 

Lately, making homemade flour tortillas is one of my favorite new kitchen skills. I had no idea it was SO easy to make homemade tortillas, did you? Maybe I’m late to the game, but when I saw a recipe for homemade tortillas on Pinterest, I just had to give them a try. If you’re looking for a great recipe, I highly suggest Table for Two Blog’s recipe.

You could, of course, be an overachiever and make homemade enchilada sauce, too, but for weeknight dinners I usually just stick to enchilada sauce from a can. I kept things super simple in the filling, using ground beef, spices, diced green chiles, black beans and cheese. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to toss in whatever veggies you have on hand, like green peppers or diced cooked sweet potatoes. Get as crazy as you want!

Black Bean and Beef Enchiladas 2 | E&C

Quick Black Bean and Beef Enchiladas
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
I love making a pan of enchiladas one night, then having lots of leftovers on hand for lunches throughout the week. When making enchiladas for a family like ours where there is one vegetarian and one meat eater, I like to separate out a small portion of black beans, green chiles and enchilada sauce to use as filling for a couple vegetarian enchiladas, then stuff the remaining with the beef, bean and green chile mixture.
  • 6 large flour tortillas (I strongly recommend you try making them at home. I'll never buy them again!)
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 can (14- to 15-ounces) enchilada sauce
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In medium skillet, brown ground beef. Drain. Add in the cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne, along with the green chiles, black beans and ¾ of the enchilada sauce and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon heaping ⅓ cupfuls of the meat mixture into the center of each tortilla. Roll tortillas up and place in the prepared pan. Drizzle remaining enchilada sauce on top of rolled enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly and filling is hot. Serve immediately.
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