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vegetarian

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End of Summer Salad

August 26, 2013

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We have been swimming in produce over here! This weekend my mom brought us a basket full of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and other veggies that were absolutely beautiful! And then there is the abundance of produce we have at our house: cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, basil. Oh, and did I mention we’re also members of a CSA, so we get a box of produce every week? Yeah, like I said, we have a lot of produce at our house.

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This week I bought a ton of lettuce (one of the few produce item we don’t have) and decided that this week is all about eating down the veggies in our house in the form of salads. Already this past weekend I consumed four large salads and I don’t see my salad consumption slowing down. But in order to keep things interesting, I’ve been playing around with flavor combinations and cooking methods, like adding roasted corn on the cob to a crisp Romaine salad.

I also picked up a bottle of light spicy Thai peanut salad dressing at Target this week that I’ve fallen in love with. When left to my own devices, I tend to gravitate toward creamy salad dressings like Caesar or blue cheese. But it was nice to mix things up with something a little fresh that brings out the flavor of the veggies rather than mask them. This salad is ultra simple and hardly counts as a real recipe, but when my mom said it was one of the best salads she had eaten in a long time, I figured it was worth sharing, if nothing else than for the fact that it might serve as salad inspiration.

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End of Summer Salad
Makes 3 servings
Ingredients
*2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped
*1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
*1/2 to 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
*3 heads sweet corn, grilled or boiled, salted and removed from cob
*1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
*Mild Thai Peanut salad dressing (I like this brand I bought from Target)

Directions
*Divide the lettuce among three bowls, Top with the avocado, tomatoes and sweet corn. Sprinkle with the fresh basil. Lightly dress with the thai peanut salad dressing. Serve immediately.

Happy cooking!
Madison

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Asiago Basil Pesto

July 23, 2013

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Hello, friends! I’ve really been behind on the blogging front, haven’t I? Truth be told, I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to matters of blogging and sharing on the internet. Since I create recipes for a living and spend a lot of time in the kitchen during my work day, I tend to gravitate to simple cooking at home. When work gets busy (aka I’m doing a lot of cooking) I don’t really care to spend a long time in the kitchen cooking yet another meal. Instead, I throw together easy dishes that aren’t exactly blog-worthy. Unless you want to see endless yogurt bowls and large salads made up of whatever is found in my fridge.

Our garden has been growing like crazy! Well, our tomatoes, zucchini and basil have been growing like crazy. In fact, our zucchini is taking over our garden at an alarmingly rapid pace.

Since we have so much basil, I figured it was high time to make pesto. During the winter months I crave pesto like crazy, but since basil is pricey in the winter, I try to take advantage of pesto during the warmer months when its incredibly cheap to make. Especially when you grow your own herbs.

Joe is semi-allergic to walnuts so I kept this pesto super simple with just basil, Asiago cheese, plenty of lemon juice and a little salt. It made an amazing addition to a bowl of whole wheat pasta and would be a great dressing for grilled veggies or a grain salad.

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Asiago Basil Pesto
Ingredients
*3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
*1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
*1/3 cup olive oil
*Juice from 1/2 a lemon
*Pinch of salt (optional)

Directions
*Place all the above ingredients together in a food processor and blend until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Barley and Bean Pesto Salad

May 30, 2013

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Summer seems to be taking its sweet time arriving in Minnesota this year. And to say that the weather has been crazy this month would be an understatement. We had snow, rain, hail, 100 degree temps and 30 degree temps. And right now? Well it’s as muggy as Florida with treats of severe weather and tornados. Crazy, I tell you!

And while summer may not be here in full force, Joe and I have certainly been eating meals that feel like summer. So take that, Minnesota. Grain salads packed with veggies are one of my summer favorites. They are fresh and hearty and store well for a couple days in the refrigerator, meaning I can take leftovers to work the next day. Major bonus.

I ate more than my fair share of this salad last night. Probably a little more than I should have, since I was absolutely stuffed after dinner. Considering that this salad is packed with good-for-you ingredients like barley, black beans and green beans, I guess there are worse things to overdose on.

If you’re looking for a dish to take to a picnic or barbecue, I would highly recommend taking along this salad. It’s incredibly versatile and easy to customize. If you leave off the feta cheese this dish can also be made vegan, just be sure the purchased pesto you use is vegan, too. Or make your own if you’re feeling like an overachiever! 

Barley and Bean Pesto Salad
Makes 2 to 3 dinner-sized servings or 4 to 6 smaller side dish servings
Ingredients
Dressing
3/4 cup baby spinach
2 tablespoons purchased pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salad
1 1/2 cups cooked barley (I love the quick cooking barley from Trader Joe’s)
8 oz steamed and chopped green beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions
1. In a food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients. Process until blended and well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. Combine the barley, green beans and black beans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until well combined. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Top with crumbled feta cheese. This salad can be served warm, at room temp or chilled. I prefer it chilled.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Peter Reinhart’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pizza Crust

May 28, 2013

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Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend. Perhaps you were blessed with prettier weather than we were in Minnesota? It pretty much drizzled all weekend and stayed in the 60s. Since my dad, step-mom and little sisters were visiting from Idaho, I was hoping to have a little bit better weather. But we made the best of the weather and gave them a great taste of Minneapolis. It was also so much fun showing them our house for the first time! We managed a full long weekend with six people in our house and it wasn’t all that bad. I would call that a success.

I’ll have photos of our weekend to share in a couple of days, but in the meantime let’s talk about pizza. A couple weeks ago, someone at work prepared this pizza recipe and immediately I knew I had to have the recipe. The recipe, created by master baker Peter Reinhart, was unlike any pizza recipe I’ve ever had before. It was made with almond flour, egg whites and was completely gluten-free. Crazy, right? How almond meal and egg whites could come together to make a pizza crust is beyond me, but after tasting it and then making my own batch, I’m totally a believer.

If you have friends who are gluten-free or looking to cut back on carbohydrates, this would be a great dish to share. It’s fun to make because it’s so unique and takes much less time than traditional dough. Additionally, Joe and I both found that it makes great leftovers because the almond meal keeps the dough from drying out. This dough doesn’t taste like wheat-based dough but it its own thing all together. Very delicious, slightly nutty with a little crunch. It’s incredibly delicious, hearty and a great change of pace for pizza lovers like us.

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Peter Reinhart’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pizza Crust
Ingredients
Dough (adapted slightly)
*3 cups almond meal
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
*4 egg whites
*1 cup chicken broth
*3/4 cup grated mozzarella, fontina or Monterey Jack cheese
Toppings
*Marinara sauce and shredded cheese

Directions
*Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat, such as a Silpat. Set aside. You can also use parchment paper brushed with olive oil.
*In bowl, whisk together the almond meal, salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum. In a second bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until they develop stiff peaks.
*Add the broth to the dry ingredients and stir until it makes a smooth batter. Fold in the egg whites and the cheese.
*Pour mixture onto prepared pan with the nonstick baking mat. Spread into an even layer, using wet fingers if necessary to prevent sticking. Top lightly with marinara sauce and shredded cheese.
*Bake 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the crust is puffed through and baked and filling is bubbly. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Whole Wheat Banana Waffles

May 13, 2013

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Good morning, friends, and happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and got to spend time with your family. My mom was in town for the weekend, and while the weather wasn’t quite as warm as we had hoped it would be, we managed to spend a lot of time outside working in the yard, going on multiple walks and even taking a nap outside in the yard. Bliss!

A couple years back, Joe and I took our moms out for Mother’s Day brunch in Des Moines and had the absolute worst experience. We waited an hour to get seated and then after placing our order, we waited another hour to get our food. To top things off, the food was cold when it arrived at the table! But since it took so long to get our meal, we decided to just eat the cold food and call it a day. Ever since that Mother’s Day, we’ve sworn off eating out on Mother’s Day. Instead, I’m happy to make breakfast at home. It’s personal, less expensive, and, let’s be honest, healthier, too.

Earlier this month our new neighbor brought us a jar of fresh, real maple syrup he had tapped from his trees up north just days before. We have been looking for a reason to enjoy it for a while now, and Mother’s Day breakfast seemed like the person excuse. Joe isn’t big on pancakes with syrup (he hates how they get soggy) so waffles were our breakfast food of choice, along with cheesy eggs and fresh strawberries. For a great , basic waffle recipe I consulted the Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook and adapted it for my taste, which means adding mashed bananas and cinnamon, a little whole wheat flour for heartiness and a little less butter for health.

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Whole Wheat Banana Waffles
These waffles get a great crispy texture when you cook them on the higher end of  your waffle maker’s heat range. When making them, I heat my oven on low (about 200°F) and put the cooked waffles in the oven to keep them warm and crispy while I bake the remaining waffles. I think this would also make fantastic pancake batter as well.

Adapted slightly from Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6 people
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (optional, you can just sub all-purpose if desired)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions
*Heat waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
*Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
*In a second bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and stir until smooth. Add wet ingredients to try ingredients and stir until combined. Spoon batter (my waffle maker needed about 1/2 cup batter per waffle but it will vary based on the type of waffle maker you have) onto waffle maker and cook according to manufacturer’s directions.
*Serve with desired toppings, such as maple syrup, peanut butter, sliced bananas, and/or Greek yogurt.

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