Oodles of Zoodles

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a recipe on here, but believe me, I’m still cooking.  Over the past six months or so, J and I have moved towards a more plant-based diet with minimal processed “stuff.”  It’s close to vegan, but I occasionally add cheese to my meals, just to jazz it up (plus, giving up Feta has been really hard for me…it’s SOOO good!)  It’s been weird to re-learn some cooking techniques, and has been challenging coming up with new and creative (and still delicious) meals, but so far its going well!

One of my favorite ways to incorporate more vegetables into our diet is with a spiralizer.  That thing is HANDY!!  Last evening, I decided to make some “Zoodles” (zucchini noodles) and a raw sauce for dinner.  The zoodles are easy, just cut the ends off the zucchini, then run it through the blade.  Voila…zoodles!  For the sauce, I used some sun-dried tomato vegan pesto along with some leftover cherry tomatoes, and sautéed those in a tiny amount of oil.  I added the noodles to the “sauce” and cooked the noodles for a few minutes until they were slightly tender.

And then…this is where I failed at the vegan.  Oh yeah…I added feta.  Because, well, feta makes it “bettah.”  Obviously, if you’re following a vegan diet, then just leave it off.  Or, like J did, add some nutritional yeast for that “cheesy” flavor!  Definitely a great pasta substitution, very low carb, and full of fresh vegetables!  What more could you ask for on a warm summer evening!

Much love,
K.

**I realized that the photo I had taken of the noodles was horribly blurred.  So, I promise, the next time I make them, you’ll get a photo!

Vegan Alfredo…So Good!

IMG_0193Last night I decided to try my hand at vegan alfredo sauce.  J and I have a brand that we really like (Victoria), but we don’t have a grocery store in town that sells that brand, and it’s pretty hard to find, not to mention it’s expensive.  So, with that in mind, I set out to find a vegan alfredo sauce recipe that would stand up to traditional Pasta Alfredo, which is  a favorite of ours.

I won’t lie, I poured over Pinterest, for at least 5 minutes 30 seconds, before quickly realizing that most of the posts used Cauliflower as a thickening agent instead of butter and flour.  Plus…hey…another way to get in a vegetable?  I’ll take it!  I pretty much gave up after that point and decided to make up my own recipe and see how it went.   So, here you go!

The ingredient list is pretty simple, and probably already in your pantry if you follow a vegetarian/vegan diet.  Olive oil, garlic, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, milk/milk substitute (we use whatever we have on hand, typically either rice milk, oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk), sun-tomatoes, salt and pepper, and lemon juice.  We happened to have everything in our pantry, and had picked up some cauliflower at the grocery, so we were set.

Start with sautéing the garlic in some olive oil.  I used a teaspoon of olive oil, and a tablespoon of garlic.  What can I say…garlic is heavenly!  However, this is one of those areas where you can go with how much you like.  You want alfredo with 40 cloves are garlic?  Then get on with your bad self!  You want less than that…feel free.  I sautéed the garlic for a few minutes, taking care to not let it burn.  Burnt garlic tastes terrible.   While that was going, I cut up a half a head of cauliflower.  I figured I could have used the whole head, but it was just the two of us, and I had plans for the other half of the cauliflower (roasted cauliflower with turmeric…that’s for tonight!).

Once the garlic was ready, I added a cup and a half of soy milk (use whatever milk you have on hand) and the cauliflower florets, along with salt and pepper (to taste).  Then, you let the cauliflower cook until it’s soft.  It took about 10 minutes for mine to soften, mostly because I was lazy and cut it into big chunks.  The smaller your cauliflower chunks, the faster it will cook.  Keep and eye on it and when it will break up easily with a spoon, it’s good to go.

After your cauliflower is soft, pour the milk/garlic/cauliflower mixture into a blender.  Add in nutritional yeast (I put in 2 Tablespoons) along with lemon juice (1 Tablespoon).  Blend away!  Here’s where it really becomes your preference…the thickness of the sauce.  I personally like a thicker alfredo sauce.  However, while blending, it was a tad too thick even for me, so I added more milk.  Don’t be afraid to add more milk if you think your sauce is too thick!  This is all personal preference here, folks, make it how you like it!

When you’re done blending…taste it.  I decided that mine needed a little something extra, so I added nutmeg to the sauce.  I used to add nutmeg to my regular alfredo, so why not this?  It really made all the difference!

For dinner, we paired the alfredo with whole wheat pasta, roasted asparagus, and roasted carrots.  So good and healthy!  Hope you make it and enjoy it as much as we did!

Much love,
K.

Easter Vigil, One Year Later

While I don’t talk much about my faith journey on my blog, I was reminiscing the other day about how it has been a year since my baptism and conversion to Catholicism.  The year has been full of learning and growth, and I’m forever thankful for the change that has come to my life since joining my Parish.  The people there are amazing: loving and kind, supportive and helpful, and full of a heaping dose of reality if you get to be too big for your pants.  I adore them all, and love to help out wherever I can.

Which brings me to this post.  A few weeks back, right before we left for Alaska (which is a blog post all unto itself), the Adult Faith Formation leader, Kathy, shot out an email to the RCIA class from last year.  Apparently, each year, the RCIA class from the year prior helps stock the food for the following class’s Easter Vigil.  Always up for an excuse to cook, I quickly volunteered to help set up for the vigil, as well as provide a few dozen deviled eggs for the party.

Now, there’s a story to deviled eggs.  Growing up, it was the ONLY dish I was allowed to help with on the major holidays.  My mother ran her kitchen like a General runs his military unit.  Everything had a place and a place for everything, and God help you if it wandered under your watch.  Needless to say, deviled eggs became my speciality, and I was pleased to be able to share the with everyone this Easter!  However, I needed something with a bit more “oomph” than just regular old deviled eggs.  So, after a little bit of thought, a quick bit of research, and a short trip to the store, I had everything I needed.

DYED DEVILED EGGS.  That’s right…why serve any boring old, white deviled eggs?  This is the 21st century, folks…the land of Pinterest!  Why be inspired when you can be PINspired?!  (Lame, I know…feel free to express your groans)  I quickly set to work, hard boiling my eggs and peeling them to get started.  As a fair note, I have tried every trick under the sun to get my eggs to peel easily.  So far, hasn’t happened.  I’ve damn near given up and just accepted the fact that my eggs look like they escaped from a leper colony (no offense to any lepers reading).  But, nothing a little dye wouldn’t fix, right?

picstitch 2I peeled and cut up my eggs, disposing the yolk in a bowl, and set to dying.  I wanted the colors to be super vibrant, so I bought two dye packs and used 2 tablets per one dye cup, just so the colors would be ultra saturated.  I also used vinegar, though not as much as the packet said, because I didn’t want my deviled eggs to taste pickled.  Because that’s just gross, I don’t care who you are.

The eggs dyed up really well, and I let them dry over night in the fridge.  This morning, I whipped up the filling, and grabbed my icing piping bags to fill them.  I thought that I had some icing tips around here somewhere, but apparently they’ve disappeared (or I never bought them, either is entirely possible), but none the less I made do.  I left out the pickle relish in the filling, as I’ve recently been told that some people don’t like pickle in their deviled eggs (THE TRAVESTY!), and instead opted to cut a sliver of pickle and stuff it in the middle of the filling as a garnish on half the eggs.  Problem solved!

Here are my Easter Dyed Deviled Eggs!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them…it was a ton of fun!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Wednesday (because I’ve given up on Mondays…)

I actually made this meal on Sunday, and was totally prepared to write up this post on Monday.  And then Monday happened.  And we all know how Monday’s are.  They taunt you with the promise of a bright and happy week, and then they arrive and then reality sets in, and you realize that instead of bright and happy, you’re actually buried under the weight of deadlines and work.  I’m sure you’ve all be there.  If you haven’t…come hang out with me for awhile, I’ll show you around.

Anyways, enough of that.  After our weekend in Louisville, which was full of sun, great weather, time spent with J, and LOTS of food, we got home on Sunday and realized that we needed veg.  Lots and lots of veg.  I always get that way after a weekend of eating out…it’s as though I pretty much crave anything healthy and made at home.  We didn’t eat overly terrible while we were away (though we definitely indulged), and the food was all fantastic, but it was still eating out.  And three days of straight eating out will do us in, every time.  So, once we got home, I immediately set out to see what I could put together from our fridge.

Luckily for me, we had the ingredients for eggplant parmesan!  I love eggplant parmesan…especially with fresh mozzarella.  We normally put it on ciabatta bread as an open-faced sandwich, but I was all carb-ed out from the weekend (I know, it just sounds like a tragedy, doesn’t it!), so I wanted something other than bread of pasta.  J came up with a great suggest…spaghetti squash!  I love spaghetti squash!  It’s all the tasty goodness of al dente pasta, only it’s not.  It’s a veg.  And really, who doesn’t feel good about a meal of veg, served on a bed of more veg.  That’s right…NO ONE.  So…off I went.

My favorite eggplant parmesan recipe is one from Martha Stewart.  It’s an eggplant and mozzarella melt recipe, for sandwiches.  And the sandwiches are AWESOME, don’t get me wrong.  In fact, I’d definitely recommend you try the sandwich too, because it’s a great meal for lunch or dinner, and it’s fairly quick.  The reason why I really like this recipe so much is that the eggplant is baked, not fried, and it doesn’t involve salting the eggplant and letting it rest.  It’s basically cutting up the eggplant, dipping in egg, breading it with breadcrumbs, and baking it.  Simple!

Then, the spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is one of my most favorite vegetables out there, because it’s SO easy to prepare.  Basically, you cut the squash in half and scoop out the innards (like you would a pumpkin…also another type of squash…are we sensing a trend?).  Then, you drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on the insides, add some salt and pepper, and put it into the oven for around forty minutes while it bakes!  Then, after it’s finished, let it cool a bit so you can touch it and not burn yourself, then take a fork and scrape out the insides.  Instant veggie spaghetti!

So…I did all this.  And I managed to snag a jar of my favorite pasta sauce for both the eggplant and the squash.  It’s the Classico Roasted Tomato and garlic pasta sauce…so good.  (Yes, homemade is way better, but I was out, and this was cheap.  Sometimes easy wins out)  After adding the sauce to the eggplant rounds, I topped them with a slice of fresh mozzarella and put back under the broiler for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.  Oh yeah…mozzarella makes it awesome.  Then, I added more sauce to the spaghetti squash (like I would do with normal spaghetti), and topped the squash with the melty, cheesy, eggplanty rounds.  And then I ate it.  All.

So…that’s my recipe of the day!  You all should try it…it’s pretty darn healthy and nutritious, and if you like eggplant, it’ll taste great!  Enjoy!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday…Lentil Soup!

I’m sure I’ve probably posted a Lentil Soup recipe a time or two on here, but not this one.  And, in my world at least, lentils are totally worth repeating!  I’ve always felt like lentils got a bum rap in American foods…until recently, no one was really willing to embrace the magic that is a lentil, unless you were a vegetarian (said in a voice akin to saying “that damn hippy” by an 75-year-old disgruntled ex-Marine) **caveat:  I can say this because my father is, decidedly, a 75-year-old ex-Marine, who is highly disgruntled**

Anyways, as I’m sure it’s obvious, I love lentils.  They’re earthy, and filling, and vegetarian/vegan, and basically all things good for you.  So, I do my best to use them when I can.  Lentil tacos (may be a good post for next week?), lentil sloppy joes, lentil soup…hell, I’ve even been known to scramble lentils into eggs.  Yes…that is how I roll.  So, lentil soup really shouldn’t be a surprise.  And with that, here it is!

I basically took this recipe from Dinner was Delicious, and then tweaked accordingly.  One thing I’ve noticed about soups is that, even though the serving size says 6-8 servings, it’s usually enough for J and I to eat for two meals a day, for an entire week.  So, with that said, for pretty much every single soup recipe I try, I cut it in half.  Which is what I did with this recipe.  Except the onion, because who doesn’t love onion?  Not me, my friends, not me.  And, instead of celery (because we didn’t have any) I put in a leek (because we had a leek, and I’m all aboutsaute (2) using what I got).  Everything else was pretty on par!  Oh!  Except a red pepper…I added one of those too (because I had it on hand and it was starting to look a little sad, if you know what I mean).

Overall, the recipe was ridiculously easy.  For those of you, like me, who enjoy cutting up veg, this is a fun one!   I love prep-work for meals…the cutting, the dicing, the cleaning and skinning…I love it all.  It’s my favorite part of cooking, if I’m being honest.  So, because of that, I had a ton of fun with this recipe.  If you don’t like doing all that, the vast majority of these ingredients you can already buy pre-diced from your grocery, so just do that.  It’s more expensive, but if you hate the prep-work, why torture yourself??  Cooking should never be a burden, it’s supposed to be fun!

saute (1)So…basically, cut it all up, sauté it, and then add your stock and lentils.  Let simmer for a half hour or so, then eat it.  Honestly, what could be easier!  Plus, you control your sodium, the quality of the ingredients, and you can tell everyone you slaved away at it all day (because it really does taste like you did).  I imagine you could do this in a crock pot as well, but the lentils might get a bit mushy if you put them in there for the full eight hours.  I don’t really use a crock-pot a whole lot (I’m too terrified of leaving it alone while we’re at work because I’m afraid either a) the house will burn down, or b) the cats will knock off the lid and feast for hours without me to stop them), but it’s always worth a try!  Plus, you really get the “cooked all day” flavor from crock-pots, which is one of the reason why they’re so widely used (as well as for their convenience), so I would say go for it!

So, once you’re finished with everything, and your soup has simmered for however long you let it go (I don’t really watch the clock for soups…it’s ready when I want to eat it), you’re left with a really nice, thick, soup!  The lentils expand and thicken it up a bit, and the vegetables break down a bit to give the vegetable broth more flavor.  And, of course, even though I halved the recipe, I was still left with enough for 4-5 meals, so I’m sure J and I will feast on this for at least part of the week.  But, it was definitely delicious, and I’ll make it again!

soup

We’re nearly out of soup season…so I’m looking for some cold soup ideas for spring!  I love to hear reader feedback on recipes you’d like me to try, so please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to make them!

Much love!
K.

Recipe Monday!

Normally, at this point, I’d be writing about a recipe that I made last week that really blew my mind.  Unfortunately, as J was out on a business trip to Japan, I didn’t make much of anything.  So…my recipe would probably go something like this: Pick up my iPhone, find the number to Ru-Yi Chinese take-out, call in order, go pick it up.  Yeah…more like a recipe for delicious food, water retention from sodium overload, and higher numbers on the scale.

So, I decided that instead of writing up about that, I’d write a post on a recipe that I want to make this week!  I’ll definitely come back later in the week with a review once I make it (and hopefully remember to take photos), but this way I can give you a little preview of what is to come!  I’ve been craving spring food.  The weather here has been atrocious lately.  This is coming from a girl who LOVES winter and all it has to offer, and I’m even over it.  So, because of that, I wanted to make something that reminds me of the spring.  I came across a food blog that has tons of recipes that I can’t wait to try, and this one really caught my eye!  Spring Pea and Asparagus Pasta!  YUMMY!  I absolutely love peas, and asparagus is also another favorite vegetable, so I thought this would be right up my flavor alley.  Plus, we don’t really allow ourselves much pasta, but every so often it’s a nice treat.  We haven’t had it in a while, and I think it’s time to bring it back into rotation.

I’ll have to let you know how it goes!  I might make it for dinner tonight.  We recently signed up for a produce delivery program where every Tuesday we get a big box of fresh produce that is all local and all in season.  That will come tomorrow, so I’ll line up meals for Tuesday through Monday using those ingredients, once I get an idea of what all we’ll get.  But…we don’t have any from last week, since I put the delivery on hold knowing J would be out-of-town (hence the take-out).  So…I’ll add the ingredients to my list for the grocery run, and hopefully we can have a delicious (and nutritious) meal tonight!

Much love,
K.

Soup

It’s that time of year (at least in the Midwest) where all I want to do is sit on my couch with a steaming hot bowl of soup.  It’s warm, and filling, and makes your tummy happy on frigid cold days (hello Polar Vortex…I missed you).  I love soups…warm soups, hot soups, cold soups, dessert soups…you name it, I like it.  For me, soup is one of those year-round type of meals, where you can make it with just about anything and it’ll taste fabulous.

Last night, I got a massive craving for some hearty soup.  I wanted something with pasta in it, and mushrooms are one of my staple “go to” vegetables that can substitute meat, so I thought that would work well.  I came across an old favorite (from Skinnytaste) in my recipe book that I used to make when we lived in the NL.  Three Cheese Tortellini and Mushroom Soup.  Doesn’t it just sound amazing?

The best part about soups, normally, is that they require very little effort.  Chop up some stuff, sauté it in some butter, add more stuff, let simmer, eat.  Really simple, makes a ton, and usually very budget friendly (depending on the soup).  This recipe is no different.  Start with some butter in a big pot.  Melt that up, add some veg (onion, carrots and celery…the holy trinity of soups), and let that sauté for a while.  Then add your liquids.  Vegetable broth (or chicken stock if you’re not a veggie like me) and some water.  Add your mushrooms and seasonings and simmer that for a while to let the mushrooms cook.  Once the mushrooms are soft, add your pasta (I prefer cheesy tortellini), and cook that to the directions on the package.  I always use fresh pasta, mainly because I’m lazy and it cooks SO much faster than dried.  Plus, there are a lot of really good fresh pastas out there that aren’t super expensive.  If you want to be REALLY amazing, you can make your own fresh pasta.  Again, please see the fact that I am lazy, therefore I do not do this.

Once the pasta has cooked, your soup is ready to go!  Bowl it up and top it with some parmesan cheese if you want.  I never turn down cheese, so this step is of the utmost importance for me.  Last night, I was super lucky, because I still had a fair amount of my homemade wheat bread that I could pair with the soup for a really hearty meal!  (Because, really, carbs are amazing).

And with that, what post about food is completely without a photo!  Please excuse the poor quality, my iPhone was being temperamental last night.

Soup

Hope you enjoyed!

Much love,
K.