Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cheater Zucchini Marinara

We all have nights when we really don't want to cook. I can be especially bad about this. Lately I am trying to go as long as possible with out eating at a restaurant due to trying to save money and not wanting to be gluten-ized again. Meals like this, that are easy to pull together and healthy, keep me from going out.

I always keep a jar of organic pasta sauce in my pantry. I like to try different flavors, like Cabernet or roasted garlic. I try to make sure that it's organic and made with actual onions and garlic, not granulated or dehydrated. Of course it would be great to have homemade marinara always on hand, but having a reliable back up pasta sauce is just as good! 

Cheater Zucchini Marinara
  • 1 small/medium zucchini, diced 
  • 1/4-1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt
  • thyme, oregano + red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 a jar or more of store-bought organic marinara (or homemade!)
  • GF spaghetti
  • optional add-ins: cheese, vegan cheese, nutritional yeast

  1. Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. Heat a small/large skillet (depending on how much sauce you need) on medium high heat. Add the oil, then onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or more. 
  3. Right before your onions start browning slightly, add the zucchini. Cook onions and zucchini until they are both slightly golden brown and zucchini is cooked through, another 5 minutes or so. Stir in smashed garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  4. Add as much pasta sauce from a jar/homemade that you need for your pasta. I used about half a jar. Add thyme, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes. Turn up heat until it starts to bubble, then turn down low to simmer while your pasta cooks. If the sauce is getting too thick, feel free to add a splash of water, red wine, or vegetable broth. 
  5. Drain your pasta whenever it's done and toss with pasta sauce! Voila!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Salad

I have finally gotten myself back into a regular salad routine! I find myself eating them for lunch most days of the week because I am (successfully) trying to ignore processed foods. Lucky for me, processed foods does as much damage as gluten/dairy/wheat to my stomach, so it's easy for me to avoid. Another way I easily avoid them is my stocking my fridge and pantry with healthy, fresh items. 

I like to keep organic romaine lettuce, a big bag of organic carrots, and the occasional celery or fruit to throw in. Having a variety of nuts and seeds also adds a nice crunch to your salad. Today I wanted to try something different. I had half of an avocado in my fridge, some strawberries, and the usual carrots/lettuce. I stumbled across this post which more or less inspired this salad. I was too lazy to make the dressing, so I created my own. This salad is lemony, bright, and refreshing! Just adjust the amount of ingredients to your liking/how many you are serving.

Strawberry Lemonade Salad
(adapted lightly from this)

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • half of an avocado, diced
  • 4-5 strawberries, hulled and halved
  • a handful of almonds/sunflower seeds, toasted 
  • juice of 1 lemon or less (I used about 3/4 of a whole lemon)
  • splash of olive oil
  • a few glugs of raspberry/strawberry vinegar (balsamic or white balsamic works too)
  • optional add-ins: feta, goat cheese, pickled red onions

  1. Toss lettuce, carrots, avocado, nuts, and strawberries together. 
  2. Squeeze lemon juice over the salad. Add olive oil, vinegar and any other add-ins.
  3. Toss and enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Balm 57

There is one of the best bars and restaurants not even five minutes from where I live. It's called Sticks & Stones Clay Oven. They do wood-fired pizzas, amazing salads, rosemary garlic fries, and most of all, some really great cocktails. They have seasonal specials that always change, which is usually a pizza, pasta, appetizer, dessert, and drink special.

This recipe was created because they changed their seasonal cocktail to something else (a delicious black cherry ginger mojito) and I had to find a way to recreate it. I've had this many times at Sticks & Stones because of how simple and delicious it is. Slightly fruity blackberry whiskey pairs with fresh lemon juice, sweet agave nectar and minty lemon balm. 

The Balm 57 is great for the summertime because of the refreshing lemon and mint. Also, who doesn't love whiskey? I mean, really. So put this at the top of your to-do-list! You will not regret it.

The Balm 57
  • 2-2.5 oz Dock 57 Blackberry Whiskey
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 oz. agave nectar 
  • 1 tsp minced fresh lemon balm or mint
  • ice
  • blackberries, for garnish (optional)
  1. Put the whiskey, lemon juice, agave, and lemon balm in a glass. Use 2 oz whiskey for a sweeter drink, and 2.5 oz for a slightly stronger drink. Stir with a bar spoon.
  2. Finish with ice and top with blackberries on a toothpick.
  3. Cheers!
Makes 1 cocktail

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Smoky BBQ Tofu Sandwich

Some nights I just don't feel like being in the kitchen for hours. Sandwiches are the perfect solution to this. Now, some claim that sandwiches are boring and not filling, but I beg to differ. The great thing about sandwiches is that you can put pretty much anything on it. I have made some pretty tasty vegan sandwiches before, but this one might take the cake.

I ate mine for breakfast and it kept me full for hours. Something tells me this would be the perfect thing to whip up while battling a hangover (because it takes little effort). There are many variations you can do on this sandwich, which I will note below.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Sandwich
(adapted lightly from this)
  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu
  • BBQ sauce
  • liquid smoke (optional)
  • GF bread (or regular)
  • hummus, any variety (I used kalamata olive) or sriracha veganeise*
  • jalapenos
  • Earth balance, for grilling
  • optional add-ins: pickled red onions, vegan cheese, olives, avocado, mustard

  1. Cut the tofu into 4 "patty" shapes (once lengthwise, then cut again to make 4). Press these patties for at least one hour: wrap tofu in paper towels or clean dish towels, put on a plate, top with another plate, and top with a couple of cans.
  2. When tofu is pressed, heat a grill pan/skillet on med-high. In a shallow dish, toss tofu with BBQ sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper to coat. Do not oil your pan. Place tofu directly on grill pan and cook, flipping once, until lightly charred and cooked on both sides.
  3. While the tofu is cooking, take two pieces of bread and spread hummus/veganeise on both sides liberally. Top with jalapenos and other toppings. When tofu is done, put one piece of tofu on each sandwich, and assemble the sandwich.
  4. Put earth balance on the top of your sandwich, enough to cover most of the bread. Place the sandwich buttered-bread-side down on the grill pan. Cook a few minutes, until golden brown and lightly grilled. Spread more earth balance on the top, flip your sandwich, and cook a few more minutes
  5. Remove to a plate and DEVOUR! Yields 4 sandwiches

*note: to make sriracha veganeise, put a few spoonfuls of vegan mayo in a bowl. mix with a few squirts of sriracha, garlic powder + pepper. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dill CLT Wraps

This week I am trying to challenge myself to cook from my pantry and farmer's market finds. More importantly, I am trying to challenge myself to create my own recipes, which I've never really done. Creating recipes seems scary and daunting to me, so I am starting off very slowly with little things I've made before and things I'm not afraid to experiment with.

Where's the best place to start? Lunch. This meal is so easy to work with because it doesn't have to be an extravagant meal with a lot of ingredients. Something simple can usually tide anyone over and make them happy. 

It's summertime, i.e. incredibly hot, so I like to eat cool vegetables and drink lots of water! This recipe comes together quickly and can easily be adapted to your liking. I got my tomatoes and cucumbers from the farmer's market, which made it even better!

Dill CLT Wraps (Cucumber-Lettuce-Tomato)
  • a few leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1-2 TBS hummus (I used kalamata olive)
  • 1-2 TBS veganeise * (see note)
  • paprika, garlic powder + pepper; a pinch each
  • 1 TBS fresh dill, minced
  • optional add-ins: pickled red onions, chickpeas for protein, squeeze of lemon, hemp seeds, toasted nuts, crumbled cashew cheese
  1. Put your lettuce on a plate or cutting board. Mix together the hummus, veganeise, paprika, pepper, and dill in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like. Use more hummus for a more spread-like consistency, or more veganeise for a sauce-like consistency. I did about 1 1/2 TBS veganeise and 1 TBS hummus.
  2. Spread an even amount of this mixture on each piece of lettuce
  3. Add cucumbers and tomatoes on top of the spread
  4. Top with any additional add-ins
  5. Enjoy this simple and delicious snack!

note: I used to hate mayo when I wasn't GF or DF. Veganeise, however, is a great thing to have in your kitchen. You can quickly whip up a spread for a sandwich or wrap, or brighten up a simple summer snack like this. There is a link in the ingredient list for the kind I use, which is made with olive oil. Because this spread uses hummus and veganeise, there's no need for salt! If you totally hate any type of mayo or veganeise, just use all hummus.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Garlicky Seared Summer Squash Pasta

We all need to change up our pasta every once in a let's ditch the tomatoes and use fresh summer produce! I found some great local squash at a market on my street that received it from a local college's farm. How awesome is that? I also got two pounds for $2, so I was very pleased. 

Over the years, I have taught myself a few handy cooking techniques. Searing is a great method of cooking because it cooks it quickly, thoroughly, and it has a slightly "blackened" taste, which is always great. I used things I needed to use up in my fridge, so feel free to change things out or add other vegetables!

Garlicky Seared Summer Squash Pasta
  • 1 box of GF corn-quinoa pasta (or regular pasta)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium or two small summer squash, cut into 1/2" chunks (any variety)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (or more!)
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh basil
  • nutritional yeast or cheese

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil for your pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 TBS of olive oil. Add onions, a pinch of salt, and cook until just translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  2. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to directions.
  3. Add squash to the skillet and turn up to medium-high heat. Add red pepper flakes and cook until cooked through and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Turn back down to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Remove the pan from the stove.
  4. Drain your pasta. Toss in a big bowl with the seared squash and fresh basil.
  5. Top with nutritional yeast or cheese. Served with a big salad! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Pimm's Teacup

Have you ever had Pimm's No.1? It's probably my favorite booze on the market. It's considered a "fruit liqueur" and has a sweet, fruity flavor. Mixed with Sprite, cucumber slices, lemon and orange peel, and strawberries, it becomes one of the most refreshing summertime drinks of England: the Pimm's Cup. I had my first Pimm's cocktail at Printworks Bistro and immediately fell in love. This liqueur also pairs incredibly well with St.Germain, an elderflower liqueur. 

I happened to have a pitcher of pomegranate oolong iced tea in my fridge that I've been sipping on for a few days. I've been thinking of concocting a Pimm's pomegranate drink, but this will have to do for now. Luckily, Pimm's is pretty affordable (less than $20) but is not found at every liquor store. Hopefully I will come back with a fancier Pimm's cocktail in the future that includes some fruit and tonic!

The Pimm's Teacup
  • 1 C iced tea (see link above for the kind I used; I recommend something fruity)
  • 1 shot of Pimm's No.1 liqueur
  • Cucumber slices

Pour tea into a teacup. Mix in Pimm's. Drop in an ice cube if desired and top with cucumber slices. Happy Pimm's O'Clock!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

5-minute Cajun Grit Bowl

One thing I find fascinating about the human body is how different each person's appetite is first thing in the morning. Some people can straggle through their morning on just coffee, or a doughnut, or nothing at all. Some people can't even eat until they've been awake for a few hours.

And then there's people like me. I am hungry as soon as I wake up. I will not function if I don't eat breakfast within my first hour of being awake. To me, breakfast is the most important meal of the day because with out it, my day will not go well. 

But like most people, I don't really have mornings to make a fancy breakfast with a lot of ingredients or steps. This grit bowl is everything that breakfast should be: fast, easy, flavorful, gut-sticking and doused in hot sauce. Even though it only takes 5 minutes, it feels fancy because of how delicious it is!

5-Minute Cajun Grit Bowl
-2 eggs
-2 TBS milk of choice (I used almond)
-cayenne pepper
-salt + pepper
-non-stick spray (optional)
-1/4 - 1/2 C polenta corn grits (small vs. moderate portion)
-3/4 - 1.5 C water
-earth balance (or regular butter)
-cajun seasoning (or a mix of garlic powder, cayenne, paprika + salt)
-accompanying drink (tea, coffee, etc.)

1. First things first: put on the kettle for tea or start your coffee pot. This is crucial for your early morning sanity. Then go ahead and boil your water for grits in a small pot. For a smaller portion of grits, use 3/4 cup of water; 1.5 cups of water for a moderate portion. 

2. While your water boils, spray a microwave-safe bowl with non-stick spray. Crack two eggs in the bowl, then add milk, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Feel free to add chopped green onions, chives, or even cheese. Mix together well, making sure to break the egg yolks.

3. Your water should be boiling by now. Add your grits (1/4 C for small portion; 1/2 C for moderate). Stir, simmer, and start a 5 minute timer.

4. Put your egg bowl in the microwave. Cook 30 seconds, stir, cook another 30 seconds, and stir again. If the eggs are close to being done, cook another 30 seconds. If it needs a little more time, cook 35 seconds. When done, remove from the microwave.

5. Once your grits are done, remove from the stove. Stir in a dollop of vegan butter and cajun seasoning to your liking. Pour into a bowl and top with your eggs (they will easily slide out of the bowl). Top with hot sauce (highly recommended), cheese, or even nutritional yeast. Eat with coffee, tea, or whatever you drink in the morning. Enjoy!

Serves 1