Swiss chard? Not so hard!

Bowl of swiss chard pasta

I mentioned in my first post how I was excited to purchase new vegetables that I had not worked with before from the farmer’s market and experiment with them. Well this weekend, I did just that! My mom was in town for the night on Friday on her way home from a knitting class in Alexandria, VA. On Saturday morning, she went with Jesse and I to the South of the James farmer’s market in Richmond. I bought a bunch of produce for the week including sugar snap peas (my favorite), radishes, asparagus (Jesse’s favorite), and Swiss chard, which is BEAUTIFUL, but I’ve always been intimidated by it bRaw Swiss Chardecause I’ve never worked with it. I mean look how pretty it is raw.

Gorgeous, right? I knew I could make something out of it that even if it wasn’t delicious, it sure would be pretty on my blog! One of my favorite things about Knoxville has always been the Saturday morning Market Square farmer’s market, so I was excited to experience Richmond’s since I officially live here now. It was a different atmosphere since it is in a nice park rather than in the middle of downtown, but I kind of liked that. Not to mention the farmers were very nice and one of them was a Steelers fan! So yes, you could say Jesse and I approved and will be frequently returning. It is one of our favorite things to do together.

This morning as I was washing all of the produce we purchased, I found a slug in the colander that must have been on the radishes! Now THAT is how I know our vegetables are straight from the ground and are as fresh as can be. Not going to lie though, I definitely woke Jesse up to get the slug and he carried it outside to be set free.

Okay, so back to the Swiss chard. We decided to sauté it and mix it with some whole wheat linguini and a bunch of Parmesan cheese (pretty much goes on everything in this house). It was delicSwiss chard being sauteedious! Jesse has declared he likes Swiss chard; me too! One of the things we decided we like about it is that it is kind of like two vegetables in one. You have the pretty rainbow stems that become tender when cooked, and the yummy leaves that are the perfect greens to add to pretty much anything. We worked together on this dish tonight, and it was successful teamwork! To the left is a picture of the stems of the Swiss chard cooking. We did them first with some garlic, onion, and Extra Virgin Olive oil, then added the leaves for about two minutes at the end until they cooked down. We mixed the final product with the linguini and a little extra olive oil, and then topped with Parmesan! I also added a bunch of red pepper flakes to mine beForkfull of swiss chard pastacause, come on, they are the best. The picture at the top is the finished product – without the Parmesan because I wanted you to be able to see the Swiss chard. Here is a photo Jesse took of his first bite to the right. We loved our Sunday night dinner and decided that we will definitely be making Swiss chard again! I think it would be good with a nice filet of salmon, so maybe we will try it with that. We are looking forward to more adventures at the farmer’s market and the new dishes we try as a result! I am planning on roasting some of the radishes we bought this week, so I will have to keep you posted. Stay tuned!

 

Not-so-spaghetti-and-meatballs

Broccoli meatballs and spaghetti squash - Version 2Spaghetti and meatballs. Except there was no spaghetti – or meat. That is what we had for dinner tonight!

Being in an Italian family, I’m sure there are a lot of doubters! Growing up, my family used to think I was crazy because I didn’t like red sauce on my pasta. Nope, just plain noodles with butter and Parmesan for this girl. Well now I actually do love red sauce, but I wanted to try it with a healthier, more vegetable-filled dish!

I know it has been a while since I posted. I have been very busy finishing up final exams for my LAST semester of undergrad and moving to Richmond, VA! Throw in packing up my apartment, my friend visiting from Chicago, and surprising my mom for her birthday, and you can see why I haven’t had time lately to cook anything worth sharing about. Tonight; however, I made an exciting dinner for Jesse and I! I wanted something with only a few ingredients and that wouldn’t make a ton of leftovers since we are going to Knoxville this weekend for graduation. I know Jesse loves spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, which we haven’t had in a while. Not to mention it’s so easy – so spaghetti squash it was! I wanted to add something a little heartier to the dish to give it more protein and make it filling. I went on searching for meatballs that didn’t involve any meat. I thought about lentils, but knew Jesse wouldn’t eat more than a bite (I still want to give those a try sometime! You never know!). Then I came across something I had not thought of, “meat”balls made out of broccoli, almonds, and Parmesan! Now THIS Jesse would devour and it sounded awesome to me, too.

I found the recipe here:

http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-broccoli-parmesan-meatballs/

Long story short, the recipe involves pulsing almonds in the food processor (I LOVE my food processor!), doing the same with broccoli, adding Parmesan, spices, and an egg. You make little balls and bake them in the oven! Really easy!

For anyone wondering about how I prepared the spaghetti squash, I cut it lengthwise, put a little olive oil, salt, and pepper on each side, and baked it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. After that, it shreds with a fork into “spaghetti.”

It was a yummy dinner and we have more “meat”balls in the freezer to have this dish again after we get back from our trip this weekend! Go vols!

Sweet potato broccolini tacos

IMG_4984

The best dishes really do happen by accident! I had such a happy accident last week! I was planning on baking a sweet potato and sauteing some broccolini (both which my mom and I had purchased at the Knoxville winter farmer’s market a few days earlier), but I wasn’t quite sure what else I was going to have with it to complete my meal. I was heading to the pantry to pull out the quinoa, when I spotted my leftover tortillas from the vegan bean and cheese tacos that I posted about. Then the lightbulb went off, sweet potato broccolini tacos sounded yummy AND I didn’t have to wash a whole new pot from making quinoa! Needless to say, I was sold on the quick dinner fix.

Boy, were these tacos delicious! I know this picture looks odd because I didn’t take the time to fill them evenly for the picture – hey, I was hungry! Anyways, I had a whole other half of sweet potato and extra broccolini that I poured on the plate after I took the picture, so at least I made it look sort of pretty for the blog!

Here is how I made this:

Ingredients

Sweet potato

Broccolini

Garlic

Onion

Olive oil

Yellow corn and wheat tortillas

I baked the sweet potato at around 450 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes until soft all the way through. (No I do not peel it – I love the skins!)

Then, I sauteed some garlic and onion in a little bit of olive oil, and added the broccolini.

Finally, I assembled the veggies on two tortillas and probably finished the whole plate in about 5 minutes. Yep, they are that good.

I have to say, I think this would be an all time favorite for my dad. I kept thinking of how much he would love this! And it’s so easy too. The tortillas were unique because they are a a mix between corn and flour tortillas. They’re La Tortilla Factory brand and they’re made with yellow corn and wheat. I really, really loved these.

Try at your own risk; you may become obsessed. Disclaimer: I ate this same thing the next night for dinner and have eaten it the past two nights as well.

Bean and “cheese” tacos

Vegan bean & cheese tacos.jpg

So about a week ago I came across a recipe that caught my eye… It was for vegan bean and cheese tacos. I love beans and I love cheese, and I really love the idea of eating a little less animal products. Obviously I had to try this! The “cheese” in this recipe is made by blending hearts of palm and nutritional yeast. If you’re anything like my mom, you are making an icky face right now. But do NOT knock it ’til you try it! It definitely wasn’t cheddar cheese, but I kind of liked it. It would definitely take some getting used to on a regular basis, but it has a unique flavor and I would recommend at least trying it once.

These tacos are super quick to make, and she actually used chickpeas instead of black beans. I never would have thought of making chickpeas into tacos, but it was yummy! I’m a huge fan of chickpeas.

I didn’t feed this to anyone besides myself, so I can’t share any other opinions. Jesse loves cheese so so so much that he always is disappointed when I try to make a cheese substitute. Probably wouldn’t make this for him, but he would try a bite of mine while he ate his own tacos covered in gooey cheddar!

I’m always excited to try something new in the kitchen, and this recipe did not disappoint! Maybe you’ll be inspired to give it a go 🙂

Here is the recipe for anyone who wants to try it out:

20-Minute Bean And Cheese Tacos with 2-Ingredient Vegan Cheese

 

Rolling into spring

Spring roll finished

 

The first day of spring has come and gone, and we are getting sunnier and warmer weather here in Knoxville. Fittingly enough, I made spring rolls! A few years ago, my mom and I took a cooking class at Sur la Table that was Thai themed. We made a bunch of dishes, including Thai spring rolls. I love these because they are full of flavor and veggies, and wrapped in a light rice wrap rather than a fried, doughy shell. Not to mention the yummy peanut sauce that accompanies them! Perfect protein punch to match a veggie-loaded meal.

You can buy rice wraps at an Asian market, and they keep for a very long time. They have a thin, papery texture. You submerge them in water for about 15 – 20 seconds to soften them.

Spring roll 1

After that, you load them up with whatever fillings you like! I used lettuce, cucumber, carrots, mint, and shrimp this time. Avocado and red cabbage would also be good.

Spring roll 2.jpg

The last step is to roll them up and enjoy!

Spring roll 3

I made these a few hours ahead of time, and to keep them fresh I stored them in a plastic container with a damp paper towel over them. I attempted to make a peanut sauce to dip them in, but it didn’t turn out quite as I expected so I will still need to experiment with that. I was so happy to have these ready for me after a long day. Not to mention, they look fancy and a little complicated (even though they’re not), so I felt proud of myself! I hope you try out this quick and easy spring dish. You can experiment with any fillings you like!

 

Medi-medley

So over spring break, Jesse and I went to DC for the evening with our friend Ryan to see an NBA game. Jesse LOVES the NBA! We went to dinner at a place called Cava, that Ryan said was awesome. It was! It is sort of like a Chipotle-style place, but with Mediterrannean food. Jesse and Ryan had pita sandwiches, and I had a bowl with greens, brown rice, roasted vegetables, and yummy toppings like hummus, tahini, cabbage, and quinoa tabbouleh. It was delicious! I decided right then and there that I had to try to replicate something like it at home. I was pretty sure I could make it so that Jesse would like it too. Well tonight, I did just that!

Jesse is visiting for Easter weekend, and we have been so lucky to have beautiful weather. We played tennis this morning and went to the driving range to hit golf balls this afternoon. (We did not have as much luck without our coach, my dad, fixing our grip and stance). We had a great time though! Then we went downtown to Market Square and had drinks while sitting outside. It was truly the perfect afternoon. When we got back home, we attempted a Cava-copycat recipe! Here is what we did:

Toss Brussels sprouts and cauliflower florets with onion, olive oil, salt, and garlic powder, and roast at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook brown rice. Top with roasted garlic hummus, (butternut squash for me), parsley, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Yum! Jesse rated it an 8/10! He explained to me that 10/10 is solely reserved for steak, so that 8/10 is basically a 10/10 for anything plant – based. I’ll take it! It makes my heart so happy that we can enjoy a plant – based meal together, knowing that we are nourishing our bodies while playing a small part in saving the environment.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of my dinner at Cava and our at-home replica!

Cava Bowl.jpgHomemade Cava Bowl

(Cava on the left; At-home on the right)

Definitely try this out, it was delicious! And I have leftover roasted veggies… always happy about that 🙂

The Renowned Cauliflower Crust Pizza

IMG_4886

It’s pizza night! Okay like I promised earlier, I pulled out my food processor and made delicious cauliflower crust pizza for dinner tonight. You could say Jesse was a little happy about it! Side note – the food processor makes this a BREEZE. Before I finally broke down and ordered one on Amazon a few months ago, we used to use a cheese grater to grate the cauliflower into a fine “rice” like texture for the dish. It took forever and made a huge mess, so yeah, I was pretty excited to use the food processor to do the same thing in seconds!

First I baked the crust, then added the toppings and broiled it to melt the cheese. Here is a picture of just the cauliflower crust in case anyone is wondering. It seriously is delicious!IMG_4880

If you don’t believe me, ask Jesse because he is a much tougher critic. And this is his FAVORITE thing I make! Now if I could only convince my 18 year old brother to try it… He is a whole different story!

Anyways, this is a great way to sneak more veggies into dinner and to eat pizza without feeling heavy after. Not to mention it is a crowd-pleaser!

There are soooo many things you could do with this pizza. Jesse prefers to top his half with extra cheese and spinach, while I always have to have fresh basil and roasted red pepper flakes if I have them! Sauteed vegetables would also be delicious. I have also heard of using hummus instead of marinara sauce, which would be so yummy topped with cucumbers, tomato, red onion, and parsley. That sounds like something Jesse and I might have to try! It’s hard not to love an easy dish with such endless possibilities. Be inspired!

Link to recipe: http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/healthy-pizza-with-a-cauliflower-crust/