About This Blog

I like food. A lot. In this blog, I will divulge all my delicious recipes, giving you a full list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and notes to help you successfully make the dish. Feel free to try these at home, and let me know how it went in the comments for the dish! If you have any questions, I will answer them as quickly as possible. If you use my recipe and discuss it on your site, please link back to this blog. Happy eating!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Trashed Up Pasta e Fagioli

So, I eat beans now. I have always always hated beans. My dad would always have black beans when we had tacos, and whenever I was made to try them, I gagged and wanted to puke and whined about why anyone would want to eat anything so terrible. I hated canned baked beans, but grudgingly ate them, because that's what we had to go with the hot dogs.
The only thing I've ever consistently enjoyed beans in was chili.
Let me tell you a secret: There are like eight cans of beans on my pantry shelves right now. I love beans. I love their meaty texture and fabulous flavour. I love how versatile they are. I love how healthy and awesome for your body they are. I can't get enough of them. The best part? Rich is really into them now, too. Shortly after I got my wisdom teeth removed and was still on a mostly liquid diet, we were talking about our meal plan for the following week, when I would hopefully be able to eat more solid foods, and he said, "Let's have something with beans. I really want beans." Eating beans is a huge step in our diet adjustment. So awesome.
Anyway, this dish started as a side dish to this beef and sweet potato turnovers I was making. I wanted something light on the side, and so this was just going to be carrots, peas, and mushrooms. Simple, light, a good accompaniment. And then Rich said, "Can we add beans to this?" and so we threw in some beans. And then we added fire roasted tomatoes, and then pasta, and then it all got spiced up. And this is what we ended up with.
I don't know how to make a traditional pasta e fagioli (can't be that hard), but I bet it's not quite like this.
Also, this is in my top ten of favourite soups now.

1/2 package of frozen peas and carrots, or 1/2 cup of peas and diced carrots
1/2 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 ounces small pasta (pictured here is ditalini)
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp each garlic and onion powder, oregano

Add a small amount of oil to a large pot at medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add peas, carrots, beans, tomatoes, stock, and seasonings to the pot. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat slightly, add pasta, and cover. Cook until pasta is al dente.
Add mushrooms, and cook a few minutes more. At this point, the pasta should be softer.

That's it. It's so easy. So healthy. So awesome. And filling! It was a little much with the turnovers, so I would probably put less in the bowl if you're having anything else with this soup.
An alternative to cooking the pasta in the broth is to cook it separately in water and add it to the soup. It's a matter of personal preference. I find that pasta cooked in water and added absorbs less broth over the next few days.
Anyway, stop listening to me talk about this soup and go make it! You won't regret it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Whole Wheat Couscous with Apple, Walnuts, and Pomegranate

I love autumn for lots of reasons, but I specifically love late autumn because that's when pomegranates start to be on sale. I know some people say that the time it takes to get all the arils out and the membranes away from them is not worth it, but it totally is. I love pomegranates. So good. And apples? Well, let's just say that being born and raised in Upstate New York, where apple orchards are plentiful ensured that I want to eat apples all the time.
Also, want to know something that's weird? Everything here in PA is cheaper than in New York. Except apples. They're at least twice as expensive. It's insane.
Anyway, I got the inspiration for this dish when I saw someone had made thyme scented barley, and I thought that was super neat. Like, why not?
I do have a bag of barley on the pantry shelf, but I definitely don't have the patience to cook it most of the time, so I decided on an alternative. And whole wheat pearl couscous was where it's at. A genius substitution, if I do say so myself.
One thing I love about this dish is that it can go with pretty much anything and everything. We first paired it with kielbasa, and then another time with fish. I've had it with a sandwich, and all by itself, with a fruit cup on the side. This little dish outshines EVERYTHING I put it with. It's probably the perfect side.
Oh, and the bonus? It's good hot OR cold. If I have some for lunch the next day, I'll give it a thirty second shot in the microwave to get rid of the refrigerator chill, and it's perfect.
Oh, and it's vegan, if you care about that kind of thing.
So, what are you waiting for? Make this dish. I promise you won't be disappointed.

1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
1 1/4 cup water
3 fresh sprigs thyme
1 fuji or honeycrisp apple, skin on, cut into cubes
The arils from 1 pomegranate
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
dried parsley
olive oil

In a small or medium saucepan, bring the water (with a touch of salt) to boil. Add thyme and couscous and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes, until water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, dry toast the walnuts by adding them to a pan on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (do not use oil to toast nuts!).
When couscous is cooked, remove thyme sprigs (many of the leaves will likely have come off) and discard. Add a small amount of olive oil and stir to prevent couscous sticking together.
Stir in nuts, pomegranate arils, and apple.
Serve garnished with parsley.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Almond Quinoa with Kale, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms

Let me start off by saying that this dish is INSANE. There's so much fabulous flavour happening here, that it's impossible to care that it's vegetarian. Plus, you'll be full by the time you finish a bowl this size, so there's no room for meat.
Kind of off topic, but can I just say that I really truly hate labeling people based on what they eat and then judging their character based on that classification? Like, meat eaters so often assume that vegetarians or vegans are crazy for not eating meat, or drinking milk or whatever, or that they're malnourished, because meat eaters cannot fathom obtaining protein from non-meat sources, or that they're "bleeding heart liberals," whatever that means.
And on the flip side, vegans and vegetarians are prone to thinking that meat eaters are cruel horrible who would murder every animal on earth for food if they could. Somehow, meat eaters are less moral for eating something that used to have a beating heart once.
And I hate that, especially because I don't fall into either of the categories, and I sometimes get flak for that. Like, some days, I'll eat something that's vegan and I get a ton of vegans liking my posts, and then the next day I'm eating meat and those same vegans freak out and say I'm a monster or something.
Some people use the word "Flexitarian," to say that they eat plants some days and animals other days. Sometimes they drink cow's milk. Most days they eat a plant based diet but they like the occasional scrambled egg.
Seriously, why complicate it? If someone asked me what my "classification" is, I'd tell them the truth: I'm an omnivore. I eat meat and plants. Humans are naturally (and scientifically) classified as an omnivore species. That's what I am. I eat meat and plants, just like a large portion of the human population, and I generally try to eat healthy and in season. It's not complicated.
That said, I have stopped drinking cow's milk, and I drink soy milk now, exclusively, but not for any other reason than I feel better when I drink soy and I like the taste. But I love me some grilled cheese. Mmmm.
Anyway, rant over. Back to this recipe. Almost vegan friendly. I found the inspiration for this recipe at Real Simple, and really liked the idea. Then I made modifications to it because I'm weird like that.

1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup almonds, dry toasted
1 package white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper, to taste
grated fresh Parmesan

Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. When cooked, stir in the toasted almonds.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and beginning to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the kale, wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Serve the vegetables over the quinoa and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

And that's it. It's really simple, delicious, and healthy. Make it vegan and skip the cheese.
I added almonds to this partially because I think almonds and quinoa are a match made in heaven, but also for healthy fats. It adds a nice, flavourful crunch to the dish.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kale and Kielbasa Hash

Have I mentioned before that I kind of love breakfast?
Yeah. I love breakfast.
This is another one of those recipes where I sort of just Frankenstein some stuff together, and it ends up really fabulous. I think it all started with some kielbasa that I had thawed out for dinner, and then it just never happened. It sat in the fridge and I kept avoiding it, and then I said, "Well, I might as well do something about this so it doesn't go bad." And then I just sort of pulled other stuff out of the fridge and threw it all together and Rich barely came up for air, he loved it so much.
This was really great with some fluffy scrambled eggs, and we were left feeling full and happy, which was great because we'd just come back from a run.
If you want to try something a little different for breakfast, allow me to suggest this trashed up hash.

3 large red potatoes, skin on, cut into small pieces
1/2 of a kielbasa, cut into thin rounds
1/2 cup kale, stems removed and roughly torn
salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, to taste
Dijon mustard, to taste

Start by adding a small amount of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes and salt, pepper, chili, and garlic powders. Stir frequently, and cook until potatoes are just tender. Allow them to brown a little!
Add a small knob of butter and melt. Add kielbasa and cook.
Add kale and cook until slightly wilted. Add Dijon mustard, tossing to coat.
Serve with eggs and/or toast.

Dijon mustard is the secret ingredient here. It really pulls everything together. As for how much I used? I didn't really measure it. I sort of just poured some in, stirred around, and repeated that until a good sort of glaze formed. If I had to guess, I probably added between a half and full tablespoon. My suggestion would be to add some in, stir it, and give it a taste and if the flavour isn't strong enough for you, add some more.

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hash

So, we can all pretty much agree that breakfast is the best meal of the day right? I mean, who doesn't love to get up in the morning and stuff delicious food in their face. I know I do. WHEN I WAKE UP.
Yeah, I'm not a morning person. At all. Like, I'm the person who sets an alarm with the intention of waking up in time for breakfast and a smoothie and then it goes off, and then I cuss my way to the alarm to reset it for another twenty minutes. And then I have to rush out the door and I'm lucky if I get a few spoonfuls of yogurt on the way.
Yeah, that's me.
I actually didn't even make this for breakfast. This was made for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is probably the best invention of all time. And for those of you saying it wasn't invented, shush. You're wrong.
Anyway, the idea for this stemmed from too many sweet potatoes in the house. Like, a ton. There's a time around Thanksgiving-ish when sweet potatoes go on sale for like, $0.33 a pound, and it's magical because that means I can eat all the sweet potatoes I want, which is a lot because I love those guys. And then there were some stragglers. Some sweet potatoes that made it past the "holy frig they're so cheap let's eat all of them!" hype, and I ended up staring at them like, what the heck am I going to do with these?
Enter hash. Kind of like home fries, but it has meat, so it's hash?? Something like that. Probably.
But I wanted chorizo because it's fabulous and flavourful and greasy and delicious.
And then BAM!
Sweet potato and chorizo hash. Top with some fried eggs, and you have a fabulous amazing brinner (breakfast+dinner = brinner) and I just wanted to eat it all day every day forever.
When my mouth gets better, I'm making this again.
The potatoes do take an ungodly amount of time to cook, though, so definitely throw those in first, and then add the chorizo when the potatoes just start to soften.

1 large or 2 small/medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 package chorizo, skins removed, cut small
salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
dried parsley
2 eggs per plate

To a wok or large pan over medium heat, add some vegetable oil and allow to heat.
Add potatoes and spices and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften.
Add chorizo. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender and chorizo is cooked through.
Fry two eggs per plate, sunny side up, being careful not to overcook. You want the yolk nice and loose still!
Add hash to plate, top with eggs, and garnish with parsley.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Shepherd's Pie Soup

So, I've never eaten shepherd's pie. Ever. It was one of those things that got auto-banned from the house because it contained things my brother wouldn't it. Wanna guess what parts? All of it.
Anyway, I was always kind of weirded out by shepherd's pie, because who puts mashed potatoes on top of stuff and calls it a pie? Weirdos, that's who. And maybe shepherds?
I birthed this recipe out of a weird desire to eat ground beef in a soup, but I didn't want to make cheeseburger soup because that doesn't really appeal to me. So I thought of some things that I would like in there, and by the time I stopped adding things to the pot, I decided it looked a lot like a shepherd's pie, although it definitely is not anywhere near.
Hearty, flavourful, and full of things that are great for you, this soup is great for colder days when you just want to stay inside and cuddle up in a blanket.

3/4 pounds ground beef
2 or 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut small
1 cup frozen peas
1 to 1/2 cups kale, cut small
4 cups beef stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Add a small amount of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add beef and cook until browned. (You may drain some of the grease at this point, but leave some in for the flavour.)
Add carrots, turnips, and stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, turn down, cover, and simmer until the carrots and turnips are just tender.
Add peas and mushrooms and simmer for another five to ten minutes.
Stir in kale and simmer until wilted.

I like to add Worcestershire sauce when the beef is browning; just enough to make a layer on the bottom of the pot, and then I simmer the beef in that for a few minutes. It adds a depth of flavour that I absolutely love.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Vegan Zucchini Ramen

If you had told me a year ago that I'd get excited about vegan food, I would have smooshed my burger in your face and called you unsightly names.
But this soup? So worth not having any animal products in it. I could eat it every day. I'm waiting for my mouth to feel better so that I can have this.
This was the soup I tossed around as an idea for a while, where I was like, "Yeah, I want to try this," and it sat on the back burner for a while. And then I made it. And then I wanted to make it all the time.
Let's talk about ramen a little bit. Like any good college student, I spent a lot of time eating ramen. But I hated that Top Ramen or Maruchan brands you find in the store. I got hooked on this spicy Korean ramen, and I could buy it by the case at this Asian grocery that was just twenty minutes' walk from my dorm. So, I ate a lot of it. It was a little pricier, but so worth it, because the flavour is maybe thirty thousand times better.
Fast forward to today. I still eat that ramen sometimes. There's an Asian grocery on McKnight that we go to every once in a while, and when I'm in an "eff the world" sort of mood, I eat that ramen.
You wanna know what's extra awesome about this ramen?
See that green stuff? The noodles? It's zucchini.
That's insane.
I saw the idea for noodles made out of vegetables some time ago, and some of you may remember that root vegetable noodle dish I made. It was so good, and it was so simple. Just shave off strips of vegetable with a tool I already had, a vegetable peeler, and I was good to go.
And then I got a julienne peeler. It was a little gift to me, from me. And man, is that thing fabulous. It makes the best little noodles. And I can make zucchini noodles (or zoodles, for the weirdos), and make this super flavourful zucchini ramen and all is right with the world.
If you don't have a julienne peeler, you can just as easily use a vegetable peeler to cut strips and then slice those strips lengthwise.

1 zucchini
1 half pack white or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
4 medium or 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame seeds per bowl
salt and pepper to taste
Splash of rice wine vinegar

Noodle-ize your zucchini, then place in a strainer and let dry for two hours.
When noodles are nearly ready, heat a small amount of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add carrots, broth, salt, and pepper, and vinegar, and bring to a boil.
Lower heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are just tender.
Add mushrooms and simmer another three to five minutes.
Meanwhile, add zucchini noodles to bowls.
Ladle soup over noodles, top with sesame seeds.

That's it. It's simple, fast (except for drying the noodles), fresh, and refreshing. What could be better?
Also, it's super versatile. Adding onions, peppers, or some leafy greens would be fabulous. Maybe also some small sweet potato chunks.
This is the way to make the version for those who don't like too much spice. When I normally make this, I tend to add about a teaspoon of sriracha.