Another Tribute to Meatless Mondays

Vegetables are amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my meat, but sometimes a vegetarian meal can be so satisfying.  Here’s another tribute to meatless Mondays…

Zucchini Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Mushrooms

Serves 2

  • 2 medium sized zucchini, julienned into “pasta”
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz. sundried tomatoes
  • 6 oz. marinara sauce (I used Rao’s)
  • 4 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and saute half the garlic and half the onions.  Saute for 3-5 minutes until golden in color.
  2. Add mushrooms.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove garlic, onions, and mushrooms and set aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Using the same skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add remaining garlic and onion.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Turn to low heat.  Add zucchini pasta and saute for an additional 5 minutes.  Constantly stir the zucchini pasta to ensure it does not stick to the skillet.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. With the same skillet, over low heat, add roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil, and marinara sauce.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  6. To plate, place the zucchini pasta first, then layer with marinara sauce, and top with sauteed mushrooms.

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Meatless Mondays (and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays…)

I go through a lot of phases with my eating/cooking.  Right now, I’m in my veggie phase.  I’ve been eating vegetarian meals for dinner every night… not necessarily because I want to explore being a vegetarian, but more so because I’m loving the flavors and endless possibilities.  My office is near Fairway market – the perfect way to spend a lunch break.  I could just spend endless hours in that store, admiring all of the different types of fruits, vegetables, olive oils, etc.  It’s nice to be able to pick up some fresh (and local) vegetables to cook for dinner or tomorrow’s lunch.

The only issue with cooking vegetarian meals is that Bjorn is not very thrilled.  But honestly, how can you say no to this delicious veggie burger…. topped with chopped beets (leftover from a previous meal), shredded cheddar cheese, and avocado on a freshly baked multigrain roll (from Fairway bakery)??

Veggie Burgers

Makes 6 patties

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 oz frozen butternut squash, chopped
  • 6 oz frozen pearl onions, chopped
  • 6 oz frozen kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans with a fork.
  2. Place butternut squash, pearl onions, and kale in a food processor and finely chop.  Add to mashed black beans and mix well.  (Note that you can substitute this recipe with any type of vegetable!)
  3. Add breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings.  Mix well.
  4. Form into patties and place onto wax paper.  Freeze for at least 2 hours before cooking.  (Keep frozen until ready to be cooked).
  5. In a skillet over medium high heat, drizzle olive oil, and cook each side for the patty for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, add desired toppings (my choices were chopped beats, cheddar cheese, and avocado), and serve atop a multigrain bun.

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Arborio Rice Goodness

My oh my, it has been awhile, my friends…!

I haven’t been whipping up many new recipes in the kitchen, just been cooking a lot of the same ol’ stuff or some variation of it.

On a lazy Sunday night, Bjorn wanted to get take-out, but I knew I had a ton of goodies in the kitchen and some extra time on my hands… and so I whipped up today’s recipe – Mushroom Risotto.  I always tend to order risotto when we’re out to eat because it is SO labor intensive, but it never really tastes like what I’m expecting.  Risotto is definitely a pain to make, but the end result is worth it.  My good friend, Christian, also gifted me with a bottle of truffle oil, so I knew I had to put that to good use.  This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence.

Mushroom Risotto

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic and saute until translucent.  Add the mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, drizzle olive oil and saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove.  Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque (1 minute).
  4. Using a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm chicken broth to the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and chopped parsley before serving.

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Mark Bittman Inspired

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I’ve been cooking a lot of new dishes!  But just have been lazy about posting.  And lately, I’ve been really into my yoga practice; it’s so satisfying.  I can’t get enough!! Too bad I can’t go everyday (yeah, work gets in the way…).

A few weeks ago, I saw Mark Bittman speak at Ikea.  2nd row seat!  He’s awesome.  So laid back, witty, and intelligent.  I got a signed copy of his book, How to Cook Everything The Basics.  This is a must have in every kitchen!! And if you’re not a cook, then you will become one after you’ve been introduced to this book.  Bittman spoke about the things that our society faces today when it comes to food and the infamous “obesity crisis”.  First, we need to define food and non-food.  Things like soda, chips, is non-food, as it offers no nutritional value whatsoever to our bodies.  We also need to learn about what’s in the food that we purchase as consumers in the grocery store.  Look a little bit deeper beyond food that is labeled “Natural”, “Organic”, “Non-GMO”, etc.  How is the food handled, what are the living conditions of the animals?  Something to think about…

One of the things that Bittman said that really resonated was something along the lines of… “What’s the main ingredient in chips?  Who knows!  But, we all know that the main ingredient in broccoli is… broccoli.”  Let’s all take that extra step and effort in nurturing our bodies with wholesome and natural foods.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of water
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of pistachios
  • Handful of parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  1. In a large skillet, over medium to high heat, add olive oil and shallots to pan.  Saute for 2 minutes, or until transparent.  Add 2 cups of water and about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt; bring to a boil.  Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes (or until all liquid is absorbed).  Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Mix well.  Add quinoa, dried cranberries, pistachios, and parsley.  Toss gently.

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Fresh and Natural Ingredients

It’s pretty sad how one of the main drivers of obesity is the convenience factor of food.  Everyone tends to live such busy lives; there’s never enough time to make a fresh meal and there definitely isn’t such a thing as “quick and healthy”, only “fast and greasy” in today’s society.  When you do find some down time at home, instead of spending it on the couch or lounging around the house, spend some time in the kitchen learning a new recipe or perhaps cooking a huge meal so you have leftovers to last you into the busy work week.

Over the weekend, I decided to make homemade pesto sauce.  I was craving it and wanted to try a new recipe.  The ingredients are simple enough and man, it was good.  Bjorn and I could eat spoonfuls of just the pesto sauce.  I vow to never buy jarred pesto sauce ever again.  Even if I’m in a hurry and if it’s convenient.  Also, just for kicks, I decided to look up ingredients of what’s in a bottle of jarred pesto sauce.  I’m not even sure what some of this stuff is…  So, back to my initial thought above, things that are convenient are not always the best option; if you have time and energy to make something from scratch, do it, and your body will thank you.

In case you are interested… Here’s what’s included in Classico’s pesto sauce: Basil, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Romano Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Olive Oil, Spice, Salt, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors (Soy).

Even worse, here’s what’s included in Knorr’s Pesto Sauce packets (just add water and olive oil!): Salt, Sugar, Corn Starch, Garlic Powder, Basil, Spinach, Monosodium glutamate, Parsley, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Salt, Cheese Cultures, Enzymes), Maltodextrin, Guar Gum, Whey, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Nonfat Dry Milk, Yeast Extract, Spice, Disodium Phosphate, Mono & Diglycerides, Wheat Flour, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Natural flavors, Malic Acid.

Basil Pesto Sauce

Makes approximately 8 oz

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (sorry, not Paleo!)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Add basil leaves, pine nuts, and garlic to food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add oil and process until smooth.
  3. Add Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and process until mixed in.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  4. Serve atop grilled chicken breast, as a sauce with pasta, or as a spread in a sandwich.

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Sorry Potato…. You Lose Again!

First of all (not a food related thought), I’m so pissed that we couldn’t watch the Oscars last night.  (Canceled cable TV a few weeks ago)  I searched everywhere trying to find how to stream it online, but all of the links I found either lead to a dead end or some spam website.  Ugh!!

The amount of cooking I did this past weekend was insane; yep, you guessed it… as a result of no cable TV.  It’s not that we spend our weekends glued to the couch, but we’ll generally spend some time catching up on our DVR-ed shows and then feel lazy and end up going out to eat or getting take out.  I know this whole “no cable TV” thing is good and definitely liberating, I just need to get used to it.  A negative was missing the Oscars, but a MAJOR positive was going to hot yoga TWO TIMES this weekend!!

Last night, I made bunless turkey burgers (pretty simple – ground turkey, mixed with chopped onions, minced garlic, a dash of worcestershire sauce, and some sea salt and black pepper.  Grill over medium to high heat for about 7 minutes on each side) with parsnip fries.  Oh, parsnips, how I love thee!  Between parsnips and cauliflower, I’m pretty sure I’m ready to just let go of my relationship with potatoes.  I’m not kidding.

Parsnip Fries

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large parsnips
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Scrub and peel parsnips.  Cut into “french fry” shaped strips.  Arrange on baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Drizzle olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until nice and crispy.

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