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Pesto Paninis Two Ways

15 May

Mushroom-Pesto-Panini-1

These paninis were a play on the most unbelievable tomato mozzarella sandwich that I picked up from Whole Foods in Boulder. It had the most incredible pesto mayo. You could eat with a spoon, honestly. Being the healthy person that I am I decided to make my own without the mayo. I whipped up some of my pesto, pulled out the Griddler and voila, paninis! The paninis two ways is a result of Michael’s strong dislike of tomatoes. He had the panini with the portobello mushroom, spinach and onions, while I had the tomato, spinach and onion version. I kind of wish that I had added a mushroom to mine because it would have been out of this world.

Spinach-Tomato-Onion-Panini-2

Ingredients:
Makes 2 sandwiches
2 slices tomato
1 grilled portobello mushroom
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Choice of bread
pesto

Directions:

  1. Heat a grill pan, Griddler or panini press to medium heat.
  2. Spread the pesto on one half of the bread. Top with two slices of tomatoes (if using), mozzarella, 1/2 cup of spinach, mushroom (if using), and onion. Spread pesto on the other half of the bread.
  3. Place the sandwich on the Griddler or panini press and close. Cook until the cheese is melted. If using a grill pan, grill until there are grill marks on the bottom piece of bread and then flip the sandwich over. Grill the second side until the cheese melts
  4. Mushroom-Pesto-Panini-2

    As always, enjoy!

Roasted Root Vegetables topped with Baked Portobello Mushroom and Frisee

26 Mar

Roasted-Root-Vegetables-Baked-Portobello-Mushroom-Frisee-Salad-3

I saw a picture of a similar meal posted on Facebook and thought it looked delicious. I decided to try my hand at it and added more root vegetables, changed the salad to frisee and had to figure out what dressing would pair well with all the flavors. I almost used apple cider vinegar for the dressing, but made a game time decision and decided to go with champagne vinegar. Definitely the way to go. The champagne vinaigrette stood up really well to the bitterness of the frisee and the root vegetables really brought out the flavor of the vinegar. Michael’s only complaint was that there was only one of them!

Roasted-Root-Vegetables

Ingredients:
Serves 2
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed
1 large beet, peeled and cubed
2 portobello mushrooms, stemmed
Pizza Dough or puff pastry
2 cups frisee, washed and chopped
2 tbsp goat cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp german mustard
1/2 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400o.
  2. Place the diced vegetables on a baking sheet and lightly toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables until soft, about 30 minutes turning them half way through.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough or puff pastry until 1/16 inch thick. Place the mushrooms on the dough and cut circles about an inch larger than the mushrooms. Wrap the edges around the mushrooms, place on a baking sheet and bake along with the vegetables.
  4. Wash the frisee, place in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot and honey. Pour the dressing over the frisee, add the goat cheese and toss well.
  6. Place the roasted vegetables on a plate, then the mushroom and top with the frisee salad.

As always, enjoy!

Roasted-Root-Vegetables-Baked-Portobello-Mushroom-Frisee-Salad-2

Homemade Cheeze-its

25 Mar

Homemade-Cheeze-its-top

Cheesy snacks are a classic, a terribly addictive classic. This is precisely why I try to avoid them. Sometimes my craving gets the best of me and I can’t resist. Rather than buying store-bought junk food, I opted to make my own! I devoured them within 24 hours.

Homemade-Cheeze-its2

Ingredients:
1 cup white whole wheat flour
11/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (reduce to 1 cup if you use extra sharp cheddar)
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp ice-cold water

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cheese and coconut oil.
  2. With the mixer on low, add the water one tablespoon at a time.
  3. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 3-4 minutes. While the dough is still in the bowl, use your hands to form a ball.
  4. Transfer the dough to the countertop and shape it into a square. Roll the square out to about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Cut the dough into squares and place the squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown. Allow the squares to cool on a baking rack.

As always, enjoy!

Homemade-Cheeze-its1

Tempeh Marsala

22 Mar

Tempeh-Marsala-Side

Here is another household favorite, especially for Michael. He could eat this everyday of the week and be a very happy camper. Whenever I’m making the grocery list and ask him if he has any requests for the week, it’s always the same answer, Marsala.

This recipe was inspired by the recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. I altered the recipe long before we stopped eating meat because I didn’t feel like there was enough flavor. You can always substitute cubed chicken for the tempeh.

Tempeh-Marsala-Top

Ingredients:
Inspired by Chicken Marsala Pasta
1 lb whole wheat pasta, cooked according to the package
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 block tempeh, cubed and seasoned according to package
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
11/2 cup marsala wine
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
salt and pepper

For the Asparagus:
Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350o.
  2. Spread the asparagus out in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Lightly toss the asparagus to coat well.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the asparagus is soft enough to pierce with a knife.

For the Marsala:
Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package
  2. Cut the tempeh into strips and lightly drizzle with olive oil. On a plate, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and italian seasoning.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Toss the oiled tempeh in the bread crumb mixture and add to the pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Remove the tempeh from the pan, reduce the heat to low and add the marsala. Bring the heat back up to medium and slowly add the cream.
  5. Add the tempeh back into the sauce, reduce to low to keep warm.
  6. Toss the pasta with the sauce, plate with the asparagus on top.

As always, enjoy!

Do-si-do Inspired Cookies

13 Mar

Do-si-dos

Who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies? My favorites are the Tagalongs and Do-si-dos. What I don’t love is all the junk that they put into those cookies. As usual, I was left with not choice but to make my own. To say these cookies were a labor of love is an understatement. I have baked batches of these cookies everyday, trying to match that addictive flavor. After countless batches, I finally nailed it! While I can’t say these have less fat, I can say that they don’t have any fake junk. And, in my book that’s a success.

Another key part of this cookie was the fresh peanut butter I used. You can get freshly ground peanut butter at any Whole Foods, which is what I used to buy. But being on a tight budget, spending $5.99 per pound on peanut butter isn’t really an option. So, I’m making my own. And it’s delicious!

I must give a BIG thanks to my wonderful taste testers: my husband, my sister, brother in-law, and the plumber. Yes, you read that correctly. What can I say, Michael makes friends quickly. In addition to fixing our sink, he actually gave me some very useful feedback. I really appreciate all the cookies you ate. I’m sure it was very hard on all of you. 🙂

Do-si-do-full-plate

For the Cookies:
Ingredients:
11/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 cup rolled oats, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
15 tbsp peanut butter (amount will vary depending on how big or small you make the cookies)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325o
  2. Give the rolled oats a few pulses in the food processor. Transfer the oats to a bowl and mix in the flour and baking powder.
  3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sucanat, vanilla, maple syrup and coconut oil on a low setting until you form a creamy mixture.
  4. On the low setting, add the flour and oat mixture.
  5. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the almond milk.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll a tablespoon size of the batter in your hands to form a ball.
  7. Place the ball on the baking sheet and flatten with your palm. Repeat with remaining batter.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets 180o half way through.
  9. Cool the cookies on a rack. Once cooled, pair the cookies based on size and spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on one cookie and press the other cookie into a sandwich.

Do-si-dos-close-up

For the Peanut Butter:
Ingredients:
1 lb roasted and unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp maple syrup
3-4 tbsp peanut oil

Directions:

  1. Add the peanuts to a food processor fitted with an S blade and begin to process.
  2. Add the maple syrup and peanut oil through the feed tube and process until a paste is formed.
  3. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

As always, enjoy!

Rainbow Chard over Quinoa

12 Mar

Rainbow-Chard-over-Quinoa

I had a tiny cold last week and was really in need of comfort food. Now that I’m feeling better, I was compelled to counter all the heaviness of last week with loads of veggies. I plan our weekly meals before going to the grocery store. This way I only buy what I need and don’t have to worry about wasting food. Plus, it makes getting things ready super easy since I already know we’re having for dinner that night. Feeling uninspired when I was making my weekly grocery list, I turned to the interweb for some help. I found this recipe on the Vegetarian Times and was inspired to make it a little more budget friendly. Are pine nuts only outrageously expensive in Chicago?

This meal was incredibly delicious. It was light, yet filling and had a wonderful hint of summer flavor. The success of this meal was confirmed by Michael’s second helping.

Note: My sister gave me a bottle of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe’s that she had leftover. It’s delicious! I used two tablespoons of this in the recipe, but you could also combine champagne vinegar and orange juice with a bit of sugar or honey.

Ingredients:
Inspired by Sicilian Swiss Chard over Quiona
1 bunch rainbow chard, leaves cut into ribbons and stems sliced thinly
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 chopped cashews
2 tbsp Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (from Trader Joe’s)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (I like things hot, but you can tone it down)
1 tbsp cumin
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. Bring the vegetable broth and cumin to a boil and add the quinoa. Cover and reduce to low heat. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and chard stems. Cook until the onion is golden brown.
  3. Toss in the chard ribbons, garlic, red pepper flakes and raisins. Stir in the orange muscat champagne vinegar and cook for about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the cashews.
  5. Spoon the quinoa into bowls and top with the chard.

As always, enjoy!

Vegetable Bolognese

7 Mar

Vegetable-Bolognese-Cooked

Pasta definitely tops the list of my favorite foods. Add in some cheese and it’s even better. However, being the healthy person that I am, I knew that I needed to throw in something to balance the pasta and cheese. Enter vegetables!

Raibow-Carrots

When I was at the grocery store this weekend these beauties jumped out at me and I knew that they would be perfect in this bolognese. It’s kind of sad that you can’t see their beautiful color but they sure tasted good.

IMG_9391

Just a quick note, I doubled the recipe so that I could freeze half for later.

Ingredients:
Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis
2 red bell peppers, chopped
8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch rainbow carrots
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tsp fresh thyme
3 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 can tomato paste
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1/8 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package and preheat oven to 350o
  2. Give the bell peppers, carrots and onion a rough chop and transfer to a food processor, along with the garlic and pulse until you have a mixture of finely grated and chunks of vegetables
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, transfer vegetable mixture to the pan and add the thyme and oregano
  4. Cook vegetables until golden brown and stir in tomato paste
  5. Once tomato paste is combined, add vegetable broth and reduce for about 20 minutes
  6. Remove the pan from heat and stir in mascarpone and parmesan cheese
  7. Stir until both cheeses are combined
  8. Toss the pasta with the sauce and cubed mozzarella cheese. Spoon into individual ramekins or baking dish
  9. Bake until cheese is melted

As always, enjoy!