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Vegetable Lasagna

10 Apr

Who says lasagnas must be meaty and cheesy? While lasagnas are undoubtedly delicious meaty and cheesy, I wanted to make a healthier option. You know, spring is here, summer is approaching, I know you are also watching your waistline. Don’t lie.

So I roasted some vegetables- onions, zucchini, and eggplant, layer on whole wheat lasagna, top with a little mozzarella, ricotta, and homemade marinara sauce. Of course it tastes delicious. Warm, gooey, a little cheesy but light. With this recipe, I don’t think I want to go back to meaty lasagna if I have to.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil

salt & pepper

2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 medium eggplant, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

Lasagna Pasta

3 cups marinara sauce- homemade or store bought

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1.5 cup ricotta- skim, whole, your choice.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sliced onion, zucchini , and eggplant on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and toss. Once all the veggies are evenly coated, place the sheet into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

2. In a 9 x 12 baking sheet, layer 1 cup of marinara sauce . Layer a layer of lasagna pasta, then vegetables on top, then dot some ricotta, then a thin layer of mozzarella. Repeat this rotation until all the ingredients run out. It should be enough for 3 thick layers.

3. Bake in the oven with aluminum foil on top for 30 minutes. Take off the top and bake for another 15 minutes, until top is golden brown.

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Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

7 Feb

Do you like goat cheese?

If you do, you’ve got to try this recipe. It takes less than ten minutes and it’s absolutely delicious! Creamy, cheesy, thick, garlicky, yet not too heavy. If you are a goat cheese lover, it doesn’t get much better than this dish!

This recipe is an adaptation of Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce. I’ve made Giada’s recipe a few times, it’s amazing, but I decided to use what I had on hand to make this dish work!

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Ingredients:

1.5 cloves garlic

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 ounce goat cheese

3 ounces of spinach (I used a spinach mix since I didn’t have full spinach)

1/2 pound pasta (to make it healthier, I used organic brown rice pasta)

Grated parmesan to finish

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to its directions. Save pasta water!

2. In a blender/food processor, blend in all the ingredients together with 1/3 cup of pasta water.

3. Mix in the pasta and sauce. Top the dish with grated parmesan on top. THAT’S ALL!

It’s THAT easy! You try it now!

Smoothies!

4 Feb

I noticed that I gain about 3-5 pounds throughout winter every year. It’s cold outside and despite my busy schedule, I still eat constantly and often don’t have the motivation or energy to work out like I do during other seasons of the year. Even when I do work out, I don’t see the results in terms of losing weight. It’s a struggle.

Another problem I’ve been encountering is that I don’t eat enough veggies. This is an all-year round problem.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make smoothies to lose a few pounds, and also to enhance my veggie intake. It’s not extreme. I make a green smoothie for breakfast and have it throughout the morning to keep myself full, I may occasionally have an additional smoothie at night or in the late afternoon when I am hungry for a snack. I have been consuming so much veggies and with working out, I have lost a few pounds!

The smoothie experience has been positive. I go to the local farm/grocery store and buy any veggies/fruit they have, preferably organic. I also bought ground flaxseed to add in extra fiber (be careful though, they add extra calories if you put in too much!). Blend with some almond milk, add a little agave nectar extra sweetness, and the smoothie is done! Veggies that I like to buy are- kale, spinach, mache, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers. In addition, I sometimes also add in frozen blueberries, banana, orange, or whatever fruit I have on hand. The fruits add sweetness so the smoothies are extra yummy!  I even add a few leaves of mint or parsley in the smoothies sometimes to brighten up the taste a bit.

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There really isn’t a recipe for these smoothies. The only problem I can envision people have is getting used to drinking the veggie smoothies. Someone I worked with said to me the other day, “it smells like a garden…” and I thought it was so funny because I absolutely have no problem consuming the green smoothie, but it may be something to get used to for other people who don’t like vegetables.

If you are one of those people who don’t like the smell of vegetables, you can certainly put a scoop of peanut butter or cocoa powder in your smoothie to get a creamier taste. Or if you want to go all fruit, they can’t go wrong either, you can still get good nutrition from an all-natural smoothie.

You see, I am not a nutritionist. I don’t fully know what makes a green smoothie good in terms of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, etc. All I know is that veggies are good for my body, and I feel great after drinking the smoothies. That’s enough for me! I hope to keep this good habit up for a while. You should try it too!

Healthy Hot Pockets

29 Nov

Before we discuss hot pockets, I just want to let everyone know that my fingers are so stiff from the cold… I type so much slower due to the stiffness… the joy of living in the Northeast…

Moving on. Let’s talk hot pockets! So how did I start this random craze for them? Well, I visited a friend a while ago and he offered me a Hot Pocket. Like, a real Hot Pocket with all the fakeness and “ham” and liquidy yellow cheese hot pocket. It.was.delicious.

I wanted more. I wanted more hot pockets. But, I don’t want the fake stuff. I am into whole foods eating, so I really try not to indulge in artificial processed food… Let me clarify… I am a fat kid at heart. Like, a very fat kid. If I could eat bacon and carbonara for dinner every night, I would. At the same time, I am not trying to die young. So I do indulge when I can, but I am mindful when it comes to everyday food.

So long story short, I decided that I am going to make my own hot pocket/Stromboli/calzone, whatever you call them. They were so easy, not to mention they are guilt-free. They’re awesome!

I went with the broccoli, mushroom, onions, and mozzarella combination.. .just because I had those things on hand. The basic broccoli and cheddar are next though. I can’t wait to make those.

Ingredients:

1/2 head broccoli, chopped

3 tbs cooking oil

1/4 cup diced onions

1/2 cup mushroom, cubed

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 pound pizza dough (I used whole wheat but you may use plain)

salt & pepper

egg wash from one egg

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, throw in the broccoli and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes, until semi-soften.

2. In another pan with oil, cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Put in the mushroom and saute for about 4 more minutes. Add in salt & pepper, toss in the cooked broccoli and stir.

3. On a floured surface, divide pizza dough into four balls. Roll out each ball to about 1/2 inch thick.

4. Scoop out the broccoli/mushroom mixture and layer on top of pizza dough, about 1/2 cup,  leave about 1.5 inches around the edge. Top the mixture with 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.

5. Seal the edges of the pizza dough on all sides. Turn the pockets over and brush with a thin brush of egg wash. (Feel free to sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of the pockets at this point if you wish).

6. Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 18 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden.

Brussel Sprouts and Surprise Guest

21 Nov

I love brussel sprouts. a lot. It’s pretty much my favorite vegetable. I can eat like a million of these bad boys in a meal.

Though I do like my brussel sprouts baked with salt & pepper, occasionally, I like to kick it up by pairing them with drum roll please……. HOISIN SAUCE! It sounds weird, right? Well, it’s not. Don’t judge until you try it. Seriously. It’s the new french fries/ketchup, chicken nuggets/sweet and sour combo. In my eyes anyway. Besides, how do you go wrong with hoisin sauce. seriously.

There really isn’t directions to this dish. Cut your brussel sprouts in half, season them with salt and pepper, or I love using the Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning for this. Bake in 375 degrees oven for 25-30 minutes. I like my sprouts on the dryer side. If you like them moist, keep them in for just 15-20 minutes.

Dip with hoisin sauce. DUH

Kale and Onion Pasta

17 Nov

It’s been almost two weeks since I last posted. My apologies, I have been SWAMPED with school and work!

I’ve been wanting to cook with kale for a while now, since it is one of the most nutritious veggies around. I wasn’t really sure what kale would go well with, but I figured that onions and mozzarella is always a good choice when it comes to pasta. No surprise here. The pasta dish was absolutely delicious! I could not believe how creamy it tasted despite the fact that I didn’t even add any cream!

It’s a quick, easy, and healthy meal. Just because of this dish, I love kale so much now.

Ingredients:

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs butter

1 stalk of kale, rinsed and cut

1/2 small onion, diced

1/4 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper

1 pinch of nutmeg

red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup mozzarella, cubed or shredded

1/2 pound pasta, whole wheat. Cook based on directions.

Directions:

1. In medium heat, add olive oil and butter in pot. Stir until mixed and butter is melted, and add onions. Cook for about five minutes, until union turns translucent.

2. Add in the kale to the mix, add in chicken stock, salt and pepper, nutmeg and red pepper flakes (optional) and stir. Cover the pot for about 3 minutes. Keep stirring until kale is cooked down. About 3-5 minutes.

3. Stir in the mozzarella cheese as well as cooked pasta.

SO simple, guilt-free, and fast! This absolutely delicious sauce with the nutty whole wheat pasta cannot go any better.

Cinnamon Rolls

8 Nov

I am so happy right now. I made cinnamon rolls for the first time. I love them. They are so warm, soft yet chewy, cinnamon-y, lovely, they are a drug.

As much as I try to refrain myself from using Paula Deen recipes, I knew right away this is the perfect recipe when I was researching for the best cinnamon roll. I love them. Love, love, love them. Swoon.

Okay I think I am already making some of you uncomfortable for loving these cinnamon buns so much. Sorry. Let me just tell you how I made them.

Adapted from Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

1/4 ounce package yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup scalded milk (warm milk- 82 degree Celcius)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 ts salt

1 egg

3 1/2 cup flour

Filling:

1/2 cup melted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tbs cinnamon

1 ts ground nutmeg

1/2 cup brown sugar for topping

Icing:

1 1/2 cup powder sugar

3 tbs butter, melted

1 ts vanilla

1/4 ts cinnamon

4 tbs hot milk

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.

2. In a large bowl, mix melted butter, milk, sugar, egg, and salt. Once mixed, add 2 cups of flour. After the mixture is smooth, add in the warm water/yeast mixture. Add in the rest of 1 1/2 cup flour, and combine until dough comes together.

 3. Take the dough and knead it on flat surface sprinkled with flour. Knead for about 5-10 minutes, then place the dough into a greased bowl and cover. Let it sit for about one and a half hour.

4. When the dough is doubled in size, knead it again for a minute and roll it out into a large rectangle (15in x 9in).

5. Prepare the filling- Mix together cinnamon, granulated and brown sugar, and nutmeg.

6. Spread melted butter (1/2 cup) all over the dough. Spread the cinnamon sugar filling all over the dough.

7. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

8. Place the rolls on a buttered baking pan. Make sure you put them as closely as possible. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown butter on top of all rolls.

9. Let the rolls sit for about 45 minutes, until they are doubled in size.

10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once rolls are doubled in size, pop the baking pan in and bake for about 30 minutes.

Personally, I don’t like my cinnamon rolls with icing. However, I understand that most of you do. Here is the recipe for the icing: Mix melted butter, powder sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla with a whisk. Add in the warm milk slowly, until the consistency of icing forms.

Go ahead, pour that icing on the buns. Go on.

Can you smell these babies yet? I hope you can. They are beyond lovely. Please try them and tell me how much you love them!
Liv Hambrett

An Australian in Germany

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