Veggie Chips {Photos}

Veggie Chips3I’ve been working on making veggie chips for awhile. I still haven’t gotten it quite right so I’m not posting a recipe, but wanted to post these photos because they’re just so pretty.

Steve got me a Benriner slicer for Christmas last year and every so often, in between work and school, I slice up some veggies and give them a roast, in an effort to get perfectly crisp veggie chips to snack on. Unfortunately what I get is mostly dried out veggie chips that are crispy (almost too crispy) on the edges and quite leathery and tough in the middle (see photo above). So they’re a work in progress.

Veggie Chips2I love the colors here. The watermelon radishes are so striking and I love the variation with the three different color carrots.

Veggie Chips

So until I get this recipe just right, please enjoy the beautiful colors here.

Camp Eats from the local Farmers’ Market

School starts tomorrow. I’ve been going a bit crazy for the last month or so trying to get things done before school starts. Cleaning the house, cooking as much as possible, sleeping. Once school starts life is going to get a bit full. I won’t have a lot of time to do those things that get done on a daily and/or weekend’ly basis. So in trying to plan out some recipes for the blog for the next few months I was looking through my photos and I came across these from a camping trip we took back in August. I know they’re late. I know there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside so they’re not exactly timely. But this was a great camping trip and I’m gonna write this post anyway.

One of the best things about this trip was the food. Usually when we go camping I plan and plan and plan. I love the challenge of making delicious, healthy food in an outdoor setting. But it can be a bit exhausting as well (the planning part). This trip though, was a bit last minute. I didn’t really have the time or the energy to plan, so I didn’t. Instead we stopped at the local farmers’ market, picked up a bunch of stuff (and a few items from the grocery store) and ate off of that for the weekend. We also picked up this cool grill thingy from the local hardware store. Because of the lack of time and planning, we also forgot our handy cast iron pans that we generally take camping with us.

We wound up with these delicious open faced sandwiches with hummus, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers, with spinach and avocado on a local artisan bread for lunch and marinated and grilled tofu with eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms and corn on the cob with garlic bread, for dinner. Plus we had yummy peaches, blueberries and yellow watermelon to snack on. It was awesome!

What I learned from this trip was that we CAN go camping without me obsessively planning. And it will be awesome and delicious. Especially if it’s summer and the farmers’ market is in session.

Steve’s Pesto Pasta

Steves Pesto PastaSo, this post is actually from last weekend. I started on it and another, but was so busy last weekend that I never had the opportunity to finish them. And I really wanted to share this post because it’s about Steve’s pesto, which was so delicious. So delicious.

Last Sunday I got a special treat. Steve made us lunch! It’s a special treat because sometimes it’s challenging to get him into the kitchen. But that’s another story. Even though I love to be in the kitchen playing with food, it’s really nice when someone else cooks me a good meal. Today Steve made us pasta and homemade pesto with seared asparagus and tomatoes for lunch. It was so delicious. But I’ve already said that.

Before I went plant-based, pesto pasta was something we enjoyed on a regular basis. Actually, one of Steve’s go-to meals was tortellini with pesto. It was easy and tasty and we could toss in any number of veggies. It’s also great added to my salads once it chilled in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, both the tortellini and the pesto contained dairy, so it had to come off of the regular rotation until we could find tortellini that was vegan. Which we weren’t able to do. And, since this was one of Steve’s go-to meals, and was now off the list, it’s been even harder to get him in the kitchen.

I think we’ve found our alternative, though. And it’s so ridiculously easy I wish it would have come to us sooner. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t made our own pesto before, several times, in the last year. But I guess that’s how things work. Sometimes it’s just not the right combination of ingredients to make it into the rotation.

I’m not exactly clear as to why this came together so perfectly. One thing I suspect is the pasta. I love this pasta. It’s one of my favorites. It has such a nice bite to it, firm and chewy plus not too bulky. And it holds on to sauces really nicely. But I do not buy it often because a) I try not to have pasta in the mix too often and b) they don’t have this particular variety in the whole wheat/grain type at my local grocery. So, when you’re not using a certain product, it’s hard to realize it’s the perfect thing for a dish you make.

The other reason I think this all came together so well was because of the amount of olive oil we used in the pesto. Now, I’m not advocating for using such an amount, but it was really fantastic and I’m sure that is part of the reason why. The recipe below will not reflect the actual amount of olive oil we used because we didn’t actually write it down. But also because next time we will definitely use less. The recipe will say that you can adjust the amount based on your taste. And yes, while it was really good, I don’t think we needed quite so much. As long as you can taste the fruitiness of the olive and the pesto has come together nicely, that’s all you need.

So it just all came together this time. And it was perfect. Looking at these photos now, a week later, my mouth is watering. I want this again. Maybe I’ll get Steve to make it tonight for dinner. I didn’t record the recipe exactly. But that’s okay. It’s a standard pesto with a few tweaks that are optional. So go and make it. Make it tonight.

Steves Pesto Pasta2Pesto

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup packed fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pine nuts)*, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Zest + juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. good olive oil**

Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl of your food processor. Secure the lid and pulse until the contents stop moving around freely. Turn the food processor to the on position and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until everything is purreed and mixed together, moving freely and loosely around the bowl.

Asparagus & Tomatoes

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Heat a large oven proof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Turn your oven on broil. Add the asparagus and tomatoes to your skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the asparagus and tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Pesto Pasta

Toss 1 pound of cooked gemelli pasta with the pesto sauce, coating well. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and toss gently with the pesto pasta.

—————————————————-

*While most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, you can use other nuts instead. Walnuts work particularly well in a pesto. We tend to use what we have on hand. Which is usually a combination of walnuts, almonds and cashews. I rarely buy pine nuts. They’re outrageously expensive in my neighborhood.

**You may adjust the amount of olive oil you use to your liking. If you use less, add water until you reach the right consistency. The finished product should be loose enough to sauce your pasta, but thick and not watery.

 

Almond Butter

As I was making my standard weekly batch of almond butter it occurred to me that I’ve never done a post about almond butter. I’ve mentioned that I make my own, but never shown you how. Well today’s your lucky day! Okay, maybe not your lucky day. But a good day, nonetheless.Almond Butter2

I love almond butter. Before I discovered almond butter, I loved peanut butter. By love, I mean that I eat it nearly everyday. I’ve eaten almond butter or peanut butter nearly everyday for as long as I can remember. I don’t really remember eating it when I was a child, but certainly since I was a teenager and since. And since I’ve started eating almond butter, I’ve almost eaten it exclusively (instead of the previously loved peanut butter). I do use peanut butter for cooking on occasion and always have a jar in the fridge just in case. But almond butter’s my thing.

Anyway, when I finally started making my own almond butter, about a year and a half ago, I was so excited. I’d wanted to start making it sooner, but I didn’t have a food processor. I actually finally bought a food processor for the sole purpose of making almond butter. Gladly, I use it for tons of things now. One of the reasons I wanted to start making my own is because the only store bought almond butter that I found I liked was the roasted unsalted from Trader Joes. And getting to Trader Joes on a weekly basis was not something I was able to do. So I would go once a month and buy 4 or 5 jars at a time. If they had it in stock. Which often enough, they did not. Trader Joe’s was also a good option because the almond butter was about $5 a jar, which was a bargain since many of the others I’d found were upwards of $10 or more per jar. I’d even gone to Whole Foods and Fairway to grind my own. But I didn’t like the taste or texture of those either. Since I was eating almond butter nearly everyday, almond butter was a BIG part of my food life (and still is).

So I bought a food processor and found a great little specialty market, Carmel Grocery, sort of near my house where I started buying raw almonds for 5.49 a lb. Also, a huge bargain. I think they’re like $5.99 now, but still…

Now that I’ve gone on and on, let me tell you how to make it. It’s incredibly easy, if you have a good food processor. I like to start with raw almonds and roast them myself. I just think it’s better that way.

  • 1 lb. raw almonds
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out the almonds on a baking sheet. Roast for 12 minutes. Turn off the oven (don’t open it). Let the almonds sit in the oven for 5 more minutes. Then remove from oven and let cool completely. Ovens vary, so adjust your roasting time as necessary. But don’t roast them for too long because the almond butter won’t be nearly as delicious.

Once the almonds have cooled completely, dump them in the bowl of your food processor and add a pinch of cinnamon, if you like. Secure the lid and turn on full power. Grind for 1 and a half minutes or until the the almonds stop moving around the bowl of the food processor. Use a spoon to thoroughly break up the mass of almonds.

Secure the lid and turn the food processor back on. Grind for another 5-6 minutes or until the almonds are fully ground and moving very freely and evenly around the bowl.

Then, blend it for another 30 seconds.

Transfer the almond butter to a 16 oz. jar, put a lid on it and store in the fridge. This will last for several weeks, though I’m sure you’ll eat it all up before then.

Enjoy!

 

Green Lentil and Bulgur Wheat Salad

This weeks salad was once again a practice in cleaning out the refrigerator/pantry. I had a about half a bag of dried green lentils plus about 1/2 cup bulgur wheat in the cabinet, so I decided I would build my weekly salad out of these two items. Throw in the last bits of veggies left in the fridge before the farmers’ market trip and voila.

Lentil and Bulgur SaladSteve has really come to like these weekly salads of mine. He loves that I’m putting other things on salad greens. Besides vegetables. Well, they are still vegetables, but I get what he’s saying. And it’s true, it does make the overall salad more interesting. Plus, you end up getting a lot more yummy vegetable matter in your meals. So it’s a win.

The recipe below is just an estimate, based on what I had leftover in my kitchen. Feel free to substitute with what you have in your kitchen. Get creative. Switch up the herbs and spices. Do what sounds good to you. Then, add a couple spoonfuls to your regular green salad and you’re good to go.

Lentil and Bulgur Salad2

I usually end up with about 1 quart of my weekly salad. This week I wound up with about 2 quarts. This is a good amount if there are two people eating this throughout the week. If there’s only one of you, split the recipe in half.

Green Lentil & Bulgur Wheat Salad

  • 2-3 cups cooked green lentils (drained and cooled)
  • 1 cup cooked bulgur wheat (cooled)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 big handfuls flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 3-4 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

In a large bowl combine lentils, bulgur, veggies and parsley. Add remaining ingredients and fold together. I like the folding technique because it combines everything well without smooshing the lentils. That’s it. It’s really easy and will feed you all week.

Enjoy!

 

Sundays in my Kitchen

Sundays in my kitchen are pretty busy. I love to spend a large part of my day in the kitchen, playing. After a trip to the farmers’ market I like to clean out the fridge. This generally leads to figuring what I can do with all of the leftover produce from the week. And what I can do with dinner leftovers.

Apples

These are Matsu apples, from the Farmers’ Market today. So delicious. Light, crisp, tart.

This Sunday I made some burritos with leftover black beans with corn and tomatoes I had. Sometimes I just put leftovers from meals in the freezer to eat later. But I cook everyday, so often, I forget about what’s in the freezer. So I’m trying not to put so much in the freezer. Steve will eat the burritos throughout the week, so it works well.

I also had some fresh beets in the fridge, so I pickled them. They were very nearly on their way out (meaning garbage) but I didn’t want to waste them. Luckily once I peeled them, they were fine. I’m trying to pickle something each week because I love pickled vegetables on my salads (even more so since I’ve become a plant based eater). And since I eat a big salad nearly every day, I eat a lot of picked veggies.
Pickled BeetsI also made a pot of beans on Saturday. These turned into Rajma Masala (Indian chili), for Mondays dinner, and my weekly salad. Every weekend I make a salad to eat off of throughout the week. Last week it was a barley salad, this week it’s beans with onions, garlic, celery, carrot, sun dried tomatoes and a quick vinaigrette with fresh frozen thyme. Fresh frozen thyme just means that I had a ton of fresh thyme so I picked all of the leaves and put them in a jar in the freezer for later use. Super handy.

I also had a bunch of leeks from last weeks farmers’ market trip. So I chopped and cleaned those up for easy use during the week. I’m thinking I’ll make some pasta with a caramelized leek and mushroom sauce. And there’s also a ginormous (about 16 inches long) head of bok choy that I’ve had for a couple of weeks (I love how long cabbages last). I’m thinking this would go nicely braised with a miso glaze.

I have a few other odds and ends, but they’ll just get added to salads during the week. I’m thinking that avocado I found in the fridge will go nicely with my cold bean salad. And maybe that lonely parsnip can get julienned and tossed in with my salad greens. As for the very large bunch of Italian parsley, I’ll be a garnishing queen this week!

Spending my Sundays playing in my kitchen feeds my soul. And even though I’m thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s my thing and I love it.

Barley and Edamame Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

Barley and Edamame SaladEvery weekend I make a salad to eat off of throughout the week. I gives me a chance to be creative in the kitchen, use up leftover produce and also gives me something healthy and fulfilling to eat for lunch during the week. The point of this post is not so much the recipe, but the idea. You see, you can make a salad like this out of whatever you have in the house. Sometimes it’s barley, sometimes it quinoa, sometimes it beans and so on. Use whatever you like, mix in whatever veggies you have left in the fridge. Add some fresh herbs, and little home made vinaigrette and there you go. This recipe makes a quart, which is the perfect amount for topping my greens with throughout the week.

I didn’t go to the store and buy any of these ingredients. I had it all on hand. I actually had a piece of a bell pepper, a piece of an onion, one tiny little carrot and couple of cloves of garlic to work with. I also only had half of lemon, which is why I only used zest from half of a lemon. Plus, I really wanted to use this stuff up before they went bad. I had the edamame and the thyme in the freezer, and I used the last of my barley, which just happened to be about a cup dry.

Go clean out your fridge and see what you can make!

Barley & Edamame Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups cooked pearled barley
  • 2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1 small purple onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper to a small bowl and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and toss thoroughly with the vinaigrette.

The longer this sits in the fridge, the better it tastes.

Enjoy!

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