Category Archives: Dinner

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl

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Has it been too long since my last recipe for an actual meal? Yes. Is the title of this post too long? Absolutely. One of my goals for this long weekend was to post a recipe on here. With 3 days off, I knew I didn’t have an excuse not to.

I’ve been really into salads and grain bowls recently. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my diet and have been hoarding kale lately (does anyone else wish it took up less space in your fridge?) If I’m looking for something heartier I’ll add some grains to the mix – either brown rice, quinoa, or couscous. For a long time I didn’t really like quinoa and thought it tasted like bird seed but finally my taste buds have evolved and it’s become part of my weekly menu.

Sticking to a healthy and basic diet can definitely become bland after a while. I’ve found that I can eat well for a couple weeks and then I start to feel like I’m depriving myself and fall back into eating whatever. After a few years of blogging, browsing other food blogs, and some recent trips to local vegan/vegetarian/organic restaurants, I feel like I’m finally discovering what food I really enjoy and what makes me feel good – and most importantly, what I can maintain in my diet and not get sick of.

This particular recipe was inspired by Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice. The owner of the blog, Krysta, is a fellow healthy living blogger and also a classmate from high school. I often include mushrooms into my recipes but have never made them the main ingredient. I changed up the original recipe a bit, using sautéed kale instead of spinach and forgoing the other veggies. I also added some cheese for extra flavor and protein.

This bowl is simple, quick, and satisfying. It was so tasy I didn’t find myself missing the meat at all like I sometimes do with vegetarian meals. I hope you like it!

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl
adapted from Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice

IMG_5795Ingredients:
Makes 2 bowls

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed*
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock (water will do, too)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced into 1-cm strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • A few sprigs of rinsed kale, chopped or torn into small pieces (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Optional: diced avocado, Sriracha

*Rinsing the quinoa isn’t imperative, but I find that cooking quinoa straight from the bag leaves it with an earthy flavor I’m not fond of

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Your ingredients

Directions:

  1. Bring your stock or water to a boil and add quinoa. Cook according to box directions (it will take about 20 mins).
  2. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add sliced mushrooms. Drizzle a little more oil on top. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become tender and caramelized. Add half of minced garlic and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. Add chopped kale to pan that was used for mushrooms, along with remaining garlic, and cover. Cook over low heat and let leftover mushroom juices help steam the kale. Stir occasionally. The kale should be tender after about 5 minutes.
  4. When quinoa is done cooking, stir in parmesan cheese and let melt. Serve along with kale, mushrooms, and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Top off with optional diced avocado and Sriracha and enjoy!
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While your quinoa is cooking, frizzle up your shrooms

January Food1

Steam your kale

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Add the cheese to your cheesy quinoa

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Prepare your bowl – quinoa, then kale, then mushrooms

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And top off with more cheese!

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I added avocado and Sriracha to mine, because why not?

Mango Chipotle BBQ Burrito Bowl

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If you are still reading my blog, you are great. Work and busy weekends have taken over my life, leaving little time for blogging. Recently I’ve had a couple friends tell me they keep checking my blog but are disappointed when they find no new posts. That of course made me want to update, and because I miss it!

So it’s August already. Summer always has a way of getting away from you, doesn’t it? Having only been out of school for a couple of years, I’m still getting used to having no formal vacations, deadlines, or breaks built into my schedule. It makes the seasons kind of seem like a blur and sometimes I find myself having no idea what day or even month it is (like a few months ago when I started to write “September” as the date… what?)

Today’s post is inspired by a recipe that I’ve been eyeing forever: Chipotle-Mango BBQ Chicken Salad on Iowa Girl Eats. I’ve been following IGE for a couple years now and it’s one of my favorite food blogs, as well as one of the few I subscribe to. I’ve had this particular recipe saved for a long time and decided it was time to try out this miraculous-sounding BBQ sauce. I decided to take a slightly different take on the recipe and make mine into a burrito bowl instead, because who doesn’t love a good burrito bowl?

This Mango Chipotle BBQ Burrito Bowl is filled with chicken marinated in a sweet and spicy semi-homemade barbecue sauce, rice, and some of my favorite veggies like bell peppers, fresh corn, and avocado! It’s a great summer recipe because most of the ingredients are in season right now and is light enough that you won’t feel guilty eating it. To make the sauce quicker and easier, I added pureed mangoes and chipotle peppers to store-bought BBQ sauce. My favorite thing about recipes like this is that you can completely customize it to your taste and you get a bit of each flavor in every bite!

Mango Chipotle BBQ Burrito Bowl
adapted from Chipotle-Mango BBQ Chicken Salad on Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
makes about 3 burrito bowls

  • For the sauce:
    – 1/2 cup fresh diced mango
    – 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
    – 1/4 cup tomato sauce
    – 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips (I used tenderloins)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • Assorted toppings of your choice (about 1/3 cup of each):
    – Diced bell peppers
    – Diced tomato
    – Corn
    – Beans
    – Avocado
  • Optional: cheese, sour cream, scallions, cilantro
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Ingredients for the sauce, plus tomato sauce! Always forget to picture at least one ingredient…

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Your delicious toppings!

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine ingredients for the sauce. Blend until smooth. Place chicken in a medium bowl and pour 2/3 of the sauce over it, making sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 6.
  2. Cook your chicken on the grill or in a frying pan over medium-high heat until cooked throughout. Let rest for about 5 minutes and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Start to assemble your burrito bowls: First rice, then chicken, your toppings, and then drizzle with the remaining mango chipotle sauce and enjoy!
August Food2

Start by preparing your mango chipotle BBQ sauce: combine diced mango, bbq sauce, chipotle peppers, and tomato sauce, and blend until smooth.

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Pour 2/3 of the sauce over your chicken and stir, making sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Marinate for at least 2 or up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

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Cook up your chicken, either on the grill on in a frying pan.

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Assemble your delicious burrito bowl! Start with rice, chicken, and your favorite toppings.

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Finish off with the remaining mango chipotle sauce, and optional cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

{Skinny} Bang Bang Shrimp

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Hello everyone! I feel like I haven’t updated in ages. Things around here have been a bit hectic lately. Not to mention that I  briefly went through a weird phase where I lacked inspiration and motivation to cook, and when I did, I often didn’t enjoy whatever I made. This was especially strange for me because I usually love cooking and love eating. I think I chalked it up to being busy and stressed, and have been feeling back to normal the past week – phew!

Anywho, I had a few ideas of what to post today but when I saw shrimp on sale at the store I immediately knew what I wanted to make. Recently I’ve seen a lot of recipes for “Bang Bang Shrimp” and they always catch my eye. It’s a dish that includes crispy, breaded shrimp served with a creamy and spicy chili sauce. This dish is served at Bonefish Grill, a restaurant I’ve never been to and therefore have not actually tried the original recipe, but I could tell from the ingredients that I would love it.

I was even more inspired when I saw a lightened up version of the dish over at Cooking for Keeps. I followed this recipe pretty closely, though I opted for Greek yogurt over mayo for the sauce and used regular flour instead of almond flour. I also added a bit of teriyaki sauce which I thought bumped the sauce up a notch. The sauce is rich and flavorful, all while being light on calories. Breading the shrimp is optional – I very lightly breaded mine in flour and cooked them in a bit of coconut butter which was delicious!

I also love this recipe because it looks fancy, but takes less than 30 minutes to make! You can used thawed frozen shrimp and store-bought chili sauce to make the recipe even easier, and I bet you nobody will know the difference. 🙂

Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
adapted from Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp with Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce on Cooking for Keeps

Ingredients:
serves 2

  • 1/2 lb large, raw shrimp (about a 12-count), peeled & de-veined
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp oil (I used coconut, but olive or canola work too)
    For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp sweet chili sauce (I like Frank’s brand)
  • 1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (2 if you like things spicy)
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Rice to serve on the side

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Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and whisk. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat your oil over medium heat. Toss the shrimp in the flour and gently place in the hot oil. Fry on each side for 1 – 2 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and breading is crispy.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and pour the sauce over the shrimp. Cook for an additional minute or so, until the sauce is hot. Serve over rice and optional veggie, and enjoy!
June Food3

Start by preparing your sauce!

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Lightly coat your shrimp in flour

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Frizzle up your shrimp in the hot oil

 

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It will look something like this when it’s finished cooking!

 

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Pour sauce over your shrimp, cook for another minute, and it’s ready to serve!

 

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🙂

Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers

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Last year I made veggie burgers for the first time, and while I enjoyed the flavors of the chickpeas, lentils, and curry, I found that they were a bit dry and just didn’t have the burger consistency I was looking for.

Fast forward to this year, when I stumble upon a recipe that claims to be the “best-ever” veggie burgers and I’m instantly intrigued as soon as I hear the ingredients list: Roasted beets, beans, brown rice, caramelized onions (!!), and oats. I’ve come to love beets over the past year or so, and caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods of all time. So I decided to put these veggie burgers to the test and I was not disappointed!

To be honest, I’ve only tried a few other veggie burgers to compare these to, but I still think this recipe is a winner. The roasted beets keep the burgers moist and sweet, the onions bring a nice savory flavor, and then there’s mustard and even diced prunes (don’t let them scare you!) for tanginess. The burgers use ground oats rather than bread crumbs, and just one egg to keep them together. I used a combination of chickpeas and cannellini beans rather than black beans because I prefer the flavor, but any type of bean will work. The original recipe also says it makes only 6 burgers, but I was able to make about 9 or 10 good-sized burgers.

These burgers do take a bit of prep work, and the “meat” needs to be chilled, but I think if you cook the beets and brown rice ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip these burgers up in no time. I really enjoyed these veggie burgers and I’m excited to share them with all my veggie and meat-eating friends alike out there!

Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers
slightly adapted from Best-Ever Veggie Burger on The Kitchn

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Ingredients:
makes 9 – 10 burgers

  • 1 lb. fresh beets (about 3 large ones)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or cannellini beans)
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 2 – 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Spices:
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder, or cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper for extra heat
    • 1/2 tsp dried basil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, whisked
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Your ingredients (ignore that pesky jalapeno…)

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And your spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare your beets by washing them and removing skin with a vegetable peeler. Chop them into large chunks and toss them with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place in a small baking dish and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes, until they are nice and caramelized and can be easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to let cool.
  2. While your beets are roasting, cook your brown rice according to box directions and also begin caramelizing your onions. Heat diced onions over medium heat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt, stirring every few minutes, until they are golden-brown. Add minced garlic in the last 2 – 3 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Pulse your oats in a food processor until they resemble a fine powder and set aside.
  4. Combine beans, prunes, scallions, olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, but not to the point of being puréed. (If you have a small food processor, you may have to do this in batches.) Remove from food processor and place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Once your beets are cooled, grind them up in your food processor until shredded. Place in mixing bowl with beans, and then add in your caramelized onions, rice, spices, ground oats, and egg. Stir until well combined, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. After the burgers are chilled, form into patties about 3 inches wide. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, and cook the burgers for 3 – 5 minutes on each side. I found that covering them for half of the cook time helped to get the inside of the burgers cooked faster and more thoroughly.*
  7. Once burgers are finished cooking, serve on a bun with your favorite toppings, or atop a salad and enjoy! I loved them topped off with Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing, spinach, and arugula.

*For an extra crispy crust, sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs on the burgers before cooking!

March Food5

Begin by peeling, chopping, and roasting your beets. Don’t the peeled beets have a cool design on them?

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While the beets are roasting, cook your rice to box directions and caramelize your onions. When they’re done they’ll look something like this.

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Combine your rinsed and drained beans, prunes, scallions, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped.

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Pulse your beets separately until finely shredded.

March Food4

Combine your shredded beets with the bean mixture and rice, along with your spices. Stir in oat flour and eggs until well combined.

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Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Notice how it resembles ground beef?)

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Once mixture is chilled, form into patties and frizzle up in your frying pan with olive oil and optional breadcrumbs.

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Enjoy burgers with your favorite toppings! Here I have mine on a Sandwich Thin with Goddess dressing, red onion, and spinach. Bon appétit!

Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta

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I’m back from another two week hiatus. Last weekend I moved into my new apartment and was too tired to even entertain the thought of creating a recipe for this blog, let alone cook it. I’m glad I had Labor Day off from work because I definitely needed it. Each time I move I come to the realization that I have too much stuff. Then I slowly forget and when it’s time to move again I’m reminded of all the junk I own. My roommates thought it was a little ridiculous that about half the stuff I own is kitchen supplies… oops. I guess it’s about time I sort through my belongings and give unused things away.

I’m slowly settling into my new apartment but occasionally have to go searching for something I misplaced. I’ve mostly been making lazy meals like pasta or freezer meals but Sundays are a good time to prepare meals for the work week, so today I gathered my motivation and made this pasta.

This Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta is a light and delicious meal perfect for weeknights. It combines flavorful chicken sausage with sauteed spinach, veggies, and a light ricotta cream sauce. It heats up nicely and will keep you full for hours. I like that it’s simple enough to throw together during a busy work week, but also nice enough to make for guests.

Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta
makes 3 – 4 servings

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 3 – 4 baby bella or white mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 6 – 7 oz. pasta (roughly half of one 13.25 box of rotini or penne)
  • 2 chicken sausage links, cut into half moons
  • For the sauce:
    • 2 tsp butter or olive oil
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 cup skim milk
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 tsp basil
    • salt, to taste

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    Your ingredients

zchick

This is the chicken sausage I used. So good!

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat and add sliced onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, until softened, and add red pepper and zucchini. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, and remove from heat.
    *Alternatively, you can steam the spinach in the microwave. Place spinach in a large bowl with about 1 tsp of water and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until spinach is wilted. Stir into cooked veggies.
  2. Cook your pasta according to box directions. While pasta is cooking, fry up your chicken sausages until lightly browned on each side. After pasta is cooked and drained, and the sausages are finished cooking, stir them to the pan with the veggies.
  3. To prepare the ricotta cream sauce, begin by sauteing the garlic in the butter or olive oil for 1 – 2 minutes in a small saucepan. Add in remaining ingredients for the sauce and stir until cheese begins to melt, simmering over low heat. The sauce will look lumpy at first, but will become smooth and thick. Once sauce is done, after 3 – 5 minutes, pour over the pasta, sausage and veggies. Stir to combine and serve with some extra parmesan cheese 🙂
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Saute up those veggies

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Cook your spinach until wilted

Frizzle up some chicken sausages

Frizzle up some chicken sausages and also begin to cook your pasta. Once pasta and chicken sausages are done, stir them in with the veggies.

September Food

Prepare your ricotta cream sauce by sauteing the minced garlic in a bit of butter or olive oil. Stir in ricotta, milk, parmesan cheese, basil, and salt. At first it will look lumpy like the photo on the left. Simmer over a low heat, stirring, until sauce smooths out like the photo on the right.

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Pour the sauce over the veggies, sausage and spinach and stir to combine. Serve with some extra parmesan cheese and enjoy 🙂