Roasted Butternut and Avocado Farro Salad

Roasted Butternut and Avocado Farro Salad

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Recipe type: Side Prep time:  15 mins

Total time:  35 mins Serves: 2-3 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • ½ tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 bag of trader joes Farro
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • ½ a red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped, or a cup of grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the butternut squash in the grapeseed oil and cumin. Put the butternut in foil and wrap it up, and place on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until soft.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the bag of farro and chicken broth and cook as per directed – about 15 minutes.
  • Once the farro is finished, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the red onion, cilantro, tomato, avocado and as much of the lime juice to your liking. Season with salt and pepper, and serve. It tastes great heated up or cold.

Balsamic Reduction Butternut Mash

Balsamic Reduction Butternut Mash

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Recipe type: Side Prep time:  60 mins

Total time:  75 mins Serves: 4-6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups peeled and chopped sweet potato
  • 1 ¾ cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary (removed from twigs)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup of goat’s cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the butternut and sweet potato on a foil covered baking tray with your rosemary and cover in olive oil. Toss the pieces to make sure they are all covered. Cover with tin foil, shiny side down and place the tray in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until soft.
  • Put the red onion in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the thyme and balsamic vinegar. Bring to boil and then reduce down to a simmer. You are going to reduce the vinegar until the onions become gooey and sticky, about 15-20 minutes. When the onions are done remove the thyme twigs.
  • Once the butternut and sweet potato have roasted remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the onions, butternut, sweet potato and crumb in the goat cheese. Mix it all together to create a mash. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spicy Simmered Eggs with Kale

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Spicy Simmered Eggs with Kale

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Recipe type: Breakfast    Prep time:  20 mins

Total time:  20 mins        Serves: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped but holding shape
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 eggs
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the green onions and garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant.
  • Add half the kale and all of the parsley and saute, stirring frequently until it begins to wilt. Stir in the remaining kale and repeat.
  • Add the broth, the ½ teaspoon of salt and the ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the kale softens, about 5 minutes.
  • Create a pocket for each egg in the kale. Crack 1 egg into each pocket. Reduce the heat to medium-low and season the eggs to your liking. Cover the pan and let the eggs cook until almost opaque, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs rest, covered, until done to your taste. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve immediately.

Cuban Beef Empanadas

Last year while traveling in Spain, I had the absolute best empanadas. Since then I haven’t come across many places with great empanadas so, a few weeks back I decided to step out of my usual cuisine comfort zone and experiment with making my own! I stuck to one type of filling and they couldn’t have been better. I also made two batches – one using the pillsbury store bought pie crusts as the dough and the other with a homemade whole wheat recipe I came across online. Rather than frying the empanadas I took the healthy route and baked them – there really can’t be much of a difference in the flavors so I recommend using the oven. Also keep in mind that this recipe takes additional time because the filling and dough have to refrigerate for at least two hours so I recommend prepping everything early in the day and then when dinner time rolls around, take everything out and simply assemble the empanadas. Next time around I will be sure to try out different fillings as well – enjoy!

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Ingredients – Filling:

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg white

Ingredients – Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Start with preparing the dough so that it can sit in the fridge while you work on the beef filling. Basically just throw everything into a food processor and pulse until it forms into a dough and voila! Wrap it up in some plastic wrap and set in the fridge.
  2. Now for the filling… in a large food processor, add the onions, pepper, and garlic and process until finely chopped, about 15 one-second intervals, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saute pan. Add the vegetables from the processor and cook until softened, about 2 minutes
  4. Add the beef and cook, breaking it down until it is no longer pink
  5. Next add the tomato paste, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds. Lower the heat to low and stir continuously for the following 2 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool completely and transfer to a small bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Set the oven to 400*F. Once the time has passed, roll out the dough and using a medium size round bowl (or tupperware lid), cut out circles and fill each bottom half of the disc with about 2 tablespoons of the filling – leave space around the rim so that you can mend it together
  7. Once all of the empanadas are filled, brush the inside of the rims with egg white, then fold the dough over to make a half-moon and press the edges together with your fingers. Use the form to crimp the edges as can be seen above in my picture. Set them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with egg
  8. Bake at 400* for about 20 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Hummus

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but nonetheless I have a ton of great (and easy might I add) recipes to share! A few weeks back I was feeling a little antsy in the kitchen given I was out of my fresh herbs, vegetables, etc.. I did a little brainstorming and rummaging through my cabinets and came across chickpeas – voila! Luckily, I bought tahini paste recently on a whim, so I was all set to put my skills to the test and try to make a hummus better than Cava’s. I did some blog-hopping and came across one of my favorites, Dolly and Oatmeal. She had a great recipe for a roasted garlic hummus so I tried it out. Let’s just say that between my dad, my brother, and me, the hummus was gone by the end of the day. I cut up some carrot sticks and toasted some fresh pita bread and served it alongside the hummus, but really any veggie would do! Side note & don’t be discouraged – I hand popped each chickpea out of its shell so get ready to put in a little bit of tedious work. But trust me, the end result is so worth it and so delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can Chickpeas (any brand works)
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • approximately 1/4 cup water

Directions:

1. Before you begin peeling your chickpeas, roast your garlic!

  • pre-heat the oven to 400°
  • take an entire head of garlic and cut off a 1/4 inch of the top off
  • peel off some of the layers of skin
  • drizzle the garlic with a tbsp of olive oil & sprinkle a generous amount of salt
  • place on a cooking sheet and cover with foil – roast for 30-40 minutes

2. While the garlic is roasting, peel your peas by placing the chickpeas between your thumb, forefinger and middle finger and pop them out individually

3. In a food processor, blend the chickpeas until clumps form

4. Now add the tahini, lemon juice, salt and roasted garlic – blend until pureed

5. Add water by the tablespoon until you get the desired consistency

6. Transfer the hummus to a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving – enjoy!

Thai Beef avec Basil

Lately I have been getting into ethnic cuisines – thai, indian, japanese, etc.. There is so much fun to be had when going outside of the generic American recipes. I love the international aisle in all grocery stores. I’m not one to favor basil (other than with caprese salad), however a recipe from Bon Appétit really stood out to me. The other night I made a thai beef with basil recipe and it couldn’t have turned out better! I also finally got the presentation right. I am constantly whipping random meals but while they taste delicious, they don’t turn out very pretty. To create the carrot slaw I used a vegetable peeler over the entire carrot, rather than taking the time to julienne the carrot with a knife (I also don’t own a julienne peeler yet). This recipe is great when you have ground beef on hand that you need to use before it goes bad. Initially before delving into international recipes, I was under the assumption that they required so many random sauces and spices to create such different and distinct flavors. It turns out, they are nearly easier to whip up than a french recipe! When making the rice, use coconut milk. This recipe is super quick, satisfying, and on the healthier side – enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Steamed rice and lime wedges (for serving)

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8–10 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
    2. Toss carrots, scallions, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chile, 1 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
    3. Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.
    4. Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing. Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Straw-Nana Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way to start the day when you aren’t very hungry in the morning, and also serve as a great mid-day snack. They’re better than juicing because you get to digest the fiber of the fruits and vegetables added, which means they tend to be more filling! Simply place all of the ingredients below in a blender and blend until smooth. If you like your smoothie a little thicker then add less almond milk. Adding spinach is a great way to increase hidden nutrients because you can’t even taste it when blended with everything else. The following serving is for one.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 6 strawberries
  • Handful of ice
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp vanilla greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp quick oats

Watermelon Martini

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Summer means watermelons, and watermelons mean bring out the vodka! One night my friend, Catherine, and I were feeling a stay-in night but we also wanted a good cocktail. We have an affinity for dirty martinis but couldn’t get our hands on olives since it was past 10 PM. Luckily, I had randomly bought a watermelon earlier that day and had some Rose’s Lime Juice and Tito’s on hand. I started experimenting with different measurements and eventually concocted the best watermelon martini I have had to date. I like them strong so you may want to go with less vodka. Before I share my secret recipe with you, I’ll fill you in on the barware I use.

Bar Tools Guide:

  • Shaker – as for the shaker, any stainless steel insulated shaker is great – I use the Insulated Cocktail Shaker from Williams-Sonoma
  • Miscellaneous – I use the Stainless-Steel Hammered Bar Tool Set from Williams-Sonoma which includes a double-sided jigger(shot-measurer in other words), ice tongs, cocktail strainer and a long stirring spoon

Ingredients:

  • Double-shot of vodka, I recommend Tito’s 100%
  • 1 shot fresh watermelon juice
  • Splash of Rose’s Lime Juice
  • 1/4 wedge of lime for shaking & garnish
  • Ice
  • Watermelon for shaking & garnish
  • Splash of club soda

Directions:

  1. Cut open the watermelon and scoop out watermelon chunks and place in a bowl; also, scrape the watermelon into liquid form (basically make half of the watermelon a hollow bowl
  2. Gather the supplies and throw in the vodka, watermelon juice, Rose’s, a big chunk of watermelon, and squeeze the fresh lime in and add the wedge to the shaker
  3. Fill with ice covering the contents and shake
  4. Using a cocktail strainer, strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass
  5. Add a scoop of watermelon and a lime wedge, and top with a splash of club soda!

Pizza for Breakfast

My friends and I planned to do a pot-luck brunch on our apartment’s rooftop, so my first thought was what can I possibly make for breakfast with a grill?! My love for pizza combined with my love for grilling made it quite clear – why not grill a breakfast pizza. Short on time, I decided to buy store-bought dough (making your own wouldn’t be too hard and you could use a healthier alternative), and I bought some produce favorites: parsley and scallions! Just about anything can be used as toppings, however below is what I used and how I did it.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cooking Time: ~10 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pizza dough
  • Olive oil, for drizzling on pizza dough
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 5 strips cooked bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 whole scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Dust the surface of your kitchen counter with flour and roll pizza dough to a ¼-inch thickness
  2. Drizzle both sides of dough with olive oil and set aside on round baking sheet
  3. Cook the bacon and chop it up
  4. Gather all the toppings and dough and move outside to the grill
  5. Set the grill to the highest heat setting, once it is nice and hot place the pizza dough onto the grill
  6. Once the grill marks appear, flip it and crack the three eggs onto the dough and cover for 3-5 minutes
  7. Once the eggs are just about set, sprinkle the cheeses, bacon and salt and pepper; cover for an additional 2 minutes or until cheese is melted
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and scallions, and enjoy!

Hidden Oats: Banana Almond Oatmeal Muffins

On the morning of my college graduation as I ran recklessly (& maybe still a little tipsy) out the door, my brother’s girlfriend handed me a muffin for the road. I was skeptical of it given her love for oats and *all* things natural, however if it weren’t for that muffin I wouldn’t have made it through the four hour long ceremony in the blazing heat on the National Mall. She passed along the recipe and I ran straight for the grocery store to gather the supplies!

It is a ‘Vegan Banana Almond Oatmeal Muffin’ and is my first step towards incorporating oats into my diet. The muffin is great for an on-the-go breakfast when you need to hit the snooze button one too many times, and is great for an afternoon snack. It’s filling yet delicious and tastes just like good ole banana bread! Below is my version of the recipe:

Yields: 12 generously sized muffins

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time: 22-25 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 3 smashed ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (any flavor works!)
  • 1/2 cup slivered strawberry slices
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raw sliced almonds (save some for topping the muffins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and grease muffin tin with coconut oil
  2. Make sure that the almond butter is runny, microwave if necessary
  3. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and stir thoroughly until combined; spoon into muffin tins and top with almond slivers
  4. Place on center rack of oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes
  5. Take out and let cool – the muffins should pop right out of the tins!

Other Options: Adding egg whites is a great source of additional protein! Just make sure to keep the muffins refrigerated if adding egg whites. I also added mini chocolate chips to half of the muffins to satisfy my chocolate sweet tooth!