Tag Archive | vegetables

Catching up & a Quinoa Recipe

Hey there and happy Thursday to you all! It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. Between getting engaged(!!!!), moving,  starting classes, attending amazing weddings and still working weekends, I feel like I’ve been in “go-go-go” mode constantly. However, Brandon and I were SO excited to move into our new place. Minus the actual “moving” part, it has been so surreal to set up our new home together as fiancés! (Can I just admit how much I love saying that?!)

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I also started my Master’s Degree program last week, which was exciting yet overwhelming all at once.  Organic Chemistry will be consuming my life for the next four months. #sendhelp
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Anyway, back to our new place. I think my favorite part of our new digs is the kitchen. The counters, the cabinets, the island, the set-up…I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it (I will share a picture once it’s all set up). Plus, having a new kitchen makes me so much more motivated to cook. Healthy dinners for the win!

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Speaking of healthy dinners, my favorite vegetarian protein source lately is quinoa. I started to eat quinoa back in Australia and I haven’t turned back since. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t too fond of it, but that’s because it tasted really bland to me. However, once I researched it a bit, I learned that if you cook it in chicken broth (or vegetable broth), it’s so much more flavorful. After that, I became hooked.  It’s a great source of protein, filling, gluten-free, and simply delicious. This week, I decided to use up some random vegetables in my fridge and make a veggie-quinoa mix. It’s so easy and makes terrific leftovers, too. To complete my dinner, I stuffed a red pepper with the mixture and baked it for 15 minutes, eating it alongside of some roasted veggies and corn (off) the cob. I plan on putting the mix on salads as leftovers for the rest of the week! Here’s my recipe:

Veggie & Black Bean Quinoa Mix
1 cup quinoa
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup black beans
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
handful of spinach
salt/pepper/seasonings to taste
1 red pepper (optional)

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) Place quinoa and chicken (or vegetable) broth in a saucepan, stir, and put burner on high. Once it begins to boil, lower temperature to a simmer and cover (stirring every few minutes), until it’s thickened and fluffy. (This will take about 15 minutes). Trust me, one cup expands IMMENSLY!
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3) While the quinoa cooks, chop your vegetables. I chose onions, squash, mushrooms, red pepper and spinach, and at the last minute I added some black beans in, too. The beauty of this dish is you can honestly use any vegetables in your fridge.
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4) Stir-fry these on the stove until cooked thoroughly (using spices of your choice), and add the spinach in at the last minute. Once cooked, set aside until the quinoa is finished.
5) Once the quinoa has finished cooking, add the vegetables in. Voila, you have your quinoa mix!
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6) ***Optional: I cleaned a pepper out and stuffed/baked the mixture inside for about 15 minutes, but this isn’t necessary. You could also just stand at your stovetop and eat it too (yes, I am guilty of this Winking smile)

Have a great rest of your week and weekend, friends. Happy almost fall!

***9-11-2001 Never Forget***

Do you cook with quinoa? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it?

Any recipes to share?
Any one else move in September?

Gahhhh moving is the worst!

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Pizza…A twist on traditional

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how much my love of pizza has grown, too. It’s not that I never liked it, but growing up, pizza was considered a “treat”, since it can be a not-so-healthy option at restaurants. Funny that during my four years at Bryant University, this treat became a twice-to-three times a week meal I’d choose to eat. I’d like to blame that on the fact that pizza is a fairly inexpensive option and when you’re a “starving college student” it seems like a smart choice, but it’s also due to the fact that it tastes 100 times better after a night of too many drinks!

Anyway, fast forward to five years later, and today my love of pizza is at an all-time-high. I tend to make and re-make my favorites, such as sautéed vegetables with tomato sauce and roasted corn, or white pizza with ricotta, feta, and mozzarella on a whole grain crust. And when I go out for pizza, I usually stick with those favorites. Also, the crust of pizza is my favorite part of all. I must admit, I’ve enjoyed a range of white, whole-grain, thin, and even the occasional deep-dish crust over the years, and it’s truly the part of the pizza I look forward to most.  So you can imagine I was quite skeptical when I began to read about “cauliflower pizza crust”.  No bread? I almost didn’t try it, but I’m so glad I did!

I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand last night, so I gave it a go. To my surprise, it was delicious. Chewy and cheesy, almost like pizza. I won’t say it tastes like your traditional pizza crust, because it doesn’t…it’s not bread. But as a no-carb, low-fat, healthy option, this will certainly please your waistline and trick your taste-buds.

Cauliflower Crusted  Pizza with Chicken and Veggies   (adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients (for crust)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 ½ cups grated cauliflower (about ½ a large head)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese 
salt and black pepper to taste(about 1/2 tsp each)

For pizza toppings(add any toppings you’d like, this is just what I did!)
1/4 cup  tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Sautéed onions, mushrooms, and more cauliflower
Roasted shredded chicken breast (about 1/2 cup)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Grate the 1/2 head cauliflower using a box grater until you have 2.5 cups of cauliflower crumbles. Place in a large bowl and microwave for 7-8 minutes, or until softened. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.
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3) While the cauliflower is cooking, chop desired vegetables and/or other toppings, and sauté on stove in 1 tsp olive oil and/or cooking spray. Remove from heat once sautéed.
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4) Once the cauliflower has cooled off, mix in the egg, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Once combined, pat into a 10-inch round on the parchment-paper prepared pizza pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
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5) Top the pizza crust with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and in my case, the chicken and vegetables. Bake in the oven until melted and bubbly, about another 10 minutes. Cool, and serve.
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Looks like pizza, right? I was very surprised how much this tasted like pizza and Brandon was too, so I will certainly be making this again.  Serve yours with a side salad to round-out this healthy meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

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Australia lovin’…mid december

Brandon kindly told me my “week-count” is a bit delayed for my “things I’m loving” posts (what a gem…ha!) so I’ve decided to scrap the “weeks” and just go with a time-frame instead. This past week Brandon was out-of-town for work, and since I’ve arrived in Australia, this was our first week-long separation. However, since we’re pros at the long-distance thing, it was A-Okay. I have to admit though, I sure missed him…especially at dinnertime. I have gotten used to cooking for two people, so reverting back to recipes-for-one was interesting. Anyway, when Friday rolled around, I was so excited for him to be home! We had a fun-filled holiday weekend together, but we both had a hard time coping with the news of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. No words can express the sorrow we both feel for the victims and their families. Brandon and I grieved and prayed, and truly wished we were with our loved ones back home to hug them.

Now we have just 48 hours until we’ll be on a plane back to the U.S.A., and we couldn’t be more excited to see our families and friends. Life is so fragile, and we truly need to remember to be grateful for everyday. I’m grateful to be here, and so grateful that we can go home for Christmas. I’m also grateful for the things I loved in Australia over the last week-and-a-half:

1) Pretty coffee-wherever you get a latte here, they are always beautiful! It almost makes me want to not drink it….almost!
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2) Betty Blue Café- hands-down, this has become my favorite brunch spot in town. I can’t decide what I like better-the sourdough toast or the outrageous portion sizes. I gawk at each meal being brought out of the kitchen. Take a look at my scrambled eggs and Brandon’s breakfast burrito! If you visit Northern Queensland, this is an essential stop.
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3) Animal print sparkling water bottles. These.are.awesome. I’m also a firm believer that a fun water bottle makes water taste that much better!
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4) Discovering light Cadbury vanilla ice-cream. Best buy of the month, seriously. As you can see, our entire household agrees!
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5) Outdoor exercise (minus the humidity-please excuse my forehead sweat). It is still unreal to me that I can be outside in shorts and tank-tops in December!
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6)Healthy lunches and dinners – Including sherry beef, corn, veggie burgers, sweet potatoes…yum!
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7)Breakfast for dinner. Yes I ate pancakes out of a shaker…Yes they were AMAZING.
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8) Getting a pedicure. Finally, I really needed one!
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9)Holiday baking & holiday parties-I made the winter white chocolate and pretzel holiday bark in my previous post for the party we attended, and had lots of fun with my handsome date :)

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10) Skype with my favorites-can’t wait to see these two SO soon!

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Summer-Inspired Veggie Pizza

I know it’s not technically summer yet, but I just have to share this recipe with you. Have you ever had corn on pizza? I hadn’t…and now I never want pizza without it!

As a vegetable-lover, if I make pizza at home, 9 times out of 10, I’ll make a veggie topped pie. And if I order pizza at a restaurant…9 times out of 10, you guessed it, I order veggie. So I didn’t think much of it when I was scouring an old issue of Cooking Light  for pizza recipes, and stumbled across a veggie pizza. However, the addition of corn in this recipe had me intrigued. So I went for it. I bought corn on the cob (already shucked was the only available…shameful, I know!), red peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and onion…and this summer-inspired pizza was born.

The hardest part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables. After that, it’s a piece of cake. Make this, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

-8 ounces store-bought pizza dough ( I used whole wheat)
-Cooking spray
-Store bought tomato sauce (I used fire-roasted tomato, Classico brand)
-Olive oil to coat pan
-2 garlic cloves, crushed ( I used a Tbsp. of minced garlic)
-1 cup sliced onion
-1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
-1 cup chopped summer squash
-1 cup chopped zucchini
-2 ears corn
-1 tablespoon cornmeal
-3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese ( I combined this with 3-cheese Italian)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425° (or temperature your dough specifies). Chop all vegetables.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Add 2-3 teaspoons olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan. Then add onion, squash, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. (I always add I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray, too). Add salt and pepper to taste while sautéing. Cut corn from cob; add corn to vegetable mixture.

3. Scatter cornmeal over a lightly floured surface; roll dough into a circle on prepared surface. Transfer dough to a baking sheet; top with layer of tomato sauce ( I used about ¾ cup). Sprinkle with cheese, then top with vegetable mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cut into 8 slices.

Unfortunately, this was such a hit, there were no leftovers. So what did I do? I made it again less than a week later. It is so so addicting.  If you don’t feel like pizza, just make the vegetable sauté. I made it as a topping for my lunch salads last week, and it was fantastic!

What’s your favorite pizza recipe?