Balsamic Glazed Gnocchi

My passion for cooking blossomed early on in my life, stemming from eating dinner on the floor with my dad every Monday while my sister was at her after school grocery store job.

Mondays were our days, and we would usually make turkey burgers and rice-a-roni while we watched 30 Minute Meals and eventually Everyday Italian.

Although I loved Rachael Ray at first, I got annoyed over the years by her voice’s varying stages of raspy-ness and her general over-the-top characteristics.

With Giada, it was the opposite. I started out not being able to stand her seemingly perfectionist personality and pretentious ways, but grew to appreciate the passion behind her style and the sheer beauty of her dishes.

I thank Giada and those Monday TV dinners for introducing me to the wonder that is Gnocchi, an Italian potato dumpling.

After some research I figured out that gnocchi weren’t all that difficult to make, even as a vegan!

This recipe is ridiculously simple, and though it does require a bit of effort, you can easily cook the potatoes ahead of time and make as many or as little as you please, freezing the dough for another gnocchi craving in your near future.

(Photos thanks to my kick ass boyfriend. Tryna take my pic game to a better level hehe).

gnocchi

INGREDIENTS:

For the Gnocchi

  • 3 Medium russett potatoes
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (sub white if you’d like), plus about 1/3 cup more for dusting/kneading

For the Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite red wine
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste

Once potatoes are cooked ( I just zapped mine in the microwave), let cool and peel skin off. Cut into chunks and place in food processor or blender with 1 cup flour. Pulse blend until dough comes together in one big lump.

Dust a clean surface with remaining flour and dump dough on top, kneading until a smooth, elastic dough forms that does not stick to your hands.

gnocchiroll

Once dough is kneaded, separate into 3 separate chunks. Roll first section in your hands as you would make a playdoh snake, about 12 inches long, and 1 inch thick. Create gnocchis by cutting 1/2 inch sections of dough until you reach the end.

gnocchicut

Repeat with remaining 2 sections, or freeze the other chunks of dough (I used 2 chunks, froze 1). Once dumplings are cut, use your fork and just press lightly into each gnocchi like you would when smashing avocado into toast to make indentations. This step isn’t necessary, it just makes them look more ~profesh.~ 

Place about 8 gnocchi at a time in boiling water. When they rise to the top, they’re done! They cook in just about 3-4 minutes!

While gnocchis are cooking, heat a saucepan on medium-high with a touch of nonstick spray, water, or oil if you wish. Add minced garlic and saute for just 2-3 minutes to release the garlic scent. Add wine and balsamic, bringing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, and add herbs and spices. Once sauce is reduced by about 1/3 and has a luxurious, syrupy consistency, it is done. 

Carefully toss cooked ghnocci with the glaze, and serve with whatever your heart desires! I just sauteed some summer veggies and made a side of corn on da cob…so good.

Make this gnocchi and impress your man/woman/parents/self with this “fancy” treat that really isn’t so fancy to make after all!

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Sweet Potato Garbanzo Burgers & Seasoned French Fries

I’m not sure if it’s the summer talking through my taste buds or what, but lately all I’ve been wanting to eat are veggie burgers slathered with spicy mustard and sandwiched between fluffy, grainy buns spread with an abundance of avocado…OMG.

And of course I couldn’t think about veg burgers without their BFF, french fries, who have also been popping up in my foodie day dreams.

Since my face is very VERY sensitive to fats, from avo to peanut butter to any kind of oils, if I eat overt fats too many days in a row, my pimple problem rears its ugly head and I wake up with a fresh cluster.

It’s cruel, really, since avocado and crunchy peanut butter are two of my absolute favorites.

Because of this fat intolerance, I’ve been leaning towards a more high carb low fat diet and only enjoy avo, nut butters, and oils once or twice per week. While eating high carb and low fat makes me feel my absolute best and allows me to eat in abundance and not feel sluggish, fats help me feel truly satisfied and are so fucking delicious.

I combined the best of both worlds for these recipes.

My burgers are chock full of carbs and are virtually fat free, while my fries are steamed then baked with NO OIL WHAT SO EVER and still end up being both soft and steamy on the inside, and crispy on the outside.

Because of the lack of fats in the actual meal, I slathered my bun with avocado and called it square.

This meal 100% COMPLETELY satisfied my veg burger and fries craving and ended up being one of the very best veggie burgers I’ve ever had.

vegburgers

INGREDIENTS:

For the Burgers (I made 2 just because I was lazy, but you could double or triple everything easily):

  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large sweet potato, or 1 small
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Cook sweet potato all the way through in microwave or oven. Once cooled, add to food processor with chickpeas, garlic, oats, and spices. Blend until smooth and mixture is slightly wet, but not sticky. Flour your hands and form mixture into two patties, lightly coating them with a bit of flour.

Turn pan to medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray, and add patties, getting a nice sear on each. Once each side is seared (about 5 minutes on each side), turn heat down to medium and cook for another 5-7 minutes on each side to ensure middles are warm. Serve on a bun with plenty of avo and whatever condiments your heart desires!

For the Fries (again, I just made two servings, so feel free to double or triple):

  • 2 large potatoes, washed
  • 1 tsp. cajun spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Slice potatoes into strips, keeping them thin enough to get nice and crispy, but thick enough to hold up when being steamed. Steam sliced potatoes for about 7-10 minutes, or until fork tender. While they’re steaming, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dab steamed fries with paper towel to remove excess water and spray cookie sheet with non stick spray or coat with parchment paper. Evenly space fries on cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through and checking frequently to avoid burning.

These recipes require minimal ingredients, come together in a perfectly work-weekable flash, and prove once again that vegans miss out on NOTHING 🙂

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Mediterannean Veggie Wrap & Snack Ideas!

When I was in High School, I got up too late to make breakfast and was too lazy to pack lunch for myself.

This resulted in school days living off of Pirate’s Booty popcorn from the vending machines and binging out after school on toaster strudels and homemade nachos before dinner.

Slowly but surely as I changed my life and health for the better, I became much more of a breakfast person. Now I look forward to making a huge bowl of oatmeal or a veg scramble before work to make sure I’m fueled up and focused.

Although I’ve conquered my disdain for breakfast, I must admit, I still struggle with liking lunch.

I’ve always been a dinner girl; it’s where I have the most time to be creative and really explore in the kitchen. When it comes to breakfast, I enjoy the versatility of both sweet and savory dishes and have gotten more and more excited about making new creations in the AM.

But lunch bores me. Always has, always will.

I’ve never been much of a sandwich person, I get sick of salads really easily, and while leftovers are amazing, they just aren’t quite the same as the night before.

Lately, though, I’ve really been pushing myself to like lunch more, and to put more effort into making colorful, satisfying lunches I can look forward to and get creative with.

I’m a sucker for both mediterannean food and sauces and dips, so I’ve been making lots of rice, veg, and sauce combos, and quite a bit of hummus-based wraps. Since I just devoured the wrap below, I can officially say I am on the road to lack-of-lunch-love recovery and this wrap is my savior.

wrap

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lavash flat bread wrap
  • 1 cup frozen grilled veggies (Found mine in the freezer section at Wegman’s)
  • 2 tbsp. hummus
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, in a package, not oil-soaked
  • 2 torn leaves red or green lettuce
  • 4 leaves torn basil
  • dash of salt and pepper

Thaw frozen grilled veggies in the microwave for about a minute. Lay out wrap and evenly spread hummus. Lay veggies, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, lettuce and basil at the end of the wrap closest to you. Top with salt and pepper, and gently roll wrap up, tucking the sides in as you go.

I brought mine to work with a simple salad as a side, and always make sure I’m fully stocked with snacks to last through the day, as I tend to run better on smaller meals and lots of snacks while at work.

Since I try to consume a vast majority of my food from whole food sources, snacking poses a bit of a challenge for me. Some snacks I’ve been counting on to keep me full are:

  • Sweet potato topped with salsa and/or tahini
  • Handful of almonds and a handful of raisins
  • Carrots, cukes, and radishes with hummus
  • Carrot apple muffins by the Minimalist Baker with strawberry jam (SO GOOD OMG)
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal mixed with cinnamon, microwaved with a mashed banana
  • brown rice crackers topped with hummus, tomato, and spinach
  • Beet, orange, carrot, apple, lemon, ginger juice (recipe to come)

I know that it’s a tried and true statement that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I’m quickly beginning to realize that lunch may be just as, if not more, important.

Most of us are either full time workers or students, and without a good lunch and sustainable snacks, I know my work, energy, and general enthusiasm for life suffers and I become an unfocused and grumpy BETCH.

Embark on the journey towards lunch lovin’ with me, and enjoy this BOMB ASS WRAP and some satisfying snacks to keep you feeling yo’ best.

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Lentil Bolognese!

Picture this…

A stormy Friday afternoon…you’re drenched in sweat from a hard run, and make your final dash to the liquor store to pick up a bottle o’ red for a fabulous night in…then you’re stuck in traffic due to a downpour and arrive home HANGRY as hell.

I’d say that calls for some pasta.

I must admit, I am not much of a pasta person and I don’t really enjoy Italian food all that much, aside from the random cravings like the aforementioned one.

I’m a rice girl through and through, and would take a giant bowl of rice and veggies over pasta and sauce any day. But, on an occasion where all you want to do is be cozy, drink wine, and have a huge piece of crusty bread involved in your meal, there’s no denying that the only cure is pasta.

Hence, this lentil bolognese.

lentil

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 container of mushrooms, diced (any kind will do, but I used baby bellas)
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and zucchini, and cook until softened, around 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more. Once the veggies are softened, add the lentils and toss to coat with vegetables. Next, add veggie stock and both cans of tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, simmer over medium heat until lentils are mostly done, but have a little bit. Add the wine, rosemary, and seasonings, and simmer for about 15 minutes more.

Adjust seasonings to taste, add to pasta, and top with fresh basil. Best served with a giant slab of crusty bread with balsamic, tomatoes, and olive oil.

This is a perfect rainy day meal that has the body, texture, and flavor of a “meat and potatoes” type of meal. Plus, it’s pretty damn easy and tastes even better the next day!

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May I present to you….The World’s Best Buddah Bowl

I have an issue.

I want ALL the food when I have a meal.

I don’t just have broccoli, I have broccoli and eggplant and peppers and spinach and kale.

I don’t just have oatmeal with banana, I have oatmeal with banana and blueberries and strawberries and dates and every kind of crunchy topping imaginable.

With this kind of wild imagination and simultaneous desires, it’s no wonder why I’m a huge fan of buddah bowls. It’s basically an excuse to throw everything I love in one bowl and douse it all in a dressing of some kind. And don’t even get me started about the toppings…oh the toppings.

I’ve made asian style, mediterannean style, and mexican style, but this latest asian version is honestly the best concoction I have ever spontaneously thrown together.

I know the recipe may seem involved and there are many steps to creating the bowl, but it’s worth it, and most things can be substituted with whatever you may have on hand!

buddahbowl

INGREDIENTS:

For the Tempeh:

  • 1 package organic tempeh, sliced into strips
  • 1 tbps. hoison sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, and add tempeh, making sure the strips are coated completely. Let the flavors make love for at last 15 minutes while you prep the other parts of the bowl.

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sweet chili sauce, if you have it on hand
  • 1 thumb grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk ingredients together and set aside to pour over top of entire bowl.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1/2 package rice noodles, cooked according to instructions
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced into medallions
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into medallions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked in microwave or oven beforehand.

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Bake eggplant, zucchini, and broccoli on a greased or lined cookie sheet for about 20 minutes, flipping every 7 minutes or so. While veggies bake, cook rice noodles and sweet potatoes.

Once the veggies have been baking for about 10 minutes, put tempeh in a baking dish and bake until hot and crispy, about 10 minutes.

Once everything is ready, assemble bowl! Put noodles on bottom, followed by tempeh, sweet potato, veggies, and dressing!

Top with whatever you like, but here is the (DELICIOUS) combo I used.

-Kimchi

-A sheet or two of nori seaweed

-Scallions

-Sesame Seeds

-Sriracha

-Fresh Parsley and Cilantro

This shit is gold, you guys. I promise if you give it a try, you will crave this exact bowl fo eva eva.

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Vegetable Udon Curry

Ahh, spring time. The birds are chirping, the daffodils are out, denim jackets are appropriate again, and the world is sighing in relief that winter has finally passed. April is just the best….

NOT.

April in Rochester actually goes a little something like this: “Snow is melting, woo! Wow, I don’t need to wear my big jacket anymore, this is awesome! Shit, it’s raining, well, at least it’s kinda warm? Oh my god the daffodils are up, it must truly be spring! Fuck my life, it’s snowing.”

Yep, it’s snowing here folks, and it’s about 30 degrees. I could cry. I really could.

Being mad at the weather is the worst because you can’t curse at it or punch it in the face, considering it’s not a solid being, and you end up taking out your frustration on whoever is around to take it. This morning I trudged to work in my warmest scarf, winter hat, mittens, and fleece and saw the hopeless anger in the eyes of every person I passed…we just cannot catch a break here.

One thing that does always cheer me up, even when spring seems like a completely lost cause, is a bowl of veggie curry. It’s got to be one of my all time favorite foods. It’s stupidly easy, so flavorful, and warms up every corner of my heart and soul, even when said heart is as cold as the ice on my windshield this morning.

curry

INGREDIENTS:

For the curry sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1 can light (organic) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. grated ginger

For the dish:

  • 1 package udon noodles, cooked as directed on package
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 head bok choy, chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms of choice, sliced
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil

In a large pan, heat the coconut oil over high heat. Add veggies and stir fry until softened, about 5-8 minutes, then add veggie stock. Cook until stock has evaporated 3/4 of the way.

While veggies cook, mix the curry sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour over veggies. Turn heat to medium and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so. 

Serve hot over udon noodles and garnish with sriracha, cilantro, peanuts, bean sprouts, whatever you want.

Whether the weather is bringing you down, you want to enjoy a bowl of something hot on the couch while watching a shitty TV show, or you’re just in the mood for a comforting, spicy pick-me-up, make this curry and I promise you’ll feel better.

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Kicking Winter to the Curb

I simply cannot put into words how good it feels to turn my thermostat down to 60 and pack clothes to wear for a lunch time run OUTSIDE!

Yes, my friends, it has hit 50 degrees in Rochester, AKA spring is here and the token hobo across the street is donning shorts and a muscle tank.

This weekend I kissed winter goodbye with some outdoor St. Patrick’s day festivities and by cooking up my final batch of squash soup for the season.

~drunk in love~ at the St. Patty's day parade

~drunk in love~ at the St. Patty’s day parade

My intentions were to make just a regular, run of the mill pureed acorn squash soup, but since my squash was a baby, I added in some parsnips I had hiding in my fridge along with a sweet potato to bulk it up.

Since I had one of my productive but also lazy sundays, I let my soup simmer for a few hours and DAMN it was good.

I finally broke down and bought some Himalayan Pink Salt and oh mannnn does it make a difference using good quality salt; so much more bang for your buck!

In the midst of my soup simmering, I also roasted some broccoli rabe, eggplant, and red onion for my chimichurri pasta (recipe coming this week…spoiler alert: it’s really effing good), so I topped my bowl of soup off with some extra charred red onions and it complimented the flavors perfectly!

This soup is a perfect way to enjoy the last of old asshole winter’s bounty while cleaning out the cupboards of that squash you’ve been meaning to cook up!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small-medium acorn squash, peeled and sliced into half-moons
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 container vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place squash half-moons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool, then peel the skin off.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add sliced onions and cubed parsnips. While they soften, cook sweet potato in the microwave for a faster process. Add 1 cup water to the parsnips and onion and bring to a boil, cooking until water evaporates and parsnips become more tender.

Next, add peeled, cooked squash. Peel the skin off your cooked sweet potato and add that as well.

Add minced garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper, along with container of vegetable broth, cover, and turn heat to medium-low. Let soup simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Once soup has cooked for your desired amount of time and cooled, either use an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender, and blend until desired smoothness.

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