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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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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Green Goddess Miso Noodle Soup!

Yesterday I had as much energy as I imagine a human version of a Furby would possess.

I killed it at work, writing script after script complete with snappy hooks and clever taglines. I was on my game at book club when we discussed the Handmaid’s Tale, walked home in record time (pretty much because of how obnoxiously dark 5 pm now is), and decided to make a big ol’ pot of miso soup before I headed off to yoga and then to a late night showing of The Room (best worst movie ever) at the Little Theater with my friends.

I just had a quick snack before yoga and made my soup ahead of time so I could enjoy a bowl of steaming comfort to soothe my fully-worked lower back and soul.

While I love traditional miso soup, and miso in general, I wanted to make mine with more stuff in it. Green veggie lover that I am, my fridge was stocked with broccoli, kale, and snow peas from my previously posted about shopping trip to Trader Joe’s, and I had rice noodles, so I decided to made kind of a “Chicken veggie noodle soup” version of the classic miso soup.

While it came out delicious, I made the age old mistake of not cooking my rice noodles before adding them to the soup…needless to say, they soaked up a majority of the miso broth and it turned into more of a Miso-Veggie-Noodle bowl over night. Oh well, ya live, ya learn, ya pre-cook your rice noodles before adding them to your miso soup.

Green Goddess Miso Noodle Soup

miso

(I know this picture really blows, but I forgot to snap a shot while it was beautiful in the pot and snapped this when I was halfway through eating it in my lap…)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 cups water
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (I prefer red, but this time the store only had yellow)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1/2 package firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 1 cup chopped snow peas
  • 1/2 container rice noodles…PRECOOKED.
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the sesame oil over medium. Add sliced onion, broccoli florets, kale, snow peas, and cubed tofu and sautee until slightly browned and softened, about 8 minutes. Next, add minced garlic and grated ginger and give the mixture a stir. Add the 10 cups of water, miso paste, and soy sauce, stirring to dissolve the miso. Turn heat to medium-high and let simmer for 10 minutes and then turn heat to low, simmering for another 20-30 minutes to marry the flavors.

While soup simmers, cook your rice noodles and set aside. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir in the rice noodles and let cook for 5 minutes more.

Serve piping hot with some wasabi peas and prepare to dissolve into Asian ecstasy. 

Miso soup is relatively fast, contains simple ingredients, is delicious, and of course, super healthy!

I used to absolutely despise it until I gave it a second chance and I’ve never looked back.

Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Smoothie Recipe!

Before today, I never really had an opinion when it came to carrot cake. If it was the only cake at a party or something like that, I’d eat it, but if there were other choices I’d always lean towards them rather than the carrot cake. I don’t know, it just never did anything for me.

But, this week I’ve decided to make a smoothie every day for breakfast to help my digestive system out a bit and try a cool new challenge. I was looking up ideas and I found a picture of a carrot cake smoothie that looked delicious and nutritious. So, I decided to look at a few recipes and get the jist of what flavors really go into carrot cake, and then create a smoothie recipe inspired by carrot cake of my own!

The result made me reconsider my indifference towards carrot cake. I’m not sure if my taste buds have changed since devouring more fresh fruits and veggies in the past few months than I have over the course of my entire life or what, but I went crazy for this smoothie! I’m not usually one for the taste of ginger in sweet things, and I’m not even all that big on carrots for that matter, but this smoothie is damn delicious, and all of you should give her a try!

Carrot-Cake-Smoothie4

(This is the picture that inspired me to make this recipe…I forgot to take one of my own creation before I slurped down the whole thing in about a minute and a half)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 dates
  • 2 tbsp. oats
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

In a good-quality blender, add the almond milk first (this helps the blender blend at its best!), then add roughly chopped carrots, banana, dates, oats, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Blend on high for about one minute, or until incorporated and creamy. Serve in a tall glass with a straw and enjoy dessert in a cup for breakfast or any time you feel the urge for a sweet treat but want to keep it healthy!

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

I. LOVE. SALADS.

Be it “boring” lettuce-based salads, pasta salads, bean salads, etc., I am a salad lover through and through and I do not understand why more people aren’t, and why the word “salad” gets a rep as a restrictive diet food that induces hunger rather than satisfies it.

Obviously people haven’t been doing their salads justice. I load my lettuce-based salads with every kind of veggie in my house, any kind of bean I have, maybe some hummus or cold grains, and some yummy balsamic and olive oil. COME ON, THAT’S DELICIOUS.

Anyway, cucumber salad is one of my favorite summer dishes. My favorite has always been a dilly cuke salad with a greek yogurt base, but since I no longer eat yogurt (which is honestly the only thing I really miss about my pre-vegan diet), and had a huge box of perfectly ripe tomatoes, I decided to create a yogurt-free cuke salad with tomatoes and a balsamic base. It’s full of herby flavor from rosemary, and subtle sweetness from a drizzle of agave nectar.

Bottom line: it’s damn good.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes, cubed
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Chop the 4 tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, and 1/2 onion into a large bowl or container. In a smaller bowl, mix oil, vinegar, garlic, agave, rosemary and salt and pepper. Pour over veggies and mix well. Taste and season as needed. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour. It’s best the next day after all the flavors are incorporated and sit together for a while. Serve with anything and everything and enjoy!

Maple Chipotle Grilled Tempeh

I grew up absolutely HATING pure male syrup. Believe it or not, until last year I preferred Aunt Jemima’s to the real deal. It’s not like I eat tons of maple syrup, or foods that syrup typically goes on, but I felt like a hypocrite as I poured my auntie J’s over my whole what banana flax oatmeal pancakes, and decided to start training myself to love the real stuff as much as everyone else seemed to.

Well, after about a year of always having it on hand in case I feel the urge to make pancakes, waffles, etc., I’ve finally started to experiment with it in savory dishes, not just on breakfast foods and in desserts.

Because I adore chipotle peppers, and am obsessed with spicy food in general, I decided to give my first shot at savory maple syrup usage a kick. After trying this recipe, I am so happy I transitioned to pure maple syrup, and even happier I’m beginning to incorporate into my recipe creations! This tempeh is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smokey, without the sugar-filled, overly-slathered barbequed sauce taste. (obviously I am not fond of bbq sauce…) I grilled mine because I LOVE anything and everything grilled and I wanted a smokey flavor, but you could easily just bake it or pan sear it or whatever you feel like doing if you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like grilling.

I’m sorry for the picture being such shit, I was about to dig in when I remembered I wanted to post this, and my hands were shaky with hunger/delight.

Ingedients:

  • 1 package organic tempeh
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adobe sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt  & pepper to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the chipotle pepper into the olive oil and maple syrup. Add the minced garlic and spices, and mix everything together. Cut tempeh in four diagonal strips, place in bowl and coat with the sauce thoroughly, making sure to slather each side of each strip. Refrigerate for at least an hour. About 5-10 minutes before the tempeh is done marinating, preheat grill to medium-high. Once grill is nice and hot, put tempeh on and grill for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the middle of each piece is hot and it has grill marks on all sides. Take off the grill and serve immediately.

I served mine with some simple sauteed veggies cooked down in veggie broth over rice. This would be good with spanish style rice and beans, over a salad, or on a sandwich to name a few. Enjoy, creatures!

Quinoa Lasagna!

So yesterday was one of the jam-packed, schedule-every-second-of-my-day-fit-everything-in kinda day. One of those things I made sure to schedule was experimenting with this recipe I had been scribbling down during lulls at work.

The picture is shitty because I took it for my mom when I was pulling it out of the oven haha but whatever, it’s so good and took me about 25 minutes from start to finish! (Which is how long I gave myself to make dinner before a workout and a Red Wings game complete with a gigantic, over-priced Genesee beer…ahh baseball <3).

Of course you could use pasta, but I didn’t have any at home so I used quinoa and stuck in the veggies I had on hand along with leftover jarred tomato sauce. I’m trying to push myself to be more creative with the ingredients I have rather than always run to the store for one or two things I need for a certain recipe….basically I’m broke and want to make an effort to not be. Anyway, even with the time crunch and the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attitude I had about the ingredients, I am extremely happy with this dish! One pan dishes and casseroles aren’t really my thing, but it definitely satisfied my unusual (for me) craving and I can’t wait for lunch time so I can dig into the leftovers at work!

 

This really is  more of a casserole than a lasagna, but it was inspired by my weird and sudden craving for lasagna yesterday so I’m callin’ it like I crave it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen and thawed spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I love Trader Joe’s traditional marinara)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I just love it, can’t help it)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook quinoa on stove top according to directions on the box. While it’s cooking, put 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add sliced onion, cubed eggplant, and thawed spinach. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Once veggies are soft (you don’t have to worry about cooking them completely through at this point…browned a bit and pretty soft is fine), add in balsamic vinegar and garlic and cook until liquid is absorbed and turn heat to low. While your veggies are soaking up the vinegar, put almonds, cashews, nutritional yeast, remaining olive oil, and rosemary into a food processor/chopper/blender and blend until it looks like bread crumbs. Once quinoa is cooked, add to the pan with the veggies and add in the marinara sauce and re-season to taste. Make sure the mixture is all incorporated and everything is coated in sauce and transfer to a 8X8 baking dish. Top mixture with nut topping and bake for 10-15 minutes or until top is golden brown and the inside is hot. Serve in a HUGE bowl and enjoy!